This supposed link between minorities and the sub-prime crisis has bothered me for quite some time. Many conservatives are making the argument that illegal immigrants, minorities or the poor along with their Democratic allies have somehow created this sub-prime crisis. My fundamental argument is that the poor and minorities don’t control enough wealth to have the impact that conservatives are implying.
Let’s start with some basic numbers and do some basic arithmatic. The estimated value of the stock market in the USA in 2008 was 36 trillion dollars. The value of all real estate owned by households was in the range of 20 trillion. Insurance companies held 6.3 trillion, while the US GDP was 13 trillion. Commercial banks held about 10.8 trillion. Even with massive overlap in the asset classes that puts us up to at least 65 trillion in trade-able assets. The sub-prime was estimated at about 1.4 trillion in 2007, which makes it about 2%.
It gets a bit harder to discern what percent of the 1.4 trillion in subprime loans were made to minorities, illegal immigrants, and poor people, but one can estimate that if they were able to get loans at a rate similar to whites, then the percentages of loans should be similar to their percentage of the population.
That gives us the following.
- 9.4% Black Subprime = 132 Billion = 2/10ths of a percent value of US tradable assets
- 10.4% Hispanic Subprime = 146 Billion = 2/10ths of a percent value of US tradeable assets
Out of these numbers, what percentage could be illegal immigrants? Let’s estimate high and say that 25% of Hispanic, subprime loan customers are illegal. That gives us the following
- 2.6% Illegal Hispanic Subprime = 36.5 Billion = 1/20th of a percent value of US tradable assets
Honestly, what effect could 1/20th of a percent have on our economy. It just sounds like rhetoric.