May 7, 2016 at 9:33 am #202
Post your link on the housing market collapse / The Great Recession here. One link per post, please.
Government regulation is one of those topics where people like it for what it’s supposed to do without realizing what it’s actually doing. Milton Friedman once said “One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results.” More often than not, regulations are written by the very companies that they’re supposed to regulate. They’re usually designed to make it more difficult for start ups to enter into their fields, thereby decreasing competition.
Deregulation is often balmed for the housing crash of 2008, but the fact is, nothing that was deregulated can be shown as a causal factor in the mortgage crisis. Those mortgage backed securities and credit default swaps had never been regulated. Only a small part of the Glass-Steagall Act, the part that separated mortgage banking from investment banking, was actually repealed. That was, in no way, a contribution to the housing crisis.
If there’s any one thing that caused the housing crisis, it was the government’s shift to pushing home ownership, using Fannie and Freddie as the catalysts. Banks, normally being very selective in their vetting process for loans, were suddenly being promised by the government that every loan they made was guaranteed. In fact, the overwhelming majority of bad loans when the 2008 crash took place were on Fannie’s and Freddie’s books. With the federal reserve artificially reducing interest rates, banks found themselves struggling to make money on mortgages if they held them, but if they shifted to a revenue stream of collecting loan fees and then selling off those risky loans, they could stay afloat.May 15, 2016 at 11:17 am #359
The Myth of Financial Deregulation
by Anthony Randazzo
“The core problem of the regulatory proposal is its view of the causes of the crisis. Everything is built on a belief that the market failed and that deregulation created a system of excessive risk and irresponsibility. Ironically, it was government action that created incentives for financial firms to be less risk adverse, not a lack of regulation. As Washington prepares to debate regulatory overhaul this summer, it is more important than ever to wrestle the myth of deregulation to the ground.
Given all the talk of deregulation, you would expect to find dozens of deregulating laws put in place over the past few years. Surprisingly, there have only been three major deregulatory actions in the past 30 years. Ultimately, the data points to bad regulation as complicit in the creation of the financial crisis, not deregulation.
The modern era’s first major Wall Street deregulation was the Depository Institutions Deregulation and Monetary Control Act of 1980. This law repealed so-called “Regulation Q ceilings” that limited the amount of interest consumers could earn from savings and checking accounts. The law also expanded the types of financial institutions that could get overnight loans from Fed discount windows.
Since letting banks pay interest to their customers encourages saving, this aspect of deregulation certainly can’t be blamed. And though it could be argued that more financial institutions borrowing money partially allowed for the housing bubble, that money was being borrowed from the government—hardly deregulation. And that doesn’t even begin to address the fact that there have been multiple recessions and bubbles since this law was passed.
The second major deregulation was the Garn-St. Germain Depository Institutions Act of 1982. This authorized banks to compete with money market mutual funds. (Ironically, this bill was co-sponsored by then-Rep. Charles Schumer, a key lawmaker driving the current regulatory overhaul.) Garn-St. Germain has been linked to today’s crisis because it loosened restrictions on issuing mortgages, allowing for the eventual development of subprime loans.
However, it wasn’t Garn-St. Germain specifically that created a subprime mortgage riddled bubble—it was the surrounding body of poorly designed, bad regulations that created perverse incentives. Garn-St. Germain should have allowed banks more freedom to compete while also clarifying the role of the FDIC. But it failed, along with other regulations, to outline the role of the government in the case of financial institution failure. As a result, the implicit government guarantee for firms “too big to fail” skewed the risk assessment process that aids market efficiency. The promise of rescue was much more damaging than loosened lending standards.
It is worth noting that the impact of Garn-St. Germain has also been blamed for causing the Savings and Loan Crisis by allowing certain financial institutions, thrifts, to gamble with taxpayer insured investments. But in this case there was an implicit government rescue guarantee for massive failure that encouraged high-risk taking.
The third deregulation blamed for causing the financial crisis is the repeal of the famed Glass-Steagall Act in 1999. This law, passed in 1933, had kept deposit-bearing banks and investment banks from competing for over six decades. After this repeal, banks were able to maximize their resources and many grew large enough to be classified too big to fail. However, they really were too entwined to fail, and the problems came with fringe regulations related to the interconnectedness of financial institutions.”May 15, 2016 at 11:41 am #360
The True Origins of This Financial Crisis
by Peter J. Wallison
“The fact is that neither political party, and no administration, is blameless; the honest answer, as outlined below, is that government policy over many years caused this problem. The regulators, in both the Clinton and Bush administrations, were the enforcers of the reduced lending standards that were essential to the growth in home ownership and the housing bubble.”
“Sure enough, according to data published by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, from 2001 through 2006, the share of all mortgage originations that were made up of conventional mortgages (that is, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage that had always been the mainstay of the U.S. mortgage market) fell from 57.1 percent in 2001 to 33.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2006. Correspondingly, sub-prime loans (those made to borrowers with blemished credit) rose from 7.2 percent to 18.8 percent, and Alt-A loans (those made to speculative buyers or without the usual underwriting standards) rose from 2.5 percent to 13.9 percent. Although it is difficult to prove cause and effect, it is highly likely that the lower lending standards required by the CRA influenced what banks and other lenders were willing to offer to borrowers in prime markets. Needless to say, most borrowers would prefer a mortgage with a low down payment requirement, allowing them to buy a larger home for the same initial investment.”
“By 2007, Fannie and Freddie were required to show that 55 percent of their mortgage purchases were LMI loans and, within that goal, 38 percent of all purchases were to come from underserved areas (usually inner cities) and 25 percent were to be loans to low-income and very-low-income borrowers. Meeting these goals almost certainly required Fannie and Freddie to purchase loans with low down payments and other deficiencies that would mark them as sub-prime or Alt-A.”
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