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FACT SHEET: President Obama’s Plan to Help Responsible Homeowners and Heal the Housing Market

FACT SHEET: President Obama’s Plan to Help Responsible Homeowners and Heal the Housing Market


THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

 

FACT SHEET: President Obama’s Plan to Help Responsible Homeowners and Heal the Housing Market

In his State of the Union address, President Obama laid out a Blueprint for an America Built to Last, calling for action to help responsible borrowers and support a housing market recovery. While the government cannot fix the housing market on its own, the President believes that responsible homeowners should not have to sit and wait for the market to hit bottom to get relief when there are measures at hand that can make a meaningful difference, including allowing these homeowners to save thousands of dollars by refinancing at today’s low interest rates. That’s why the President is putting forward a plan that uses the broad range of tools to help homeowners, supporting middle-class families and the economy.

 

Key Aspects of the President’s Plan

  • Broad Based Refinancing to Help Responsible Borrowers Save an Average of $3,000 per Year: The President’s plan will provide borrowers who are current on their payments with an opportunity to refinance and take advantage of historically low interest rates, cutting through the red tape that prevents these borrowers from saving hundreds of dollars a month and thousands of dollars a year. This plan, which is paid for by a financial fee so that it does not add a dime to the deficit, will: 
  •  Provide access to refinancing for all non-GSE borrowers who are current on their payments and meet a set of simple criteria.
  • Streamline the refinancing process for all GSE borrowers who are current on their loans.
  • Give borrowers the chance to rebuild equity through refinancing.

 

Homeowner Bill of Rights: The President is putting forward a single set of standards to make sure borrowers and lenders play by the same rules, including:

 

  • Access to a simple mortgage disclosure form, so borrowers understand the loans they are taking out.
  • Full disclosure of fees and penalties.
  • Guidelines to prevent conflicts of interest that end up hurting homeowners.
  • Support to keep responsible families in their homes and out of foreclosure.
  • Protection for families against inappropriate foreclosure, including right of appeal.

 

First Pilot Sale to Transition Foreclosed Property into Rental Housing to Help Stabilize Neighborhoods and Improve Home Prices: The FHFA, in conjunction with Treasury and HUD, is announcing a pilot sale of foreclosed properties to be transitioned into rental housing.

 

Moving the Market to Provide a Full Year of Forbearance for Borrowers Looking for Work: Following the Administration’s lead, major banks and the GSEs are now providing up to 12 months of forbearance to unemployed borrowers.

 

  • Pursuing a Joint Investigation into Mortgage Origination and Servicing Abuses: This effort marshals new resources to investigate misconduct that contributed to the financial crisis under the leadership of federal and state co-chairs.

 

Rehabilitating Neighborhoods and Reducing Foreclosures: In addition to the steps outlined above, the Administration is expanding eligibility for HAMP to reduce additional foreclosures, increasing incentives for modifications that help borrowers rebuild equity, and is proposing to put people back to work rehabilitating neighborhoods through Project Rebuild.

 

1.      Broad Based Refinancing Plan

Millions of homeowners who are current on their mortgages and could benefit from today’s low interest rates face substantial barriers to refinancing through no fault of their own. Sometimes homeowners with good credit and clean payment histories are rejected because their mortgages are underwater. In other cases, they are rejected because the banks are worried that they will be left taking losses, even where Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac insure these new mortgages.  In the end, these responsible homeowners are stuck paying higher interest rates, costing them thousands of dollars a year.

To address this challenge, the President worked with housing regulators this fall to take action without Congress to make millions of Americans eligible for lower interest rates. However, there are still millions of responsible Americans who continue to face steep barriers to low-cost, streamlined refinancing. So the President is now calling on Congress to open up opportunities to refinancing for responsible borrowers who are current on their payments.

Under the proposal, borrowers with loans insured by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac (i.e. GSE-insured loans) will have access to streamlined refinancing through the GSEs. Borrowers with standard non-GSE loans will have access to refinancing through a new program run through the FHA. For responsible borrowers, there will be no more barriers and no more excuses.

Key components of the President’s plan include:

 

  • Providing Non-GSE Borrowers Access to Simple, Low-Cost Refinancing: President Obama is calling on Congress to pass legislation to establish a streamlined refinancing program. The refinancing program will be open to all non-GSE borrowers with standard (non-jumbo) loans who have been keeping up with their mortgage payments. The program will be operated through the FHA.

Simple and straightforward eligibility criteria: Any borrower with a loan that is not currently guaranteed by the GSEs can qualify if they meet the following criteria:

  • They are current on their mortgage: Borrowers will need to have been current on their loan for the past 6 months and have missed no more than one payment in the 6 months prior.
  • They meet a minimum credit score. Borrowers must have a current FICO score of 580 to be eligible. Approximately 9 in 10 borrowers have a credit score adequate to meet that requirement. 
  • They have a loan that is no larger than the current FHA conforming loan limits in their area: Currently, FHA limits vary geographically with the median area home price – set at $271,050 in lowest cost areas and as high as $729,750 in the highest cost areas
  • The loan they are refinancing is for a single family, owner-occupied principal residence.  This will ensure that the program is focused on responsible homeowners trying to stay in their homes.

Streamlined application process: Borrowers will apply through a streamlined process designed to make it simpler and less expensive for borrowers and lenders to refinance. Borrowers will not be required to submit a new appraisal or tax return. To determine a borrower’s eligibility, a lender need only confirm that the borrower is employed. (Those who are not employed may still be eligible if they meet the other requirements and present limited credit risk. However, a lender will need to perform a full underwriting of these borrowers to determine whether they are a good fit for the program.)

Program parameters to reduce program cost: The President’s plan includes additional steps to reduce program costs, including:

  • Establishing loan-to-value limits for these loans. The Administration will work with Congress to establish risk-mitigation measures which could include requiring lenders interested in refinancing deeply underwater loans (e.g. greater than 140 LTV) to write down the balance of these loans before they qualify. This would reduce the risk associated with the program and relieve the strain of negative equity on the borrower.
  • Creating a separate fund for new streamlined refinancing program. This will help the FHA better track and manage the risk involved and ensure that it has no effect on the operation of the existing Mutual Mortgage Insurance (MMI) fund.

 

EXAMPLE: How Refinancing Can Benefit a Borrower With a Non-GSE Loan

  •  A borrower has a non-GSE mortgage originated in 2005 with a 6 percent rate and an initial balance of $300,000 – resulting in monthly payments of about $1,800.

 

  • The outstanding balance is now about $272,000 and the borrower’s home is now worth $225,000, leaving the borrower underwater (with a loan-to-value ratio of about 120%).

 

  • Though the borrower has been paying his mortgage on time, he cannot refinance at today’s historically low rates.

 

  • Under the President’s legislative plan, the borrower would be eligible to refinance into a 4.25% percent 30-year loan, which would reduce monthly payments by about $460 a month.

Refinancing Plan Will Be Fully Paid For By a Portion of Fee on Largest Financial Institutions: The Administration estimates the cost of its refinancing plan will be in the range of $5 to $10 billion, depending on exact parameters and take-up. This cost will be fully offset by using a portion of the President’s proposed Financial Crisis Responsibility Fee, which imposes a fee on the largest financial institutions based on their size and the riskiness of their activities – ensuring that the program does not add a dime to the deficit.

Fully Streamlining Refinancing for All GSE Borrowers: The Administration has worked with the FHFA to streamline the GSEs’ refinancing program for all responsible, current GSE borrowers. The FHFA has made important progress to-date, including eliminating the restriction on allowing deeply underwater borrowers to access refinancing, lowering fees associated with refinancing, and making it easier to access refinancing with lower closing costs.

To build on this progress, the Administration is calling on Congress to enact additional changes that will benefit homeowners and save taxpayers money by reducing the number of defaults on GSE loans. We believe these steps are within the existing authority of the FHFA. However, to date, the GSEs have not acted, so the Administration is calling on Congress to do what is in the taxpayer’s interest, by:

 a.     Eliminating appraisal costs for all borrowers: Borrowers who happen to live in communities without a significant number of recent home sales often have to get a manual appraisal to determine whether they are eligible for refinancing into a GSE guaranteed loan, even under the HARP program. Under the Administration’s proposal, the GSEs would be directed to use mark-to-market accounting or other alternatives to manual appraisals for any loans for which the loan-to-value cannot be determined with the GSE’s Automated Valuation Model. This will eliminate a significant barrier that will reduce cost and time for borrowers and lenders alike.

 b.     Increasing competition so borrowers get the best possible deal: Today, lenders looking to compete with the current servicer of a borrower’s loan for that borrower’s refinancing business continue to face barriers to participating in HARP. This lack of competition means higher prices and less favorable terms for the borrower. The President’s legislative plan would direct the GSEs to require the same streamlined underwriting for new servicers as they do for current servicers, leveling the playing field and unlocking competition between banks for borrowers’ business.

 c.      Extending streamlined refinancing for all GSE borrowers: The President’s plan would extend these steps to streamline refinancing for homeowners to all GSE borrowers. Those who have significant equity in their home – and thus present less credit risk – should benefit fully from all streamlining, including lower fees and fewer barriers. This will allow more borrowers to take advantage of a program that provides streamlined, low-cost access to today’s low interest rates – and make it easier and more automatic for servicers to market and promote this program for all GSE borrowers.

 

Giving Borrowers the Chance to Rebuild Equity in their Homes Through Refinancing: All underwater borrowers who decide to participate in either HARP or the refinancing program through the FHA outlined above will have a choice: they can take the benefit of the reduced interest rate in the form of lower monthly payments, or they can apply that savings to rebuilding equity in their homes. The latter course, when combined with a shorter loan term of 20 years, will give the majority of underwater borrowers the chance to get back above water within five years, or less.

To encourage borrowers to make the decision to rebuild equity in their homes, we are proposing that the legislation provide for the GSEs and FHA to cover the closing costs of borrowers who chose this option – a benefit averaging about $3,000 per homeowner. To be eligible, a participant in either program must agree to refinance into a loan with a no more than 20 year term with monthly payments roughly equal to those they make under their current loan. For those who agree to these terms, the lender will receive payment for all closing costs directly from the GSEs or the FHA, depending on the entity involved.  

 

EXAMPLE: How Rebuilding Equity Can Benefit a Borrower

 

  • A borrower has a 6.5 percent $214,000 30-year mortgage originated in 2006. It now has an outstanding balance of $200,000, but the house is worth $160,000 (a loan-to-value ratio of 125). The monthly payment on this mortgage is $1,350.

 

  • While this borrower is responsibly paying her monthly mortgage, she is locked out of refinancing.

 

  • By refinancing into a 4.25 percent 30-year mortgage loan, this borrower will reduce her monthly payment by $370. However, after five years her mortgage balance will remain at $182,000.

 

  • Under the rebuilding equity program, the borrower would refinance into a 20-year mortgage at 3.75 percent and commit her monthly savings to paying down principal. After five years, her mortgage balance would decline to $152,000, bringing the borrower above water.

 

  • If the borrower took this option, the GSEs or FHA would also cover her closing costs – potentially saving her about $3,000.

