[Editor's Note: This analysis of the U.S. mortgage market is part of a two-story package that appears in today's issue of Money Morning. To read a related story on the outlook for adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs), please click here.]
It doesn't have four letters, but "mortgage" has definitely been a dirty word in the financial world the past few years. That's especially true when the word "mortgage" is paired up with such other terms as "subprime," "delinquent," and "foreclosures."
Little wonder that mortgages - along with the derivative securities backed by them and the often-unseemly practices of the people pushing them - have gotten much of the blame for precipitating the economic meltdown from which the American economy is now struggling to recover.
There's still plenty of woe in the mortgage world. But in recent months there have also been some signs that the real-estate-financing markets are at least regaining some semblance of stability, with foundations being poured for a rebuilding phase that might not be too far down the road.