Remembering the prime cause of the economic crisis

Most Americans are puzzled and, of these, most are angry that Tim Geithner and Obama keep forking over our cash to a failing Europe via the IMF.

In fact, these politicians are some of the few who realize that the US Left actually triggered the world economic crash and therefore, in a sense, owes Europe and everyone else an apology at the very least.

It is interesting that even the most conservative authors, writing on the economy, rightfully blame the banks, the Fed and the 1999 repeal of Glass-Steagall for the economic crash, but most of them fail to look back at the prime cause, the bleeding heart giveaway policies of the CRA (Community Reinvestment Act). True, these other factors were absolutely key and no one is denying that. But without the CRA, it would not have happened, at least not in the same way.

“Most people do not realize this, but derivatives were at the center of the financial crisis of 2008,” states an article at theeconomiccollapseblog.com.

Nothing wrong with that statement. (This blog is in fact one of the best sources available on the progress of the West’s current economic suicide attempt.)

Indeed, neither party noticed the enormous destructive power of these instruments back when the market was bearish.

But let’s be more specific. In the case of the current crisis, it was not just any old derivatives that caused the initial tremor in the markets. It was mostly a derivative known as MBSs, or mortgage backed securities, that got the avalanche rolling. And the repeal of Glass-Steagall (which had denied banks the right to act as both investment houses and banks) was the enabler.

However, we need to look back further to find the root cause. To recap for those who have forgotten: Back in the 70s Carter, always the bleeding heart and skeptic of the free market, decided banks were deliberately refusing to service blacks, Hispanics, etc, on the basis of race. That assumption was in itself unproven at best and maliciously phony at worst. Nonetheless, the CRA (Community Reinvestment Act) became the law of the land in 1977. No one tried to seriously enforce this law until Clinton became president because Republicans used to know that forcing banks to lend to the insolvent would inevitably lead to ruin. Ironically, by the founding of the Clinton Dynasty, businesses were even more conscientious than before about eliminating racial considerations from their lending practices. A well-off black men could secure a loan just as easily — if not more easily (thanks to affirmative discrimination) — than a white man.

But Clinton had declared himself the “first black president” and he had to live up to his absurd title. So his HUD secretary Henry Cisneros, with equal absurdity, started to put teeth into the law that had, mercifully, lay fallow in the intervening years:

Here is what the CATO Institute says:

In 1992, HUD was given regulatory authority over these government-sponsored enterprises, and it began pushing the two firms into the subprime lending business.

The ensuing horrors we see all around us could perhaps have been mitigated, or even averted, had GW Bush not tried so hard to be a “compassionate conservative” (code for socialist in sheep’s clothing). In fairness, Bush had initially warned against these policies, but by January 2004, his HUD web site was trumpeting:

“Offering FHA mortgages with no down payment will unlock the door to homeownership for hundreds of thousands of American families, particularly minorities,” said HUD’s Acting Secretary Alphonso Jackson. “President Bush has pledged to create 5.5 million new minority homeowners this decade, and this historic initiative will help meet this goal.”

It was the serious enforcement of a less-than-serious law, coupled with the repeal of another law that would have prevented the securitization and sale of mortgages that indirectly led to a debacle that has engulfed the entire world and has led to a situation in which derivatives with an estimated notional value of $1.4 quadrillion have flooded the world market – a value of about 23 times world GDP. Not only the issuance of MBSs, but the practice of creating and selling these potentially lethal instruments, is what threatens every inhabitant of our globe.

So keep this in mind: without the repeal of Glass-Steagall and without the “compassionate conservatism” and outright socialism of our past governments, you and your friends would have reasonable job security and/or a job.

Good reasons to avoid voting for a RINO or a Democrat next year.

So now it’s all the banks’ fault?

All of a sudden, the CRA never happened and no banks were forced to give loans to the insolvent. And no banks were induced to follow suit to make a quick buck.

 

Don Hank

When the banks crashed in 2008, people on the Right figured out that the CRA (Community Reinvestment Act, which forced banks to lend more money to the “underserviced communities”) had something to do with it.

