Posts Tagged ‘secondary market’

Who REALLY Exploded Your Economy, Liberals Or Conservatives?

August 3, 2009

From Mark Levin’s Liberty and Tyranny, pages 67-71:

From where does the Statist acquire his clairvoyance in determining what is good for the public?  From his ideology.  The Statist is constantly manipulating public sentiment in a steady effort to disestablish the free market, as he pushes the nation down tyranny’s road.  He has built an enormous maze of government agencies and programs, which grow inexorably from year to year, and which intervene in and interfere with the free market.  And when the Statist’s central planners create economic perversions that are seriously detrimental to the public, he blames the free market and insists on seizing additional authority to correct the failures created at his own direction.

Consider the four basic events that led to the housing bust of 2008, which spread to the financial markets and beyond:

EVENT 1: In 1977, Congress passed the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) to address alleged discrimination by banks in making loans to poor people and minorities in the inner cities (redlining).  The act provided that banks have “an affirmative obligation” to meet the credit needs of the communities in which they are chartered.1 In 1989, Congress amended the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act requiring banks to collect racial data on mortgage applications.2 University of Texas economics professor Stan Liebowitz has written that “minority mortgage applications were rejected more frequently than other applications, but the overwhelming reason wasn’t racial discrimination, but simply that minorities tend to have weaker finances.”3 Liebowitz also condemns a 1992 study conducted by the Boston Federal Reserve Bank that alleged systemic discrimination.  “That study was tremendously flawed.  A colleague and I … showed that the data it had used contained thousands of egregious typos, such as loans with negative interest rates.  Our study found no evidence of discrimination.”4 However, the study became the standard on which government policy was based.

In 1995, the Clinton administration’s Treasury Department issued regulations tracking loans by neighborhoods, income groups, and races to rate the performance of banks.  The ratings were used by regulators to determine whether the government would approve bank mergers, acquisitions, and new branches.5 The regulations also encouraged Statist-aligned groups, such as the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) and the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America, to file petitions with regulators, or threaten to, to slow or even prevent banks from conducting their business by challenging the extent to which banks were issuing these loans.  With such powerful leverage over banks, some groups were able, in effect, to legally extort banks to make huge pools of money available to the groups, money they in turn used to make loans.  The banks and community groups issued loans to low-income individuals who often had bad credit or insufficient income.  And these loans, which became known as “subprime” loans, made available 100 percent financing, did not always require the use of credit scores, and were even made without documenting income.6 Therefore, the government insisted that banks, particularly those that wanted to expand, abandon traditional underwriting standards.  One estimate puts the figure of CRA-eligible loans at $4.5 trillion.7

EVENT 2: In 1992, the Department of Housing and Urban Development pressured two government-chartered corporations – known as Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae – to purchase (or “securitize”) large bundles of these loans for the conflicting purposes of diversifying the risks and making even more money available to banks to make further risky loans.  Congress also passed the Federal Housing Enterprises Financial Safety and Soundness Act, eventually mandating that these companies buy 45% of all loans from people of low and moderate incomes.8 Consequently, a SECONDARY MARKET was created for these loans.  And in 1995, the Treasury Department established the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund, which provided banks with tax dollars to encourage even more risky loans.

For the Statist, however, this was still not enough.  Top congressional Democrats, including Representative Barney Frank (Massachusetts), Senator Christopher Dodd (Connecticut), and Senator Charles Schumer (New York), among others, repeatedly ignored warnings of pending disaster, insisting that they were overstated, and opposed efforts to force Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae to comply with usual business and oversight practices.9 And the top executives of these corporations, most of whom had worked in or with Democratic administrations, resisted reform while they were actively cooking the books in order to award themselves tens of millions of dollars in bonuses.10

EVENT 3: A by-product of this government intervention and social engineering was a financial instrument called the “derivative,” which turned the subprime mortgage market into a ticking time bomb that could magnify the housing bust by orders of magnitude.  A derivative is a contract where one party sells the risk associated with the mortgage to another party in exchange for payments to that company based on the value of the mortgage.  In some cases, investors who did not even make the loans would bet on whether the loans would be subject to default.  Although imprecise, perhaps derivatives in this context can best be understood as a form of insurance.  Derivatives allowed commercial and investment banks, individual companies, and private investors to further spread – and ultimately multiply – the risk associated with their mortgages.  Certain financial and insurance institutions invested heavily in derivatives, such as American International Group (AIG).11

