Fact-Checking Brat on the GSEs: David Brat, who pulled off a surprise win against House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the recent Virginia Republican primary, has repeatedly argued that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bear the bulk of responsibility for causing the housing crisis. But Brat's version of events fails to check out, according to Austin Kilgore of National Mortgage News. "Brat exaggerates the already-disputed data of the American Enterprise Institute purporting to show the government-sponsored enterprises' culpability for the collapse," Kilgore writes. "He also appears to miss the distinction between lenders that originate mortgages and secondary market participants like Fannie and Freddie." American Banker readers were divided in their opinions of both Brat and the GSE's blameworthiness. "Private markets caused the subprime mortgage boom, as the concentration of such loans was in the private label securitization market," opined one reader. Another reader argued that Fannie and Freddie do shoulder some responsibility for the crisis: "It wasn't so much the particular mortgages that Fannie and Freddie bought, but the fact that they bought so many of them, keeping the house price bubble inflated," wrote kvillani.
Not-So-Happy Anniversary, Basel II: Former World Bank executive director Per Kurowski takes aim at Basel II on the occasion of its 10-year anniversary. Basel II's capital requirements led banks to "restrict themselves to refinancing the safer past" rather than "the risky future" of small businesses, entrepreneurs and start-ups, Kurowski argues. When supposedly safe bets like Greece and mortgage-backed securities turned sour, he writes, the costs came at the expense of further innovation. "The author makes a strong case for much more accountability for the work of the Basel Committee," wrote one reader. "His case is a lot weaker when it comes to assuming that there is little or no place for risk-weighting in regulatory practice. Basel II (far from implemented in the U.S.) reveals the shortcomings of regulatory models, but it does not prove the lack of value in risk weighting."
Also on the blog: Banks that are going after millennials should prioritize acquiring transactions over deposits, according to technology industry executive Glen Fossella. William Heitman of The Lab Consulting recommended that banks let customers to wait in line for a little while in the name of boosting productivity. Brandon Daniels of Clutch Group interpreted the mixed messages politicians are sending banks about the future of regulation. His verdict: tougher enforcement is likely on the way.
Thomas B. Leonardi, Connecticut's insurance commissioner, responded to last week's op-ed by Hester Peirce about how the downfall of AIG actually serves as an argument against further regulation. "The conclusion that, because of missteps by one regulator or another, all regulation is unnecessary and all that is needed is market pressure is a dangerous fallacy," Leonardi wrote. Ryan Elmer discussed banks' liability for their customers' electronic wire fraud losses and Kenneth A. Shapiro wondered whether it's time for banks to wade back into the life insurance business. Garth Graham explained why some banks are failing to measure the results from their mortgage originations correctly. And a handy BankThink charticle offers a side-by-side comparison of would-be banking disruptors Walmart and the U.S. Postal Service.