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They Did It on Purpose: The Housing Bubble and Its Crash

By       Message Richard C. Cook     Permalink
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During the Clinton administration, the government required the financial industry to start expanding the frequency of mortgage loans to consumers who might not have qualified in the past.

When George W. Bush was named president by the Supreme Court in December 2000, the stock market had begun to decline with the bursting of the dot.com bubble.

In 2001 the frequency of White House visits by Alan Greenspan increased.

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Greenspan endorsed President Bush's March 2001 tax cuts for the rich. More such cuts took place in May 2003.

Signs of recession had begun to show in early 2001. The stock market crashed after 9/11. The U.S. invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 and Iraq in March 2003.

The Federal Reserve began cutting interest rates, and by 2002 a home-buying frenzy was underway. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac went along by guaranteeing the increasing number of mortgage loans.

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According to a mortgage broker this writer interviewed, word began to come down through the mortgage banks to begin falsifying mortgage applications to show more borrower income than borrowers actually possessed

Banks that wrote mortgages began to offload them when Wall Street packaged them into mortgage-backed securities that were sold around the world as bonds to investors.

Risk-analysts at the leading credit-rating agencies, such as Standard and Poor's, Moody's, and Fitch, gave their highest ratings to mortgage-backed securities whose risks were later acknowledged to be grossly underestimated.

Mortgage companies, with Alan Greenspan's endorsement, began to offer more Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARMs), loans that would reset at much higher rates in future years.

Mortgage brokers fed the growing bubble by telling people they should buy now because housing prices would keep going up and they could resell at a profit before their ARMs escalated.

Huge amounts of money began to flow into the economy from mortgages and home equity loans and from capital gains on resale of inflating property.

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Meanwhile, in the world of investment securities, the Securities and Exchange Commission greatly reduced the amount of their own capital investors were required to bring to the table, resulting in a huge increase in bank leveraging of speculative trading.  

George W. Bush was reelected in 2004 at the height of the housing and investment bubbles. By 2005 the housing bubble was accounting for half of all U.S. economic growth and yielding huge tax revenues to all levels of government.

Despite the tax revenues from the bubbles the Bush administration was running huge budget deficits from expenditures on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

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http://www.richardccook.com
Richard C. Cook is a former U.S. federal government analyst, whose career included service with the U.S. Civil Service Commission, the Food and Drug Administration, the Carter White House, NASA, and the U.S. Treasury Department. His articles on (more...)
 

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