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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Pendulum Swings/It's All Clinton's Fault

'motion' by seeks2dream on flickr

With all the blaming of Pelosi/McCain/Obama for the failure of the bailout bill, it is kind of odd that someone hasn’t brought up every Republican’s favorite whipping boy, Bill Clinton; after all, his HUD was part of starting the whole mess, as reported nine years ago today:

New York Times, September 30, 1999:  ‘Fannie Mae Eases Credit To Aid Mortgage Lending’

Of course it was all well intentioned – a backlash against allegations of racial discrimination by Fannie and Freddie.  The result?

“The action […] will encourage those banks to extend home mortgages to individuals whose credit is generally not good enough to qualify for conventional loans.

“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.

“In addition, banks, thrift institutions and mortgage companies have been pressing Fannie Mae to help them make more loans to so-called subprime borrowers. These borrowers whose incomes, credit ratings and savings are not good enough to qualify for conventional loans, can only get loans from finance companies that charge much higher interest rates -- anywhere from three to four percentage points higher than conventional loans.

“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.”

You can’t cry about a deregulated market not working when the government has its hands all over the cookie jar, tweaking here, muddling there.

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