Sunday, January 10, 2010

More on the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac fraud

I wrote here about a very important story, which originated with Edward Pinto, a former chief credit officer for Fannie Mae, and was broken by Peter Wallison in the Wall Street Journal, that deserves much wider coverage. Everyone knows that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored entities that helped create a market for mortgage-backed securities, played a key role in last year's financial crisis. But the truth is, apparently, worse than that. It seems that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac--the U.S. government, in effect--"routinely misrepresented the mortgages they were acquiring, reporting them as prime when they had characteristics that made them clearly subprime or Alt-A...." The much-reviled Wall Street bankers relied on those representations by agents of the federal government when they bought and sold securities backed by those misrepresented mortgages.

Qualitatively, this is not quite as bad as Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme, but it is worse than anything Enron did. Quantitatively, it caused financial devastation compared to which Enron and Madoff are barely grains of sand in the ocean. So, wouldn't one expect our reporters to show a little curiosity? Silly question, perhaps: mainstream reporters don't like where that trail leads. Also, to be fair, most of them are not smart enough to understand it.

Full post here

Posted via email from Garth's posterous

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