The refinancing boom has had many profitable takers since interest rates began their downward spiral last year, but the next potential participant is far bigger than any of the usual 800-pound mortgage industry gorillas--it's the federal government.

When the Clinton administration unveiled its plan to reinvent government Sept. 7, it jumped right into the refi craze by suggesting lower, government -costly HUD homeowner subsidies. This could be accomplished, the administration said, by offering incentives to persuade homeowners to refinance at today's lower rates.

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