Posts Tagged ‘subprime’

US Is in Even Worse Shape Financially Than Greece. And Why Is That In The Age Of Obama???

June 14, 2011

Thanks for “fundamentally transforming” our economy, Barry Hussein!

We’re constantly being told that Obama has done a great deal to make our economy stronger.  Because who wouldn’t rather have 9.1% unemployment than that 7.6% that Obama started out with.

The thing that most killed the US economy in 2008 was the sheer weight of godawful subprime mortgages that Democrats imposed on Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and all the other mortgage lenders in order to create more “fairness” and allow everyone (especially racial minorities) to have “the right” to own a home whether they could actually afford to do so or not.  Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were “Government Sponsored Enterprises,” all the investors knew.  So even as Fannie and Freddie began bundling together thousands of riskier and ever riskier mortgages into giant mortgage backed securities to advance Democrat-enacted policies, large investment houses continued to gobble them up.  After all, this was an arm of the United States Government – and the United States Government ALWAYS pays its debts.

Like all scams, it worked for a while.  But as soon as there was a correction in the dramatically overvalued housing market, the whole boondoggle began to implode.  And since Fannie and Freddie had bundled all kinds of bad mortgages in with the good ones, there was absolutely no way for anyone to know how much risk was contained in any of these giant investment vehicles all these giant private banking houses found themselves holding.

And suddenly the perception that Government Sponsored Enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were “safe investments” turned into a “misperception.”  And the fecal matter began to hit the rotary oscillator bigtime.

Fannie and Freddie were the first to collapse.  The big private players who had played ball with them shortly followed.

President George Bush tried SEVENTEEN TIMES to reform Fannie and Freddie when there was actually a chance to do something.  Go back to what the New York Times stated in 2003:

WASHINGTON, Sept. 10—  The Bush  administration today recommended the most significant  regulatory  overhaul in the housing finance industry since the savings  and loan  crisis a decade ago.

Under the plan, disclosed at a Congressional hearing today, a new   agency would be created within the Treasury Department to assume   supervision of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored   companies that are the two largest players in the mortgage lending   industry.

The new agency would have the authority, which now rests with   Congress, to set one of the two capital-reserve requirements for the   companies. It would exercise authority over any new lines of business.   And it would determine whether the two are adequately managing the risks   of their ballooning portfolios.

Republicans were demonized for “deregulation” by the dishonest Democrat Party machine.  But they TRIED to regulate what needed to be regulated.  Democrats stopped them.

Many Republicans like John McCain literally begged Democrats to do something before it was too late.  But Democrats threatened to filibuster any bill that in any way prevented Fannie and Freddie from continuing the reckless economy-killing policies.  Conservative economists such as Peter Wallison had been predicting the Fannie and Freddie boondoggles would cause an economic collapse since at least 1999.  Wallison had warned back then:

 In moving, even tentatively, into this new area of lending, Fannie Mae is taking on significantly more risk, which may not pose any difficulties during flush economic times. But the government-subsidized corporation may run into trouble in an economic downturn, prompting a government rescue similar to that of the savings and loan industry in the 1980′s.

From the perspective of many people, including me, this is another thrift industry growing up around us,” said Peter Wallison a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. ”If they fail, the government will have to step up and bail them out the way it stepped up and bailed out the thrift industry.”

But rigid opposition from Democrats – especially Democrats like Senator Barack Obamawho took more campaign money from Fannie and Freddie and dirty crony capitalism outfits like corrupt Lehman Bros. than ANYONE in his short Senate stint – prevented any “hope and change” of necessary reform from saving the US economy.

The timeline is clear: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were giant behemoths that began to stagger under their own corrupt weight, as even the New York Times pointed out:

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are so big — they own or guarantee roughly half of the nation’s $12 trillion mortgage market — that the thought that they might falter once seemed unimaginable. But now a trickle of worries about the companies, which has been slowly building for years, has suddenly become a torrent.

And it was FANNIE and FREDDIE that collapsed FIRST before ANY of the private investment banks, which collapsed as a result of having purchased the very mortgaged backed securities that the Government Sponsored Enterprises SOLD THEM.  It wasn’t until Fannie and Freddie collapsed that investors began to look with horror at all the junk that these GSE boondoggles had been pimping.

The man who predicted the collapse in 1999 wrote a follow-up article titled, “Blame Fannie Mae and Congress For the Credit Mess.”  It really should have read, “Blame DEMOCRATS.”  Because they were crawling all over these GSEs that they had themselves created like the cockroaches they are.  But Wallison is nonpartisan.

That same New York Times article that said President Bush was trying to reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac ended with this demonstration of Democrats standing against necessary reform:

These two entities — Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac —  are not  facing any kind of financial crisis,” said Representative  Barney Frank of Massachusetts, the ranking Democrat on the Financial Services  Committee. ”The  more people exaggerate these problems, the more  pressure there is on  these companies, the less we will see in terms of  affordable housing.”

Representative Melvin L. Watt, Democrat of North Carolina, agreed.

”I don’t see much other than a shell game going on here, moving   something from one agency to another and in the process weakening the   bargaining power of poorer families and their ability to get affordable   housing,” Mr. Watt said.

Why was Barney Frank deceitfully claiming that Fannie and Freddie weren’t facing “any kind of financial crisis”?  BECAUSE REPUBLICANS WERE RIGHTLY WARNING THAT THEY WERE.

Only about a month before the whole Fannie and Freddie boondoggles Democrats had fiercely protected collapsed – taking the entire US economy with it – Democrat Barney Frank was on the record saying THIS:

REP. BARNEY FRANK, D-MASS.: “I think this is a case where Fannie and Freddie are fundamentally sound, that they are not in danger of going under. They’re not the best investments these days from the long-term standpoint going back. I think they are in good shape going forward.”

So we blew up nearly COMPLETELY BECAUSE OF DEMOCRAT POLICIES.  But Democrats along with an ideological mainstream media that is the worse since Joseph Goebbels was the Nazi Minister of Propaganda were ready.  They ran on a platform that it happened while Bush was president, and that therefore Bush was entirely responsible for the thing he tried over and over again to fix while Democrats used their power to block those efforts.

Let me just say “Franklin Raines.”  Raines as Fannie CEO presided over Enron-style accounting policies and got $90 million in his account because of those corrupt policies.  But Raines was the first BLACK CEO of Fannie Mae.  And even though he was a Democrat and a Clinton guy, President Bush lacked the courage to push the “first black Fannie Mae CEO” out.  Which of course is the same reason that the “first black Fannie Mae CEO” didn’t do hard time in prison where he belonged.  “Political correctness” is a demonic device by which liberals protect themselves – usually from going to prison where they ought to go.  He got a sweetheart deal basically so Republicans wouldn’t be accused of being racists by
Democrats who of course call them racists no matter what they do.  My main point is simply that it was Democrats, Democrats, DEMOCRATS who did this to us.

Fannie Mae was well politically-connected Democrats went to make millions as they bounced back and forth between “public” employment where they developed contacts and “private” crony capitalism to get rich.

Here’s the conclusion of New York Times financial markets writer Gretchen Morgenson about DEMOCRAT Jim Johnson:

Morgenson focuses on the managers of Fannie Mae, the government-supported mortgage giant. She writes that CEO James Johnson built Fannie Mae “into the largest and most powerful financial institution in the world.”

But in the process, Morgenson says, the company fudged accounting rules, generated big salaries and bonuses for its executives, used lobby and campaign contributions to bully regulators, and encouraged the risky financial practices that led to the crisis.

And of course DEMOCRAT Jim Johnson who got rich plundering Americans was an OBAMA Democrat.

Morgenson – again a New York Times writer and not someone from Fox News – said of Fannie Mae on Larry Kudlow’s CNBC program on Monday, June 13: “Whatever Fannie Mae did, everybody else followed.”  And of course they all followed right into an economic Armageddon created by Democrats for Democrats.

But who got blamed?  Republicans, of course.  George Bush and Republicans were to Obama and the Democrats what Emmanual Goldstein was to Big Brother in 1984.  George Bush and Republicans were what the Jews were to Adolf Hitler.  Fascists always need a bogeyman.  And so the people who were truly to blame turned the people who tried futilely to stop them into the scapegoats.  All with the mainstream media’s complicity.

The analogy would be holding the police officer who tried but failed to catch the rapist for the rape of the woman rather than holding the actual rapist who raped her responsible.  But it was easier to say “This is the result of President Bush’s failed Republican policies” than it was to actually explain the facts to an enraged Attention Deficit Disorder-ridden ignorant pop culture – particularly when virtually no one in the biased mainstream media had any intention whatsoever of telling the truth.

Barack Obama – the ACORN community organizer who pushed these very America-killing policies – ran a demagoguing campaign promising to fix everything.

But has he?

How about a great big giant “NOT”???

What has Zero Obama done to fix that housing market that he helped collapse?  How about NOTHING???  After nearly three years of Obama, housing isn’t the worst since 2008; it’s gotten WAY WORSE than 2008 and is the worse since the Great Depression!!!  Obama started out with a terrible plan.  And we have terrible results to show for his terrible plan.  And yet this disgraceful fool actually keeps claiming he’s made things better!!!

Before you read this article, check out the “current account balance” compiled by the CIA.  Ours is a negative figure that dwarfs everyone else’s by so much it’s a joke.  Which is to say that Gross’s assessment is 1000% correct.

US Is in Even Worse Shape Financially Than Greece: Gross
Published: Monday, 13 Jun 2011 | 10:33 AM ET
By: Jeff Cox
CNBC.com Staff Writer

When adding in all of the money owed to cover future liabilities in entitlement programs the US is actually in worse financial shape than Greece and other debt-laden European countries, Pimco’s Bill Gross told CNBC Monday.

Much of the public focus is on the nation’s public debt, which is $14.3 trillion. But that doesn’t include money guaranteed for Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, which comes to close to $50 trillion, according to government figures.

The government also is on the hook for other debts such as the programs related to the bailout of the financial system following the crisis of 2008 and 2009, government figures show.

Taken together, Gross puts the total at “nearly $100 trillion,” that while perhaps a bit on the high side, places the country in a highly unenviable fiscal position that he said won’t find a solution overnight.

“To think that we can reduce that within the space of a year or two is not a realistic assumption,” Gross said in a live interview. “That’s much more than Greece, that’s much more than almost any other developed country. We’ve got a problem and we have to get after it quickly.”

Gross spoke following a report that US banks were likely to scale back on their use of Treasurys as collateral against derivatives and other transactions. Bank heads say that move is likely to happen in August as Congress dithers over whether to raise the nation’s debt ceiling, according to a report in the Financial Times.

The move reflects increasing concern from the financial community over whether the US is capable of a political solution to its burgeoning debt and deficit problems.

“We’ve always wondered who will buy Treasurys” after the Federal Reserve purchases the last of its $600 billion to end the second leg of its quantitative easing program later this month, Gross said. “It’s certainly not Pimco and it’s probably not the bond funds of the world.”

Pimco, based in Newport Beach, Calif., manages more than $1.2 trillion in assets and runs the largest bond fund in the world.

Gross confirmed a report Friday that Pimco has marginally increased its Treasurys allotment—from 4 percent to 5 percent—but still has little interest in US debt and its low yields that are in place despite an ugly national balance sheet.

“Why wouldn’t an investor buy Canada with a better balance sheet or Australia with a better balance sheet with interest rates at 1 or 2 or 3 percent higher?” he said. “It simply doesn’t make any sense.”

Should the debt problem in Greece explode into a full-blown crisis—an International Monetary Fund bailout has prevented a full-scale meltdown so far—Gross predicted that German debt, not that of the US, would be the safe-haven of choice for global investors.

America is going down because her stupid citizens wickedly voted for corrupt dishonest Democrat fools – the very fools who imploded our economy – to have complete power.  Nancy Pelosi took over dictatorial control in the House of Representatives, and Harry Reid took over the US Senate, in 2006.

