WASHINGTON — There have been many wrongheaded explanations for the financial meltdown that fueled the Great Recession, but none is more ridiculous than this: The banks were brought down by greedy working-class home buyers aided by the heavy hand of the federal government. In other words, a financial crisis that has swept through the Western world was caused by secretaries and bus drivers who bought four-bedroom houses they couldn’t afford.
As that through-the-looking-glass theory goes, banks were forced to lend money to people with bad credit because of a law passed during the administration of Jimmy Carter. Or maybe it was Fannie Mae that put banks at the mercy of worthless borrowers. Just ask any of the Republican presidential candidates, all of whom cling to some version of that nutty narrative.