Hillary Clinton and her surrogates think they have found something to damage Donald Trump, statements he has made about opportunities to profit from a housing market crash.
But have they? A deeper look suggests Trump was prescient in his analysis of the housing market.
Ten years ago Trump was recorded saying, “I sort of hope that (a housing market crash) happens because then, people like me would go in and buy” and “If there is a bubble burst, as they call it, you know you can make a lot of money.”
At a campaign rally on Tuesday, Clinton jumped on the quotes, accusing Trump of wishing for a financial crash so he could “make some money for himself.”
The Democratic National Committee (DNC) piled on, saying in a press release that Trump “cheered on” the collapse of the housing market. The DNC also observed that the housing crash devastated minorities such as Hispanics and African-Americans (who happen to be a key part of Hillary’s base).
“Donald Trump’s lack of concern for the economic well-being of hard-working families shows that he doesn’t have the judgment and temperament to occupy the Oval Office,” wrote DNC spokesperson Luis Miranda.
But another way to look at it is Trump was being pretty smart and perceptive—and if the Clintons had been smart, they could have made some money, too (not that they needed any more).
The 2008 financial crisis was triggered to a significant degree by subprime mortgages, loans made to people with poor credit or with little documentation to back up their financial fitness. These mortgages were transformed into toxic financial products by investment specialists who made a bundle when the products were sold.
The danger these subprime mortgage products posed wasn’t foreseen by Janet Yellen, Chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.
“While a tightening of credit to the subprime sector and foreclosures on existing properties have the potential to deepen the housing downturn, I do not consider it very likely that such developments will have a big effect on overall U.S. economic performance,” Yellen said well into the foreclosure crisis. ” I say this, in part, because these mortgages represent only a small part of the overall outstanding mortgage stock.”
Yellen went on to misread the economy, saying, “I think that the current stance of policy is likely to foster sustainable growth with a gradual ebbing of inflation over time.”
The danger these subprime mortgage products posed also wasn’t foreseen “by the chief executives of America’s premier banks,” said a New York Times book review of the best-selling book, The Big Short. “It was not foreseen by government regulators, by Treasury officials or by the Fed. It was foreseen, however, by a handful of investors, who were aghast at the madness they saw on the Street and who used their prescience to make a fortune off the financial system’s calamitous meltdown.”
Trump should fire back at Hillary by pointing out that she’s made some contentious allegations her supporters might resent. For example, she laid some of the blame for the housing crisis on greedy, dishonest homeowners.
“…certainly borrowers share responsibility as well,” Clinton said in a speech at NASDAQ headquarters. “Homebuyers who paid extra fees to avoid documenting their income should have known they were getting in over their heads” and people across the country “…who were busy buying two, three, four houses to sell for a quick buck don’t deserve our sympathy.”
Nothing’s simple, is it?