Why Not Study The Data On Loan Modifications?

This is a curious post that I came across at the WSJ Real Time Economics site. Strange only because I can’t find a link to follow to the author. Otherwise it’s fascinating. It is short, so let me post the whole thing.

  • Global Response: Writing Time’s Curious Capitalist blog, Barbara Kiviat says that the data on loan modifications is sorely lacking. “Rod Dubitsky, the head of asset-backed securities research at Credit Suisse who probably knows more about loan modifications than anybody else (you decide on your own what this says about our policymakers), thinks it’s ridiculous that no one has sorted all this out yet. He’s been pushing for a coordinated national effort around modifications since at least early November. He also wants banks that have rolled out their own programs—like JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America and IndyMac (under the direction of Bair’s FDIC)—to release standardized data about what, specifically, they’re doing. He wants disclosure around the type of modification (e.g., interest-rate reduction, extended amortization), the documentation that was used to determine how much a homeowner can pay, other loss mitigation options that were considered (for example, HUD’s Hope for Homeowners program) and the math that shows the decision that was made is the best one, assumptions about future home prices, and a lot of other things… And that’s how we get around to chipping away at unemployment. In talking with Dubitsky, he made a remark about the government needing a “data swat team.” He pointed out that there are quite a few unemployed Wall Streeters who, guess what, know something about mortgage securities and sifting through data and building computer models. I liked what he was getting at: evidence-based public policy. Fascinating thought, no?”
  • If you noticed in the post below, Barney Frank’s continuing fascination with Sheila Bair and her mortgage modification schemes, the above thought deserves more airing. There is a lot of talk about modifications and cramdowns about and, without going into the merits or demerits of either one (other posts on this blog have beaten the subject to death), the idea of getting some data on which to make a decisions seems like a good one. Perversely, the FDIC has been one of the least informative on the performance of their IndyMac loan modification program while aggressively pushing the concept on the entire industry.

    We are about to spend tons of money on this. Since there is probably some pretty good data available right now why not try and figure out if it is going to be wasted.

    more: here 

    Note: If you aren’t a Seinfeld fan, the picture with this post won’t make any sense. The title underneath it was “Loan Modification Department”. If you need an explanation, let me know.

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