'Seizures May Be Cities’ Last Hope in Mortgage Crisis'

Discussion in 'Politics & Religion' started by Ricter, Jul 19, 2012.

  1. Ricter


    "Amir Sufi of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business:

    " Seizures May Be Cities’ Last Hope in Mortgage Crisis, by Amir Sufi, Commentary, Bloomberg: The failure to address crippling household-debt burdens is leading local governments to embrace the radical idea of using eminent domain to seize and write down mortgages.

    " Over the past month, two cities in California -- Stockton and San Bernardino -- have made moves to file for bankruptcy. ... The San Bernardino and Stockton episodes are representative of a national crisis: Crippling household-debt burdens and foreclosures have been dragging down the economy for the past five years. Renegotiation of underwater mortgages by the private sector has been almost nonexistent. Despite strong evidence that frictions related to securitized mortgages are preventing the efficient restructuring of household-debt burdens, policy makers have largely sat on the sidelines.

    " With local governments feeling directly threatened, some cities have put forth a bold solution: Governments should use eminent-domain powers to buy mortgages, impose losses on bondholders, and write down principal amounts owed by the borrower. The argument is pretty simple: Debt burdens and foreclosures are crushing our cities; private lenders are showing no willingness to renegotiate; and there are no meaningful attempts at the federal level to help. San Bernardino and Stockton are Exhibits A and B.

    " Using eminent domain to impose losses on bondholders is unquestionably a radical idea. ... There comes a point, however, when it becomes impossible to impose further losses on debtors. And when that happens, creditors are expected to take losses on their positions. This is exactly why restructuring debt contracts is a valuable and important part of the financial system. In corporations and commercial real estate, such restructuring happens every day.

    " But this isn’t happening in mortgage markets. ... Bondholders and other creditors are understandably furious at the violation of private contracts implied by the eminent- domain proposals. They shouldn’t be surprised, though. Everyone has a breaking point. Proposals to write down debt will become even more radical unless the private sector shows a greater willingness to renegotiate mortgages.

    "I hope we have learned a point I've tried to make again and again here, that helping households with their balance sheet problems is essential in curing a balance sheet recession. Banks got plenty of help with their balance sheet problems based upon the "too big to fail" argument, but households didn't get as much attention. Collectively, households are too big to fail as well, but we let them fail anyway and are now paying a much higher cost than if we'd done more to address household balance sheet problems early in the recession."

    [See here for a recent link/discussion to additional research from Mian and Sufi on What Explains High Unemployment? The Aggregate Demand Channel.]

  2. Arnie



    What about all of the precedent approving eminent domain seizures of other liens? I sent Caso Hockett's paper, and he sent back an email: "None of the cases cited by Professor Hockett concern an attempt to condemn a mortgage interest," he said. "That government is prevented from destroying the value held by the lien holder without paying damages does not permit the government to condemn the note and deed of trust simply so that it can turn a quick profit. ... Both the California and U.S. Constitutions forbid state and local entities from impairing the obligation of contracts -- this restriction on power is separate from the obligation to pay just compensation when government destroys property."

    I have a feeling we haven't heard the end of this debate. Stay tuned.
  3. Ricter


    "Interesting" times require interesting ideas.
  4. Arnie


    Care to wager?
  5. Ricter


    I also think it's improbable, but I did like the emphasis on creditors (for a change).
  6. Arnie


    Why? How are they responsible?
  7. ==========
    Interesting socialist concept.
    Therefore i disagree with most of it.Except the big banks[C, BAC, JPM, MS, Capital One...] have been sued so much,
    sued so much & so long & have lost most of those lawsuits. It mabe fair & best to single out those big banks for further punishment. And buy those mortgages/ eminent domain[big bank named above]Maybe all cities/Fed/federal gov should short big bank stock.

    Even though stock holders/bondholders in those big banks may take a huge hit, let the lawyers/ judges decide.Even though those big banks are being punished with a downtrending stock price;
    maybe much more punishment shoud follow.:cool:
  8. Ricter


    Who are you asking?
  9. Arnie


    Who do you think?
  10. Ricter


    You're free to quote me, since all who have me on ignore can't see this thread anyway.
    #10     Jul 19, 2012