People get a home loan, or mortgage, to buy a house. The bank lends money, with the house as collateral, which is to be paid back over time with interest. This is considered an "asset" to the bank: a mortgage asset.
Mortgage assets can be sold to other banks and to investment banks. Investment banks can turn groups of mortgage assets into securities called Mortgage Backed Securities, or MBS. Groups of these MBS can be turned into Collateralized Mortgage Obligations, or CMO. CMOs are put into risk categories and put into Tranches. Something called Credit Default Swaps can be bought, which are like insurance on credit backed assets in case they fail.
In 1977 Jimmy Carter passed the Community Reinvestment Act, or CRA. CRA loans are risky loans. Banks were compelled to make loans they normally wouldn't, violating free market principles. The leftist organization ACORN began harrassing banks, threatening lawsuits under CRA and even harrasing bankers at their homes to make them issue more and more bad loans, sub-prime mortgages. (This is the same ACORN that Barack Obama worked with, and had voter registration fraud charges nationwide.) The free market was unnaturally influenced.
Fannie May and Freddie Mac buy mortages. They were directed to buy more and more sub-prime mortgages, under the arguably noble idea of helping minorities and poor people get into houses.
Fannie May paid big contributions to politicians who should have regulated them: the biggest recipient was Democrat Chris Dodd, who received contributions totaling $165,000.
In 2005, Senator Christopher Dodd, and all the Democrats on the Banking Committee blocked legislation to regulate Fannie and Freddie.
Senate Republicans introduced a bill in 2006 to regulate, but Democrats voted against.
The second biggest recipient of contributions from Fannie was Barack Obama, who received $126,000.
Republicans have also received contributions, Robert Bennett received $108,000 and John McCain received $21,550.
In 2006, John McCain co-sponsored a bill to address the problem and gave a warning. In a party line vote all the democrats voted against the bill.
In 2004, Democrat Franklin Raines steps down as CEO of Fannie May for bad accounting practices. Franklin Raines was appointed by Bill Clinton. Fannie May had been cooking the books. Raines walked away with $90 million.
Freddie Mac and Fannie May buying up sub-prime mortgages increased the demand for them, causing banks to make even more. Fannie and Freddie are GSEs, Government Sponsored Enterprises, which gave the impression that the mortages were safe. This, and the political pressure to make bad loans caused the financial markets to be flooded with bad mortgages.
A housing boom caused housing prices to increase. This was a housing bubble. Then the bubble popped and house prices went down. Some people had taken mortgages thinking that if they couldn't afford to pay it, they would just sell the house and pay off the mortgage, keeping the profit. But house values went down. In many cases the value of the house was less than the mortgage, so why pay it? And of course many people had taken mortgages they couldn't afford. People started defaulting on their mortgages, with the house being forclosed upon. Often the value of the house is less than the money lent out.
Now many banks and financial institutions have mortage assets on their balance sheets. And now some of these assets are worthless, and the value of the others cannot be determined.
I heard a good analogy: Imagine that mortgage assets are a salad ingredient. They are mixed with other ingredients to make a salad. Imagine that under each piece of lettuce you find a small piece of toxic waste. Pretty soon no one would want the salad, and everyone would stop ordering the salad.
The toxic waste is the bad mortgage assets.
Assets are required to lend. Banks and financial institutions need to get these assets off their balance sheets - but no one wants the salad.
The April, 2001, Bush Administration budget request identified GSE's like Fannie May as a potential problem.
On February 2, 2002, The Wall Street Journal editorial page warned about it.
On September 10, 2003, John Snow warned about GSEs like Fannie May. Barney Frank, on the Financial Services Committee, said that everything was OK.
Some are raising questions about Frank's relationship with Herb Moses, who was Fannie’s assistant director for product initiatives. Moses worked at the government-sponsored enterprise from 1991 to 1998, while Frank was on the House Banking Committee, which had jurisdiction over Fannie.
Lawmaker Accused of Fannie Mae Conflict of Interest
Frank met Moses in 1987, the same year he became the first openly gay member of Congress. The two lived together in a Washington home until they broke up in 1998, a few months after Moses ended his seven-year tenure at Fannie Mae, where he was the assistant director of product initiatives. According to National Mortgage News, Moses "helped develop many of Fannie Mae’s affordable housing and home improvement lending programs." Critics say such programs led to the mortgage meltdown.
Who is Herb Moses?
Media Mum on Barney Frank's Fannie Mae Love Connection
In 2004, Clinton appointee Franklin Raines steps down as CEO of Fannie May for cooking the books.
On February 24, 2004, Alan Greenspan spoke and gave a warning about problems with Fannie May.
On April 7, 2005, Democrat Chuck Schumer says everything is OK.
In 2005, Chris Dodd and all the Democrats on the Banking Committee block legislation to regulate Fannie and Freddie.
In 2008, Bear Stearns failed. The government bought $29 million of mortgage assets and J.P. Morgan bought Bear Stearns.
In July, 2008, Barney Frank said that Fannie May had problems, but would be OK going forward.
On July 11, 2008, IndyMac bank fails.
On September 7, 2008, Fannie May and Freddie Mac are bailed out at a max taxpayer cost of $200 billion.
A week later Merril Lynch is bought by Bank Of America, and Lehman Brothers goes bankrupt.
On September 16, 2008, the Federal Reserve Bank saves AIG at a cost of $85 billion. On October 8 they get $37 billion more.
On September 17, 2008, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs stocks plummet.
On September 21, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson introduces his bailout plan, $700 billion to give the treasury power to buy bad mortgages.
Congress works on a bill, and before voting on the first bailout bill which does not pass, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stands up and tries to blame the financial crisis on George W. Bush. Unbelievable.
Countrywide Loan Scandal
Countrywide's Many 'Friends'
Senators tied to special 'VIP' mortgage deals
Countrywide Friends Got Good Loans
Senators Christopher Dodd, Democrat from Connecticut and chairman of the Banking Committee, and Kent Conrad, Democrat from North Dakota, chairman of the Budget Committee and a member of the Finance Committee, received loans from Countrywide Financial through a little-known program that waived points, lender fees, and company borrowing rules for prominent people.
Chris Dodd, Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee which regulates mortgage lending, received preferential treatment from Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo in obtaining mortgage loans. He participated in a special program for "friends" of Mozilo that awarded discounts and waived fees for those friends.
Fannie Mae's former CEO, James Johnson, who had been advising presidential candidate Barack Obama on the selection of a running mate, resigned from the Obama campaign after the Wall Street Journal reported that he received Countrywide loans at below-market rates.
Mr. Johnson led Fannie Mae from 1991 to 1998. He and Countrywide's Mr. Mozilo worked together to streamline the underwriting process.
Another former CEO, Franklin Raines, received low-rate home loans from Countrywide, a large originator of higher-risk subprimes mortgages and a major seller of home loans to Fannie Mae.
Mr. Raines, who succeeded Mr. Johnson at Fannie's helm at the end of 1998, became a repeat customer of Countrywide while he was CEO.
Franklin Raines, a onetime Clinton administration budget director, left Fannie Mae amid an accounting scandal in 2004. Mr. Raines, was forced to retire from Fannie Mae in 2004 when its regulator found it had violated accounting rules in an effort to conceal fluctuations in profit and hadn't maintained adequate risk controls.
Mr. Raines's successor as Fannie Mae CEO, Daniel H. Mudd, received two mortgage loans for about $3 million each in 2001 and 2003 while he was a Fannie Mae officer.
THE REAL SCANDAL
HOW FEDS INVITED THE MORTGAGE MESS