Sunday, December 14, 2008

How high risk mortgages crept north.

This is from the Globe and Mail.
Of course Flaherty was helping private insurers as he notes but also making home ownership available to more people, many of whom no doubt will find that they cannot afford it. Nevertheless these are hardly as problematic as the mortgages offered in the US and at least the Conservatives finally put a stop to them.

How high-risk mortgages crept north
The untold story of how elements of the first Conservative budget in 2006 encouraged big U.S. players such as AIG to make a push into Canada, creating our version of subprime mortgages
From Saturday's Globe and Mail
December 12, 2008 at 11:54 PM EST
In the first half of this year, as the subprime mortgage crisis was exploding in the United States, a contagion of U.S.-style lending practices quietly crossed the border and infected Canada's previously prudent mortgage regime.
New mortgage borrowers signed up for an estimated $56-billion of risky 40-year mortgages, more than half of the total new mortgages approved by banks, trust companies and other lenders during that time, according to banking and insurance sources. Those sources estimated that 10 per cent of the mortgages, worth about $10-billion, were taken out with no money down.
The mushrooming of a Canadian version of subprime mortgages has gone largely unnoticed. The Conservative government finally banned the practice last summer, after repeated warnings from frustrated senior officials and bankers that the country's financial system was being exposed to far too much risk as the housing market weakened.
Just yesterday, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty repeated the mantra that the government acted early to get rid of risky mortgages. What he and Prime Minister Stephen Harper do not explain, however, is that the expansion of zero-down, 40-year mortgages began with measures contained in the first Conservative budget in May of 2006.
At the time, Mr. Flaherty announced that the government was opening up the market to more private insurers.
“These changes will result in greater choice and innovation in the market for mortgage insurance, benefiting consumers and promoting home ownership,” Mr. Flaherty said.
The new rules encouraged the entry of such U.S. players as American International Group – the world's largest insurance company – and Triad Guarantee Inc. of Winston-Salem, N.C. Former Triad chief executive officer Mark Tonnesen, who spearheaded his company's aborted push into Canada, said the proliferation of high-risk mortgages could have been mitigated if Ottawa had been more watchful.

No comments: