Foreclosure Defense and Mortgage Meltdown: Worse than you think

Take a look at the article (link below) which highlights the essential issues. It’s a bit choppy in reading but it makes the points you should consider as you plan your strategy for dealing with life over the next 10 years.

Despite assurances from the administration and those on Wall Street who are trying to bolster confidence in U.S. financial markets, the trust level between bankers, the key indicator of our economic future, has never been lower. Even Libor which is the holy grail of indexes has been manipulated during the last 4 years. Moody’s admitted yesterday that a computer “mistake” caused it to miss the “downturn” in the value  and rating of certain securities — the very same ones they overrated in the first place because the analysts were literally given fishing trips and pressured from the top to keep the “client” through “negotiation” of the rating that Moody’s would apply. 

What you have is a picture of obfuscation.

Imagine on the right side,  an opaque cloud of misrepresentations, ratings and false insurance protection on a securities that are so complex the number of variables rose to as high as 125 and it took a modern computer an entire weekend to come up with a price that, like election results from an entirely electronic system, cannot be audited for integrity or credibility.

  • Imagine the AAA ratings that investors believed, because the rating agencies were reasonably trustworthy and accurate in the past. Imagine insurers putting their stamp of approval based upon negotiation and the false credit ratings. 
  • And know that the entire class of securities that are “asset-backed” consists of extremely high risk predatory lending practices including but not limited to originating loans to people with interest only negative amortization for sometimes over a million dollars where the borrower is out of work and disabled.
  • These are the “cash equivalent” securities that unsuspecting managers of pension funds, government funds, mutual funds, hedge funds and others were buying. 
  • Imagine them buying derivatives on derivatives thinking they were hedging their losses when in fact they were multiplying them.
  • And now imagine that investors bought $62 trillion dollars (yes that IS the figure — 4 times our GDP) of this garbage backed by unpayable mortgages, auto loans, credit cards, student loans, and other consumer and small business debt.

Now on the left side imagine the same kind of opaque cloud of misrepresentations, pressure tactics to close, and outright fraudulent misrepresentation of “appraised” value (just like the rating agencies on securities), only less regulated and more decentralized). A subsequent TILA audit reflects the following facts:

  • Imagine a person who speaks no English, or a person who is totally unsophisticated in finance.
  • A builder with a criminal record makes deals with people at the local fronts for bigger players like Countrywide, Barclays, Wells Fargo etc. The people at these front organizations are now in prison, fired or both — a very typical story.
  • The builder finds our unsuspecting buyer and tells them that for only $2,000 per month they can get a 5 acre piece of land and build a $400,000 house on it. 
  • He gets them to pony up all the money they have — $250,000.
  • They even pony up another $150,000 borrowed from the trust fund for their disabled child, injured in an accident. Nobody cares about the personal stories here because they were all out to make a buck.
  • When the prospective borrowers start asking questions about how this could possibly work they are told: “Look, it is true you are not making the whole payment. But the way things work, housing prices always go up and down the road you either refinance and get money out of the house or you can sell at a handsome profit. Housing prices have never been steadier, growth is enormous. The lender has approved this and you know it is their money they are risking and they know a lot more then either of us, so if they are willing to take the risk, why wouldn’t you?”
  • NOT DISCLOSED: (1) the lender had no stake in the outcome of the loan except to close it and collect pass through fees. (2) The mortgage and note and servicing rights were all transferred around to mortgage aggregators, and investment banks who in turn sold derivative securities based upon this garbage loan. (3) Thus the lender was not taking on a risk and neither was anyone who handled this hot potato until it landed in the hands of an unsuspecting investor. (4) And the appraiser, eager to do more appraisals and earn more fees is allowed to know the amount of the mortgage and the contract price and conveniently and always comes in with an appraisal a few percentage points higher than the contract, so it looks good to the borrowers, and even to auditors at least at the beginning of this wild free money lending cycle. Unknown tot he borrower the “bank” is actually an unscrupulous mortgage broker steering the borrower to the worst possible deal because it nets him the highest fees, and submitting falsified income information sometimes without even the knowledge of the borrower, and sometimes with a statement to the borrower (“don’t worry” this is a no-doc loan, nothing will be checked and you won’t get into trouble because everyone wants this loan to close. (the only true statement in the entire affair). 
  • LATER THE LENDER WILL TAKE THE POSITION WITH THE FBI AND OTHER LAW ENFORCEMENT THAT IT WAS DEFRAUDED EVEN THOUGH IT DEFRAUDED ITSELF” BY HAVING ITS OWN AGENTS FALSIFY THE INCOME AND APPRAISAL INFORMATION.

NOW IMAGINE BETWEEN THE OPAQUE CLOUD ON THE LEFT (defrauding the borrower) AND THE OPAQUE CLOUD ON THE RIGHT (defrauding the investor) GOSSAMER THREADS REPRESENTING PLAUSIBLE DENIABILITY. All the people that were represented as principals and were in fact just sales people earning a commission on a sale. 

With nobody at risk but the least suspecting people who heard and read representations that were outright lies, misleading or only partial truths, lending standards when down the toilet. Nobody cared or had a stake in the outcome of the loan transaction except the borrower and the investor. The name of the game was “close as many loans as possible” because these investors are being offered just enough yield to be a little higher than other investments and were convinced by fraud that the perceived risk was much lower than the actual risk — after all Moody’s rated it AAA. 

The standard relationship between borrower and lender in which BOTH had  stake in a successful transaction was gone, but the borrower didn’t know it. How many people would have closed on their loans if they had known the truth? How many people would have bought these securities if they had known the truth. The answer is that the mortgage meltdown and general credit crisis would never have happened. Inflation would not be rising out of control.

Confidence in the the U.S. dollar and U.S. financial markets would not have sunk below zero. Borrowers and investors would still have their money and their lives and their credit ratings. Money managers would still have their jobs and the performance of the funds they managed would still be within acceptable bounds. And banks and investment banks would not be threatened with failure.

1,300,000 people would not be in foreclosure and 9 million people would not be “upside down” on the equity-loan ratio of their homes. 

Now  you can read the article I found on op-ed.

http://www.opednews.com/articles/1/opedne_stephen__080522__22immoral_hazard_22.htm

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