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Sunday, March 31, 2013

OTP: April 2013: Daily Caller: Baseball and the GOP: To rebrand the party, think like a sports fan

This week’s GOP autopsy report, commissioned by RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, is a great start in the much-needed task of rebranding the Republican Party. As the chairman acknowledged, “the way we communicate our principles isn’t resonating widely enough” and “we have to be more inclusive.” The report contains 219 recommendations to “connect people to our principles.” To achieve that goal, the party will need a strategic vision of how voters think about politics, which is something that the report lacks. For that, the GOP can learn a lot from another American passion: baseball.

This year, about 75 million Americans will go to the baseball stadium to watch a ballgame, about the same number as those who will vote in next year’s election. We rarely think about why someone becomes a baseball fan, or why they root for a certain team. Nor do we usually think about why someone chooses to vote for a certain political party. But it’s actually a very useful exercise.

When it comes to baseball, fan loyalty has almost nothing to do with the brain, and almost everything to do with the heart. In all of history, there’s never been a baseball fan who rooted for his team because it had the lowest ticket prices, or because it had the most taxpayer-friendly stadium deal, or because its players did the most community service. For the vast majority of Americans, rooting for a baseball team — not to mention, voting for a political party — isn’t really a rational choice; it’s more of a statement of personal identity — a statement telling the world, “This is who I am.” And for most people, defining “who I am” starts with family and community, before branching out into areas like race, age, gender, and class.

Family is pretty straightforward. If your mom and dad are Yankee fans, you’re almost certainly a Yankee fan. The same is true in politics. If your mom and dad are Republicans, you’re almost certainly a Republican.

Community is also pretty straightforward. If you grew up in, say, Philadelphia, chances are pretty great you’re a Phillies fan. Likewise, someone who grew up in Republican territory like, say, suburban Dallas or rural Indiana is much more likely to become a Republican than a nearly identical person from Seattle or Santa Fe.

Cities with more than one baseball team, like New York or Chicago, show revealing breakdowns by race and gender. The racial split in Chicago between Cubs fans on the North Side and White Sox fans on the South Side is well-documented. In New York, there’s an intriguing gender gap between Mets and Yankee fans, with women gravitating a lot more to the Yanks. While there’s a few theories out there trying to explain that, one obvious answer leaps out: Yankees heartthrob Derek Jeter.

In sports, as in politics, people’s convictions can’t be conveniently reduced to who their parents are or what they look like. But those things are an important foundation, upon which more rational sentiments come into being. Once you’re attached to your team on an emotional level — seeing them as a personal reflection of who you are and what you care about most — a rational exterior comes into being through phrases like “the Red Sox are the best team because they have the most heart” or “the Republicans are the best party because they know how to create jobs.”

Tripon Posted: March 31, 2013 at 10:52 AM | 6544 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1801. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 10, 2013 at 11:46 AM (#4409736)
You seem to be saying that manufacturing jobs will generate higher wages than jobs in the service industry or commodities. That's simply not the case, as a blanket statement. One of the richest areas in the United States is Silicon valley, and of course all of those jobs are service jobs as we classify them. All industrialized nations, even Germany and Japan, have 75% or more of their population engaged in service jobs, and those are also the richest nations. China only has 35% of its population providing services. It's worth noting that as China is getting wealthier, more and more workers are shifting out of manufacturing into service jobs.

In the end, if you want higher wages, it's far easier and more efficient to simply raise the minimum wage. Increasing demand for labor would also do the trick, although tariffs are unlikely to have any effect on the unemployment rate (far more likely that it would go up under a high-tariff regime than go down).


No, I think manufacturing jobs will generate more jobs in services and materials suppliers. Having more jobs will increase the demand for labor, which will raise wages.

But, in general, manufacturing jobs do pay better than service jobs because they are more likely to have productivity gains due to technology and capital investment, and, for the pro-union faction, much more easy to unionize.

There has never been any equivalent to the assembly line for barbers and waiters. Their productivity is exactly the same as it was 50 years ago. Their wages only go up because of the demand for labor from competing industries.
   1802. Bitter Mouse Posted: April 10, 2013 at 11:48 AM (#4409738)
That's sort of my attitude towards people I consider bad, but are short of the Hitler/Pol Pot/Stalin class evil doers.


In a rare area of personal humility I don't consider it my place to judge anyone fit for death right now. Everyone dies eventually. Now I am not an all-in pacifist. There are times when the only way is violence and sometimes death (self defense being the classic example), but in any event I am an atheist (so praying is right out), but I just don't see the point in glorying in people's death.
   1803. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 10, 2013 at 11:49 AM (#4409742)
In the end, if you want higher wages, it's far easier and more efficient to simply raise the minimum wage.


That will just reduce demand for the worker whose labor isn't worth the minimum wage, and lead to more off-shoring and more use of illegal workers.

If you want to raise wages in the US, in the current world where there are huge pools of labor available at a fraction of the cost (not only due to wages, but also due to an almost total absence of benefits, or health, safety and environmental regulation) you have to reduce the ability of that off-shore labor to compete with US workers.

Edit: we do not need to limit competition from Europe, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, etc., where there are similar wage levels and benefits/regulations.

As long as they allow our goods access, allowing their goods access to our market, on the same terms, is good for our economy, and our workers.
   1804. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: April 10, 2013 at 11:54 AM (#4409752)
I'm with you, BM.

That will just reduce demand for the worker whose labor isn't worth the minimum wage, and lead to more off-shoring and more use of illegal workers.

I agree with this, though studies are more mixed as to the impact of this than you might think. Granted, my approach is a relatively low minimium wage - combined with wealth transfers via taxation/other programs.

   1805. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: April 10, 2013 at 11:54 AM (#4409753)
In the commonly used senses of those words, that's about on the same level as calling Obama a "socialist" or a "collectivist", or saying that he "hates America". The use of language like that says a lot more about the people using those words than it does about the people they're using them against.

You're still smarting over the "collectivist" thing, huh? Second or third time you've dropped it into this sub-thread.

That said, it's certainly fair game to point out the glaring difference in the way that Thatcher reacted to Pinochet and Mandela. The idea that she represented anything other than one more example of selective "freedom loving" is no less laughable than the examples of leftists who rant about Israel while finding little but virtue in Hugo Chavez. Thatcher had many of the necessary qualities that made her a very effective leader of her party, but let's not take it into Pride of the Yankees territory.

I've already expressed my opinion that her legacy, like Reagan's is decidedly mixed (*) -- an opinion that has changed rather dramatically as the full import of the ideas they unleashed has become clear. Neither were "evil" or "fascist" or anything resembling those two words.

(*) As a description of the intersection of Reaganism, consumerism, American civics, corporations and corporatism, conceptions of citizenship and how they've melded to form our current predicament, I can commend with highest honors Chapter 19 of DFW's The Pale King -- a setpiece involving three regional IRS managers chewing the fat in late 1979. I've never read a better description of where we are and why we are than that tour de force.
   1806. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: April 10, 2013 at 11:58 AM (#4409758)
Anyone else like The Pale King? I got busy and quit 70 or so pages in - have debated whether or not I should restart it.
   1807. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 10, 2013 at 12:00 PM (#4409761)
I agree with this, though studies are more mixed as to the impact of this than you might think. Granted, my approach is a relatively low minimium wage - combined with wealth transfers via taxation/other programs.

OK, but I think those transfers are the most inefficient solution to what you want to do. High taxes screw up incentives and allocation of resources. Long-term elfare benefits produce a myriad of social ills, and it's degrading to the recipients to belong to a permanent dependent class (which in itself is dangerous to Democracy).

Far better to subsidize jobs for the lower skilled workers, through tariffs, and direct subsidies. Hell the tariffs can fund the subsidies.
   1808. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: April 10, 2013 at 12:02 PM (#4409764)
Economists of most political bents disagree, snapper (yes, higher marginal tax rates do distort the economy and incentives, but less so than tariffs and such) - but this isn't new territory for us.
   1809. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: April 10, 2013 at 12:09 PM (#4409772)
In the commonly used senses of those words, that's about on the same level as calling Obama a "socialist" or a "collectivist", or saying that he "hates America". The use of language like that says a lot more about the people using those words than it does about the people they're using them against.

You're still smarting over the "collectivist" thing, huh? Second or third time you've dropped it into this sub-thread.


Well, it certainly makes those who apply it to Obama sound like the morons that they are, no question about that. But no problem with the rest of your reply.
   1810. Morty Causa Posted: April 10, 2013 at 12:11 PM (#4409775)

Read John Barth instead of DFW. He's much better, stylistically, linguistically, and he's the brainiac of recent contemporary literature. And his first two novels (The Floating Opera and The End of the Road) are rather conventional and straight-forward in narrative, but powerful stories nevertheless. The Floating Opera is about a lawyer, and it gives you the sense he is making a brief for the action he proposes to take.

Stephen Soderbergh is working on a 12 part HBO series of Barth's The Sot Weed Factor. That makes me laugh--as anyone who has read that novel can't help but doing. It's the extravaganza of PoMo lit. Wonderful, though. But a movie? That will be something--probably a something along the lines of the movie version of The Magus, but still.
   1811. DJS and the Infinite Sadness Posted: April 10, 2013 at 12:14 PM (#4409782)
Bitcoins are up to ~$235 a piece. They were about $20 a little over 2 months ago, and about $80 a piece 2 weeks ago and ~$140 a piece 4 days ago.