A lot was said and written about the CRA and the case against it looked pretty airtight.

But then leftwing analysts issued damage control statements supposedly showing that the CRA played only a minuscule role. They argued, among other things, that the CRA was enforced only on certain large banks while others did not have to comply.

Conservative observers bought into this story without further examination, and all of a sudden, everyone was looking elsewhere for a culprit: And they found blood on the hands of the Fed, the corporations, the lobbyists, etc, all of whom certainly had played a role.

I must agree, of course, with the libertarians and even the OWS crowd that corporations and banks contributed in no small way to the crash.

And I agree with Ron Paul, Alex Jones, Steph Jasky, Karl Denninger, Bill Stills and others that the Fed, with its inflationary policies and cheap credit in the midst of a housing bubble, had a huge hand in the crash. There is a lot of political hay to be made off the anger of many in the Occupy Wall Street crowd who can see only corporate greed as the culprit. Conservatives who spell out the entire narrative, including the role of leftist government, risk losing their constituency and their followers.

So with all these individuals and groups jumping on the anti-corporate and anti-Fed bandwagon, should the CRA get off Scott free?

Amidst the lynch crowd fervor, should we really let the government off the hook?

I go on the theory that the truth is always best, even if it is bad for one’s popularity at times.

Thus, one side of the rather complex discussion has been muted, and yet, that is the message we all need to focus on right now, if for no other reason than that it is a blind spot that could cause many to think the private corporations are solely to blame, when the government was the culprit that got the ball rolling toward the housing crash and subsequent subprime crisis by enforcing horrendous wealth redistribution law that was doomed to fail from the start. After all, exonerating a truly guilty party can only induce devious characters to do more mischief.

Case in point: taking advantage of the blackout regarding the seminal causes of the crash, Barney Frank, one of the most heinous offenders in the run-up, hypocritically teamed up with Chris Dodd after the crash to write tighter banking regulations, slyly dissimulating that his own support for the CRA had contributed to the economic/financial downturn in a way that some are now calling criminal.

So let’s be honest and let the chips fall where they may. The government played a seminal role in the crash with its CRA enforcement, as aided and abetted by ACORN, even though a superficial analysis may suggest it was not that big a role. So how did this devastating law do its dirty work in the shadows?

It pulled off this feat because it was not the government forcing banks to make loans to the insolvent, which was just an initiator or catalyst. It was rather the less visible effect of the CRA’s policy allowing (force was soon no longer needed) the banks to make bad loans with the tacit guarantee that the loans would be guaranteed by government.

See, if a law forces some people to use unsound banking policies, i.e., deliberately lending to the insolvent, then it can hardly prosecute banks that do this, even if they were not the ones originally targeted by the legislation. Thus the CRA opened the flood gates for horrendous banking practices never seen before on this scale by providing a huge incentive for banks to make money hand over fist at taxpayer expense.

All of this is further compounded by the fact that neither banks nor most (if any) American corporations can be thought of as representing true free market capitalism. So for the OWS activists or anyone else to blame the crash on capitalism is like blaming saber tooth tigers for making the outdoors unsafe.

But we aren’t talking about any of this now. Somehow, the narrative of the CRA as an insignificant contributor to our woes has assumed the status of settled science.  We’ve been led down a rabbit trail by both the far left and the well-meaning right that got lost and started seeing only the role of the banks.

But you know what? This topic of government culpability is much too young to die. Let’s drag it back onto the table again and take a longer look this time.

Shifting the blame from Left to greed

Blaming greed for failed leftist policies

Donald Hank

The Pope has said, over the Christmas holiday, that the world must overcome greed to get through the current economic crisis.

With all due respect for the Pope, whose stance on social issues are to be applauded, both Protestantism and Catholicism, while blaming greed, have failed to grasp the nature of the Left and its role in crises such as the financial and economic crises gripping the world.

