January 16, 2009

"Obama coopts the old McCain by severing him from the wack-job from Wasilla. More shrewd moves."

"If the GOP decides to be the pajama party of Palin and Wurzelbacher in response, Obama's move will look shrewder still."

98 comments:

mcg said...

Andrew Sullivan is calling Palin a wack-job? Andrew Sullivan? Trig Truther #1? Hmm.

Balfegor said...

I'm not sure how much coopting is going on here . . . isn't this just McCain's standard modus operandi? Has absolutely nothing to do with Obama himself.

Host with the Most said...

#1 ------- It's Andrew Sullivan.

Pleeeeeeeeease.

Andrew just had dinner with the President-elect. For real. That alone says something. Something not good.

#2 ------- his inaugural committee will host a series of dinners honoring public servants it deems champions of bipartisanship.

What about Sarah Palin strikes you as bi-partisan? I mean, I'm a Palin fan. But please.


#3 ------- Joe Biden gonna be there? Old "Mr Bipartisan"?

Pleeeeeeeeese.

How sad.

MayBee said...

She's the governor of Alaska.
He's a US Senator.

Don't the difference in their jobs and 2838 miles create a natural separation between them?

How long did John Kerry and John Edwards pal around together after they lost in 2004?

Palladian said...

Actually, does it trouble anyone that the President Elect thought it acceptable to invite the barebacking, anti-Mormon foreign opinion writer Sullivan to a dinner of American columnists after he spent the last 4 or so months implying that Governor Palin faked her pregnancy? Is that the kind of person who's going to be given access to the new President?

former law student said...

Huh?

Sarah Palin is Governor of Alaska, and has already gone back to the business of running the state. Why would she want to drop everything to fly 9000 miles round trip to attend a tribute dinner for John McCain? Is she going to enjoy getting her nose rubbed in her loss during all of the inaugural festivities?

It's far far easier for McCain to attend: he's only a short cab ride away, and as a Senator doesn't have that much on his mind compared to a Governor. Plus Obama has to mend fences with McCain because Obama wants the Senate's cooperation -- remember all his executives who need confirmation? In contrast, Obama could block Palin from his mind without ill effect.

And why isn't Obama hosting a dinner for Palin?

Palin could host a dinner for McCain next time he's in her neighborhood (i.e. within 500 miles).

Palladian said...

"Why would she want to drop everything to fly 9000 miles round trip to attend a tribute dinner for John McCain?"

Why would anyone want to drop anything to even take a short cab ride to attend a tribute dinner for John McCain?

garage mahal said...

Why would anyone want to drop anything to even take a short cab ride to attend a tribute dinner for John McCain?

Good point.

AJ Lynch said...

Palladian:

Yes I wondered too why an extremist like Sullivan was included.

It annoys me when Althouse gives him cred by linking to his nonsense.

former law student said...

Why would anyone want to drop anything to even take a short cab ride to attend a tribute dinner for John McCain?

Hey, a free meal is a free meal, and there's always someone there you know and can talk to.

jdeeripper said...

Palladian said...Why would anyone want to drop anything to even take a short cab ride to attend a tribute dinner for John McCain?

For the satisfaction of saying - "Thanks, man for being almost as lame an opponent as Alan Keyes. Couldn't have done it without you."

MayBee said...

Palladian - it troubles me greatly. Why Sullivan? Even without the vile Trig-trutherism, the President-elect should not appear to encourage reporters who write odes to his face.
It's a bit unseemly to begin rewarding journalists for publicly writing crush letters.

m00se said...

Hey, hey, HEY. No badmouthing Sully.

Remember - he did that hard hitting expose on Mormon underwear during the Republican primaries. He ought to get *some* respect for that...

Palladian said...

"Palladian:

Yes I wondered too why an extremist like Sullivan was included."

Maybe Obama really liked that tube of testosterone jelly that Sullivan sent him.

AJ Lynch said...

My friends (heh), it was bipartisanship that got us the bank & mortgage meltdown.

Conservative Republicans did not have the guts to vote against the Community Reinvestment Act and other govt guarantees that led to ginormous bank defaults.

And regarding the wondrous virtue of "bipartisanship", name the last time Dems supported a core Republican stance?? I thought so - you can't think of a single significant example because Dems are rarely bipartisan.

Palladian said...

"the President-elect should not appear to encourage reporters who write odes to his face.
It's a bit unseemly to begin rewarding journalists for publicly writing crush letters."

Are you kidding? If he tried to hold dinners for journalists who didn't write him public crush letters, it would be Obama, Ann Coulter and a whole lot of empty chairs.

AJ Lynch said...

Garage, Alpha & Michael aka Lucy said:

[sounds of crickets] in response to my question.

Palladian said...

"And regarding the wondrous virtue of "bipartisanship", name the last time Dems supported a core Republican stance?? I thought so - you can't think of a single significant example because Dems are rarely bipartisan."

