Talk:Causes of the 2007–2012 global financial crisis

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Multiple issue tag[edit]

  • TONE: (1)The lead is ridiculously ambiguous.
  • Neutrality & original research: Multiple factual problems: Primarily whitewashing
The above statement has no factual basis. Facts are cited from authoritative sources with the many facets of the crisis. You should learn from the many credible sources cited that even they are not saying there was one cause or primary cause of this. They almost always say "An important cause..." as we do in the article. THIS IS RESOLVED.Farcaster (talk) 04:34, 28 July 2009 (UTC)

Problem statements

  • (2)"In the years leading up to the start of the crisis in 2007, high consumption and low savings rates in the U.S. contributed to significant amounts of foreign money flowing into the U.S. from fast-growing economies in Asia and oil-producing countries. This inflow of funds combined with low U.S. interest rates from 2002-2004 resulted in easy credit conditions, which fueled both housing and credit bubbles."
What? Wall Street created a market for easy credit in the US not foreign money...they bought every loan made...there were 150-200 independent mortgage writers operating without license.
This contradicts the Subprime mortgage crisis article Scribner (talk) 02:10, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
This is a fact, cited from Bernanke, Krugman and the U.S. President (previously), all definitive sources. I added yet another, a feature article in The Economist. Whether you agree or disagree is irrelevant. THIS IS RESOLVED.Farcaster (talk) 04:32, 28 July 2009 (UTC)
  • (3)"Major U.S. investment banks and government sponsored enterprises like Fannie Mae played an important role in the expansion of higher-risk lending."
Wholesale POV. By comparison, the GSE's would be about 15% as culpable as Wall Street but you're lumping them both together with original research. Scribner (talk) 02:21, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
Conservatives have argued that Fannie and Freddie were a huge part of this. We cited a Republican Congressional Report and the American Enterprise Institute on the conservative side, and the NY Times on the liberal side. All say Fannie and Freddie were a significant part of subprime and Alt-A mortgage issuance. THIS IS RESOLVED.Farcaster (talk) 04:32, 28 July 2009 (UTC)

Resolved *(4)"Sufficiency of down payments" (entire section) "Economist Stan Leibowitz argued in the Wall Street Journal that the extent of equity in the home was the key factor in foreclosure, rather than the type of loan, credit worthiness of the borrower, or ability to pay. Although only 12% of homes had negative equity (meaning the property was worth less than the mortgage obligation), they comprised 47% of foreclosures during the second half of 2008. Homeowners with negative equity have less financial incentive to stay in the home.[54]

This is an Op-Ed and has nothing to do with the section title. Scribner (talk) 06:30, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  • (5) Whitewashing on causes Wall Street's entrance and market dominance of subprime lending in 2003 created the "Boom and bust in the housing market" more than interest rates and foreign monies. Key to all of this is the Wall Street rating agencies falsely rating 3.2 trillion in MBS. Scribner (talk) 20:19, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
This is your thesis, but there are other views. Wall Street is the supply side but this thesis does not account for the demand side, which is the bubble psychology of millions of homeowners buying more house than they could afford. We have citations from President Obama and Business Week, who said we have to look no further than the mirror. Your view is strongly represented in the article as well, so why this is a debate point I'm not sure. Since your argument is strongly represented, THIS IS RESOLVEDFarcaster (talk) 04:32, 28 July 2009 (UTC)
  • (6) Per your ref, The Giant Pool of Money the "Background" section doesn't reflect the facts. We've already been over this, the rating agencies are a primary cause, sources of funds are secondary. Scribner (talk) 02:32, 28 July 2009 (UTC)
NOTE: Personally, I trash the "background" section and start over.
That is your view. The background is now virtually identical to the subprime crisis article, which you have had no problem with for months. THIS IS RESOLVED.Farcaster (talk) 04:32, 28 July 2009 (UTC)

In general, your thesis covers the supply side (how funds became available) but not the demand side. Both are essential parts of the story and are represented here.Farcaster (talk) 04:32, 28 July 2009 (UTC)

Please respond with corresponding numbers below this section


  • (1) I've added more specificity to the intro. Trying to summarize this is no picnic so give it a shot.Farcaster (talk) 05:03, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  • (2) We've covered elsewhere. President Bush and Fed Chair Bernanke talk about how nearly $800 billion of foreign money was coming in at the peak to invest here. It was one of many factors that drove down interest rates and created/took advantage of easy credit conditions. I've simplified the statement to say foreign inflow, rather than discuss trade deficits at that point (e.g., consumption in excess of production). See also Krugman mentioned in (5) below.Farcaster (talk) 05:03, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  • (3) The points are all cited. "Important role" is fair, I think. The NYT times article says that Fannie had between 20% and 40% of the market share of subprime MBS issuance. But it also guaranteed $5 trillion in mortgages via MBS of various types. It is the elephant in the room in the mortgage market, so its behavior has indirect effects. See NYT-Pressured to Take More Risk, Fannie Reached Tipping Point There is no definitive source out there on % to blame, so the market share figure is the best we have. There is a separate section in the article for investment banks and for Fannie/Freddie. You could probably make some simple edits here to satisfy yourself as to balance.Farcaster (talk) 05:03, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  • (4) Down payments increase home equity. Your point above is illogical. By not requiring down payments, small declines in the value of homes removes the incentive to stay in the home. It is an Op Ed, backed by hard data from a credible professor.Farcaster (talk) 14:54, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  • (5) Multiple sources talk about the importance of foreign funds flowing in; I've used Bush and Bernanke as they summarize it in plain language. It is a big deal; I came to appreciate that late in the game. Here is one from Krugman that supports this view also: Krugman - Revenge of the GlutFarcaster (talk) 05:03, 14 July 2009 (UTC)

