If you’ve not read Daniel Henninger’s column in the October 2, 2008 edition of The Wall Street Journal, I encourage you to. In this column, Mr. Henninger defines the term “moral hazard”, particularly as it relates to Wall Street, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and Congress. He writes:
Borrowers across America took a dive for low- or no-down-payment mortgages buoyed by the Federal Reserve’s low-risk interest rates. Wall Street sliced the mortgages thinner than prosciutto ham, ‘spreading risk’, and sold pieces all over the world, where, like magic, they seemed to fatten balance sheets. The deal was so win-win that Bear Stearns, Lehman, Merrill and the rest of the world’s mega banks engorged on their own product. It was as if the foie gras geese forced corn and fat down their own throats. The risk of exploding seemed to be nil.
For behind it all sat Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, running mortgage liquidity into the nation’s neighborhoods like an open fire hydrant…Congress, of course, is a temple to moral hazard.
Finally, someone who understands the joke of it all. Well done, Mr. Henninger!