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Here is a good analysis of a former collegue of mine, Tim Oren. To read the full article, please click here.

Gresham’s Law hasn’t been repealed, but it’s taking on new forms in Washington these days.

Having put ‘bad’ money – printed by fiat or ‘secured’ by loans against taxpayers yet unborn – into the banking system in the first round of bailouts, the Feds now presume to rewrite not only future but existing loans. The consequences were on exhibit in Washington last week as financial genius Barney Frank and other politicians “…managed to demand more loans for consumers while simultaneously giving lenders new cause to wonder if they’ll ever be repaid.” They and other congress critters want to make it legal for bankruptcy judges to forcibly abrogate the terms of existing mortgages.

As pointed out in this WSJ article, most of the lending side of the credit market does not come from banks: “Most investors who lend in these markets are not recipients of financial bailout money, so Congress can’t simply browbeat them into making another big bet on the American consumer. ” These lenders have ‘good’ money that is still subject to the reality check of the market, rather than political exigency. But a move to retroactively rewrite credit contracts by government fiat will affect them as well. The result?

First, to make the world of collateralized mortgage debt tremble once again. While the consequences of foreclosures fall on the junior tranches of packaged debt – now mostly written off – in many case the results of forcible, retroactive modification of a contract’s conditions would fall pro rata across all tranches, causing the value of those that are still standing to slide as well. Yet more fear to hang over new as well as existing mortgage backed securities.”

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