June 29, 2009

Blusterin' Barry

Blogger Barry Ritholtz blusters:

I’ve run out of patience with tired memes and discredited claims by fools and partisan.

The rhetoric of those pushing nonsense on the public in an attempt to confuse rather than illuminate — the phrase is “agnotology” – only serves to aid the lobbyists working on behalf of the Banks and Investment houses to maintain the status quo.

All is well, nothing to see here, move along.

Well, its time to put up or shut up: I hereby challenge any of those who believe the CRA [Community Reinvestment Act] is at prime fault in the housing boom and collapse, and economic morass we are in to a debate. The question for debate: “Is the CRA significantly to blame for the credit crisis?”

A mutually agreed upon time and place, outcome determined by a fair jury, for any dollar amount between $10,000 up to $100,000 dollars (i.e., for more than just bragging rights).

The nonsense rhetoric blogged about has no cost to those pushing these discredited memes — but interferes in the societal attempts to understand how these problems arose and then how to fix them. Perhaps this will help clarify the issue by forcing those with partisan agendas to stand behind their claims.

Which of the many “CRA was a major factor” proponents have the courage of their conviction to step forward?

I would certainly debate him on the topic "Diversity was a major factor in the mortgage meltdown."

The causes are much bigger than the Community Redevelopment Act. I've always argued that George W. Bush's drive to add 5.5 million minority homeowners, as enunciated at the October 15, 2002 White House Conference on Increasing Minority Homeownership, by abolishing down payment requirements and by allowing "low doc" mortages (a.k.a., liar loans) was more directly responsible. But they are obviously both part of the same overall Diversity mindset.

Heck, I'd debate him for free.

Right here, Barry.

31 comments:

outlaw josey wales said...

Why post here then? If you are right, you stand to win a substantial amount of money.

Post on his blog and accept the challenge.

Chief Seattle said...

"Is the CRA significantly to blame for the credit crisis?"

Well, the CRA proponents claim that without it, banks would have continued their redlining policies. So whatever additional borrowing has been done by minorities over the pre-CRA baseline, times the minority default rate, is the contribution of the CRA to the crisis.

If you wanted to get fancy about it, you could use the correlation between minority borrowing and majority borrowing to extrapolate pre-CRA numbers based on any changes in overall borrowing.

Either the CRA worked to increase minority borrowing, or it didn't because banks aren't racist any more. Anyone arguing the second case should agree that the CRA can be scrapped as useless regulation.

Bob said...

I think he wants you to put up half the prize money with the winner getting all of it.

As he phrased it you'll lose. What you've argued, correctly, is that a large part of the problem was loans to NAMs.

The reason you won't win, however, is the CRA had nothing to do with the massive number of loans to minorities during the boom, but the rapid decline in underwriting standards.

The CRA had nothing to do with this, rather the problem was the dumb money willing to loan someone $700,000 on a house in LA ghettos. No law forced banks or mortgage investors to do this.

Without this dumb money we would have had no 0-down loans, no Angelo Mozillo, no boom, no bust.

Anonymous said...

as steve suggestetd, This is how I think we should oppose AA: start a loud, in your face campaign of "YOU GO FIRST" Emily Blazeon, you're worried about blacks not being promoted? Give up YOUR JOB. You want diverisity YOU GO FIRST.

Anonymous said...

Mano a mano.

Anonymous said...

You need to distill the debate down to a set of eye-brow raising quantitative assesssments. Some of the figures from Tino here would help.

% of defaults by NAMs:
$ value of defaults by NAMs:
% increase in NAM mortgages credited to CRA:

And so on. Otherwise the "debate" will be about who plays most to the emotions of the crowd.

josh said...

Why not post over their to see if you can find a topic you both can agree upon? Would you go so far as to say "government programs that were intended to promote diversity or favor minorities was a major cause of the financial crisis?

bg said...

Barry has got blog that was among the Top 10 in the financial blogosphere in January.

