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The Financial Crisis: Why Have No High-Level Executives Been Prosecuted?
New York Review of Books ^ | January 9, 2013 | By Jed S. Rakoff

Posted on 01/09/2014 8:35:15 PM PST by Brad from Tennessee

Five years have passed since the onset of what is sometimes called the Great Recession. While the economy has slowly improved, there are still millions of Americans leading lives of quiet desperation: without jobs, without resources, without hope.

Who was to blame? Was it simply a result of negligence, of the kind of inordinate risk-taking commonly called a “bubble,” of an imprudent but innocent failure to maintain adequate reserves for a rainy day? Or was it the result, at least in part, of fraudulent practices, of dubious mortgages portrayed as sound risks and packaged into ever more esoteric financial instruments, the fundamental weaknesses of which were intentionally obscured?

---------------------------------------------------------------------------snip---------------------------------------------------

Without multiplying examples further, my point is that the Department of Justice has never taken the position that all the top executives involved in the events leading up to the financial crisis were innocent; rather it has offered one or another excuse for not criminally prosecuting them—excuses that, on inspection, appear unconvincing. So, you might ask, what’s really going on here? I don’t claim to have any inside information about the real reasons why no such prosecutions have been brought, but I take the liberty of offering some speculations.

(Excerpt) Read more at nybooks.com ...


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Crime/Corruption; Editorial; Government
KEYWORDS: affordablehousing; barneyfrank; chrisdodd; chuckschumer; cra; craandrewcuomo; cracarter; craclinton; cracracra; cracuomo; cradodd; cradoj; crafrank; crahud; craobama; fannie; fanniemae; freddie; freddiemac; wallstreet; wallstreetcrime
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Jed Saul Rakoff is a U.S. District Judge on senior status for the Southern District of New York. Article is wordy but at some point below he blames then-HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo for helping to create the mortgage crisis. One explanation for the lack of prosecution of CEO's may be that the government meddling in the financial markets was a huge factor in the collapse.
1 posted on 01/09/2014 8:35:15 PM PST by Brad from Tennessee
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To: Brad from Tennessee

Why? Because all the Wall Street executives bought off the politicians.


2 posted on 01/09/2014 8:39:04 PM PST by Bryan24 (When in doubt, move to the right..........)
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To: Brad from Tennessee

Why have no high-level gov’t officials been prosecuted? The gov’t caused the recession - not the private sector. At the top of the list of people who should have been prosecuted are Barney Frank and Chris Dodd.


3 posted on 01/09/2014 8:40:50 PM PST by vbmoneyspender
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To: Bryan24

Wrong.
The politicians caused the problems in the first place.


4 posted on 01/09/2014 8:43:16 PM PST by Kansas58
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To: Brad from Tennessee

John Corzine!


5 posted on 01/09/2014 8:43:30 PM PST by Lurkina.n.Learnin (This is not just stupid, we're talking Democrat stupid here.)
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To: Brad from Tennessee

Maybe because none of them broke any laws.


6 posted on 01/09/2014 8:43:39 PM PST by BenLurkin (This is not a statement of fact. It is either opinion or satire; or both.)
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To: vbmoneyspender
At the top of the list of people who should have been prosecuted are Barney Frank and Chris Dodd.

Amen to that!

The current Justice Department and the MSM know that it would only take a slight scratching of the surface to reveal the festering mess of Liberal Congressional meddling in the housing market.

7 posted on 01/09/2014 8:59:36 PM PST by BwanaNdege
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To: Brad from Tennessee

Donating big money to the right Democrats can pay off BIG.
The Corruptocrats are fast taking us to third-world status.


8 posted on 01/09/2014 9:00:43 PM PST by tcrlaf (Well, it is what the Sheeple voted for....)
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To: Bryan24

That’s tiddlywinks…they bought off Hollywood and the media.


9 posted on 01/09/2014 9:02:36 PM PST by Mamzelle
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To: tcrlaf

And you’re fooling ypurself if you really believe that it was just the Democrats or even mostly Democrats.


