Over the past two years, sub-prime mortgage borrowing and a weakening economy have pushed increasing numbers of Americans into dire financial straits. Under the old rules, many could have declared bankruptcy, shed much of their debt, restructured their mortgages and held onto their homes, according to experts and the two reports.
But the 2005 law Biden championed made it more expensive and more difficult to declare bankruptcy, experts conclude. That forced hundreds of thousands of distressed homeowners to sell their homes, or default on their mortgages, after which the bank would sell their former home, according to the studies. That flood of homes going up for sale in an already-weakening market further depressed home prices, according to the two reports, snowballing into the current crisis.
BAPCPA "increased home foreclosures, increased the dollar value of financial assets in default, and put additional downward price pressure on real estate markets," concluded the Bernstein report. Bernstein conducted the report as an individual, not as a representative the Treasury Department.