Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The devil is in the details

I found this article put out by the Associated Press the other day proclaiming relief for the mortgage crisis. Apparently the number of homeowners who are late on payments has dropped sharply – heralding better times ahead.

The article also gives the grim truth about this supposed turnaround. The ‘sharp drop’ constitutes a change of 0.2 percent – from 3.8 to 3.6. That’s 2 tenths of a percent.

I imagine the author of the article has a different definition of sharp than I do. I also have to wonder how much of this sharp drop is a result of people having lost their homes to foreclosure. You can’t be late on a payment if you no longer own the house, right?

This quote from the article tells the rest of the real story:

However, more than 15 percent of homeowners with a mortgage had missed at least one payment or were in foreclosure, a record for the 10th straight quarter.

I realize it may be the job of journalists like this and the Associated Press in general to paint a happy picture of the economy – after all, telling people things are getting better, will make them think things are getting better, and then perhaps by default, things will actually begin to get better. I just wish if they were going to try to snow the public with fuzzy facts, they worked a little harder at making them fuzzy. This is just blatant hogwash.

Chin up everyone, things are better! Two tenths of a percent less people were one payment late on their mortgages so we can all breath a sigh of relief. The fact that the article ends with the information that the number of homeowners who are more than three payments late has continued to rise is apparently notwithstanding.

I imagine the whole point of this article is not to convey any real information, just to dazzle people with peppy headlines.


  1. Yeah, that's like when they say the unemployment numbers are better. And there's no mention of the number of people who while still employed have taken significant pay cuts...whether thru furloughs or actual pay cuts.

  2. True. Once people have been unemployed so long they no longer receive benefits, they're not counted...so the problem technically goes away.