Response Wall Street created this market by rating junk investments as AAA. They ran out of the people to lend to, so they kept lowering lending standards in 2004, '05. Yet, the mbs sold to investors were still rated AAA. This crisis was caused by Wall Street's rating agencies, not the investors that got duped into buying junk investments that had been rated AAA. Scribner (talk) 18:07, 23 July 2009 (UTC)

  • (6) I think there is fair coverage there of the causes. You can appreciate how tough that part is. Please try to edit that to emphasize the investment banks more. Note they appear there in the intro and have their own section.

Responses to the criticisms copied from other article.Farcaster (talk) 14:42, 14 July 2009 (UTC)


Multiple Issues Tag - Part Deux[edit]


See responses to each point in the other articles. I'll leave this banner for a week or so then remove.Farcaster (talk) 05:15, 14 July 2009 (UTC)

Responding to (2)Actually it is nearly a quote from the SMC article. See the background section.Farcaster (talk) 04:54, 13 July 2009 (UTC)

I'll read the rest of the article this week. Scribner (talk) 02:41, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
Scribner if you read the first few paragraphs of Bernanke-Four questions cited you'll see we have an authoritative source for the information you question above. Further, you are well aware that Fannie and Freddie played an important role. Whether that is 15% or 30%, who knows. Fannie's market share in subprime issuance was significant. Fannie and Freddie guarantee nearly $5 trillion in mortgages. You and I both agree their role is far less important than the investment banks, but it is still an important role. The best source on that one is NYT-Pressured to Take More Risk, Fannie Reached Tipping Point04:28, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
I've started numbering the objections. As mentioned, I'll read through the article this week and continue listing the objections. If need be I'll rewrite the objectionable edits to match the main article(s), and I'll rewrite lead if no one beats me to the task. Scribner (talk) 05:56, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
To Scribner: You said "Wall Street created this market by rating junk investments as AAA.". Thus again you are assigning collective blame to "Wall Street" which is not one person (either natural or corporate) for the actions of a few people at the credit rating agencies. Also, you ignore the role of the SEC in enabling the credit rating agencies by requiring all corporations who issue securities to pay for ratings of them. By the way, investors are still responsible for using their own judgment to make decisions about investing their money. It is wrong for them to just assume that the credit rating agencies are correct, just as it is wrong for the credit rating agencies to just assume that the issuers of securities are infallible. JRSpriggs (talk) 16:02, 24 July 2009 (UTC)
Yes, Sprigg, I refer to Moodies, Standard and Poors, Fitch, and investment firms on Wall Street as Wall Street when I mention them on the talk page. However, "Wall Street created this market by rating junk investments as AAA" is the primary cause of the subprime crisis and is referred to repeatedly throughout Farcaster's ref of 'The Giant Pool of Money'. Not the mass of foreign investors as is the Farcaster's claim.
Scrib, you probably missed this paragraph in your hunt to pin the blame on the rating agencies: "How's the world get twice as much money to invest? Lots of things happened, but the main headline is all sorts of poor countries became kind of rich making TVs and selling us oil: China, India, Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia. Made a lot of money and banked it. China, for example, has over a trillion dollars in its central bank, and there are office buildings in Beijing filled with math geniuses-real math geniuses-looking for a place to invest it. And the world was not ready for all this money. There's twice as much money looking for investments, but there are not twice as many good investments. So, that global army of investment managers was hungrier and twitchier than ever before. They all wanted the same thing: a nice low risk investment that paid some return. But then something happened to make matters worse, at this precise moment, one guy took one of that army's favorite investments and made it a lot less attractive. Alex Blumberg: So, this is where we have to talk about Alan Greenspan, right? Adam Davidson: We have to. Alex Blumberg: Alright. But I'm going to promise the people here that this is the last time you're going to hear Alan Greenspan in this story. So bear with us. Adam Davidson: Here is one of his speeches that really drove that army of investment managers crazy. Alan Greenspan: The FOMC stands prepared to maintain a highly accommodative stance of policy for as long as needed to promote satisfactory economic performance. Adam Davidson: You might not believe me, but that little statement: that is Central Banker speak for “Hey, global pool of money - screw you.” In other words, he said he would keep interest rates low, making the global pool of money move to the next best thing at the time...CDO's and MBS.Farcaster (talk) 18:05, 24 July 2009 (UTC)
The SEC, Greenspan and the investors should have done a better job with oversight in regulation and due diligence in investing. But, they aren't guilty of falsely rating 3.2 trillion in mbs, the Wall Street rating agencies are. See the difference? Scribner (talk) 16:57, 24 July 2009 (UTC)

Intent of this article[edit]

