Here in one commercial is everything that is wrong with our economy.
Here is the current theory -- as repulsive as you may find it -- for how our economy works.
Some of you will watch it and nod your heads. Oh yes, Chuck, this is how it works.
As they ask in the commercial: Isn't that that power of America itself?
WTF? Not my America. Not an America I believe in.
Yes, we have created an economy that depends on each of us being willing to spend ourselves into a cyclone of debt, buying things we don't need with money we don't have, so that others can work their mindless jobs producing those things and then they, in turn, can take on more and more debt to buy more stuff....
(Side note: For those refusing to partake, gird your loins for negative interest rates. In America, there is one group of people we really despise more than any other: savers. Greedy, selfish savers. Those who refuse to play by the rules set out in our nice, clean equations. Spend it or we'll simply take it.)
The only thing that would make the economy work better is if Americans could take on hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt with just the push of a button. Imagine making home ownership an impulse buy.
What were they thinking? They were thinking that America needs a hero and that hero is Quicken Loans.
Back in the early 2000's when I was a full time grad student with a part time job, a new consulting company, two mortgages and a failing automobile, I found myself on the phone with Quicken Loans. I had a really nice conversation with a loan agent who was, clearly, trying to screw me over. No money down, easy refinance, low rates, yada yada....they'll send me the paperwork and all I need to do is sign it.
What about my wife? Oh yeah...have her sign it too.
I Googled "Quicken Loans Fraud" and got enough confirmation of my thesis to tell the sales guy, when he wouldn't stop calling me back, that I had Googled "Quicken Loans Fraud". His reply: "Okay. Sorry." Click.
Here's one of the articles you will find today: US Charges Quicken Loans with Mortgage Fraud. It's a fun little read.
The Justice Department is suing Quicken Loans, saying the lender approved hundreds of mortgage loans that didn't meet federal standards, leaving the government stuck with the bill when borrowers defaulted.
The U.S. Department of Justice said Thursday that between September 2007 and December 2011, Quicken approved, underwrote and certified the insurance of hundreds of mortgages that didn't meet federal guidelines.
It said Quicken encouraged its employees to disregard Federal Housing Administration rules and say mortgages met the guidelines when they did not. Quicken sometimes asked appraisers to inflate the value of homes so it could approve the loans, and managers sometimes let underwriters break FHA rules to approve loans, the department said.
The loans were insured by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Quicken filed for reimbursement when the loans defaulted. According to the Justice Department, HUD has already paid millions of dollars in claims on the loans Quicken underwrote, and more claims could be coming.
When historians look back at this time to dissect what happened, I hope they come across this commercial. They'll say: Look at what these crazy people believed! They actually told themselves that everyone could get wealthier by spending more than they had. That they didn't need to produce anything, that they could just live off their strength, the source of which was their willingness to borrow and spend, spend and borrow. How silly they were. You'd think they would have known better.
(Top photo from Wikimedia)