Richard Bitner explains the mortgage business

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Richard Bitner, author of the new book Confessions of a Subprime Lender (known in its previous, self-published incarnation as Greed, Fraud & Ignorance), is going to be on the Daily Show tonight. He was here Friday, and was pretty entertaining and enlightening. I failed to videotape him, though. So watch him tonight, and in the meantime, here are a few Bitnerquotes:

You’re only as competitive as the dumbest lender in the sandbox.

It became impossible to remain competitive and manage risk as the same time.

A lot of people in the business said, ‘This doesn’t make sense. I know Wall Street says it’s okay, but …’

[On Alan Greenspan’s culpability] If the Fed never drops rates, we’d never have this problem.

[On Fannie and Freddie losing market share from 2004 through 2006] The government put them in the penalty box, and Wall Street stepped in and said, ‘We’ll regulate the mortgage industry.

I’m about halfway through Bitner’s book, and it’s good. It’s not much of a tell-all: Bitner was based in Texas, not one of the epicenters of the real estate bubble; his lending company was, by his description, at least halfway prudent; and he got out in 2005. But the book does offer a pretty clear and credible explanation (spiked with the occasional semi-lurid anecdote) of how the subprime business worked and why it imploded.

And now, in a nice career twist, Bitner is running the business side of Paul Jackson’s Housing Wire, a real estate blog started just a year-and-a-half ago that’s now evolving into a trade media mini-empire–with a magazine coming out later this summer.

Update: Bitner on the Daily Show, after the break: