More people in positions of power — government regulators, especially — should have foreseen the subprime financial crisis coming.
Summers: "Issues of women's intrinsic aptitude?"
They could have saved us from this mess.
But wait …
Three regulators did indeed ring warning bells — at the right time, in the right places, and loud enough for other banking and financial system overseers.
All three were women: Brooksley Born, Sheila Bair and Susan Bies.
All three were ignored.
You may have heard before about the warnings issued by Born, the head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission in the 1990s, and Bair, the chairwoman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. from 2006 to 2011.
Bies’ concerns, however, came to light recently when the Federal Reserve released transcripts of its policy meetings from 2006, a full two years before the crisis exploded.
Bies was a central bank board member from 2001 to 2007. Several times in the transcripts she said she was worried about the housing bubble.
Bies warned fellow board members that exotic mortgages — for instance, negative amortization loans in which balances become bigger and not smaller over time — were too dangerous for consumers.
“The growing ingenuity in the mortgage sector is making me more nervous as we go forward in this cycle, rather than comforted that we have learned a lesson. Some of the models the banks are using clearly were built in times of falling interest rates and rising housing prices. It is not clear what may happen when either of those trends turns around.”