Big US Banks Make Laughable Excuses for Preserving Failed Universal Bank Model

In today’s lead story at the Financial Times, Big US banks defy calls that they should be broken up, American megabanks make clear that they don’t think much of the financial savvy of investors or the business press. In quarterly earning calls, bank analysts were pressing executives on the news reports that former Goldman exec, now director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn told senators last week told a group of senators that he was in favor of Glass-Steagall break-up-the-banks style legislation.

Our comments:

Wake me up when this gets serious. Cohn made it clear that he supported a breakup bill. While Trump has also said he wanted to revive Glass-Steagall, he didn’t say that very often on the campaign trail and there are many things he did say often and pretty consistently, like questioning why the US is carrying so much of the cost of NATO, he’s either reversed himself or is now backing a weak-tea version that his base regards as a sellout, such as Trump’s promises about NAFTA. Plus any Glass-Steagall type bill gets passed only over rabid anti-regulation House Financial Services committee chairman Jeb Hensarling’s dead body.

Don’t buy Jamie Dimon’s Brooklyn Bridge. Big complicated banks are not good for investors, no matter how much banks put their hands on their hearts and try to convince you otherwise. Here was the argument, per the pink paper:

The biggest banks in America are defying calls to break themselves up, arguing that the benefits of size and diversity were on display during a very mixed set of first-quarter results.

At JPMorgan Chase, finance chief Marianne Lake said on Thursday that the bank’s universal model was a “source of strength” for the broader economy, as she unveiled a 20 per cent drop in quarterly profits from consumer banking.

In the investment-banking part of the business, however, profits were up 64 per cent from a bleak period a year ago, boosted by a surge in bond trading and plenty of sales of debt and equity by big companies.

Anyone with proper finance training can tell you this is nonsense. Investors should be making portfolio diversification choices, not corporate execs asserting “synergy” on their behalf. Investors love earnings streams that are not much or better yet negatively correlated with the stock market; that’s one of the reasons they were willing to pay hedgies their inflated management and carry fees. Hedge funds promised returns that didn’t synch with stock market averages. When that proved to be less and less true and the results weren’t so hot generally, investors started beating a major retreat from the strategy.

If banks have all sorts of interesting return profiles hidden away in their various business lines, it would be much better in terms of the overall returns for investors owning those stocks to break them up.1

However, big complicated banks are good for securities analysts, since the complexity gives them more to do and thus creates the appearance that they are adding value to investors. So don’t expect any critical scrutiny of this bank PR from them.

The idea that bigger banks are better is a flat-out canard that we’ve debunked regularly since the inception of this site. Suffice it to say that every study ever done of US banks shows that they have a slightly negative cost curve once a certain asset size threshold is passed. Translation: bigger banks are actually have higher expenses per dollar of bank assets than smaller banks.

Now you might say, “But what about those bank mergers where they fire lots of people! Doesn’t that prove bank consolidation saves costs?”

No. The cost curve issue means the banks that were combined could have gotten those expenses lowered all on their own, and maybe some more. However, mergers provide an excuse to do what managements normally are too nice or too lazy to do, which is get ruthless about headcount.

Finally, the one real synergy is one that is dangerous to the public: the use of bank deposits to fund derivatives. Yes, Virginia, a whole lot of derivatives are booked in bank depositaries. For instance, to a bit of outcry, in 2011, Bank of America moved derivatives from Merrill Lynch into Bank of America NA. And why was that? The banking subsidiary had a better credit rating, meaning lower costs, because that’s where the deposits sat. As we wrote at the time:

Even though I’ve expressed my doubts as to whether Dodd Frank resolutions will work, dumping derivatives into depositaries pretty much guarantees a Dodd Frank resolution will fail. Remember the effect of the 2005 bankruptcy law revisions: derivatives counterparties are first in line, they get to grab assets first and leave everyone else to scramble for crumbs. So this move amounts to a direct transfer from derivatives counterparties of Merrill to the taxpayer, via the FDIC, which would have to make depositors whole after derivatives counterparties grabbed collateral. It’s well nigh impossible to have an orderly wind down in this scenario. You have a derivatives counterparty land grab and an abrupt insolvency. Lehman failed over a weekend after JP Morgan grabbed collateral.

But it’s even worse than that. During the savings & loan crisis, the FDIC did not have enough in deposit insurance receipts to pay for the Resolution Trust Corporation wind-down vehicle. It had to get more funding from Congress. This move paves the way for another TARP-style shakedown of taxpayers, this time to save depositors. No Congressman would dare vote against that.

And in case you think I’m exaggerating, the FDIC objected to the move, but the Fed took the position that it would “give relief” to the bank holding company. Bank of America took the position it has the authority to make this move, and since JP Morgan then had 99% of the notional value of its $79 trillion of derivatives booked in its depositary, JPMorgan Chase Bank NA, there was ample precedent. 2

And as we’ve also written regularly, over the counter derivatives are the biggest source of interconnected among too-big-too-fail banks. So getting derivatives out of depositaries would shrink the derivatives market by making them more costly and reduce systemic risk.

Keep your eye on the ball of the real reason for bankers wanting ginormous banks: executive pay. Bank CEO and C-suite pay is a function of bank size and complexity. Simpler, smaller banks mean much less egregiously paid top brass.

Thus bear in mind the incentives for banks to bulk up: The bank that buys another bank gets to pay everyone at the top more, and the execs of the gobbled-up bank get huge consolation prizes. And all sorts of other people are feeding at the trough too: merger & acquisition professionals, lawyers, accountants, and all sorts of consultants and integration specialists. Our reader Clive will probably tell you the folks that have it the worst who still stay on the payroll are the people in IT.

Fortunately, even without all understanding the sordid details, the great unwashed public understands that overly large banks are hard to unwind and will therefore always be propped up, and separately exercise too much political power. But whether popular support will ever become important to Trump is very much in doubt.

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1 Absent, of course, breakup costs, but don’t expect banks to give you an honest idea about that if the threat starts looking more serious.

2 Yes, most of these are plain vanilla swaps. But still, no subsidy of this sort is warranted. Taxpayers should not be backstopping capital markets activities.

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2017/04/big-us-banks-make-laughable-excuses-for-preserving-failed-universal-bank-model.html

Bill Black: A Letter to Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger about Hiring Proven Whistleblowers

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2017/01/bill-black-letter-warren-buffett-charlie-munger-hiring-proven-whistleblowers.html

Lambert here: One of those sensible measures that just never seems to happen…

By Bill Black, the author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One and an associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Originally published at New Economic Perspectives.

The Wall Street Journal recently published a summary of a study of “desired director traits.”

A survey of 369 supervisory directors from 12 countries by search and advisory firm Russell Reynolds Associates asked which behaviors they thought are most important to creating a board culture that drives effectiveness and company performance.

The Ideal Director’s Traits

The study found that the five most highly valued traits in a director are, in descending order:

  • Courage
  • Willing to constructively challenge management
  • Sound business judgment
  • Asking the right questions
  • Maintaining an independent perspective and avoiding “group think”

The first two traits are essentially the same – courage. Traits three through five are closely related to each other. The fifth has an element of courage as well, the courage to fend off “group think” and the CEO’s views and maintain an “independent perspective.”

Reality: CEOs Want Directors Who are “Sedated Chihuahuas”

I confess that I do not believe the study about the ideal director. More precisely, I do not believe that CEOs think directors with these traits are ideal. Indeed, I think these are precisely the traits that CEOs most fear. Warren Buffett agrees.

The typical corporation has a compensation committee, and believe me, they don’t ask Dobermans to be on it; rather, they want Chihuahuas who’ve been sedated.

It’s an unequal negotiation [between the board and the CEO]. The CEO really cares, but to the board, it’s play money.

How CEOs Can Prove Me (and Warren Buffett) Wrong

I would love to be proven wrong about the traits that CEOs value in directors. There is a simple, direct manner in which they could prove me wrong. The way that CEOs could prove me wrong would greatly improve the integrity and effectiveness of the firms they run, so this is a win-win-win.

Whistleblowers exemplify each of the five most useful traits. Two of my co-founders of Bank Whistleblowers United (BWU), Richard Bowen and Michael Winston should be among the most heavily recruited people in the world to become board members at Fortune 50 firms if the answers that the directors gave in the survey reflect the true views of CEOs.

Richard Bowen was a Citigroup SVP leading a team of hundreds of loan underwriters. His team found that the lenders selling Citigroup roughly $100 billion in mortgages annually were doing so through fraudulent “reps and warranties.” Citigroup then fraudulently resold the same mortgages, making the same type of reps and warranties about the loans that it knew to be false. Bowen warned Citigroup’s senior managers, including Bob Rubin, of this massive fraud and cautioned that it could create massive liability for Citigroup. Instead of acting to stop the massive fraud on which Bowen blew the whistle, Citi’s management attacked Bowen and ended his career at Citigroup. The fraud incidence grew to 80% because top management refused to heed Bowen’s warnings. Of course, their bonuses also grew because they refused to heed Bowen’s warnings.

Michael Winston was a C-suite level officer at Countrywide who blew the whistle on their loan underwriting fraud to the controlling managers, including the CEO. He warned that the practices would cause catastrophic losses. Countrywide’s (and then Bank of America’s) management destroyed his career at Countrywide and Bank of America.

Recall the top five traits of the ideal director.

  • Courage
  • Willing to constructively challenge management
  • Sound business judgment
  • Asking the right questions
  • Maintaining an independent perspective and avoiding “group think”

Bowen and Winston exemplify courage. They persisted in trying to protect their banks even when they knew that it was leading the bank’s managers to destroy their careers. They “challenged management” “constructively” at the highest level. Their business judgments were correct both in terms of the bank’s safety and soundness and integrity. They blew the whistle because they “asked the right questions” – and acted properly on the answers they got. They were overwhelmed by senior managers who embodied a toxic “group think” that led to harmful and dishonest business practices. Even under immense pressure to conform, including the destruction of their careers, they maintained “an independent perspective.” They spoke truth to power.

Bowen and Winston consistently acted in the best interests of the bank even when they knew that the controlling management was harming the bank in order to benefit the top managers. Lots of managers and directors brag about how tough they are. Bowen and Winston went through the crucible and revealed that their spines were forged out of the strongest and most indestructible of metal alloys formed by that crucible. They do not brag. They simply walk the walk.

CEOs are All Talk About Wanting Courageous Directors

In economics, we are taught to focus on “revealed preferences” – what you actually do, not what you say, reveals your true beliefs. Not a single CEO has asked Bowen and Winston to serve as directors. I am, of course, only using Bowen and Winston as examples of the hundreds of whistleblowers who have proven themselves to be off the charts on these five ideal traits. Like Bowen and Winston, the vast majority of senior financial whistleblowers are unemployable in finance precisely because they exemplify the top five traits directors are supposed to possess.

Will Mr. Buffett and Mr. Munger Reveal Their True Preferences?

In order to recover from their scandals, Wells Fargo and Moody’s desperately need independent directors and senior managers that exemplify these five ideal traits. In both scandals not a single director or top manager displayed the five ideal traits. Warren Buffett’s firm, Berkshire Hathaway, effectively controls both of these firms. Buffett and Charlie Munger, his top colleague who shares Buffett’s disdain for directors who are “sedated Chihuahuas,” can signal (1) that they seriously intend to clean up the scandals at both of the leading firms in the field of finance and (2) will no longer tolerate filling the top managerial and board of directors ranks of both firms with sedated Chihuahuas.

Neither Bowen or Winston will act like a “Doberman.” Both gentlemen have a calm, polite style. Neither seeks to intimidate, much less snarl. But they are people of proven integrity, courage, and skill. They were forced out because they were correct in their warnings and were devoted to the best interests of their firms and their customers. They were forced out because they spoke truth to power.

Mr. Buffett and Mr. Munger, you have enormous accomplishments. It is time to reveal your true preferences and serve as corporate leaders setting a path that is good for firms and whistleblowers. I would be happy to put you in touch with Mr. Bowen and Mr. Winston. You would not be doing them a favor by hiring them for top positions. They have proved their exceptional worth. They are everything you say you want in a senior manager or director. They are your kind of people, and you will be proud, as I am, if you become their colleagues and friends and you will be delighted by the contributions they make. It is a tragic, insane waste to take the people who have demonstrated the ideal traits of managers and directors – and render them unemployable in such roles.

Levitin and Yves Smith – TRUST=EMPTY PAPER BAG

Living Lies Narrative Corroborated by Increasing Number of Respected Economists

It has taken over 7 years, but finally my description of the securitization process has taken hold. Levitin calls it “securitization fail.” Yves Smith agrees.

Bottom line: there was no securitization, the trusts were merely empty sham nominees for the investment banks and the “assignments,” transfers, and endorsements of the fabricated paper from illegal closings were worthless, fraudulent and caused incomprehensible damage to everyone except the perpetrators of the crime. They call it “infinite rehypothecation” on Wall Street. That makes it seem infinitely complex. Call it what you want, it was civil and perhaps criminal theft. Courts enforcing this fraudulent worthless paper will be left with egg on their faces as the truth unravels now.

There cannot be a valid foreclosure because there is no valid mortgage. I know. This makes no sense when you approach it from a conventional point of view. But if you watch closely you can see that the “loan closing” was a shell game. Money from a non disclosed third party (the investors) was sent through conduits to hide the origination of the funds for the loan. The closing agent used that money not for the originator of the funds (the investors) but for a sham nominee entity with no rights to the loan — all as specified in the assignment and assumption agreement. The note and and mortgage were a sham. And the reason the foreclosing parties do not allege they are holders in due course, is that they must prove purchase and delivery for value, as set forth in the PSA within the 90 day period during which the Trust could operate. None of the loans made it.

But on Main street it was at its root a combination pyramid scheme and PONZI scheme. All branches of government are complicit in continuing the fraud and allowing these merchants of “death” to continue selling what they call bonds deriving their value from homeowner or student loans. Having made a “deal with the devil” both the Bush and Obama administrations conscripted themselves into the servitude of the banks and actively assisted in the coverup. — Neil F Garfield, livinglies.me

For more information on foreclosure offense, expert witness consultations and foreclosure defense please call 954-495-9867 or 520-405-1688. We offer litigation support in all 50 states to attorneys. We refer new clients without a referral fee or co-counsel fee unless we are retained for litigation support. Bankruptcy lawyers take note: Don’t be too quick admit the loan exists nor that a default occurred and especially don’t admit the loan is secured. FREE INFORMATION, ARTICLES AND FORMS CAN BE FOUND ON LEFT SIDE OF THE BLOG. Consultations available by appointment in person, by Skype and by phone.

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John Lindeman in Miami asked me years ago when he first starting out in foreclosure defense, how I would describe the REMIC Trust. My reply was “a holographic image of an empty paper bag.” Using that as the basis of his defense of homeowners, he went on to do very well in foreclosure defense. He did well because he kept asking questions in discovery about the actual transactions, he demanded the PSA, he cornered the opposition into admitting that their authority had to come from the PSA when they didn’t want to admit that. They didn’t want to admit it because they knew the Trust had no ownership interest in the loan and would never have it.

While the narrative regarding “securitization fail” (see Adam Levitin) seems esoteric and even pointless from the homeowner’s point of view, I assure you that it is the direct answer to the alleged complaint that the borrower breached a duty to the foreclosing party. That is because the foreclosing party has no interest in the loan and has no legal authority to even represent the owner of the debt.

And THAT is because the owner of the debt is a group of investors and NOT the REMIC Trust that funded the loan. Thus the Trust, unfunded had no resources to buy or fund the origination of loans. So they didn’t buy it and it wasn’t delivered. Hence they can’t claim Holder in Due Course status because “purchase for value” is one of the elements of the prima facie case for a Holder in Due Course. There was no purchase and there was no transaction. Hence the suing parties could not possibly be authorized to represent the owner of the debt unless they got it from the investors who do own it, not from the Trust that doesn’t own it.

This of course raises many questions about the sudden arrival of “assignments” when the wave of foreclosures began. If you asked for the assignment on any loan that was NOT in foreclosure you couldn’t get it because their fabrication system was not geared to produce it. Why would anyone assign a valuable loan with security to a trust or anyone else without getting paid for it? Only one answer is possible — the party making the assignment was acting out a part and made money in fees pretending to convey an interest the assignor did not have. And so it goes all the way down the chain. The emptiness of the REMIC Trust is merely a mirror reflection of the empty closing with homeowners. The investors and the homeowners were screwed the same way.

BOTTOM LINE: The investors are stuck with ownership of a debt or claim against the borrowers for what was loaned to the borrower (which is only a fraction of the money given to the broker for lending to homeowners). They also have claims against the brokers who took their money and instead of delivering the proceeds of the sale of bonds to the Trust, they used it for their own benefit. Those claims are unsecured and virtually undocumented (except for wire transfer receipts and wire transfer instructions). The closing agent was probably duped the same way as the borrower at the loan closing which was the same as the way the investors were duped in settlement of the IPO of RMBS from the Trust.

In short, neither the note nor the mortgage are valid documents even though they appear facially valid. They are not valid because they are subject to borrower’s defenses. And the main borrower defense is that (a) the originator did not loan them money and (b) all the parties that took payments from the homeowner owe that money back to the homeowner plus interest, attorney fees and perhaps punitive damages. Suing on a fictitious transaction can only be successful if the homeowner defaults (fails to defend) or the suing party is a holder in due course.

Trusts Are Empty Paper Bags — Naked Capitalism

student-loan-debt-home-buying

Just as with homeowner loans, student loans have a series of defenses created by the same chicanery as the false “securitization” of homeowner loans. LivingLies is opening a new division to assist people with student loan problems if they are prepared to fight the enforcement on the merits. Student loan debt, now over $1 Trillion is dragging down housing, and the economy. Call 520-405-1688 and 954-495-9867)

The Banks Are Leveraged: Too Big Not to Fail

When I was working with Brad Keiser (formerly a top executive at Fifth Third Bank), he formulated, based upon my narrative, a way to measure the risk of bank collapse. Using a “leverage” ration he and I were able to accurately define the exact order of the collapse of the investment banks before it happened. In September, 2008 based upon the leverage ratios we published our findings and used them at a seminar in California. The power Point presentation is still available for purchase. (Call 520-405-1688 or 954-495-9867). You can see it yourself. The only thing Brad got wrong was the timing. He said 6 months. It turned out to be 6 weeks.

First on his list was Bear Stearns with leverage at 42:1. With the “shadow banking market” sitting at close to $1 quadrillion (about 17 times the total amount of all money authorized by all governments of the world) it is easy to see how there are 5 major banks that are leveraged in excess of the ratio at Bear Stearns, Lehman, Merrill Lynch et al.

The point of the article that I don’t agree with at all is the presumption that if these banks fail the economy will collapse. There is no reason for it to collapse and the dependence the author cites is an illusion. The fall of these banks will be a psychological shock world wide, and I agree it will obviously happen soon. We have 7,000 community banks and credit unions that use the exact same electronic funds transfer backbone as the major banks. There are multiple regional associations of these institutions who can easily enter into the same agreements with government, giving access at the Fed window and other benefits given to the big 5, and who will purchase the bonds of government to keep federal and state governments running. Credit markets will momentarily freeze but then relax.

Broward County Court Delays Are Actually A PR Program to Assure Investors Buying RMBS

The truth is that the banks don’t want to manage the properties, they don’t need the house and in tens of thousands of cases (probably in the hundreds of thousands since the last report), they simply walk away from the house and let it be foreclosed for non payment of taxes, HOA assessments etc. In some of the largest cities in the nation, tens of thousands of abandoned homes (where the homeowner applied for modification and was denied because the servicer had no intention or authority to give it them) were BULL-DOZED  and the neighborhoods converted into parks.

The banks don’t want the money and they don’t want the house. If you offer them the money they back peddle and use every trick in the book to get to foreclosure. This is clearly not your usual loan situation. Why would anyone not accept payment in full?

What they DO want is a judgment that transfers ownership of the debt from the true owners (the investors) to the banks. This creates the illusion of ratification of prior transactions where the same loan was effectively sold for 100 cents on the dollar not by the investors who made the loan, but by the banks who sold the investors on the illusion that they were buying secured loans, Triple AAA rated, and insured. None of it was true because the intended beneficiary of the paper, the insurance money, the multiple sales, and proceeds of hedge products and guarantees were all pocketed by the banks who had sold worthless bogus mortgage bonds without expending a dime or assuming one cent of risk.

Delaying the prosecution of foreclosures is simply an opportunity to spread out the pain over time and thus keep investors buying these bonds. And they ARE buying the new bonds even though the people they are buying from already defrauded them by NOT delivering the proceeds fro the sale of the bonds to the Trust that issued them.

Why make “bad” loans? Because they make money for the bank especially when they fail

The brokers are back at it, as though they haven’t caused enough damage. The bigger the “risk” on the loan the higher the interest rate to compensate for that risk of loss. The higher interest rates result in less money being loaned out to achieve the dollar return promised to investors who think they are buying RMBS issued by a REMIC Trust. So the investor pays out $100 Million, expects $5 million per year return, and the broker sells them a complex multi-tranche web of worthless paper. In that basket of “loans” (that were never made by the originator) are 10% and higher loans being sold as though they were conventional 5% loans. So the actual loan is $50 Million, with the broker pocketing the difference. It is called a yield spread premium. It is achieved through identity theft of the borrower’s reputation and credit.

Banks don’t want the house or the money. They want the Foreclosure Judgment for “protection”

 

WILLIAMS AND CONNOLLY FILE COMPLAINT AGAINST OCC

If you are seeking legal representation or other services call our Florida customer service number at 954-495-9867 and for the West coast the number remains 520-405-1688. Customer service for the livinglies store with workbooks, services and analysis remains the same at 520-405-1688. The people who answer the phone are NOT attorneys and NOT permitted to provide any legal advice, but they can guide you toward some of our products and services.
The selection of an attorney is an important decision  and should only be made after you have interviewed licensed attorneys familiar with investment banking, securities, property law, consumer law, mortgages, foreclosures, and collection procedures. This site is dedicated to providing those services directly or indirectly through attorneys seeking guidance or assistance in representing consumers and homeowners. We are available to any lawyer seeking assistance anywhere in the country, U.S. possessions and territories. Neil Garfield is a licensed member of the Florida Bar and is qualified to appear as an expert witness or litigator in in several states including the district of Columbia. The information on this blog is general information and should NEVER be considered to be advice on one specific case. Consultation with a licensed attorney is required in this highly complex field.

EDITOR’S COMMENT: FINALLY! A law firm in Washington DC has filed a lawsuit against the OCC to reveal the documents, disclosures and findings of the agency relating to the banks, the OCC Foreclosure Review and related matters. These are the kind of actions that should be filed in my opinion against state and Federal agencies that are enabling the securitization myth, foreclosures, defective auction bid, corrupted title and severe economic damages to people who don’t even realize they are victims of a scam and instead feel guilty about not paying their fair share.

The principal is simple: in any case where an agency fails to do its duty, or in case where someone wants to know what the agency is doing the Freedom of Information Act and other laws can be invoked to force the agency to comply with its statutory duty to regulate, commerce, banks, recording or whatever the case might be. Generally it is called an action in mandamus, which an action against an agency to perform its duties as set forth in the enabling statutes.

Note that the law firm filed the complaint in its own name and not the name of any client. The case is pure and simple. OCC is supposed to do its job and we have right to know whether they a re doing it. Having failed to respond, they are sued and the court will make them reveal whatever is in their files, which in this case is likely to be very damaging to both the agency and the banks it allegedly regulates.

See also Yves Smith on this subject generally:

Wells Fargo’s “Reprehensible” Foreclosure Abuses Prove Incompetence and Collusion of OCC
http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/04/wells-fargos-reprehensible-foreclosure-abuses-prove-incompetence-and-collusion-of-occ.html

I have been pushing lawyers to bring actions against agencies and even the courts — going to the Supreme Court of each state demanding that they set procedures and standards of proof that a re consistent with existing law and consistently applied in all lower tribunals.

Actions against the FDIC, Federal Reserve that are similar in nature are already in the pipeline. Give your support to these actions any way you can. Follow the cases carefully because it is probably these cases that are going to crack the TBTF myth wide open along with dismantling the theory that loans were securitized when in most cases the loans were not securitized, and the creditor — the real creditor — is left with an unsecured receivable subject to set off for payments made to the agents of the investors (insurance, credit default swaps etc paid to the investment banks and other participants in the fake securitization chain).

COMPLAINT: WILLIAMS & CONNOLLY, LLP v. OFFICE OF COMPTROLLER OF CURRENCY
http://4closurefraud.org/2013/03/29/complaint-williams-connolly-llp-v-office-of-comptroller-of-currency/

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Forgery! Now You’ve Got Them, Or Do You?

CHECK OUT OUR EXTENDED DECEMBER SPECIAL!

What’s the Next Step? Consult with Neil Garfield

For assistance with presenting a case for wrongful foreclosure, please call 520-405-1688, customer service, who will put you in touch with an attorney in the states of Florida, Tennessee, Georgia, California, Ohio, and Nevada. (NOTE: Chapter 11 may be easier than you think).

Editor’s Analysis: First of all hats off to April Charney, www.nakedcapitalism.com and Yves Smith for the article on Forgery (see link below) James M. Kelley as a forensic document examiner — outstanding work!

This is one of the places where the rubber meets the road, but before you start celebrating take a deep breath: proof of forgery will NOT necessarily stop delay or alter the foreclosure. That is why I start with questioning the monetary transactions before I introduce the document deficiencies, fabrications and forgeries.

You have to put yourself in the Judge’s seat (or more properly, bench). A simple example will suffice to make my point. Suppose I loaned you $100 and you didn’t pay it back the way we agreed. Later I sue you and produce a promissory note you know you never signed but it looks like your signature, but you’ve admitted you owe the $100 and you admit you defaulted. Under those circumstances your evidence of forgery might be excluded from evidence –— because it is already established you owe the money and defaulted. In fact it should be excluded because it is no longer relevant to the proceedings. The debt is not the not — and vica versa.

The note is only evidence of the debt and taking that out of the equation still leaves the admissions, presumptions and witnesses by which the authenticity of the debt and default have already been taken as agreed and irrefutable. Some people look askance as Judges who apply the rules of evidence and accuse them of stupidity or dishonesty. But the truth is the forged fabricated note is at most corroborative evidence of something that is no longer a material issue of fact in dispute. The Judge has little choice but to rule in favor of the forecloser at that point. Hence, we keep pounding on DENY AND DISCOVER.

If you are filing the lawsuit you should, along with the initial summons and and complaint, file whatever discovery requests you have at the same time which all amount to “who are you, what are you doing here, why are you seeking collection of this debt, and by what authority.

Admitting the debt, note, mortgage etc can be either direct (“I admit that”) or indirect/tacit (“I understand what you are saying Judge but there is ample evidence of skullduggery here”). In most cases, either one is enough, especially with a Judge who is already assuming that the bank wouldn’t be there if there was no debt, note and mortgage and the presence of a default.

The borrower, who knows they did get money on loan, knows they did sign papers and knows they didn’t pay, naturally assumes that it is pointless to deny the basic elements of the foreclosure — the debt between the borrower and the forecloser, the note, which is evidence of the debt, and the mortgage, assignments and other instruments used by the banks to get you pointed in the wrong direction. AND THAT is where the defense goes off the deep end every time there is a “bad” decision.

The Judge is going to be looking for admissions by the borrower (not the forecloser) because of a very natural presumption that at one time was a perfectly reasonable assumption — that the bank would not waste time and money enforcing a debt that didn’t exist and a note that was never valid, nor a mortgage that was never perfected.

And the Judge is going to see any avoidance of enforcement on the basis of paperwork as a tacit admission that the debt is real, the default is real, and the note and mortgage were properly executed under proper circumstances —- because that is what banks do! Maybe it isn’t “fair” but it is perfectly understandable why we encountered a mindset that treated borrowers as lunatics when they first came up with the notion that the paperwork was missing, lost, fabricated, forged, robo-signed etc.

The study by Katherine Ann Porter, the San Francisco study and the studies in Massachusetts and Maryland and Massachusetts all point to a credit bid being submitted at foreclosure auction by a party who wasn’t a creditor at all. The San Francisco study said 65% of the credit bidders were strangers to the transaction and strange is the word to use in court. Did it change anything? No!

So where does that leave you? In order to be able to show the relevance of the forgery or fabrication you must attack the debt itself. Where would I be if I sued you on the $100 loan, produced a fabricated, forged note and you DIDN’T admit the debt or the default. The burden falls back on me to prove I gave you the $100.

What if I didn’t give you the $100 but I know someone else did. That doesn’t give me standing to sue you because I am not injured party. Can any of you state with certainty that the loan money you received came from the originator disclosed on the TILA, settlement and closing documents? Probably not because the ONLY way you would know that is if you had seen the actual wire transfer receipt and the wire transfer instructions.

Thus if you don’t know that to be true — that the originator in your mortgage loan was funded by the originator and was not a table-funded loan (which accounts for about 95%-96% of all loans during the mortgage meltdown), why would you admit it, tacitly, directly or any other way?

As a defense posture the first rule is to deny that which you know is untrue and to deny based upon lack of information or deny based upon facts and theory that are contrary to the assertions of the forecloser. Deny the debt. THAT automatically means the note can’t be evidence of anything real, because the note refers to a loan between the originator and the borrower where the borrower unknowingly received the money from a third or fourth party (table funded loan, branded “predatory” by TILA and reg Z).

Your defense is simply “we don’t know these people and we don’t know the debt they are claiming. We were induced to sign papers that withheld vital information about the party with whom I was doing business and left me with corrupt title. The transaction referred to in the note, mortgage, assignments, allonges etc. was never completed. The fact that we received a loan from someone else does not empower this forecloser to enforce the debt of a third party with whom they have had no contact or privity.”

THEN HAMMER THEM WITH THE FORGERY BUT USE SOMEONE AS GOOD AS KELLEY TO DO IT. WATCH OUT FOR CHARLATANS WHO CAN CONVINCE YOU BUT NOT THE COURT. THUS THE DEFICIENT DOCUMENTS CORROBORATE YOUR MAIN DEFENSE RATHER THAN SERVE AS THE CORE OF IT.

Practice Pointer: At this point either opposing counsel or the Judge will ask some questions like who DID give the loan or what proof do you have. If you are at the stage of a motion to dismiss or motion for summary judgment, your answer should be, if you set up case correctly and you have outstanding discovery, that those are evidential questions that require production of witnesses, testimony, documents and cross examination. Since the present hearing is not a trial or evidential hearing and was not noticed as such you are unprepared to present the entire case.

The issues on a motion to dismiss are solely that of the pleadings. At a Motion for Summary Judgment, it is the pleadings plus an affidavit. Submit several affidavits and the Judge will have little choice but to deny the forecloser’s motion for summary judgment.

Attack their affidavit as not being on personal knowledge (voir dire) and if you are successful all that is left is YOUR motion for summary judgment and affidavits which leaves the Judge with little choice but to enter Summary Final Judgment in favor of the homeowner as to this forecloser.

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/02/expert-witnesses-starting-to-take-on-forgeries-in-foreclosures.html

Prosecutors Getting Tough? Small Banks ONLY!!

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What’s the Next Step? Consult with Neil Garfield

For assistance with presenting a case for wrongful foreclosure, please call 520-405-1688, customer service, who will put you in touch with an attorney in the states of Florida, Tennessee, Georgia, California, Ohio, and Nevada. (NOTE: Chapter 11 may be easier than you think).

Editor’s Comment and Analysis: Abacus Bank has only $272 million in deposits. In rank, it is near the very bottom of the ladder. And apparently justifiably, federal prosecutors have seen fit to prosecute the bank for fraud. The quandary here is why the prosecutors are putting their muscle behind just the low-hanging fruit and why they are settling with the mega banks for the same acts — without threat of prosecution. If we could offer $17 trillion in various forms of “relief” for the banks, they certainly could pony up $1 billion and investigate the truth behind the securitization claims. The only conclusion I can reach is that the administration, so far, doesn’t want proof of the truth.

One of the things that Yves gets right here is that when Fannie and Freddie get involved, it isn’t the end of the line and it certainly does not mean that the loan was not “securitized” using the same fake documents at origination and the same fake mortgage bonds, albeit guaranteed by Fannie and Freddie who serve as “Master Trustee” of the investment pools that presumably “bought the loans with actual money. Like their cousins in the non government guaranteed loans, the money largely comes from fat accounts where the investors’ money was commingled beyond recognition and the investment bank who created and sold the bogus mortgage bonds was the “buyer” on paper so that they could bet against the same loans and bonds they were selling to investors.

Yves still refers to the scheme as reckless as though a judgment was made without knowing the consequences of the banks’ actions. Nothing could be further from the truth. This wasn’t reckless.

It was intentional because that was where the big money came from. The scheme was to take as much as possible from money advanced by pension funds and keep it, while giving the illusion of a securitization scheme for funding mortgages and reducing risk.

The mega banks even bet on their success and the investors’ loss, the borrowers’ loss and the loss shouldered by taxpayers, increasing their leverage positions up  to 42 times (Bear Stearns). As we all know, the risk was magnified not reduced and the only experts that really knew were in the departments where collateralized debt obligations were packaged on paper, sold to investors and never transferred to any trust, REMIC of SPV.

With Abacus, the punch line is that their default rate was 1/10th that of the national average indicating that contrary to the practices of the mega banks, some underwriting was involved and some verification and oversight was employed.

What is avoided is that $13 trillion in loans were originated using the false securitization scheme in which the borrower was kept in the dark about who his lender was, and where upon inquiry the borrower was told that the identity of the lender was confidential and private, nearly all of which loans were classic cases of fraud in the execution, fraud in the inducement, breach of contract, slander of title, and recording false documents in the county records. The perpetrators of these schemes are settling for fractions of a penny on the dollar with full agreement that their conduct will not be reviewed.

So here is the question: If Abacus is guilty of fraud and caused minimal damage to the economy or the borrowers, isn’t the bar set higher for the mega banks. Why are they allowed to slip through without getting the same treatment as a bank whose deposits equal less than 1/10 of 1% of the size of the megabanks who caused mayhem here and around the world?

Quelle Surprise! Prosecutors Get Tough on Mortgage Fraud….At an Itty Bitty Bank
http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/02/quelle-surprise-prosecutors-get-tough-on-mortgage-fraud-at-an-itty-bitty-bank.html

Yves Smith Revelas Cover-Up at BofA in Review Process

CHECK OUT OUR EXTENDED DECEMBER SPECIAL!

What’s the Next Step? Consult with Neil Garfield

For assistance with presenting a case for wrongful foreclosure, please call 520-405-1688, customer service, who will put you in touch with an attorney in the states of Florida, Tennessee, Georgia, California, Ohio, and Nevada. (NOTE: Chapter 11 may be easier than you think).

Editor’s Note: We are still following a national policy of allowing the mega banks to self-police, regardless of appearances. The intentional effort to suppress findings of harm, and the amount of harm to borrowers was systemic during the review process.

A real review would be team of people who would audit the transactions and assignments from one end to the other. The argument that the borrower might get a windfall if the foreclosures were not seen as inevitable regardless of the fatal defects in origination, assignment and foreclosure would be disregarded for what it is — trash. If we allow BofA to get away with this, then we should let Madoff, Dreier and Stanford out of jail.

It is only the scale of the fraud that separates the fake securitization of loans covering up a PONZI scheme that separates Wall Street titans from people who are languishing in jail. The increase in the number of such fraudulent schemes, mostly PONZI by their very nature, testifies to the effect on our society where bullying your way out of anything goes society becomes the norm.

Bank of America Foreclosure Reviews: How the Cover-Up Happened (Part IV)

As we described in earlier posts in this series (Executive Summary, Part II, Part IIIA and Part IIIB), OCC/Federal Reserve foreclosure reviews meant to provide compensation to abused homeowners were abruptly shut down at the beginning of January as the result of a settlement with ten major servicers. Whistleblowers from the biggest, Bank of America, provide compelling evidence that the bank and its independent consultant, Promontory Financial Group, went to considerable lengths to suppress any findings of borrower harm.

These whistleblowers, who reviewed over 1600 files and tested hundreds more in the attenuated start up period, saw abundant evidence of serious damage to borrowers. Their estimates vary because they performed different tests and thus focused on different records and issues. When asked to estimate the percentage of harm and serious harm they found, the lowest estimate of harm was 30% and the majority estimated harm at or over 90%. Their estimates of serious harm ranged from 10% to 80%.

We found four basic problems:

The reviews showed that Bank of America engaged in certain types of abuses systematically

The review process itself lacked integrity due to Promontory delegating most of its work to Bank of America, and that work in turn depended on records that were often incomplete and unreliable. Chaotic implementation of the project itself only made a bad situation worse

Bank of America strove to suppress and minimize evidence of damage to borrowers

Promontory had multiple conflicts of interest and little to no relevant expertise

We discuss the third major finding below.

Concerted Efforts to Suppress Findings of Harm

Both Bank of America and Promontory suppressed and ignored both broad categories and specific examples of borrower harm. We’ll discuss how this occurred from two vantages. The first was organizational: that the reviews were structured and managed so as to make it hard for particular cases of borrower harm to get through the gauntlet. The second was substantive: that the bank and Promontory excluded some types of harm entirely and insisted other aspects of the review be focused as narrowly as possible, which served to minimize and exclude evidence of borrower abuses.

Read more at http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/01/bank-of-america-foreclosure-reviews-part-iv.html#z3SRwfAa7ZkxhDB4.99

Yves Smith Nails Obama on Failed Housing Policies

Editor’s Note: Yves wrote the piece I was going to write this morning. See link below. The salient points to me are mentioned below with comments. The principal point I would make is that Obama has been listening to people who are listening to Wall Street. The Wall Street spin is that this is just another housing bust. It isn’t. It is massive Ponzi scheme that was well-planned and executed with precision, sucking the life out of our economy. Normally Ponzi schemes (see Drier or Madoff) don’t get big enough to have that effect.

The bottom line is that the banks took money from investors under false pretenses and diverted the proceeds into their own pockets.

In order to cover that up they created false documents with false lenders and false secured parties, false creditors and false beneficiaries. They borrowed money from the lenders, then borrowed the identity of the lenders to declare it was the banks who were losing money from mortgage “defaults”, to receive proceeds of payouts from subservicers, payouts from insurance, payouts from credit default swaps and payouts from federal bailouts.

The plain fact is that under normal black letter law, the notes and mortgages were faked at origination based upon the false premise that the actual lender was named or protected. That was a lie. The loans are not secured and the investors have a mess on their hands figuring out who has what claim to what loan so they are suing the investment banks instead of going after the homeowners and striking deals that would undermine the hundreds of trillions of dollars in bets out there that is masquerading as shadow banking.

Instead the investors and the homeowners — the only true parties in interest — got screwed and the administration has yet to correct that basic injustice.

  1.  The proposals for the housing fix were predicated upon the fraud and other illegals activities of the parties in a mythological “securitization” scheme. They were not “unpopular” as Klein observes in the news. They were rejected because wall Street obviously rejected any plan that would take away their ill-gotten gains.
  2. Combat servicing operations using five times the staff of ordinary servicers are doing the work just fine. It was the lack of oversight and regulation that allowed the obfuscation of the truth by the servicers created for the sole purpose of covering up the fraud. These servicers never report the status of the loan receivable to anyone and they probably don’t have access to the loan receivable accounts. In fact, it is quite probable that no loan receivable account actually exists on the books of any creditor who loaned money through the vehicle of bogus mortgage bonds.
  3. Servicers were set up to foreclose, not service and not to assist in modification or settlement. Wall Street needed the foreclosure to be able to say to the investor, OK now the loan and the loss is yours, since we have drained all value out of it. Sorry.
  4. The administration had a ready tool available: enforcing the REMIC statute. They chose not to do this despite the obvious facts in the public domain that the banks were routinely ignoring both the law and the documents inducing investors to invest in non-existent bonds based upon non-existent loans.
  5. The CFPC had not trouble issuing a regulation that defined all parties as subject to regulation. Why did it take the formation of a new agency to do that? Treasury officials from the administration who argued that they had no authority over servicers were wrong and if they had done any due diligence, it would have been obvious that the banks were blowing smoke up their behinds.
  6. There are hundreds of billions of dollars, perhaps trillions of dollars in lost tax revenue that the ITS is not pursuing because the the policy of coddling the scam artists who manufactured this crisis. The deficit exists in large part because the administration has not pursued all available revenue, the bulk of which would have made a huge difference in the dynamics of the American economy and the election.
  7. Refusing the help the  victims by characterizing some of them as undeserving borrowers is like saying that a bank robber should be granted leniency because the bank he robbed was run poorly.
  8. The real issue is the solvency of the large banks which most economists and even bankers agree are in fact too big to manage, far too big to regulate. The administration is taking the view that even if the assets on the balance sheets of the big banks are fake, we can’t let them fail because they would bring the entire system down. That is Wall Street spin. Iceland and other places around the world have proven that is simply not true. The other 7,000 banks in this country would easily be able to pick up the pieces.

Yves Smith on Obama Failed Housing Policies

It’s Down to Banks vs Society

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We are trying to rescue the creditors and restart the world that is dominated by the creditors. We have to rescue the debtors instead before we are going to see the end of this process. — Economist Steve Keen

Bankers Are Willing to Let Society Crash In Order to Make More Money

Editor’s Comment: 

I was reminded last night of a comment from a former bond trader and mortgage bundler that the conference calls are gleeful about the collapse of economies and societies around the world. Wall Street will profit greatly on both the down side and then later when asset prices go so low that housing falls under distressed housing programs and 125% loans become available in bulk. They think this is all just swell. I don’t.

The obvious intent on the part of the mega banks and servicers is to bring everything down with a crash using every means possible. When you look at the offers state and federal government programs have offered for the banks to modify, when you see the amount of money poured into these banks by our federal government in order to prop them up, you cannot conclude otherwise: they want our society to end up closed down not only by foreclosure but in any other way possible. They withhold credit from everyone except the insider’s club.

So now it is up to us. Either we take the banks apart or they will take us apart. I had a recent look at many modification proposals. In the batch I saw, the average offer from the homeowner was to accept a loan 20%-30% higher than fair market value and 50%-75% higher than foreclosure is producing. It seems we are addicted to the belief that this can’t be true because no reasonable person would act like that. But the answer is that the system is rigged so that the intermediaries (the megabanks) control what the investors and homeowners see and hear, they make far more money on foreclosures than they do on modifications, and they make far money on all the “bets” about the failure of the loan by foreclosing and not modifying.

The reason for the unreasonable behavior, as it appears, is that it is perfectly reasonable in a lending environment turned on its head — where the object was to either fund a loan that was sure to fail, or keep a string attached that would declare it as part of a failed “pool” that would trigger insurance and swaps payments.Steve Keen: Why 2012 Is Shaping Up To Be A Particularly Ugly Year

At the high level, our global economic plight is quite simple to understand says noted Australian deflationist Steve Keen.

Banks began lending money at a faster rate than the global economy grew, and we’re now at the turning point where we simply have run out of new borrowers for the ever-growing debt the system has become addicted to.

Once borrowers start eschewing rather than seeking debt, asset prices begin to fall — which in turn makes these same people want to liquidate their holdings, which puts further downward pressure on asset prices:

The reason that we have this trauma for the asset markets is because of this whole relationship that rising debt has to the level of asset market. If you think about the best example is the demand for housing, where does it come from? It comes from new mortgages. Therefore, if you want to sustain he current price level of houses, you have to have a constant flow of new mortgages. If you want the prices to rise, you need the flow of mortgages to also be rising.

Therefore, there is a correlation between accelerating and rising asset markets. That correlation applies very directly to housing. You look at the 20-year period of the market relationship from 1990 to now; the correlation of accelerating mortgage debt with changing house prices is 0.8. It is a very high correlation.

Now, that means that when there is a period where private debt is accelerating you are generally going to see rising asset markets, which of course is what we had up to 2000 for the stock market and of course 2006 for the housing market. Now that we have decelerating debt — so debt is slowing down more rapidly at this time rather than accelerating — that is going to mean falling asset markets.

Because we have such a huge overhang of debt, that process of debt decelerating downwards is more likely to rule most of the time. We will therefore find the asset markets traumatizing on the way down — which of course encourages people to get out of debt. Therefore, it is a positive feedback process on the way up and it is a positive feedback process on the way down.

He sees all of the major countries of the world grappling with deflation now, and in many cases, focusing their efforts in exactly the wrong direction to address the root cause:

Europe is imploding under its own volition and I think the Euro is probably going to collapse at some stage or contract to being a Northern Euro rather than the whole of Euro. We will probably see every government of Europe be overthrown and quite possibly have a return to fascist governments. It came very close to that in Greece with fascists getting five percent of the vote up from zero. So political turmoil in Europe and that seems to be Europe’s fate.

I can see England going into a credit crunch year, because if you think America’s debt is scary, you have not seen England’s level of debt. America has a maximum ratio of private debt to GDP adjusted over 300%; England’s is 450%. America’s financial sector debt was 120% of GDP, England’s is 250%. It is the hot money capital of the western world.

And now that we are finally seeing decelerating debt over there plus the government running on an austerity program at the same time, which means there are two factors pulling on demand out of that economy at once. I think there will be a credit crunch in England, so that is going to take place as well.

America is still caught in the deleveraging process. It tried to get out, it seemed to be working for a short while, and the government stimulus seemed to certainly help. Now, that they are going back to reducing that stimulus, they are pulling up the one thing that was keeping the demand up in the American economy and it is heading back down again. We are now seeing the assets market crashing once more. That should cause a return to decelerating debt — for a while you were accelerating very rapidly and that’s what gave you a boost in employment —  so you are falling back down again.

Australia is running out of steam because it got through the financial crisis by literally kicking the can down the road by restarting the housing bubble with a policy I call the first-time vendors boost. Where they gave first time buyers a larger amount of money from the government and they handed over times five or ten to the people they bought the house off from the leverage they got from the banking sector. Therefore, that finally ran out for them.

China got through the crisis with an enormous stimulus package. I think in that case it is increasing the money supply by 28% in one year. That is setting off a huge property bubble, which from what I have heard from colleagues of mine is also ending.

Therefore, it is a particularly ugly year for the global economy and as you say, we are still trying to get business back to usual. We are trying to rescue the creditors and restart the world that is dominated by the creditors. We have to rescue the debtors instead before we are going to see the end of this process.

In order to successfully emerge on the other side of this this painful period with a more sustainable system, he believes the moral hazard of bailing out the banks is going to have end:

[The banks] have to suffer and suffer badly. They will have to suffer in such a way that in a decade they will be scared in order to never behave in this way again. You have to reduce the financial sector to about one third of its current size and we have to also ultimately set up financial institutions and financial instruments in such a way that it is no longer desirable from a public point of view to borrow and gamble in rising assets processes.

The real mistake we made was to let this gambling happen as it has so many times in the past, however, we let it go on for far longer than we have ever let it go on for before. Therefore, we have a far greater financial parasite and a far greater crisis.

And he offers an unconventional proposal for how this can be achieved:

I think the mistake [central banks] are going to make is to continue honoring debts that should never have been created in the first place. We really know that that the subprime lending was totally irresponsible lending. When it comes to saying “who is responsible for bad debt?” you have to really blame the lender rather than the borrower, because lenders have far greater resources to work out whether or not the borrower can actually afford the debt they are putting out there.

They were creating debt just because it was a way of getting fees, short-term profit, and they then sold the debt onto unsuspecting members of the public as well and securitized their way out of trouble. They ended up giving the hot potato to the public. So, you should not be honoring that debt, you should be abolishing it. But of course they have actually packaged a lot of that debt and sold it to the public as well, you cannot just abolish it, because you then would penalize people who actually thought they were being responsible in saving and buying assets.

Therefore, I am talking in favor of what I call a modern debt jubilee or quantitative easing for the public, where the central banks would create ‘central bank money’ (we cannot destroy or abolish the debt, which would also destroy the incomes of the people who own the bonds the banks have sold). We have to create the state money and give it to the public, but on condition that if you have any debt you have to pay your debt down — no choice. Therefore, if you have debt, you can reduce the debt level, but if you do not have debt, you get a cash injection.

Of course, this would then feed into the financial sector would have to reduce the value of the debts that it currently owns, which means income from debt instruments would also fall. So, people who had bought bonds for their retirement and so on would find that their income would go down, but on the other hand, they would be compensated by a cash injection.

The one part of the system that would be reduced in size is the financial sector itself. That is the part we have to reduce and we have to make smaller.  That is the one that I am putting forward and I think there is a very little chance of implementing it in America for the next few years not all my home country [Australia] because we still think we are doing brilliantly and all that. But, I think at some stage in Europe, and possibly in a very short time frame, that idea might be considered.

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Fine Print: The Real Story on the “$25 Billion” Multistate Settlement

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One of the things I heard from a high ranking official in state government is that only a tiny fraction of the “settlement” is translating into actual dollars from the banks to anyone. In Arizona the $1.3 billion is subject to an “earn-down” as it was described to me and the net amount turned out to be $97 million and then on the website for the attorney general of the state, the $97 million became $47 million.

So I brought up my calculator and discovered that out of the “settlement” the banks were paying themselves around $1.2 billion out of the $1.3 billion (some say it is $1.6 billion, but the net left for the state remains unchanged at $97 million) and that some of the balance of the money is “unaccounted for.” By the way this has NOTHING to do with the Arizona Department of Housing, which is as close to non-political as you can get in any government.

So in plain language, the banks are taking money from their left pocket and putting int heir right pocket and saying it was a deal. This sounds a lot like the fake claims of securitization and assignment of debt on housing, student loans, credit cards, auto loans etc. In the end, no money will move except a tiny percentage because since the banks are simply paying themselves out of their own money how bad can the accounting be for them?

In Arizona, the legislature decided, as per the terms of the “settlement” to take the money and use it as part of general operating funds leaving distressed homeowners with nothing. So now there is something of an uproar in Arizona. Here is a $1.3 billion settlement that could have reversed a downward economic spiral for the state that will be felt for decades, and we end up with only 7% of that figure and then at least half, if not all of that is being taken for uses other than homeowner relief that is essential for economic recovery.

My guess is that they will say they are stopping the move to use the homeowner relief funds for perks to corporate donors and then quietly go out and do it anyway. What is your guess?

——————————————–

By Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services

State officials agreed Tuesday to delay the transfer of $50 million of disputed mortgage settlement funds, at least for the time being.

Assistant Attorney General David Weinzweig made the offer during a hearing where challengers were hoping to get a court order blocking the move while its legality is being decided by Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Mark Brain. Attorney Tim Hogan of the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest, who represents those opposed to the transfer, readily agreed.

“You don’t want to rush the judge,” said Hogan, whose clients are people he believes would be helped by the funds.

“You want him to take his time on important questions like this,” Hogan said. “And so it’s reasonable to agree not to transfer the funds for a certain period of time to give the judge the opportunity to do that.”

The move sets the stage for a hearing in August on the merits of the issue.

Weinzweig told Brain he believes the transfer, ordered by state lawmakers earlier this year, is legal. Anyway, he said, Hogan’s clients have no legal standing to challenge what the Legislature did.

The fight surrounds a $26 billion nationwide settlement with five major lenders who were accused of mortgage fraud.

Arizona’s share is about $1.6 billion, with virtually all of that earmarked for direct aid to those who are “under water” on their mortgages — owing more than their property is worth — or have already been forced out of their homes.

But the deal also provided $97 million directly to the state Attorney General’s Office. The terms of that pact said the cash was supposed to help others with mortgage problems as well as investigate and prosecute fraud.

Lawmakers, however, seized on language which also said the money can be used to compensate the state for the effects of the lenders’ actions. They said the result of the mortgage crisis was lower state revenues, giving them permission to take $50 million from the settlement to balance the budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Hogan’s suit is based on his contention that the settlement terms put the entire $97 million in trust and makes Attorney General Tom Horne, who was authorized by state law to sign the deal, responsible for ensuring the cash is properly spent.

Horne urged lawmakers not to take the funds. But once the budget deal was done, he went along and took the position that, regardless of whether the cash could have been better spent elsewhere, the transfer demand is legal.

Whatever Brain rules is likely to be appealed.

The challenge was brought on behalf of two people who would benefit by the state having more money to help homeowners avoid foreclosure. The lawsuit said both are currently “at risk” of losing their homes.

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State Programs with Real Money Going Unused

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Millions for Principal Reduction and Moving Expenses and No Applicants

Editor’s Comment: 

I had the pleasure of listening last night to Michael Trailor, the Director of the Arizona Department of Housing. It was like a breath of fresh air. He was a home builder for decades and when the market crashed he went into this obscure post of this obscure state agency that turns out to have its counterparts in many if not all states. Each of these agencies has received money and authority to help homeowners and they are willing to pay down principal reductions, buy the loans and then modify and pay for moving expenses in short sales and other events.

