Smart Borrower Blog

Citigroup Steps Up To The Plate


Jan 9th, 2009 @ 7:36 PM by Alden Smith


In these days before the inauguration, Capitol Hill is a-buzz with many different meetings, strategy planning, and members of Congress trying to decide how to deal with the incoming President.  I look forward to Obama taking office, and hope he gets the support he will definitely need to take on these tough economic times.  A look at unemployment numbers, rate of foreclosures, and underwater mortgages gives one pause.

On that note, I find that Citigroup supports measures giving courts a big say on mortgage reductions if the mortgage is underwater.  This is the first time since the mortgage crisis begin that a major lender has stepped up to the plate and shown a willingness to work with both troubled homeowners and the courts.  I say that it is about time.

You have to consider that the lenders have much to lose if they show an unwillingness to work with people in these hard times.  Not only credibility is lost, but these cases could be dragged through the court system for years.  No one wins in this kind of situation.  Citigroup deserves a lot of recognition for taking this stance, especially considering the fierce opposition in the banking industry towards this proposal.

Congressional Democrats are hoping to work this into legislation under the newly determined economic rescue legislation that Obama will push for when he enters office.  The argument by Congressional Republicans and the banking industry regarding changes to Chapter 13 bankruptcy has been this – it would make providing loans riskier and, because of that, reduce the amount of credit available to buyers.  But think of this – the banking industry is so concerned about losing money that they have gained from the TARP bailout that they are not providing loans to just about anyone who does not have stellar credit – something that is a bit unusual in these tough economic times.  Keeping this money on the books does little good when you consider that the economy of this country is based on what people spend.  The last time I read any stats, this was at 70%.  If 70% of all prospective clients do not have stellar credit, and are refused a loan because of that, where is the boost to the economy?

This bit of legislation is being driven by Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.).  Citigroup Chief Executive Vikram Pandit endorsed the proposal, saying, “This legislation would represent an important step forward. Given today’s exceptional economic environment, we support its swift passage.”  It works for me.

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