10 posted on 01/09/2014 9:04:43 PM PST by Benito Cereno
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To: BwanaNdege; vbmoneyspender

“At the top of the list of people who should have been prosecuted are Barney Frank and Chris Dodd.”

And let’s not forget Jimmy Carter for the Community Reinvestment Act and BJ Clinton for doubling down on it.

http://www.businessinsider.com/the-cra-debate-a-users-guide-2009-6


11 posted on 01/09/2014 9:05:36 PM PST by aquila48
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To: Brad from Tennessee

Save


12 posted on 01/09/2014 9:15:39 PM PST by Eagles6 (Valley Forge Redux)
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To: Bryan24

I think it is more than the politicians concluded a corrupt bargain with the pols. It all took place on September 15, 2008. when Bush’s treasury sec brokered the deal. Obama and McCain were both part of it. Because Obama was “reasonable,” he won the election because he was younger and prettier than the old flyboy.


13 posted on 01/09/2014 9:20:07 PM PST by RobbyS (quotes)
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To: BenLurkin; All

I don’t know why people blame Wall Street executives for the loan crisis when it’s not the Wall Street execs that made students take out loans for school, or forced people to buy houses and cars and lifestyles that they couldn’t afford. Wall Street profited off of a lot of results that came from those loans, but it’s not the fault of the executives that people lost control of themselves.


14 posted on 01/09/2014 9:52:32 PM PST by CorporateStepsister (I am NOT going to force a man to make my dreams come true)
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To: vbmoneyspender

As far as I’m concerned, it was the politicians that voted for these bailouts and corporate welfare.


15 posted on 01/09/2014 9:53:39 PM PST by CorporateStepsister (I am NOT going to force a man to make my dreams come true)
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To: BwanaNdege

A lot of people ended up speculating in housing, which triggered a huge amount of instability.


16 posted on 01/09/2014 9:54:36 PM PST by CorporateStepsister (I am NOT going to force a man to make my dreams come true)
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To: CorporateStepsister

I’m not certain what you mean about “speculating in housing”.

Are you talking about the reselling of mortgages to Europe?


17 posted on 01/09/2014 10:28:50 PM PST by eyedigress ((zOld storm chaser from the west)/ ?s)
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To: BwanaNdege

I kinda agree. All that the AG had to do was send off a dozen prosecution teams, and it would have hauled in fifty banking and finance officials by this point for at least a year in prison.

I’m guessing that almost everyone had evidence in hand of not just elected officials taking bribes....but also judges...and probably even links to several Presidents (Clinton, Bush, and Obama). If you notice....even state prosecutors have avoided any action, and it even goes down to local city prosecution teams that have just plain dropped the ball on this.


18 posted on 01/09/2014 10:48:58 PM PST by pepsionice
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To: pepsionice

I think over 1,100 people went to Jail in Savings and Loan scandal under Reagan


19 posted on 01/09/2014 11:20:21 PM PST by scooby321
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To: Brad from Tennessee

Why isn’t Barney Frank in jail?


20 posted on 01/10/2014 12:02:53 AM PST by Washi (Stop Obama's War On Jobs)
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To: Bryan24

No action on prosecution because this lead back to the Democrat party as did lots of money from the bad loans through donations.

Want to bet a huge chuck of the numerous stimulus packages also went in donations back to the Democrat party?

We live in strange times, for as Hillary Clinton would say, “SO WHAT”, and they get away with it.
Who is going to catch crime in a criminal organization that regulates itself and doesn’t want to be caught?


21 posted on 01/10/2014 12:07:02 AM PST by A CA Guy ( God Bless America, God Bless and keep safe our fighting men and women.)
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To: Brad from Tennessee
Because they are not criminally culpable.

The financial crisis was caused by the US Government in an effort to buy votes and further the prospects of the the Democrat Party and Progressivism.

