Monday, July 30, 2012

FHFA Nears Decision on Debt Forgiveness, and Tuesday: Case-Shiller House Prices

by Calculated Risk on 7/30/2012 09:29:00 PM

From Nick Timiraos at the WSJ: Data Show Fannie, Freddie Savings From Debt Forgiveness

As the regulator for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac nears its decision on whether to approve debt forgiveness for troubled borrowers, a new analysis by the regulator suggests that taxpayers could actually benefit from the move...

In April, the agency said that loan forgiveness would save about $1.7 billion for the companies, relative to other types of relief. At the time, the agency said that because the Treasury was paying to subsidize those write-downs, the relief would still cost taxpayers $2.1 billion, offsetting any savings to the companies.

But the latest analysis done by the agency found that such write-downs would generate $3.6 billion in savings for the companies, under certain assumptions, according to people familiar with the analysis. Even after subtracting the cost of the Treasury subsidies, the program would save $1 billion, these people said. As many as 500,000 borrowers could be eligible, these people said.
...
The FHFA has raised other concerns beyond the cost of such write-downs. Chief among them is the fear that more borrowers, upon hearing that Fannie and Freddie are instituting a debt-forgiveness program, might default to seek more generous terms.
FHFA acting director Edward DeMarco focused on this last point in his speech in April:
One factor that needs to be considered is the borrower incentive effects. That means, will some percentage of borrowers who are current on their loans, be encouraged to either claim a hardship or actually go delinquent to capture the benefits of principal forgiveness?
...
It is difficult to model these borrower incentive effects with any precision. What we can do is give a sense of how many current borrowers would have to become “strategic modifiers” for the NPV economic benefit provided by the HAMP triple PRA incentives to be eliminated. In this context, a “strategic modifier” would be a borrower that either claims a financial hardship or misses two consecutive mortgage payments in order to attempt to qualify for HAMP and a principal forgiveness modification.
The FHFA might decide that the risk from "strategic modifiers" outweighs the possible savings.

Also from Nick Timiraos at the WSJ Are Home Prices Rising? A Price-Index Primer

On Tuesday:
• At 8:30 AM ET, the Personal Income and Outlays report for June will be released by the BEA. The consensus is for a 0.2% increase in personal income in June, and for 0.1% increase in personal spending, and for the Core PCE price index to increase 0.2%.

• At 9:00 AM, S&P/Case-Shiller House Price Index for May is scheduled to be released. The consensus is for a 1.4% decrease year-over-year in Composite 20 prices (NSA) in May. The Zillow forecast is for the Composite 20 to decline 1.0% year-over-year, and for prices to increase 0.8% month-to-month seasonally adjusted.

• At 9:45 AM: Chicago Purchasing Managers Index for July will be released. The consensus is for a decrease to 52.5, down from 52.9 in June.

• Also at 10:00 AM, the Conference Board's consumer confidence index for July. The consensus is for a decrease to 61.5 from 62.0 last month.


And the final question for the July economic contest: