As investors left the housing market in the run-up to the meltdown, Wall Street sliced up and repackaged troubled assets based on those shaky mortgages, often buying those new packages themselves. That created fake demand, hid the banks’ real exposure, increased their bonuses — and ultimately made the mortgage crisis worse.
Enticed by profits and bonuses, Wall Street took advantage of complicated mortgage-based instruments to reap billions, only to exacerbate the eventual crash.
A junior analyst at Deutsche Bank protested when a mid-level executive asked him to adjust a spreadsheet to make a mortgage-backed security look less risky. The 2007 episode raises questions about whether the SEC has looked closely enough at the bank’s practices leading up to the financial crisis.
As a draft of the Volcker rule has made the rounds in the last several weeks, it has alternatively caused fits of despair and cries of exultation. And that’s just among the proponents of the regulation.
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