I thought it would be helpful to have an article fully dedicated to the causes only. We have three competing articles on this topic now. Financial Crisis of 2007-2009, Subprime Mortgage Crisis, and Late 2000's recession. If we put the most meat regarding causes here and polish it up, those three articles can be shortened and focused significantly on different aspects of the crisis. Let's work cooperatively to get the facts out there. I've given it a start by taking much of the causes from the first two articles and placing them here, avoiding overlap where possible.Farcaster (talk) 04:53, 13 July 2009 (UTC)

I'm asking others to look at this. You're linking this article to the causes section of the Subprime mortgage crisis. Yet, you're the only editor to have worked on this article and it contains bias and original research among other problems mentioned above. Scribner (talk) 06:39, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
Well, its a new article and your claims that it is biased are your own. If you can get a consensus that it is biased, go ahead. It is thoroughly sourced by the most credible experts out there.Farcaster (talk) 14:37, 14 July 2009 (UTC)

Quotes[edit]

I'll integrate them into the text and shorten them where appropriate. Scribner, these are quotes from notable people and I think they deserve to be in the article, but we can integrate them in a less obvious way. You of course can add quotes you feel appropriate.Farcaster (talk) 22:17, 14 July 2009 (UTC)

The quotes section (diff) contains quotes from Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, President Barack Obama and a joint statement of the G-20 major economies. Those three are all important, relevant figures. I don't know if the quotes are a good idea or not, but they aren't arbitrary. It also contains a quote from Thomas Friedman, who's just one commentator. I don't think his analysis is particularly novel, so there's no specific objection to it, but there's also no particularly good reason to include it. CRETOG8(t/c) 22:39, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
This quote represents my view and probably the majority of the educated world.
"The U.S. economy, once the envy of the world, is now viewed across the globe with suspicion. America has become shackled by an immovable mountain of debt that endangers its prosperity and threatens to bring the rest of the world economy crashing down with it. The ongoing sub-prime mortgage crisis, a result of irresponsible lending policies designed to generate commissions for unscrupulous brokers, presages far deeper problems in a U.S. economy that is beginning to resemble a giant smoke-and-mirrors Ponzi scheme. And this has not been lost on the rest of the world." - Hamid Varzi, International Tribune"
This idea of "easy credit" was that it was so damn profitable, not so much that there were massive amounts of foreign investments. Half of GE's profits were from it's credit arm. In a nutshell, the subprime crisis occurred because everyone from home buyers to Wall Street thought home prices would continue to rise. That's the real cause. Scribner (talk) 23:16, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
Varzi, like Friedman, seems a pretty arbitrary commentator. Varzi is an economist, but Friedman is more prominent as a commentator. The Varzi quote also doesn't discuss the bubble, but attributes the problem to "unscrupulous brokers". My impression is that everyone agrees there were unscrupulous brokers, but there's not agreement that they were a major factor causing the crisis. CRETOG8(t/c) 23:31, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
There is agreement that investors foreign or otherwise wouldn't have bought junk subprime mbs had they been rated correctly. That's what created the market, not foreign investment. Varzi's quote is an example. One of the stated goals of the G8's last meeting was to, "instill confidence in the (stock) market" so I don't put a lot of faith in cherry picked quotes, Bernanke's, Obama's or Bush's, as being 100% representative of the truth. Scribner (talk) 01:07, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
I read Varzi's statement being about brokers who approved loans to home buyers, not about brokers who sold CDS's or such. If he's talking about something else, it's not clear. I also haven't seen general agreement that the rating agencies were dishonest, rather than just incompetent, when it came to rating the instruments. Back to the quotes in general: I wasn't talking about whether they are 100% or even 10% true, they're quotes from officials who are extremely significant and related to the crisis. That makes them worth something, even if they're outright lies. CRETOG8(t/c) 02:13, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
The SEC addressed the "conflict of interests" with rating agencies last year, I think. Here's an interesting quote from Krugman responding to Bernanke and this ref is used in this article:
"Mr. Bernanke cited “the depth and sophistication of the country’s financial markets (which, among other things, have allowed households easy access to housing wealth).” Depth, yes. But sophistication? Well, you could say that American bankers, empowered by a quarter-century of deregulatory zeal, led the world in finding sophisticated ways to enrich themselves by hiding risk and fooling investors." Scribner (talk) 04:14, 15 July 2009 (UTC)

Principles for editing the subprime articles[edit]

The debate around this topic has gotten a lot more heated than is productive. A few thoughts:

  1. None of us really knows which causes matter most. We may never know, unless a serious commission/investigation is done on the crisis. When we know who knew what and when, and when the key signoffs occurred in major organizations and government, we will then know where the blame lies. The data available to us will get better with time. What that means is we should cast a wide net and try to explain the various narratives underlying this crisis as accurately as we can using the most credible sources available.
  2. Do not remove properly sourced material. Either discuss your objections in a civil way, add context, or move to an alternate place in the article. Just taking something out is not helpful.
  3. Do not question the motives of the folks out here. We are all volunteers.
  4. There is more than one crisis involved here with significant feedback effects going on. What one of us thinks of as a cause may be an effect from another part of the crisis.

