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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Who's to blame for the financial crisis?

I read this at my favorite blog Hullabaloo yesterday, and I can't stop thinking about it. It's rather dazzling reframing to turn Wall Street fraud and greed into an indictment of poor people. Bottom line, who benefitted over the last few years? Not the people who lost their homes or are saddled with mortagages they can't afford.

From The American Spectator:

The reason we're in a mortgage meltdown is this. For years the federal government and everyone else has done everything possible to encourage people to buy their own homes. One of the biggest liberal criticisms of the market was that low-income people -- particularly blacks and Hispanics -- were excluded from ownership through "blackballing," "red-lining," and other forms of discrimination.So the banks and mortgage markets responded. They invented "sub-prime" loans for high-risk customers and tried to spread the risk by bundling them into broader financial instruments. Eventually the market became overextended and we're all suffering the consequences.

The National Review went even further:

Credit Is Not a Civil Right [Mark Krikorian]
I have no way of judging whether the Wall Street bailout is a necessary evil or an impending disaster. But we're in this mess, ultimately, because our political elites thought it was good social policy to encourage banks to give mortgages to uncreditworthy people, resulting in what Sailer months ago called the "
Diversity Recession" (if this doesn't work, make that the Diversity Depression). In other words, if poor people in general, or blacks or Hispanics in particular, were less likely to be approved for a mortgage, the only possible reason was racism or classism or whatever. Thus "creditworthiness" was an illegitimate, dead-white-male concept, like middleclassness. Because, after all, isn't everyone entitled to credit?

It's astonishing to hear that sub-prime mortgages were invented in response to the pressure of social policy, not market forces. I'm surprised Mark whats-his-name can keep a straight face while suggesting such a thing.



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