 

Streamlined Refinancing for Rural America: The Agriculture Department, which supports mortgage financing for thousands of rural families a year, is taking steps to further streamline its USDA-to-USDA refinancing program. This program is designed to provide those who currently have loans insured by the Department of Agriculture with a low-cost, streamlined process for refinancing into today’s low rates. The Administration is announcing that the Agriculture Department will further streamline this program by eliminating the requirement for a new appraisal, a new credit report and other documentation normally required in a refinancing. To be eligible, a borrower need only demonstrate that he or she has been current on their loan.

 

Streamlined Refinancing for FHA Borrowers:  Like the Agriculture Department, the Federal Housing Authority is taking steps to make it easier for borrowers with loans insured by their agency to obtain access to low-cost, streamlined refinancing.  The current FHA-to-FHA streamlined refinance program allows FHA borrowers who are current on their mortgage to refinance into a new FHA-insured loan at today’s lower interest rates without requiring a full re-underwrite of the loan, thereby providing a simple way for borrowers to reduce their mortgage payments. 

However, some borrowers who would be eligible for low-cost refinancing through this program are being denied by lenders reticent to make loans that may compromise their status as FHA-approved lenders. To resolve this issue, the FHA is removing these loans from their “Compare Ratio”, the process by which the performance of these lenders is reviewed. This will open the program up to many more families with FHA-insured loans.

2.      Homeowner Bill of Rights

EXAMPLE: How Rebuilding Equity Can Benefit a Borrower:

The Administration believes that the mortgage servicing system is badly broken and would benefit from a single set of strong federal standards   As we have learned over the past few years, the nation is not well served by the inconsistent patchwork of standards in place today, which fails to provide the needed support for both homeowners and investors. The Administration believes that there should be one set of rules that borrowers and lenders alike can follow. A fair set of rules will allow lenders to be transparent about options and allow borrowers to meet their responsibilities to understand the terms of their commitments.

The Administration will therefore work closely with regulators, Congress and stakeholders to create a more robust and comprehensive set of rules that better serves borrowers, investors, and the overall housing market. These rules will be driven by the following set of core principles: 

 

  • Simple, Easy to Understand Mortgage Forms: Every prospective homeowner should have access to clear, straightforward forms that help inform rather than confuse them when making what is for most families their most consequential financial purchase. To help fulfill this objective, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is in the process of developing a simple mortgage disclosure form to be used in all home loans, replacing overlapping and complex forms that include hidden clauses and opaque terms that families cannot understand. 

                

  • No Hidden Fees and Penalties: Servicers must disclose to homeowners all known fees and penalties in a timely manner and in understandable language, with any changes disclosed before they go into effect.

 

  • No Conflicts of Interest: Servicers and investors must implement standards that minimize conflicts of interest and facilitate coordination and communication, including those between multiple investors and junior lien holders, such that loss mitigation efforts are not hindered for borrowers.

 

  • Assistance For At-Risk Homeowners:

 

  • Early Intervention: Servicers must make reasonable efforts to contact every homeowner who has either demonstrated hardship or fallen delinquent and provide them with a comprehensive set of options to help them avoid foreclosure. Every such homeowner must be given a reasonable time to apply for a modification.

 

  • Continuity of Contact: Servicers must provide all homeowners who have requested assistance or fallen delinquent on their mortgage with access to a customer service employee with 1) a complete record of previous communications with that homeowner; 2) access to all documentation and payments submitted by the homeowner; and 3) access to personnel with decision-making authority on loss mitigation options.

 

  • Time and Options to Avoid Foreclosure: Servicers must not initiate a foreclosure action unless they are unable to establish contact with the homeowner after reasonable efforts, or the homeowner has shown a clear inability or lack of interest in pursuing alternatives to foreclosure. Any foreclosure action already under way must stop prior to sale once the servicer has received the required documentation and cannot be restarted unless and until the homeowner fails to complete an application for a modification within a reasonable period, their application for a modification has been denied or the homeowner fails to comply with the terms of the modification received.

 

  • Safeguards Against Inappropriate Foreclosure
    • Right of Appeal: Servicers must explain to all homeowners any decision to take action based on a failure by the homeowner to meet their payment obligations and provide a reasonable opportunity to appeal that decision in a formal review process.
    • Certification of Proper Process: Prior to a foreclosure sale, servicers must certify in writing to the foreclosure attorney or trustee that appropriate loss mitigation alternatives have been considered and that proceeding to foreclosure sale is consistent with applicable law. A copy of this certification must be provided to the borrower.

The agencies of the executive branch with oversight or other authority over servicing practices –the FHA, the USDA, the VA, and Treasury, through the HAMP program – will each take the steps needed in the coming months to implement rules for their programs that are consistent with these standards.

3.      Announcement of Initial Pilot Sale in Initiative to Transition Real Estate Owned (REO) Property to Rental Housing to Stabilize Neighborhoods and Improve Housing Prices

 

When there are vacant and foreclosed homes in neighborhoods, it undermines home prices and stalls the housing recovery. As part of the Administration’s effort to help lay the foundation for a stronger housing recovery, the Department of Treasury and HUD have been working with the FHFA on a strategy to transition REO properties into rental housing. Repurposing foreclosed and vacant homes will reduce the inventory of unsold homes, help stabilize housing prices, support neighborhoods, and provide sustainable rental housing for American families.

Today, the FHFA is announcing the first major pilot sale of foreclosed properties into rental housing. This marks the first of a series of steps that the FHFA and the Administration will take to develop a smart national program to help manage REO properties, easing the pressure of these distressed properties on communities and the housing market.

4.      Moving the Market to Provide a Full Year of Forbearance for Borrowers Looking for Work

Last summer, the Administration announced that it was extending the minimum forbearance period that unemployed borrowers in FHA and HAMP would receive on their mortgages to a full year, up from four months in FHA and three months in HAMP. This forbearance period allows borrowers to stay in their homes while they look for jobs, which gives these families a better chance of avoiding default and helps the housing market by reducing the number of foreclosures. Extending this period makes good economic sense as the time it takes the average unemployed American to find work has grown through the course of the housing crisis: nearly 60 percent of unemployed Americans are now out of work for more than four months.

These extensions went into effect for HAMP and the FHA in October. Today the Administration is announcing that the market has followed our lead, finally giving millions of families the time needed to find work before going into default.

  • 12-Month Forbearance for Mortgages Owned by the GSEs: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have both announced that lenders servicing their loans can provide up to a year of forbearance for unemployed borrowers, up from 3 months. Between them, Fannie and Freddie cover nearly half of the market, so this alone will extend the relief available for a considerable portion of the nation’s unemployed homeowners.

 

  • Move by Major Servicers to Use 12-Month Forbearance as Default Approach: Key servicers have also followed the Administration’s lead in extending forbearance for the unemployed to a year. Wells Fargo and Bank of America, two of the nation’s largest lenders, have begun to offer this longer period to customers whose loans they hold on their own books, recognizing that it is not just helpful for these struggling families, but it makes good economic sense for their lenders as well.

 

  • A New Industry Norm: With these steps, the industry is gradually moving to a norm of providing 12 months of forbearance for those looking for work. This is a significant shift worthy of note, as only a few months ago unemployed borrowers simply were not being given a fighting chance to find work before being faced with the added burden of a monthly mortgage payment.

 5.      Joint Investigation into Mortgage Origination and Servicing Abuses

 

The Department of Justice, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Securities and Exchange Commission and state Attorneys General have formed a Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities Working Group under President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force that will be responsible for investigating misconduct contributing to the financial crisis through the pooling and sale of residential mortgage-backed securities. The Department of Justice has announced that this working group will consist of at least 55 DOJ attorneys, analysts, agents and investigators from around the country, joining existing state and federal resources investigating similar misconduct under those authorities.

The working group will be co-chaired by senior officials at the Department of Justice and SEC, including Lanny Breuer, Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Division, DOJ; Robert Khuzami, Director of Enforcement, SEC; John Walsh, U.S. Attorney, District of Colorado; and Tony West, Assistant Attorney General, Civil Division, DOJ. The working group will also be co-chaired by New York Attorney General Schneiderman, who will lead the effort from the state level.  Other state Attorneys General have been and will be joining this effort.

 6.      Putting People Back to Work Rehabilitating Homes, Businesses and Communities Through Project Rebuild

 

Consistent with a proposal he first put forward in the American Jobs Act, the President will propose in his Budget to invest $15 billion in a national effort to put construction workers on the job rehabilitating and refurbishing hundreds of thousands of vacant and foreclosed homes and businesses. Building on proven approaches to stabilizing neighborhoods with high concentrations of foreclosures – including those piloted through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program – Project Rebuild will bring in expertise and capital from the private sector, focus on commercial and residential property improvements, and expand innovative property solutions like land banks. 

In addition, the Budget will provide $1 billion in mandatory funding in 2013 for the Housing Trust Fund to finance the development, rehabilitation and preservation of affordable housing for extremely low income families. These approaches will not only create construction jobs but will help reduce blight and crime and stabilize housing prices in areas hardest hit by the housing crisis.

7.      Expanding HAMP Eligibility to Reduce Additional Foreclosures and Help Stabilize Neighborhoods

To date, the Home Affordable Mortgage Program (HAMP) has helped more than 900,000 families permanently modify their loans, providing them with savings of about $500 a month on average. Combined with measures taken by the FHA and private sector modifications, public and private efforts have helped more than 4.6 million Americans get mortgage aid to prevent avoidable foreclosures. Along with extending the HAMP program by one year to December 31, 2013, the Administration is expanding the eligibility for the program so that it reaches a broader pool of distressed borrowers. Additional borrowers will now have an opportunity to receive modification assistance that provides the same homeowner protections and clear rules for servicers established by HAMP. This includes:

  • Ensuring that Borrowers Struggling to Make Ends Meet Because of Debt Beyond Their Mortgage Can Participate in the Program: To date, if a borrower’s first-lien mortgage debt-to-income ratio is below 31% they are ineligible for a HAMP modification. Yet many homeowners who have an affordable first mortgage payment – below that 31% threshold – still struggle beneath the weight of other debt such as second liens and medical bills. Therefore, we are expanding the program to those who struggle with this secondary debt by offering an alternative evaluation opportunity with more flexible debt-to-income criteria.

 

  • Preventing Additional Foreclosures to Support Renters and Stabilize Communities: We will also expand eligibility to include properties that are currently occupied by a tenant or which the borrower intends to rent. This will provide critical relief to both renters and those who rent their homes, while further stabilizing communities from the blight of vacant and foreclosed properties. Single-family homes are an important source of affordable rental housing, and foreclosure of non-owner occupied homes has disproportionate negative effects on low-and moderate-income renters.

8.      Increasing Incentives for Modifications that Help Borrowers Rebuild Equity

Currently, HAMP includes an option for servicers to provide homeowners with a modification that includes a write-down of the borrower’s principal balance when a borrower owes significantly more on their mortgage than their home is worth. These principal reduction modifications help both reduce a borrower’s monthly payment and rebuild equity in their homes. While not appropriate in all circumstances, principal reduction modifications are an important tool in the overall effort to help homeowners achieve affordable and sustainable mortgages. To further encourage investors to consider or expand use of principal reduction modifications, the Administration will:

  • Triple the Incentives Provided to Encourage the Reduction of Principal for Underwater Borrowers: To date, the owner of a loan that qualifies for HAMP receives between 6 and 21 cents on the dollar to write down principal on that loan, depending on the degree of change in the loan-to-value ratio. To increase the amount of principal that is written down, Treasury will triple those incentives, paying from 18 to 63 cents on the dollar.

