Sociedad Bastiat

lunes, octubre 06, 2008

Mortgage-backed security model is infirm

It should now be clear the mortgage-backed security (MBS) model is fundamentally infirm, and only undoing it will suffice, but that will be a major undertaking and has serious implications for the entire financial sector, which is going to have to get used to not being able to raise unlimited capital using smoke and mirrors.

There is also a problem with how it can be done, constitutionally, without violating the Contracts Clause (and the Tenth Amendment, since the Contracts Clause is only a restriction on the states). I have proposed creating jurisdictions for federal Art. III or bankruptcy courts to challenge foreclosures if the original signed note, a complete record of payments received by the servicing agent, and the owner and holder of the note (not just his attorney) be required to personally testify in court (for a corporation that would be a senior official). That would require disaggregation of all those MBS, if not as securities then as transparent administrative processes that could enable evaluation not just of bundles but of each component of them, in nearly real time.

The federal jurisdictions need not overburden the federal courts, as I would expect it to impose similar judicial reform in state courts, something that has already begun.

I do not, as a libertarian, favor regulatory interventions in the sense of administrative agents directing the actions of people, setting standards, or requiring them to report on their activities. The Nondelegation Doctrine needs to be revived, not further buried.

t is worth studying the history of money and finance, going back to John Law. This kind of thing has happened before. It is what led the U.S. Founders to require in the Constitution that only gold or silver coin be legal tender (on state territory). We can question today whether gold or silver are still suited for backing currency, but it should not just be the "full faith and credit" of national governments and their ability to withdraw enough currency from circulation through taxation to offset the amount they print to pay their bills. Perhaps the world should go to backing by something like kilowatt-hours of energy or its equivalent. But not by credit instruments whose value essentially depends on continued economic growth, which will eventually falter, bringing down all or most national currencies.