Just hit $260 in the last day. I've already got out of my bitcoins - I'm sacrificing some profit, but if you're riding a speculative bubble that's based on, well, nothing solid, always good to trade some greed for safety.
   1812. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 10, 2013 at 12:14 PM (#4409787)
Economists of most political bents disagree, snapper (yes, higher marginal tax rates do distort the economy and incentives, but less so than tariffs and such) - but this isn't new territory for us.

Well, that's the religion of Economics. They've had free-trade beaten into them for 60+ years. If they demur, they won't get invited to the nice conferences and cocktail parties, or get cushy corporate consulting jobs.

I look at median real wages for men (women aren't a good comparison b/c the nature of the female labor force has changed so radically) that are significantly lower than in the lat 1970's, and say that free-trade just isn't working.

There is a good 40% of the labor force that is not capable of "information age jobs". They need manufacturing jobs to have a productive career, and support families in a decent fashion.

Even if it cost twice as much to subsidize jobs for them than to keep them perpetually on the dole, it would be worth it b/c they will have more fulfilling lives, be better citizens, and they and their children will experience and create far fewer social problems.
   1813. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 10, 2013 at 12:16 PM (#4409790)
Just hit $260 in the last day. I've already got out of my bitcoins - I'm sacrificing some profit, but if you're riding a speculative bubble that's based on, well, nothing solid, always good to trade some greed for safety.

What is the purpose of these things, besides yet one more commodity to speculate on?

I'm beginning to come around on a significant financial transactions tax.
   1814. DJS and the Infinite Sadness Posted: April 10, 2013 at 12:18 PM (#4409794)
Economists of most political bents disagree, snapper (yes, higher marginal tax rates do distort the economy and incentives, but less so than tariffs and such) - but this isn't new territory for us.

Free trade is one of the few things that you can get liberal and conservative leaning economists to agree on. A poll a few years ago (will have to find it) of economists with PhDs, something like 90% agreed both that the US should eliminate tariffs and that the US should not restrict outsourcing.
   1815. Ray (RDP) Posted: April 10, 2013 at 12:20 PM (#4409796)
In the commonly used senses of those words, that's about on the same level as calling Obama a "socialist" or a "collectivist", or saying that he "hates America". The use of language like that says a lot more about the people using those words than it does about the people they're using them against.


Would it offend you if I said:

1. Obama doesn't like the essence of this country as currently constituted; that's why he's trying like hell - and is succeeding - in changing it. (See, e.g., Obamacare.) Duh, this seems fairly straightfoward and inarguable, let's move on.

2. He wants us to be more like Europe which is why he's taken us down the path towards socialism.

3. He wants to redistribute the wealth from the rich to the poor as much as possible, which we can see clearly w/r/t, e.g., his tax & spend policies and Obamacare, which is a mechanism for doing this. To him people "deserve" money not based on whether they've earned it but based on what class of Victim they are.

4. He by and large doesn't like freedom, with some exceptions such as sexual freedom. Certainly economic freedom and the ability to keep a high percentage of what you earn doesn't appeal to him. If you've earned a lot of money, that just means that you've stolen it from a pet Victim, or prevented a Victim from earning it, and therefore he's happy to effect policies which redistribute it "back" to them, the rightful owners.

5. Etc, etc, etc, and on and on and on.

   1816. DJS and the Infinite Sadness Posted: April 10, 2013 at 12:20 PM (#4409798)
What is the purpose of these things, besides yet one more commodity to speculate on?

Speculation drives liquidity and protects risk-averse parties.
   1817. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 10, 2013 at 12:24 PM (#4409802)
Free trade is one of the few things that you can get liberal and conservative leaning economists to agree on. A poll a few years ago (will have to find it) of economists with PhDs, something like 90% agreed both that the US should eliminate tariffs and that the US should not restrict outsourcing.

And the fact that it serves the interest of their profession, and the elites and corporations that pay their salaries, has nothing to do with that?
   1818. Morty Causa Posted: April 10, 2013 at 12:25 PM (#4409803)
25 Best Jokes on Thatcher

"Plans have begun for Margaret Thatcher’s state funeral.
It’ll be the first time ever the 21 gun salute is fired into the coffin."
   1819. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 10, 2013 at 12:25 PM (#4409805)
Speculation drives liquidity and protects risk-averse parties.

It does those things for actual commodities. And it also transfers wealth from the general public to those who have inside information (every hedge fund and big bank), and market access.

I can't see how speculation in imaginary commodities helps anyone.
   1820. DJS and the Infinite Sadness Posted: April 10, 2013 at 12:26 PM (#4409806)
And the fact that it serves the interest of their profession, and the elites and corporations that pay their salaries, has nothing to do with that?

I'm guessing Harvard and Yale professors aren't going to be unemployed if cameras are made in Texas instead of China.
   1821. DJS and the Infinite Sadness Posted: April 10, 2013 at 12:30 PM (#4409811)
I can't see how speculation in imaginary commodities helps anyone.

Why is it any of your business? You being Catholic certainly doesn't help me - how about a tax on communions?
   1822. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: April 10, 2013 at 12:35 PM (#4409817)
Would it offend you if I said:

1. Libertarians and Federalists don't like the essence of this country as currently constituted; that's why they are trying like hell to change it- and is succeeding - in changing it. (See, e.g., teh slow roll back of Depression era commerce clause jurisprudence) Duh, this seems fairly straightfoward and inarguable, let's move on.

2. Libertarians/federalists want us to be more like 19th Century America.

3. Libertarians are wholly unconcerned with whether or not wealth is evenly distributed or even whether or not there is a safety net, if 5% are more productive and smarter than the rest and therefore accumulate 95% of all wealth and property, so be it, and regime that prevents the more talented from accumulating what they would otherwise accumulate is unjust

4. Libertarians do not understand or even care that their vision of "freedom" in practice makes life less free for others, the fact that until government intervened certain classes were effectively precluded from participating in public life may have been unfortunate, but the government doing something about it is many times worse.

5. Etc, etc, etc, and on and on and on.
   1823. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: April 10, 2013 at 12:38 PM (#4409821)
Would it offend you if I said:


offend no, WRT #1 I'd actually agree more or less
2, I agree with the 1st half, disagree with the 2nd half (and would assert that once again American liberals simply do not know what socialism is)
3, I disagree with "as much as possible"- he clearly isn't that much of a liberal, and he certainly isn't a socialist to whom that assertion would apply, but yes I'd say he wants to even out wealth/income disparity a little (as do most Dems, hell as do most Americans)
4, This one isn't offensive, it's just stupid.
   1824. Random Transaction Generator Posted: April 10, 2013 at 12:39 PM (#4409823)
Certainly economic freedom and the ability to keep a high percentage of what you earn doesn't appeal to him.


By that definition there isn't a rational politician on the planet that is truly in support of "economic freedom", except those that believe that pie-in-the-sky free-for-all libertarianism, or anarchy.

No matter what value you choose to tax someone (to pay for government or government-provided projects (armed forces, infrastructure, etc)), there will be someone who says "That's too much!"

And saying "Obamacare" is "redistribution of wealth from rich to poor" is like someone calling the defense budget "an international affairs enforcement fund".
It's an interpretation from a specific point of view.
   1825. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 10, 2013 at 12:43 PM (#4409827)
Why is it any of your business? You being Catholic certainly doesn't help me - how about a tax on communions?

Did I say I wanted to ban it? I was talking about a general tax on financial transactions to reduce high speed trading merely for the purpose of exploiting customer flow, or minute fleeting mis-pricing.

Real speculation is taking a real position with or against an asset class. It doesn't require huge numbers of transactions.

   1826. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: April 10, 2013 at 12:53 PM (#4409846)
In the commonly used senses of those words, that's about on the same level as calling Obama a "socialist" or a "collectivist", or saying that he "hates America". The use of language like that says a lot more about the people using those words than it does about the people they're using them against.

Would it offend you if I said:


"Offend"? Of course not. As long as you leave the racial innuendo out of it (as you always have), then the only thing you're "offending" by misusing words is your own reputation.

But to get down to specifics;

1. Obama doesn't like the essence of this country as currently constituted; that's why he's trying like hell - and is succeeding - in changing it. (See, e.g., Obamacare.) Duh, this seems fairly straightfoward and inarguable, let's move on.

I think Obama, like most liberals, likes the overwhelming majority of things that this country represents. The fact that he wants to see a broader social safety net doesn't negate this. In fact I'd venture to say that the overwhelming majority of "America is going straight to Hell" comments these days are coming from people complaining about Obamacare and / or our changing demographic base.

2. He wants us to be more like Europe which is why he's taken us down the path towards socialism.

He wants us to have universal health insurance. Other than that, how has he suggested that we be "more like Europe"? Has he advocated adopting a parliamentary system? Does he want us to have a common currency with Canada and Mexico?

3. He wants to redistribute the wealth from the rich to the poor as much as possible, which we can see clearly w/r/t, e.g., his tax & spend policies and Obamacare, which is a mechanism for doing this. To him people "deserve" money not based on whether they've earned it but based on what class of Victim they are.

