by ilene - September 23rd, 2009 1:44 pm
How the Government is Setting Us Up for a Second Subprime Crisis
By Shah Gilani
Is the government creating another subprime-mortgage bubble?
The first time around, the three-headed federal serpent – the Bush administration, the Treasury Department and the U.S. Federal Reserve – used Fannie Mae (NYSE: FNM) and Freddie Mac (NYSE: FRE) to "legitimize" trillions of dollars worth of toxic financial waste known as subprime mortgages.
The result was the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression – a mess that was global in nature.
And we’re now headed for a repeat performance.
Some of the players may have changed since the first subprime-mortgage crisis, but the game apparently remains the same. With banks currently unwilling to lend, the new federal triumvirate of the Obama administration, the Treasury and the Fed are trying to inflate the moribund U.S. housing market. This time around, however, the FHA is the weapon of choice.
Obama & Co. are making an all-or-nothing bet that the U.S. economy will recover and bail out the housing market before the final bill for this ill-advised gambit comes due.
When this bubble bursts – and it will – U.S. taxpayers will be on the hook for more than $1 trillion in government-guaranteed debt.
Ginnie Mae: Fannie and Freddie’s Once-Quiet Cousin
As a direct result of the real-estate meltdown, U.S. banks have become reluctant lenders. And they’ve raised their loan standards considerably. Federal officials knew they had to keep the mortgage spigot open, especially to suspect borrowers, so they turned to their new "secret weapon" – the FHA.
The FHA has been cranking out new government-insured subprime loans, which it packages into government guaranteed securities for sale to banks. This frightening reflation of the subprime bubble is being engineered for two key reasons:
- To put a floor under falling house prices.
- And to let banks swap toxic Fannie and Freddie securities for new toxic debt that is 100% guaranteed by U.S. taxpayers.
The almost inevitable insolvency of the FHA could rapidly undermine the fragile recovery of the U.S. economy. And it could plunge stock prices and bank viability to new lows.
Why the FHA? That’s simple. In an era of increasingly stringent lending standards, the FHA’s standards are laughably lax.
Created by the National Housing Act of 1934, the FHA insures private mortgage…