Sunday, December 21, 2008

Reckoning (from the New York Times

"Mr. Bush, according to several people in the room, paused for a single, stunned moment to take it all in.

"'How,' he wondered aloud, 'did we get here?'

"Eight years after arriving in Washington vowing to spread the dream of homeownership, Mr. Bush is leaving office, as he himself said recently, 'faced with the prospect of a global meltdown' with roots in the housing sector he so ardently championed.

"There are plenty of culprits, like lenders who peddled easy credit, consumers who took on mortgages they could not afford and Wall Street chieftains who loaded up on mortgage-backed securities without regard to the risk.

"But the story of how we got here is partly one of Mr. Bush’s own making, according to a review of his tenure that included interviews with dozens of current and former administration officials. . . . "

". . .As early as 2006, top advisers to Mr. Bush dismissed warnings from people inside and outside the White House that housing prices were inflated and that a foreclosure crisis was looming. And when the economy deteriorated, Mr. Bush and his team misdiagnosed the reasons and scope of the downturn; as recently as February, for example, Mr. Bush was still calling it a 'rough patch.'

"The result was a series of piecemeal policy prescriptions that lagged behind the escalating crisis."

from article in the 12/20/08 NYT by JO BECKER, SHERYL GAY STOLBERG and STEPHEN LABATON

1 comment:

Ted Michael Morgan said...

December 23, 2008
The Roots of the Housing Crisis
To the Editor:

Re “White House Philosophy Stoked Mortgage Bonfire” (“The Reckoning” series, front page, Dec. 21):

I am no fan of George W. Bush; surely he and his administration deserve blame for not stopping the practices of the housing crisis. But there is a long line all the way back to President Jimmy Carter, and the Community Reinvestment Act.

In fact, Congress, including the Democrats, and the Federal Reserve pushed banks and Wall Street to do whatever was necessary to pump up the home building industry. At the same time, both the House and the Senate, on both sides of the aisle, and the Fed pushed for even more deregulation concerning home mortgage lending practices.

Yes, President Bush had a role, but don’t forget the instigators, authors and supporters of the lead-up to the crisis and almost 10 years of government-supported policies that ended in the housing crisis.

John F. Dix
Business Development Index
Columbus, Ohio, Dec. 21, 2008

To the Editor:

When one of President Bush’s economic advisers says that the administration did the best it could “with the information we had at the time,” the statement indicates that the government would have done things differently, for example, monitor easy lending practices, if it had had more knowledge.

But the article demonstrates that the administration was cool to information that opposed its strong emphasis on cutting back regulations and oversight.

The lessons of the ancient Greeks are relevant today: seek the truth, recognize limits and pursue moderation.

Brad Bradford
Upper Arlington, Ohio, Dec. 21, 2008

To the Editor:

The push to increase homeownership started in 1994, triggered by the Clinton administration’s aggressive enforcement of the Community Reinvestment Act. As your front-page graph shows, the rate of homeownership took off in a “hockey stick” pattern and grew in a straight line for 10 years until 2004, that is, for six years under President Bill Clinton and four under President Bush.

E. S. Savas
New York, Dec. 21, 2008

The writer is a professor of public affairs at Baruch College, City University of New York.

To the Editor:

Having just read the article regarding the White House participation in development of the nation’s financial crisis, I am incredulous that it doesn’t mention the roles of Representative Barney Frank, Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Alan Greenspan and others in their encouragement and protection of policies that contributed in such major ways to the crisis.

Ray Demarest
Incline Village, Nev., Dec. 21, 2008

To the Editor:

While the article pinning responsibility for the worldwide financial mess on the Bush administration is on the mark, it would be unfair to suggest that the administration or the Republicans did it single-handedly.

As “A Champion of Wall Street Reaps the Benefits” (“The Reckoning” series, front page, Dec. 14) makes clear, New Yorkers in particular can thank our own senator, Charles E. Schumer, for his critical leadership in giving the Democrats their fair share of responsibility.

When the histories of this sad era are written, they will doubtless mention Senator Schumer as the man who made sure responsibility for the fiasco was truly bipartisan.

Barry D. Rein
New York, Dec. 22, 2008

To the Editor:

I refer you to “Fannie Mae Eases Credit to Aid Mortgage Lending” (Business Day, Sept. 30, 1999), which succinctly describes the impending crisis and the deliberate actions taken by Fannie Mae “under increasing pressure from the Clinton administration.”

The Clinton and Bush administrations did push homeownership, and Fannie Mae eagerly absorbed subprime mortgages.

Financial markets created new vehicles and products to sell these mortgages as investment-grade bonds. Home buyers seized on these opportunities to buy houses that they and we have since learned they could not afford.

Congress failed to oversee its agencies and resisted calls to tighten controls.

In short, there is no shortage of guilty parties who, with eyes wide open, led us into today’s debacle.

Arthur Stowe
Milford, Conn., Dec. 21, 2008

To the Editor:

What irks me, as I try to get a loan, is that despite my credit score of 787 and a 35 percent down payment, not to mention a net worth of about a million bucks, the banks will not lend to me! I just want to borrow $287,000!

Hey, I didn’t go bust and need a bailout. I have been soldiering along, working and saving, and now I’ve found a duplex to buy. The big shots who ran their banks into the ground, wasting taxpayer money and paying themselves big bonuses, won’t lend to me? What are they, jealous?

Caroline Collins
Monrovia, Calif., Dec. 21, 2008

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In this my personal Christian blog, I hope to be discursive and now and then critical. What I write here is tentative and tensive. I post thoughts, feelings, and observations somewhat randomly and often in immediate response to current events and posts on other blogs.

"Serendipitous Creativity" from Gordon Kaufman

"I suggested that what we today should regard as God is the ongoing creativity in the universe - the bringing (or coming) into being of what is genuinely new, something transformative; …

"In some respects and some degrees this creativity is apparently happening continuously, in and through the processes or activities or events around us and within us(…) is a profound mystery to us humans(…) But on the whole, as we look back on the long and often painful developments that slowly brought human life and our complex human worlds into being, we cannot but regard this creativity as serendipitous …

"I want to stress that this serendipitous creativity - God! - to which we should be responsive is not the private possession of any of the many particular religious faiths or systems …

"This profound mystery of creativity is manifest in and through the overall human bio-historical evolution and development everywhere on the planet; and it continues to show itself throughout the entire human project, no matter what may be the particular religious and or cultural beliefs."

Gordon Kaufman, Mennonite Life, December 2005 vol. 60 no. 4

Melville is a rational man who

"Melville is a rational man who wants God to exist. He wants Him to exist for the same reasons we all do: to be our rescuer and appreciator, to act as a confidant in our moments of crisis and to give us reassurance that, over the horizon of our deaths, we will survive." (John Updike)

And that is a problem for me.

Fragmented Notions

Fragmented Notions
Copyright © 2007 Jean and Alexander Heard Library, Vanderbilt University

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