Half of commercial real estate mortgages to be underwater by year’s end 

We’ve been dealing with a residential real estate crisis for some time now, but it looks like things are about to go from bad to worse in the commercial sector as well:

By the end of 2010, about half of all commercial real estate mortgages will be underwater, said Elizabeth Warren, chairperson of the TARP Congressional Oversight Panel, in a wide-ranging interview on Monday.

“They are [mostly] concentrated in the mid-sized banks,” Warren told CNBC. “We now have 2,988 banks—mostly midsized, that have these dangerous concentrations in commercial real estate lending.”

As a result, the economy will face another “very serious problem” that will have to be resolved over the next three years, she said, adding that things are unlikely to return to normalcy in 2010.

On the plus side, Warren seems to be aware that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are disasters for the taxpayer:

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Speaking on troubled mortgage lenders, Warren said it’s time for the government to “pull the plug” on mortgage lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

“I’m one of those people who never liked public-private partnership to begin with. I think what they did was use public when public was useful and private when private was useful,” she said. “And I think we’ve got to rethink that whole thing.”

But before you get too hopeful, bear in mind that this is also the same Elizabeth Warren who thought that bailing out the mortgages of vacation homes was a good idea.

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Mark Hemingway

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