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The Trillion-Dollar Bank Shakedown That Bodes Ill for Cities[From 2000]
City Journal ^ | Winter 2000 | Howard Husock

Posted on 09/20/2008 5:52:25 AM PDT by coffee260

The Clinton administration has turned the Community Reinvestment Act, a once-obscure and lightly enforced banking regulation law, into one of the most powerful mandates shaping American cities—and, as Senate Banking Committee chairman Phil Gramm memorably put it, a vast extortion scheme against the nation's banks. Under its provisions, U.S. banks have committed nearly $1 trillion for inner-city and low-income mortgages and real estate development projects, most of it funneled through a nationwide network of left-wing community groups, intent, in some cases, on teaching their low-income clients that the financial system is their enemy and, implicitly, that government, rather than their own striving, is the key to their well-being.

The CRA's premise sounds unassailable: helping the poor buy and keep homes will stabilize and rebuild city neighborhoods. As enforced today, though, the law portends just the opposite, threatening to undermine the efforts of the upwardly mobile poor by saddling them with neighbors more than usually likely to depress property values by not maintaining their homes adequately or by losing them to foreclosure. The CRA's logic also helps to ensure that inner-city neighborhoods stay poor by discouraging the kinds of investment that might make them better off.

The Act, which Jimmy Carter signed in 1977, grew out of the complaint that urban banks were "redlining" inner-city neighborhoods, refusing to lend to their residents while using their deposits to finance suburban expansion. CRA decreed that banks have "an affirmative obligation" to meet the credit needs of the communities in which they are chartered, and that federal banking regulators should assess how well they do that when considering their requests to merge or to open branches. Implicit in the bill's rationale was a belief that CRA was needed to counter racial discrimination in lending, an assumption that later seemed to gain support from a widely publicized 1990 Federal Reserve Bank of Boston finding that blacks and Hispanics suffered higher mortgage-denial rates than whites, even at similar income levels.

In addition, the Act's backers claimed, CRA would be profitable for banks. They just needed a push from the law to learn how to identify profitable inner-city lending opportunities. Going one step further, the Treasury Department recently asserted that banks that do figure out ways to reach inner-city borrowers might not be able to stop competitors from using similar methods—and therefore would not undertake such marketing in the first place without a push from Washington.

None of these justifications holds up, however, because of the changes that reshaped America's banking industry in the 1990s. Banking in the 1970s, when CRA was passed, was a highly regulated industry in which small, local savings banks, rather than commercial banks, provided most home mortgages. Regulation prohibited savings banks from branching across state lines and sometimes even limited branching within states, inhibiting competition, the most powerful defense against discrimination. With such regulatory protection, savings banks could make a comfortable profit without doing the hard work of finding out which inner-city neighborhoods and borrowers were good risks and which were not. Savings banks also had reason to worry that if they charged inner-city borrowers a higher rate of interest to balance the additional risk of such lending, they might jeopardize the protection from competition they enjoyed. Thanks to these artificially created conditions, some redlining of creditworthy borrowers doubtless occurred.

The insular world of the savings banks collapsed in the early nineties, however, the moment it was exposed to competition. Banking today is a far more wide-open industry, with banks offering mortgages through the Internet, where they compete hotly with aggressive online mortgage companies. Standardized, computer-based scoring systems now rate the creditworthiness of applicants, and the giant, government-chartered Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have helped create huge pools of credit by purchasing mortgage loans and packaging large numbers of them together into securities for sale to bond buyers. With such intense competition for profits and so much money available to lend, it's hard to imagine that banks couldn't instantly figure out how to market to minorities or would resist such efforts for fear of inspiring imitators. Nor has the race discrimination argument for CRA held up. A September 1999 study by Freddie Mac, for instance, confirmed what previous Federal Reserve and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation studies had found: that African-Americans have disproportionate levels of credit problems, which explains why they have a harder time qualifying for mortgage money. As Freddie Mac found, blacks with incomes of $65,000 to $75,000 a year have on average worse credit records than whites making under $25,000.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas had it right when it said—in a paper pointedly entitled "Red Lining or Red Herring?"—"the CRA may not be needed in today's financial environment to ensure all segments of our economy enjoy access to credit." True, some households—those with a history of credit problems, for instance, or those buying homes in neighborhoods where re-selling them might be difficult—may not qualify for loans at all, and some may have to pay higher interest rates, in reflection of higher risk. But higher rates in such situations are balanced by lower house prices. This is not a conspiracy against the poor; it's how markets measure risk and work to make credit available.

Nevertheless, until recently, the CRA didn't matter all that much. During the seventies and eighties, CRA enforcement was perfunctory. Regulators asked banks to demonstrate that they were trying to reach their entire "assessment area" by advertising in minority-oriented newspapers or by sending their executives to serve on the boards of local community groups. The Clinton administration changed this state of affairs dramatically. Ignoring the sweeping transformation of the banking industry since the CRA was passed, the Clinton Treasury Department's 1995 regulations made getting a satisfactory CRA rating much harder. The new regulations de-emphasized subjective assessment measures in favor of strictly numerical ones. Bank examiners would use federal home-loan data, broken down by neighborhood, income group, and race, to rate banks on performance. There would be no more A's for effort. Only results—specific loans, specific levels of service—would count. Where and to whom have home loans been made? Have banks invested in all neighborhoods within their assessment area? Do they operate branches in those neighborhoods?

