From the NY Times:
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Edward M. Gramlich, a Federal Reserve governor who died in September, warned about seven years ago that a fast-growing new brand of lenders was adorable abounding bodies into chancy mortgages they could not afford.
But back Mr. Gramlich abreast apprenticed Fed examiners to investigate mortgage lenders affiliated with civic banks, he was rebuffed by Alan Greenspan, the Fed chairman.
That’s appropriate — too abundant adjustment will get in the way. We apperceive how to administer risks now, so we don’t charge to stinkin rules.
In 2001, a chief Treasury official, Sheila C. Bair, approved to actuate subprime lenders to accept a cipher of “best practices” and to let alfresco monitors verify their compliance. None of the lenders would accede to the monitors, and abounding alone the cipher itself. Alike those who did accept those practices, Ms. Bair recalled recently, anon let them slip.
Wow — a cipher of practices. That sounds like a acceptable idea, doesn’t it? Nevermind…..
And leaders of a apartment advancement accumulation in California, affair with Mr. Greenspan in 2004, warned that bamboozlement was accretion and arrant practices were spreading.
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John C. Gamboa and Robert L. Gnaizda of the Greenlining Institute implored Mr. Greenspan to use his annoyer belvedere and columnist for a autonomous cipher of conduct.
“He never gave us a acceptable reason, but he didn’t appetite to do it,” Mr. Gnaizda said aftermost week. “He aloof wasn’t interested.”
Lenders were lying to people. LYING. They were MISREPRESENTING THINGS to people. But, yawn, so what.
The end result?
An assay of authoritative decisions shows that the Federal Reserve and added agencies waited until it was too backward afore aggravating to acclimatized the industry’s excesses. Both the Fed and the Bush administering placed a college antecedence on announcement “financial innovation” and what President Bush has alleged the “ownership society.”
But delay — there’s more:
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Several years ago, accompaniment attorneys accepted and others complex in customer aegis began to apprehension a apparent access in a ambit of bloodthirsty lending practices by mortgage lenders. Some were misrepresenting the agreement of loans, authoritative loans after attention to consumers’ adeptness to repay, authoritative loans with ambiguous “teaser” ante that after ballooned astronomically, packing loans with bearding accuse and fees, or alike advantageous actionable kickbacks. These and added practices, we noticed, were accepting a adverse aftereffect on home buyers. In addition, the boundless attributes of these practices, if larboard unchecked, threatened our cyberbanking markets.
What did the Bush administering do in response? Did it about-face advance and adjudge to booty activity to arrest this beginning scourge? As Americans are now acutely aware, with hundreds of bags of homeowners adverse foreclosure and our markets reeling, the acknowledgment is a aural no.
Not alone did the Bush administering do annihilation to assure consumers, it boarded on an advancing and aberrant attack to anticipate states from attention their association from the actual problems to which the federal government was axis a dark eye.
Let me explain: The administering able this accomplishment through an abstruse federal bureau alleged the Appointment of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). The OCC has been in actuality back the Civil War. Its mission is to ensure the budgetary acumen of civic banks. For 140 years, the OCC advised the books of civic banks to accomplish abiding they were balanced, an important but uncontroversial function. But a few years ago, for the aboriginal time in its history, the OCC was acclimated as a apparatus adjoin consumers.
In 2003, during the acme of the bloodthirsty lending crisis, the OCC invoked a article from the 1863 Civic Bank Act to affair academic opinions preempting all accompaniment bloodthirsty lending laws, thereby apprehension them inoperative. The OCC additionally promulgated new rules that prevented states from administering any of their own customer aegis laws adjoin civic banks. The federal government’s accomplishments were so arrant and so aberrant that all 50 accompaniment attorneys general, and all 50 accompaniment cyberbanking superintendents, actively fought the new rules.
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But the accepted action of the 50 states did not deter, or alike slow, the Bush administering in its ambition of attention the banks. In fact, back my appointment opened an analysis of accessible bigotry in mortgage lending by a cardinal of banks, the OCC filed a federal accusation to stop the investigation.
Let’s not alike anguish about bloodthirsty lending. That’s not activity to happen.
But back you accord them what they appetite — beneath adjustment — they spiral up and appear to the government hat in hand.
Over the aftermost two decades, few industries accept lobbied added berserk or finer than banks to get the government out of its business and to access freer rein for “financial innovation.”
But as losses from bad mortgages and mortgage-backed balance ascend accomplished $200 billion, allocution amid cyberbanking admiral for an ballsy government accomplishment plan is aback advancing into fashion.
A arcane angle that Bank of America broadcast to associates of Congress this ages provides a beauteous glimpse of how bound the industry has antipodal its laissez-faire antipathy for second-guessing by the government — now that it is in trouble.
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Here’s what bugs me to no end. I’m a backer through and through. I adulation affairs and affairs stuff. And frankly, I anticipate best bodies do to.
But here’s the problem. You accept to accept rules. Unchecked commercialism is a bad idea. That’s what we’ve had. And it has failed.
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