“KING” DEUTSCH CITED FOR DESTRUCTION OF CITIES

The article below was purloined from www.foreclosureblues.wordpress.com — the comments are mine. Neil Garfield

“According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), Deutsche Bank now holds loans for American single-family and multi-family houses worth about $3.7 billion (€3.1 billion). The bank, however, claims that much of this debt consists of loans to wealthy private customers. (EDITOR’S NOTE: THUS ALL THE OTHER LOANS IT CLAIMS TO OWN, IT DOESN’T OWN)

The bank did not issue the mortgages for the many properties it now manages, and yet it accepted, on behalf of investors, the fiduciary function for its own and third-party CDOs. In past years, says mortgage expert Steve Dibert, real estate loans were “traded like football cards” in the United States. (Editor’s Note: This is why we say that the loan never makes it into the pool until litigation starts AND even if it was ever in the pool there is no guarantee it remained in the pool for more than a nanosecond). Sworn testimony from Deutsch employees corroborate that no assignments are done until “needed,” which means that in the mean time they are still legally owned by the loan originator. The loan originator therefore created an obligation that was satisfied simultaneously with the closing on the loan. The note is therefore evidence of an obligation that does not legally exist. Thus there are possible equitable theories under which investors could assert claims against the borrower, but the note and deed of trust or mortgage are only PART of the evidence and ONLY the investor has standing to bring that claim. Recent cases have rejected claims of “equitable transfer.”)

How many houses was he responsible for, Co was asked? “Two thousand,” he replied. But then he corrected himself, saying that 2,000 wasn’t the number of individual properties, but the number of securities packages being managed by Deutsche Bank. Each package contains hundreds of mortgages. So how many houses are there, all told, he was asked again? Co could only guess. “Millions,” he said.

The exotic financial vehicles are sometimes managed by an equally exotic firm: Deutsche Bank (Cayman) Limited, Boundary Hall, Cricket Square, Grand Cayman. In an e-mail dated Feb. 26, 2010, a Deutsche Bank employee from the Cayman Islands lists 84 CDOs and similar products, for which she identifies herself as the relevant contact person.

However, C-BASS didn’t just manage abstract securities. It also had a subsidiary to bring in all the loans that were subsequently securitized. By the end of 2005 the subsidiary, Litton Loan, had processed 313,938 loans, most of them low-value mortgages, for a total value of $43 billion.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Whether it is Milwaukee which is going the the way of Cleveland or thousands of other towns and cities, Deutsch Bank as a central player in more than 2,000 Special Purpose Vehicles, involving thousands more pools and sub-pools, is far and away the largest protagonist in the foreclosure crisis. This article, originally written in German, details just how deep they are into this mess, while at the same time disclaiming any part in it. It corroborates the article I wrote about the Deutsch Bank executive who said ON TAPE, which I have, that even though Deutsch is named as Trustee it knows nothing and does nothing.

SPIEGEL ONLINE
06/10/2010 07:42 AM
‘America’s Foreclosure King’
How the United States Became a PR Disaster for Deutsche Bank
By Christoph Pauly and Thomas Schulz

Deutsche Bank is deeply involved in the American real estate crisis. After initially profiting from subprime mortgages, it is now arranging to have many of these homes sold at foreclosure auctions. The damage to the bank’s image in the United States is growing.

The small city of New Haven, on the Atlantic coast and home to elite Yale University, is only two hours northeast of New York City. It is a particularly beautiful place in the fall, during the warm days of Indian summer.

But this idyllic image has turned cloudy of late, with a growing number of houses in New Haven looking like the one at 130 Peck Street: vacant for months, the doors nailed shut, the yard derelict and overgrown and the last residents ejected after having lost the house in a foreclosure auction. And like 130 Peck Street, many of these homes are owned by Germany’s Deutsche Bank.

“In the last few years, Deutsche Bank has been responsible for far and away the most foreclosures here,” says Eva Heintzelman. She is the director of the ROOF Project, which addresses the consequences of the foreclosure crisis in New Haven in collaboration with the city administration. According to Heintzelman, Frankfurt-based Deutsche Bank plays such a significant role in New Haven that the city’s mayor requested a meeting with bank officials last spring.

The bank complied with his request, to some degree, when, in April 2009, a Deutsche Bank executive flew to New Haven for a question-and-answer session with politicians and aid organizations. But the executive, David Co, came from California, not from Germany. Co manages the Frankfurt bank’s US real estate business at a relatively unknown branch of a relatively unknown subsidiary in Santa Ana.

