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HELC Gone Wild

It wasn’t just investors who got caught up in the real estate bubble, but also homeowners who refinanced their home as mortgage rates dropped and home values rose:

By taking home equity loans and cashing out--that is, refinancing the mortgage--every time their houses went up in value, the millions made billions. According to Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, they made $600 billion last year on the hypothetical appreciation of their properties. That adds up to about 7 percent of their spendable, after-taxes income. That's twice as much money put into people's hands as Bush's tax cuts.

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