EVENT 4:  The Federal Reserve Board’s role in the housing boom-and-bust cannot be overstated.  The Pacific Research Institute’s Robert P. Murphy explains that “[the Federal Reserve] slashed rates repeatedly starting in January 2001, from 6.5 percent until they reached a low in June 2003 of 1.0 percent.  (In nominal terms, this was the lowest the target rate had been in the entire data series maintained by the St. Louis Federal Reserve, going back to 1982)….  When the easy-money policy became too inflationary for comfort, the Fed (under [Alan] Greenspan and the then new Chairman Ben Bernanke at the end) began a steady process of raising interest rates back up, from 1.0 percent in June 2004 to 5.25 percent in June 2006….”12 Therefore, when the Federal Reserve abandoned its role as steward of the monetary system and used interest rates to artificially and inappropriately manipulate the housing market, it interfered with normal market conditions and contributed to destabilizing the economy.

————————————————————————————————

1 Howard Husock, “The Trillion-Dollar Shakedown that Bodes Ill for Cities,” City Journal, Winter 2000.

2 Stan Liebowitz, “The Real Scandal,” New York Post, Feb. 5, 2008.

3 Ibid.

4 Ibid.

5 Howard Husock, “The Financial Crisis and the CRA,” City Journal, Oct. 30, 2008.

6 Liebowitz, “The Real Scandal.”

7 Husock, “The Financial Crisis and the CRA.”

8 Ibid.

9 Editorial, “Fannie Mae’s Patron Saint,” Wall Street Journal, Sept. 10, 2008; Joseph Goldstein, “Pro-Deregulation Schumer Scores Bush For Lack of Regulation,” New York Sun, Sept. 22, 2008; Robert Novack, “Crony Image Dogs Paulson’s Rescue Effort,” Chicago-Sun Times, July 17, 2008.

10 Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, “Report of the Special Examination of Freddie Mac,” Dec. 2003; Office of Federal Housing Oversight, “Report of the Special Examination of Fannie Mae,” May 2006.

11 Lynnley Browning, “AIG’s House of Cards,” Portfolio.com, Sept. 28, 2008.

12 Robert P. Murphy, “The Fed’s Role in the Housing Bubble,” Pacific Research Institute blog.

The government links from footnote 10 have been purged (and I COUNT on left-leaning “news” sources to purge stories that reveal the left for what it is), but there is plenty of evidence that a) Fannie and Freddie were firmly in the hands of Democrats; b) that Democrats and Fannie/Freddie at least twice resisted reforms by President Bush and Republicans; and c) that Fannie and Freddie executives – who were deeply involved with Democrat activismactively cooked the books to obtain huge bonuses prior to the disastrous crash.  We can also demonstrate d) that Barack Obama and Chris Dodd were involved with corrupt Fannie and Freddie (and Obama and Dodd were also receiving large contributions from corrupt Lehman Bros. even as Obama was getting a sweetheart mortgage deal from corrupt Tony Rezko while Chris Dodd was getting sweetheart mortgage deasl from corrupt Countrywide) right up to the tops of their pointy little heads.

When one examines the actual factors that led to the housing mortgage meltdown (as Mark Levin documents), when one examines the Democrat’s patent refusal to even accept that there was even a problem with Fannie and Freddie – much less allow any regulation – prior to the ensuing disaster, and when one examines the record to see which politicians were receiving money from the parties most responsible for the disaster, there is clearly only one party to blame: the Democrat Party.

And they are right back to all their old tricks.  It was rampant and insane spending that got us into this financial black hole – and they want MORE on top of MORE spending.  Meanwhile, Democrats such as Barney Frank are hard at work trying to create the NEXT massively destructive housing bubble, ACORN is trying to seize houses from rightful owners in the name of the “poor,” liberals are making moral hazard that rewards recklessness and irresponsibility and punishes frugality and responsibility official government policy , even as the Obama administration is creating “solutions” to the foreclosure issue that have abjectly failed.

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Obama’s National Finance Chair Pritzker At Epicenter of Sub Prime Crisis

July 23, 2008

Well, Obama’s been at it again.

