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Senseless Panic is a provocative, quick-paced, and thoughtful analysis of what went wrong with the nation’s banking system and a blunt indictment of United States policy.

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For decades, William Isaac’s insights on the U.S. financial system have been featured in leading news publications. Now, you can browse them all in one location.

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in leading business publications
MEMORY AND FINANCIAL CYCLES By Alex J. Pollock Posted: Jul 16, 2014

[Alex J. Pollock is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, DC. He was President and CEO of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago 1991-2004. The article is well worth your time reading. A somewhat shorter version of the article was published recently in the Wall Street Journal.]

Memories fade. It is now five years since the end of the most recent U.S. financial crisis of 2007-2009. Stocks have made record highs, junk bonds and leveraged loans have boomed, house prices have risen rapidly, already there are cries for lower credit standards on mortgages to “increase access.” Unlike the Swiss central bank, which marks its investments to market, the Federal Reserve has designed its own regulatory accounting so that it will never have to recognize losses on its $4 trillion portfolio of long-term bonds and mortgage securities, no matter what. Who remembers that such “special” accounting is exactly what the Federal Home Loan Bank Board designed in the 1980s to hide losses in savings and loans? Who remembers that there even was a Federal Home Loan Bank Board, which for its manifold financial sins was abolished in 1989?

Former FDIC Chief Answers The Question I Asked Bob Corker By Woody Woodruff of the Banking Law Connection, July 9, 2014 Posted: Jul 11, 2014

Nearly a year ago, I had the opportunity to have breakfast with Senate Banking Committee Ranking Minority Member, Sen. Bob Corker [R-TN]. OK . . . the imperative of full disclosure requires that I admit that I was merely one of about 150 people attending an industry group event in Nashville. Sen. Corker, home for the August recess, was making a number of appearances across the state of Tennessee and the event to which I was invited was merely the first of three stops he made that day.

He spoke on a number of topics, but the one to which he devoted the most attention was the conceptual legislation he and Virginia’s Democratic Senator, Mark Warner, were proposing in order to “reform” Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Sen. Corker explained his concept of replacing the two government-sponsored entities that facilitate the bulk of mortgage lending in America, with a single new government agency that would function somewhat like the FDIC. As he described it, this new mortgage insurance company would “protect the taxpayers” by having a layer of private capital that would account for the first 10% of the entities’ total capital, and would be the first layer exposed to the risk of default. The federal mortgage “insurance” would not kick in until this private equity layer was exhausted.

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac Plan Botched: Ex-FDIC Chairman by Mani on Value Walk, July 8, 2014 Posted: Jul 9, 2014

If rule of law in Housing and Economic Recovery Act is not adhered to, future investment in banking institutions will be in jeopardy

By defying and rewriting the terms of conservatorship, the U.S. government acts as a destabilizing force, notes William Isaac, former FDIC Chairman.

In an article published in The Wall Street Journal, William Isaac, former chairman of the Federal Depositor Insurance Corp. points out FHFA could have put Fannie Mae / Federal National Mortgage Assctn Fnni Me (OTCBB:FNMA) and Freddie Mac / Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp (OTCBB:FMCC) into receivership instead of conservatorship.
Government’s violation of law by seizing profits of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac

Fannie, Freddie conservatorship hurts investors, destabilizes mortgage market by Trey Garrison, July 7, 2014 Posted: Jul 9, 2014

In the pages of the Wall Street Journal on Sunday, the former head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., William Isaac, takes the government to task on its virtual third-world, banana republic treatment of GSE investors.

The FHFA as conservator is a fiduciary—or trustee—for the shareholders of Fannie and Freddie. Its job is to, as the law says, “conserve [the enterprises'] assets and property” for shareholders while Fannie and Freddie rebuild their capital base and eventually exit the conservatorship.

Here is the link to the full article

HOW MUCH ARE WE WORTH?? $80 TRILLION? By William Dunkelberg Posted: May 27, 2014

Bill Dunkelberg, Chief Economist of the National Federation of Independent Business, wrote the following article which he has authorized me to publish on my website. His article questions a recent announcement by the Federal Reserve that U.S. consumers are now wealthier than at any time in history despite the weakest and slowest economic recovery since the Great Depression. It’s worth your time to read and reflect on the article.

