Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Community Reinvestment Act

This is the original law that brought us Securitized Sub-Prime Mortgages.


The original law was passed in 1977, and it was modified in 1995 under Bill Clinton. The first Subprimes were Securitized in 1997, and the law was revisited in 2002 with changes occuring in 2005.

I remember Bill Clinton talking about how he was going to stimulate investment in Urban areas, particularly poor ones. He was somewhat successful in this, and I'm now thinking that this law might have had something to do with it.

So, is it to blame for today's problems? Was it a bad law, or bad idea? It would be tempting to throw Bill under the bus on this, considering that he's a political opponent at this point in time, but no, I think it was a sensible idea, and probably benefitted alot of very legit sub-prime borrowers since '97. On the other hand, it definately appears to have been taken too far, whether this was because the Government Incentive was so powerful that Banks would continue to fall all over themselves to rack up more Mortgage debt? Or did Banks take on this tremendous mountain of debt because they discovered that there wwere incredible profits in it... as long as the number of defaults remained very low.

Personally, I suspect that it was the profit motive for Banks, along with the convenience in distributing the Mortgages through Securitization, that caused the excess.

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