A dozen distinguished alumni from the University of Michigan Department of Economics gathered for a panel discussion yesterday at Lorch Hall to discuss the current financial crisis. The focus of the panelists’ remarks as well as the questions from the audience mostly reflected the title of the event, “Upheaval in Financial Markets.” That is, the emphasis was on “markets” in the biggest sense: the home market, the capital markets, the credit market, the global market. All of the markets that are now in crisis as a result of questionable mortgage lending practices that gave many people access to buying a house, who would have otherwise not been able to contemplate such a purchase.
But one audience question came from a voice for the “local market,” specifically the “ordinary folks who have one of these mortgages who are suffering.” “What are the techniques,” wondered that voice, “that are available to keep people in their houses? … Or do you believe that they should be out of these houses? This is a social disaster in our community.” The voice posing the question would be familiar to observers of local Ann Arbor affairs.