Prelude To Total Doom, Part One

Mortgage Crisis Spreads Past Subprime Loans

The credit crisis is no longer just a subprime mortgage problem.

As home prices fall and banks tighten lending standards, people with good, or prime, credit histories are falling behind on their payments for home loans, auto loans and credit cards at a quickening pace, according to industry data and economists.

The rise in prime delinquencies, while less severe than the one in the subprime market, nonetheless poses a threat to the battered housing market and weakening economy, which some specialists say is in a recession or headed for one.

Until recently, people with good credit, who tend to pay their bills on time and manage their finances well, were viewed as a bulwark against the economic strains posed by rising defaults among borrowers with blemished, or subprime, credit.

“This collapse in housing value is sucking in all borrowers,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Economy.com.

Everyone needs to understand the significance of this. That will come in Part Two.

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