In prepared remarks before a congressional hearing a month after Lehman’s September 2008 bankruptcy, Mr. Greenspan declared: “Those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholders’ equity (myself especially) are in a state of shocked disbelief.” He was hardly alone in failing to predict the economic tsunami. Equally clueless were government officials, Wall Street practitioners and professional economists. In “The Map and the Territory,” Mr. Greenspan tries to explain what went wrong and offers suggestions for how we can do a better job. (more…)
Archive for the ‘Housing Market’ Category
Are the Clintons the Real Housing-Crash Villains?
Let’s revisit this piece of financial history, before Hillary rewrites it.
We are going to reveal the grand secret to getting rich by investing. It’s a simple formula that has worked for Warren Buffett, Carl Icahn, and all the great investment gurus over the years. Ready?
Buy low, sell high.
It turns out that Donald Trump has been very, very good at buying low and selling high, which helps account for his amazing business success.
But now Hillary Clinton seems to think it’s a crime. Campaigning in California last week she wailed that Trump “actually said he was hoping for the crash that caused hard-working families in California and across America to lose their homes, all because he thought he could take advantage of it to make some money for himself.”
So she’s assailing Trump for being a good businessman — something she would know almost nothing about because she’s never actually run a business (though she did miraculously turn $1,000 into $1 million in the cattle-futures market).
Hillary’s new TV ads say Trump predicted the real-estate crash in 2006 (good call) and then bought real estate at low prices when the housing crash that few others foresaw arrived in 2008. Many builders went out of business during the crash, but Trump read the market perfectly.
What is so hypocritical about this Clinton attack is that it wasn’t Trump, but Hillary, her husband, and many of her biggest supporters who were the real culprits. Before Hillary is able to rewrite this history, let’s look at the many ways the Clintons and their cronies contributed to the housing implosion and Great Recession.
The Fed, the White House and Congress are setting up the next financial bubble
NEW YORK POST
Paul Sperry is a Hoover Institution media fellow and author of “The Great American Bank Robbery,” which exposes the racial politics behind the mortgage bust.
A key part of President Obama’s legacy will be the fed’s unprecedented collection of sensitive data on Americans by race. The government is prying into our most personal information at the most local levels, all for the purpose of “racial and economic justice.”Unbeknown to most Americans, Obama’s racial bean counters are furiously mining data on their health, home loans, credit cards, places of work, neighborhoods, even how their kids are disciplined in school — all to document “inequalities” between minorities and whites.This Orwellian-style stockpile of statistics includes a vast and permanent network of discrimination databases, which Obama already is using to make “disparate impact” cases against: banks that don’t make enough prime loans to minorities; schools that suspend too many blacks; cities that don’t offer enough Section 8 and other low-income housing for minorities; and employers who turn down African-Americans for jobs due to criminal backgrounds.Big Brother Barack wants the databases operational before he leaves office, and much of the data in them will be posted online.So civil-rights attorneys and urban activist groups will be able to exploit them to show patterns of “racial disparities” and “segregation,” even if no other evidence of discrimination exists.OBAMA IS PRESIDING OVER THE LARGEST CONSOLIDATION OF PERSONAL DATA IN US HISTORY.
Housing database (more…)
Published on The Weekly Standard (www.weeklystandard.com)
Blame for the 2008 financial collapse is, and should be, widespread.
Jay CostJune 1, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 36
In The Semisovereign People, political scientist E. E. Schatt-schneider argues that “political conflict is not like an intercollegiate debate in which the opponents agree in advance on a definition of the issues. As a matter of fact, the definition of the alternatives is the supreme instrument of power. . . . He who determines what politics is about runs the country.” Schattschneider calls the organized effort to ensure that some alternatives remain illegitimate “the mobilization of bias.”