Since then, about 25% of his posts are devoted to promote his book and this speeches. Another 50% of his posts, just like Karl Denninger, are devoted to populist attacks against the IBanks and Hedge Funds.

The rest of his posts are mere reports from other people and SWPL feel good articles.Thus he started a jihad against the CRA-hypothesis in order to boost his SWPL status among the hedge-fund hating SWPL crowd

KingM said...

I'm with Bob on this one. The whole issue is enormously complex and you'd be hard pressed to prove anything. I think Steve has made a good case, but it's also true that we just emerged in an era when credit card offers came unsolicited in the mail to my elementary aged children.

How do you extract the CRA-induced loans from all the other poor risk choices? And how do you extract the moral hazards of easy credit from other factors like the normal business cycle and the bubble economics of the last fifteen years?

Eric said...

Steve,

Much of your writings are dead-on and I've long admired your willingness to speak the truth despite it being unpopular. People would benefit from giving your ideas and point of view true consideration, which they unfortunately don't.

But I respectfully disagree with your assertion that "Diversity was a major factor in the mortgage meltdown."

Race/IQ are useful mental models, but beware the "man with a hammer syndrome" (to whom everything appears a nail).

(Minority) subprime was a problem but merely part of the bigger national housing bubble. The housing bubble, in turn, was part of a bigger credit/debt bubble that drove up prices worldwide in every asset class (stocks, commodities, art, real estate) from early 2000s to 2007. Much of the liquidity for this stemmed from the Japanese Yen carry trade (participants borrowed yen at 0% and reinvested at higher rates).

The HBD community is generally right about race/sex/IQ/evolutionary psych but has blind spots/ignorance about economic/financial matters. Blogs like Barry's Big Picture get it in regards to economics (as opposed to CNBC, the Fed, Wall Street) but don't incorporate race realism in their thinking.

Both groups would be well suited to look at and consider each other's expertise.

Stopped Clock said...

Is Bazelon non-Hispanic? I just assumed it was a Hispanic name. If so she has nothing to lose from supporting AA.

FamilySearch.org suggests that it's a Ukrainian name, though that seems highly unusual.

Dennis Elliott said...

I suspect the CRA at its inception was not a seriously inept or dangerous effort at legislation. That is, I supect there were cases where people who could and would pay were turned down for outright prejudice based on color, location or culture. Whether or not that required federal intervention rather than legal intervention under existing statute is another question,

The problem came when the Clinton administration upped the ante by controlling bank expansion and other banking practices unless they (the banks)met high and unappealable quotas for such loans and groups like ACORN were allowed to extort the loans from the banks through outright physical
intimidation. The two-level extortion effort, I think, forced the bank into the risky loans as well as the too-clever-by-half insurance vehickes to protect themselves from such loans.
The runup in oil prices (where did that come from just prior to the election?)provided the catalyst to tip the whole shaky structue over the edge.

Anonymous said...

I admit I read both blogs regularly and have a lot of respect for both Steve and Barry. This has created some significant cognitive dissonance. My sense is that Barry is a better hard statistics guy, Steve is more perceptive in tracing indirect linkeage and relationships.

I'm going with Steve on this one. CRA might not have been 'directly' responsible for anything, but it certainly nudged the mortgage financing industry down its disastrous and irresponsible path.

PR

Marc B said...

"And so on. Otherwise the "debate" will be about who plays most to the emotions of the crowd."

I am in agreement. There were so many other factors contributing to the current economic predicament that a quantitative analysis seems like the way to determine the impact. My suspicion is that Barry would simply dismiss these numbers and you would end up no where with him since he is on a mission.

Anonymous said...

Don't bother Steve, he won't debate you on the topic of diversity ideology, because he knows he'd lose. Liberals only debate when they are allowed to frame the issue such that they know that they will win, which is why he limits the topic specifically to the CRA. You would bring up all of the government anti-redlining policies that led to bad loans to NAM's, and he'd say "but that wasn't technically part of the CRA, which is what we're debating here." Don't think that ol' Barry didn't frame his debate topic so narrowly for a reason!

