Smoking-Gun Document Ties Policy to Housing Crisis

Paul Sperry, Investor’s Business Daily, October 31, 2011

President Obama says the Occupy Wall Street protests show a “broad-based frustration” among Americans with the financial sector, which continues to kick against regulatory reforms three years after the financial crisis.

“You’re seeing some of the same folks who acted irresponsibly trying to fight efforts to crack down on the abusive practices that got us into this in the first place,” he complained earlier this month.

But what if government encouraged, even invented, those “abusive practices”?

Rewind to 1994. That year, the federal government declared war on an enemy–the racist lender–who officials claimed was to blame for differences in homeownership rate, and launched what would prove the costliest social crusade in U.S. history.

At President Clinton’s direction, no fewer than 10 federal agencies issued a chilling ultimatum to banks and mortgage lenders to ease credit for lower-income minorities or face investigations for lending discrimination and suffer the related adverse publicity. They also were threatened with denial of access to the all-important secondary mortgage market and stiff fines, along with other penalties.

{snip}

The threat was codified in a 20-page “Policy Statement on Discrimination in Lending” and entered into the Federal Register on April 15, 1994, by the Interagency Task Force on Fair Lending. Clinton set up the little-known body to coordinate an unprecedented crackdown on alleged bank redlining.

The edict–completely overlooked by the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission and the mainstream media–was signed by then-HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros, Attorney General Janet Reno, Comptroller of the Currency Eugene Ludwig and Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, along with the heads of six other financial regulatory agencies.

{snip}

The unusual full-court press was predicated on a Boston Fed study showing mortgage lenders rejecting blacks and Hispanics in greater proportion than whites. The author of the 1992 study, hired by the Clinton White House, claimed it was racial “discrimination.” But it was simply good underwriting.

It took private analysts, as well as at least one FDIC economist, little time to determine the Boston Fed study was terminally flawed. In addition to finding embarrassing mistakes in the data, they concluded that more relevant measures of a borrower’s credit history–such as past delinquencies and whether the borrower met lenders credit standards–explained the gap in lending between whites and blacks, who on average had poorer credit and higher defaults.

The study did not take into account a host of other relevant data factoring into denials, including applicants’ net worth, debt burden and employment record. Other variables, such as the size of down payments and the amount of the loans sought to the value of the property being bought, also were left out of the analysis. It also failed to consider whether the borrower submitted information that could not be verified, the presence of a cosigner and even the loan amount.

When these missing data were factored in, it became clear that the rejection rates were based on legitimate business decisions, not racism.

Still, the study was used to support a wholesale abandonment of traditional underwriting standards–the root cause of the mortgage crisis.

{snip} Banks that failed to throw open their lending windows to credit-poor minorities were denied expansion plans by the Fed in an era of frenzied financial mergers and acquisitions. HUD threatened to deny them access to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which it controlled. And the Justice Department sued them for lending discrimination and branded them as racists in the press.

{snip}

The regulatory missive, which had the effect of law, advised lenders to bend “customary” underwriting standards for minority homebuyers with poor credit.

“Applying different lending standards to applicants who are members of a protected class is permissible,” it said. “In addition, providing different treatment to applicants to address past discrimination would be permissible.”

To that end, lenders were directed to “make changes in marketing strategy or loan products to better serve minority segments of the market.” They were also advised to “change commission structures” to encourage brokers and loan officers to “lend in minority and low-income neighborhoods”–a practice Countrywide Financial, the poster boy of the subprime scandal, perfected. The government now condemns the practice it once encouraged as “predatory.”

FDIC warned banks that even unintentional discrimination was against the law, and that they should be proactive in making “multicultural” loans. {snip}

Confronted with the combined force of 10 federal regulators, lenders naturally toed the line, and were soon aggressively marketing subprime mortgages in urban areas. {snip}

HUD also pushed Fannie and Freddie, which in effect set industry underwriting standards, to buy subprime mortgages, freeing lenders to originate even more high-risk loans.

{snip}

It took a little more than a decade for the negative effects of the assault on prudent lending to be felt. By 2006, the shaky subprime mortgages began to default. In 2008, the bubble exploded.

Clinton’s task force survived the Bush administration, during which it produced fair-lending brochures in Spanish for immigrant home-loan applicants.

And it’s still alive today. Obama is building on the fair-lending infrastructure Clinton put in place.

{snip}

“It’s a more aggressive fair-lending enforcement approach now,” said Washington lawyer Andrew Sandler of Buckley Sandler LLP in a recent interview. “It is well beyond anything we saw during the Clinton administration.”

{snip}

The fair-lending task force’s original policy paper undercuts the notion the financial crisis was all about banker “greed,” though it certainly played a role after the fact. Rather, it offers compelling evidence that the crisis evolved chiefly from government mandates and threats to increase lending to applicants who could not afford them.

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  • Anonymous

    Wave bye kids,

    The American vessel is setting sail, for a land, history and time never to be seen again maybe in anyone’s generation- far far away.

    We open our arms and eyes to this Brave new world, the taste is sour the feel is rough the feeling is hallow.

    Ode to my country and its ilk, forever gone, the corrosion eats its way through its own, like a parasite, disease. This is not new to Man just a sad time to live through it.

    ALWAYS REMEMBER BETTER DEAD THAN RED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Detroit WASP

    No kidding. I guess I thought this was obvious but maybe not. I am in the real estate business so I guess I have a better understanding than some.

    I saw neighborhoods in Detroit turning black, going downhill, crime increasing, schools going to pot……and guess what….home prices were going UP!

    We got hurt in several different ways by the “housing crisis” even though we did nothing wrong. I won’t even go into it. Blacks and government policies to pacify blacks have cost me and my family hundreds of thousands of dollars. I could retire on what they have cost us.

    Democrats came up with it and Republicans went along with it because the economy appeared to be good.

    Peter Schiff was right on the money. Very smart guy.

    http://goo.gl/mA2w

    http://goo.gl/SJZw8

  • Vito Danelli

    I’m so weary of the “it’s all the fault of the Democrats/Bill Clinton/Barney Frank”, etc.

    Even the Finanacial Inquiry Commission blames BOTH the Clinton and Bush Administrations for the loosening of lending standards:

    “Initiated by Congress in 1992 and pressed by HUD in both the Clinton and George W. Bush Administrations, the U.S. government’s housing policy sought to increase home ownership in the United States through an intensive effort to reduce mortgage underwriting standards. In pursuit of this policy, HUD used (i) the affordable housing requirements imposed by Congress in 1992 on the governmentsponsored enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, (ii) its control over the policies of the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), and (iii) a “Best Practices Initiative” for subprime lenders and mortgage banks, to encourage greater subprime and other high risk lending. HUD’s key role in the growth of subprime and other high risk mortgage lending is covered in detail in Part III.”

    (page 444 – http://fcic.law.stanford.edu/report)

    check out this YouTube video of Bush sucking up to minorities:

    Home Ownership and President Bush

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kNqQx7sjoS8

    Here’s a link to the full text of the speech:

    President Calls for Expanding Opportunities to Home Ownership

    Remarks by the President on Homeownership

    St. Paul AME Church

    Atlanta, Georgia – June 2002(!)

    http://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2002/06/print/20020617-2.html#

    I say the writer of the article Paul Sperry is being very disingenuous, to put it nicely.

  • Anonymous

    Though a lot of people here will disagree, the Wall Street crowd and Jews really have been unfairly targeted for the market meltdown, and pretty much every other bust in recent history. Government drones, and the middle class SWPL schmucks who support their insane policies, never admit responsibility for their foolishness. Responsibility is strangely taken for ridiculous racial grievances instead of utterly obvious economic incompetence.

    By almost any standard, the measure of banking greed doesn’t even remotely approach the excesses of ordinary Americans in the housing bubble, and the continuing excess of the government.

  • Anonymous

    Nothing will stand in the way of our Nation’s 60-yr drive to up-lift failed Minorities, even economic, social, and cultural distruction of the USA.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t blame the banks for bundling bad mortgages and passing the liability on to someone else. The banks had no choice. The USA government forced them to make bad loans to people who could never pay. Bankers are not stupid — they knew the coming disaster, and so, caught between a rock and a hard place, they moved those bad loans out as fast as they could.

    The entire economic downturn was caused by our own government.

