By Michael S Barr and Laura D Tyson
The US economy is caught in a vicious downward spiral of declining home prices, escalating foreclosures, rising losses on mortgage-backed securities, and disappearing liquidity. The liquidity crisis has spread rapidly from the mortgage market to engulf other forms of consumer credit, commercial real estate, and municipal and corporate debt.
Alarmed by the spectre of a prolonged economic slowdown, both the Federal Reserve and the US Congress have acted aggressively to stimulate demand through monetary and fiscal levers. The US Treasury has pressed mortgage holders to restructure mortgages and suspend foreclosures on a voluntary basis. But the continuing turmoil in financial markets confirms that these actions are not enough. Restoring confidence and liquidity in credit markets requires bold action to restructure the overhang of distressed assets and contain the losses in the US housing and mortgage markets. Read more