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Abigail C. Field: Assessing Schneiderman’s Task Force Gamble

Abigail C. Field: Assessing Schneiderman’s Task Force Gamble


Abigail Field-

My latest for FireDogLake. For even more confirmation that the Feds aren’t interested in bank accountability, regardless of the State half of the task force’s intentions, see Congressman Brad Miller on why he’s not the task force Executive Director and Richard Eskow on the obviousness of the problem. 

As people increasingly realize that the mortgage settlement was an enforcement fraud, attention’s turned to the “new“ joint Federal/State task force that’s supposed to make the settlement into a “down payment,” by delivering much more. And so far people don’t like what they see, and are saying so. What’s striking about the resulting PR push back, however, is that it just highlights how banker-fraud-friendly our federal government is.

For example, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman penned a Daily News Op-Ed in which he pitches “More than 50 attorneys, investigators and analysts have already been deployed to support our investigations, with many more on the way” as somehow adequate to deliver on that “down payment” promise when the Savings and Loan crisis took over 1,000 and Enron alone took over 100. Not only hasn’t the federal government corroborated AG Schneiderman’s claim of “many more on the way”; “many more” than 50+ doesn’t sound like anywhere near the 1,000+ needed to approach the ballpark of accountability.

[REALITY CHECK]

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The Bankers’ Subversion of the Rule of Law, Notary and Land Records edition

The Bankers’ Subversion of the Rule of Law, Notary and Land Records edition


Abigail C. Filed-

Hi

For the next couple of weeks, I’m one of the David Dayen subs at FireDogLake–no one person could fill his shoes–and this post ran there earlier today. This version is slightly updated but essentially the same.

One way to see the double standard at the heart of the foreclosure fraud—one set of laws for the bailed out banks, one for the rest of us—is to focus on the role of notaries public, and then consider that role in light of what our Supreme Court said about notaries in 1984, in a case called Bernal v. Fainter, Secretary of State of Texas.

First, let’s recap the role of notaries in the foreclosure fraud crisis: Notaries are the people who verify that someone actually is who they say they are when that person signs a document. Because banks and their agents industrialized “Document Execution” as part of their foreclosure business model, notaries did not do their jobs. Notaries’ failure to verify identities has been so complete that many people will sign as one person, say, “Linda Green.” Notaries have also been told to sign documents using one name, and then notarize their own “surrogate” signature. “Well, what’s the big deal?” bank defenders say. Beyond the fact that there’s no “business convenience” exception to following the rule of law, consider Bernal.

Bernal involved Texas’s requirement that all notaries be citizens; lawful permanent resident aliens need not apply. Bernal challenged the Constitutionality for the citizenship requirement. To rule on the question, the Court had to consider what notaries did, and whether or not what notaries did was so political, so central to representative democracy, that limiting being a notary to citizens was rational. In finding that notaries were important but not political officers of the state, the Court made some observations of note.

[REALITY CHECK]

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Richard (RJ) Eskow: The White House And Mortgage Fraud: So Far It’s All Talk, No Action

Richard (RJ) Eskow: The White House And Mortgage Fraud: So Far It’s All Talk, No Action


HuffPO-

The Obama Administration worked for months on a deal that would have let America’s biggest banks off the hook for a crime wave of runaway mortgage fraud. All they had to do in return was pledge a negligible sum of money, to be paid by their shareholders and not themselves, and which they would dispense themselves. In return, crooked bankers received immunity from prosecution – and even from investigation.

After the deal came under attack from a number of its allies, the Administration settled with the banks anyway. But it promised millions of wronged homeowners – and the nation as a whole – that it would move “aggressively” to investigate criminal misdeeds and prosecute bankers and anyone else who broke the law.

That was then, this is now. Two and half months later the Administration hasn’t even started to take the inadequate steps it promised it would take. The clock is running out on the statute of limitations and there’s no sign that the Administration has lifted a finger to investigate criminal bankers.

Talk vs. Action …

[HUFFINGTON POST]

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Obama’s mortgage unit is AWOL … NY AG Eric Schneiderman should quit this fraud

Obama’s mortgage unit is AWOL … NY AG Eric Schneiderman should quit this fraud


What we have learned so far: Whenever dealing with the banks and or with the government, they are from the same mold. We cannot tell any difference.

This “mortgage task force group” thing is also NO Different than that MERS system…There are no employees!

NY Daily News-

On March 9 — 45 days after the speech and 30 days after the announcement — we met with Schneiderman in New York City and asked him for an update. He had just returned from Washington, where he had been personally looking for office space. As of that date, he had no office, no phones, no staff and no executive director. None of the 55 staff members promised by Holder had materialized. On April 2, we bumped into Schneiderman on a train leaving Washington for New York and learned that the situation was the same.