  • Anonymous

    At President Clinton’s direction, no fewer than 10 federal agencies issued a chilling ultimatum to banks and mortgage lenders to ease credit for lower-income minorities or face investigations for lending discrimination and suffer the related adverse publicity. They also were threatened with denial of access to the all-important secondary mortgage market and stiff fines, along with other penalties.

    ————–

    This was a well known fact, yet the stupid Republicans and talk shows did NOT harp on this fact as they should have! It was the GOVERNMENT that was at fault for everything that happened with the housing bubble thereby socking us with TRILLIONS in debt through their phoney stimulus packages and bailouts.

    How stupid are the American people anyway?

  • Sincerely Concerned

    BINGO!

    Thank you so much for posting this article. This is my most successful argument when I encounter OWS supporters and anyone else who tries to blames the banks for everything. People need to know the facts and here they are. Kudos!

  • Question Diversity

    Is a half truth as bad as or worse than an outright lie?

    I called up the original article, and searched for the words “Bush” and then the words “down payment.” Neither showed up in the text of the article.

    While all this Democrat treachery was bad, undesirable, destructive and wrong-headed on its own, none of it would have mattered but for Bush’s ultimately fulfilled demand for the elimination of down payments. While Democrats did tell the banks to lower all their other standards, the down payment hurdle was still by far the biggest “discrimination” in the way.

    And no, I’m not doing the long explanation again. You can read it here, starting at post 70:

    http://www.amren.com/mtnews/archives/2011/10/guest_post_my_h.php

  • SS

    Americans don’t need “reports” to KNOW NO Bank, No Bank would ever loan to anyone who could not prove their Ability to Honor and “We” also know only Government Action could make them do otherwise.

    Let’s do a report on Employers who hire non-whites instead. How much money have they received in Tax Breaks for doing it, what’s the difference in Accuracy, Productivity, Creativity, Profitability, etc. and if they had a choice (no affirmative action), who would they hire?

  • Anonymous

    This short clip says it all: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SzCFSok1B0U

  • (AWG) Average White Guy / Indianapolis

    No one’s shocked by this news.

    Many are shocked that it is news.

    A few years ago Indianapolis lenders held an ethnic expo. They invited people of color (non-Whites) to come apply for loans.

    The event was prompted by accusations of racism. Lenders, they said, were using racial profiling when making loans. It was ‘red-lining’, they said.

    Forward to 2011.

    Lenders who were forced to pursue black borrowers and now being accused of ‘predatory lending’.

  • SoCal LoCal

    IBD is a major business news magazine, so it is a stunner that they printed an article declaring the housing crisis to be the result of the federal government tilting-at-the-windmill of “racist lenders”. It is surely no surprise to business insiders or writers that such is the case, but to see it in print shows a growing boldness. And I doubt Paul Sperry is the only one feeling it, else the editors and owners of IBD would not have broached the issue in their journal.

    As the they said in the sixties, “the times are changing”.

  • Tab Numlock

    And, of course, this increased artificial demand drove up housing prices and thus created false collateral, even more important since down payments were cut or eliminated. Add to this the fact that women and 3rd world customers tend to overpay compared to white men, who drive a harder bargain. Blacks actually like to overpay so they can brag about how much they spent.

  • RandyB

    I agree with #3 — Vito Danelli, there a lot of blame to be distributed bi-partisanly.

    I’ve read four books on the subprime bust and the two by liberals predictably fault greedy lenders and Wall Street, and the two by conservatives blame government intervention in the free market and attempts at social engineering.

    It was the middle American who always thought if you can’t get a 6% fixed mortgage, straighten out your credit until you can; and if it doesn’t get you the house you want, downsize your expectations. That’s what the sensible voters, who’ve been abandonned by the two parties, think.

  • Anonymous

    I never read the LA Slimes, but my apartment house manager does. I went to pay the rent today and looked at his paper while I waited for him to get off the phone.

    Something identical to this is coming up with used car loans. Low end used cars sold to people who can hardly afford cars and rent both. Perfect for California a state impacted by low wage hispanics that bring down every one’s wages.

