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The Credit Debacle Catalog

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Wed 2010-10-13 09:01 EDT

Foreclosure, Subprime Mortgage Lending, and the Mortgage Electronic Registration System

...Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., commonly referred to as ``MERS,'' is the recorded owner of over half of the nation's residential mortgages. MERS operates a computer database designed to track servicing and ownership rights of mortgage loans anywhere in the United States. But, it also acts as a proxy for the real parties in interest in county land title records. Most importantly, MERS is also filing foreclosure lawsuits on behalf of financiers against hundreds of thousands of American families. This Article explores the legal and public policy foundations of this odd, but extremely powerful, company that is so attached to America's financial destiny...The article culminates in a discussion of MERS' culpability in fostering the mortgage foreclosure crisis and what the long term effects of privatized land title records will have on our public information infrastructure. The Article concludes by considers whether the mortgage banking industry, in creating and embracing MERS, has subverted the democratic governance of the nation's real property recording system.

foreclosures; mortgage Electronic Registration System; subprime mortgage lending.

Tue 2010-10-12 16:13 EDT

Iceland Rejects Icesave Depositors Bill in Referendum - BusinessWeek [2010-03-07]

Icelanders rejected by a massive majority a bill that would saddle each citizen with $16,400 of debt in protest at U.K. and Dutch demands that they cover losses triggered by the failure of a private bank...Voters rejected the bill because ``ordinary people, farmers and fishermen, taxpayers, doctors, nurses, teachers, are being asked to shoulder through their taxes a burden that was created by irresponsible greedy bankers,'' said President Olafur R. Grimsson, whose rejection of the bill resulted in the plebiscite...Icelanders used the referendum to express their outrage at being asked to take on the obligations of bankers who allowed the island's financial system to create a debt burden more than 10 times the size of the economy...

2010 03 07; BusinessWeek; Iceland Rejects Icesave Depositors Bill; referendum.

Tue 2010-10-12 16:01 EDT

billy blog >> Blog Archive >> Iceland ... another neo-liberal casuality

...For a real world example of the benefits of adopting a floating, sovereign, currency we can look to Argentina....At the time of the 2001 crisis, the government realised it had to adopt a domestically-oriented growth strategy. One of the first policy initiatives taken by newly elected President Kirchner was a massive job creation program that guaranteed employment for poor heads of households. Within four months, the Plan Jefes y Jefas de Hogar (Head of Households Plan) had created jobs for 2 million participants which was around 13 per cent of the labour force. This not only helped to quell social unrest by providing income to Argentina's poorest families, but it also put the economy on the road to recovery. Conservative estimates of the multiplier effect of the increased spending by Jefes workers are that it added a boost of more than 2.5 per cent of GDP. In addition, the program provided needed services and new public infrastructure that encouraged additional private sector spending. Without the flexibility provided by a sovereign, floating, currency, the government would not have been able to promise such a job guarantee. Argentina demonstrated something that the World's financial masters didn't want anyone to know about. That a country with huge foreign debt obligations can default successfully and enjoy renewed fortune based on domestic employment growth strategies and more inclusive welfare policies without an IMF austerity program being needed. And then as growth resumes, renewed FDI floods in...sovereign governments are not necessarily at the hostage of global financial markets. They can steer a strong recovery path based on domestically-orientated policies -- such as the introduction of a Job Guarantee -- which directly benefit the population by insulating the most disadvantaged workers from the devastation that recession brings...

Billy Blog; blogs Archive; Iceland; neo-liberal casuality.

naked capitalism Sun 2010-10-10 13:23 EDT

Jim Quinn: Consumer Deleveraging = Commercial Real Estate Collapse

...Retailers expanding into an oversaturated retail market in the midst of a Depression, when anyone without rose colored glasses can see that Americans must dramatically cut back, are committing a fatal mistake. The hubris of these CEOs will lead to the destruction of their companies and the loss of millions of jobs. They will receive their fat bonuses and stock options right up until the day they are shown the door. All of the happy talk from the Wall Street Journal, CNBC and the other mainstream media about commercial real estate bottoming out is a load of bull... there is absolutely no chance that commercial real estate has bottomed. There are years of pain, writeoffs and bankruptcies to go...

