Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Paulson Finally Smells It

Discovers there's a wee problem.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said the number of potential U.S. home-loan defaults "will be significantly bigger" in 2008 than in 2007, the Wall Street Journal's online edition reported.

"The nature of the problem will be significantly bigger next year because 2006 (mortgages) had lower underwriting standards, no amortization, and no down payments," Paulson said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, according to an excerpt on the newspaper's Web site.

And the OECD:

"We still have not hit the worst point in resets, delinquencies and ultimate losses on mortgages," the OECD said, adding some $890 billion of sub-prime, or poor credit quality, mortgages will have rates reset in 2008 -- with the peak expected about March.

The OECD said a hypothetical 14 percent loss on subprime mortgages being reset in 2008 could result in $125 billion in losses. If so-called Alt-A mortgages are included, cumulative losses in the $200-$300 billion range "seem feasible," it said.

The peak of the subprime rests is in March, with foreclosures presumably peaking a few months later. But subprime loans aren't the only problem, and there's an additional peak in "option adjustable rates" - many of which were likely written in terms the borrowers have no chance of meeting once teaser rates disappear - in 2010 and 2011.