Barney Frank, Alan Grayson, Corinne Brown Come Through With Sharply Worded Letter To FNMA

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9.24.10 BARNEY FRANK LETTER-Letter-to-Fannie-on-Foreclosure-Fraud[1]

VIDEO FEED FROM TAMPA TV

In a blunt, no nonsense letter to Fannie Mae three congressional representatives including Barney Frank who has enormous clout, a shot heard round the country was heard. It wasn’t just a letter of inquiry or even at the level of complaint. It was an accusation and a demand that FNMA comply with law and stop employing foreclosure mills who violate the law in the name of the former government sponsored entity which is now wholly owned by the U.S. Government. We can expect similar action from congress and other agencies as the fog starts to lift and public officials come to realize what the rest of us have known for three years — the whole foreclosure mess is a fraud, should never have begun and the resulting horrific consequences on people’s lives could have and should have been avoided.

MORTGAGE MELTDOWN: BRINGING DOWN THE FED?

IN THIS STORY FROM THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, IT IS CLEAR THAT FLOUNDERING FEDERAL POLICY-MAKERS ARE AVOIDING THE ESSENTIAL ISSUE — WE HAVE TRILLIONS OF “DOLLARS” OF DERIVATIVES OUT THERE THAT ARE HUGELY OVERVALUED BECAUSE OF FRAUDULENT APPRAISALS SUPPORTING THE APPEARANCE OF A RISING HOUSING MARKET. And now many other securities and loan arrangements are endangered that have at least a passing involvement or basis in those faulty derivatives. 

The mere thought of the Fed issuing more of the derivatives that caused this crisis is sending central bankers into their back rooms wringing their hands. We are leading the world to the final conclusion that we cannot be trusted with money.

I have said many times in this post that there is not enough money in the world to bail this thing out. The answer is “none of the above” in terms of the options the Fed is looking at. The bottom line is that houses and therefore mortgages were inflated beyond supportable fair market values. Thus the CMOs, the derivative market as a whole, the auction market and everyone else who holds an interest in these mortgages are dealing with over-valuation. 

Our current regulatory system and FASB accounting policies have not anticipated this condition and thus we have no mechanism in place to effectively deal with the problem. The solution posed by Barney Frank is actually the answer — provide an opportunity to mark down these mortgages for the purposes of the borrowers payments, along with an opportunity for everyone to share the upside when the recovery begins. If we don’t do that we won’t see recovery for 10-20 years. If we adopt his plan, the recovery can start immediately. The Fed is rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic here. Neither they nor anyone else can cover the impact on the $500 trillion derivative market out there. 

The fact that other central bankers are looking at alternatives validates our premise here that the dollar is not merely going to take a hit like it did before Volcker stepped in, it is headed toward extinction unless we act responsibly. We have undermined the governments of many countries around the world by allowing Wall Street to run wild. We couldn’t have done more harm to them if we had attacked them militarily. They can and must respond to protect their nations. Our arrogance is not going to stop them from disengaging from U.S> policy and economics. Only humility and responsible action will restore confidence in our economy and our currency. 

Go to http://www.wsj.com and see this article and others examining current conditions.

 
The Wall Street Journal  
April 9, 2008
 
   
Fed Weighs Its Options in Easing Crunch
By GREG IP
April 9, 2008; Page A3

WASHINGTON — The Federal Reserve is considering contingency plans for expanding its lending power in the event its recent steps to unfreeze credit markets fail.

Among the options: Having the Treasury borrow more money than it needs to fund the government and leave the proceeds on deposit at the Fed; issuing debt under the Fed’s name rather than the Treasury’s; and asking Congress for immediate authority for the Fed to pay interest on commercial-bank reserves instead of waiting until a previously enacted law permits it in 2011.

  The Issue: The Fed has sold or committed a lot of its Treasury portfolio to support markets. Some worry it will soon run out of room to do more.
  The News: The Fed is considering several contingency plans for getting more lending capacity so that won’t happen.
  The Bottom Line: The Fed has lots of firepower left before it has to turn to these contingencies.

No moves are imminent because the Fed still has plenty of balance sheet room for additional lending now. The internal discussions are part of a continuing effort at the Fed, similar to what is under way at foreign central banks, to determine its options if the credit crunch becomes even more severe. Fed officials believe the availability of such options largely eliminates the risk of exhausting its stockpile of Treasury bonds and thus losing its ability to backstop the financial system, as some on Wall Street fear.

British and Swiss central banks also are contemplating contingency plans. For now, the European Central Bank is reluctant to consider options that require substantial modifications of its standard tools.

The Fed, like any central bank, could print unlimited amounts of money, but that would push short-term interest rates lower than it believes would be wise. The contingency planning seeks ways to relieve strains in credit markets and restore liquidity without pushing down rates.