Well, there is that one instance that they'd all like you to forget about: authorizing the Iraq war. That was an awfully bipartisan vote, wasn't it?

Bipartisanship means no check on governmental overreach.

Palladian said...

It's easy to be "bipartisan" when your party controls two of the three branches of government.

AJ Lynch said...

Agreed.

Palladian said...

Obama should host a dinner and seat Sullivan next to Sarah Palin. Hell, seating Sullivan next to any woman would be torture for the old boy. He's like "Multiple Migs" in Silence of the Lambs; he'd lean over and hiss "I can smell your cunt!".

sg said...

I read that Maureen Dowd and Frank Rich also attended the morning Obama conference of liberal writers that Andrew Sullivan attended (note: they weren't even served a nice meal like the conservative writers!)

I'm waiting for Sullivan's next post:

"Obama coopts the old Sullivan by tethering him to Maureen 'Are Men Necessary?' Dowd and Frank 'Who Says a Theater Critic Can't Write Political Opinion?' Rich. More shrewd moves."

Palladian said...

"(note: they weren't even served a nice meal like the conservative writers!)"

They only got a nice meal because it was at George Will's house.

rdkraus said...

Why would anyone want to drop anything to even take a short cab ride to attend a tribute dinner for John McCain?

Well, Democrats would.

Conservatives? Only to throw darts. Would have been better off running Ron Paul. He too could have lost, but without being a dolt and playing "Dem Light."

Most importantly, he could have responded to the economic mess with real knowledge; he's been predicting it for several years.

former law student said...

AJ, I'll play along:

name the last time Dems supported a core Republican stance??

I can't think of a single significant example because Republican positions are so rarely sensible.

Zachary Paul Sire said...

You all do know that Obama had dinner the night before at George Will's house with a gaggle of extreme right wing pundits, including douche extraordinaire Bill Kristol, don't you? Geez. This doesn't make Sullivan any less absurd, but come on...it's tit for tat.

MayBee said...

"(note: they weren't even served a nice meal like the conservative writers!)"

They only got a nice meal because it was at George Will's house.


It's true. And perfect!

The conservative columnist wanted dinner with Obama, so he offered to make dinner.
The liberal columnists sat around and wondered why nobody made them dinner.

Palladian said...

"You all do know that Obama had dinner the night before at George Will's house with a gaggle of extreme right wing pundits"

Ah, yes, those extreme right-wing pundits like David Brooks and Charles Krauthammer. Why, however did Obama get them away from their Aryan Nation and bomb-making meetings in order for them to attend this get-together?

Tell us, did any of these ULTRA X-TREME RIGHT WING PUNDITS make allegations about the parentage of Obama's children? Did they spend months making fun of the tenets of a democratic candidate's religion?

Yachira said...

I've heard Sullivan regale his audience with stories of the testosterone cream he lavishes on his chest on a nightly basis. He says it does remarkable things for his libido and virility.

Well, he may have a 24/7 h*rd-on, but his mind has gone totally flaccid.

Palladian said...

"I've heard Sullivan regale his audience with stories of the testosterone cream he lavishes on his chest on a nightly basis. He says it does remarkable things for his libido and virility.

Well, he may have a 24/7 h*rd-on, but his mind has gone totally flaccid."

I was wondering how he was able to stand up without embarrassment when The One entered the room. Then I thought about it and realized that it probably wouldn't be very noticeable.

I kind of hope that Sullivan did loan Obama some of that testosterone jelly. He needs to man up, especially living with all those women.

garage mahal said...

Cue Sarah MacLachlan puppy music.

AJ Lynch said...

FLS:

Fair enough from your liberal, Dem worldview.

But if Reps view Dem issues the same way- ie. rarely sensible? Should Reps be bipartisan if they view Dem issues as "rarely
sensible"?

Crimso said...

"Is that the kind of person who's going to be given access to the new President?"

Compared to say, Ayers and Wright, Insane Andy is an improvement. Barely.

Palladian said...

"Compared to say, Ayers and Wright, Insane Andy is an improvement. Barely."

At least Ayers and Wright are U.S. citizens.

AlphaLiberal said...

Good one, Sully!

Though I think Palin is probably off having a snit because she's a victim and not responsible for anything that happens to her. It's always someone else's fault.

Is it now a fact she wasn't invited?

traditionalguy said...

This is Sullivan. He is on the spearhead of the Gay empowerment movement. Not that there's anthing wrong with that. In sullivan's world view, all he has to do is crack thru the remaining defenses of the Evangelical wing of Christian traditionalists, and then he can enjoy his victory at leisure. Our Caribou Barbie is the strong point he aims to crack first. She may have to accept that role Sullivan has set for her, unless she too will surrender without a fight. My money is still on the Alaskan Warrior in 12 rounds. McCain and company only want to find a wise and easy way out of this contest, but they have no victory strategy.

Palladian said...

"Though I think Palin is probably off having a snit because she's a victim and not responsible for anything that happens to her."

