Don’t Blame Wall Street
By Thomas M. Miovas, Jr.
There are a lot of people I know via FaceBook and other forums that are falling for the idea that Wall Street caused the Financial Crises by coming up with and speculating on mortgage backed securities. As they put it, Wall Street was on a speculative binge and eventually the bubble burst because they got too greedy and had to be bailed out. This is an incorrect analysis of the situation.
What caused the bubble and the speculation was the government forcing banks to deal with uncreditworthy people, who bought homes when they couldn’t afford them or signed deals with a variable interest rate thinking interest rates would remain low. Both thoughts were supposedly backed by the government via Freddie Mac and Fanny Mae, semi-government institutions that bought up mortgages to keep people buying houses they couldn’t afford. In other words, what fueled the speculation on the bundling of mortgages into securities was the government forcing there to be a bigger market than would otherwise exist in a free economy. There is nothing wrong with commodity backed securities, and nothing wrong with mortgage backed securities. But the speculation boom and then bust was caused by the government giving false promises of backing up mortgages via Freddie and Fanny. Once the mortgages were not paid back in sufficient numbers, the commodity became devalued and those mortgage backed securities became valueless as an investment tool. But, again, this was caused by the government guaranteeing those mortgages, at least in several statements made by the government, since they were forcing banks to deal with uncreditworthy individuals. Turns out it was an empty promise, so the market crashed when too many people defaulted. So, if you want to blame someone, then don’t blame the banks or Wall Street, but rather governmental interference in the economy – they caused the bubble and they didn’t stand by their promise to back those mortgages or to keep interest rates low.
Now, with that said, I do not think either the banks or Wall Street should have been bailed out when the market crashed. But again, this is governmental interference in the economy, and not a free market, so don’t blame capitalism. The closest system to what the government is trying to institute is fascism – where the government tells private businesses what to do at the point of a gun. It is not freedom and will lead to further government induced speculations as the government bails out one then another business that is doing what the government wants them to do. It is a way of the government accruing power over productive individuals. This is what people ought to be against – the regulations and the forced dealing with businesses that should fail due to making wrong decisions. So, don’t blame the banks or Wall Street for the Financial Crises – the blame rests squarely on the government that forced banks to deal with uncreditworthy individuals and then bailed out the banks and Wall Street when the market crashed. The government is in the process of shifting the blame to Wall Street, with some success, but the evil was committed by the government, not the capitalists.