Crucially, the new CRA regulations also instructed bank examiners to take into account how well banks responded to complaints. The old CRA evaluation process had allowed advocacy groups a chance to express their views on individual banks, and publicly available data on the lending patterns of individual banks allowed activist groups to target institutions considered vulnerable to protest. But for advocacy groups that were in the complaint business, the Clinton administration regulations offered a formal invitation. The National Community Reinvestment Coalition—a foundation-funded umbrella group for community activist groups that profit from the CRA—issued a clarion call to its members in a leaflet entitled "The New CRA Regulations: How Community Groups Can Get Involved." "Timely comments," the NCRC observed with a certain understatement, "can have a strong influence on a bank's CRA rating."

The Clinton administration's get-tough regulatory regime mattered so crucially because bank deregulation had set off a wave of mega-mergers, including the acquisition of the Bank of America by NationsBank, BankBoston by Fleet Financial, and Bankers Trust by Deutsche Bank. Regulatory approval of such mergers depended, in part, on positive CRA ratings. "To avoid the possibility of a denied or delayed application," advises the NCRC in its deadpan tone, "lending institutions have an incentive to make formal agreements with community organizations." By intervening—even just threatening to intervene—in the CRA review process, left-wing nonprofit groups have been able to gain control over eye-popping pools of bank capital, which they in turn parcel out to individual low-income mortgage seekers. A radical group called ACORN Housing has a $760 million commitment from the Bank of New York; the Boston-based Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America has a $3-billion agreement with the Bank of America; a coalition of groups headed by New Jersey Citizen Action has a five-year, $13-billion agreement with First Union Corporation. Similar deals operate in almost every major U.S. city. Observes Tom Callahan, executive director of the Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance, which has $220 million in bank mortgage money to parcel out, "CRA is the backbone of everything we do."

In addition to providing the nonprofits with mortgage money to disburse, CRA allows those organizations to collect a fee from the banks for their services in marketing the loans. The Senate Banking Committee has estimated that, as a result of CRA, $9.5 billion so far has gone to pay for services and salaries of the nonprofit groups involved. To deal with such groups and to produce CRA compliance data for regulators, banks routinely establish separate CRA departments. A CRA consultant industry has sprung up to assist them. New financial-services firms offer to help banks that think they have a CRA problem make quick "investments" in packaged portfolios of CRA loans to get into compliance.

The result of all this activity, argues the CEO of one midsize bank, is that "banks are promising to make loans they would have made anyway, with some extra aggressiveness on risky mortgages thrown in." Many bankers—and even some CRA advocates—share his view. As one Fed economist puts it, the assertion that CRA was needed to force banks to see profitable lending opportunities is "like saying you need the rooster to tell the sun to come up. It was going to happen anyway." And indeed, a survey of the lending policies of Chicago-area mortgage companies by a CRA-connected community group, the Woodstock Institute, found "a tendency to lend in a wide variety of neighborhoods"—even though the CRA doesn't apply to such lenders.

If loans that win banks good CRA ratings were going to be made anyway, and if most of those loans are profitable, should CRA, even if redundant, bother anyone? Yes: because the CRA funnels billions of investment dollars through groups that understand protest and political advocacy but not marketing or finance. This amateur delivery system for investment capital already shows signs that it may be going about its business unwisely. And a quiet change in CRA's mission—so that it no longer directs credit only to specific places, as Congress mandated, but also to low- and moderate-income home buyers, wherever they buy their property—greatly extends the area where these groups can cause damage.

There is no more important player in the CRA-inspired mortgage industry than the Boston-based Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America. Chief executive Bruce Marks has set out to become the Wal-Mart of home mortgages for lower-income households. Using churches and radio advertising to reach borrowers, he has made NACA a brand name nationwide, with offices in 21 states, and he plans to double that number within a year. With "delegated underwriting authority" from the banks, NACA itself—not the banks—determines whether a mortgage applicant is qualified, and it closes sales right in its own offices. It expects to close 5,000 mortgages next year, earning a $2,000 origination fee on each. Its annual budget exceeds $10 million.

Marks, a Scarsdale native, NYU MBA, and former Federal Reserve employee, unabashedly calls himself a "bank terrorist"—his public relations spokesman laughingly refers to him as "the shark, the predator," and the NACA newspaper is named the Avenger. They're not kidding: bankers so fear the tactically brilliant Marks for his ability to disrupt annual meetings and even target bank executives' homes that they often call him to make deals before they announce any plans that will put them in CRA's crosshairs. A $3 billion loan commitment by Nationsbank, for instance, well in advance of its announced merger with Bank of America, "was a preventive strike," says one NACA spokesman.

Marks is unhesitatingly candid about his intent to use NACA to promote an activist, left-wing political agenda. NACA loan applicants must attend a workshop that celebrates—to the accompaniment of gospel music—the protests that have helped the group win its bank lending agreements. If applicants do buy a home through NACA, they must pledge to assist the organization in five "actions" annually—anything from making phone calls to full-scale "mobilizations" against target banks, "mau-mauing" them, as sixties' radicals used to call it. "NACA believes in aggressive grassroots advocacy," says its Homebuyer's Workbook.

