The news certainly isn't all bad at mortgage giant Countrywide
The reduction's not a bailout of the mortgage lending system, or of housing in general. It's simply a cut in the rate that banks charge one another on loans. And while it will likely put some pop into the economy, it won't entirely eliminate the effects of the lending debacle that has so badly exacerbated our housing crisis. It may not provide sufficient help to strapped homeowners facing resets and who may be living on the edge already. It also won't come to the aid of those now in foreclosure, and it'll do very little in the short run to pare away the nation's bloated inventory of houses for sale.
As such, its benefits to Countrywide, Washington Mutual
This isn't to say there isn't any good news at Countrywide. Last week, the company announced that it had lined up $12 billion in financing to help it handle its housing woes. But at the same time, Countrywide has laid off thousands of its people as it tries to become leaner and more nimble. We were also told later in the week that Countrywide had funded $34.4 billion in mortgage loans in August. That's its fewest this year, and down 17.3% from August 2006.
Furthermore, most of the mortgage- and housing-related news outside the company hasn't yet crossed into positive territory. For instance, on Tuesday it was reported that the number of foreclosure filings nationwide rose 36% just between July and August. The total number of foreclosure filings in August reached 243,947, up from 113,300 a year earlier -- a 115% jump.
I'd conclude that the Fed's move won't be a panacea. While Countrywide is a solid company that will likely emerge stronger from the current crisis, now isn't the time for Fools to nibble at its shares.
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Fool contributor David Lee Smith does have a mortgage, but he doesn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned. He welcomes your comments or questions. Washington Mutual is an Income Investor recommendation. The Motley Fool has built an ultra-strong disclosure policy.