The Truth about US Bank

Lawyers and pro se litigants continue to ignore the basics when mounting a challenge to foreclosures in which US Bank is asserted to be a trustee of a name that is then treated as though it was trust or REMIC Trust. If you look closely, the name is word salad, containing references or names to several named entities and other categories of entities.
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 A typical presentation asserts no presence of US Bank in its individual capacity, so the institutional implication is false. It is appearing strictly in a representative capacity and an court award of costs against the “claimant” would not, according to US Bank, attach liability to US Bank but to rather whoever was being represented by US Bank “as trustee.” On that we have word salad presenting many options such as
  1. US Bank, as trustee
  2. as successor to Bank of America, as trustee
  3. as successor by merger to LaSalle Bank, as trustee
  4. for the holders of certificates entitled
  5. XYZ Corp.
  6. Mortgage pass through Certificates series 200x-a1

If anyone can tell me  from that description who would be liable for costs I applaud them. But I can tell you who would pay the costs regardless of actual legal liability. It would be a company claiming to be an authorized servicer who in fact is getting the money from the investment bank through conduits.

The issue of what if anything was transferred between LaSalle Bank and Bank of AMerica and thus what if anything was transferred between Bank of America and US Bank has actually not been litigated.

My answer is that LaSalle Bank had no duties as trustee, was subjected to the impact of three mergers — ABN AMRO, Citi and Bank of America — and that a trustee only exists for a legally existing trust in which the subject matter (Loan) was entrusted to the trustee for administration of the active affairs of the “trust.” With none of those elements present, nothing could have been transferred.

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I provide advice and consultation to many people and lawyers so they can spot the key required elements of a scam — in and out of court. If you have a deal you want skimmed for red flags order the Consult and fill out the REGISTRATION FORM.
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THIS ARTICLE IS NOT A LEGAL OPINION UPON WHICH YOU CAN RELY IN ANY INDIVIDUAL CASE. HIRE A LAWYER.
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As to U.S. Bank, Deutsch, BONY etc. there are two categories that must be considered. If US Bank is named in a Pooling and Servicing agreement then the reasons for its non existence (or more specifically lack of legal presence in court or any other foreclosure proceeding) in fact and at law remain as previously stated in prior articles —- but exclude one central issue that has not been litigated.
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If US Bank has been asserted as successor to another alleged trustee then all sorts of other issues pop up. The main one that has not been litigated is whether the position of trustee can be transferred or sold like a commodity without consent of the beneficiaries or some other authorized party.
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In truth the only real “beneficiary” would be the investment bank — if only the trust legally existed. And in truth the investment bank indemnified US Bank from liability in exchange for the use of the US Bank name to create the illusion of institutional involvement.
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And in truth the only real party in interest is the investment bank, and if the trust actually existed the investment bank would be the only real beneficiary in an arrangement in which the trust name is used as a shield or sham conduit to hold bare naked legal title to paper that fabricates the illusion of debt ownership, much like MERS.
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And of course the whole use of the term “successor” is constantly used to distract lawyers, judges and homeowners from the fact that the previous party had no interest or right to administer, own, or enforce the subject debt, note or mortgage — unless they are able to produce authorization from the investment bank.
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But the investment banks have been loath to even hint that they could or would issues such authorization because that would be an admission that they were or are the real party in interest — an admission which probably would subject them to many levels of liability for fraud and statutory violations.
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It may well be that the pursuit of court costs and discovery available to do that might be the achilles heel of this house of imaginary cards. It would reveal the absence of any party to pay them, which would reveal the absence of a claimant, which would reveal the absence of a claim which would reveal the absence of a client, which would reveal false representations by the foreclosure mill.

Stop Referring to Defaults as Something Real

Referring to the default as real, but with an explanation of how it is subject to rationalization or argument, completely undermines your argument that they have no  right to be in court, to collect, to issue notices or initiate foreclosure. 

…when you refer to the default, you should refer to it as a false claim of default because at no time was Deutsch or any trust or any group of investors ever receiving payments from you as borrower. Nor did they have any contractual right to expect such payments from you as borrower. So Deutsch didn’t suffer any default and neither did the investors who own certificates that are not ownership interests in the debt, note or mortgage. And Deutsch won’t get any proceeds if the property is subjected to a foreclosure sale.

Questions to the servicer about how, when and where they made payments to Deutsch, or Deutsch as Trustee, or any trust, or any group of investors holding certificates will reveal their absence from the money trail. No such payments exist nor will they ever exist.

Let us help you plan for trial and draft your foreclosure defense strategy, discovery requests and defense narrative: 202-838-6345. Ask for a Consult or check us out on www.lendinglies.com. Order a PDR BASIC to have us review and comment on your notice of TILA Rescission or similar document.
I provide advice and consultation to many people and lawyers so they can spot the key required elements of a scam — in and out of court. If you have a deal you want skimmed for red flags order the Consult and fill out the REGISTRATION FORM.
A few hundred dollars well spent is worth a lifetime of financial ruin.
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THIS ARTICLE IS NOT A LEGAL OPINION UPON WHICH YOU CAN RELY IN ANY INDIVIDUAL CASE. HIRE A LAWYER.
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I take issue with the practice of referring to “the default.” When someone refuses or stops paying another person that does not automatically mean that a default exists. A default only exists if the the payment was due to a specifically identified party and they didn’t get it. Failure to pay a servicer is not a default. Failure to pay a servicer who is sending your payments to a creditor IS a default.
Since the fundamental defense for borrowers that wins cases is that the claimant has no right to be in court, it seems wrong to refer to”the default.” It should be “the claimed default.”
If your refusal to make payment was in fact a default as to Deutsch as Trustee of a real trust or as authorized representative of the certificate holders (they never make that clear), then all of your arguments come off as technical arguments to get out of a legitimate debt. You will lose.
On the other hand if your position (i.e., your denial and affirmative defenses) is that Deutsch is not a party on its own behalf and that it is being named by attorneys as being in a representative capacity for (a) a trust that does not exist or (b) for holder of certificates that do not convey title to the debt, note or mortgage and are specifically disclaimed, then you have a coherent narrative for your defense.
And if you further that argument by asserting that Deutsch has never received any payments and does not receive the proceeds of foreclosure on its own behalf nor as trustee for any trust or group of investors and will not receive those proceeds in this case then you push the knife in deeper.
So if Deutsch is not appearing on its own behalf and the parties that the lawyers say it is representing either don’t exist or are not identified, then the action is actually being filed in the name of Deutsch but for and on behalf of some other unidentified party who may or may not have any right to payment.
What is certain is that Deutsch is being represented as the owner of the loan when it is not.  The owner of a loan receives payments. Deutsch never receives payment from anyone and the investors never receive payment from the borrowers. If they did the servicer would have records of that. 
So when you refer to the default, you should refer to it as a false claim of default because at no time was Deutsch or any trust or any group of investors ever receiving payments from the homeowner as borrower. Nor did they have any contractual right to expect such payments from you as borrower. So Deutsch didn’t suffer any default and neither did the investors who own certificates that are not ownership interests in the debt, note or mortgage. And Deutsch won’t get any proceeds if the property is subjected to a foreclosure sale. 
If Deutsch didn’t suffer any default it could not legally declare one. If the declaration of default was void, then there is no default declared. In fact, there is no default until a  creditor steps forward and says I own the debt that I paid for and I suffered a default here. But there is no such party/creditor because the investment bank who funded the origination or acquisition of the loan has long since sold its interest in the loan multiple times.
Thus when lawyers or as servicer or both sent notices of delinquency or default they did so knowing that the party on whose behalf they said they were sending those notices had not suffered any delinquency or default.
When homeowners refer to the default as real, but with an explanation of how it is subject to rationalization or argument, they completely undermine their argument that they have no  right to be in court, to collect, to issue notices or initiate foreclosure. 
And remember that the sole reason for foreclosures in which REMIC claims are present is not repayment, because that has occurred already. The sole reason is to maintain the illusion of securitization which is the cover for a PONZI scheme. The banks are seeking to protect “profits” they already have collected not to obtain repayment. That is why a “Master Servicer” is allowed to collect the proceeds of a foreclosure sale rather than anyone owning the debt.
Also remember that while it might be that investors could be construed as beneficiaries of a trust, if it existed, they actually are merely holders of uncertificated certificates in which they disclaim any interest in the debt, note or mortgage.  Hence  they have no claim, direct or indirect, against any individual borrower. 