The financial services executives operated in the milieu created by government policies. They indeed greased the wheels and enabled the bubble to develop, but they were simply responding to artificial needs generated by government policy. It is true, their competence in so responding lined their pockets and allowed the bubble to grow really big before it finally burst. But the fact remains, it was the government's fault.

So, no, they shouldn't be prosecuted. And if the sheeple find that outrageous, they have only themselves to blame for voting wrong.

22 posted on 01/10/2014 12:28:22 AM PST by cynwoody
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To: vbmoneyspender

Bahney Fwank: “Dodd is my co-piwate”


23 posted on 01/10/2014 1:20:31 AM PST by haroldeveryman
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To: scooby321

I can name one Senator who never went to jail for his involvement....McCain.


24 posted on 01/10/2014 1:20:39 AM PST by pepsionice
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To: All

The executives from Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac are the ones who should be prosecuted, along with Barney Frank & Christoper Dodd. I’m not holding my breath waiting for this to happen. Our Federal government is so corrupt! Send me a mail when the revolution is going to start.


25 posted on 01/10/2014 1:31:24 AM PST by nightowl_jg
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To: BenLurkin

BWAAHAHAhahahaha... You’re funny :-)


26 posted on 01/10/2014 1:35:20 AM PST by Axenolith (Government blows, and that which governs least, blows least...)
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To: CorporateStepsister

You seem to be forgetting all the repackaging of shit for resale in tranches, and the collusive rating of same by agencies to name one thing.

If “Wall Streeters” didn’t commit any crimes, why don’t folks like JPM tell the FEDS to pound sand instead of shelling out all the billions in “fines”?


27 posted on 01/10/2014 1:39:03 AM PST by Axenolith (Government blows, and that which governs least, blows least...)
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To: cynwoody
RE: “Because they are not criminally culpable.”

Exactly.

In creating mortgage pools and determining risk, lenders depended on algorithms that had been accurate for 80 years:

(1) There had never been a prolonged or significant drop in national home prices since the Great Depression.

(2) Even during the worst recessions, the national mortgage default rate rarely exceeded 7%.

In 2006, the blind spot in those algorithms was that ALL the malfeasance and ALL the fraud was going on at the one-on-one level, between the individual home buyers and the mortgage brokers, so it was essentially impossible to measure the scale of this disaster before the Crash.

This created two critical problems:

(1) Prices for homes exploded upwards because millions of previously unqualified buyers were allowed to enter the market.

(2) Almost no one understood that millions of new buyers were moving into homes with no down payment, and with mortgage payments that were often equal to, or less than, the rent they had been paying. Thus, when they lost their jobs, or when the price of their new home dropped 25%, they just walked out the front door, rented a new apartment, and never looked back.

This is why home prices collapsed by 50%, and default rates reached 35%, in the worst hit areas.

It's also important to recall that the mortgage crisis was INTERNATIONAL, not just in America.

Spain, Ireland, and parts of eastern Europe had a housing collapse that was at least as bad as the USA.

28 posted on 01/10/2014 2:13:04 AM PST by zeestephen
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To: Brad from Tennessee
Why?
PPPPPLLLLLEEEAAASSSSEEEE.
Gutless politicians and politicians who had their pockets lined.
29 posted on 01/10/2014 4:03:32 AM PST by DeaconRed (GOD: Please send us one more Ronald Reagan. Soon. Thanks Deacon Red. PS It ain't Christie. . .)
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To: Axenolith

When the AG tries to prosecute individuals, the cases have been falling apart. When they shake down and harass companies, the get “go away” settlements.

That said, there *may* have been as much as about $40 Billion in potential corporate wrongdoing, out of a multi-trillion dollar event - though much of that appears to be questionable too.


30 posted on 01/10/2014 5:27:19 AM PST by lepton ("It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into"--Jonathan Swift)
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To: Bryan24

“Why? Because all the Wall Street executives bought off the politicians.”

Insider trading by members of Congress had to (has to?)
be the most obnoxious and unholy practice ever.

