Home
In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review April 29, 2009 5 Iyar 5769

The housing boom and bust

By Thomas Sowell


Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | In the spirit of bipartisanship, my newest book — "The Housing Boom and Bust" — shows how both Democrats and Republicans ruined both the housing markets and the financial markets.


Like so many disasters, the current economic crisis grew out of policies based on good intentions and mushy thinking.


For far too long, too many people have regarded home ownership as "a good thing." It is certainly true that home ownership has its benefits. But, like everything else, it also has its costs and its risks.


Weighing such trade-offs is something that each individual and each family can do for themselves. It is when such decisions are made by politicians — of whatever party — that trade-offs tend to vanish into thin air, replaced by pursuit of a "good thing."


Beginning in the 1990s, getting a higher proportion of the American population to become homeowners became the political holy grail of government housing policies. Increasing home ownership among minorities and other people of low or moderate incomes was also part of this political crusade.


FREE SUBSCRIPTION TO INFLUENTIAL NEWSLETTER

Every weekday NewsAndOpinion.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". HUNDREDS of columnists and cartoonists regularly appear. Sign up for the daily update. It's free. Just click here.

Because banks are regulated by various agencies of the federal government, it was easy to pressure them to lend to people that they would not otherwise lend to — namely, people with lower incomes, poorer credit ratings and little or no money for a conventional down payment of 20 percent of the price of a house.


Such people were referred to politically as "the underserved population" — as if politicians know who should and who shouldn't get mortgages better than people who have spent their careers making mortgage-lending decisions.


But, in politics, power trumps knowledge. Banks whose mortgage loan approval rates for "the underserved population" did not match the prevailing preconceptions found that they could not get government regulatory agencies to approve their business decisions on opening new branches or enlarging their financial operations, the way competing banks did when those competing banks met the lending quotas set by the government.


If meeting those quotas required lowering the standards for granting mortgage loans, that was often considered a lesser evil than having government regulators stalling or vetoing the business decisions necessary for competing in the financial markets.


While Democrats spearheaded this crusade, Republicans joined in as well. The George W. Bush administration, for example, urged Congress to pass the American Dream Downpayment Initiative, which subsidized the down payments of prospective home buyers whose incomes were below a certain level.



BUY DR. SOWELL'S BRAND NEW BOOK …


at a discount
by clicking HERE.


Who could be against "the American dream" of home ownership or so mean-spirited as to ask how much it would cost the taxpayers or what risks it would create for the whole financial system? Certainly not most Democrats or Republicans in Congress or the White House.


The media were also part of this crusade for more home ownership, more widely available. If some segments of the population did not own homes as much as others, that just showed that there was something wrong with the mortgage lending process, as far as editorial office philosophers were concerned.


As the St. Louis Post-Dispatch put it, "lending institutions are being far more conservative than they have to be in determining the creditworthiness of minorities."


Later, disastrous default rates and foreclosure rates among "the underserved population" who had been given mortgage loans to satisfy government quotas suggest that the old-fashioned mortgage qualifications that had been pooh-poohed in editorial offices had more basis than the crusades of politicians and the press.


There are many other complications covered in "The Housing Boom and Bust". But behind all the complexities was a very simple fact: Monthly mortgage payments by millions of home buyers were what provided the money for the banks, the financial institutions that bought mortgages from the banks, and the Wall Street firms that created sophisticated securities based on those mortgages.


Riskier mortgage lending practices, imposed by government, were what set the stage for many mortgage payments to stop and thus for the financial disasters that followed. Political rhetoric, echoed in the media, seeks to obscure that painfully plain fact.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Comment on JWR contributor Thomas Sowell's column by clicking here.

Up

Thomas Sowell Archives



© 2006, Creators Syndicate

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles