The Real Housing Market Crash Villains
Editor’s note: This column was coauthored by Stephen Moore.
I’m going to reveal the grand secret to getting rich by investing. It’s a simple formula that has worked for Warren Buffett, Carl Icahn and all the greatest investment gurus over the years. Ready?
Buy low, sell high.
It turns out that Donald Trump has been very good at buying low and selling high, and it helps account for his amazing business success.
Now Hillary Clinton seems to think it’s a crime. Campaigning in California last week she’s wailed that Mr. Trump “actually said he was hoping for the crash that caused hard working families in California and across America to lose their homes, all because he thought he could take advantage of it to make some money for himself.” She’s assailing Mr. Trump for being a good businessman — something she would know almost nothing about because she’s never actually run a business, though she did miraculously turn $1,000 into $1 million in the cattle futures market many years ago. Her new TV ads say that Mr. Trump predicted the real estate crash in 2006 (good call) and then bought real estate at low prices when the housing crash came in 2008 that few others foresaw. Most builders went out of business during the real estate crash, Mr. Trump read the market perfectly and profited off of others stupidity and greed.
What is so hypocritical about the Clinton attacks is that it wasn’t Trump, but Hillary, her husband, and many of her biggest supporters who were the real culprits here.
Before Hillary is able to rewrite this history, let’s look at the many ways the Clintons and cronies contributed to the Great Recession.
The seeds of the mortgage meltdown were planted during Bill Clinton’s presidency.
Under Bill Clinton’s HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo, Community Reinvestment Act regulators gave banks higher ratings for home loans made in “credit-deprived” areas. Banks were effectively rewarded for throwing out sound underwriting standards and writing loans to those who were at high risk of defaulting. If banks didn’t comply with these rules, regulators reined in their ability to expand lending and deposits.
Next the Clinton administration’s rules ordered the taxpayer-backed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to expand their quotas of risky loans from 30 percent of portfolio to 50 percent as part of a big push to expand homeownership. Fannie and Freddie were securitizing these home loans and offering 100 percent taxpayer guarantees of repayment. So now taxpayers were on the hook for these risky, low down payment loans. When people like Donald Trump started blowing the whistle on the resulting mortgage bubble, they were shouted down as fear mongers.
On Wednesday night, former House Financial Services Committee chairman backed up Hillary on MSNBC by denouncing Mr. Trump as “devious” for what exactly? Calling the market right. But more than anyone it was Mr. Trump who lit the fire. In 2006 Barney Frank said at a hearing that when it came to the housing market he wanted to “roll the dice a little bit more” and ease off of the safety regulations. Can you imagine if a Republican had said that? By the way, he did roll the dice and they came up snake eyes. The market crashed thanks to his gambling with taxpayers money. Thanks Barney.
Then there was Hillary’s direct complicity in throwing kindling on this fire. When George W. Bush tried to roll back taxpayer exposure to a housing crash via Fannie and Freddie, guess what two senators joined a filibuster of the Bush initiative? Yep … those saviors of the working class, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. They went to bat for the housing industry and voted to allow taxpayer exposure to escalate.
Three years later the taxpayers had to write a check for $187 billion to rescue the insolvent Fannie and Freddie. This was the largest bailout in history. Thank you, Hillary.
But you haven’t heard the worst yet. While Hillary was propping up Fannie and Freddie she was taking contributions from their foundations. Here is how a Washington Times investigative report concluded:
“Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae’s political action committee and individuals linked to the companies donated $75,500 to Mrs. Clinton’s senatorial campaign — making her the fourth-largest recipient in Congress of the mortgage firms’ total donations in the years 1989 to 2008 behind Mr. Obama, Mr. Kerry, now secretary of state, and Mr. Dodd, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan group that studies campaign finance and political influence in Washington.”
It gets better — er, worse. The embattled Clinton Foundation received a $50,000 contribution from Freddie Mac, according to the Times.
To my knowledge, she never returned the money when Fannie and Freddie went belly up. Effectively the Clinton Foundation got taxpayer bailout money through a circuitous route.
In many circles this is called graft. Maybe these are the kinds of pay to play schemes Hillary was deleting from her email server. Alas, we will never know.
To be clear, there was plenty of blame to go around among both parties and the horde of housing lobbyists who helped set up this real estate house of cards. Everybody involved seemed to get caught up in the sordid insider scheming that went on during the get-rich-quick days of the housing frenzy. At a bare minimum, Hillary was merely an enabler — one-half step ahead of the law, as she always seems to be.
It may be that none of this was illegal, but it is certainly is, well crooked.
Donald Trump wasn’t the housing meltdown profiteer and buying low and selling high isn’t something to apologize for. Getting rich off government is.
The scary thing is this same Clinton gang wants the keys to the kingdom again (will Barney Frank be her Housing secretary?) for another round of looting. God forbid.