The NACA policy agenda embraces the whole universe of financial institutions. It advocates tough federal usury laws, restrictions on the information that banks can provide to credit-rating services, financial sanctions against banks with poor CRA ratings even if they're not about to merge or branch, and the extension of CRA requirements to insurance companies and other financial institutions. But Marks's political agenda reaches far beyond finance. He wants, he says, to do whatever he can to ensure that "working people have good jobs at good wages." The home mortgage business is his tool for political organizing: the Homebuyer's Workbook contains a voter registration application and states that "NACA's mission of neighborhood stabilization is based on participation in the political process. To participate you must register to vote." Marks plans to install a high-capacity phone system that can forward hundreds of calls to congressional offices—"or Phil Gramm's house"—to buttress NACA campaigns. The combination of an army of "volunteers" and a voter registration drive portends (though there is no evidence of this so far) that someday CRA-related funds and Marks's troop of CRA borrowers might end up fueling a host of Democratic candidacies. During the Reagan years, the Right used to talk of cutting off the flow of federal funds to left-liberal groups, a goal called "defunding the Left"; through the CRA, the Clinton administration has found a highly effective way of doing exactly the opposite, funneling millions to NACA or to outfits like ACORN, which advocates a nationalized health-care system, "people before profits at the utilities," and a tax code based "solely on the ability to pay."

Whatever his long-term political goals, Marks may well reshape urban and suburban neighborhoods because of the terms on which NACA qualifies prospective home buyers. While most CRA-supported borrowers would doubtless find loans in today's competitive mortgage industry, a small percentage would not, and NACA welcomes such buyers with open arms. "Our job," says Marks, "is to push the envelope." Accordingly, he gladly lends to people with less than $3,000 in savings, or with checkered credit histories or significant debt. Many of his borrowers are single-parent heads of household. Such borrowers are, Marks believes, fundamentally oppressed and at permanent disadvantage, and therefore society must adjust its rules for them. Hence, NACA's most crucial policy decision: it requires no down payments whatsoever from its borrowers. A down-payment requirement, based on concern as to whether a borrower can make payments, is—when applied to low-income minority buyers—"patronizing and almost racist," Marks says.

This policy—"America's best mortgage program for working people," NACA calls it—is an experiment with extraordinarily high risks. There is no surer way to destabilize a neighborhood than for its new generation of home buyers to lack the means to pay their mortgages—which is likely to be the case for a significant percentage of those granted a no-down-payment mortgage based on their low-income classification rather than their good credit history. Even if such buyers do not lose their homes, they are a group more likely to defer maintenance on their properties, creating the problems that lead to streets going bad and neighborhoods going downhill. Stable or increasing property values grow out of the efforts of many; one unpainted house, one sagging porch, one abandoned property is a threat to the work of dozens, because such signs of neglect discourage prospective buyers.

A no-down-payment policy reflects a belief that poor families should qualify for home ownership because they are poor, in contrast to the reality that some poor families are prepared to make the sacrifices necessary to own property, and some are not. Keeping their distance from those unable to save money is a crucial means by which upwardly mobile, self-sacrificing people establish and maintain the value of the homes they buy. If we empower those with bad habits, or those who have made bad decisions, to follow those with good habits to better neighborhoods—thanks to CRA's new emphasis on lending to low-income borrowers no matter where they buy their homes—those neighborhoods will not remain better for long.

Because many of the activists' big-money deals with the banks are so new, no one knows for sure exactly which neighborhoods the community groups are flooding with CRA-related mortgages and what effect they are having on those neighborhoods. But some suggestive early returns are available from Massachusetts, where CRA-related advocacy has flourished for more than a decade. A study for a consortium of banks and community groups found that during the 1990s home purchases financed by nonprofit lenders have overwhelmingly not been in the inner-city areas where redlining had been suspected. Instead, 41 percent of all the loans went to the lower-middle-class neighborhoods of Hyde Park, Roslindale, and Dorchester Center/Codman Square—Boston's equivalent of New York's borough of Queens—and additional loans went to borrowers moving to the suburbs. In other words, CRA lending appears to be helping borrowers move out of inner-city neighborhoods into better-off areas. Similarly, not-yet-published data from the state-funded Massachusetts Housing Partnership show that many new Dorchester Center, Roslindale, and Hyde Park home buyers came from much poorer parts of the city, such as the Roxbury ghetto. Florence Higgins, a home-ownership counsellor for the Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance, confirms the trend, noting that many buyers she counsels lived in subsidized rental apartments prior to buying their homes.

This CRA-facilitated migration makes the mortgage terms of groups like NACA particularly troubling. In a September 1999 story, the Wall Street Journal reported, based on a review of court documents by Boston real estate analyst John Anderson, that the Fleet Bank initiated foreclosure proceedings against 4 percent of loans made for Fleet by NACA in 1994 and 1995—a rate four times the industry average. Overextended buyers don't always get much help from their nonprofit intermediaries, either: Boston radio station WBUR reported in July that home buyers in danger of losing their homes had trouble getting their phone calls returned by the ACORN Housing group.

NACA frankly admits that it is willing to run these risks. It emphasizes the virtues of the counselling programs it offers (like all CRA groups) to prepare its typical buyer—"a hotel worker with an income of $25K and probably some past credit problems," says a NACA spokesman—and it operates what it calls a "neighborhood stabilization fund" on which buyers who fall behind on payments can draw. But Bruce Marks says that he would consider a low foreclosure rate to be a problem. "If we had a foreclosure rate of 1 percent, that would just prove we were skimming," he says. Accordingly, in mid-1999, 8.2 percent of the mortgages NACA had arranged with the Fleet Bank were delinquent, compared with the national average of 1.9 percent. "Considering our clientele," Marks asserts, "nine out of ten would have to be considered a success."