Commercial Real Estate Collapse; Consumer deleveraging; Jim Quinn; naked capitalism.

naked capitalism Sun 2010-10-10 12:54 EDT

FUBAR Mortgage Behavior: Florida Banks Destroyed Notes; Others Never Transferred Them

...But to give readers the latest report of modern FUBAR, mortgage edition, let us continue with the sorry saga of ``Where's My Note?'' For the benefit of newbies, what everyone calls a mortgage actually has two components: the note, which is the borrower IOU, and the mortgage (in some states, it's called a deed of trust) which is the lien on the property. In 45 states, the mortgage is a mere accessory to the note; you must be the real party of interest in the note in order to foreclose. The pooling and servicing agreement, which governs who does what when in a mortgage securitization, requires the note to be endorsed (just like a check, signed by one party over to the next), showing the full chain of title...The endorsements also have to be wet ink; no electronic signatures permitted. I've had a lot of anecdotal evidence to support the idea that these procedures, which were created in the early days of mortgage securitizations, were simply not observed on a widespread, if not a universal basis...

Florida Banks Destroyed Notes; FUBAR Mortgage Behavior; naked capitalism; transfer.

Sun 2010-10-10 11:56 EDT

The Federal Reserve's Relevance Test - Project Syndicate

...as investors look outside the US for higher yield, the flood of money out of the dollar has bid up exchange rates in emerging markets around the world. Emerging markets know this, and are upset -- Brazil has vehemently expressed its concerns -- not only about the increased value of their currency, but that the influx of money risks fueling asset bubbles or triggering inflation. The normal response of emerging-market central banks to bubbles or inflation would be to raise interest rates -- thereby increasing their currencies' value still more. US policy is thus delivering a double whammy on competitive devaluation -- weakening the dollar and forcing competitors to strengthen their currencies...

Federal Reserve's Relevance Test; Project Syndicate.

Blog entry Sun 2010-10-10 09:51 EDT

Crony Capitalism: Wall Street's Favorite Politicians

A full 90 members of Congress who voted to bailout Wall Street in 2008 failed to support financial reform reining in the banks who drove our economy off a cliff. But when you examine campaign contribution data, it's really no surprise that these particular lawmakers voted to mortgage our economic future to Big Finance: This election cycle, they've raked in over $48.8 million from the financial establishment. Over the course of their Congressional careers, the figure swells to a massive $176.9 million. The full list of these Crony Capitalists is below, along with the money they pulled in from Big Finance, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics (opensecrets.org)...

blog entry; Crony Capitalism; Wall Street's Favorite Politicians.

Sat 2010-10-09 10:56 EDT

And Then There Were None | afoe | A Fistful of Euros | European Opinion

...rather than being over, what the debt crisis now may be entering is a new stage, where one sovereign bond after another is being chisled out and sent off to join their Greek counterpart in the isolation ward...the Irish economy has never really left recession...Irish GDP has now contracted on a quarterly basis for 9 out of the past 10 quarters, and there is no evident end in sight....the riskiest lenders to nationalized Anglo Irish Bank may not get all their money back...In the Portuguese case it is the budget deficit issue which is unsettling the markets, with the spread widening sharply following the revelation that far from the deficit being reduced is was actually increasing...Neither the European sovereign debt crisis nor the banking sector crisis has been resolved and both continue to mutually reinforce each other...the EU's stress tests for banks had manifestly failed to restore the necessary confidence.

afo; euro; European opinion; fisted.

naked capitalism Fri 2010-10-08 22:09 EDT

Doubts About Eurobailouts Come to the Fore

A brief recap of a couple of useful sighting on the ``rising anxieties in Europe'' front. Edward Hugh has a very thorough update (bond spread trends, underlying drivers, an astute discussion of politics) leavened by a great deal of wry humor ...Wolfgang Munchau at the Financial Times takes a hard look at a piece of the puzzle most have avoided, namely the CDO structure that the Eurozone members used for their €440 billion bailout fund. He's pushed some numbers around, and as far as he can tell, it will only be able to offer costly funding, and in much smaller amounts than advertised...

doubt; Eurobailouts Come; fore; naked capitalism.

