Sunday, December 25, 2011

Joe Nocera nails it

He writes:

...Peter Wallison, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, and a former member of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, almost single-handedly created the myth that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac caused the financial crisis. His partner in crime is another A.E.I. scholar, Edward Pinto, who a very long time ago was Fannie’s chief credit officer. Pinto claims that as of June 2008, 27 million “risky” mortgages had been issued — “and a lion’s share was on Fannie and Freddie’s books,” as Wallison wrote recently. Never mind that his definition of “risky” is so all-encompassing that it includes mortgages with extremely low default rates as well as those with default rates nearing 30 percent. These latter mortgages were the ones created by the unholy alliance between subprime lenders and Wall Street. Pinto’s numbers are the Big Lie’s primary data point.

Two things: First, Pinto and Wallison's definition of "subprime" is any loan that goes to a neighborhood they wouldn't live in or  to a person they wouldn't have lunch with.  According to the American Housing Survey, there were around 52 million mortgages outstanding in the US in 2009.  This means that according to Wallison and Pinto,  the median borrower is a subprime borrower.  I guess this means they think that that half of homeowners with mortgages should be renting in Potterville.

Second, Nocera should in his piece put quotes around the word "scholar."


Kenneth Thomas said...

Second the point that he should put "scholar" in quotes. Between them, they have an LL.B. and a J.D., and they work for a think tank, not a university.

Kimberly said...

NO wonder the real estate bubble appeared. They cannot give so many risky mortgages. I was in Argentina last month, got an apartment rental in Buenos Aires near a bank and asked them how the real estate market was. They said almost frozen since noone qualifies for a loan there!

Unknown said...
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Anonymous said...

When everything is politics, there is no such thing as "objective reality".