That selective interpretation of facts, plus your typically exaggerated rhetoric ("class of Victim", etc.), says a lot more about you than it does about Obama.

4. He by and large doesn't like freedom, with some exceptions such as sexual freedom. Certainly economic freedom and the ability to keep a high percentage of what you earn doesn't appeal to him. If you've earned a lot of money, that just means that you've stolen it from a pet Victim, or prevented a Victim from earning it, and therefore he's happy to effect policies which redistribute it "back" to them, the rightful owners.

See above response to #3. It's like a nervous tic with you, isn't it?

5. Etc, etc, etc, and on and on and on.

Don't forget the free TVs and cellphones. We're dying to hear you riff on those.
   1827. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: April 10, 2013 at 12:58 PM (#4409851)
I'm guessing Harvard and Yale professors aren't going to be unemployed if cameras are made in Texas instead of China.

Actually, more and more money drifting to the top 1% is in the interest of Harvard and Yale professors. The 1% pays the tuitions and their salaries, as well as inculcating the habits of thought and social clusters that make people favor Harvard and Yale over State U.

Indeed, Harvard and Yale have done quite well with the end of the great consensus and its replacement with the society of elite privilege.
   1828. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 10, 2013 at 01:01 PM (#4409855)
Actually, more and more money drifting to the top 1% is in the interest of Harvard and Yale professors. The 1% pays the tuitions and their salaries, as well as inculcating the habits of thought and social clusters that make people favor Harvard and Yale over State U.

Indeed, Harvard and Yale have done quite well with the end of the great consensus and its replacement with the society of elite privilege.
\

Yup.
   1829. The Good Face Posted: April 10, 2013 at 01:09 PM (#4409870)
Actually, more and more money drifting to the top 1% is in the interest of Harvard and Yale professors. The 1% pays the tuitions and their salaries, as well as inculcating the habits of thought and social clusters that make people favor Harvard and Yale over State U.

Indeed, Harvard and Yale have done quite well with the end of the great consensus and its replacement with the society of elite privilege.


Looks like at least one poster here has discovered the Cathedral.
   1830. Bitter Mouse Posted: April 10, 2013 at 01:17 PM (#4409877)
I'm beginning to come around on a significant financial transactions tax.


Plenty of room on this bandwagon (sadly). Still you are very welcome.
   1831. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 10, 2013 at 01:33 PM (#4409898)
Plenty of room on this bandwagon (sadly). Still you are very welcome.

I just don't see that most hedge funds and other high volume traders are doing anything but trading on insider information and knowledge of customer flows to gain the market.

Every freaking big hedge fund gets indicted for insider trading, and pays a big bribe to get let off. I'm guessing insider trading is absolutely endemic.
   1832. Rants Mulliniks Posted: April 10, 2013 at 01:44 PM (#4409913)
I can't see how speculation in imaginary commodities helps anyone.


snapper, Bitcoins were not created as a commodity, but as a currency. They were set up to be used as an alternative to the gov't backed fiat currencies, which are also speculated upon and whose value is dervied almost entirely as a result of that speculation. The difference is, in theory at least, that since no gov't controls the issuance of Bitcoins, their value cannot be unilaterally undermined through QE, or interest rate manipulation - things that are done solely to preserve the vast share of wealth flowing into the pockets of the 1%.

They are created with a supposedly unhackable algorithm and therefore will always be in limited supply, but I don't believe that will turn out as planned.

The dollar value of Bitcoins has gone parabolic over the last couple of months, and every single time that has happened to any currency or commodity in the past it has experienced a spectacular crash. It is next to impossible to detect when that rise will stop.
   1833. DJS and the Infinite Sadness Posted: April 10, 2013 at 01:52 PM (#4409926)
And saying "Obamacare" is "redistribution of wealth from rich to poor" is like someone calling the defense budget "an international affairs enforcement fund".

Good. I agree with both statements.
   1834. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 10, 2013 at 01:52 PM (#4409929)
snapper, Bitcoins were not created as a commodity, but as a currency. They were set up to be used as an alternative to the gov't backed fiat currencies, which are also speculated upon and whose value is dervied almost entirely as a result of that speculation. The difference is, in theory at least, that since no gov't controls the issuance of Bitcoins, their value cannot be unilaterally undermined through QE, or interest rate manipulation - things that are done solely to preserve the vast share of wealth flowing into the pockets of the 1%.

They are created with a supposedly unhackable algorithm and therefore will always be in limited supply, but I don't believe that will turn out as planned.

The dollar value of Bitcoins has gone parabolic over the last couple of months, and every single time that has happened to any currency or commodity in the past it has experienced a spectacular crash. It is next to impossible to detect when that rise will stop.


I don't see how another fiat current helps the problems of existing fiat currencies. I also doubt the algorithm is un-hackable, or that no one is manipulating this market, given the bubble-like results.

If you really want to avoid the problems of fiat currency, you have to have a commodity standard, where the commodity is intrinsically valued.

It doesn't have to be gold or silver. You can use bushels of wheat, or bags of rice, or barrels of oil. If you have centralized storage and clearing house facilities, you minimize the costs of physical possessions.

If you're going to make up a new currency, it should be backed by a bundle (to avoid extreme supply/demand swings in a single commodity) of valuable commodities, stored in publicly known and independently audited facilities

   1835. Rants Mulliniks Posted: April 10, 2013 at 01:53 PM (#4409931)
Every freaking big hedge fund gets indicted for insider trading, and pays a big bribe to get let off. I'm guessing insider trading is absolutely endemic.


The US (SEC in particular) has made it very clear to the world that they have no interest in prosecuting white collar crimes, expect for the odd token gesture like Madoff. Former SEC regulator Bill Black stated that in the Savings & Loan crisis, 1100 cases were forwarded to prosecutors, and 800 people went to jail. The ongoing crisis that began in 2008 was 100 times larger in scope, yet not one banker (Madoff was a private investor) has even been prosecuted. That should give you an indication as to the level of gov't complicity in whole debacle.

   1836. Rants Mulliniks Posted: April 10, 2013 at 01:54 PM (#4409932)
If you really want to avoid the problems of fiat currency, you have to have a commodity standard, where the commodity is intrinsically valued.


You're preaching to the choir here. I have very little faith in any virtual currency.
   1837. Delorians Posted: April 10, 2013 at 02:31 PM (#4409971)
It is not natural for a man to go decades sleeping with the same woman.

I disagree. I am happily married for almost 10 years and enjoy sleeping my wife as much now as the day we were married. Unless there's some sort of 'cheater gene' that activates in year 12 or 15 of the marriage or something, I can not see how monogamy can be considered unnatural. It may be harder for some than others, but that does not make it unnatural.
   1838. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 10, 2013 at 02:31 PM (#4409972)
The US (SEC in particular) has made it very clear to the world that they have no interest in prosecuting white collar crimes, expect for the odd token gesture like Madoff. Former SEC regulator Bill Black stated that in the Savings & Loan crisis, 1100 cases were forwarded to prosecutors, and 800 people went to jail. The ongoing crisis that began in 2008 was 100 times larger in scope, yet not one banker (Madoff was a private investor) has even been prosecuted. That should give you an indication as to the level of gov't complicity in whole debacle.

Yet another brick for the "grand conspiracy of the elites" wall.
   1839. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 10, 2013 at 02:34 PM (#4409975)

I disagree. I am happily married for almost 10 years and enjoy sleeping my wife as much now as the day we were married. Unless there's some sort of 'cheater gene' that activates in year 12 or 15 of the marriage or something, I can not see how monogamy can be considered unnatural. It may be harder for some than others, but that does not make it unnatural.


All virtue is more or less hard; if it was easy we wouldn't give people credit for it. It's hard for most people not to get angry, to feel envy, to be lazy, or greedy. Lust is just one of the many temptations.

Most people have a bunch of temptations that it's easy to resist, and few that are hard, or virtually impossible. It's the human condition.
   1840. Delorians Posted: April 10, 2013 at 02:36 PM (#4409980)
Sure, and saying "Wow, LBJ was a horrible President. He Effed up Vietnam and the Great Society was a disaster" is totally inbounds, basically anywhere except his eulogy.

But, saying "LBJ was a scumbag. I'm glad he's dead, and hope he rots in hell", is all together different in kind, and almost always inappropriate, especially right after the death.


Since I'm one of the ones who initially brought this up, I agree with this response.
   1841. Rants Mulliniks Posted: April 10, 2013 at 02:39 PM (#4409983)
Yet another brick for the "grand conspiracy of the elites" wall.


Sorry, but I can't tell from this if you're agreeing with me or mocking me.
   1842. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 10, 2013 at 02:39 PM (#4409985)
Sorry, but I can't tell from this if you're agreeing with me or mocking me.

Oh, agreeing. Our society is becoming more corrupt and disgusting by the minute.
   1843. Bitter Mouse Posted: April 10, 2013 at 03:00 PM (#4410018)
Kind of funny when I agree (mostly) with Rants and snapper. Not about the fiat currency but the disgrace around trading and the travesty of no prosecutions (conspiracy of the elite indeed).
   1844. Bitter Mouse Posted: April 10, 2013 at 03:02 PM (#4410026)
I disagree. I am happily married for almost 10 years and enjoy sleeping my wife as much now as the day we were married. Unless there's some sort of 'cheater gene' that activates in year 12 or 15 of the marriage or something, I can not see how monogamy can be considered unnatural. It may be harder for some than others, but that does not make it unnatural.