No, she's off being the Governor of Alaska. "Sully" is at his desk rubbing another one out using the hand that Obama shook. Does The Atlantic keep an official cum mopper on staff for Sullivan? If not, I'd suggest it to them, Alpha. Seems like the perfect job for you.

Palladian said...

"This is Sullivan. He is on the spearhead of the Gay empowerment movement."

Do you think he asked Obama why he has the same position on gay marriage that George W. Bush has? Me neither.

AJ Lynch said...

No more lateral moves for Alpha. He will be cleaning up in his new job.

1jpb said...

AJ,

The most obvious recent major bi-partisan thing was the $700 billion bank rescue. FISA was also rather bi-partisan. And, the not too long ago Bush vetoed SCHIP was relatively bi-partisan. These come to mind immediately, presumably there are others.

Also, I don't know if you're being disingenuous about CRA. Or, maybe you're just the victim of information from the professional conservatives.

But, assuming you care about the truth, and are simply uninformed, you should read this report.

Palladian said...

"The most obvious recent major bi-partisan thing was the $700 billion bank rescue."

And look at what a turd that turned out to be.

Simon said...

Ditto MCG and AJ Lynch. It's about time someone took the windex to that smear on the media pane.

Kirk Parker said...

Yachira,

"Well, he may have a 24/7 h*rd-on, but his mind has gone totally flaccid."

One might even posit a causal relationship here.

1jpb said...

And look at what a turd that turned out to be.

It's too early for me to be sure it was a waste. I can't say that it didn't help to put in a sort-of credit floor, that may or may not last. And, we don't know how much (any?) of it will be repaid (w/ interest), as is the plan. So, I don't have enough information to reach a verdict.

It's not too early to say the first $350 billion seems to have been atrociously managed--the secrecy, the lack of accountability and management changes from the bad decision making recipient companies, the lack of tracking of the eventual use of the distributed funds, the lack of requirements for the recipient companies, the seeming lack of a coherent strategy driving Treasury decisions, the lack of focus on housing.

AJ Lynch said...

1jbp:

Subprime mortgages were driven by CRA and other Dem schemes.

The % of subprime mortgages to total mortgages issued rose from around 10-12% in 2001 to 30% or more in 2006.

Do you think that had an effect on the meltdown? If Fannie & Freddie was not so willing to buy these subprime mortgages, many of the banks never would have issued them!

1 + 1 still = 2 I think.

garage mahal said...

Subprime mortgages were driven by CRA and other Dem schemes.

The % of subprime mortgages to total mortgages issued rose from around 10-12% in 2001 to 30% or more in 2006.


Nothing in those two paragraphs strikes you as contradictory?

Stephanie said...

Why is it that when a conservative posts an opinion it is only a because they were brainwashed by the "conservative" opinion sites, but the opinions of a liberal are not shaped similarly?

Seems to me either could arrive at a conclusion based on reading different sources and forming an opinion, but to argue that because they conform to x or y they are to be automatically disregarded is just plain silly... and highly illogical. Not to mention a strawman of the worst order...

Synova said...

Nothing in those two paragraphs strikes you as contradictory?

Not necessarily, once the situation is set up it's likely to grow over time.

Henry said...

One of the most pathetic recent headlines on the New York Times was "Kerry Aims to Make a Mark as a Senate Chairman".

I'm sorry for John McCain, but this is where he is now. Back to the Senate.

There's nothing to coopt and no shrewd moves being made.

Sullivan does have a special talent for melodrama, but the cut and thrust of this political battle is epic only in his head.

1jpb said...

Stephanie,

Both sides can be mislead.

But in this specific situation the problem for the professional conservatives is the...DATA (i.e. reality, a.k.a. facts), as provided in my link above.

Palladian said...

"Sullivan does have a special talent for melodrama, but the cut and thrust of this political battle is epic only in his head."

Eww.

Daryl said...

Why would anyone want to drop anything to even take a short cab ride to attend a tribute dinner for John McCain?

Two reasons:

1 - They ARE John McCain

2 - They have a liberal proposal they want him to champion, so they are going to suck up to him.

AJ Lynch said...

No Garage there is not.

The Dems beat the drum for more and more leniency in mortgage lending guidelines. Fred & Fannie were run by Dems and they were more than happy to provide guarantees to the banks.

So an increasing portion of all mortgages issued in a year were of the subprime variety.

This politically ignited trend to lend money to people who were unqualified for the loans was one of the main causes of the financial meltdown.

It also helped to fuel the housing price bubble especially in Nevada and California.

Henry said...

AJ -- I think 1jpb is right on this one. The failure of the system wasn't the issuing of subprime loans, but the ability of private banks to coopt the bond rating agencies so that the loans were not priced correctly.

You can only blame Fannie and Freddie for the systemic failure of the system if you argue that they had some kind of bizarre multiplier effect on rich speculators, private banks, bond traders, and bond rating agencies.

Now is not the time to assume that government actions get the benefit of bizarre multiplier effects.

