It's important to note that the hoopla over mortgage-market issues is confined to the so-called non-conforming mortgage market. The credit market's concerns began with subprime mortgages, where liberal underwriting fostered the current credit-quality crisis. Those concerns have now spread to jumbo and alt-A mortgages, which -- being non-conforming loans -- suffer from the same suspicions as subprime loans, deservedly or not. The market for conforming loans (those destined to be sold to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac) has been all but untouched by these concerns due to their rigid lending strictures. Credit for conforming loans, which make up the bulk of the nation's credit market, is widely available; the ongoing liquidity issues are the province of the subprime mortgage market (and will continue to be) as well as -- until quality issues are worked out between mortgage sellers and those who would buy them -- the jumbo mortgage market.
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