    Apparently there are used car lots that do their own financing at as much as 30 percent interest. They sell clunkers to recent immigrants and low income people with bad credit ratings. Many require the buyer to come to the lot every month to make the payment. The sellers often repossess the cars and resell them because the buyers can’t afford rent, gas and car payments.

    It is very profitable because the same car can be sold 2 or 3 times a year. 30 percent interest on a $7,000 car loan even for a few months is profitable. Wall street is buying up these car lots and loans. It looks like the same thing done with all those low income mortgages. Bundle them, sell them on the secondary paper market.

    it is also symptomatic of the continuing depressing effect immigration has on wages. When wall street thinks the most profitable investment is 180,000 miles 15 year old clunker car loans of welfare receipients and minimum wage employees it means wages are going down and down.

    Most political changes are brought about by the richest and most powerful. The rich and powerful have had 60 years to deal with the bad effects of affirmative action and unlimited hispanic immigration. If the business community wanted to overturn affirmative action and its detrimental effects it would have done so long ago.

    Our business masters as well as our goverment, academic and media masters must want the destruction caused by affirmative action and unlimited immigration.

  • Rob

    PC Naziism at it’s finest.

  • Paul

    #7

    Why didn’t the Republicans harp on this fact? Two reasons: First the government rarely talks about the future in gloomy terms. There is no way any Dem or Repub is going to stand up and make a doomsday prediction that easy credit will cause the country to collapse in the future. Remember the more you buy, and the more inflated the dollar gets, the more bogus “money” they have to play with (and steal).

    Second, neo con Republicans, who are too shallow and stupid to see beyond the Stock Market numbers, believe in the myth of an economic man. To them increasing wealth is the ultimate good. Remember when Quayle famously said it doesn’t matter if the US produces potato chips or computer chips? They believe (and I think studies show) that if a person owns a home, that person is more likely to vote R. I specificaly remember Pres Bush in a speech in (07 or 08?) bragging about how so many minorities had started businesses and bought homes under his administration. I hope the Republicans now realize after Obama’s win that even if the economy was good, blacks would still vote for thier man.

    For everyone except whites race trumps economics, or is at least directly tied to it. Having a stock market at 12k does zero good if the rest of society is controlled by hostile foreigners.

  • Flytrap

    If one major news outlet or talk show starts talking about this Clinton document, Pat Buchanan’s new book and Obama’s pro-black policies, we might see a little bit more of an awakening.

    I live in in a town that’s left of Lenin and talk openly about the dysfunction of diversity and I ask people who want affordable housing to just move to where it’s affordable and be the role model the neighborhood needs. Strangely enough, there haven’t been any takers.

  • Canadian in London

    Is not Eric Holder now pushing mortgage lenders to provide financing to those on welfare?

    I work in this industry and review securitization deals and portfolios as part of my job. While the root cause is obvious if you look, no one really talks about it. Banks don’t seem to have the courage to spell the story out and now face federal lawsuits for “predatory” lending. Perhaps Jamie Dimon will have the courage to call it as it is, I hope so.

    This is a great example of the massive cost of diversity (a redistributive spoils system based on race).

    The original OWS was called HUD but this would be lost on the people involved presently, who wouldn’t care about the results and indeed, seem to only want more of this, in all spheres of life.

    Topical quote from Margaret Thatcher – “The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money”

  • Kenelm Digby

    Everyone here should consider the full import of this article.

    Currently, November 2011, the western world (not China, significantly), is mired in the most terrible dire financial crisis in generations.The politicians and economists apparently can’t see a way out of it, basically a defationary, stagnating spiral has trapped and destroyed countless lives and aspirations.

    Greece is an a state of incipient popular revolt.It is very doubtful that the Euro currency will survive and if that goes the EU will to – something unthinkable a decade ago.

    – And waht was the cause, the triggering event of all this? – The American sub-prime disaster, a catastrophe engendred by US racial demographics and US race hustling.

    As the non-White portion of the USA waxes greater and as they accrue more power to themselves, this will only ensure further and bigger disaster.

    Perhaps the wisest course for the rest of the developed World is to decouple from the USA.