Fri 2010-10-08 21:57 EDT

A Mammoth One in Five Borrowers Will Default <<; Real Estate Prices & Mortgages on HousingStory.net

A leading mortgage analyst predicts over 11 million homeowners will default and lose their home if the government fails to take more radical intervention. Amherst Securities Group LP, one of the most respected names in mortgage research, has trumpeted an ambitious call-to-government arms in its October mortgage report. ``The death spiral of lower home prices, more borrowers underwater, higher transition rates (to default), more distressed sales and lower home prices must be arrested.''...

borrowing; default; HousingStory; mammoth; mortgage; net; real estate prices.

Fri 2010-10-08 21:53 EDT

MERS 101

MERS - Mortgage Electronic Registration Inc. - holds approximately 60 million American mortgages and is a Delaware corporation whose sole shareholder is Mers Corp. MersCorp and its specified members have agreed to include the MERS corporate name on any mortgage that was executed in conjunction with any mortgage loan made by any member of MersCorp...Thus in place of the original lender being named as the mortgagee on the mortgage that is supposed to secure their loan, MERS is named as the ``nominee'' for the lender who actually loaned the money to the borrower. In other words MERS is really nothing more than a name that is used on the mortgage instrument in place of the actual lender. MERS' primary function, therefore, is to act as a document custodian. MERS was created solely to simplify the process of transferring mortgages by avoiding the need to re-record liens -- and pay county recorder filing fees -- each time a loan is assigned. Instead, servicer's record loans only once and MERS' electronic system monitors transfers and facilitates the trading of notes...MersCorp was created in the early 1990's by the former C.E.O.'s of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Indy Mac, Countrywide, Stewart Title Insurance and the American Land Title Association... MERS, as has clearly been proven in many civil cases, does not hold any promissory notes of any kind. A party must have possession of a promissory note in order to have standing to enforce and/or otherwise collect a debt that is owed to another party. Given this clear-cut legal definition, MERS does not have legal standing to enforce or collect on the over 60 million mortgages it controls and no member of MERS has any standing in an American civil court. MERS has been taken to civil courts across the country and charged with a lack of standing in reposession issues. When the mortgage debacle initially, and inevitably, began, MERS always routinely brought actions against defaulting mortgage holders purporting to represent the owners of the defaulted mortgages but once the courts discovered that MERS was only a front organization that did not hold any deed nor was aware of who or what agencies might hold a deed, they have routinely been denied in their attempts to force foreclosure. In the past, persons alleging they were officials of MERS in foreclosure motions, purported to be the holders of the mortgage, when, in fact, they not only were not the holder of the mortgage but, under a court order, could not produce the identity of the actual holder. These so-called MERS officers have usually been just employees of entities who are servicing the loan for the actual lender. MERS, it is now widely acknowledged by the courts, has no legal right to foreclose or otherwise collect debt which are evidenced by promissory notes held by someone else...

MERS 101.

Fri 2010-10-08 21:45 EDT


...MERS was founded by the mortgage industry. MERS tracks ``changes'' in the ownership of the beneficial and servicing interests of mortgage loans as they are bought and sold among MERS members or others. Simultaneously, MERS acts as the ``mortgagee'' of record in a ``nominee'' capacity (a form of agency) for the beneficial owners of these loans...More than 60 percent of all newly-originated mortgages are registered in MERS. Its mission is to register every mortgage loan in the United States on the MERS System. Since 1997, more than 65 million home mortgages have been assigned a Mortgage Identification Number (MIN) and have been registered on the MERS System...Since MERS is a privately owned data system and not public, all mortgages and assignments must be recorded in order to perfect a lien. Since they failed to record assignments when these loans often traded ownership several times before any assignment was created, the legal issue is apparent. MERS may have destroyed the public land records by breaking the chain of title to millions of homes...

