To Find the Cause of the Crisis, Answer These Questions!

Sometimes, when you lose a debate, you have to just let it go. That seems to be a problem for those who are unwilling to accept the complex realities of what actually caused the financial crisis. I have been saying for a long time that many elements contributed to the global financial meltdown. From ultralow…

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A Stylized History of Quantitative Finance

A Stylized History of Quantitative Finance Emanuel Derman       The evolution of a quantitative approach to finance has proceeded through many small but significant steps and occasional large epiphanies. Over the past 70 years financial models have quantified the notion of derivatives, diffusion, risk, diversification, hedging, volatility, replication, and no riskless arbitrage, and…

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Does Wall Street Do “God’s Work”? Or Even Anything Useful?

Bank executives frequently proclaim that Wall Street is vital to the nation’s economy and performs socially valuable services by raising capital, providing liquidity to investors, and ensuring that securities are priced accurately so that money flows to where it will be most productive. There’s just one problem: the Wall Street mantra isn’t true.

No, the CRA Did Not Cause the Financial Crisis

Two of Donald Trump’s economic advisers, Lawrence Kudlow and Stephen Moore, have revived an idea about the source of the financial crisis that really should have been put to rest long ago.

In a column published and rebroadcast by many politically sympathetic sites, they lay the blame for the credit crisis and Great Recession on the Community Reinvestment Act, a 1977 law designed in part to prevent banks from engaging in a racially discriminatory lending practice known as redlining. The reality is, of course, that the CRA wasn’t a factor in the crisis.

What’s so wonderful about their article, which is an attempted take down of the Clintons, is that they miss the very obvious ways Bill Clinton’s administration did contribute to the financial crisis. But doing that would have been at odds with their anti-regulatory philosophy.

Here’s the heart of the Kudlow and Moore case:

The seeds of the mortgage meltdown were planted during Bill Clinton’s presidency. Under Clinton’s Housing and Urban Development (HUD) secretary, Andrew Cuomo, Community Reinvestment Act regulators gave banks higher ratings for home loans made in “credit-deprived” areas. Banks were effectively rewarded for throwing out sound underwriting standards and writing loans to those who were at high risk of defaulting. If banks didn’t comply with these rules, regulators reined in their ability to expand lending and deposits.

They then argue that this was part of a broader campaign to make loans to unqualified low-income folk, which in turn caused the crisis.

Let’s just be clear about what the CRA does and doesn’t do. It simply says that if you open a branch office in a low income neighborhood and collect deposits there, you are obligated to do a certain amount of lending in that neighborhood. In other words, you can’t open a branch office in Harlem and use deposits from there to only fund loans in high-end Tribeca. A bank must make credit available on the same terms in both neighborhoods. In other words, a “red line” can’t be drawn around Harlem, a term that dates to when banks supposedly used colored pencils to draw no-loan zones on maps.


Continues at: Lending to Poor People Didn’t Cause the Financial Crisis


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Hensarling’s “Market Regulation” Replacement to Dodd Frank Proves He Does Not Understand Banking

Yves here. Steve Waldman wrote a definitive post in 2009, Capital can’t be measured, on a core issue that Black discusses here. A key section: So, for large complex financials, capital cannot be measured precisely enough to distinguish conservatively solvent from insolvent banks, and capital positions are always optimistically padded. Given these facts, and I […]
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