Fed Is Staying the Course on Interest Rates, Housing Is Feeling the Impact

 The overheated employment market appears to be cooling off, but probably not fast enough to demonstrate the progress the Federal Reserve wants to see in its efforts to combat inflation, still growing at an uncomfortable 8 percent annual rate.

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Twice in the past six years, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has floated a plan to overhaul the Real Estate Settlement Practices Act (RESPA),  a statute that nearly everyone views as dysfunctional at best and counter-productive at worst, only to see the proposed reforms shot down by industry opposition. 

Economists and politicians are still debating and recalculating the odds on whether the economy will stumble into a recession or avoid a serious downturn.

No!  No way!  Absolutely not!  Never mind.  That pretty much summarizes the dramatic reversal in policy that led the Bush Administration to support a reduction in the capital requirements for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, freeing the secondary market giants to play a larger role in efforts to contain the damage caused by the subprime mortgage crisis. 

Financial industry lobbyists are becoming increasingly concerned about proposals pending in Congress that would amend the bankruptcy law to provide relief for subprime borrowers at risk of losing their homes.