BUSINESS
03/28/2008 02:45 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

U.S. Mortgage Crisis Rivals '80s S&L Meltdown

The home has long been the bedrock asset of most American families. Now, its value has become the biggest question mark hanging over the global economy and financial system.

Over the past decade, Wall Street built a market for more than $2 trillion in securities sold globally and backed by loans to U.S. homeowners on two long-accepted beliefs and one newer one. The prevailing logic: The value of the American home would never fall nationwide, and people would almost always make their mortgage payments. The more recent twist: Packaging mortgage loans and turning them into securities would make the global economy more resilient if anything went wrong.

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