Monogamy certainly was never a problem in my marriage. I know enough people in open relationships that work that if you truly can't be monogomous I know there are options other than lies and cheating.
   1845. Jay Z Posted: April 10, 2013 at 03:04 PM (#4410030)
Snapper,

On the whole tariffs thing, tariffs are largely driven by business. Heavily localized businesses (see farming) want tariffs and have them. Internationalized businesses don't want them and don't have them.

I know the international traders sponge off of government services like the Navy. I also know that the economic power lies with the traders, not the Navy. Sad but true. The local areas have so many economic areas where they can't compete, they can't not trade.

Solutions are probably facism/totalitarianism, where a local area just confiscates a bunch of the business sector. Or we're Rome II, and the international traders/parasites weaken their host enough that the whole thing falls apart.
   1846. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 10, 2013 at 03:04 PM (#4410031)
Monogamy certainly was never a problem in my marriage. I know enough people in open relationships that work that if you truly can't be monogomous I know there are options other than lies and cheating.

People never "can't be monogamous". They don't want to be. Or at least they want something else more.
   1847. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 10, 2013 at 03:08 PM (#4410036)
On the whole tariffs thing, tariffs are largely driven by business. Heavily localized businesses (see farming) want tariffs and have them. Internationalized businesses don't want them and don't have them.

I know the international traders sponge off of government services like the Navy. I also know that the economic power lies with the traders, not the Navy. Sad but true. The local areas have so many economic areas where they can't compete, they can't not trade.

Solutions are probably facism/totalitarianism, where a local area just confiscates a bunch of the business sector. Or we're Rome II, and the international traders/parasites weaken their host enough that the whole thing falls apart.


Nothing you say is wrong. I'd put the odds at 50:50 they'll be a non-democratic transfer of power in the US in the next 50 years. If you keep disenfranchising 80% of the population economically, it's too easy for a demagogue to rise.

I only hope we get stuck with a Mussolini, or a garden variety incompetent military junta, not something worse. I don't think something like the Spanish Civil War is impossible either. Unlikely, but not impossible.
   1848. DJS and the Infinite Sadness Posted: April 10, 2013 at 03:15 PM (#4410042)
I have very little faith in any virtual currency.

I don't have faith in it either - I only had faith in the ability to ride the current, in the short-term. I never thought eToys was a business, but that didn't prevent me from making good money off of the stock.
   1849. Rants Mulliniks Posted: April 10, 2013 at 03:28 PM (#4410063)
I thought about buying a Bitcoin after x-mas, just for the hell of it. Oh well. I don't have any money to invest in anything other than gas, food, utilities and mortgage payments anyway, so its not like I missed a golden opportunity.
   1850. Lassus Posted: April 10, 2013 at 03:48 PM (#4410079)
I know enough people in open relationships that work

I guess. I have just the opposite experience. Every poly couple I ever knew was a disaster.
   1851. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 10, 2013 at 04:30 PM (#4410105)
I guess. I have just the opposite experience. Every poly couple I ever knew was a disaster.

Given how jealous humans tend to be, I can't say I'm surprised.
   1852. zonk Posted: April 10, 2013 at 04:34 PM (#4410108)
The US (SEC in particular) has made it very clear to the world that they have no interest in prosecuting white collar crimes, expect for the odd token gesture like Madoff. Former SEC regulator Bill Black stated that in the Savings & Loan crisis, 1100 cases were forwarded to prosecutors, and 800 people went to jail. The ongoing crisis that began in 2008 was 100 times larger in scope, yet not one banker (Madoff was a private investor) has even been prosecuted. That should give you an indication as to the level of gov't complicity in whole debacle.


I think that's more a matter of the idea you can't pull a thread without unraveling the whole sweater than 'complicity'... Or - maybe it's a form of complicity... but ultimately, if you wanted to truly unravel the 2008 mess, I think there were two choices:

1) Let the market sort it all out... the villains go broke... but so do the non-villains, and so, too -- does the pain hit main street (once payrolls start failing - not because company X didn't have funds in the bank, but because bank X can no longer transfer to the employees' account). Who wants to preside over the complete seize up and collapse of a system? It's never a pretty thing

2) Go nationalization, big time... the government seizes not just failing or bad actors, but entire problem sectors. This route would require will that did not exist, and even if it did - then you might be staring at a political collapse rather than an economic collapse (at least.. first... you probably still get both in some order or another). Maybe you can make the 'economic collapse' at least initially, top heavy by going massively nationalized/"real" socialism... but whatever.

You can't just prosecute people for being short-sighted, greedy, immoral SOBs.... I don't know that anyone disagreed that Dick Fuld (just as one example) was/is that.... but what I haven't seen is any real description - tied to statutes - of the crimes that Fuld (or Diamond or whomever) actually committed.

Just to be clear... I'm not saying I wouldn't be a party to vigilante justice... I'm just saying that if I do join a vigilante mob, I will only do so knowing full well that's what I'm doing, not deluding myself into thinking I'm carrying out 'justice'.

   1853. Publius Publicola Posted: April 10, 2013 at 04:38 PM (#4410113)
I guess. I have just the opposite experience. Every poly couple I ever knew was a disaster.


I guess I'm a bit of a square because I don't even know anybody who is in an open marriage. And I can't even imagine how something like that would even work.
   1854. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 10, 2013 at 04:46 PM (#4410123)
You can't just prosecute people for being short-sighted, greedy, immoral SOBs.... I don't know that anyone disagreed that Dick Fuld (just as one example) was/is that.... but what I haven't seen is any real description - tied to statutes - of the crimes that Fuld (or Diamond or whomever) actually committed.

Fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud. All the big banks knew the loans they were securitizing, and the CDOs they were re-securitizing were crap. You could even hit them with RICO charges.

Go nationalization, big time... the government seizes not just failing or bad actors, but entire problem sectors.

No, just just needed to temporarily nationalize the failing banks. Once they ask for Federal help, you wipe out the shareholders, guarantee the short-term debt (CP, REPo, etc.) provide liquidity to keep them in business, appoint new top management, and empower a bankruptcy court to restructure the company with the senior debt holders receiving the equity in lieu of their debt.
   1855. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: April 10, 2013 at 04:58 PM (#4410131)
Fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud. All the big banks knew the loans they were securitizing, and the CDOs they were re-securitizing were crap. You could even hit them with RICO charges.
I'm told it was just black people with bad credit ruining it for the rest of us.
   1856. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 10, 2013 at 05:09 PM (#4410137)
I'm told it was just black people with bad credit ruining it for the rest of us.

To the extent there was politically-driven lending to certain communities (there was) that really only caused losses at Fannie, Freddie and Ginnie.

Taxpayers should be pissed, but the banks and other bondholders were largely immunized from that risk. Agency losses never threatened the broader financial system or economy b/c they were effectively full faith and credit of the US Gov't.
   1857. Ray (RDP) Posted: April 10, 2013 at 05:33 PM (#4410152)
I guess I'm a bit of a square because I don't even know anybody who is in an open marriage.


Neither do they.

:P

Seriously, given the percentage of married people who cheat on their spouses, the certainty with which most of you no doubt have that your spouse (or girlfriend/boyfriend) has not cheated on you amuses me.

This is simple math, like: X% of drivers will be involved in car crashes in the state of PA today.

And I can't even imagine how something like that would even work.


Most of the time it's not "open" per se, but someone is getting something on the side, even if he's paying for it (Elliot Spitzer), and the spouse either doesn't know or in effect looks the other way.

And these are complete WAGs but I'd suspect this describes Roger/Debbie Clemens, Bill/Hillary, and Elliot/Silda for starters. OTOH, against all odds Tiger's wife really may not have known, given that she divorced him (though that could have been for other reasons as well).
   1858. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: April 10, 2013 at 05:55 PM (#4410163)
To the extent there was politically-driven lending to certain communities (there was) that really only caused losses at Fannie, Freddie and Ginnie.
You had it right before that: there was money to be made in the securitizing and re-securitizing of debts good, bad and indifferent. With the dollar amounts what they were, nobody should be surprised that greedy people protected by the umbrella of the corporate structure would wreck the financial system for personal gain.
   1859. SteveF Posted: April 10, 2013 at 06:02 PM (#4410168)
Bitcoin has an advantage over other fiat currencies insofar as the transactions are, in theory, completely anonymous. No third party (like a bank) is required to complete a transaction. Essentially, it's electronic cash.

If you run a black market enterprise, or want to avoid taxation, then the success of the currency has value.

Of course in order for a currency to function, it needs a stable value. If the buying power of your US dollars started doubling every two weeks (and could become worthless, in theory, at any moment), that would impact how you went about spending your money.

-----

One of the (many) risks in the currency is that, while there's no central bank, you need everyone to agree on the protocol. (At it's base, all bitcoin really is is a protocol, not much different from http.) You could, in theory, have a bunch of people decide they are going to fork the protocol and declare bitcoins held under the old protocol as invalid. Of course, in so doing they would be destroying the value of their own bitcoins.

