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The crisis in the mortgage industry is being felt around the world

If you feel like you can't keep up with all the news in the mortgage world, don't worry. You're not alone.

Over the last few months, the mortgage lending industry has been torn by drastic changes that industry insiders say are among the most severe in recent memory.

At first, the focus was on "exotic" new adjustable-rate mortgage products that critics said were recklessly sold to subprime borrowers … those with bad credit … who never should have received them. But the problem has now spread to the rest of the industry.

Loan losses and foreclosures have skyrocketed to record levels, dozens of companies have gone out of business or sharply scaled back their lending, and investor worry is wreaking havoc on Wall Street. Ratings agencies are cutting their evaluations of bonds, major brokerage firms are bailing out hedge funds to the tune of several billion dollars, and even large European banks are disclosing significant losses or risks.

Now, with central banks injecting more than $100 billion into stock markets around the world, and projections of millions more defaults and foreclosures, all eyes are on what will happen next, and what should be done.

What do you think? And how is it affecting you?

-- Jonathan D. Epstein

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