PRACTICE NOTE: Don’t assert anything you cannot prove. Leave the burden of proof on the lawyers who have named an alleged claimant who they say or imply possesses a claim. Deny everything and force them to prove everything. Discovery should be aimed at revealing the gaps not facts that will prove some assertion about securitization in general. Judges don’t want to hear that.
Appropriate questions to ask in one form or another are as follows:
  1. Who is the Claimant/Plaintiff/Beneficiary?
  2. Who will receive the proceeds of foreclosure sale?
  3. Before the default, who received the proceeds of payment from the subject borrower? [They will  fight this tooth and nail]
  4. Did the trustee ever receive payments from the borrower?
  5. Does the trustee in this alleged trust have any contractual right to receive borrower payments?
  6. Do holders of certificates receive payments from the borrower through a servicer?

ALLONGES, ASSIGNMENTS AND ENDORSEMENTS: THE REAL DEAL

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ALLONGES, ASSIGNMENTS AND INDORSEMENTS

Excerpt from 2nd Edition Attorney Workbook, Treatise and Practice Manual

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ALLONGE: An allonge is variously defined by different courts and sources. But the one thing they all have in common is that it is a very specific type of writing whose validity is presumed to be invalid unless accompanied by proof that the allonge was executed by the Payor (not the Payee) at the time of or shortly after the execution of a negotiable instrument or a promissory note that is not a negotiable instrument. People add all sorts of writing to notes but the additions are often notes by the payee that are not binding on the Payor because that is not what the Payor signed. In the context of securitization, it is always something that a third party has done after the note was signed, sometimes years after the note was signed.

A Common Definition is “An allonge is generally an attachment to a legal document that can be used to insert language or signatures when the original document does not have sufficient space for the inserted material. It may be, for example, a piece of paper attached to a negotiable instrument or promissory note, on which endorsements can be written because there isn’t enough room on the instrument itself. The allonge must be firmly attached so as to become a part of the instrument.”

So the first thing to remember is that an allonge is not an assignment nor is it an indorsement (UCC spelling) or endorsement (common spelling). This distinction was relatively unimportant until claims of “securitization” were made asserting that loans were being transferred by way of an allonge. By definition that is impossible. An allonge is neither an amendment, nor an assignment nor an endorsement of a loan, note, mortgage or obligation. Lawyers who miss this point are conceding something that is basic to contract law, the UCC and property law in each state.

It is important to recognize the elements of an allonge:

  1. By definition it is on a separate piece of paper containing TERMS that could not fit on the instrument itself. Since the documents are prepared in advance of the “closing” with the borrower, I can conceive of no circumstances where the note or other instrument would be attached to an allonge when there was plenty of time to reprint the note with all the terms and conditions. The burden would then shift to the pretender lender to establish why it was necessary to put these “terms” on a separate piece of paper.
  2. The separate piece of paper must be affixed to the note in such a manner as to demonstrate that the allonge was always there and formed the basis of the agreement between all signatories intended to be bound by the instrument (note). The burden is on the pretender lender to prove that the allonge was always present — a burden that is particularly difficult without the signature or initials of the party sought to be bound by the “terms” expressed in the allonge.
  3. The attached paper must contain terms, conditions or provisions that are relevant to the duties and obligations of the parties to the original instrument — in this case the original instrument is a promissory note. The burden of proof in such cases might include foundation testimony from a live witness who can testify that the signor on the note knew the allonge existed and agreed to the terms.
  4. ERROR: An allonge is not just any piece of paper attached to the original instrument. If it is being offered as an allonge but it is actually meant to be used as an assignment or indorsement, then additional questions of fact arise, including but not limited to consideration. In the opinion of this writer, the reason transfers are often “documented” with instruments called an “allonge” is that by its appearance it gives the impression that (1) it was there since inception of the instrument and (2) that the borrower agreed to it. An additional reason is that the issue consideration for the transfer is avoided completely if the “allonge” is accepted as a document of transfer.
  5. As a practice pointer, if the document contains terms and conditions of the loan or repayment, then it is being offered as an allonge. But it is not a valid allonge unless the signor of the original instrument (the note) agreed to the contents expressed on the allonge, since the proponent of this evidence wishes the court to consider the allonge part of the note itself.
  6. If the instrument contains language of transfer then it is not an allonge in that it fails to meet the elements required for proffering evidence of the instrument as an allonge.

ASSIGNMENT: All contracts require an offer, acceptance and consideration to be enforced. An assignment is a contract. In the context of mortgage loans and litigation, an assignment is a document that recites the terms of a transaction in which the loan, note, obligation, mortgage or deed of trust is transferred and accepted by the assignee in exchange for consideration. Within the context of loans that are subject to securitization claims or claims of assignment the documents proffered by the pretender lender are missing two out of three components: consideration and acceptance. The assignment in this context is an offer that cannot and in fact must not be accepted without violating the authority of the manager or “trustee” of the SPV (REMIC) pool.

Like all contracts it must be supported by consideration. An assignment without consideration is probably void, almost certainly voidable and at the very least requires the proponent of this instrument as evidence to be admitted into the record to meet the burden of proof as to foundation.

The typical assignment offered in foreclosure litigation states that “for value received” the assignor, being the owner of the note described, hereby assigns, transfers and conveys all right, title and interest to the assignee. The problem is obvious — there was no value received if the loan was not funded by the assignee or was being purchased by the assignee at the time of the alleged transfer. A demand for records of the assignor and assignee would show how the parties actually treated the transaction from an accounting point of view.

In the same way as we look at the bookkeeping records of the “payee” on the original note to determine if the payee was in fact the “lender” as declared in the note and mortgage, we look to the books and records of the assignor and assignee to determine the treatment of the transaction on their own books and records.