The forking could also occur unintentionally as a result of coding errors made in small update to the protocol (as has already happened). Effectively you needed everyone to agree on which fork to use, with some people losing money and some gaining. They were able to do that when bitcoins were $35 each. Could they manage that if it happened today when there's 7 times as much money at stake?
   1860. greenback calls it soccer Posted: April 10, 2013 at 06:04 PM (#4410170)
Bill Black is a venerable blowhard, so I am not sure what to make of his no-prosecution comment. Certainly prosecution has been unusually devoid of aggressiveness. But the guys running the Bear-Stearns subprime hedge funds were prosecuted, and they were found not guilty. The commentary at the time of the verdict was something to the effect of 'Maybe we can't convict any of these ########.'
   1861. Ray (RDP) Posted: April 10, 2013 at 06:04 PM (#4410171)
With the dollar amounts what they were, nobody should be surprised that greedy people protected by the umbrella of the corporate structure would wreck the financial system for personal gain.


We weren't. That's why you people shouldn't have stuck your noses in in the first place. Greedy corporate types and greedy wanna-be home owners seeking loans they can't afford - both parties knowing full well that the taxpayers were there to back them up - was a recipe for disaster from the start.

Stay out of it, the next time.
   1862. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: April 10, 2013 at 06:16 PM (#4410177)
Greedy corporate types and greedy wanna-be home owners seeking loans they can't afford - both parties knowing full well that the taxpayers were there to back them up - was a recipe for disaster from the start.
No, that's wrong. Nobody was assured that taxpayers would be there for them, just ask Merrill Lynch. The point is that they didn't care. People are always motivated to get loans. There's no law that says financial institutions have to give them. Those institutions wanted to give them because they could just turn around and sell off the debt. The people who made those loans made that money, and any hit the company might take was paid out by the company as a whole, leaving the individual bad actors untouched. Even if the company was dissolved, those bad actors would still walk away with massive individual profits.

In short: Financial institution gets dinged. Loanees lose their stuff. If that financial institution goes down completely, then debtors good and bad go down, too. The individuals who steered the company walk away with a bunch of cash.
   1863. Ray (RDP) Posted: April 10, 2013 at 06:23 PM (#4410180)
People are always motivated to get loans. There's no law that says financial institutions have to give them.


Actually, this is wrong. The government was calling lenders racist for not lending to minorities who couldn't afford the loans, and effectively forced the lenders to lend to minorities who couldn't afford the loans -- and when the whole thing predictably blew up everyone turned around and called the lenders "predatory."
   1864. SteveF Posted: April 10, 2013 at 06:29 PM (#4410183)
Even if the company was dissolved, those bad actors would still walk away with massive individual profits.


The issue really isn't about punishing bad actors, but setting up the incentives in a way that would eliminate incentives for giving bad loans. In theory, it shouldn't have been possible to make money selling bad debt. Why could they sell the bad debt? (In short, because there were people willing to buy it. So really the question is, why were there people willing to buy it?)

Why did the FMs (fannie mae/freddie mac) buy the bad debt? Why did Goldman Sachs, Bear Stearns, et. al. buy the bad debt? Was the thought, in the back of their mind, that some of the risk would be mitigated by government intervention?

That was certainly the case for the FMs, which is why many think they need to either not exist (right) or be more heavily regulated (left). Neither, of course, solves the problem since in the absence of the FMs (or their ability to buy suspect loans), the IBs would have stepped in to fill the void. In fact, if I recall rightly, the FMs lowered their standards for buying mortgages as a consequence of the large IBs already having done so.
   1865. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: April 10, 2013 at 06:30 PM (#4410184)
The government was calling lenders racist for not lending to minorities who couldn't afford the loans, and effectively forced the lenders to lend to minorities who couldn't afford the loans
You and Joe K should actually go back and read the suits. The suits charged that lenders were giving loans to whites but not to minorities who had the same credit ratings. In other words, the banks had no problems giving loans to people with weak credit, just not black people with weak credit.

And as the subprime frenzy really kicked in, it's been shown pretty clearly that lenders were pretty much just throwing loans at any warm body they could, then securitizing that debt as fast as they were able.
   1866. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: April 10, 2013 at 06:34 PM (#4410185)
Nobody was assured that taxpayers would be there for them, just ask Merrill Lynch. The point is that they didn't care.

I think you must mean Lehman here, and you must have a tough definition of "assured." Everyone operated under the assumption that the biggest institutions were too big to fail (the Fed bailed out a relatively small hedge fund, LTCM, in 1998), and everyone believed that Freddie and Fannie had an implicit taxpayer guarantee -- that's why they could borrow more cheaply than everyone else.

This understanding everyone had explains (1) why Lehman being allowed to go under was seen as such a shock that it almost melted down the system; and (2) why the nearly $1T bailout was passed in the DC equivalent of a split-second.
   1867. zonk Posted: April 10, 2013 at 06:37 PM (#4410186)
Actually, this is wrong. The government was calling lenders racist for not lending to minorities who couldn't afford the loans, and effectively forced the lenders to lend to minorities who couldn't afford the loans -- and when the whole thing predictably blew up everyone turned around and called the lenders "predatory."


If this were the case, then why are some of the areas with these big holes of default suck happening in areas that DON'T have big minority populations? I.e.,, the mini-mansion developments in Florida, Nevada, etc?

If you look at the numbers on defaults -- rather from a pure capital perspective OR from a numeric perspective -- they simply do not align with this fantasy about a bunch of hovels in the ghetto 'bought' by people who couldn't repay the loans...

Humbolt Park or Austin or whatever in Chicago didn't turn into desolate wastelands with a bunch of foreclosure signs -- it's a bunch of suburbany/exurbany developments in areas like Florida or around Vegas or in some parts of California that went kaput and now look 'Day After the Bomb' communities.

There are plenty of numbers that say exactly this (See here, for example).

Yet - the myth persists.

   1868. zonk Posted: April 10, 2013 at 06:42 PM (#4410187)
You and Joe K should actually go back and read the suits. The suits charged that lenders were giving loans to whites but not to minorities who had the same credit ratings. In other words, the banks had no problems giving loans to people with weak credit, just not black people with weak credit.

And as the subprime frenzy really kicked in, it's been shown pretty clearly that lenders were pretty much just throwing loans at any warm body they could, then securitizing that debt as fast as they were able.


PRECISELY!

I do not understand how it is that certain segments of this debate continue to get away with pushing the same nonsense when I have not ONCE seen any of the nonsense pushers show me numbers that prove that either 1)the number of loans that defaulted were more highly concentrated in -- let's say, CRA -- enabled borrowers, much less that 2)the total value of that constituted any majority or even large chunk of what hit caused the crisis.

When you look at where the numbers AND the value were concentrated -- they were not in minority first-time homebuyers getting a modest (or less) $50k home.... They were in people who were "buying up" into 2-3-400k homes that they couldn't really afford that were also bubble-ized into selling for 2-3-400k.
   1869. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: April 10, 2013 at 06:45 PM (#4410189)
I think you must mean Lehman here,
Oops. You're right, I did mean Lehman.

This understanding everyone had explains (1) why Lehman being allowed to go under was seen as such a shock that it almost melted down the system; and (2) why the nearly $1T bailout was passed in the DC equivalent of a split-second.
(1) I think the shock was more that Lehman was supposedly something like $25 billion strong but was leveraged three times over. What kind of financial institution does that?

(2) The bailout had to happen because if the larger houses went down (like Merrill nearly did) then everyone was going down.
   1870. SteveF Posted: April 10, 2013 at 06:52 PM (#4410192)
(2) The bailout had to happen because if the larger houses went down (like Merrill nearly did) then everyone was going down.

This only suggests that SBB's claim...

Everyone operated under the assumption that the biggest institutions were too big to fail (the Fed bailed out a relatively small hedge fund, LTCM, in 1998)

...is entirely accurate, which was essentially his primary point, arguing against the claim that:

Nobody was assured that taxpayers would be there for them...

It appears that this last statement has been misconstrued by most people posting. I now take it to mean that the people handing out the mortgages in the first instance had no such assurance. The people buying the mortgages from those people, however, did. It's a legitimate distinction, but I don't see it as a particularly helpful one as regards the incentives that created the crisis.
   1871. Greg K Posted: April 10, 2013 at 06:53 PM (#4410193)
It's hard for most people not to get angry, to feel envy, to be lazy, or greedy. Lust is just one of the many temptations.

I can probably count on one (possibly two) hands the amount of times I've been angry in my life. Envy and Greed I don't score very well on...but the real killer is laziness.
   1872. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: April 10, 2013 at 06:57 PM (#4410196)
Actually, this is wrong. The government was calling lenders racist for not lending to minorities who couldn't afford the loans, and effectively forced the lenders to lend to minorities who couldn't afford the loans -- and when the whole thing predictably blew up everyone turned around and called the lenders "predatory."


No, the banks were lending to a whole bunch of whites who couldn't afford them, so why shouldn't they lend to blacks in the same financial condition?

The banks shouldn't have been lending to many of the whites they were lending to also.

