The global effects of the 2008 financial crisis were felt for years, making it one of the most severe economic downturns in history. Several complicated causes contributed to its development, such as a housing market bubble, reckless lending practices, and the widespread use of sophisticated financial instruments. The secondary mortgage market, a vital part of the financial system that allowed banks and other financial institutions to bundle and sell mortgages as securities to investors, was one of the significant elements that contributed to the crisis.
Since it encouraged lenders to adopt riskier lending techniques, such as providing subprime mortgages to people with bad credit and a high chance of default, the secondary mortgage market was crucial to the crisis. Subprime mortgages were frequently combined with other mortgages and marketed to investors as mortgage-backed securities (MBS). Although the underlying mortgages were meant to underpin the MBS, many were backed by subprime mortgages that were likely to default. When more and more consumers stopped making mortgage payments, the value of the MBS fell, resulting in significant losses and liquidity issues for the whole banking system.
The secondary mortgage market mainly fueled the housing bubble before the crisis. By creating and selling mortgages, lenders could make substantial profits, which sparked a boom in home demand and a sharp rise in housing costs. Yet, speculative demand from investors purchasing properties to sell them for a profit caused the property prices to rise above what was sustainable. The value of the MBS fell during the housing market’s collapse, resulting in significant losses and liquidity issues for the whole banking system.
The U.S. Housing Market Boom and the Emergence of Subprime Lending
Early 2000s U.S. housing market boom was a time of quick expansion and rising home prices, fueled in part by increased housing demand and laxer lending requirements. Subprime financing became popular then, allowing borrowers with bad credit records who couldn’t ordinarily get a mortgage to get one. For customers who couldn’t qualify for a standard mortgage, subprime mortgages offered more liberal conditions and higher interest rates than conventional mortgages.
During the housing market boom, the subprime lending business expanded quickly due to many lenders aggressively selling these mortgages to consumers unaware of the hazards associated. It took a lot of work for consumers to keep up with their payments because lenders frequently employed adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) with low beginning interest rates that ultimately reset at higher speeds. In the secondary mortgage market, many subprime mortgages were also marketed as part of mortgage-backed securities (MBS).
Nevertheless, once the housing market started to slow down and prices started to fall, many borrowers who had obtained subprime mortgages discovered they could not make their payments. When foreclosures increased, and the value of MBS backed by subprime mortgages fell, the financial sector suffered significant losses. Many homeowners lost their houses due to the ensuing financial crisis, and many financial institutions and investors suffered substantial losses.
The development of subprime lending and the subsequent collapse of the housing market clarified the importance of solid financial system regulation. Reforms were implemented in reaction to the crisis to promote accountability and transparency in the financial industry and to stop reckless lending practices that caused the housing market boom and subsequent crashes. To safeguard customers from predatory lending practices, these changes included new mortgage lending laws as well as the establishment of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The financial crisis also made clear the necessity for improved risk management procedures and secondary mortgage market regulation to guard against future occurrences of the systemic vulnerabilities that caused the financial crisis.
How the Secondary Mortgage Market Fueled Risky Lending Practices
By offering a ready market for the mortgages they generated, the secondary mortgage market encouraged lenders to engage in unsafe lending practices. The risk of default was transferred to the investors who bought these securities due to the market’s incentives for lenders to originate mortgages, package them into MBS, and sell them to investors. As a result, sophisticated financial vehicles like collateralized debt obligations (CDOs), which were made by bundling MBS and other forms of debt, increased.
Also, because they could sell the mortgages to investors rather than retaining them on their own books, lenders were better able to issue mortgages thanks to the secondary mortgage market. Lenders began to modify their lending criteria as a result, giving mortgages to applicants who couldn’t otherwise qualify due to their lack of income or credit history. ARMs, or adjustable-rate mortgages, were also well-liked because they permitted borrowers to pay low interest rates up front before the rates increased later.
Because to investors’ eagerness to purchase MBS and other instruments in the expectation of earning large profits, the secondary mortgage market also helped to foster a culture of speculation. As a result, housing demand skyrocketed and more individuals joined the housing market, many of whom were unable to afford to buy a home. This resulted in a sharp rise in housing costs. A housing market bubble that later burst was caused by loose lending rules, adjustable-rate mortgages, and a speculative mentality, which contributed to the financial crisis of 2008.
