The New York Times headline the other day was utterly predictable in its class-warfare connotations: "Biggest Defaulters on Mortgages Are the Rich." Indeed, it was so predictable that I confess I did not even try to read through the story (by David Streifeld, who formerly covered the adversary culture for the Washington Post) to find out how the statistics had been manipulated to yield to the desired result. Fortunately, someone else did.
On his invaluable “Future of Capitalism” blog,More than one in seven homeowners with loans in excess of a million dollars are seriously delinquent, according to data compiled for The New York Times by the real estate analytics firm CoreLogic.’”
Ira Stoll notes the oddity of the reporter’s criterion for being rich: having big debts. “‘
Quoth Stoll: “This is one of the strangest definitions of ‘rich,’ ‘upper class,’ or ‘well-to-do’ that I've ever seen, a definition not based on assets or income but on liabilities. By the Times's definition, if you have a loan of more than $1 million on your house, you are rich. That's nonsense. Sure, there may be some genuinely rich people out there carrying big mortgages so they can deduct the interest on their taxes. But a lot of the people with $1 million loans took them out precisely because without them they were not rich enough to afford to live in a house big enough for their family within reasonable commuting distance of their jobs.”