It was not long ago in fall 2010 that I was a senior congressional staffer financial economist at the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) when I was fired after 2 ½ months for writing about the damage from the banking and financial system collapse since fall 2008. The writings included ‘robo-signing’ foreclosures as symptomatic of deeper problems in the securitization of $7 trillion mortgage bonds that CBO denied was a problem and the condition of the nation’s banks.
I was told that CBO should take the lead in treating foreclosure problems as “the kind of event of the moment where we should be adding skepticism, not just repeating the hype in the press” and my writing about it showed “poor judgment about what is important and what isn’t.” This came from my direct report, then-CBO assistant director and chief economist, currently MIT Professor of Finance Deborah Lucas who was called by the U.S. President in 2009 to serve in a leadership role at CBO. CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf, a Harvard Ph.D. economist, agreed that such writings lacked knowledge of economics and poor communication skills for not understanding what it meant to remove them.
For those unfamiliar, CBO is a small federal agency that scores (produces cost estimates) Congress’s bills and can make or break them with its scoring. CBO’s panel of economic advisors includes Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, former Federal Reserve economists, and distinguished economists from academia who are or were former scholars of the Federal Reserve.
Closure to the Congressional Inquiry
After over a year of congressional inquiry, my story was first made public in the Wall Street Journal, “Congress’s Number Cruncher Comes Under Fire,” (Feb. 2, 2012) what the Journal allowed the public to know. When the true nature of the issues would not come out, I was stunned that the congressional inquiry led by Senator Grassley, Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, also declined to release my letter to the public to expose the issues. This happened during the week the New York Attorney’s General announced the lawsuit against MERS, but that too went silent a few days after the nationwide foreclosure settlement. All understood the ramifications of the NY AG lawsuit against MERS.