Who were guilty men and women that created the great housing catastrophe that wrecked the US economy in 2007-8. Today, we expose the guilty.

The first in the dock must be the Fed and in particular Alan Greenspan. Reducing short-term interest rates to just one percent was an almost criminal act of inflationary irresponsibility. This wild deed laid the basis for the credit boom that fired up the inferno.

The second indictment must go to financial market regulators. These men and women permited lending standards to become so lax that anyone, regardless of their credit history, could obtain a mortgage. They ignored the dangers of unfettered financial innovation. They failed to prevent highly specialized products - such as the interest only mortgage and adjustable rate mortgages - from being mis-used and abused by mortgage lenders.

No, the lenders do not escape judgement. They took advantage of the weak-willed regulators. They recklessly sold mortgage products to people who did not understand the risks. Through misleading advertizements, they sought out the vulnerable and when they found them, they defrauded and deceived them.

The next indictments go out to the realtors and appraisers. Despite understanding the long run dynamics of local housing markets, they conspired to overvalue and inflate property prices. Through the callous engineering of bidding wars, they spread fear among first time buyers. They were the dark magicians that conjured lies about housing shortages. They promised untold riches through real estate investing. It was never about serving their client; it was always about the commission.

Finally, we have the media. Local newspapers, across this country, talked up the bubble. They accentuated the fear, and confirmed the lies and distortions spouted by realtors. Rather than seek out the truth, they searched for ad revenues, and the realtors were willing to buy them off.

Now, it is all over. Prices are coming down; markets are crashing. There no lies left to tell. There are no more distortions can disemble the truth. All that is left is foreclosure, despair and ruin.

Nevertheless, should the ordinary American also bear some responsibility for this calamity? Did not greed also play its part?

Greed is an intrinsic part of human nature. Society needs to create institutional constraints to protect us all from our own evil nature. We ensure that protection by creating institutions and by entrusting individuals with responsibility. We ask central bankers to protect the value of our national currency. We require our financial regulators to ensure the viability of our financial enterprises. We demand honesty and integrity from mortgage lenders. We expect realtors and appraisers to work in the interest of their clients. We hope that the media will always seek out the truth.

Over the last five years, institutions failed and individuals evaded their responsibilities. Now, there is a terrible price to pay for that failure.