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BROOKINGS PAPER: Efficient Credit Policies in a Housing Debt Crisis – Janice Eberly and Arvind Krishnamurthy

BROOKINGS PAPER: Efficient Credit Policies in a Housing Debt Crisis – Janice Eberly and Arvind Krishnamurthy


Brookings-

Summary

Should another housing market crash occur, the government’s highest priority should be helping cash-short homeowners maintain spending in a weak economy and avoid foreclosure by temporarily reducing or deferring mortgage payments.

In “Efficient Credit Policies in a Housing Debt Crisis,” Janice Eberly of Northwestern University and Arvind Krishnamurthy of Stanford University build a theoretical framework to guide policymakers ahead of a housing collapse and in the aftermath, finding that reducing the loan principal spreads the benefits of government funds over a long period of time, rather than focusing on the crisis period. The housing bust of the late 2000s was at the heart of the worst recession since the Great Depression, and resulted in a set of government programs to help beleaguered homeowners and cushion the blow to the overall economy. The authors focus on the importance of liquidity constraints and consumer spending in the overall economy, especially during a financial crisis when there is a need to support household consumption.

[BROOKINGS]

Down Load PDF of This Case

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Facing Criminal Charges? Geithner was arrested and released!

Facing Criminal Charges? Geithner was arrested and released!


by

“What a tangled web we weave, When at first we practice to deceive”

 

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FRAUD DIGEST: PUTTING AN END TO MERS

FRAUD DIGEST: PUTTING AN END TO MERS


What has changed in the world of mortgage assignments since the FDIC/OCC/Treasury Consent Orders?

When is a mortgage assignment actually an Affidavit posing as a mortgage assignment?

When will all Recorders of Deeds file Declaratory Judgment actions seeking to enjoin the filing of mortgage assignments by document preparers:

1. that falsely state the employer and/or address of the preparer or signer (or that only use the MERS title when the signer is not directly employed by MERS);

2. that fail to plainly set forth the date the mortgage was assigned to the assignee; or

3. that contain language about the holder of the note, such language being extraneous to an Assignment of Mortgage.

 

Why are such Declaratory Judgment actions needed?

This is the new language appearing on many mortgage assignments where Deutsche Bank National Trust Company is the Trustee the Trust is the Assignee and MERS is the Assignor:

This loan was held by the Assignee prior to the Assignee filing a foreclosure action on May 21, 2008. The date of the execution of this Assignment of Mortgage by the Assignor is not reflective of the date the loan was transferred to the Assignee. The execution of this document is a ministerial act to comply with the state law as to how the transfer is to be documented and is not reflective of the transfer date itself.

(Instrument #2011383648, Official Records, Hillsborough County, Florida.)

This is signed by Srbui Muradyan who is identified as Assistant Secretary, Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., as Nominee for WMC Mortgage Corp. This document was notarized in Ventura County, CA, on October 25, 2011.

According to a statement in the upper left-hand corner of the document, the preparer was Tanya D. Simpson, Esq., of the law firm Smith, Hiatt & Diaz, P.A., a foreclosure mill in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

The receiving trust is Soundview Home Loan Trust 2007-WMC1.

When was the mortgage assigned to the trust? That essential question is not addressed by the Mortgage Assignment.

The signer and preparer purport to know that the loan (note: not the mortgage – the loan – that is, the promissory note) was held by Deutsche Bank as Trustee prior to May 21, 2008.

How is a Bank of America employee competent to state when Deutsche Bank National Trust Company acquired a loan?

In reality, Srbui Muradyan works for Bank of America in California. On many other mortgage assignments, Muradyan’s name appears as the preparer and the address for Muradyan is 450 E. Boundry Street, Chapin, SC – the address of Corelogic, one of the newest and largest document preparers in the country. (See Assignment of Mortgage, Book 2011, Page 13758, Pottawattamie County, Iowa – available through a Google search.)

Muradyan’s signature is always notarized in Ventura County, CA.

These new Assignments fail to plainly set forth the date that the mortgage was assigned; the individuals signing use a MERS title, never revealing their actual employers; the address of the signers is either not provided or wrongly stated, making it that much more difficult for a homeowner in foreclosure to take a simple deposition.

The OCC Review Process is not working; banks and trusts continue to use the MERS guise to seize properties without proof of ownership. The language has become even more convoluted. Tens of thousands of MERS Mortgage Assignments continue to be filed each month throughout the country.

Attorneys General Beau Biden of Delaware, Martha Coakley of Massachusetts and Eric Schneiderman of New York have all sued MERS and a declaratory judgment and injunctive relief may be part of their overall strategy. Their actions, however, will only help the citizens of Delaware, Massachusetts and New York.

While the many Linda Greens may have retired their pens in Alpharetta, there are hundreds more taking their places, still using MERS titles, still pretending to be bank officers when they are untrained clerks working for document mills.

Another solution is legislative: the Truth in Mortgage Documents Act previously discussed in Fraud Digest.

The simplest solution is for judges everywhere to reject these misleading documents and sanction the filers.

The end of MERS is long overdue.

FRAUD DIGEST by Lynn E. Szymoniak, ESQ.

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GAO REPORT: Improvements Are Needed in Internal Control over Financial Reporting for the Troubled Asset Relief Program

GAO REPORT: Improvements Are Needed in Internal Control over Financial Reporting for the Troubled Asset Relief Program


What GAO Found

During fiscal year 2011, OFS addressed several of the internal control issues related to the significant deficiency we reported for fiscal year 2010 concerning its accounting and financial reporting processes. However, remaining uncorrected control deficiencies along with other control deficiencies that we identified in this area in fiscal year 2011 collectively represented a continuing significant deficiency in OFS’s internal control over its accounting and financial reporting processes. Specifically, while OFS improved its review and approval process for preparing its financial statements, notes, and Management Discussion and Analysis (MD&A) for TARP for fiscal year 2011, we continued to identify incorrect amounts and inconsistent disclosures in OFS’s draft financial statements, notes, and MD&A that were significant, but not material, and that were not detected by OFS. For fiscal year 2011, we also identified deficiencies in other OFS accounting and financial reporting procedures related to: (1) recording of noncash transactions, (2) recording of warrant adjustments, and (3) accounting for Public-Private Investment Fund (PPIF) equity distributions.

OFS had other controls over TARP transactions and activities that reduced the risk of misstatements in its financial statements resulting from these deficiencies. For significant errors and issues that were identified, OFS revised the financial statements, notes, and MD&A, as appropriate.

In addition to the significant deficiency, we identified a less-significant control deficiency relating to key patches8 that were not in place for the server9 supporting OFS’s subsidiary ledger. During fiscal year 2011, OFS addressed the three less-significant control deficiencies that existed as of September 30, 2010, and that we reported in our April 2011 management report.10

We are making three new recommendations related to OFS’s continuing significant deficiency and one related to the less-significant control deficiency. Further, our work showed that OFS had completed corrective action on 10 of the 13 recommendations that remained open at the end of the fiscal year 2010 audit, and corrective actions were in progress on the three remaining recommendations.

Why GAO Did This Study

The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (EESA) requires that we annually audit the financial statements of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), which are prepared by the Department of the Treasury’s (Treasury) Office of Financial Stability (OFS). On November 10, 2011, we issued our audit report including (1) an unqualified opinion on OFS’s financial statements for TARP as of and for the fiscal years ended September 30, 2011 and 2010, and (2) an opinion that OFS maintained effective internal control over financial reporting as of September 30, 2011. We also reported that our tests of OFS’s compliance with selected provisions of laws and regulations for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2011, disclosed no instances of noncompliance.

Our November 2011 audit report concluded that although certain internal controls could be improved, OFS maintained, in all material respects, effective internal control over financial reporting as of September 30, 2011, that provided reasonable assurance that misstatements, losses, or noncompliance material in relation to the financial statements would be prevented or detected and corrected on a timely basis. Our audit report also identified a continuing significant deficiency

in OFS’s internal control over its accounting and financial reporting processes.

This report presents (1) detailed information concerning underlying new control deficiencies that contributed to the continuing significant deficiency identified in our audit report, along with related recommendations for corrective actions; (2) a less-significant control deficiency that we identified during our audit, along with a related recommendation for corrective action; and (3) the status, as of November 4, 2011, of corrective actions taken by OFS to address the 13 recommendations that remained open at the end of the fiscal year 2010 audit and were detailed in our April 2011 management report. While the deficiencies we identified are not considered material weaknesses, they nonetheless warrant management’s attention and action.

What GAO Recommends

The four new recommendations presented in this report are in addition to those we have made as part of the series of reports issued on our ongoing oversight of TARP.

For more information, contact Gary T. Engel at (202) 512-3406 or engelg@gao.gov.

Status Legend:

More Info

  • In Process
  • Open
  • Closed – implemented
  • Closed – not implemented

Recommendations for Executive Action

Recommendation: The Assistant Secretary for Financial Stability should direct the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) to revise OFS’s procedures related to recording and review of noncash transactions, to include requirements for the individual performing the quarterly noncash transactions analysis to provide adequate supporting documentation for the entire analysis and for the reviewer to review this information along with the entire Noncash Transaction Report to ensure that all necessary noncash transactions are identified and properly recorded in the general ledger.

Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury: Office of Financial Stability

Status: Open

Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

Recommendation: The Assistant Secretary for Financial Stability should direct the CFO to establish a mechanism for the effective implementation of the review process for recording warrant adjustments.

Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury: Office of Financial Stability

Status: Open

Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

Recommendation: The Assistant Secretary for Financial Stability should direct the CFO to develop and implement written procedures to provide reasonable assurance that PPIF equity distributions are properly recorded in the general ledger in accordance with OFS’s adopted accounting methodology.

Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury: Office of Financial Stability

Status: Open

Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

Recommendation: The Assistant Secretary for Financial Stability should establish procedures for coordinating with the Treasury Chief Information Officer to ensure the timely installation of patches to the Core Information Transaction Flow (CITF) system.

Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury: Office of Financial Stability

Status: Open

Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

[ipaper docId=81497051 access_key=key-i1b6udglfyzon4ys5h6 height=600 width=600 /]

 

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Treasury Investigates Freddie Mac Investment

Treasury Investigates Freddie Mac Investment


Do you think this has anything to do with this? 🙂 How Henry Paulson Tipped Off Hedge Funds of Fannie Mae Rescue

Could he also be tied to this?


Yahoo-

The Treasury Department is investigating a report that Freddie Mac, the mortgage giant, bet against homeowners’ ability to refinance their loans even as it was making it more difficult for them to do so, Jay Carney, a White House spokesman, said on Monday.

The report came just as the Obama administration had been escalating its efforts to push Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to ease conditions for homeowners, including those who owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth.

Last Friday, the Treasury announced that it would offer increased incentives to lenders to forgive portions of homeowner debt, saying pointedly that for the first time the incentives would be offered on loans held by Fannie and Freddie.

[YAHOO]

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US Treasury: New HAMP Mortgage Modification Program Includes GSE Principal Reductions

US Treasury: New HAMP Mortgage Modification Program Includes GSE Principal Reductions


I posted the quoted text below back on Nov ’10… I wonder who exactly signs off for MERS, if this is so?

The standard modification agreement
is between the Borrower and
the Lender. The agreement amends
and supplements (1) the Mortgage,
Deed of Trust or Deed to Secure
Debt (Security Instrument) and (2)
the Note bearing the same date as,
and secured by, the Security
Instrument. Prior to MERS, the
standard agreement worked
because the Lender was the mortgagee
of record and could modify
the mortgage and also had the
authority to modify the Note.

However, if MERS is the mortgagee
of record, the Lender can’t
modify the mortgage without the
“mortgagee’s” consent.

MNINEWS-

The Obama Administration Friday announced it is expanding its flagship mortgage modification program and will now encourage lenders to reduce the principal loan balance for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans.

The announcement comes just three days after President Obama said he would do more to support the struggling housing market and two days after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said housing is holding back the economic recovery.

Assistant Secretary for Financial Stability Timothy Massad in a blog post Friday outlined the changes to HAMP — including extending the end-date by one year and refocusing on principal reductions.

Massad said Treasury notified the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the regulator for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, that they will pay principal reduction incentives to the GSEs if they allow servicers to forgive principal — if done in conjunction with a HAMP modification.

Massad also said Treasury will triple the incentives for HAMP principal reduction modifications by paying from 18 to 63 cents on the dollar, depending on how much the loan-to-value ratio is reduced.

[MNINEWS]

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Barofsky Blasts Treasury, Obama for Housing Mess

Barofsky Blasts Treasury, Obama for Housing Mess


American Banker-

Neil Barofsky, the former special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, hammered the Obama Administration and Treasury Department Tuesday night at a panel discussion on the foreclosure crisis, saying fears of a political backlash led to the administration’s tepid response to the housing crisis and refusal to back principal reductions.

 [AMERICAN BANKER]

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Eliot Spitzer: 5 Ways to Make Banks Pay for Their Secret $7 Trillion Free Ride – AlterNet

Eliot Spitzer: 5 Ways to Make Banks Pay for Their Secret $7 Trillion Free Ride – AlterNet


The CEOs of major banks maintained they were in good financial shape. Meanwhile, they secretly borrowed massive amounts from the government to stay afloat.

AlterNet-

Imagine you walked into a bank, applied for a personal line of credit, and filled out all the paperwork claiming to have no debts and an income of $200,000 per year. The bank, based on these representations, extended you the line of credit. Then, three years later, after fighting disclosure all the way, you were forced by a court to tell the truth: At the time you made the statements to the bank, you actually were unemployed, you had a $1 million mortgage on your house on which you had failed to make payments for six months, and you hadn’t paid even the minimum on your credit-card bills for three months. Do you think the bank would just say: Never mind, don’t worry about it? Of course not. Whether or not you had paid back the personal line of credit, three FBI agents would be at your door within hours.

