Financial Planning

Three new takes on the mortgage mess

MortgageHow far has the subprime-mortgage debacle progressed? Far enough so that we now have:

  • official rankings of the worst cities for homeowner debt. The list, compiled by's Matt Woolsey, takes into account the impacts of mortgages, home equity loans and second loans. Washington D.C. comes in at No. 5.
  • calls to prosecute the worst of  the mortgage predators. "We may be a long way from the right solutions to avoid another mortgage meltdown," writes The Washington Post's Michelle Singletary. "But one thing officials can do now is prosecute those who have engaged in unlawful activities. And when I say prosecute, I don't mean handing out civil penalties that do little to discourage dishonest brokers, lenders and loan officers. I mean criminal prosecution."
  • choruses of "I told you so!" from those who saw it coming. According to's Tim Reason, in December 2005 the Financial Accounting Standards Board issued FASB Staff Position SOP 94-6-1, which warned readers that the FASB was "aware of loan products whose contractual features may increase the exposure of the originator, holder, investor, guarantor, or servicer to the risk of non-payment or realization." It wasn't exactly Nostradamus, but it was still some pretty impressive foresight on the FASB's part.

What do you think? Do we need stiffer penalties for those responsible for this mess?


Bill Sheridan