Trailor is a plain-speaking non-politician who tells it like it is. His agency has programs based upon the premise that principal reduction is the only thing that works and he has working relationships with some small banks where his agency literally pays the principal down while the Bank shares in that loss. The small banks see the sense in it. He can’t get cooperation from the big banks and servicers.

In the meeting at Darrell Blomberg’s Tuesday Strategist presentation (every week at Macayo’s restaurant in downtown Phoenix), we heard straight talk and we heard about a number of programs that I had advocated before Trailor became director. My suggestions fell on deaf ears. Trailor’s programs are of the same variety and creativity with the objective of saving the Arizona economy from destruction.

He reported that three states got together under the same program to make the offer of sharing the reduction of principal because the banks said that Arizona was not big enough on its own to motivate the banks to participate in the program. So he got three states — Arizona, California and Nevada. The banks did the old familiar two-step with him and his counterparts in the other states and essentially refused to pparticipate. Every borrower knows that two-step by heart.

I made some suggestions for programs that could be introduced in bankruptcy court, where the power of the Banks is much less. Right now if they don’t want to modify the loan, they can’t be forced. If they don’t want to SELL the loan and then modify it as the beneficiary or mortgagee, the mega bank can and does say no (while the small bank can and does say yes).

That’s right. His agency said they would buy the loan from the bank for 100 cents on the dollar, and then modify the loan the principal and payments to something the borrower could afford and that would not lead to future foreclosures (the fate of practically all modifications). The mega banks killed the idea. Don’t you wonder why banks would contrary to the interest of a ‘lender” who can minimize their losses with government money that has already been allocated but is not yet spent?

This is exactly what I predicted back in 2008. The small banks agree because it is the smart thing to do and THEY are actually owed the money. The mega banks refuse to go along with the deal because hanging on the now invisible and non-existent trunk of an existing debt-tree are hundreds of branches of swaps, insurance and credit enhancements upon which Wall Street has made and is continuing to make billions of dollars in “trading profits” at the expense of the investors and to the detriment of the homeowners.

In other words, they sold the loan multiple times — up to 40 times as I read the data. So hanging on your $200,000 loan could be as much as $8 MILLION in derivatives, swaps etc. That could mean $8 million in claims on the proceeds of sale of the obligation or note or satisfaction of the note or obligation.

Here is my suggestion for those homeowners’ attorneys that have started a bankruptcy proceeding. Where the so-called creditor has sent out a notice of sale and has filed a motion to lift the automatic stay, apply for assistance from the Arizona Department of Housing or whatever the equivalent is in your state. If the agency agrees to assist in refinancing or buying the loan so the homeowner can stay and pay, then the bank would need to explain the basis on which they are responding negatively. After all they are being offered 100 cents on the dollar — why isn’t that enough?

Make sure you notify the Trustee and Court of the pending application made to the agency and don’t use it in a silly fashion promising things that the agency will not corroborate.

I believe that Trailor’s agency and his counterparts would respond with some program that would essentially be an offer to the supposed creditor — provided that the true creditor steps forward and can prove that they are the actual party to whom the money from the homeowner’s obligation is owed. Darrell and I are starting talks with Trailor’s agency to get specific programs that will work in bankruptcy court and maybe other situations.

Once the Notice of Sale is sent,  the “creditor” has committed itself to selling. How can they turn around and say no when they are being offered the full amount? In that court, once the “lender” has committed to selling the property they can hardly say they don’t want to sell the loan — especially if they are receiving 100 cents on the dollar. The offer would be accepted by the Trustee, I am fairly certain, and the Judge since there really is no choice.

Now here is where the fun begins. The Judge would agree as would the U.S. Trustee that only the party to whom the money is owed can get the money. Some of you might recall my frequent diatribes about who can submit a credit bid — only the actual creditor to whom the original loan is now owed or an authorized representative who submits the bid on behalf of THAT creditor.

So assuming the Trustee and Judge agree that the “creditor” who filed the Motion to Lift Stay MUST sell the loan or release it upon receiving full payment, then they are stuck with coming up with the real creditor, which is going to be impossible in many cases, difficult in virtually all other cases. Trailor is sitting on hundreds of millions of dollars to help homeowners and he can’t use it because nobody will play ball under circumstances that he “naively” thought would be a no-brainer.

For those versed in bankruptcy you know the rest. The “lender” must admit that it is not the lender, that is has no authority to represent the creditor, that it doesn’t know who the creditor is or even if one still exists. The mortgage can be attacked as not being a perfected lien on the property and the obligation is wiped out or reduced by the  final order entered in the bankruptcy court.

Now the banks and servicers are going to fight this one tooth and nail because while the loan might be $200,000, there is an average of around $4 million in derivatives and exotic credit enhancements hanging on this loan. If it is paid off, then all accounts must settle. There are going to be gains and losses, but the net effect might well be that the bank “Sold” the loan 20 times. And the best part of it is that you don’t need t prove the theft. If will simply emerge from the failure of the “lender” to conform with the order of the court approving the deal. 

This is a classic case of the scam used in the “The Producers” which has been done on Broadway and movies. You sell 10,000% of a show you know MUST fail. They select “Springtime for Hitler” right after World War II and expect it to crash. After all it is musical comedy. But the show is a spectacular success. So whereas the news of the show’s closing would have sent investors to their accountants to write it off for tax purposes, now they were all clamoring for an accounting for their share of the profits. Since the producers had sold the show 100 times over it was impossible to pay the investors and they went to jail.

THAT is the problem here. It is only if the show closes with a foreclosure that the investors will not ask for the accounting. If the show succeeds (the loan is paid off) then all the investors will want their share of the payments that are due — unless they had the misfortune of taking the wrong side of a “bet” that the loan would fail. Not many investors did that. But the investment banks that sold the show (the loan) many times over used those bets as a way of selling the show over and over again.

If I’m lying I’m dying. That is what is happening and when people realize that as homeowners they are sitting on leverage worth 20 times their loan and they use it against the banks and servicers, they will get some very nice results. Agencies like Arizona’s Department of Housing can save the day like the cavalry just by making the offer and getting a judge to enforce it and watch in merriment how the “lenders” insist that they don’t want the payment and they can’t be forced to take it. That is what happens  when you turn the conventional and reasonable lending model on its head.

So now the banks and servicers must come up with a whole new set of fabricated, forged and fraudulent documents in which the investors assigned their interest in the obligation or note or mortgage to some other entity that is now the “creditor” — but the question that will be asked by every Trustee and Judge in bankruptcy court “who paid for this, how much did they pay, and how do we know a transaction actually happened.” That is the problem with a VIRTUAL TRANSACTION. At some point, like every PONZI scheme, the house of cards falls down.

Check with Arizona Department of Housing

Of course if you are not in Arizona check with the equivalent agency in your state. Chances are they have hundreds of millions of dollars and no place to spend it for homeowners because the banks won’t agree to no-brainer solutions that any bank can and does accept if they were playing the “Securitization game.” Don’t expect the agency to march into court and save the day. The agency is not going to litigate your case for you. But they probably will give you plenty of support and encouragement and offers of real money to end this nightmare of foreclosures. You must do the work, fill out applications and get the process underway before you can go to the court with a motion that says we have a settlement vehicle pending with a state agency and you can prove it is true.

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How the Servicers and Investment Banks Cheat Investors and Homeowners

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Master Servicers and Subservicers Maintain Fictitious Obligations

Editor’s Comment: 

This article really is about why discovery and access to the information held by the Master Servicer and subservicer, investment bank and Trustee for the REMIC (“Trust”) is so important. Without an actual accounting, you could be paying on a debt that does not exist or has been extinguished in bankruptcy because it was unsecured. In fact, if it was extinguished in bankruptcy, giving them the house or payment might even be improper. Pressing on the points made in this article in order to get full rights in discovery (interrogatories, admissions and production) will yield the most beneficial results.

Michael Olenick (creator of FindtheFraud) on Naked Capitalism gets a lot of things right in the article below. The most right is that servicers are lying and cheating investors in addition to cheating homeowners.

The subservicer is the one the public knows. They are the ones that collect payments from the “borrower” who is the homeowner. In reality, they have no right to collect anything from the homeowner because they were appointed as servicer by a party who is not a creditor and has no authority to act as agent for the creditor. They COULD have had that authority if the securitization chain was real, but it isn’t.

Then you have the Master Servicers who are and should be called the Master of Ceremonies. But the Master Servicer is basically a controlled entity of the investment bank, which is why everyone is so pissed — these banks are making money and getting credit while the rest of us can’t operate businesses, can’t get a job, and can’t get credit for small and medium sized businesses.

Cheating at the subservicer level, even if they were authorized to take payments, starts with the fees they charge against the account, especially if it becomes (delinquent” or in “default” or “Nonperforming.” At the same time they are telling the investors that the loan is a performing loan and they are making payments somewhere in the direction of the investors (we don’t actually know how much of that payment actually gets received by investors), they are also declaring defaults and initiating a foreclosure.

What they are not reporting is that they don’t have the paperwork on the loan, and that the value of the portfolio is either simply over-stated, which is bad enough, or that the portfolio is worthless, which of course is worse. Meanwhile the pension fund managers do not realize that they are sitting on assets that may well have a negative value and if they don’t handle the situation properly, they might be assessed for the negative value.

It gets even worse. Since the money and the loans were not handled, paid or otherwise organized in the manner provided in the pooling and servicing agreement and prospectus, the SPV (“Trust”) does not exist and has no assets in it — but it might have some teeth that could bite the hand that fed the banks. If the REMIC was not created and the trust was not created or funded, then the investors who in fact DID put up money are in a common law general partnership. And since the Credit Default Swaps were traded using the name of  entities that identified groups of investors, the investors might be hit with an assessment to cover a loss that the “pool” can’t cover because they only have a general partnership created under common law. Their intention to enter into a deal where there was (a) preferential tax status (REMIC) and (b) limited liability would both fall apart. And that is exactly what happened.

The flip side is that the credit default swaps, insurance, credit enhancements, and so forth could have and in most cases did produce a surplus, which the banks claimed as solely their own, but which in fact should have at least been allocated to the investors up to the point of the liability to them (i.e., the money taken from them by the investment bank).

AND THAT is why borrowers should be very interested in having the investors get their money back from the trading, wheeling and dealing made with the use of the investors’ money. Think about it. The investors gave up their money for funding mortgages and yours was one of the mortgages funded. But the vehicle that was used was not a simple  one. The money taken from the investors was owed by the REMIC in whose name the trading in the secret derivative market occurred.

