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Mortgage Lenders Pessimistic On Darfur
AL-FASHIR, Darfur (CAP) - The Union of Concerned Mortgage Lenders indicated in their quarterly newsletter that they are pessimistic about the future of lending in Darfur. The report came just hours after the U.N. announced that mortgage defaults are rapidly rising in the region.
The newsletter, citing new data published by AfricanForeclosures.com, said that "...years of worldwide neglect and indifference have created the conditions for very low per-capita lending and high default rates on existing loans." The report went on to predict "extremely low potential for lending in the last quarter of this year due to increased interest rates, poor job statistics, and genocide."
And it's not just homes that are affected. Throughout last year and into early this year, not a single new shopping mall project was submitted for public review in the region, as investors continue to take a wait-and-see approach on future developments.
But not everyone agrees with the statistics. Karl Evermore, an economist with the mortgage group Savannah Unlimited, said, "We continue to believe it possible to engineer a soft landing and reverse the trend" of foreclosures on shacks, mud huts, and lean-tos, "but only if the world community takes an active role in Darfur."
Evermore was advising investors that Darfuri properties were an essential piece of a well-diversified real estate portfolio and that such property "has nowhere to go but up."
Investors, however, don't seem to be biting, especially with western governments affirming their belief that the best course of action is no action at all. John Bolton, the U.S. Representative to the United Nations, said, "We're still studying the situation and believe it would be imprudent to take action at this point. The U.S. Government does not intend to become involved in the internal political tensions in Africa because that could destabilize the region."
Bolton added that intelligence around the Darfuri problem is "suspect at best," and that the U.S. never enters into armed conflict "without being absolutely certain of the outcome." Plus, he said, there is little evidence of oil in the region, a factor that might otherwise tip the scales toward intervention.
Statistics seem to buttress the claims of the Union of Concerned Mortgage Lenders about the low viability of new loans in the region. Consumer confidence is at an all time low as millions of acres of land have been burned and rendered useless, rapes and murders have become a daily phenomenon, and disease and starvation have risen sharply.
Government officials have attempted to jump-start the economy with a blitz of ads called "Shop Darfur." In these short, slickly produced TV spots aired during popular Sudanese soap operas, courageous and heavily-armed military personnel tell the citizens of the region to "be vigilant, but go about your business, and keep shopping!" The hope is that citizens will borrow against the value of their burned village land, even at current high interest rates, to buy disposable goods and potable water.
- Patrick McVay
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