[ALTERNET]

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IN RE: EXEC. COMPENSATION INVESTIGATION BANK OF AMERICA -MERRILL LYNCH DEPOSITION OF KEN L. LEWIS

IN RE: EXEC. COMPENSATION INVESTIGATION BANK OF AMERICA -MERRILL LYNCH DEPOSITION OF KEN L. LEWIS


EXCERPTS:

Q. At the point in time of this board
meeting, though, you were relating to the board
that you felt you had a commitment from the Fed and
the Treasury to make good on whatever harm is
caused by the increased losses at Merrill Lynch; is
that right?

A. I had verbal commitments from Ben
Bernanke and Hank Paulson that they were going to
see this through, to fill that hole, and have the
market perceive this as a good deal.

MR. CORNGOLD: Isn’t the only way to
fill that hole, though, to give you money,
not to give you money that you would have to
pay back at some interest rate with some
potential equity interest, too?

THE WITNESS: No. I think you have to
separate the fact that, yes, there is still
some short-term paying -it’s more
short-term paying now than we would have had
had all this not happened, but longer term we
still see a strategic benefit. So we saw it
as a short term versus a long term impact on
the company.

MR. CORNGOLD; When you entered into the
initial contract with Merrill Lynch did you
get a fairness opinion about the transaction?

THE WITNESS: Yes.

MR. CORNGOLD: From whom?

THE WITNESS; Chris Flowers something.

MR. CORNGOLD: And did you get a
fairness opinion from anyone about the
transaction that you entered into with the federal government and the Fed?

THE WITNESS: No. MR. CORNGOLD: Did you consider whether you had a legal obligation to do that? THE WITNESS: I would rely on the advice of the general counsel for that.

MR. CORNGOLD: But when you say that, does that mean that you asked and got advice, or that you didn’t ask but relied
THE WITNESS: I would rely on somebody bringing that question forth, and nobody did.

Q. Did you ask anyone to look into whether the oral, verbal commitments from the Fed and Treasury were enforceable?

A. No. I was going on the word of two very respected individuals high up in the American government.

Q. Wasn’t Mr. Paulson, by his instruction, really asking Bank of America shareholders to take a good part of the hit of the Merrill losses?

A. What he was doing was trying to stem a financial disaster in the financial markets, from his perspective.

Q. From your perspective, wasn’t that one
of the effects of what he was doing?

A. Over the short term, yes, but we still
thought we had an entity that filled two big
strategic holes for us and over long term would
still be an interest to the shareholders.

Q. What do you mean by “short term”?

A. Two to three years.

Q. So isn’t that something that any
shareholder at Bank of America who had less
than a three-year time horizon would want
to know?

A. The situation was that everyone felt
like the deal needed to be completed and to be able
to say that, or that they would impose a big risk
to the financial system if it would not.

MR. LAWSKY: When you say “everyone,”
what do you mean?

THE WITNESS: The people that I was
talking to, Bernanke and Paulson.

MR. LAWSKY: Had it been up to you would
you made the disclosure?

THE WITNESS: It wasn’t up to me.

MR. LAWSKY: Had it been up to you.

THE WITNESS: It wasn’t.

MR. CORNGOLD: Why do you say it wasn’t
up to you? Were you instructed not to tell
your shareholders what the transaction was
going to be?

THE WITNESS: I was instructed that “We
do not want a public disclosure.”

MR. CORNGOLD: Who said that to you?

THE WITNESS: Paulson.

MR. CORNGOLD: When did he say that to
you?

THE WITNESS; Sometime after I asked Ben
Bernanke for something in writing.

Q. When did that occur?

A. Which one?

Q. When did Mr. Paulson state that he did
not want a public disclosure?

A. It was sometime late in the year. I
think it’s actually in the minutes.

MR. LIMAN: If you have the next set of
minutes it might help the witness.

Q. What’s your best recollection of what

Mr. Paulson said to you on that point?

A. That was the conversation that I
mentioned that I went to Bernanke to ask the
question, and he didn’t call me back but Hank did.
The request was for a letter stating what they
would do, and he had those two elements in there.
But the thing that we’re talking about is that he
said “We do not want a public disclosure.”

Q. A public disclosure of what?

A. Of what they were going to be doing for us until it was completed.

[…]

[ipaper docId=68566250 access_key=key-2dc4y4d1doa04df3yxe3 height=600 width=600 /]

 

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Secret Docs Show Foreclosure Watchdog Doesn’t Bark or Bite

Secret Docs Show Foreclosure Watchdog Doesn’t Bark or Bite


by Paul Kiel ProPublica, Oct. 4, 2011, 11:26 a.m.

Why has the administration’s flagship foreclosure prevention program been so ineffective in helping struggling homeowners get loan modifications and stay in their homes? One reason: The government’s supervision of the program has apparently ranged from nonexistent to weak.

Documents obtained by ProPublica – government audit reports of GMAC, the country’s fifth largest mortgage servicer – provide the first detailed look at the program’s oversight. They show that the company operated with almost no oversight for the program’s first eight months. When auditors did finally conduct a major review more than a year into the program, they found that GMAC had seriously mishandled many loan modifications – miscalculating homeowner income in more than 80 percent of audited cases, for example. Yet GMAC suffered no penalty. GMAC itself said it hasn’t reversed a single foreclosure as a result of a government audit.

The documents also reveal that government auditors signed off on GMAC loan-modification denials that appear to violate the program’s own rules, calling into question the rigor and competence of the reviews.

Some of the auditors’ mistakes are “appalling,” said Diane Thompson of the National Consumer Law Center, an advocacy group. “It suggests the government isn’t taking the auditing process seriously.”

In a written response to ProPublica questions [1], a spokeswoman for the Treasury Department, which runs the program, denied there were serious flaws in its oversight system, calling it “effective and unprecedented in many ways.”

The audits of GMAC, though revealing, give only a limited view into the program, because the Treasury has refused to release the documents for other servicers. For more than a year, ProPublica has sought the audits for ten of the largest program participants through a Freedom of Information Act request. The Treasury provided only GMAC’s audits, because the company consented to their release. ProPublica continues to seek all of the reports.

Abuses of the foreclosure process, in which banks and mortgage servicers cut corners or even created false documents [2] to move trouble borrowers out of their homes, have been extensively documented [3], along with failures by government [4] to regulate the industry. But the lapses revealed in the documents obtained by ProPublica stand out because they occurred within the government’s main effort to prevent foreclosures, the Home Affordable Modification Program, or HAMP.

Oversight Shrouded in Secrecy

For HAMP’s first two years, the government offered very little public detail about its oversight efforts. It was virtually impossible for the public – or even Congress – to know how well the banks and mortgage servicers were complying with the government’s effort to prevent struggling homeowners from losing their homes. Those years were crucial, because that’s when the vast majority of homeowners eligible for a modification – about three million – were evaluated by servicers.

The documents obtained by ProPublica show auditors finding serious problems at a major servicer during that time. Instead of publicly revealing the findings, Treasury chose to privately request that GMAC fix the problems.

“For two years, they’ve known how abysmal servicers were performing and decided to do nothing,” said Neil Barofsky, the former special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, better known as TARP or the bank bailout, which provided the money for HAMP.

