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L. Randall Wray: The $7 Trillion Question That Haunts Banks (MERS)

L. Randall Wray: The $7 Trillion Question That Haunts Banks (MERS)


HuffPO-

I’ve been writing about the MERS monster since 2010. Here is one of my early pieces.

I suppose it is now safe to reveal that a staffer of Representative Marcy Kaptur put me on the trail of this fraud — in dollar terms it has to be the single biggest fraud in human history. In sheer utter disregard for law, it is certainly the most audacious fraud in Western history. To tell the truth, I had never heard of MERS until she called. If you recall the Michael Moore movie, Rep. Kaptur stood on the steps and told homeowners facing foreclosure to stay in their homes. She was right: the banksters have no legal claim on the homes they are foreclosing. Foreclosure is theft. Any bank that used MERS has no legal claim on property — there are 65 million such mortgages to which no bank has a legal claim to foreclose.

And, to be sure, even those mortgages that were not run through MERS are suspect if they are handled by any of the five biggest servicers. These servicers keep such shoddy records that they cannot be trusted to accurately credit payments. They’ve been adding on fees and penalties that were unwarranted since they cannot keep track of records.

Folks, there are $7 trillion of securitized mortgages. It was (mostly) the securitization process that demanded fraud. Securitization could never have been profitable — it was a flawed way to go about financing homeownership. It was simply too expensive to compete with Jimmy Stewart thrifts. It required fraud to show profits. (As Bill Black always says: fraud is a sure thing. It is always the most profitable way to run a business — until you get caught.)

[HUFFINGTON POST]

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L. RANDALL WRAY: Nightmare on Wall Street

L. RANDALL WRAY: Nightmare on Wall Street


L. Randall Wray

Professor of Economics and Research Director of the Center for Full Employment and Price Stability, University of Missouri–Kansas City
Posted: January 12, 2011 10:30 AM

In a ruling that could be historic, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts ruled against two fraudster banks, US Bancorp and Wells Fargo, who illegally foreclosed on homes. In short, the two banks stole homes to which they had no legal claim.

This rattled stock markets, causing the broad-based KBW Bank Index to fall by 2.2%, with Wells Fargo’s stock prices falling by 3.4% as markets began to recognize that “business as usual” theft of American homes by banksters will be subject to greater scrutiny. Tellingly, the banks have been arguing that they are following industry practice. The ruling in Massachusetts (one of the most respected Supreme Courts in the US) affirms that industry practice is fraudulent. Perhaps as many as 66 million mortgages (those tainted by improper industry recording procedures) could be affected by the ruling.

As I have been arguing in a series of pieces (see here and here and here), in their haste to commit lender fraud, the banks that securitized mortgages also perpetrated tax fraud and securities fraud. The inevitable outcome of those frauds is foreclosure fraud. As Lynn Szymoniak and Ray Brown have written, 2010 became the year in which “‘foreclosure fraud’ emerged in case law’ — defined as ‘fraud by mortgage companies, mortgage servicing companies, and banks servicing as trustees for securitized trusts.” Foreclosure fraud is not a matter of some pesky little paperwork problems. It is the designated solution to paper-over the lending and securities and tax frauds that the banksters used to bubble-up and then collapse the US real estate sector. To put it simply, the Court found that the practices followed by the industry have made legal foreclosure impossible.



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Let’s Set the Record Straight on Bank of America, Part 2: Eliminating Foreclosure Fraud

Let’s Set the Record Straight on Bank of America, Part 2: Eliminating Foreclosure Fraud


William K. Black and L. Randall Wray

Posted: November 5, 2010 01:23 PM

This is the second installment of a two-part series. Read the first here.

We have explained in prior posts and interviews that there are two foreclosure-related crises. Our first two-part post called on the U.S. to begin “foreclosing on the foreclosure fraudsters.” We concentrated on how the underlying epidemic of mortgage fraud by lenders inevitably produced endemic foreclosure fraud. We wrote to urge government policymakers to get Bank of America and other lenders and servicers to clean up the massive fraud. We obviously cannot on rely solely on Bank of America assessing its own culpability.

