Pension and Union Funds Were Upside Down the Moment They Bought MBS

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Editor’s comment: Smith’s statement about the passivity of investors is well taken. Up until recently, they were content to let the Banks and servicers fight it out and they assumed they would get their fair share of the money that was due to them. Remember that these are NOT just “institutional investors” like banks — they are pension funds, unions, cities, counties and states that invested in what was thought to be investment grade securities Triple A rated and insured.

So it isn’t surprising that the investors are now going on the attack. It is obvious that the banks and servicers are having a field day feeding off the carcass of what was purported to be good collateral — the homes of the borrowers. The starting insult though was the money the banks took out of the funds advanced by investors before they started funding mortgages. In some cases the percentage is a staggering 40%. So for each million dollars that your pension fund put in, the banks immediately removed $400,000 and booked it as trading profits. Now with only $600,000 left, the pool was supposed to make enough money to pay the interest expected by investors plus the principal.

Those figures don’t work and Wall Street knew it. So all they needed was to place bets that the pool would fail and that is what they did under the guise of merely covering the “minor” risk of loss with yet another hedge. But the proceeds of insurance and credit default swaps were received by the banks who did not report those proceeds to investors, much less pay them. The whole thing was carried in a classic PONZI scheme where the money from the investor was paid to the investor without investing or funding any other income-producing asset.

So now Goldman Sachs has a genuine class action (approved by Federal Judge) on its hands, the major banks and MERS have a major lawsuit (Schneiderman) that will completely upend the mortgage transactions and foreclosures that have taken place, as well as eliminating the secured portion of the loans. The Banks are right where I predicted they would be when I projected the path of this long road. The banks and servicers are intermediaries and conduits with no interest in the loans other than some vague contractual rights that were long ago breached by the banks.

The interests of the investors and the interests of the homeowners have thus become strangely but inevitably aligned. Neither one would have entered into the deals if they knew the truth and both were defrauded by inflated appraisals, inflated securities ratings, misrepresentations about the loans, misrepresentations about the loan underwriting process, and neither want to be part of any large-scale foreclosure process. The investors want as much of their money back as possible and then the right to get the rest from the banks, who stole their money. The borrowers want to stay in their homes so much so that they are willing to accept mortgage balances in excess of the fair market value of the home.

Both the investors and the homeowners are underwater — some for the same reasons and some for different reasons. But the full accounting of all money in and all money out will restore far more of the original capital that was siphoned out of the nation’s economy than the current foreclosure process — even if the foreclosures were valid and enforceable which they clearly are not because they are based upon documentation that was intentionally fabricated, forged, misrepresented and a direct breach of the duties of the originators to perform due diligence.

The choice is the same one I stated 5 years ago — which will be more important — the power and wealth of these overs-zed banks or the rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. We can’t have both. In order to give the banks what they want, with amnesty, further bailouts etc., we must surrender our sovereignty and consent to being subject to the rule of Banks without any governing charter. In order to ratify the millions of foreclosures that have already taken place and allow the millions more to proceed, we must abandon all notions of due process, equity and fairness.

by Yves Smith

Investors (and Others) Realizing Their Ox is About to be Gored in Mortgage Settlement

Investors have been remarkably passive as banks and servicers have taken advantage of them. We’ve heard numerous reports of servicer fee abuses that amount to stealing from investors (remember, if you overcharge a stressed borrower and that borrower loses his home, the money in the end comes out of pension funds and 401 (k)s when the excessive fees are deducted from the proceeds of the sale of the home). Investors can even see suspicious patterns in investor reports. We’ve also pointed out that they are guaranteed even more pain, since $175 billion of losses that have already recorded on loans in MBS pools have not yet been allocated to the related bonds.

But the fees to manage bond funds are pretty thin, and fixed income investors are generally a risk averse lot, and are not well set up to litigate. But the biggest obstacle to them Doing Something is that they don’t want to rile the banks. They think they need them for information and transaction execution.

So it shouldn’t be surprising that investors have sat on the sidelines during the mortgage settlement and “fix the housing market” debates, even as becomes clearer and clearer that the solution envisaged is to take from investors to make the banks whole. Remember, the major banks have very large second lien portfolios that should be written down. The banks claim the second loans, almost entirely home equity lines of credit, are current, but that is often an accounting fiction. The banks are often engaging in negative amortization (as in taking any trivial amount and deeming it to be acceptable and adding any shortfall to what should be a proper minimum payment to principal) and allowing customers to borrow in order to make their payments. MBS investors have told me that realistic marks on Bank of America’s second lien portfolio would exceed the market value of its equity, and would also take a big cut out of the equity bases of Citi, JP Morgan, and Wells.