The highest probability is that there will be no entry on either the balance sheet categories or the income statement categories because the parties were already paid a fee at the inception of the “loan” which was not disclosed to the borrower in violation of TILA. At most there might be the recording of an additional fee for “processing” the “assignment”. At no time will the assignor nor the assignee show the transaction as a loan receivable, the absence of which is powerful evidence that the assignor did not own the loan and therefore conveyed nothing, and that the assignee paid nothing in the assignment “transaction” because there was no transaction.

Any accountant (CPA) should be able to render a report on this limited aspect. Such an accountant could recite the same statements contained herein as the reason why you are in need of the discovery and what it will show. Such a statement should not say that the evidence will prove anything, but rather than this information will lead to the discovery of admissible evidence as to whether the party whose records are being produced was acting in the capacity of servicer, nominee, lender, real party in interest, assignee or assignor.

The foundation for the assignment instrument must be by way of testimony (I doubt that “business records” could suffice) explaining the transaction and validating the assignment and the facts showing consideration, offer and acceptance. Acceptance is difficult in the context of securitization because the assignment is usually prepared (a) long after the close out date in the pooling and servicing agreement and (b) after the assignor or its agents have declared the loan to be in default. Both points violate virtually all pooling and servicing agreements that require performing loans to be pooled, ownership of the loan to be established by the assignor, the assignment executed in recordable form and many PSA’s require actual recording — a point missed by most analysts.

If we assume for the moment that the origination of the loan met the requirements for perfecting a mortgage lien on the subject property, the party managing the “pool” (REMIC, Trust etc.) would be committing an ultra vires act on its face if they accepted the loan, debt, obligation, note, mortgage or deed of trust into the pool years after the cut-off date and after the loan was declared in default. Acceptance of the assignment is a key component here that is missed by most judges and lawyers. The assumption is that if the assignment was offered, why wouldn’t the loan be accepted. And the answer is that by accepting the loan the manager would be committing the pool to an immediate loss of principal and income or even the opportunity for income.

Thus we are left with a Hobson’s choice: either the origination documents were void or the assignments of the origination documents were void. If the origination documents were void for lack of consideration and false declarations of facts, there could not be any conditions under which the elements of a perfected mortgage lien would be present. If the origination was valid, but the assignments were void, then the record owner of the loan is party who is admitted to have been paid in full, thus releasing the property from the encumbrance of the mortgage lien. Note that releasing the original lien neither releases any obligation to whoever paid it off nor does it bar a judgment lien against the homeowner — but that must be foreclosed by judicial means (non-judicial process does not apply to judgment liens under any state law I have reviewed).

INDORSEMENTS OR ENDORSEMENTS: The spelling varies depending upon the source. The common law spelling and the one often used in the UCC begins with the letter “I”. They both mean the same thing and are used interchangeably.

An indorsement transfers rights represented by the instruments to another individual other than the payee or holder. Indorsements can be open, qualified, conditional, bearer, with recourse, without recourse, requiring a subsequent indorsement, as a bailment (collection), or transferring all right title and interest. The types of indorsements vary as much as human imagination which is why an indorsement, alone, it frequently insufficient to establish the rights of the parties without another evidence, such as a contract of assignment.

The typical definition starts with an overall concept: “An indorsement on a negotiable instrument, such as a check or a promissory note, has the effect of transferring all the rights represented by the instrument to another individual. The ordinary manner in which an individual endorses a check is by placing his or her signature on the back of it, but it is valid even if the signature is placed somewhere else, such as on a separate paper, known as an allonge, which provides a space for a signature.” Another definition often appearing in cases and treatises is “ the act of the owner or payee signing his/her name to the back of a check, bill of exchange, or other negotiable instrument so as to make it payable to another or cashable by any person. An endorsement may be made after a specific direction (“pay to Dolly Madison” or “for deposit only”), called a qualified endorsement, or with no qualifying language, thereby making it payable to the holder, called a blank endorsement. There are also other forms of endorsement which may give credit or restrict the use of the check.”

Entire books have been written about indorsements and they have not exhausted all the possible interpretations of the act or the words used to describe the writing dubbed an “indorsement” or the words contained within the words described as an indorsement. As a result, courts are justifiably reluctant to accept an indorsed instrument on its face with parole evidence — unless the other party makes the mistake of failing to object to the foundation, and in the case of the mortgage meltdown practices of fabrication, forgery and fraud, by failing to deny the indorsement was ever made except for the purposes of litigation and has no relation to any legitimate business transaction.

Once the indorsement is put in issue as a material fact that is disputed, then the discovery must proceed to determine when the indorsement was created, where it was done, the parties involved in its creation and the parties involved in the execution of the indorsement, as well as the circumstantial evidence causing the indorsement to be made. A blank indorsement is no substitute for an assignment nor is it evidence that any transaction took place win which consideration (money) exchanged hands. Further blank indorsements might be yet another violation of the PSA, in which the indorsement must be with recourse and be unqualified naming the assignee.

A “trustee” of an alleged SPV (REMIC) who accepts such a document would no doubt be acting ultra vires (acting outside of the authority vested in the person purported to have acted) and it is doubtful that any evidence exists where the trustee was informed that the proposed indorsement or assignment involved a loan and a pool which was five years past the cutoff, already declared in default and which failed to meet the formal terms of assignment set forth in the PSA. A deposition upon written questions or oral deposition might clear the matter up by directing the right questions to the right person designated to be the person who represents the entity that claims to manage the SPV (REMIC) pool. In order to accomplish that, prior questions must be asked and answered as to the identity of such individuals and entities “with sufficient specificity such that they can be identified in subsequent demands for discovery or the issuance of a subpoena.”

Throughout this process, the defender in foreclosure must be ever vigilant in maintaining control of the narrative lest the other side wrest control and redirect the Judge to the allegation (without any evidence in the record) that the debt exists (or worse, has been admitted), the default occurred (or worse, has been admitted) and that the pretender is the lender (or worse, has been admitted as such).

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We Are Drowning in False Debt While Realtors Push “Recovery”

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Editor’s Comment:

The figures keep coming in while the words keep coming out the mouths of bankers and realtors. The figures don’t match the words. The net result is that the facts show that we are literally drowning in debt, and we see what happens as a result of such conditions with a mere glance at Europe. They are sinking like a stone, and while we look prettier to investors it is only when we are compared to other places — definitely not because we have a strong economy.

Iceland and other “players” crashed but stayed out of the EU and stayed away from the far flung central banking sleeping arrangements with Banks. Iceland knows that banks got us into this and that if there is any way out, it must be the banks that either lead their way out or get nationalized so their assets can take the hit of these losses. In Phoenix alone, we have $39 BILLION in negative equity. 

This negative equity was and remains illusory. Iceland cut the household debt in each home by 25% or more and is conitinuing to do so. The result? They are the only country with the only currency that is truly recovering and coming back to real values. What do we have? We have inflated property appraisals that STILL dominate the marketplace. 

The absence of any sense of reality is all around us in Arizona. I know of one case where Coldwell Banker, easily one of the most prestigious realtors, actually put lots up for sale asking $40,000 when the tax assessed value is barely one quarter of that amount and the area has now dried up — no natural water supply without drilling thousands of feet or hauling water in by truck. Residents in the area and realtors who are local say the property could fetch at most $10,000 and is unsalable until the water problem is solved. And here in Arizona we know the water problem is not only not going to get solved, it is going to get worse because of the “theory” of global climate change.

This “underwater” mess is political not financial. It wouldn’t exist but for the willingness of the government to stay in bed with banks. The appraisals they used to grant the loan were intentionally  falsified to “get rid of” as much money as possible in the shortest time possible, to complete deals and justify taking trillions of dollars from investors. The appraisals at closing were impossibly high by any normal industry accepted standard and appraisers admit it and even predicted it it in 2005. Banks coerced appraisers into inflating appraisers by giving them a choice — either come in with appraisals $20,000 over the contract price or they will never get work again.

The borrower relied upon this appaisal, believing that the property value was so hot that he or she couldn’t lose and that in fact, with values going so high, it would be foolish not to get in on the market before it went all the way out of reach. And of course there were the banks who like the cavalry came in and provided the apparently cheap money for people to buy or refinance their homes. The cavalry was in a movie somewhere, certainly not in the marketplace. It was more like the hordes of invaders in ancient Europe chopping off the heads of men, women and children and as they lie dying they were unaware of what had happened to them and that they were as good as dead.

So many people have chosen death. They see the writing on the wall that once was their own, and they cannot cope with the loss of home, lifestyle and dignity. They take their own lives and the lives of those around them. Citi contributes a few million to a suicide hotline as a PR stunt while they are causing the distress through foreclosure and collection procedures that are illegal, fraudlent, and based upon forged, robosigned documents with robo-notarized attestations  that the recording offices still won’t reject and the judges still accept.

There is no real real economic recovery without reality in housing. Values never went up — but prices did. Now the prices are returning back to the values left in the dust during the big bank push to “get rid of” money advanced by investors. It’s a game to the banks where the homeowner is the lowly deadbeat, the bottom of the ladder, a person who doesn’t deserve dignity or relief like the bank bailouts. When a person gets financial relief from the government it is a “handout.” When big banks and big business get relief and subsidies in industries that were already profitable, it is called economic policy. REALITY CHECK: They are both getting a “handout” and economic policy is driven by politics instead of common sense. French arisocrats found that out too late as their heads rolled off the guillotine platforms.  

But Iceland and other places in the world have taught us that in reality those regarded as deadbeats are atually people who were herded into middle class debt traps created by the banks and that if they follow the simple precept of restoring victims to their previous state, by giving restitution to these victims, the entire economy recovers, housing recovers and everything resumes normal activity that is dominated by normal market forces instead of the force of huge banks coercing society and government by myths like too big too fail. The Banks are doing just fine in Iceland, the financial system is intact and the government policy is based upon the good of the society as a whole rather the banks who might destroy us. Appeasement is not a policy it is a surrender to the banks.

Cities with the Most Homes Underwater

Michael B. Sauter

Mortgage debt continues to be a major issue in the United States, nearly six years after home prices peaked, according to a report released Thursday by online real estate site Zillow. Americans continue to owe more on their homes than they are worth. Nearly one in three mortgages are underwater, amounting to more than 15 million homes and a total negative equity of $1.19 trillion.

In some of America’s largest metropolitan regions, however, the housing crash dealt a far worse blow. In these areas — most of which are in California, Florida and the southwest — home values were cut in half, unemployment skyrocketed, and 50% to 70% of borrowers now find themselves with a home worth less than the value of their mortgage. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 100 largest housing markets and identified the 10 with the highest percentage of homes with underwater mortgages. Svenja Gudell, senior economist at Zillow, explained in an interview with 24/7 Wall St. that the markets with the highest rates of underwater borrowers are in trouble now because of the rampant growth seen in these cities prior to the recession. Once home prices peaked, which was primarily in late 2005 through 2006, all but one of these 10 housing markets lost at least 50% of their median home value.

Making matters worse for families with high negative equity in these markets is the increased unemployment. “If you have a whole lot of unemployment in an area, you’re more likely to see home values continue to decline in the area as well,” says Gudell. While in 2007 many of these markets had average or below average unemployment rates, the recession took a heavy toll on their economies. By 2011, eight of the 10 markets had unemployment rates above 10%, and three — all in California — had unemployment rates of above 16%, nearly double the national average.

24/7 Wall St. used Zillow’s first-quarter 2012 negative equity report to identify the 10 housing markets — out of the 100 largest metropolitan statistical areas in the country — with the highest percentage of underwater mortgages. Zillow also provided us with the decline in home values in these markets from prerecession peak values, the total negative equity value in these markets and the percentage of homes underwater that have been delinquent on payments for 90 days or more.

These are the cities with the most homes underwater.

10. Orlando, Fla.
> Pct. homes w/underwater mortgages: 53.9%
> Number of mortgages underwater: 205,369
> Median home value: 113,800
> Decline from prerecession peak: -55.9%
> Unemployment rate: 10.4% (25th highest)

In 2012, Orlando moved into the top 10 underwater housing markets, bumping Fresno, Calif., to number 11. From its prerecession peak in June 2006, home prices fell 55.9% to $113,800, a loss of roughly $90,000. In 2007, the unemployment rate in the region was just 3.7%, the 17th-lowest rate among the 100 largest metros. By 2011, that rate had increased to 10.4%, the 25th highest. As of the first quarter of this year, there were more than 205,000 underwater mortgages in the region, with total negative equity of $16.7 billion.

9. Atlanta, Ga.
> Pct. homes w/underwater mortgages: 55.5%
> Number of mortgages underwater: 581,831
> Median home value: $107,500
> Decline from prerecession peak: 38.8%
> Unemployment rate: 9.6% (37th highest)

Atlanta is the largest city on this list and the eighth-largest metropolitan area in the U.S. But of all the cities with the most underwater mortgages, it has the lowest median home value. In the area, 55.5% of homes have a negative equity value. With more than 500,000 homes with underwater mortgages, the city’s total negative home equity is in excess of $38 billion. Over 48,000 of these underwater homeowners, or nearly 10%, are delinquent by at least 90 days in their payments, which is also especially troubling. With home prices down 38.8% since June, 2007, the Atlanta area certainly qualifies as one of the cities hit hardest by the 2008 housing crisis.

8. Phoenix, Ariz.
> Pct. homes w/underwater mortgages: 55.5%
> Number of mortgages underwater: 430,527
> Median home value: $128,000
> Decline from prerecession peak: 54.2%
> Unemployment rate: 8.6% (44th lowest)

At 55.5%, Phoenix has the same percentage of borrowers with underwater mortgages as Atlanta. Though Phoenix’s median home value is $21,500 greater than Atlanta’s, it experienced a far-greater decline in home prices from their prerecession peak in June 2007 of 54.2%. This has led to a total negative equity value of almost $39 billion. The unemployment rate also has skyrocketed in the Phoenix area from 3.2% in 2007 to 8.6% in 2011.

7. Visalia, Calif.
> Pct. homes w/underwater mortgages: 57.7%
> Number of mortgages underwater: 33,220
> Median home value: $110,500
> Decline from prerecession peak: 51.7%
> Unemployment rate: 16.6% (3rd highest)

Visalia is far smaller than Atlanta or Phoenix and has less than a 10th the number of homes with underwater mortgages. Nonetheless, the city has been especially damaged by a poor housing market. Home values have fallen dramatically since before the recession, and the unemployment rate, at 16.6% in the first quarter of 2012, is third-highest among the 100 largest metropolitan statistical areas, behind only Stockton and Modesto. Presently, almost 58% of homes are underwater, with these homes carrying a total negative equity of $2.6 billion dollars.

6. Vallejo, Calif.
> Pct. homes w/underwater mortgages: 60.3%
> Number of mortgages underwater: 44,526
> Median home value: $186,200
> Decline from prerecession peak: 60.6%
> Unemployment rate: 11.4% (16th highest)

In the Vallejo metropolitan area, more than 60% of the region’s 73,800 homeowners are underwater. This is largely due to a 60.6% decline in home values in the region from prerecession highs. Through the first quarter of this year, homes in the region fell from a median value of more than $300,000 to just $186,200. Of those homes with underwater mortgages, more than 10% have been delinquent on mortgage payments for 90 days or more.

5. Stockton, Calif.
> Pct. homes w/underwater mortgages: 60.3%
> Number of mortgages underwater: 60,349
> Median home value: $146,500
> Decline from prerecession peak: 64.3%
> Unemployment rate: 16.8% (tied for highest)

With an unemployment rate of 16.8%, Stockton is tied for the highest rate among the 100 largest metropolitan areas. Few cities have been hit harder by the sinking of the housing market than Stockton, where 60.3% of home mortgages are underwater. Though there are only 100,014 houses with mortgages in Stockton, 60,348 of these are underwater and have a total negative home equity of slightly more than $6.9 billion. Meaning, on average, homeowners in Stockton owe at least $100,000 more than their homes are worth.

4. Modesto, Calif.
> Pct. homes w/underwater mortgages: 60.3%
> Number of mortgages underwater: 46,598
> Median home value: $130,600
> Decline from prerecession peak: 64.5%
> Unemployment rate: 16.8% (tied for highest)

Since peaking in December 2005, home prices in Modesto have plunged 64.5%. This is the largest collapse in prices of any large metro area examined. As a result, 46,598 of 77,222 home mortgages in Modesto are underwater. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate rose to 16.8% in 2011. This number was 7.9 percentage points above the national average of 8.9% and almost double Modesto’s 2007 unemployment rate of 8.7%.

3. Bakersfield, Calif.
> Pct. homes w/underwater mortgages: 60.5%
> Number of mortgages underwater: 70,947
> Median home value: $116,700
> Decline from prerecession peak: 57.0%
> Unemployment rate: 14.9% (5th highest)

From its peak in May 2006, the median home value in Bakersfield has plummeted from more than $200,000 to just $116,700, or a 57% loss of value. From 2007 through 2011, the unemployment rate increased from 8.2% to 14.9% — the fifth-highest rate in the country. To date, more than 70,000 homes in the region have underwater mortgages, with total negative equity of just over $6 billion.

2. Reno, Nev.
> Pct. homes w/underwater mortgages: 61.7%
> Number of mortgages underwater: 46,115
> Median home value: $150,600
> Decline from prerecession peak: 58.3%
> Unemployment rate: 13.1%

There are fewer than 75,000 households in Reno, Nevada. Yet 46,115 home mortgages in the city are underwater, accounting for 61.7% of mortgaged homes. From January 2006 through the first quarter of 2012, home prices were more than halved, and negative home equity reached $4.39 billion. Additionally, the unemployment rate almost tripled in rising from 4.5% in 2007 to 13.1% by 2011. In 2007, Reno had the 54th-worst unemployment rate among the 100 largest metros. By 2007, Reno had the eighth-worst unemployment rate.

1. Las Vegas, Nev.
> Pct. homes w/underwater mortgages: 71%
> Number of mortgages underwater: 236,817
> Median home value: $111,600
> Decline from prerecession peak: 63.2%
> Unemployment rate: 13.9%

At 71%, no city has a greater percentage of homes with underwater mortgages than Las Vegas. The area with the second-worst percentage of underwater mortgages, Reno, has less than 62% mortgages with negative. The corrosive effects the housing crisis had on Las Vegas are evident in the more than 200,000 home mortgages that are underwater, 14.3% of which are at least 90 days delinquent on payments. Additionally, home values have dropped 63.2% from their prerecession peak, the third-greatest decline among the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas. Largely because of the collapse of the area’s housing market, unemployment in the Las Vegas area has soared. In 2007, the unemployment rate was 4.7%, only marginally different from the nation’s 4.6% rate. Yet by 2011, the unemployment rate had increased to 13.9%, considerably higher than the nationwide 8.9% unemployment rat.e.


BERNANKE: RECOVERY COULD TAKE 4-5 YEARS

COMBO Title and Securitization Search, Report, Documents, Analysis & Commentary COMBO Title and Securitization Search, Report, Documents, Analysis & Commentary

AS USUAL OVERLY OPTIMISTIC PROJECTIONS TO PACIFY THE PUBLIC

DOES OBAMA WANT TO BE A ONE-TERM PRESIDENT?

EDITOR’S ANALYSIS: Bernanke is clearly back-peddling from the rosy predictions everyone was making earlier, thus corroborating what we have been saying on these pages for years. The recovery, if it comes at all under current policies will take decades. That’s a fact. But a different policy in which the Obama administration pursues pro-consumer policies, will change the entire outcome. The disappointing drift of the Obama administration brings us nearer to a second collapse that will be worse than the last one in 2007-2009. We almost collapsed then but he brought us back from the brink. Arguments can be made for against the bailout in 2008-2009 — but there is no credible argument for continuing the bailout now.

The simple fact is that the American economy has been driven by domestic consumption and exports. Both have dried up. 70% of our demand is endangered and reduced by the lack of money, wealth, savings, jobs, prospects, and credit. Nothing has been done by the government to materially alter the trajectory of the American economy. Any by allowing agents of a mythological securitization scheme to create two obligations or multiple obligations out of one, and then allow any one of the holders of those “obligations” to enforce by a roll of the dice, we have lost credibility in the international community which in turn is reflecting on the strength and reputation of the U.S. dollar.

To be sure, three are short-term scenarios under which the dollar might be sustained or even gain strength. But the end of this story is obvious — America becomes an unsafe partner in business, with an unsafe economic and legal structure, and an unreliable currency. The effects on all of us are chilling and we don’t want to look at the monster, which is understandable. The judicial branch is our last chance and fortunately they are turning the corner and forcing the issue — we are a nation of laws and those laws and the sanctity of the courtroom are not negotiable.

Every economist worth his salt across all ideology and political spectrums agrees the economy needs a series of major jolts from a stimulus. The last stimulus was far too small as Rubini and Krugman and Johnson pointed out multiple times with nobody listening. Doing it by printing more money is politically impossible and for good reason — it isn’t the answer and it will produce yet more problem in the short-term, mid-term, and long term.

