Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Horses' . . . Mouths

What they said:

House Financial Services Committee hearing, Sept. 10, 2003:

Rep. Barney Frank (D., Mass.): I worry, frankly, that there's a tension here. The more people, in my judgment, exaggerate a threat of safety and soundness, the more people conjure up the possibility of serious financial losses to the Treasury, which I do not see. I think we see entities that are fundamentally sound financially and withstand some of the disaster scenarios . . . . Secretary Martinez, if it ain't broke, why do you want to fix it? Have the GSEs [government-sponsored enterprises] ever missed their housing goals?

House Financial Services Committee hearing, Sept. 25, 2003:

Rep. Frank: I do think I do not want the same kind of focus on safety and soundness that we have in OCC [Office of the Comptroller of the Currency] and OTS [Office of Thrift Supervision]. I want to roll the dice a little bit more in this situation towards subsidized housing . . . .

Senate Banking Committee, Oct. 16, 2003:

Sen. Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.): And my worry is that we're using the recent safety and soundness concerns, particularly with Freddie, and with a poor regulator, as a straw man to curtail Fannie and Freddie's mission. And I don't think there is any doubt that there are some in the administration who don't believe in Fannie and Freddie altogether, say let the private sector do it. That would be sort of an ideological position.

Senate Banking Committee, Feb. 24-25, 2004:

Sen. Thomas Carper (D., Del.): What is the wrong that we're trying to right here? What is the potential harm that we're trying to avert? 

Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan: Well, I think that that is a very good question, senator.  What we're trying to avert is we have in our financial system right now two very large and growing financial institutions which are very effective and are essentially capable of gaining market shares in a very major market to a large extent as a consequence of what is perceived to be a subsidy that prevents the markets from adjusting appropriately, prevents competition and the normal adjustment processes that we see on a day-by-day basis from functioning in a way that creates stability . . . . And so what we have is a structure here in which a very rapidly growing organization, holding assets and financing them by subsidized debt, is growing in a manner which really does not in and of itself contribute to either home ownership or necessarily liquidity or other aspects of the financial markets . . . .

Sen. Christopher Dodd (D., Conn.): I, just briefly will say, Mr. Chairman, obviously, like most of us here, this is one of the great success stories of all time. And we don't want to lose sight of that and [what] has been pointed out by all of our witnesses here, obviously, the 70% of Americans who own their own homes today, in no small measure, due because of the work that's been done here. And that shouldn't be lost in this debate and discussion. . . .

Senate Banking Committee, June 15, 2006:

Sen. Robert Bennett (R., Utah): I think we do need a strong regulator. I think we do need a piece of legislation. But I think we do need also to be careful that we don't overreact.  I know the press, particularly, keeps saying this is another Enron, which it clearly is not. Fannie Mae has taken its lumps. Fannie Mae is paying a very large fine. Fannie Mae is under a very, very strong microscope, which it needs to be . . . . So let's not do nothing, and at the same time, let's not overreact . . .

Sen. Jack Reed (D., R.I.): I think a lot of people are being opportunistic . . . throwing out the baby with the bathwater, saying, "Let's dramatically restructure Fannie and Freddie," when that is not what's called for as a result of what's happened here . . . .

Sen. Chuck Hagel (R., Neb.): Mr. Chairman, what we're dealing with is an astounding failure of management and board responsibility, driven clearly by self interest and greed. And when we reference this issue in the context of -- the best we can say is, "It's no Enron." Now, that's a hell of a high standard.

1 comment:

  1. Barney sure doesn't come across as a good Socialist, does he? We would all be better off if we could rely on everyone, both those on "our" side and those with whom we disagree, to stick to their principles. It would provide more safeguards against over-enthusiasm for a particular result, heedless of the risks.


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