Saturday, September 27, 2008

Financial crisis a government failure

Here's a link to the piece I did for the Register Sunday Commentary section on the current financial crisis. I think I make a pretty good case that this crisis was made in Washington (though Wall Street has some culpability, of course). But the government created subprime mortgages and pressured banks and other institutions to offer more and more of them. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were near-perfect examples of moral hazard. Add the mark-to-market accounting rules that the government required, and you have something of a perfect storm. And of course, the government creates a huge crisis and uses it as justification to grabe even more money and power.

Incidentally, I didn't have room for it in this piece, but while I think John McCain was playing irresponsible faux-populist politics in calling for SEC Chairman Chris Cox's head (full disclosure; Chris was Newport Beach's Congressman for years, I've met him many times and like him) as what could only be seen as a symbolic gesture, I thought the SEC's outright ban on short selling was a big mistake

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