 

  • Offer Principal Reduction Incentives for Loans Insured or Owned by the GSEs: HAMP borrowers who have loans owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac do not currently benefit from principal reduction loan modifications. To encourage the GSEs to offer this assistance to its underwater borrowers, Treasury has notified the GSE’s regulator, FHFA, that it will pay principal reduction incentives to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac if they allow servicers to forgive principal in conjunction with a HAMP modification.

 

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Foreclosure Soup Kitchen For Unemployed – Up to $50K Zero Interest Loans

Foreclosure Soup Kitchen For Unemployed – Up to $50K Zero Interest Loans


Meanwhile all the Kings Men and 2 King Wives continue to feast extremely well via bailouts… Some of you (not all) have a slight chance… or is it?…


Who do you think this is benefiting?

From the Wall Street Journal – Foreclosure relief finally kicks off

The Obama administration is finally launching a long-awaited $1 billion program designed to provide the unemployed with loans to help them avoid foreclosure.

But there’s a catch: Homeowners will have only a month to apply.

Continue reading [WSJ]

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Posted in STOP FORECLOSURE FRAUDComments (0)

TIME OUT | Mr. Trump, You’re Mistaken…The Prez Does Have a Signature on His Certificate

TIME OUT | Mr. Trump, You’re Mistaken…The Prez Does Have a Signature on His Certificate


Donald Trump recently told NBC’s TODAY Show Host Meredith Vieira, that up until 3 weeks ago he thought the President was born in Amerika. That his birth certificate isn’t even a real “certificate” because it doesn’t have a signature. Now he has his doubts and sources say he has hired a group to investigate.

I say to Donald, save your cash … we have proof it’s signed and real.

Via Williambanzai7 @ Zero Hedge

Although this being a joke, the families unlawfully foreclosed isn’t.

This is just as real as the frauduments used for assigning, satisfying etc. equitable interest to real property…

#

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Posted in STOP FORECLOSURE FRAUDComments (2)

Handcuffs for Wall Street, Not Happy-Talk

Handcuffs for Wall Street, Not Happy-Talk


“If the people cannot trust their government to do the job for which it exists
– to protect them and to promote their common welfare – all else is lost.”
– BARACK OBAMA, speech, Aug. 28, 2006

Zach Carter

Zach Carter

Economics Editor, AlterNet; Fellow, Campaign for America’s Future

Posted: September 12, 2010 02:52 PM

The Washington Post has published a very silly op-ed by Chrystia Freeland accusing President Barack Obama of unfairly “demonizing” Wall Street. Freeland wants to see Obama tone down his rhetoric and play nice with executives in pursuit of a harmonious economic recovery. The trouble is, Obama hasn’t actually deployed harsh words against Wall Street. What’s more, in order to avoid being characterized as “anti-business,” the Obama administration has refused to mete out serious punishment for outright financial fraud. Complaining about nouns and adjectives is a little ridiculous when handcuffs and prison sentences are in order.

Freeland is a long-time business editor at Reuters and the Financial Times, and the story she spins about the financial crisis comes across as very reasonable. It’s also completely inaccurate. Here’s the key line:

“Stricter regulation of financial services is necessary not because American bankers were bad, but because the rules governing them were.”

Bank regulations were lousy, of course. But Wall Street spent decades lobbying hard for those rules, and screamed bloody murder when Obama had the audacity to tweak them. More importantly, the financial crisis was not only the result of bad rules. It was the result of bad rules and rampant, straightforward fraud, something a seasoned business editor like Freeland ought to know. Seeking economic harmony with criminals seems like a pretty poor foundation for an economic recovery.

The FBI was warning about an “epidemic” of mortgage fraud as early as 2004. Mortgage fraud is typically perpetrated by lenders, not borrowers — 80 percent of the time, according to the FBI. Banks made a lot of quick bucks over the past decade by illegally conning borrowers. Then bankers who knew these loans were fraudulent still packaged them into securities and sold them to investors without disclosing that fraud. They lied to their own shareholders about how many bad loans were on their books, and lied to them about the bonuses that were derived from the entire scheme. When you do these things, you are stealing lots of money from innocent people, and you are, in fact, behaving badly (to put it mildly).

The fraud allegations that have emerged over the past year are not restricted to a few bad apples at shady companies– they involve some of the largest players in global finance. Washington Mutual executives knew their company was issuing fraudulent loans, and securitized them anyway without stopping the influx of fraud in the lending pipeline. Wachovia is settling charges that it illegally laundered $380 billion in drug money in order to maintain access to liquidity. Barclays is accused of illegally laundering money from Iran, Sudan and other nations, jumping through elaborate technical hoops to conceal the source of their funds. Goldman Sachs set up its own clients to fail and bragged about their “shitty deals.” Citibank executives deceived their shareholders about the extent of their subprime mortgage holdings. Bank of America executives concealed heavy losses from the Merrill Lynch merger, and then lied to their shareholders about the massive bonuses they were paying out. IndyMac Bank and at least five other banks cooked their books by backdating capital injections.

Continue reading…..The  Huffington Post


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Posted in Bank Owned, citi, conspiracy, Economy, FED FRAUD, foreclosure, foreclosure fraud, foreclosure mills, foreclosures, goldman sachs, hamp, indymac, investigation, jobless, lehman brothers, MERS, MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS INC., OCC, racketeering, RICO, rmbs, Wall Street, wamu, washington mutual, wells fargoComments (0)

Treasury Makes Shocking Admission: Program for Struggling Homeowners Just a Ploy to Enrich Big Banks

Treasury Makes Shocking Admission: Program for Struggling Homeowners Just a Ploy to Enrich Big Banks


The Treasury Dept.’s mortgage relief program isn’t just failing, it’s actively funneling money from homeowners to bankers, and Treasury likes it that way.

August 25, 2010 |AlterNet / By Zach Carter

The Treasury Department’s plan to help struggling homeowners has been failing miserably for months. The program is poorly designed, has been poorly implemented and only a tiny percentage of borrowers eligible for help have actually received any meaningful assistance. The initiative lowers monthly payments for borrowers, but fails to reduce their overall debt burden, often increasing that burden, funneling money to banks that borrowers could have saved by simply renting a different home. But according to recent startling admissions from top Treasury officials, the mortgage plan was actually not really about helping borrowers at all. Instead, it was simply one element of a broader effort to pump money into big banks and shield them from losses on bad loans. That’s right: Treasury openly admitted that its only serious program purporting to help ordinary citizens was actually a cynical move to help Wall Street megabanks.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has long made it clear his financial repair plan was based on allowing large banks to “earn” their way back to health. By creating conditions where banks could make easy profits, Getithner and top officials at the Federal Reserve hoped to limit the amount of money taxpayers would have to directly inject into the banks. This was never the best strategy for fixing the financial sector, but it wasn’t outright predation, either. But now the Treasury Department is making explicit that it was—and remains—willing to let those so-called “earnings” come directly at the expense of people hit hardest by the recession: struggling borrowers trying to stay in their homes.

This account comes secondhand from a cadre of bloggers who were invited to speak on “deep background” with a handful of Treasury officials—meaning that bloggers would get to speak frankly with top-level folks, but not quote them directly, or attribute views to specific people. But the accounts are all generally distressing, particularly this one from economics whiz Steve Waldman:

The program was successful in the sense that it kept the patient alive until it had begun to heal. And the patient of this metaphor was not a struggling homeowner, but the financial system, a.k.a. the banks. Policymakers openly judged HAMP to be a qualified success because it helped banks muddle through what might have been a fatal shock. I believe these policymakers conflate, in full sincerity, incumbent financial institutions with “the system,” “the economy,” and “ordinary Americans.”

Mike Konczal confirms Waldman’s observation, and Felix Salmon also says the program has done little more than delay foreclosures, as does Shahien Nasiripour.

Here’s how Geithner’s Home Affordability Modification Program (HAMP) works, or rather, doesn’t work. Troubled borrowers can apply to their banks for relief on monthly mortgage payments. Banks who agree to participate in HAMP also agree to do a bunch of things to reduce the monthly payments for borrowers, from lowering interest rates to extending the term of the loan. This is good for the bank, because they get to keep accepting payments from borrowers without taking a big loss on the loan.

But the deal is not so good for homeowners. Banks don’t actually have to reduce how much borrowers actually owe them—only how much they have to pay out every month. For borrowers who owe tens of thousands of dollars more than their home is worth, the deal just means that they’ll be pissing away their money to the bank more slowly than they were before. If a homeowner spends $3,000 a month on her mortgage, HAMP might help her get that payment down to $2,500. But if she still owes $50,000 more than her house is worth, the plan hasn’t actually helped her. Even if the borrower gets through HAMP’s three-month trial period, the plan has done nothing but convince her to funnel another $7,500 to a bank that doesn’t deserve it.

Most borrowers go into the program expecting real relief. After the trial period, most realize that it doesn’t actually help them, and end up walking away from the mortgage anyway. These borrowers would have been much better off simply finding a new place to rent without going through the HAMP rigamarole. This example is a good case, one where the bank doesn’t jack up the borrower’s long-term debt burden in exchange for lowering monthly payments

But the benefit to banks goes much deeper. On any given mortgage, it’s almost always in a bank’s best interest to cut a deal with borrowers. Losses from foreclosure are very high, and if a bank agrees to reduce a borrower’s debt burden, it will take an upfront hit, but one much lower than what it would ultimately take from foreclosure.

That logic changes dramatically when millions of loans are defaulting at once. Under those circumstances, bank balance sheets are so fragile they literally cannot afford to absorb lots of losses all at once. But if those foreclosures unravel slowly, over time, the bank can still stay afloat, even if it has to bear greater costs further down the line. As former Deutsche Bank executive Raj Date told me all the way back in July 2009:

If management is only seeking to maximize value for their existing shareholders, it’s possible that maybe they’re doing the right thing. If you’re able to let things bleed out slowly over time but still generate some earnings, if it bleeds slow enough, it doesn’t matter how long it takes, because you never have to issue more stock and dilute your shareholders. You could make an argument from the point of view of any bank management team that not taking a day-one hit is actually a smart idea.

Date, it should be emphasized, does not condone this strategy. He now heads the Cambridge Winter Center for Financial Institutions Policy, and is a staunch advocate of financial reform.

If, say, Wells Fargo had taken a $20 billion hit on its mortgage book in February 2009, it very well could have failed. But losing a few billion dollars here and there over the course of three or four years means that Wells Fargo can stay in business and keep paying out bonuses, even if it ultimately sees losses of $25 or $30 billion on its bad loans.

So HAMP is doing a great job if all you care about is the solvency of Wall Street banks. But if borrowers know from the get-go they’re not going to get a decent deal, they have no incentive to keep paying their mortgage. Instead of tapping out their savings and hitting up relatives for help with monthly payments, borrowers could have saved their money, walked away from the mortgage and found more sensible rental housing. The administration’s plan has effectively helped funnel more money to Wall Street at the expense of homeowners. And now the Treasury Department is going around and telling bloggers this is actually a positive feature of the program, since it meant that big banks didn’t go out of business.

