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?

AIG makes more ruinous decisions 2

 Risk Specialists Companies, Inc., a subsidiary of AIG Commercial Insurance – to save which from its own folly every tax-payer in America is suffering extortion by the government – is introducing Sharia-compliant products. 

The dangers of this are set out clearly here.

Thanks to our reader Pete Seeker.

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Thursday, December 18, 2008

Tagged with , , , , ,

This post has 2 comments.

Permalink

The right and wrong ways to tackle the crisis? 0

 Investor’s Business Daily believes that this time government is intervening in the right way to help solve the economic crisis: 

Like so many others, we believe that government should largely remove itself from functioning markets. But in a case such as this, where a market has been seriously damaged due to regulatory excess, an obligation exists to help undo the damage.

That’s the case now with the subprime crisis and housing collapse, both largely due to decades of congressional incompetence.

With world credit markets seized up and little to show for piecemeal U.S. efforts to deal with the growing financial panic, Paulson and others on the Bush financial team late last week shifted course, crafting a systematic answer to the markets’ meltdown.

This was leadership writ large… 

His controversial decision to create a new financial entity, modeled broadly on the 1980s-era Resolution Trust Corp., may just spell an end to this financial crisis. Congress, which has mostly sat on the sidelines during this crisis, should approve it right away.

Unlike the RTC, which owned actual properties, the new agency that Paulson’s Treasury is creating will buy up the impaired mortgage-backed securities and hold them for resale when the market turns favorable again.

For ailing financial markets, this was welcome tonic. At this point they care less about details of the agency than limiting the contagion of the subprime crisis so it will no longer contaminate global banks and investors’ balance sheets. Mission accomplished.

That’s why markets rallied so strongly Thursday and Friday, with the Dow industrials ahead 779 points, or 7.3%, and the Nasdaq up 175 points, or 5.8%. Bourses in London, Paris, Frankfurt, Tokyo and Hong Kong, among many others, also rebounded sharply.

Paulson’s move will have deep, and perhaps lasting, impacts on global markets. Foreign central banks had virtually thrown their hands up in despair over their inability to deal with the crisis. But in just three days, Paulson and other top finance and regulatory officials in the Bush administration cobbled together a world rescue.

In addition to Paulson’s new entity, Bernanke’s Fed extended $180 billion in credit to practice that had contributed to the growing financial crisis.

These U.S. moves should erase the doubts that existed both in the suites of global market makers and in the kitchens and living rooms of Main Street, U.S.A., over whether the American government would fiddle while the world economy burned.

Just this week, Germany’s Der Spiegel headlined a story: "The World As We Know It Is Going Down." Well, it isn’t. Thanks to Paulson and Co., America has reasserted global leadership at a time when many thought it was lost.

It finds fault with Barack Obama’s analysis and his 4-point remedy. His would be the wrong way.  

And what would Obama do instead? We’re beginning to find out. In a four-point action plan Obama presented on Friday, he goes beyond "hope" and "change" oratory and moves on to what really matters to him: the big-government spending he’s been selling all election.

And here’s what Obama proposes:

• Point one, Obama calls for subsidies to "working families" to beat high food and energy prices. The problem: High food and energy prices won’t be helped by subsidies, but by more supplies. The real solution is to force a Democratic Congress to allow domestic drilling for oil. Thus far, Obama isn’t even "present" on that one.

• Point two, dubbed "mutual responsibility and reciprocity," calls for banks to subsidize bad borrowers to "protect homeowners and the economy." This would eliminate personal responsibility. Demagoguing false details — such as about bankers getting golden parachutes, instead of 25,000 of them losing their jobs — Obama insists the solution is simple: Banks shouldn’t foreclose on delinquent home buyers. Obviously, he hasn’t heard of how bad loans drained Japan’s economy of its vitality for a decade.

• Third, Obama seeks "new oversight and regulations of our financial institutions." That means forcing new bureaucracies and regulations into the private sector, the very phenomenon that has made navigating our health care industry such a delight.

• Fourth, Obama seeks to empower unelected foreign entities to the same "globally coordinated (rescue) effort." But Bernanke and Paulson have already done the heavy lifting, as the rest of "the world" has done next to nothing. One more global bureaucracy won’t make America’s financial system any healthier.

Obama makes a final point by blasting the failure of "common-sense regulation and oversight," to the financial system.

He ought to bring this up with fellow Democrats in Congress. In the 1990s, Rep. Barney Frank blocked key reforms even as he took campaign cash from banking interests. In 2004, President Bush attempted to revive the reforms, but Democrats blocked them.

Today’s bank crisis isn’t due to the inherent evil of the private sector, as Obama claims. It’s due to Democratic leaders who were bought off by political donations and hostile to reform.

Obama, curiously enough, is one of the top recipients of cash from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Small wonder, then, that his main election argument would expand the scope of government by using the banks’ subprime woes as leverage.

 

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Monday, September 22, 2008

Tagged with , , , ,

This post has 0 comments.

Permalink

Regulation is the disease not the cure 8

 Neal Boortz confirms that the economic crisis was caused by socialist politicians, like Barack Obama, not by an ‘unregulated’ free market.

Political correctness won the day. Washington made it clear to banks and other lending institutions that if they did not do something .. and fast .. to bring more minorities and low-income Americans into the world of home ownership there would be a heavy price to pay. Congress set up processes (Research the Community Redevelopment Act) whereby community activist groups and organizers could effectively stop a bank’s efforts to grow if that bank didn’t make loans to unqualified borrowers. Enter, stage left, the “subprime” mortgage. These lenders knew that a very high percentage of these loans would turn to garbage – but it was a price that had to be paid if the bank was to expand and grow. We should note that among the community groups browbeating banks into making these bad loans was an outfit called ACORN. There is one certain presidential candidate that did a lot of community organizing for ACORN. I won’t mention his name so as to avoid politicizing this column.

These garbage loans to unqualified borrowers were then bundled up and sold. The expectation was that the loans would be eventually paid off when rising home values led some borrowers to access their equity through re-financing and others to sell and move on up the ladder. Oops.

Right now this crisis is being sold to the American public by the left as evidence the failure of the free market and capitalism. Not so. What we’re seeing is the inevitable result of political interference in free market economics. Acme bank didn’t want to loan money to Joe Homebuyer because Joe had a spotty job history, owed too much money on his credit cards, and wasn’t all that good at making payments on time. The politicians told Acme Bank to figure out a way to make that loan, because, after all, Joe is a bona-fide minority-American, or forget about opening that new branch office on the Southside. The loan was made under politicial pressure; the loan, with millions like it, failed – and now we are left to enjoy today’s headlines.

So … why aren’t you reading the whole story in the mainstream media? Come on, are you kidding me? Do you really expect the media to blame this mess on deadbeat borrowers and political interference in the free market when it is so easy to put the blame on greedy lenders and evil capitalists? Remember … there’s an election going on. One candidate is decidedly anti-capitalist. Do the math.

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Friday, September 19, 2008

Tagged with , , , ,

This post has 8 comments.

Permalink