I'll stop there. Others can add to this list but if we follow the above life out here should get a lot more pleasant.Farcaster (talk) 06:15, 15 July 2009 (UTC)

  • The investigation is called the "Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission" and will report to Congress by December 2010.
  • The "conventional summary of the causes" section needs to contain the basic foundation of the subprime crisis, like ARM's (Alternative Mortgage Transactions Parity Act), investment banks blending subprimes into higher tranches, the rating agencies falsely rating 3.2 trillion in MBS, the fact that everyone from the homeowners to the investment banks counted on homes appreciating 8 - 10%, per year. CDO, ABS And, interest rates and foreign investors seeking better, safe returns, etc. Hud percentage increases on FNM and FRE., etc.
  • The foreign money, regardless of the amount, $800 billion a year, whatever, doesn't override or change any of the facts that our system was deregulated and poorly regulated.
Any summary of causes section that omits this information isn't a true summary of the causes. Scribner (talk) 07:19, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
I think you could insert your points above into the current summary without too much trouble; I would advise against technical jargon in summaries. CDO's and tranches I would leave simple, using aggregate phrases like financial innovation or new, complex financial products. You seem to be focused on arguing against the Bernanke/Krugman angle on what caused the easy credit conditions. This is not an either/or scenario. I state that first because it was an enabler/foundation cause or condition for all the others and also happened before the main subprime bubble years of 2004-2006. It was a big part of the liquidity that was then channeled by investment banks to MBS and homeowners. These ideas can co-exist; not sure why that is so threatening to your hypothesis as it should not be. I agree on regulation; you've got a great Obama quote behind you there. Also, there were ARM's for many years so old laws seem highly unlikely to be a cause when the bubble was really 2004-2006.Farcaster (talk) 17:51, 15 July 2009 (UTC)

"Who" tag in background[edit]

The quote from Krugman later in the article (from his book, in the shadow banking section) says "Politicians and government officials" The context/intent is that many were to blame. I think if we had to name names in the summary if would be an extensive list. Would replacing "Policymakers" with "Politicians and government officials" hew closer to the source? We could move the citation for the Krugman quote up there also.Farcaster (talk) 20:35, 18 July 2009 (UTC)

The policymakers are Greenspan and the SEC, I believe. The article in general contains too many WP:weasel words like, experts, Many factors, Other causes, Some causes. Scribner (talk) 20:48, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
Regarding the who tag in the background: The G-20 quote: "Policy-makers, regulators and supervisors, in some advanced countries, did not adequately appreciate and address the risks building up in financial markets..." Krugman: "As the shadow banking system expanded to rival or even surpass conventional banking in importance, politicians and government officials should have realized that they were re-creating the kind of financial vulnerability that made the Great Depression possible..." These guys are casting a wide net. Both Democrats and Republicans in Congress share responsibility for this. I'll reference a couple of "villians of the crisis" type articles from various media if that helps. Regarding the who tag at the start, please pull that one as that statement is sourced in the Bernanke article; he is saying that. I don't want to put right in the first sentence that "Ben Bernanke said that...many experts disagree on the sources."

Removing the tags - Where do we stand?[edit]

I'd like to see where we stand on removing the tags. I would like to remove them all except the "worldwide" one, which I think is valid. I would also support renaming the article to include the concept of "U.S." Do any of you feel that other tags should be kept? If so, why? Thank you.Farcaster (talk) 18:09, 24 July 2009 (UTC)

Rating Agencies[edit]

Rating agencies have their own section. They are also part of the "market-based controls" mentioned in the lead-in paragraph. They are also indicated in the pargraph derived from the giant pool of money. I added mention of them to the background paragraph. I think that is sufficient mention of their role. Do we need to mention them elsewhere or otherwise emphasize them?Farcaster (talk) 18:19, 24 July 2009 (UTC)

The rating agencies falsely rating 3.2 trillion in subprime mbs is the primary cause of the subprime mortgage crisis and should be treated that way in all articles on the subprime crisis. Just glancing over your ref of The Giant Pool of Money it's mentioned clearly:
  • That there’s this long chain of people that starts with these Wall Street guys and ends with people who stand to lose their houses.
  • So, that global army of investment managers was hungrier and twitchier than ever before. They all wanted the same thing: a nice low risk investment that paid some return.
  • you are not going to make any money at all on US treasury bonds for a very long time. Go somewhere else. We can’t And so the global pool of money looked around for some low-risk, high-return investment.
  • So what Mike and his peers on Wall Street did, was to figure out how to give the global pool of money all the benefits of a mortgage – basically higher yield - without the hassle or the risk.
  • But the pool of money had just gotten started. They wanted more mortgage backed securities. So Wall Street had to find more people to take out mortgages. Which meant lending to people who never would’ve qualified before.
  • This was the new era: banks didn't have to hold on to these mortgages for 30 years. They didn’t have to wait and see if they’d be paid back.

Bank's like Garner's just owned them for a month or two and then sold them on to Wall Street. Wall Street would sell them on to the global pool of money.

