During the Whitewater investigation, President Bill Clinton was famously quoted quibbling over the meaning of the word "is," saying, "It depends upon what the meaning of the word 'is' is." Perhaps the Treasury could take a similar approach when asked whether its foreclosure prevention program (HAMP) has been a failure. It depends upon what the meaning of the word "failure" is. Although it has failed in many ways, perhaps it has not in every way.
Where It Has Failed
The Treasury released its report (.pdf) for September today. The program is still struggling to find new applicants and to convert trials to permanent modifications. Here's the latest chart showing its progress, or lack thereof:
You can see that new trials have held pretty steady in the 20,000 to 25,000 range for several months now. The number of new permanent modifications has declined back to this level as well, with the fewest in September so far this year. Meanwhile, the total cancellations are still higher than either of these figures at 46,455.
Cancellations have plagued the HAMP program. Through September, 699,924 trial modifications had been canceled. That's more than the 495,898 modifications that had been made permanent. And 29,190 of those had been canceled as well. That means, of its 1.37 million trials started, 53.2% have been canceled, while 34.1% have been made and remain permanent.