Gretchen Morgenson Is Right: Bankers Have No Shame

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Sunday, 31 July 2011 21:22

Following the collapse of the housing bubble and the resulting financial meltdown, there was widespread agreement that securitzers should be forced to keep "skin in the game," meaning a stake in the mortgages they issued. Dodd-Frank included a requirement to this effect.

While many were arguing for a 10 or even 20 percent stake, the rules that came out from regulators is that they have to keep just 5 percent. Furthermore, the regulators exempted traditional 20-percent-down mortgages that have low risk of the fault. Banks need keep no skin in the game on those.

Naturally the banks are acting like this 5 percent stake will be the end of the world. They are yelling that this will exclude large numbers of people from the market. If bankers could do arithmetic (the evidence suggests otherwise), then they would know that this claim is absurd on its face.

The bank will still be getting a return on the 5 percent stake. They will just get a slightly lower return than if they could sell it. Let's assume that the return on this 5 percent stake is 40 basis points less than if they could sell it. That comes to 2 basis points or 0.02 percentage points for the mortgage as a whole. Is this going to result in large numbers of people being frozen out of the housing market?

Give me a break, this is garbage and Gretchen Morgensen was right to call them on it.