"At the root of the crisis we find the largest financial swindle in world history."
The fraud originated in the mortgage market of the United States.
The houses were over-appraised, and the banks only hired appraisers who were willing to do that. Galbraith rhetorically asks: "For what conceivable reason would a lender accept an inflated appraisal for a house against which it was going to make a loan?"
The language used in the mortgage industry is very telling: "liar's loans", "ninja loans" (where the borrowers had no assets and no income), "neutron loans" (where it would destroy the people but leave the buildings), and "toxic waste"
The mortgages in the millions were counterfeits, not mortgages. They were "laundered" ... the dirty paper was converted into clean paper. Securitization was used to convert the worthless paper from triple D minus junk to triple A. The commercial banks were the "fences", they took the laundered paper and sold it on to the legitimate market. The "marks" were the pension funds, or any investing entity which trusted triple A rating or investment banks.
The police left the beat.
If the counterfeit is big enough, the whole system collapses, because you can't tell what's real from what's counterfeit and so confidence collapses.
The failure to face the problem of fraud constitutes a huge barrier in the path of economic recovery. The banking system can't be restored until it is taken apart, cleaned up and rebuilt in a transparent and honest manner.
We should make the Department of Justice uncomfortable to ignore these frauds. Because if we don't have fair and honest and functioning financial system, we won't get out of this crisis.
Indeed, there was fraud at every step of the mortgage process. The big banks intentionally signed up borrowers with insufficient income and assets, threw out the documentation because it would prove fraud, racked up loan fees and received short-term payments before all of the new borrowers ran out of money, and then laundered the bad loans into securitized instruments to sell to the suckers.
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