Tier 2 Yield Spread Premium Confirmed: Wells Fargo to Pay $11 Million to Investors



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Prices “Marked Up” 70% Over Values Shown on Books

If Investor-lenders got their money back from the investment banker, then where is the debt from the home borrower (if the creditor is satisfied)? It might be nowhere. The SEC is calling it a price-gouging “mark-up” which is the same thing as the extra compensation paid to mortgage brokers. If the extra money paid to the investment banker was justified by the difference between the actual interest rate and viability, life and status of the loan to the homeowner and the rate “disclosed” to the investor — there are two causes of action using the same pot of money.

The investors won here because they were defrauded by price gouging, pretending the mortgage backed securities were not only mortgage-backed (when they weren’t), pretending that there was an existing receivable in the “asset-backed” pool (which there was not), pretending that the promissory note and security instrument (mortgage or deed of trust) were valid and enforceable, and pretending that the true expected rate of return on investment (interest payments and principal) were properly disclosed to the investor-lenders.

In point of fact the investment banker quickly launched a program in which huge fees of 40% or more could be retained by the investment bank while at the same time stating that the investor was getting a safe return on  its investment– all of which raises the question about who gets title to the house. 

The reality is that the nominal rate of return on most mortgages was significantly higher than the real return expected by investors and in fact the actual payments to creditors was largely accomplished by payments from the pool itself (PONZI scheme) and by servicers continuing payments to preserve their “right” and intention to mark down the house for foreclosure sale and apply both contractual and non-contractual fees to the sale, making the house THEIR house instead of using it protect the investors’ position. This difference was achieved by sleight of hand.

By translating the real DOLLAR return to the investor from the percentage used in the prospectus, Wall Street was able to, by example, take $100,000 million and keep $50 million of it for themselves, contrary to any reasonable interpretation of the Prospectus or PSA. The Math is simple.

Take a pension fund who wants to earn 6% in a market where only 5% is available. Thus on the $100,000,000 investment they are expecting a return of $6,000,000 per year (at 6%). Wall Street packaged up loans with an average nominal interest rate of 12% which means that the risk of non-payment was raised far beyond the tolerance of the investor. But the investor-lender didn’t know how their money was being used in the real world. Wall Street bundled $50,000,000 worth of “loans” with an average rate on the note of 12% which equals the $6,000,000 — the amount the investor wanted. Wall Street knew those loans were at maximum risk or certainty of default which is the opposite of the AAA rating from S&P or Fitch. But they didn’t care because the worse the loan, the higher the NOMINAL (in name only) rate of interest stated on the note, the more spread there was against which they could charge their exorbitant fees.

At the end of the day, the pension fund parted with $100 million and never received anything real in return. Under the best circumstances in a court of equity the investor-lenders would have a shot at enforcing some liability and lien on the homeowners in the $50 million package. But because of appraisal fraud where the value of the homes were pumped up intentionally to make THAT also look like something it wasn’t, the reality for investors is that by making collection attempts directly against the homeonwers they would be pursuing properties whose combined value is more likely than not under $25,000,000, which after real expenses and distressed sales could fall far below that amount even if the loan was still performing.

Making a secret profit from the difference between what the interest SHOULD have been and what it was, as nominally stated on the note, is called a yield spread premium (YSP) Most people think of yield spread premiums as the amount paid to mortgage brokers as their reward for getting the borrower to a take a loan whose interest is higher than the interest rate the borrowers could get elsewhere, or even from the same “lender” because their credit score and history qualified them for a lower interest rate. The mortgage broker is paid an actual fee if he is successful in getting the borrower to accept a higher cost loan product.

But here we see a story (below) where the investment banker paid itself a yield spread premium in some cases equal to or greater than the amount funded for the loan. That fee must be disclosed under federal and most state lending laws. The failure to disclose provides the borrower with a right of rescission and a right to damages and treble damages plus attorney fees and costs. That is the tier 2 YSP. It is the same pot of money as the “excessive mark-up” of the securities to the investor-lenders. The investors are collecting, thus raising the issue of whether the deal is now closed out, paid in full, despite little or no participation from the borrower or whether BOTH the investor-lender and the borrower have equally valid and meritorious claims against the same pot of money.

SEC charges Wachovia over CDOs

Wells Fargo agrees to settle charges and pay more than $11 million

By Ronald D. Orol, MarketWatch

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — The Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday charged Wachovia Corp. with overpricing mortgage-bond deals, in the first of what could be several suits the regulator brings to clamp down on Wall Street practices.

Wells Fargo & Co. (NYSE:WFC) , which now owns Wachovia, agreed to settle the SEC’s charges by paying more than $11 million in disgorgement and penalties, much of which the agency said will be returned to harmed investors.

“Wachovia caused significant losses to the Zuni Indians and other investors by violating basic investor-protection rules — don’t charge secret excessive markups, and don’t use stale prices when telling buyers that assets are priced at fair-market value,” said SEC Division of Enforcement Director Robert Khuzami.

