By L. Randall Wray
December 23, 2010 12:43 PM
As I have written, when we peel back the layers of the real estate “onion” what we find is layer after layer of fraud. From the mortgage brokers to the appraisers and lenders, from the securitizers to the ratings agencies and accountants, from the trustees to the servicers, and from MERS (Mortgage Electronic Registry System) through to the foreclosures, what we find is a massive criminal conspiracy—probably the worst in human history. I realize that is a harsh claim but I cannot find any other words that fit.
In the old days, we used to hang horse thieves. The justification was that a man’s horse was necessary to his way of life, and in some cases, to his very survival. There can be little doubt that a home is equally important to maintenance of a middle class living standard today for most Americans. There is almost no calamity worse than loss of one’s home. It is the main asset that most Americans hold—essential to the educational success of one’s children, and to a comfortable retirement of our citizens. Americans typically borrow against their home equity to put their kids through college, to ease the financial distress caused by unexpected health care expenses, and to finance other large expenditures. The accumulated equity in the home is the only significant source of wealth for the vast majority of Americans. The home is necessary to one’s continuing connection to the neighborhood, school district, and network of friends. Theft of one’s house today is certainly equivalent to theft of a horse 150 years ago.