The best book on the crash is as yet only published in Swedish, in July the English version will be available. ”“A perfect storm: How the State, the Capital, you and I sunk the world economy.”
The author is Johan Norberg, author of ”In Defence of Global Capitalism” and the foremost debunker of Naomi Klein’s lies and myths in ”The Schock Doctrine- The Rise of Disaster Capitalism”. His rebuttal in the article ”The Klein Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Polemics”
”In my [Johan Norberg] book “A perfect storm: How the State, the Capital, you and I sunk the world economy (Hydra publishers) I explain how consumers, home buyers, banks and mortgage institutions created an unsustainable housing and credit bubble. But the most provocative for left-wing economist Lars Pålsson Syll is that I also show that it was the politicians, central banks and financial authorities that created the entire environment that stimulated most of these aberrations.
Let me briefly describe some of the key facts:
1) Monetary policy: To avoid a crisis after the IT bubble and the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 the U.S. Federal Reserve lowered key interest rate from 6.25 to 1.75 percent in 2001, then lowered it further to 1 percent in June 2003 and kept it there for a full year before it began to gently raise it. It was so cheap to borrow, new money poured into the U.S. housing sector, prices doubled in five years.
2) Capital Imports: China and a number of other major emerging economies would not allow the market to control the exchange rates and suppressed domestic consumption by political means. Instead, exported capital on a massive scale to the U.S.,that further drove down interest rates and inflated the credit bubble even more.
3) Housing: Even when fighting one another both Republican and Democratic politicians argued that more and more people should own their homes. This was put into effect by a battery of rebates, subsidies, mortgages and diverse guarantees. Both the Clinton and Bush administration tried to ensure that more and more loans were given to people who the market did not previously regard as creditworthy.
The single most important factor was the huge, government-sponsored mortgage institutions Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. In 2004, when the bubble expanded at its worst, the Bush administration mandated that the proportion of loans that should go to low-income earners should be increased from 50 to 56 percent.
4) Housing Bonds: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac launched synthetic mortgage backed securities, which contained elements of several hundred loans, which in its turn were resold to investors. Wall Street banks became increasingly interested in these risky products when credit rating agencies Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s and Fitch said they were almost risk free.
But these institutions became deceptive to accommodate well paying clients. They could get away with it and still maintain their position because they had been given a monopoly by public regulators – banks was forced to have more capital if they purchased securities that had received poor ratings these institutions and many mutual and pension funds were by regulators banned from buying any at all, so everyone who wanted sell securities had to go to the major credit rating agencies. No matter how badly they misbehaved, they had retained their monopoly.”