Thursday, July 8, 2010

Our Post Racial President, The Recession & The Financial Sector

So what caused our financial crisis?

According to Obama, it was Wall Street greed and the lack of financial regulation. Indeed, to prove the point, he had DOJ and SEC initiate criminal investigations of one of the biggest of derivatives traders, AIG's Joseph Cassano. Further, Obama established a commission under Phil Angelides to lay blame - then promptly pushed for vast new financial regulations several months prior to the completion of the commission's report. No need to worry about that though, as the Commission's scope of investigation does not include Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. This would be the same as commissioning an investigation into the causes of the civil war, yet excluding slavery from the scope of the investigation. The bottom line, even if the useless commission report were of any value, even if its recommendations were valid, and assuming all recommendations were followed completely, given the limited investigatory scope, the reality is that, the chances of the recommendations actually and effectively sorting out our financial sector would be minimal.

Further, it would seem today that the claim that derivatives were at the heart of our financial mess took a major knock over the past month. The WSJ reports that "both SEC and Justice Department investigations, which many had expected to expose the ultimate subprime malefactor, recently evaporated overnight, apparently clearing (AIG's derivatives trader) Mr. Cassano of wrongdoing." Color me not surprised. Derivatives played an important role in spreading risk. They fell apart not because of "Wall St. greed," (nor "white folk's greed," for that matter) but largely because of mark to market accounting rules and an incredibly anomalous turn of events where the market for mortgage backed securities dropped to zero for a period of time.

At any rate, the proximate cause of the sub-prime meltdown, and thus our current fiscal crisis, was the left's social engineering to force erosion of lending standards and downpayment minimums based on what amounts to racial quotas - no finding of any actual racism need be identified. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were then used to create massive demand in this degraded market.

The single most important correction Obama could make to insure a financial melt-down of this ilk never again occurs would be to reinstitute reasonable, colorblind lending standards by simpling striking the provisions of the Community Reinvestment Act that, today, punish lending institutions for failing to meet racial quotas without respect to whether any single act of racial discrimination every occurred. Obama would of course retain authority to punish severely any cases of actual racial discrimination in lending. Obama has chosen the opposite tack. He is significantly expanding government enforcement of current CRA provisions as part of his financial "reform."

And now we learn today that Obama, as part of his financial regulations, plans to introduce race and gender quotas into our financial sector itself. This from Real Clear Politics:

. . . Section 342 [of the Senate & House financial regulation bill] declares that race and gender employment ratios, if not quotas, must be observed by private financial institutions that do business with the government. In a major power grab, the new law inserts race and gender quotas into America's financial industry.

In addition to this bill's well-publicized plans to establish over a dozen new financial regulatory offices, Section 342 sets up at least 20 Offices of Minority and Women Inclusion. This has had no coverage by the news media and has large implications.

The Treasury, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the 12 Federal Reserve regional banks, the Board of Governors of the Fed, the National Credit Union Administration, the Comptroller of the Currency, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau...all would get their own Office of Minority and Women Inclusion.

Each office would have its own director and staff to develop policies promoting equal employment opportunities and racial, ethnic, and gender diversity of not just the agency's workforce, but also the workforces of its contractors and sub-contractors.

Is it just me who is getting the old Soviet political officer vibe?

What would be the mission of this new corps of Federal monitors? The Dodd-Frank bill sets it forth succinctly and simply - all too simply. The mission, it says, is to assure "to the maximum extent possible the fair inclusion" of women and minorities, individually and through businesses they own, in the activities of the agencies, including contracting.

How to define "fair" has bedeviled government administrators, university admissions officers, private employers, union shop stewards and all other supervisors since time immemorial - or at least since Congress first undertook to prohibit discrimination in employment.

Sometimes, "fair" has been defined in relation to population numbers, . . .

Lest there be any narrow interpretation of Congress's intent, either by agencies or eventually by the courts, the bill specifies that the "fair" employment test shall apply to "financial institutions, investment banking firms, mortgage banking firms, asset management firms, brokers, dealers, financial services entities, underwriters, accountants, investment consultants and providers of legal services." That last would appear to rope in law firms working for financial entities.

Contracts are defined expansively as "all contracts for business and activities of an agency, at all levels, including contracts for the issuance or guarantee of any debt, equity, or security, the sale of assets, the management of the assets of the agency, the making of equity investments by the agency, and the implementation by the agency of programs to address economic recovery."

This latest attempt by Congress to dictate what "fair" employment means is likely to encourage administrators and managers, in government and in the private sector, to hire women and minorities for the sake of appearances, even if some new hires are less qualified than other applicants. The result is likely to be redundant hiring and a wasteful expansion of payroll overhead.

If the director decides that a contractor has not made a good-faith effort to include women and minorities in its workforce, he is required to contact the agency administrator and recommend that the contractor be terminated.