Subpoena for IPO-poised Pandora

Online-music streaming service Pandora, which plans an initial public offering, says it has been subpoenaed in an investigation probing information-sharing by mobile applications. John Letzing and Stacey Delo discuss.

The agency is focusing on the amounts Wachovia charged for collateralized debt obligations, and the inquiry is part of a broader probe into Wall Street sales of $1 trillion worth of CDOs.

CDOs are a type of security often made up of the riskier portions of mortgage-backed securities. Read about CDOs role in the financial crisis.

The SEC’s order found that Wachovia violated securities laws by charging “undisclosed excessive markups” in shares of CDOs to the Zuni Indian Tribe and to an individual investor.

According to the SEC, Wachovia allegedly marked down $5.5 million of equity to 52.7 cents on the dollar after the deal closed and it was unable to find a buyer. Months later, the SEC said, the Zuni Indian Tribe and individual investor paid 90 cents and 95 cents on the dollar for the securities, the agency added. Read about Merrill Lynch and CDO disclosures

“Unbeknownst to them, these prices were over 70 percent higher than the price at which the equity had been marked for accounting purposes,” the SEC said.

The settlement follows a Manhattan federal judge ruling on Friday, dismissing three shareholder lawsuits accusing Wachovia and former executives there of misrepresenting the bank’s exposure to risky mortgage loans, according to a Reuters report. Shareholders claimed Wachovia loosened underwriting guidelines and marketed the loans aggressively, the report said.

Last year, the SEC and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE:GS)  agreed to a $550 million settlement over CDOs. As part of the settlement, Goldman acknowledged that marketing materials for a CDO it sold were “incomplete” and that it should have revealed the role hedge-fund firm Paulson & Co. played in constructing the vehicle. Read about Goldman settlement with SEC over CDOs



COMBO Title and Securitization Search, Report, Documents, Analysis & Commentary SEE LIVINGLIES LITIGATION SUPPORT AT LUMINAQ.COM

EDITOR’S NOTE: Amazing how our culture has been one of “entitlement.” No I’m not talking about social security, medicare or medicare, or fire departments, police departments or teachers. I’m talking about the fees that mortgage brokers have been paid to steer borrowers into loans that were guaranteed to fail or at the very least, had worse terms than the broker knew the borrower could get. The Wall Street mentality of get what you can has permeated the entire marketplace.

Broker Fee Rules Take Effect


THERE have been changes in federal rules covering how mortgage brokers are paid, and while legal challenges to them persist, the question now is how the new system will work in practice.

Regulators and consumer advocates say borrowers are bound to benefit. Broker trade groups say their industry will shrivel and consumer costs will go up.

Mortgage brokers are middlemen who work with multiple lenders to arrange home loans for customers. They say they add value by helping borrowers find the best deal; their detractors say they add costs that have been hidden in complex fees.

The business has contracted significantly in the last five years. In 2005, during the real estate boom, brokers accounted for 31 percent of mortgages originated, according to Inside Mortgage Finance, a trade publication. Last year it was just 11 percent, and the market was only half as big.

Brokers used to be compensated by a mix of borrower-paid origination fees and lender-paid fees. The most controversial was a “yield spread premium,” paid by lenders when a broker placed a borrower in a loan that charged higher interest than other loans. The justification was that higher rates allowed lower upfront closing costs. The criticism was that the premiums were an incentive to push expensive loans and that the system contributed to a flood of risky loans and thus to the financial crisis.

In response, the Federal Reserve put out rules that prohibit loan originators from being paid by both the borrower and lender on the same deal, and also barring commissions based on anything other than loan size. The rules were set to take effect April 1; two trade groups sued, delaying enactment a few days before a federal appeals court allowed it. Both the National Association of Mortgage Brokers and the National Association of Independent Housing Professionals say they will keep pressing their lawsuits.

On the front line, the problem is that there has been “no clear guidance” on exactly how to arrange commission structures for employees who originate loans, said Melissa Cohn, the president of the Manhattan Mortgage Company, a loan brokerage firm.

“To be honest with you,” she said, “in some cases it’s going to create higher-priced mortgages.” Although the spirit of the law is to protect borrowers, she added, “the reality of it is it’s just going to cause more confusion.”

Mike Anderson, the director of the National Association of Mortgage Brokers, speaking just two days after the rules went into effect, said: “It’s already happening. Rates have already gone up; fees have gone up.” Mr. Anderson, who is also a broker in New Orleans, cited situations in which brokers could no longer cut fees to make deals go through, and others in which banks were raising charges. “The rules basically pick the winners and losers,” he said, with the winners being the big banks. “The losers are the small businesses.”

The Facebook page of the National Association of Independent Housing Professionals is full of complaints from what appear to be mortgage brokers saying the rules will hurt their business, and recounting how unnamed lenders have raised prices.

Despite industry opposition, the change is a victory for borrowers, according to representatives of the Center for Responsible Lending, an advocacy group long critical of the yield-spread premium system. Borrowers “should be getting more honest services from the originator they’re working with,” said Kathleen E. Keest, a senior policy counsel, “because that originator is no longer going to have a conflict of interest if they put a borrower in a loan with a higher interest rate or riskier terms.”

“If people were saying that the way things worked, worked well,” she added, “that’s one thing, but it’s very clear the way things worked before didn’t work for anybody. The notion we need to have the same rules is denying what happened. It’s denying that the way the market was working was disastrous for everybody.”



One would think this was already illegal and one would be right. Not only is it specified in the Truth in Lending Act and other state and federal laws governing deceptive lending practices, it is also covered by RICO and common law actions for fraud. YSP fees and other forms of undisclosed compensation, of which there were many, are all illegal. These fees are illegal and are all due back to the borrower, along with attorney fees, interest, and potential treble damages. And states and federal government agencies that collect revenue should be interested in all this undeclared income “earned” tax-free.

Up until the era of securitization, YSP fees were limited to those situations addressed by this “new” FED ban — where a mortgage broker convinced a borrower to take a higher interest rate in exchange for some perceived advantage that was in fact disadvantageous to the customer — like coming to the table with less money in exchange for a virtual guarantee of foreclosure down the road. But what this ban does not address directly is the the “tier 2” YSP, in which the second broker was the investment bank. Nor does it take a shot at the trillions in YSP fees ripped out of our economy up until now, which the taxpayers have guaranteed thanks to the TARP, US Treasury and Federal Reserve programs in the fall of 2008. In a hot election year, government and Wall Street guessed correctly that nobody would realize what hit them until long after the deed was done.

While the first YSP was abhorrent, paying brokers thousands of dollars for each bad loan, the second one, also undisclosed, paid investment bankers a profit that sometimes exceeded the loan itself. In the first instance the lie was that this loan is better for you because your initial payment is less, your down payment is less or whatever. In the first instance the lie was first to the prospective borrower, and second to the investor who was advancing money under the supposition that the money would be used to fund loans that had the usual risk of non-payment — which is to say that the odds were in their favor that on balance they would get the return they were looking for, get their principal back and minimize the small balance of defaults with proceeds of foreclosures.

The first lie was predicated on an even bigger lie to both the borrower and the lender (investor): that the property was worth more than the loan, so it was covered by a security interest that would minimize or eliminate the risk of an actual loss. This lie was compounded by the lie that housing prices never go down and they had the appraisals and ratings form official rating agencies to prove that these were transactions whose value was the highest grade available in the marketplace.

The compounded lie was used to convince borrowers that the fact that they knew they could not afford the loan payments when the loan reset to its real terms was “offset” by the “fact” that the broker “guaranteed” the house would later be refinanced at a higher value in which the payment would again be reduced and the borrower would actually receive extra cash. This passive return on an investment meets the definition of the sale of a security, qualifies as a fraudulent unregistered securities transaction, and should land some people in jail. So far, though, the bulk of public opinion continues to blame the victim. The fact that in a transparent transaction where the real facts were disclosed most borrowers would never have signed and no investor would have advanced money is still mysteriously being ignored by policy makers and the courts. Yet it is as plain as day.

This brings us to the second BIG LIE which was that the loan met underwriting standards for the industry, was verified in all the appropriate ways, and the money advanced by the investors was being used to fund loans, not illicit profits. All the lies overlap. The worse the loan the higher the “yield spread premium” to the broker and the higher the yield premium to the investment banker. If the lender (investor) and the borrower knew that the actual amount funded by the lender was $450,000 but the loan was only $300,000, how many people do you think would have allowed or completed that transaction. If they knew that a $150,000 yield spread premium was kept by the investment banker  on a $300,000 loan, how many readers think that NOBODY would have asked “hey! Where is the other $150,000?” How many readers think that ANYONE would say that 50% of the loan amount is a reasonable fee for the investment banker to keep?

Although they make it sound complicated the method was conventional and simple: keep the borrower and lender far away from each other so that neither one actual knew the true facts of the transaction. In other words, your standard con game.

This is why the securitization searches are SO important in confronting your adversary in a mortgage dispute. The title search is important, but the securitization search is what really traces the money. And NOBODY in the financial industry wants you to be able to trace the money because if you do, then investors and borrowers who are suing in greater and greater numbers are going to know where the money went, who got it, and they are going to want it back because it was procured by outright lies.

NOTE: The tier 2 YSP runs counter-intuitive to most people so they keep putting it aside. But it lies at the heart of the mortgage crisis. So I’ll explain it AGAIN here. I’ll use a brand new example taken from the above. It is oversimplified to make the point, but it makes the double point that every financial transaction should be allocated to every loan where it is appropriate to do so, which is why your action for ACCOUNTING and DISCOVERY is so important.