Life; MER; s.

Fri 2010-10-08 21:34 EDT

Improper GMAC Affidavits Leading to Charges of Document Fabrication to Change Title >> naked capitalism

...the web emanating from the GMAC affidavit improprieties extend much further than most may realize. Although GMAC continues to maintain that having its ``robot signor'' officers like Jeffrey Stephan provide affidavits on matters they know nothing about is a mere technical problem that they can remedy. In fact, an affidavit is a statement of someone with personal knowledge of a matter. Stephan signed as many as 10,000 documents a month and clearly could not have personal knowledge of the underlying situations. Deliberately preparing and submitting inaccurate documents in a legal proceeding is a fraud on the court...So as much as GMAC and its fellow servicers no doubt hope there little document mess will fade from public view, attorneys are using it as a new weapon to fight questionable foreclosures or force servicers to negotiate principal mods...

CHANGING TITLES; charges; Document Fabrication; Improper GMAC Affidavits Leading; naked capitalism.

Fri 2010-10-08 21:27 EDT

Bank of America Suspends Foreclosures in All States >> naked capitalism

...The robo signing of affidavits was clearly done across all sorts of court actions. As we indicated, the bogus affidavits are used in all foreclosures in judicial states; they aver various things about the plaintiff's indebtedness, including the plaintiff's ownership of the debt that are integral to the process. Providing an improper affidavit is considered to be a fraud on the court...affidavit abuses are mere symptoms of much deeper problems with the mortgage securitizations. Why, pray tell, are law firms and servicers engaging in false representations and widespread document forgeries? It is because, as we have stressed, they made a botch of getting the notes (the borrower IOU) into the trusts, and simple fixes don't work, hence the need to create a phony document trail. The Bank of America suspension of foreclosures in all states appears to be a tacit admission that the problems are as pervasive as we have suggested...

America suspends foreclosures; bank; naked capitalism; state.

Fri 2010-10-08 21:11 EDT

4ClosureFraud Posts Lender Processing Services Mortgage Document Fabrication Price Sheet >> naked capitalism

...document fabrication is widespread in foreclosures. The reason is that the note, which is the borrower IOU, is the critical instrument to establishing the right to foreclose in 45 states (in those states, the mortgage, which is the lien on the property, is a mere ``accessory'' to the note). The pooling and servicing agreement, which governs the creation of mortgage backed securities, called for the note to be endorsed (wet ink signatures) through the full chain of title...Evidence is mounting that for cost reasons, starting in the 2004-2005 time frame, originators like Countrywide simply quit conveying the note. We are told this practice was widespread, probably endemic. The notes are apparently are still in originator warehouses. That means the trust does not have them (the legalese is it is not the real party of interest), therefore it is not in a position to foreclose on behalf of the RMBS investors. So various ruses have been used to finesse this rather large problem...We finally have concrete proof of how widespread document fabrication was...This revelation touches every major servicer and RMBS trustee in the US...The story that banks have been trying to sell has been that document problems like improper affidavits are mere technicalities. We've said from the get go that they were the tip of the iceberg of widespread document forgeries and fraud...

4ClosureFraud Posts Lender Processing Services Mortgage Document Fabrication Price Sheet; naked capitalism.

