What sort of breakdown of society, and community, results from such hardship inflicted on so very, very many Australian families?
An alarming 300,000 households will be under severe mortgage stress by mid-2008 and at risk of losing their homes as interest rates and living costs rise, a new report shows.
The new report, based on the results of telephone interviews with 26,000 Australian households, estimates more than 700,000 households will be experiencing some form of mortgage stress by June this year, a four-fold increase on last year.
It said mild stress was epitomised by households which prioritised or cut spending to pay their mortgages.
About 300,000 households will be experiencing severe stress, meaning they will have missed repayments, be in the process of refinancing or have received a foreclosure notice.
The report also pointed to a rise in "affluent stress" of high net worth borrowers suffering from rising rates, school fees and share margin calls.
We don't even yet know the full scope of how the US subprime mortgage obliteration will impact on Australian banks and investment funds. There's a lot of worthless debt out there no-one wants to claim ownership of, because sticking your hand up for those mortgages may hammer your stock price.
If you don't have a mortgage, if you don't have credit card debt, if you don't owe thousands of dollars to anyone or any institution, you can soon call yourself wealthy, at least compared to the million or more families now stuck with rising mortgages for homes that are losing value.