Held Hostage by a Home: The Devastation of Foreclosure

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Held Hostage by a Home

Depending on reader response- this column may become an ongoing Sunday feature on LivingLies. Let us know what you think.
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Although Neil Garfield eloquently describes the legal dynamics of foreclosure, there is also a human battle waged in millions of homes nationwide that remains hidden behind walls of shame, fear and anger. Families are torn apart by the stress and uncertainty that financial burdens bring. A home, no matter how modest or grand, is a foundation of family life- and when it is torn away by companies without legal standing to do so- the pain is compounded because of the injustice.
Most families who fall behind on their debts, do not do so deliberately. Usually financial debt is caused by job loss, illness, divorce, or simply being induced into obtaining more credit than the family can service-by companies who carry no risk (due to securitization). Most families would embrace the opportunity to have one second chance to pay back any outstanding balance on their home and make good on their debts-but loan servicers have no incentive to work with the homeowner.
Unfortunately, the way the mortgage industry works, it is no longer beneficial for the servicer to service your loan- when they can foreclose instead. A huge financial windfall awaits a servicer that can engineer a default. Instead of receiving approximately .125% of the monthly payment, the servicer is entitled to keep all fees, late interest, and other default charges (and the entire proceeds if they are collecting on behalf of a trust that does not exist). Until loan servicing issues are addressed, servicers will continue their predatory tactics to push homeowners into foreclosure. I should know because I am the victim of a predatory servicer. This is my story.
I am being held hostage by my home. The red brick and mortar of the quintessential American home has become my prison. For the past seven years I have had the rope of the commercial code truss my freedom, happiness, career and dreams. The blindfold has been removed but I still can’t trust what I see- banks that operate like organized crime syndicates supported by courts that refuse to acknowledge the fraud. I have been gagged and silenced by a bank, as my story, like millions of others goes unheard. Hopefully, the ability to warn others what a bank is capable of- will be cathartic.
What most people don’t understand before taking on foreclosure is that unless you have unlimited wealth, you will be taken hostage during litigation. The Notices of Default filed against you will keep you from repurchasing a different house, will destroy your credit, may prevent you from obtaining employment, may cause creditors to rescind credit extended, and may exhaust all of your savings and retirement. Your neighbors will likely shun you and your “friends” may distance themselves from you. Your opportunities to rebuild and recover from a financial setback will be compromised. I won’t even get into the emotional costs (divorce, volatile home environment, stressed parenting). Rarely is a case settled at the trial level. Most cases that should be settled with two or three years may go on for a decade or so if you continue to battle on.
Eight years ago, If I had been told what my future would hold if I dared to challenge my loan servicer- I would have held a block party for the bank and handed them the keys to the house. My greatest regret in life is that I decided to hold the bank accountable for reneging on my loan modification. It has cost me my life savings, my health, my marriage, and worst of all- instead of enjoying the childhoods of my children- I have spent every day depressed and anxious while battling a soul-less banking cartel with unlimited financial resources and power. My children have no idea who I am, or who I was before my life became a war game and I took up the position of General. In fact, I have no idea who I am outside of being held hostage by my home.
Why don’t I walk away? Surely losing 13 years of my life would be better than another decade? Because I am a fool. Because I have sacrificed and lost almost everything- to quit would be even worse than to go down defeated. There becomes a point in time- when you can’t turn back. For 13 years I have spent over 200k in order to receive an answer to one very simple question: WHO OWNS MY NOTE???? My servicer and the courts believe I have no right to an answer.
There are thousands of unconscionable foreclosure stories in America- that are unfathomably egregious and completely unnecessary- mine included. I had the ability and desire to pay the bank any amount they requested. I only wanted to sell my home and move on with my life. However, the bank did not want payment- they wanted the house. Neil Garfield has stated that the reason the banks want the foreclosure more than they want payment is because not only does the bank profit handsomely from a foreclosure, but it allows them to neatly tie up the fraud and seal the deal. Once a home is foreclosed upon- rarely does the homeowner sue for wrongful foreclosure.
The ordeal of foreclosure is by design, created by banks to cause the maximum amount of damage- both financially and emotionally. There is absolutely no good faith that arises when the bank can profit from a foreclosure. I have often wondered how people who work in the foreclosure industry sleep at night. Ayn Rand thought about these people also and wrote in Atlas Shrugs, “The man who lies to the world, is the world’s slave from then on…There are no white lies, there is only the blackest of destruction, and a white lie is the blackest of all.” To live knowing you have destroyed the lives of families and committed moral crimes in order to receive a paltry paycheck, would be a worse hell than even I have faced.
Last week the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that the suicide rates for middle-age whites jumped an alarming 40 percent from 1999 to 2010. The suicide rate for both younger and older Americans remained virtually unchanged, however, the rate spiked for those in middle age (35 to 64 years old) with a 28 percent increase from 1999 to 2010. According to the CDC, there were more than 38,000 suicides in 2010 making it the tenth leading cause of death in America overall. Among African Americans, Hispanics and even the oldest white Americans, death rates have continued to fall. What could be responsible for this drastic change in suicide demographics?
The middle-class suicide spike began with the onset of the tech bubble implosion where middle-class families saw their retirement funds evaporate. Locked into company 401ks where the funds are illiquid, many 401ks don’t allow the ability to place stop-losses. A stop-loss is an order that is placed, usually on a stock, to sell when the price declines to a certain level. So while the wealthy and knowledgeable were able to stop some of the bleed, mid-level employees in company-sponsored retirement programs were disproportionately impacted.
By 2008 the middle class found themselves mired in home loans that were unaffordable, in houses where they owed more than the home was worth, and subjected to a volatile job market and economy. In effect, the middle class died in 2008 and has not rebounded.  Consider the way life has changed since 2001. We are under surveillance all day, we pay a disproportionate amount of our income to taxes that go to support wars and programs most of us do not want, the economy is rigged in favor of the wealthy, and the cost of living has skyrocketed while wages remain flat. Most people in this demographic went to college, both partners work full-time jobs, and are responsible for raising their own children while caring for aging parents on limited incomes.

