As the stock market flutters and moves lower and while the rest of the world is starting to shake we are led to believe that approximately 6 million Americans, who have or are going to have a foreclosed property are the cause of the entire mess. The "swaps," which Wall Street invented to circumvent the insurance rules, and were put up as a security instrument for the investor when purchasing securitized mortgages and subsequently were proven to be valueless, had nothing to do with the mess. Neither did the endless amount of derivatives invented on the spot by the investment bankers with about the same value as the "swaps." And we are supposed to believe this?
The stock market folks who have told us over and over again, real estate is falling off a cliff, are strangely mum about their averages, the Dow Jones, being down 30% from October 07 to now. They also assured us that the fault of the mortgage market was those folks with the CRA loans (Community Redevelopment Act) even though one of the largest players in that market, Bank of America, hasn't written off a dime of those loans. Those "in the know" told us it was all those stated income loans that did us in but never mentioned a word about "the option arm". Let's take a look at who pushed the "option arm": IndyMac Bank, Wamu, Countrywide and Wachovia. Does that list look familiar?
And what about the endless politicians who are screaming about oversight? Aren't those the same people who chose to overlook any oversight until all hell broke loose and now are leading the finger pointing party? Not that there aren't some outstanding candidates to point the figure at, including those who supposedly ran the major corporations and in reality raided them . There is enough blame to go around that every corner in the country would be filled with someone facing the wall.
So what does this all prove? What do we take from the revelations that will help change the situation? Not a damn thing, at least not right now. What we need are statesmen, (I believe I mentioned that before in another column) and independent thinkers with the courage and guts to jump into the fray and start trying to resolve it. I think we have finally learned that throwing money at the problem, especially other people‘s money, isn't the answer to anything. As far as getting the politicos to show some bi-bipartisanship planning I am ashamed to tell you what I think of that idea. So I won't!
I, for one, think the only way to get the mortgage market back on its feet is to have mortgage insurance written on every loan. It could easily be done by the FHA or even one or several of the major mortgage insurers. This would give the lenders extra "real" protection against a foreclosure and have it paid for by the one who has the most to gain, the borrower. They would be more than willing to pay for it to get the loan, and if it is set up correctly, there will be enough money to insure the lenders against loss in case of foreclosure.
Now what do we do about Wall Street? How about having them face reality as the lenders are being forced to do. No more derivatives that resemble Ponzi schemes. No more bending the rules until they can't be straightened again. Years ago there was the raising of money from member firms when Ira Haupt and Company failed. All the other brokerage houses, as I recall, voluntarily ponied up the dough for the losses to stave off problems with the SEC. Why weren't there reserves set aside or the passing of the hat during the last 5 years to protect the innocent (taxpayers) from the losses resulting from institutions that failed?
As long as it appears we are starting over why not do it right. We don't need a bunch of new rules just a few to replace the tired, bent out of shape, water logged ones that we currently have. We don't need more politicians batting their gums about the barn door being open to wide, we need leaders in the industry proposing plans that will not bury their customers. How about just some plain talk that most people can understand with some integrity backing it up. Of course we should have an overseer from the government just in case someone isn't as straight as his collar.
We still are the greatest land in the world and we can prove it by coming out of this disaster with flying colors while the whole world watches the process. Right in the middle of October would be the best time I can think of to turn a page in the credit crisis and start to rebuild. Today is as good a day as any other so lets get to work and start the rebuilding now!