You would like to think that we learned some lessons from the exotic financial products that did so much to push us into recession.
But maybe not.
In a disturbing report, the Associated Press says that financial institutions have begun repackaging old mortgage securities — some of them good, some of them not so good — and selling them as top-rated bonds.
You’ll recall that the current crisis started when, as housing prices started to weaken, the financial institutions were unable to value, let alone unravel, huge bundles of mortgages that had been sliced up and sold as securities. That unhappy turn of events brought the term "toxic assets" into general use.
These new products are called "resecuritization of real estate mortgage investment conduits," which, AP says, go by the acronym "Re-Remic," helpfully explaining that it rhymes with "epidemic." That alone ought to raise red flags.
Supposedly, Re-Remics have merit because they help banks clean up their balance sheets and bring liquidity to the mortgage markets. Also supposedly, the Re-Remics won’t tank because people have gotten a whole lot smarter about financial products since the recession and, one sage told AP, "unlike the real estate boom, investors in these new bonds know what they’re buying."
That thought would be a lot more comforting if so many of the same players weren’t back — the banks, the bond-rating agencies and that amorphous entity known as "Wall Street."
There’s that old saying about a bad experience leaving one poorer but wiser. Certainly poorer in this case.