15 de setembro de 2011

Uma das melhores coisas que li sobre a Grande Recessão ou, se quiserem, a Pequena Depressão

[...] Whereas subprime loans provided the disease, securitization created the network of risk whereby the virus could infect a much larger system. Among large banks, securitization rendered global finance ever more dependent upon the vast pool of mortgage-backed capital. Because this capital was premised upon expectations about future mortgage values, securitization permitted lenders to think that bad risks could be leavened by bundling them with other mortgages, and then passed on to the balance sheets of other financial institutions. Lending standards based upon fiduciary duty and sober forecasts gave way to imperatives for high turnover and eroded standards, and few if any bothered to question the fundamentals of the boom. “With no one caring about the harm to borrowers, to society, or even to themselves,” Engel and McCoy write, “subprime lending and subprime securitization descended into a Hobbesian nightmare.”

Where was government in all this? Regulators such as the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS) and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) might, in theory, have restrained the animal spirits. Yet they were infected by the same combination of dependence on fees and efficient market assumptions that stupefied mortgage lenders and large banks. The OTS and OCC are funded by fees charged to the banks they regulate; the more banks under their umbrella, the larger their budget. The OTS in particular depended heavily upon fees from WaMu—the bank’s assessments accounted for about one in eight of the agency’s operating budget dollars. More generally, the Bush-era appointees to these agencies starkly limited the reach of regulations and discouraged robust monitoring of banks and lenders. [....]

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