[MCN] Missoulian's 3 articles on housing in today's issue

Lance Olsen lance at wildrockies.org
Sun Sep 4 12:06:24 EDT 2016

Housing in America
Nightmare on Main Street
America's housing system was at the centre of the last crisis. It has 
still not been properly reformed


WHAT are the most dysfunctional parts of the global financial system? 
China's banking industry, you might say, with its great wall of bad 
debts and state-sponsored cronyism. Or the euro zone's taped-together 
single currency, which stretches across 19 different countries, each 
with its own debts and frail financial firms. Both are worrying. But 
if sheer size is your yardstick, nothing beats America's housing 

The slab of mortgage debt lurking beneath it is the planet's biggest 
concentration of financial risk. 

Faced with this gigantic muddle, many politicians and regulators just 
shrug. The system is mad, but the thicket of rules and vigilant 
regulators will prevent crazy lending from taking place, they argue.

That seems wildly optimistic. Because housing is seen as one of the 
few ways in which less-well-off Americans can accumulate wealth, 
there is an inbuilt political pressure to loosen lending standards. 
As a result, housing crises are a recurring feature of American life. 
Before the subprime debacle in 2008-10, there was the 
savings-and-loans fiasco in the 1980s.

It is no surprise that Congress has shirked its duty. But until 
America's mortgage monster is brought to heel, the task of making 
finance safer will remain only half-done.
"The gap between high- and low-income families has widened steadily 
since about 1980, hitting a new high every year since 1985. "

Business Week, November 21, 1994, p. 72.

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