There were always other options for dealing with the banks and preventing foreclosures. Putting big, faltering banks into receivership—also known as “nationalization”—has been a powerful policy tool used by every administration from Franklin Delano Roosevelt to Ronald Reagan. When the government takes over a bank, it forces it to take those big losses upfront, wiping out shareholders in the process. Investors lose a lot of money (and they should, since they made a lousy investment), but the bank is cleaned up quickly and can start lending again. No silly games with borrowers, and no funky accounting gimmicks.

Most of the blame for the refusal to nationalize failing Wall Street titans lies with the Bush administration, although Obama had the opportunity to make a move early in his tenure, and Obama’s Treasury Secretary, Geithner, was a major bailout decision-maker on the Bush team as president of the New York Fed.

But Bush cannot be blamed for the HAMP nightmare, and plenty of other options were available for coping with foreclosure when Obama took office. One of the best solutions was just endorsed by the Cleveland Federal Reserve, in the face of prolonged and fervent opposition from the bank lobby. Unlike every other form of consumer debt, mortgages are immune from renegotiation in bankruptcy. If you file for bankruptcy, a judge literally cannot reduce how much you owe on your mortgage. The only way out of the debt is foreclosure, giving banks tremendous power in negotiations with borrowers.

This exemption is arbitrary and unfair, but the bank lobby contends it keeps mortgage rates lower. It’s just not true, as a new paper by Cleveland Fed economists Thomas J. Fitzpatrick IV and James B. Thomson makes clear. Family farms were exempted from bankruptcy until 1986, and bankers bloviated about the same imminent risk of unaffordable farm loans when Congress considered ending that status to prevent farm foreclosures.

When Congress did repeal the exemption, farm loans didn’t get any more expensive, and bankruptcy filings didn’t even increase very much. Instead, a flood of farmers entered into negotiations with banks to have their debt burden reduced. Banks took losses, but foreclosures were avoided. Society was better off, even if bank investors had to take a hit.

But instead, Treasury is actively encouraging troubled homeowners to subsidize giant banks. What’s worse, as Mike Konczal notes, they’re hoping to expand the program significantly.

There is a flip-side to the current HAMP nightmare, one that borrowers faced with mortgage problems should attend to closely and discuss with financial planners. In many cases, banks don’t actually want to foreclose quickly, because doing so entails taking losses right away, and most of them would rather drag those losses out over time. The accounting rules are so loose that banks can actually book phantom “income” on monthly payments that borrowers do not actually make. Some borrowers have been able to benefit from this situation by simply refusing to pay their mortgages. Since banks often want to delay repossessing the house in order to benefit from tricky accounting, borrowers can live rent-free in their homes for a year or more before the bank finally has to lower the hatchet. Of course, you won’t hear Treasury encouraging people to stop paying their mortgages. If too many people just stop paying, then banks are out a lot of money fast, sparking big, quick losses for banks — the exact situation HAMP is trying to avoid.

Borrowers who choose not to pay their mortgages don’t even have to feel guilty about it. Refusing to pay is actually modestly good for the economy, since instead of wasting their money on bank payments, borrowers have more cash to spend at other businesses, creating demand and encouraging job growth. By contrast, top-level Treasury officials who have enriched bankers on the backs of troubled borrowers should be looking for other lines of work.

Zach Carter is AlterNet’s economics editor. He is a fellow at Campaign for America’s Future, writes a weekly blog on the economy for the Media Consortium and is a frequent contributor to The Nation magazine.

Source: AlterNet

© 2010-17 FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA. All rights reserved.



Posted in coercion, concealment, conflict of interest, conspiracy, CONTROL FRAUD, corruption, federal reserve board, foreclosure, foreclosure fraud, foreclosures, geithner, hamp, insider, investigation, trade secretsComments (0)

Hard Times Are Getting Harder: Why The Silence?

Hard Times Are Getting Harder: Why The Silence?


WHO IS TALKING ABOUT WHAT MATTERS?

Aren’t job losses and foreclosures as important as a “Ground Zero Mosque” (that has not been built, isn’t a mosque or even at ground zero?)

By Danny Schechter, Author of The Crime Of Our Time

We know we live in hard times that are on the verge of getting harder with 500,000 new claims for unemployment last week, a recent record. The stock market may be over for now as fear and panic drives small investors out. Big corporations hoard stashes of cash rather then hire workers.

Foreclosures are up, and the Administration’s programs to stop them are down, well below their stated goals, only helping 1/6th of those promised assistance.

And here’s a statistic for you: 300,000. That’s the number of foreclosure filings every month for the past 17 months. This year, 1.9 million homes will be lost, down from 2 million last year. Is that progress? In July alone, 92, 858 homes were repossessed.

At the same time, the number of cancelled mortgage modifications exceeded the number of successful ones. According to Ml-implode.com, last month, “the number of trial modification cancellations surged to 616,839, greatly outnumbering the 421,804 active permanent modifications.”

The Treasury Department admits its HAMP program did not meet expectations but justifies it on the grounds that it gave homeowners lower payments—thatr is, until they were tossed out of their homes. Critics call this “extend and pretend.

And don’t think this is only a problem that affects the homeowners about to go homeless. The New York Times quotes Michael Feder, the chief executive of the real estate data firm Radar Logic to the effect that we are all at risk.

“My concern is that if we have another protracted housing dip, it’s going to bring the economy down,” Mr. Feder said. “If consumers don’t think their houses are worth what they were six months ago, they’re not going to go out and spend money. I’m concerned this problem isn’t being addressed.”

The larger point is that even if you believe the economy is already down, it can go lower. No one knows how to “fix it” either just as BP couldn’t plug the “leak” that, truth be told, is still oozing oil, and is 650 feet in scope.

So what are we doing about it? Are we demanding debt relief or a moratorium on foreclosures? Are we shutting down the foreclosure factories

Continue Reading…NewsDissector

© 2010-17 FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA. All rights reserved.



Posted in conspiracy, CONTROL FRAUD, corruption, Danny Schechter, foreclosure, foreclosure fraud, foreclosure mills, foreclosures, geithner, goldman sachs, hamp, investigation, Moratorium, mortgage, Mortgage Foreclosure Fraud, mortgage modification, Real Estate, Wall StreetComments (0)

Banking Execs Say Gov’t Needs To Back Mortgages

Banking Execs Say Gov’t Needs To Back Mortgages


Banking Executives Tell Obama Officials Government Needs To Play Large Role In Mortgage Market

(AP) WASHINGTON (AP) – The Obama administration invited banking executives Tuesday to offer advice on changing the government’s role in the mortgage market. Their response: stay big.

While the executives disagreed on the exact level of support needed, the group overwhelmingly advocated the government should maintain a large role propping up the nearly $11 trillion market.

Bill Gross, managing director of bond giant Pimco, said the economic recovery required more government stimulus, particularly in the housing market. He suggested the administration push for the automatic refinancing of millions homes backed by mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Fannie Mac.

Refinancing those homes at the lowest mortgage rates in decades would give Americans more money each month. That would boost consumer spending by $50 billion to $60 billion and lift housing prices by as much as 10 percent, he said.

Without such stimulus in the next six months, Gross said, the economy will move at a “snails pace.”

Treasury officials have said they have no plans to enact such a plan, which has been the subject of intense rumors on Wall Street in recent weeks.

Tuesday’s conference at the Treasury Department is the administration’s first of many steps toward restructuring the troubled industry. So far, rescuing Fannie and Freddie has cost the government more than $148 billion. That number is expected to grow.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner pledged “fundamental change” to the structure of Fannie and Freddie. The mortgage giants profited tremendously during good times but burdened taxpayers with losses when the housing market went bust. He said the two companies weren’t the only cause of the financial crisis, but made it worse.

Fannie and Freddie buy mortgages and package them into securities with a guarantee against default. They have ensured that millions of Americans can get home loans – even after the housing market collapsed.

The two companies, the Federal Housing Administration and the Veterans Administration together backed about 90 percent of loans made in the first half of the year, according to trade publication Inside Mortgage Finance.

Geithner did not offer a specific exit strategy for Fannie and Freddie. He agreed that the government could remain involved in the mortgage system by guaranteeing investors in mortgage-backed securities get paid, even when borrowers default.

There is a “strong case to be made” for such an arrangement, Geithner said.’

But Geithner suggested that Fannie and Freddie’s replacements could pay the government to insure the loans. That money could be tapped if the housing market collapses and would ensure taxpayers do not get hit with losses in the future.

“It is our responsibility to make sure that we create a system that is not vulnerable to these same failures happening again,” Geithner said.

Republicans are expected to pick up seats in Congress in November and the Obama administration will need support from both parties to enact changes next year.

The Obama administration’s management of Fannie and Freddie has been under fire for months from Republicans on Capitol Hill. In December, the Treasury Department eliminated a $400 billion cap on how much money it would give the mortgage giants to keep them from failing.

Rep. Spencer Bachus, the top Republican on the House Financial Services Committee, accused the Obama administration of excluding critics of the government’s role in the mortgage system from Tuesday’s conference.

In a letter to Geithner, Bachus said Treasury appears to be “laying the groundwork for a predetermined policy outcome that looks uncomfortably similar to the failed status quo.”

But the industry executives and experts at the conference seemed to agree that the government should maintain a role in the mortgage market, even if Fannie and Freddie disappear someday. Where they disagreed was on the level of government involvement and whether it should be reduced gradually.

Gross advocated the biggest government role. He said Fannie and Freddie’s function should be consolidated into one government agency that would issue mortgage-backed securities. Without such a solid guarantee, mortgage rates would soar, he warned.

Gross said he is skeptical of having those securities issued by the private sector, saying that doing so would favor “Wall Street as opposed to Main Street.”

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

© 2010-17 FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA. All rights reserved.



Posted in CONTROL FRAUD, corruption, fannie mae, foreclosure, foreclosure fraud, foreclosures, Freddie Mac, geithner, mbs, mortgage, non disclosure, Real Estate, rmbs, scam, sub-prime, trade secretsComments (1)

A Banker Can’t Get Arrested in This Town

A Banker Can’t Get Arrested in This Town


Richard (RJ) Eskow

Richard (RJ) Eskow

Consultant, Writer, Senior Fellow with The Campaign for America’s Future

Posted: August 5, 2010 06:55 PM

The Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission have broad powers to root out and punish financial fraud. The Interagency Financial Fraud Task Force, formed last November, is an Obama-era innovation that enhances the government’s ability to track down financial criminals. As we look back on the last two years’ revelations about Wall Street misbehavior, then, it seems reasonable to ask the question:

What’s a banker gotta do to get arrested in this town?

We’re not talking about the “show up with your attorney and we’ll work out a settlement” kind of arrest, either. We mean the pull-them-from-the-boardroom, handcuff-wearing, hands-on-the-police-car perp walk sort of arrest. Enforcement actions seem few and far between, and when they do come around the settlement is usually far too small to deter future crime.

Headlines last week announced the arrest of software entrepreneurs the Wylie Brothers who, according to the SEC, netted more than $550 million through various forms of securities fraud. General Electric was charged with “bringing good things to life” for some Iraqi officials in the form of fat bribes. Stories say that Office Depot may be close to settling with the SEC on a variety of charges. Dell and its senior executives were charged with failing to disclose material facts to investors. (Write your own “Dude, you’re getting a Dell” joke; I’m too busy.)

