Government tries to protect bad borrowers from themselves

Yesterday, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke announced proposed rules to help protect consumers getting mortgages. The general theory seems to be that the subprime mortgage mess was created because mortgage companies scammed borrowers. I do believe that happened in some cases, but the 1% home mortgage default rate we currently have is more likely mostly due to irresponsible borrowers.

So in an effort to protect people from themselves and make sure they don't find a way to buy houses they can't really afford, we can welcome in more government regulations. Because borrowers lied about their incomes, the lenders will be required to verify income. The lenders will have to force homeowners to escrow money for taxes and insurance, and they will also have to determine if the borrower can actually afford to pay the mortgage.I'm all in favor of cracking down on mortgage companies and banks that engaged in unethical lending practices. But I'm not a fan of more government regulations. We need less government in our lives. These proposed rules restrict our freedoms unnecessarily. Yet consumer groups claim these rules don't go far enough. And who will monitor compliance with these rules? Will we need more government employees or another agency or department?

How about if borrowers just report their earnings honestly and not try to buy houses they can't pay for? Pretty soon we'll need government permission to even try to buy a house. There's got to be a better solution for the perceived mortgage problem.

Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.
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