AJ Lynch said...

Henry:

I agree there were downstream failures in the system. But without the enormous growth in risky subprime loans, are you claiming the meltdown would still have occurred?

Lexington Green said...

The exact moment that Sullivan became unreadable can be precisely identified. His post 9/11 writings contained the delusional hope that the attack had created a new kind of national unity, and that the mainstreaming of gays and gay marriage and that whole agenda would now of course be part of this new unity. There was never any reason to think this. When Bush came out against gay marriage, which any rational observer knew he would do, Sullivan went bonkers.

It has been downhill ever since.

Palladian said...

"When Bush came out against gay marriage, which any rational observer knew he would do, Sullivan went bonkers.

It has been downhill ever since."

But Obama has basically the same position on gay marriage that Bush does. How is this contradiction reconciled?

Palladian said...

Oh wait, I know the answer. Because Obama just had to say that to get elected, but we know he doesn't actually believe it. The problem with Bush is that he actually believes in the things he says and does.

Henry said...

I would consider the subprime loan mess a contributing factor.

When the housing bubble crashed (and perhaps subprime loans made it bigger) what froze the market was the fact that suddenly collateralized debt obligations -- created by banks and bond salesmen as a trading vehicle -- had no measurable value. That is their worth, still real, was suddenly impossible to measure.

We're kind of discussing chicken and eggs here, but the CDO debacle is hugely more devastating to the economy than the failure of poor people to pay their mortgages.

m00se said...

Palladin, you're overthinking this.

Obama just looks better in a bathing suit. Pretty much takes care of ANY contradictions in Sully's eyes.

*dreamy*

AJ Lynch said...

Henry:

So the question is how much of the bubble was created by subprime ? and how much of the CDO was created by subprime? 20% 40% 80% ?
I guess it is hard to peg precisely.

But when I learn that, in one Congressional district, 40-50% of all mortgages defaulted, that suggests to me there was a significant housing bubble created by subprime mortgages in that district.

Xmas said...

Henry,

The bad mortgages came first, so it isn't really a chicken and egg scenario.

But, you are right. The CDO's are the big problem. That some were rated AAA, even though the underlying mortgages were garbage, is what's causing all of the problems. The fancy math used to build the best tranches were just smoke and mirrors. That the ratings agencies didn't see through the math is really damning.

I'm still confused as to why the TARP program isn't being used to buy up the CDOs. It's the uncertainty in these (scare quote)assets(scare quote) that's sand in the gears.

I supposed making the US Government the biggest mortgage holder does have some problems, though.

ricpic said...

Paulson is a mafioso on a scale beyond the comprehension of the five families.

AJ Lynch said...

I think there were six Mafioso families. One was so good at its craft that very very few knew it even existed. I am not making this up - ask Trooper who is the unofficial scrivner for all things in New Yawk.

The Crack Emcee said...

Damn, you guys have made it to 64 posts - discussing politics with knives - and it hasn't fallen apart?

I love it here!

Dust Bunny Queen said...

This much is true. In an effort to promote affordable home ownership for minorities and rural whites, the Department of Housing and Urban Development set targets for Fannie and Freddie in 1992 to purchase low-income loans for sale into the secondary market that eventually reached this number: 52 percent of loans given to low-to moderate-income families.

If the banks have no market for sub prime loans, meaning that Fannie and Freddie won't buy them, then the banks will not make sub prime loans.

Because Congress created a market for this junk, the banks began churning out this junk, because
1. They could make money from fees and ancillary services
2. They could unload this crap and
3. Make more shit loans and make more fees.

The Congress encouraged bad lending in the name of giving loans to people who had no qualifications for obtaining loans....all because of some misguided diversity/fairness/pie in the sky/hare brained/economic ignoramus ideas. Hope they feel good about themselves now. Naaah. They are too clueless to even think and too busy getting kickbacks.

Don't give me that bull that CRA wasn't the beginning of the end. I was a commercial and retail lender in the 80's through the early 90's and I can tell you that we were FORCED to make shit loans in order to fulfill our CRA quota. If we didn't make the quota, the institution was fined.

Balfegor said...

We're kind of discussing chicken and eggs here, but the CDO debacle is hugely more devastating to the economy than the failure of poor people to pay their mortgages.

Isn't it kind of hard to say which is "more" devastating, given that without suddenly increased default rates, the CDO market would have remained liquid, and things would not have come spiralling down? After all, the housing crash is in part due to a collapse in the CDO market that made mortgages more valuable (for the people handing out money, that is) -- without that huge secondary (or tertiary or whatever) market to sell into, the volume of mortgages that get approved plummets, the pool of available buyers plummets, and the housing market collapses. Both are major contributing factors, but increased default rates among the poor (and among yuppies who were flipping houses on margin, I expect) were a trigger. CDOs just meant that once that trigger was flipped, things were a lot more interdependent than they might have been in the past.

1jpb said...