Basically the argument of the JoeK's is that banks were being forced to lend to blacks who were "unqualified" for the loans and who if they would have been white would have been deemed unqualified and not gotten the loans- that didn't happen. What happened was that banks were making loans to [white] people who had no ability to repay them because many financial institutions (believe it or not) stopped looking at and verifying income- rather they would look at the home's appraised value, check to see that the borrower's credit score didn't suck (not that it was "good", just that it didn't suck monkey balls), and the default rate of the home's NEIGHBORHOOD

That last part tended to mean that many many loans were being made to unqualified whites but not blacks and hispanics - but guess what, using NEIGHBORHOOD default rates as a proxy for ability to repay didn't work out, those whites with low income would end up just as bad at making loan payments as blacks with no income, and it made the banks easy targets for discrimination lawsuits, because they were loaning money to whites and wouldn't loan money to blacks with the same income/credit score.

What boggles me is that seeming;y none of these banks responded to these suits by tightening up their requirements and stopping making loans to unqualified whites, instead they seemingly all started making loans to unqualified minorities in addition- but that was just an incremental pile on which in the minds of those of a certain ideological bent has become the main reason


   1873. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: April 10, 2013 at 07:00 PM (#4410198)
This only suggests that SBB's claim...
...is entirely accurate, which was essentially his primary point,
But is that really because government is just a big softie, or because the financial market is so gigantic and controlled by so few separate entities that the death of any one of the large houses would devastate the national economy? For the US, the survival of Merrill, BofA, etc., became a matter of national survival.

I think the question really should be how the country could have allowed so much control of its money into so few hands.
   1874. SteveF Posted: April 10, 2013 at 07:07 PM (#4410205)
But is that really because government is just a big softie, or because the financial market is so gigantic and controlled by so few separate entities that the death of any one of the large houses would devastate the national economy?

In terms of the incentives created, there's no difference. In terms of what solutions you propose, obviously there is. I can now see why you objected in the way you did to what Ray suggested.
   1875. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: April 10, 2013 at 07:08 PM (#4410206)
I now take it to mean that the people handing out the mortgages in the first instance had no such assurance.


They didn't need one, most had no skin left in the game, they'd make loans, bundle them up, sell them off as shares in some REMIC or other vehicle, and make new loans, bundle them up, sell them off, repeat.

simplified

Let's say you make, one after the other, 100 loans of 200k each, on each loan you collect a loan origination fee of $500, and one month's interest, say $800,
and immediately sell each loan for 199.5k (which gives you back the cash to immediately fun a new 200k loan)
100 loans, you've loaned $20 million :-) and recovered $80,000 in interest payments - but you really only ever had the $200k- you've just been re-loaning the same $ over and over again- you're exposure if the economy tanks isn't going to be the $20million - it'll be that last 200k loan you're still holding onto, the people who bought those loans from you, who invested in mortgage backed securities, they're the ones facing the evaporation of that investment.
   1876. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: April 10, 2013 at 08:28 PM (#4410251)
Wrong thread.
   1877. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: April 10, 2013 at 09:03 PM (#4410290)
No, the banks were lending to a whole bunch of whites who couldn't afford them, so why shouldn't they lend to blacks in the same financial condition?

The banks shouldn't have been lending to many of the whites they were lending to also.


And also to the point, the lenders shouldn't have been flooding the mailboxes and airwaves with all those deceptive ads that were clearly targeted at people who didn't understand the fine print of an ARM. If lenders were forced AT GUNPOINT to write all their contracts in plain language that could easily be understood by anyone with a sixth grade education, and to explain the worst case scenario before it happened---instead of just saying after the fact that "you should have thought of that when you signed that contract"---then a great deal of this disaster might well have been averted.
   1878. Ray (RDP) Posted: April 10, 2013 at 09:27 PM (#4410304)
And also to the point, the lenders shouldn't have been flooding the mailboxes and airwaves with all those deceptive ads that were clearly targeted at people who didn't understand the fine print of an ARM. If lenders were forced AT GUNPOINT to write all their contracts in plain language that could easily be understood by anyone with a sixth grade education, and to explain the worst case scenario before it happened---instead of just saying after the fact that "you should have thought of that when you signed that contract"---then a great deal of this disaster might well have been averted.


Utter nonsense. People know how much money they have coming in and how much they have going out, and whether they have a stable job, and whether they can expect an increase in earnings, and how much they have in savings, and how difficult it might be to find another job if they lose the one they have, etc. They also understand the concept of an interest rate that is adjustable, and whether they are sitting on a house of cards or whether they will be able to make the payments even with a significant increase to the interest rate. And you know what? These decisions aren't made Alone, but are made with the help of advisors -- accountants, relatives, friends -- who can crunch a few numbers.

And if people still couldn't understand what situation they would be in after all of the above, they -- I know this is difficult for you to grasp -- had no business getting the mortgage in the first place. You're in the dark about whether you can afford this major financial commitment, and you sign anyway? Come on. The thing speaks for itself.
   1879. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: April 10, 2013 at 09:37 PM (#4410319)
And if people still couldn't understand what situation they would be in after all of the above, they -- I know this is difficult for you to grasp -- had no business getting the mortgage in the first place.

Poor innocent scorpions, screwed by those greedy frogs.
   1880. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: April 10, 2013 at 09:42 PM (#4410326)
Utter nonsense. People know how much money they have coming in and how much they have going out, and whether they have a stable job, and whether they can expect an increase in earnings, and how much they have in savings, and how difficult it might be to find another job if they lose the one they have, etc. They also understand the concept of an interest rate that is adjustable, and whether they are sitting on a house of cards or whether they will be able to make the payments even with a significant increase to the interest rate. And you know what? These decisions aren't made Alone, but are made with the help of advisors -- accountants, relatives, friends -- who can crunch a few numbers.

Your confidence in the ability of many people to understand all this with the ease that you do is exceeded only by your apparent ignorance of what actually took place in many households. But then I realize you've got a serious Jones for all types of sleazy come-on advertising, which in your mind seems to be scarcely distinguishable from the Lincoln-Douglas debates.

And if people still couldn't understand what situation they would be in after all of the above, they -- I know this is difficult for you to grasp -- had no business getting the mortgage in the first place. You're in the dark about whether you can afford this major financial commitment, and you sign anyway? Come on. The thing speaks for itself.

That's not difficult at all for me to grasp. The problem is that I also don't think that lenders should be marketing to people like that in the first place in the manner they do, let alone should they be approving loans that clearly are likely to lead to foreclosure at the advent of one unfortunate turn of events. You can certainly make a case for the culpability of the borrowers, but apparently to you a sense of responsibility is but a one way street.
   1881. Bitter Mouse Posted: April 10, 2013 at 09:59 PM (#4410348)
I guess I'm a bit of a square because I don't even know anybody who is in an open marriage. And I can't even imagine how something like that would even work.


In as many different ways as there are people, well almost. Seriously though the failure rate on poly groups is a bit higher than normal relationships, but so what? Most of any kind of relationship (not just marriage) has a huge failure rate. And even judging failure is tough, how long does a relationship have to be to not be considered a failure, forever?

Seriously, given the percentage of married people who cheat on their spouses, the certainty with which most of you no doubt have that your spouse (or girlfriend/boyfriend) has not cheated on you amuses me.


I am 99.99% sure that my ex didn't cheat on me, and 100% sure I did not cheat on my spouse (well I started dating after we were well and truly done, but before the divorce - with the ex's knowledge). Statistically there is much cheating though, obviously.

Most of the time it's not "open" per se, but someone is getting something on the side, even if he's paying for it (Elliot Spitzer), and the spouse either doesn't know or in effect looks the other way.


I was referring to explicitly open relationships of various types. There is plenty of the thr out there I am sure, but I don't know of any.
   1882. Ray (RDP) Posted: April 10, 2013 at 10:46 PM (#4410384)
Your confidence in the ability of many people to understand all this with the ease that you do


No, Andy, these are not difficult concepts. But your condescension to entire segments of the population is duly noted.

is exceeded only by your apparent ignorance of what actually took place in many households. But then I realize you've got a serious Jones for all types of sleazy come-on advertising, which in your mind seems to be scarcely distinguishable from the Lincoln-Douglas debates.


So we're back to your bogeyman of deceptive advertising, and, you say above in 1877, "the fine print of an ARM." Seriously? WTF is so "fine print" about an adjustable rate mortgage? It's right there in the name. A-R-M.

And again, people signing major financial contracts should always seek the counsel of accountants, lawyers, or people who can crunch basic numbers (are you claiming that entire swathes of the public don't have a friend or relative who can do the math for them?) -- and indeed that is a necessity for these types of deals. When you owned your bookstore and did business with a supplier or some other entity, did you rely exclusively on that party and their lawyers to tell you what was in your best interests?

That's not difficult at all for me to grasp. The problem is that I also don't think that lenders should be marketing to people like that in the first place in the manner they do, let alone should they be approving loans that clearly are likely to lead to foreclosure at the advent of one unfortunate turn of events.


They weren't. And then government sat down at the table and said "Give loans to them, you racists." And so they did.

You can certainly make a case for the culpability of the borrowers, but apparently to you a sense of responsibility is but a one way street.