The elephant in the living room is the gigantic stimulus that would result if black letter law was applied to the defective mortgages and foreclosures. Trillions of dollars in wealth could be returned to homeowners and investors under the right program. Yes the megabanks would suffer, and the 7,000 other banks that are not part of what is now the inner elite that meets the third Wednesday of every month, would be required to pick up the enormous burden of all those deposits. I doubt if the community banks and credit unions would actually have any problem with that.

Slow Job Growth Dims Expectation of Early Revival

By MICHAEL POWELL and SEWELL CHAN

The year 2010 ended on a disappointing note, as the economy added just 103,000 jobs in December, suggesting that economic deliverance will not arrive with a great pop in employment.

Signs still point to a long slog of a recovery, with the unemployment rate likely to remain above 8 percent — it sits at 9.4 percent after Friday’s report — at least through the rest of the president’s four-year term.

President Obama is not unaware of the political dangers posed by high unemployment. On Friday he appointed a new head of his National Economic Council, Gene Sperling, to replace the departing Lawrence H. Summers.

The latest report was also a let-down for some within the White House, as recent economic data had suggested that the recovery would gain speed going into 2011. The political stakes are high, as Democrats and Republicans wrestle over who should take credit for the progress of the jobs market, or the blame for its failure to ignite.

“We need collective patience,” said William C. Dunkelberg, chief economist for the National Federation of Independent Business. “You can’t recover quickly from a disaster like we’ve been through.”

With local governments continuing to shed some jobs, all of December’s gain came from private employers. In fact, private employment grew each month last year. The unemployment rate, which is based on a separate survey of households, fell from 9.8 percent in November, though a substantial part of that drop is caused by Americans leaving the work force.

Long-term unemployment, however, remains a malady without an easy cure. The percentage of the unemployed who have been without work 27 weeks or longer edged up last month to 44.3 percent, virtually unchanged from a year ago. Other indicators, such as the length of the workweek, remained stagnant.

The challenge, still unsolved, is how to add enough accelerant to light an employment fire. The Federal Reserve chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, said Friday that he expected economic growth to be “moderately stronger” this year.

“We have seen increased evidence that a self-sustaining recovery in consumer and business spending may be taking hold,” Mr. Bernanke told the Senate Budget Committee in his first testimony to the new Congress.

He was less optimistic about employment, noting that the job market had “improved only modestly at best.” And he added a cautionary forecast: “It could take four to five more years for the job market to normalize fully.”

Mr. Bernanke noted that housing, an enormous potential driver of middle- and working-class jobs, continued to edge downward. The Fed, he emphasized, plans to proceed with its plans to buy $600 billion worth of government bonds, in hopes of stirring more growth.

President Obama, in a speech at a factory in Landover, Md., accentuated the positive, which was a year of private sector job growth. “That’s the first time that’s been true since 2006,” he said. “The economy added 1.3 million jobs last year.”

Left unsaid, however, was the fact that job growth was not enough to absorb people entering the work force in the United States, much less to shrink the unemployment rolls.

R. Glenn Hubbard, dean of Columbia University’s business school and former chairman of the council of economic advisers for President Bush, remains a guarded optimist. He sees signs of the economy gaining speed.

“We could run as high as 200,000 per month this year, but keep in mind that might only bring the unemployment rate down to 9 percent,” Mr. Hubbard said. “That does very little for the person who is long-term unemployed.”

The so-called real unemployment rate, which includes those workers who are discouraged or have given up looking for work, stands at 16.7 percent.

Daniel Alpert, managing partner at Westwood Capital, pointed to a disturbing fact in Friday’s report. “We are seeing what appears to be evidence of structural unemployment,” he said, “among those in the prime, higher-earning 35- to 44-year-old demographic, where unemployment actually increased in December.”

The president’s advisers dispute this. Austan Goolsbee, the chairman of the council of economic advisers, agrees that long-term employment poses a great challenge, but he says there are few signs of European-style structural unemployment, in which job seekers essentially surrender hope.

“We are not cutting them off and dumping them out the door,” he says. “The biggest help for them is to drive down the overall employment rate.”

In the days leading up to the Friday report, economists pointed to hopeful signs. Consumer spending was on the rise, businesses were spending more, car sales nosed upward. And private surveys pointed to the possibility of a sharp, even explosive increase in hiring by small and midsize businesses.

Mr. Dunkelberg, however, noted that surveys of his membership showed no strong trend toward such hiring. Fifty percent reported they had no need to seek bank loans, as they had little intention of hiring.

“The consumer still has way too much debt and our members are very cautious,” he said. “Their only capital spending going on is to fix a leaking roof.”

Employment growth decelerated a bit toward the end of the year, with the biggest increases coming in October — the Bureau of Labor Statistics revised that number upward by 38,000 jobs on Friday.

Adam Hersh, an economist with the liberal-leaning Center for American Progress, recently ran a calculation to see when, at the current pace, the nation would regain the number of jobs lost during the great recession. The answer was 2037.

“Look, we have a huge employment crisis,” Mr. Hersh said.

Much of the growth last month came in the hospitality sector, which added 47,000 jobs. Such jobs, however, tend to provide lower wages and uncertain prospects for long-term employment.

Manufacturing, a source of encouragement earlier this year, added 10,000 jobs. And health services added 36,000, continuing a year-long rise in that area, fed in part by the aging of the American population.

Local governments shed 10,000 workers, fewer than in some past months, and state employment held more or less steady.

For the longer term, economists see hopeful signs. Some take the view that, in retrospect, the recovery of early last year was a false spring, reflecting only the bounce-back from the deep gloom of 2009. Real signs of recovery, including a pickup in shipping and manufacturing, took hold this autumn, they say.

“It’s pretty clear the economy went into a swoon last summer,” said Steve Blitz, senior economist for ITG Investment Research. “Now the real recovery is beginning, and I expect to see improvement.”

But, he acknowledged, he could as easily point to a glass still half empty. American corporations, sitting atop nearly $2 trillion of cash, are not doing much hiring, even as the president and Congress add the carrots of tax cuts and investment incentives. “The most disturbing fact is that you’re not seeing any breadth in the hiring,” Mr. Blitz said. “It’s looking to be a slow climb.”

Christine Hauser contributed reporting.

The Obvious: Bankers Told Recovery May Be Slow

“I’m more worried than I have ever been about the future of the U.S. economy,” said Allen Sinai, co-founder of the consulting firm Decision Economics and a longtime participant in the symposium. “The challenge is unique: poor and diminishing growth, a sticky unemployment rate, sky-high deficits and a sovereign debt that makes us one of the most fiscally irresponsible countries in the world.”

Editor’s Comment: It is only natural that the setting for this event was in a place with the word “hole” in it. Carmen M Reinhart, an economist at the University of Maryland told 110 central bankers and economists that they were deluding themselves. While they were congratulating themselves on having weathered the storm, the economy is clearly in freefall.

