Indirectly addressing concerns that the current Boston North Shore housing market — among others across the nation — is destined to suffer the woes of the housing collapse of less than a decade ago, Former Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke recently shared his thoughts on the subject.
Has Boston North Shore Housing Learned a Lesson?
Bernanke said there were a number of factors that led to the housing bubble and the 2008 financial crisis. He has been quoted as saying “financial regulatory supervision should be the first line of defense against asset price bubbles and other risks to financial stability.” While the Federal Reserve was largely criticized for their monetary policy prior to the crisis, Bernanke contends the policy wasn’t the main reason for the housing bubble. If anything, the Fed may not have done enough to regulate mortgage lending at the time.
He cited growing political support during that time for sub-prime lending as a means to provide the “American Dream” of home ownership. The positive end, therefore, justified the questionable means. And while government regulators were adamant in their efforts to get rid of predatory lending they turned a blind eye toward other bad lending practices. As a result, the Boston North Shore housing market suffered greatly.
Bernanke seems satisfied that a number of specific shortcomings were addressed as a result of the housing bubble and ensuing collapse. In fact, he says, some people feel that mortgages are too hard to get — an “overcorrection” has resulted in trying to prevent a recurrence of the past. Yet he contends the financial system is stronger and banks and other lender capital is higher, creating a more resilient system than before.