Their view: Book blames government for financial crisis

Conservative columnist Walter Williams writes a weekly column for the Clovis News Journal. Here's a recent sampling of his work:

Suppose you saw a building on fire. Would you seek counsel from the arsonist who set it ablaze for advice on how to put it out? But that's precisely what we've done: Turned to the people who created our fiscal crisis to fix it.

I have never read a better account of our doing just that than in John A. Allison's new book, "The Financial Crisis and the Free Market Cure."

Allison is the former CEO of Branch Banking and Trust, the nation's 10th largest bank. He assembles evidence that shows that our financial crisis, followed by the Great Recession, was caused by Congress, the Federal Reserve, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae and was helped along by the Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama White Houses.

The Federal Reserve, under the chairmanship of Alan Greenspan, created the massive housing bubble by over-expanding the money supply. President Bush and members of Congress, through the Community Reinvestment Act, intimidated banks and other financial institutions into making home loans to people ineligible for loans under traditional lending criteria. They became subprime lenders. Lending institutions made these loans because they knew they'd be sold to government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) Freddie and Fannie.

The GSEs had no problem taking this risky path, because they knew that Congress would force taxpayers to bail them out. Current Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is following in the footsteps of his predecessor by massively expanding the money supply by purchasing Treasury debt.

Then there were the crony capitalists, among whom are Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Countrywide, Bear Stearns, JPMorgan Chase, General Motors and Chrysler. These and many other companies, through the thousands of Washington lobbyists they hire, are able to get Congress to shortcut market forces.

Allison says that crony capitalism should not be our only concern. The foundation for economic collapse 20 to 25 years from now has already been set. Social Security and Medicare deficits, unfunded state and local pension liabilities, government operating deficits, baby boomer retirement and a failed K-12 education system have eaten out our substance.

What I take away from Allison's highly readable book is that our biggest problem lies in the Federal Reserve's ability to manipulate our monetary system to accommodate big government and use inflation to rob Americans.

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