Suffering through a massive housing bust spurred by the activities of utterly irresponsible government‐sponsored entities such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, may have led you to believe that the government should stop subsidizing the irresponsible and improvident. Indeed, with government spending and lending off the charts, you might even have come to believe that Washington should cut back on its spending and lending.
According to the Obama administration, more spending and lending is in order. And by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Indeed, preparing the government for even more spending and lending apparently is the goal of current policy, which already includes a lot of spending and lending.
Christina Romer, Chairwoman of the Council of Economic Advisers, was interviewed by CNN’s John King on Sunday. She helpfully sought to clear up the confusion exhibited by those of us who thought the current economic crisis resulted from irresponsible spending and lending. According to CNN:
KING: Mr. Liddy said he is going to break up AIG. Do we need to break up Fannie and Freddie?
ROMER: I think that is certainly going to be an issue going forward. I think it should be part of the overall financial regulatory reform, to figure out what is the best way.
Again, you know, anytime we have now got taxpayer money on the line, what we have an obligation to do is do it in a way that protects the American taxpayer. What is going to be the way that gets these institutions safe, gets them doing what we need them to do, which is lend like crazy, and just basically functioning again for the economy.
“Lend like crazy” really is the “just basically functioning” of Fannie and Freddie. But it is beyond question that this behavior helped spark the current crisis. Unfortunately, Dr. Romer does not explain exactly how we can make these fiscally irresponsible, money‐losing organizations “safe.” Nor does she enlighten us on how having Fannie and Freddie “lend like crazy” will have better results than before.
If this is the advice President Barack Obama is getting from what traditionally is one of the most economically responsible agencies in the executive branch, imagine what he is hearing elsewhere. Buckle up, for the economic ride is likely to get much worse.