Now think a little bit more. If the investors get their rightful share of the money made from the swaps and insurance and credit enhancements, then the liability is satisfied — i.e., the investor got their money back with interest just like they were expecting.

But, and here is the big one, if the investor did get paid (as many have been under the table or as part of more complex deals) then the obligation to them has been satisfied in full. That would mean by definition that the obligation from anyone else on repayment to the investor was extinguished or transferred to another party. Since the money was funded from investor to homeowner, the homeowner therefore does not owe the investor any money (not any more, anyway, because the investor has been paid in full). The only valid transfer would be FROM the REMIC partnership not TO it. But the fabricated, forged and fraudulent documents are all about transferring the loan TO the REMIC that was never formed and never funded.

It is possible that another party may be a successor to the homeowner’s obligation to the investor. But there are prerequisites to that happening. First of all we know that the obligation of the homeowner to the investor was not secured because there was no agreement or written instrument of any kind in which the investor and the borrower both signed and which set forth terms that were disclosed to both parties and were the subject of an agreement, much less a mortgage naming the investor. That is why the MERS trick was played with stating the servicer as the investor. That implies agency (which doesn’t really exist).

Second we know that the SWAPS and the insurance were specifically written with expressly worded such that AIG, MBIA etc. each waived their right to get payment from the borrower homeowner even though they were paying the bill.

Third we know that most payments were made by SWAPS, insurance and the Federal Reserve deals, in which the Fed also did not want to get involved in enforcing debts against homeowners and that is why the Federal Reserve has never been named as the creditor even though they in fact, would be the creditor because they have paid 100 cents on the dollar to the investment bank who did NOT allocate that money to the investors.

Since they did not allocate that money to the investors, as servicers (subservicer and Master Servicer), they also did not allocate the payment against the homeowner borrower’s debt. If they did that, they would be admitting what we already know — that the debt from homeowner to investor has been extinguished, which means that all those other credit swaps, insurance and enhancements that are STILL IN PLAY, would collapse. That is what is happening in our own cities, towns, counties and states and what is happening in Europe. It is only by keeping what is now only a virtual debt alive in appearance that the banks continue to make money on the Swaps and other exotic instruments. But it is like a tree without the main trunk. We have only branches left. Eventually in must fall, like any other Ponzi scheme or House of Cards.

So by cheating the investors, and thus cheating the borrowers, they also cheated the Federal Reserve, the taxpayers and European banks based upon a debt that once existed but has long since been extinguished. If you waded through the above (you might need to read it more than once), then you can see that your  feeling, deep down inside that you owe this money, is wrong. You can see that the perception that the obligation was tied to a perfected mortgage lien on the property was equally wrong. And that we now have $700 trillion in nominal value of derivatives that has at least one-third in need of mark-down to zero. The admission of this inescapable point would immediately produce the result that Simon Johnson and others so desperately want for economic reasons and that the rest of us want for political reasons — the break-up of banks that are broken. Only then will the market begin to function as a more or less free trading market.

How Servicers Lie to Mortgage Investors About Losses

By Michael Olenick

A post last week reviewed a botched foreclosure for a mortgage loan in Ace Securities Home Equity Loan Trust 2007-HE4 dismissed with prejudice, meaning that the foreclosure cannot be refilled; a total loss for investors. Next, we reviewed why the trust has not yet recorded the loss despite the six month old verdict.

As an experiment, I gave my six year-old daughter four quarters. She just learned how to add coins so this pleased her. Then I told her I would take some number of quarters back, and asked her how many I should take. Her first response was one – smart kid – then she changed her mind to two, because we’d each have two and that’s the most “fair.” Having mastered the notion of loss mitigation and fairness, and because it’s not nice to torture six year-old children with experiments in economics, I allowed her to keep all four.

When presented with a similar question – whether to take a partial loss via a short-sale or principal reduction, or whether to take a larger loss through foreclosure – the servicers of ACE2007-HE4 repeatedly opt for the larger losses. While the dismissal with prejudice for the Guerrero house is an unusual, the enormous write-off it comes with through failure to mitigate a breach – to keep overall damages as low as possible – is common. When we look more closely at the trust, we see the servicer again and again, either through self-dealing or laziness, taking actions that increase losses to investors. And this occurs even though the contract that created the securitization, a pooling and servicing agreement, requires the servicer to service the loans in the best interest of the investors.

Let’s examine some recent loss statistics from ACE2007-HE4. In May, 2012 there were 15 houses written-off, with an average loss severity of 77%. Exactly one was below 50% and one, in Gary, IN, was 145%; the ACE investors lent $65,100 to a borrower with a FICO score of 568 then predictably managed to lose $94,096. In April, there were 23 homes lost, with an average loss severity of 82%, three below 50%, though one at 132%, money lent to a borrower with an original FICO score of 588.

Of course, those are the loans with finished foreclosures. There are 65 loans where borrowers missed at least four consecutive payments in the last year with yet there is no active foreclosure. Among those are a loan for $593,600 in Allendale, NJ, where the borrower has not made a payment in about four years, though they have been in and out of foreclosure a few times during that period. It’s not just the judicial foreclosure states; a $350,001 loan in Compton, CA also hasn’t made a payment in over a year and there is no pending foreclosure.

There is every reason to think the losses will be higher for these zombie borrowers than on the recent foreclosures. First, every month a borrower does not pay the servicer pays the trust anyway, though the servicer is then reimbursed the next month, mainly from payments of other borrowers still paying. This depletes the good loans in the trust, so that the trust will eventually run out of money leaving investors holding an empty bag. And on top of that, when the foreclosure eventually occurs, the servicer also reimburses himself for all sorts of fees, late fees, the regular servicing fee, broker price opinions, etc. Longer times in foreclosure mean more fees to servicers. Second, the odds are decent that the servicers are holding off on foreclosing on these homes because the losses are expected to be particularly high. Why would servicers delay in these cases? Perhaps because they own a portfolio of second mortgages. More sales of real estate that wipe out second liens would make it harder for them to justify the marks on those loans that they are reporting to investors and regulators. Revealing how depressed certain real estate markets were if shadow inventory were released would have the same effect.

These loans will eventually end up either modified or foreclosed upon, but either way there will be substantial losses to the trust that have not been accounted for. Of course, this assumes that the codes and status fields are accurate; in the case of the Guerreros’ loan the write-off – with legal fees for the fancy lawyers who can’t figure out why assignments are needed to the trust – is likely to be enormous. How much? Nobody except Ocwen knows, and they’re not saying.

Knowing that an estimated loss of 77%, is if anything an optimistic figure, even before we get to the unreported losses on the Guerrero loan, it seems difficult to understand why Ocwen wouldn’t first try loss mitigation that results in a lower loss severity. If they wrote-off half the principal of the loan, and decreased interest payments to nothing, they’d come out ahead.

Servicers give lip service to the notion that foreclosure is an option of last resort but, only when recognizing losses, do their words seem to sync with their behavior. But it’s all about the incentives: servicers get paid to foreclose and they heap fees on zombie borrowers, but even with all sorts of HAMP incentives, they don’t feel they get paid enough to do the work to do modifications. Servicers are reimbursed for the principal and interest they advance, the over-priced “forced placed insurance” that costs much more and pays out much less than regular insurance, “inspections” that sometimes involve goons kicking in doors before a person can answer, high-priced lawyers who can’t figure out why an assignment is needed to bind a property to a trust, and a plethora of other garbage fees. They’re like a frat-boy with dad’s credit-card, and a determination to make the best of it while dad is still solvent.

Despite the Obama campaign promise to bring transparency to government and financial markets, the investors in trusts remain largely unknown, so we’re not sure who bears the brunt of the cost of Ocwen’s incompetence in loss mitigation (to be fair Ocwen is not atypical; most servicers are atrocious). But, ACE2007-HE4 has a few unique attributes allowing us to guess who is affected.

ACE2007-HE4 is named in a lawsuit filed by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), which has sued ACE, trustee Deutsche Bank, and a few others citing material misrepresentations in the prospectus of this trust. As pointed out in the prior article, both the Guerreros’ first and second loans were bundled into the same trust – so there were definitely problems – though the FHFA does not seem to address that in their lawsuit.

With respect to ACE2007-HE4, the FHFA highlights an investigation by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), which found that Deutsche Bank “‘continued to refer customers to its prospectus materials to the erroneous [delinquency] data’”even after it ‘became aware that the static pool information underreported historical delinquency rates.”

The verbiage within the July 16, 2010 FINRA action is more succinct: “… investors in these 16 subsequent RMBS securitizations were, and continue to be, unaware that some of the static pool information .. contains inaccurate historical data which underreported delinquencies.” FINRA allowed Deutsche Bank to pay a $7.5 million fine without either admitting or denying the findings, and agreed never to bring another action “based on the same factual findings described herein.”

Despite the finding and the fine, FINRA apparently forgot to order Deutsche Bank to knock off the conduct, and since FINRA did not reserve the right to circle back for a compliance check maybe Deutsche Bank has the right to produce loss reports showing whatever they wish to.

It is unlikely that Deutsche Bank had trouble paying their $7.5 million fine since the trust included an interest swap agreement that worked out pretty well for them. Note that these swap agreements were a common feature of post 2004 RMBS. Originators used to retain the equity tranche, which was unrated. When a deal worked out, that was nicely profitable because the equity tranche would get the benefit of loss cushions (overcollateralization and excess spread). Deal packagers got clever and devised so-called “net interest margin” bonds which allowed investors to get the benefit of the entire excess spread for a loan pool. The swaps were structured to provide a minimum amount of excess spread under the most likely scenarios. But no one anticipated 0% interest rates.

From May, 2007, when the trust was issued, to Oct., 2007, neither party paid one another. In Nov., 2007, Deutsche Bank paid the trust $175,759.04. Over the next 53 months that the swap agreement remained in effect the trust paid Deutsche Bank $65,122,194.92, a net profit of $64,946,435.88. Given that Deutsche traders were handing out t-shirts reading “I’m Short Your House” when this trust was created, I can see why they’d bet against steep interest rates over the next five years, as the Federal Reserve moved to mitigate the economic fallout of their mischievousness with low interest rates.

In any event, getting back to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the FHFA does not disclose which), one of the GSEs purchased $224,129,000 of tranche A1 at par; they paid full freight for this fiasco. Since this trust is structured so that losses are born equally by all A-level tranches once the mezzanine level tranches are destroyed by losses, which they have been, to find the party taking the inflated losses you just need to look in the nearest mirror. Fannie and Freddie are, of course, wards of the state so it is the American taxpayer that gets to pay out the windfall to the Germans. In this we’re like Greece, albeit with lousier beaches and the ability to print more money.