  • george00

    I agree it was Wall Street that packaged these bad loans and sold them but the banks were forced by the Government to make these bad loans so nonwhites would have just as high of a home ownership rate as whites but it was liberals in government (including George Bush the neocon liberal)who are always pushing programs to make nonwhites, especially blacks, preform at the same level as whites. These same Liberals are now primarily the ones in the Occupy Wall Street crowd protesting against banks for doing what Liberals forced the banks and Wall Street to do.

  • XLCR

    I saw neighborhoods in Detroit turning black, going downhill, crime increasing, schools going to pot……and guess what….home prices were going UP! ( –Detroit Wasp)

    ————–

    Yes, I witnessed that firsthand. I grew up in the NE corner of Detroit (between Moross and 8 Mile). I moved my family out in 1993. At that time the area was still virtually 100% white (actually 99.9% white) but was experiencing the nascent stages of the black plague. By the turn of the century (2000) that square mile area became 85% black; mostly low-class blacks. Today it’s 95% black and ranked as the most dangerous zip code [48205]in Michigan. Bottomline: Within 20 years a safe, functional, all white neighborhood, went to complete ordure due to black ghetto culture.

  • XLCR

    BTW, at or around the year 2002,homes in the NE corner of Detroit were selling in the range of $70,000 to $160,000. Today you can buy a custom brick home in that area for less than a grand. Not kidding!

  • rjp

    @ 15 — Anonymous

    They are referred to as Buy Here Pay Here lots in Florida and they were all over the place down there back in the early / mid 90s.

  • Daniel

    Our politicians such as Clinton and Obama are actually owned by the elite bankers. So anything that these administrations do is actually decided by those that own the politiicians.

    The banks knew all along that they could make worthless loans and have the American tax payer pay for them.

  • Bon, From the Land of Babble

    a Boston Fed study showing mortgage lenders rejecting blacks and Hispanics in greater proportion than whites. The author of the 1992 study, hired by the Clinton White House, claimed it was racial ‘discrimination.’

    This ridiculous lie should have been stopped right there, dead in its tracks.

    If SO many “credit-worthy” blacks and Hispanics were being turned down for loans, due to racism by White banks, someone else would have jumped on this opportunity to make a LOT of money from lending to these discriminated-against, credit-worthy blacks.

    The only color the banks care about is GREEN. The politicians didn’t care, it wasn’t THEIR money that was being put at risk — their jobs were never in danger. Barney Frank brushed aside warnings about risk and said he “wanted to roll the dice” even more in the housing markets. He knew there was NO chance of NOT being re-elected. AND, because loans were insured by the FHA, the taxpayers were the ones at risk.

    Applying different lending standards to applicants who are members of a protected class is permissible.

    Yeah, no kidding:

    a mariachi singer in California claimed a six-figure income on his mortgage application. WaMu accepted a picture of him in his mariachi outfit as the sole documentation of his income.

    http://goo.gl/5fivG

    Bon

  • Bon

    Bon,

    “a Boston Fed study showing mortgage lenders rejecting blacks and Hispanics in greater proportion than whites. The author of the 1992 study, hired by the Clinton White House, claimed it was racial ‘discrimination.’”

    What the article doesn’t mention is that the Boston Fed was asked by Steve Forbes “What are the default rates?”.

    If easy money was being given to Whites, their default rates would be higher than Blacks’ or Hispanics’, but the default rates (by race) on the loans were identical, thereby showing only good lending practices.

    The Boston Fed acknowledged the accuracy of Forbes’ analysis, but said the minority targeting would continue.

    Forbes then warned what would happen and it did in 2008.

  • John Engelman

    Whenever a charge of racial discrimination against blacks is made one should ask whether blacks are discriminated against on the basis of race alone, or on the basis of what correlates with race.

    Even when income is held constant, blacks tend to save less, and to have worse credit histories than whites.

  • Anonymous

    anyone doubt that the Boston Fed report was crafted by the Clinton administration to fit their goals?

  • Question Diversity

    30:

    Yes, because that infamous report was written in 1992, when Bush 41 was still President. Clinton’s goals were Bush 41’s goals were Bush 43’s goals were the goals of anyone who could get elected President in this day and age.