It is? In post 1861 I specifically identified "Greedy corporate types and greedy wanna-be home owners seeking loans they can't afford." And let's not forget the party of the greatest culpability who caused all of this: government.

   1883. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: April 10, 2013 at 11:27 PM (#4410398)
As for hiring unionized labour, its pretty hard where I live. Most elctricians and plumbers aren't even unionized here. I started a major reno/build in 2009, with myself as the architect and primary builder. I hired a house mover to jack up the old 1896 (small) farmhouse off of its stone foundation and slide it over onto the new foundation. He hired local labourers and paid them $10/hr (minimum wage was $8.something at the time).


How much were you charged just for jacking up and moving the small farmhouse? How far did they have to move it ("slide" makes it sound like little more than the length of the farmhouse)?

I didn't quote the interesting section on finding a roofer, but that kind of problem is all too common in construction. I met a union carpenter through a friend, and I'm trying to get an estimate from him on framing a small house. (It makes sense to spend a little more on a good crew and get the framing done in a week or so.) I can't get the guy to read my emails carefully enough to answer simple questions, though:

"In your initial guesstimate where you mentioned 'drying in', were you figuring on a typical number of windows and doors?"
No intelligible reply.

"Did your estimate include the standing seam metal roofing I mentioned using, or just sheathing?" No intelligible reply.

The guy also throws out a figure of $1,000 for just the labor for nailing together and setting in place 80' of non-bearing 2x4 stud wall. Hell, even in my depleted condition, with a helper who can nail two boards together I can do that in less than a day for $100.

I suspect I'll end up finding someone else. $1,000 for that? Really?

---------------

Anyone talking about employment and especially the future of employment without talking about automation won't understand how to understand it, or one of the key reasons why employment is lagging. In 2001 56,000 meter readers were employed in the US. Today it's 36,000. In ten years it will be zero. Smart meters make in-person reading unnecessary. And that's just one tiny sector of employment.

-----------

Wikipedia doesn't say what a bitcoin can buy. Strange. Yet they have a total 'cash' value of $1 billion US dollars.
   1884. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: April 10, 2013 at 11:35 PM (#4410404)
Your confidence in the ability of many people to understand all this with the ease that you do

No, Andy, these are not difficult concepts. But your condescension to entire segments of the population is duly noted.


If it was so easy for everyone to grasp, why did so many people fail to grasp it?

You can certainly make a case for the culpability of the borrowers, but apparently to you a sense of responsibility is but a one way street.

It is? In post 1861 I specifically identified "Greedy corporate types and greedy wanna-be home owners seeking loans they can't afford."


"Greedy" wanna-be home owners, eh? Or just people who wanted to own the home (or apartment) they lived in, and were afraid that they'd better buy before the prices went up even more. The American Dream has always entailed home ownership, and marginally qualified home seekers aren't the equivalent of Gordon Gekko, no matter how much you want to demonize them.

Now if you'd said "greedy wanna-be house flippers," then you might be onto something, since those people were the housing equivalent of currency speculators.

And I suppose "greedy corporate types" couldn't possibly have engaged in come-on advertising directed at people who aren't as familiar with the concept of an ARM as you are.

And let's not forget the party of the greatest culpability who caused all of this: government.

Yes, it's always "the government" at fault, especially when it's trying to stop the notorious practice of redlining entire neighborhoods.
   1885. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: April 10, 2013 at 11:38 PM (#4410407)
And also to the point, the lenders shouldn't have been flooding the mailboxes and airwaves with all those deceptive ads that were clearly targeted at people who didn't understand the fine print of an ARM. If lenders were forced AT GUNPOINT to write all their contracts in plain language that could easily be understood by anyone with a sixth grade education, and to explain the worst case scenario before it happened---instead of just saying after the fact that "you should have thought of that when you signed that contract"---then a great deal of this disaster might well have been averted.


Except, the HUD statement and other required docs at closing, both well before 2008 and certainly after, has always made these disclosures. I could and would argue that the 'reformed' HUD stmt. post '08 after Congress 'fixed' it is more complicated than it was pre-2008. I purchased homes or re-fi both pre-run up, during run up, and post crash, and the closing process required about the same amount of signatures and the same amount of paper shuffling and signing 57 different times, while the title company goes through the 'this is the note and this is your title insurance and this is the final HUD statement, as you sign away like Pete Rose in Vegas. That process hasn't changed one bit. A few of the forms have been reformed.

What has changed and is noticeable is definitely the pre-approval process. What you must produce as a lender for the underwriter is much more stringent. I work for a co. and our parent is definitely a major mortgage lender (stayed clear of Fla/Az.) and the process of '06 to '10, to even refis in '11 and '12 was noticeably much more intense, w/o question, and I've done a 5/1 ARM, 30yr fixed, 10 yr fixed, and now 7/1 Libor ARM. At no point is it impossible to find out the worst case scenarios and total interest paid, the adjustments are absolutely positively disclosed in advance of plowing ahead. An LO can no doubt plow a lender under by not explaining it to people in the first place, that part will never vanish, but the lack of paper disclosure and the ability to 'see' for your own eyes was never the issue. It was all about the underwriting standards, or lack there of. We used to joke that the next marketing push for mortgages would be: 'screw stated income, we can take stated FICO scores.'
   1886. Ray (RDP) Posted: April 10, 2013 at 11:58 PM (#4410426)
And I suppose "greedy corporate types" couldn't possibly have engaged in come-on advertising directed at people who aren't as familiar with the concept of an ARM as you are.


This is preposterous.

Familiar with the concept? The concept couldn't be simpler.

"ARM."
"What's an ARM?"
"Adjustable-rate mortgage."
"Oh. That means that the interest rate could change?"
"Yep."
"It could go up?"
"Yep. So you need to be careful. Here's how it works...."

----

Advertising? Do you think people see an ad, point their smartphone at it as if they're redeeming a coupon, and 5 seconds later they are obligated to a troublesome mortgage? Or are there a series of steps involved that take time and involve actual people?
   1887. DJS and the Infinite Sadness Posted: April 11, 2013 at 12:03 AM (#4410428)
Except, the HUD statement and other required docs at closing, both well before 2008 and certainly after, has always made these disclosures.

How *dare* you expect people to read! This is just like Reagan's speech in Philadelphia, Mississippi in which he secretly high-fived all the KKK members. Santa Claus and Abraham Lincoln would vomit with rage if they were here.
   1888. Ray (RDP) Posted: April 11, 2013 at 12:09 AM (#4410432)
Reagan's speech in Philadelphia, Mississippi


It's a pity David is no longer here to get into it with Andy over this again.
   1889. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: April 11, 2013 at 12:28 AM (#4410437)
Side note: my first ARM was a 5/1 purchase, I had 20% down, no PMI, closed around March of '06 (buying at or near the top, woo hoo*) and I ended up selling (I moved and carried two houses for about a year) about a year before it was resetting (I knew I was moving, hence the ARM was a good option for me), the reset rate was actually going down somewhere around 50 bps. This was not atypical for people in ARMs during this period. Again, this wasn't really a mortgage product scandal (though the interest only crowd who were long buyers were total idiots)

*No, I didn't need to bring a check to closing. Of course buying again in '09 was a windfall for us on the buy side.
   1890. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: April 11, 2013 at 12:29 AM (#4410439)
FWIW - my firm represents (more like "represented", these days) a bunch of banks in crisis-fallout regulatory investigations and criminal investigations. I'm not a litigator, but I hear scuttlebutt at lunch. And it's pretty cynical scuttlebutt - e.g., everyone frequently talks about how filthily dirty the hedge funds are, I hear some unbelievable stories about price fixing, etc.

But almost universally, no one thinks the banks or bankers were generally committing crimes. Greedy as hell? Absolutely. But carefully within the letter of the law. You can't just judge someone's actions morally, wave your hands and cry "RICO!" and expect there to be a crime (and thank god that's so).

Generally, banks #### their customers. That is how they make money. Anyone who does business with a bank assumes they are being ######. Often, its still worth dealing with them. But that is how it goes and has always gone, no matter what someone tries to tell you about the bygone days of relationship banking.
   1891. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: April 11, 2013 at 01:16 AM (#4410466)
I can probably count on one (possibly two) hands the amount of times I've been angry in my life.

Well you are Canadian, so that probably qualifies you for mandatory anger management therapy.
   1892. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: April 11, 2013 at 01:45 AM (#4410472)
In post 1861 I specifically identified "Greedy corporate types and greedy wanna-be home owners seeking loans they can't afford." And let's not forget the party of the greatest culpability who caused all of this: government.
Remember back in the old days, before government, when nobody ever lied for money? I don't.

Wanna-be home owners apply for loans. Banks don't have to give them... but they did, because they were getting rich securitizing the loans.

But almost universally, no one thinks the banks or bankers were generally committing crimes. Greedy as hell? Absolutely. But carefully within the letter of the law.
And ain't that just the ##### of it all? Poor people lost their homes. Hard-working people and honest investors lost trillions. The taxpayers got hosed. The men and women who made collateralized debt obligations a thing got to retire early and live in luxury. The belief that something is acceptable merely because it is legal is the poison of the world.
   1893. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: April 11, 2013 at 01:54 AM (#4410474)
Speaking of Thatcher, I would have been happy to tell you how destructive her tenure was last week. Not sure I should refrain now, but I really don't feel like getting into it. The link in 1789 covers the matter well enough.