The Fed is reluctant to heed calls from some Wall Street participants and foreign officials for the Fed to directly purchase mortgage-backed securities to help a market that still is not functioning normally.

Before the credit crunch began in August, the Fed had $790 billion in Treasury securities on its balance sheet, about 87% of its total assets. Since then, it has sold or lent about $300 billion. In their place, the Fed has made loans to banks and securities firms to assist them in financing holdings of mortgage-backed and other securities. Some on Wall Street say the potential for further declines in Fed treasury holdings could leave it out of ammunition.

[Chart]

The Fed holds assets to manage the nation’s money supply and influence the federal-funds rate, which banks charge each other on overnight loans. When the Fed buys Treasurys or makes loans directly to banks, it supplies financial institutions with cash; in effect, it prints money. The cash ends up as currency in circulation or in banks’ reserve accounts at the Fed.

Since reserves earn no interest, banks lend cash that exceeds their required minimum. That puts downward pressure on the federal funds rate, currently targeted by the Fed at 2.25%. The Fed could purchase securities and make loans almost without limit, expanding its balance sheet. That would cause excess reserves to skyrocket and the federal funds rate to fall to zero. The Fed would contemplate such “quantitative easing” only in dire circumstances. The Bank of Japan took this step this decade after years of economic stagnation.

Weighing the Possibilities

So the Fed is seeking ways to expand its balance sheet without causing the federal funds rate to drop. The likeliest option, one the Fed and Treasury have discussed, is for the Treasury to issue more debt than it needs to fund government operations. The extra cash would be left on deposit at the Fed, where it would be separate from bank reserves on deposit and thus would have no impact on interest rates. The Fed would use the cash to purchase an offsetting amount of Treasurys in the open market; for legal reasons, it generally cannot buy them directly from Treasury.

Treasury’s principal constraint is the statutory limit debt. Treasury debt was $453 billion below the limit Monday. In the past, Congress always has responded to administration requests to raise the limit, sometimes only after political theatrics.

Fed officials also are investigating the feasibility of the Fed issuing its own debt and using the proceeds to purchase other assets or make loans. It has never done so; the legality is unclear. Some foreign central banks, such as the Bank of Japan, do so.

Another possibility is seeking congressional approval to pay interest on banks’ reserves immediately instead of waiting until a 2006 law permits that in 2011. If the Fed paid, say, 2% interest on reserves, banks would have no incentive to lend out excess reserves once the federal funds rate fell to that level.

Congress put off the effective date because paying interest on reserves reduces the Fed profits that are turned over to the Treasury each year, widening the budget deficit. Although preliminary explorations suggest Congress would be open to accelerating the date, the Fed is leery of depending on action by Congress.

The Fed is inclined to use any additional maneuvering room to lend through its existing and recently expanded avenues. Officials are reluctant to buy mortgage-backed securities directly. They worry that such purchases would hurt the market for MBS that the Fed is not permitted to buy: those backed by jumbo and subprime and alt-A mortgages, which are under the greatest strain.

Moreover, the Fed is not operationally equipped to hold MBS and would probably have to outsource their management. Such holdings wouldn’t help avert foreclosures much, since the Fed would have little control over the mortgages that comprise MBS.

Write to Greg Ip at greg.ip@wsj.com1

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Mortgage Meltdown: Barney Frank Proposal

Memo to all Senators, Congressmen and state legislators:

The solution proposed by Barney Frank for the Mortgage Meltdown is dead-on right. Suck it up.

 

The disaster that awaits will fall on your record unless EVERYONE gets something they can go home with. Any lender that opposes this is arguing for their own disaster. This program will save their balance sheet, increase their reserves for lending, and save their income statement as well. They could even recover prior write-downs if Frank’s plan is expanded to the full 4 million homes affected. See my blog as livinglies.wordpress.com for more details.

 

The bottom line is that we MUST keep everyone in those homes, maintaining them and paying utilities, and paying something toward the mortgage. Allowing the lenders to participate on the upside allows them to recover their losses, but also, if the disclosure rules are relaxed, they will be able to delay writing off mortgages and investments that otherwise will come cascading this year and next.

If we can, where the home is empty and still inhabitable, we should reverse the foreclosures and reinstate the loans, reinstate the CDO/CMO investment etc. Of course those homes that have stripped of appliances, wiring and plumbing are another story. Pelosi’s support of this is critically important to passage. 

 

Mortgage Meltdown: Don’t wait for the Cavalry

It isn’t coming. Practicality is being trumped by ideology and politics. Help will not arrive in time to help you. You must help yourself. Whether you have a lawyer to help or not, you need to aggressively defend, refuse to cooperate and demand judicial fairness. If you all pile into the court system, the court system will not have the personnel or infrastructure to accommodate you. You force the hand of the judges, clerks and other members of the judicial system to come up with procedures that give you your day in court. You are entitled to be heard in a court of law and they cannot and will not take that away from you. 