The no-down-payment policy has sparked so sharp a division within the CRA industry that the National Community Reinvestment Coalition has expelled Bruce Marks and NACA from its ranks over it. The precipitating incident: when James Johnson, then CEO of Fannie Mae, made a speech to NCRC members on the importance of down payments to keep mortgage-backed securities easily salable, NACA troops, in keeping with the group's style of personalizing disputes, distributed pictures of Johnson, captioned: "I make $6 million a year, and I can afford a down payment. Why can't you?" Says Josh Silver, research director of NCRC: "There is no quicker way to undermine CRA than through bad loans." NCRC represents hundreds of smallish community groups, many of which do insist on down payments—and many of which make loans in the same neighborhoods as NACA and understand the risk its philosophy poses. Still, whenever NACA opens a new branch office, it will be difficult for the nonprofits already operating in that area to avoid matching its come-one, come-all terms.

Even without a no-down-payment policy, the pressure on banks to make CRA-related loans may be leading to foreclosures. Though bankers generally cheerlead for CRA out of fear of being branded racists if they do not, the CEO of one midsize bank grumbles that 20 percent of his institution's CRA-related mortgages, which required only $500 down payments, were delinquent in their very first year, and probably 7 percent will end in foreclosure. "The problem with CRA," says an executive with a major national financial-services firm, "is that banks will simply throw money at things because they want that CRA rating." From the banks' point of view, CRA lending is simply a price of doing business—even if some of the mortgages must be written off. The growth in very large banks—ones most likely to sign major CRA agreements—also means that those advancing the funds for CRA loans are less likely to have to worry about the effects of those loans going bad: such loans will be a small portion of their lending portfolios.

Looking into the future gives further cause for concern: "The bulk of these loans," notes a Federal Reserve economist, "have been made during a period in which we have not experienced an economic downturn." The Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America's own success stories make you wonder how much CRA-related carnage will result when the economy cools. The group likes to promote, for instance, the story of Renea Swain-Price, grateful for NACA's negotiating on her behalf with Fleet Bank to prevent foreclosure when she fell behind on a $1,400 monthly mortgage payment on her three-family house in Dorchester. Yet NACA had no qualms about arranging the $137,500 mortgage in the first place, notwithstanding the fact that Swain-Price's husband was in prison, that she'd had previous credit problems, and that the monthly mortgage payment constituted more than half her monthly salary. The fact that NACA has arranged an agreement to forestall foreclosure does not inspire confidence that she will have the resources required to maintain her aging frame house: her new monthly payment, in recognition of previously missed payments, is $1,879.

Even if all the CRA-related loans marketed by nonprofits were to turn out fine, the CRA system is still troubling. Like affirmative action, it robs the creditworthy of the certain knowledge that they have qualified by dint of their own effort for a first home mortgage, a milestone in any family's life. At the same time, it sends the message that this most important milestone has been provided through the beneficence of government, devaluing individual accomplishment. Perhaps the Clinton White House sees this as a costless way to use the banking system to create a new crop of passionate Democratic loyalists, convinced that CRA has delivered them from an uncaring Mammon—when, in all likelihood, banks would have been eager to have most of them as customers, regulation or no.

CRA also serves to enforce misguided views about how cities should develop, or redevelop. Consider the "investment" criterion—the loans to commercial borrowers rather than individual home buyers—that constitutes 25 percent of the record on which banks are judged in their compliance review. The Comptroller of the Currency's office makes clear that it is not interested in just any sort of investment in so-called underserved neighborhoods. Investment in a new apartment building or shopping center might not count, if it would help change a poor neighborhood into a more prosperous one, or if it is not directly aimed at serving those of low income. Regulators want banks to invest in housing developments built through nonprofit community development corporations. Banks not only receive CRA credit for such "investment"—which they can make anywhere in the country, not just in their backyard—but they also receive corporate tax credits for it, through the Low Income Housing Tax Credit. Banks have little incentive to make sure such projects are well managed, since they get their tax credits and CRA credits up front.

This investment policy misunderstands what is good for cities and for the poor. Cities that are alive are cities in flux, with neighborhoods rising and falling, as tastes and economies change. This ceaseless flux is a process, as Jane Jacobs brilliantly described it in The Economy of Cities, that fuels investment, creates jobs, and sparks innovative adaptation of older buildings to new purposes. Those of modest means benefit both from the new jobs and from being able to rent or purchase homes in once-expensive neighborhoods that take on new roles. The idea that it is necessary to flash-freeze certain neighborhoods and set them aside for the poor threatens to disrupt urban vitality and the renewal that comes from the individual plans and efforts of a city's people.

But keeping these neighborhoods forever poor is the CRA vision. CRA will help virtually any lower-income family that can come close to affording a mortgage payment to purchase a home, often in a non-poor neighborhood. Thanks to CRA-driven bank investment, poor neighborhoods would then fill up with subsidized rental complexes, presumably for those poor families who can't earn enough even to get a subsidized, easy credit mortgage. The effects of all this could be to undermine lower-middle-class neighborhoods by introducing families not prepared for home ownership into them and to leave behind poor neighborhoods in which low-income apartments, filled with the worst-off and least competent, stand alone—hardly a recipe for renewal.

