“Extend and Pretend” forevermore.
This is the transcript of my podcast last Sunday, THE WOLF STREET REPORT. You can listen to it on YouTube, and you can find it on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, and others.
Until a few months ago, most Americans didn’t even know what “forbearance” was. Now, roughly four million home mortgages, or about 8% of all home mortgages, are in forbearance. Those four million households with mortgages in forbearance might still not fully understand what forbearance is, but they know one thing: They don’t have to make mortgage payments for a while, and they get to spend that money on other things instead of sending it to the bank.
There are forbearance deals offered by lenders for credit cards and auto loans. I don’t owe any balances on my credit cards and I don’t have an auto loan, but my inbox gets blasted with offers of forbearance anyway, by every bank I do business with.
My WOLF STREET media mogul empire too. It’s just a tiny business, and it doesn’t owe any money, but sure enough, my bank is offering “assistance” with those debts that my business doesn’t have.
When a lender agrees to grant the borrower forbearance, the lender agrees to not exercise its rights when the borrower doesn’t make the loan payments. There is an agreement both parties sign, and this forbearance agreement determines, among other things, the period of forbearance, and what happens afterwards. And afterwards those missed payments will have to be made up somehow. Forbearance is not forgiveness.
But a forbearance agreement can be extended, if both parties agree to do so. In banker’s lingo, it’s called “extend and pretend.”
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