Monday, March 31, 2008

What No One Will Say

Or rather, let's just say this is what very few people are willing say.

One of the reasons for the subprime mortgage debacle, the debacle that has led to what is certainly the worst real estate slump since the early 1990s and what may well become the worst since the Great Depression, is found here, to wit, banks and lenders were pressured to relax lending standards in order to make more loans to minorities.

Writes Liebowitz, "Countrywide's chief executive bragged that, to approve minority applications that would otherwise be rejected 'lenders have had to stretch the rules a bit.'" I love it: instead of the borrower having to have a down payment, a job, and a credit score, now all that was needed to get a mortgage was a diploma from a credit counseling program.

Skip to today and what was once just a little "stretching of the rules a bit" (in order to provide loans to minorities in order to avoid discrimination lawsuits), has now (inevitably) been dubbed "predatory lending". Nice. Compel the banks and mortgage companies to make these loans and then brand them as thieves and carnivores when the folks don't master the skills taught in their ACORN credit counseling sessions.

It was great politics then and it's great politics now.

Sometimes you just can't win.

Once again, the law of unintended consequences.

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