It doesn’t matter whether you have a sub-prime mortgage, a standard mortgage, purchased a new home or purchased an existing home. Prices, terms and mortgages were unfairly and fraudulently inflated.  

Even if the nay-sayers were right that it was your own fault for not being educated enough, not being sophisticated enough, being too trustful, and that you should have known better, you will be doing a disservice to yourself, your family, your neighborhood, state and your country by rolling over and letting them take your house. 

The simple fact is that more than 20 million homeowners are going to be subject to severe consequences as a result of the stagflation, recession and depression that is already underway. That means more than 60 million people are going to be negatively impacted by an economy that was torpedoed by industries that were supposed to be properly regulated and were not. 

Write a letter, file a motion and go down to the courthouse and ask the clerk for any file that has a contested foreclosure in it. Copy the motions, copy the discovery requests, and add to them as you see fit. Get copies of discovery from other case files. get friendly with the clerks and enlist their aid.

Find out the rules about serving discovery requests and motions and follow them. When the lender stonewalls the discovery, file Motions to Compel and motions for Contempt.  Make this your second job if you have another one. 

In discovery make sure you get copies of all internal emails, documents, and presentations made to third parties who were prospectively going to purchase or re-market the risk element of the loan. 

Get a hold of the business plan outlined internally on how this plan would work. Find references or emails to appraisers, mortgage brokers, real estate brokers, developers, etc. and include them in your suit if you can. 

Have someone competent audit your mortgage to see if there are differences between disclosures and the actual amounts they charged you. There are usually differences that will put the lender on the defensive. 

Find out the names and contact information of those who were decision-makers (file interrogatories asking for this information) and get every document they have and take their deposition to see what they knew about your deal and others like your deal. Ask them what their instructions were on approving loans. Ask them if they had any personal doubts about the rapidly rising prices of housing. 

File a counterclaim for fraud. Google it up and you’ll find many examples. File a counterclaim for rescission. File a claim for breach of fiduciary duty (lenders have that duty to borrowers). Make it expensive and embarrassing for the lender to foreclose. It is never too late. File an appeal if you can. 

File an emergency petition in Federal Court alleging denial of due process, violation of your civil rights through improper application of state action. Foreclosure may be an appropriate remedy in normal circumstances but not where you were knowingly and intentionally tricked into a deal where you reasonably relied upon the misrepresentations of a group of conspirators giving you the misleading impression, upon which you relied, that the property was worth what you were paying for it and that the mortgage had been reviewed by experts who concluded that your financial circumstances were such that you could pay for it. 

You tried and failed because of factors well-known to the lenders who were selling off the risk to unsuspecting investors and therefore did not care whether you defaulted or not. 

The lenders were motivated strictly by greed without any sense of or actual accountability. They enlisted the tacit and overt agreements in conspiracy with appraisers, mortgage brokers, developers, closing agents and others who all contributed their part in misleading you into a deal that was false, misleading, damaging to your finances, damaging to your health, and damaging to your financial reputation, FICO score etc. 

Their behavior fulfills the requirements of racketeering, fraud, and crimes against local, state and federal government. You are entitled to damages and you are entitled to equitable relief. You not only lost everything you put into that house at closing, you lost the value of the improvements, furnishings, landscaping and appliances you added after closing. 

You are entitled to the benefit of the bargain, to wit: you were promised a house that you could afford and that was worth what you paid for it. The proper remedy is NOT for you to move out and the lender to take over the investment. The proper remedy is for the lender to adjust the mortgage, pay you damages and give you the payment schedule that you could afford. 

Go to your local property appraiser’s office and file forms to get your house deceased in appraised value. It will reduce your taxes and serve as proof of the true value of your house. Fight for the lowest level you can get. Use auction values in your neighborhood and short sales.  

If you want to settle the claim with the lender, get help. But here are some talking points for you. There are others, but this will get you started.

1. Reduction of mortgage note to 80% of current fair market value. Use an arbitrary formula we have come up with in the GTC|Honors program: Take the original purchase price and reduce it 25%.

2. Adjustment of payment to Fed Funds rate plus 1% fixed 30 year amortization

3. Allow lender to participate in increased fair market value at the time of refinance or sale to recover the downward adjustment of the principal on the mortgage note. I would suggest that they get 25% of the increase in value starting with the date of your settlement and ending with 30 days prior to the refinance or sale. If the value increases to an amount higher than the original purchase price, then let the lender participate at a rate of 75% of the increase over the original purchase price up to the amount of the adjustment they agreed to in the settlement without interest accruing on the adjustment. 

