Stabilize Home Mortgage Borrowers, and the Financial System Will Follow
3 Pages Posted: 26 Sep 2008
Date Written: September 24, 2008
To halt the Great Depression, the federal government nullified all clauses in contracts that pegged debt to the price of gold. By taking these contracts off the gold standard, debts were reduced by roughly 40 percent. Economist Randall Kroszner, now a governor on the Federal Reserve Board, examined the effects of this sweeping debt reduction and found that both stocks and bonds responded favorably. Investors and creditors decided that the elimination of debt overhang and the avoidance of threatened corporate bankruptcies more than offset the cost to creditors of receiving 60 cents on the dollar. And the taxpayer did not pay a penny.
This trick could only be performed once, now that gold clauses are out. So is there a way to eliminate today's mortgage debt overhang, staunch foreclosures, and restore liquidity and stability in our financial markets? Yes. We have not yet used our most potent weapon against the crisis: eminent domain.
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