Note also that while we have supported a moratorium on foreclosures, this is only to stop the foreclosure frauds — the illegal seizure of homes by fraudulent means. We do not suppose that financial institutions can afford to maintain toxic assets on their books. The experience of the thrift crisis of the 1980s demonstrates the inherent problems created by forbearance in the case of institutions that are run as control frauds. All of the incentives of a control fraud bank are worsened with forbearance. Our posts on the Prompt Corrective Action (PCA) law (which mandates that the regulators place insolvent banks in receivership) have focused on the banks’ failure to foreclose as a deliberate strategy to avoid recognizing their massive losses in order to escape receivership and to allow their managers to further loot the banks through huge bonuses based on fictional income (which ignores real losses). We have previously noted the massive rise in the “shadow inventory” of loans that have received no payments for years, yet have not led to foreclosure:

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Foreclose on the Foreclosure Fraudsters, Part 1: Put Bank of America in Receivership

Foreclose on the Foreclosure Fraudsters, Part 1: Put Bank of America in Receivership


Posted: October 22, 2010 02:08 PM
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After a quick review of its procedures, Bank of America this week announced that it will resume its foreclosures in 23 lucky states next Monday. While the evidence is overwhelming that the entire foreclosure process is riddled with fraud, President Obama refuses to support a national moratorium. Indeed, his spokesmen on the issue told reporters three key things. As the Los Angeles Times reported:

A government review of botched foreclosure paperwork so far has found that the problems do not pose a “systemic” threat to the financial system, a top Obama administration official said Wednesday.

Yes, that’s right. HUD reviewed the “paperwork” problem to see whether it threatened the banks — not the homeowners who were the victims of foreclosure fraud. But it got worse, for the second point was how the government would respond to the epidemic of foreclosure fraud.

The Justice Department is leading an investigation of possible crimes involving mortgage fraud.

That language was carefully chosen to sound reassuring. But the fact is that despite our pleas the FBI has continued its “partnership” with the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA). The MBA is the trade association of the “perps.” It created a ridiculous on its face definition of “mortgage fraud.” Under that definition the lenders — who led the mortgage frauds — are the victims. The FBI still parrots this long discredited “definition.” That is one of the primary reasons why — in complete contrast to prior financial crises — the Justice Department has not convicted a single senior officer of the large nonprime lenders who directed, committed, and profited enormously from the frauds.

Note that the Justice Department is not investigating foreclosure fraud. HUD Secretary Donovan’s statement shows why:

“We will not tolerate business as usual in the mortgage market,” he said. “Where there have been mistakes made or errors, we will hold those entities, those institutions, accountable to stop those processes, review them and fix them as quickly as possible.”

Note the language: “mistakes”, “errors”, “processes” (following the initial use of “paperwork”). No mention of “fraud”, “felony”, “criminal investigations”, or “prosecutions” for the tens of thousands of felonies that representatives of the entities foreclosing on homes have admitted that they committed. Note that Donovan does not even demand that the felons remedy the harm caused by their past fraudulent foreclosures. Donovan wants them to “fix” “processes” — not repair the harm their frauds caused to their victims.

The fraudulent CEOs looted with impunity, were left in power, and were granted their fondest wish when Congress, at the behest of the Chamber of Commerce, Chairman Bernanke, and the bankers’ trade associations, successfully extorted the professional Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) to turn the accounting rules into a farce. The FASB’s new rules allowed the banks (and the Fed, which has taken over a trillion dollars in toxic mortgages as wholly inadequate collateral) to refuse to recognize hundreds of billions of dollars of losses. This accounting scam produces enormous fictional “income” and “capital” at the banks. The fictional income produces real bonuses to the CEOs that make them even wealthier. The fictional bank capital allows the regulators to evade their statutory duties under the Prompt Corrective Action (PCA) law to close the insolvent and failing banks.

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