So the plan, which was messaged in an interview with William Dudley in the Financial Times in early January and is embodied in the mortgage settlement plan, is to write down first liens and leave seconds largely intact (there have been some indications that seconds might get a modest ding in the case of a principal mod on the first, but that is backwards. The second should be WIPED OUT before anything modification is made to the first mortgage). Any principal mods on the first lien that leaves the second in place amounts to a transfer from retirement plans to banks. Pensions are being raided to avoid exposing the insolvency of the big banks.

We are, rather late in the game, getting some plaintive bleats from investors as they are being led to slaughter. Reader Deontos sent us a statement from the Association of Mortgage Investors:

The state Attorneys General, federal agencies, and certain mortgage servicers have worked for approximately one year on developing a solution to address our national foreclosure crisis. The time now may be nearing for a settlement of claims of alleged wrongdoing by servicers. AMI and mortgage investors have neither been involved in the negotiations nor are aware of the ultimate settlement terms. In anticipation of a possible settlement, however, AMI cautions these negotiators not to rush into a settlement, but rather work to get a properly constructed settlement that helps distressed homeowners with the right solutions. “Investors in mortgage trusts, such as unions and pensions, do not service these loans and certainly did not create these woes for borrowers. The use of mortgage trust money (from pensions funds, unions and charities) to settle the investigation is tantamount to a bank bail-out. We expect that principal modifications of private mortgages made to satisfy any kind of settlement will involve only mortgages held by the settling parties and that the criteria for all additional principal modifications be firmly established,” explained Chris Katopis, AMI’s Executive Director.

AMI would only support such a resulting settlement, if any, if appropriately designed to address such alleged wrongdoing while not implicating innocent parties. AMI is on-record as supporting long-term, effective, sustainable solutions to the housing foreclosure crisis. It is generally supportive of a settlement if it ensures that responsible borrowers are treated fairly throughout the foreclosure process; while at the same time providing clarity as to investor rights and servicer responsibilities. The settlement should be designed in a way that ensures that investors, who were not involved in the alleged activities and, who likewise were not a participant in any negotiations, do not bear the cost of the settlement. Specifically, mortgage servicers should not receive credit for modifying mortgages held by third parties, which are often pension plans, 401K plans, endowments and “Main Street” mutual funds. To do otherwise, will damage the RMBS markets further and limit the ability of average Americans to obtain credit for homes for generations to come.

Erm, the fact that you weren’t given a seat at the table means the power that be thought you were dispensable.

More amusingly, a Bloomberg report reveals what most insiders know full well, that industry associations that supposedly represent the buy side and the sell side, like the American Securitization Forum and the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, really take care only of the sell side, meaning Wall Street. SIFMA’s Asset Management Group, which represents investors, wanted to issue a statement objecting to the use of investor funds to settle bank misdeeds, but it was squelched by management:

Wall Street’s biggest lobbying group is split over a proposed settlement of state and federal foreclosure probes, after a committee of money managers signaled it opposes terms letting banks push some costs onto bondholders.

The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association’s Asset Management Group planned to release a statement last week urging government negotiators to protect innocent investors, amid reports that banks will get credit for lowering the balances of mortgages packaged into bonds, three people familiar with the matter said. Sifma’s leadership said no. The panel’s members oversee $20 trillion and include BlackRock (BLK) Inc. and Pacific Investment Management Co.

Sifma elected not to issue the statement “because the settlement surrounds potential legal issues involving the commercial interests of many of our members,” said Cheryl Crispen, a spokeswoman for the group in New York. “Sifma generally does not intervene in such matters and remains focused on matters of policy and advocacy.”

What bullshit. This is a “all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others” statement.

Needless to say, as the propagandizing gets louder, a few lonely voices are decrying the settlement. For instance, Daily Kos had a refreshing piece, “Stop the Delusional Celebration: Victims of Foreclosure Fraud Have Little to Celebrate.” Dave Dayen gets to an aspect of the settlement that I have not had time to cover, namely, that the enforcement is a joke. A story by Loren Berlin and D.M. Levine at Huffington Post remind us “Robo-Signing Settlement Might Not Provide Homeowners With Needed Help.” The short form of their story: the deal looks to be targeting mods to not that deeply underwater borrowers. Addressing a related Administration PR effort, Alan White at Credit Slips, in The Permanent Foreclosure Crisis and Obama’s Refinancing Obsession says, in no uncertain terms, that refis won’t solve the mortgage mess.

There is a possible saving grace here. I am told by a principal that if this settlement goes through, the odds are 100% that it will be challenged on Constitutional grounds, as a violation. Taking from the first lienholders to save the second lienholders to keep otherwise insolvent banks from going under amounts to a transfer from private parties to the government, as in it saves the FDIC from needing an emergency injection from Congress, as it did in the savings and loan crisis. So as much as I’d rather see this deal scuttled, it would terribly amusing to see Obama tidy’s efforts to generate pretend to help homeowners while really helping the banks sidetracked by litigation. The courts have stymied bank efforts to get away with their heist, and they may prove to be their bane yet again.

