Clinton Saves the Day!

From the New York Times archives:

Fannie Mae Eases Credit To Aid Mortgage Lending

Published: September 30, 1999

In a move that could help increase home ownership rates among minorities and low-income consumers, the Fannie Mae Corporation is easing the credit requirements on loans that it will purchase from banks and other lenders.

The action, which will begin as a pilot program involving 24 banks in 15 markets -- including the New York metropolitan region -- will encourage those banks to extend home mortgages to individuals whose credit is generally not good enough to qualify for conventional loans. Fannie Mae officials say they hope to make it a nationwide program by next spring.

Fannie Mae, the nation's biggest underwriter of home mortgages, has been under increasing pressure from the Clinton Administration to expand mortgage loans among low and moderate income people and felt pressure from stock holders to maintain its phenomenal growth in profits.

In addition, banks, thrift institutions and mortgage companies have been pressing Fannie Mae to help them make more loans to so-called subprime borrowers. These borrowers whose incomes, credit ratings and savings are not good enough to qualify for conventional loans, can only get loans from finance companies that charge much higher interest rates -- anywhere from three to four percentage points higher than conventional loans.

"Fannie Mae has expanded home ownership for millions of families in the 1990's by reducing down payment requirements," said Franklin D. Raines, Fannie Mae's chairman and chief executive officer. "Yet there remain too many borrowers whose credit is just a notch below what our underwriting has required who have been relegated to paying significantly higher mortgage rates in the so-called subprime market."

Demographic information on these borrowers is sketchy. But at least one study indicates that 18 percent of the loans in the subprime market went to black borrowers, compared to 5 per cent of loans in the conventional loan market.

In moving, even tentatively, into this new area of lending, Fannie Mae is taking on significantly more risk, which may not pose any difficulties during flush economic times. But the government-subsidized corporation may run into trouble in an economic downturn, prompting a government rescue similar to that of the savings and loan industry in the 1980's.

There are a few things which are interesting here:
  1. It shows some of the roots of the current mess
  2. It shows that the problem was government
  3. It shows that Paul Krugman was on vacation, and that the New York Times is actually capable of getting a simple economic analysis correct when that happens.
Of course they weren't as correct as the articles here, but what do you expect? I'm just happy that the New York Times didn't just give us their usual "the government says it's OK, that that's good enough for us" boilerplate. The amazing thing about a dancing bear is not how well it dances, but that it dances at all!


Red In a Blue State said...

>>It shows that Paul Krugman was on vacation,

Probably the funniest line I heard yet regarding all this financial crap....

scott said...

hey rich this is scott email me at hapejack@yahoo.com. long hairs rule LOL

Mithril Dragon said...

What's truly amazing to me is that:

1) Government caused the problem.
2) The people are relying on the government to solve the problem.

Are we really that dumb? I suppose so.

The Frugal Libertarian said...

So much for "deregulation" as the cause of the mess. It seems to me that most of the gross malinvestment of the last decade can be traced back to the government.

Anonymous said...

as far back as the boston tea party studies were conducted of the disposition of honesty and wealth and found that the poor are the most likely to honor their debts. how about that treasury printing slightly more cash than our tax refunds?