The Housing Chronicles Blog: An update on Mark Zandi's book "Financial Shock"

Friday, October 24, 2008

An update on Mark Zandi's book "Financial Shock"

As one of my first freelance writing assignments for the real estate news syndicator Inman News, I'm going to be reviewing the book by Mark Zandi called Financial Shock: A 360ยบ Look at the Subprime Mortgage Implosion, and How to Avoid the Next Financial Crisis.

Zandi, who is also widely quoted as an economic expert in the national press as well as a consultant to the McCain campaign, has been better known as Chief Economist and co-founder of Moody's, so he's in a particularly good position to write the book, which provides a comprehensive overview of the sub-prime crisis, the related fall-out and, more importantly, some policy prescriptions for how to avoid similar mistakes in the future.

However, since his book was printed in July it missed out on some of the recent events, so I thought it was important to interview Dr. Zandi for any updates. Some money quotes:

On whether or not a government bailout is a wise move:

"It's guarding against the downside risks, which are quite considerable...If we don't down this path quickly, then the policy choices will get overwhelmed by the magnitude of the problem."

On what's next for the homebuilding industry:

"I would expect it to go through a very significant rationalization, and expect to see more failures, although the big, publicly traded builders are still in business and I don't think that's going to change."

On what else needs to be done to fix the housing market:

"Another write-down plan should be implemented and keep on trying to forestall foreclosures...It's a reasonable way to go to write down the first mortgage to the point that it becomes affordable and guarantee the part that's written down to the lender."

On the current economy:

"I think we've been in a recession for a year and will be through next summer -- about the worst we've experienced since the end of WWII, although perhaps not as bad as the 1982 downturn. I would expect unemployment rates to peak at 8% by early 2010."

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