DBQ,

I'm willing to go through your comment point by point, but could you, as a CRA expert, first provide the documentation for: "If we didn't make the quota, the institution was fined."

Separately:

I'm still confused as to why the TARP program isn't being used to buy up the CDOs. It's the uncertainty in these (scare quote)assets(scare quote) that's sand in the gears.

It's related to what banks do.

Banks lend based on their capital/reserves. They must maintain reserves for loans. And, the amount of reserves is different for loans of different risk levels--more reserves for more risky.

The money that the bank lends out is (ideally) from it's depositors, but the required reserves must be maintained.

So, you can see why the banks are in trouble, 1) they are taking losses, which means they are paying out their capital and loosing their reserves, and 2) banks are having to reassess some of the risk levels of their loans, so as the portfolio get's riskier, the reserve requirements go up and the lender has less capital to allow for more lending, even if they can find the deposits.

This is why the government tried to inject capital--every dollar of capital/reserves can support a lot (say 12x) of lending, but shrinking reserves necessitates a multiplier effect of shrinking supportable loans.

Hopefully this is somewhat clear.

And, beyond the multiplier advantages of bank capital, repurchasing toxic assets is complicated because it's 1) hard to select which to buy and which not to buy, 2) they're sliced and diced, i.e. many institutions may have pieces of a single loan, so achieving a controlling interest may be difficult, and 3) it's hard to effectively value the assets to benefit the economy w/o the government bailing out and propping up some folks/companies/investors who should pay the price, which would be the perfect setup for a much worse bubble in the future.

former law student said...

without the enormous growth in risky subprime loans

This situation reminds me of when I was a boy. People with no credit would buy used cars from "hard lots," which carried their own high interest financing. If(when) the purchasers defaulted, the dealers would repossess them and sell them again, usually at the previous selling price, keeping the down payments and such monthly payments as the buyers had made. Defaults cost them nothing, excepting the cost of cleaning the car.

Here, various financial companies, usually not banks or savings and loans, made high interest loans to people with bad credit. And, just like Al's Disreputable Used Cars, the lenders believed that loan defaults would cost them nothing, because they would then own the homes. They would keep the down payment and whatever monthly payments the buyers had made, and sell the house for as much or more as the previous selling price.

But things got out of hand and the bubble burst. (Individuals inflated demand by buying multiple homes as an investment, rather than just a place to live (as if the no-credit car buyers had thought to get into the car rental business), and people began to suspect that houses were overpriced, and were waiting for a correction.)

ARM resets made monthly payments unaffordable, no lower-cost refinancing was available, because buyers now had negligible or negative equity. The lending institution (a bank only about 1/4 the time) ended up owning the houses, but now they were "upside down" just as much as the buyers had been.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

If the banks didn't have some place to unload these crap loans and instead had to maintain them in their own portfolios, they would never have made them.

The flip side of that coin is that if the banks were not able to unload the loans off to the secondary market makres, there would not be nearly as many loans made due to the captial that would remain tied up in the loans at the local lending level. This may have been a good thing in the long run.

CRA and the removal of Glass Steagal are the two things that brought us to this mess.....along with the mark to market rules and the new draconian rules demanded by Sarbanes Oxley following the Enron melt down.

Congress created this mess and they are making it even worse. WE ARE DOOMED. Not kidding.

1jpb said...

DBQ,

I see that you're around.

Waiting for the documentation from you, as the CRA expert.

AJ Lynch said...

I am leaning to agree with Ricpic that there is an organized scam occurring.

Today, Instapundit linked to someone (Jerry Pournelle?) who asked why the feds did not take $300 Billion of TARP bailout to assume 1 -2 million of the bad mortgages and handle as rental properties owned by Uncle Sam?

Pournelle's math calculated that would be far less of a cashflow drain than just pissing away $300 billion to the banks.

Do the math $300 billion divided by 2 million mortgages comes out to $150,000 each! that would satisfy a lot of these default amounts on the foreclosed mortgages.

AJ Lynch said...

FLS:

Do you honestly believe banks want the home buyer to default and the foreclosed property will be pristine when the bank changes the locks?

Do you honestly believe car dealers [when you were a kid] could repossess a car and then re-sell it for the same price?

Whose knee were you sitting on when you were spoonfed those tales?

AJ Lynch said...

DBQ:

I am sure you have, at your fingertips, work documents from 15 years ago :)

1jpb said...

AJ,

The crickets are the result of egg on the face, not fifteen years.

[DBQ rolled out a whopper.]

SMGalbraith said...

I'm frankly sick of the cheap vitriol directed at this president at this time. God knows the pressure he must be under. To see the shallow and self-interested jockeying in Paris and Berlin at a moment of grave international crisis is to observe politics at its worst.