Of course the simple facts of the matter are, bad loans to NAMs were a major part of the mortgage melt down, and the government actively encouraged those loans, to the point of coercion, and the CRA was only a small part of the big anti-redlining picture. Debating the CRA alone is sort of like debating the proposition that a certain bomb dropped on Pearl Harbor is what brought the U.S. into WWII. You certainly couldn't prove that, but you could prove all the bombs were part of a larger phenomenon that produced the overall effect. Ditto the CRA. Propose the topic "Government policies encouraging minority homeownership were not a major factor in the mortgage meltdown. I'll bet ol' Barry wouldn't touch that topic with a ten foot pole.

headache said...

Steve is wise to stay out of the lion's den. More mainstream sites/bloggers are hopelessly rigged against truth tellers like Steve. Why let them get away with their antics? If they are serious they can come along to Steve's simple cavern and we can watch the action. A thread with read-only rights would be fine.

Dennis Mangan said...

It's pretty easy to see who's right here, namely the one who calmly argues the facts without getting all bent out of shape that the argument gets in the way of his pet (liberal) ideology. The fact that Ritholz is just so P.O.'d that anyone would dare argue that the CRA pushed the bubble is good prima facie evidence that someone's ox is being gored. His.

Pat Shuff said...

This latest CRA dustup sparked by Clusterstock seems under full-scale assault as a fringe, minority view, the war machinery manned by the tolerant and defenders of all things minority.

Carney will be destroyed for uttering that which must not be said so as to preclude any future similar unpleasantness. But yet, it moves.

Chris said...

Is Bazelon non-Hispanic? I just assumed it was a Hispanic name.

Google "Jewish judge in every sense."

Jason said...

Yes, there were a lot of contributing factors, but please. You can't dump $4.2 trillion into any market with no effect. And the burden of proof must rest with those who claim we could, and did. It is an extraordinary claim.

You might as well claim to be able to catch bullets in your teeth. The very existence of force raises the question of how it can be safely dissipated. And $4.2 trillion is a lot of monetary force.

I don't think it was safely dissipated. I think that particular bullet created at least one of the gaping wounds that we're bleeding out of today. If you think otherwise, I'd really like an explanation of how the trick was done.

Anonymous said...

"I admit I read both blogs regularly and have a lot of respect for both Steve and Barry. This has created some significant cognitive dissonance. My sense is that Barry is a better hard statistics guy, Steve is more perceptive in tracing indirect linkeage and relationships.

I'm going with Steve on this one. CRA might not have been 'directly' responsible for anything, but it certainly nudged the mortgage financing industry down its disastrous and irresponsible path."

I will gratefully take your statements at face value. The CRA might not have directly caused the mortgage crisis, but it certainly led to the debasement of lending standards that encouraged people like Mozilo to go buck-wild in search of short-term profits.

The increase in minority default rates is clear evidence that many unwise loans were made, and the fact that white default rates did not substantially increase points to the CRA as a causal factor. "Deregulation" continues to be the scapegoat of this shocking market correction, but only insane fantasy-land regulation could have caused so many of these formerly solvent institutions to embark upon the road to bankruptcy.

Anonymous said...

Stopped Clock - Im not sure of the exact origins of the name Bazelon. However, given that her grandfather, the bigshot judge, was Jewish and her cousin B-Fri was Jewish and her husband seems to be Jewish...Id be willing to wager that she is Jewish too.

Ritholtz said...

How about some evidence, hard data, facts?

Or are you more comfortable with nudges, hunches and squishy junk.

Show me some hard evidence!

David Davenport said...

Since then, about 25% of his posts are devoted to promote his book and this speeches.

And about 26% of his blog posts are devoted to announcing that Barry's scheduled for another appearance on CNBC.

Mr. Ritholz is also an investment adviser when he' not otherwise engaged. He and his staff would be pleased to help you handle your money.

Another 50% of his posts, just like Karl Denninger, are devoted to populist attacks against the IBanks and Hedge Funds.

