BUSINESS
03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

"Strategic" Mortgage Default: Why It's Not Unethical

Last month a study from the credit reporting agency Experian and consulting outfit Oliver Wyman estimated that close to a fifth of troubled mortgages involved borrowers who were "strategically" defaulting--walking away from mortgages they could pay but decided not to because they owed more than their houses were worth. Self-assigned guardians of financial ethics see the willingness of borrowers to abandon their mortgage debts as a sign of the "erosion of social and moral standards." The aim of these critics is to shame debtors into sticking with their mortgages. That's something debtors should take with a grain of salt. There are many good reasons to keep paying your mortgage and avoid the black mark of foreclosure, but the immorality of sticking the bank with a loss isn't one of them.

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