The coarseness of some of it is truly awful. In some conversations I've had with people who strongly oppose war, I keep hearing this personal demonization of Bush as if he - and not the threat we face as a civilization - were somehow the issue. You hear it echoed in the callow obliviousness of a Maureen Dowd or the brutal lies of Michael Moore or the cheap condescension of the intelligentsia. You see it in the poisonous symbolism of some of the anti-war demonstrators. I keep thinking that this obsession with Bush is a way of avoiding the awful choices in front of us. But the choices are still there.

Andrew Sullivan, January 2003.

Yeah, wack-jobs abound.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

The Community Reinvestment Act was passed in 1977 when bank competition was sharply limited by law and lenders had little incentive to seek out business in lower-income neighborhoods. But in 1995 the Clinton administration added tough new regulations. The federal government required banks that wanted “outstanding” ratings under the act to demonstrate, numerically, that they were lending both in poor neighborhoods and to lower-income households.

Banks were now being judged not on how their loans performed but on how many such loans they made. This undermined the regulatory emphasis on safety and soundness.


IBD Editorial

According to the language of the new Clinton regs, banks that used "innovative or flexible lending practices" to address the credit needs of low-income borrowers passed the test. Banks with poor CRA ratings were hit with stiff fines and blocked from expanding their operations. Soon, "flexible" lending became the norm, and banks used subprime loans, which charge higher interest rates, to cover the added risk.

If banks didn't make enough CRA loans they got a bad rating. Bad ratings limited the ability to expand, merge or purchase other banks,

The few cases in which the Board has denied an application on CRA grounds have sent an unmistakable message that it is crucial to have a satisfactory record of CRA performance before applying to expand. Institutions likely understand that the Board will not allow promises of future corrective action to substitute for inadequate current performance.

Link

"As directed by the Bank Merger Act and the Bank Holding Company Act, the Federal Reserve takes into account a number of factors when it reviews applications for expansion" which include the Bank's CRA score.

The lesson is that if you want your institution to be able to expand you have to make a certain percentage of shit loans. We were told that if we didn't make these loans in a certain percentage we would be relieved of our jobs. Quota....maybe not directly by the CRA but coerced by the negative results of a bad CRA

The crickets are the result of egg on the face, not fifteen years.

The crickets are the fact that I'm actually at work and dealing with my investment clients at the moment.

former law student said...

Do you honestly believe car dealers [when you were a kid] could repossess a car and then re-sell it for the same price?

The "hard lot" dealers did. Their antics were covered by the local paper. And, I worked with a guy one summer who proudly bought a five year old Mercury Monarch, only to see it go back to the dealer three months later. The amount of depreciation in that time was negligible, especially if you turn the odometer back.

Regarding houses: Not that the lenders wanted the buyers to default, but the the downside of default seemed small. If you suddenly own an $800 K house, having to spend $8K on drywall, etc. seems negligible.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

More from IBD

"In a more aggressive pursuit of "social justice," the Clinton administration revised the CRA in April 1995 to mandate that banks pass lending tests in "underserved" communities and suffer tough new sanctions for failing to make enough loans there.

According to the language of the new Clinton regs, banks that used "innovative or flexible lending practices" to address the credit needs of low-income borrowers passed the test. Banks with poor CRA ratings were hit with stiff fines and blocked from expanding their operations. Soon, "flexible" lending became the norm, and banks used subprime loans, which charge higher interest rates, to cover the added risk.

But it wasn't enough. So Clinton ordered HUD to pressure Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to buy the higher-risk loans from private banks and lenders, while adopting the same "flexible" credit standards. By 2000, HUD had mandated that low-income mortgages — including CRA-related loans — make up half of their portfolios.

To further spread the risk, Clinton legalized the securitization of such mortgages. In 1997, Bear Sterns securitized the first CRA loans — $385 million worth, all guaranteed by Freddie Mac. Thus began the massive bundling of subprime mortgages that wound up poisoning the entire industry.

The cause and effect is clear. As ex-Fed chief Alan Greenspan recently testified: "It's instructive to go back to the early stages of the subprime market, which has essentially emerged out of the CRA."

1jpb said...

DBQ,

Would it kill you to admit that you lied when you said you were under the gun of CRA "fines?"

Or, is the fact that your comment does NOT support the idea of CRA fines happen to be as close as you can bring yourself to admitting the obvious--that CRA doesn't use fines for enforcement?

It was fifteen years ago, you could seek cover under the excuse of memory failure, rather than purposeful deception.

P.S.
Unrelated to your implicitly acknowledging that you lied about CRA fines:

Thanks for the links to IBD editorials and someone who uses profanity to rail against CRA. I already knew that some bankers and their supporters do complain about CRA.

Isn't it ironic for the anti-CRA folks to see what the un/less regulated non-CRA companies did. The un/less regulated private sector was falling all over itself to give out terrible loans. You can look at the data in my earlier comment (much further up-thread) to see what the non-CRA companies were doing.