 

When you face foreclosure or bankruptcy this often pushes people over the tipping point. This was not the life that most middle-class people contemplated and are ill equipped to deal with. The middle class bought into the premise if you go to college and work hard you will gain financial security- not knowing the system was rigged. These individuals were also typically raised in middle class homes and were unprepared for the financial struggles not typically equated with the middle class.
“It’s a loss of hope, a loss of expectations of progress from one generation to the next,” said Angus Deaton, a Nobel Prize–winning economist who had studied the data. The middle class is not only being financially impacted by the economy but the strain on the middle class is psychological. The study noted that white women between 25 and 55 have been dying at accelerating rates over the past decade, a spike in mortality not seen since the AIDS epidemic in the early 1980s. According to recent studies of death certificates, the trend is worse for women in the middle of the United States, even worse in rural areas, and worst of all for those in the lower middle class. Drug and alcohol overdose rates for working-age white women have quadrupled. Suicides are up by as much as 50 percent.
According to the Federal Reserve, 47 percent of those who responded to a recent survey said they are living so close to financial ruin that they couldn’t come up with $400 to meet an emergency, not without first borrowing the money or selling something. Almost half of all Americans are fighting a losing battle to keep their heads above water.
This situation was the subject of a paradigm shifting article in the May issue of Atlantic magazine, “The Secret Shame of the Middle Class,” that was written by Neal Gabler, a well-known book author and film critic. Gabler reveals that despite his successful career, impressive resume and outward appearance of prosperity, he is financially insolvent and must often “juggle creditors to make it through the week.”
The writer attempts to provide reasons for the crisis. He lists predatory credit card companies, the ever-rising cost of living, wage stagnation, poor decision-making, bad luck and a national plague of financial illiteracy. But one cash depleting issue Gabler overlooks is taxation — and the fact that the middle class that pays almost 50% of their income to some type of tax- while the wealthy are able to exploit the system and pay very little if any tax.
Rising health-care costs, job insecurity, climbing foreclosures, and rising energy costs are decimating the middle class. The middle class American now “leases” their lives and most will have no assets to show upon their deaths. They are tenants in their own homes (read your Mortgage- you are a tenant), lease their cars, and are dependent on their employer who is likely facing financial troubles of their own. The housing markets are starting to look a lot like they did in 2007 (except there are more renters now). It is easy to see why the middle class that provides the support for both upper and lower classes is at its breaking point.
Signs of Big Trouble
Families with no savings, piles of credit card debt, and mortgages on homes they should not have been qualified for coupled with flat-lining incomes, low-paying jobs, skyrocketing health-care costs and exorbitant college costs are in dire straits. Wall Street banks with complicit buy-ins from the courts and law enforcement have created an untenable situation where the middle class has nowhere to turn. The banks prey on the vulnerability of people who suffered a temporary setback but are doing everything in their power to correct the situation in good faith. Homeowners are a small obstacle to big banks with unlimited financial resources who retain the best attorneys in the country to defend their predatory and illegal schemes.

It is evident that the government and courts are either unable or unwilling to rein in the powerful banks. Home ownership has dropped to its lowest rate since 1967, and one in every three American families is dealing with a debt collector. One more major recession and the suicide rates will further skyrocket. Without the middle class who is going to take care of the lower classes? The middle class is fighting for its life- and when all else fails apparently they take their own lives.
People are angry, people are desperate and people want solutions. If the middle class really wants to do something to stop this downward trajectory- the first thing to do would be to close your accounts with the major banks that service loans (Wells Fargo, CitiMortgage, Bank of America). If able, refinance your home with a credit union who holds your mortgage in-house and does not securitize loans. The middle class could effectively starve the beast that oppresses them if they would unite.
There are economic indicators that the housing market is reverting back to the 2007 lending policies that were the norm prior to the bubble that popped in 2008. Many banks are offering zero-down loans while Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have lowered their loan qualifications in an attempt to spur on the lower and middle class housing market. The banks are resorting to desperate tactics as homebuyers have stopped purchasing. There can be no doubt that those who have lived through a foreclosure or the foreclosure of a family member will ever trust a big bank again. I know that personally, I will NEVER borrow from a big bank again.
The suicide report showed a marked increase in mortality of middle-aged white non-Hispanic men and women in the United States between 1999 and 2013 was unique to the United States; no other rich country saw a similar event. Self-reported declines in health, mental health, and ability to conduct activities of daily living, and increases in chronic pain and inability to work, as well as clinically measured deteriorations in liver function, all point to growing distress in this population. Research confirms that this situation is due to economic causes and life quality deterioration. All indications show that economic conditions are even worsening for the middle class.
It is noteworthy that other countries have had similar financial problems that mirror the United States, however, the suicide rates and middle-class morbidity have not increased in any other developed country but the United States. The American capitalist machine is feeding off the hopes and dreams of the middle class and yet the middle class is unable to obtain any relief through government agencies or access due process within the courts. This reality is impacting the lives of millions of Americans who deserve much better.