Topics: Banana republic, Banking industry, Credit markets, Investment management, Legal, Politics, Real estate, Regulations and regulators, The destruction of the middle class

8

YVES SMITH: BANKS LIED ABOUT BAILOUT AND MADE PROFIT!

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Quelle Surprise! Banks Lied About Bailout Funds and Got $13 Billion in Profit from Them

Bloomberg News is continuing with the tankless task of pushing forward with FOIA requests relative to the Fed’s lending programs, and once it eventually gets its troves of documents, having to slog through them to see what they reveal.

Bloomberg has a long article up on its site about its latest findings. And the bottom line is everybody close to the process lied like crazy. For instance:

Banks lied during the crisis. The big banks said they were in really good shape even as they were sucking tons of credit from the Fed. The ones that arguably were healthier, like JP Morgan, tried the “they threw me in the br’er patch, I really didn’t want all that money,” in fact stayed in the program well beyond the acute phase of the crisis because it liked getting all that cheap funding.

Now this sort of misrepresentation is a securities law violation, but since the regulators presumably winked and nodded and it would be hard to prove damages, no bank executive will be held to account.

Bloomberg also performs the useful task of trying to ascertain how much benefit the banks derived from the cheap funding. They come up with $13 billion, or roughly 23% of profit (they assume typical margins, when it would take a good deal of internal data to make more refined estimates). This is actually a very narrow definition of profit impact. The Fed stepping into the markets to shore up the banks by design stabilized and boosted asset prices, which surely had a significant profit impact.

Regulators lied to Congress. The article does a good job of marshaling details:

Bernanke in an April 2009 speech said that the Fed provided emergency loans only to “sound institutions,” even though its internal assessments described at least one of the biggest borrowers, Citigroup, as “marginal.”….

Judd Gregg, a former New Hampshire senator who was a lead Republican negotiator on TARP, and Barney Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat who chaired the House Financial Services Committee, both say they were kept in the dark.

“We didn’t know the specifics,” says Gregg, who’s now an adviser to Goldman Sachs.

“We were aware emergency efforts were going on,” Frank says. “We didn’t know the specifics.”…

Lawmakers knew none of this.

They had no clue that one bank, New York-based Morgan Stanley (MS), took $107 billion in Fed loans in September 2008, enough to pay off one-tenth of the country’s delinquent mortgages. The firm’s peak borrowing occurred the same day Congress rejected the proposed TARP bill, triggering the biggest point drop ever in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. (INDU) The bill later passed, and Morgan Stanley got $10 billion of TARP funds, though Paulson said only “healthy institutions” were eligible…

Had lawmakers known, it “could have changed the whole approach to reform legislation,” says Ted Kaufman, a former Democratic Senator from Delaware who, with Brown, introduced the bill to limit bank size.

Regulators continue to lie. I get really offended by the bogus accounting, such as the “banks paid back the TARP” or “the Fed lost no money on its lending facilities,” which this story annoyingly has to repeat out of adherence to journalistic convention. This is all three card Monte. So what if the banks paid back loans when the central bank has goosed asset prices vis super low interest rates? That’s a massive tax on savers. And we have the hidden subsidy of underpriced bank rescue insurance. Ed Kane estimates that’s worth $300 billion a year for US banks; Andrew Haldane of the Bank of England has pencilled the annual cost as exceeding the market cap of big banks (and that was in 2010, when their stock prices were higher than now).

The Fed is most assuredly going to have losses. It hoovered up a ton of Treasuries and MBS to shore up asset prices at time when interest rates were already low. The central bank intends to sell them when interest rates rise, to soak up liquidity. Buying when interest rates are low and selling when rates are high guarantees losses. As an old Wall Street saying goes, it’s easy to manipulate markets, but hard to make money from it.

The story contains other juicy tidbits, like bank lobbying on behalf of big banks to help them get bigger, and how Geithner told Congressmen they were too stupid to be able to shrink banks, and they should leave those questions to the Basel Committee (which has no interest in making big banks smaller). Go read it here.

Email This Post Email This Post Posted by Yves Smith at 4:15 am

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ALL MAJOR FINANCIAL FEDERAL AGENCIES ENTER CEASE AND DESIST ORDER AGAINST MERS

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ALL MAJOR FEDERAL AGENCIES JOIN IN ORDERING MERS TO STOP CURRENT PRACTICES

Just released. Thanks to Dan Edstrom our senior securitization analyst for alerting me.

SEE MERS_Cease_and_Desist_2011_04_13

MERS AND MERSCORP ENTERED INTO A CONSENT CEASE AND DESIST ORDER FINDING DEFICIENCIES IN THE PRACTICES AND PROCEDURES THAT POSE A RISK TO THE MEMBER BANKS.

