Tag Archives: CRA

Obama administration pressuring banks to lower mortgage lending standards

Remember the housing bubble and the mortgage lending crisis of 2008? Well guess what – the Democrats want an encore.

Investors Business Daily explains.

Bankers warn the administration’s new “disparate impact” home-lending regulation will wreak havoc in credit markets, replacing merit standards with political correctness.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development issued the controversial new anti-discrimination rule earlier this year. Now enforced by every federal regulator dealing with banks, it has the effect of criminalizing credit standards used to qualify borrowers for home loans.

Last week, the Mortgage Bankers Association and Independent Community Bankers of America jointly filed a Supreme Court brief arguing that under the new HUD rule:

“Virtually every lender in the United States could be sued for using non-discriminatory credit standards simply because variations in economic and credit characteristics produce different credit outcomes among racial and ethnic groups.”

In their 33-page brief, filed in support of a landmark housing case pending before the court, they complain that HUD recently launched 22 separate investigations against lenders alleging that their policies of requiring minimum credit scores “had a disparate impact on minorities in violation of the Fair Housing Act.”

Dozens of similar actions have been brought against lenders by Attorney General Eric Holder. He is basing claims of bias on statistics showing differences in loan outcomes by race while ignoring racially neutral credit-risk factors that explain those differences.

Under disparate impact’s low standard of proof, the government doesn’t have to show lenders intentionally discriminated against borrowers.

For the first time in history, businesses are being ordered to justify the necessity of a certain level of return on investment given the racial impact resulting from the use of credit-score thresholds.

The mortgage trade groups argue the formalized disparate-impact rule also effectively criminalizes other legitimate business practices, including minimum down-payment requirements, sliding loan rates and the charging of brokers’ fees.

Banks today face increased litigation risk simply by complying with sensible lending standards for hedging against risk.

[…]The social engineers and race demagogues in this administration are trying to enforce a balance in financial outcomes that risks another collapse of the housing market. The Supreme Court must put an end to a scheme so reckless, unfair and unconstitutional.

Does that sound familiar? Yes. In the last recession, the government forced banks to make risky loans in order to increase home ownership. That is exactly what gave us the 2008 recession.

Excerpt:

[Democrat] Congressman [Barney] Frank, of course, blamed the financial crisis on the failure adequately to regulate the banks. In this, he is following the traditional Washington practice of blaming others for his own mistakes. For most of his career, Barney Frank was the principal advocate in Congress for using the government’s authority to force lower underwriting standards in the business of housing finance. Although he claims to have tried to reverse course as early as 2003, that was the year he made the oft-quoted remark, “I want to roll the dice a little bit more in this situation toward subsidized housing.” Rather than reversing course, he was pressing on when others were beginning to have doubts.

His most successful effort was to impose what were called “affordable housing” requirements on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 1992. Before that time, these two government sponsored enterprises (GSEs) had been required to buy only mortgages that institutional investors would buy–in other words, prime mortgages–but Frank and others thought these standards made it too difficult for low income borrowers to buy homes. The affordable housing law required Fannie and Freddie to meet government quotas when they bought loans from banks and other mortgage originators.

At first, this quota was 30%; that is, of all the loans they bought, 30% had to be made to people at or below the median income in their communities. HUD, however, was given authority to administer these quotas, and between 1992 and 2007, the quotas were raised from 30% to 50% under Clinton in 2000 and to 55% under Bush in 2007.

[…]It is certainly possible to find prime mortgages among borrowers below the median income, but when half or more of the mortgages the GSEs bought had to be made to people below that income level, it was inevitable that underwriting standards had to decline. And they did. By 2000, Fannie was offering no-downpayment loans. By 2002, Fannie and Freddie had bought well over $1 trillion of subprime and other low quality loans. Fannie and Freddie were by far the largest part of this effort, but the FHA, Federal Home Loan Banks, Veterans Administration and other agencies–all under congressional and HUD pressure–followed suit. This continued through the 1990s and 2000s until the housing bubble–created by all this government-backed spending–collapsed in 2007. As a result, in 2008, before the mortgage meltdown that triggered the crisis, there were 27 million subprime and other low quality mortgages in the US financial system. That was half of all mortgages. Of these, over 70% (19.2 million) were on the books of government agencies like Fannie and Freddie, so there is no doubt that the government created the demand for these weak loans; less than 30% (7.8 million) were held or distributed by the banks, which profited from the opportunity created by the government. When these mortgages failed in unprecedented numbers in 2008, driving down housing prices throughout the U.S., they weakened all financial institutions and caused the financial crisis.