Tuesday, calls to the Justice Department’s switchboard requesting to be connected with the working group produced the answer, “I really don’t know where to send you.” After being transferred to the attorney general’s office and asking for a phone number for the working group, the answer was, “I’m not aware of one.”

The promises of the President have led to little or no concrete action.

Read more:  [NY DAILY NEWS]

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Abigail Field: Hiding the Enforcement Fraud At the Heart of the Mortgage Settlement

Abigail Field: Hiding the Enforcement Fraud At the Heart of the Mortgage Settlement


Abigail C. Field-

On Thursday, April 5th U.S. District Court Judge Rosemary M. Collyer announced she had decided to sign off on the ”$25 billion” Mortgage Settlement. By “announced”, I mean she signed the consent orders all our major law enforcers and the biggest bankers had agreed to, and entered them into the record. Judge Collyer didn’t actually say anything about the deal. She didn’t let anyone else say anything, either: she didn’t hold a public hearing on the deal.

In acting silently, Judge Collyer not only okayed the deal’s lousy terms, which institutionalize servicer theft and foreclosure fraud, she reinforced the incredibly poor public process that’s kept the enforcement fraud at the heart of the deal hidden. Deliberately hidden.

Magical Misdirection

To understand just how deceptive “our” government and “our” law enforcers have been with us

[REALITY CHECK]

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[VIDEO] Shaun Donovan on the Foreclosure Fraud Settlement & Wish Wash

[VIDEO] Shaun Donovan on the Foreclosure Fraud Settlement & Wish Wash


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BREAKING: The $25B Foreclosure Fraud settlement has been approved by U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer.

BREAKING: The $25B Foreclosure Fraud settlement has been approved by U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer.


Via

Nothing from the consent judgment entered into court in the $25B foreclosure settlement may constitute “evidence against Defendant.”

WSJ-

The settlement was announced in February and filed in court as a consent judgment last month. Judge Rosemary Collyer approved the landmark settlement on Wednesday. The signed order was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

The pact will offer reductions in loan principal and other assistance to qualifying homeowners. The largest portion of the aid, valued at $17 billion, goes to borrowers at risk of foreclosure. Banks will pay $5 billion in fines, including nearly $1 billion to the Federal Housing Administration.

[WALL STREET JOURNAL]

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Amicus Brief of Oregon AG John Kroger on Hooker v Northwest Trustee, BofA & MERS lawsuit pending before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Amicus Brief of Oregon AG John Kroger on Hooker v Northwest Trustee, BofA & MERS lawsuit pending before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.


Hi/5 Dan Marsh

IN THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT

IVAN HOOKER, KATHERINE HOOKER

v.

NORTHWEST TRUSTEE SERVICES, INC.;
BANK OF AMERICA, N.A.; MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC
REGISTRATION SYSTEMS, INC.,

[ipaper docId=87906947 access_key=key-1d94q5wlnt1hwjjwo1ha height=600 width=600 /]

 

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Review Finds Possible Flaws in More Than 138,000 Bank Foreclosures

Review Finds Possible Flaws in More Than 138,000 Bank Foreclosures


Not this word again “Flaw”…it’s FULL   B L O W N   FRAUD!

Why wasn’t this review done prior to any settlement? Because they never began any investigation.

DealBook-

The nation’s biggest banks may have put the huge $25 billion settlement over bad foreclosure practices behind them, but that doesn’t mean their mortgage troubles are over.

A separate review — this time by independent consultants on behalf of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency — flagged more than 138,000 cases for possible flaws in the foreclosure process at the nation’s largest mortgage servicers. Those include foreclosures involved with the so-called robo-signing scandal, in which bank representatives churned through hundreds of documents a day in foreclosure proceedings without reviewing them for accuracy.

[DEALBOOK]

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Utah AG: We will fight foreclosure ruling Judge said BofA’s actions in Utah are governed by Texas laws.

Utah AG: We will fight foreclosure ruling Judge said BofA’s actions in Utah are governed by Texas laws.


“Texas does not pass banking laws for Utah,” Assist. AG Jerrold Jensen wrote. “And Utah does not pass banking laws for Texas.”

The Salt Lake Tribune-

The Attorney General’s Office is seeking to intervene in a lawsuit in which a federal judge has ruled that Texas law governs foreclosures carried out by a unit of Bank of America in Utah.

The Feb. 8 ruling by U.S. District Judge Ted Stewart “is not something the State of Utah can let pass,” Assistant Attorney General Jerrold Jensen wrote in seeking to intervene in the lawsuit.