ABSTRACT OF ORDER

The Agencies find, and MERS and MERSCORP neither admit nor deny, the following:
(1)    MERS is a wholly-owned subsidiary of MERSCORP. MERSCORP’s shareholders include federally regulated financial institutions that own and/or service residential mortgages, including Examined Members, and other primary and secondary mortgage industry participants.
(2)    MERSCORP operates a national electronic registry that tracks beneficial ownership interests and servicing rights associated with residential mortgage loans and any changes in those interests or rights. There are approximately 5,000 participating Members, of which 3,000 are residential mortgage servicers. Members register loans and report transfers, foreclosures, and other changes to the status of residential mortgage loans on the MERS System. There are currently approximately 31 million active residential mortgage loans registered on the MERS System. Examined Members receive a substantial portion of the services provided by MERSCORP and MERS.
(3)    MERS serves as mortgagee of record and nominee for the participating Members in local land records. MERS takes action as mortgagee through documents executed by “certifying officers” of MERS. MERS has designated these individuals, who are officers or employees of Members or certain third-parties who have contractual relationships with Members, as officers of MERS. By virtue of these designations, the certifying officers execute legal documents in the name of MERS, such as mortgage assignments and lien releases.
MERS Consent Order
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(4)    In connection with services provided to Examined Members related to tracking, and registering residential mortgage loans and initiating foreclosures (“residential mortgage and foreclosure-related services”), MERS and MERSCORP:
(a)    have failed to exercise appropriate oversight, management supervision and corporate governance, and have failed to devote adequate financial, staffing, training, and legal resources to ensure proper administration and delivery of services to Examined Members; and
(b)    have failed to establish and maintain adequate internal controls, policies, and procedures, compliance risk management, and internal audit and reporting requirements with respect to the administration and delivery of services to Examined Members.
(5)    By reason of the conduct set forth above, MERS and MERSCORP engaged in unsafe or unsound practices that expose them and Examined Members to unacceptable operational, compliance, legal, and reputational risks.
Pursuant to the authority vested in them by the Federal Deposit Insurance Act, as amended, 12 U.S.C. §§ 1818(b), the Bank Service Company Act, 12 U.S.C. § 1867(c)-(d), and the Federal Housing Enterprises Financial Safety and Soundness Act, 12 U.S.C. § 4631, the Agencies hereby ORDER that:
ARTICLE III COMPLIANCE COMMITTEE
(1)    Within twenty (20) days of this Order, the Boards of Directors of MERSCORP and MERS (the “Boards”) shall each establish and thereafter maintain a Compliance Committee of at least three (3) directors, of which at least two (2) may not be employees or officers of MERS or MERSCORP or any of their subsidiaries or affiliates. In the event of a change of the
MERS Consent Order
-5-
membership, the name of any new committee member shall be submitted to the OCC Deputy Comptroller for Large Bank Supervision (“Deputy Comptroller”). The Compliance Committee shall be responsible for monitoring and coordinating MERS’ and MERSCORP’s compliance with the terms and provisions of this Order. The Compliance Committee shall meet at least monthly and maintain minutes of its meetings.
(2)    Within ninety (90) days of this Order, and within thirty (30) days of the end of each calendar quarter thereafter, the Compliance Committee shall submit a written progress report to the Boards setting forth in detail its actions taken to comply with each Article of this Consent Order, and the results and status of those actions.
(3)    The Boards shall forward a copy of the Compliance Committee’s report, with any additional comments by the Boards, to the Deputy Comptroller and the OCC Examiner-in- Charge within ten (10) days of receiving such report.
ARTICLE IV ACTION PLAN
(1)    Within ninety (90) days of this Order, MERS and MERSCORP shall jointly develop and submit to the Deputy Comptroller an acceptable plan containing a complete description of the actions that are necessary and appropriate to achieve compliance with the terms and provisions of this Order (“Action Plan”), as well as the resources to be devoted to the planned actions, with respect to services provided to Examined Members. In the event the Deputy Comptroller requests MERS or MERSCORP to revise the Action Plan, they shall immediately make the requested revisions and resubmit the Action Plan to the Deputy Comptroller. Following acceptance of the Action Plan by the Deputy Comptroller, MERS and
MERS Consent Order
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MERSCORP shall not take any action that would constitute a significant deviation from, or material change to the requirements of the Action Plan, or this Order, unless and until MERS or MERSCORP have received a prior written determination of no supervisory objection from the Deputy Comptroller.
(2)    The Boards shall ensure that MERS and MERSCORP achieve and thereafter maintain compliance with this Order, including, without limitation, successful implementation of the Action Plan. The Boards shall further ensure that, upon implementation of the Action Plan, MERS and MERSCORP achieve and maintain effective residential mortgage and foreclosure- related services on behalf of Examined Members, as well as associated risk management, compliance, quality control, audit, training, staffing, and related functions. In order to comply with these requirements, the Boards shall:
(a)    require the timely reporting by MERS and MERSCORP management of such actions taken to comply with this Order and/or directed by either Board to be taken pursuant to this Order;
(b)    follow-up on any compliance issues with such actions in a timely and appropriate manner; and
(c)    require corrective action be taken in a timely manner for any non- compliance with such actions.
(3)    The Action Plan shall address, at a minimum: (a)    the capability of the Boards and senior management to ensure that MERS
and MERSCORP are operated in a safe and sound manner in accordance with applicable laws, regulations and requirements of this Order;
MERS Consent Order
-7-
(b)    development and implementation of a strategic plan to include a comprehensive review of business operations, including the risks associated with each business line, and recommendations to implement the strategic plan;
(c)    consistent with the strategic plan, development and implementation of a financial plan to ensure that MERSCORP and MERS have adequate financial strength to support business operations related to Examined Members. The financial plan, at a minimum, shall address:
capital;
and liquidity risk; and
(i)
(ii)
any need for additional capital, including the amount and source of
the identification, measurement, monitoring and control of funding
(iii) discretionary expenses and improve and sustain earnings, as well as maintain adequate reserves for contingency risks and liabilities;
(d)    development and implementation of a comprehensive litigation strategy to effectively manage lawsuits and legal challenges involving MERS and MERSCORP, regardless of whether MERSCORP or MERS is a named party, including early identification and tracking of such lawsuits and challenges;
(e)    development and implementation of a communication plan to communicate effectively and in a timely manner with MERSCORP’s shareholders, Members including Examined Members, and relevant external parties;
(f)    development and implementation of a compliance and quality assurance program for ensuring that Examined Members implement and follow all of the Rules, including
MERS Consent Order
-8-
a profit and budget plan to include specific goals to reduce
adherence to the requirements set forth in MERS Announcement 2011-01, dated February 16, 2011;
(g)    development and implementation of a plan to ensure that MERS certifying officers are transitioned expeditiously onto the Corporate Resolution Management System (“CRMS”) in accordance with MERS’ current certifying officer policy and process;
(h)    development and implementation of appropriate standards to maintain separation of corporate functions between MERS and MERSCORP;
(i)    review of the effectiveness of the Rules, and related Procedures, Terms and Conditions to determine what, if any, additions, amendments, or deletions are appropriate;
(j)    development and implementation of enhanced information reporting practices to senior management from lower levels of each organization, and from senior management to the Boards to ensure that significant issues are properly identified and escalated, and that corporate actions are considered, taken in a timely fashion, and properly documented;
(k)    any Matter Requiring Attention in the OCC Supervisory Letter No. MERS 2011-01, dated January 19, 2011, that addresses an issue that is not otherwise covered by provisions of this Order; and
(l)    development of contingency plans to address issues that arise with respect to any of the foregoing elements of the Action Plan, including plans that address operational continuity issues in the normal course of business and in a stressed environment.
(4)    The Action Plan shall specify timelines for completion of each of the requirements of this Order. The timelines in the Action Plan shall be consistent with any deadlines set forth in this Order.

