A Year…and Nothing: Ineptitude or Inflaming a Crisis? By Pete the Banker

November 25, 2009


By Pete the Banker

In July/August 2007 the residential and commercial mortgage markets collapsed.  A year ago AIG, Lehman Brothers, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac failed. As Congress Matters blog put it (here), the stakes couldn’t have been higher:
“A year ago Wall Street’s financial rupture sent the economy hurtling into a massive crisis, crushing tens of millions of Americans in an avalanche of unemployment, underemployment, home foreclosures, reduced incomes and lost benefits.  That financial rupture was caused by a combination of rapacious, mindless greed on Wall Street, the then-bloated housing bubble, and the failure of both regulators and of the financial regulatory structure.”

Fast Forward to November 19, 2009, the Senate Banking Committee headed by Chris Dodd finally starts Committee hearings on proposals for “sweeping” financial regulatory reform.  On Friday, November 20, 2009 the House Financial Services Committee delays a Committee vote it’s Financial Services Industry Overhaul Bill until at least after the Thanksgiving Holiday.  Why all the delay?

Ironically, also on Friday, November 20 the Washington Post published an article proclaiming that “Problem Mortgages Hit New High at 14 Percent” (9.6% of borrowers delinquent in Q3; 4.5% in foreclosure) and previously Fitch Ratings (Diana Golobay, Housing Wire, October 13, 2009) reported that 60% of 2006 – 2007 residential loans secured under Residential Mortgage Backed Securities were underwater (loan exceeded property value). 

Over the past year almost single handedly the Federal Reserve Bank alone has tried to revive the failed mortgage markets.  Where has the Administration and Congress been in the past twelve months in which Americans have faced the worst Financial Crisis since the Great Depression and the worst Economic and Unemployment Crisis in at least the past 30 years?  Why does the Senate and Congress continue to Dodd-le (pardon the pun, dawdle) and the Administration to again seem to be dithering?  
Why are they delaying?  Is it simply lack of interest?  Is it the dollars received by Dodd, Frank and Obama over the past five years from the financial industry inclusive of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in hopes of delaying reform?  Is it that both Congress and the Administration are simply incompetent and in over their heads?  Or is it something far more nefarious, an attempt to delay reform allowing a lingering housing crisis and an ever worsening unemployment/economic crisis’s to overwhelm the resources of an already strained system in hopes of further inflaming the mortgage crisis and expanding Washington, DC’s control?

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