Saturday, October 11, 2008

It's the Poor Folks' Fault


Go read this clear-eyed, pulls-no-punches article by the good folks at McClatchy:
As the economy worsens and Election Day approaches, a conservative campaign that blames the global financial crisis on a government push to make housing more affordable to lower-class Americans has taken off on talk radio and e-mail.

Commentators say that's what triggered the stock market meltdown and the freeze on credit. They've specifically targeted the mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which the federal government seized on Sept. 6, contending that lending to poor and minority Americans caused Fannie's and Freddie's financial problems.

Federal housing data reveal that the charges aren't true, and that the private sector, not the government or government-backed companies, was behind the soaring subprime lending at the core of the crisis.

Subprime lending offered high-cost loans to the weakest borrowers during the housing boom that lasted from 2001 to 2007. Subprime lending was at its height vrom 2004 to 2006.

Federal Reserve Board data show that:

_ More than 84 percent of the subprime mortgages in 2006 were issued by private lending institutions.

_ Private firms made nearly 83 percent of the subprime loans to low- and moderate-income borrowers that year.

_ Only one of the top 25 subprime lenders in 2006 was directly subject to the housing law that's being lambasted by conservative critics.
"Read the whole thing," as bloggers are wont to say. The piece demolishes the conservative canard that places the blame for the crisis on working class people and on the Clinton Administration for making it easier for them to get credit. And while you're at it, go read Anglachel's post, which makes explicit how restricting credit to the poor and working class (except on the most onerous terms) is yet another tactic in movement conservatives' class warfare.

(H/T to Corrente, another fave on my rapidly dwindling political blogroll)

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