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|Wednesday, July 06, 2011|
An email from one of the authors of Reckless Endangerment, Josh Rosner, pushes back against my post on the book and how it is being used by conservatives to try to blame the financial crisis on Fannie, Freddie, the Community Reinvestment Acts (CRA), and Democrats:
Let me make several points in response.
First, I didn't mention the CRA when I was talking about the book; I was careful not to. When the book is discussed, I only talk about Fannie, Freddie, and Democrats (see the quote below, for example). I did bring up the CRA and discussed why the notion that the CRA caused the crisis is at odds with the evidence, but only after trying to turn the discussion toward the more general story the right is trying to sell to the public. It wasn't meant to be connected to the book.
Second, with that said, I think I could have done a better job of introducing the topic. I wrote:
I might have said:
Third, and most importantly, if they "don't take either stance," then I hope that the authors are pushing back just as hard, or harder, against the way the book is being used by those on the right trying to sell the idea that Fannie and Freddie, and yes, the CRA, caused the crisis. When George Will wrote:
Did he get an email? I was careful not to say the authors blamed the CRA, but I don't see the same care in the two paragraphs above. The CRA and the authors are discussed as though the authors are making this argument. Have they asked for a correction from the Washington Post? Have they demanded that others pulling the same tricks rescind their words? I don't know if they have or not, if they have, great. I encourage you to get more aggressive and public in your protests against the book being used for these purposes. But if not, I would ask why I got an email, but others didn't.
Finally, we seem to agree that it wasn't the CRA. What we disagree about is the role of Fannie and Freddie. I expected the authors would disagree with my view that Fannie and Freddie did not play an important role in causing the crisis. After all, as noted above, the book disagrees with Democrats who "pretend" that the GSEs did not play an important role. That's why I presented a fact-based argument (as opposed to pretending) as to why I think this points a finger in the wrong direction.
Mark Thoma is a professor of economics at the University of Oregon.
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