Thanks to Obama, America is now worse off than Greece.  But that didn’t stop Obama from offering to bail out Greece.  Maybe it’s because George Soros is Greek; maybe because the American left has always adored the European-style socialism in spite of Thomas Jefferson’s warning that “the comparison of our governments with those of Europe is like a comparison of heaven and hell.”  Maybe because Obama simply WANTS hell for America.  But there you have it.

Republicans acknowledged they failed to live up to their values and spent too much.  But the last Republican budget (Fiscal Year 2007) passed in 2006 had only a $161 billion deficit.  The very next Democrat budget for FY 2008 had a deficit of $459 billion – nearly three times larger than the one they’d demonized Republicans for.  Then their FY-2009 budget dwarfed that deficit with a black hold of red ink deficit of $1.4 TRILLION.  That was more money than any government in the history of the world had ever contemplated.  But Democrats dwarfed that the very next year with a FY-2010 budget with a $1.6 trillion deficit.  And as for FY-2011, the Democrat Congress simply refused to perform its most basic duty of governance and didn’t even bother to pass a budget.  Republicans are now forced to do the last disgraced Democrat-controlled Congress’ job for them – and Democrats are demonizing them for it.

That’s how this game is played.  Democrats are fascist demagogues who shrilly launch into Republicans as they try to save the American people from unparalleled future suffering.  They are people who ROUTINELY demonize, demonize, demonize until THEY are the ones forced to call for the very things they demonized and tried to prevent from happening.  But by the time they react this time, just as before, it will be too late.

Try this on for size: our actual debt isn’t the $14 trillion we constantly hear about; it’s more like $200 trillion.  And even THAT gargantuan number doesn’t take into account the massive debts that all the liberal labor unions have amassed in state pensions (e.g., California’s public pension system has unfunded liabilities of $500 billion).  We cannot possibly hope to pay this – and yet Democrats demand more and more and more, and demagogue Republicans for even trying to cut millions when we need to cut TENS OF TRILLIONS or collapse.

Democrats run ads showing a look-a-like of Republican Rep. Paul Ryan pushing an old lady off a cliff; but they want every single senior citizen to die terribly as the Medicare system completely collapses while they refuse to do anything to fix it – as even Bill Clinton openly acknowledged.

We are going to end like the PIIGS – Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain- because we elected Democrat swine to ensure we perished like pigs.

Greece just got downgraded to the point where they are the lowest-rated currency in the history of the planet.  And it happened yesterday.

When that happens to us it will be the worst nightmare in history.  300 million Americans are going to go into an insanity of panic – and of course the violence will begin with the left.  If you don’t have an arsenal, someone will kick down your door and murder your whole family just to eat the food in your house.  And that hell on earth will be entirely because you trusted Democrats like Anthony Weiner to run your health care, your pension, your economy, your life.

I hope you vote in 2012 like your very LIFE was at stake in these elections.  Because this time it truly is.

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Unemployment Rises To 9.8% – When Will Obama Failure Quit Being ‘Unexpected’?

December 4, 2010

“Unexpected” is the very favorite adjective of the mainstream media these days.  And it will continue to be their favorite adjective until Obama is finally driven out of office in the same spirit of disgrace and abject failure that Jimmy Carter left under.

When a Democrat – and most especially when a liberal Democrat – is president, every single new negative economic report is an utter surprise that no one could possibly have every expected.

When a Republican is running the country, by contrast, no matter how good things might be, it’s actually a bad thing.

The media’s bias is simply mindboggling.  As I have frequently documented:

Media’s Bias, Dishonesty Re: Reagan Vs. Obama Unemployment Bodes Ill For America

And as researches have proven with media studies:

Partisan Bias in Newspapers?  A Study of Headlines Says Yes

An article titled, “Stocks Fall… Unemployment Rate Rises… Factory Orders Down” sums up the Obama economy:

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks have begun the trading day down, with a disappointing jobs report souring investors’ mood. The Dow, the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 are all seeing modest declines in early trading.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Economists had expected better, but the Labor Department reports the nation’s employers added only 39,000 jobs last month. That was a sharp drop from the 172,000 created in October. It also pushes the nation’s unemployment rate to 9.8 percent. It’s now been above 9 percent for 19 straight months, the longest stretch on record.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Commerce Department reports orders to U.S. factories fell 0.9 percent in October. That’s the biggest drop since May. Plunging demand for commercial and military aircraft was the biggest factor. Excluding transportation, orders were off 0.2 percent.

But here we are.  With our most current “Unexpected Update To Unexpected Unemployment News.”

A Labor Department report released today reveals job creation in November was down by 133,000 jobs from October, bringing the total unemployment rate up to 9.8 percent.

This was a declared the most recent Unexpected Development in our long unemployment saga by the media.  Private-sector job creators are facing massive tax hikes, which the President and his Party say they will defend to the bitter end.  The cost of labor has skyrocketed due to a poorly designed, constantly mutating health care bill, which keeps spitting out unforeseen, but universally expensive, consequences.  Somehow there are “analysts” who think they will respond to these factors by expanding their operations and hiring more people.  Such analysts now live in a constant state of surprise.

Only 39,000 jobs were added in November, which makes it the sixteenth consecutive month in which unemployment has remained above 9.5%, the worst record since the Great Depression.  You may recall that the Democrats predicted 7% unemployment by now, after a peak below 8%, if their trillion-dollar “stimulus” bill was passed.  The Republican House Ways & Means Committee certainly does, and put out a press release to that effect this morning.

The ABC News report of the new unemployment figures contains an interesting quote from Daneil Pedrotty, director of the AFL-CIO’s Office of Investment, who thinks employers are squeezing more work out of few people by exploiting a “climate of fear”: “There are five applicants for every opening.  You have to work harder, or your job either will be done away with or outsourced.  Companies would just as soon open a factory in India as Peoria.”

No, they wouldn’t, or they already would have done so.  No CEO looks at pins in Peoria and Calcutta on a world map, shrugs, and says “Whichever.  I don’t know, flip a coin.”  They choose Calcutta because they have to.  They outsource when hiring American workers, or building facilities on American soil, no longer makes economic sense.  Both sentiment and practical considerations cause them to prefer American locations.  No sane executive would prefer to manage facilities on the other side of the world, commuting thousands of miles for meetings or inspections.  If companies truly would “just as soon open a factory in India as Peoria,” there has been very little stopping them for decades.  Are we supposed to believe America just keeps winning those coin tosses?

Furthermore, the idea of reducing personnel needs by enslaving current employees through a “climate of fear” is ignorant rubbish.  Anecdotal cases surely exist, but the bulk of job creation, on a national scale, is a response to demand. The ABC report makes much of the contrast between falling job creation and rising corporate profits, missing the point that long-term hiring decisions are made in anticipation of future opportunity.  Uncertainty breeds hesitation and thwarts expansion.

Look at it this way: suppose the government simply hired everyone, and guaranteed them a splendid income.  What would they all do? The government could give them make-work jobs, but this would not be a response to demand, so it wouldn’t last very long.  Every aspect of the economy, from consumer prices to interest rates, would be thrown wildly off kilter by a horde of people getting paid $30,000 per year to do whatever a government bureaucrat can think up… or more likely do nothing at all while waiting for the Federal Bureau of Imaginary Jobs to come up with something.  The government would quickly go bankrupt, while citizens waiting in line to buy ten-dollar loaves of stale Wonder Bread.  You don’t have to imagine what this looks like – just crack open a history book and look up “Soviet Union.”

Only demand and opportunity sustain job growth.  People need each other.  The only way government can help them hook up, and generate wealth through commerce, is to get out of the way.  Wise observers will expect robust, sustained job growth when they see signs of that happening.

This marks the nineteenth consecutive month of unemployment being over 9%.  The media continues to vilify George Bush, but do you know how many months the unemployment rate was over 9% during the Bush administration?  Try ZERO.

The worst month for unemployment for George W. Bush was 7.8% – which, interestingly, was the same worst month as Bill Clinton (who, as we all know, paved the streets with gold) had.

Nineteen straight months of 9+ percent unemployment.  Versus zero months.  So we blame the guy with the zero months for the record of the guy with the nineteen straight months.  And this from the very people who constantly harp about “fairness.”

Let’s blame the guy who had an unprecedented 52-consecutive months of job growth, rather than consider the policies of the guy who has clearly imploded our economy.

Let’s blame the guy who had one of the best records for appointing people with private sector business experience, rather than the guy with the worst record in history:

Whatever we do, let’s NOT blame the guy who doubled and then tripled the debt in the most massive spending binge in American history:

This ‘Blame Bush’ Crap Has Just GOT To End

George Bush inherited the policies that led to the 9/11 disaster only months into his presidency.  George Bush inherited the Dotcom disaster that wiped out 78% of the Nasdaq index along with $7.1 trillion in American wealth that was just vaporized as a result of Bill Clinton’s economy.  And rather than spend the next two years blaming his predecessor, Bush cut taxes and turned the economy around.  At least until Democrat policies such as the Community Reinvestment Act and Democrat refusal to reform and regulate Democrat-created Fannie and Freddie brought America crashing down.

Why don’t we blame the president who actually sued banks to force them to make bad loans to people who couldn’t afford the home loans that the banks were forced to provide???

By the standard the Democrats used to demonize George Bush in 2004, Barack Obama is the worst president in American history.

But the media prefers “the unexpected” to “the truth.”

For the record, I am rather fed up with “unexpected” lousy economic news that anyone with a scintilla of common sense saw coming before Obama even took office.

Hypocrite-in-Chief Seeks Line Item Veto He Blocked Bush From Getting

May 25, 2010

This is pretty massive hypocrisy even coming from a world-class hypocrite:

Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Obama asks Hill for line-item veto he once opposed
Stephen Dinan

When President George W. Bush called for a kind of line-item veto four years ago, the top Senate Democrat said it was like getting a “bad sore throat,” and the No. 2 House Democrat called it “a sham.” On Monday, President Obama asked them to reconsider and pass something very similar, for his sake.

With fears of a Greek-style debt collapse roiling a Congress already balking at new spending, the White House on Monday proposed a modified line-item veto that would give the administration another crack at forcing Congress to vote on spending cuts.

But the proposal will have to pass a Congress wary of giving up power over the purse, and would require a reversal by many Democrats who voted against a similar proposal from Mr. Bush.

One who’s already reversed himself is Mr. Obama, who as a senator in 2007 voted along with Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., now the vice president, and almost all of the rest of Senate Democrats to filibuster Mr. Bush’s proposal.

The White House said Mr. Obama embraced line-item powers by the time he won the White House, and that times are bad enough that Congress may now be ready to follow his lead.

“The fiscal context has changed as it became necessary to combat a severe economic downturn and as ongoing deficits have become a growing concern,” Peter R. Orszag, Mr. Obama’s budget director, told reporters. “We are hopeful the Congress will enact this legislation because it will help everyone to reduce unnecessary spending.”

He said the new presidential powers could encourage Congress to scrutinize spending bills more carefully, because lawmakers wouldn’t want to be shamed by having their projects singled out.

What is really amazing is the argument that Obama is giving to justify giving him a line-item veto: we’ve got a growing crisis, and the president needs this tool to avert it.

By Obama’s very own reasoning, he and the Democrat Party are fundamentally responsible for the 2008 economic collapse.  Because had they given Bush this power, he could have averted the disaster – but they refused to give him the necessary power he needed.

A couple of quotes from US News & World Report must suffice to illustrate:

Seventeen. That’s how many times, according to this White House statement (hat tip Gateway Pundit), that the Bush administration has called for tighter regulation of the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. […]

But it didn’t prevent them from spewing a huge amount of toxic waste, in the form of subprime and Alt-A mortgages, into our financial institutions from 2004 to 2007. As Stephen Spruiell points out in The Corner on National Review Online, Fannie and Freddie spewed out $1 trillion worth (face value) of subprime mortgages between 2005 and 2007. That’s a whole lot of toxic waste. For more detail, consult the items referred to in my previous blogpost on this subject (most of the comments seem to have been disputes about the plot line of the movie It’s a Wonderful Life, which I should think could be settled by consulting a reference work).

