Most of us know (or are) people who purchased homes during the real-estate boom and then had to watch their mortgages go underwater. These middle-class homeowners, hoodwinked by Federal Reserve manipulation into making these investments, are then forced to choose between a ruined credit rating and continuing to pay off an inflated mortgage. Robert Wenzel contrasts their plight with those who have the means and savvy to game the system:

Instead of long-term conservative planners ruling the roost, it is the Age of the Hustlers.

An acquaintance of mine, a lawyer, with some friends, doctors and such, put together some money during the boom and bought huge vacation properties on the coastline of South Carolina. … After the real estate market crashed, this lawyer, though all the investors in his group had plenty of cash, decided it was time to spin the banksters for a major reduction in the mortgage payment. So he called a meeting of the partners and advised them that they should stop making the mortgage payments. Some raised concerns about damage to their credit ratings but the lawyer explained how he would handle the negotiations and why it wouldn’t damage their credit ratings and so the group stopped paying the mortgage. After some months of this, the bank finally agreed to a major reduction in the mortgage payment. The hustlers won. They pulled a mini-Goldman Sachs play, of a sort, and came out on top.

The world is becoming much more of this hustlers game. The conservative folk, who survive by playing it straight, see rules change and bend before their eyes. They are the ones that get stuck. It is almost impossible to make sound long-term plans when Fed Chairman Bernanke plays the long-term like a fiddle, sometimes hitting high notes by lowering interest rates and at other times low notes by raising interest rates.

In a contest between hustlers and banksters, it’s hard to know who to root for.