Sunday, September 19, 2010

Demirgüç: one of the culprits was the duo of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

In "Life After the Crisis: Where do we go from here?", World Bank Chief Economist Asli Demirgüç-Kunt says:
[...] while the recent global crisis had multiple causes, one of the culprits was the duo of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. U.S. policymakers encouraged these financial institutions to increase the availability of mortgages to borrowers with questionable ability to repay. Subsequent relaxing of standards, the increase in home prices due to a larger pool of “qualified” borrowers, and their eventual default in large numbers during the downturn all added to the severity of the crisis.
I asked her (first comment to her post above):
hi, can you provide references for that part of your post? Stiglitz [2] is very adamant that this is a red herring.

I know that AEI's Peter J. Wallison has persuasively shown arguments putting guilt on the GSEs, the CRA and lawmakers and the Executive [3], but I'd like to see analyses a bit less political and clearly academic about the subject, replying to Stiglitz's comments and his references:
Those that want to believe in the market have struggled to find someone else to whom blame can be shifted. One often heard candidates are government efforts to encourage lending to minorities and underserved communities through the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) requirements and to increase home ownership through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Default rates on CRA lending are actually lower than on other categories of lending, and CRA lending is just too small, in any case, to have accounted for the magnitude of the problem.14

His reference #14 is a note:
See Canner and Bhutta (2008) and Kroszner (2008).

Those references, in turn, are [4] and [5]. Both Stiglitz's comments and his references are preivous to July 2009, that is a bit old.


[1]  Asli Demirgüç-Kunt: "Life After the Crisis: Where do we go from here?", Sep 17, 2010,

[2]  Joseph Stiglitz: Interpreting the causes of the great recession of 2008. Lecture prepared for the Eighth BIS Annual Conference, Basel, 25–26 June 2009.

[3]  Peter Wallison: "The True Origins of This Financial Crisis", in "Getting the Story Right: The True Origin of the Financial Crisis", AEI Online, Feb 2009,

[4]  Canner, G. and N. Bhutta, “Staff Analysis of the Relationship between the CRA and the Subprime Crisis,” memorandum, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, November 21, 2008.

[5]  Kroszner, R.S., “The Community Reinvestment Act and the Recent Mortgage Crisis,” speech at Confronting Concentrated Poverty Policy Forum, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, Washington, D.C., December 3, 2008.