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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Here’s to the Responsible Ones

My buddy Mark called me a sucker the other day, and I couldn’t help but agree with him. See, girl and I would like to move into a new house, but the sad truth is that our current home would be near impossible to sell without losing money--significant amounts of money. But we aren’t going to abandon our house and we aren’t looking to the government to make our mortgage payments for us. We aren’t whining about not being able to make payments because she bought a place that wasn’t beyond her means, that didn’t have painful terms, and that didn’t require a lender to get playful in qualifying her.

All of which sounds pretty good (specifically, pretty responsible) to me. If the government goes on to bailout the idiots who signed loans for houses that they couldn’t afford and the companies who wrote those loans without much regard to buyers’ abilities to repay the loans, that’s a massive, tax-payer funded gift to the people who weren’t being responsible with their decisions. Which makes me--doing my best to do things the right way, yet potentially paying the way for those who weren’t so scrupulous--a sucker.

The markets don’t always choose right, I know, but tell me this doesn’t warm the cockles of your little capitalist heart.

Shares of Wells Fargo & Co. rallied Wednesday, gaining as first-quarter profit fell a smaller-than-forecast 11% amid signs that the lender employed relatively strict lending standards.

See, Wells Fargo apparently had responsible lending standards that minimized risk in the face of market downturns.

Indeed, Chief Executive John Stumpf said on a Wednesday morning conference call that the first quarter of 2008 “was one of the best we’ve ever had for our mortgage business”—a marked contrast to other banks beating a hasty retreat out of the mortgage market after a year full of billion-dollar write-downs.

Here’s to Wells Fargo for exhibiting fiscal responsibility and reaping the rewards.

Read the story.

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