Peter J. Wallison must be quite familiar with this idea. A longtime critic of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored enterprises (GSE) tasked with injecting liquidity into the secondary mortgage market, he has offered warnings about these agencies that have fallen on deaf ears for over a decade. When he and Edward Pinto, his colleague at the American Enterprise Institute, correctly pointed out that Fannie and Freddie were loaded up with the subprime mortgages that contributed to the financial collapse of 2008, and that maybe—just maybe—this had something to do with the mess, they were greeted with accusations of Hitlerism. “The Big Lie” is what Joe Nocera of the New York Times accused Wallison and Pinto of propagating.
There are some ideas that simply cannot gain mainstream acceptance because they challenge essential priorities of the ruling elite. Accordingly, any connection drawn from Fannie and Freddie to the financial collapse must be squashed, because distributing federally subsidized credit to low- and middle-income (LMI) borrowers has been a backbone of the nation’s housing policy for nearly 20 years. All of this makes Wallison’s work intriguing to anybody inclined to question the status quo—even more so because he has written this excellent book in defense of his thesis. (more…)
Peter J. Wallison
American Enterprise Institute
The Case for Repealing Dodd-Frank
PETER J. WALLISON holds the Arthur F. Burns Chair in Financial Policy Studies at the American Enterprise Institute. Previously he practiced banking, corporate, and financial law at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher in Washington, D.C., and in New York. He also served as White House Counsel in the Reagan Administration. A graduate of Harvard College, Mr. Wallison received his law degree from Harvard Law School and is a regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal, among many other publications. He is the editor, co-editor, author, or co-author of numerous books, including Ronald Reagan: The Power of Conviction and the Success of His Presidency and Bad History, Worse Policy: How a False Narrative about the Financial Crisis Led to the Dodd-Frank Act.
The following is adapted from a speech delivered at Hillsdale College on November 5, 2013, during a conference entitled “Dodd-Frank: A Law Like No Other,” co-sponsored by the Center for Constructive Alternatives and the Ludwig Von Mises Lecture Series.
The 2008 financial crisis was a major event, equivalent in its initial scope—if not its duration—to the Great Depression of the 1930s. At the time, many commentators said that we were witnessing a crisis of capitalism, proof that the free market system was inherently unstable. Government officials who participated in efforts to mitigate its effects claim that their actions prevented a complete meltdown of the world’s financial system, an idea that has found acceptance among academic and other observers, particularly the media. These views culminated in the enactment of the Dodd-Frank Act that is founded on the notion that the financial system is inherently unstable and must be controlled by government regulation.
We will never know, of course, what would have happened if these emergency actions had not been taken, but it is possible to gain an understanding of why they were considered necessary—that is, the causes of the crisis.
Why is it important at this point to examine the causes of the crisis? After all, it was five years ago, and Congress and financial regulators have acted, or are acting, to prevent a recurrence. Even if we can’t pinpoint the exact cause of the crisis, some will argue that the new regulations now being put in place under Dodd-Frank will make a repetition unlikely. Perhaps. But these new regulations have almost certainly slowed economic growth and the recovery from the post-crisis recession, and they will continue to do so in the future. If regulations this pervasive were really necessary to prevent a recurrence of the financial crisis, then we might be facing a legitimate trade-off in which we are obliged to sacrifice economic freedom and growth for the sake of financial stability. But if the crisis did not stem from a lack of regulation, we have needlessly restricted what most Americans want for themselves and their children.
It is not at all clear that what happened in 2008 was the result of insufficient regulation or an economic system that is inherently unstable. On the contrary, there is compelling evidence that the financial crisis was the result of the government’s own housing policies. These in turn, as we will see, were based on an idea—still popular on the political left—that underwriting standards in housing finance are discriminatory and unnecessary. In today’s vernacular, it’s called “opening the credit box.” These policies, as I will describe them, were what caused the insolvency of the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and ultimately the financial crisis. They are driven ideologically by the left, but the political muscle in Washington is supplied by what we should call the Government Mortgage Complex—the realtors, the homebuilders, and the banks—for whom freely available government-backed mortgage money is a source of great profit.
