theodore M I R A L D I mpa ... editor, publisher, writer

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Re-inflating the bubble

Obama hired back all the Clinton-era officials who caused the housing bust — so they can do it all over again


In the 1990s, convinced that the US mortgage market was racist, the Clinton administration launched a massive campaign of social engineering.

Through government entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, officials encouraged extending mortgages to people with little or no credit. They targeted private banks with discrimination lawsuits if they didn’t lend to enough minorities or people with low incomes. Housing prices skyrocketed as people with no down payment or shaky salaries suddenly were able to buy homes.
Then the bubble burst.
Millions were unable to pay their subprime loans, and they took the banks down with them. The housing market — and the economy — is still recovering from the folly.
Now the Obama administration wants to do it all over again.
Blithely ignoring the lessons of the housing bubble, Obama has rehired many of the Clinton hands who inflated it in the first place, pursuing the same misguided policies that try to force people into homes they can’t afford in the name of “fairness.”
“The administration is launching subprime 2.0,” warns former chief Fannie Mae credit officer Edward Pinto.
There are “affordable housing” mandates aimed at getting Fannie and Freddie to take on even higher-risk borrowers. Through the Federal Housing Administration, houses are being offered to some low-income subprime buyers with minimal down payment and heavy subsidies.
The administration also is making it easier to sue a bank for not giving a loan, using a legal strategy called “disparate impact.” Officials don’t have to prove that the bank is being racist in its actions. If minorities are getting fewer loans than whites, even if there are good financial reasons for doing so, then the impact is unfair — and illegal.
“It’s particularly galling that the people who are using the crisis to extend regulation are the same ones who sponsored the government policies that created the crisis,” said Peter Wallison, former member of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, a government group created to look into the causes of the 2008 crash.
One banking official, ex-BB&T CEO John Allison, predicts that because of these policies, “There will be another incredibly destructive crisis in our financial system in the next 10 to 15 years.”
Here are some of the usual suspects Obama has brought back and how they’re re-inflating the bubble that ravaged our economy:
SARA PRATT: She headed enforcement at Housing and Urban Development from 1993 to 1999, during which she helped develop an interagency “Policy Statement on Fair Lending” that set “flexible” standards for qualifying low-income minorities with spotty credit.

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