  1. Teachers Pension Fund of Arizona is limited to AAA rated investments, which means the equivalent of U.S. Treasury obligations. They seek the highest possible return without going outside the lines of the primary restriction: NO RISK. They understand that in a market where AAA returns are running at 4% they are not going to get 8% without substantially increasing their risk, which is not allowed. The fund managers basically have the job of making sure that investments stay within guidelines, and that liquidity is maintained to pay the benefits to retired Arizona teachers. The fund managers generally rely upon the rating agencies (Moody’s, Standard and Poor’s, Fitch etc.) but they also “peek under the hood” now and then to make sure everything is OK. Generally they rely upon 2 or 3 investment brokerage houses that have world wide reputations to “protect” and whose objective is to keep the pension fund as a long-term client. It’s been like this for decades, so the hum drum of daily activity lulls everyone into a semi-comatose state.
  2. So when Merrill Lynch tells them they have this “innovative financial product” that “everyone” is buying and that has the AAA rating but provides a higher return of say 5% AND is further insured by AIG and/or AMBAC, the fund managers, wanting to look pretty to management of the fund, buy some of these exotic creatures. In our case we will say for example that the fund invested $450,000 in exchange for a promised return on investment of 5%.
  3. Thus our pension fund managers have partied with $450,000 and they are expecting 5% interest (RISK-FREE) which is, in dollars, $22,500 per year. And they expect the investment bank to pick up a few basis points as their fee on this no-brainer risk free investment transaction.
  4. The investment bank goes to its mortgage aggregator, let’s say Countrywide (now Bank of America/BAC), and says give me a $300,000 loan on which the borrower has agreed to pay $22,500 in interest. CW does a quick calculation and arrives at the obvious result: Merrill Lynch is asking them for a $300,000 mortgage loan whose stated rate of interest is 7.5%. Just to check their math they multiply $300,000 times the 7.5% rate and sure enough, it is $22,500 annual interest.
  5. CW goes to its loan originator, and asks for a $300,000 loan with a nominal rate of 9%, with a teaser payment of only 1%, because they want to make sure there is plenty of money to pay the yield spread premium to the mortgage broker, and to collect service fees, transaction fees etc.
  6. The loan originator goes to the prospective borrower who qualifies for a 5 1/2% loan fixed rate for 30 years and can easily pay that. But that is not what Merrill Lynch, CW, or the loan originator want in order to earn their ridiculous fees.
  7. The loan originator assigns a “loan specialist” who has received been certified as a mortgage analyst after a total of 7 seconds of training on his way up the elevator to the 13th floor where his cubicle is filled with prospective deals. His conviction for mail fraud, wire fraud, and prison sentence is behind him now because this new company doesn’t care about his past.
  8. The loan specialist is given a script to convince the borrower against paying 20% down payment, and to take a loan that allows them to pay only 1% interest only for two years. At $250 per month payment, the savings per month is enormous and the loan specialist further entices them with the fact that this is a bona fide transaction backed up by Quicken Loans or some other originator who has done the math and they have figured out that this works best for the customer.  Not only that, home prices are forecasted to continue rising by 20% per month, so in a year they will able to refinance and take out an extra $100,000 with even Lower payments.
  9. If the borrower takes the bait, everyone gets what they want except the borrower who is in for some nasty surprises down the road when the payments rise substantially above anything the borrower can pay. This loan is identified as being in the junior tranches of a securitized pool, but subject to a credit default swap which was sold by the senior tranche thus contains toxic waste loans without anyone being the wiser. [This “sale” initially shows MORE INCOME in the senior tranche but creates an enormous liability — the equivalent of having purchased the worst of the toxic waste loans. Thus the senior tranche “safe” asset was converted into a horrendous liability that was as guaranteed to fail as the lowest tranches. The trick on the secondary transaction was that the investment banking firm had the proceeds of the credit default swaps payable to themselves instead of the investors, by labeling the transaction as a proprietary trade instead of a fiduciary transaction].
  10. If the borrower doesn’t take the bait, then the loan is done at 5 1/2% and is identified as being in the senior tranches of a securitized pool by virtue of a spreadsheet without any assignment, indorsement or delivery of or recording of actual documents.
  11. So to summarize, on a $300,000 loan, the investment bank made $150,000 which was used to fund the outsized and illegal yield spread premiums to the mortgage brokers, who were incentivized to make the worst loans possible because the investment bank’s spread increases exponentially every time they get a bad loan. The Arizona Pension Fund is not wise to the fact that only $300,000 of their money was actually invested in a mortgage. Nor do they know the quality of the mortgage is virtually ‘guaranteed to fail” much less AAA.
  12. Once the loan fails, the Pension Fund does not in theory ask any questions about what happened to all the money — except now, many investors ARE asking that that question and I encourage readers to keep track of those cases, since the discovery responses and pleadings will be very revealing regarding your own actions as borrowers to recover damages, interest, attorney fees etc for TILA, RICO and other violations.


August 16, 2010

Fed Adopts Rules Meant to Protect Home Buyer


The Federal Reserve on Monday moved to end a controversial lending practice that had helped propel the housing boom to unsustainable heights and then accelerated its collapse.

