Thursday, December 16, 2010

Bethany McLean on the GOP "primer" on the financial crisis

She writes:

This narrative isn't completely wrong—but it is shockingly incomplete, which makes it, in the end, a ludicrous distortion of what happened.
Three points.  First, I have never, ever, seen Peter Wallison suggest that banks are ever anything by morally upright and wise, despite lots of evidence to the contrary (I would welcome a correction on this point). 

Second, to say that the Affordable Housing Goals were major contributors to the crisis is silly, because as people like Wallison liked to point out, the GSE's continually lagged the market when it came to advancing mortgages to low income borrowers and underserved areas.  Wallison specifically said in 2006 that GSEs were "not doing the job they should for low income borrowers.  Finally, the Community Reinvestment Act did not cover many of the financial institutions that originated the most toxic loans.

What bothers me about the entire Republican narrative is that it continues a pattern of argument that suggests that when it comes to finding fault, borrowers are always more culpable than lenders; low income people are always more culpable than high income people; and underrepresented minorities somehow have gotten an unwarranted good deal. 

Update: Barry Ritholtz has 10 questions for the GOP members of the commission.

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