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The graph is shocking. And for obvious reasons I’m very interested in the mortality of white Americans in the 45-54 age range since I am in this class. If anyone knows about the costs of fighting an unlawful foreclosure it is me. I have filed three bankruptcies during 13 years of ongoing litigation to save my home (despite simply wanting to sell the home that I no longer resided in and cash out my equity). The bank has also filed at least 9 Notices of Default (destroying my ability to obtain credit for over a decade) and illegally foreclosed on me once (in violation of an automatic stay). I have spent every single discretionary dollar I have had believing that the courts would honor the rule of law. I was so confident when I set out to settle the illegal acts by my servicer that I naively believed the situation would be remedied within a year (when it could still take up to another decade to settle this issue).
I was raised in a white upper-middle class family. Your credit score was considered as important as your IQ and success was measured by your position and income. However, by 2001 I found out it doesn’t matter how successful you are- if you are dependent on an employer- it can all be snatched out of your hands (I was fired while on an approved medical leave from a large pharmaceutical company just to add irony). Unable to replace my high salary I fell into financial arrears. I lost my friends, my social standing, my ability to obtain credit, and my ability to rebuild. Even more tragically, the stress decimated my family and destroyed my marriage. I have never recovered. I hope that I don’t become one of these statistics but there are no guarantees I won’t.
Fighting a foreclosure is ugly, ugly business. Unfortunately, in our society, litigation is reserved for those well enough off to fight back. The majority of low-income households have literally no hope of fighting back without competent and aggressive legal counsel (and legal counsel is expensive). Both middle and lower classes are extremely vulnerable to any fluctuation of the economy. A job loss can result in losing everything and purchasing a house you can’t afford further exacerbates your financial stress.
It appears the banks deliberately started giving out loans like candy to anyone with a pulse, knowing they would securitize these debts, keep the investors’ money meant to fund the loan, collect the monthly payments and then foreclose- while knowing very few in the lower and middle classes would be able to fight back. The researchers state they can only hypothesize why records of white middle class Americans are committing suicide in increasing numbers? Although my statistical skills are sub-par I can tell you exactly what is behind the statistics- the illusion of the American dream has been exposed and not one elected official is willing to do what is necessary to correct the situation while the elite are still able to milk the market while it climbs and crashes. This is a tragedy not seen since people jumped off of skyscrapers with the stock market crash in 1929- it is just more subtle and stealth.
One theory about what is causing rising mortality among whites is the “dashed expectations” hypothesis. According to Johns Hopkins University sociologist Andrew Cherlin, whites today are more pessimistic than their forebears about their opportunities to advance in life. They are also more pessimistic than their black and Hispanic contemporaries.
“The idea that today’s generations will do better than their parents’ generation is part of the American Dream. It has always been true until now,” Cherlin said. “It may still be true for college-educated Americans, but not for the high-school-educated people we used to call the working class.”  The demise of the middle class is broad in its effects, but it appears to be culminating in places that are particularly vulnerable — such as cities where the drinking water is polluted with lead for years, or a small city that saw its biggest manufacturer move overseas, or in a household destroyed by job loss and foreclosure. It’s no big mystery why the wounded middle class is turning to Trump and his anti-establishment rhetoric and hitting a nerve.
Things aren’t going to get better for sometime due to the apathy and disconnect of Washington and your elected officials. Before you pursue litigation please consider if you possess the endurance needed to fight a bank with unlimited sources. In almost every successful case- an Appeal will be necessary. Consider the evidence you possess- is it enough to defeat the servicer’s claims? Do you have the financial means to finish the fight? Can you detach enough from the outcome that when your due process rights are trampled and the banks resort to forgery to defeat you- you won’t fall apart?
As much as I hate to say this- most people who have viable cases end up in some type of modification or agreement. The costs become too high for most homeowners to endure. Sadly the judges are now unfazed by forgeries, falsified documents, and fraud on the court- and there is nothing unusual about dummied up documents (although the banks are committing felonies with impunity). It is up to the people who have the means and temperament to fight foreclosure to do so on behalf of those whose voices have been silenced. Going the distance also requires that you don’t give in and sign a confidentiality agreement. Precedents in favor of the homeowner are desperately needed.
Every case you have read on Living Lies was because an attorney and the client refused to give in and both incurred serious losses in order to prevail. In cases like these, both attorney and client looked under every rock and crevice for evidence, they studied every law, act and statute. There are few attorneys who are willing to stand up for the homeowner and take the case all the way to trial. These world-class attorneys have sometimes faced ridicule by their peers but can’t be deterred. South Florida has some of the best foreclosure attorneys in the country including Neil Garfield, Tom Ice, Patrick Giunta, James “Randy” Ackley, Matthew Weidner, Mark Stopa, Bruce Jacobs and others (please read the blogs of these attorneys). Through the professionalism, proficiency and passion of these attorneys- the judges are now becoming wise to court manipulation and the fraudulent deeds of the banks.
With the knowledge Neil Garfield has shared with his readers on Living Lies- YOU have a better chance of prevailing than most Americans do who rely solely on their attorneys to take care of every aspect of their case (attorneys simply do not have the time). Eric Mains wrote a blog for Living Lies entitled “Why your Foreclosure Attorney Just became Your Business Partner”. The post provides excellent information for people who are willing and able to take on their loan servicers.
There is no doubt that the banks must receive much harsher monetary penalties to dissuade them from engaging in criminal conduct. It is also time that the representatives of the banks and foreclosure mills they employ be criminally prosecuted for the destruction they have caused to millions of families by fabricating documents, deliberately deceiving homeowners (through disinformation, false modifications, refusal to accept payments) and intentionally setting homeowners up to fail.
My advice to anyone contemplating foreclosure would be to NEVER allow a bank to steal your happiness or harm your family- walk away.  If you decide to pursue litigation your eyes will be opened that the attorneys for the banks are no different than college-educated thugs and that the courts are owned and paid for by the big banks. This lesson in itself will completely shake your belief system to the core. I would recommend in most cases that you save your family, your sanity and your money and go fight a war you can win.
Not to discourage you- but I have now been held hostage for 13 years. I have no home (except the house that has sat empty during 6 years of litigation now), no retirement, no marriage and my physical health is now starting to suffer (my mental suffering endures). I have wasted the best years of my life fighting a heartless bank with unlimited power and unlimited resources- because I actually believed our judicial system guaranteed my due process rights (wrong).  My ONLY hope is that the judge overhearing my case can put his own biases aside, apply the rule of law- and allow a jury of my peers to hear what a bank hell-bent on orchestrating the theft of my home is capable of.
They haven’t stolen my home-yet, but they may have stolen my life.