Could it be that greed and loose regulations were the real motivators for the rise in destined-to-fail sub-prime loans? How else do you explain it--CRA doesn't work because there were lots of non-CRA loan providers (see my link above), and they provided the dirtiest and riskiest products? We've seen that the CRA lenders had good repayment rates w/ their loans (see my link) so by definition they weren't doing terrible destine-to-fail loans.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Would it kill you to admit that you lied when you said you were under the gun of CRA "fines?"

Can't you read?

Banks with poor CRA ratings were hit with stiff fines and blocked from expanding their operations

1jpb said...

DBQ,

If you were being honest you would admit that the IBD editorial is wrong. CRA doesn't fine, the enforcement mechanism is expansion/merger/growth limitations. That's a fact.

The same IBD editorial, in the first paragraph, says that CRA and Clinton in 1995 "triggered" the subprime crisis. Reality check: the really nasty sub-prime loans that ended up blowing up were 2 or 3 year fixed period ARMS and they were pushed by un/less regulated non-CRA companies (as my link way up demonstrates.) So, it's a quite silly to say that 2 or 3 year ARMS (from non-CRA companies) all of a sudden took off in the middle of the Bush administration because of Clinton changing CRA in 1995.

Shocking that an editorial would be more opinion (with serious logic flaws) than fact. [not really.]

garage mahal said...

I'd like to see proof of one bank being fined. It didn't happen.

Seerak said...

That McClatchy article 1qpb linked represents the usual selective-statistical-reporting-that-fits-a-given-agenda that characterizes much MSM reporting.

It seeks to show that the bulk of the bubble consisted of private capital, driven through private financing channels. This is true. But the devil is in the details they carefully left out.

When interest rates are low, as they were in 2001-2002, investors will borrow that cheap money at 1% to invest in anything that has a higher rate of return, if it exists. What was hot in 2001? Not stocks, that bubble had already popped with the dotcoms. Bonds? Not at 1% interest.

Nope, what was cooking at that time was real estate -- in addition to Fannie and Freddie, there was the sub-prime segment, goosed by the Clintonized 1995 version of the CRA. (That's the most damning omission in the McClatchy article; the number "1995" appears *nowhere* on that web page, even though they discuss the CRA. That's plenty of evidence in itself for considering the article as politically motivated. Errors or omissions of that size are not made innocently.)

In effect, the Bomb of 2008 was fueled by the Fed's easy credit, and fused by the CRA and sundry other government actions... that is, it was built *and* set off by government.

What the article sought to do was to supply people like 1jpb with the statistics needed to lend an air of seriousness to the argument that since the actual effects of the CRA were swamped by the flood of private capital, the CRA is therefore not to blame for the crash.

This is tantamount to arguing that a fuse does not contain nearly enough energy to blow up a building, therefore it cannot possibly cause any explosions.

Seerak said...

If you were being honest you would admit that the IBD editorial is wrong. CRA doesn't fine, the enforcement mechanism is expansion/merger/growth limitations. That's a fact.

If you wre being honest, you'd admit to how powerful a lever that was -- even more so than mere fines.

http://www.city-journal.org/html/10_1_the_trillion_dollar.html

From this eight-year old article:

"The Clinton administration's get-tough regulatory regime mattered so crucially because bank deregulation had set off a wave of mega-mergers, including the acquisition of the Bank of America by NationsBank, BankBoston by Fleet Financial, and Bankers Trust by Deutsche Bank. Regulatory approval of such mergers depended, in part, on positive CRA ratings. "To avoid the possibility of a denied or delayed application," advises the NCRC in its deadpan tone, "lending institutions have an incentive to make formal agreements with community organizations." By intervening—even just threatening to intervene—in the CRA review process, left-wing nonprofit groups have been able to gain control over eye-popping pools of bank capital, which they in turn parcel out to individual low-income mortgage seekers. A radical group called ACORN Housing has a $760 million commitment from the Bank of New York; the Boston-based Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America has a $3-billion agreement with the Bank of America; a coalition of groups headed by New Jersey Citizen Action has a five-year, $13-billion agreement with First Union Corporation. Similar deals operate in almost every major U.S. city. Observes Tom Callahan, executive director of the Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance, which has $220 million in bank mortgage money to parcel out, "CRA is the backbone of everything we do.""

former law student said...

When interest rates are low, as they were in 2001-2002, investors will borrow that cheap money at 1% to invest in anything that has a higher rate of return, if it exists. What was hot in 2001? Not stocks, that bubble had already popped with the dotcoms. Bonds? Not at 1% interest.

1% interest shows that the subprime debacle was caused by Alan Greenspan. Bankers, searching for some investment that could yield a return, forgot that risk goes along with reward.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

1% interest shows that the subprime debacle was caused by Alan Greenspan. Bankers, searching for some investment that could yield a return, forgot that risk goes along with reward

This I will agree with. Greenspan's easy money policy has a great deal to do with the current sorry state of affairs.

As to Garage and JPwhatever. I suggest you re read my posts,this time without your agenda glasses on.