Reduced lending standards caused the last recession, and now the same party that pushed for reduced lending standards are pushing for reduced lending standards again. Hold onto your hats, there’s a storm coming.

Democrat Barney Frank admits his role in causing the recession

First, watch this video of Barney Frank obstructing regulators and defending Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. (H/T Verum Serum)

Now look at this Boston Globe article.

Excerpt:

When US Representative Barney Frank spoke in a packed hearing room on Capitol Hill seven years ago, he did not imagine that his words would eventually haunt a reelection bid.

The issue that day in 2003 was whether mortgage backers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were fiscally strong. Frank declared with his trademark confidence that they were, accusing critics and regulators of exaggerating threats to Fannie’s and Freddie’s financial integrity. And, the Massachusetts Democrat maintained, “even if there were problems, the federal government doesn’t bail them out.’’

Now, it’s clear he was wrong on both points — and that his words have become a political liability as he fights a determined challenger to win a 16th term representing the Fourth Congressional District. Fannie and Freddie collapsed in 2008, forcing the federal government to buy $150 billion worth of stock in the enterprises and $1.36 trillion worth of mortgage-backed securities.

Frank, in his most detailed explanation to date about his actions, said in an interview he missed the warning signs because he was wearing ideological blinders. He said he had worried that Republican lawmakers and the Bush administration were going after Fannie and Freddie for their own ideological reasons and would curtail the lenders’ mission of providing affordable housing.

“I was late in seeing it, no question,’’ Frank said about the lenders’ descent into insolvency.

Republican Sean Bielat, who is trying to unseat Frank, has been hammering away at him with a website titled “Retire Barney’’ that features clips of Frank at the 2003 hearing and elsewhere. During debates this week, he called Frank “one of the leaders of the economic disaster’’ because he supported Fannie and Freddie when they were taking the risks that led to their collapse.

You can watch Barney Frank debate Sean Bielat. Bielat is 35 years old, while Frank is 70 years old and looks sleepy.

I think Barney Frank is the most responsible for the recession

Here he is in 2005 claiming that fears of a housing bubble are unfounded.

Here’s the timeline showing who wanted to regulate Fannie and Freddie, and who blocked regulation.

Here’s video from a hearing showing Democrats opposing regulations:

That’s right – Republicans wanted to regulate Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and Democrats said Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are “doing a tremendous job”.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had paid the Democrats off handsomely during multiple election cycles, but I’m sure that the Democrats’ opposition to regulations had nothing to do with those political contributions.

Here’s Barney Frank endorsing Obamacare’s public option as a way to reach single-payer health care.

If you had to blame the recession on one person, who would it be?

My pick would be the Massachusetts Democrat Congressman Barney Frank.

Here he is in 2005 claiming that fears of a housing bubble are unfounded.

Here’s the timeline showing who wanted to regulate Fannie and Freddie, and who blocked regulation.

Here’s video from a hearing showing Democrats opposing regulations:

That’s right – Republicans wanted to regulate Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and Democrats said Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are “doing a tremendous job”.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had paid the Democrats off handsomely during multiple election cycles, but I’m sure that the Democrats’ opposition to regulations had nothing to do with those political contributions.

I found these videos at Ace of Spades, thanks to ECM.

Canada’s finance minister proposes changes to mortgage lending laws

From the National Post.

Excerpt:

On Tuesday, the Department of Finance announced three changes to the standards governing government-backed mortgages, that come into force April 19. Here are a summary of the changes.

QUALIFYING FOR A FIVE-YEAR RATE

The adjustments to the mortgage framework will require mortgage insurers to ensure that new borrowers qualify for a five-year fixed rate mortgage when calculating the gross debt service and total debt service ratios. The measure is intended to protect Canadians by providing them with additional flexibility to support mortgage payments at higher interest rates in the future.

LIMIT THE MAXIMUM REFINANCING

Borrowers seeking financial flexibility can currently refinance their mortgage and increase the amount they are borrowing on the security of their home up to a limit of 95% of the value of the property. The adjustment will lower the maximum amount of the mortgage loan in a refinancing of a government-backed high-ratio mortgage loan to 90% of the value of the property, consistent with the principle that home ownership is a tool for savings.

