Because one branch of Stewardship’s business involves home loans, sometimes I get asked what I think about the recession that started with the subprime mortgage crisis in 2008. The situation was complicated and involved a lot of technical details; but when it came down to it, it was just about greed.
Before the Recession
We Americans think bigger is better. We spend more than we make, both as individuals and as a society. Despite living some of the most secure and comfortable lives on the planet, we’re still dissatisfied and we want more.
Before the recession, investors wanted more. They wanted a way to make a profit faster – a mortgage backed security. They didn’t care if these home loans were given to people who couldn’t really afford to pay them off. Put enough of them together, add insurance, and you have an “asset”.
Individuals wanted more, too. They had houses, but they wanted bigger houses. Or they wanted to make money off of flipping houses. Or they wanted to own a home right away before prices went higher instead of waiting an extra year to get their finances in order.
No one wanted to get left behind. So, instead, everybody got left behind.
After the Recession
Ideally, I’d like to think we’ve learned the lesson that slow and steady wins the race. A smaller house that you can afford to keep is better than a bigger house that you can’t hold on to. A boring car you own is better than an awesome car that you’re only leasing. Steady growth is better than boom and bust.
Often, smaller is better.