Government-Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs): Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s Involvement in the Crisis
Businesses sponsored by the government (GSEs) The 2008 financial crisis was significantly influenced by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The U.S. government established Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in order to boost homeownership by supplying liquidity to the housing market. They accomplished this by acquiring mortgages from banks and other lending institutions, bundling them into mortgage-backed securities (MBS), and then offering these securities for sale to investors.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were aggressive buyers of subprime mortgages and other problematic loans during the housing market boom in the secondary mortgage market. This made it possible for lenders to continue issuing hazardous loans since they could sell them to the GSEs, who then packaged and sold the MBS to investors.
During the financial crisis, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s participation in the secondary mortgage market had a significant impact. Subprime mortgage holders were unable to make their payments as the housing market started to fall, which resulted in numerous defaults and foreclosures. This led to a sharp decline in the value of MBS backed by subprime mortgages, which resulted in substantial losses for investors.
Due to their extensive purchases of these subprime mortgages, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac also faced large losses. The collapse of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2008 was prevented by the U.S. government’s intervention because they had grown to be too large to fail. To calm the housing market, the government placed the two organizations under conservatorship, essentially assuming control of them.
The financial crisis and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s participation in the housing market made clear the necessity for improved GSE supervision. The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) was established in 2010 as a result of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Its duties include managing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and enhancing secondary mortgage market regulation. The FHFA was granted extensive authority to oversee the GSEs, including the power to establish capital requirements and restrict their operations.
Lehman Brothers and the Contagion: The Global Impact of the Crisis and the Credit Freeze
A major contributor to the 2008 financial crisis was the international financial services company Lehman Brothers. Lehman Brothers’ collapse in September 2008 had a profound influence on global financial markets due to the shockwaves it caused across the global financial system.
A credit freeze resulted after Lehman Brothers’ collapse as investors and financial institutions were reluctant to lend money to other institutions for concern that they may also experience default. This made it harder for households and companies to get credit, which decreased spending and caused the economy to collapse. The credit freeze also had an impact on the market for interbank lending, making it challenging for banks to borrow money from one another and escalating the crisis.
Lehman Brothers and other U.S. banks were heavily exposed by many financial institutions in Europe, where the crisis had a particularly negative impact. Many significant financial institutions in Europe, notably Northern Rock in the United Kingdom and Dexia in Belgium, collapsed as a result of the crisis. A number of nations in the Eurozone experienced serious economic issues as a result of the crisis, necessitating financial support from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.
A variety of policies were put in place by governments and central banks all over the world to stabilize the financial system and stop the worsening of the economic downturn. These actions included massive liquidity injections into the financial system, financial institution bailouts, and the adoption of new rules to increase the financial system’s resilience.
The Aftermath: Regulatory Reforms and Lessons Learned from the Crisis
The necessity of strengthening risk management procedures in the financial industry was one of the most important lessons to be learnt from the crisis. The crisis was exacerbated by the fact that some financial institutions had participated in reckless lending practices and made significant investments in intricate financial products backed by mortgages. Increased transparency and reporting requirements, stress testing of financial institutions, and enhanced risk management procedures for complex financial products are just a few of the regulatory changes that have been enacted to strengthen risk management practices in the financial industry.
The need for tighter financial sector regulation was another crucial lesson from the crisis. The financial crisis brought to light the regulatory system’s flaws, which allowed hazardous lending practices and excessive risk-taking to flourish. As a result, regulatory agencies developed new rules to strengthen the supervision of financial institutions. These rules included stricter capital and liquidity requirements, limitations on risky lending practices, and enhanced systemic risk monitoring.
The crisis also prompted the establishment of new regulatory organizations, such as the European Systemic Risk Board and the Financial Stability Oversight Council, whose jobs include identifying and mitigating systemic threats to the financial system.
The crisis also highlighted how crucial consumer protection is in the financial systems. During the crisis, financial firms deceived or exploited numerous people, which damaged consumer confidence in the financial system. Consumer protection has been improved by regulatory reforms, such as the establishment of the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Agency and the adoption of new rules to guarantee the fairness and transparency of financial goods and services.