How many houses was he responsible for, Co was asked? “Two thousand,” he replied. But then he corrected himself, saying that 2,000 wasn’t the number of individual properties, but the number of securities packages being managed by Deutsche Bank. Each package contains hundreds of mortgages. So how many houses are there, all told, he was asked again? Co could only guess. “Millions,” he said.

Deutsche Bank Is Considered ‘America’s Foreclosure King’

Deutsche Bank’s tracks lead through the entire American real estate market. In Chicago, the bank foreclosed upon close to 600 large apartment buildings in 2009, more than any other bank in the city. In Cleveland, almost 5,000 houses foreclosed upon by Deutsche Bank were reported to authorities between 2002 and 2006. In many US cities, the complaints are beginning to pile up from homeowners who lost their properties as a result of a foreclosure action filed by Deutsche Bank. The German bank is berated on the Internet as “America’s Foreclosure King.”

American homeowners are among the main casualties of the financial crisis that began with the collapse of the US real estate market. For years, banks issued mortgages to homebuyers without paying much attention to whether they could even afford the loans. Then they packaged the mortgage loans into complicated financial products, earning billions in the process — that is, until the bubble burst and the government had to bail out the banks.

Deutsche Bank has always acted as if it had had very little to do with the whole affair. It survived the crisis relatively unharmed and without government help. Its experts recognized early on that things could not continue as they had been going. This prompted the bank to get out of many deals in time, so that in the end it was not faced with nearly as much toxic debt as other lenders.

But it is now becoming clear just how deeply involved the institution is in the US real estate market and in the subprime mortgage business. It is quite possible that the bank will not suffer any significant financial losses, but the damage to its image is growing by the day.

‘Deutsche Bank Is Now in the Process of Destroying Milwaukee’

According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), Deutsche Bank now holds loans for American single-family and multi-family houses worth about $3.7 billion (€3.1 billion). The bank, however, claims that much of this debt consists of loans to wealthy private customers.

More damaging to its image are the roughly 1 million US properties that the bank says it is managing as trustee. “Some 85 to 90 percent of all outstanding mortgages in the USA are ultimately controlled by four banks, either as trustees or owners of a trust company,” says real estate expert Steve Dibert, whose company conducts nationwide investigations into cases of mortgage fraud. “Deutsche Bank is one of the four.”

In addition, the bank put together more than 25 highly complex real estate securities deals, known as collateralized debt obligations, or CDOs, with a value of about $20 billion, most of which collapsed. These securities were partly responsible for triggering the crisis.

Last Thursday, Deutsche Bank CEO Josef Ackermann was publicly confronted with the turmoil in US cities. Speaking at the bank’s shareholders’ meeting, political science professor Susan Giaimo said that while Germans were mainly responsible for building the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, “Deutsche Bank is now in the process of destroying Milwaukee.”

As Soon as the Houses Are Vacant, They Quickly Become Derelict

Then Giaimo, a petite woman with dark curls who has German forefathers, got to the point. Not a single bank, she said, owns more real estate affected by foreclosure in Milwaukee, a city the size of Frankfurt. Many of the houses, she added, have been taken over by drug dealers, while others were burned down by arsonists after it became clear that no one was taking care of them.

Besides, said Giaimo, who represents the Common Ground action group, homeowners living in the neighborhoods of these properties are forced to accept substantial declines in the value of their property. “In addition, foreclosed houses are sold to speculators for substantially less than the market value of houses in the same neighborhood,” Giaimo said. The speculators, according to Giaimo, have no interest in the individual properties and are merely betting that prices will go up in the future.

Common Ground has posted photos of many foreclosed properties on the Internet, and some of the signs in front of these houses identify Deutsche Bank as the owner. As soon as the houses are vacant, they quickly become derelict.

A Victorian house on State Street, painted green with red trim, is now partially burned down. Because it can no longer be sold, Deutsche Bank has “donated” it to the City of Milwaukee, one of the Common Ground activists reports. As a result, the city incurs the costs of demolition, which amount to “at least $25,000.”

‘We Can’t Give Away Money that Isn’t Ours’

During a recent meeting with US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, representatives of the City of Milwaukee complained about the problems that the more than 15,000 foreclosures have caused for the city since the crisis began. In a letter to the US Treasury Department, they wrote that Deutsche Bank is the only bank that has refused to meet with the city’s elected representatives.

Minneapolis-based US Bank and San Francisco-based Wells Fargo apparently took the complaints more seriously and met with the people from Common Ground. The activists’ demands sound plausible enough. They want Deutsche Bank to at least tear down those houses that can no longer be repaired at a reasonable cost. Besides, Giaimo said at the shareholders’ meeting, Deutsche Bank should contribute a portion of US government subsidies to a renovation fund. According to Giaimo, the bank collected $6 billion from the US government when it used taxpayer money to bail out credit insurer AIG.