Much if not all of that could have been prevented by a bill cosponsored by John McCain and supported by all the Republicans and opposed by all the Democrats in the Senate Banking Committee in 2005. That bill, which the Democrats stopped from passing, would have prohibited the GSEs from speculating on the mortgage-based securities they packaged. The GSEs’ mission allegedly justifying their quasi-governmental status was to package or securitize such mortgages, but the lion’s share of their profits—which determined top executives’ bonuses—came from speculation.

And there’s your 2008 mortgage meltdown, in a nutshell.  Bush warned and warned and warned about the impending crisis, to no avail.  Because the same Democrats who refused to give Bush the power Obama now says he needs to avert disaster refused to heed Bush’s warnings, and kept pushing us closer and closer and closer to the implosion point.  And then we imploded just as Bush had said we would.

I have always believed that the president should have a line-item veto – with the proviso that every line item veto be made a matter of public record so the American people could know what items the president was removing and who had installed those items in the first place.

This is just another of many, many proofs regarding what a gargantuan hypocrite slimeball the current occupant of the White House truly is.

But, for what it’s worth, it is probably unfair to single out Barack Obama as a slimeball, when so many of his fellow Democrats are also slimeballs.  Near the conclusion of the Washington Times article, we have this:

House Budget Committee Chairman John M. Spratt Jr., South Carolina Democrat, said he will take the lead in introducing Mr. Obama’s proposal in Congress, calling it “a step forward on the path to fiscal responsibility.”

Mr. Spratt led opposition to the 2006 Bush proposal.

At some point they should just call themselves the Demagogue Party and dispense with the pretenses as to what they truly are.

AEI Article: How Fannie And Freddie Blew Up The Economy

January 23, 2010

Below is a very good article that everyone should read to better understand why the economy imploded in 2008: it was as a result of literally decades of risky and in frankly socialist decisions implemented primarily by GSEs Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

But allow me to say a few words before getting to the full article.

I compiled the following to respond to the typical liberal charge that “the economic collapse in 2008 was Bush’s fault”:

The Democrat Party/lamestream media narrative is that Bush was responsible for the economic meltdown because it “happened during his watch.” There was never once a mention that it happened during Nancy Pelosi’s and Harry Reid’s watch. Because that particular narrative doesn’t fit their leftist agenda.

I can very easily explain why Democrats were the primary cause of the 2008 collapse.

I can even give you the story in video, namely an 11 minute video titled “Burning Down the House: What Caused Our Economic Crisis?”

Or how about watching John Stossel explain what happened in a 5 1/2 minute ABC 20/20 piece?

Do you really want to know the true origins of the financial collapse? Then please do a little reading and start learning. The mortgage market collapsed in 2008 because of its biggest player: Fannie Mae, which held some 60% of the mortgages. And Democrats were entirely behind the policies that led to the collapse of Fannie Mae and the private mortgage industry that bought Fannie’s mortgage-backed securities. Investors were falsely led to believe that the bonds they were buying were guaranteed implicitly by the federal government.

Here are the words of Mortimer Zuckerman – a liberal, an Obama supporter, a billionaire, a trustee of the Council on Foreign Relations, and the owner of a couple major news sources:

What about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that got there with the support of the Democrats in Congress. That’s what kicked off the great housing bubble; that’s what started this whole thing rolling down the hill. Did they ever talk about that kind of excess in the congress? No…..this isn’t something that is just due to the “Wall Street community”.

George Bush called for reform of the housing finance market 17 times in 2008 alone — and Democrats ignored him. They had been blocking his every effort to prevent disaster ever since Bush first tried to do so beginning in 2003. At that time, Democrat Barney Frank led the effort to block reform, saying:

These two entities — Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — are not facing any kind of financial crisis,” said Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts, the ranking Democrat on the Financial Services Committee. ”The more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing.”

George Bush and John McCain repeatedly warned that if we didn’t address the situation, we would suffer a financial collapse.

John McCain wrote an urgent letter in 2006 that read:

These are entities that have demonstrated over and over again that they are deeply in need of reform. For years I have been concerned about the regulatory structure that governs Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac—known as Government-sponsored entities or GSEs—and the sheer magnitude of these companies and the role they play in the housing market. OFHEO’s report this week does nothing to ease these concerns.

In fact, the report does quite the contrary. OFHEO’s report solidifies my view that the GSEs need to be reformed without delay. I join as a cosponsor of the Federal Housing Enterprise Regulatory Reform Act of 2005, S. 190, to underscore my support for quick passage of GSE regulatory reform legislation. If Congress does not act, American taxpayers will continue to be exposed to the enormous risk that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pose to the housing market, the overall financial system, and the economy as a whole.

John McCain signed another letter that ended with these words:

With the fiscal challenges facing us today (deficits, entitlements, pensions and flood insurance), Congress must ask itself who would actually pay this debt if Fannie or Freddie could not?

Substantial testimony calling for improved regulation of the GSEs has been provided to the Senate by the Treasury, Federal Reserve, HUD, GAO, CBO, and others. Congress has the opportunity to recommit itself to the housing mission of the GSEs while at the same time making sure the GSEs operate in a manner that does not expose our financial system, or taxpayers, to unnecessary risk. It is vitally important that Congress take the necessary steps to ensure that these institutions benefit from strong and independent regulatory supervision, operate in a safe and sound manner, and are primarily focused on their statutory mission. More importantly, Congress must ensure that the American taxpayer is protected in the event either GSE should fail. We strongly support an effort to schedule floor time this year to debate GSE regulatory reform.

And they DID fail. They massively, massively failed.

Only about a month before the whole system crashed, Barney Frank went on the record and said this:

REP. BARNEY FRANK, D-MASS.: “I think this is a case where Fannie and Freddie are fundamentally sound, that they are not in danger of going under. They’re not the best investments these days from the long-term standpoint going back. I think they are in good shape going forward.”

They sure were, you fat, miserable, loathsome, obscene, disgusting, slobbering, lying toad.

The top three headlines under the Google search “Fannie Mae collapse”:

Freddie, Fannie Scam Hidden in Broad Daylight

Financial Markets Reeling from Fannie & Freddie Collapse and Evitable Government Bailout

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac: Too big not to fail

But as our economy exploded along with the boondoggle housing finance market artificially sustained by Fannie and Freddie, the Democrats demagogued the Republicans. And the lamestream media duly reported it as though it were all the liberal’s-god-socialist-big-government’s truth.

So to answer your question, it was DEMOCRATS who led us into this mess. Just as it is DEMOCRATS who are now making the mess far worse.

I would point out in addition that Republicans deserve condemnation because they lacked the political courage and the political will to oppose enormously risky Democrat policies rather than face the demagoguery that they were “racist” for not allowing low-income minorities to own their own homes.  So they allowed the Democrats to keep expanding the Community Reinvestment Act, and allowed them to keep expanding the portfolio of Government Supported Enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The following AEI article from Peter Wallison and Charles Calomiris is also available as a PDF file.

The Last Trillion-Dollar Commitment
The Destruction of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

By Peter J. Wallison, Charles W. Calomiris  |  AEI Online
(September 2008)

The government takeover of Fannie and Freddie was necessary because of their massive losses on more than $1 trillion of subprime and Alt-A investments.

The government takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac was necessary because of their massive losses on more than $1 trillion of subprime and Alt-A investments, almost all of which were added to their single-family book of business between 2005 and 2007. The most plausible explanation for the sudden adoption of this disastrous course–disastrous for them and for the U.S. financial markets–is their desire to continue to retain the support of Congress after their accounting scandals in 2003 and 2004 and the challenges to their business model that ensued. Although the strategy worked–Congress did not adopt strong government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) reform legislation until the Republicans demanded it as the price for Senate passage of a housing bill in July 2008–it led inevitably to the government takeover and the enormous junk loan losses still to come.

Now that the federal government has been required to take effective control of Fannie and Freddie and to decide their fate, it is important to understand the reasons for their financial collapse–what went wrong and why. In his statement on September 7 announcing the appointment of a conservator for the two enterprises, Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson pointed to their failed business models as the reason for their collapse. This was certainly a contributing element, but not the direct cause. The central problem was their dependence on Congress for continued political support in the wake of their accounting scandals in 2003 and 2004. To curry favor with Congress, they sought substantial increases in their support of affordable housing, primarily by investing in risky and substandard mortgages between 2005 and 2007.

As GSEs, Fannie and Freddie were serving two masters in two different ways. The first was an inherent conflict between their government mission and their private ownership. The government mission required them to keep mortgage interest rates low and to increase their support for affordable housing. Their shareholder ownership, however, required them to fight increases in their capital requirements and regulation that would raise their costs and reduce their risk-taking and profitability. But there were two other parties–Congress and the taxpayers–that also had a stake in the choices that Fannie and Freddie made. Congress got some benefits in the form of political support from the GSEs’ ability to hold down mortgage rates, but it garnered even more political benefits from GSE support for affordable housing. The taxpayers got highly attenuated benefits from both affordable housing and lower mortgage rates but ultimately faced enormous liabilities associated with GSE risk-taking. This Outlook tells the disheartening story of how the GSEs sold out the taxpayers by taking huge risks on substandard mortgages, primarily to retain congressional support for the weak regulation and special benefits that fueled their high profits and profligate executive compensation. As if that were not enough, in the process, the GSEs’ operations promoted a risky subprime mortgage binge in the United States that has caused a worldwide financial crisis.

The special relationship with Congress was the GSEs’ undoing because it allowed them to escape the market discipline–the wariness of lenders–that keeps corporate managements from taking unacceptable risks.

The peculiar structure of the GSEs–shareholder-owned companies with a public mission–reflected a serious confusion of purpose on the part of the Lyndon Johnson administration and the members of Congress who created this flawed structure in 1968. In seeking to reduce the budget deficits associated with the Vietnam War and Great Society programs, the administration hit upon the idea of “privatizing” Fannie Mae by allowing the company to sell shares to the public. This, according to the budget theories of the time, would take Fannie’s expenditures off-budget, while allowing it to continue its activities with funds borrowed in the public credit markets. But turning Fannie into a wholly private company was not acceptable either. Various special provisions were placed in Fannie’s congressional charter that intentionally blurred the line between a public instrumentality and a private corporation. Among these provisions: Fannie was given a line of credit at the Treasury; the president could appoint five members of its board of directors; and its debt could be used, like Treasury debt, to collateralize government deposits in private banks.

Fannie’s congressional charter and its unusual ties to the government ensured that the market would recognize its status as a government instrumentality: that despite its private ownership, the company was performing a government mission. Because it was highly unlikely that the U.S. government would allow one of its instrumentalities to default on its obligations, Fannie was perceived in the capital markets to have at least an implicit government backing and was thus able to borrow funds at rates that were only slightly higher than those paid by the U.S. Treasury on its own debt offerings. In 1970, the Federal Home Loan Bank Board created Freddie Mac to assist federal savings and loan associations in marketing their mortgages; Freddie was also allowed to sell shares to the public in 1989 and became a competitor of Fannie Mae under a congressional charter that established an identical special relationship with the government.

The special relationship, codified by these unique charters, required the GSEs to pursue another inherently conflicted mission that pitted their shareholders against the taxpayers. To the extent that their government backing allowed the GSEs to take excessive financial risks, it was the taxpayers and not the shareholders who would ultimately bear the costs. That result–the privatization of profit and the socialization of risk–has now come to pass. U.S. taxpayers are now called upon to fill in the hole that reckless and improvident investment activity–fueled by inexpensive and easily accessible funds–has created in the GSEs’ balance sheets. The special relationship was also the GSEs’ undoing, because it allowed them to escape the market discipline–the wariness of lenders–that keeps corporate managements from taking unacceptable risks. Normally, when a privately held company is backed by the government (for example, in the case of commercial banks covered by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation), regulation is the way that the government protects the taxpayers against the loss of market discipline. When Fannie Mae was privatized in 1968, however, no special regulatory structure was created to limit the taxpayers’ exposure to loss. The Johnson administration officials who structured the privatization may not have realized that they were creating what we recognize today as a huge moral hazard, but when Fannie became insolvent (the first time) in the high-interest-rate environment of the early 1980s, policymakers recognized that the company represented a potential risk to taxpayers.

