Mark Calabria

Bailouts Leave a Legacy of Cronyism

This month’s sale by the Treasury of its remaining shares in General Motors should offer us all an opportunity to say “never again.”

Federal Homeownership Policy: Money for Nothing

Earlier this week, the Los Angeles Times ran a column repeating the simplistic notion that since homeownership is “good” then subsidies for homeownership must therefore also be “good.” Never asked, or apparently even contemplated, is the question of whether all our various homeownership subsidies actually deliver homeownership.

Who Works at the Minimum Wage?

Recent protests by fast food workers have renewed interest in the minimum wage. Often, these protests focus on the inability of an individual worker to support a family on the minimum wage. Such a question spurred McDonald’s to release a mock budget for low wage workers. McDonald’s first mistake, however, was in accepting the premise of the question.

FHA Bailout Is Inevitable, But Taxpayer Pain Is Not

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA)’s 2012 audit confirmed what has been obvious for some time: FHA is deeply underwater, with a negative economic value of $34 billion. With over $1 trillion in mortgages backed by FHA, even minor changes in the housing market could add tens of billions to that total. A taxpayer bailout is inevitable.

Obama's Unwelcome Mat

In his State of the Union address, President Obama let us know that he will be “sending this Congress a plan that gives every responsible homeowner the chance to save about $3,000 a year on their mortgage, by refinancing at historically low interest rates.”

FHA and the Foreclosures of Tomorrow

The recently released Federal Reserve White Paper on the Housing Market has received considerable attention, at least for its policy proposals.  I found one of the more interesting pieces of data in the paper to be the number of mortgages with negative equity, reproduced below (Figure 3 in the Fed paper).

Whatever the Role of Fannie and Freddie in the Financial Crisis, They Need to Go

Recent actions against Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) also produced the standard reaction by GSE apologists. The New York Times’ Joe Nocera was quick to denounce the SEC, arguing that Fannie and Freddie were late to subprime. While I agree that the SEC case is likely a weak one, that, however, is for the opposite reason than Joe supposes.

It Was those Bad Speculators That Drove the Housing Bubble...

A recent report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York examines the role of speculators in driving the housing bubble. Setting aside the fact that almost everyone who bought a house was “speculating” to some degree, the researchers focus on those who were buying homes they did not intend to live in.

Random Thoughts on Obama’s New Mortgage Plan

In case you missed it, President Obama gave a big speech out in Las Vegas about both his “jobs” plan and a new plan to help underwater borrowers re-finance their mortgage.

Fannie Mae: No Hope or Change

The Washington Post is reporting that President Obama has assigned his staff with the task of designing a new set of government guarantees behind the U.S. mortgage market. Although as the Post also reports the “approach could even preserve Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.” That’s correct. Despite their role in driving the housing bubble and the already $160 billion in taxpayer losses, President Obama appears to be considering just putting the same failed system in place. Of course, we’ll be promised that it will all work better this time.


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