10 years that shook America's finances
Year 2005: Subprime mortgages peak
- The subprime mortgage boom peaks. Lenders hand out $625 billion in subprime loans, compared to $540 billion the year before. On top of that, lenders give $380 billion in Alt-A mortgages. Most of the Alt-A loans are low-documentation mortgages, otherwise know as "liar loans" because borrowers exaggerate their incomes with a wink and nod from their lenders.
- An adage gains currency: Mortgage lenders are willing to give a loan to anyone who can fog a mirror. Urban legends tell of gardeners buying $500,000 McMansions. More than three-quarters of the 2005 subprime and Alt-A loans are sold on the secondary market. The market would explode in 2007 and 2008, igniting the worst recession since the Great Depression.
- Congress reforms bankruptcy law to make it more difficult for consumers to file bankruptcy. The law prioritizes credit card debt higher than unpaid child support.
- The Federal Reserve raises short-term interest rates eight times. The federal funds rate begins the year at 2.25 percent and ends it at 4.25 percent.
- Nationally, home values rise more than 11 percent, according to the federal government's House Price Index. The National Association of Realtors distributes a "Housing Bubble Prospects Q&A" that assures consumers, "There is virtually no risk of a national housing price bubble based on the fundamental demand for housing and predictable economic factors."
-- Holden Lewis