Interesting piece in the Wall Street Journal today, "Second-Mortgage Misery." The general point is that homeowners who took out second mortgages are more than twice as likely to be underwater as those who didn’t.
Yes, yes, there’s a bit of a "Duh" there, but there’s a bunch more to the story.
For example, the banks that were once so eager to give out these mortgages are now realizing that — oops! — the loans are coming back to bite ’em on the, um, balance sheet. That’s because, unlike those first mortgages that were sold off to [insert adjective here] investors, it’s the banks that are holding on to second mortgages.
Nearly three-quarters of roughly $950 billion in home-equity loans outstanding were held by commercial banks at the end of last year, according to Federal Reserve data. More than 40% of that debt is on the books of the nation’s four largest banks: Wells Fargo & Co., Bank of America Corp., J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., and Citigroup Inc. Requiring big writedowns on those loans could burn through banks’ capital.
Check out the full piece for the numbers, some stories, and the bigger picture.