Federal judges in Utah have split over the question of whether BofA’s foreclosure arm, ReconTrust, may have violated state law in thousands of actions taken in recent years against Utah homeowners.

Stewart ruled that because ReconTrust is headquartered in Texas, where it carries out many of its foreclosure functions, the National Bank Act says the bank’s actions are governed by that state’s laws.

[THE SALT LAKE TRIBUNE]

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Abigail C. Field: Our Government Blessed Foreclosure Fraud

Abigail C. Field: Our Government Blessed Foreclosure Fraud


Abigail C. Field-

The mortgage settlement signed by 49 states and every Federal law enforcer allows the rampant foreclosure fraud currently choking our courts to continue unabated. Yes, I realize the pretty language of Exhibit A promises the banks will completely overhaul their standard operating procedures and totally clean up their acts. Promises are empty if they’re not honored, and worthless if not enforceable.

We know Bailed-Out Bankers’ promises are empty, so what matters is if the agreement is enforceable. And when it comes to all things foreclosure fraud, the enforcement provisions are laughable. But before I detail why, let’s be clear: I’m not being hyperbolic. The bankers running and profiting most from our bailed-out banks are totally dishonest when dealing with the public, and their promises are meaningless.

To see their dishonesty in the mortgage context, read the complaint filed in the mortgage deal, or my take on it here. But the bankers don’t limit their lying, cheating and stealing to homeowners. They abuse their clients the same way. Most broadly damaging, the bankers steal from taxpayers on a federal, state and local level and practically everybody else too. Fraud is just how they do business. When dealing with bankers, you can’t do business on a handshake.

[REALITY CHECK]

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MERS | Oregon AG John Kroger files an amicus brief in an Oregon foreclosure lawsuit pending before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals

MERS | Oregon AG John Kroger files an amicus brief in an Oregon foreclosure lawsuit pending before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals


OREGON DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE SEEKS TO STOP LENDERS FROM WRONGFULLY FORECLOSING

March 27, 2012

DOJ files an amicus brief in an Oregon foreclosure lawsuit pending before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Oregon Attorney General John Kroger today announced the filing of an amicus, or “friend of the court,” brief that seeks to protect struggling homeowners from wrongful foreclosures.

“Lenders using the MERS system have to follow Oregon law just like everyone else,” said Attorney General Kroger. “The Department of Justice will not tolerate lenders cutting corners in their rush to foreclose on Oregon homeowners.”

The legal brief was filed today with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a homeowner lawsuit challenging the legality of a foreclosure. Oregon law allows foreclosures to be conducted outside the courthouse – so-called “non-judicial” foreclosures – but only if every transfer of the loan documents has been properly recorded.

As in many other cases in Oregon, the lender transferred its right to receive payments from the homeowner to another financial institution and used the Mortgage Electronic Registration System, Inc. (‘MERS’) as its agent. Although the lender’s right to receive payments was transferred multiple times, some of those transfers were never recorded.

The legal brief is the latest effort by the Oregon Department of Justice to protect struggling homeowners. Last month, Attorney General Kroger announced his support for a multi-state settlement with major lending institutions. The settlement includes the following:

  • An estimated $30 million to the State of Oregon.
  • An estimated $100 to $200 million in relief to distressed Oregon homeowners including “underwater” borrowers and homeowners facing foreclosure.
  • Tough new servicing standards that protect all homeowners from unfair and unscrupulous servicing practices.
    In addition, the Department of Justice this year adopted emergency rules to protect homeowners from illegal foreclosures.

If you are a homeowner facing foreclosure you may be entitled to additional assistance. To receive updates as more information becomes available please sign up at www.oregonattorneygeneral.gov/homeowners.

Frequently Asked Questions can be found at www.oregonattorneygeneral.gov/homeowners/faqs.shtml.Attorney General John Kroger leads the Oregon Department of Justice. The Department’s mission is to fight crime and fraud, protect the environment, improve child welfare, promote a positive business climate, and defend the rights of all Oregonians.

Contact:

Kate Medema, 503-569-3027, kate.e.medema@doj.state.or.us

source: doj.state.or.us

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John Walsh: Foreclosure settlement, consent orders do not conflict

John Walsh: Foreclosure settlement, consent orders do not conflict


Lets not confuse the word “Flaw” with “Fraud”…There is a major difference!

HW-

John Walsh, acting Comptroller of the Currency, said the recent $25 billion mortgage servicing settlement reached between the big banks and state attorneys general does not conflict or double-up on requirements servicers have to follow in consent agreements banks signed with the OCC and other regulators last year. 

