Just stop paying your mortgage
While angry voters have labeled the package as a bailout for Wall Street, it is more akin to a “Get out of Jail Free” card for anyone who acted irresponsibly during the boom. Here's why.
Nobody likes foreclosure, least of all politicians. The new law clearly indicates that the government will make major efforts to reduce foreclosures through “term extensions, rate reductions and principal write-downs” of the troubled mortgages that it buys from the private sector. In other words, your new landlord will bend over backward to keep you in your home. The legislation telegraphs this by including a provision that extends until 2013 the exclusion of loan reductions from taxable income.
When a financial institution holds a mortgage, homeowners must live with the fear of foreclosure. Private institutions only have obligations to shareholders. In the case of a defaulting borrower, they will look to recover as much of their principal as possible. If foreclosure is their best option, they will take it in a heartbeat.
The government has no such obligations. Its only goal is to keep voters happy. After supposedly bailing out the fat cats on Wall Street, no politician wants to be accused of evicting struggling families. Once you understand this, all of your anxiety should melt away. Why pay your mortgage if foreclosure is off the table, and if you know that lower payments, and possibly a reduced loan amount, would result? A tarnished a credit rating is a small price to pay for such a benefit.
Pay attention, this is where the "bailout" plans are headed kids.
If you do get the opportunity to live for a while with no mortgage payment, don't make the tragic mistake of using your extra cash to pay down your credit cards. As the growing level of credit card defaults will soon push credit card companies into bankruptcy, we can expect a similar bailout plan for American Express and Discover Financial. When that happens, expect massive balance reductions for Americans who can demonstrate the inability to pay. The bigger your balance, the greater the benefit.
Taxpayers, however, will not be so lucky. The savvy investment strategists who see the government turning a tidy profit on its mortgage purchases have not factored in the incentives that will discourage nonpayment. The only way the government will be able to profit would be to buy the mortgages at deep discounts to actual loan values. However, if the purchase prices are too low, the plan will bankrupt the institutions it is trying to bail out. On the other hand, if it substantially overpays, which seems far more likely, it will bankrupt the nation.
In any event, as more and more borrowers succumb to the allure and safety of nonpayment, look for the number of troubled assets to swell. This will ensure that the $700 billion merely represents the first installment in what will be a multitrillion-dollar plan. Just as government policies provided the primary impetus in blowing up the housing bubble earlier in the decade, its latest attempt at market manipulation will only result in making a terrible problem far worse.
Yup. We have a real problem in our society right now with stating the obvious; instead we want to name some nebulous whipping boy. Home foreclosures aren't caused by "greedy wallstreet fatcats"; they are caused by people taking out loans they can't afford. Like the obesity epidemic in this country, obesity is NOT caused by McDonalds; obesity is caused by people stuffing hamburgers in their face at a greater rate than their body can burn them.
I leave you with this sunny quote:
A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years. --Attributed to ALEXANDER FRASER TYTLER, LORD WOODHOUSELEE. (1747-1813) Unverified.
Anyway, it's been a nice 232 years.