Sometimes people are dolts. That’s certainly true of home buyers and lenders. Only a few years after the economy and real estate market tanked housing prices are rising again – rising with irrational exuberance to borrow a phrase from former Fed Chairman, Alan Greenspan.
So how’s that deregulated, free-market banking industry working out for ya’? If you’re one of the saps who can’t pay your mortgage – in many cases because of the financial crisis wrought by crappy loans from crappy banks on stupid bets – not so good.
Apparently, the nation’s largest banks can’t figure out how to properly foreclose on homes. Although, you’d think they had enough practice to do it in their sleep.
Oops, I forgot. These are the financial wizards who claim the collapse was a huge surprise to them. The ones who’ve claimed foreclosure is the “moral” thing to do. The ones who break into homes to change locks before the home is even in foreclosure. I guess the light from their sky-high bonuses blinded them to reality and civil behavior.
Robbie the Robo-Signer
In a demonstration of the alleged efficiency of the private sector, Bank of America and others used “robo-signers” – people who sometimes sign as many as 6,000 foreclosures a week – to OK them without even looking at the paper work. The problem has reached such epic proportions B of A has decided to stop all foreclosures until they can get their house in order. Several other banks are set to join them soon.
Harry Reid’s (D-Dipshitvada) response was to “thank Bank of America for doing the right thing” – which is like thanking a drunk driver for only maiming you because he hit the brakes and would’ve otherwise killed you.
Closer to the proper analysis is Tom Domonoske, a lawyer and consumer advocate in Virginia. Domonoske says the foreclosure experience is much like the predatory lending schemes that tanked the economy. “It’s the same process, falsifying documents to make them look acceptable to someone. They’re falsifying foreclosure documents so judges will look at them and say, ‘Here’s an affidavit. It’s signed.”
All the worse is that a bipartisan bill (finally bipartisanship!) making foreclosures much more difficult on homeowners comes across the President’s desk soon. He promises to veto it.
It’s not that there isn’t plenty of blame to go around for this mess. Many homeowners stupidly took on more debt than they could pay or believed slithery predatory lenders when they said being in debt ass over teakettle was all the rage. “Hey, it’s trendy! Everybody’s doing it!”
But despite the banks and government trying to foist the whole sad adventure onto the homeless and soon to be homeless, they look more like the super jackwads. Republicans never saw a regulation they liked. Bushbama never saw a regulation they’d enforce. And, Congress never saw a reason to nip these crapweasels in the bud during their “irrationally exuberant” phase. Everything had to collapse – something any mouse with a human brain saw coming long before it got here – for them to do anything.
And when they did something, it was to the banks’ benefit.
Here’s the thing. Government wouldn’t have to regulate banks (or any other industries) if the industries stopped doing stupid, disingenuous, and dishonest things. Most of the regulations we already have were put there to corner the wing-tipped bastards like wolverines in rut.
Now the answer everyone looks for is more regulation – regulation that gives the wolverines a nice feather bed to lay upon. We don’t need no more stinkin’ regulations, we need to enforce the ones we have…with extreme prejudice.
Since Sharron Angle thinks Sharia law is taking over the country, lets do Mohamed proud. Any banker caught breaking the rules should have his hand cut off for stealing and we should keep hacking body parts until they look like Monty Python’s blood-spurting knight.
That way, it’ll be a lot easier to run from them when they try to steal the shirt off your back.
- Foreclosure Cases: Bank Glitch Or Serious Fiasco? (npr.org)
- Foreclosure freeze? What is that? (money.cnn.com)
- Your Equity May Disappear During Foreclosure (livecrunch.com)
- Foreclosures: An eventual eventuality (hsh.com)
- Pelosi Calls For Investigation Of Foreclosure Fraud (huffingtonpost.com)
- Jon Stewart Weighs in on Foreclosure Crisis (shoppingblog.com)
- Robo-signers (schott.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Lawyers, Politicians Feed on Foreclosure Freeze (businesspundit.com)
- Watch Out for New Foreclosure Scams (dailyfinance.com)
- Why Are Distressed Homeowners Still Paying Their Mortgage? (online.wsj.com)
- Where is the foreclosure mess leading? (blogs.reuters.com)
- Why is Elizabeth Warren protecting dumb people? (salon.com)
- Regulators Seek Curbs for Bank Bonuses in Europe (nytimes.com)
- Why politicians can’t make good policy (economist.com)
- Jim: Bankers Broke The Economy And Got Rich Doing It ” SpeakEasy (blogs.alternet.org)
Give him credit, JPMorgan’s CEO of home lending, David Lowman, has found a unique reason for saying no to homeowners who want to renegotiate their mortgages …it’s the moral thing to do. Or in Lowman’s words, “If we rewrite the mortgage contract retroactively to restore equity to any mortgage borrower because the value of his or her home declined, what responsible lender will take the equity risk of financing mortgages in the future.”
