Who is to Blame for the Subprime Meltdown?

Every day there’s another news story or blog post spreading more blame and anger about the mortgage market, increasing foreclosure statistics, the effects on our economy, fears of more layoffs in the mortgage sector and beyond, and so forth. With enough blame to go around, everyone keeps pointing fingers at everyone else. So far, here is who’s been blamed for the subprime meltdown/credit crunch/liquidity crisis.

  1. Mortgage brokers, for being rapacious capitalists;
  2. Loan originators, for having the audacity to wish for a six-figure income with no experience required;
  3. Loan officers who work at a bank, for knowing nothing and legally hiding their yield;
  4. Greedy wholesale lenders for enticing the brokers and relaxing the underwriting standards because of competition;
  5. Greedy Wall Street investors;
  6. Greedy Wall Street investment bankers;
  7. Incompetent Wall Street ratings agencies
  8. Greedy investors who just wanted to buy and flip;
  9. Realtors for threatening to pull business if the broker or lender did not approve their buyer’s loans;
  10. Realtors for pushing the sales prices up, up, up by continuing to add closing costs and more into the sales price, then threatening the appraiser when the home didn’t appraise;
  11. Real estate broker/owners, in their national conspiracy to keep commissions at 6%;
  12. Redfin, because it’s always Redfin’s fault;
  13. Zillow, for forcing loan originators to force appraisers to meet the homeowner’s expected Zillow zestimate or lose the refinancing client to a competitor;
  14. Unethical appraisers who turned in falsely inflated appraisals under threat of retaliation from mortgage brokers;
  15. Escrow closers for being a neutral, powerless, third party observer to the madness;
  16. Deceptive banner ad companies such as lowermybills.com, nextag, etc. who are still advertising pay option, interest only, negative amortization loan products;
  17. Deceptive, bait-and-switch advertising from mortgage lenders in the mail and on the radio;
  18. Allen Greenspan for keeping rates low for way too long;
  19. Ben Bernake for not lowering interest rates RIGHT NOW, when Jim Cramer says so;
  20. State regulators for not properly supervising their licensees;
  21. Federal regulators for being altogether absent on a day-to-day basis in regulating RESPA, and the Truth-in-Lending Act;
  22. The Mortgage Bankers Association for having a huge war chest of lobbying dollars;
  23. The Nat’l Assoc of Mortgage Brokers for continuing to testify before congress and congressional committees that their members subscribe to a strict code of ethics, when nothing could be further from the truth. By the way, their website points consumers back to state regulators for “ethical complaints.”
  24. The media, because they keep running bad news stories, which are frightening homebuyers;
    The Community Reinvestment Act for forcing banks to make loans to non-whites;
  25. Republicans, for promoting homeownership;
  26. Democrats for promoting homeownership;
  27. Democracy for allowing political candidates to receive $210 million dollars in campaign contributions and lobbying dollars from mortgage banking trade groups and corporations;
  28. The consumer is also to blame for being irresponsible, failing to read the loan documents, falling for the zero down American dream story, and believing the LO when told “we can just refinance you into a fixed rate after you clean up your credit.