A Crisis By the Numbers – New Story at the Prospect

(Flickr/Sean Dreilinger)

My friend Mary Kane and I wrote a new story for the American Prospect’s website, about the somewhat staggering fact that the government doesn’t track foreclosures. At all. As we write:

With more than 1 million total foreclosures predicted this year, the government is finally taking steps toward resolving a vexing dilemma: It has very few details about this very big problem.

Since the subprime mortgage market collapse in 2007, regulators, Congress, and consumer advocates have relied on what one housing expert describes as “a lack of even marginally accurate or complete data” on the level and nature of foreclosure activity. Incredibly, almost three years into the collapse, there is no nationwide, government- collected data on foreclosures.

“We can tell you how many grapefruit are grown in every state in the country. But we can’t tell you how many mortgages are being made, how many individual loans, and even the characteristics of those loans,” says Guy Cecala, publisher of Inside Mortgage Finance, an industry publication. “We’ve got much better agricultural data in this country than financial data.”

You can, and should, read the whole thing here.