Barry Ritholz has an excellent discussion (with hyperlink references) on The Big Picture regarding the causes of the housing bubble and resulting meltdown, centered on mortgages, but including the entire world credit market. He is pretty adamant about the lack of responsibility of the Community Reconstruction Act (the CRA) for most of the problem. Read his latest on this here. Last week he reported on a six month old study by a California newspaper that found that most of the sub-prime problem was produced by non-bank brokers with no connection to CRA regulation. Read that post here.
Finally, Barry has issued a $100,000 challenge for debate on the CRA role in the current crisis, with him taking the side that CRA did not have a significant role. Read the challenge here.
By the way, I just started reading Barry's new book, "Bailout Nation". So far it is a real page turner. I'll share my thoughts when I'm finished.