The CRA (Community Reinvestment Act, passed under Jimmy Carter) and the way it was enforced, including the role of ACORN, played a major role in bringing down the banks. Generally, the trend to lend money, particularly mortgages, to people with no down payment and even without proof of employment, goes against all common sense and good banking practice, which has been in place since the beginning of time and throughout the world, and has proved disastrous. And yet so many are in denial, even to the utterly absurd point of casting all the blame on conservative policies and seeing the Democrats as being more economically astute and hence capable of pulling us out of the current crisis of their own making — sort of like Clinton “reforming” the failed welfare created by his party. Anyone paying attention in the years since 1995, when Clinton ordered the banks to lend a trillion dollars to “underserved communities,” would have been able to foresee this collapse. Some actually did, including a New York Times writer in 1999.

I suppose it could be argued that the Left, in its own way, represents greed, but it is probably more appropriate to call it ideologically motivated rather than greedy. Ideological motivation, rather than common sense, has caused the greatest destruction known to man — under Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, etc.

None of these men’s political actions were greed-motivated in the accepted sense of the word. In their decisions that led to the murder and starvation of millions, they were, however, blinded by leftist utopian (revolutionary) ideology — a desire for a better world, for change, and ironically, for a world with less greed.

Ideology killed 100 million innocent people in the last century (see “The Black Book of Communism by Stephane Courtois). No other factor, including greed, has ever done anywhere near that much harm.

How to make a leftist squirm

Is America more immoral than Russia?

Recently the prelate of the Russian Orthodox Church gave a speech before the EU and admonished Europe for her lack of morality.

The mayor of Moscow bashed heads to stop a “gay” parade.

Christian decency and morality is on the rise in what was once the Russian Republic of the atheistic Soviet Union. A friend from my church is a missionary there and he agrees with me that Russia is much more moral than the U.S. and Europe in many ways (despite obvious shortcomings).

Good and evil are mobile. God does not have a single steady home except in the hearts of Christians, and right now, it looks like He may have moved his headquarters to a highly unlikely, more Christian-friendly venue. At any rate, He is still alive and doing quite well.

Ironically, Russia may at some point become the counterbalance for good against some vast evil empire in the West. God works in mysterious ways…

LF editors

 

How to deal with an Obamacrat

Yesterday I met a Democrat at the polling place who was handing out literature for a local candidate. I asked him about his candidate and he described him but concluded “I am further to the left than he is.”

I said “You are a leftist?”

He said he was.

I immediately said: “What caused the bank crash?”

He was taken aback but blurted out the usual nonsense about “lack of regulation.”

I said “what about the CRA?”

He had never heard of it.

I said “the Community Reinvestment Act.”

No, he never had heard of it.

I said “I’m not going to do your homework for you. Look it up. You democrats think the newspapers are God’s infallible word. You assume everything you read or hear on ABC or CNN is true and you let them make up your mind for you. Yet now when I mention the CRA it is clear even to you that you lack even the most rudimentary information on which to base your vote and your ideology.”

I went in to vote and when I passed this guy out front, he looked at me inquisitively and said: “Community Reinvestment Act, right?”

Bless his heart. He obviously was going to look it up. He wanted to know the truth. The only thing between him and the truth were the media, Obama, McCain and Bush!

Who can blame him?

Maybe one mind has been reached with the truth.

Donald Hank

 

Deregulation did not cause crisis
by James Gattuso
Issue 119 – November 5, 2008

“The trouble with the world is not that people know too little, but that they know so many things that aren’t true.”–attributed to Mark Twain

Easy answers are seldom correct ones. That principle seems to be at work as the nation struggles to discover the causes of the financial crisis now rocking the economy. Looking for a simple and politically convenient villain, many politicians have blamed deregulation by the Bush Administration.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, for instance, stated last month that “the Bush Administration’s eight long years of failed deregulation policies have resulted in our nation’s largest bailout ever, leaving the American taxpayers on the hook potentially for billions of dollars. Similarly, presidential candidate Barack Obama asserted in the second presidential debate that “the biggest problem in this whole process was the deregulation of the financial system.”

But there is one problem with this answer: Financial services were not deregulated during the Bush Administration. If there ever was an “era of deregulation” in the financial world, it ended long ago. And the changes made then are for the most part non-controversial today.

