The Rise and Fall of the US Mortgage and Credit Marketsby James Barth, Tong Li, Wenling Lu, Triphon Phumiwasana
For decades, the home mortgage market successfully extended credit to more and more families, enabling millions of Americans to own their own homes. In recent years, however, it became ever more apparent that credit was expanding too rapidly and too many market participants were becoming dangerously leveraged. What began as healthy growth in mortgage originations… See more details below
For decades, the home mortgage market successfully extended credit to more and more families, enabling millions of Americans to own their own homes. In recent years, however, it became ever more apparent that credit was expanding too rapidly and too many market participants were becoming dangerously leveraged. What began as healthy growth in mortgage originations and housing starts swiftly became a home price bubble. When home prices did come plunging back to earth, the damage quickly spread far beyond the scope of the actual mortgage defaults and foreclosures. Even solid companies with no connection to the real estate and finance sectors were affected as credit markets seized up. How did this happen—and what can we do about it now?
In The Rise and Fall of the U.S. Mortgage and Credit Markets, James Barth, with the assistance of his colleagues at the Milken Institute, analyzes in detail the mortgage meltdown and the resulting worldwide financial crisis. He explains how Main Street and Wall Street alike took on too much risk and too much debt in their quest for gains, setting the crisis in motion.
In straightforward terms, he tells what subprime mortgages are, who subprime borrowers are, and how securitization—packaging loans into complex securities and selling them in the secondary market—expanded the mortgage market, but also opened the door to a shifting of risk. Barth also assesses what went wrong in every other critical area, including loan origination practices, regulation and supervision, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, leverage and accounting practices, and, of course, the rating agencies.
The author explains the steps the government has taken thus far and suggests that those actions have been piecemeal—and largely reactive, rather than proactive. He argues that we have yet to address the bigger and more long-term issue of how to reform the structure of regulation and supervision to prevent a similar crisis from happening again. Barth also offers his own thoughts on the factors that should drive reform and explores several important issues that policymakers must address in any future reshaping of financial market regulations.
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Meet the Author
James R. Barth is a Senior Fellow at the Milken Institute and the Lowder Eminent Scholar in Finance at Auburn University. His research focuses on financial institutions and capital markets, both domestic and global, with special emphasis on regulatory issues. Barth was an appointee of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush as chief economist of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board and later of the Office of Thrift Supervision. He has authored more than 200 articles in professional journals and has written and edited several books, including The Great Savings and Loan Debacle, The Reform of Federal Deposit Insurance, and Rethinking Bank Regulation: Till Angels Govern. Barth has been quoted in publications ranging from the New York Times to the Wall Street Journal and has appeared on broadcast programs including The McNeil/Lehrer NewsHour, Good Morning America, Moneyline, and CNBC's Closing Bell.
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