As a former home builder, and current partner in a mortgage company and consultant to a few real estate related companies, I have an avid interest in what has been happening over the last 18 months in housing and especially mortgages. I have been saying over at Northwest Indiana Real Estate, for months now that the problem is too much regulation. Of course this position isn't held in very high esteem, Presidential candidates are scared to even suggest that the government is getting in the way ... and regulators would lose their jobs if we found that they actually caused the problem.
But they did!
I read The Foundry most every day on my reader, and regularly post from those terrific posts to my numerous sites, including my Northwest Indiana Mortgages site. (Sorry for all the self links, but I'm trying to build a case that I actually understand a little bit). The key question in my mind at the end of last week's craziness? WHAT IS A FAIR POSITION FOR A CONSERVATIVE WHO ACTUALLY CARES ABOUT HOMEOWNERSHIP?
Some exerpts from today's awesome post at the Open Market.org $700 Billion for Disastrous Financial System Bailout. Not the Foundry but a well written article with great links:
Either the mortgages are just as worthless as their current market price suggests, in which case the banks that hold them, rather than taxpayers, should pick up the tab (and any insolvent banks should be closed, so that they cannot gamble with depositors’ and taxpayers’ money in the future).
"Or, the mortgages are worth much more than they are currently valued — their current value being set under federal “mark-to-market“ accounting regulations, which require that assets like mortgages be conservatively valued at what they can currently be sold for at the moment, rather than what they would be worth if held to maturity. If that’s the case, then federal accounting regulations need to be immediately relaxed by federal agencies like the SEC that enforce them — as John Berlau argues today in the Wall Street Journal, and as former FDIC Chairman William M. Isaac urged yesterday in a Journal editorial attacking the federally-enforced Fair Value Accounting Rules and Basel II capital rules. (This would also be a good time to revisit the truly senseless accounting regulations imposed by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, which cost the U.S. economy over $35 billion per year, and were used by sub-prime mortgage lender Countrywide Financial as a smokescreen to hide its risky business practices)."
Bankers need a reason to start lending again. Sure the government can buy all the junk bonds which have small percentages of sub-prime loans with even smaller percentages of unperforming loans. Imagine, the government buying $700 Billion worth of loans ... at 20 cents on the dollar ... they may actually make money on this investment! But all they really needed to do was relax regulations that don't make sense and cost us billions in overhead and management.
Anyone know a politician with the guts to step up and say that? I'm a little frustrated with John McCain this week for not stepping into the Maverick role and telling Americans what they need to hear. Barack Obama is predictably suggesting more and more government, which is not what we need. I'm waiting ...
Update: Great post in Wall Street Journal today
"Once upon a time, in the land that FDR built, there was the rule of "regulation" and all was right on Wall and Main Streets. Wise 27-year-old bank examiners looked down upon the banks and saw that they were sound. America's Hobbits lived happily in homes financed by 30-year-mortgages that never left their local banker's balance sheet, and nary a crisis did we have.
Then, lo, came the evil Reagan marching from Mordor with his horde of Orcs, short for "market fundamentalists." Reagan's apprentice, Gramm of Texas and later of McCain, unleashed the scourge of "deregulation," and thus were "greed," short-selling, securitization, McMansions, liar loans and other horrors loosed upon the world of men."