WASHINGTON BUREAU — An arm of the House Financial Services Committee is about to take a look at life settlement securitization arrangements.
Rep. Paul Kanjorski, D-Pa., chairman of the committee’s Capital Markets Subcommittee, says the subcommittee will hold a hearing on the topic at 2:30 p.m. Sept. 24.
The subcommittee will study whether Wall Street is returning to its old ways, potentially setting the stage for a new financial crisis by substituting securities backed by life settlements for securities backed by subprime loans, Kanjorski says.
Kanjorski has not yet released the witness list for the hearing. “Securitization can play an important role in our financial system,” Kanjorski says in a statement about his decision to schedule the hearing. “There may be a legitimate need for life insurance settlements, and I look forward to an explanation of how they can provide a benefit to people.”
But the American people “have limited patience left for Wall Street wizards’ complex schemes aimed at generating big profits for a select few,” Kanjorski says. “I have a great deal of difficulty understanding how some newfangled securities products, such as those involving the securitization of life insurance settlements, will contribute to economic growth.”
In the past, “many once recognized that there may be a legitimate need for subprime mortgages under certain, limited circumstances,” Kanjorski says. “Ultimately, the unrestrained securitization of subprime mortgages helped to transfer risk to unwary investors, put people in homes they could not afford, and contributed to the housing bubble and economic crisis from which we are still recovering. Too much of anything is just too much.”