Subprime Virus” Omits the Activist Cure, Mystification in CFPB Republic
6 -- Given the role of predatory lending in the
financial meltdown that still haunts the global economy, the February
10 publication by Oxford University Press of a book on the topic,
“The Subprime Virus” by law professors Kathleen Engel and
Patricia McCoy seemed likely to counter revisionism and re-focus on
the decade long fight against loan sharks.
makes scant mention of community or even consumer activism, much less
the Community Reinvestment Act protests to banks' applications which
results in some of the Federal Reserve Board's few enforcement orders
authors write about HSBC's seminal and fated acquisition of Household
International without mentioning all of the community based
challenges to Household and to the deal, and to HSBC afterward.
writing about the civil rights laws without mentioning how and why
they were passed. It is a form of mystification.
and social explanation, we have yet another narrative of
the economic stations of the cross leading to the seizing up of
global markets. At this point, such re-telling is no longer what is
needed: it is like another book about the moment to moment flight
plans of the 9/11/01 hijackers, and views of airport safety experts.
That said, this one is told in some detail.
lengthy index, the Community Reinvestment Act is not mentioned once.
Meanwhile, the “Solutions” chapter of the book has a four
paragraph section entitled “Ensuring Access to Affordable Credit,”
the purpose of the CRA.
One of many protests at Citigroup - Subprime Virus not seen
recently been appointed to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau,
from which CRA enforcement powers were stripped. If the book is an
indication of awareness of, or respect for, the Community
Reinvestment Act and the grassroots groups which use it, perhaps the
stripping is a blessing in disguise.
not only on past activism that that needed in the future, including
the near future, might be attributable to an inordinate faith in the
Obama administration and the CFPB. But even with a President like
Barack Obama, it is not law professors who are going to protect
consumers and communities. Everything is politics: but “The
Subprime Virus” seems to miss this.
2009 book “Busted” by journalist Edmund Andrews does not purport
to be an expert account. In fact, much of Edwards' story is about how
he fell into foreclosure on a home he bought for his second wife and
their blended family, and how that marriage fell apart. The story
shoots lower, but ends of higher. We recommend it.
* * *
Raise Tax, Dodges Food Prices, Cote d'Ivoire &
and mis-government spreading worldwide, the IMF in Pakistan is
reportedly urging the much-opposed government to raise taxes on
agricultural income, and thereby food prices too.
fortnightly press briefing on Thursday, Inner City Press submitted
four question, including about Pakistan, food prices and Cote
d'Ivoire. IMF spokesperson Caroline Atkinson, calling three of the
four questions “bilateral,” read out and answered only one:
Pakistan, can you confirm the IMF is accepting delay in the Reformed
General Sales Tax, in exchange for the gov't raising other taxes,
such as taxes on agricultural income? What impact could this have on
Atkinson said that what she would confirm was that the IMF had a team
in Pakistan, working closely with the government “to get the program
on track” including “revenue raising measure so that they have the
resources... especially after the floods." But
what safeguards are there that this revenue raising won't further
raise food prices?
called “bilateral” was one directly on
Africa, what is the IMF's response to Botswana
Mohohlo's statement that 'The IMF (International Monetary Fund)
is also lagging behind. I am almost sure the problems of Africa
not reach the board of the IMF.' She added that higher food inflation
in the continent squeezes the poor?”
this is a “bilateral” question -- does that mean, not of general
interest? Those in person at the IMF's briefing asked question after
question about Egypt, even after Atkinson made it clear she would not
answer, saying “we are not political experts.” She would not even
answer if the IMF had been in contact this week with Egypt's finance
Protest in Tunisia, IMF role not acknowledged, other
Qs called bilateral
response to a
question from an Israeli newspaper, Ms. Atkinson acknowledged the
obvious, that events in Egypt would have regional impact. But here is
another question she called bilateral:
Cote d'Ivoire, what is the IMF's comment on the recent sovereign bond
default? What does the IMF think the impacts would be of Cote
d'Ivoire breaking from the CFA and establishing its own currency?
