2009 Person of the Year: The American Taxpayer
There’s an old saying: Money equals power. And if that adage still holds true today, there is no more powerful force in the U.S. housing and financial markets than the American taxpayer. That’s you, dear reader. Your hard-earned tax dollars have gone to fund a dizzying array of bailout programs, from the near-nationalization of two housing finance giants to a full-scale insurance bailout, to liquidity programs designed to replace whatever absence is felt by the flight of investors away from our nation’s financial products. When it came time to declare a Person of the Year for 2009, the choice was clear. There were no other candidates presented for consideration. Even if there were, who could stand a chance against the largest single investor the world has ever seen? What’s more, as this investor, the American taxpayer is remarkably acquiescent in the way his and her money is being handled. The broker, the U.S. government, asks for — and listens to — absolutely no input from its backers. This is achieved without offering the investor any recourse for this investment. The American taxpayer will never see the assets if they don’t perform. On the surface, it’s a terrible investment. There is no use balking against defaults in this case, anyway. But this is possible only through the fortitude of the American taxpayer, who never revolts and always coughs up the dough come April 15th. In 2009, the United States spent more taxpayer money than it spent all the previous years of the nation combined. And the benefit to the Average Joe is marginal: Modification programs will likely only slow the rate of foreclosure, not prevent it. By trying to counter “Too Big to Fail,” the government created a mega-bank environment instead, where only a handful of originators still exist. The bailout, it appears, is only perpetuating the imbalance. The hope for a diverse array of mortgage choices is evaporating as the lenders still left in business double dip on fees. In essence, in this regard, the American taxpayer gets to pay for the exact same product twice. The check is in the mail, sure, but the parcel will never be delivered. Most nations would need to go hat in hand to foreign sovereigns or the International Monetary Fund, but it isn’t so in this country. Thank you, American taxpayer. Consider the coffee shop scenario, where dairy is offered in two forms: fat-free milk and half and half. This is the case where HousingWire is located, in Dallas. At what point was plain old milk no longer offered to tone down the java? If a coffee drinker just wants milk, they are forced to mix it themselves, even though milk is ideal and widely available in the first place. This imbalance of services is no different for the American taxpayer, and the government is now in the position of creating an environment of fear, as if we were running out of milk. Every homeowner is afraid they may lose their home if they have a mortgage. Used to be that credit served as the perfect product to cope with that fear, because with credit comes hope. Hope that is necessary to keep people going with the program. TO READ THE FULL STORY, SUBSCRIBE NOW.