Countrywide Cor…

Countrywide Corruption on Capitol Hill

Four years have passed since the financial crisis that for a time threatened to carry America’s economy into the abyss. The epicenter of the crash was the housing market. No mortgage lender had a more malign influence than Countrywide Financial Corp., which, a House committee found, bought itself political clout by giving cheap loans to important political and industry officials.
So-called influence peddling on Capitol Hill is neither new nor surprising. Although housing is essential for all Americans, home ownership is not. The industry, from builders to realtors to financers, has sought government support to inflate housing demand. And, not incidentally, their profits.
There were a lot of influential players with a role in the subprime lending debacle. Government simultaneously strong-armed and subsidized financial institutions into providing mortgages to people with ever poorer credit ratings. One of the largest was Countrywide Financial Corp., which developed a special relationship with Fannie Mae. The latter, along with its companion government-sponsored enterprise Freddie Mac, did so much to trigger both the financial crisis and succeeding bail-outs.

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