Who Caused This Mess?

By Al Thomas

Everyone wants to know who caused this mess. The housing debacle, the credit crunch, auto companies on the edge of bankruptcy and unemployment skyrocketing.

I am going to tell you and you aren’t going to like it.

Congress is having a field day with committees now “investigating” the cause and having a wonderful time with finger pointing. Trouble is they are all pointing in the wrong direction.

We now have the foxes not just guarding the hen house, but counting the chickens. They are making it worse with the so-called stimulus package which is nothing more than a huge pork gift for the Democrat Senators and Representatives. The president is one of the biggest feasters of pork that does not show on the surface.

The first “expert” who has since been knighted for his brave and courageous actions was Sir Alan Greenspan. He kept interest rates too low for too long encouraging people to commit a larger percentage of their income to housing than was rational. He called it “irrational exuberance”. You can call it whatever you want. I call it stupid.

Then along comes both geniuses in Congress, Senator Chris Dodd and Congressman Barney Frank who pushed thru legislation that required banks to make loans to people they knew could not afford to make the payments.

These two were supposed to be overseeing both Freddie and Fannie. Instead they were accepting huge contributions of cash and favors from these institutions.

Fannie and Freddie then had to accept the worthless mortgage paper that the banks were creating. How this paper ever got AAA rating is beyond me. The companies that guaranteed this paper all had rubber stamps for automatic approval. No due diligence.

Then this junk paper was being bundled and sold all over the world. Other countries were copying what we were doing which only compounded the problem. As the true value of these mortgages became apparent to corporations, hedge funds and foreign countries’ assets started heading toward zero. Not quite, but close. No one would accept them as security when loans were need so the credit markets froze.

The world of commerce cannot operate without the flow of cash in the form of credit. Banks are required to price all assets at market value. This is called ‘mark to the market’. On paper today the entire U.S. banking industry is insolvent. Trillions of dollars of their assets are considered to be worthless mortgages. They really are not worthless, but the true value is unknown. In the banking business “unknown” is zero.

This gives you a micro view of the problem, but you still want to know who is to blame. Well, this is what you won’t like.

YOU are the cause. Why? Because you voted in the bums who made the laws that allowed this worldwide recession. YOU are also the only one who can fix it. Next election it is time to take a close look at what your guy has or not been doing for the country. If you pay taxes it is up to you and no one else.

YOU caused it. Now fix it.