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你能承受接管“两房”的真相吗?

发布者: chrislau2001 | 发布时间: 2008-9-12 12:56| 查看数: 2262| 评论数: 1|

You Can't Handle The Fannie/Freddie Truth



As predicted, my Sunday column that praised the Treasury's takeover of Fannie Mae (FNM) and Freddie Mac (FRE) incited outrage from many readers.

Typical comments? 'A horrible deal for Americans.' 'A sad day for America.' 'Pity the taxpayer.' 'Appeasement for China.' 'It's time for a taxpayer revolt.'

As for who's to blame? Anybody and everybody. Congress, Wall Street, Greenspan, Bush, Clinton, Hank Paulson, Freddie's and Fannie's CEOs and the Chinese.

Of course, there is plenty of blame to go around. But let's not just point fingers. It is time to take a hard look in the mirror and see where the blame really lies.

- Truth No. 1: Congress gives the people what they want.

Fannie and Freddie are government-chartered institutions supported by a Congress that answers to you. But how much do you know or care about where politicians stand on Fannie and Freddie? Did your Congressman and Senators accept campaign contributions from the GSEs? Did they fight efforts at overhauling the GSEs over the years?

Odds are you don't know. But odds also are that your Washington representatives were in the crowded ranks of Fannie and Freddie's boosters. Why? Because Fannie and Freddie gave you, the American citizen, what you wanted: cheap home mortgages backed by the U.S. government.

Today, you may say, 'Oh, but I don't want to bail out Fannie and Freddie.' And you may shout it to your Congressman. But it is too late. Fannie and Freddie will soon run out of money. And you-as guarantor for their $5 trillion in debt-are the piggy bank.

- Truth No. 2: Wall Street helps people get what they want.

It is easy to conjure up visions of Wall Street money-men huddled at a country club concocting the real-estate bubble. The truth isn't so neat.

Certainly, Wall Street benefited from the mortgage securities boom of the past 20 years. And Wall Street bankers undoubtedly were instrumental in hyping the subprime and Alt A mortgage markets.

But Wall Street alone can't cook up a speculative housing frenzy. That requires lots of ingredients, like a loose Federal Reserve, reckless homebuilders and lax mortgage lenders. Throw in Fannie and Freddie-and you're getting there.

But of course, the key ingredient is you. Without millions and millions of eager American home buyers, sellers and traders, there would never have been a housing bubble.

Of course, you personally may not have lied on a mortgage application. You may not have gambled on a risky adjustable mortgage. You may not have bought a handful of condos in Las Vegas or Miami. But plenty of your fellow Americans did.

In fact, too many did. But did you ever question why home prices in your area were rising 20% or 30% a year?

- Truth No. 3: Hank Paulson did the only thing he could.

You might like to think that there was an alternative to 'conservatorship,' but there really wasn't. Put yourself in the shoes of the Treasury secretary.

PIMCO bond boss Bill Gross goes public with a boycott of Fannie and Freddie paper. The global creditors of your multitrillion dollar mortgage market start to walk away. What would you do if your lenders stopped lending?

A Chapter 11-style bankruptcy was one alternative. Wipe out the equity holders. Force the Fannie and Freddie debt holders to take a haircut and convert their debt into equity. Let the American taxpayer off the hook.

But this would have amounted to a U.S. government default and financial Armageddon. Creditors would run screaming from our indebted nation at the speed of light. And the unhappy taxpayer would be even more unhappy. He would have to finance all the debt of the U.S., not just those of Fannie and Freddie.

- Truth No. 4: We are all to blame.

Why is the U.S. a debtor nation?

Because we like to be. We seem to like things we really can't pay for. Material things like cars that burn too much gas and houses that cost too much money. And huge programs like Social Security and Medicare that put us deeper in debt.

But how many Americans would vote for the politician that promises to curtail or end such programs? Or vote for the politician who argues that not every American is deserving of a mortgage and their own home?

Would we believe the real-estate broker who tells us a house was overpriced? Or the banker who says we should take a smaller fixed-rate mortgage even though we qualified for a bigger and cheaper ARM?

This is the truth we as Americans can't handle. We believe what we want to believe. In the end, we are all to blame.