DISCOURAGING SPECULATION

This measure will require a minimum down payment of 20% for government-backed mortgage insurance on non-owner-occupied properties purchased for speculation. At present, borrowers may purchase a residential property with a 5% down payment. The change will require a 20% down payment for small non-owner-occupied residential rental properties. Borrowers purchasing owner-occupied residential properties which also include some rental units (such as a duplex) will still be able to access government-backed mortgage insurance with a 5% down payment.

But the CEI reports that the Democrat mortgage bailouts encourage fiscal irresponsibility.

Excerpt:

Economists and real estate experts are saying that a $75 billion mortgage bailout program designed by the Obama administration has backfired and harmed the housing market…

[…]Earlier, the government pushed through billions more in other mortgage bailouts, to bail out even reckless high-income borrowers, and forced financial institutions the government took over in the name of fiscal responsibility, like Freddie Mac, to run up billions in losses bailing out irresponsible borrowers.

Banks will now be pressured to make even more risky loans. The House has approved Obama’s proposal to create the so-called Consumer Financial Protection Agency. Government pressure on banks to make loans in economically-depressed neighborhoods was a key reason for the mortgage meltdown and the financial crisis. Yet Obama’s disturbing proposal would empower the new agency to enforce the Community Reinvestment Act without regard for banks’ financial safety and soundness.  The Community Reinvestment Act was a key contributor to the financial crisis.

The mortgage crisis was also caused by the reckless government-sponsored mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and by federal affordable-housing mandates. But Obama’s proposed financial rules overhaul does absolutely nothing about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, admits Obama’s Treasury Secretary, tax cheat Timothy Geithner, even though he admits that “Fannie and Freddie were a core part of what went wrong in our system.”

Worse, the Obama Administration lifted the $400 billion limit on bailouts for Fannie and Freddie, so that they could continue to buy up junky mortgages at taxpayer expense, and showered their executives with $42 million in compensation.

Obama’s financial-regulation plan is “largely the product of extensive conversations” with two lawmakers responsible for the corrupt status quo, Chris Dodd and Barney Frank, and it expands the reach of regulations that have been used by left-wing groups to extort pay-offs from banks.

This is why we should have elected an economist like Stephen Harper.

Church loses charitable status for speaking out on abortion and homosexuality

Story from the National Post.

Excerpt:

A Calgary church has lost its charitable status in part because it spends too much of its time advocating on social issues such as abortion and marriage.

In October, the Kings Glory Fellowship Association, a non-denominational Protestant group, was told by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) that for several reasons, including a lack of clarity on how it spends it money, they could no longer issue charitable receipts.

But the letter highlighted that the group spent more than 10% of its time on “non-partisan political activities and therefore strayed into activities “outside its stated purpose.”

“We note … the members of the Board of Directors espouse strong negative vies about sensitive and controversial issues, which may also be viewed as political, such as abortion, homosexuality, divorce, etc.”

The CRA allows charitable organizations to spend some time on “political activities,” but the cutoff is 10%. A spokesman for the CRA was not immediately available to explain how the percentage of time a group spends on non-charitable works is determined.

Artur Pawlowski, the head of the Kings Glory Fellowship, said his group “has nothing to do with politics and we do not advertise for a party or a candidate. The only political activity you can connect us to is defending our right to speak.”

Mr. Pawlowski said the primary mission of his church is to feed homeless people. He said this group supplies food for about 150,000 a year, mainly to people “that no one else wants to deal with.”

“When we feed people we don’t care whether they are homosexuals or have had abortions or been divorced but we preach what the Bible says about those issues.”

This whole article is worth reading. I should note that Calgary is the most conservative city in Canada, but the CRA is a federal agency, which is filled with secular leftists who have no place in their worldview view for a right to free speech. Another reason why Canada is no longer ranked as one of the freest countries in the world for religious liberty.

UPDATE: We have a hate crimes bill in the United States so that certain things cannot be discussed, however civilly, in a public forum. There may be nothing wrong with your comment but even expressing disagreement with certain points of view is dangerous. If you take the view of the government on certain moral issues, then no would can respond to you. If you disagree with the government on certain moral issues, then you’re in trouble. So we just can’t discuss these things here, which I think was the real point of the hate crimes law.