“It demonstrates that if you have a set of rules for which compliance is completely voluntary and no meaningful consequences for those who violate them, having all the audits and reviews in the world are not going to make a bit of difference,” he continued. “It’s why the program has been a colossal failure.”

Treasury continued to release few details about its audits until this June, when it began publishing quarterly reports based on the audits’ results. The public report showed what Treasury called “substantial” problems at four of the ten largest servicers – Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and Ocwen – and Treasury for the first time [5] withheld taxpayer subsidies from three of them.

Mortgage servicers that signed up for the program agreed to follow strict guidelines on how to evaluate struggling homeowners seeking a reduced mortgage payment. In exchange, they’d receive taxpayer subsidies. But as we’ve reported extensively, the largest servicers haven’t abided by the guidelines [6]. Homeowners have often been foreclosed on in the midst of review for a modification [7] or been denied due to the servicer’s error. For many homeowners, navigating what was supposed to have been a simple, straightforward program has proven a maddening ordeal [6].

Meanwhile, HAMP has fallen dramatically short of the administration’s initial goals to help three to four million homeowners. So far, fewer than 800,000 homeowners have received a loan modification through HAMP, less than one in four of those who applied [8].

Part of the $700 billion TARP, HAMP launched in early 2009 with a $50 billion budget to encourage loan modifications by paying subsidies to servicers, investors, and homeowners. But in another example of how the program has fallen short, only about $1.6 billion has gone out so far [9].

GMAC said it agreed to release its audits under the program because the company “believes in honoring the spirit of the Freedom of Information Act process” and “elected to be transparent on our work with the [modification] program,” spokeswoman Gina Proia said.

GMAC has changed its parent company’s name to Ally Financial, but its mortgage division is still called GMAC. The government owns a majority stake in Ally, because it rescued the company with TARP funds, but both the company and the Treasury said that didn’t factor into the company’s decision to allow the documents to be released.

ProPublica contacted all nine servicers who objected to the reports’ release. All either declined to comment on why they wanted the audits kept secret or defended keeping them out of the public domain by saying the reports contained confidential information. Collectively, these companies have so far been paid more than $471 million in cash – dubbed “servicer incentive payments” – through the program. They are eligible for hundreds of millions more. The country’s four largest banks – Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and Citigroup – are also the largest servicers of mortgage loans.

In its written response, Treasury’s spokeswoman said it agreed to withhold the records in part because they could undermine “frank communications between mortgage servicers and compliance examiners” and hurt the program’s effectiveness. The department declined to provide either redacted versions or an index of the documents.

Early Reviews “Useless” and Flawed

Since the program’s beginning, homeowner advocates have wondered where HAMP’s watchdog was [10] and why it was having so little effect. That watchdog is Freddie Mac, tapped by Treasury in February 2009 and working under a contract worth $116 million and rising. The Freddie Mac unit, now staffed with 121 employees and employing about 150 more through contractors, is supposed to regularly audit servicers in the program to make sure they are following the rules. Treasury is ultimately responsible for deciding whether to punish a servicer, but it relies on auditors’ findings to make that decision.

It took several months for the unit to even get off the ground. In August of 2009, Treasury rejected Freddie Mac’s first reviews of servicers as inadequate [10], because they were “inconsistent and incomplete” and its staff was “unqualified,” according to a report by the TARP’s special inspector general. Freddie Mac promised to improve. That process took several more months.

As a result, for the program’s crucial first eight months there effectively was no watchdog. Nationwide, servicers filed to pursue foreclosure on about two million loans during that time.

Treasury disputed the idea that there was no watchdog for those months, saying that auditors had performed “readiness reviews” of servicers as early as the May of 2009, one month after the program began. The documents obtained by ProPublica show, however, that Freddie Mac’s auditing unit, called Making Home Affordable – Compliance (MHA-C), didn’t issue its first report for GMAC until early December, 2009 [11].

That audit was a modest effort that involved collecting a sample of 323 loans handled by GMAC and determining whether they’d been properly reviewed for the program. Because of the delays in starting the reviews, the report was based on a sample of loans that was five months old [12]. Such delays continued into 2010. Another Freddie Mac review, completed at the end of March 2010, was based on GMAC loans selected in October of the previous year [13].

The delays make those reviews “largely useless to homeowners,” said Thompson of the National Consumer Law Center. If a homeowner lost the house to foreclosure in July, it wouldn’t help to have an auditor notice that several months later, she explained.

The December 2009 audit notes that GMAC might have already foreclosed on loans auditors had flagged as potentially mishandled, but didn’t order remedial steps. It only requests that GMAC not take “further action.” [14]

GMAC said it had never reversed a foreclosure action as a result of a HAMP audit. ProPublica asked the other nine servicers who objected to the audits’ release the same question. American Home Mortgage Servicing, the only other servicer that answered the question, said it had also never reversed a foreclosure action due to a HAMP audit.

American Home handles about 384,000 loans [15], putting it among the ten largest servicers in the program.

A Treasury spokeswoman said that auditors have reviewed more than 50,000 loan files, but did not directly answer whether a servicer had ever reversed a foreclosure action because of a HAMP audit. Where auditors have found problems, she wrote, the department has “required servicers to take steps to tighten controls” and “re-evaluate any borrowers who may have been potentially impacted.”

In early 2010, around the same time that the auditing unit was issuing its first reports, auditors complained that servicers’ lack of responsiveness to their requests was hampering their efforts. Getting the right documents from servicers was “a cumbersome process,” the head of Freddie Mac’s audit team, Paul Heran, said in February 2010 at a mortgage industry conference. It seemed, he added, that servicers often relegated responding to the auditors to low-level staff who didn’t understand the requests. Another manager in the unit, Vic O’Laughlen, said servicers tended to respond with “at best fifty percent of what we’re expecting to see.”

However uncooperative the banks and mortgage services may have been, Freddie Mac’s auditing reports contain errors that call into question their reliability.

Every few months, the auditors examine a sample of the servicer’s loans that have been denied a HAMP modification to check whether the denials are legitimate. In each GMAC report reviewed by ProPublica, auditors found that the servicer had, with very few exceptions, given the homeowner fair and appropriate consideration. But among the justifications listed in the audits are some that violate the program’s rules or simply don’t make sense.

For instance, the December 2009 review says that 35 of the 247 loans auditors reviewed were denied because the homeowner was “less than 60 days delinquent.” [16] In the report, auditors said that was the right decision in all but one case. But being less than 60 days delinquent is never on its own a legitimate reason for a servicer to deny a modification, according to the program rules. Homeowners are eligible for a modification even if they’re current on their loans, as long as they can show they’re in imminent danger of defaulting.

Another example: Auditors agreed that GMAC had correctly denied a homeowner because of a failure to sign a trial modification offer by Dec. 31, 2012, HAMP’s end date [17]. That makes no sense, because the review took place in 2009. Treasury’s spokeswoman said this was a typo and that the homeowner was denied for a completely different reason.

