Econ4, which is a group of reform minded economists is presenting a series of videos on major topics where it believes our policies are seriously out of whack. From their mission statement:
The economic crisis we face today is not only a crisis of the economy. It is also a crisis of economics. The free-market fundamentalism that attained ideological dominance in the final decades of the 20th century has been discredited by financial collapse, global imbalances, mass unemployment, and environmental degradation. To confront these challenges, we need an economics for the 21st century.
We need an economics for open minds that breaks free of the closed-minded economic dogmas of the past. We need an economics that aims to secure long-run human well-being, not an economics preoccupied with maximizing short-run output and profits. We need an economics that recognizes that we need to safeguard the Earth for our children and generations to come. We need an economics for people, the planet, and the future.
Their latest video release is on housing and foreclosures. Your humble blogger is a participant.
Concurrent with the release of the video, they’ve published this statement:
We are economists who think that the economy should serve people, the planet and the future.
Four million families have lost their homes to foreclosure in the Great Recession. Today another four million or more face the same fate. This devastation was triggered by unscrupulous financiers and exacerbated by government policies that put banker bonuses ahead of homeowner solvency.
Some blame families for foolishly pursuing the American Dream of homeownership. They think government assistance for banks is OK, but homeowners should be left to take “free-market” medicine.
Some claim that the solution for the housing crisis is to extend and pretend, to perpetuate make-believe values on bank balance sheets rather than to modify principal based on real housing prices. These policies may be a dream for bankers, but they’re a nightmare for homeowners.
We oppose treating the nation’s housing as a bundle of assets to be sliced, diced, flipped, and bailed out in pursuit of inflated profits and bonuses.
We call for reality-based, ethically grounded housing policies that restore stability to families and sanity to markets.
We call for mandatory partial reductions of mortgage principal whenever this can keep a family in its home. We call for America’s best run housing non-profits to be paid to provide the counsel required to determine when such modifications will work. We call for civil and, when necessary, criminal sanctions on banks and loan-servicing companies whose employees intentionally obstruct implementation of mandated loan modifications.
We call for amending bankruptcy laws to restore pre-2005 rules that protected families and communities from bank depredations.
We call for immediate return to the rule of law by requiring those who seek to foreclose to demonstrate they have the proper title and rights to do so – with stiff legal penalties if they ignore the law.
In response to recent moves by the top 1% to buy distressed housing and convert it to rental stock as absentee landlords, we call for local, state and national standards to protect families from predatory rental practices.
We extend our support to all who are working in the private, non-profit, and public sectors to promote access to affordable and stable housing as a human right of families and an asset for