Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Bring it on

US Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson --

The events leading us here began many years ago, starting with bad lending practices by banks and financial institutions, and by borrowers taking out mortgages they couldn't afford.

US Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke --

Ongoing developments in financial markets are directly affecting the broader economy through several channels, most notably by restricting the availability of credit. Mortgage credit terms have tightened significantly and fees have risen, especially for potential borrowers who lack substantial down payments or who have blemished credit histories. Mortgages that are ineligible for credit guarantees by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac--for example, nonconforming jumbo mortgages--cannot be securitized and thus carry much higher interest rates than conforming mortgages. Some lenders have reduced borrowing limits on home equity lines of credit. Households also appear to be having more difficulty of late in obtaining nonmortgage credit ... In the business sector, through August, the financially strongest firms remained able to issue bonds but bond issuance by speculative-grade firms remained very light. More recently, however, deteriorating financial market conditions have disrupted the commercial paper market and other forms of financing for a wide range of firms, including investment-grade firms. Financing for commercial real estate projects has also tightened very significantly.

If your crisis diagnosis is that too many people got loans, isn't it part of the crisis resolution that fewer people, er, get loans? It's as if there's something they're not telling us.

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