RE FRANK Melfi's analysis of the mortgage foreclosure crisis:
Like a good conservative, he blames the government, and, in this case, I agree with him, but not for his cited reasons.
The government never forced mortgage brokers into given loans to unqualified applicants. It was the conservatives running our government who loosened all the checks and balances that would have kept greedy brokers at bay.
Melfi laments how easily people with low credit scores got home loans they couldn't possibly afford. Well, who approved those loans?
The mortgage industry did, and they knew what they were doing was wrong. An internal memo from JP Morgan Chase has surfaced (as reported by the San Francisco Chronicle) showing brokers at that company how to override their in-house computer program that would have weeded out the unqualified loan applicants.
How did it work? Simple, the memo told the brokers to lie about the income of the applicants so JP Morgan Chase could collect their broker's fees. And if you think this was an isolated case, think again!
Melfi excoriates the people with low credit scores and then blames the government again, "How can these people be expected to be responsible . . . when the government has shown them they needn't be?"
I'm afraid I didn't get the memo from Uncle Sam telling me it was okay to be financially irresponsible. But it seems the mortgage brokers did.
Isn't it amazing? Every time the government loosens its rules for financial institutions, they get into trouble (see the S&L scandals, the dot-com fiasco, not to mention the Great Depression). Actually, when Melfi says in his letter, "Financial responsibility is alien to some," he certainly hits the nail on the head. Only he should be referring to fast-buck brokers who approved loans they knew couldn't possibly be paid back while they greedily pocketed the fees such loans generated.
Michael McGonigle, Philadelphia