This candidate who so boldly promised that he would be so different – and who has since demonstrated just how cynical he is to even make such a claim – has taken on yet another senior level campaign representative who is tied to the very worst scandal that is currently dragging this country’s economy down.

Penny Pritzker, Barack Obama’s National Finance Chair, has – as Ricky Ricardo used to put it – “some ‘splainin’ to do.” And Barack Obama has his own explaining to do – for naming her to his campaign in the first place. Pritzker has secured about $200 million dollars in campaign funds for Obama, but there’s a definite down side if people become aware of her past.

John R. Emshwiller writes an article based on the FDIC Report’s own finding and conclusions:

For the Pritzker family of Chicago, the 2001 collapse of subprime-mortgage lender Superior Bank was an embarrassing failure in a corner of their giant business empire.

Billionaire Penny Pritzker helped run Hinsdale, Ill.-based Superior, overseeing her family’s 50% ownership stake. She now serves as Barack Obama’s national campaign-finance chairwoman, which means her banking past could prove to be an embarrassment to her — and perhaps to the campaign.

Superior was seized in 2001 and later closed by federal regulators. Government investigators and consumer advocates have contended that Superior engaged in unsound financial activities and predatory lending practices. Ms. Pritzker, a longtime friend and supporter of Sen. Obama, served for a time as Superior’s chairman, and later sat on the board of its holding company.

The Office of Thrift Supervision report said:

Superior Bank suffered as a result of its former high-risk business strategy, which was focused on the generation of significant volumes of subprime mortgage and automobile loans for securitization and sale in the secondary market. OTS found that the bank also suffered from poor lending practices, improper record keeping and accounting, and ineffective board and management supervision.

Emshwiller further notes:

Ms. Pritzker served as Superior chairman until 1994. During that period, Superior “embarked on a business strategy of significant growth into subprime home mortgages,” which were then packaged into securities and sold to investors, according to a 2002 report by the Treasury Department’s Inspector General.

“Superior was at the forefront of the securitizing of subprime mortgages,” says Timothy Anderson, a retired bank consultant who has studied Superior and other failed thrifts.

So we see that it was during the Clinton years that this financial strategy that would lead to such an incredible disaster had its geneisis, and it was in the liberal bastion of Chicago – and a liberal financier – who were at its forefront.

For a time, the strategy of making high interest home and auto loans to people with bad credit appeared to work like a charm, yielding big profits-and large dividends for the Pritzkers. But it was essentially blood money profits made mainly on the what Moe Bedard referred to as “foreclosure blood and misery of millions of Americans.”

People like the Pritzkers made money if people paid the high-interest loans; and they made money if they didn’t through the ensuing foreclosures.

It only became a problem for the banks when the overly inflated housing market values came down to earth and people who owed more on their homes than they were worth began walking away from those high interest subprime loans in large numbers.

A USA Today story by Ken Dilanian notes that:

Superior, co-owned by Pritzker family trusts, began focusing on subprime loans in 1993, according to the FDIC Inspector General’s report. At the time, Pritzker was the board’s chair. She left the board in 1994 and continued as a director of the bank’s holding company. In 2002, the Pritzkers agreed to pay, through trusts, $460 million in a settlement with the government relieving them of liability.

So now we have a decided pattern – beyond the Chicago political link – to Obama himself. He named Jim Johnson to head his vitally important Vice Presidential Selection Committee. A Wall Street Journal story showed how Johnson received favorable treatment on personal loans from major sub-prime player Countrywide Financial Corp. Johnson – former chairman of now also in trouble Fannie Mae – went to Countrywide repeatedly to get new loans at sweetheart rates as a FOA (Friend of Angelo [Mozillo]). Johnson essentially received kickbacks received kickbacks in the form of great mortgages and lax underwriting guidelines on 3 properties totalling $1.7 million while millions of the “little people” crashed and burned.

In a prepared statement, the Obama campaign noted that Ms. Pritzker was never accused of wrongdoing by regulators in connection with Superior, and that her family agreed to pay $460 million to help defray the costs of Superior’s collapse.

That isn’t quite true. Rather, the federal regulators were simply never fully able to sort through all the flawed accounting and masked operating losses to find the smoking gun, and the offer of several hundred million dollars made them willing to quit looking. You don’t pay 460 million bucks unless you have an awful lot of skeletons in your closet. Pritzker was able to buy her way out of jail.