There are several other examples in later reports of auditors signing off on denial reasons that have no apparent basis in the program’s rules. For instance, auditors cited “grandfathered foreclosure” [18] as a legitimate reason for some denials. The spokeswoman said such loans had been in the foreclosure process before GMAC signed up for the program, but the program rules explicitly stated at the time that such loans were eligible.

When ProPublica asked GMAC if it had denied homeowners loan modifications for these reasons, the company said it couldn’t comment because auditors, not GMAC, had generated those descriptions of why homeowners had been denied. In some cases, Proia said, the descriptions were simply wrong: GMAC had never denied homeowners simply because they weren’t 60 days delinquent.

But Treasury defended the questionable denials, and in so doing raised even more questions. For instance, the spokeswoman said HAMP “does not specifically require servicers to evaluate loans that are less than 60 days delinquent.” But Treasury’s official guidance to servicers said such borrowers “must be screened.”

“It makes you wonder if the Treasury even knows the rules for their own program,” said National Consumer Law Center’s Thompson.

A Congressionally-appointed panel, among others, has pointed to a fundamental flaw in the way the oversight was carried out: Auditors have had no direct contact with homeowners. The program has been dogged by servicers’ inadequate document systems. Borrowers have long reported [6] faxing and mailing the same documents over and over, because servicers kept losing them. Servicers have denied about a quarter of all modification applications due to an alleged lack of documentation [19]. Because HAMP’s auditors do not contact borrowers, there’s no way for them to ascertain if a denial for inadequate documentation was correct.

In response to this criticism from the Congressional Oversight Panel for the TARP last December [20], Treasury said auditors did not contact homeowners to avoid giving them added stress. The panel rejected that reason, saying that contacting borrowers was “critical to assessing the accuracy of a servicer’s determination.”

Instead of talking with borrowers, auditors conduct on-site reviews of mortgage servicing companies, Treasury’s spokeswoman said in her written response to ProPublica. Treasury believes that focusing “on servicer processes and internal controls is the most effective deployment of our compliance efforts,” she wrote.

Detailed Audit Shows Serious Problems

It wasn’t until July 2010, sixteen months after HAMP launched, that the unit performed their first major audit of GMAC. The review included a visit to GMAC’s offices and a detailed review of a sample of loans.

The report enumerated various rule violations, including in how GMAC evaluated homeowners for modifications. GMAC’s practice was to begin the foreclosure process too quickly [21]: The program required the servicer to give the homeowner 30 days to respond to a trial modification offer, but GMAC’s procedure was to wait only 20.

GMAC’s Proia said no homeowners were “negatively impacted by this issue.”

Auditors also found that GMAC was regularly miscalculating the homeowner’s income. In a review of 25 loan files of homeowners who had received a modification, the auditors said 21, or 84 percent, involved a miscalculation of income [22]. Since the borrower’s income is a key factor in whether the homeowner qualifies for a modification, the high error rate raises obvious questions about whether GMAC was accurately evaluating homeowners’ applications.

Asked about this the frequent income miscalculations, GMAC’s Proia said that the “issue was identified in the early stages of the program,” that calculating the borrower’s income is a “complicated process,” and that GMAC has improved since the mid-2010 review – an assertion backed up by recent audit results published by the Treasury.

The July 2010 review also found that GMAC had been aware of certain problems such as “incorrect income and expense calculations,” [23] but had not fixed them. Proia said the company does its best to fix problems when it becomes aware of them.

Penalties: Late and Weak

Typical of the Treasury’s oversight of the program, GMAC was never penalized for any of the rule violations. For the first two years of the program, Treasury officials publicly threatened servicers with the possibility of penalties, but instead followed a cooperative approach [24]. When auditors found problems, servicers were asked to fix them.

The documents illustrate that back and forth. In response to the auditors’ findings, GMAC was required to develop an “action plan.” GMAC refused to provide the action plan to ProPublica and recommended seeking it and other similar documents by filing a Freedom of Information Act request with the Treasury.

Treasury has sent mixed messages about its ability to penalize banks over the course of the program [24], threatening “monetary penalties and sanctions” in late 2009, and then later saying it lacked the power to enforce such penalties. Treasury finally departed from its cooperative approach this June, when it withheld incentive payments [5] from three of the top ten servicers. (GMAC was not among them.) The companies would not receive the public subsidies for completing modifications until they made certain changes. The companies were cited for some of the same problems for which auditors had criticized GMAC, such as regularly miscalculating the borrower’s income. JPMorgan Chase, for instance, had erred in estimating income in about a third of the homeowner loan files reviewed.

The punishment hasn’t had much sting to it. Two of the three companies had their incentive payments restored when Treasury’s most recent report [25] declared they’d improved. Only Chase and Bank of America, the country’s largest servicer, would continue to have their incentives withheld, Treasury said.

But while those incentives have slowed, they have not stopped, according to Treasury’s monthly TARP reports [26]. Since June, when Treasury first announced it would be withholding incentives, Bank of America has received $2.5 million in taxpayer incentives. While that’s a steep reduction from the roughly $7.5 million it had been receiving monthly, the bank is supposed to be receiving nothing. Chase received $404,000 during that same time.

Treasury responded that it has programs to encourage modifications on both first and second mortgages, and that the payments Bank of America and Chase received were related to second mortgages. “Current system limitations” meant the Treasury couldn’t withhold these payments, according to the Treasury spokeswoman. Treasury is working to fix the problem, she said.

 

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The Rescue That Missed Main Street – Gretchen Morgenson

The Rescue That Missed Main Street – Gretchen Morgenson


But NOT Wall Street

Fair Game-

FOR the last three years we have been told repeatedly by government officials that funneling hundreds of billions of dollars to large and teetering banks during the credit crisis was necessary to save the financial system, and beneficial to Main Street.

But this has been a hard sell to an increasingly skeptical public. As Henry M. Paulson Jr., the former Treasury secretary, told the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission back in May 2010, “I was never able to explain to the American people in a way in which they understood it why these rescues were for them and for their benefit, not for Wall Street.”

The American people were right to question Mr. Paulson’s pitch, as it turns out. And that became clearer than ever last week when Bloomberg News published fresh and disturbing details about the crisis-era bailouts.

[NEW YORK TIMES]

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FHFA, Treasury, HUD Seek Input on Disposition of Real Estate Owned Properties

FHFA, Treasury, HUD Seek Input on Disposition of Real Estate Owned Properties


For Immediate Release
August 10, 2011

FHFA, Treasury, HUD Seek Input on Disposition of Real Estate Owned Properties
Range of Ideas Sought, Including Transition to Rental

Washington, DC — The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), in consultation with the U.S. Department of the Treasury and Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), has announced a Request For Information (RFI), seeking input on new options for selling single-family real estate owned (REO) properties held by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises), and the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).

The RFI’s objective is to help address current and future REO inventory. It will explore alternatives for maximizing value to taxpayers and increasing private investment in the housing market, including approaches that support rental and affordable housing needs.