Update: March 25, 2018: If you have been victimized by a predatory foreclosure attorney- please write me at lendingliesconsulting@gmail.com.  I would like to hear your story.

 

MORTGAGE MELTDOWN REMEDY: SEND THIS NOW TO YOUR STATE SUPREME COURT AND LOCAL COURT SYSTEM

The problem for homeowners is that however many ideas are put forward they won’t be effective in time to save most people, they won’t be in time to save the economy, and they won’t be in time to save our currency from further wrenching devaluation. It is the fierce urgency of now that cannot even wait to the election or January 20, 2009. There is only one place where immediate relief can be achieved — the Court System. There are constitutional impediments to interference with the mortgage foreclosure process. Yet there is authority in the judicial system to change the rules as long as it does not significantly impede or in this case, it should enhance access to the courts and the ability to mount a credible defense to foreclosures on predatory or fraudulent loans. 

These are the rules that could be enacted by each court in the land that would [a] slow down the process and [b] protect borrowers from the steamroller of lender foreclosures and [c] protect lenders, investment bankers and investors from themselves. These rules preserve and enhance due process so that the unsophisticated borrower is not wiped out again by his or her lack of knowledge. 

 

Emergency Provisional Rules

Mortgage Foreclosures

These emergency rules of civil procedure apply to all foreclosures on all property, real or personal, initiated on or before January 1, 2007. No Judgment shall be executed, or if already executed, enforced, and no order of removal or eviction or seizure related to foreclosure shall be executed, or if already executed, enforced unless a Court of competent jurisdiction shall have executed an order finding as a matter of law and fact that the foreclosing party(ies) have complied with each and every provision contained herein.

1. Every Petition for Foreclosure and/or every action undertaken by a foreclosing party prior to seeking recovery or seizure, or occupancy of property, shall require the foreclosing party(ies) to file a verified complaint or affidavit alleging the facts supporting the claim for relief, executed by a person with actual knowledge of all facts alleged. The executing party on said verified Petition or affidavit shall affirmatively allege and actually be available for the taking of testimony by deposition or at an evidentiary hearing in the jurisdiction in which the property is located.

2. Each such Petition or Affidavit shall state the names and addresses of all parties involved in the loan transaction and shall be served under the rules governing service of process upon each of said parties as third party non-party litigants, if such parties were not the lender or borrower.

3. Each such Petition or Affidavit shall account for all funds that were passed through or to each party named in the action, the disposition thereof, and the manner and time in which the passage of said funds were dispersed, together with a citation to the mortgage documentation, including a quote of the relevant passages in the body of the Petition or Affidavit wherein said funds are disclosed and wherein said funds are authorized. 

4. Each such Petition or Affidavit shall state with particularity whether any changes occurred after the closing of the subject loan transaction in which parties or persons were changed including the names and addresses of all parties and persons related to the transactions subject to the mortgage.

5. With respect to sale or assignment or any joint or sharing arrangements concerning ownership, distribution of risk, or securitization in which the subject loan was referenced as collateral or otherwise, each such Petition shall state with particularity the details of each such transaction, the distribution or re-distribution of funds, and the documents employed by said parties after said closing.

6. Each and every such Petition or Affidavit shall affirmatively state that the foreclosing party(ies) have standing and authority to bring the action, defend counterclaims and answer affirmative defenses. The signature of the attorney on said pleading shall be mandatory and shall constitute a representation to the COURT that the filing attorney has performed proper due diligence to ascertain the truth of the allegations of legal standing and all other allegations.

7. Each such Petitioner or Affidavit shall be accompanied by attachments of the referenced documents to be included with the first service of such Petition or Affidavit.

8. Each such Petition or Affidavit shall state with particularity and specificity each disclosure made to the borrower and any third parties involved in the transaction under the Truth in Lending Act and the corresponding provision of the mortgage documents executed by the borrower which supports said disclosure.

9. Each such Petition or Affidavit shall state with particularity and specificity each disclosure made to the borrower and any third parties involved in the transaction under the Truth in Lending Act and the corresponding provision of the mortgage documents executed by the borrower which does not support said disclosure. If any allegation other than “none” is made under this paragraph, the foreclosing party(ies) shall state with specificity the law or fact upon which they should be excused from compliance.