They keep using the term “jobless recovery” as though that was something real. With GDP falling under 2% under the latest calculation, which probably excludes between 30 and 50% of all human activity worthy of measurement, we clearly do not have a recovery nor do we have an economy that under any scenario could generate more jobs than those being lost. In a nutshell, unemployment is virtually certain to increase.

Before we start blaming the current president or even his predecessor for the current state of events, let me point out that it took more than three decades for the financial sector to grow from less than 15% of the nation’s GDP to over 40%. In simplistic terms we allowed the economy to create a system in which the financial community was taking a 40% commission on every transaction of every nature because they had been permitted, without regulation, to literally issue the equivalent of money.

The hard truth is that 25% of our current economy as it is currently measured is pure vapor. We don’t make anything or provide any services within that gap which adds value to our society or anyone in it. Reality has a nasty way of catching up. There is a 25% contraction waiting in the wings. The only way to avoid such a calamitous result is to use our strongest resource, American ingenuity, to create new businesses, new industries, and new jobs at an unprecedented pace that will shock the economy back into normal sinus rhythm.

With the vast majority of bankers and economists holding on to old ideas, unrealistic perceptions of reality, and an aversion to the risk of trying something new, the economist from the University of Maryland is merely stating the obvious––and doing it in the most gentle way possible. Stating that the recovery may be slow is the equivalent of saying that we will be on the ground shortly after it is obvious that the engines and wings have fallen off the aircraft.

August 28, 2010

Bankers Told Recovery May Be Slow

By SEWELL CHAN

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. — The American economy could experience painfully slow growth and stubbornly high unemployment for a decade or longer as a result of the 2007 collapse of the housing market and the economic turmoil that followed, according to an authority on the history of financial crises.

That finding, contained in a new paper by Carmen M. Reinhart, an economist at the University of Maryland, generated considerable debate during an annual policy symposium here, organized by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, which concluded on Saturday.

The gathering, at a historic lodge in Grand Teton National Park, brought together about 110 central bankers and economists, including most of the Federal Reserve’s top officials. In 2008, the symposium occurred weeks before the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy nearly shut down the financial markets. At the symposium last year, officials congratulated themselves on weathering the worst of the crisis.

But the recent slowing of the recovery cast a pall on this year’s gathering. As economists (some wearing jeans and cowboy boots) conferred on a terrace with a sweeping view of the 13,770-foot peak of Mount Teton, or watched a horse trainer tame an unruly colt at a nearby ranch, they anxiously discussed research like Ms. Reinhart’s. (Participants pay to attend the event, which is not financed by taxpayers, a Kansas City Fed spokeswoman emphasized.)

“I’m more worried than I have ever been about the future of the U.S. economy,” said Allen Sinai, co-founder of the consulting firm Decision Economics and a longtime participant in the symposium. “The challenge is unique: poor and diminishing growth, a sticky unemployment rate, sky-high deficits and a sovereign debt that makes us one of the most fiscally irresponsible countries in the world.”

Ms. Reinhart’s paper drew upon research she conducted with the Harvard economist Kenneth S. Rogoff for their book “This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly,” published last year by Princeton University Press. Her husband, Vincent R. Reinhart, a former director of monetary affairs at the Fed, was the co-author of the paper.

The Reinharts examined 15 severe financial crises since World War II as well as the worldwide economic contractions that followed the 1929 stock market crash, the 1973 oil shock and the 2007 implosion of the subprime mortgage market.

In the decade following the crises, growth rates were significantly lower and unemployment rates were significantly higher. Housing prices took years to recover, and it took about seven years on average for households and companies to reduce their debts and restore their balance sheets. In general, the crises were preceded by decade-long expansions of credit and borrowing, and were followed by lengthy periods of retrenchment that lasted nearly as long.

“Large destabilizing events, such as those analyzed here, evidently produce changes in the performance of key macroeconomic indicators over the longer term, well after the upheaval of the crisis is over,” Ms. Reinhart wrote.

Ms. Reinhart added that officials may err in failing to recognize changed economic circumstances. “Misperceptions can be costly when made by fiscal authorities who overestimate revenue prospects and central bankers who attempt to restore employment to an unattainably high level,” she warned.

Several scholars here cautioned that it was premature to infer long-term economic woes for the United States from the aftermath of past crises.

The Reinharts’ research “has not yet tried to assess the extent to which different policy stances mitigated the length of the outcome,” said Susan M. Collins, an economist and the dean of the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan. “But the reality is that we need to have an understanding that the issues we are dealing with are severe, and that we should not expect them to be unwound in a few months.”

Ms. Collins added: “I’m very much a glass-half-full person. What we’ve seen in the past few years has been a policy success. Things are not where we want them to be, but they could have been a lot worse.”

The Reinharts’ paper was not the only one to offer somber implications for policy makers.

Two economists, James H. Stock of Harvard and Mark W. Watson of Princeton, presented a paper arguing that inflation, which has already fallen so much that some Fed officials fear the economy is at risk of deflation, a cycle of falling prices and wages, could fall even further by the middle of next year.

Inflation has been running well below the Fed’s unofficial target of about 1.5 percent to 2 percent. Ben S. Bernanke, the Fed chairman, reiterated on Friday that the central bank would “strongly resist deviations from price stability in the downward directions.”

Mr. Stock and Mr. Watson noted that recessions in the United States were associated with declines in inflation, with an exception being an increase in inflation in 2004, which occurred despite a “jobless recovery” from the 2001 recession. The authors said they could not explain the anomaly but also could not “offer a reason why it might happen again.”

Magnetar Echoes Livinglies call for Alignment of Investors, Servicers and Borrowers

see Magnetar%20Mortage%20Recovery%20Backstop%20Whitepaper%20Jun09.pdf

Magnetar Mortage Recovery Backstop Whitepaper Jun09

Two things jump out at me with this paper from June, 2009.

First it is obvious that the “real money” investors are defined as those seeking low risk and willing to take lower yield. The fact that they are called “Real Money Investors” underscores my point about the identity of the creditor. Those “traditional” investors are no longer available to buy the mortgage backed securities or any other resecuritized derivative package based upon mortgage backed securities. Legal restrictions requiring the securities to be investment grade would prevent them from jumping back in even if they wanted to do so, which they obviously don’t.

Thus the inevitable conclusion drawn almost a year ago and borne out by history, is that the fair market value of the securities, trading as pennies on the dollar, is reflective of a lack of demand for mortgage backed securities no matter how high the yield (i.e., no matter how low the price).

Second there is a growing realization that the interests of the investor and the borrowers are actually aligned in many ways and that the solution to mortgage modification, principal reduction, and other aspects of the mortgage mess and the foreclosure crisis lies in recognizing certain realities and then dealing with them in an equitable manner. The properties were never worth the amount of the appraisal in most instances and now they are worth even less than they were when the loan deals were closed. The securities were also “appraised” far too high thus creating a giant yield spread premium for the investment bank-created seller of mortgage backed securities.

In my opinion, based upon a sampling of the data available, it is entirely possible that the “true” fair market value of those securities in the best of circumstances is probably less than 40% of the initial offering price. It is this well-hidden analysis that is not getting the attention of the Obama administration and which completely explains why servicers are obstructing modifications under instruction from investment banking intermediaries like the “Trustee”.