In 1991, as Congress finally began the process of developing a regulatory regime for the GSEs, congressional interest in supporting affordable housing was growing. At this point, Fannie Mae initiated its first foray into affordable housing–a relatively small $10 billion program, probably intended to show Congress that the GSEs would support affordable housing without a statutory mandate. Nevertheless, Congress added an affordable housing “mission” to the GSE charters when it created their first full-time regulator, the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO). The new agency had only limited regulatory authority. It was also housed in the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which had no regulatory experience, and it was funded by congressional appropriations, allowing the GSEs to control their regulator through the key lawmakers who held OFHEO’s purse strings.

The new affordable housing mission further increased the congressional policy stake in the GSEs, but it also initiated a destructive mutual dependency: Congress began to rely on Fannie and Freddie for political and financial support, and the two GSEs relied on Congress to protect their profitable special privileges. In later years, attention to the political interests of Congress became known at the GSEs as “management of political risk.” In a speech to an investor conference in 1999, Franklin Raines, then Fannie’s chairman, assured them that “[w]e manage our political risk with the same intensity that we manage our credit and interest rate risks.”[1]

Benefits to Congress

Managing their political risk required the GSEs to offer Congress a generous benefits package. Campaign contributions were certainly one element. Between the 2000 and 2008 election cycles, the GSEs and their employees contributed more than $14.6 million to the campaign funds of dozens of senators and representatives, most of them on committees that were important to preserving the GSEs’ privileges.[2] And Fannie knew how to “leverage” its giving, not just its assets; often it enlisted other groups that profited from the GSEs’ activities–the securities industry, homebuilders, and realtors–to sponsor their own fundraising events for the GSEs’ key congressional friends. In addition to campaign funds, the GSEs–Fannie Mae in particular–enhanced their power in Congress by setting up “partnership offices” in the districts and states of important lawmakers, often hiring the relatives of these lawmakers to staff the local offices. Their lobbying activities were legendary. Between 1998 and 2008, Fannie spent $79.5 million and Freddie spent $94.9 million on lobbying Congress, making them the twentieth and thirteenth biggest spenders, respectively, on lobbying fees during that period.[3] Not all of these expenditures were necessary to contact members of Congress; the GSEs routinely hired lobbyists simply to deprive their opponents of lobbying help. Since lobbyists are frequently part of lawmakers’ networks–and are often former staffers for the same lawmakers–these lobbying expenditures also encouraged members of Congress to support Fannie and Freddie as a means of supplementing the income of their friends.

The failure to adopt meaningful GSE reform in 2005 was a crucial missed opportunity.

In the same vein, Fannie and Freddie hired dozens of Washington’s movers and shakers–at spectacular levels of compensation–to sit on their boards, lobby Congress, and in general help them to manage their political risk. (An early account of this effort was an article entitled “Crony Capitalism: American Style” that appeared in The International Economy in 1999.[4] A later version of the same point was made in Investor’s Business Daily nine years later.[5]) The GSEs also paid for academic research to assure the public that the GSE mission was worthwhile and that the GSEs posed minimal risks to taxpayers. For example, Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz coauthored an article in 2002 purporting to show that the risk of GSE default producing taxpayer loss was “effectively zero.”[6]

One of the most successful efforts to influence lawmakers came through community groups. Both Fannie and Freddie made “charitable” or other gifts to community groups, which could then be called upon to contact the GSEs’ opponents in Congress and protest any proposed restrictions on the activities or privileges of the GSEs. GSE supporters in Congress could also count on these groups to back them in their reelection efforts.

But these activities, as important as they were in managing the GSEs’ political risks, paled when compared to the billions of dollars the GSEs made available for spending on projects in the congressional districts and states of their supporters. Many of these projects involved affordable housing. In 1994, Fannie Mae replaced its initial $10 billion program with a $1 trillion affordable housing initiative, and both Fannie and Freddie announced new $2 trillion initiatives in 2001.[7] It is not clear to what extent the investments made in support of these commitments were losers–the GSEs’ profitability over many years could cover a multitude of sins–but it is now certain that the enormous losses associated with the risky housing investments appearing on Fannie and Freddie’s balance sheet today reflect major and imprudent investments in support of affordable housing between 2005 and 2007–investments that ultimately brought about the collapse of Fannie and Freddie.

Even if the earlier affordable housing projects were not losers, however, they represented a new and extra-constitutional way for Congress to dispense funds that should otherwise have flowed through the appropriations process. In one sense, the expenditures were a new form of earmark, but this earmarking evaded the constitutional appropriations process entirely. An illustration is provided by a press release from the office of Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), one of the most ardent supporters of the GSEs in Congress. The headline on the release, dated November 20, 2006–right in the middle of the GSEs’ affordable housing spending spree–was “Schumer Announces up to $100 Million Freddie Mac Commitment to Address Fort Drum and Watertown Housing Crunch.” The subheading continued: “Schumer Unveils New Freddie Mac Plan with HSBC That Includes Low-Interest Low-Downpayment Loans. In June, Schumer Urged Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae Step Up to the Plate and Deliver Concrete Plans–Today Freddie Mac Is Following Through.”[8] If this project had been economically profitable for Fannie or Freddie, Schumer would not have had to “urge” them to “step up.” Instead, using his authority as a powerful member of the Senate Banking Committee–and a supporter of Fannie and Freddie–he appears to have induced Freddie Mac to make a financial commitment that was very much in his political interests but for which the taxpayers of the United States would ultimately be responsible.

Of course, Schumer was only one of many members of Congress who used his political leverage to further his own agenda at taxpayer expense and outside the appropriations process. The list of friends of Fannie and Freddie changed over time; while the GSEs enjoyed broad bipartisan support in the 1990s, over the past decade, they have become increasingly aligned with the Democrats. This shift in the political equilibrium was especially clear in the congressional reaction to the GSEs’ accounting scandals of 2003 and 2004.

The Accounting Scandals

Fannie and Freddie reaped significant benefits from the careful management of their political risk. In June 2003, in the wake of the failures of Enron and WorldCom, Freddie’s board of directors suddenly dismissed its three top officers and announced that the company’s accountants had found serious problems in Freddie’s financial reports. In 2004, after a forensic audit by OFHEO, even more serious accounting manipulation was found at Fannie, and Raines, its chairman, and Timothy Howard, its chief financial officer, were compelled to resign.

It is eloquent testimony to the power of Fannie and Freddie in Congress that even after these extraordinary events there was no significant effort to improve or enhance the powers of their regulator. The House Financial Services Committee developed a bill that was so badly weakened by GSE lobbying that the Bush administration refused to support it. The Senate Banking Committee, then under Republican control, adopted much stronger legislation in 2005, but unanimous Democratic opposition to the bill in the committee doomed it when it reached the floor. Without any significant Democratic support, debate could not be ended in the Senate, and the bill was never brought up for a vote. This was a crucial missed opportunity. The bill prohibited the GSEs from holding portfolios of mortgages and mortgage-backed securities (MBS); that measure alone would have prevented the disastrous investment activities of the GSEs in the years that followed. GSE immunity to accounting scandal is especially remarkable when it is recalled that after accounting fraud was found at Enron (and later at WorldCom), Congress adopted the punitive Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which imposed substantial costs on every public company in the United States. The GSEs’ investment in controlling their political risk–at least among the Democrats–was apparently money well spent.

Nevertheless, the GSEs’ problems were mounting quickly. The accounting scandal, although contained well below the level of the Enron story, gave ammunition to GSE critics inside and outside of Congress. Alan Greenspan, who in his earlier years as Federal Reserve chairman had avoided direct criticism of the GSEs, began to cite the risks associated with their activities in his congressional testimony. In a hearing before the Senate Banking Committee in February 2004, Greenspan noted for the first time that they could have serious adverse consequences for the economy. Referring to the management of interest rate risk–a key risk associated with holding portfolios of mortgages or MBS–he said:

To manage this risk with little capital requires a conceptually sophisticated hedging framework. In essence, the current system depends on the risk managers at Fannie and Freddie to do everything just right, rather than depending on a market-based system supported by the risk assessments and management capabilities of many participants with different views and different strategies for hedging risks.[9]

Then, and again for the first time, Greenspan proposed placing some limit on the size of the GSEs’ portfolios. Greenspan’s initial idea, later followed by more explicit proposals for numerical limits, was to restrict the GSEs’ issuance of debt. Although he did not call for an outright reduction in the size of the portfolios, limiting the issuance of debt amounts to the same thing. If the GSEs could not issue debt beyond a certain amount, they also could not accumulate portfolios. Greenspan noted:

Most of the concerns associated with systemic risks flow from the size of the balance sheets that these GSEs maintain. One way Congress could constrain the size of these balance sheets is to alter the composition of Fannie and Freddie’s mortgage financing by limiting the dollar amount of their debt relative to the dollar amount of mortgages securitized and held by other investors. . . . [T]his approach would continue to expand the depth and liquidity of mortgage markets through mortgage securitization but would remove most of the potential systemic risks associated with these GSEs.[10]

This statement must have caused considerable concern to Fannie and Freddie. Most of their profits came from issuing debt at low rates of interest and holding portfolios of mortgages and MBS with high yields. This was a highly lucrative arrangement; limiting their debt issuance would have had a significant adverse effect on their profitability.

In addition, in January 2005, only a few months after the adverse OFHEO report on Fannie’s accounting manipu-lation, three Federal Reserve economists published a study that cast doubt on whether the GSEs’ activities had any significant effect on mortgage interest rates and concluded further that holding portfolios–a far risker activity than issuing MBS–did not have any greater effect on interest rates than securitization: “We find that both portfolio purchases and MBS issuance have negligible effects on mortgage rate spreads and that purchases are not any more effective than securitization at reducing mortgage interest rate spreads.”[11] Thus, the taxpayer risks cited by Greenspan could not be justified by citing lower mortgage rates, and, worse, there was a strong case for limiting the GSEs to securitization activities alone–a much less profitable activity than holding MBS.

The events in 2003 and 2004 had undermined the legitimacy of the GSEs. They could no longer claim to be competently–or even honestly–managed. An important and respected figure, Alan Greenspan, was raising questions about whether they might be creating excessive risk for taxpayers and systemic risk for the economy as a whole. Greenspan had suggested that their most profitable activity–holding portfolios of mortgages and MBS–was the activity that created the greatest risk, and three Federal Reserve economists had concluded that the GSEs’ activities did not actually reduce mortgage interest rates. It was easy to see at this point that their political risk was rising quickly. The case for continuing their privileged status had been severely weakened. The only element of their activities that had not come under criticism was their affordable housing mission, and it appears that the GSEs determined at this point to play that card as a way of shoring up their political support in Congress.

From the perspective of their 2008 collapse, this may seem to have been unwise, but in the context of the time, it was a shrewd decision. It provided the GSEs with the potential for continuing their growth and delivered enormous short-term profits. Those profits were transferred to stockholders in huge dividend payments over the past three years (Fannie and Freddie paid a combined $4.1 billion in dividends last year alone) and to managers in lucrative salaries and bonuses. Indeed, if it had not been for the Democrats’ desire to adopt a housing relief bill before leaving for the 2008 August recess, no new regulatory regime for the GSEs would have been adopted at all. Only the Senate Republicans’ position–that there would be no housing bill without GSE reform–overcame the opposition of Senators Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.), the banking committee chairman, and Schumer.