TRUE SALE and ASSIGNMENTS: The Nature of REMIC

From “Anonymous”

Editor’s Post: It’s always a pleasure to read something where someone actually knows what they are talking about. The following post was picked up from the comments. The key points that are relevant to the Qualified Written Request and Discovery are

1. In the shuffling of paperwork, where was a “true sale” of the pool , a portion of the pool or any of the alleged loan obligations?

2. This material doesn’t come from someone’s head. It comes from established rules from the Financial Accounting Standards Board, statutes and administrative rules.

3. If the “loan” doesn’t show up on the balance sheet of the entity making a claim it is an admission that they are not a creditor. This takes some digging. Individual loans are a rarely shown on any balance sheet. They are shown on the worksheets or the equivalent of the bookkeeping department and the accountant who prepared the financial statements. Deposing the accountant for the company in question might get you the information you need and make the other side pretty nervous that you are zeroing in on their game. Deposing the Treasurer or CFO might get you even more. In many cases these entities NEVER booked any loans. They ONLY showed fees on their income statement which means that they admit they only provided a service (to whom?) in passing the “loan” through as a conduit.

4. Timing of the “assignments.” Besides the obvious fabrications that have been discussed in these pages, if you actually demand and get the enabling documents you will find, most of the time, that the requirements have NOT been met for acceptance of the assignment. The author points out that there is usually a 90-day rule, after which the the assignment is by definition not accepted. But there are other requirements as well, especially the one that says that the assignment must be recorded or in recordable form, which generally speaking it is not.