It will take a Republican president to change or abolish CRA, so firmly wedded to it is the Clinton administration and so powerfully does it serve Democratic Party interests. When Senator Gramm attacked the CRA for its role in funding advocacy groups and for the burden it imposes on banks, the Clinton administration fought back furiously, willing to let the crucial Financial Services Modernization Act, to which Gramm had attached his CRA changes, die, unless Gramm dropped demands that, for instance, CRA reviews become less frequent. In the end, Gramm, despite his key position as the chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs (even the committee's name reflects a CRA consciousness) and his willingness to hold repeal of the Glass-Steagal Act hostage to CRA reform, could only manage to require community groups to make public their agreements with banks, disclosing the size of their loan commitments and fees.

A new president should push for outright abolition of the CRA. Failing that, he could simply instruct the Treasury to roll back the compliance criteria to their more relaxed, pre-Clintonian level. But to make the case for repeal—and ensure that some future Democratic president couldn't simply reimpose Clinton's rules—he might test the basic premise of the Community Reinvestment Act: that the banking industry serves the rich, not the poor. He could carry out a controlled experiment requiring no CRA lending in six Federal Reserve districts, while CRA remains in force in six others. A comparison of lending records would show whether there is any real case for CRA. In addition, CRA regulators should require nonprofit groups with large CRA-related loan commitments to track and report foreclosure and delinquency rates. For it is these that will reflect the true threat that CRA poses, a threat to the health of cities.

 


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: banks; carterlegacy; cityjournal; clintonlegacy; community; cra; economicpolicy; fanniemae; financialcrisis; freddiemac; gramm; housingbubble; reinvestment

1 posted on 09/20/2008 5:52:25 AM PDT by coffee260
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To: coffee260

from winter 2000

bumpety bump bump bump


2 posted on 09/20/2008 5:53:48 AM PDT by silverleaf (Fasten your seat belts- it's going to be a BUMPY ride.)
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To: silverleaf

btt


3 posted on 09/20/2008 5:54:52 AM PDT by KSCITYBOY
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To: coffee260

All this crap was to get people voting Democrap....forever


4 posted on 09/20/2008 5:56:38 AM PDT by dennisw (Never bet on a false prophet! :::::|::::: Never bet on Islam!)
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To: coffee260
The so called act did not advise banks and other Wall street thieves to create financial instruments out of thin air. This writing is about 60% BS and the balance CYA for the republican party.
5 posted on 09/20/2008 5:56:55 AM PDT by org.whodat (Republicans should support the SAM Walton business model, and then drill???)
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To: coffee260

Nailed it long ago - along with many others who saw the handwriting on the wall...


6 posted on 09/20/2008 5:58:22 AM PDT by xcamel (Conservatives start smart, and get rich, liberals start rich, and get stupid.)
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To: coffee260

This should be disseminated as widely as humanly possible. This one article has done more to explain the present crisis than anything I have read.


7 posted on 09/20/2008 6:00:56 AM PDT by Melchior
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To: coffee260

ping


8 posted on 09/20/2008 6:01:19 AM PDT by frithguild (Can I drill your head now?)
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To: coffee260
AHHH!

The section below- THIS is why the democrat talking points (evidently FAX'd out to the media) is parroting the mantra that the current mess is because of Republican "deregulation"
Some are calling for Phil Gramm to be "investigated" Last night the idiot spokes-hack Alan Colmes went a step further back and blamed Ronald Reagan.


When Senator Gramm attacked the CRA for its role in funding advocacy groups and for the burden it imposes on banks, the Clinton administration fought back furiously, willing to let the crucial Financial Services Modernization Act, to which Gramm had attached his CRA changes, die, unless Gramm dropped demands that, for instance, CRA reviews become less frequent. In the end, Gramm, despite his key position as the chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs (even the committee's name reflects a CRA consciousness) and his willingness to hold repeal of the Glass-Steagal Act hostage to CRA reform, could only manage to require community groups to make public their agreements with banks, disclosing the size of their loan commitments and fees.

9 posted on 09/20/2008 6:01:27 AM PDT by silverleaf (Fasten your seat belts- it's going to be a BUMPY ride.)
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To: coffee260

I’m a GW supporter, but this is pretty damning when we’re doling out blame.

2002
President Calls for Expanding Opportunities to Home Ownership
Remarks by the President on Homeownership
St. Paul AME Church
Atlanta, Georgia

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/06/print/20020617-2.html


10 posted on 09/20/2008 6:06:20 AM PDT by listenhillary (Palin accomplished more in the PTA than Obama did as a community organizer)
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To: coffee260

McCain needs to howl mighty loudly about this and hang it squarely around the shoulders of Obama and his financial advisors, all of whom played key parts in this meltdown.


11 posted on 09/20/2008 6:08:34 AM PDT by Virginia Ridgerunner (Sarah Palin is a smart missile aimed at the heart of the left!)
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To: coffee260
In addition, the Act's backers claimed, CRA would be profitable for banks. They just needed a push from the law to learn how to identify profitable inner-city lending opportunities.

They found a way - rather than keeping the risky loans on their books they securitized them and sold them off to investors. They quickly realized that the Democrats were right - it could be a scam for the ages, especially if they lured the illegals into it. Housing prices skyrocketed as the purchase price really didn't matter any more - mortgage originators would lend any amount of money just to get their hands on more paper to securitize and sell off. Pension funds and institutional investors, desperate for higher returns (and bonuses) in the face of a competitive market for client investment dollars, just kept buying anything the rating agencies were being paid to slap a AAA rating on.

