Robert J. Samuelson: Housing market has moved from bubble to bottleneck

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 20 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

Maybe falling unemployment and rising house prices — both credit pluses — will ease the anti-lending bias. Maybe regulatory changes involving Fannie and Freddie will encourage lending. Or maybe not.

Public policy faces a contradiction. There's a powerful impulse to blame banks for the financial crisis and to "make them pay." Just recently, the Obama administration sued Bank of America, charging it with fraud in selling an $850 million worth of mortgage-backed bonds. (The bank denied the charge.) These attacks remind banks of mortgage lending's perils. "Every time a lender is publicly sued or flogged," says Cecala, "makes it less likely they'll loosen standards." What's politically convenient is economically damaging. Which do we favor?

Robert J. Samuelson is a Washington Post columnist.

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