“It’s painful to look at these houses,” Ackermann told the professor. Nevertheless, the CEO refused to accept any responsibility. Deutsche Bank, he said, is “merely a sort of depository for the mortgage documents, and our options to help out are limited.” According to Ackermann, the bank, as a trustee for other investors, is not even the actual owner of the properties, and therefore can do nothing. Besides, Ackermann said, his bank didn’t promote mortgage loans with terms that have now made the payments unaffordable for many families.

The activists from Wisconsin did, however, manage to take home a small victory. Ackermann instructed members of his staff to meet with Common Ground. He apparently envisions a relatively informal and noncommittal meeting. “We can’t give away money that isn’t ours,” he added.

Deutsche Bank’s Role in the High-Risk Loans Boom

Apparently Ackermann also has no intention to part with even a small portion of the profits the bank earned in the real estate business. Deutsche Bank didn’t just act as a trustee that — coincidentally, it seems — manages countless pieces of real estate on behalf of other investors. In the wild years between 2005 and 2007, the bank also played a central role in the profitable boom in high-risk mortgages that were marketed to people in ways that were downright negligent.

Of course, its bankers didn’t get their hands dirty by going door-to-door to convince people to apply for mortgages they couldn’t afford. But they did provide the distribution organizations with the necessary capital.

The Countrywide Financial Corporation, which approved risky mortgages for $97.2 billion from 2005 to 2007, was the biggest provider of these mortgages in the United States. According to the study by the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit investigative journalism organization, Deutsche Bank was one of Countrywide’s biggest financiers.

Ameriquest — which, with $80.7 billion in high-risk loans on its books in the three boom years before the crash, was the second-largest subprime specialist — also had strong ties to Deutsche Bank. The investment bankers placed the mortgages on the international capital market by bundling and structuring them into securities. This enabled them to distribute the risks around the entire globe, some of which ended up with Germany’s state-owned banks.

‘Deutsche Bank Has a Real PR Problem Here’

After the crisis erupted, there were so many mortgages in default in 25 CDOs that most of the investors could no longer be serviced. Some CDOs went bankrupt right away, while others were gradually liquidated, either in full or in part. The securities that had been placed on the market were underwritten by loans worth $20 billion.

At the end of 2006, for example, Deutsche Bank constructed a particularly complex security known as a hybrid CDO. It was named Barramundi, after the Indo-Pacific hermaphrodite fish that lives in muddy water. And the composition of the deal, which was worth $800 million, was muddy indeed. Many securities that were already arcane enough, like credit default swaps (CDSs) and CDOs, were packaged into an even more complex entity in Barramundi.

Deutsche Bank’s partner for the Barramundi deal was the New York investment firm C-BASS, which referred to itself as “a leader in purchasing and servicing residential mortgage loans primarily in the Subprime and Alt-A categories.” In plain language, C-BASS specialized in drumming up and marketing subprime mortgages for complex financial vehicles.

However, C-BASS didn’t just manage abstract securities. It also had a subsidiary to bring in all the loans that were subsequently securitized. By the end of 2005 the subsidiary, Litton Loan, had processed 313,938 loans, most of them low-value mortgages, for a total value of $43 billion.

One of the First Victims of the Financial Crisis

Barramundi was already the 19th CDO C-BASS had issued. But the investment firm faltered only a few months after the deal with Deutsche Bank, in the summer of 2007. C-BASS was one of the first casualties of the financial crisis.

Deutsche Bank’s CDO, Barramundi, suffered a similar fate. Originally given the highest possible rating by the rating agencies, the financial vehicle stuffed with subprime mortgages quickly fell apart. In the spring of 2008, Barramundi was first downgraded to “highly risky” and then, in December, to junk status. Finally, in March 2009, Barramundi failed and had to be liquidated. (EDITOR’S NOTE: WHAT HAPPENED TO THE LOANS?)

While many investors lost their money and many Americans their houses, Deutsche Bank and Litton Loan remained largely unscathed. Apparently, the Frankfurt bank still has a healthy business relationship with the subprime mortgage manager, because Deutsche Bank does not play a direct role in any of the countless pieces of real estate it holds in trust. Other service providers, including Litton Loan, handle tasks like collecting mortgage payments and evicting delinquent borrowers.

The exotic financial vehicles are sometimes managed by an equally exotic firm: Deutsche Bank (Cayman) Limited, Boundary Hall, Cricket Square, Grand Cayman. In an e-mail dated Feb. 26, 2010, a Deutsche Bank employee from the Cayman Islands lists 84 CDOs and similar products, for which she identifies herself as the relevant contact person.

