Richard Green says:
Richard's Real Estate and Urban Economics Blog: Joe Nocera nails it
...Peter Wallison, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, and a former member of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, almost single-handedly created the myth that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac caused the financial crisis. His partner in crime is another A.E.I. scholar, Edward Pinto, who a very long time ago was Fannie’s chief credit officer. Pinto claims that as of June 2008, 27 million “risky” mortgages had been issued — “and a lion’s share was on Fannie and Freddie’s books,” as Wallison wrote recently. Never mind that his definition of “risky” is so all-encompassing that it includes mortgages with extremely low default rates as well as those with default rates nearing 30 percent. These latter mortgages were the ones created by the unholy alliance between subprime lenders and Wall Street. Pinto’s numbers are the Big Lie’s primary data point.
Two things: First, Pinto and Wallison's definition of "subprime" is any loan that goes to a neighborhood they wouldn't live in or to a person they wouldn't have lunch with. According to the American Housing Survey, there were around 52 million mortgages outstanding in the US in 2009. This means that according to Wallison and Pinto, the median borrower is a subprime borrower. I guess this means they think that that half of homeowners with mortgages should be renting in Potterville.
Second, Nocera should in his piece put quotes around the word "scholar."