Friday, May 30, 2008

More Weird Numbers

by Tanta on 5/30/2008 04:13:00 PM

My day started with my inability to understand a series of statistics reported in Bloomberg this morning.

Housing Wire follows up on the "methodology change" that purportedly caused the new defaults and cured loan reporting for April to surge and plummet, respectively, in the Mortgage Insurance Companies of America's most recent report. I share HW's sources' skepticism about the explanation given for this change. It simply sounds like a very large lender has been allowed--heretofore--to report fewer delinquencies and more cures than everyone else does, by using different definitions. As that is not something that sounds very good, I would suggest that MICA needs to come up with a better explanation.

Meanwhile, the Hope Now folks released a pathetic set of data charts on mortgage loss mitigation through April 2008. For heaven's sake, we're the financial industry, people. We're supposed to be able to use Excel properly.

There are some really puzzling features of this data, like why the total loan counts have not changed since October (see the first page). Since those loan counts are used to calculate the 60+ day delinquency percentage, the failure to update the total count makes those numbers rather dubious. On page two, I found myself unable to make sense of the completed FC sales/FC starts calculation using any possible definition of "five months" I can think of. Perhaps I am misreading the footnote. In any event, I gave up on my ambition to put this data into a more sensible format for you, after I lost confidence in the data integrity.

So here's from the press release, instead:

The April report from HOPE NOW estimates that on an industry-wide basis:
• Mortgage servicers provided loan workouts for approximately 183,000 at-risk borrowers in April. This is an increase of 23,000 from the number of workouts in March 2008 and is the largest number of workouts completed in any month since HOPE NOW’s inception.
• The total number of loan workouts provided by mortgage servicers since July 2007 has risen to 1,558,854.
• Approximately 106,000 of the prime and subprime loan workouts conducted by mortgage servicers in April were repayment plans, while approximately 77,000 were loan modifications.
Maybe next month the report will be cleaned up a little and we can look in more detail at these numbers. If we can shame Hope Now into issuing something readable.

Harrumph. Is it Happy Hour yet?