This is a question being asked this week as we witness one of the most dramatic downturns in US economic history. But are we on the verge of another great depression? Economist Robert J. Samuelson says “œnot even close” in his column appearing in the October 13 issue of Newsweek.
Samuelson states that economic downturns hardly ever evolve into national tragedies. In fact, the US has been through 10 recessions since the late 40â€™s. While they did have a very real effect on the economy and of the people living through them, they actually only lasted for an average of 10 months. The two worst were from 73 to 75 and in 81 to 82. Both lasted 16 months and unemployment rates peaked at nearly 11%, well above the average for the other recessions of 7.5% and of the current rate of 6%.
Coinciding with the number of recessions over the last 60 years are the number of bear markets. Since WWII the number of bear markets has also been 10. A bear market is one in which the S&P Index declines at least 20% from the most recent peak. The average of all post war bears was just over 31% . The .com crash of the nineties witnessed a fall of over 50% and last week the market was down 30% from one year ago.
Compare all of this to the Great Depression, where the market lost a whopping 90% of its value resulting in nearly a decade of hard times. Most economist agree that this is not likely in today’s environment where the Federal Reserve is actively injecting funds into the finance sector, unlike the Federal Reserve of 1929 that did relatively nothing to prevent the collapse of the US economy.
The FHA, or Federal Housing Authority, is a federal government agency that was created in the 1930’s. The US was just beginning to rebound from the Great Depression and the FHA was developed to help add stability to the mortgage market and improve housing conditions. In 1965 the FHA was joined with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and together they have insured of 34 million mortgages.
Typically an FHA does not rely on a persons credit score as much as a traditional loan and they also do not require as much of a down payment, currently only 3%. Since the interest rate is not dependent on a credit score, the rate is the same for everyone. This is advantageous to someone with a lower credit score, but does not reward someone with a high credit score.
In order to qualify for an FHA loan there are several requirements you must meet. You must been employed by the same company for at least two years and maintained the same or more income throughout your employment with the company. If you have ever had a Bankruptcy, it must be at least two years old and you must have had at least two years of good credit since the bankruptcy. If you have had a Foreclosure, it must be at least three years old. You must also be in good standing with any of your lenders and not had more than two 30 day late payments in the past two years. Your mortgage payment will usually be based off of 30% of your total monthly income.
FHA loans were extremely popular in the late 30’s and early 40’s, but today it is estimated that they only account for 3% of all current home loans. If you have less than perfect credit, they may however be a great way for you to get a loan.