But a review of 49 charges brought this year by the SEC shows that the majority of their targets were “ABB” — “anybody but bankers” — and that only eight charges were directly related to the fraud that trashed the economy. Most of those eight charges involved bit players, and penalties for the two major fraudsters involved were so light that they gave would-be malefactors no good reason to change their evil ways.

Here’s a sampling of SEC charges filed this year: A father/son accounting team was charged with insider trading. Italian and Dutch companies bribed some Nigerians and a telecommunications company slipped a mordida or two to Chinese officials. Some Canadians fraudulently touted penny stocks on Facebook and Twitter. A Florida retirement benefits firm skimmed some funds. Some guys were busted for an affinity fraud and Ponzi scheme targeting African American and Caribbean investors in New York City.

The SEC even charged a psychic with fraud after he claimed he could predict what would happen in the stock market. (Of course he was a fraud! A real psychic would’ve known they were investigating him and left town.)


Continue Reading…Huffington Post

© 2010-17 FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA. All rights reserved.



Posted in bogus, CONTROL FRAUD, corruption, foreclosure fraud, goldman sachs, STOP FORECLOSURE FRAUD, trade secrets, Wall StreetComments (0)

About 530,000 drop out Obama mortgage-aid program

About 530,000 drop out Obama mortgage-aid program


By ALAN ZIBEL (AP) –

WASHINGTON — The number of people dropping out of the Obama administration’s program main program to help those at risk of losing their homes outstripped those who received aid for the second-straight month.

The Treasury Department says about 530,000 borrowers have dropped out of the program as of last month. That’s more than 40 percent of the nearly 1.3 million enrolled since March 2009. It’s a sign that foreclosures could rise and weaken an ailing housing market.

Treasury officials say few of these borrowers will wind up in foreclosure. But many analysts still fear a new wave of foreclosures will weaken the housing market.

Another 390,000 homeowners, or 30 percent of those who started the program, have received permanent loan modifications and are making payments on time.

© 2010-17 FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA. All rights reserved.



Posted in mortgage, mortgage modification, STOP FORECLOSURE FRAUDComments (1)

GRETCHEN MORGENSON: Too Large for Stains

GRETCHEN MORGENSON: Too Large for Stains


By GRETCHEN MORGENSON The Wall Street Journal

Published: June 25, 2010

OUR nation’s Congressional machinery was humming last week as legislators reconciled the differences between the labyrinthine financial reforms proposed by the Senate and the House and emerged early Friday morning with a voluminous new law in hand. They christened it the Dodd-Frank bill, after the heads of the Senate Banking and House Financial Services Committees who drove the process toward the finish line.

The bill is awash in so much minutiae that by late Friday its ultimate impact on the financial services industry was still unclear. Certainly, the bill, which the full Congress has yet to approve, is the most comprehensive in decades, touching hedge funds, private equity firms, derivatives and credit cards. But is it the “strong Wall Street reform bill,” that Christopher Dodd, the Connecticut Democrat, said it is?

For this law to be the groundbreaking remedy its architects claimed, it needed to do three things very well: protect consumers from abusive financial products, curb dangerous risk taking by institutions and cut big and interconnected financial entities down to size. So far, the report card is mixed.

On the final item, the bill fails completely. After President Obama signs it into law, the nation’s financial industry will still be dominated by a handful of institutions that are too large, too interconnected and too politically powerful to be allowed to go bankrupt if they make unwise decisions or make huge wrong-way bets.

Speaking of large and politically connected entities, Dodd-Frank does nothing about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the $6.5 trillion mortgage finance behemoths that have been wards of the state for almost two years. That was apparently a bridge too far — not surprising, given the support that Mr. Dodd and Mr. Frank lent to Fannie and Freddie back in the good old days when the companies were growing their balance sheets to the bursting point.

So what does the bill do about abusive financial products and curbing financial firms’ appetites for excessive risk?

For consumers and individual investors, Dodd-Frank promises greater scrutiny on financial “innovations,” the products that line bankers’ pockets but can harm users. The creation of a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau within the Federal Reserve Board is intended to bring a much-needed consumer focus to a regulatory regime that was nowhere to be seen during the last 20 years.

It is good that the bill grants this bureau autonomy by assigning it separate financing and an independent director. But the structure of the bureau could have been stronger.

For example, the bill still lets the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency bar state consumer protections where no federal safeguards exist. This is a problem that was well known during the mortgage mania when the comptroller’s office beat back efforts by state authorities to curtail predatory lending.

And Dodd-Frank inexplicably exempts loans provided by auto dealers from the bureau’s oversight. This is as benighted as exempting loans underwritten by mortgage brokers.

Finally, the Financial Stability Oversight Council, the überregulator to be led by the Treasury secretary and made up of top financial regulators, can override the consumer protection bureau’s rules. If the council says a rule threatens the soundness or stability of the financial system, it can be revoked.

Given that financial regulators — and the comptroller’s office is not alone in this — often seem to think that threats to bank profitability can destabilize the financial system, the consumer protection bureau may have a tougher time doing its job than many suppose.

ONE part of the bill that will help consumers and investors is the section exempting high-quality mortgage loans from so-called risk retention requirements. These rules, intended to make mortgage originators more prudent in lending, force them to hold on to 5 percent of a mortgage security that they intend to sell to investors.

But Dodd-Frank sensibly removes high-quality mortgages — those made to creditworthy borrowers with low loan-to-value ratios — from the risk retention rule. Requiring that lenders keep a portion of these loans on their books would make loans more expensive for prudent borrowers; it would likely drive smaller lenders out of the business as well, causing further consolidation in an industry that is already dominated by a few powerful players.

“This goes a long way toward realigning incentives for good underwriting and risk retention where it needs to be retained,” said Jay Diamond, managing director at Annaly Capital Management. “With qualified mortgages, the risk retention is with the borrower who has skin in the game. It’s in the riskier mortgages, where the borrower doesn’t have as much at stake, that the originator should be keeping the risk.”

In the interests of curbing institutional risk-taking, Dodd-Frank rightly takes aim at derivatives and proprietary trading, in which banks make bets using their own money. On derivatives, the bill lets banks conduct trades for customers in interest rate swaps, foreign currency swaps, derivatives referencing gold and silver, and high-grade credit-default swaps. Banks will also be allowed to trade derivatives for themselves if hedging existing positions.

But trading in credit-default swaps referencing lower-grade securities, like subprime mortgages, will have to be run out of bank subsidiaries that are separately capitalized. These subsidiaries may have to raise capital from the parent company, diluting the bank’s existing shareholders.

Banks did win on the section of the bill restricting their investments in private equity firms and hedge funds to 3 percent of bank capital. That number is large enough so as not to be restrictive, and the bill lets banks continue to sponsor and organize such funds.

On proprietary trading, however, the bill gets tough on banks, said Ernest T. Patrikis, a partner at White & Case, by limiting their bets to United States Treasuries, government agency obligations and municipal issues. “Foreign exchange and gold and silver are out,” he said. “This is good for foreign banks if it applies to U.S. banks globally.”

That’s a big if. Even the Glass-Steagall legislation applied only domestically, he noted. Nevertheless, Mr. Patrikis concluded: “The bill is a win for consumers and bad for banks.”

Even so, last Friday, investors seemed to view the bill as positive for banks; an index of their stocks rose 2.7 percent on the day. That reaction is a bit of a mystery, given that higher costs, lower returns and capital raises lie ahead for financial institutions under Dodd-Frank.

Then again, maybe investors are already counting on the banks doing what they do best: figuring out ways around the new rules and restrictions.

A version of this article appeared in print on June 27, 2010, on page BU1 of the New York edition.

© 2010-17 FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA. All rights reserved.



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New Wave in Foreclosures: Borrowers ditch Obama mortgage program

New Wave in Foreclosures: Borrowers ditch Obama mortgage program


By ALAN ZIBEL, AP Real Estate Writer Mon Jun 21, 7:14 pm ET

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration’s flagship effort to help people in danger of losing their homes is falling flat.

More than a third of the 1.24 million borrowers who have enrolled in the $75 billion mortgage modification program have dropped out. That exceeds the number of people who have managed to have their loan payments reduced to help them keep their homes.

Last month alone,155,000 borrowers left the program — bringing the total to 436,000 who have dropped out since it began in March 2009.

About 340,000 homeowners have received permanent loan modifications and are making payments on time.

Administration officials say the housing market is significantly better than when President Barack Obama entered office. They say those who were rejected from the program will get help in other ways.

But analysts expect the majority will still wind up in foreclosure and that could slow the broader economic recovery.

A major reason so many have fallen out of the program is the Obama administration initially pressured banks to sign up borrowers without insisting first on proof of their income. When banks later moved to collect the information, many troubled homeowners were disqualified or dropped out.

Many borrowers complained that the banks lost their documents. The industry said borrowers weren’t sending back the necessary paperwork.

Carlos Woods, a 48-year-old power plant worker in Queens, N.Y., made nine payments during a trial phase but was kicked out of the program after Bank of America said he missed a $1,600 payment afterward. His lawyer said they can prove he made the payment.

Such mistakes happen “more frequently than not, unfortunately,” said his lawyer, Sumani Lanka. “I think a lot of it is incompetence.”

A spokesman for Bank of America declined to comment on Woods’s case.

Treasury officials now require banks to collect two recent pay stubs at the start of the process. Borrowers have to give the Internal Revenue Service permission to provide their most recent tax returns to lenders.

Requiring homeowners to provide documentation of income has turned people away from enrolling in the program. Around 30,000 homeowners started the program in May. That’s a sharp turnaround from last summer when more than 100,000 borrowers signed up each month.

As more people leave the program, a new wave of foreclosures could occur. If that happens, it could weaken the housing market and hold back the broader economic recovery.

Even after their loans are modified, many borrowers are simply stuck with too much debt — from car loans to home equity loans to credit cards.

“The majority of these modifications aren’t going to be successful,” said Wayne Yamano, vice president of John Burns Real Estate Consulting, a research firm in Irvine, Calif. “Even after the permanent modification, you’re still looking at a very high debt burden.”

So far nearly 6,400 borrowers have dropped out after the loan modification was made permanent. Most of those borrowers likely defaulted on their modified loans, but a handful either refinanced or sold their homes.

Credit ratings agency Fitch Ratings projects that about two-thirds of borrowers with permanent modifications under the Obama plan will default again within a year after getting their loans modified.

Obama administration officials contend that borrowers are still getting help — even if they fail to qualify. The administration published statistics showing that nearly half of borrowers who fell out of the program as of April received an alternative loan modification from their lender. About 7 percent fell into foreclosure.

Another option is a short sale — one in which banks agree to let borrowers sell their homes for less than they owe on their mortgage.

A short sale results in a less severe hit to a borrower’s credit score, and is better for communities because homes are less likely to be vandalized or fall into disrepair. To encourage more of those sales, the Obama administration is giving $3,000 for moving expenses to homeowners who complete such a sale or agree to turn over the deed of the property to the lender.

Administration officials said their work on several fronts has helped stabilize the housing market. Besides the foreclosure-prevention plan, they cited government efforts to provide money for home loans, push down mortgage rates and provide a federal tax credit for buyers.

“There’s no question that today’s housing market is in significantly better shape than anyone predicted 18 months ago,” said Shaun Donovan, President Barack Obama’s housing secretary.

The mortgage modification plan was announced with great fanfare a month after Obama took office.