If the mess with the FHFA and FINRA were not enough, ACE2007-HE4 is also an element in the second 2007 Markit index, ABX.HE.AAA.07-2, a basket of tranches of subprime trusts that – taken as a whole – show the overall health of all similar securities. This is akin to being one of the Dow-Jones companies, where a company has its own stock price but that price also affects an overall index that people place bets on. Tranche A-2D, the lowest A-tranche, is one of the twenty trusts in the index. Since ACE2007-HE4 is structured so that all A-tranches wither and die together once the mezzanine level tranches are destroyed it has the potential to weigh in on the rest of the index. Therefore, the reporting mess – already known to both the FHFA and FINRA – stands to be greatly magnified.

The problems with this trust are numerous, and at every turn, the parties that could have intervened to ameliorate the situation failed to take adequate measures.

First there is the botched securitization, where a first and second lien ended up in the same trust. Then, there is failure to engage in loss mitigation, with the result that refusing to accept the Guerrero’s short-sale offers or pleas for a modification, resulting in a more than 100% loss. Next, there is defective record-keeping related to that deficiency and others like it. And the bad practices ensnarled Fannie /Freddie when they purchased almost a quarter billion dollars of exposure to these loans. Then there’s the mismanaged prosecution by FINRA, where they did not require ongoing compliance, monitoring, or increasing fines for non-compliance. There’s the muffed FHFA lawsuit, where the FHFA did not notice either the depth of the fraud, namely two loans for the same property in the same trust, and that the reporting fraud they cited continues. I’m not sure if the swap agreement was botched, but you’d think FINRA and the FHFA would and should do almost anything to dissolve it while it was paying out massive checks every month. Finally, returning full circle, there’s the fouled up foreclosure that the borrowers fought only because negotiations failed that resulted in a the trust taking a total loss on the mortgage plus paying serious legal fees.

It is an understatement to say this does not inspire confidence in any public official, except Judge Williams, the only government official with the common sense to lose patience with scoundrels. We’d almost be better off without regulators than with the batch we’ve seen at work.

US taxpayers would have received more benefit by burning dollar bills in the Capitol’s furnace to heat the building than we received from bailing out Fannie, Freddie, Deutsche Bank, Ocwen, and the various other smaller leaches attached to the udder of public funds. We could and should have allowed the “free market” they worship to work its magic, sending them to their doom years ago. That would have left investors in a world-o-hurt but, in hindsight, that’s where they’re ending up anyway with no money left to fix the fallout. It is long past time public policy makers did something substantive to rein in these charlatans.

My six year-old daughter understands the concept of limiting losses to the minimum, and apportionment of those losses in the name of fairness. Maybe Tim Geithner should take a lesson from her about this “unfortunate” series of events, quoting Judge Williams, before wasting any more money that my daughter will eventually have to repay.

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Alabama Appeals Court Slams U.S. Bank Down on “Magic” Fabricated Allonge

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NY Trust Law — PSA Violation is FATAL

RE: Congress (yes that is really her name) versus U.S. Bank 2100934

Alabama Court of Civil Appeals

Editor’s Comment:

Yves Smith from Naked Capitalism has it right in the article below and you should not only read it but study it. The following are my comments in addition to the well written analysis on Naked Capitalism.

  1. Alabama is a very conservative state that has consistently disregarded issues regarding the rules of evidence and civil procedure until this decision from the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals was handed down on June 8, 2012. Happy Birthday, Brother! This court has finally recognized (a) that documents are fabricated shortly before hearings and (b) that it matters. They even understand WHY it matters.
  2. Judges talk to teach other both directly and indirectly. Sometimes it almost amounts to ex parte contact because they are actually discussing the merits of certain arguments as it would effect cases that are currently pending in front of them. I know of reports where Judges have stated in open Court in Arizona that they have spoken with other Judges and DECIDED that they are not going to give relief to deadbeat borrowers. So this decision in favor of the borrower, where a fabricated “Allonge” was used only a couple of days before the hearing is indicative that they are starting to change their thinking and that the deadbeats might just be the pretender lenders.
  3. But they missed the fact that an allonge is not an instrument that transfers anything. It is not a bill of sale, assignment or anything else like that. It is and always has been something added to a previously drafted instrument that adds, subtracts or changes terms. See my previous article last week on Allonges, Assignments and Endorsements.
  4. What they DID get is that under New York law, the manager or trustee of a so-called REMIC, SPV or “Trust” cannot do anything contrary to the instrument that appointed the manager or trustee to that position. This is of enormous importance. We have been saying on these pages and in my books that it is not possible for the trustee or manager of the “pool” to accept a loan into the pool if it violates the terms expressly stated in the Pooling and Servicing Agreement. If the cut-off date was three years ago then it can’t be accepted. If the loan is in default already then it cannot be accepted. So not only is this allonge being rejected, but any actual attempt to assign the instrument into the “pool” is also rejected.
  5. What that means is that like any contract there are three basic elements — offer, consideration and acceptance. The offer is clear enough, even if it is from a party who doesn’t own the loan. The consideration is at best muddy because there are no records to show that the REMIC or the parties to the REMIC (investors) ever funded the loan through the REMIC. And the acceptance is absolutely fatal because no investor would agree or did agree to accept loans that were already in default.
  6. The other thing I agree with and would expand is the whole notion of the burden of proof. In this case we are still dealing with a burden of proof on the homeowner instead of the pretender lender. But the door is open now to start talking about the burden of proof. Here, the Court simply stated that the burden of proof imposed by the trial judge should have been by a preponderance (over 50%) of the evidence instead of clear and convincing (somewhere around 80%) of the evidence. So if it is more likely than not that the instrument was fabricated, the document will NOT be accepted into evidence. The next thing to work on is putting the burden of proof on the party seeking affirmative relief — i.e., the one seeking to take the home through foreclosure. If you align the parties properly, all of the other procedural problems disappear. That will leave questions regarding admissible evidence (another time).
  7. Keep in mind that this decision will have rumbling effects throughout Alabama and other states but it is only persuasive, not authoritative. So the fact that this appellate court made this decision does not mean you win in your case in Arizona.
  8. But it can be used to say “Judge, I know how the bench views these defenses and claims. But it is becoming increasingly apparent that the party seeking to foreclose is now and always was a pretender. And further, it is equally apparent that they are submitting fabricated and forged documents. 
  9. ‘More importantly, they are trying to get you to participate in a fraudulent scheme they pursued against the investors who advanced money without any proper documentation. This Alabama Appellate Court understands, now that they have read the Pooling and Servicing Agreement, that it simply is not possible for the investors to be forced into accepting a defaulted loan long after the cut-off date established in the PSA.
  10. ‘If you rule for the pretender creditor here you are doing two things: (1) you are providing these pretenders with the argument that there is a judicial ruling requiring the innocent investors to take the defaulted loan and suffer the losses when they never had any interest in the loan before and (2) you are allowing and encouraging a party who is not a creditor and never was a creditor to submit a credit bid at auction in lieu of cash thus stealing the property from both the homeowner and in violation of their agency or duty to the investors.
  11. ‘This Court and hundreds of others across the country are reading these documents now. And what they are finding is that pension funds and other regulated managed funds were tricked into buying non-existent assets through a bogus mortgage bond. The offer and promise made to these investors, upon whom millions of pensioners depend to make ends meet, was that these were industry standard loans in good standing. None of that was true and it certainly isn’t true now. Yet they want you to rule that you can force investors from another state or country to accept these loans even though they are either worthless or worth substantially less than the amount represented at the time of the transaction where the investment banker took the money from the investor and put it into a giant escrow fund without regard to the REMIC’s existence.

We don’t deny the existence of an obligation, but we do deny that this trickster should be given the proceeds of ill-gotten gains. The actual creditors should be given an opportunity to reject non-conforming loans that are submitted after the cut-off date and are therefore indispensable parties to this transaction.”

Alabama Appeals Court Reverses Decision on Chain of TitleCase, Ruling Hinges on Question of Bogus Allonges

In a unanimous decision, the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals reversed a lower court decision on a foreclosure case, U.S. Bank v. Congress and remanded the case to trial court.

We’d flagged this case as important because to our knowledge, it was the first to argue what we call the New York trust theory, namely, that the election to use New York law in the overwhelming majority of mortgage securitizations meant that the parties to the securitization could operate only as stipulated in the pooling and servicing agreement that created that particular deal. Over 100 years of precedents in New York have produced well settled case law that deems actions outside what the trustee is specifically authorized to do as “void acts” having no legal force. The rigidity of New York trust has serious implications for mortgage securitizations. The PSAs required that the notes (the borrower IOUs) be transferred to the trust in a very specific fashion (endorsed with wet ink signatures through a particular set of parties) before a cut-off date, which typically was no later than 90 days after the trust closing. The problem is, as we’ve described in numerous posts, that there appears to have been massive disregard in the securitization for complying with the contractual requirements that they established and appear to have complied with, at least in the early years of the securitization industry. It’s difficult to know when the breakdown occurred, but it appears that well before 2004-2005, many subprime originators quit bothering with the nerdy task of endorsing notes and completing assignments as the PSAs required; they seemed to take the position they could do that right before foreclosure. Indeed, that’s kosher if the note has not been securitized, but as indicated above, it is a no-go with a New York trust. There is no legal way to remedy the problem after the fact.

The solution in the Congress case appears to have been a practice that has since become troublingly become common: a fabricated allonge. An allonge is an attachment to a note that is so firmly affixed that it can’t travel separately. The fact that a note was submitted to the court in the Congress case and an allonge that fixed all the problems appeared magically, on the eve of trial, looked highly sus. The allonge also contained signatures that looked less than legitimate: they were digitized (remember, signatures as supposed to be wet ink) and some were shrunk to fit signature lines. These issues were raised at trial by Congress’s attorneys, but the fact that the magic allonge appeared the Thursday evening before Memorial Day weekend 2011 when the trial was set for Tuesday morning meant, among other things, that defense counsel was put on the back foot (for instance, how do you find and engage a signature expert on such short notice? Answer, you can’t).

The case was ruled in favor of the US Bank, in a narrow and strained opinion (which was touted as significant by reliable securitization industry booster Paul Jackson). It argued that the case was an ejectment action (the final step to get the borrower out after the foreclosure was final) so that, per securitization expert, Georgetown law professor Adam Levitin,

..the question of ownership of the note was not an issue of standing, but an affirmative defense for which the homeowner had the burden of proof…Crazy or not, however, this meant that the homeowner wasn’t actually challenging the trust’s standing. From there it was a small step for the court to say that the homeowner couldn’t invoke the terms of the PSA because she wasn’t a party to it…..

The case has been remanded back to trial court, and the judges put the issue of the allonge front and center.

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