Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Obama warned of mortgage crisis - ONE YEAR ago!

March 22, 2007

The Honorable Ben Bernanke
Chairman
Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
20th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20551

The Honorable Henry Paulson
Secretary
U.S. Department of Treasury
1500 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, D.C. 20220

Dear Chairman Bernanke and Secretary Paulson,

There is grave concern in low-income communities about a potential coming wave of foreclosures. Because regulators are partly responsible for creating the environment that is leading to rising rates of home foreclosure in the subprime mortgage market, I urge you immediately to convene a homeownership preservation summit with leading mortgage lenders, investors, loan servicing organizations, consumer advocates, federal regulators and housing-related agencies to assess options for private sector responses to the challenge.

We cannot sit on the sidelines while increasing numbers of American families face the risk of losing their homes. And while neither the government nor the private sector acting alone is capable of quickly balancing the important interests in widespread access to credit and responsible lending, both must act and act quickly.

Working together, the relevant private sector entities and regulators may be best positioned for quick and targeted responses to mitigate the danger. Rampant foreclosures are in nobody's interest, and I believe this is a case where all responsible industry players can share the objective of eliminating deceptive or abusive practices, preserving homeownership, and stabilizing housing markets.

The summit should consider best practice loan marketing, underwriting, and origination practices consistent with the recent (and overdue) regulators' Proposed Statement on Subprime Mortgage Lending. The summit participants should also evaluate options for independent loan counseling, voluntary loan restructuring, limited forbearance, and other possible workout strategies. I would also urge you to facilitate a serious conversation about the following:

* What standards investors should require of lenders, particularly with regard to verification of income and assets and the underwriting of borrowers based on fully indexed and fully amortized rates. * How to facilitate and encourage appropriate intervention by loan servicing companies at the earliest signs of borrower difficulty. * How to support independent community-based-organizations to provide counseling and work-out services to prevent foreclosure and preserve homeownership where practical. * How to provide more effective information disclosure and financial education to ensure that borrowers are treated fairly and that deception is never a source of competitive advantage. * How to adopt principles of fair competition that promote affordability, transparency, non-discrimination, genuine consumer value, and competitive returns. * How to ensure adequate liquidity across all mortgage markets without exacerbating consumer and housing market vulnerability.

Of course, the adoption of voluntary industry reforms will not preempt government action to crack down on predatory lending practices, or to style new restrictions on subprime lending or short-term post-purchase interventions in certain cases. My colleagues on the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs have held important hearings on mortgage market turmoil and I expect the Committee will develop legislation.

Nevertheless, a consortium of industry-related service providers and public interest advocates may be able to bring quick and efficient relief to millions of at-risk homeowners and neighborhoods, even before Congress has had an opportunity to act. There is an opportunity here to bring different interests together in the best interests of American homeowners and the American economy. Please don't let this opportunity pass us by.

Sincerely,

Barack Obama
United States Senator

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3 Comments:

Blogger I'm Against It said...

Barack Obama’s recent March 18 speech on race relations in America was one of the boldest and most relevant things to come from an American politician in years. Take a listen to my satire, in which I condensed a 40 minute speech down to 2. Mr. Obama urges a revolution on Washington and says the current administration should be taken to prison. Check it out
http://www.associatedcontent.com/audio/2689/barack_obamas_race_in_america_speech.html. Ah, the magic of simple audio editing software!

6:01 AM, March 26, 2008  
Blogger fifilaroach said...

I hope Obama can continue to keep away from the negative and inspire us with his statements. Since people worry about his experience level, I think more detailed info on his strategies and positions on the important issues.
Help us spread the word about Obama!
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4:35 PM, March 26, 2008  
Blogger John Good said...

Jesse - Nice job!

Sugarbelle - Great designs!

9:39 PM, March 26, 2008  

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