The GSEs’ confidence in the affordable housing idea was bolstered by what appears to be a tacit understanding. Occasionally, this understanding found direct expression. For example, in his opening statement at a hearing in 2003, Representative Barney Frank (D-Mass.), now the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, referred to an “arrangement” between Congress and the GSEs that tracks rather explicitly what actually happened: “Fannie and Freddie have played a very useful role in helping to make housing more affordable, both in general through leveraging the mortgage market, and in particular, they have a mission that this Congress has given them in return for some of the arrangements which are of some benefit to them to focus on affordable housing.”[12] So here the arrangement is laid out: if the GSEs focus on affordable housing, their position is secure.

Increased Support for Affordable Housing

Affordable housing loans and subprime loans are not synonymous. Affordable housing loans can be traditional prime loans with adequate down payments, fixed rates, and an established and adequate borrower credit history. In trying to increase their commitment to affordable housing, however, the GSEs abandoned these standards. In 1995, HUD, the cabinet-level agency responsible for issuing regulations on the GSEs’ affordable housing obligations, had ruled that the GSEs could get affordable housing credit for purchasing subprime loans. Unfortunately, the agency failed to require that these loans conform to good lending practices, and OFHEO did not have the staff or the authority to monitor their purchases. The assistant HUD secretary at the time, William Apgar, later told the Washington Post that “[i]t was a mistake. In hindsight, I would have done it differently.” Allen Fishbein, his adviser, noted that Fannie and Freddie “chose not to put the brakes on this dangerous lending when they should have.”[13] Far from it. In 1998, Fannie Mae announced a 97 percent loan-to-value mortgage, and, in 2001, it offered a program that involved mortgages with no down payment at all. As a result, in 2004, when Fannie and Freddie began to increase significantly their commitment to affordable housing loans, they found it easy to stimulate production in the private sector by letting it be known in the market that they would gladly accept loans that would otherwise be considered subprime.

Although Fannie and Freddie were building huge exposures to subprime mortgages from 2005 to 2007, they adopted accounting practices that made it difficult to detect the size of those exposures. Even an economist as seemingly sophisticated as Paul Krugman was misled. He wrote in his July 14, 2008, New York Times column that

Fannie and Freddie had nothing to do with the explosion of high-risk lending. . . . In fact, Fannie and Freddie, after growing rapidly in the 1990s, largely faded from the scene during the height of the housing bubble. . . . Partly that’s because regulators, responding to accounting scandals at the companies, placed temporary restraints on both Fannie and Freddie that curtailed their lending just as housing prices were really taking off. Also, they didn’t do any subprime lending, because they can’t . . . by law. . . . So whatever bad incentives the implicit federal guarantee creates have been offset by the fact that Fannie and Freddie were and are tightly regulated with regard to the risks they can take. You could say that the Fannie-Freddie experience shows that regulation works.[14]

Here Krugman demonstrates confusion about the law (which did not prohibit subprime lending by the GSEs), misunderstands the regulatory regime under which they operated (which did not have the capacity to control their risk-taking), and mismeasures their actual subprime exposures (which he wrongly states were zero). There is probably more to this than lazy reporting by Krugman; the GSE propaganda machine purposefully misled people into believing that it was keeping risk low and operating under an adequate prudential regulatory regime.

One of the sources of Krugman’s confusion may have been Fannie and Freddie’s strange accounting conventions relating to subprime loans. There are many defi-nitions of a subprime loan, but the definition used by U.S. bank regulators is any loan to a borrower with damaged credit, including such objective criteria as a FICO credit score lower than 660.[15] In their public reports, the GSEs use their own definitions, which purposely and significantly understate their commitment to subprime loans–the mortgages with the most political freight. For example, they disclose the principal amount of loans with FICO scores of less than 620, leaving the reader to guess how many loans fall into the category of subprime because they have FICO scores of less than 660. In these reports, too, Alt-A loans–which include loans with little or no income or other documentation and other deficiencies–are differentiated from subprime loans, again reducing the size of the apparent GSE commitment to the subprime category. These distinctions, however, are not very important from the perspective of realized losses in the subprime and Alt-A categories; loss rates are quite similar for both, even though they are labeled differently. In its June 30, 2008, Investor Summary report, Fannie notes that credit losses on its Alt-A portfolio were 49.6 percent of all the credit losses on its $2.7 trillion single-family loan book of business.[16] Fannie’s disclosures indicate that when all subprime loans (including Alt-A) are aggregated, at least 85 percent of its losses are related to its holdings of both subprime and Alt-A loans. They are all properly characterized as “junk loans.”

Beginning in 2004, after the GSEs’ accounting scandals, the junk loan share of all mortgages in the United States began to rise, going from 8 percent in 2003 to about 18 percent in 2004 and peaking at about 22 percent in the third quarter of 2006. It is likely that this huge increase in commitments to junk lending was largely the result of signals from Fannie and Freddie that they were ready to buy these loans in bulk. For example, in speeches to the Mortgage Bankers Association in 2004, both Raines and Richard Syron–the chairmen, respectively, of Fannie and Freddie–“made no bones about their interest in buying loans made to borrowers formerly considered the province of nonprime and other niche lenders.”[17] Raines is quoted as saying, “We have to push products and opportunities to people who have lesser credit quality.”

There are few data available publicly on the dollar amount of junk loans held by the GSEs in 2004, but according to their own reports, GSE purchases of these mortgages and MBS increased substantially between 2005 and 2007. Subprime and Alt-A purchases during this period were a higher share of total purchases than in previous years. For example, Fannie reported that mortgages and MBS of all types originated in 2005–2007 comprised 49.8 percent of its overall book of single-family mortgages, which includes both mortgages and MBS retained in their portfolio as well as mortgages they securitized and guaranteed. But the percentage of mortgages with subprime characteristics purchased during this period consistently exceeded 49.8 percent, demonstrating that Fannie was substantially increasing its reliance on junk loans between 2005 and 2007. For example, in its 10-Q Investor Summary report for the quarter ended June 30, 2008, Fannie reported that mortgages with subprime characteristics comprised substantial percentages of all 2005–2007 mortgages the company acquired, as shown in table 1. Based on these figures, it is likely that as much as 40 percent of the mortgages that Fannie Mae added to its single-family book of business during 2005–2007 were junk loans.

If we add up all these categories and eliminate double counting, it appears that on June 30, 2008, Fannie held or had guaranteed subprime and Alt-A loans with an unpaid principal balance of $553 billion. In addition, according to the same Fannie report, the company also held $29.5 billion of Alt-A loans and $36.3 billion of subprime loans that it had purchased as private label securities (non-GSE or Ginnie Mae securities).[18] These figures amount to a grand total of $619 billion–approximately 23 percent of Fannie’s book of single-family business on June 30, 2008–and reflect a huge commitment to the purchase of mortgages of questionable quality between 2005 and 2007.

Freddie Mac also published a report on its subprime and Alt-A mortgage exposures as of August 2008. Freddie’s numbers were not as detailed as Fannie’s, but the company reported that 52 percent of its entire single-family credit guarantee portfolio was from book years 2005–2007 (slightly more than Fannie) and that these mortgages had subprime characteristics, as shown in table 2. Based on these figures, it appears that as much as 40 percent of the loans that Freddie Mac added to its book of single-family mortgage business during 2005–2007 also consisted of junk loans.

Freddie’s disclosures did not contain enough detail to eliminate all of the double counting, so it is not possible to estimate the total amount of its subprime loans from the information it reported. Nevertheless, we can calculate the minimum amount of Freddie’s exposure. In the same report, Freddie disclosed that $190 billion of its loans were categorized as Alt-A and $68 billion had FICO credit scores of less than 620, so that they would clearly be categorized as subprime. Based on the limited information Freddie supplied, double counting of $7.6 billion can be eliminated, so that as of August 2008, Freddie held or had guaranteed at least $258 billion of junk loans. To this must be added $134 billion of subprime and Alt-A loans that Freddie purchased from private label issuers,[19] for a grand total of $392 billion–20 percent of Freddie’s single-family portfolio of $1.8 trillion.

A New Trillion-Dollar Commitment

Between 2005 and 2007, Fannie and Freddie acquired so many junk mortgages that, as of August 2008, they held or had guaranteed more than $1.011 trillion in unpaid principal balance exposures on these loans. The losses already recognized on these exposures were responsible for the collapse of Fannie and Freddie and their takeover by the federal government, and there are undoubtedly many more losses to come. In congressional testimony on September 23, James Lockhart, the director of their new regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, cited these loans as the source of the GSEs’ ultimate collapse, as reported in the Washington Post:

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac purchased and guaranteed “many more low-documentation, low-verification and non-standard” mortgages in 2006 and 2007 “than they had in the past.” He said the companies increased their exposure to risks in 2006 and 2007 despite the regulator’s warnings.

Roughly 33 percent of the companies’ business involved buying or guaranteeing these risky mortgages, compared with 14 percent in 2005. Those bad debts on mortgages led to billions of dollars in losses at the firms. “The capacity to raise capital to absorb further losses without Treasury Department support vanished,” Lockhart said.[20]

Although a large share of the subprime loans now causing a crisis in the international financial markets are so-called private label securities–issued by banks and securitizers other than Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac–the two GSEs became the biggest buyers of the AAA tranches of these subprime pools in 2005-07.[21] Without their commitment to purchase the AAA tranches of these securitizations, it is unlikely that the pools could have been formed and marketed around the world. Accordingly, not only did the GSEs destroy their own financial condition with their excessive purchases of subprime loans in the three-year period from 2005 to 2007, but they also played a major role in weakening or destroying the solvency and stability of other financial institutions and investors in the United States and abroad.

Why Did They Do It?

Why did the GSEs follow this disastrous course? One explanation–advanced by Lockhart–is that Fannie and Freddie were competing for market share with the private label securitizers and had to purchase substantial amounts of subprime mortgages in order to retain their position in a growing market. Fannie and Freddie’s explanation is that they were the victims of excessively stringent HUD affordable housing goals. Neither of these explanations is plausible. For many years before 2004, Fannie and Freddie had followed relatively prudent investment strategies, even with respect to affordable housing, but they suddenly changed their approach in 2005. Freddie Mac’s report, for example, shows that the percentage of mortgages in its portfolio with subprime characteristics rose rapidly after 2004. Tables 1 and 2 show that for each category of mortgages with subprime characteristics, most of the portfolio of loans with those characteristics was acquired from 2005 to 2007. For example, 83.8 percent of Fannie’s and 90 percent of Freddie’s interest-only loans as of June 2008 were acquired from 2005 to 2007, and 57.5 percent of Fannie’s and 61 percent of Freddie’s loans with FICO scores of less than 620 as of June 2008 were acquired from 2005 to 2007. It seems unlikely that competing for market share or complying with HUD regulations–which contained no enforcement mechanism other than disclosure and delay in approving requests for mission expansions–could be the reason for such an obviously destructive course.

Instead, it seems likely that the event responsible for the GSEs’ change in direction and culture was the accounting scandal that each of them encountered in 2003 and 2004. In both cases, they lost their reputation as well-managed companies and began to encounter questions about their contribution to reducing mortgage rates and their safety and soundness. Serious observers questioned whether they should be allowed to continue to hold mortgages and MBS in their portfolios–by far their most profitable activity–and Senate Republicans moved a bill out of committee that would have prohibited this activity.

Under these circumstances, the need to manage their political risk became paramount, and this required them to prove to their supporters in Congress that they still served a useful purpose. In 2003, as noted above, Frank had cited an arrangement in which the GSEs’ congressional benefits were linked to their investments in affordable housing. In this context, substantially increasing their support for affordable housing–through the purchase of the subprime loans permitted by HUD–seems a logical and even necessary tactic.

Unfortunately, the sad saga of Fannie and Freddie is not over. Some of their supporters in Congress prefer to blame the Fannie and Freddie mess on deregulation or private market failure, perhaps hoping to use such false diagnoses to lay the groundwork for reviving the GSEs for extra constitutional expenditure and political benefit in the future. As the future of the GSEs is debated over the coming months and years, it will be important to remember how and why Fannie and Freddie failed. The primary policy objective should be to prevent a repeat of this disaster by preventing the restoration of the GSE model.