The Fed announced that it was adopting new rules banning yield spread premiums, which allowed mortgage brokers and lenders to gain additional profit from loans by charging borrowers higher-than-market interest rates.

Reaction to the change was muted. For one thing, the recent package of financial reforms passed by Congress this summer already addressed the issue. And some thought a ban should have been imposed long ago, at a time when it could have directly affected loan quality.

Michael D. Calhoun, president of the Center for Responsible Lending, described the action as “a real milestone,” but he said that he had been trying to convince regulators for at least 15 years that yield spread premiums were no more than illegal kickbacks.

Many borrowers had little idea of what a yield spread premium was, even when it was costing them money.

Traditionally, mortgage brokers were paid directly by the home buyer. The rise of the premium allowed the brokers to be compensated by the lender as well. Lenders in effect started paying bonuses to brokers who brought them high-interest loans that were naturally coveted by mortgage investors.

From there, critics said, it was a short step for some brokers to put unsuspecting buyers into these loans and tell them it was the best deal they could get. Subprime lenders in particular often used yield spread premiums.

“People didn’t just happen to end up in risky loans,” Mr. Calhoun said. “Mortgage brokers and other people on the frontlines were getting two to three times as much money to push buyers into those loans than they were into 30-year fixed-rate loans. So what do you think happened?”

Brokers argued that it was frequently in the interest of the borrower, especially a low-income buyer, to pay a higher rate in exchange for bringing less cash to closing.

Attempts at reform achieved little, and during the housing boom the yield spread premiums became ever more prevalent. In many cases, groups like the Center for Responsible Lending found, borrowers never realized they were paying both higher fees and a higher rate.

While the new rules prohibit payments to a lender or broker based on the loan’s interest rate, they do allow for compensation based on a fixed percentage of the loan amount.

To avoid steering the buyer into a loan that is offering less favorable terms, the rules now say that the borrower must be provided with competing options, including the lowest qualifying interest rate, the lowest points and origination fees, and the lowest qualifying rate without risky features like prepayment penalties.

The National Association of Mortgage Brokers, which had long argued that efforts to reform the premium unfairly singled out its members, pronounced itself satisfied with the new rules.

The Fed rules “put everybody on the same footing,” including brokers and banks, said Roy DeLoach, executive vice president for the brokers’ association.

The rules take effect in April. Similar, and in some ways broader, rules in the financial reform bill will take effect later.


APPRAISAL FRAUD IS THE ACT OF GIVING A RATING OR VALUE TO A HOME THAT IS WRONG — AND THE APPRAISER KNOWS IT IS WRONG. This can’t be performed in a vacuum because there are so many players who are involved. They ALL must be complicit in the deceit leading to the homeowner signing on the the bottom line and advancing his home as collateral on a loan which at the very beginning is theft of most of the value of the home. It’s like those credit cards they send to people who are financially challenged. $300 credit, no questions asked. And then you get a bill for $297 including fees and insurance. So you end up not with a credit line of $300, but a liability of $300 just for signing your name. It’s a game to the “lenders” because they are not using their own money.

And remember, the legal responsibility for the appraisal is directly with the appraiser, the appraisal company (which usually has errors and omissions insurance) and the named lender in your closing documents. The named “lender” is, according to Federal Law, required to verify the value of the property.

How many of them , if they were using their own money, would blithely accept a $300,000 appraisal on a home that was worth $200,000 last month and will be worth $200,000 next month? You are entitled to rely on the appraisal and the “verification” by the “lender” (see Truth in Lending Act and Reg Z). The whole reason the law is structured that way is because THEY know and YOU don’t. THEY have access to the information and YOU don’t. This is a complex transaction that THEY understand and YOU don’t.

A false appraisal steals money from you because you rely on it to make the deal for refinancing or for the purchase. You think the home is worth $300,000 and so you agree to buy a loan product that puts you in debt for $290,000. But the house is worth $200,000. You just lost $90,000 plus closing costs and a variety of other expenses, especially if you are moving into anew home that requires all kinds of additions like window treatments etc. But the “lender” who is really just a front for the Wall Street and the investor pool that funded the loan, made out like bandits. Yield spread premiums, extra fees, profits, rebates, kickbacks to the developer, the appraiser, the mortgage broker, the title agency, the closing agent, the real estate broker, trustee(s) the investment banking entities that were used in the securitization of your loan, amount in some cases to MORE THAN YOUR LOAN. No wonder they are so anxious to get your signature.

