Bearers of Bad News

It's getting pretty hard to remain an optimist about the mortgage/foreclosure mess. This week, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke displayed a set of maps (cycle ...
by | May 9, 2008
 

Bernankemap It's getting pretty hard to remain an optimist about the mortgage/foreclosure mess.

This week, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke displayed a set of maps (cycle through the figures) that details just how wildly the number of foreclosures has risen in just a few years -- and how concentrated they've has been in certain areas of the country.

Almost all of California, Michigan and Florida are red, indicating large increases of defaulting borrowers, but that isn't news. More worrisome, perhaps, is that most of New England save Vermont is red; Minnesota and Hawaii are more red than not; northern New Jersey and southern New York are red; Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky are spackled with red counties; and central Colorado has an awful red belt running north to south. No state is untouched.

The more pessimistic folks at the Economist suggest that Bernanke's data "probably understate the scale of the housing mess" because they leave out the top and bottom of the housing market, the foci of the mortgage problem. They suspect that the crisis is only halfway through. So its actually worse than the Chairman's scary maps.

For the still stubbornly optimistic, there's Richard Nakamura, foreclosure posting agent profiled by the Seattle Times . Mr. Nakamura has been about 50 percent more busy these days, driving from house to house, dodging dogs and hanging notices to pay. Despite that, he's got a pretty sanguine outlook, "We have people coming into the area for jobs, and they're not going to live in their cars."

Then again--not to hoist the guy on his own petard -- Mr. Nakamura adds, "Foreclosure is all about denial. People don't want to admit the situation they're in."

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Will Wilson  |  Former Correspondent
willbwilson@gmail.com

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