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Mortgage Walkaways: The Go-To Story

There are "go-to" stories in the news business — subjects that will always get readers' attention no matter what else is going on.

A home is advertised for sale at a foreclosure auction in Pasadena, California.
Reed Saxon
A home is advertised for sale at a foreclosure auction in Pasadena, California.

Generally these are the stories you "go to" when the news cycle is getting thin. Of course, between the Gulf disaster and Europe's problems, the business-news cycle hasn't been that thin. Nevertheless we had a "go-to" story that trumped all the other coverage of the day: a New York Times piece about people deciding not to pay their mortgages.

Readers piled into that story in droves. And they left a lot of comments — mostly angry ones. There is a deep animus in this country about not meeting a financial commitment.

On the other hand, the underlying motivation of the folks cited in the story seems to be a financial one as Barry Ritholtz points out in his Big Picture blog: It makes more sense for these folks to pass on the mortgage payment since their initial real-estate investment went irreversibly bad.

Ritholtz suggests that this walkaway story will go on for five years. Guess that'll give us a "go-to" story for a while.

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