The Great Debate

from Commentaries:

Securitization survives the fall

A year after the government's seizure of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and AIG , not to mention the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers that sent the global financial system into a tailspin, very little has changed to prevent debt from being sliced and diced, again and again.

This is a mistake. Although there were many factors contributing to the downfall of the global financial system, the repackaging of toxic debt into esoteric financial products was at the heart of the credit crisis when it erupted in 2007.

It's easy to forget, particularly when many are focused on anniversary tick-tock accounts of the last days of Lehman Brothers, how nasty CDOs -- or worse, CDO squareds -- became so incredibly popular in the first place.

Yet, after all the damage, the trillions of dollars lost and the biggest state intervention in financial markets since the Depression, there has been no movement to ban their creation.

Securitization in its broadest form -- taking underlying collateral, bundling it together and selling it as tradable debt -- is still hailed as an important 20th-century invention that has helped worthy borrowers get the credit they need to buy a home, car, or education that would otherwise be out of their reach.

from For the Record:

Watching our language: Writing about the financial crisis

dean-150Dean Wright is Global Editor, Ethics, Innovation and News Standards. Any opinions are his own.

The global financial crisis may have drained the coffers of investors, businesses and nations, but it’s making our language a bit richer as we discover, revive, coin and develop words and phrases to help make sense of it all.

Some take hold quickly and spread far and wide. “Bailout,” naturally, was voted Word of the Year for 2008 by the American Dialect Society and by Merriam-Webster and was No. 2 on Time’s “Top 10 Buzzwords” (a list that also included “staycation,” a frugal vacation spent close to home). Interestingly—and predictively, as it turned out—the dialect society’s 2007 Word of the Year was “subprime.”