  • To be fair, they knew there were risks. But investors have a system to assess those risks. They’re these special companies. Credit rating agencies. Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s, Fitch. Their job, their main job, is to assess risk for Wall Street and the global pool of money. They rate every kind of bond according to its risk. Triple A is the safest, then there’s double A, single A, all the way down to single B and below.
  • And that’s all most investors look at - the letter grade. They trust the credit rating agencies. And these agencies blessed most of these mortgage-backed securities. Gave them AAA ratings - which means they were considered as safe as a US government bond.
  • This was the magic of this whole system. You could take a pool of thousands of risky mortgages, and create a security that was called money-good, as safe as any investment out there. At least that's what people thought. But now we know those agencies relied on the wrong data. That same historic data that had nothing to do with these new kinds of mortgages. Scribner (talk) 20:58, 24 July 2009 (UTC)
No argument from me that they were a big part of this. My question is where else to point this out, as we mention in four places. Do you have a source for the $3.2 trillion number and for the "falsely"? I haven't seen fraud proven against the agencies yet. The SEC did indicate they had conflict of interest problems, which we cited. Also, you say "the primary" but that is your opinion, not stated as such by others.Farcaster (talk) 21:06, 24 July 2009 (UTC)
I'm quoting your reference, "This was the magic of this whole system. You could take a pool of thousands of risky mortgages, and create a security that was called money-good, as safe as any investment out there." Besides, there are other refs. A primary cause should be mentioned in the beginning of the article. Comparatively, foreign money was a secondary cause. Scribner (talk) 21:44, 24 July 2009 (UTC)
From my cite: "Without those AAA ratings, the gold standard for debt, banks, insurance companies and pension funds wouldn't have bought the products."
"New York-based companies (Wall Street rating agencies) stamped out top ratings on debt pools that included $3.2 trillion of loans to homebuyers with bad credit and undocumented incomes between 2002 and 2007." Scribner (talk) 02:00, 25 July 2009 (UTC)
Scrib, you are welcome for my taking the time to expand the section on the credit rating agencies per your request.Farcaster (talk) 04:37, 28 July 2009 (UTC)

Tag problems still remaining[edit]

I'm referring you back to the multiple issue tag section. Scribner (talk) 02:20, 28 July 2009 (UTC)

Those have been resolved. Please get some support before you add graffiti to an article.Farcaster (talk) 04:16, 28 July 2009 (UTC)

You need to look to mediation or RFC, I'll revert the tag tomorrow. I'm going to refer you back to the multiple issue tag section. Scribner (talk) 04:56, 28 July 2009 (UTC)
I've addressed your concerns as described above. I think its time we get an admin involved (again--I guess the unanimous rejection of your deletion attempt didn't teach you anything) as don't seem to be contributing to the article really but just seem to enjoy attacking it. I have made many changes to emphasize the points you suggest yet you are not cooperative in the least.Farcaster (talk) 04:59, 28 July 2009 (UTC)
You need to look to mediation or RFC, I'll revert the tag tomorrow. I'm going to refer you back to the multiple issue tag section. Scribner (talk) 05:17, 28 July 2009 (UTC)

Section's removed[edit]

There's no need in having this in the article in this condition. If your not going to fix the sections, we'll keep them out of the article altogether. Scribner (talk) 04:46, 28 July 2009 (UTC)

Get consensus before you rip a chunk out of the article that is cited. At least propose an alternative for debate before you chop away.Farcaster (talk) 05:00, 28 July 2009 (UTC)
The article will remained tagged indefinitely, as far as I'm concerned. Scribner (talk) 05:05, 28 July 2009 (UTC)
Then we'll take it to some type of dispute resolution. You are not negotiating in good faith. You have some agenda that does not enable discussion of both sides of the argument. Further, you make no contributions of any significance yet you occupy an enormous amount of our time. I will reach out to some admins to see what the right next steps are, as you are not here to try to tell all sides of this story and I can no longer work with you.Farcaster (talk) 05:09, 28 July 2009 (UTC)

Background[edit]

The immediate cause or trigger of the crisis was the bursting of the United States housing bubble which peaked in approximately 2005–2006.[1][2] High default rates on "subprime" and adjustable rate mortgages (ARM), began to increase quickly thereafter. An increase in loan incentives such as easy initial terms and a long-term trend of rising housing prices had encouraged borrowers to assume difficult mortgages in the belief they would be able to quickly refinance at more favorable terms. However, once interest rates began to rise and housing prices started to drop moderately in 2006–2007 in many parts of the U.S., refinancing became more difficult. Defaults and foreclosure activity increased dramatically as easy initial terms expired, home prices failed to go up as anticipated, and ARM interest rates reset higher.

In the years leading up to the start of the crisis in 2007, significant amounts of foreign money flowed into the U.S. from fast-growing economies in Asia and oil-producing countries. This inflow of funds combined with low U.S. interest rates from 2002-2004 contributed to easy credit conditions, which fueled both housing and credit bubbles. Loans of various types (e.g., mortgage, credit card, and auto) were easy to obtain and consumers assumed an unprecedented debt load.[3][4][5] As part of the housing and credit booms, complex financial agreements called mortgage-backed securities (MBS) and collateralized debt obligations (CDO), which derive their value from mortgage payments and housing prices, greatly increased. Credit rating agencies assigned safe, investment-grade ratings to many of these agreements, which did not accurately reflect their risk. Such financial innovation enabled and encouraged institutions and investors around the world to invest in the U.S. housing market. As housing prices declined, major global financial institutions that had borrowed and invested heavily in subprime MBS and CDO's reported significant losses. Falling prices also resulted in homes worth less than the mortgage loan, providing a financial incentive to enter foreclosure. The ongoing foreclosure epidemic that began in late 2006 in the U.S. continues to drain wealth from consumers and erodes the financial strength of banking institutions. Defaults and losses on other loan types also increased significantly as the crisis expanded from the housing market to other parts of the economy. Total losses are estimated in the trillions of U.S. dollars globally.[6]