Section 342's provisions are broad and vague, and are certain to increase inefficiency in federal agencies. To comply, federal agencies are likely to find it easier to employ and contract with less-qualified women and minorities, merely in order to avoid regulatory trouble. This would in turn decrease the agencies' efficiency, productivity and output, while increasing their costs.

Setting up these Offices of Minority and Women Inclusion is a troubling indictment of current law. Women and minorities have an ample range of legal avenues already to ensure that businesses engage in nondiscriminatory practices. By creating these new offices, Congress does not believe that existing law is sufficient.

Cabinet-level departments already have individual Offices of Civil Rights and Diversity. In addition, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Labor Department's Office of Federal Contract Compliance are charged with enforcing racial and gender discrimination laws.

With the new financial regulation law, the federal government is moving from outlawing discrimination to setting up a system of quotas. Ultimately, the only way that financial firms doing business with the government would be able to comply with the law is by showing that a certain percentage of their workforce is female or minority.

The new Offices of Women and Minorities represent a major change in employment law by imposing gender and racial quotas on the financial industry. The issue deserves careful debate - rather than a few pages slipped into the financial regulation bill.

And Obama campaigned on a promise of healing America's racial divide? Between this and the reverse racism pervading the DOJ, it would seem that, like seemingly all of Obama's promises, the gulf between what he promised and the reality he has brought are night and day.

Update: It would appear that Obama is not merely going to force race front and center of our lending industry, but that his administration has actually resuscitated the very riskiest of loans - no doc's. This from Hot Air (links omitted):

Remember how angry America got in the wake of the housing market collapse about the no-document mortgages bought by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? The so-called “liar loans,” also known as “NINJAs” (no income, no job or assets) frequently allowed people who shouldn’t have qualified for mortgages to get loans by simply not disclosing their financial position, and then speculate that the equity would increase fast enough to either flip the house on a resale or refinance under better terms. ABC News and Forbes reports that just two years after the collapse, “liar loans” are making a comeback. . . .

In the height of the housing boom in 2006 and 2007, low-doc loans accounted for roughly 40% of newly issued mortgages in the U.S., according to mortgage-data firm FirstAmerican CoreLogic. University of Chicago assistant professor Amit Seru says that for subprime loans, the portion exceeded 50%.

Then came the housing collapse, with subprime loan defaults playing a leading role, particularly the low-doc “liar” variety. The delinquency rate for subprime loans reached 39% in early 2009, seven times the rate in 2005, according to LPS Applied Analytics.

. . . [T]he federal government has jumped feet first back into risky lending, this time through FHA . . .:

. . . the Federal Housing Administration is making 95% LTV [Loan To Value] loans to low-income borrowers with poor credit and little savings, he argues.

Say what?

Well, the fact that the federal government has shifted its social engineering to FHA after all but destroying Freddie and Fannie should come as no surprise. Nor should it come as a surprise that they’re using the same mortgage-backed securities mechanism that created the global financial collapse to shed the cost of guaranteeing those loans. But one might have thought that the collapse of the housing bubble from overspeculation and irrational supply of credit would have taught Washington a lesson about interfering with the lending markets.

If FHA is guaranteeing loans for 5% down to people with bad credit and no liquidity, then be prepared for the next collapse and bailout, this time at FHA. . . .

The only way that Obama and the far left can lead us down this road to hell again is because they have successfully hidden the actual causes of our current economic crisis. When Obama was elected, the chance that Congress would actually investigate the causes of the crisis dropped to zero. And indeed, it would seem that our Post Racial President is actually going to increase the degree of racial / social engineering in our financial sector. God help us but we are in a race - will Obama destroy our country before we can throw he and the far left out of office?

1 comment:

suek said...

Two comments...or rather, a question and a comment:

First, the question: What constitutes "doing business with the government"? For example, we have direct deposit of a government issued check into a bank account. Does that qualify?

Second, just _suppose_ we win a GOP majority in the House. Just _suppose_ that an actual investigation is done on the "natural born" issue which then establishes that O was never eligible to be president in the first place...what would then be the result? You can't impeach, can you, if not actually the president? What makes him legally president - if he's not actually, legally eligible, does the installation process overcome that problem?

If he's not legally the president, wouldn't anything he signed be invalid?

I know, I know...birthers are all nuts, but it actually doesn't depend on his birth situation - whatever that might be - the definition of "natural born" demands that the individual not be a dual citizen, and O has been a dual citizen by virtue of his English citizen father, plus in all probability his Indonesian father.

If an honest to Pete investigation was done and the issue dismissed, I could accept it. But I don't believe that one _has_ been done, and there's an awful lot of material that has been whisked away out of reach. That in itself is suspicious.

I know - I'm dreaming. But maybe...!!!