Yes, Mr. Ritholz is in the side of the angels with respect to Wall Street, but he's a garden variety lieberal Democrat otherwise. I'm pretty sure he voted for The Half Blood Prince (TM), just as Jim Cramer and Warren Buffet did. ...Cognitive dissonance.

Chris said...

I'm already sensing some retreat in Ritholtz's tone. No worries, though, he's probably got his "Sailer's a professional racist" trump card at the ready.

coldequation said...

Realistically, this debate would be very difficult to implement, because there are probably not n people in the world, where n is the size of the jury, whose neutrality both Steve (or other HBDer) and Barry would vouch for.

Barry comes off like Kent Hovind, the creationist who has a standing offer of $250,000 to anyone who can show evidence of evolution. Of course, this has never been and never will be paid.

Does anybody here know enough Latin to name a new fallacy wherein your opponent's lack of sufficient stupidity to sign on to some poorly designed tournament proves your position correct?

Basically, Barry looks like a drama queen jackass, and he ought to just challenge Steve and others to a normal debate like a normal person if he thinks this is worth arguing over.

Anonymous said...

Hey! I hereby offer $1,000,000,000,000 to anyone who can prove that Steve Sailer and Barry Ritholtz actually exist!

(Of course..., heh heh..., you're going to have to prove it to my satisfaction. That's not going to be as easy as you might think....)

FuturePundit said...

One needs to ask: What constitutes evidence. I think you have to debate that and then, once that's established, trot out the evidence.

I suspect he's going to raise the evidence bar really high, far higher than he'd accept for a thesis he agrees with. I'd see it otherwise if he didn't, say you say, bluster.

bg said...

Barry is being a fool.

People like Steve Sailer shouldn't be debated, but plainly ignored. The very mentioning of the Isteve topcis hurts the liberal establishment.

Barry should follow the satndard liberal playbook in dealing with Steve: scream "racist" and ignore data. Just look and how Tyler Cowen of marginal revolution did.

Seamus said...

Is Bazelon non-Hispanic? I just assumed it was a Hispanic name. If so she has nothing to lose from supporting AA.

The significant thing about Bazelon's ancestry is not that it came from Latin America (it didn't), but that she is the granddaughter of the late David Bazelon, who for years worked mischief on the law from his seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. It's nice to see that irrationality is a family tradition.

suomynonA said...

Stopped Clock: FamilySearch.org suggests that it's a Ukrainian name, though that seems highly unusual.

685 HITS

...On Tuesdays, we usually discuss matters of law, often constitutional law, with Slate legal analyst Emily Bazelon. Today, our topic is a more ancient kind of law, specifically Jewish law, and whether it's something one can really be expected to uphold at the age of 13. That's the age for a traditional rite of passage for Jewish teens. It's called the bar or bat mitzvah. Emily's been reviewing a new book about the traditions of bar and bat mitzvahs. It's called "Thirteen and a Day." And in this book--and, indeed, in the Jewish community--Emily...

...Ten years later, hoping that my attention span had increased, Simon made sure that I came to hear
Bruce Bazelon speak about the Kovno Jews in Harrisburg. The first surprise was that the Morrison Gallery was packed; the staff kept bringing in more chairs. Th e next surprise was Bruce's accessible style that kept me engaged and wanting more when the talk ended. Today I'm still thinking about the ties that bind our synagogues and community together...


...All 11 of the congregation's Torahs had been recovered and taken to the Jewish Community Center, said synagogue historian Bruce Bazelon. Some are more damaged than others, he said, but he was optimistic they could be restored...

...$250-$999: Emily Bazelon and Paul Sabin...

...Individual & Group Gifts: Edward & Jackie Bazelon...

...JANUARY YAHRZEITS 2007/5767 *Names Inscribed on Memorial Board *Sara Berry Bazelon...

etc etc etc

PS: Apparently Bazelo is the word for "Basil, Switzerland" in Ludovic Lazarus Zamenhof's pseudo-language.

If that's the case - that these people adopted a name for themselves from a pseudo-language - then you're dealing with folks who are certifiably insane.