It has made a mockery of stocktrading and free enterprise
and allowed a bunch of elected officials to become rich at the expense of constituents as the process of government was (is) subverted.

They strut like peacocks and consider themselves to be brilliant, intellectual geniuses, governing the “morons” in flyover country, while doing that for which other people have spent time in jail.

(One of these days, it would be nice to see a list of people who have engaged in law-making and equities trading at the same time.)

IMHO


31 posted on 01/10/2014 5:33:00 AM PST by ripley
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To: Brad from Tennessee

Because those who would prosecute belong to the same class.

You don’t eat your own.


32 posted on 01/10/2014 7:53:50 AM PST by redgolum ("God is dead" -- Nietzsche. "Nietzsche is dead" -- God.)
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To: vbmoneyspender
could it have been stopped in 2004?.....lol...not with democrats at the helm!...they’re offended when confronted with the truth!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yga7TlsA-1A&hl=es-419&gl=CO
33 posted on 01/10/2014 11:18:30 AM PST by M-cubed
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To: BenLurkin
Maybe because none of them broke any laws.

There was one guy (Citibank?) who admitted to fraudulent activity in under oath before Congress.

In most jurisdictions, "fraud" is against the law.

In Jefferson County, AL, several county officials went to prison for accepting bribes in a grotesquely mismanaged construction project of a new sewage-treatment system. The project, as I recall, ultimately bankrupted the county.

Curiously, nobody who actually paid the bribes went to prison.

In most jurisdictions, bribery is against the law.

34 posted on 01/10/2014 2:57:29 PM PST by DuncanWaring (The Lord uses the good ones; the bad ones use the Lord.)
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To: cynwoody; zeestephen

Ping.


35 posted on 01/10/2014 3:02:57 PM PST by DuncanWaring (The Lord uses the good ones; the bad ones use the Lord.)
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To: DuncanWaring

No one has yet to name names of who among the financial execs actually committed fraud or bribery.


36 posted on 01/10/2014 9:04:26 PM PST by BenLurkin (This is not a statement of fact. It is either opinion or satire; or both.)
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To: aquila48

If the CRA was to be the cause of the housing crisis, how come neither Ronald Reagan, GHW Bush, nor GW Bush sought to eliminate the CRA?

The answer is that the CRA contributed very little to the housing crisis. The vast majority of bad loans were funded by investment banks and hedge funds, none of which were covered by the CRA.

Too many conservatives are eager to glom onto a politically convenient but factually deficient myth about the causes of the financial crisis.

The private financial sector spent most of Clinton’s years lobbying for repeal of the Glass Steagall Act and the exemption of derivatives from any sort of regulation. And they got it.

It is not a coincidence that less than 10 years after passage of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act and the The Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 that the United States experienced another financial crisis of the sort that the Glass Steagall Act had headed off for nearly 70 years.


37 posted on 01/10/2014 11:19:19 PM PST by Pelham (Obamacare, the vanguard of Obammunism)
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To: DuncanWaring; BenLurkin

The financial industry lobbied and got laws that permitted them to do the things that they did during the bubble. They didn’t break any laws because they spent a lot of time and money getting the laws changed for their own benefit.

They got rid of the last vestiges of the Glass Steagall Act which had kept investment banks out of the retail lending field for 70 years. They got the CFMA2000 passed which exempted derivatives from being regulated or even reported. They turned the derivatives market, including the swaps market, into a virtual casino.

Anyone who believes that this crisis was solely the result of government meddling is too ignorant of the facts to warrant consideration. The causes include the two laws mentioned above, the transition away from lenders having a stake in the loans they write, to David X Li’s Gaussian Copula Function, to the Magnetar hedge fund gaming the creation of CDOs. And more.


38 posted on 01/10/2014 11:34:21 PM PST by Pelham (Obamacare, the vanguard of Obammunism)
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To: zeestephen

You make a lot of good points.