Fri 2010-10-08 21:02 EDT

Kudlow Gets Into Foreclosuregate in [Market-Ticker]

...The REMICs - the foundational conduits for all this paper - are to a large degree defective. I bet some of Fannie and Freddie's are too. Many notes were not conveyed, and in the states where recordation is necessary, most of them weren't recorded either. Many of these original notes are known to be sitting with the originator, never endorsed over and in some cases shipped overseas or deliberately destroyed. For all intents and purposes they're gone, because once the MBS closes they can't be put in later on...

Foreclosuregate; Kudlow; Market Ticker.

Fri 2010-10-08 20:58 EDT

Foreclosuregate and Obama's "Pocket Veto"

Amid a snowballing foreclosure fraud crisis, President Obama today blocked legislation that critics say could have made it more difficult for homeowners to challenge foreclosure proceedings against them. The bill passed the Senate with unanimous consent and with no scrutiny by the DC media. In a maneuver known as a "pocket veto," President Obama indirectly vetoed the legislation by declining to sign the bill passed by Congress while legislators are on recess...By most reports, it would appear that the voluntary suspension of foreclosures is underway to review simple, careless, procedural errors...However, those errors go far deeper than mere sloppiness; they are concealing a massive fraud. They cannot be corrected with legitimate paperwork, and that was the reason the servicers had to hire "foreclosure mills" to fabricate the documents. These errors involve perjury and forgery - fabricating documents that never existed and swearing to the accuracy of facts not known...

Foreclosuregate; Obama's; Pocket Veto.

Fri 2010-10-08 20:54 EDT

BofA Halts All Foreclosure Sales - WSJ.com

Bank of America is placing a moratorium on all foreclosure proceedings and sales in the U.S., amid political pressure on U.S. banks to examine foreclosure-documentation problems.

BofA Halts; com; Foreclosures Sale; WSJ.

Fri 2010-10-08 20:51 EDT

Top 20 Stocks With Huge Insider Selling - TheStreet

You would think that after a huge stock market rally in September, corporate insiders would be optimistic and happy to hold on to their shares, expecting even more gains to come. Instead, corporate insiders are dumping stock in droves...The selling is so big that it equals $2,341 of insider selling for every dollar of buying...The total amount of insider buying for this reporting period was $177,064, vs. an unbelievable total selling of $414 million...

Huge Insider Selling; thestreet; Top 20 Stocks.

zero hedge - on a long enough timeline, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero Fri 2010-10-08 19:33 EDT

Will We Have Hyperinflation In America?

I have been reading a lot lately about the coming hyperinflation in America. Among those I've read are Mr. Shadowstats John Williams, John Hussman, Jim Quinn, commentators on Zero Hedge, and Mr. Gloom Doom and Boom himself Marc Faber. My favorite philosopher, Nassim Taleb has also taken up the hyperinflation case. And I didn't forget Jim Rogers, Peter Schiff, and others...Will hyperinflation happen here? It is possible but unlikely and improbable...There are economic and political reasons why I don't think hyperinflation would occur...none of the economic or political factors required to set off hyperinflation are present. A careful analysis of theory, fact, and history leads me to conclude that inflation/stagflation is our future. It is quite a leap of fancy to say we are certain to have hyperinflation.

America; dropped; Hyperinflation; long; survival rate; Timeline; zero; Zero Hedge.

naked capitalism Thu 2010-09-30 08:22 EDT

Why Backstopping Repo is a Bad Idea

The normally sound Gillian Tett of the Financial Times endorses an idea that is both dangerous and unnecessary, namely, government backstopping of the system of short-term collateralized lending called repo, for ``sale with agreement to repurchase.''...But the real problem is that the only securities that were once considered to be suitable were those of the very highest quality, namely Treasuries. The real problem is in widening the market beyond that. If you have absolutely impeccable collateral, you don't care if your counterparty goes belly up if you aren't at risk of losses on the assets you hold...the real problem is the use of low quality collateral...why would we possibly WANT a system that might down the road encourage the pledging of less than stellar instruments as repo?...we need to go back and look hard at why the need for repo has risen since 2001, and how much is related to legitimate activity. The fact that it grew much more rapidly than the economy overall suggests not...official efforts should proceed...to shrink the repo market (as we've recommended for a market that has contributed to the growth of repo, credit default swaps)...our efforts NOT to restrain banks leads to a tremendous tax on all of us...a banking industry that creates global crises is negative value added from a societal standpoint. It is purely extractive...