While the housing and credit bubbles built, a series of factors caused the financial system to both expand and become increasingly fragile. Politicians and regulators as a group[7] did not effectively respond to the increasingly important role played by financial institutions such as investment banks and hedge funds, also known as the shadow banking system. These institutions had become as important as commercial (depository) banks in providing credit to the U.S. economy, but they were not subject to effective controls.[8] These institutions as well as certain regulated banks had also assumed significant debt burdens while providing the loans described above and did not have a financial cushion sufficient to absorb large loan defaults or MBS losses.[9] These losses impacted the ability of financial institutions to lend, slowing economic activity. Concerns regarding the stability of key financial institutions drove central banks to provide funds to encourage lending and restore faith in the commercial paper markets, which are integral to funding business operations. Governments also bailed out key financial institutions and implemented economic stimulus programs, assuming significant additional financial commitments.

Government pressure to expand home ownership[edit]

Some, like American Enterprise Institute fellow Peter J. Wallison[10], believe the roots of the crisis can be traced directly to sub-prime lending by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which are government sponsored entities.[11] On 30 September 1999, The New York Times reported that the Clinton Administration pushed for sub-prime lending: "Fannie Mae, the nation's biggest underwriter of home mortgages, has been under increasing pressure from the Clinton Administration to expand mortgage loans among low and moderate income people...In moving, even tentatively, into this new area of lending, Fannie Mae is taking on significantly more risk, which may not pose any difficulties during flush economic times. But the government-subsidized corporation may run into trouble in an economic downturn, prompting a government rescue similar to that of the savings and loan industry in the 1980s."[12]

In 1995, the administration also tinkered with President Jimmy Carter's Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 by regulating and strengthening the anti-redlining procedures. The result was a push by the administration for greater investment, by financial institutions, into riskier loans. A 2000 United States Department of the Treasury study of lending trends for 305 cities from 1993 to 1998 showed that $467 billion of mortgage credit poured out of CRA-covered lenders into low and mid level income borrowers and neighborhoods.[13]

A Republican congressional staff report identified several laws which contributed to the housing boom and resulting bust: the National Housing Act of 1934 and the Federal National Mortgage Association Charter Act which created Fannie Mae to promote housing, the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1968 which protected Fannie Mae from budget discipline by fostering the illusion that it was a private business, the Federal Housing Enterprises Financial Safety and Soundness Act of 1992 imposed quotas of affordable housing on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the Community Reinvestment Act was interpreted to require quotas in lending.[14]

Cause of causes[edit]

A political cartoon by Tom Toles illustrates the problem — see Toles' cartoons and select Sunday, September 13, 2009. Although he shows this from the point of view of a worker/consumer, the same difficulty affects businesses as well. There is not enough real money (that is, purchasing power) to facilitate trade. I think that this is due to a long history of mild inflation (as opposed to mild deflation) which has caused people to distrust the dollar and encouraged people to become indebted. To fix this problem, the Fed should cease monetizing debts (whether public or private) and instead monetize commodities and equity, and they should aim to maximize the dollar's value. JRSpriggs (talk) 05:42, 19 September 2009 (UTC)

Page Move[edit]

The consensus at Financial crisis of 2007-2009 was to rename that page Financial crisis of 2007–2010, so I am renaming this one to conform to that change. Racepacket (talk) 12:05, 1 January 2010 (UTC)

Concentration of wealth[edit]

I see mention of concentration of "risk" and "financial sector", but no concentration of wealth. While the financial sector alludes to this its not explicit.

Total Income Top1 (1916-2006).jpg

This illustrates my point. -->

I believe concentration of

  • risk / financial sector

led to concentration of wealth, which I'm confident is the core issue as it means there is less liquidity in the real economy. These are interrelated and need to be presented together in far more detail and given prominence. The financial instruments of any given crisis change (stocks, bonds, lending), but in the end they lead to a concentration of wealth that magnifies poor decisions of the wealthy few.

I simply don't have a source at hand that says as much. Though I haven't really looked yet... I was counting on someone else to state the obvious years ago.

The data for the chart is from Too Much. - RoyBoy 20:22, 1 January 2010 (UTC)


From Causes of the Great Depression section Inequality of wealth and income:

Two economists of the 1920s, Waddill Catchings and William Trufant Foster, popularized a theory that influenced many policy makers, including Herbert Hoover, Henry A. Wallace, Paul Douglas, and Marriner Eccles. It held that the economy produced more than it consumed, because the consumers did not have enough income. Thus the unequal distribution of wealth throughout the 1920s caused the Great Depression.[13][14]

According to this view, wages increased at a rate lower than productivity increases. Most of the benefit of the increased productivity went into profits, which went into the stock market bubble rather than into consumer purchases. Say's law no longer operated in this model (an idea picked up by Keynes).