HOW MUCH ARE WE WORTH?

Bill Dunkelberg, Chief Economist, National Federation of Independent Business

The Federal Reserve recently announced that consumers were now wealthier than at any time in history, this in spite of the weakest recovery from the worst recession since the 1930s. To calculate

Ex-FDIC Chair: Reform Push for Fannie and Freddie ‘Falling Apart’ on NewsMax, article includes audio of the interview, May 16, 2014 Posted: May 19, 2014

Financial consultant and former FDIC Chair William Isaac isn’t dismissing entirely the prospects for a bipartisan bill that would close down the federal government’s troubled home-loan behemoths, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

“The consensus for reform seems to be falling apart, though,” Isaac said Friday on Newsmax TV.

The Senate Banking Committee approved the legislation on Thursday by a 13-9 vote, sending it to the full Senate for debate. Politico reported there is “little chance” the bill will get through Congress in this election year.

Here is the link to the full article

Why the Johnson and Crapo “Taxpayer Protection Act” will not protect taxpayers, by Edward Pinto, Resident Fellow and codirector of International Center on Housing Risk American Enterprise Institute Posted: Mar 27, 2014

A housing bill was recently introduced in the Senate with bi-partisan support. Sponsors claim the bill will get rid of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and eliminate taxpayer exposure to losses in the housing markets. Not so says Ed Pinto, housing policy expert and resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, in the article below published by The Hill. I believe you will find Ed’s article insightful and informative.
The draft bill released on Sunday, March 16 by Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) and Ranking Member Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) will not protect taxpayers from future bailouts.

  • It will replace the implicit federal guarantees enjoyed by Fannie and Freddie with explicit guarantees enjoyed by their successors.
  • It will replace the single-family affordable housing mandates with a new set of affordable housing provisions that will also lead to debased underwriting standards.
  • It will raise taxes on the middle class by imposing a new tax on homeownership that will be used to provide billions annually in furtherance of a misguided policy to promote risky lending to lower income homebuyers.

Experience has shown that any bill which includes an explicit guarantee of an insurance program will fail to protect taxpayers. The proposed Federal Mortgage Insurance Corporation (FMIC) will be no different.

Former FDIC Chairman Isaac to Newsmax: Fed QE Is a ‘Terrible Tax on Senior Citizens’ on MoneyNews, article includes Video of the interview, Februray 14, 2014 By Dan Weil Posted: Feb 18, 2014

Former FDIC Chairman William Isaac has strong objections both to the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing (QE) and its commitment to keep short-term interest rates near zero.

“QE has not been helpful to the economy. In fact, it’s impeding growth, and it’s a terrible tax on senior citizens who are trying to have income for their retirement,” he told John Bachman on “America’s Forum” on Newsmax TV.

“They just can’t find a way to earn money unless they want to jump into the stock market, and a lot of people are afraid to do that.”

Here is the link to the full article

Ex-FDIC head says banks need more leeway to lend By Paul Gores of the Journal Sentinel Milwaukee Posted: Feb 13, 2014

Lax bank regulation contributed to the financial crisis and recession, but overly rigorous bank regulation now is hampering the economic recovery, a former top federal banking official says.

William Isaac, who headed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. from 1981 to 1985, said regulators have overreacted and should be encouraging bankers to lend, not inhibiting lending by piling on new rules.

After every banking crisis, banks and regulators become more conservative, said Isaac, who is scheduled to speak Tuesday at the annual Wisconsin Bankers Association’s Bank Executives Conference at the Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee.

Fannie and Freddie Are Obviously SIFIs. Earth Calling FSOC by Alex Pollock Posted: Jan 31, 2014

[My friend Alex Pollock is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. Here is piece he just published that packs a lot of punch in a very short space.]

January, 2014
Fannie and Freddie Are Obviously SIFIs—Earth Calling FSOC

Alex J. Pollock

The Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC), a big committee of regulators, is playing with making insurance companies and asset managers into “SIFIs” (Systemically Important Financial Institutions), regulated by the Federal Reserve in addition to others. There does not appear to be much of an argument for this, other than the Federal Reserve’s belief in its own ability to know what is right for everybody else—a belief for which the history of the Fed provides no support.