In 2010, regulators, including the OCC, examined 14 large federally regulated mortgage servicers and thrifts.

Last year, the agencies issued enforcement orders against all 14 institutions forcing them to take steps to review their foreclosure review processes and to offer aid to borrowers who suffered from flawed foreclosure practices.

[HOUSING WIRE]

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AGs to consider investor protections in foreclosure settlement

AGs to consider investor protections in foreclosure settlement


LOL…according to Tom Miller.

Good Luck!

HW-

If the top five mortgage servicers begin to abuse bond investors under the foreclosure settlement write-downs, the attorneys general would consider some protections, according to Iowa AG Tom Miller.

Miller faced down banking executives and analysts during a panel at the REthink Symposium Thursday. The $25 billion settlement signed in March forces servicers to meet roughly $10 billion in principal reductions, which could swell higher because in some instances the full dollar written down will not be credited.

Servicers will get full credit for reducing principal on loans they hold on their own portfolio but receive 45 cents for every dollar written down on mortgages held in private securities.

“To try principal reduction in a targeted way and find out if it works is good for the housing market,” Miller said. “We know what (the banks’) plans are. Two have said they wouldn’t do write-downs on private securities. But we could have some discussions about something to reassure investors.”

[HOUSING WIRE]

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Steven J. Baum settles with NY AG Schneiderman; will pay $4M

Steven J. Baum settles with NY AG Schneiderman; will pay $4M


What about the rest? This is an insult!

Update: Pillar Processing is also part of this settlement.

Buffalo Business First-

The case of embattled foreclosure attorney Steven Baum has taken another turn as the Amherst attorney reached a settlement with the New York State Attorney General over charges his firm mishandled foreclosure filings statewide over many years.

Under terms of the agreement, Baum has agreed not to handle mortgages for two years and will pay a penalty of $4 million.

The deal with Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office comes five month after the firm settled with the United States Attorney for the Southern District and paid $2 million while agreeing to drastically overhaul its business practices.

[BUFFALO BUSINESS FIRST]

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Georgia State Senate Unanimously Approves Bill Criminalizing Foreclosure Fraud (HB 237)

Georgia State Senate Unanimously Approves Bill Criminalizing Foreclosure Fraud (HB 237)


 

PRESS ADVISORY

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Georgia Senate Unanimously Approves Bill Criminalizing Foreclosure Fraud

Today, the Senate unanimously approved HB 237, legislation that will make foreclosure fraud a crime in Georgia. Currently, Georgia law criminalizes fraud during the mortgage process, but specifically does not penalize similar fraud on the back end of the loan – at the foreclosure process.

Attorney General Sam Olens thanked the Senate for their overwhelming bipartisan support of this crucial measure. “Georgia’s current mortgage fraud statute is insufficient and must be revised to criminalize fraud throughout the entire lending process, including foreclosure,” said Olens. “Just last month, 49 state attorneys general reached a $25 billion agreement with the Nation’s five largest mortgage servicers to settle rampant fraud which occurred nationwide during the foreclosure process.”

“I applaud the members of the Senate for recognizing that Georgia urgently needs a law protecting borrowers during every stage of the lending process. I am grateful for the leadership of Senators Bill Hamrick and Jesse Stone for shepherding the bill through the Senate. I look forward to continuing to work with the bill’s sponsor, Representative Rich Golick, on gaining final approval for HB 237 in the House of Representatives, where it already passed last year 168-1.”

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Where are the Indictments?

Where are the Indictments?


Abigail C. Field-

Let’s be clear why there’s a mortgage deal: the banks broke the law. Several laws in fact, in ways that appear criminal as well as civil. Limiting their liability is the only reason the banks did a deal.

In this post I’m going to look at what the banks could be held liable for; how much liability “their” money persuaded law enforcers to ignore will be the next post. But one important kind of peace has not been bought: criminal. So as I detail the wrong doing exposed by the deal, I highlight the crimes our law enforcers seem to allege the bankers committed. After all, a liability release isn’t simply what it says, it’s what law enforcers do with their remaining freedom to act. If crimes were committed, and indictments don’t follow, the release is much broader than its text.

A close read of the complaint and the related language that precedes the releases (see Exhibits F and G) reveals:

continue reading [REALITY CHECK]

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Abigail Caplovitz Field: The Mortgage Settlement Allows Banks to Steal Without Penalty

Abigail Caplovitz Field: The Mortgage Settlement Allows Banks to Steal Without Penalty


HuffPO-

The consent agreements the bailed-out bankers (B.O.B.s), the feds and the states are largely as had been promised. One big surprise, however, is that the B.O.B.s would now be allowed to systematically overcharge borrowers and steal their homes. Seriously. Who cares about $1 million or $5 million penalties if horrible damage can be inflicted without punishment?