“(2) Almost no one understood that millions of new buyers were moving into homes with no down payment, and with mortgage payments that were often equal to, or less than, the rent they had been paying”

Dubya should have known, because he was championing and promoting an incredibly foolish policy known as the American Dream Downpayment Initiative that was designed to do exactly that.

“In creating mortgage pools and determining risk, lenders depended on algorithms that had been accurate for 80 years:”

The entire industry ended up pricing risk by using David X Li’s Gaussian Copula Function which he borrowed from the life insurance field. The problem is that there was a serious flaw in using this formula for mortgages- which none of the wizards running the the lenders were aware of because they didn’t understand the complex math involved and they didn’t listen to their risk officers who warned of impending disaster.


39 posted on 01/10/2014 11:42:46 PM PST by Pelham (Obamacare, the vanguard of Obammunism)
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To: Pelham

“If the CRA was to be the cause of the housing crisis, how come neither Ronald Reagan, GHW Bush, nor GW Bush sought to eliminate the CRA?”

Unfortunately because they were probably afraid of being branded “racists”.

“The answer is that the CRA contributed very little to the housing crisis. The vast majority of bad loans were funded by investment banks and hedge funds, none of which were covered by the CRA.”

You mean like WAMU or Countrywide?

Yes, bankers, like you and me are greedy, but I would venture to guess that the vast majority of them are not stupid. If you were a banker would you make a loan that you knew there was a 90% chance that it wouldn’t be repaid?

Please tell me what could have caused these “greedy’ bankers to lose their minds and make loans to people with no proof of income and nothing down? Would you as a banker have done that?

Also please tell me, who bought most of the securitized loans?

Also please tell me, why did the top rating agencies give AAA ratings to these securitized subprime loans?

You use a lot of handwaving in your arguments, but I didn’t see a single factual rebuttal of the article that I referenced. Please reread the article and provide facts to rebut each of his points.


40 posted on 01/10/2014 11:44:58 PM PST by aquila48
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To: cynwoody

“The financial crisis was caused by the US Government in an effort to buy votes and further the prospects of the the Democrat Party and Progressivism. “

Convenient story, not accurate. The private financial sector lobbied hard during the Clinton years to be allowed to get into the lending that generated the bubble. They cultivated the subprime market without being compelled to make those loans in the slightest. Only commercial banks were covered by the CRA.


41 posted on 01/10/2014 11:46:15 PM PST by Pelham (Obamacare, the vanguard of Obammunism)
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To: aquila48

“Unfortunately because they were probably afraid of being branded “racists”.”

Try again. The CRA only covered deposit takers like retail banks and S&Ls. The number of loans required by the CRA was quite small and they didn’t have to be mortgages. Reagan and both Bush Administrations were not concerned with the CRA.

“You mean like WAMU or Countrywide?”

Funny that you should mention Countrywide. Countrywide began as a pure mortgage lender, meaning that it got its capital from investors, not depositors. And as so it was not covered by the CRA. Later on it acquired an S&L and that did bring it under the CRA. WAMU would have been under the CRA. But the two very largest subprime lenders who got this all rolling, Argent and Ameriquest, were not.

“Yes, bankers, like you and me are greedy, but I would venture to guess that the vast majority of them are not stupid.”

Then in this instance you guess wrong. They were all using a pricing model based on the flawed Gaussian Copula Function which blew up in their faces and wrecked their own companies.

“If you were a banker would you make a loan that you knew there was a 90% chance that it wouldn’t be repaid?”

Sure I would, because I know something about financing those loans that you don’t. Unlike in all previous decades of mortgage lending I had no intention of holding onto the loans. I would collateralize them and sell them off as CDOs, CMOs, CDOs squared all of the other extremely lucrative derivatives that generated income for me and passed all of the risk off to the investors who bought them.

“Also please tell me, who bought most of the securitized loans?”

Investors looking for yield. Insurance companies, retirement funds, foreign banks, mutual funds, money markets. Subprime CDOs provided high yield at a time when T-bills were paying 1%.

