Every 10 years or so there is a banking crisis. We are due. However, the furthest thing from most people’s minds with the Trump boom is a banking/financial crisis, except for a few folks at the Brookings Institution, who just released a paper entitled “Liquidity Crisis in the Mortgage Market.”
You Suk Kim, of the Federal Reserve Board; Steven M. Laufer, who also labors on the Federal Reserve Board along with Karen Pence, plus, Richard Stanton of the University of California, Berkeley, and Nancy Wallace, also of University of California, Berkeley, to give away the punchline from their paper’s abstract, write, “We describe in this paper how nonbank mortgage companies are vulnerable to liquidity pressures in both their loan origination and servicing activities, and we document that this sector in aggregate appears to have minimal resources to bring to bear in a stress scenario.”
John and Joan Q. Public believe the 2018 mortgage business is like George Bailey’s Building & Loan in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” People deposit money, bankers lend it out, keeping the mortgage on their books. Easy Peasy.
As the folks from Brookings point out, it’s not that easy in these dark days of financial engineering. George Bailey’s handshake, promise and maybe a few words on a document to be signed by the borrower which meant simply, “I’ll pay you back,” has become a financial instrument, to be traded and hypothecated by faceless financial bureaucrats, each one taking a sliver of profit off the top.
Everyone remembers the crash of 2008 and plenty explanations have been posited. What the writers for Brookings explain is,
The literature has been largely silent on the liquidity vulnerabilities of the short-term loans that funded nonbank mortgage origination in the pre-crisis period, as well as the liquidity pressures that are typical in mortgage servicing when defaults are high. These vulnerabilities in the mortgage market were also not the focus of regulatory attention in the aftermath of the crisis.
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