Peter J. Wallison (pwallison@aei.org) is the Arthur F. Burns Fellow in Financial Policy Studies at AEI. Charles W. Calomiris (cc374@columbia.edu) is a visiting scholar at AEI and the Henry Kaufman Professor of Financial Institutions at Columbia Business School.

Messrs. Wallison and Calomiris wish to thank Edward Pinto, a former chief credit officer of Fannie Mae, for his assistance in deciphering the GSEs’ descriptions of their mortgage exposures. AEI research assistant Karen Dubas worked with the authors to produce this Financial Services Outlook.

Download file Click here to view this Outlook as an Adobe Acrobat PDF.

Notes

1. Quoted in Niles Steven Campbell, “Fannie Mae Officials Try to Assuage Worried Investors,” Real Estate Finance Today, May 10, 1999. See also Binyamin Appelbaum, Carol D. Leonnig, and David S. Hilzenrath, “How Washington Failed to Rein In Fannie, Freddie,” Washington Post, September 14, 2008.

2. Common Cause, “Ask Yourself Why . . . They Didn’t See This Coming,” September 24, 2008, available at www.commoncause.org/site/pp.asp?c=dkLNK1MQIwG&b=4542875 (accessed September 29, 2008).

3. Center for Responsive Politics, “Lobbying: Top Spenders,” 2008, available at www.opensecrets.org/lobby/top.php?indexType=s (accessed September 26, 2008).

4. Owen Ullmann, “Crony Capitalism: American Style,” The International Economy (July/August 1999): 6.

5. Terry Jones, “‘Crony’ Capitalism Is Root Cause of Fannie and Freddie Troubles,” Investor’s Business Daily, September 22, 2008.

6. Joseph E. Stiglitz, Jonathan M. Orszag, and Peter R. Orszag, “Implications of the New Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Risk-Based Capital Standard,” Fannie Mae Papers 1, no. 2 (March 2002), available at www.sbgo.com/Papers/fmp-v1i2.pdf (accessed September 29, 2008). Interestingly, Stiglitz today is an outspoken critic of GSE risk-taking. According to Stiglitz, GSE risk-taking was a predictable consequence of the structure of the GSEs and their financial structure and compensation schedules. “We should not be worried about [GSE] shareholders losing their investments. In earlier years, they were amply rewarded. The management remuneration packages that they approved were designed to encourage excessive risk-taking. They got what they asked for. Nor should we be worried about creditors losing their money. Their lack of supervision fuelled the housing bubble and we are now all paying the price.” (Joseph Stiglitz, “Fannie’s and Freddie’s Free Lunch,” Financial Times, July 24, 2008.)

7. Funding Universe, “Fannie Mae–Company History,” available at www.fundinguniverse.com/company-histories/Fannie-Mae-Company-History.html (accessed September 29, 2008); Funding Universe, “Freddie Mac–Company History,” available at www.fundinguniverse.com/company-histories/Freddie-Mac-Company-History.html (accessed September 29, 2008); and Business Wire, “Fannie Mae’s $2 Trillion ‘American Dream Commitment’ on Course with Over $190 Billion in Targeted Lending,” news release, March 14, 2001, avail-able at http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0EIN/is_2001_March_14/ai_71707186/ (accessed September 29, 2008).

8. Office of Senator Charles E. Schumer, “Schumer Announces up to $100 Million Freddie Mac Commitment to Address Fort Drum and Watertown Housing Crunch,” news release, November 20, 2006, available at www.senate.gov/~schumer/SchumerWebsite/pressroom/record.cfm?id=266131 (accessed September 29, 2008).

9. Alan Greenspan, “Proposals for Improving the Regulation of the Housing Government Sponsored Enterprises” (testimony, Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, U.S. Senate, 108th Cong., 1st sess., February 24, 2004), available at www.federalreserve.gov/boarddocs/testimony/2004/20040224/ default.htm (accessed September 29, 2008).

10. Ibid.

11. Andreas Lehnert, Wayne Passmore, and Shane M. Sherlund, “GSEs, Mortgage Rates and Secondary Market Activities” (Finance and Economic Discussion Series 2005-07, Divisions of Research & Statistics and Monetary Affairs, Federal Reserve Board, Washington, DC, January 12, 2005), 1, available at www.federalreserve.gov/Pubs/feds/2005/200507/200507pap.pdf (accessed September 29, 2008).

12. Quoted in Gerald Prante, “Barney Frank on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2003,” Tax Policy Blog, September 17, 2008, available at www.taxfoundation.org/blog/show/23617.html (accessed September 29, 2008).

13. Carol D. Leonnig, “How HUD Mortgage Policy Fed the Crisis,” Washington Post, June 10, 2008.

14. Paul Krugman, “Fannie, Freddie and You,” New York Times, July 14, 2008.
15. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Federal Reserve Board, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Office of Thrift Supervision, “Expanded Guidance for Subprime Lending Programs,” 2001, available at www.federalreserve.gov/Boarddocs/SRletters/2001/sr0104a1.pdf (accessed September 29, 2008).

16. Fannie Mae, “2008 Q2 10-Q Investor Summary,” August 8, 2008, available at www.fanniemae.com/media/pdf/newsreleases/2008_Q2_10Q_Investor_Summary.pdf (accessed September 29, 2008).

17. Neil Morse, “Looking for New Customers,” Mortgage Banking, December 1, 2004.

18. Fannie Mae, “2008 Q2 10-Q Investor Summary,” 20.

19. Freddie Mac, “Freddie Mac Update,” August 2008, 30, available at www.freddiemac.com/investors/pdffiles/investor-presentation.pdf (accessed September 29, 2008).

20. Zachary A. Goldfarb, “Affordable-Housing Goals Scaled Back,” Washington Post, September 24, 2008.

21. James Lockhart, “Reforming the Regulation of the Government Sponsored Enterprises” (testimony, Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, U.S. Senate, 110th Cong., 2nd sess., February 7, 2008), 6, available at www.ofheo.gov/media/testimony/2708LockharttestimonyWeb.pdf (accessed September 29, 2008).

The economic implosion of our economy due to Fannie and Freddie’s losses continues.  From an AP article published Friday, January 22:

The two companies, which have been run by the government since they almost collapsed in September 2008, have required $111 billion in federal aid to stay afloat. Late last year the Obama administration pledged to cover unlimited losses through 2012 for both companies, lifting an earlier cap of $400 billion.

The “unlimited losses” amounts to an EXPANSION from the $800 BILLION that Congress was going to authorize.  Which is even more than the $787 billion stimulus, which was the largest government outlay in the history of the human race until the black hole of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac beat it out.

It’s time to learn the truth.

With Eyes Finally Wide-Open, Reconsider Why The Economy Collapsed In The First Place

December 31, 2009

We are now able to see that from the very beginning of the Obama administration, the Republican Party has again and again demonstrated that they were completely right and Democrats were completely wrong.  Whether you look at the stimulus, cap-and-trade, bogus climate change claims, health care, or terrorism, Americans now solidly agree that Republicans were represent the people; and that Democrats do NOT represent the people.

Right now, a solid plurality of Americans thinks the stimulus (that 99% of Republicans voted against) harmed the economy.  And the people are starting to realize what an ideological partisan slush fund the stimulus was (also predicted by Republicans).

When Obama was elected, unemployment was at 6.6%.  He promised that his stimulus would prevent unemployment from reaching 8%.  And now it’s at 10%, and it’s going to get higher.

Obama demagogued Bush’s spending.  But Bush deficits -bad as they were – were only 2-3% of GDP.  Obama’s deficits are 12.8% of GDP – which is five to six times higher.

Now that your eyes are finally beginning to open wide and see Obama and the Democrats for who and what they truly are, let me point out a few things about the past collapse.

What Americans – and particularly Americans who actually vote – need to realize is that Democrats were trying to do this kind of crap and play these kind of games all along.  They were trying to do it throughout the Bush years, when George Bush tried 17 times to regulate the out of control and Fannie-Mac-and-Freddie-Mae-dominated housing mortgage markets – and Democrats thwarted him over and over again.

Why do I mention the Government Supported Enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac?  Because they were at the very heart of the mortgage meltdown.

The LA Times writes on May 31, 1999 that:

Lenders also have opened the door wider to minorities because of new initiatives at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac–the giant federally chartered corporations that play critical, if obscure, roles in the home finance system. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac buy mortgages from lenders and bundle them into securities; that provides lenders the funds to lend more. . . .

LaVaughn M. Henry, Ph.D. Director, U.S. Economic Analysis The PMI Group, Inc. December 9, 2008, pointed out:

The Role of the GSEs is to provide liquidity and stability to the U.S. housing and mortgage markets. Step 1 Banks lend money to Households to purchase and refinance home mortgages Step 2 The GSEs purchase these mortgage from the banks Step 3 GSEs bundle the mortgages into mortgage-backed securities Step 4 GSEs sell mortgage-backed and debt securities to domestic and international capital investors Step 5 Investors pay GSEs for purchase of debt and securities Step 6 GSEs return funds to banks to lend out again for the issuance of new mortgage loans.

It was steps 3-5 that messed us up.  Fannie and Freddie bought mortgages – including many mortgages that poor and minority homeowners couldn’t begin to afford under the mandate of the Community Reinvestment Act – bundled them such that no one could assess their risk, and then sold them to private companies such as Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers.  Fannie and Freddie were exempt from SEC [Securities and Exchange Commission] regulations.   The GSEs could bundle up mortgages, which would then be rated AAA, with no requirement to make clear what was in the bundle.  Private companies believed that the bundled securities were guaranteed, since they were essentially being sold by the federal government.

But there were many who predicted that this system – created and maintained by Democrats – could explode.

From the New York Times in September 30, 1999:

In moving, even tentatively, into this new area of lending, Fannie Mae is taking on significantly more risk, which may not pose any difficulties during flush economic times. But the government-subsidized corporation may run into trouble in an economic downturn, prompting a government rescue similar to that of the savings and loan industry in the 1980’s.“

”From the perspective of many people, including me, this is another thrift industry growing up around us,”
said Peter Wallison a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. ”If they fail, the government will have to step up and bail them out the way it stepped up and bailed out the thrift industry.” . . .

And that is precisely what happened.  There was a downturn (and there will ALWAYS be downturns, won’t there?), and Fannie and Freddie were so leveraged that they collapsed and caused the collapse of the entire industry.  Financial experts anxiously pointed out that a decline of only 1.3% would bankrupt Fannie and Freddie because they were leveraged to the tune of 60%? to 78%.

Democrats were the priests and acolytes of the GSE system.  They protected it, and they were the ones who pressed all the buttons and pulled all the levers.

Keven Hasset concludes an article titled, “How the Democrats Created the Financial Crisis“, concludes by saying:

Now that the collapse has occurred, the roadblock built by Senate Democrats in 2005 is unforgivable. Many who opposed the bill doubtlessly did so for honorable reasons.  Fannie and Freddie provided mounds of materials defending their practices.  Perhaps some found their propaganda convincing.

Watch this video showing how Goerge Bush and John McCain repeatedly warned of the economic collapse (length=4 min):

Watch this video of Democrats protecting and covering for Fannie Mae (length=8 min):

Here’s a video entitled “Burning Down the House: What Caused Our Economic Crisis?” (length=11 min)

And then we find that Barack Obama was in bed with Fannie and Freddie and their shockingly risky policies:

Who really exploded the economy in 2008, liberals or conservatives? Who do you think?  The liberal mainstream media allowed Democrats to blame George Bush simply because he was president at the time, never mentioning that the Democrats who controlled both the House and the Senate relentlessly opposed everything Bush tried to do; and it allowed Democrats to not have to account for the fact that they’d been in complete control of both the House and the Senate.  But remember that the economy went from outstanding to collapsed during the two years (2006-2008) that the Congress was under Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.  The unemployment rate was 4.4% when Republicans last ran Congress.  What is it now, three years of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid later?