Trouble with US Regulatory Authorities and Many Property Owners

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is now investigating Deutsche Bank and a few other investment banks that constructed similar CDOs. The financial regulator is looking into whether investors in these obscure products were deceived. The SEC has been particularly critical of US investment bank Goldman Sachs, which is apparently willing to pay a record fine of $1 billion to avoid criminal prosecution.

Deutsche Bank has also run into problems with the many property owners. The bank did not issue the mortgages for the many properties it now manages, and yet it accepted, on behalf of investors, the fiduciary function for its own and third-party CDOs. In past years, says mortgage expert Steve Dibert, real estate loans were “traded like football cards” in the United States.

Amid all the deal-making, the deeds for the actual properties were often lost. In Cleveland and New Jersey, for example, judges invalidated foreclosures ordered by Deutsche Bank, because the bank was unable to come up with the relevant deeds.

Nevertheless, Deutsche Bank’s service providers repeatedly try to have houses vacated, even when they are already occupied by new owners who are paying their mortgages. This practice has led to nationwide lawsuits against the Frankfurt-based bank. On the Internet, angry Americans fighting to keep their houses have taken to using foul language to berate the German bank.

“Deutsche Bank now has a real PR problem here in the United States,” says Dibert. “They want to bury their head in the sand, but this is something they are going to have to deal with.”

Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan

Option ARMs Come Back into Center Stage: 350,000 Active Option ARMs with over 200,000 in California. 78 Percent of Option ARMs have yet to hit Recast Dates.

Option ARMs Come Back into Center Stage: 350,000 Active Option ARMs with over 200,000 in California. 78 Percent of Option ARMs have yet to hit Recast Dates.

Option ARMs are the gift that keeps on giving this holiday season.  As it turns out, these pesky toxic mortgages are still sitting waiting to hit recast periods.  Like a street vendor taco these things went down nicely and appeared cheap but came with a hefty aftermath.  The last option ARMs were made in 2007 yet they are still causing much pain in the housing market.  Attorney General Jerry Brown has requested data from the top 10 issuers of option ARMs with a deadline date of November 23.  It’ll be interesting to see what is released from the AG’s office.  However, Standard & Poors issued a report on option ARMs last week and found that much of the problems with these loans are still to come.

One of the stunning points found was that 93 percent of option ARM borrowers decided to go with the negative amortization option otherwise known as the “minimum payment” option.  This is something we have established from many fronts and data sets.  The bottom line is the vast majority went with negative amortization and this grew the actual balance owed.  Yet one of the new findings in the report was that 78 percent of all outstanding option ARMs have yet to hit major recast points.  Given that 58 percent of option ARMs are here in California, this is a one state wrecking ball:

In total, some 350,000 option ARMs are still active nationwide.  Over 200,000 of these loans are here in California.  The most risky option as we have established with option ARMs is the negative amortization payment:

Now why was this payment such a poor choice?  Well as the California housing market fell by 50 percent from its peak, the actual balance on many option ARMs was going up.  So not only is the home underwater from the initial starting point, the loan taken out on the home has increased on 90+ percent of these borrowers.  This is like negative equity squared.  So deep are these loans in negative equity territory that not even HAMP can save them.  Oh, and speaking of HAMP, it is turning out to be a colossal failure as expected:

“(NY Times) Capitol Hill aides in regular contact with senior Treasury officials say a consensus has emerged inside the department that the program has proved inadequate, necessitating a new approach. But discussions have yet to reach the point of mapping out new options, the aides say.

“People who work on this on a day-to-day basis are vested enough in it that they think there’s a need to do a course correction rather than a wholesale rethink,” said a Senate Democratic aide, who spoke on the condition he not be named for fear of angering the administration. “But at senior levels, where people are looking at this and thinking ‘Good God,’ there’s a sense that we need to think about doing something more.”