“Also please tell me, why did the top rating agencies give AAA ratings to these securitized subprime loans?”

Because they were paid by the firms who manufactured the CDOs, a classic conflict of interest, and because the financial firms creating the derivatives misled the rating agencies about just what they were stuffing into these derivatives. For one thing the rating agencies assumed that the loans were conforming loans like the ones that Fanny and Freddie crank out, but they weren’t- they were vastly more risky, the no docs, no downs, no income, all of the crazy lending designed solely to generate more subprime paper to feed the derivatives market. By the end of the bubble the need for derivatives fodder was driving the lending process.

“You use a lot of handwaving in your arguments,”

No, I use a lot of facts that you are unfamiliar with so you now think that a bit of ad hominem is going to help your case. Try again junior, I knew a lot of people involved in this industry and I was one of a small number here at FR warning that disaster was coming from the housing market. So try patronizing someone who knows as little as you do about what happened, because that crap doesn’t work with me.


42 posted on 01/11/2014 12:16:50 AM PST by Pelham (Obamacare, the vanguard of Obammunism)
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To: Pelham
They cultivated the subprime market without being compelled to make those loans in the slightest.

They needed a buyer for their garbage loans. The USG provided that buyer, the ultimate "greater fool", in the form of the government-sponsored enterprises, Fannie and Freddie. Without that backstop, the mortgage-lending cowboys would have crashed long before they actually did and without the far-reaching consequences.

A healthy market would have kept the cowboys in check. But a healthy market was contrary to Progressive policy.

43 posted on 01/11/2014 12:43:08 AM PST by cynwoody
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To: Pelham
Yes, GWBush deserves a huge helping of blame for the home mortgage crisis.

From 2005-2007, he rarely made a speech without saying America achieved record home ownership under his administration.

Thanks for the heads up on David Li, whose name I don't know.

Several of the credit rating agencies have claimed innocence based on the two algorithms I mentioned, which is why I listed them.

44 posted on 01/11/2014 1:05:22 AM PST by zeestephen
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To: BenLurkin

That’s right.

And that’s a problem.

But for one person to accept a bribe, someone else must, by definition, pay a bribe.

In this case, the person paying the bribe has somehow bought themself immunity, and considers it merely a cost of doing business.


45 posted on 01/11/2014 6:32:47 AM PST by DuncanWaring (The Lord uses the good ones; the bad ones use the Lord.)
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To: zeestephen
...millions of new buyers were moving into homes with no down payment, and with mortgage payments that were often equal to, or less than, the rent they had been paying.

That was only because the mortgages were interest-only Option ARMS, with no principal payments for the first two or three years. Once the interest-only period ran out and the borrower had to start paying-down the actual loan, the monthly payment doubled or tripled.

46 posted on 01/11/2014 6:37:09 AM PST by DuncanWaring (The Lord uses the good ones; the bad ones use the Lord.)
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To: Pelham

AS I suspected. They didn’t break any laws.


47 posted on 01/11/2014 6:49:58 AM PST by BenLurkin (This is not a statement of fact. It is either opinion or satire; or both.)
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To: BenLurkin

There are no laws against bribery?


48 posted on 01/11/2014 7:11:12 AM PST by DuncanWaring (The Lord uses the good ones; the bad ones use the Lord.)
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To: Brad from Tennessee

America is being invaded and looted, and will be in ruins in 50 years.

This is a world-historical event. If any people are alive in 2000 years, books will be written about it.

And our politicians, ALL OF THEM, are in it up to their necks. The right is not as bad as the left, but they’re still in on the deal.


49 posted on 01/11/2014 7:21:48 AM PST by Jim Noble (When strong, avoid them. Attack their weaknesses. Emerge to their surprise.)
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To: DuncanWaring

Who, specifically, bribed who (or is it whom?)


50 posted on 01/11/2014 7:22:18 AM PST by BenLurkin (This is not a statement of fact. It is either opinion or satire; or both.)
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