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Old Nov 8, 2012, 11:07 AM   #51
Zombie Acorn
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Mcrain already addressed my first point of Obama continuing these flawed policies, but they really weren't what caused the economic downturn.

For that I turn to some quotes from a Bloomberg article:

Greenspan's Warning

The clear gravity of the situation pushed the legislation forward. Some might say the current mess couldn't be foreseen, yet in 2005 Alan Greenspan told Congress how urgent it was for it to act in the clearest possible terms: If Fannie and Freddie ``continue to grow, continue to have the low capital that they have, continue to engage in the dynamic hedging of their portfolios, which they need to do for interest rate risk aversion, they potentially create ever-growing potential systemic risk down the road,'' he said. ``We are placing the total financial system of the future at a substantial risk.''

What happened next was extraordinary. For the first time in history, a serious Fannie and Freddie reform bill was passed by the Senate Banking Committee. The bill gave a regulator power to crack down, and would have required the companies to eliminate their investments in risky assets.

Different World

If that bill had become law, then the world today would be different. In 2005, 2006 and 2007, a blizzard of terrible mortgage paper fluttered out of the Fannie and Freddie clouds, burying many of our oldest and most venerable institutions. Without their checkbooks keeping the market liquid and buying up excess supply, the market would likely have not existed.

But the bill didn't become law, for a simple reason: Democrats opposed it on a party-line vote in the committee, signaling that this would be a partisan issue. Republicans, tied in knots by the tight Democratic opposition, couldn't even get the Senate to vote on the matter.

That such a reckless political stand could have been taken by the Democrats was obscene even then. Wallison wrote at the time: ``It is a classic case of socializing the risk while privatizing the profit. The Democrats and the few Republicans who oppose portfolio limitations could not possibly do so if their constituents understood what they were doing.''

and also some quotes from our friends:

Sen. Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.): And my worry is that we're using the recent safety and soundness concerns, particularly with Freddie, and with a poor regulator, as a straw man to curtail Fannie and Freddie's mission. And I don't think there is any doubt that there are some in the administration who don't believe in Fannie and Freddie altogether, say let the private sector do it. That would be sort of an ideological position.
Rep. Frank: Let me ask [George] Gould and [Franklin] Raines on behalf of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, do you feel that over the past years you have been substantially under-regulated?

Mr. Raines?

Mr. Raines: No, sir.

Mr. Frank: Mr. Gould?

Mr. Gould: No, sir. . . .

Mr. Frank: OK. Then I am not entirely sure why we are here. . . .

Rep. Frank: I believe there has been more alarm raised about potential unsafety and unsoundness than, in fact, exists.

Doop dee doop.
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Old Nov 8, 2012, 11:21 AM   #52
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Fanny and Freddy didn't cause the financial collapse, and their role in providing affordable mortgages to people didn't cause it either. It was the subprime mortgages that caused the problems, a thing that Fanny and Freddy got into well after the big banks had.

Here's one article on point. NYTimes.

Central to Wallison’s argument is that the government’s effort to encourage homeownership among low- and moderate-income Americans is what led to the crisis. Fannie and Freddie, which were required by law to meet certain “affordable housing mandates,” were the primary instruments of that government policy; their need to meet those mandates, says Wallison, is what caused them to dive so heavily into those “risky” mortgages. And because they were powerful forces in the housing market, their entry into subprime dragged along the rest of the mortgage industry.

But the S.E.C. complaint makes almost no mention of affordable housing mandates. Instead, it charges that the executives were motivated to begin buying subprime mortgages — belatedly, contrary to the Big Lie — because they were trying to reclaim lost market share, and thus maximize their bonuses.

As Karen Petrou, a well-regarded bank analyst, puts it: “The S.E.C.’s facts paint a picture in which it wasn’t high-minded government mandates that did [Fannie and Freddie] wrong, but rather the monomaniacal focus of top management on market share.” As I wrote on Tuesday, Fannie and Freddie, rather than leading the housing industry astray, got into riskier mortgages only after the horse was out of the barn. They were becoming irrelevant in the most profitable segment of the market — subprime. And that they couldn’t abide.
Here's another - The Atlantic
Second, Wallison fails to inform his readers that Wall Street's "private-label securitization" of mortgages, which objective analysts identify as the primary source of most subprime and other high-risk loans, experienced a dramatic increase in market share that was exactly contemporaneous with the housing bubble, rising from about 10 percent market share in 2003 to nearly 40 percent by 2006. Overall, loans originated for private-label securitization have defaulted at about six times the rate of Fannie and Freddie loans. Indeed, Wallison does not explain--cannot convincingly explain--why the housing bubble occurred during a period when Fannie and Freddie's market share dropped precipitously.
Third, Wallison ignores the parallel bubble-bust cycle we experienced in commercial real estate, which does not have affordable housing policies of the sort he criticizes for Fannie and Freddie. Commercial real estate values experienced a peak-to-trough price decline of 45 percent, which was considerably worse than the 33 percent peak-to-trough price decline we saw in residential real estate. If, as Wallison contends, it was affordable housing policies that caused the residential real estate bubble, then what caused the bubbles in commercial real estate? Moreover, why did we have similar surges in credit liquidity in student loans, auto loans, and credit cards? The mainstream narrative advanced by Rep. Frank and most others--that it was unregulated securitization on Wall Street that drove the financial crisis--explains these parallel bubbles fairly well; the argument advanced by Wallison does not.
The financial collapse being blamed on Fanny and Freddy is something that has been analyzed and investigated repeatedly, and from what I have seen, it appears that Wall St. and the Big Banks are the real culprits. But hey, I'm not a banking expert, and will happily read any other sources you might have.

(Edit) That being said, apparently F and F misled people about how much risky subprime mortgages they held.

(edit2) A better analysis is here:

We recognize that the other two narratives have popular appeal: They each blame a clear entity, and thus outline a clear set of reform proposals. Had the government not supported housing subsidies (the first narrative) or had policy makers implemented more restrictive financial regulations (the second) there would have been no calamity.

Both of these views are incomplete and misleading. The existence of housing bubbles in a number of large countries, each with vastly different systems of housing finance, severely undercuts the thesis that the housing bubble was a phenomenon driven solely by the U.S. government. Likewise, the multitude of financial-firm failures, spanning varied organizational forms and differing regulatory regimes across the U.S. and Europe, makes it implausible that the crisis was the product of a small coterie of Wall Street bankers and their Washington bedfellows.

We believe the crisis was the product of 10 factors. Only when taken together can they offer a sufficient explanation of what happened:

Read more at WSJ
Hey Mods, can we split the discussion ZA and I are having about the financial crisis into a different thread. I'm afraid we're hijacking this one.

Last edited by mcrain; Nov 8, 2012 at 11:28 AM.
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