5. The sale, according to the paperwork, is to the underwriter, not the “Trust” (SPV). So you have a right to challenge the assertion that the “Trustee” is a Trustee, that the “Trust” is a trust and that there is anything in the trust. But I would add that the PRACTICE here was the selling forward of the mortgage backed security which means they were selling something they didn’t have. So the LEGAL title to the paper MIGHT not inure to the benefit of the holder of the mortgage backed bond; but it is equally true that they already “promised” the investor that they WOULD own the “loans”, and the investor is the only one who advanced money (and thus the only one meeting the definition of creditor). Hence there MUST be an equitable right by MBS holders to make a claim — the question being against whom — the homeowner, the investment banker or someone else? Your point in Court should NOT be to try to cover this abstractly with the Judge but only to have an expert witness that would make the assertion backing up your allegations. Your strategy is simply to say that according to the information you have there is a question of fact before the court as to what entity, if any, has this loan on their balance sheet? That is a question for discovery. And once that entity has been identified then you would want to discover the claims of third parties who could or would make a claim on that “asset.”

6. The author’s statement that the investor does not show the loan on its balance sheet is therefore both right and wrong. The investor bought a bond that is payable by an entity that issued the bond. That entity is not the homeowner and therefore it could be argued that the homeowner, who was not party to that transaction, does not have any obligation to the investor and that therefore the entry on the balance sheet of the pension fund investor would not account for the “loan.” BUT, the bond contains a conveyance of a percentage interest in a pool (which as we have seen might not exist), which purportedly includes “loans” of which the Homeowner’s deal was one. Thus effectively the ONLY party who could make an accounting entry for the loan in compliance with generally accepted accounting practices, is the investor. It comes down to the most basic of double entry bookkeeping practice. A debit from cash and a credit to receivables.

——————————————————————-

The “true sale” concept was the focus of FASB 166 and 167. Once the market crisis hit, intervention to support the SPVs rendered any “true sale” negated because there can be no intervention under a true sale.

Also, Mike H. is right regarding REMICs and ninety-day rule. A REMIC is a static fund and no mortgages can be added after 90 days (very limited exception). Many assignments are long after the 90 days and some are not even effectuated to the cutoff date (or 90 day rule) of the REMIC. Even if effectuated, and due to the dissolution of REMIC (violation of “true sale” by intervention), assignments are not valid. The problem is that if the loan is in default, it is no longer a pass-through security held by any trust. It has been removed.

As a result, assignments presented by foreclosure attorneys in court is probably not the LAST assignment. As discussed, collection rights are sold after the swap is paid.

Although courts view assignment and sale as the same thing for collection rights. It is not the same thing. In the process of securitization the mortgage loans are SOLD to security underwriters (we never see this sale in the chain), and the cash flows passed-through are assigned. The security underwriter still has the loan on their books (even if concealed by off-balance sheet conduit). Once in default, the loan is charged-off, and is no longer an asset, and the assignment of cash flows is also extinguished..

Again, the Federal Reserve, in Interim Opinion for TILA Amendment, has emphasized that the creditor is the one who must account for the loan on their balance sheet. It is not investors that have beneficial interests in REMICS, Pass-throughs, or any other security. Question is – who now is accounting for collection rights on it’s balance sheet. Who was accounting for rights at time of foreclosure initiation. How much did they pay for those rights??

There seems to be much confusion regarding the word “investor.” For beneficial interest in securities one may be called an “investor”. But this investor does not account for mortgage loan on its books. In terms of mortgage loan ownership, “investor” may also be used instead of “creditor.” But this investor accounts for mortgage loan (or collection rights) on its books – that is the investor you want to know.

Any last assignment recorded is likely NOT the actual last assignment executed. Foreclosure attorneys ignore this because they reason that the default derivatives attach the current owner/investor to the original trust. This is false – as derivatives are not certificates and not securities – and not part of the trust. The default loan is gone from the trust – gone from banks books – and in the hands of some “investor” who saw profit potential in the collection rights to the default loan. This what the government not only concealed, but also promoted to help the banks “clear” their off/on balance sheets of “toxic assets.”

Finally, Neil is right about sentiment in courts. Going in and asking for a “free house” will harm you. Sentiment in country in not on our side due to media propaganda. I have a long time friend in a prestigious private equity firm. Sentiment is that if anyone gets a principal reduction it is unfair because everyone should then get a principal reduction. People not affected by foreclosure fraud just do not get it. It is always all about “me” – even if they have not been harmed. I do not know how we are going to change this thinking – but if we do not – we will continue to get no help from government and lose in courts. Need a big case, with a judge that grants and enforces full discovery, in order to change the sentiment.

Mortgage Meltdown: For People Already in Trouble

We received the following plea for help. I have changed the name to protect privacy. But both the plea and the answer are applicable to many people, which is why we are publishing the Garfield Handbooks. I will shortly publish a way for you to down load the books and forms and purchase the book on line or in hard copy. 