To see what I’m talking about, you need to look at Exhibit E-1. (It’s in all the consent agreements; here’s Chase‘s.) Exhibit E-1 is a 14 page table titled “Servicing Standards Quarterly Compliance Metrics.” That is, it’s a table that details what, precisely, law enforcers will check to make sure that the B.O.B.s are meeting the very pretty servicing standards in the deal. (See Exhibit A)

(Note: You may want to print out table E-1 while reading this, or at least keep it open in another browser window; what I have to say may be hard to believe and you’ll want to be able to double check that I’m telling you the truth.)

Now, the table doesn’t come right out and say, ‘we, the federal and state governments of the United States of America do hereby bless the institutionalization of servicer abuse,’ but it should. To understand why, you need to keep your eye on how the table’s columns are defined. For most issues, the critical columns are C “Loan Level Tolerance for Error” and D “Threshold Error Rate.” Later I’ll talk about the problems in Column F, the “Test Questions.”

When Error Isn’t Error…

[HUFFINGTON POST]

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Alison Frankel: Can MBS investors block national mortgage deal via litigation?

Alison Frankel: Can MBS investors block national mortgage deal via litigation?


The never ending settlement… because those in DC are doing their best to make sure their bankers are A-OK.

Reuters-

Mortgage-backed securities investors who are convinced that banks intend to shift the cost of the $25 billion national mortgage settlement onto their shoulders are “evaluating their legal options,” according to Chris Katopis, executive director of the Association of Mortgage Investors (and a former clerk on the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals). The private investors, as I’ve reported, are outraged at the terms of the settlement, which sets no limit on the percentage of securitized mortgages the settling banks — Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, and Ally Financial — are permitted to modify to reach their $17 billion target for reducing the principal balance owed by struggling borrowers. Mortgage-backed noteholders believe the deal terms encourage banks to write down investor-owned first liens, rather than second lien mortgages in bank-owned portfolios. That incentive, they say, shifts the cost of the deal from the banks to mortgage-backed bondholders.

Their argument is gaining traction. The New York Times editorialized Sunday on the bank-friendly details of …

[REUTERS LEGAL]

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MUST READ: Who is REALLY paying in the $25bil TBTF mortgage settlement

MUST READ: Who is REALLY paying in the $25bil TBTF mortgage settlement


Economic Musings-

The surprising tale that I will attempt to pen in this blog entry has a very familiar cast of characters; the Obama Administration, the Housing Bubble, “Toxic Mortgages”, and Too Big To Fail “TBTF” Banks among others.  While the headline of TBTF banks in a $25bil mortgage settlement is known to many, the underlying details of the settlement are less known and quite appalling when you pull back the covers.

 The wounds on past and present homeowners are still fresh from the housing crisis.  As Jonathan Laing points out in this weekend’s Barron’s cover story, “five million of the country’s 76million mortgage holders have lost their homes to foreclosure or lender ordered short sales since 2006, and an estimated 14million more own more on their homes than their properties are currently worth.  In all, some $7.4 trillion in homeowners’ equity has been destroyed according to Mark Zandi…”  

 Cries for Accountability

While blame deserves to be cast upon numerous parties for the housing bubble, Americans have rightly called for accountability on the TBTF banks.  Accountability for what? Among other faults, robo-signing became prevalent among TBTF banks as they forged mortgage documents in order to ensure proper paperwork was done to foreclose on properties. 

 Details of the $25bil Settlement (in the words of HUD) & Public Lauding

“On February 9, the Department of Justice …

[ECONOMIC MUSINGS]

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US Rep. Marcy Kaptur: Let’s Address the Systemic Mortgage Fraud in Our Country

US Rep. Marcy Kaptur: Let’s Address the Systemic Mortgage Fraud in Our Country


by

www.kaptur.house.gov

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NYT: The Banks Win, Again

NYT: The Banks Win, Again


Excellent view from this NYT’s editorial piece.

NYT-

Last week was a big one for the banks. On Monday, the foreclosure settlement between the big banks and federal and state officials was filed in federal court, and it is now awaiting a judge’s all-but-certain approval. On Tuesday, the Federal Reserve announced the much-anticipated results of the latest round of bank stress tests.

How did the banks do on both? Pretty well, thank you — and better than homeowners and American taxpayers.

That is not only unfair, given banks’ huge culpability in the mortgage bubble and financial meltdown. It also means that homeowners and the economy still need more relief, and that the banks, without more meaningful punishment, will not be deterred from the next round of misbehavior.

[NEW YORK TIMES]

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