Today's WSJ has comments by Ben Bernanke on the subprime market, taken from remarks made yesterday at the Chicago Fed. A few choice gems that stood out to me:
Broader access to mortgage credit is not without its downside, however. Not surprisingly, in light of their weaker credit histories and financial conditions, subprime borrowers face higher costs of borrowing than prime borrowers do and are more likely to default than prime borrowers are. For borrowers, the consequences of defaulting can be severe--possibly including foreclosure, the loss of accumulated home equity, and reduced access to credit. Their neighbors may suffer as well, as geographically concentrated foreclosures tend to reduce property values in the surrounding area. ... Importantly, we see no serious broader spillover to banks or thrift institutions from the problems in the subprime market; the troubled lenders, for the most part, have not been institutions with federally insured deposits. ... ...given the fundamental factors in place that should support the demand for housing, we believe the effect of the troubles in the subprime sector on the broader housing market will likely be limited, and we do not expect significant spillovers from the subprime market to the rest of the economy or to the financial system. The vast majority of mortgages, including even subprime mortgages, continue to perform well. Past gains in house prices have left most homeowners with significant amounts of home equity, and growth in jobs and incomes should help keep the financial obligations of most households manageable.