Congratulations to super-sleuth Syed Kamall MEP for uncovering this New York Times article from September 1999 covering the decision by failed US mortgage lender Fannie Mae to “ease the credit requirements on loans purchased from banks and other lenders”.
The article appears to lend credence to the arguments of some commentators over the past couple of weeks that the Clinton administration, who actively encouraged the foolhardy drive to expanded access to unaffordable mortgages and sub-prime lending, should burden at least some of the blame for the crisis.
Even in the heady economic times of the late 1990s, warning sirens were already being sounded about Fannie Mae’s lending practices:
"In moving, even tentatively, into this new area of lending, Fannie Mae is taking on significantly more risk, which may not pose any difficulties during flush economic times. But the government-subsidzed corporation may run into trouble in an economic downturn, prompting a government rescue similar to that of the savings and loans industry in the 1980s".
Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.