Lenders Put the Lies in Liar’s Loans and Bear the Principal Moral Culpability

By William K. Black

A reader has asked several important questions about liar’s loans that are critical to understanding the causes of the ongoing U.S. crisis. By 2006, half of all loans called “subprime” were also liar’s loans. Roughly one-third of all home loans made in 2006 were liar’s loans. The crisis was originally called a “subprime” crisis, but it was always a liar’s loan crisis. The reader is correct to inquire about causation and moral culpability… Yes, “liar’s” loans are what the industry called “stated income” and “alt-a” loans when they were talking among themselves. Income was the primary category that was “stated” – i.e., listed without any verification as to accuracy – in a liar’s loans. Some liar’s loans, however, also “stated” employment, assets, and liabilities. “Stated income” is a euphemism for a liar’s loans, but it is at least honest about its insanity. Readers get it right immediately – they understand that no honest mortgage lender would make loans on this basis. (I expand on this point below.)

Consumer Credit: Healing but Still in Bad Shape

Consumer credit per capita is no longer declining according to the NY Fed in 1Q2011. But consumer credit has a long way to go to get healthy. The most rapidly growing area of credit is for student loans, an area that has come under increasing scrutiny for abuse plus lack of efficiency and effectiveness.

This Time Had Better Be Different: House Prices and the Banks

Steve Keen looks at 130 years of home value, mortgage debt, total debt and bank stock history. He finds this time is different for the Australian housing bubble, but not in a good way: the effects now could be worse.