“Comparable” means reference to time, nearby geography, and physical attributes of the home and lot. Here are SOME of the more obvious indicators of appraisal fraud:

  1. Your home is worth 40% of the appraisal amount.
  2. The appraisal used add-ons from the developer that were marked up for the home buyer but which nobody in the secondary market will pay. That kitchen you paid an extra $10,000 for “extras” is included in your appraisal but has no value to anyone else. That’s not an appraisal and it isn’t collateral or fair market value.
  3. The homes in the immediate vicinity of your home were selling for less than your home appraisal when they had the same attributes.
  4. The homes in the immediate vicinity of your home were selling for less than your home appraisal just a few weeks or months before.
  5. The value of your home was significantly less just a  few weeks or months after the closing.
  6. You are underwater: this means you owe more on your obligation than your house is worth. Current estimates are that it might take 20 years or more for home prices to reach the level of mortgages, and that is WITH inflation.
  7. Negative amortization loans usually allow the principal to rise even above the falsely inflated appraisal amount. If that happened, then they knew at the time of the loan that even if the appraisal was not inflated, it still would not be worth the amount of the principal due on the obligation. For example, if your loan is $290,000 and the interest is $25,000 per year, but you were only required to pay $1,000 per month for the first three years, then your Principal was going up by $13,000 per year compounded. So that $300,000 appraisal doesn’t cover the $39,000+ that would be added to your principal balance. The balance at the end of 3 years will be over $330,000 on property APPRAISED at $300,000. No honest appraiser, mortgage broker, or lender, would be complicit in such an arrangement unless they were paid handsomely to do it and they had no risk because they were not using their own money for the loan.

Subprimes Not Dead for Deutsch, American General New offerings Planned

Editor’s Notes: They are STILL doing it. This report clearly shows that the main players are still packaging sub-prime loans (which most people would define as loans likely to fail). The reason is money. The higher the spread the higher the yield spread premium. These YSP’s are still not reported to borrowers. They are hidden from both investors and borrowers. My opinion is that there is no statute of limitations on a cause of action you don’t know exists — especially if the intent and conduct of the defrauding parties was a pattern to withhold information.

What is interesting is to see how they are addressing investor concerns about toxic assets and what they disclose now versus what they disclosed when the real mess was created. What is scary is that without regulation, the game continues. This is like a sports event where the referees have left the field.

“the underlying borrowers have full documentation, were fully examined by the company and most have made 50 payments or more – factors that have often been missing from poorly performing loan pools.

“Subprime mortgages were once the lifeblood of the securitization business, accounting for more than $1 trillion of deals in the decade leading up to the 2007 credit-market crash

Subprimes Not Dead for American General
Asset Backed Alert, Harrison Scott Publications Inc. (March 26, 2010)

American General is about to start shopping the second in what could be a series of securitizations this year, this time in the form of a deal backed by subprime mortgages. The offering, totaling $800 million, is set to hit the market within the next two weeks via lead underwriter Deutsche Bank. It would be backed by 30-year fixed-rate loans that were mostly written 3-7 years ago through American General’s own branches, with no credits newer than 18 months old.

The transaction is separate from a securitization the Evansville, Ind., unit of AIG is poised to price in the coming days. RBS is leading that $1 billion issue, backed by alternative-A credits written through brokers. The alt-A deal was seen as a rarity when it hit the market just over a month ago, as it was among just a few private-label mortgage securitizations to go into development since the global credit crisis intensified in late 2008. Even then, however, subprime-loan issues were presumed extinct.

Indeed, investors have been treating subprime-mortgage securitizations as toxic for nearly three years. But American General is touting some characteristics that might ease buyers’ concerns. For instance, the underlying borrowers have full documentation, were fully examined by the company and most have made 50 payments or more – factors that have often been missing from poorly performing loan pools.

There will also be substantial credit enhancement for the deal’s triple-A-rated senior class, in the form of three or four subordinate pieces equal to about half the top-rated tranche. Deutsche plans to pitch the top class to large “real-money” investors like insurers or pension plans, while shopping the junior notes more quietly among hedge funds.

After that, American General could try to complete six or seven more deals over the course of the year. Most if not all would be backed by subprime loans, mainly from a $10 billion mortgage portfolio the company holds in what it calls its centralized retail pool. It could also draw on a smaller book of brokered loans.

Deutsche would likely run the books on deals involving the retail portfolio with RBS as a co-lead, as is the case with the upcoming subprime-mortgage issue. The arrangement reverses for brokered-loan deals, with RBS in front and Deutsche as a co-lead. American General is also in talks with whole-loan buyers.

Like other mortgage-bond issues that have gone into development in recent months, American General’s securitizations are being talked about as indicators of how the new-deal market will unfold in the months ahead. Other issuers might see successful offerings as justification to pitch bonds of their own, including Wall Street dealers and hedge funds that bought loans on the cheap.

American General has never been a frequent issuer of mortgage-backed bonds, but sees now as an opportune time to use its loan-origination business to carve out a presence in the market. Subprime mortgages were once the lifeblood of the securitization business, accounting for more than $1 trillion of deals in the decade leading up to the 2007 credit-market crash. Amid rampant defaults, the flow of those deals slowed late that year and then shut off entirely in 2008.

Payback TimeMany See the VAT Option as a Cure for Deficits

The value added tax (VAT) has been around for decades in other countries. It is predicated on the  idea that ALL people should share in the cost of government. The way it works (see below) is that the government picks up 10% (for example) of each stepof the production and sales process. It is normally reserved for hard goods instead of services.

