The mortgage industry is facing the prospect of 1.8 million foreclosures this year, up from 1.5 million in 2007, according to a prediction by the Mortgage Bankers Association's chief economist. Doug Duncan, who will soon join Fannie Mae as its chief economist, made the prediction during a panel discussion at the MBA National Mortgage Servicing Conference in New Orleans. The panel agreed that foreclosures are not just a subprime problem, but a broader economic problem affecting different regions, especially the Midwest and previously overheated markets. Amy Crews Cutts, deputy chief economist at Freddie Mac, said delinquencies and foreclosures are also rising in prime loans. Ms. Cutts said it will take time, perhaps until the third quarter, before home prices stop falling. "The recession risk is higher," she said. "And unemployment will creep up on us." Alternative-A and negative-amortization loans were also cited as possible causes for concern when they reset in 2010.

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