States Ignore Obvious Remedy to Fiscal Meltdown

without raising taxes one cent, many states could recover much or all of their deficit and perhaps some states could be looking at a surplus.
The money is sitting on Wall Street waiting to be claimed through existing tax laws, regulatory fees, and even damage claims much like the Tobacco litigation.
Editor’s Note: Bob Herbert of the New York Times correctly depicts the tragedy of the cuts to education, health care for children, and other essential services that we expect from government. And any economist would agree with him that budget cuts are the last thing a state or any government ought to do in a recession. But his story, and that of dozens of other reporters and opinion writers misses the simple fact that this crash, which is depression (not a recession) for many states need not be so painful.

The money is sitting on Wall Street waiting to be claimed through existing tax laws, regulatory fees, and even damage claims much like the Tobacco litigation. As I have repeatedly stated to Arizona’s Republican State Treasurer Dean Martin and Andre Cherney, the Democrat who wants to replace him, along with legislative committees and other government departments of many states, including Florida, they are owed taxes, fees, penalties and damages from the investment bankers who brought us the great financial meltdown.

It’s really simple, but the bank lobby is so strong and the misconceptions are so great, that they just don’t want to get it. In the securitization of mortgages, there were numerous transfers on and off record (mostly off-record).

Each of those transfers resulted in fees or profits made by the parties involved. All of that was ordinary income, taxable transfers, subject to recording and registration fees,and regulation by state agencies with whom the parties never bothered to register.

Each transaction that should have been recorded would produce revenue for counties in their recording offices if they simply enforced it. Each profit or fee earned was related to a transfer of real property interests in the state that were NOT subject to any exemption. The income tax applies. Arizona calculated what the income would be if they enforced tax collection against these fees and came up with $3 billion. I think it is three times that, but even accepting their estimate, that would completely eliminate their deficit and allow them to continue covering the 47,000  children they just cut from health care.

So without raising taxes one cent, many states could recover much or all of their deficit and perhaps some states could be looking at a surplus.
There are many ways to actually collect this money as I have explained to legislators, agency heads and aides. The ONLY reason communities are closing down police and fire departments, closing schools and cutting medical care for children is because the people in power are too beholden to the banking lobby and too fearful of angering the real powers on both the national and state levels — Wall Street.
March 20, 2010
Op-Ed Columnist, NY Times

A Ruinous Meltdown

A story that is not getting nearly enough attention is the ruinous fiscal meltdown occurring in state after state, all across the country.

Taxes are being raised. Draconian cuts in services are being made. Public employees are being fired. The tissue-thin national economic recovery is being undermined. And in many cases, the most vulnerable populations — the sick, the elderly, the young and the poor — are getting badly hurt.

Arizona, struggling with a projected $2.6 billion budget shortfall, took the drastic step of scrapping its Children’s Health Insurance Program. That left nearly 47,000 low-income children with no coverage at all. Gov. Jan Brewer is also calling for an increase in the sales tax. She said, “Arizona is navigating its way through the largest state budget deficit in its long history.”

In New Jersey, the newly elected governor, Chris Christie, has proposed a series of budget cuts that, among other things, would result in public schools receiving $820 million less in state aid than they had received in the prior school year. Some well-off districts would have their direct school aid cut off altogether. Poorer districts that rely almost entirely on state aid would absorb the biggest losses in terms of dollars. They’re bracing for a terrible hit.

For all the happy talk about “no child left behind,” the truth is that in Arizona and New Jersey and dozens of other states trying to cope with the fiscal disaster brought on by the Great Recession, millions of children are being left far behind, and many millions of adults as well.

“We’ve talked in the past about revenue declines in a recession,” said Jon Shure of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “but I think you have to call this one a revenue collapse. In proportional terms, there has never been a drop in state revenues like we’re seeing now since people started to keep track of state revenues. We’re in unchartered territory when it comes to the magnitude of the impact.”

Massachusetts, which has made a series of painful cuts over the past two years, is gearing up for more. Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, told The Boston Globe: “There’s no end to the bad news here. The state fiscal situation is already so dire that any additional bad news is magnified.”

California has cut billions of dollars from its education system, including its renowned network of public colleges and universities. Many thousands of teachers have been let go. Budget officials travel the state with a glazed look in their eyes, having tried everything they can think of to balance the state budget. And still the deficits persist.

In the first two months of this year, state and local governments across the U.S. cut 45,000 jobs. Additional layoffs are expected as states move ahead with their budgets for fiscal 2011. Increasingly these budgets, instead of helping people, are hurting them, undermining the quality of their lives, depriving them of educational opportunities, preventing them from accessing desperately needed medical care, and so on.

The federal government has tried to help, but much more assistance is needed.

These are especially tough times for young people. “What we’re seeing now in Arizona and potentially in New Jersey and other states spells long-term trouble for the nation’s children,” said Dr. Irwin Redlener, a pediatrician who is president of the Children’s Health Fund in New York and a professor at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.

“We’re looking at all these cuts in human services — in health care, in education, in after-school programs, in juvenile justice. This all points to a very grim future for these children who seem to be taking the brunt of this financial crisis.”

Dr. Redlener issued a warning nearly a year ago about the “frightening” toll the recession was taking on children. He told me last April, “We are seeing the emergence of what amounts to a ‘recession generation.’ ”

The impact of the recession on everyone, of whatever age, is only made worse when states trying to balance their budgets focus too intently on cutting services as opposed to a mix of service cuts and revenue-raising measures.

As Mr. Shure of the Center on Budget noted, “The cruel irony is that in a recession like this, the people’s needs go up at the same time that the states’ ability to meet those needs goes down.”

Budget cuts also tend to weaken rather than strengthen a state’s economy, especially when they entail furloughs or layoffs. Government spending stimulates an economy in recession. And wise spending is an investment in everyone’s quality of life.

All states have been rocked by the Great Recession. And most have tried to cope with a reasonable mix of budget cuts and tax increases, or other revenue-raising measures. Those that rely too heavily on cuts are making guaranteed investments in human misery.

TRUE SALE and ASSIGNMENTS: The Nature of REMIC

From “Anonymous”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

——————————————————————-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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