View Full Version : “Who's Behind the Financial Meltdown?

Ed Jewett
08-27-2009, 06:28 PM
I recently signed up for the newsletter from the Center for Public Integrity (what a novel idea), and this morning, it brought me a report from back in early May entitled “Who's Behind the Financial Meltdown?” http://www.publicintegrity.org/investigations/economic_meltdown/ .

I haven't even begun to read it, so have at it and let me know your own analysis by posting in this thread.

I note that it contains five articles:


You Broke It, You Fix It? (http://www.publicintegrity.org/investigations/economic_meltdown/articles/entry/1629/)
The Roots of the Financial Crisis: Who Is to Blame? (http://www.publicintegrity.org/investigations/economic_meltdown/articles/entry/1286/)
Predatory Lending: A Decade of Warnings (http://www.publicintegrity.org/investigations/economic_meltdown/articles/entry/1309/)
Meltdown 101 (http://www.publicintegrity.org/investigations/economic_meltdown/articles/entry/1306/)
Commentary: The Mega-Banks Behind the Meltdown (http://www.publicintegrity.org/investigations/economic_meltdown/articles/entry/1343/)

Here's the front page text:

“The top subprime lenders whose loans are largely blamed for triggering the global economic meltdown were owned or backed by giant banks now collecting billions of dollars in bailout money — including several that have paid huge fines to settle predatory lending charges. The banks that funded the subprime industry were not victims of an unforeseen financial collapse, as they have sometimes portrayed themselves, but enablers that bankrolled the type of lending threatening the financial system. These are among the findings that emerged from the Center for Public Integrity’s analysis of government data on nearly 7.2 million “high-interest” or subprime loans made from 2005 through 2007, a period that marks the peak and collapse of the subprime boom. The computer-assisted analysis also revealed The Subprime 25 — the top 25 originators of the high-interest loans, accounting for nearly $1 trillion and about 72 percent of industry-reported subprime loans during that period.
U.S. and European banks poured huge sums into the subprime lending market due to unceasing demand for high-yield, high-risk bonds backed by home mortgages. The banks — including household names like Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Citigroup, Credit Suisse First Boston, and Goldman Sachs & Co — made huge profits while their executives collected handsome bonuses until the bottom fell out of the real estate market.
According to the analysis:

At least 21 of the top 25 subprime lenders were financed by banks that received bailout money — through direct ownership, credit agreements, or huge purchases of loans for securitization.

Nine of the top 10 lenders were based in California, including all of the top five — Countrywide Financial Corp., Ameriquest Mortgage Co., New Century Financial Corp., First Franklin Corp., and Long Beach Mortgage Co.

Twenty of the top 25 subprime lenders have closed, stopped lending, or been sold to avoid bankruptcy. Most were non-bank lenders.

Eleven of the lenders on the list, including four recipients of bank bailout funds, have made payments to settle claims of widespread lending abuses.