“hello my name is John Smith i am currently in chapter 13 bankruptcy countrywide has currently forclosed on my property the bank brought it back and is currently moving to evict me i beleive there were bogus fees and my atorney did not want to argue the issue , my payments went from $1900 to $2800 to $3850 within 18months adjusted twice please send me info so i can fight back”

First thing you need to do is calm down because allowing yourself to be overtaken by anxiety will lead to bad judgment, unclear thoughts and strategies that could make your situation worse.

Second thing is it would be nice if you would order the Garfield Handbook for Borrowers in the Mortgage Meltdown Crisis by sending a money order for $19.95 payable to General Transfer Corporation and address it to Neil F. Garfield, 4980 S Alma School Rd., A-2, Suite 124, Chandler, Az 85248. I will send you via email the  current manuscript and give you free updates for 60 days. If you want it in hard copy, send $29.95 including shipping and handling. Whether you do or don’t buy the book (which helps defray the costs of servicing the thousands of people stuck in your position), I will help you as much as I can right here and right now. 

Third thing you should do is consult a lawyer that is local and knows the ropes. After reading this email a lawyer might be willing to help you without a retainer because of the possibility of getting paid by Countrywide or even in a class action. The lawyer should consider joining one of the many class action lawsuits that have been filed. Make sure you join one that is for borrowers and not for investors in CDOs. If you must proceed on your own, here are some tips that other people are doing:

 

