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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Feb. 21, 2011 / 17 Adar I, 5771

Human Nature and D.C.-backed Loans

By Debra J. Saunders

Debra J. Saunders



http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | In 2009, when CNBC's David Faber asked former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan what lessons could be learned to prevent another great financial meltdown in the wake of the mortgage-financing collapse, Greenspan did not have a happy-face answer.

"Somewhere in the future we're going to have this conversation again," Greenspan replied. "It will not be for quite a period of time, but it will occur because the flaws in human nature are such that we cannot change that. It doesn't work."

Lawmakers like to talk about passing laws to ensure that — the following should be said with a timbre of indignation — "this will never happen again." Of course, Washington should pass and enforce regulations to prevent and minimize economic damage. But the smartest course for Washington may well be to assume that, eventually, the worst will happen and to focus on:

(a) How Washington can minimize the damages to taxpayers and

(b) What regulatory changes can be made quickly that will not unduly shock the housing market.

The experts don't always know the answer. As the Obama administration's report "Reforming America's Housing Finance Market" noted, when housing prices began to turn in 2006, "Almost no one in the housing finance market was prepared."

The good news now: Obamaland is clear on the concept that the best way to minimize taxpayer losses is to minimize taxpayer exposure.

The report, written by the departments of Treasury and Housing and Urban Development, smartly pledged to cut back and ultimately "wind down" Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the giant government-sponsored enterprises that now back about 90 percent of new mortgages. The Wall Street Journal editorial page wrote of the Obama report, "It's enough to make you believe in miracles."

The document does not blame the meltdown on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Private institutions, it observes, were the trailblazers in subprime mortgages, while delinquency rates on private-label securities "were far higher than ... loans held by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac."

Even still, it notes, the Treasury — this means the taxpayers — has had to put up more than $130 billion to cover Fannie's and Freddie's losses.

It's time to return private mortgages to private banking. And it's time for lending to return to standards that limit risk. Hence the Obama administration's call to raise minimum down payments for Fannie and Freddie loans to at least 10 percent and to increase the price of Federal Housing Administration mortgage insurance.

The report offers "three possible courses for long-term reform."

The first would privatize housing finance and leave a narrow role for government. Its downside: It will be harder and costlier for Americans to secure 30-year fixed-rate mortgages.

The middle option would add "a backstop mechanism to ensure access to credit during a housing crisis." Same downside as the first option, with a larger government role.

The third option would provide government reinsurance for certain mortgages, which, as the Wall Street Journal warns, "looks like Fannie in a new suit."

The boldest element of the report can be seen in the Obama administration's flinty look at the vaunted goal of homeownership for all. President George W. Bush certainly had no problem pointing to high homeownership rates as proof of his administration's success.

The report recommends policies that, instead of pushing mortgages for all, demonstrate "a commitment to affordable rental housing."

Here is an area where left and right can meet. On the left, Politico columnist Michael Kinsley has questioned the wisdom of policies that drive up housing prices — and make homes harder for young families to afford: "There is no physical reason why a house should become more valuable at all. It is not like growing a crop. It is not producing anything that you can turn around and sell, like a factory. It just sits there. It becomes more valuable because people believe that it will become more valuable."

For their part, conservatives question the wisdom of using taxpayer-backed loans to push people who are chasing the American dream into homes they ultimately cannot afford. And by the way, those loans fueled the housing market bubble.

As the Treasury/HUD report noted, trillions of dollars were bet nationally and globally on "the faulty expectation that national house prices would only rise. Twenty years of economic stability had desensitized every player in the housing market to the possibility that home prices could fall."

That's a strong argument for policies that keep U.S. taxpayers from being left holding the bag.

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© 2011, Creators Syndicate

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