Look closer. Think harder. Choose the sound argument over the clever one.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Who Was Running That Scheme?

Thomas Friedman:

I have no sympathy for Madoff. But the fact is, his alleged Ponzi scheme was only slightly more outrageous than the “legal” scheme that Wall Street was running, fueled by cheap credit, low standards and high greed. What do you call giving a worker who makes only $14,000 a year a nothing-down and nothing-to-pay-for-two-years mortgage to buy a $750,000 home, and then bundling that mortgage with 100 others into bonds — which Moody’s or Standard & Poors rate AAA — and then selling them to banks and pension funds the world over? That is what our financial industry was doing. If that isn’t a pyramid scheme, what is?

The SEC's description of Mortgage-Backed Securities (MBSs) (emphasis mine):

Mortgage loans are purchased from banks, mortgage companies, and other originators and then assembled into pools by a governmental, quasi-governmental, or private entity. ...

Most MBSs are issued by the Government National Mortgage Association (Ginnie Mae), a U.S. government agency, or the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac), U.S. government-sponsored enterprises. Ginnie Mae, backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government, guarantees that investors receive timely payments. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac also provide certain guarantees and, while not backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government, have special authority to borrow from the U.S. Treasury. Some private institutions, such as brokerage firms, banks, and homebuilders, also securitize mortgages, known as "private-label" mortgage securities.

So if most are from Ginnie, Fannie and Freddie, isn't it really those organizations' pyramid scheme? And if they come with "certain guarantees," why wouldn't they get high ratings?

It really does go back to the Community Reinvestment Act.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Needing an Explanation

Zimababwe blames the west for their cholera:

Zimbabwe on Saturday accused the West of waging biological warfare to deliberately start a cholera epidemic that has killed hundreds of people and sickened thousands.

... Zimbabwean officials often blame their country's troubles on the West.
As one wise sage once said, "if the CIA didn't exist, the left would have to invent it" for something to pin their failures on. (This time they're blaming the British first.) Note that blame aimed at "western powers" goes back at least to Stalin.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?