I think that is is the only good idea around topay down the deficit IF it is applied to Wall Street. In addition to raising money it would force all intermediaries to report every transaction and their profit on it. It would force them todeclare the profit (VAT) and pay the income taxes from the fees and profits.

Let’s look at the way this would work in the derivative market. Better yet let’s look at the derivative market over the last 10 years. Maybe you’ll fee outrage when you read this somewhat over simplified version of the way things REALLY work. 

  1. Mortgage Bonds are sold  to investors by a “seller.” Who gets the selling fee? How much was it? Where did it go? Even under current rules most of this money went untaxed for income tax because by playing the shell game cleverly you can create a question of tax jurisdiction and end up paying no tax and  not even reporting it.
  2. The Seller of the mortgage bonds (and a percentage interest in the underlying notes and mortgages) received a stack of certificates from the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV/Trust)at a cost of  less than what the certificates were sold for. The great thing for the seller is that the Selling Agent is allowed to “sell forward” to investors, thus knowing exactly6 what his profit is going to be when he takes the stack of bond certificates. The VAT tax would apply here and perhaps result, heaven forbid, in a double tax of VAT and income taxes. Criminal law enforcement could beeefed up on the VAT so that the intermediary parties in the securitization chain have nowhere to hide — if the government does its job in enforcement which would mean training special VAT agents who can understand the workings of securities transfers on Wall Street and can enforce the jurisdicitional issue thaty has been the favorite tool of investment banks working both sides of the Atlantic and Pacific.
  3. The SPV has received an assignment (of dubious legality) from an aggregator pool. It is paying a huge premium over the true value fhe pool, and thus, so are the investors who buy the bonds. In the presence of a government doing its job to enforce tax liability —VAT and Income Tax — the fraud of the entire mortgage meltdown wouldhave been exposed, the government would have taken possession of the investment banks running these pools, and taxpayers would have received in their coffers huge amounts of money paid in taxes from this yield spread premium. But alas,Wall Street continues to get its way and this is considered no a profit or a fee but instead it is either not shown at all as this yield spread profit from sale of ggregator to SPV or it is actually shown as an expense. On an average basis the YSP on the sale from aggregator to SPV was about 80% of the mortgage funding amount. This is where the toxicity of the mortgages and notes was hidden.
  4. And then you continue down the line with the usual undisclosed YSP between mortgage broker and”lender” (actually a straw man through whom the transaction passes etc.

If you put pencil to paper you’ll see that Wall Street didn’t  just dodge responsibility for the mess they created, they dodged the taxes too. If the government was enforcing our existing tax laws through this process, the entire stimulus and other lines of credit from the Federal government would have been paid by the culprits who did this to us.