In retrospect, I can't decide which was more depressing about the 2002-3 debate: The lying of the pro-war side, or the incompetence of the anti-war side.


Brilliant rhetorical work there, GS. Find the dumbest quote you can, and tell us it's representative of the anti-war folks. Short of regime change in the U.S., what exactly do you think the anti-war crowd failed to do?

I disagree. I am happily married for almost 10 years and enjoy sleeping my wife as much now as the day we were married. Unless there's some sort of 'cheater gene' that activates in year 12 or 15 of the marriage or something, I can not see how monogamy can be considered unnatural. It may be harder for some than others, but that does not make it unnatural.

It's easy for you. That doesn't make it unnatural. Getting old also helps, but not much.

Seriously, given the percentage of married people who cheat on their spouses, the certainty with which most of you no doubt have that your spouse (or girlfriend/boyfriend) has not cheated on you amuses me.


The signal virtue of everyone posting here is also amusing.
   1894. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: April 11, 2013 at 08:12 AM (#4410518)
#1892, that's not the point, its a matter of distinguishing between something you disapprove of morally with something that is criminal. You don't need to socialize with the bankers, but that's different than throwing them in jail. The lack of prosecutions is not evidence of some Grand Conspiracy.

The tragedy of the financial crisis is not a bunch of rich crooks, its a system that evolved with perverse incentives that ###### the little guy. The banker gets fired if he doesn't sell as many CDOs as possible, because the board fires the management if they don't provide a return that's at or above the other banks. Who do you think the buyer of a CDO was? A guy working for some pension fund, restricted in the credit ratings of what he could invest in, who gets fired if he doesn't match the yield of his peers who are subject to the same restrictions. Now take the guy at the credit agency - he gets fired if he doesn't bring in as much business as possible, he's the dumbest guy in the room, and if his ratings aren't formulaic (read: easy to game), he'll lose business because bankers, even if not gaming ratings, certainly want predictability - nothing worse than blowing a ton of money setting up a deal only to have a credit agency blow it up for (pun intended) arbitrary and capricious reasons.

Meanwhile, the pensioner has no way to look out for his own interests, even though all of the above is, more or less, publicly known and disclosed. He's a teacher or a garbage man or whatever.

So no one commits a crime. The banker promises a AAA rated security with a yield of X and delivers it. The guy at the pension fund is told to find a way to earn Y return while buying AAA securities, and does so. The rating agency guy is told to rate as many securities as possible as consistently as possible, and does so. Mind you, almost nobody in this chain realizes the mortgages are #### - many of them are invested in the industry because they believe the claptrap about housing never going down nationally and real estate always appreciating etc.
   1895. Bitter Mouse Posted: April 11, 2013 at 08:19 AM (#4410523)
#1892, that's not the point, its a matter of distinguishing between something you disapprove of morally with something that is criminal. You don't need to socialize with the bankers, but that's different than throwing them in jail. The lack of prosecutions is not evidence of some Grand Conspiracy.


I am not speaking directly about this case (set of cases) because I have no first hand knowledge. But did you hear about E. Warren's questioning of bank regulators?
“Can you identify when you last took [one of] the Wall Street banks to trial?”

“We do not have to bring people to trial,” said Thomas Curry, who leads the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. She retorted, “I appreciate that you say you don’t have to bring them to trial. My question is when did you bring them to trial?”

None of the regulators could answer, responding with a series of dodges and non sequiturs. Warren had made her point — and she didn’t hesitate to drive it home.

“There are district attorneys and United States attorneys out there every day squeezing ordinary citizens on sometimes very thin grounds and taking them to trial in order to make an example, as they put it,” the freshman senator said. “I’m really concerned that ‘too big to fail’ has become ‘too big for trial.’”


So yeah maybe nothing illegal ever happens that Federal Bank regulators ever have to take any of them to trial, I am sure that is what it is.

In unrelated news I just sold this bridge in NYC to a nice fellow on BTF.

   1896. zonk Posted: April 11, 2013 at 08:35 AM (#4410532)
I pretty much agree, zop -- except with this one part which doesn't quite jibe with what I've read:

So no one commits a crime. The banker promises a AAA rated security with a yield of X and delivers it. The guy at the pension fund is told to find a way to earn Y return while buying AAA securities, and does so. The rating agency guy is told to rate as many securities as possible as consistently as possible, and does so. Mind you, almost nobody in this chain realizes the mortgages are #### - many of them are invested in the industry because they believe the claptrap about housing never going down nationally and real estate always appreciating etc.


From what I've read, plenty of people realized there were plenty of crap mortgages floating around -- but it wasn't bad mortgages that brought Lehman and Bears down (and threatened to destroy the rest) -- it was the derivatives and swaps built and traded on top of them. There was a HUGE market -- and plenty of profit to be made -- not on servicing or dealing with the underlying mortgages and assets, but on trading these exotic instruments that were once upon a time, supposed to really just serve as a risk hedge. Once they became something more -- a security that could actually be traded around, rebundled, re-profited upon, etc -- the mindset seemed to be that even though the core may have been crap, they weren't trading the core.... they were dealing in the shiny wrapping.

This is also why I take such exception to the silly idea Ray has about lumping the mortgage defaulters in with the banks (investment and otherwise) and 'government'...

The trillions or so pumped out in 2007 and 2008 did NOT go to these defaulting borrowers -- even the post-2008 programs that did attempt to give some relief to borrowers amount to mere pennies in comparison -- those dollars went to the financial (and insurance - I guess, depending on how you want to classify AIG) titans to cover their risky bets on the MBSs/CDOs/CDSs.

The over-simplified 'blame the poor people who can't do math and didn't read' ONLY works if the 2008 meltdown response was directed towards those borrowers now underwater or losing their homes.... but that's not who the response was directed towards -- it was directed towards shoring up balance sheets and trying to stop a contagion from literally blowing up the economy.... and just for the record, as distasteful as I found it, I agree it had to be done.

Eliminate the increasingly complicated bundles of securities, eliminate the derivatives market, don't allow insurance vehicles to be turned into poker chips -- then what do we have? A lot of homeowners in trouble to be sure... a housing industry that completely stalls out... and finally, by proxy, an economy that certainly moves into recession.... but we don't have a "financial crisis", we don't have TARP, and we don't have the 2008 shitstorm. We have a painful - but manageable - correction in the housing market and recession rooted in that correction.

Had that occurred - then we could have the classic argument between the bleeding hearts wanting to help the poor, unable to look out for themselves souls and the conservative self-reliance and take personal responsibility...
   1897. Dan The Mediocre Posted: April 11, 2013 at 08:35 AM (#4410533)
"ARM."
"What's an ARM?"
"Adjustable-rate mortgage."
"Oh. That means that the interest rate could change?"
"Yep."
"It could go up?"
"Yep. So you need to be careful. Here's how it works...."


Who would the two people be in this hypothetical conversation?
   1898. Bitter Mouse Posted: April 11, 2013 at 08:45 AM (#4410538)
Who would the two people be in this hypothetical conversation?


Both are Ray? Or is it a trick question?
   1899. zonk Posted: April 11, 2013 at 09:05 AM (#4410551)
"ARM."
"What's an ARM?"
"Adjustable-rate mortgage."
"Oh. That means that the interest rate could change?"
"Yep."
"It could go up?"
"Yep. So you need to be careful. Here's how it works...."



Who would the two people be in this hypothetical conversation?


Well, based on the "So you need to be careful" -- we can safely and assuredly cross Alan Greenspan off the list of possibilities....
   1900. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: April 11, 2013 at 09:22 AM (#4410563)
From what I've read, plenty of people realized there were plenty of crap mortgages floating around -- but it wasn't bad mortgages that brought Lehman and Bears down (and threatened to destroy the rest) -- it was the derivatives and swaps built and traded on top of them. There was a HUGE market -- and plenty of profit to be made -- not on servicing or dealing with the underlying mortgages and assets, but on trading these exotic instruments that were once upon a time, supposed to really just serve as a risk hedge. Once they became something more -- a security that could actually be traded around, rebundled, re-profited upon, etc -- the mindset seemed to be that even though the core may have been crap, they weren't trading the core.... they were dealing in the shiny wrapping.


Well, that's not born out in the data. There was a study that came out a few weeks ago - now I can't find it on google, but basically, the conclusion was that particpants in the mortgage market had been disproportionately invested in ways that were long on the housing market. Note also that many of the bank employees were invested in the banks they worked for - Bear Stearns was, IIRC, about a third employee owned, which isn't consistent with expectations of a collapse.

The one or two traders I used to know when I worked briefly at a bank, would tell you that everyone assumed that folks were faking stated income mortgages and the like, but everyone believed the housing market would either continue to appreciate (albeit at a slower rate) or that declines would only be regional, so mass foreclosures were unlikely. Also, I think the scale of the fraud was grossly underestimated by the participants in the market. (And given the incentives for speculators to submit fraudulent applications, I don't blame them for doing so - they're pawns in the broken system just like the bankers are).
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