It is designed to lower borrowers’ monthly payments — reducing their mortgage rates to as low as 2 percent for five years and extending loan terms to as long as 40 years. Borrowers who complete the program are saving a median of $514 a month. Mortgage companies get taxpayer incentives to reduce borrowers’ monthly payments.

Consumer advocates had high hopes for Obama’s program when it began. But they have since grown disenchanted.

“The foreclosure-prevention program has had minimal impact,” said John Taylor, chief executive of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, a consumer group. “It’s sad that they didn’t put the same amount of resources into helping families avoid foreclosure as they did helping banks.”

(This version CORRECTS spelling of Shaun Donovan’s name from Sean Donovan, adds dropped word in paragraph 24.)

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THE REAL EMPLOYERS OF THE SIGNERS OF MORTGAGE ASSIGNMENTS TO TRUSTS: BY Lynn E. Szymoniak, Esq.

THE REAL EMPLOYERS OF THE SIGNERS OF MORTGAGE ASSIGNMENTS TO TRUSTS: BY Lynn E. Szymoniak, Esq.


THE REAL EMPLOYERS OF THE SIGNERS OF

MORTGAGE ASSIGNMENTS TO TRUSTS

BY Lynn E. Szymoniak, Esq., Editor, Fraud Digest (szymoniak@mac.com),

April 15, 2010

On May 11, 2010, Judge Arthur J. Schack, Supreme Court, Kings County, New York, entered an order denying a foreclosure action with prejudice. The case involved a mortgage-backed securitized trust, SG Mortgage Securities Asset Backed Certificates, Series 2006-FRE2. U.S. Bank, N.A. served as Trustee for the SG Trust. See U.S. Bank, N.A. v. Emmanuel, 2010 NY Slip Op 50819 (u), Supreme Court, Kings County, decided May 11, 2010. In this case, as in hundreds of thousands of other cases involving securitized trusts, the trust inexplicably did not produce mortgage assignments from the original lender to the depositor to the securities company to the trust.

This particular residential mortgage-backed securities trust in the Emmanuel case had a cut-off date of July 1, 2006. The entities involved in the creation and early agreements of this trust included Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., as servicer, U.S. Bank, N.A. as trustee, Bear Stearns Financial Products as the “swap provider” and SG Mortgage Securities, LLC. The Class A Certificates in the trust were given a rating of “AAA” by Dominion Bond Rating Services on July 13, 2006.

The designation “FRE” in the title of this particular trust indicates that the loans in the trust were made by Fremont Investment & Loan, a bank and subprime lender and subsidiary of Fremont General Corporation. The “SG” in the title of the trust indicates that the loans were “securitized” by Signature Securities Group Corporation, or an affiliate.

Fremont, a California-based corporation, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on June 19, 2008, but continued in business as a debtor-in-possession. On March 31, 2008, Fremont General sold its mortgage servicing rights to Carrington Capital Management, a hedge fund focused on the subprime residential mortgage securities market. Carrington Capital operated Carrington Mortgage Services, a company that had already acquired the mortgage servicing business of New Century after that large sub-prime lender also filed for bankruptcy. Carrington Mortgage Services provides services a portfolio of nearly 90,000 loans with an outstanding principal balance of over $16 billion. Nearly 63% of the portfolio is comprised of adjustable rate mortgages. Mortgage servicing companies charge  substantially higher fees for servicing adjustable rate mortgages than fixed-rate mortgages. Those fees, often considered the most lucrative part of the subprime mortgage business, are paid by the securitized trusts that bought the loans from the original lenders (Fremont & New Century), after the loans had been combined into trusts by securities companies, like Financial Assets Securities Corporation, SG and Carrington Capital.

Carrington Capital in Greenwich, Connecticut, is headed by Bruce Rose, who left Salomon Brothers in 2003 to start Carrington. At Carrington, Rose packaged $23 billion in subprime mortgages. Many of those securities included loans originated by now-bankrupt New Century Financial. Carrington forged unique contracts that let it direct any foreclosure and liquidations of the underlying loans. Foreclosure management is also a very lucrative part of the subprime mortgage business. As with servicing adjustable rate mortgages, the fees for the foreclosure management are paid ultimately by the trust. There is little or no oversight of the fees charged for the foreclosure actions. The vast majority of foreclosure cases are uncontested, but the foreclosure management firms may nevertheless charge the trust several thousand dollars for each foreclosure of a property in the trust.

The securities companies and their affiliates also benefit from the bankruptcies of the original lenders. On May 12, 2010, Signature Group Holdings LLP, (“SG”) announced that it had been chosen to revive fallen subprime mortgage lender Freemont General, once the fifth-largest U.S. subprime mortgage lender. A decision to approve Signature’s reorganization plan for Fremont was made through a bench ruling issued by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Santa Ana, CA. The bid for Fremont lasted nearly two years, with several firms competing for the acquisition.

The purchase became much more lucrative for prospective purchasers in late March, 2010, when Fremont General announced that it would settle more than $89 million in tax obligations to the Internal Revenue Service without actually paying a majority of the back taxes. The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California, Santa Ana Division, approved a motion that allowed Fremont General to claim a net operating loss deduction for 2004 that is attributable for its 2006 tax obligations, according to a regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

In addition, Fremont General will deduct additional 2004 taxes, because of a temporary extension to the period when companies can claim the credit. The extension from two years to five went into effect when President Obama signed the Worker, Homeownership, and Business Assistance Act of 2009. While approved by the bankruptcy court judge, the agreement must also meet the approval of the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation, but according to the SEC filing, both Fremont General and the IRS anticipate that it will be approved. In all, Fremont’s nearly $89.4 million tax assessment was reduced to about $2.8 million, including interest. In addition, as a result of the IRS agreement, a California Franchise Tax Board tax claim of $13.3 million was reduced to $550,000.

Another development that made the purchase especially favorable for SG was the announcement on May 10, 2010, that Federal Insurance Co. has agreed to pay Fremont General Corp. the full $10 million loss limits of an errors and omissions policy to cover subprime lending claims, dropping an 18-month battle over whether the claims were outside the scope of its bankers professional liability policies.

All of these favorable developments are part of a long history of success for Craig Noell, the head of Signature Group Holdings, the winning bidder for Fremont. Previously, as a member of the distressed investing area at Goldman Sachs, Noell founded and ran Goldman Sachs Specialty Lending, investing Goldman’s proprietary capital in “special situations opportunities.”

Bruce Rose’s Carrington Mortgage Services and Craig Noell’s Signature Group Holdings are part of the story of the attempted foreclosure on Arianna Emmanuel in Brooklyn, New York. U.S. Bank, N.A., as Trustee for SG Mortgage Securities Asset-Backed Certificates, Series 2006 FRE-2 attempted to foreclose on Arianna Emmanuel. The original mortgage had been made by Fremont Investment & Loan (the beneficiary of the $100 milion tax break and the $10 million insurance payout discussed above).

To successfully foreclose, the Trustee needed to produce proof that the Trust had acquired the loan from Fremont. At this point, the document custodian for the trust needed only to produce the mortgage assignment. The securities company that made the SG Trust, the mortgage servicing company that serviced the trust and U.S. Bank as Trustee had all made frequent sworn statements to the SEC and shareholders that these documents were safely stored in a fire-proof  vault.

Despite these frequent representations to the SEC, the assignment relied upon by U.S. Bank, the trustee, was one executed by Elpiniki Bechakas as assistant secretary and vice president of MERS, as nominee for Freemont. In foreclosure cases all over the U.S., assignments signed by Elpiniki Bechakas are never questioned. But on May 11, 2010, the judge examining the mortgage assignment was the Honorable Arthur J. Schack in Brooklyn, New York.

Bechakas signed as an officer of MERS, as nominee for Fremont, representing that the property had been acquired by the SG Trust in June, 2009. None of this was true. Judge Schack determined sua sponte that Bechakas was an associate in the law offices of Steven J. Baum, the firm representing the trustee and trust in the foreclosure. Judge Schack recognized that the Baum firm was thus working for both the GRANTOR and GRANTEE. Judge Schack wrote, “The Court is concerned that the concurrent representation by Steven J. Baum, P.C. of both assignor MERS, as nominee for FREMONT, and assignee plaintiff U.S. BANK is a conflict of interest, in violation of 22 NYCRR § 1200.0 (Rules of Professional Conduct, effective April 1, 2009) Rule 1.7, “Conflict of Interest: Current Clients.”

Judge Schack focused squarely on an issue that pro se homeowner litigants and foreclosure defense lawyers often attempt to raise – the authority of the individuals signing mortgage assignments that are used by trusts to foreclose. In tens of thousands of cases, law firm employees sign as MERS officers, without disclosing to the Court or to homeowners that they are actually employed by the law firm, not MERS, and that the firm is being paid and working on behalf of the Trust/Grantee while the firm employee is signing on behalf of the original lender/Grantor.

Did the SG Trust acquire the Emmanuel loan in 2006, the closing date of the trust, or in 2009, the date chosen by Belchakas and her employers? There are tremendous tax advantages being claimed by banks and mortgage companies based on their portfolio of nonperforming loans. There are also millions of dollars in insurance payouts being made ultimately because of non-performing loans. There are substantial fees being charged by mortgage servicing companies and mortgage default management companies – being paid by trusts and assessed on homeowners in default. The question of the date of the transfer is much more than an academic exercise.

As important as the question of WHEN, there is also the question of WHAT – what exactly did the trust acquire? What is the reason for the millions of assignments to trusts that flooded recorders’ offices nationwide starting in 2007 that were prepared by law firm employees like Bechakas or by employees of mortgage default companies or document preparation companies specializing is providing “replacement” mortgage documents. Why, in judicial foreclosure states, are there thousands of Complaints for Foreclosure filed with the allegations: “We Own the Note; we had the note; we lost the note.” Why do bankruptcy courts repeatedly see these same three allegations in Motions For Relief of Stay filed by securitized trusts attempting to foreclose? If the assignments and notes are missing, has the trust acquired anything (other than investors’ money, tax advantages and insurance payouts)? In many cases, the mortgage servicing company does eventually acquire the property – often by purchasing the property after foreclosure for ten dollars and selling it to the trust that had claimed ownership from the start.

Where are the missing mortgage assignments?

Posted in bear stearns, case, concealment, conspiracy, foreclosure fraud, foreclosure mills, forensic loan audit, fraud digest, goldman sachs, Lynn Szymoniak ESQ, MERS, mortgage electronic registration system, MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS INC., Mortgage Foreclosure Fraud, robo signer, S.E.C.Comments (0)

Gov't to rate how lenders treat borrowers: AP

Gov't to rate how lenders treat borrowers: AP


Very simple.

 

Posted on Mon, May. 3, 2010

Gov’t to rate how lenders treat borrowers

By Alan Zibel

AP Real Estate Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Treasury Department is planning to rate mortgage companies on how they treat customers as part of the Obama administration’s $75 billion foreclosure relief effort.

The new report will include measurements of how each company is handling borrowers and is expected by July, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told Senate lawmakers on Thursday.

More than 100 companies participate in the program, which is designed to help up to 4 million borrowers avoid foreclosure.

Speaking in unusually strong language, Geithner said many companies “are not responding to the needs of responsible and increasingly desperate homeowners.”

If they don’t comply with the program’s rules, he said, “we will withhold incentives or demand their repayment.”