The proper "fix" is to mark the investments to market, punishing the investor rather than the saver and the taxpayer - although in the USA, they are probably the same person. The Fed has decided, however, upholding the values of the bad investments and sticking it to the taxpayer on the back end is the more politically palatable solution - that people will tolerate tax increases on "the rich" a lot better than they will tolerate a 40% drop in the value of their supposedly safe fixed-income retirement portfolios.

12 posted on 09/20/2008 6:09:27 AM PDT by Mr. Jeeves ("One man's 'magic' is another man's engineering. 'Supernatural' is a null word." -- Robert Heinlein)
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To: org.whodat

“so called” act : since it was an actual act, even from its title, and your logic begins with writing off the fact, does your post have any valid point to make at all?


13 posted on 09/20/2008 6:09:54 AM PDT by gusopol3
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To: gusopol3
LOL, cya is cya.

This is not all clitoons fault it has 100% to do with complete like of congressional oversight and bought politicians, looking the other-way for the past fifteen years. Who was in charge of the congress most of that time.

14 posted on 09/20/2008 6:17:33 AM PDT by org.whodat (Republicans should support the SAM Walton business model, and then drill???)
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To: coffee260
Husock is terrific.

I've read his book America’s Trillion-Dollar Housing Mistake: The Failure of American Housing Policy

He dissects errant housing policy, like a surgeon.

15 posted on 09/20/2008 6:18:29 AM PDT by syriacus (Calling humans "pigs" is second-nature for anti-war radicals, Black Panthers + radical Islamists.)
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To: coffee260

Libs will deflect blame by playing the little kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar saying “Why didn’t you stop me! It’s your fault.”


16 posted on 09/20/2008 6:20:41 AM PDT by vietvet67
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To: org.whodat

Isn’t CYA after the fact? This article was written in 2000 and is spot on in its prescience.


17 posted on 09/20/2008 6:24:51 AM PDT by Catphish
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To: org.whodat

“like” taken to be “lack”: some things are radioactive , but I guess the Reublicans bear a lot of responsibility also.


18 posted on 09/20/2008 6:26:56 AM PDT by gusopol3
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To: coffee260

Good post thanks...


19 posted on 09/20/2008 6:28:24 AM PDT by pointsal
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To: coffee260
From the essay:
..the CRA funnels billions of investment dollars through groups that understand protest and political advocacy but not marketing or finance.

This amateur delivery system for investment capital already shows signs that it may be going about its business unwisely.

From Wikipedia
Community development seeks to empower individuals and groups of people by providing these groups with the skills they need to effect change in their own communities. These skills are often concentrated around building political power through the formation of large social groups working for a common agenda.
One BIG cash cow. Obama and his Chicago cronies knew how to milk it.
20 posted on 09/20/2008 6:29:48 AM PDT by syriacus (Calling humans "pigs" is second-nature for anti-war radicals, Black Panthers + radical Islamists.)
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To: gusopol3

The Republicans in Congress don’t deserve blame for the most part. But GW Bush and his “home ownership for all” plank of “compassionate conservatism” certainly is one of the biggest culprits.


21 posted on 09/20/2008 6:30:07 AM PDT by Catphish
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To: syriacus
But for advocacy groups that were in the complaint business, the Clinton administration regulations offered a formal invitation.

"Timely comments," the NCRC observed with a certain understatement, "can have a strong influence on a bank's CRA rating."

22 posted on 09/20/2008 6:32:49 AM PDT by syriacus (Calling humans "pigs" is second-nature for anti-war radicals, Black Panthers + radical Islamists.)
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To: Catphish

yes, he’s taken a lot of credit for rising home ownership. I can’t help but feel the pendulum will swing back to a more positive outlook and return to normalcy.


23 posted on 09/20/2008 6:33:15 AM PDT by gusopol3
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To: vietvet67; All

This is a find ! All true conservatives should warm up their printers go to the original link (only because authenticity would be challenged) and dish this out like candy. This is being linked when I do my update in http://www.theusmat.com/


24 posted on 09/20/2008 6:36:43 AM PDT by mosesdapoet (Time to recall those. poisonous CFLs and the polticians who mandated them)
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To: STARWISE; Ernest_at_the_Beach; nutmeg; holdonnow; Bahbah

This is must reading and ping lists.


25 posted on 09/20/2008 6:39:15 AM PDT by SE Mom (Proud mom of an Iraq war combat vet-McCain/Palin 08)
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To: silverleaf

“from winter 2000”

After 8 years, is this even an issue any more?


26 posted on 09/20/2008 6:40:57 AM PDT by TrevorSnowsrap
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To: Catphish
Bush asked for education of the low-income homebuyers [housing counseling; what housing is possible, what to avoid; how to avoid unscrupulous lenders]

On June 17, 2002

Bush said:

And so, therefore, education is a critical component of increasing ownership throughout America. Financial education, housing counseling, how to help people understand that there are unscrupulous lenders. And so one of the things we’re going to do is we’re going to promote education, the education of owning a home, the education of buying a home throughout our society...

The Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation will dramatically expand financial and home buyer education efforts to 380,000 minority families.

We’re beginning to use the Internet better, so that realtors all across the country will be able to call up programs all designed to help minority home buyers understand what’s available, what’s possible, and what to avoid.


27 posted on 09/20/2008 6:50:23 AM PDT by syriacus (Calling humans "pigs" is second-nature for anti-war radicals, Black Panthers + radical Islamists.)
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To: TrevorSnowsrap

Only if you think the banking crash is important.

Only if you would like to understand how and why it happened and how to keep it from happening again.

Otherwise, it has no importance at all.

Go look at the football game.