What are the IMF's plans on Cote d'Ivoire?”
the end of the IMF briefing, Spokesperson Atkinson concluded, "I should
just say that we've received some bilateral questions on Botswana, Cote
d'Ivoire and Romania that will be answered bilaterally." This was the
question about protests against the IMF also not answered at the
briefing nor by embargo deadline:
IMF's response to 1000s of people protesting in
Romania after “the
increased the sales tax from 19 to 24 per cent and cut child benefits
to meet demands by the IMF”?
wire service reporter proposed that other reporters at
briefings should only ask questions in which “everyone” is
interested. Perhaps the IMF has adopted this approach. But it goes
around world trumpeting its interest in Africa, for example. How then
are questions about Cote d'Ivoire and Botswana “bilateral”? Watch
* * *
Stronger Governments, Dodges on
Sudan But Answers on Tunisia
of Pakistan and Kosovo and the International
longing for strong governments arose at the IMF's fortnightly media
briefing on Thursday. Inner City Press asked, and IMF spokesperson
Caroline Atkinson read out with a cautionary note, the following on
Pakistan, what is the IMF's thinking after the assassination of
Punjab's governor, as the government loses power -- [here Ms Atkinson
added, “those are Matthew's words”] -- is it realistic to think
the IMF's conditions will be met?”
said Pakistan has been given nine additional months. But what will be
out the rare Balkan question, also from
Inner City Press:
Kosovo, what are the IMF's views on Mr. Thaci's proposal to double
public sector salaries, and on the Council of Europe's allegations
this once and seeming future PM was involved in organ trafficking?”
distasteful the organ reference may have been to Ms. Atkinson, she
replied that “we have, as Matthew may know, an eighteen month”
program with Kosovo, the December consideration of which has been
these two may be that while the IMF does impose conditions on its
loans, it prefers to say that governments, particularly legislatures,
have approved or even chosen between the choices presented by the
IMF. This legitimates the IMF, and also may help in collecting the
money down the road.
no longer even controls large swaths
of its territory -- nor, apparently more importantly to the IMF, its
by Ms. Atkinson was this question,
Tunisia, given the IMF's role and statements, what can IMF say about
the unrest that has followed the death of protester Mohamed Bouazizi
will await the
IMF's acknowledgement and answer of this question, and a more
detailed response on Sudan and the IMF's role in the debt issues, on
which the UN has said “the Bretton Woods institutions are taking
the lead.” Watch this site.
after deadline, the following arrived, with the
notation that it should be attributed to an IMF spokesperson:
deeply regret the recent surge of violence in Tunisia. The IMF
remains engaged with the Tunisian authorities and follows the
developments closely. Unemployment in Tunisia has declined slightly
in the last decade, but remains high, especially among the young. In
this context, IMF staff continues to encourage the authorities to
pursue structural reforms critical to achieve higher growth, enhance
competitiveness and address the problem of persistent high
unemployment. Such reforms include measures to increase productivity
by improving the business environment, reforming labor market policy,
increasing capital investment, and modernizing and strengthening the
for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters
footage, about civilian
in Sri Lanka.
Click here for Inner City
Press' March 27 UN debate
Click here for Inner City
Press March 12 UN (and AIG
Click here for Inner City
Press' Feb 26 UN debate
Click here for Inner City Press' Jan.
16, 2009 debate about Gaza
Click here for Inner City Press'
review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate
Click here for Inner
City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger
Click here from Inner City Press'
December 12 debate on UN double standards
Click here for Inner
City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics
and this October 17 debate, on
Security Council and Obama and the UN.
* * *
usually also available through Google
News and on Lexis-Nexis.
for a Reuters
AlertNet piece by this correspondent
about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click
for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali
Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an
undefined trust fund. Video
some are available
in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.