“While the Enterprises will continue to market individual REO properties for sale, FHFA and the Enterprises seek input on possible pooling of REO properties in situations where such pooling, combined with private management, may reduce Enterprise credit losses and help stabilize neighborhoods and home values,” said FHFA Acting Director Edward J. DeMarco. “Partnerships involving Enterprise properties may reduce taxpayer losses and meet the Enterprises’ responsibility to bring stability and liquidity to housing markets. We seek input on these important questions.”

“As we continue moving forward on housing finance reform, it’s critical that we support the process of repair and recovery in the housing market,” said Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. “Exploring new options for selling these foreclosed properties will help expand access to affordable rental housing, promote private investment in local housing markets, and support neighborhood and home price stability.”

“Millions of families nationwide have seen their home values impacted as their neighbors’ homes fall into foreclosure or become abandoned,” said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. “At the same time, with half of all renters spending more than a third of their income on housing and a quarter spending more than half, we have to find and promote new ways to alleviate the strain on the affordable rental market. Taking steps to encourage private investment in REO properties and transition them into productive use will help stabilize neighborhoods and home values at a critical time for our economy.”

The RFI calls for approaches that achieve the following objectives:

  • reduce the REO portfolios of the Enterprises and FHA in a cost-effective manner;
  • reduce average loan loss severities to the Enterprises and FHA relative to individual distressed property sales;
  • address property repair and rehabilitation needs;
  • respond to economic and real estate conditions in specific geographies;
  • assist in neighborhood and home price stabilization efforts; and
  • suggest analytic approaches to determine the appropriate disposition strategy for individual properties, whether sale, rental, or, in certain instances, demolition.
  • FHFA, Treasury and HUD anticipate respondents may best address these objectives through REO to rental structures, but respondents are encouraged to propose strategies they believe best accomplish the RFI’s objectives. Proposed strategies, transactions, and venture structures may also include:
  • programs for previous homeowners to rent properties or for current renters to become owners (“lease-to-own”);
  • strategies through which REO assets could be used to support markets with a strong demand for rental units and a substantial volume of REO;
  • a mechanism for private owners of REO inventory to eventually participate in the transactions; and
  • support for affordable housing.

Link to RFI

###

Media Contacts:
FHFA Corinne Russell (202) 414-6921
HUD Tiffany Thomas Smith (202) 708-0980
TSY Matt Anderson (202) 622-0631

[ipaper docId=62014106 access_key=key-2h6ea3cu95obae1mmh6r height=600 width=600 /]

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Sound Familiar? Who says history doesn’t repeat?

Sound Familiar? Who says history doesn’t repeat?


Cross-Posted from Chink in the Armor

In 62 BC,  the Roman Senate was in a terrible state. They functioned more like a city council than as an imperial government.  The influx of wealth and slaves from the Carthaginian wars meant business was more about banking and finance than anything else.  Business men were more interested in state contracts and the financing of games than they were in trade,  true commerce and the building of true wealth.  It was all about pleasuring their egos and pandering to the hedonistic whims of the citizenry

Ruinous taxation impoverished the people compelling them to turn to the money lenders to meet their obligations and debt collection turned them into virtual,  if not absolute slaves.  This had the effect of concentrating the real wealth,  the land,  into fewer and fewer hands and the use of slaves in farming sent the landless poor to the larger cities which became populated with wretched human beings destitute of all moral and social development.

“At bottom,  usury was the cancer of the Republic.  […] seldom had a people sunk so low.  Bereft of religion,  morality and all the social virtues,  the dole-fed masses wallowed in vice.  Luxury begot brutality and brutality licence;  licence led to celibacy,  and childlessness became more and more prevalent.  To these degenerates,  licence, spelt liberty,  but to the plutocrats,  liberty spelt power,  profit,  and an unlimited scramble for wealth,  until money became the sole link between man and man.”[1]

Sound familiar?

On June 16, 1963, Thich Quang Duc,  a Buddhist monk sat down in the middle of the street in downtown Saigon,  poured gasoline over himself and his robes and calmly set himself on fire to protest the religious persecution under the Diem regime which was supported by the US Government.  The effect in South Vietnam was electric.  Citizens who had heretofore cowered in their homes in fear of the police began to stand up in defiance of the regime.

Three years later,  in May of 1966, Thich Nu Thanh Quang, a Buddhist nun, immolated herself in the city of Hue.  By the end of the month,  the US Consulate in Hue was set afire by angry mobs.  The affect in this country was almost as dramatic.  With brute force,  it brought home to the psyche of America that we were the bad guys.

Sound familiar?

Just over a week ago,  Tom Ball,  a 21 year Army veteran from Massachusetts  doused himself with gasoline and set himself on fire in front of the Cheshire County Courthouse in Keene,  NH.  In February last year,  Joe Stack flew his small plane into the IRS offices in Austin,  TX.  Just a few days ago,  James Verone walked up to a teller at a Gastonia, NC bank and handed her a note.  It said “This is a bank robbery, please only give me one dollar.”  He did it so he could get medical care.

Just this year,  on June 23rd,  Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told the House Small Business Committee that the Obama administration believes taxes on small business must increase.  “We’re not doing it because we want to do it, we’re doing it because if we don’t do it,   [ … we will] have to go out and borrow a trillion dollars over the next 10 years to finance those tax benefits for the top 2 percent, and I don’t think I can justify doing that.”

Ruinous taxation,  more money spent on games and pleasure than upon the creation of wealth,  money lenders driving people into virtual slavery with onerous debt;  a population bereft of religion and morality,  a vicious scramble for wealth and now money is the sole link between man and man.  Divorce,  broken families, eugenics and childlessness preached from street side bill boards,  the wealth drained from the nation so those in power can have just a little bit more,  a devastated middle class.

Sound familiar?

In 61 BC,  Rome was ripe for a man on a white horse.  On September,  29th of that year,  that man arrived.  Pompey,  a victorious general from the wars against the terrorists (pirates) who were raiding the shipping lanes of the eastern Mediterranean rode into town to upset the power balance between  Porcius Cato and Licinius Crassus.  Pompey aligned himself with Crassus and it was a period of great political tension.  While all eyes were upon him,  Julius Caesar,  a member of the Populares party also arrived to stand for Consulship.  Cato denied Caesar the triumph he expected from his victories in Spain and added Caesar to his enemies.  In the ensuing struggle,  Crassus and Pompey agreed to support Caesar for Consulship in exchange for political favors and repeal of certain taxes.

With Cato out of the way,  it wasn’t long before the triumvirate were squabbling amongst themselves and a civil war between the forces and citizens loyal to Pompey and those loyal to Caesar broke out.  In early January of 49 BC,  Caesar “crossed the Rubicon” a shallow river in northeastern Italy forcing Pompey and  the rest of the Senate to flee Rome.  Caesar was victorious over Pompey in the ensuing civil war and he was never held accountable.

We haven’t seen our man on the white horse yet,  but is it too far fetched to imagine it will happen?  And when he comes,  can he unite or will there be terrific division between competing factions?  Could there be a military coup?  It isn’t so far fetched and to read this,  you can see it is something they are already thinking about.  If so,  would there be the counter coup? Add into that a cyclical view of history rather than a linear view and one can see historical pressures building up.

Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon and resolved the indecision and competing interests of Rome.  He did this by fashioning his military to become an instrument of his will.  His military was he and he was his military.  His was a struggle of an entire people yearning for something new.  Caesar was able to utilize all aspects of the empire: money,  trade,  propaganda and political manipulations as means to an end.  Lastly,  and perhaps most importantly,  he saw that in war,  as in peace,  opponents are equally fearful of each other and the first to set aside fears of the moment and act boldly has the best chance of victory.

Caesar saw that what Rome needed was a monarchial democracy;  freedom and democracy,  not licence and greed;  a strong hand to rend order out of chaos.  He destroyed the power of the money lenders by relieving the provinces of their money making governors and sent each of them at least 80,000 new citizens to promote democracy.  His vision for a new social order is best explained by quoting a speech he made to a group of mutinous soldiers at Placentia in 49 BC:

“For no society of men whatever can preserve its unity and continue to exist if the criminal element is not punished,  since,  if the diseased member does not receive proper treatment,  it causes all the rest,  even as in our own physical bodies to share  in its affliction.  […] For wherever the insolent element has the advantage wherever wrong-doing is unpunished,  there self restraint also goes unrewarded […]”[2]

At the root of it all is money as debt.  It nearly destroyed Rome and it is on the verge of destroying this country.  It is (one of) the duty (ies) of the sovereign to produce the coin of the realm.  In this country,  the sovereign,  which in this country is manifested by the central government in Washington DC, abdicated that power to a group of men for their private profit nearly 100 years ago.  Until this duty is reclaimed by the sovereign, just like Rome before the arrival of Julius Caesar,  the problems we face will not be solved.

Sound familiar?

_____________________________________________________________________________________


[1] A Military History of the Western World by Maj. General J.F.C. Fuller page 177

[2] Div’s Roman History,  translated by E. Cary (1916),  XLI,  29-30

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The Destruction of Economic Facts

The Destruction of Economic Facts


BusinessWeek-

When then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson initiated his Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) in September 2008, I assumed the objective was to restore trust in the market by identifying and weeding out the “troubled assets” held by the world’s financial institutions. Three weeks later, when I asked American friends why Paulson had switched strategies and was injecting hundreds of billions of dollars into struggling financial institutions, I was told that there were so many idiosyncratic types of paper scattered around the world that no one had any clear idea of how many there were, where they were, how to value them, or who was holding the risk. These securities had slipped outside the recorded memory systems and were no longer easy to connect to the assets from which they had originally been derived. Oh, and their notional value was somewhere between $600 trillion and $700 trillion dollars, 10 times the annual production of the entire world.


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SHAREHOLDER VERIFIED COMPLAINT | BRAUTIGAM v. RUBIN  ‘Citigroup Board, Robo-Signing, Nationwide Title, Derivatives, Breach, Putback’

SHAREHOLDER VERIFIED COMPLAINT | BRAUTIGAM v. RUBIN ‘Citigroup Board, Robo-Signing, Nationwide Title, Derivatives, Breach, Putback’


MICHAEL G. BRAUTIGAM,

v.

ROBERT E. RUBIN, C. MICHAEL
ARMSTRONG, JOHN M. DEUTCH,
ANNE M. MULCAHY, VIKRAM PANDIT,
ALAIN J.P BELDA, TIMOTHY C. COLLINS,
JERRY A GRUNDHOFR, ROBERT L. JOSS,
ANDREW N. LIVERIS, MICHAEL E. O’NEILL,
RICHARD D. PARSONS, LAWRENCE R.
RICCIARDI, JUDITH RODIN, ROBERT
L. RYAN, ANTHONY M. SANTOMERO,
DIANA L. TAYLOR, WILLIAM S. THOMPSON,
JR., AND ERNESTO ZEDILLO

~
Excerpts:


I. This is a shareholder derivative action brought on behalf and for the benefit of Citigroup against certain of its current and former directors. Citigroup is a global . financial services company, and provides consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a range of financial products and services. The recipient of some $45 billion of federal government bail-out monies, Citigroup has suffered, and will continue to suffer, serious financial and reputational impacts from the inadequate servicing of its troubled residential mortgage loans.

2. On April 13, 2011, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (“OCC”) publicized findings from its fourth quarter 2010 investigation into Citigroup’s mortgage servicing and foreclosure processing practices. As a result of that investigation, the OCC concluded that Citigroup (through its wholly-owned subsidiary, Citibank, N.A.): engaged in improper servicing and foreclosure practices; lacked sufficient resources to ensure proper administration of its foreclosure processes; lacked adequate oversight, internal controls, policies, and procedures, compliance risk management, internal audit, third party management; failed to supervise outside counsel and other third parties handling foreclosure-related services; and engaged in unsafe or unsound banking practices. The above findings were made public in the OCC’s formal enforcement agreement with Citibank as set forth in the Consent Order captioned In the Matter of Citibank, NA. Las Vegas, Nevada AA -EC-II-I3 (the “Consent Order”).

<SNIP>

13. Apar from a dismal track record in complying with its obligations under TARP and HAMP, Citigroup also suffered from the effects of a lack of adequate controls over its foreclosure processes. By third and fourth quarters of 20 10, reports had surfàced alleging that companies (including Citigroup) servicing $6.4 trillion in American mortgages may have bypassed legally required steps to foreclose on a home. For example, a New Jersey state cour administrative order specifically implicated Citi Residential Lending, Inc. (“Citi Residential,” a business of Citigroup) in the so-called “robosigning” scandal. Robo-signers, as the court put it, “are mortgage lender/servicer employees who sign hundreds-in some cases thousands-of affidavits submitted in support of foreclosure claims without any personal  knowledge of the information contained in the affidavits. ‘Robo-signing’ may also refer to improper notarizing practices or document backdating.” The administrative order cited devastating evidence of the inadequacies of Citigroup’s internal controls over its loan documentation and foreclosure processes:

An individual employed by Nationwide Title Clearing, Inc., with signing authority for Citi Residential Lending, Inc., testified in a deposition that when he signed documents for Citi, he did not review them for substantive correctness. He could not even explain what precisely an assignment of a mortgage accomplishes. He had no prior background in the mortgage industry.

Further, a second person with signing authority for Citi Residential Lending, Inc. testified that she never reviewed any books, records, or documents before signing affidavits and that she instead trusted the company’s internal policies and procedures to ensure the accuracy of the information she signed. She signed several documents each day (in many instances without knowledge of what she was signing) and indicated that they were often notarized outside of her presence.

14. The deficiencies in Citigroup’s controls over its loan documentation and foreclosure processes have led to tens of thousands of adverse outcomes for the Company throughout the United States. On November 23, 20 i 0, a Managing Director of Citi- Mortgage, in a written statement to the House Committee on Financial Services, Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity, admitted that: (a) the Company was reviewing approximately 10,000 affidavits executed in pending foreclosures initiated before February 2010; (b) affidavits executed before fàll 2009 would need to be refilled;
(c) that the Company was reviewing another approximately 4,000 pending foreclosure affidavits that may not have been properly executed; and (d) it was transferring approximately 8,500 foreclosure files from its former Florida law firm that engaged in robo-signing.