4. Get a moratorium on payments for 3-6 months so you can get on your feet again. But you’ll still have to pay for taxes and insurance. 

5. Delete the PMI provision if you have one and if you want to. Don’t delete it if you can afford it.

6. Insert a 60 day grace period for payments under the new plan.

7. Both parties agree to general release of all other claims.

8. No additional financial disclosure required. This is not anew loan. This is the loan you should have received when they first agreed to give you financing. 

9. If you can’t stay in the house because of inability to make even minimum payments, get some payment for damages.

10. In all cases get a letter from the lender that says you are are not and never were in default that you can send into the credit reporting agencies. 

And make sure you keep track of your attorney fees, costs and expenses and get a payment for that from the lender even if you compromise and add it to the back end of the mortgage (tacked on without interest accruing).

Bankruptcy IS an option but it should be avoided if possible. A lot of the rules are stacked against you now after the recent changes. But in bankruptcy you can file an adversary proceeding that will bring up the same issues and you could get favorable treatment. bankruptcy judges are usually quite sophisticated and very sympathetic to those seeking relief. Litigation in federal Court is more complex than state court litigation. Make sure you get help.

 

Mortgage Meltdown: Remedial Legislation

Mortgage Meltdown Remedial Legislation

Barney Frank has a good idea that will work. Mortgage notes must be reduced without penalty to borrowers, and of course continue the tax exemption for short sale. 

Cooperation will be needed by FDIC, Federal Reserve, SEC, FASB, IRS, Controller of Currency and Treasury Department. 

I would add the following AFTER reducing the mortgage by a flat percentage (because it will take too long to figure out 10 million mortgages on a case by case basis):

 

  1. Contingent reverse amortization (betting that housing prices will recover particularly in the event that this plan is put into effect). 75-25 in favor of homeowner up to recovering value of home at time of purchase. Then 75-25 in favor of Lender over purchase price until full value of mortgage is covered. Encourages homeowners to stay in their homes instead of abandoning them. Covers 8.8 million homes instead of 1 million.
  2. Allow contingent equity to reported as actual capital for lenders. Allows capital requirements and reserves to be met and allows further lending, increasing market liquidity in the credit and money markets.
  3. Allow contingent equity to be reported as footnote capital for investment banking. Allow financial institutions to recover write-downs and avoid additional write-downs.
  4. Allow contingent equity to be capital for CDO holders, including where used as collateral.
  5. Use flat relief percentage unless hardship is demonstrated. HUD has hearings. Suggested decrease in mortgage debt 20%.
  6. Use Fed Funds rate plus 1% as interest rate, 30 year amortization fixed. 3 point service fee that can be paid up front or 5 points if added to note. This applies to all mortgages. Opt-out provisions can apply for those homeowners who wish to opt out. Many will do so rather than go through the hassle of adjustment, even though most of the work will be done by lender.
  7. 1 year moratorium on all foreclosures on primary residential dwellings, giving time for mortgages to be converted.
  8. 2 month moratorium on payments of principal and interest on primary residential dwellings. Insurance and Taxes must still be paid. Borrowers given up to an additional 6 months to bring their escrow accounts for insurance and taxes up to date.
  9. After 1 year moratorium, foreclosures resume only on those homes where the mortgage note has been reset, as above, and borrower has defaulted. 
  10.  After 10 years original mortgage and note reinstated, adjusted for payments as above.
  11.  On second homes provide relief, by half of the above, and after 5 years original terms reinstated. 
  12.  Credit cards: Remedial cap on interest at 15%
  13.  Credit Cards: If interest rate is already 15% or under, reduce the rate by 25%.
  14.  Cap overdraft, bank fees etc. at 60% of current industry rates. 
  15.  Payday advance: cap fees, costs and interest at 10% per month. Require payroll deduction for repayment over maximum of 10 weeks.
  16.  Establish aggressive regulatory environment wherein the ultimate holders of risk (CDO owners) are educated as to actual quality of the mortgage-backed securities. This would include indexes identifying subprime loans, subprime borrowers, and various levels of prime borrowers statistically, so that ratings agencies, insurers, investors, fund managers, CFO’s and Treasurers can properly evaluate the risk of the investment. 
  17. This uses full information to allow market forces to dictate the credit liquidity offered to home buyers and other consumer debt. In other words, if the buyers of CDOs had been told the truth about these mortgage backed securities, and other aggregate derivative investments, neither the ratings  nor the demand for them would have been nearly as robust. 
  18. The meltdown would never have occurred. instead the incentive was to put out as many mortgage loans as possible, artificially inflated prices, because the lenders, closing agents, appraisers etc., were all incentivized to appease the confusion and worriers of the borrower and get the borrower to sign papers.
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