More than four years ago, President Obama assumed office promising dramatic reform to the housing market.
After all, it was the housing market that triggered the financial crisis, and the vast proliferation of low-quality loans that had fueled the housing bubble, state a piece in today’s The Atlantic.
“But politics delayed those reforms, and now the president is reopening the issue with a call to wind down the two main federal mortgage agencies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. “For too long, these companies were allowed to make big profits buying mortgages, knowing that if their bets went bad, taxpayers would be left holding the bag,” the president said this week. “It was ‘heads we win, tails you lose.'”
“Well, not entirely. The U.S. government and taxpayers did rescue these agencies in 2009 (to the tune of nearly $200 billion), and, after injecting them with capital and essentially nationalizing them, these companies started to turn a profit as the housing market slowly recovered. This month, they contributed more than $15 billion to the U.S. Treasury, and have been one factor in sharply reducing government deficits.
“Even more, Obama’s targeting of Fannie and Freddie is part of a larger narrative — on both the left and the right — that banks and government colluded to produce the financial crisis and the continuing drag on the United States. To be fair, Obama in the same speech this week acknowledged that much of the housing crisis was the product of “banks and the government…[making] everyone feel like they had to own a home, even if they weren’t ready and didn’t have the payment.” But that chord is a decidedly minor one in a general atmosphere of blame. Continue reading “The “Ownership Society” downside”
George H.W. Bush seems to be getting better, although remaining in intensive care at a Houston hospital. Nevertheless, a respected German magazine seems to think otherwise, the obituary published was not all that flattering
Germany’s respected news weekly Der Spiegel mistakenly
published an obituary Sunday for former U.S. President George H.W. Bush, hours after a family spokesman said the 88-year-old was recovering from illness,” reported Yahoo!News.
“Bush was hospitalized in Houston Nov. 23 for treatment of a bronchitis-related cough and moved to intensive care on Dec. 23 after he developed a fever. On Saturday, spokesman Jim McGrath said Bush was moved out of intensive care into a regular hospital room again after his condition improved.
“The unfinished obituary appeared on Der Spiegel’s website for only a few minutes Sunday before it was spotted by Internet users and removed.
“In it, the magazine’s New York correspondent described Bush as ‘a colorless politician’ whose image only improved when it was compared to the later presidency of his son, George W. Bush.
“’All newsrooms prepare obituaries for selected figures,’ the magazine said on its Twitter feed. “The fact that the one for Bush senior went live was a technical mistake. Sorry!”
Historian Morris Berman began writing his trilogy before the 2000 election, 9/11, the Iraq War, and the Bush economy––subsequently producing the books The Twilight of American Culture and Dark Ages America. As we all know, the picture hasn’t been pretty for much of the last decade and Berman has remained one of the most astute commentators on the tortured journey of a nation that once stood for more than greed and political paranoia. Berman’s new book, Why America Failed, is reviewed in the current issue of TruthOut in an extensive essay by David Masciotra entitled “America: What Happened?,” Summarizing Berman’s points, Masciotra lists four key themes:
1. Accelerating social and economic inequality .
2. Declining marginal returns with regard to investment in organizational solutions to socioeconomic problems or, in other words, the political system becomes dysfunctional .
3. Rapidly dropping levels of literacy, critical understanding and general intellectual awareness.
4. Spiritual death, what Berman calls the “emptying out of cultural content and the freezing of it in formulas, kitsch.”