Few people understand how huge Fannie and Freddie are, or how deeply burrowed they are in the mortgage industry.  But let me put it to you this way: the federal government now underwrites 9 out of 10 residential mortgages.

John McCain tried to warn us in 2006:

I join as a cosponsor of the Federal Housing Enterprise Regulatory Reform Act of 2005, S. 190, to underscore my support for quick passage of GSE regulatory reform legislation. If Congress does not act, American taxpayers will continue to be exposed to the enormous risk that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pose to the housing market, the overall financial system, and the economy as a whole.

But he was ignored.

When George Bush first tried to regulate an already out-of-control liberal bastion of Fannie and Freddie, Barney Frank led the united Democrat opposition and said:

”These two entities — Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — are not facing any kind of financial crisis,” said Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts, the ranking Democrat on the Financial Services Committee. ”The more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing.”

And just before Fannie and Freddie collapsed and brought down the entire housing mortgage industry with it creating the economic meltdown, Barney Frank – continuing to stop any regulation of Fannie and Freddie – said this:

REP. BARNEY FRANK, D-MASS.: I think this is a case where Fannie and Freddie are fundamentally sound, that they are not in danger of going under. They’re not the best investments these days from the long-term standpoint going back. I think they are in good shape going forward.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac went completely bankrupt, and had to be bailed out by the government.  It had been Fannie and Freddie which had the sole authority to buy mortgages, bundle them into the mortgage-backed securities which ultimately exploded, and sell those securities to private companies (as I have already shown).  Just as it was Fannie and Freddie which had been the seller of subprime loans.

Democrats demonized and demagogued Republicans by blaming them for a mess that DEMOCRATS created.  And Republicans were to blame primarily because they didn’t do enough to stand up and courageously oppose the disaster that Democrats had created

A couple weeks ago the New York Times reported that Fannie and Freddie would get a whopping $800 billion to cover losses incurred under the Obama administration (and see another article on this $800 billion fiasco here):

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which buy and resell mortgages, have used $112 billion — including $15 billion for Fannie in November — of a total $400 billion pledge from the Treasury. Now, according to people close to the talks, officials are discussing the possibility of increasing that commitment, possibly to $400 billion for each company, by year-end, after which the Treasury would need Congressional approval to extend it. Company and government officials declined to comment.

But it turned out that that was wrong.  Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac weren’t going to get $800 billion.  That won’t be nearly enough.  They are going to get an unlimited amount of funding (potentially in the trillions):

From the Wall Street Journal, December 26, 2009:

The Obama administration’s decision to cover an unlimited amount of losses at the mortgage-finance giants Fannie MaeFreddie Mac over the next three years and stirred controversy over the holiday.

A Newsbuster article, entitled, “Relief Without Limits,” provides an excellent resource of facts and commentary on this incredible and terrifying development.

Remember the righteous outrage of Democrats and the Obama administration over the compensation of CEOs of private banks?  The Democrats don’t seem to mind when Fannie and Freddie execs get huge compensation packages.

The monster rises yet again, and larger and uglier and more dangerous than it has ever been before.  And just like the first time it collapsed, Democrats are in total control of it.  Fannie and Freddie stock went up significantly as the news was announced.  Watch it dwindle back to zero by the end of 2010.

We’re facing another tsunami of foreclosures in 2010.  And three mortgages get worse for every single one that improves.

And even uber-liberal sources like the Huffington Post are acknowledging that Obama’s policies have utterly failed:

Anatomy of a Failed Foreclosure Program (dated 12-07-09)

Just how badly is President Obama’s $75 billion foreclosure program working out? Consider these newly-released numbers: Out of every 100 homeowners who came to JPMorgan Chase for help under the program, just 15 have or will likely receive a permanent payment reduction.

What happened to the other 85? For every 100 trial plans initiated from April through September 2009 under the Home Affordable Modification Program:

  • 29 borrowers did not make all required payments under their trial plan;
  • 20 borrowers did not submit all documents required for underwriting;
  • 31 borrowers submitted all required documents but the documents did not meet HAMP underwriting standards, due to such things as missing signatures or nonstandard formats;
  • 4 borrowers were or are likely to be rejected for undisclosed reasons;
  • 1 borrower will not or is not likely to get their payment lowered.

The data comes from the prepared remarks bank officials plan to make Tuesday before the House Financial Services Committee. The testimony was posted Monday on the committee’s website.

It adds up to a brutal illustration of just how the HAMP program, which is supposed to reduce troubled homeowners’ monthly payments to 31 percent of their income, is failing.

Failing.  As in “failing grade.”  As in failed Obama presidency.

You still don’t know the half of it.  Obama’s $75 billion mortgage modification bailout is costing taxpayers an average of $870,967 PER HOUSE when the average house is worth only $177,900.

Famed analyst Meredith Whitney predicted that unemployment would rise to 13% or higher primarily due to the failure to contain the failure to deal with the mortgage industry:

Unemployment is likely to rise to 13 percent or higher and will weigh on the economy for several years, countering government efforts to stabilize the banking industry, analyst Meredith Whitney told CNBC. […]

“We underestimate how much the whole economy is dependent on the mortgage industry, and that has to change,” Whitney said. “This is what happens when you delay the inevitable. We’re buying time here, but we’re not restructuring the economy.”

Under the radar, and against the objections of Republicans that was primarily covered only by C-SPAN, Democrats implemented and then fiercely protected policies that were almost guaranteed to doom our economy.  When the meltdown finally occurred, the same Democrats who created the black hole in the first place flooded the airwaves and blamed George Bush – whom they had already vilified and brought down through unrelenting attacks using the Iraq War as their main foil.

The propaganda worked, and Barack Hussein Obama – a politician who is more beholden to corrupt and frankly un-American entities like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, ACORN, and the SEIU than any president in history.

And now we’re truly paying for our stupidity.

Obama is taking the same policies that imploded our economy, and multiplied them by a factor of ten.  It’s only a matter of time before his policies create a rotten floor for our economy to plunge through all over again — only this time far, far worse than before.

Someone might say, “But look, Obama is rebuilding the economy.  He’s brought back the stock market, and things are getting better.”

First of all, they really aren’t getting better, and the Dow can drop a lot faster than it can rise (history lesson: there were several rises and crashes of the stock market during the Great Depression).  And second of all, if you loan me a few billion dollars to spread around, I can temporarily bring up the production of my local economy, too.

Just don’t expect either me or Barack Hussein to repay the loan when it comes due.

Obama has been compared – and has compared himself – to FDR.  We now know that for all of FDR’s popularity, his “reforms” during the Great Depression were massive failures which actually kept the United States in depression for seven years longer than if he’d done nothing at all.

Henry Morganthau, FDR’s Treasury Secretary, said in May 1939, after nearly seven years in office:

“We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work. And I have just one interest, and if I am wrong… somebody else can have my job. I want to see this country prosperous. I want to see people get a job. I want to see people get enough to eat. We have never made good on our promises… I say after eight years of this Administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started… And an enormous debt to boot!”

In believing the propaganda and lies of the Democrats and Barack Obama, Americans may have well placed the nation in a hole that it very may well not be able to climb out of.

ACORN Helping Illegal Immigrants Get Sweetheart Home Loans, Crash Mortgage System

September 21, 2009

(Youtube link)

When I hear “maximum eligible participation in all government programs,” I think “Cloward-Piven strategy” (and see also here) and the intentional destruction of our economic system.  Social radicals want to overload the system with too many “clients” and too many people getting benefits so that when the system collapses under the weight of all of those subsidies and benefits they will be able to create “change.”

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.

Rampant Democrat Corruption Extends To Most Powerful Leaders

July 29, 2009

Right now, three of the most powerful Democrats are documented corrupt scumbags.

Charles Rangel, Chairman of the powerful tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee is a tax cheat.  Chris Dodd, the Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, took corrupt mortgage loans from a corrupt mortgage lender at the epicenter of the mortgage meltdown crisis.  Kent Conrad, the Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, also took such loans.

These men are incredibly influential in the writing of laws and legislation that will absorb most of the economy under their power.  And they are corrupt.

We were entertained at the beginning of the Obama administration as it became painfully obvious that it was hard to find an honest Democrat who actually paid the taxes that they hypocritically wanted everyone else to pay.  Many fell by the wayside, but “Turbo Tax” Tim Geithner’s personal dishonesty in paying his taxes didn’t stand in the way of his being Obama’s choice to become the Treasury Secretary in charge of enforcing tax laws.

Let’s start with the man who writes your tax laws but doesn’t want to follow his own laws and pay his own taxes: Charles Rangel.

The man has all kinds of issues, such as selfishly and greedily taking rent-controlled property meant for poor people.  It’s hard to say which is worse, but don’t forget to consider what he did in buying pricey beachfront rental property and then refusing to pay taxes on his substantial income:

JULY 27, 2009, 4:28 P.M. ET

Morality and Charlie Rangel’s Taxes
It’s much easier to raise taxes if you don’t pay them.

Ever notice that those who endorse high taxes and those who actually pay them aren’t the same people? Consider the curious case of Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel, who is leading the charge for a new 5.4-percentage point income tax surcharge and recently called it “the moral thing to do.” About his own tax liability he seems less, well, fervent.

Exhibit A concerns a rental property Mr. Rangel purchased in 1987 at the Punta Cana Yacht Club in the Dominican Republic. The rental income from that property ought to be substantial since it is a luxury beach-front villa and is more often than not rented out. But when the National Legal and Policy Center looked at Mr. Rangel’s House financial disclosure forms in August, it noted that his reported income looked suspiciously low. In 2004 and 2005, he reported no more than $5,000, and in 2006 and 2007 no income at all from the property.

The Congressman initially denied there was any unreported income. But reporters quickly showed that the villa is among the most desirable at Punta Cana and that it rents for $500 a night in the low season, and as much as $1,100 a night in peak season. Last year it was fully booked between December 15 and April 15.

Mr. Rangel soon admitted having failed to report rental income of $75,000 over the years. First he blamed his wife for the oversight because he said she was supposed to be managing the property. Then he blamed the language barrier. “Every time I thought I was getting somewhere, they’d start speaking Spanish,” Mr. Rangel explained.

Mr. Rangel promised last fall to amend his tax returns, pay what is due and correct the information on his annual financial disclosure form. But the deadline for the 2008 filing was May 15 and as of last week he still had not filed. His press spokesman declined to answer questions about anything related to his ethics problems.

Besides not paying those pesky taxes, Mr. Rangel had other reasons for wanting to hide income. As the tenant of four rent-stabilized apartments in Harlem, the Congressman needed to keep his annual reported income below $175,000, lest he be ineligible as a hardship case for rent control. (He also used one of the apartments as an office in violation of rent-control rules, but that’s another story.)

Mr. Rangel said last fall that “I never had any idea that I got any income’’ from the villa. Try using that one the next time the IRS comes after you. Equally interesting is his claim that he didn’t know that the developer of the Dominican Republic villa had converted his $52,000 mortgage to an interest-free loan in 1990. That would seem to violate House rules on gifts, which say Members may only accept loans on “terms that are generally available to the public.” Try getting an interest-free loan from your banker.

The National Legal and Policy Center also says it has confirmed that Mr. Rangel owned a home in Washington from 1971-2000 and during that time claimed a “homestead” exemption that allowed him to save on his District of Columbia property taxes. However, the homestead exemption only applies to a principal residence, and the Washington home could not have qualified as such since Mr. Rangel’s rent-stabilized apartments in New York have the same requirement.

The House Ethics Committee is investigating Mr. Rangel on no fewer than six separate issues, including his failure to report the no-interest loan on his Punta Cana villa and his use of rent-stabilized apartments. It is also investigating his fund raising for the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at City College of New York. New York labor attorney Theodore Kheel, one of the principal owners of the Punta Cana resort, is an important donor to the Rangel Center.

