Marketplace Scratch Pad

Subprime myths

Paddy Hirsch Jul 23, 2009

Yuliya Demyanyk has published an intriguing piece on the Cleveland Fed website. Ten Myths about Subprime Mortgages, it’s called.

Demyanyk is a senior research economist in the Research Department at the Cleveland Fed.

My first thought on reading this – what? I can’t blame greedy buy-to-let vultures or deadbeat homeowners or people who used their houses like ATMs anymore?

The way Demyanyk puts it, the financial crisis was simmering for years, many years, and developed more like a cancer than a bullet to the stomach (painful, but slow, the novels of Gerald Seymour assure me).

But read a little further and it seems I can blame someone. Except that I have to blame everyone. Including me. As she puts it,

…the causes of the subprime mortgage crisis and its magnitude were more complicated than mortgage interest rate resets, declining underwriting standards, or declining home values. The crisis had been building for years before showing any signs. It was feeding off the lending, securitization, leveraging, and housing booms.

She’s got me there. I didn’t see it coming.

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