Read more

French mainstream press confirms our assessment of the financial crisis

French mainstream press confirms our assessment of the financial crisis

 

Some American news consumers insist that anything not based on mainstream reports is not worth their while reading. In fact, I just heard Alan Colmes attacking Jerome Corsi on his book The Obama Nation and one of his chief criticisms was that Corsi uses conservative media as factual support.

Now, I have previously refuted at this site the leftist view that our current financial crisis is due to rampant laissez-faire free-market finance. I have shown, based on various sources, that in fact, the blame lies squarely with the government, and particularly with the CRA and its beefed up enforcement under Clinton, and unfortunately, under second-term George W. Bush as well. Certainly, some readers who think like Alan Colmes were skeptical and dismissive of my facts, even though most come from neutral sources.

That is why I was delighted when a French colleague recently sent me an article from the online version of the daily newspaper Figaro confirming my assessment of the financial crisis and its origins.

Now, while the Left in France does classify Figaro as right of center, you need to understand that this is a highly respected century-old publication that enjoys a very large hardcopy readership, with over 400,000 copies distributed and with an amazing 4.224 million unique on-line visitors, making it the number one news site in France today.

By contrast, the newspaper at the other end of the political spectrum, Libération, has a hardcopy readership of only 160,000 and claims only 150,000 visitors to its web site.

Clearly, French readers on both the Left and Right trust and prefer Le Figaro.

 This is why I took the pains to translate Figaro’s recent article “Subprime accused, State guilty” by Vincent Bénard.

This translation is one item you can safely forward to your most skeptical friends.

Donald Hank

 

 

Translation  of :

Subprime: market accused, State Guilty

 
09/09/2008 | Updated : 10:43 |

 

Vincent Bénard, President of the Hayek Institute of Brussels, author of “Le Logement, crise publique, remèdes privés” (Romillat), reviews the subprime lending crisis and takes the side of the free economy when Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, two mortgage refinancing agencies, are placed under the conservatorship of the United States government.

The cause is understood by many observers: the subprime financial crisis is due to the madness of the markets and shows the limits of unbridled finance.  And they urge more public regulation of financial institutions.

Free enterprise is the whipping boy again, because there is no market more perverted by the intervention of the federal government than that of mortgage credit in the United States.

The two institutions with the cute nicknames Fannie Mae (FNMA) and Freddie Mac (FHLMC) bear a heavy weight of responsibility in the financial unmooring of the American banking system.  The former was initially a government agency created in 1938 by the FDR administration to issue low interest mortgages thanks to federal guarantees, which supplied liquidity to a home loan market at low rates accessible to lower-income families.

In 1968, the Johnson Administration, realizing that the State-guaranteed commitments of Fannie Mae were becoming broader and would be subject to the lending capacity of a treasury department mired in financing the Vietnam War, arranged for it to be privatized.  Then in 1970, the Nixon administration created Freddie Mac to provide a semblance of competitiveness in this mortgage credit refinancing market.

This background provided Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac with a hybrid status of Government Sponsored Enterprise (GSE).  Thus, they were private but legally bound to deal exclusively in home loan refinancing under federal control in exchange for tax breaks.  Worse yet, while being officially private, the two agencies have always been considered – thanks to their public sponsorship and their social role, to benefit from an implicit guarantee on the part of the American Treasury!

Privatized benefits, collectivized losses: such a cocktail was bound to prompt the executives of the GSEs to take excessive risks if the state sponsorship came up short.  This is exactly what happened in the 1990s.  It was reminiscent of a famous French scandal…[The author is referring to the Credit Lyonnais scandal in which the French government bailed out that bank]

The sponsorship of these two enterprises was transferred to the US Housing and Urban Development Department (HUD) in 1992, because that agency wanted to influence GSE-financed loans to satisfy a major objective of any self-respecting politician in America, namely, increasing the home ownership rate among low-income populations, notably minorities.

Thus, the HUD forced Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to increase both the volume and the proportion of refinanced subprime credits (up to 56% in 2004).  To make matters worse, one of the HUD bosses, fearing that the declaration of risks taken by the two GSEs in order to satisfy these rules, would cause the markets to lose confidence in them, solved the problem by making it perfectly legal for them not to disclose too many details about their exposures.