As long as corporations had continued to expand their capital facilities (their factories, warehouses, heavy equipment, and other investments), the economy had flourished. Under pressure from the Coolidge administration and from business, the Federal Reserve Board kept the discount rate low, encouraging high (and excessive) investment. By the end of the 1920s, however, capital investments had created more plant space than could be profitably used, and factories were producing more than consumers could purchase.

According to this view, the root cause of the Great Depression was a global overinvestment in heavy industry capacity compared to wages and earnings from independent businesses, such as farms. The solution was the government must pump money into consumers' pockets. That is, it must redistribute purchasing power, maintain the industrial base, but reinflate prices and wages to force as much of the inflationary increase in purchasing power into consumer spending. The economy was overbuilt, and new factories were not needed. Foster and Catchings recommended[15] federal and state governments start large construction projects, a program followed by Hoover and Roosevelt.

--Shjacks45 (talk) 05:39, 16 March 2010 (UTC)Shjacks45 (talk) 05:33, 16 March 2010 (UTC)

Overpriced houses[edit]

One formula, suggested by that great financial magazine, Men's Health (Sept 2008, page 90) compares renting to buying. House price divided by (monthly rent times 12). If result is more than 20, it means that houses are most likely overpriced (or rents underpriced, which seems less likely). The 12-year historical average for major metropolitan is 16.9. A larger value means that prices are inflated.

What is needed for the article is some actual guru saying this and proving it. Student7 (talk) 00:18, 9 March 2010 (UTC)

It is hard to understand the current obsession with pointing the finger at financial institutions. If the appraised values had not been excessively beyond underlying "worth" or been capped to actual underlying value (harder to do for land, admittedly), financial institutions could have done anything they wanted no matter how outrageous, and nothing bad would have happened to the rest of the economy. It was only when house prices exceeded house values, did any problem occur. Where are these authorities? Student7 (talk) 20:22, 13 April 2010 (UTC)
Worse, there is no way the most honest institution can "package" overpriced mortgages (bubble houses) so that anyone makes money. There is almost (!) no way that the most dishonest institution can package accurately prices houses so that subsequent investors lose money! Student7 (talk) 13:18, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
Appraisers heavily rely upon what houses in the area have sold for in arriving at their valuation of the home. If homes are on an upward price swing, appraisals will reflect this. Appraisers catch up when homes start to age on the market and folks begin to lower list prices to sell them. I haven't seen major sources focusing on appraisers, but if you find such an article feel free to include. Like any asset, homes are worth what folks are willing to pay for them, and we had a bubble.Farcaster (talk) 20:51, 18 April 2010 (UTC)
My point is (unfortunately now pov by itself, without a scholarly quote) is that, indeed we do know both for the stock market and housing, when a bubble is developing. "Value" is a trifle sloppy for stocks since PE is usually overvalued, and appraisers don't know how far to go in making assessments. But Graham (and Buffett and others) have pretty much nailed down when a stock is underperforming in price and when the price is "too high."
It is much clearer in the housing market, when people start to pay too much for houses, they cannot be bought and rented out for profit (with suitable down payment). This was not true up until the early 60s. Since then, the average buyer of single houses would lose money if he tried to rent one out. This = overpricing. There is a historical relationship for land value in there too, but that isn't necessary for comparison to rentals since land price is included. Value, therefore is not determined, nor should it be, by people "willing" to borrow someone else's money to bid/purchase a house. Their offer is meaningless since they aren't using their own money! There is (somewhere) an authority who states this clearly. Probably Buffett, but not really a housing expert. So, no, "willing to pay" is not really relevant in determing true value for housing. Fine where cash is being used. Who cares? Only the purchaser loses. When the money is borrowed, we all lose (as we just found out)! Student7 (talk) 20:27, 20 April 2010 (UTC)

Trade deficits[edit]

"USA households, on the other hand, used funds borrowed from foreigners to finance consumption or to bid up the prices of housing and financial assets." doesn't make sense. Shjacks45 (talk) 05:29, 16 March 2010 (UTC)

"Spectacular" failure of Lehman brothers[edit]

An editor insists on placing the pov adjective "spectacular" before mentioning the failure of Lehman brothers. We can describe what happened, but trying to prejudice readers with our opinion is WP:POV IMO. The use of media-assigned adjectives makes Wikipedia sound less like an encyclopedia and more like media manipulation. The reader should be able to decide for himself whether it was "spectacular" or assign some other adjective. Or no adjective and just treat it as another fact. We don't need to play it for emotional content as does News at 11. That is what distinguishes Wikipedia from the tabloid media. Student7 (talk) 22:10, 18 March 2010 (UTC)

Media cant (IMO)[edit]

A respected editor has added material that indicates that 70 members of Congress were all lobbyists for financial institutions. It seems to me that whether there were 700 lobbyists or none, that there is no way these same institutions, nor the government, could have caused mortgages on overpriced houses to be packaged in such a way that anyone was ever going to make money on them. I don't see cause and effect here. Just finger pointing. These people were there and therefore there must have been something wrong. It is okay that the media does this. They are just trying to sell ads. But not great logic for an encyclopedia. Needs to demonstrate how this affected legislation so that markets suffered. I don't see the smoking gun here.

