BLOG VIEW: A Holiday Gift List

Written by Phil Hall
on December 22, 2008 No Comments
Categories : Blog View

Well, it's that time of the year again! And as everyone knows, it is better to give than receive. So in the spirit of gift giving, I'd like to offer the following presents to some of the most prominent figures that continue to shape the mortgage banking industry.

Timothy Geithner and Shaun Donovan: a year's supply of extra-strength aspirin and espresso coffee. The incoming secretary of the Treasury and secretary of Housing and Urban Development are inheriting a mess of a proportion that has not been seen since the 1930s. The coming year will require endless patience and careful planning, and few people would envy the stress that Geithner and Donovan face. Good luck, guys – we're rooting for you!

Henry Paulson: a gift certificate to the spa of his choice. The outgoing Treasury secretary went above and beyond – and, on occasion, far outside – the limits of his office to address the economic crisis that whacked the nation. Historians will debate whether Paulson's response was on-target or off-base, but during the course of 2008, it was reassuring to know that someone in Washington was at the steering wheel when the economy went off the road. Which brings us to our next gift recipientâ�¦

Sen. Chris Dodd: a framed copy of his job description. One can only speculate whether the current crisis could have been halted earlier if Dodd, the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, bothered to pay more attention to his job in 2007. For too long, he put his senatorial duties on hold while he relocated to Iowa in a vain attempt to secure the Democratic presidential bid via that state's caucus. Even though Dodd was back in Washington after his disastrous showing in the Iowa caucus in January 2008, his senatorial input left something to be desired.

Ben Bernanke: a retirement planning session. Sorry to be the Grinch here, but perhaps it is time for a new person to lead the Fed. To his credit, Bernanke acknowledged that he underestimated the initial severity of our current crisis. Nonetheless, it may be in the nation's best interest if he ceded his office to someone who is more in vibe with the incoming administration's focus on progressive change.

The nation's community bankers: the Bigger-Is-Not-Better Award. Whereas the money center giants needed Uncle Sam to rescue them from catastrophe, the smaller banks enjoyed a strong and successful year thanks to continuing their winning formula of non-flashy, conservative lending. Not surprisingly, this is one of the very sectors within mortgage origination spared from wreckage and ruin.

The thousands of individuals in the industry who lost their jobs in 2008: the hope for a better 2009. Too much focus has been put on the financial and corporate chaos created by the ongoing crisis, but it needs to be said that there's a significant human element to the story. This year saw drastic layoffs across the face of the industry, with companies either cutting back or going out of business. This is a terrible time to be unemployed, and we are genuinely concerned for those in the industry who are struggling to find work.

The MortgageOrb readers: our gratitude. Thank you for coming by our Web site to keep abreast on the state of the industry. We are grateful for your interest and support, and we look forward to staying in touch in the coming year. Happy Holidays!

– Phil Hall, editor, Secondary Marketing Executive.

(Please address all comments regarding this opinion column to hallp@sme-online.com.)

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