Tuesday, September 30, 2008

 

Who Pays?

The taxpayer pays. The taxpayer always pays. No. Matter. What.

Everyone pays taxes and everyone is the taxpayer. When a blowup happens, it's the taxpayer who will pay. When there is economic destruction, the taxpayer pays. (And, conversely, when we pay taxes there is economic destruction… generally.)

Now that we've dealt that, who should they pay?

Should they pay borrowers, who didn't realize that living expenses might go up but their wages wouldn't, so they might want to default?

Or lenders who didn't expect the borrowers’ wages to stay low and prices to go up, leaving them less to make payments with?

Should we pay the flipper, who bought houses, hopefully with the intention of improving them and quickly selling? He didn’t know costs would go up and home values would go down, decreasing the return on his now costly improvements.

Or should we pay the lenders, who loaned to flippers at low rates, but put a ballooning interest rate on the loan so that the flipper would sell to someone else if he didn’t improve the property fast enough? He didn’t know that improvement costs would go up and tightening budgets would cause home prices to go down.

Or should we pay the banks, who bet that they would not see default risk go up, bet that they would receive sub-prime principal in lump sums, bet that they would not see sub-prime principal payments in installments after 2 years, bet that they would not see interest payments at ballooned rates, then borrowed on those bets and bet bigger?

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