And please tell me something: just how is Barack Obama supposed to produce “change” when he surrounds himself with the same “old” greedy executives that have profited handsomely in this mortgage and housing crisis, and even pioneered the despicably greedy concept itself? Just what kind of benighted fool is going to think this guy is going to be one iota different? The sub prime scandal originated in Obama’s backyard, and Obama keeps handpicking figures tied to it.

Moe Bedard writes an article titled “Pritzker, Predatory Subprime Pioneer, Still On Obama Team” that provides a lot of documentation and includes a lot of links to other sources of information. The more you read, the more you learn about Obama’s choice for finance chair.

People had better start taking a serious look at Barack Obama – and ALL the horrendous people he has been keeping around him for years – before its too late.

A Hope For Some Rare Awareness About The Economy

July 21, 2008

I was in a Wal Mart store a little while back, and got into an argument with an older employee with whom I have periodically chatted.

In that discussion, I discovered that the man was a Democrat, and a pretty liberal one to boot.

And I learned that he had a terribly flawed memory about the Clinton years.

His primary contention was that he had never seen the regional economy so bad. He told me, “When Clinton was president, I had no trouble finding work. But now this Wal Mart job is the best I can get.”

Well, to put it into six words: he’s wrong, wrong, and more wrong.

The Press Enterprise, Riverside County’s (and the Inland Empire’s) largest paper, had a front-page article on July 19 titled “Inland unemployment rate hits 8 percent, highest in 9 years.”

I didn’t have to pull out my calculator to realize that “nine years ago we were in the height of the Clinton presidency.

So why on earth was my liberal Democrat friend at Wal Mart so completely wrong?

Partially because that’s precisely what the media told him to think (you ever hear that sarcastic expression, ‘If I want your opinion I’ll give it to you’?).

John R. Lott did a study that demonstrated that the media viewed the economy through rose-colored glasses during the Clinton years even when the economy was in fact entering a recession. By contrast, we have been hearing the word “recession” for the better part of a year now under a Republican president even when the economy was actually growing and even though the economy is STILL not in recession according to the standard definition of the term. When Bill Clinton was president, the media largely saw even negative news through rose-colored glasses. By contrast, throughout the Bush presidency, the media has been hypercritical – as well as hypocritical – of virtually every economic development.

It is simply a demonstrable fact that the media have for years given Democratic administrations’ economic performance every benefit of the doubt, and given Republican administrations’ economic performance an unrelentingly critical review. Republicans aren’t angry that the media is portraying the economy as being in a recession; they are angry because the media subjectively and unfairly refuse to evaluate Democrat-managed economies by the same standards.

And when it comes to the economy, perception often becomes reality, because people who think that the economy is tanking will invariably begin to act in ways that subsequently cause the economy to tank. As one example, if people are continually told that the economy will worsen and the housing market will continue to decline, will they buy homes now, or will they hold off and wait for the market to further decline and lower prices further? But by waiting, they are actually contributing to the market’s actual decline.

So the same media that helps to create positive perceptions of the economy during Democratic administrations helps to undermine the economy during Republican administrations. They frequently resort to downright irresponsible reporting to do so. And when Democrat and former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich used the term “DEPRESSION” to describe the Bush economy, he was going beyond even the irresponsible media and pandering to the very lowest form of demagoguery.

Is our economy really doing so terrible?

Just to demonstrate how horrifyingly irresponsible Robert Reich was in his prediction of a “Bush depression” on March 14, 2008, the VERY NEXT DAY the story emerged that the United States continues to have the best and most competitive economy in the world!

I hate to be rude, but Reich revealed himself for the vile little pandering and demagoguing rodent that he is. Yet rabid little rat or not, he continues to be paraded from elite media network to network with all the fanfare of an enlightened analyst who truly understands what is going on.

My liberal friend at Wal Mart assured me that the economy was always great under Clinton, and that Clinton balanced the budget. The fact that neither statement is true doesn’t matter. Today’s liberals are fitted with psychological filters designed to prevent truth from entering their minds.

