Recently, the FBI hinted that a lot of criminals might be getting arrested for contributing to the mortgage meltdown. A lot of the citizens they are sworn to protect are going through a lot of pain and suffering right now because of this.
It appears that they are now backing up their words with some action. In a three month period, Operation Malicious Mortgage resulted in 144 mortgage fraud cases in which 406 defendants were charged. So far there have been 60 arrests and charges have been brought nationwide in more than 50 judicial districts. The FBI claims that about "$1 billion in losses were inflicted by the mortgage fraud schemes employed in these cases."
Most notably two senior Bear Sterns executives were taken off the job in handcuffs, charged with securities fraud, wire fraud and insider trading for marketing two hedge funds as low risk, while knowing that they were "in grave condition and at risk of collapse". The collapse of the funds in 2007 resulted in about $1.4 billion in losses to investors.
There is no doubt that a lot of dishonest and very greedy people took advantage of the public at large.
Some people are comparing the mortgage crisis with another economic crisis, where only a rumor of fraud has been suggested thus far.
One of the reasons housing costs skyrocketed and them plummeted was a lot of property flipping. "Many experts blame the US real estate bubble in 2004 and 2005 on investor speculation and "irrational" flipping. Very low interest rates were a root cause, but speculation and flipping compounded the bubble," according to Wikipedia.
Most of this was based on speculation that the price would keep going up.
Now it is rumored that a key reason energy prices are skyrocketing is speculation in the oil market. Huge chunks of oil are bought on paper and paid for with credit. In a lot of instances, the oil is never even actually delivered. The result is that we hear that the price is being driven up because of demand.
Bill O'Reilly (Fox News) did a pretty interesting talking point on this subject, where he said:
Bottom line: Oil is being artificially marketed, and because we all need oil to live, we must pay what the industry dictates because there is no competition.