  1. Contact the Office of the Attorney General of your State. Do the same in your county and your city. You might find that an investigation is already underway against Countrywide and lenders in general in this massive fraud — and they might even intervene for you. You are a victim and not a bad guy, so don’t get put off by anyone telling you that you should have known better when you signed the documents. Remember, the largest criminal investigation in the history of economic fraud is currently underway in many states and there is plenty of talk behind the scenes about what to do for people like you. 
  2. Contact the Judge’s office in the bankruptcy case and file a copy of whatever you send to the Judge with the clerk of the bankruptcy court. Use letter sized paper, double-spaced with numbered paragraphs. Make sure you send copies of whatever you have sent to the Judge to the Trustee to whom you were supposed to make your payments. Do not expect the Trustee to intervene for you. Adversarial proceedings are expensive and unless you can offer to pay up front, the Trustee is in all probability not going to help you.
  3. You might want to ask for a conversion to Chapter 11, which is available for individuals and which allows for certain “cram down” features that are more likely to get you relief that you might get in Chapter 13 or Chapter 7. But the filing fee in Chapter 11 cases is very high. You might want to get  request leave of court to spread the payment out over time. 
  4. If the bankruptcy court won’t hear you then try everything below in the State Court in your jurisdiction. The clerk of the court will generally be helpful. 
  5. Generally a good time to contact the Judge in person is on a Friday afternoon when the Judge dispenses advise and punishment to lawyers who screwed up in his court that week. At that time you can present your papers (if the Judge lets you) and literally plead with the Judge to help you. 
  6. The Judge on the other hand is seeing a geometric increase in these cases and most bankruptcy judges are (a) not pleased with the change in bankruptcy laws passed by congress and (b) don’t like these foreclosures based upon crazy payment re-sets and (c) would offer some relief as long as they were not inventing law, just enforcing and deciding it. So don’t get crazy with your demands, because the Judge will probably not be receptive to what you have to say. 
  7. Be respectful and not argumentative withe the Judge. You can show your emotion but make absolutely certain it does not come across that you are angry or ready to fight with the Judge. That can lead to handcuffs and spending a night behind bars to cool off.
  8. Do not assume the Judge knows anything about your case (in terms of who you are, where you live, when this case started, when you bought, or what happened when you bought — these are all things you must say in writing, and if you given the chance, out loud in court); but by all means you can assume that the Judge knows the law — better than you do and better than 99% of the attorneys that appear before him or her. In fact, appearing pro se (without counsel) might put you at an advantage because the Judge is likely to use his own knowledge or her own knowledge, to your advantage.
  9. Do not assume the Judge is against you if he/she asks you questions or says things that seem to favor the other side. A Judge is supposed to be objective, not automatically in your favor because of your good looks or the severity of the penalty you are experiencing. 
  10. Be very scrupulous in obeying all time limits and all other instructions of the court. Don’t think you can play fast and loose with ANYTHING. Bankruptcy Court is Federal Court and Federal Court is a lot tighter on rules than you usually find in State Courts. 
  11. Ask the Judge on paper and orally if you get the chance, for a stay or temporary injunction, preventing Countrywide from enforcing the mortgage, filing eviction, or getting an order that would allow  or order law enforcement to come to your house and literally remove you. Do not remove yourself. You might be surprised how long it can take before a sheriff does the eviction. They don’t like this situation anymore than you do, and they are aware of the criminal investigations going on against Countrywide and other lenders.
  12. Ask the Judge to allow you to file an “Adversary Proceeding”. You will get instructions in the local rules from either the Judge or his clerk. 
  13. Tell the Judge in your paperwork and orally, if you get the chance that you want to challenge the mortgage and the note in that they were not computed properly, that the adjustments were not computed in accordance with law, that the amount demanded from you is wrong (too high) and that you have been defrauded by Countrywide and other co-conspirators) on all of the following grounds:
  14. Fraud in the inducement: Countrywide entered into a conspiracy to defraud you and millions of other people to believe that you could, with their help, afford a house that you otherwise believed you could never pay for. You were presented with terms you were led to believe you could afford, but the entire arrangement amounted to bait and switch because the terms being enforced against you now are the not the same terms you started off with. They inflated the price of the home, enlisted an appraiser to verify the value, enlisted a mortgage broker to guide you into a mortgage you could not afford, intentionally distracted you from disclosures that might have alerted you to problems with the mortgage terms and note, and then led you to believe that you had been approved by a financial institution with far superior  information, and upon whom you reasonably relied to verify the value of the home, the reasonableness of the terms of the mortgage, and the lack of any need for an attorney. [Needless to say, if anything here does not apply to you don’t say it]. As a result, you went to a closing where you presented with a pile of papers that you did not understand but which were explained to you by a title agent that was enlisted to tell you the terms of the mortgage and note in such a manner that you would be distracted from understanding that you could not possibly pay for the house, that the house might not be worth what you were paying for, and that the mortgage terms only benefitted the co-conspirators, none of whom assumed any risk in the transaction because they sold the risk to third party investors who were similarly lied to and defrauded. As a result you have been deprived of living arrangements that you could have afforded but which are no longer available, you have spent money improving and furnishing a house that you cannot afford if the price and mortgage terms are maintained, and are faced with the expense and costs of moving, including the threat of literally moving out onto the street and becoming one of the hundreds of thousands of homeless persons displaced by this massive fraud.
  15. Fraud in the execution: You were led to believe by the co-conspirators and third parties that you were signing papers that were the same as what you were originally told by the developer, who probably received a rebate on the yield spread premium, the mortgage broker who also received a rebate, the title agent who received a high closing fee, and the appraiser who also received a fee in excess of the amount that the marketplace would have awarded if the transaction had not been fraudulent. 
  16. Rescission — only if they can give you back everything they took from you.
  17. Usury: The net effect of this scheme was to acquire title to property and sell it at prices that would allow the lender to secure a return that would otherwise be in violation of usury laws.
  18. RICO racketeering: This was an interstate scheme involving co-conspirators from many states and perhaps other countries as well. The scheme violates criminal statutes and cicll statutes. Accordingly the case should referred for criminal prosecution and you are entitled to treble damages and attorney fees.
  19. TIL (Truth in Lending): The co-conspirators intentionally misled you by distracting you from the real terms of the transaction and as a result violated local, state and federal truth in lending laws.
  20. Discovery: The Clerk might help you with this. You want to file requests for Production, requests for Admission, Interrogatories, and a demand for access to the main and ancillary computers containing emails, correspondence and policies of Countrywide for dealing with your case and cases like yours. Get access to emails, correspondence etc. dating back before the loan and relating to the creation of the loan product the borrower eventually was sold. Same for what they know of the other players — developer/seller, mortgage broker, appraiser, relations with investment bankers showing they knew they would not be carrying he risk of the loan ( shows they had not interest other than closing the deal without concern as to whether the deal went bad for borrower or lender). Get screen shots of websites and see if you have copies of web pages that were printed during the loan and sales process. Check for differences. If someone has been fired at the lender for the events leading up to the CDO and mortgage meltdown, get their deposition. Demand copies of drafts of documentation before it was presented to the borrower along with any emails or inter-office memos. Find out if anyone has consulted counsel for criminal exposure, employment litigation, or civil exposure. You can’t get the content of the conversation but you can get the answer to that question if you phrase it right
  21. See my other posts on livinglies.wordpress.com for more allegations that might be applicable.

Neil F. Garfield, Esq.

ngarfield@msn.com<mailto:ngarfield@msn.com>

This is not a solicitation for legal services nor legal advice in your particular situation. I do not know what jurisdiction you live in, I have not interviewed you, you have not retained me, and I am not your lawyer. These matters are complex and generally require the services of competent legal counsel experienced in bankruptcy, foreclosures and lender liability. You should consult with local counsel before doing anything. The information contained in this email is general information that may or may not apply to your situation. 

This transmission may be protected by attorney client privilege and attorney work product privilege if it contains legal advice or opinions, and it contains information that are private, trade secrets, protected by non-disclosure and non-circumvention agreements between the parties and is therefore confidential and privileged. It may also be for the sole purpose of compromise and settlement only if it contains an offer and may not be used in any judicial or quasi-judicial or administrative proceeding without the express written consent of the sender. 

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