The $100,000 blogger bet on the housing bubble

James Cullen

Words have been flying on the politically charged topic of the role the Community Re-investment Act, a law passed in the 1970s to encourage bank lending to low-income borrowers, had in creating the housing bubble. But unlike your typical debate in the blogosphere, this carries more than just links -- the winner could take home $100,000.

It started with John Carney, managing editor at Clusterstock, who said the CRA encouraged lax lending standards. Felix Salmon at Reuters weighed in, expressing confusion that Carney would target the CRA when most subprime loans were actually made by non-banks that weren't subject to the law. Barry Ritholtz, author of Bailout Nation, a book about the causes of the current crisis, doesn't think the CRA was to blame, either. After a few days of online sparring, Ritholtz, who also authors the blog, The Big Picture, challenged Carney to a debate, with money on the line -- and that's where things get even more interesting.

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