Meantime, also in MBIA deposition reporting from before Christmas, the NYT’s Gretchen Morgenson flags Angelo Mozilo’s astonishing testimony in the suit.
“The cause of the problems of foreclosures is not created by Countrywide, nor M.B.I.A. This is all about an unprecedented, cataclysmic situation, unprecedented in the history of this country. Values in this country dropped 50 percent…
“And for the first time in the history of this country, people decided that they were going to leave their homes because the value of their home was below the mortgage amount,” Mr. Mozilo said. “Never in the history of this country did that ever happen, and that could never have been assessed in the risk profile. These people didn’t lose their jobs. They didn’t lose their health. They didn’t lose their marriage. Those are the three factors that cause foreclosure. They left their home because the values went below the mortgage. That’s what caused the problem.
“So I have no regrets about how I — how Countrywide was run. It was a world-class company,” Mr. Mozilo went on. “So your tirade about foreclosures and lawsuits is nonsensical and insulting. Countrywide did not cause this problem. We made no loans in Greece. We made no loans in Ireland. We made no loans in Portugal. This is a worldwide financial crisis that was totally a shock to the system.”
Hey, Angelo, this is not a chicken-and-egg problem. The financial crisis was caused by the bad lending institutionalized by Countrywide and others.
— It’s nice to see Paul Krugman talk about the importance of the institution he works for, particularly in the wake of some awfully silly talk during the the Nate Silver/Margaret Sullivan dustup that Silver didn’t gain immensely from his association with the NYT.
So first of all, let’s talk frankly about the job I have. The New York Times isn’t just some newspaper somewhere, it’s the nation’s paper of record. As a result, being an op-ed columnist at the Times is a pretty big deal — one I’m immensely grateful to have been granted — and those who hold the position, if they know how to use it effectively, have a lot more influence on national debate than, say, most senators. Does anyone doubt that the White House pays attention to what I write?
Now, officials inside the administration can of course have even more influence — but only if they’re good at a very different kind of game, that of persuading the president and his inner circle in behind-closed-doors discussion. And everything I know about myself says that I’m not very good at that game.
Read Audit Boss Dean Starkman’s “Confidence Game” for more on the importance of institutions in a digital age.