  • Sincerely Concerned

    31 Question Diversity:

    True. And that scares the life out of me. Politicians doing whatever it takes to get elected is precisely what’s wrong with this country and it’s going to get worse. What we needed to do was stick with the idea that working hard for something and staying honest instead of lying and sticking your hand out was the right thing to do. Sadly, we’ve taught several generations now that all one must do is be a “minority” or even a certain color or sex or whatever, and that person qualifies for everything.

    The elections are a year away but I am leaning toward voting my conscious like I did when I was younger, and basically voting everyone who’s an incumbent OUT.

  • Anonymous

    There is a bigger picture. The browning of America has caused a whole new generation to be non producers. There is no new generation to buy the houses as whites die off.

    The extreme housing costs are most prevalent where there is section 8 housing and where there are military bases where the government pays 2k a month to give away free housing.

    So the government’s money distorts the economy. The results is that middle class whites lose and move away. In California, a basic starter house costs 800,000. That requires a income of 250,000 a year. Now… how many make that much? This is all nuts.

  • Xenophon

    26 — Daniel wrote at 10:18 AM on November 2:

    “Our politicians such as Clinton and Obama are actually owned by the elite bankers. So anything that these administrations do is actually decided by those that own the politiicians.”

    You nailed it. The damning document came from the Boston Fed, a city that is known for its black sympathizing white elite. They drank their own kool-aid, then turned around and handed us the bill.

  • white is right, black is whack

    When people say ‘blacks are discriminated’ or ‘people just don’t like being around them’, I ask, “Why though? Quit bellyaching about how it’s racist or how whites are plain ignorant or mean. Is it the behavior of many blacks that makes whites and others uncomfortable?” While it’s true that we are always not trustworthy or comfortable of people who look different than us, it’s usually more than skin deep, if you’ll pardon the pun.

  • Stephanie

    Lest we forget, inserted into the phony Dodd/Frank “finance reform” bill was a promise for more bailouts for the very banksters’ who engendered the unfurling financial collapse:

    “Bankers Get $4 Trillion Gift From Barney Frank”: by David Reilly

    http://goo.gl/NTtVh

    “What the article doesn’t mention is that the Boston Fed was asked by Steve Forbes ‘What are the default rates?'” – Bon

    The refutation of that fraudulent data was actually written by our very special Peter Brimelow of Vdare who then wrote for Forbes as a financial analyst.

    Make no mistake: Government takes its orders from the central bankers – not the other way around. Peter Brimelow was trying to alert others that a member bank of that illicit, unconstitutional entity known as the Federal Reserve started the whole ball rolling with a study that purported to show pervasive discrimination in mortgage lending, but was concocted to create another massive expansion of federal power and debt despite our federal Leviathan’s long illustrious history of failure in social engineering with regards to “rights to housing.”

    The Money Masters’ over at the Fed Reserve are the ultimate insiders, because they know with 100% certainty that down the road when the whole experiment invariably implodes, their ownership of our corrupt political prostitutes ensure that the sucker middle-class taxpayers’ are the ones left holding the bag, and that is EXACTLY what happened:

    Here’s financial writer Peter Brimelow (likewise documents how far back the scheming by the economic tapeworms goes):

    “I really did co-write the first one, for Forbes magazine on Jan. 4, 1993. The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston had just published a study purporting to prove definitively that mortgage lenders were discriminating against minorities, the hot cause of the day.

    But when my brilliant co-author, Leslie Spencer, asked the Boston Fed’s research director, Alicia H. Munnell, what minority default rates were, she said proudly that census tract data showed that they were equal to whites. When Leslie pointed out that this actually proved there was no discrimination, because the lenders had somehow weeded out the credit risks down to the same acceptable level, Munnell was dumbfounded and had to concede (on tape) that she did not, in fact, have definitive proof of discrimination at all.”

    http://www.marketwatch.com/story/wall-street-washington-collusion

    “The Hidden Clue” by Peter Brimelow and Leslie Spencer

    http://www.vdare.com/pb/050105_hiddenclue.htm

    As is meticulously chronicled here, the entire history of our federal behemoth’s involvement in housing has been one colossal cluster*$#*:

    “Obsessive Housing Disorder

    Nearly a century of Washington’s efforts to promote homeownership has produced one calamity after another. Time to stop.” STEVEN MALANGA

    http://www.city-journal.org/2009/19_2_homeownership.html