Continue below…

[ipaper docId=53708997 access_key=key-29j62rkkguzyij0xjuys height=600 width=600 /]

http://www.scribd.com/full/53708513?access_key=key-1pzxbltfa7cdhtky3rr8

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GRETCHEN MORGENSON | The Bank Run We Knew So Little About

GRETCHEN MORGENSON | The Bank Run We Knew So Little About


From New York Times

That Aug. 20, Commerzbank of Germany borrowed $350 million at the Fed’s discount window. Two days later, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and the Wachovia Corporation each received $500 million. As collateral for all these loans, the banks put up a total of $213 billion in asset-backed securities, commercial loans and residential mortgages, including second liens.

Thus began the bank run that set off the financial crisis of 2008. But unlike other bank runs, this one was invisible to most Americans.

[…]


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BLOOMBERG | JPMorgan Borrowed at Least $5.9 Billion From Fed Discount Window

BLOOMBERG | JPMorgan Borrowed at Least $5.9 Billion From Fed Discount Window


JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), the second- largest U.S. bank by assets, borrowed at least $5.9 billion from the Federal Reserve’s discount window over six months during the height of the financial crisis.

JPMorgan had previously disclosed it borrowed $500 million on Aug. 22, 2007, as similar loans were made to Bank of America Corp. (BAC) and Wachovia Corp. “to display the effectiveness of the facility,” according to a joint statement at the time. JPMorgan accessed the program at least four more times through April 2008, according to documents released today under a Freedom of Information Act request by Bloomberg News and Fox News.

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BLOOMBERG | Goldman Sachs Borrowed From Fed Window Five Times [ZIP DOCS]

BLOOMBERG | Goldman Sachs Borrowed From Fed Window Five Times [ZIP DOCS]


[ZIP FILES BELOW]

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) tapped the Federal Reserve’s discount window at least five times since September 2008, according to central bank data that contradict an executive’s testimony last year.

Goldman Sachs Bank USA, a unit of the company, took overnight loans from the Federal Reserve on Sept. 23, Oct. 1, and Oct. 23 in 2008 as well as on Sept. 9, 2009, and Jan. 11, 2010, according to the data released today. The largest loan was $50 million on Sept. 23 and the smallest was $1 million on the most recent two occasions.

Courtesy of AmpedStatus

http://cdn.gotraffic.net/downloads/30110331_fed_release_documents.zip

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The Federal Reserve made $82 billion last year, mostly from securities it bought during financial crisis

The Federal Reserve made $82 billion last year, mostly from securities it bought during financial crisis


From the Wall Street Journal:

The Federal Reserve‘s net income surged 53% to $81.74 billion last year from 2009 mainly due to higher earnings from securities the central bank bought to counter the financial crisis, according to final audited results released Tuesday.

Almost all of that income — $79.27 billion — will be sent back to the U.S. Treasury. The record transfer marks a 68% increase from the $47.43 billion the Fed sent back to Treasury in 2009. The figures were slightly higher than preliminary results published in January.

To fight the financial crisis, the Fed bought securities whose value had collapsed due to fear and uncertainty in markets and set up emergency lending programs for banks and firms, thus boosting its balance sheet. The central bank came under attack for taking too many risk with taxpayers money and putting itself in a position to suffer losses.

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ADAM LEVITIN | The Foreclosure Fraud Settlement

ADAM LEVITIN | The Foreclosure Fraud Settlement


posted by Adam Levitin
.

The inter-regulator fight over the proper parameters of a foreclosure fraud settlement are really highlighting the changes in the financial regulatory world.  What we’re told is that the OCC and Fed are urging a weak settlement, while FDIC, the state AGs, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) are pushing for a serious settlement.

Parts of this line up look quite familiar, but parts are new and exciting.

There’s nothing new or surprising about the OCC protecting (rather than regulating) the banks. Similarly, it’s not surprising to see the Fed back the banks, although, the Fed tends to be less gung-ho than OCC in these matters (and I would note that there isn’t necessarily unanimity within any agency on these issues). It’s also no surprise to see the state AGs on the other side, pushing for regulation. Gosh, this just sounds like a Wachovia v. Watters redeux (one of OCC’s most shameful moments in recent years—putting its preemption agenda ahead of consumer protection in the mortgage space. Now where did that get us?)

Continue reading … Credit Slips

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WSJ | White House Plans End of Fannie, Freddie

WSJ | White House Plans End of Fannie, Freddie


The White House will propose a path to wind down and eventually eliminate Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and specify a range of options to replace the mortgage companies that have played a central role in the housing market for decades, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Obama administration is due to release its proposal for the future of the nation’s $10.6 trillion mortgage market as soon as Friday, outlining steps to gradually reduce the government footprint in the mortgage market. Together with federal agencies, Fannie and Freddie have accounted for nine of 10 new loan originations in the past year.

The administration is likely to outline three proposals, assessing the merits and drawbacks of each. The most conservative would recommend that the government play no role in the mortgage market beyond existing federal agencies.

Two others would create a way for the government to backstop part of the secondary mortgage market, a role long filled by Fannie and Freddie. Under one, that government backstop would kick in primarily during periods of market stress; under the other, the government would play a role at all times.

Steps to reduce the federal role would likely increase home buyers’ borrowing costs, adding pressure to still-fragile housing markets. Consequently, analysts believe any transition could take years and would be increasingly driven by the pace of the housing market’s recovery.

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REPORT | Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and Home Affordable Mortgage Program (HAMP)

REPORT | Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and Home Affordable Mortgage Program (HAMP)


Members of the committee questioned Special Inspector General Barofsky and others about the quarterly report on the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and Home Affordable Mortgage Program (HAMP) . Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, (R-CA) Witnesses: Neil Barofsky, special inspector general for the troubled asset relief program Department of the Treasury Tim Massad, Acting Assistant Secretary for Financial Stability and Chief Counsel

House Committee on Oversight & Reform hearing on latest SIGTARP report:

http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/Bailouts

Barofsky opening statement: http://oversight.house.gov/images/stories/Hearings/Opening_Statements/Testimony.Barofsky.SIGTARP.012611.pdf

Treasury opening statement: http://oversight.house.gov/images/stories/Hearings/Opening_Statements/Massad_Testimony_1.26.11.pdf

Ranking Minority Member Cummings opening statement barred from ‘live’ delivery by Chair Darrell Issa (R-CA): http://democrats.oversight.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=5164:cummings-opening-statement-for-the-sigtarp-hearing-&catid=3:press-releases&Itemid=49

Documents and video should be posted later:

http://oversight.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1085%3Abailouts-and-the-foreclosure-crisis-report-of-the-special-inspector-general-for-the-troubled-asset-relief-program&catid=12&Itemid=20

January 2011 – SIGTARP quarterly report to Congress: http://www.sigtarp.gov/reports/congress/2011/January2011_Quarterly_Report_to_Congress.pdf

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