Tuesday, February 17, 2009

25 24 People to Blame for the Financial Crisis

Time magazine just released a list of 25 People to Blame for the economic collapse. One of the people on that list, former President Bill Clinton, just released a statement to reject the notion that he should be lumped in with men like former President George Bush, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan and the Countrywide CEO.

Per the Time mag piece:

"President Clinton's tenure was characterized by economic prosperity and financial deregulation, which in many ways set the stage for the excesses of recent years.
Clinton set the stage of excess by making the economy booming. Times were great! I think he deserves credit for that rather than blame for things that happened AFTER he was impeached (that he had no control over nor could foresee).

"Among his biggest strokes of free-wheeling capitalism was the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which repealed the Glass-Steagall Act, a cornerstone of Depression-era regulation. He also signed the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, which exempted credit-default swaps from regulation."
This bill was never debated by the House or Senate. In substance, it appears that the leadership of the Republican-controlled Senate and House incorporated the deregulation of credit default swaps into an omnibus budget bill (without hearings or recorded votes)at a time when the outgoing president was in no position to veto anything.

In 1995 Clinton loosened housing rules by rewriting the Community Reinvestment Act, which put added pressure on banks to lend in low-income neighborhoods.
Because passing legislation to help lower-income Americans obtain the American dream home is such a bad concept. How could Clinton foresee that banks and mortgage companies would use such legislation to pimp suggest high risk ARM loans and second-tier loans to lower-educated lower income borrowers?

"It is the subject of heated political and scholarly debate whether any of these moves are to blame for our troubles, but they certainly played a role in creating a permissive lending environment."
2 of the bills referenced in this article were passed in December 2000: after Clinton's impeachment, during his lame duck period until Bush was sworn in and at a time when both houses of Congress were Republican majorities. So, how is he to blame exactly?

Anyone hungry for red herring? Get it straight: Clinton f*cked his intern, not the economy!

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