The Obama administration's $275 billion plan to help up to 9 million families restructure or refinance their mortgages offers carrots for borrowers and lenders, including incentive payments and partial guarantees against losses for lenders who agree to modify loans. But the administration is also seeking a stick: granting bankruptcy judges the power to modify the terms of mortgages when borrowers end up in their courts, regardless of whether lenders agree to go along. The mortgage lending industry has long opposed these so-called "cram-downs" of mortgages in bankruptcy court, saying the practice will drive up the cost of home loans for all borrowers. Although the Obama administration will be able to implement some aspects of its homeowner affordability and stability ...
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