First of all, Bill Clinton most certainly did not get off to all that great of a start as president. If he had, he wouldn’t have contributed to the greatest landslide in political history with a massive 52 seat swing in the ’94 midterm elections that put the Republicans in power for the next dozen years.

Furthermore, President Clinton – all ubiquitous media misrepresentation aside – most certainly DID NOT balance the budget. What he did was fiddle with the numbers to pay off the public debt by borrowing from the intergovernmental debt (particularly from the Social Security Trust Fund). The so-called “Clinton surplus” is simply a myth: The national debt continued to grow and grow and grow, and the last Clinton budget was $133.29 billion in the red.

And when President Clinton left office, he also left President Bush with an economy that was very definitely stumbling into a recession about as bad as the one we’re stumbling into now. He also left President Bush with Osama bin Laden (when he rejected a Somali offer to literally hand him over to us) and with an al Qaeda that was growing stronger and stronger after repeatedly attacking the United States throughout the Clinton administration.

Mansoor Ijaz, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, wrote in the Los Angeles Times that:

Clinton’s failure to grasp the opportunity to unravel increasingly organized extremists, coupled with Berger’s assessments of their potential to directly threaten the U.S., represents one of the most serious foreign policy failures in American history.

Please don’ think that the vicious 9/11 attacks – which President Clinton could have nipped in the bud by taking out its chief leader and architect – didn’t massively hurt the U.S. economy. Yet a liberal media ensured that President Bush duly received all the blame for both the recession and the attack.

The Press Enterprise article points out that a year ago, the two-county unemployment figure was a reasonable 5.9%. If anything, we have Nancy Pelosi and her “commonsense plan” to thank as much as anyone for the dramatic increase that has taken place during the oversight of a Democratic-controlled House and Senate. But you can count on the fact that the media will never connect the economic downturn to the Democrat’s control of Congress the way they routinely connect President Bush to it.

What’s caused the dramatic negative economic turnaround in the last year?

Is it the sky-high increase in oil prices? I have written again and again that it is Democrats – and Democrats virtually alone – who deserve the blame for the current situation by refusing to allow us to act in a responsible way by drilling the oil we have right under our feet and right off our shores.

See my articles (in order from the earliest to the most recent):

Democrat’s ‘Commonsense Plan’ Revealed: Let’s Nationalize the Oil Industry

Blame Democrats for Sky-High Gas Prices

Democrats Block US Energy Independence, Send Gas Prices Soaring

Democrat’s Ideological Stand Against Domestic Oil Terrible for US Economy & Security

If You Want $12 A Gallon Gas, Vote for Obama and Democrats

Pelosi, Reid, and Obama: The Three Stooges of American Energy Policy

Is it the secondary market fiasco and the subsequent housing market collapse? While Republicans deservedly merit some of the blame, let us not forget that it was Democrats who demanded that poor and unqualified borrowers had to have access to home loans. And let us not forget that the principle political figures involved in the subsequent scandal have been Democrats (Former Fannie Mae Chairman and former Barack Obama key assistant Jim Johnson, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad headline the list among other prominent Democrats).

The media that would have left no stone unturned in launching exhaustive and well-covered investigations into Republicans in any kind of similar situation has conveniently allowed the Democrat’s scandal to vanish off the headlines. They continue to play the part – of Democrat apologist and enabler – that they have chosen for themselves all along.

And we saw an all-too typical example of Democrats and the media ganging up to harm the economy under a Republican administration. Sen. Charles Schumer unnecessarily notified the public of the impending federal takeover of IndyMac in California, creating the equally unnecessary lines and panic among account holders. And then there was the media flocking like vultures, breathlessly envisioning one worst-case scenario for the American economy after another.

Don’t you DARE try to claim that Democrats – who were so utterly consumed with investigating baseball players’ for allegations of steroid abuse and with repeatedly demonzing oil executives at one communist-type show trial “hearing” after another that they were entirely blindsided by the secondary market collapse – were one iota less to blame than the Republicans even at their worst.

And don’t you dare believe that Republicans under George Bush mismanaged the economy in spite of the Democrats’ best attempts to keep it rolling smoothly along. If anything, it was precisely the other way around.

My liberal friend is responsible for unquestioningly believing the liberal media spin rather than engaging in the critical thinking that would let him see the truth about the disinformation campaign going around all around him. Please don’t make the same mistake.