28 posted on 09/20/2008 6:55:03 AM PDT by old curmudgeon
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To: silverleaf

ditto


29 posted on 09/20/2008 7:17:01 AM PDT by beebuster2000
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To: syriacus

You’re right, the more I find out the better Bush comes out:

“In fact, here’s a New York Times story from September 2003, clearly showing that the first substantive Fannie and Freddie reform from inside government came from the Bush administration. Spurred by worries that Fannie and Freddie were cooking their books and taking too many risks, Treasury Secretary John Snow proposed placing the companies under Treasury oversight with strict controls over risk and capital reserves.”


30 posted on 09/20/2008 7:21:04 AM PDT by Catphish
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To: TrevorSnowsrap; coffee260

coffee260 great find, Somebody get this to Michael Savage who frequently gets things wrong. Grahams (some of his stuff I nevcr cared for) role in this as well as GWB citing this is a lesson in accomodation with the left setting the agenda over principle, and a failure in leadership. Which may explain why GWB is a pushing face saving tax busting bailout while letting the wolves like Dodd, Obama, et al (both sides)guard the geese laying the golden eggs...


31 posted on 09/20/2008 7:22:48 AM PDT by mosesdapoet (Time to recall those. poisonous CFLs and the polticians who mandated them)
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To: org.whodat
This writing is about 60% BS and the balance CYA for the republican party.

Is this sentence the extent of your rebuttal?

32 posted on 09/20/2008 7:23:46 AM PDT by ikka
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To: org.whodat

Your comment about Wall Street creating instruments out of thin air is the real problem here. It’s not the CRA or any of this other stuff.

Look at AIG. You hear on the news all week that AIG couldn’t go under because they sold billions in “credit default swaps”. What are credit default swaps? Essentially insurance that investors could buy that stocks/bonds of companies they owned wouldn’t go belly-up.

Now I understand the absolute need for things like insurance to pay for medical bills, to replace your house if it is hit by a tornado or for life insurance. But was it really wise to have a bunch of these Wall Street firms start taking bets from investors to provide “insurance” that a company would have good credit?

Sure I understand that having that type of insurance can make markets more “efficient”. But in reality, all we’ve done is write up a bunch of worthless paper contracts that people then relied on to the tune of trillions of dollars.

I realize at the heart of things our whole system is based on confidence and fiat money but Wall Street, with Washington’s full approval (or at least lack of interference) took the whole concept of “belief in the system will hold this up” and pushed it to the ends of the earth with derivatives. And this was all done in the past 15-years at an exponential pace.

That’s our problem right now.


33 posted on 09/20/2008 7:33:13 AM PDT by SteveAustin
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To: old curmudgeon

“Only if you think the banking crash is important.”

Right...

And you think this is why the banking collapse is happening. Please explain your theory.


34 posted on 09/20/2008 7:33:54 AM PDT by TrevorSnowsrap
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To: coffee260

bookmark


35 posted on 09/20/2008 7:39:05 AM PDT by GiovannaNicoletta
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To: ikka

It happened when it happen, take it for what it is.


36 posted on 09/20/2008 7:50:15 AM PDT by org.whodat (Republicans should support the SAM Walton business model, and then drill???)
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To: SteveAustin
Sure I understand that having that type of insurance can make markets more “efficient”. But in reality, all we’ve done is write up a bunch of worthless paper contracts that people then relied on to the tune of trillions of dollars.

I realize at the heart of things our whole system is based on confidence and fiat money but Wall Street, with Washington’s full approval (or at least lack of interference) took the whole concept of “belief in the system will hold this up” and pushed it to the ends of the earth with derivatives. And this was all done in the past 15-years at an exponential pace.

That’s our problem right now.

You are 100% correct, but the cool-aide drinkers will still want grape. And no amount of blame "the monkey behind the tree" by the republican party will change the fact that most of it happened on their watch.

37 posted on 09/20/2008 7:54:41 AM PDT by org.whodat (Republicans should support the SAM Walton business model, and then drill???)
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To: coffee260
Thanks for the reminder.....the leftwing commies never take responsibility for their failed ideas.
38 posted on 09/20/2008 8:05:30 AM PDT by roses of sharon (The MSM vampires must die!)
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To: coffee260
We shouldn't let voters forget this fact...

The GOP did NOT have control of both houses for the first 6 years of Bush's presidency.

the Democrats controlled the Senate for most of the 107th Congress

Party Division in the Senate, 1789-Present

107th Congress

Democratic Majority takes control Jan 3, 2001
Republican Majority takes control Jan 20, 2001
Democratic majority takes control June 6, 2001
Congress out of session when Talent beats Carnahan Nov. 5 2002
Jeffords split with GOP could hamper Bush agenda, May 24, 2001
39 posted on 09/20/2008 8:07:08 AM PDT by syriacus (Calling humans "pigs" is second-nature for anti-war radicals, Black Panthers + radical Islamists.)
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To: org.whodat; gusopol3

“This is not all clitoons fault it has 100% to do with complete like of congressional oversight...”

Clinton effectively forced the CRA strongarm tactics through the Justice Department, not the Congress.


40 posted on 09/20/2008 8:43:56 AM PDT by rockinqsranch (Dems, Libs, Socialists, Call 'em what you will, they ALL have Fairies livin' in their Trees.)
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To: rockinqsranch

I had no ideal that removed the congressional right to have hearing and call witnesses. You learn something new everyday. Dang!!!!!!!