Evan Newmark


最新评论

chrislau2001 发表于 2008-9-12 12:56:45
正如我所料,我周日那篇表扬财政部接管房利美(Fannie Mae)和房地美(Freddie Mac)的专栏惹怒了许多读者。

看看一些典型的评论吧:“对美国人来说一笔糟糕的交易”、“对美国来说悲哀的一天”、“可 的纳税人”、“对中国的绥靖”、“是纳税人造反的时候了”。

该怪谁呢?怕是人人都脱不了干系。国会、华尔街、格林斯潘、布什、克林顿、鲍尔森、“两房”首席执行长,还有中国人。

当然,要怪的人实在太多了。但让我们别再互相埋怨,是时候认真反思、找出真正的问题到底出在谁身上了。

真相一:国会给了人们想要的东西。

“两房”是有政府背景的金融机构,而支持它们的国会是向你们汇报的。可是对于政客们在“两房”中扮演的角色,你知道多少?又在意多少?你们的国会议员在竞选时接受过政府资助企业(GSE)的捐献吗?这些年来他们是否反对过全面改革GSE的举措?

你很可能不知道答案。不过你在华盛顿的议会代表很可能是“两房”后援大军中的一员。为什么?因为房利美和房地美给了你──美国公民──想要的:有美国政府支持的廉价住房抵押贷款。

今天你或许会说,“噢,可我不想拯救房利美和房地美。”说不定你还会朝国会议员大声嚷嚷这样的话。不过,太迟了。“两房”很快就会陷入无钱可用的境地,而你──作为它们5万亿美元债券的担保人──就是存钱罐。

真相二:华尔街帮人们得到了想要的东西。

你的脑中很容易浮现出这样一幅画面:华尔街金融家们聚在一所乡村俱乐部里,共同策划房产泡沫。事情其实没那么简单。

当然,过去二十年间华尔街曾经受益于抵押证券的繁荣。华尔街银行家对活跃次级抵押贷款及Alt A抵押市场无疑起到了“功不可没”的作用。

不过单凭华尔街一己之力无法在住房市场烹制出一桌投机性狂热“大餐”。这需要很多“配料”,比如银根松动的美联储、不计后果的建房商以及贷款标准松懈的抵押贷款放贷商。再加入“两房”这一味调料,大餐就出锅了。

当然了,关键的一味原料是你自己。如果没有成百上千万狂热的美国人买房、卖房、倒房,也决不会有什么房产泡沫。

你自己在申请抵押贷款时可能不会说谎,可能也不会押宝去赌一把极具风险性的可调息按揭,也不太可能在拉斯维加斯和迈阿密购置好几处公寓。可是,你的好多美国同胞这么做了。

实际上,是太多人这么做了。那你有没有质疑过为什么你所在地区的房价一年内涨了20%甚至是30%呢?

真相三:鲍尔森只是做了他能做的事。

你可能会想除了接管应该还有别的办法,但真的没有了。如果你是财政部长,站在他的位置上想想。

太平洋投资管理公司(PIMCO)的老板格罗斯(Bill Gross)对“两房”债券的抵制态度已不是秘密。价值数万亿美元按揭市场的全球债权人开始退避三舍。如果你的贷款人不再放贷,你会怎么办?

走一种类似破产保护的程序是替代方案之一。不要“两房”的股东了,让它们的债券持有人将债券折价转换成股份。美国纳税人就脱了干系。

但这么做会加重美国政府的违约负担,加深金融困境。债权人会大喊着以光速逃离我们债台高筑的国家。那些原本郁闷的纳税人会更加郁闷。他们得为美国的全部债务提供资金,而不单单只是“两房”的债务。

真相四:人人都有错。

美国为什么是一个债务国?

因为我们愿意。我们似乎喜欢那些自己其实买不起的东西。耗油的汽车、高档住房,还有社会保证、老年医疗保险这些令我们愈加负债累累的庞大计划。

可要是一位政治家承诺缩减或是不再实施这些计划,又有多少选民愿意投票给他呢?或者愿意把票投给声称并不是每个美国人都理应获得按揭贷款并拥有自己房屋的政治家?

对于告诉我们房价被高估的房产经纪人,我们应该信任吗?尽管我们有资格申请贷款金额更高、利息更低的浮息按揭,但银行家建议我们申请小额定息按揭,信他吗?

这是我们作为美国人所无法应对的真相。我们只相信那些我们想要相信的事情。说到底,我们人人都有错。

Evan Newmark
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