Weekend:Myth-making and setting the record straight – The True Origins of This Financial Crisis

The American Spectator
By Peter J. Wallison from the February 2009 issue

Two narratives seem to be forming to describe the underlying causes of the financial crisis. One, as outlined in a New York Times front-page story on Sunday, December 21, is that President Bush excessively promoted growth in home ownership without sufficiently regulating the banks and other mortgage lenders that made the bad loans. The result was a banking system suffused with junk mortgages, the continuing losses on which are dragging down the banks and the economy. The other narrative is that government policy over many years–particularly the use of the Community Reinvestment Act and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to distort the housing credit system– underlies the current crisis. The stakes in the competing narratives are high. The diagnosis determines the prescription. If the Times diagnosis prevails, the prescription is more regulation of the financial system; if instead government policy is to blame, the prescription is to terminate those government policies that distort mortgage lending.

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