Laurie Goodman is an apolitical number cruncher who has spent most of her 28-year career out of the public view, studying the minutiae of mortgage-backed securities (MBS) for big investment banks. She's long been a star among Wall Street insiders, however. She holds the record for the most top rankings for fixed-in-come research from the trade bible Institutional Investor.
While Goodman concedes she underestimated the impact of the housing bubble's bursting early on, by mid-2007 she was warning investors to prepare for a deep downturn. She prepared herself as well.
After her employer at the time, UBS, shut down its mortgage trading desk in 2008, she jumped to Amherst Securities, a small company that serves as an MBS broker-dealer for big investors. From there she's published research that has raised her profile and made her an oft-cited source by would-be housing reformers in both the private and public sectors. If she is underestimating the problems the housing market has now, we're all in trouble.
Goodman often pauses several seconds before speaking, choosing her words deliberately. So it is especially distressing to hear her warn of a potential housing "death spiral."
On top of the 2.5 million homes that have already fallen to foreclosure since the bubble burst, another 4.5 million mortgage holders have given up paying and are likely to lose their homes, she calculates.
'Shareholders of the world unite'
Millions more are underwater -- owing more than their home is worth -- and may give up if things don't improve soon. All told, Goodman warns that more than 10 million of the nation's 55 million mortgage holders could default by 2018. If home prices fall much more than the 6% or so she's projecting over the next 12 to 18 months, the picture worsens, as more foreclosures drive prices down further, in turn causing more sheriffs' sales.
Goodman's research into who defaults shows that many governmental and private efforts at saving borrowers -- and reducing investors' losses -- by modifying mortgages weren't helping because they only extended payments or reduced interest rates. They didn't fix the fundamental problem of unsupportable debt loads.
Read more...Revolt of the insider - housing analyst Laurie Goodman - Jan. 16, 2012