Government loans for everyone?
In an opinion article published in The Washington Post (and picked up elsewhere), the Harvard professor and president of the National Bureau of Economic Research writes:
Such a program might be structured this way: The federal government would offer all homeowners with mortgages the opportunity to replace one-fifth of their existing mortgage (up to some dollar limit) with a government loan. This loan would carry a substantially lower interest rate than the individual's mortgage (reflecting the government's cost of funds). It would be a full-recourse loan that would have to be repaid regardless of what happens to the borrower's mortgage or home. By law, it would take priority over all non-mortgage debt.
... Because this program would, in effect, swap government bonds for individual IOUs, it would not involve any increase in government spending or in the deficit. Because the loans would appeal primarily to those who now have positive equity in their homes, it would not reward people who made high-risk purchases and now have high negative equity.
Most plans to help homeowners -- those facing foreclosure or hurt by the slump in other ways -- have proved controversial. So -- weigh in: