Getting it and getting away with it 0

Investor’s Business Daily reports that Alan Greenspan “gets it” – which should not come as a surprise considering he was Chairman of the Federal Reserve for nearly 20 years – and recaps what happened that made America and the world poorer.

Testifying before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, the former Fed chairman told some plain truths he didn’t dare utter when he headed the central bank. Most notably, Greenspan implied it was Congress’ meddling incompetence — not the Fed, or free markets, or greedy bankers — that created the financial meltdown. …

It wasn’t the Fed that caused the housing crash and financial meltdown. It was Congress and the White House.

The mess began in the 1970s when, during the Carter administration, left-wing activists attacked banks for supposed “redlining” practices that let them discriminate in making home loans.

In response, Congress passed the Community Reinvestment Act, which gave regulators the power to force banks to lend money to “low-income, minority, and distressed neighborhoods.”

To fund all this new lending, they used two little-known government-sponsored enterprises — Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — and essentially rewrote credit standards for the banks, weakening them substantially. Banks made loans, then Fannie and Freddie bought them — using borrowed money to do it.

In this environment, credit ratings no longer mattered much. Neither did having a job or a steady income. What mattered was race.

The process got supercharged in 1992, when a Democrat-led Congress pushed Fannie and Freddie to buy even more mortgages from banks that had made loans to low-income and minority buyers. In 1996, President Clinton’s Department of Housing and Urban Development told Fannie and Freddie that 42% of their financing had to go to those with incomes below the median.

By 2000, HUD [Department of Housing and Urban Development] Secretary Andrew Cuomo proudly unveiled “new regulations” to “provide $2.4 trillion in mortgages for affordable housing for 28.1 million families.” Despite subsequent efforts at reform, Democrats in Congress — led by Sen. Chris Dodd and Rep. Barney Frank — rejected major changes to Fannie and Freddie.

We’re still paying for that today. Fannie and Freddie have gotten a blank check from the government for their losses, and still owe more than $5 trillion that they can’t pay off.

We’ve been critical of Greenspan in the past, but on this, he’s completely right. The biggest villain in the whole financial meltdown isn’t the “private sector,” as some in Congress — like Rep. Frank — have tried to claim. It’s Congress itself.

Shouldn’t those responsible, notably Chris Dodd and Barney Frank, be made to answer for the world-size wreck? What they’ve done to the economy makes Bernie Madoff’s crooked scheme look paltry.

If it’s not to find who is guilty, so that the culprits may be consigned to their just deserts, what is a Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission for?

Palin for tax cuts 0

Here are passages from the speech Sarah Palin delivered in  Hong Kong on September 23 at the CLSA [Credit Lyonnais Securities Asia] Pacific Markets Conference, taken from excerpts published by the Wall Street Journal. More of the speech can be found here:

We got into this [economic] mess because of government interference in the first place. The mortgage crisis that led to the collapse of the financial market, it was rooted in a good-natured, but wrongheaded, desire to increase home ownership among those who couldn’t yet afford to own a home. In so many cases, politicians on the right and the left, they wanted to take credit for an increase in home ownership among those with lower incomes. But the rules of the marketplace are not adaptable to the mere whims of politicians…

Lack of government wasn’t the problem. Government policies were the problem. The marketplace didn’t fail. It became exactly as common sense would expect it to. The government ordered the loosening of lending standards. The Federal Reserve kept interest rates low. The government forced lending institutions to give loans to people who, as I say, couldn’t afford them. Speculators spotted new investment vehicles, jumped on board and rating agencies underestimated risks…

If you want real job growth, you cut taxes! And you reduce marginal tax rates on all Americans. Cut payroll taxes, eliminate capital gain taxes and slay the death tax, once and for all. Get federal spending under control, and then you step back and you watch the U.S. economy roar back to life. But it takes more courage for a politician to step back and let the free market correct itself than it does to push through panicky solutions or quick fixes…

I can’t wait until we get that Reaganomics sense supplied again because we are going to survive, and we’re going to thrive and expand and roar back to life. And as the world sees this, the world will be a healthier, more secure, safer and more prosperous place when this happens…

Right now we have the highest unemployment rate in 25 years, and it’s still rising. And yet some in D.C. are pushing a cap-and-tax bill that could cripple our energy industry or energy market and dramatically increase the rates of the unemployed, and that’s not just in the energy sector. American jobs in every industry will be threatened by the rising cost of doing business under this cap-and-tax plan. The cost of farming will certainly increase. That’s going to drive up the cost of groceries and drive down farm incomes. The cost of manufacturing, warehousing and transportation will also rise. We are all going to feel the effects. The Americans hardest hit will be those who are already struggling to make ends meet today, much less with this new tax every month…

With most of this we agree. We only don’t believe that people like Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Barney Frank, and Chris Dodd  wanted to increase house ownership among those who couldn’t afford it out of good nature. We judge them less generously. We think they wanted to redistribute wealth and increase the power of government.

At present Palin seems to us to be not only the most charismatic of the Republicans who might be in the 2012 presidential race, but also, to judge by these remarks, one who might rescue the economy.