I never said we "were" fined, just that we were under threat of fines and restrictions on the bank's ability to merge or grow with new branches. Because, oh I don't know... gee whiz ....the bank wanted to grow and possibly acquire/merge with other banks, we lenders were encouraged and sometimes threatened to make bad loans.

You guys really need to learn how to read.

As a lender, part of my compensation, future raises and advancement was based on the quality of my loan portfolio. Meaning that if I made loans that went bad, my chances of the above were less than likely. Forcing me to make loans that I KNEW were sour went against the grain. That's why I quit lending and went 100% into the financial advisory business.

AJ Lynch said...

FLS:

How can I say this politely?

In your scenario,the bank might now own a house with a mortgage in excess of its fair market value and then have to lay out money for repairs to make it sellable or rentable.

You think that is a windfall for banks? Yoy think that is their subtle strategy? If you do, you need to take a remedial course in basic arithmetic.

1jpb said...

DBQ,

Has it occurred to you that you worked for a piss poor bank? If you are claiming that fifteen years ago your management was citing CRA as a motivation for bad loans, something is wrong. Either your memory is off or your management was nuts (or maybe you were at a lender that was in trouble for blatant red lining.)

First, I do appreciate that you are walking away from your fine claim. Good for you.

But, CRA was so toothless fifteen years ago it doesn't make any sense for you to have felt that this was a gun to your head. Back then it was a bit of a joke the way you could fudge quasi-CRA actions rather than actual actions.

Seerak,

I don't have a problem admitting that CRA was a factor. I absolutely remember that it was on the mind. And, it is true that 1995 did make it more important to actually care about CRA. But, CRA never lead to terrible loans. And, the data (as I linked to way up thread) supports my anecdotal experience, as a former bank executive.

The really bad stuff came from the non-CRA companies that spread like wild fire in recent years, so it's insane to blame that on CRA. That's a fact (as the data in my link show.)

P.S.
I think all these private sector products sprang up because too much many dollars (yes, I'll attack Greenspan too) in the world were chasing too few investment opportunities and "smart" people thought they could use financial engineering (the implications of which were not understood or effectively regulated) to eliminate risk. Add some greed, unbounded optimism, and a belief that the other players in the financial chain must be the break on risky behavior so each isolated link ran as far and as fast as they could. Oh and, importantly, don't forget to add fraud.

These were the sources of the problem, imho. It's not CRA. If it was CRA, the non-CRA companies wouldn't have been the big players. And, CRA loans would have been the really bad performers, but they weren't, in fact they developed a positive repayment track record over time, as my previous link demonstrates.

Data is your friend.

P.P.S.

You think a bank is cowering out of fear of limited growth and expansion because of CRA? You think this would cause them to give out a bunch of bad loans, that can't be justified to the FDIC.

Hahaha.

The regulators will shut you down so fast your head will spin. I mean shut down, out-o-biz, take over. Bad loans are a lot scarier than CRA to a banker, they mean death. This is likely why the CRA products had good repayment records (as my link shows), but the non-CRA subprime folks sucked. The FDIC, who loves regular audits, over your shoulder means something.

garage mahal said...

You said in bold that banks were paying stiff fines from the CRA. I asked for proof of one bank being fined.

Of the top 25 issuers of sub-prime loans, only one was subject to the CRA. This would seem to put a enormous hole in your argument.

AJ Lynch said...

The CRA got banks to issue subprime by using a form of pressure that bordered on blackmail....i.e make more loans or we will show up en masse at your re-licensing meeting and make your life hell.

I think the CRA learned these tactics from Jesse Jackson or vice versa.

Joe said...

1jpb, your ignorance is astounding. The FDIC will take you over so fast your head will spin? Have you even paid attention to what Countrywide was doing? How about Washington Mutual? The FDIC was awfully late to both those parties.

Joe said...

1jpb, you may be right about CRA, but rather than quote biased articles, present an cogent alternate explanation of the current financial state. Until then, you just come across as a rather ignorant apologist.

1jpb said...

AJ,

at your re-licensing meeting

Funny. So, you don't know much about this stuff do you?

Joe,

Er, who monitors whom? Nice way to demonstrate no understanding of the most basic regulatory structures.

But, I'm ignorant. And, my comments are quotes from articles.

That's rich.

paul a'barge said...

attend a tribute dinner for John McCain?

Hm. As a bona fide, unrepentant Conservative who voted for Sarah Palin (i.e. not John McCain), I would not p*ss in McCain's m**th if his t**th were on fire.

Wickedpinto said...

garage mahal has one of the best online monikers ever.

Joe said...

But, I'm ignorant. And, my comments are quotes from articles.

Exactly. Regurgitating articles isn't an illustration of intelligence. More specifically, simply repeating the same thing over and over again as you have done all these months WITHOUT offering up anything else is unconvincing and, yes, ignorant.

richard mcenroe said...

Obama wants McCain? Take him, please.

It will beat the hell out of the tired old faux suspense of wondering which particular votes McCain will decide to screw his voters and party on.