Well – it has been a week and Casey Mulligan offers us this explanation:
Though ubiquitous these days, mortgage modification programs create terrible work incentives. This is one reason the current recession is so different from previous ones … Because of the low resale values, foreclosing on any of the homes will not yield lenders their entire principal; lenders in those cases must rely on the good behavior of the borrowers … these “modification programs” encourage lenders to reduce mortgage payments so that each borrower’s housing payments (including principal, interest, taxes and insurance) are 38 percent of the borrower’s gross income. The payments are to be reduced for five years, or when the mortgage is paid off (whichever comes first) ... I do not expect every adult among those in the 12 million underwater households to be without a job because of the modification rules.
Mulligan is essentially saying that those poor saps who have lost their jobs actually quit so they can game the mortgage system. In other words, there is no such thing as involuntary unemployment or being forced to either lose one’s home versus enter into one of these mortgage modification programs. I’m sorry – but Casey Mulligan is clearly writing from some ivory tower and needs to get out into the real world.