Adam Levitin | The Multistate Settlement Lottery: Bupkis

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Adam Levitin | The Multistate Settlement Lottery: Bupkis

Adam Levitin | The Multistate Settlement Lottery: Bupkis

Remember that it’s not just a bunch of AGs at the table here. It’s also the Obama Administration. And therein lies the problem…

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The NY Times had some details today about the multi-state attorney general mortgage servicing settlement in the works. It looks every bit as awful as one might have feared. Here’s the criticial take-away:  this is bupkis. It gives meaningless relief to a meaningless number of randomly or adversely selected homeowners.  It doesn’t do justice, even by halves.

First, though, there’s a detail reported in Gretchen Morgenson’s otherwise insightful piece that I have on good source is incorrect.  The piece states that the banks would be doing principal write-downs on loans they own or service.  That’s gotta be incorrect.  The banks can do principal write-downs only on loans that they own.  They have no legal authority to pledge write-downs on loans that they service on behalf of investors.  (Remember the Greenwich Financial suit against Countrywide for doing just that?)

There’s a critical implication here, then about the scope of the multi-state settlement:  at best 20% of the population of underwater mortgagees will be helped by this settlement, say 2.2 million homeowners.  The other 8.8 million (and probably 10 million by my reckoning) are SOL.  How do you think they’re going to feel about their AGs?  About their President?  Too many times have American homeowners been promised help without receiving any.  It’s getting old.

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