41 posted on 09/20/2008 9:06:27 AM PDT by org.whodat (Republicans should support the SAM Walton business model, and then drill???)
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To: TrevorSnowsrap
It has been explained on FR by others many times in the past few days.

If you don't get it by now, educating you is beyond my power.

However for starters you might read http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/2086484/posts?page=26

Obviously you are intellectually elite and will find all manner of fault with this article, but do note that it was written eight years ago with the intention of warning the US that a melt down was coming.

Because it was written eight years ago, it can hardly be called a finger pointing CYA piece. It was an analysis that turned out to be accurate.

42 posted on 09/20/2008 11:00:27 AM PDT by old curmudgeon
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To: org.whodat

does this koid of thing affect your thinking process?

http://hotair.com/archives/2008/09/17/mccains-attempt-to-fix-fannie-mae-freddie-mac-in-2005/


43 posted on 09/20/2008 11:02:18 AM PDT by gusopol3
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To: old curmudgeon

Why don’t you post some links or references (outside of FR) that support this “theory”. I’m sorry but I won’t take this seriously until I see something from mainstream economists that support this “theory”.

I’ve only asked a simple question here and your belligerent responses show that you have little actual content to offer.

The theory you seem to be defending is a marginal opinion and don’t expect the rest of us to just swallow your koookery. Sorry.

BTW, here’s a clue. Try browsing the many many threads that discuss the banking crisis that have totally different explanations of what is going on.

When you can explain why the mainstream opinion is all wrong and your marginal “theory” is totally correct then get back to me.

ROFL.


44 posted on 09/20/2008 11:14:56 AM PDT by TrevorSnowsrap
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To: gusopol3
define “koid”
45 posted on 09/20/2008 11:28:26 AM PDT by org.whodat (Republicans should support the SAM Walton business model, and then drill???)
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To: org.whodat

Ever heard of the word “Precedent” which is recognized in our Judicial System as well Congressional?

All this activity regarding the precedent of bludgeoning the Mortgage Industry by Department of Justice took place during the precedent setting early days of the first four years of the Clinton Administration.

You seem overly eager to blame the Republican Congress for what is openly documented by many sources as the Clinton era foundation of the failure of our Mortgage/Bank system today.

It seems apparent to me that the Mortgage Industry was able to find means to go around the CRA signed into law by Jimmy Carter in 1977, until the Industry was bludgeoned by the Clinton DOJ, Janet Reno etc; thus forced to comply with that law by the Mid 1990’s, 1995 as I recall, 18 years later.

Why Congress didn’t intervene is probably because as often occurs in such situations, there existed that early on only anecdotal evidence that something COULD happen since the signing of that law in 1977, but that territory had already been covered amply prior to the signing of the CRA in 1977. Remember that NOBODY with any sense approved of the CRA, only Democrats/Liberals with their information provided by the Liberal Boston Federal Reserve.

How far do you think anecdotal evidence would get in any Congress comprised of Republican leadership?

Only in a Congress of Dems.


46 posted on 09/20/2008 11:31:49 AM PDT by rockinqsranch (Dems, Libs, Socialists, Call 'em what you will, they ALL have Fairies livin' in their Trees.)
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To: org.whodat

sorry , kind


47 posted on 09/20/2008 11:59:28 AM PDT by gusopol3
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To: coffee260
A radical group called ACORN Housing has a $760 million commitment from the Bank of New York... Observes Tom Callahan, executive director of the Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance, which has $220 million in bank mortgage money to parcel out, "CRA is the backbone of everything we do."

This needs to be shouted in town squares across the shire.

Thanks again, Jimmy Carter.

48 posted on 09/20/2008 12:54:50 PM PDT by Dr.Deth
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To: TrevorSnowsrap
If you had bothered to follow the link I gave you, you would have found that the link takes you to an article that appeared in City Journal. The article is in their archives as it appeared 8 years ago.

Then at the bottom of the article is a link that will take you to a page that gives you the history of and the mission statement of City Journal.

Now you could do a search on the author's name and find that he is a faculty member at Harvard's Kennedy School.

Doesn't sound like some ultra conservative does he?

Yet he hit it right on the money.

Next, you could google CRA and read that act. Then in order to find out how the problem spiraled out of control, google The Gramm-Leach Bliley Act and read in in its entirety. Especially that page that says that banks who do not follow to the letter the CRA will not be granted permission to purchase other banks for expansion.

I am paraphrasing that somewhat, but that is the heart of it.

Then you could confirm all of this by discussing it with your banker, which I have done. A teller can't help you. You have to talk to someone in upper management levels.

I ordinarily don't waste this much time with people who would rather play “gotcha” than contribute information to FR, nor do I care to do your homework for you. So this is going to be the end of this as far as you are concerned.

The only other thought I have is: Because almost every FR article posted here is a news item or similar information that is taken from a national publication, a speech from a public official or something of that sort, why do you sneer at what is posted here?

If you have such a low opinion of what appears here, perhaps you should go back to the daily kos.

49 posted on 09/20/2008 6:04:21 PM PDT by old curmudgeon
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To: old curmudgeon

“If you had bothered to follow the link I gave you, you would have found that the link takes you to an article that appeared in City Journal. The article is in their archives as it appeared 8 years ago.”

Which is irrelevant to what I asked from you. I really can’t dumb it down any more for you.

Go back and reread my previous reply and get back to me.


50 posted on 09/20/2008 6:13:01 PM PDT by TrevorSnowsrap
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