viernes, 3 de octubre de 2008

Más sobre el culpable de la crisis


Otra vez el WSJ da evidencias de la influencia de los poderes públicos americanos en la crisis financiera norteamericana. El Congreso y otras agencias del Gobierno aprobaron legislación que forzaban a Freddie y Fannie a prestar a fondos a familias con pocos recursos. Esto alimentó la espiral de subida de precios de la vivienda y el "efecto riqueza" que elevó el consumo e hizo crecer la economía sobre bases artificiales. Y aquí estamos.

Sin embargo, los políticos norteamericanos y los diversos analistas socialdemócratas, ocultan esto y siguen diciendo que el problema es la falta de regulación. Ocultan que ha sido el exceso de regulación populista el que ha llevado a los bancos a tomar decisiones erróneas y a aumentar su riesgo de forma peligrosa como se ha visto. Y es que los políticos son insaciables y siempre quieren aumentar su cuota de poder. En todas partes cuecen habas.

El artículo del WSJ

¿Les suena a algo el final?

The Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 and low interest rates -- along with the regulatory push for more low-income homeowners -- dramatically increased the demand for housing. Between 1997 and 2005, the average price of a house in the U.S. more than doubled. It wasn't simply a speculative bubble. Much of the rise in housing prices was the result of public policies that increased the demand for housing. Without the surge in housing prices, the subprime market would have never taken off.

Fannie and Freddie played a significant role in the explosion of subprime mortgages and subprime mortgage-backed securities. Without Fannie and Freddie's implicit guarantee of government support (which turned out to be all too real), would the mortgage-backed securities market and the subprime part of it have expanded the way they did?

Perhaps. But before we conclude that markets failed, we need a careful analysis of public policy's role in creating this mess. Greedy investors obviously played a part, but investors have always been greedy, and some inevitably overreach and destroy themselves. Why did they take so many down with them this time?

Part of the answer is a political class greedy to push home-ownership rates to historic highs -- from 64% in 1994 to 69% in 2004. This was mostly the result of loans to low-income, higher-risk borrowers. Both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, abetted by Congress, trumpeted that rise as it occurred. The consequence? On top of putting the entire financial system at risk, the hidden cost has been hundreds of billions of dollars funneled into the housing market instead of more productive assets.

Beware of trying to do good with other people's money. Unfortunately, that strategy remains at the heart of the political process, and of proposed solutions to this crisis.