The Federal Housing Administration, or FHA, established in 1934, was authorized to insure mortgages up to 100 percent, but it required a 20 percent down payment and operated with very few delinquencies for 25 years. However, in the serious recession of 1957, Congress loosened these standards to stimulate the growth of housing, moving down payments to three percent between 1957 and 1961. Predictably, this resulted in a boom in FHA insured mortgages and a bust in the late ’60s. The pattern keeps recurring, and no one seems to remember the earlier mistakes. We loosen mortgage standards, there’s a bubble, and then there’s a crash. Other than the taxpayers, who have to cover the government’s losses, most of the people who are hurt are those who bought in the bubble years, and found—when the bubble deflated—that they couldn’t afford their homes. (more…)
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Book Review: ‘The Map and the Territory,’ by Alan Greenspan
Alan Greenspan argues that Wall Street didn’t predict the 2008 crisis because it paid scant attention to the insights of behavioral economics.
EXCERPT FROM THIS ARTICLE: Bubbles and crashes will always be characteristics of free-market systems, but they need not lead to economic crises. In 1987 the stock market fell over 20% in a single day, but the effect on economic activity was minimal because holders of common stock weren’t highly leveraged. The bursting of the Internet bubble in early 2000 left only a mild imprint on the financial system and the real economy for the same reason. The crash of the housing bubble was devastating because the toxic mortgage-backed assets were held by highly leveraged institutions, and this debt was short-term rather than “permanent” and thus especially susceptible to “runs” where lenders were unwilling to “roll over” their short-term loans. “It was the capital impairment on the balance sheets of financial institutions that provoked the crisis,” Mr. Greenspan writes. In his view, the answer is not more regulation but more capital.
“The Map and the Territory” ranges beyond the market crisis and predictive models. Mr. Greenspan offers a conservative but balanced discussion, for instance, of the need to restrain the growth of entitlement spending. In his section on income inequality he emphasizes the role of globalization and the rise in stock-based compensation, as well as the failure of our education system to produce skills for the workforce that match the needs of the economy. He says that immigration reform, by loosening the requirements for H-1B visas, would allow us to draw on a large pool of skilled workers abroad and thus stabilize income inequality. At the moment, immigration restrictions protect, and thus subsidize, high-income earners from global wage competition.
HUD’s Power Grab
The Obama administration plots a wholesale federal intrusion into local housing policy
EXCERPT FROM THIS ARTICLE: Programs affecting neighborhoods must be “reoriented,” as Compton put it, in order to make them more integrated and also more livable—incubators of opportunity, in HUD’s vision of America.
As Secretary Donovan told the NAACP at its annual convention in July, “It’s about more than . . . access to the housing itself. It’s also about giving every community access to important neighborhood amenities that can make a tremendous difference in a person’s life outcome. I’m talking about good schools, safe streets, jobs, grocery stores, health care, and a host of other important factors.”
For this vision of America to become a reality, Donovan emphasized to the conventioneers, HUD must “maximize the impact [that federal grants] have on communities.” Municipalities may find that they have to modify zoning and other land-use decisions in order to accommodate construction of affordable housing units in the communities, mostly white, that HUD wants remade. And because HUD is seeking to leverage decisions involving a community’s assets, it appears ready to intrude far more deeply than it already has into state and local governance.
President Obama may have been distracted by Syria, but his domestic presidency proceeds apace, seeking what he heralds as “the transformation of the United States.” Especially is this true at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which aims to remake neighborhoods all across America, starting, as we’ll see, in Westchester County, N.Y.
Established in 1965 at the height of the last unambiguously progressive presidency, HUD enforces, among other laws, the Fair Housing Act of 1968, which forbids discrimination in housing on the basis of race and ethnicity. That act, together with other statutes, says HUD, also directs “program participants”—local governments and states that receive federal housing grants, and also public housing agencies—to go beyond simply combating discrimination. They are to take “proactive steps” to “address significant disparities in access to community assets, . . . overcome segregated living patterns and support and promote integrated communities, [and] . . . end racially and ethnically concentrated areas of poverty.” HUD has a name for all this proactive step-taking: Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing, also known in HUD circles by its acronym, AFFH. (more…)