Here's how the seed of this debacle was planted.
"...(This) crisis can trace its roots to Bill Clinton’s signature on legislation making it easier for minority constituents with bad credit to obtain mortgages. In 1995, he had his Treasury Secretary, Robert Rubin, rewrite the lending rules for the Community Reinvestment Act, opening the flood gates of mortgage lending to unqualified borrowers.
This legislation, in effect, applied affirmative action to the lending industry, which is to say that the current crisis is NOT a “free market failure” but the result of socially engineered financial policy by the central government. The financial markets welcomed their new customers with open arms, fueling a real estate boom across the board.
These so-called “subprime mortgages,” which were offered at variable interest rates, were widely perceived as good investments. Investors used the high-risk instruments to secure assets in other markets fueling profits for investment banks and mortgage lenders. The subprime market thus expanded rapidly and the mortgage instruments were used by other firms as collateral for investments in stocks, commodities and the like.
Unfortunately, no one questioned the pell-mell regulatory system of oversight for these transactions until large cracks appeared in our economy’s foundation, the first being the collapse of Countrywide, the nation’s largest subprime lender. Then banks and mortgage lenders large and small began downsizing, dumping assets and closing their doors. Bear Stearns filed for bankruptcy. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, holders of trillions of dollars in mortgages, were bailed out with 200 billion taxpayer dollars. Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy, and insurance giant AIG was given an $85-billion taxpayer prop to keep it solvent.
From an article at The Patriot Post by Mark Alexander