Guess who’s goal this was? You might be surprised:
“More and more people own their homes in America today. Two-thirds of all Americans own their homes, yet we have a problem here in America because few than half of the Hispanics and half the African Americans own the home. That’s a home ownership gap. It’s a — it’s a gap that we’ve got to work together to close for the good of our country, for the sake of a more hopeful future. We’ve got to work to knock down the barriers that have created a home ownership gap.
I set an ambitious goal. It’s one that I believe we can achieve. It’s a clear goal, that by the end of this decade we’ll increase the number of minority homeowners by at least 5.5 million families . . .
Home ownership is also an important part of our economic vitality. If — when we meet this project, this goal, according to our Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, we will have added an additional $256 billion to the economy by encouraging 5.5 million new home owners in America; the activity — the economic activity stimulated with the additional purchasers, the additional buyers, the additional demand will be upwards of $256 billion. And that’s important because it will help people find work.”
– George W. Bush, U.S. President, October 15, 2002 1:55 P.M.
Why keep bringing these up? Because it derails the false argument brewing amongst those on the right who blame the 1977 CRA or the 1938 Fannie Mae for the current housing and credit problem. I have zero patience for this nonsense, and am unafraid to call people on it.
Nothing in any of these Bush speeches that pushed for more lending to minorities and increased lower income home ownership caused the problem. Neither did any similar Clinton speeches. Nor did related the legislation related to the Bush speeches, nor did the CRA, nor Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Indeed, none of these actions required the sort of reckless lending that we saw from 2002-2007.
Understand this simple fact: In an ultra-low rate environment, where prices are appreciating rapidily, and mortgaes are being securitized, ALL THAT MATTERS IS THAT THE BORROWER NOT DEFAULT IN 90 days (or 6 Months). The goal was to make a loan that did not default in that period of time, it cannot be put back to the originator.
As a mortgage salesman, you only lose your a fee if a borrower defaults within 3 or 6 months. What do you do to maximize your returns? The best way to do that — to put people in houses that would not default in 90 days — was the 2/28 ARM mortgages. Cheap teaser rates for 24 months, then the big reset. By then, it was no longer your problem.
Can you grasp what a monumental change this was? Instead of making sure that borrowers could pay back ALL OF THE 30 YEAR FIXED MORTGAGE, you only had to find people who could afford the teaser rate for a a few months. THIS WAS AN ENORMOUS AND UNPRECEDENTED SHIFT IN LENDING.
This is the key to the hosuing boom and bust, anbd ultimately underlies the entire credit freeze. And, it would not have been possible without the Greenspan ultra-low rates, which made the teaser portion (the “2” of the 2/28) of these mortgages so attractive.
Those who continue to blame the CRA, Fannie Mae, etc. reveal their fundamental misunderstanding of how credit operates in general, what the financing process was like from 2002-07, and how this situation came to pass. Or worse, they understand it, and choose to lie about it anyway for partisan political purposes.
You either understand these simple facts, or you don’t. If you cannot comprehend this, you are a low functioning moron. If you understand it, but spit out nonsense anyway, you are a liar.
And those are the only people blaming the CRA or Fannie for the credit/housing crisis — idiots and liars.
Are you one?
Originally published at The Big Picture on Oct 14, 2008 and reproduced here with the author’s permission.
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