Sunday, 25 November 2007

New Wave of Mortgage Failures Could Create a Nightmare Economic Scenario

"We haven't faced a downturn like this since the Depression," said Bill Gross, chief investment officer of PIMCO, the world's biggest bond fund. He's not suggesting anything like those terrible times — but, as an expert on the global credit crisis, he speaks with authority.

"Its effect on consumption, its effect on future lending attitudes, could bring us close to the zero line in terms of economic growth," he said. "It does keep me up at night."
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Today's financial system is interconnected: Mortgages are sold to investment firms, which then slice them up and package them as securities based on risk. Then hedge and pension funds buy up such investments.

When home prices kept rising, these were lucrative assets to own. But the ongoing collapse in housing prices has set off a chain reaction: Lenders are tightening their standards, borrowers are having a harder time refinancing loans and the securities that underpin them are in jeopardy.

This has resulted in more than $500 billion of potentially worthless paper on the balance sheets of the biggest global banks — losses that could spill into the huge pension and mutual funds that also invest in these securities and that the average worker or investor expects to depend on.

There's more pain left for Wall Street: "We're nowhere close to the end of the collapse," said Mark Patterson, chairman and co-founder of MatlinPatterson Global Advisors, a hedge fund that specializes in distressed funds.
http://www.rawstory.com/news/mochila/Have_we_seen_worse_of_mortgage_cris_11242007.html

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