10. Each such Petition or Affidavit shall attach a full and complete accounting of all money, value or funds transmitted, paid or or promised between all parties involved in the loan transaction before or after the loan transaction. In the event the borrower has been overcharged, undercharged, or charged correctly, the Petition or Affidavit shall so state affirmatively, providing a full accounting of said funds. 

11. No answer or response from the borrower shall be due unless and until the foreclosing party(ies) are in complete and full compliance with the provisions of these rules. Any prior answer or response may be amended by the borrower after a determination is made that the foreclosing party(ies) are in full compliance. No prior Judgement, order or other document or rule shall prevent the borrower from filing a response or answer after the foreclosing party(ies) are found to be in compliance with these rules.

12. In the event that the foreclosing party(ies) fails or refuses to comply with these rules, the foreclosure shall be barred with prejudice and until the terms of the mortgage are determined with certainty by the Court by clear and convincing evidence, no payments to the mortgagee shall be due. This provision that not apply to payment to taxing authorities. In such event of delay caused by the the foreclosing party(ies) the court may fashion such equitable remedies as the Court deems fit in its discretion. for example, the Court could apply delinquent payments to the end of the mortgage, thus extending the terms. 

13. In the event of non-compliance with these rules wherein the foreclosing party(ies) demonstrate to the Court the probability that they could amend their filing to conform to the requirements herein, the foreclosing party(ies) shall file an amended Petition or Affidavit on or before thirty (30) days from the date of the order of the Court allowing the amendment. Failure to file within said thirty period shall be grounds for a mandatory immediate dismissal with prejudice. 

14. In the event of the filing of a verified amended Petition or Affidavit, Borrower shall have sixty (60) days in which to answer or respond. Failure to answer or respond shall not relieve the burden of proof of the foreclosing party(ies) in compliance with state, local and Federal law, and in compliance with these rules.

15. The Court may grant attorney fees and costs to the prevailing party in each case where a motion or other filing occurs, wherein a determination is made in an adversary proceeding that the filing is in or out of compliance. 

16. In the event a foreclosure has already been completed and all subsequent and customary actions have occurred and no bona fide third party has taken control or occupancy of the property, these rules may applied retroactively. 

17. Once compliance has been established and the issues are joined, the Court shall enter an order requiring the parties to enter into a process of mediation. The purpose of the mediation shall be to fashion a settlement which provides relief and incentives to all affected parties, including non-party litigants. Mediation shall take place no earlier than thirty (30) days after the entry of the mediation order, and not later than is reasonably possibly given the volume of cases and the availability of competent mediators.

These rules are subject to review by the Court but are effective immediately. Comments and applications to be heard shall be available in keeping with the usual and customary methods of proposed rule changes. Said rules shall be effective unless and until stated otherwise by the Court.

 

Mortgage Meltdown Movement: Start Now, Obama

OBAMA MOVEMENT IS LAST CHANCE FOR ECONOMY AND HOMEOWNERS.

CHANGE THE RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDURE REGARDING FORECLOSURES OF ALL TYPES.

As we have have repeatedly pointed out, there is no time for stimulus packages, legislative bailouts, or executive orders. 

The evidence is mounting because [a] the situation is as bad as it looks and it is getting worse and [b] the administration ran out of places to hide the mounting losses to the economy. 

The dollar continues its slide which will create devastating inflation within 6 months. Consumer buying power is now the lowest it is had been since 1945. Job losses are at record levels and more people, especially men are starting to simply walk away from their jobs because the pay does nothing for them. People are also getting ready to walk away from their homes and just leave the keys with banks who will try to dump their real estate inventory, perhaps with some new derivative security plan.

The financial industry cannot bail us out, the U.S. Treasury can’t bail us out, China can’t bail us out, the congress cannot bail us out, the President won’t or can’t bail us out, and the candidates for President will inherit the second Great Depression (GDII) unless something is done right now. The plain truth is that if you do the arithmetic, there isn’t enough money in the world to buy our way out of this. Leadership, agreements, cooperation and sharing are the commodities that will settle the financial claims and avert a general collapse.

Start with the obvious — 900,000 foreclosures and mounting. At the center of this meltdown is the mean fact that prices were artificially inflated and, as in every Ponzi scheme, eventually collapsed. The debt was as fake as the prices. But we are still pretending it is real. The monthly payments were in many cases procured by fraud and numerous violations of the Truth in Lending Act. 