BTW, many of these lobbyists were not full-time for the financial industry but have many other clients as well. Guilt by association is the name of the game for the media. Sloppy reporting on their part, but we don't have to copy it. Student7 (talk) 16:23, 18 April 2010 (UTC)

Hello Student: Conflicts of interest and the "revolving door" at the top levels of government and industry is a big problem, which primarily bears on the ability to effectively regulate the industry.Farcaster (talk) 20:49, 18 April 2010 (UTC)
Okay. But shouldn't the "70 lobbyist" comment reflect that suggestion? "Senator x pointed out that Congress would have long ago regulated the industry and prevented the problem if it hadn't been for the 70 lobbyists" or something like that demonstrating a link. Hopefully a better worded statement can be found. But linkage is what I was looking for. The statement that there are 70 lobbyists doesn't seem any more significant that there are 70 lobbyists under 5 feet tall or something. No real connection IMO. Right now it seems merely innuendo by us. "There were 70 lobbyists" (therefore there must have been something wrong. We all know how crooked all lobbyists are, right)? Student7 (talk) 20:16, 20 April 2010 (UTC)

Link number three is missing[edit]

<ref>Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission-Press Release-January 27, 2011</ref>

Maurice Carbonaro (talk) 06:58, 2 July 2011 (UTC)

Major reorganization?[edit]

This article is now 30 pages -- 22 pages of text and 8 pages of Notes when I printed it a few minutes ago. It seems a bit long. This concerns me, because somethings the more we say, the less we communicate. I wonder if it might make sense to undertake a major reorganization, placing main sections in new articles and converting the current article into something much shorter with links to the different articles?

The last paragraph in the current version cites the U.S. Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC), summarizing their conclusions as follow:

  1. Regulatory failures
  2. Breakdown in corporate governance
  3. Excess borrowing and risk taking by consumers and Wall Street
  4. Policy makers ill prepared for the crisis
  5. Systemic breaches in accountability and ethics. (This sounds like it should be part of "Breakdown in corporate governance". I should look more at the FCIC report to understand this better.)

I wonder if it might make sense to try to restructure the current article along the lines of 1-4 above plus a fifth section on "Macroeconomic conditions", with the current 13 sections being reassigned something like the following:

  1. Housing market -> 5. Macroeconomic conditions
  2. Risk-taking behavior -> 3. Excess borrowing & risk taking
  3. Financial market factors -> 1 & 2. problems with regulation and corporate governance
  4. Macroeconomic conditions -> 5. Macroeconomic conditions
  5. Capital market pressures -> 5. Macroeconomic conditions
  6. Boom and collapse of shadow banking -> 1 & 2. problems with regulation and corporate governance
  7. Mortgage compensation -> 2. Breakdown in corporate governance
  8. Regulation & deregulation -> 1. Regulatory failures
  9. Conflicts of interest and lobbying -> 1. Regulatory failures
  10. Other factors -> 5. Macroeconomic conditions
  11. Systemic crisis -> 1. Regulatory failures
  12. Interaction of the housing and financial markets -> 1 & 4. Regulatory failures & policy makers ill prepared.
  13. Questionable assumptions -> 1. Regulatory failures

I hesitate to suggest something like this without volunteering to do much of it. However, I'm not sure I have either the knowledge or the time to do it. There already are some other main articles that could be reviewed with an eye to (a) making sure each of the other main articles contains more or less everything here and then (b) reducing the size of the companion section here. I'm thinking in particular of the sections and articles on the following:

  • the housing bubble
  • credit ratings
  • regulation & deregulation
  • conflicts of interest
  • commodity prices
  • Mark-to-Market accounting.

It would probably be wise to try to first reduce the size of each of these sections, capture the breadth of thought on each topic while referring interested readers to the main articles for more detail. DavidMCEddy (talk) 01:45, 24 November 2012 (UTC)

Part of my motivation in looking at this article is because I think this article could benefit from a reference to Capital and the Debt Trap, which suggests that cooperatives provide corporate governance that is less susceptible to the breakdowns identified by FCIC. DavidMCEddy (talk) 01:53, 24 November 2012 (UTC)

Notes[edit]

Move?[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. Editors desiring to contest the closing decision should consider a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the move request was: Move and merge with Causes of the Great Recession. We have a clear consensus that that is the preferred title, and that the articles should be merged. As such, a bold editor will need to execute the merge.--Cúchullain t/c 18:36, 1 April 2013 (UTC)


  • 2007–2012 global financial crisis redirects to Great Recession. There also exists Causes of the 2008–2012 global recession which currently redirects to the same location so these should probably be merged? Two pages on the same thing or is there any difference? 86.40.198.66 (talk) 00:48, 20 March 2013 (UTC)
  • Support to match the parent article. It does seem like a merge is called for. --BDD (talk) 16:49, 27 March 2013 (UTC)
  • Support, to follow the renamed Great Recession. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 00:36, 28 March 2013 (UTC)
  • Support Following standard practice, this should match the parent article. LK (talk) 04:32, 28 March 2013 (UTC)
  • Comment. There are two separate articles so a move is out of the question. I suggest closing this RM and then someone can just be bold and merge the two articles with [[Causes of the Great Recession] as the preferred title. Jenks24 (talk) 09:40, 29 March 2013 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page or in a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.