Subprime mortages revealed as Al Quaeda plot

February 13th, 2008 by Adrian

I love that my my desktop machine’s browser page is still set to MSN.  All those ten word teaser links can be incredibly distracting — I obviously don’t need to know who Hermione Granger is dating today or how a hair dryer was used as a “lethal weapon” in a domestic dispute — but every now and then a true gem like this article surfaces.

Here’s the argument in a nutshell: after 9/11, US interest rates dropped dramatically as the Fed tried to forestall fears about the impact of the attacks on our economic infrastructure.  These absurdly low interest rates created an environment where houses suddenly appeared more affordable to everyone.  The subsequent rush on home-buying created an artificial rise in home prices, which coupled with still-too-easily-acquired credit spiralled into a full fledged housing bubble.  And we all know what’s happening now as the bubble collapses — chaos!!  Clearly the whole thing was an well-orchestrated plot; Al Queda played the tune and we danced right into their trap. 

So were “subprime loans and speculative building/buying no more than tools, the equivalent of hijacked airliners?” Uh… that’s a stretch.  The gaps in logic between the premise and the conclusion are so big that you could hide our constantly ballooning Federal deficit in there.  I love the attempt to sweep them under the rug by acknowledging them, though:

We could, of course, blame the Federal Reserve for keeping interest rates too low for too long. We could also blame Wall Street. Or mortgage lenders and their brokers. And we could blame the borrowers for being foolish.”

Yes, we could.  But why bother, when it’s so much more satisfying to point the finger at those evil terrorists?  It’s not our fault!!  The banks and financial institutions were just trying to make more money more quickly, how can that be bad?  And here’s the clincher:

None of this misery would have happened if Sept. 11 hadn’t happened first.”

Wait, back up a sec.  How do we know this?  Sure, the 9/11 attacks were the proximal cause in the Fed’s fund rate falling from ~3.5% to ~1.75% in about two weeks, but where’s the proof that we weren’t going to get there in a few months anyway?  And even given the rates, the consequent bundling and valuation of CDO’s as the new equity instrument du jour were hardly a terrorist scheme.  What, did Abu Hafiza wrap up a beguiling treatise on asset-backed securities in a plain brown wrapper and drop it onto Angelo Mozilo’s front doorstep?  Probably not.

I’d like to believe the whole article is just a link-bait stunt of sorts, but I can’t quite get myself to buy it.  The externalization of blame and inability to shoulder the consequences of our own mistakes just feels too authentically American.  Speaking of which, ‘scuse me while I run down to pick up my free $600 check.  I believe the economy needs some stimulating, and dinner for 12 at Applebee’s may just give the Dow the good shot in the arm it needs.

Posted in "Pop" culture

One Response

  1. thecultfigurine

    Gawd, the stupid, it burns. Thanks for giving that article the thrashing it deserved.

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