Change the procedure, not the substance of the law. 

The change needed is to enumerate the requirements for initiating foreclosures such that Ponzi operators are deterred from filing foreclosures, the entire foreclosure process is slowed down, and the loans are reinstated, re- negotiated, or modified on some basis that will result in continued occupancy of homes, restoring capital to balance sheets of financial institutions, restoring some degree of quality to CDO’s that were sold, and adding liquidity to the economy without pumping more funny money into it — thus adding value to the dollar, and adding purchasing power to consumers and industry. We encourage immunity from criminal prosecution those players who are still in the chain and assist in the process of recovery. Those actions and investigations by State attorney generals will at best provide an empty victory in an empty marketplace.

CHANGE THE RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDURE REGARDING FORECLOSURES OF ALL TYPES.

The only hope is the judiciary, which handles the foreclosures. Everyone agrees, including the parties initiating the foreclosures and evictions, that the goal is slowing down the process, giving everyone a little hope and incentive, and creating a process where these cases are settled equitably by agreement or by the equitable powers of every court in which an eviction or foreclosure matter is pending. Foreclosure is an equitable remedy which grants wide latitude to the Judge. Procedures should be in place that force the initiators of foreclosure proceedings to slow down, force everyone into mediation and give some breathing room so the marketplace, the financial sector, and government has time to catch up with events that have overtaken them.

In order to accomplish this, the authority is usually vested in the State Supreme Court of each state. The State Supreme Court is usually the authority that creates, amends or changes rules of civil procedure. This plan is not sexy but it is quick and it will work. Change the rules as we have suggested in our recent posting “Send this to Your State Supreme Court”. 

As for the PRESIDENTIAL candidates it is a dismal picture. The candidates for all other public offices don’t look any better in any of the State, local or Federal elections.

While we applaud McCain for his honesty in admitting he doesn’t know much about economics, that is hardly the person we want making executive decisions during a deep recession or depression. 

While Clinton is good at creating four point plans, ten point plans etc., she has not demonstrated any understanding of the economics at work here. Her husband didn’t have any experience in economics beyond a small state with niche industries. Her “experience” might sell but it isn’t true. She was a tea and cookies first lady in Arkansas and in the White House. This is no Eleanor Roosevelt. We can only hope that, like her Husband, if she is the candidate, she will be lucky enough to have people around like Alan Greenspan, Robert Rubin and others who not only understood the economy but knew how to grow it and that her personal political ambitions for a second term don’t get in the way of good judgment.

While Obama does have a close-up understanding of the economics of poverty, because he gave up Wall Street to work on Main Street, he also lacks experience in the macro-economic events that are in the process of burying our economy. He also is an academic, having taught constitutional law for 10 years, and brilliant analyst and fast learner. He also energizes people to out-perform which is exactly what we are going to need in the White House if we get through this in one piece. 

Obama is about leadership while Clinton is about tactical maneuvering. Both are valuable talents. But the truth is that Clinton would probably be one of the best Senate Majority leaders in history and at best a mediocre President for precisely those reasons. With Obama in the White House and Clinton and Pelosi in charge of Congress, it is hard to imagine a scenario where we can’t emerge from all this a little smarter and rebounding from the worst economic times in our lives.

There are no guarantees. Yet it seems like an Obama presidency will be a populist presidency directed by the people and for the people, while a Clinton presidency will be a Hillary presidency. McCain appears best suited to go to war and least suited to deal with any domestic issues. But none of them will like what is delivered to them on “Day One” unless something is done now. Obama too is at least as likely to attract energized geniuses in their respective fields to manage the difficult terrain ahead of us.

What Obama should do is what Obama does best — create a movement that moves the Supreme Courts of every state into action. All candidates for public office should sign on and all present office holders should introduce and pass remedial legislation in support of the movement. Obama is best suited to initiate this movement because his core constituency is the sector hardest hit by predatory lending practices, job losses, and NAFTA failures. 

The Obama Presidency should, as much as possible, start now. 

It is highly unlikely that Clinton’s last gasp pf political maneuvering and attack ads is going to change the math — Obama ends up with more popular vote, more states won, and more delegates one. Unless the convention turns to a compromise candidate like Gore, who probably won’t take the job, Obama is the only candidate that can be the nominee without tearing the Democratic party apart.

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