All of this has previously appeared in print in one place or another, and we salute the reporters who did the leg work. We thought we’d summarize it now for readers who are confronted with the prospect of much higher tax bills, and who might like to know how a leading Democrat defines “moral” behavior when the taxes hit close to his homes.

Charlie Rangel is a man who has been patently dishonest for his entire public life.  Not that it matters to Democrats.  If you’re a Democrat, you can be caught red-handed with $90,000 of FBI bribe money in your freezer like William Jefferson and actually get re-elected the following year.

That leaves Chris Dodd and Kent Conrad (at least, for me today).

AP IMPACT: Dodd, Conrad told deals were sweetened

By LARRY MARGASAK, Associated Press Writer Larry Margasak, Associated Press Writer – Mon Jul 27, 9:52 pm ET

WASHINGTON – Despite their denials, influential Democratic Sens. Kent Conrad and Chris Dodd were told from the start they were getting VIP mortgage discounts from one of the nation’s largest lenders, the official who handled their loans has told Congress in secret testimony.

Both senators have said that at the time the mortgages were being written they didn’t know they were getting unique deals from Countrywide Financial Corp., the company that went on to lose billions of dollars on home loans to credit-strapped borrowers. Dodd still maintains he got no preferential treatment.

Dodd got two Countrywide mortgages in 2003, refinancing his home in Connecticut and another residence in Washington. Conrad’s two Countrywide mortgages in 2004 were for a beach house in Delaware and an eight-unit apartment building in Bismarck in his home state of North Dakota.

Robert Feinberg, who worked in Countrywide’s VIP section, told congressional investigators last month that the two senators were made aware that “who you know is basically how you’re coming in here.”

“You don’t say ‘no’ to the VIP,” Feinberg told Republican investigators for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, according to a transcript obtained by The Associated Press.

The next day, Feinberg testified before the Senate Ethics Committee, an indication the panel is actively investigating two of the chamber’s more powerful members:

Dodd heads the Banking Committee and is a major player in two big areas: solving the housing foreclosure and financial crises and putting together an overhaul of the U.S. health care system. A five-term senator, he is in a tough fight for re-election in 2010, partly because of the controversy over his mortgages.

Conrad chairs the Budget Committee. He, too, shares an important role in the health care debate, as well as on legislation to curb global warming.

Both senators were VIP borrowers in the program known as “friends of Angelo.” Angelo Mozilo was chief executive of Countrywide, which played a big part in the foreclosure crisis triggered by defaults on subprime loans. The Calabasas, Calif.-based company was bought last July by Bank of America Corp. for about $2.5 billion.

Mozilo has been charged with civil fraud and illegal insider trading by the Securities and Exchange Commission. He denies any wrongdoing.

Asked by a House Oversight investigator if Conrad, the North Dakota senator, “was aware that he was getting preferential treatment?” Feinberg answered: “Yes, he was aware.”

Referring to Dodd, the investigator asked:

“And do you know if during the course of your communications” with the senator or his wife “that you ever had an opportunity to share with them if they were getting special VIP treatment?”

“Yes, yes,” Feinberg replied. […]

Countrywide VIPs, Feinberg told the committees, received discounts on rates, fees and points. Dodd received a break when Countrywide counted both his Connecticut and Washington homes as primary owner-occupied residences — a fiction, according to Feinberg. Conrad received a type of commercial loan that he was told Countrywide didn’t offer.

“The simple fact that Angelo Mozilo and other high-ranking executives at Countrywide were personally making sure Mr. Feinberg handled their loans right, is proof in itself that the senators knew they were getting sweetheart deals,” said Feinberg’s principal attorney, Anthony Salerno.

Two internal Countrywide documents in Dodd’s case and one in Conrad’s appear to contradict their statements about what they knew about their VIP loans.

At his Feb. 2 news conference, Dodd said he knew he was in a VIP program but insisted he was told by Countrywide, “It was nothing more than enhanced customer service … being able to get a person on the phone instead of an automated operator.”

He insisted he didn’t receive special treatment. However, the assertion was at odds with two Countrywide documents entitled “Loan Policy Analysis” that Dodd allowed reporters to review the same day.

The documents had separate columns: one showing points “actl chrgd” Dodd — zero; and a second column showing “policy” was to charge .250 points on one loan and .375 points on the other. Another heading on the documents said “reasons for override.” A notation under that heading identified a Countrywide section that approved the policy change for Dodd.

Mortgage points, sometimes called loan origination fees, are upfront fees based on a percentage of the loan. Each point is equal to 1 percent of the loan. The higher the points the lower the interest rate.

Dodd said he obtained the Countrywide documents in 2008, to learn details of his mortgages.

In Conrad’s case, an e-mail from Feinberg to Mozilo indicates Feinberg informed Conrad that Countrywide had a residential loan limit of a four-unit building. Conrad sought to finance an eight-unit apartment building in Bismarck that he had bought from his brothers.

“I did advise him I would check with you first since our maximum is 4 units,” Feinberg said in an April 23, 2004, internal e-mail to Mozilo.

Mozilo responded the same day that Feinberg should speak to another Countrywide executive and “see if he can make an exception due to the fact that the borrower is a senator.”

Feinberg said in his deposition with House Oversight investigators last month that exceptions for the type of loan Conrad received were not allowed for borrowers outside the VIP system.

“If there was a regular customer calling, and of course you say, ‘No, we’re a residential lender. We cannot provide you with that service,'” Feinberg said.

Feinberg also told House investigators that Countrywide counted both of Dodd’s homes as primary residences.

“He was allowed to do both of those as owner-occupied, which is not allowed. You can only have one owner-occupied property. You can’t live in two properties at the same time,” he said.

Normally, Feinberg said, a second home could require more equity and could have a higher mortgage rate.

Rep. Darrell Issa of California, the senior Republican on the House Oversight Committee, had his investigators question Feinberg as part of a broader investigation into Countrywide’s VIP program.

Other names that have surfaced as “friends” of Mozilo include James Johnson, a former head of Fannie Mae who later stepped down as an adviser to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, and Franklin Raines, who also headed Fannie Mae. Still other “friends” included retired athletes, a judge, a congressional aide and a newspaper executive.

Conrad initially said in June 2008, “If they did me a favor, they did it without my knowledge and without my requesting it.”

The next day, Conrad changed course after reviewing documents showing he got special treatment, and said he was donating $10,500 to charity and refinancing the loan on the apartment building with another lender. He also said then it appeared Countrywide had waived 1 point at closing on the beach house.

Gaddie said Feinberg has previously made statements to the news media that Countrywide waived 1 point without the senator’s knowledge.

Feinberg testified that VIPs usually were not told exactly how many points were being waived, but it was made clear to them that they were getting discounts.

And, of course, Barack Obama has his own sweetheart mortgage deal with his own scumbag, Tony Rezko.  Not to mention all kinds of other skeletons in his “Chicago Way” closet that were never investigated by a clearly biased press.  A lot of the most obvious corruption occurs through his wife Michelle Obama, who kept getting paid more and more on hospital boards as Obama advanced politically.  On hospitals that did some really nasty things, such as patient dumping which she might have participated in.

Democrats cry day after day that what the world needs is more government.

But consider something: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

No entity wields more absolute power, or is more corrupt, than government.

Democrats tell us every day that they are out to save us from evil big businesses.  But there is no one to save us from Democrats, or the intrusive giant octopus federal government behemoth they are seeking to create and empower to rule over virtually every aspect of our lives.

How ‘Failed Policies’ Of Democrats Were Responsible For Financial Crisis

October 1, 2008

Why should anyone blame Democrats for the housing finance crisis?  Because they laid virtually all the landmines that would eventually explode in the first place, and then they wouldn’t allow Republicans to reform or even regulate the impending disaster before it occurred, that’s why.

From the New York Times in September 30, 1999:

“Fannie Mae, the nation’s biggest underwriter of home mortgages, has been under increasing pressure from the Clinton Administration to expand mortgage loans among low and moderate income people and felt pressure from stock holders to maintain its phenomenal growth in profits. . . .

Fannie Mae has expanded home ownership for millions of families in the 1990’s by reducing down payment requirements,” said Franklin D. Raines, Fannie Mae’s chairman and chief executive officer. ”Yet there remain too many borrowers whose credit is just a notch below what our underwriting has required who have been relegated to paying significantly higher mortgage rates in the so-called subprime market.” . . .

In moving, even tentatively, into this new area of lending, Fannie Mae is taking on significantly more risk, which may not pose any difficulties during flush economic times. But the government-subsidized corporation may run into trouble in an economic downturn, prompting a government rescue similar to that of the savings and loan industry in the 1980’s.

”From the perspective of many people, including me, this is another thrift industry growing up around us,” said Peter Wallison a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. ”If they fail, the government will have to step up and bail them out the way it stepped up and bailed out the thrift industry.” . . .

The LA Times writes on May 31, 1999 that:

It’s one of the hidden success stories of the Clinton era. In the great housing boom of the 1990s, black and Latino homeownership has surged to the highest level ever recorded. The number of African Americans owning their own home is now increasing nearly three times as fast as the number of whites; the number of Latino homeowners is growing nearly five times as fast as that of whites….

Under Clinton, bank regulators have breathed the first real life into enforcement of the Community Reinvestment Act, a 20-year-old statute meant to combat “redlining” by requiring banks to serve their low-income communities. The administration also has sent a clear message by stiffening enforcement of the fair housing and fair lending laws. The bottom line: Between 1993 and 1997, home loans grew by 72% to blacks and by 45% to Latinos, far faster than the total growth rate.

Lenders also have opened the door wider to minorities because of new initiatives at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac–the giant federally chartered corporations that play critical, if obscure, roles in the home finance system. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac buy mortgages from lenders and bundle them into securities; that provides lenders the funds to lend more. . . . .

Another article in the New York TImes from September 11, 2003:

The Bush administration today recommended the most significant regulatory overhaul in the housing finance industry since the savings and loan crisis a decade ago. . . .

This reform – and another in 2005/06 – were blocked by Democrats who threatened to filibuster the bill in the Senate.

In that 2003 New York Times article, we find the extent of Republicans’ concerns, and of Democrats’ intransigence:

Fannie Mae, which was previously known as the Federal National Mortgage Association, and Freddie Mac, which was the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, have been criticized by rivals for exerting too much influence over their regulators.

The regulator has not only been outmanned, it has been outlobbied,” said Representative Richard H. Baker, the Louisiana Republican who has proposed legislation similar to the administration proposal and who leads a subcommittee that oversees the companies. ”Being underfunded does not explain how a glowing report of Freddie’s operations was released only hours before the managerial upheaval that followed. This is not world-class regulatory work.”

Significant details must still be worked out before Congress can approve a bill. Among the groups denouncing the proposal today were the National Association of Home Builders and Congressional Democrats who fear that tighter regulation of the companies could sharply reduce their commitment to financing low-income and affordable housing.

These two entities — Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — are not facing any kind of financial crisis,” said Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts, the ranking Democrat on the Financial Services Committee. ”The more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing.”

Representative Melvin L. Watt, Democrat of North Carolina, agreed.

”I don’t see much other than a shell game going on here, moving something from one agency to another and in the process weakening the bargaining power of poorer families and their ability to get affordable housing,” Mr. Watt said.

Democrats such as Watt and Maxine Waters played the race card to label any effort to prevent poor and black families from buying homes they couldn’t afford as racist.

But when the fecal matter hit the rotary oscillator as a direct result of Democrats’ policies, Nancy Pelosi trots and says:

“The — what we have now is a manmade disaster, a disaster that sprang — comes from the Bush failed policies, the failure of the Bush administrations to steward our economy in a responsible way.”

I am telling you, if you vote for Democrats in November, you will be putting the very people who caused this disaster in power, and you will be entrusting the people who created a crisis in charge of averting the very crisis they caused.  By putting these irresponsible demagogues in charge of our economy during one of the most vulnerable periods in our nations’ history, you will in effect be saying, “I want the Great Depression.  I want my children to suffer.”

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.