Thursday, December 30, 2010

All the devils are in Washington

Here's an excellent editorial at condemning the steady stream of books that seek to distract attention from the real cause of the financial crisis: government.

By providing a blow-by-blow summary of the government's role in the financial meltdown, the authors of the editorial provide a more substantial example of actual journalism than all too many news stories about the situation.
EXCERPT: The historical record is clear that Washington laid the groundwork for the financial crisis by trying to expand U.S. homeownership through private lenders and government-sponsored Fannie and Freddie.

The government was the buyer of two-thirds of the subprime and other bad loans that triggered the financial collapse.

Through Fannie and Freddie, the Federal Housing Administration, CRA (Community Reinvestment Act) and other programs, the government subsidized and in some cases mandated the extension of credit to high-risk borrowers.

This in turn propagated risks for financial firms, the mortgage market, taxpayers and ultimately the entire financial system.

Through banking regulations — enforced by HUD and several other federal agencies — the government directed investments into "affordable" mortgages and pressured the financial community to lower credit standards. Why?

Because Washington wanted more people to buy homes.
Unfortunately this editorial does not answer the question of why Washington wanted more people to buy homes. What is the missing piece of the puzzle? Altruism. So long as people are motivated to be their brothers' keeper they will continue to elect a government that reflects that.

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