I actually agree that borrowers stupid enough to borrow more than they could pay back should take some responsibility for the pickle they’re in. All too often this cavalier attitude toward debt gets people in trouble. It gets lenders and the government in trouble too. Hence, financial meltdown.
The key word in Lowman’s statement is “responsible” as in “responsible lender”. From the get-go lenders have defended their practice of handing out outrageous loan candy to diabetics thusly: “I would say that was probably one of the big misses,” Dimon said. “We stressed almost everything else, but we didn’t see home prices going down 40 percent.”
Liar or Incompetent, You Decide
Mr. Dimon you are clearly lying, incompetent, or a true Nostradumbass – either way one could make a fair argument that whatever obscenely big bonus you got for generating phantom profits wasn’t deserved.
What made you think a clearly overheated mortgage market wouldn’t come crashing down as quickly as it went up? It’s not as if this hadn’t happened before, though granted on a smaller scale. Hell, I’m no financial wizard, but even I could see it coming. So Mr. Dimon, have your people call my people about donating your bonus to me, since I clearly deserve it more.
JPMorgan and the other members of the bank cabal talk “responsibility” as though it’s a one-way street. People invest in banks and accept the risk they might lose money. However, after making bad loans banks now want to ignore the risk and collect the same amount as they’d negotiated before they made that bad decision…from people who obviously can’t pay it.
To do this, they want to foreclose on mortgage holders that fell for their snake oil pitches. In essence, they’re now forcing me to take “responsibility” for their and their borrowers’ poor decisions by foreclosing on homes thereby further depressing the value of mine.
To make matters worse, they’re screwing investors by taking possession of homes that will sell for only a fraction of their value. There’s not much profit in owning a lot of empty houses you can’t sell. And, Lowman’s contention that contracts can’t be rewritten is a pantload. They’re rewritten all the time as part of bankruptcies or when companies have cash flow issues or tanked profits.
However, if you’re a borrower that fell for the bank’s snake oil pitch, shame on you. You can only get taken if you allow yourself to get taken. Otherwise, you get to duck the risk we now want the banks to take on.
There are ways to get out from under the problem, but it requires spreading responsibility around.
Better to Get Money Later Than Not at All
Leave the mortgage holders in their homes and split the difference between what they owe and what the property is worth. Both sides lose something and both sides share the responsibility. Or perhaps extend the terms of loans so homeowners have some chance to pay it off. Better the bank gets its money later than to not get it at all. For the remainder, there’s foreclosure. This happened before the crash and it’s still a useful tool. Nobody wins here, but then life isn’t fair – especially if you ignored the risk.
Of course, there’s no regulation or law that forces banks to act rationally. They can whine and stamp their little wingtips until the cows come home. They have the upper hand legally and aren’t about to say, “Sure, OK. Sounds reasonable.” This is the price America pays for letting banks write regulations that apply to them. So far as I know, there’s no mortgage-holder lobby, but there is a huge banking lobby that seems to view risk as an unknown concept.
Perhaps it’s time for Congress to write reasonable regulations, without the “help” of those who directly benefit from them. And for homeowners to take responsibility for their actions.
Either way, I’m not at fault and I’m being punished.
- Banking execs skeptical on mortgage reductions (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Richard Zombeck: Why Homeowners Aren’t Being Heard … Or Why Hearing Fails to Listen (huffingtonpost.com)
- Big banks see fairness issue with mortgage aid (msnbc.msn.com)
- J.P. Morgan Protests: Dimon Stands Ground, Mortgage Head Bails (blogs.wsj.com)
- 228,000 receive mortgage modifications (money.cnn.com)
- Banks Resist Plans to Reduce Mortgage Balances (nytimes.com)