Friday, December 18, 2009

Update on Bernanke's "Exploding" ARM

by Calculated Risk on 12/18/2009 12:45:00 PM

Update comment: I feel torn about digging into Chairman Bernanke's private affairs, but this seems to be in the public interest based on Bernanke's comments, his position, and the current crisis.

Effective Demand has some more details: So I pulled Bernanke's mortgage...

Bernanke bought in May 2004 for $839,000. He had a 5/1 ARM for $671,200 at 4.125% that adjusted to 12 month Libor in June of each year after his fixed period ended. To calculate his rate you take 12 month Libor on that date and add 2.250%, it can't adjust more than 2% in any one year due to restrictions on the note. He also had a purchase money second $83,900 but for some reason I can't find the interest rate on that one, nor do I see an ARM rider for it so it could very well be fixed. Both notes indicate they are amortizing loans.

So what does this all mean? Well according to the terms I see for Bernanke's first and the little information on historic LIBOR I can find (here)... his rate actually went down.
How did it "explode" if his rate went down?

I was assuming this was an Option ARM and Chairman Bernanke was paying the negatively amortizing payment. Then, when the loan recast to amortize over the remaining term (25 years), the payment would have increased significantly.

But Effective Demand's information raises several questions: Why did Bernanke refi? What did he mean by "explode", and was his home underwater when he refinanced since he bought in 2004 and apparently borrowed 90% LTV with only 10% down.