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April 3, 2009

We need loan mojo for homes AND cars

I called my mortgage company Thursday to ask about a refinancing rate and closing costs. The electronic message said I might have to hold for an hour. I hung up. The Obama administration’s gargantuan guarantees and monetary injections into the mortgage market are bearing fruit, even if the system is temporarily clogged.

Now we need the same kind of action in car finance. Maryland new-car sales fell 37 percent for the first two months of this year vs. the same period in 2008, and 2008 sales were down from 2007. Dealers say they’re turning away otherwise qualified buyers who can’t get loans.

The administration’s Term Asset Loan Facility is supposed to jump-start car sales by buying asset-backed paper including auto loans. TALF is early days – only a few billion dollars (only!) have been lent so far. So it probably won’t make a difference for March or April car sales. But we need a car financing boom similar to the mortgage refinancing craze now going on. Maybe the federal stimulus, which has started showing up in people’s paychecks in the form of less tax withheld, will help, too.

Posted by Jay Hancock at 8:30 AM | | Comments (0)

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About Jay Hancock
Jay Hancock has been a financial columnist for The Baltimore Sun since 2001. He has also been The Baltimore Sun's diplomatic correspondent in Washington and its chief economics writer. Before moving to Baltimore in 1994 he worked for The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk and The Daily Press of Newport News.

His columns appear Tuesdays and Sundays.

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