December 11, 2009 Payback TimeMany See the VAT Option as a Cure for Deficits By CATHERINE RAMPELL Runaway federal deficits have thrust a politically unsavory savior into the spotlight: a nationwide tax on goods and services. Members of Congress, like their constituents, are squeamish about such ideas, instead suggesting spending cuts or higher taxes on the rich. But with a lack of political will to do the former, and a practical ceiling to how much revenue can be milked from the latter, economists across the political spectrum say a consumption tax may be inevitable once the economy fully recovers. “We have to start paying our bills eventually,” said Charles E. McLure, a tax economist who worked in the Reagan administration. “This strikes me as the best and most obvious way of doing it.” The favored route of economists is known as a value-added tax, which is a tax on goods and services that is collected at every step along the production chain, from raw material to a consumer’s shopping bag. Similar to a sales tax, it generally results in consumers paying more for the things they buy. The revenues could be used to pay for health care or other social programs, or just to pay down existing debt. Like universal health care, every other industrialized country in the world already has a value-added tax (as do about 100 emerging countries). And also like universal health care, this once-taboo policy option has recently been invoked, at times begrudgingly, by many prominent Washingtonians, including the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi; John Podesta, who was co-chairman of President Obama’s transition team; and two former Federal Reserve chairmen, Alan Greenspan and Paul A. Volcker Introducing such a tax would probably require an overhaul of the entire federal tax code, no small order, and something the government last did in 1986. At the time the goal was to simplify the tax system, to raise money more efficiently and with fewer headaches for taxpayers. Since then, federal spending has ballooned, while the government’s ability to raise taxes has become increasingly inefficient. Consider the page length of the tax code and tax regulations, which has expanded by more than 70 percent, according to Thomson Reuters Tax and Accounting. (There are more words crammed onto each page, too.) The tax system is now a compendium of lobbied-for ifs, ands and buts. As the tax code has been embellished and then Swiss-cheesed, the portion of Americans footing the nation’s income tax bill has shrunk. “There are many more deductions and credits, which can often encourage inefficient behavior such as tax shelters,” said Leonard E. Burman, a public affairs professor at Syracuse University, about the changes to the tax system since the 1986 reform. “The ideal tax system has a broad base — few deductions or exemptions — and low rates.” Most of the rest of the industrialized world — including, most recently, Australia — has already taken this lesson to heart by imposing value-added taxes. Unlike income taxes, which are often front-loaded on the rich, then subsequently diluted, a value-added tax is paid by almost everybody. That broad base is one of its major advantages, and why the International Monetary Fund frequently recommends it to countries that need to raise money quickly. What is good for economic purposes, however, can be bad politics, especially since Mr. Obama pledged not to raise taxes on the bottom 95 percent of Americans. (And many Republicans have pledged not to raise taxes on the bottom 100 percent of Americans.) The value-added tax is also the darling of many economists for its bounce-a-quarter-off-its-abs efficiency. Its administrative costs to the government are generally low. It is also considered less of a drag on the economy over the long run than raising income taxes, which discourage people from saving money and thereby making capital available to businesses. To understand why a value-added tax is considered so efficient, you have to understand how it usually works. Imagine the production of a new dress, in three steps: ¶A fabric store sells a tailor enough silk to make one dress, at a total price of $10 before taxes; ¶The tailor sews a dress and sells it to Macy’s for $30 before taxes; ¶Macy’s then sells the dress to a shopper for $50, before taxes. Let’s say the value-added tax is 10 percent. The government will collect some tax revenue in each step of the production process, from roll of fabric to cocktail-party scene-stealer, but each business in the chain gets credit for the tax already paid by other suppliers. When selling the cloth to the tailor, the fabric store adds a tax of 10 percent, or $1 on the $10 of supplies the tailor purchases. The tailor pays the fabric store $11, and the store remits $1 to the government. When the tailor sells his dress to Macy’s, he calculates the value-added tax as $3, or 10 percent of his $30 pretax price. Macy’s pays the tailor $33. But instead of sending the full $3 to the government, the tailor gets to subtract the $1 of taxes he had already paid to the fabric store. So he sends $2 to the government. When Macy’s sells the dress to a shopper, it adds another 10 percent, so the shopper pays $55, or $50 plus $5 in tax. That would be in addition to any state or local sales taxes consumers have to pay, depending on the locale. Macy’s checks to see how much the previous companies in the supply chain — the fabric store and the tailor — have already paid the government in value-added taxes, and subtracts that from the $5. Macy’s ends up remitting just $2 to the government. The government receives $5 total, or 10 percent of the final purchase price, but from three different businesses. Although more complicated, value-added taxes are considered better than equivalent sales taxes — where the tax is levied only when the consumer buys a product — for two main reasons. First, if a single business evades the value-added tax, the government does not lose a large portion of money, because it will collect taxes at other stages of production. Since companies usually get credit for taxes already paid by their suppliers, companies will pressure other businesses in the production chain to prove they paid their taxes. That means the system is somewhat self-policing. To some foes of big government, though, the efficiency of the tax is also its fatal flaw. Conservatives worry that it enables the government to raise money with such little effort that it will encourage Washington to spend even more. On the other hand, liberals are wary of value-added taxes because they are regressive. Poor people spend a higher portion of their income buying things than the rich, meaning lower-income people would be disproportionately hurt. That is why countries often make other major changes to their tax code at the same time. In Australia, the government imposed a value-added tax in the middle of an overhaul of the system in 2000, which included making the income tax system more progressive. “Many countries with VATs have income taxes that start out at higher income thresholds,” said James Poterba, an economics professor at M.I.T. Combining a broad-based VAT with a steeply progressive income tax, he said, avoids affecting the poor too much. But just as the income tax has been hollowed out by countless loopholes, so could a value-added tax. Many European countries, for example, have counteracted the regressive qualities of the tax by exempting broad categories of goods, like groceries and children’s clothing. This always creates problems, economists say. Companies are tempted to mislabel their products so they can avoid the tax. “What really is the difference between prepared food versus nonprepared food?” said Alan J. Auerbach, an economics professor at the University of California, Berkeley. “You start having to split hairs, and that can become quite complicated.” Besides cheating the government of revenue, this sort of behavior also distorts what people choose to buy, causing a drag on economic development, Mr. Auerbach said. Moreover, in some industries — like financial services — it is difficult to evaluate how much value is added because of the way they make their money. The solution in many places, like New Zealand, is to exempt the financial services industry. But that might not go over well in a country whose federal debt has recently swelled precisely because of a major banking crisis. Such political hurdles, along with a still-tentative economic recovery, make a consumption tax — or a tax increase of any kind — unlikely in the immediate future. But with economists like Kenneth Rogoff of Harvard predicting that federal tax revenues will need to rise by 20 to 30 percent in the next few years, politicians may hold their noses and decide this tax is the least worst option. “Of course, we want to take down the health care cost, that’s one part of it,” Ms. Pelosi told Charlie Rose of PBS. “But in the scheme of things, I think it’s fair to look at a value-added tax as well.” Kitty Bennett contributed reporting.

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