I know many delusional folks in California were thinking that somehow the quiet on the option ARM front had to do with the masterful success of HAMP.  Of course, these loans never qualified for HAMP but that is beside the point.  HAMP is failing because of a simple reason.  Negative equity.  Here in California, we have millions underwater.  Those with option ARMs are not only underwater, they are going to have massive spikes in their monthly payments at a time when the California unemployment rate is the highest in record keeping history.  The problem is Wall Street has sucked up all the taxpayer bailouts and for what?  To keep the crony welfare investment banks ticking?  Trillions of dollars out the door and the real economy is still troubled.  HAMP had the naïve premise that the only problem was high interest rates and the problem with the housing market was toxic mortgages.  Well, the actual problem is thousands of homes are still valued at bubble prices and with stagnant wages for a decade, people can’t afford homes without going massively into debt.  Prime, near prime, and subprime means little when you have no income and that is why even prime defaults are spiking.  The option ARM had such an allure for the gold rush California home speculator because it sidestepped that tiny little caveat of income.  It allowed maximum leverage without the valid income support.  80 percent of option ARMs went stated income.  In other words, people made crap up like saying they made $200,000 when they were pulling $75,000 to qualify for that $600,000 home:

“(CNN) There is another little problem that many option-ARM borrowers seeking refinancing would face: “Upwards of 80% of were stated-income loans,” said Westerback.

These are the so-called “liar loans” in which lenders did not verify that borrowers earned as much money as they said they did. Lenders may not be able to modify mortgages because many of the borrowers’ income could not stand up to the scrutiny. Borrowers may also not want to go through underwriting again because they could be held legally liable for deliberate inaccuracies on their original applications.

Add to those conditions the still fragile economy and high unemployment rates, and you have a recipe for disaster.”

As people chime in about stabilization, California is still hovering near the bottom in terms of prices.  The only reason we have seen prices move slightly up is because the massive jump into foreclosed homes, the home buyer tax credit, Fed buying securities to lower mortgage rates, and all these phony moratoriums that we are now seeing are basically delaying reality for many.  Inventory is artificially low because of the shadow inventory.

People ask for a solution.  Here it is:  We should have (and still should) break up the banks into pieces that are small enough to fail.  Bring back Glass-Steagall with some teeth.  Commercial and investment banking should be put into silos that don’t even come close to one another.  Banks that need to fail should.  After all, the government now backs 90+ percent of all mortgages so why do we even need them?  A quick assessment should have been made from day one on housing.  Those that couldn’t afford their homes should have gotten assistance into rentals.  Here’s a thought.  Why didn’t we create a program where those who had no way of paying on an overpriced home were given a tax break to rent a place in an empty commercial real estate development?  Right there you kill two birds with one stone.  Of course, those on Wall Street and those in our government are two sides of the same coin.  For the past three decades they have systematically neutered our government to the point of it being a bread and circus spectacle.

You think the 200,000 option ARM borrowers in California are sitting in a good spot?  Let us look at negative equity rates for a few metro areas since this is the largest predictor of future foreclosures:

If you look at the Inland Empire and the Phoenix metro area, they virtually reflect one another.  In fact, both areas have negative equity rates of 54% of all mortgage holders.  This is incredible.  Half of all borrowers are underwater in these big regions.  But look at the largest block of mortgages in California clustered in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area.  1.5 million mortgages and 400,000+ are underwater.  You think this is going to bode well for home prices as option ARMs hit their recast dates in stride from 2010 to 2012?  I put in a more normal area of Dallas above and you can see what a normal market looks like.  Even there, you can see that negative equity is still an issue.  But compare that to California and it is another story completely.  What does this mean?  The middle market is certainly going to take major hits once these loans hit their recast dates.  If they don’t qualify for HAMP, then what?  S&P in their report gives an example of a hypothetical $400,000 mortgage:

The payment flat out doubles at the recast date.  Do you think people are going to be able to come up with an extra $1,200 per month with no problems?  You know what the typical mortgage payment for a home bought last month in California totaled?  $1,097.  That is the price of the hypothetical increase in the priciest state in the U.S.  So yes sales are happening but at a much lower end.  How is this going to help those in negative equity on more expensive homes?  Take a look at the raw numbers for the state:

34 percent of all California mortgages are underwater.  You can rest assured that 80+ percent of those option ARMs are underwater.  As the above highlights, those mortgages are still here and they are still toxic.

Option ARMs fall under a bigger umbrella of Alt-A loans.  California has over 700,000 active Alt-A loans.  The bulk of the 200,000+ California option ARMs fall under this category.  But the bulk of these loans are also toxic mortgage waste.  These will go off as well.  These are actually part of the shadow inventory including those who simply stop paying but banks sit back and do absolutely nothing.  Is that really a solution?  Take a look at where the Alt-A loans are in California:

Los Angeles and Orange counties hold the biggest number of Alt-A and option ARM loans.  Do you really think this is a bottom?  It might be for a home in the Inland Empire selling for $100,000 or $150,000 depending on local area dynamics.  But many cities in Los Angeles and Orange County are vastly overpriced.  The above dynamics look similar to how subprime was building up in 2006 and 2007 before the market imploded.  Yet somehow things are now different.

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