Leaving the servicers and other parties as the middlemen “in the middle” to sort this out is another license to steal creating another mark-up applied against both borrowers and investors as the “real money” parties. The status quo is what is causing the stagnation in lieu of recovery. Until everyone accepts basic notions of “real party in interest” and eliminates those who don’t fit that description, the moral hazards will remain and escalate.

As concluded in this paper, either judicial or executive intervention is required to kick the middlemen out of the way and let the light in. When investors and borrowers are able to compare notes and work with each other the figures for both will be enhanced, foreclosures will decline, losses will be taken, and yes it is highly probable that the number of investor lawsuits will proliferate against those who defrauded them.

The lender is identified as the investor in this paper (indirectly) and the party who defrauded them is not some greedy borrower with stars in his eyes, it was the usual suspect — a financial wizard making a sales pitch that was so complex, the buyer basically was forced to rely upon the integrity of the investment banking house for appropriate pricing. That is where the system fell apart. Moral hazard escalated to moral mess.

FDIC Weighs Loan Principal Cuts to Fight Foreclosure

Sheila Bair has finally let the trial balloon out of the bag. Just watch what Wall Street does to position Bair as some kind of kook. In truth, she ought to be running the financial part of this recovery although the FDIC is supposed to insure deposits, not necessarily write offs of bad loans. Bottomline, there will be no recovery without principal reduction. This will never be over without a sharing of the losses created by Wall Street. If you are looking for a non-litigation method, and I am not sure there is one,  to reach out and touch everyone in distress look no further than my first entries back in October 2007 under the heading “Amnesty for Everyone” or read Brad Keiser’s post right here from June 2008 entitled “Mortgage Meltdown: Fingers of Blame” where he predicted that homeowners would be the last group to be granted any “amnesty.”

It’s not about ideology. It’s about practicality. In a mess this big you fix it and stop arguing about it. Leave the argument till later. Divide the losses amongst ALL the players based upon their ability to withstand it and yes, that DOES include the taxpayer now that we have so totally screwed up this recovery. Nothing real has occured. No regulation, no turning over the upside down ship of finance, no sharing of the losses —- that has simply been turned onto the taxpayer past,present and future. Municipalities, cities, counties, state budgets and yes many non-profits and charitable foundations and organizations whose budgets or investment base have been wrecked even if they were not invested with Bernie Madoff. Folks we are in this together.

EVERYONE is effected by the housing crisis in one form or another. Let the justice system take care of the criminal enterprises through law enforcement. We are finding inertia through finding blame of borrowers, blame of title companies, mortgage brokers, appraisers, rating agencies, investment banks …  et al.

Everyone knows it but only a few people are willing to say it: principal reduction. Hundreds of thousands who are not in foreclosure are $100k-$300k underwater, are they supposed to continue to pay on their mortgage for 10 years and hope they break even? Questionable business decision when you look at it mathematically. They have been damaged and no one has a program for them…wait until this part of the populace starts making noise. The financial sector shoulders SOME of the losses not just arguably because they should but because they can. It means that borrowers shoulder SOME of the losses not because they should but because they must. It means that where borrowers cannot withstand the burden even after principal reduction, the GOVERNMENT steps in with Taxpayer money and shoulders SOME of the losses not because it should but because it must. Property values in entire cities and regions are at stake, which gets to tax base, which impacts school systems…which impacts our children and grandchildren.

ALL the players who were intermediaries in the securitization chain from originating lenders, to underwriters that sold the MBS to state retirement systems, insurers who issued default insurance, ratings agencies…they all made a KILLING with little or no capital at risk, they should but because they were part of the problem, they got paid to play and now that the game didn’t turn out so well they get to share SOME of the losses.

By Alison Vekshin

Dec. 3 (Bloomberg) — Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Sheila Bair may ask lenders to cut the principal on as much as $45 billion in mortgages acquired from seized banks, expanding her bid to aid homeowners as unemployment rises.

The FDIC, which has taken over 124 failed banks this year, may seek to have lenders that sign loss-sharing agreements when acquiring the assets do more than cut interest rates or defer the loan’s principal, Bair said today in an interview at Bloomberg’s Washington office.

“We’re looking now at whether we should provide some further loss sharing for principal write downs,” Bair said. “Now you’re in a situation where even the good mortgages are going bad because people are losing their jobs. So you have other factors now driving mortgage distress.”

Bair, 55, is stepping up her effort to prevent U.S. home foreclosures, using the agency’s relationship with lenders to make change. She has pressed mortgage-servicing companies to modify loan terms for struggling borrowers and unsuccessfully lobbied last year to have the Treasury Department use the Troubled Asset Relief Program to curb foreclosures.

The FDIC set up a foreclosure-relief program last year at IndyMac Federal Bank, a failed California mortgage lender, to be a model for the banking industry. The program, using a combination of interest-rate reductions, term or amortization extensions and principal forbearance, led to agreements to modify about a third of IndyMac’s eligible loans.

Rising Unemployment

In September, Bair urged banks that are sharing losses with her agency to temporarily reduce mortgage payments for out-of- work borrowers. U.S. unemployment soared to a 26-year high of 10.2 percent in November.

The agency now is considering whether lenders that acquire banks should share a larger portion of the losses on loans whose principal is cut and whether the FDIC will recover the additional subsidy through reduced foreclosure rates.

“I think we’re going to gain by reducing re-default rates or delinquencies with people walking away,” Bair said. “We’ll obviously lose by providing loss-share for principal writedowns.”

Under the average loss-sharing agreement, the FDIC pays as much as 80 percent of losses on a residential mortgage up to a set threshold, with the acquiring bank absorbing 20 percent. Any losses exceeding the threshold are reimbursed at 95 percent of the losses booked by the acquirer.

$80 Billion

The FDIC has loss-sharing agreements on $109.1 billion of failed-bank assets, including $44.7 billion for single-family home loans, spokesman Andrew Gray said.

“For the acquiring banks, it’s great because now they get more protection for the assets that they’re picking up and they have more flexibility in dealing with the problems,” John Douglas, who leads the bank regulatory practice at Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP in New York and is a former FDIC attorney, said in a telephone interview.

Principal reductions will help borrowers who are “underwater” on their payment-option adjustable-rate mortgages, whose principal expands over time, said Julia Gordon, senior policy counsel at the Center for Responsible Lending.

“In order to make those loans affordable and give those homeowners a reason to stay rather than walk away, principal reduction is going to be key,” Gordon said.

The U.S. Treasury Department plans to pressure lenders to complete modifying home loans to troubled borrowers under a $75 billion program. Almost 651,000 loan revisions had been started through the Obama administration’s Home Affordable Modification Program as of October, up from 487,080 as of September, according to the Treasury.

The Washington-based FDIC insures deposits at 8,099 institutions with $13.2 trillion in assets. The agency is charged with dismantling failed banks and manages an insurance fund it uses to reimburse customers for deposits of as much as $250,000 when a lender collapses.

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