March 27, 2008

Gretchen Morgenson on the Subprime Mortgage Mess

By Jack Kemp (not the politician):

Tonight I heard NY Times business reporter and Pulitzer Prize winner (for general reporting) Gretchen Morgenson talk about the subprime mess at a meeting of the NY Investors Business Daily Meetup Group. Depending on your point of view, I was either lucky to hear such a good writer and speaker - or unlucky to not hear a pompous gaffe by someone like Maureen Dowd or Frank Rich.
 
Previous to attending, I read an article of hers from her website and frankly, I think she deserved the Pulitzer. What she said wasn't that new, not worth writing up for a news site. She did emphasize the irresponsibility of Wall St. investment houses and hedge funds - and the passivity of the regulatory agencies "overseeing" them. After she said that banks are now short of capital, I did ask her about the government's role in soaking up liquidity with their ballooning expenses for an aging populations' Medicare and Social Security bills, and she nodded in agreement. She also answered a question calling for another layer of government regulation by stating it was just as corruptible as the current layers. Frankly, I was impressed with her.

Concerning the way the government and press puts out phony figures, a questioner got Ms. Morgenson to state that the so called 4 percent subprime home loans at risk is a total figure, but 40 percent of US homes have no mortgage, so the figure is really part of the remaining 60 percent of homes with mortgages. That works out to about just under 7 percent of US home loans being at risk subprime loans.
 
Jack

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