The program is designed to lower borrowers’ monthly payments by reducing mortgage rates to as low as 2 percent for five years and extending loan terms to as long as 40 years. Mortgage companies get taxpayer incentives to reduce borrowers’ monthly payments. Homeowners have to complete at least three months of payments to qualify for permanent loan modifications.

About 231,000 homeowners have completed this process so far. That’s about 20 percent of the 1.2 million borrowers who started the program over the past year.

Many experts say that’s inadequate. “Families are tragically being foreclosed on when foreclosure was preventable,” said Richard Neiman, New York’s top banking regulator and a member of the independent Congressional Oversight Panel. The panel was set up to oversee the government’s financial bailout programs.

And the number of dropouts is rising. About 155,000 homeowners didn’t complete the initial trial phase. Another 2,900 fell out even after their loans were modified. Many more are still in limbo.

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Close watch on the US…UK regulator begins Goldman Sachs probe

Close watch on the US…UK regulator begins Goldman Sachs probe


I think it is donzo for GS. They might try to get away with it here but UK…is another story. There is no White House.

Source: Associated Press

People enter Goldman Sachs headquarters, Monday, April 19, 2010, in New York. Stocks are falling on concerns about the fallout over Goldman Sachs being charged with civil fraud tied to its dealings in bonds backed by sub-prime mortgages. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
Jane Wardell, AP Business Writer, On Tuesday April 20, 2010, 6:40 am EDT

LONDON (AP) — Britain’s financial regulator launched a full-blown investigation into Goldman Sachs International on Tuesday after U.S. authorities filed civil fraud charges against its parent bank.

The announcement from the Financial Services Authority follows pressure for the probe from Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who expressed shock over the weekend at Goldman’s “moral bankruptcy.”

The British regulator said it would liaise closely with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which alleges that the bank sold risky mortgage-based investments without telling buyers that the securities were crafted in part by a billionaire hedge fund manager who was betting on them to fail.

The London-headquartered Goldman Sachs International, a principal subsidiary of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., said that “the SEC’s charges are completely unfounded in law and fact.” It said it looks “forward to cooperating with the FSA.”

British interest in the case is likely to focus on the Royal Bank of Scotland, which paid $841 million to Goldman Sachs in 2007 to unwind its position in a fund acquired in the takeover of Dutch Bank ABN Amro, according to the complaint filed in the United States.

The possibility that RBS might be able to recoup some money from Goldman Sachs helped boost the government-controlled bank’s shares, which were up 2.8 percent at midday.

The government holds an 84 percent stake in the bank, which nearly collapsed in large part because of its leadership of the consortium which took over the Dutch bank.

Fabrice Tourre, the Goldman Sachs executive named in the SEC lawsuit filed on Friday was moved to the bank’s London office at the end of 2008.

Analysts warn that damage from the case could hit other big banks as well, as the Goldman lawsuit puts the spotlight on the sector’s activities in the wake of the financial crisis.

Brown’s anger was fueled by reports over the weekend that Goldman Sachs still intended to pay out 3.5 billion pounds ($5.4 billion) in bonuses.

The British leader, who is facing a tough general election on May 6, said that the activities of banks “are still an issue.”

“They are a risk to the economy,” he said. “We have got to make sure they behave in a proper way.”

The opposition Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties, meanwhile, called on Brown to suspend Goldman from government work until the investigations are completed.

AP reporter Robert Barr in London contributed to this statement.

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Goldman Sachs taps ex-W.H. counsel: SCAM THICKENS!

Goldman Sachs taps ex-W.H. counsel: SCAM THICKENS!


By EAMON JAVERS & MIKE ALLEN | 4/19/10 8:14 PM EDT
Updated: 4/19/10 10:03 PM by POLITICO

Goldman Sachs is launching an aggressive response to its political and legal challenges with an unlikely ally at its side — President Barack Obama’s former White House counsel, Gregory Craig.

The beleaguered Wall Street bank hired Craig — now in private practice at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom — in recent weeks to help in navigate the halls of power in Washington, a source familiar with the firm told POLITICO.

“He is clearly an attorney of eminence and has a deep understanding of the legal process and the world of Washington,” the source said. “And those are important worlds for everybody in finance right now.”

They’re particularly important for Goldman.

On Friday, the SEC charged the firm with securities fraud in a convoluted subprime mortgage deal that took place before the collapse of the housing market. Next week, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein will face questions from the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which is looking into the causes of the housing meltdown, the source said.

In Craig, Goldman Sachs will have help from a lawyer with deep connections in Democratic circles.

Craig served as White House counsel during the first year of Obama’s presidency, but is seen as having been pushed out for his role in advocating a strict timeline for the closing of the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. His departure frustrated many liberal Obama supporters who saw Craig as a strong advocate for undoing some of what they saw as the worst excesses of the Bush era.

But the source familiar with Goldman’s operations said Craig wasn’t hired just because he’s well-connected.

“It’s about advice and process,” the source said. “People will always leap to the conclusion that it’s about somebody’s Rolodex.”

Skadden declined to comment on Craig’s role with Goldman.

“A former White House employee cannot appear before any unit of the Executive Office of the President on behalf of any client for 2 years—one year under federal law and another year under the pledge pursuant to the January 2009 ethics E0,” said a White House official.

The official also said that the White House had no contact with the SEC on the Goldman Sachs case. “The SEC by law is an independent agency that does not coordinate with the White House any part of their enforcement actions.”

Whatever the reason for his hiring, Craig will presumably be a key player in the intricate counterattack Goldman Sachs officials in Washington and Manhattan improvised during the weekend — a plan that took clearer shape Monday as Britain and Germany announced that they might conduct their own investigations of the firm.

For three weeks, Goldman had planned to hold a conference call Tuesday to unveil its first-quarter earnings for shareholders. Shifting into campaign mode after the SEC’s surprise fraud filing, Goldman has moved the call up from 11 a.m. to 8 a.m. to try to get ahead of the day’s buzz. In an unusual addition, the firm’s chief counsel will be on the line to answer questions about the case, and Goldman is inviting policymakers and clients to listen to the earnings call themselves rather than rely on news reports.

Industry officials said the conference call — which will include, as originally planned, Chief Financial Officer David Viniar — will amount to a public unveiling of Goldman’s crisis strategy.

But the linchpin of that plan is already clear: An attempt to discredit the Securities and Exchange Commission by painting the case as tainted by politics because it was announced just as President Barack Obama was ramping up his push for financial regulatory reform, including a planned trip to New York on Thursday.

“The charges were brought in a manner calculated to achieve maximum impact at point of penetration,” a Goldman executive said.

Among the points Greg Palm, co-general counsel, plans to emphasize on the call is “how out of the ordinary the process was with the SEC,” the executive said. The SEC usually gives firms a chance to settle such charges before they are made public. Goldman executives say they had no such chance,and learned about the filing while watching CNBC.

With a monstrous problem and mammoth resources, the iconic firm is paying for advice from a huge array of outside consultants, including such top Washington advisers as Ken Duberstein and Jack Martin, founder of Public Strategies.

The basic plan: Make a tough, factual case without coming off as arrogant or combative and without souring the firm’s image even further.

Partly because of the firm’s belief that it has become an easy target, no Goldman officials have appeared on television since the SEC announced its case.

The firm thinks it can be more effective if others make its case. On CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Monday, Andrew Ross Sorkin of The New York Times, who gets special attention from Goldman spinners, raised questions about the substance of the SEC’s case. Shortly thereafter, Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, said he is “a little interested in the timing” of the case.

Reflecting a high-stakes balance for the unpopular investment bank, Goldman plans to stop short of a frontal attack. Instead, it is raising questions and feeding ammunition to allies.

“We don’t want to come across as being arrogant and above it all,” said a Goldman executive who insisted on anonymity. “The SEC is the major regulator of several of our businesses. Being at war with them is not the goal.”

Therefore, an official said, a key Goldman message in the days ahead will be, “We’re not against regulation. We’re for regulation. We partner with regulators.”

Goldman said its most important audience is its client base, from CEOs all over the world to pension-fund managers to entrepreneurs who use the firm’s private wealth-management services. The firm sent its staff two pages of talking points giving basic facts — and the official line — about the SEC case: “Goldman Sachs Lost Money on the Transaction … Objective Disclosure Was Provided.”

The less official message, according to one executive: “Don’t believe everything you read in the complaint. Don’t believe everything you read in the press.”

The official said clients have been sympathetic.

Other audiences include the news media and governments around the world, with Goldman reaching out Tuesday to politicians in Europe, Japan, the U.S. and everywhere in between.

Goldman pays extraordinary attention to its alumni network because so many of its former officials are in visible, powerful positions. An official said the firm tries “to empower them with information,” so that when they’re put on the spot about the Goldman case, they can say, “I’m not there, but let me tell you a few things I’ve been told.”

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Obama administration to order lenders to cut mortgage payments for jobless

Obama administration to order lenders to cut mortgage payments for jobless


Obama readies steps to fight foreclosures, particularly for unemployed

By Renae Merle and Dina ElBoghdady
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 26, 2010

The Obama administration plans to overhaul how it is tackling the foreclosure crisis, in part by requiring lenders to temporarily slash or eliminate monthly mortgage payments for many borrowers who are unemployed, senior officials said Thursday.

At a House oversight committee hearing, keys represent foreclosed homes. The administration is planning new steps to fight foreclosures.

At a House oversight committee hearing, keys represent foreclosed homes. The administration is planning new steps to fight foreclosures. (Brendan Hoffman/bloomberg News)

Banks and other lenders would have to reduce the payments to no more than 31 percent of a borrower’s income, which would typically be the amount of unemployment insurance, for three to six months. In some cases, administration officials said, a lender could allow a borrower to skip payments altogether.

The new push, which the White House is scheduled to announce Friday, takes direct aim at the major cause of the current wave of foreclosures: the spike in unemployment. While the initial mortgage crisis that erupted three years ago resulted from millions of risky home loans that went bad, more-recent defaults reflect the country’s economic downturn and the inability of jobless borrowers to keep paying.

The administration’s new push also seeks to more aggressively help borrowers who owe more on their mortgages than their properties are worth, offering financial incentives for the first time to lenders to cut the loan balances of such distressed homeowners. Those who are still current on their mortgages could get the chance to refinance on better terms into loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration.

The problem of “underwater” borrowers has bedeviled earlier administration efforts to address the mortgage crisis as home prices plunged.

Officials said the new initiatives will take effect over the next six months and be funded out of $50 billion previously allocated for foreclosure relief in the emergency bailout program for the financial system. No new taxpayer funds will be needed, the officials said.

The measures have been in the works for weeks, but President Obama is finally to release the details days after his watershed victory on health-care legislation. Following that bruising battle on Capitol Hill, his administration is now welcoming a chance to change the subject and turn its attention to the economy and, in particular, the plight of the unemployed — concerns that are paramount for many Americans.

The administration has been facing increasing pressure from lawmakers and housing advocates to overhaul its foreclosure prevention efforts. So far, fewer than 200,000 borrowers have received permanent loan modifications under its $75 billion marquee program, known as Making Home Affordable. In the meantime, there is a growing backlog of distressed borrowers awaiting help from their lenders, which threatens to undercut efforts to stabilize the housing market.

Challenges unmet

Assistant Treasury Secretary Herbert M. Allison Jr. told a House panel Thursday that “we did not fully envision the challenges that we would encounter” when the earlier program was launched.

