Bill Steigerwald

The crash of the economy and the rise of Barack Obama were the big stories of the last year, and both were hot topics in interviews with pundits, authors, think tank experts and newsmakers. Here are some of the interesting, smart or worrisome quotes from 2008:

The housing meltdown

"The government has brought on the housing problem, partly by these very low interest rates, which encouraged many people to go way out on a limb. They've brought it on by highly restrictive building policies, which have caused housing prices to skyrocket artificially. And they've brought it on by the Community Reinvestment Act, which presumes that politicians are better able to tell investors where to put their money than the investors themselves are. When you put all that together, you get something like what you have."

-- Thomas Sowell

Economist, author and columnist (Jan. 26)

"What we have to recognize is that in 1995, the homeownership rate was a little bit below 65 percent. That's essentially where it had been in the 30 years up to that point. In 2004, thanks to the subprime market, it reached 69 percent, and that was a homeownership rate that was sustainable only through fraud and risk and irresponsible lending activities. Now that we've returned to normal credit standards ... we're going to be drifting back to the 64 percent or 65 percent homeownership rate. That means that over the next couple of years, somewhere between four and five million people who are now homeowners are going to be 'un-homeowners.'" 

-- Ron Utt

Heritage Foundation's expert on housing policy (April 26)

"The broader issue -- the long-term change in lending standards, where it might be harder to borrow, where you might have to put more money down, etc. -- is probably going to last a long time. I don't know how long, but I can tell you that the guidance I get from CEOs in the housing industry and the banking industry is that it is likely at least to the end of next year and probably well into 2010."

-- Erin Burnett

 CNBC business reporter and anchor of "Street Signs"  (Sept. 20)

Bill Steigerwald

Bill Steigerwald, born and raised in Pittsburgh, is a former L.A. Times copy editor and free-lancer who also worked as a docudrama researcher for CBS-TV in Hollywood before becoming a reporter for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and a columnist Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Bill Steigerwald recently retired from daily newspaper journalism..