Thus, using increasingly complex mortgage products, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac refinanced more than five trillion dollars in credits, or 40% of American homes, including more than half of subprime credits even though they did not have enough of their own funds to commit to such amounts.  As a result, the banks issuing these credits could afford not to be too particular about the loans they authorized, because there were two refinancers on the stock market to back them up.  Countrywide, the bank whose lending policies to lower-income families is now vilified, was incensed only three years ago by the executives of Fannie Mae for their brash subprime lending policies.

But the downturn in the economic boom multiplied borrower defaults, and the two GSEs are threatened with not being able to meet their obligations, which could spread to all institutional investors.  Now the State is urgently calling for their rescue, which will cost the taxpayer several hundred billion dollars.

A second public intervention expanded bank excesses in granting credits to insolvent families.  In the 1990s, studies showed that members of black and Hispanic communities had loan applications turned down somewhat more than whites or Asians, although these refusals only amounted to one application out of four.  Certain lobbies saw in this not a logical reflection of less wealth in these communities but rather proof of purported racism in the financial world.   

An antidiscrimination law of 1977, the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), was thus strengthened in 1995 to crack down on banks refusing credit to minorities under penalty of greater sanctions.  The banks were thus obliged to partially relinquish the precautionary role they normally play when refusing a loan to a person who is objectively less solvent.  No big deal: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were there to refinance these shaky loans!

Today, many experts believe that, without the CRA, and without the GSEs, minorities would have more access to property than they now do, less quickly but more soundly.  By trying to artificially accelerate what the free economy accomplished at its own rate, it was the State that, through both regulations and legislation, led the actors in the credit chain to behave irresponsibly, causing a serious financial crisis and resulting in the failure of many families it purported to help.

Translated by Donald Hank

 


[1]

The REAL giving myths

 

 The REAL giving myths

By Donald Hank

In an article Giving in Today’s Economic Crisis, Dr. Steve McSwain (author of the book The Giving Myths) advises Christians to keep on giving despite the economic climate. Commenting on the causes of the crisis, writes:

…It’s not just corporate big shots, however, who are to blame for the failure in our financial markets. Granted, many of them have watched their companies close while they’ve safely floated away in “multi-million dollar parachutes.” But, there are many ordinary folks who are to blame, too. The majority of people in our culture have, in the words of Will Rogers, “borrowed money they don’t have, to buy things they don’t need, to keep up with people they don’t even like.”

Dr. McSwain never once mentions government culpability in this article. While claiming to be a myth buster, he seems to be a victim of the most pernicious myth of our time, namely, that the recent bank meltdown is due almost exclusively to Wall Street executives on the one hand and to you on the other. His article shows absolutely no recognition of the root causes of the problem, namely, government forcing Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSE) like Fanny and Freddy to give (under the CRA) to their favorite charities, the interest groups, in order to score political points – by forcing them to treat high-risk borrowers like low-risk borrowers.

The press release then gives advice to parents:

Don’t fret over the money markets, especially in front of the kids.

So not only does the author deny the root causes of the crash (or is he ignorant of them?), but he actually advises parents to make sure the kids don’t catch wind of this meltdown at all. In other words, let’s make sure history gets repeated, through ignorance. Continue reading

Obama can’t fix what his party broke

Obama can’t fix what his party broke

 

by Donald Hank

Before reading further, make sure you see this amazing video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H5tZc8oH–o

 

Did you see the debate last night?

Despite his relaxed exterior,and his pontifications on the economy, Obama was on the defensive, as well he should have been. McCain knew stuff he didn’t know, like the difference between a strategy and a tactic, or the names of presidents in Eastern Europe. After McCain rattled off these names and associated facts, Obama could only say “I agree with Senator McCain on this.” It was obviously all he could say. And then there was the gaffe about “taking out” Pakistan. And the misquote of Kissinger. Not a good night for Barack.

McCain was like a father lecturing to a son who hadn’t done his homework.

