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US Treasury Forcing Mortgage Principal Forgiveness
CNBC.com | January 30, 2012 | 03:43 PM EST

Late Friday the U.S. Treasury Department announceda major expansion of its Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP).

The three-year-old program has been largely deemed unsuccessful, as it has provided just about 750,000 borrowers with permanent loan modifications. The initial expectation from government officials was that it would help three to four million borrowers.

“Clearly the initial program erred on the side of making sure taxpayers were protected, but it didn’t do enough to help the overall economy,” said Michael Barr, former Asst. Treasury Secretary for Financial Institutions and one of HAMP’s original architects.

Now taxpayers will pony up the cash, as Treasury is tripling the financial incentives to lenders and opening the program up to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and investors in rental properties. The money would come out of TARP funds, i.e. from the taxpayers. We still don’t know if Fannie and Freddie will participate, since their conservator, the FHFA’s Ed DeMarco, has been actively fighting principal write down for years. A week ago he sent a letter to members of congress explaining the math behind his argument.

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