The efforts have been hampered by the difficulty of helping unemployed homeowners, who struggled to qualify for the government’s mortgage relief plan. In requiring temporary relief for jobless borrowers, known as forbearance, officials are hoping to give them time to find a new job. Some will still need more assistance after the six-month period while others will ultimately lose their homes, administration officials said.

“We certainly support a forbearance opportunity for unemployed borrowers,” said John A. Courson, chief executive of the Mortgage Bankers Association. He said he had not seen full details of the program.

Four measures

In addition to mortgage relief for unemployed borrowers, the program features four other key elements, including several steps to address the growing population of borrowers who owe significantly more than their home is worth, according to officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the official announcement had not been made. Underwater borrowers now make up about a quarter of all homeowners, according to First American CoreLogic. Economists consider these homeowners at higher risk of default because they cannot sell or refinance their home when they run into financial troubles.

The first key element is that the government will provide financial incentives to lenders that cut the balance of a borrower’s mortgage. Banks and other lenders will be asked to reduce the principal owed on a loan if the amount is 15 percent more than their home is worth. The reduced amount would be set aside and forgiven by the lender over three years, as long as the homeowner remained current on the loan.

Until recently, administration officials had been reluctant to encourage lenders to cut the principal balance, worrying that this would encourage borrowers to become delinquent. But as federal regulators have struggled to make an impact on the foreclosure crisis, those qualms have weakened.

“We would prefer to see a required principal forgiveness program. But this is helpful,” said David Berenbaum, chief program officer for the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, a nonprofit housing group. “This is another tool that will help consumers weather the crisis.”

Second, the government will double the amount it pays to lenders that help modify second mortgages, such as piggyback loans, which enabled home buyers to put little or no money down, and home equity lines of credit.

These second mortgages are an added burden on struggling homeowners, especially when their total debt, as a result, is greater than their home value.

Federal officials have estimated that about half of all troubled homeowners have a second mortgage and last year launched a program to encourage lenders to restructure them. That effort has struggled to get off the ground.

Third, the new effort also increases the incentives paid to those lenders that find a way to avoid foreclosing on delinquent borrowers even if they can’t qualify for mortgage relief. For example, the administration is scheduled to launch a program next month encouraging lenders to have borrowers sell their homes for less than the mortgage balance in what is known as a short sale.

Fourth, the administration is increasingly turning to the Federal Housing Administration to help underwater borrowers who are still keeping up their payments. The aim is to help these borrowers refinance into a more affordable loan. The FHA will offer incentives to lenders that reduce the amount borrowers owe on their primary mortgages by at least 10 percent.

For those borrowers who have more than one mortgage on their house, the FHA will allow refinancing of the first loan only. The new loan and any second mortgage could not exceed 15 percent of the home’s value. This approach is meant to benefit not only borrowers but also lenders by allowing them to offload mortgages that might otherwise fail.

Only homeowners who are refinancing their main residence, have a credit score above 500 and can document their income are eligible.

Administration official say this refinancing program should not strain the FHA’s already weakened finances because the effort will be financed with up to $14 billion out of the federal bailout program.

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The next big bailout is on the way. Prepare to get reamed!

The next big bailout is on the way. Prepare to get reamed!


The next big bailout is on the way. Prepare to get reamed!

Mike Whitney
Smirking Chimp
March 16, 2010

Housing is on the rocks and prices are headed lower. That’s not the consensus view, but it’s a reasonably safe assumption. Master illusionist Ben Bernanke managed to engineer a modest 7-month uptick in sales, but the fairydust will wear off later this month when the Fed stops purchasing mortgage-backed securities and long-term interest rates begin to creep higher. The objective of Bernanke’s $1.25 trillion program, which is called quantitative easing, was to transfer the banks “unsellable” MBS onto the Fed’s balance sheet. Having achieved that goal, Bernanke will now have to unload those same toxic assets onto Freddie and Fannie. (as soon as the public is no longer paying attention)

Jobless people don’t buy houses.

Bernanke’s cash giveaway has helped to buoy stock prices and stabilize housing, but market fundamentals are still weak. There’s just too much inventory and too few buyers. Now that the Fed is withdrawing its support, matters will only get worse. 

Of course, that hasn’t stopped the folks at Bloomberg from cheerleading the nascent housing turnaround. Here’s a clip from Monday’s column:

“The U.S. housing market is poised to withstand the removal of government and Federal Reserve stimulus programs and rebound later in the year, contributing to annual economic growth for the first time since 2006. Increases in jobs, credit and affordable homes will help offset the end of the Fed’s purchases of mortgage-backed securities this month and the expiration of a federal homebuyer tax credit in April. Sales will rise about 6 percent this year, and housing will account for 0.25 percentage point of the 3.6 percent growth, according to forecasts by Dean Maki, chief U.S. economist for Barclays Capital in New York…“The underlying trend is turning positive,” said Bruce Kasman, chief economist at JPMorgan Chase & Co. in New York.”

Just for the record; there has been no “increases in jobs”. It’s baloney. Unemployment is flat at 9.7 percent with underemployment checking-in at 16.8 percent. There’s no chance of housing rebound until payrolls increase. Jobless people don’t buy houses.

Also, while it is true that the federal homebuyer tax credit did cause a spike in home purchases; it’s impact has been short-lived and sales are returning to normal. It’s generally believed that “cash for clunker-type” programs merely move demand forward and have no meaningful long-term effect.

So, it’s likely that housing prices–particularly on the higher end–will continue to fall until they return to their historic trend. (probably 10 to 15% lower) That means more trouble for the banks which are already using all kinds of accounting flim-flam (”mark-to-fiction”) to conceal the wretched condition of their balance sheets. Despite the surge in stock prices, the banks are drowning in the losses from their non performing loans and toxic assets. And, guess what; they still face another $1 trillion in Option ARMs and Alt-As that will reset by 2012. it’s all bad.

The Fed has signaled that it’s done all it can to help the banks. Now it’s Treasury’s turn. Bernanke will keep the Fed funds rate at zero for the foreseeable future, but he is not going to expand the Fed’s balance sheet anymore. Geithner understands this and is working frantically to put together the next bailout that will reduce mortgage-principal for underwater homeowners. But it’s a thorny problem because many of the borrowers have second liens which could amount to as much as $477 billion. That means that if the Treasury’s mortgage-principal reduction plan is enacted; it could wipe out the banks. Here’s an excerpt from an article in the Financial Times which explains it all:

“A group of investors in mortgage-backed bonds dubbed the Mortgage Investors Coalition (MIC) recently submitted to Congress a plan to overhaul the refinancing of underwater borrowers by writing down the principal balances of both first and second mortgages. The confederation of insurers, asset managers and hedge funds hope to break a logjam between Washington DC and the four megabanks with the most exposure to writedowns on second lien mortgages, including home equity lines of credit.

The private sector initiative coincides with House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank’s open letter dated 4 March to the CEOs of the banks in question – Bank of America, Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo – urging them to start forgiving principal on the second lien loans they hold.

But the banks are unlikely to take action until they get new accounting guidance from regulators that would ease the impact of such significant principal reductions on their capitalization ratios.”

(Ed.–”Accounting guidance”? Either the banks are holding out for a bigger bailout or they’re looking for looser accounting standards to conceal their losses from their shareholders. Either way, it’s clear that they’re trying to hammer out the best deal possible for themselves regardless of the cost to the taxpayer.)

Financial Times again: “The four banks in question collectively own more than USD 400bn of the USD 1trn in second lien mortgages outstanding. BofA holds USD 149bn, Citi holds USD 54bn, JP Morgan holds USD 101bn and Wells Fargo holds USD 115bn, according to fourth quarter 2009 10Q filings with the Securities & Exchange Commission.

As proposed, the MIC’s plan entails haircuts to the first and second lien loans to reduce underwater borrowers’ loan to value ratios to 96.5% of current real estate market prices, according to two sources close.

For the program to work, HAMP would place principal balance forgiveness first in the modification waterfall. The associated second lien would take a principal balance reduction but remain intact through the process – ultimately to be re-subordinated to the first lien, the sources close said.

A systemic program to modify second lien mortgages called 2MP does exist but Treasury has stalled on implementation because the banks that hold them can’t afford it, six buyside investors said. The sources all said implementation of the program, called 2MP, would result in “catastrophic” losses for the nation’s four largest banks, which collectively hold more than USD 400bn of the USD 1trn in second lien mortgages outstanding.” (”Mortgage investors push for banks to write down second liens”, Allison Pyburn, Financial Times)

Hold on a minute! Didn’t Geithner just run bank “stress tests” last year to prove that the banks could withstand losses on second liens?

Yes, he did. And the banks passed with flying colors. So, why are the banks whining now about the potential for “catastrophic” losses if the plan goes forward? Either they were lying then or they’re lying now; which is it?

Of course they were lying. Just like that sniveling sycophant Geithner is lying.

According to the Times the banks hold $400 billion in second lien mortgages. But –as Mike Konczal points out–the stress tests projected maximum losses at just “$68 billion. In other words, Geithner rigged the tests so the banks would pass. Now the banks want it both ways: They want people to think that they are solvent enough to pass a basic stress test, but they want to be given another huge chunk of public money to cover their second liens. They want it all, and Geithner’s trying to give it to them. Wanker.

And don’t believe the gibberish from Treasury that “they have no plan for mortgage principal reductions”. According to the Times:

“Treasury continues to tell investors that any day now they will be out with a final program and they will be signed up”….“The party line continues to be they are a week away, two weeks away,” the hedge fund source said. ”

So, it’s not a question of “if” there will be another bank bailout, but “how big” that bailout will be. The banks clearly expect the taxpayer to foot the entire bill regardless of who was responsible for the losses.

So, let’s summarize:

1–Bank bailout #1–$700 billion TARP which allowed the banks to continue operations after the repo and secondary markets froze-over from the putrid loans the banks were peddling.

2–Bank bailout #2–$1.25 trillion Quantitative Easing program which transferred banks toxic assets onto Fed’s balance sheet (soon to be dumped on Fannie and Freddie) while rewarding the perpetrators of the biggest financial crackup in history.

3–Bank bailout #3–$1 trillion to cover all mortgage cramdowns, second liens, as well as any future liabilities including gym fees, energy drinks, double-tall nonfat mocha’s, parking meters etc. ad infinitum.

And as far as the banks taking “haircuts”? Forget about it! Banks don’t take “haircuts”. It looks bad on their quarterly reports and cuts into their bonuses. Taxpayers take haircuts, not banksters. Besides, that’s what Geithner gets paid for–to make sure bigshot tycoons don’t have to pay for their mistakes or bother with the niggling details of fleecing the little people.

The next big bailout is on the way. Prepare to get reamed!

 
 
   

Posted in concealment, conspiracy, corruption, FED FRAUDComments (0)

Goldman Sachs Video

Goldman Sachs Video


I honestly see the vision of Obama snapping under world pressure. Watch you’ll see. He will throw his hands up in the air and shout …

“You are so right WORLD, we live in a BOGUS world of make believe”.

 

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gdjVISS6NP0]

Posted in concealment, conspiracy, corruption, FED FRAUD, geithner, jpmorgan chase, lehman brothers, naked short sellingComments (0)


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Kenneth Eric Trent, www.ForeclosureDestroyer.com

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