Again, Obama tried to make the claim that McCain is a laissez-faire capitalist who wants no regulation of the Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac, and, unfortunately, McCain muffed his chance to really explain the crash mechanism as well as Barack’s (and the Democrats’) primary role in the crash. Republican politicians seems to have little understanding of this mechanism, but it is all important for voters to know.

Folks, I had written a column on Bush’s role in the bank crashes that some thought was blasphemous, but what I said had to be said and no one else was willing to say it (that’s what Laigle’s Forum is all about, you know). And now we know the role Bush played in bringing down the banks. So is the bank crash all about Bush?

Not by a long shot, although he aided and abetted. It is more about Obama, his pals and his party. Much more.

I believe Bush’s role is related to his blind belief in New Age Christianity. As I have shown in various columns, evangelical Christians have been brainwashed by the Left into accepting what we might call “Christian socialism,” which includes teachings of globalism and surrender of sovereignty. Mainstream pastors now talk as though God had added an eleventh commandment: Thou shalt share the wealth. Indeed, my Brazilian colleague Olavo de Carvalho showed that the revolutionary mindset, which we now call the Left, started as a Christian heresy in the 13th century. Strangely, this heresy, which teaches that Christians must build the kingdom of God by eliminating social injustice, is now becoming the dominant doctrine in America, to our great peril, and the latest financial crash is its spawn. This heresy was first introduced into the American church by way of the far Christian Left (Jim Wallis, Tony Campolo) and was mainstreamed by preachers like Robert Schuller and later his protégées such as Rick Warren as well as supposedly “conservative” church leaders. If this sounds like blasphemy to you, you are no doubt a true believer in the emergent church’s New Age teachings. Beware.

But yes, the crash is really mostly about Obama and his party, which sabotaged American business.  Characteristically of the Left, they behaved like naughty school kids who made the spitballs and let other kids throw them. That’s how it works. There are always some smart aleck troublemakers who are highly popular and the other, shy kids with a good upbringing, want to imitate them. Pretty soon the kids with the good upbringing are the worst offenders in the schoolyard and the smart alecks are posing as angels, laughing up their sleeves as the poor suckers get punished.

Naughty boy Jimmy Carter (another Christian leftist, by the way) started things off by introducing the Community Reinvestment Act in 1977, which the Democrats passed. This was a typical Carter goody-goody initiative to bring housing to people who would only get housing if you twisted their arms and made them pay no more than they would pay to rent. You know, the group we used to be called poor credit risks. Now we call them the “underserved.”

The program was modestly dimensioned at first and ran with no major glitches until Clinton took it into high gear, demanding $1 trillion in sub-prime mortgages, with the semi-government bureaucracies Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac leading the charge. Banks that could not or would not comply were punished. Punished for implementing nothing other than good business practice, mind you! (Remember that government-business partnerships are a feature of fascism, hardly the American way).

Then Bush morphed into Clinton on steroids and all but doubled the percentage of subprime loans, but added the cherry to the sundae with his “zero down payment initiative.”

There were a few futile attempts to put the brakes on, notably Senator McCain’s attempt in 2005 to enact the Housing Enterprise Regulatory Act. The Democrats blocked it. Obama doesn’t want you to know any of this, and the networks and mainstream media are helping him hide it and sell his fiction.

In all fairness to Bush, he too had tried to rein in Fanny and Freddy, back in 2003, but ran up against the Democrats.

So while Bush must take some of the blame, because he did push for higher percentages of sub-prime mortgages and his administration did write the disgraceful “Zero-Downpayment Initiative,” he was, after all, just following the Democrats’ lead and, I believed, trying, in a bungling way, to be a good little Christian, guided, unfortunately, by principles of the Christian Left, which had subtly and gradually become the mainstream in America.

Bottom line: while Obama claims regulation is necessary and accuses McCain of not wanting it, it was McCain himself who tried to introduce regulatory legislation that would help remedy the damage done by the Democrats through over-regulation of the socialist kind.

Keep that in mind when you go to the polls.

 

 

Another video on the subject:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=usvG-s_Ssb0