If you only read one article out of each day’s Wall Street Journal, select something from Review & Outlook at the back of Section A. I particularly enjoyed yesterday’s editorial on the need for reform of the GSEs, addressing a recent proposal by GOP Senators McCain, Shelby and Gregg. The essence of the argument is that no financial reform is adequate so long as it exempts Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two of the biggest culprits in the housing meltdown. In an attempt to wind down government support for these entities, the McCain proposal seeks to shrink the size of their portfolios, increase capital requirements, and repeal the infamous affordable housing mandates which dramatically increased subprime exposure.
The GSEs have had a host of problems, the most significant issue of which is the asymmetric privatization of gains and socialization of losses – that is, “crony capitalism.” Further, losses to these GSEs are effectively off-balance-sheet, and thus their expected $380 billion budgetary impact is hidden from the government’s books. If we are to see meaningful financial reform, we must address the GSEs role in the housing bubble and create a structure where these entities are left to stand on their own two feet. Link below:
I had stumbled upon this great little video a while back, and have been sharing it with many of my students, particularly those new to real estate and the secondary markets. It provides a very entertaining, yet fairly factual account of the events that led to the collapse of the financial markets toward the end of 2008. It was created by Jonathan Jarvis, a design student out of Pasadena, as part of his graduate thesis. Perhaps a tad simplistic, but still conveys many key points. I particularly get a kick out of the “subprime family” caricatures. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I do.