The author of the lines quoted below won the Nobel Prize in economics in 2002.
(p. A20) The joint housing and mortgage-market crisis once again reminds us that all financial implosions stem from the same cause: borrowing short and lending long without enough equity to weather periodic storms in the gap between.
But this bubble was different. Besides being fueled by housing purchases and repackaged loans, each with inadequate equity — doubling down with other people’s money — at the end of the capital-gains rainbow was the right to take up to $500,000 of profit, tax free.
Thank you President Bill Clinton for your 1997 action, applauded by the banks, the realtors and all citizens in search of half-millionaire status from an investment they could understand and self deceptively believe to be low risk; thank you for fueling the mother of all housing bubbles; thank you for enabling so many of us who bought second or third homes, and homes before construction began, which we then sold to someone else who dreamed of riches from owning homes long enough to sell to another fool.
Once again, try as we might and in spite of our political rhetoric, we have failed to help the poor in applauding government action intended to help ourselves.
For the full commentary, see:
VERNON L. SMITH. “The Clinton Housing Bubble.” The Wall Street Journal (Tues., December 18, 2007): A20.