Tags: National Review | Housing | Bubble | Economy

National Review's Williamson: 'We've Inflated a Second Housing Bubble'

National Review's Williamson: 'We've Inflated a Second Housing Bubble'
(Dollar Photo Club)

By    |   Monday, 10 August 2015 05:58 AM

Some commentators are cheering the rise in home prices, with existing-home-sales prices at a record high.

But Kevin Williamson, a roving editor at National Review, isn't so enthusiastic. "We’ve inflated a second housing bubble," he writes. "In some ways, the current housing bubble is even more bonkers than the last one." He's referring to the mid-2000s of course.

Existing home sales advanced 3.2 percent in June to an eight-year high, and the S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index climbed 4.9 percent in the 12 months through May.

So why are home prices increasing? "For the same reason that college tuitions are: because the government facilitates lending people money at concessionary rates to purchase them," Williamson maintains.

He cites the Federal Reserve's massive easing program, less government control of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac lending and a loosening of bank lending standards.

The upshot: "this ended badly the last time. It’ll end badly this time, too," Williamson concludes.

Elsewhere on the housing front, a recent report from the Special Inspector General's office that monitors the Obama administration's mortgage relief program paints a distressing portrait of that program.

The Home Affordable Modification Program, begun in 2009, represents the linchpin of the Obama administration’s attempt to help homeowners buffeted by the 2008-09 financial crisis.

But the report shows that of the 5.7 million homeowners who applied for relief since 2009, 72 percent were rejected by mortgage servicers, which include Citigroup, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo.

"It appears that the program has allowed big banks to run roughshod over borrowers again and again," writes Gretchen Morgenson of The New York Times.

"From the outset, Treasury’s loan modification program had problems. Among them were two design flaws: making the program voluntary for the banks and letting those banks that participated run the process on their own."

The banks, of course, beg to differ. They say 38 percent of rejections stem from the failure of applicants to complete paperwork or make their first payment under the program.

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Some commentators are cheering the rise in home prices, with existing-home-sales prices at a record high.
National Review, Housing, Bubble, Economy
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2015-58-10
Monday, 10 August 2015 05:58 AM
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