Backstopping Repo; Bad Ideas; naked capitalism.

Social Democracy for the 21st Century: A Post Keynesian Perspective Thu 2010-09-30 08:12 EDT

Would Keynes have endorsed Modern Monetary Theory/Neochartalism?

...what would Keynes have thought of neochartalism/modern monetary theory (MMT)? MMT developed from Abba Lerner's theory of functional finance, as well as G. F. Knapp's theory of chartalism, as propounded in his book The State Theory of Money...MMT tells us that the government is the monopoly issuer of its own currency. Hence the government is not revenue-constrained. Taxes and bond issues do not finance government spending. No entity with the power to create and destroy money at will requires anyone to ``fund'' its spending. Having said this, one must immediately say that, even though deficits are not ``financially'' constrained in the normal sense, they do face real constraints in the inflation rate, exchange rate, available resources, capacity utilization, labour available (= unemployment level), and external balance...My discussion is based on the fundamental article by David Colander on this subject...``Lerner approached Keynes and asked: `Mr. Keynes, why don't we forget all this business of fiscal policy, public debt and all those things, and have some printing presses.' Keynes, after looking around the room to see that no newspaper reporters could hear, replied: `It's the art of statesmanship to tell lies but they must be plausible lies.' ''...

21st century; endorsed Modern Monetary Theory/Neochartalism; Keynes; Post Keynesian Perspective; social democracy.

billy blog Wed 2010-09-29 10:15 EDT

Budget deficits do not cause higher interest rates

...An often-cited paper outlining the ways in which budget deficits allegedly push up interest rates is -- Government Debt -- by Elmendorf and Mankiw (1998 -- subsequently published in a book in 1999). This paper was somewhat influential in perpetuating the mainstream myths about government debt and interest rates...Their depiction of...Ricardian equivalence...alleges that: ``the choice between debt and tax finance of government expenditure is irrelevant...[because]...a budget deficit today...[requires]...higher taxes in the future...'' ...I have dealt with this view extensively...Ignoring the fact that the description of a government raising taxes to pay back a deficit is nonsensical when applied to a fiat currency issuing government, the Ricardian Equivalence models rest [on] several key and extreme assumptions about behaviour and knowledge. Should any of these assumptions fail to hold (at any point in time), then the predictions of the models are meaningless. The other point is that the models have failed badly to predict or explain key policy changes in the past. That is no surprise given the assumptions they make about human behaviour. There are no Ricardian economies. It was always an intellectual ploy without any credibility to bolster the anti-government case that was being fought then (late 1970s, early 1980s) just as hard as it is being fought now...So where do the mainstream economists go wrong? At the heart of this conception is the [pre-Keynesian] theory of loanable funds...where perfectly flexible prices delivered self-adjusting, market-clearing aggregate markets at all times...Mankiw claims that this ``market works much like other markets in the economy''...[assuming] that savings are finite and the government spending is financially constrained which means it has to seek ``funding'' in order to progress their fiscal plans. The result competition for the ``finite'' saving pool drives interest rates up and damages private spending. This is what is taught under the heading ``financial crowding out''...Virtually none of the assumptions that underpin the key mainstream models relating to the conduct of government and the monetary system hold in the real world...When confronted with increasing empirical failures, the mainstream economists introduce these ad hoc amendments to the specifications to make them more realistic...The Australian Treasury Paper [used advanced econometric analysis to find that] domestic budget deficits do not drive up interest rates. The long-run effect...is virtually zero. The short-run effect is zero!...toss out your Mankiw textbooks...

Billy Blog; budgets deficit; caused higher Interest rate.

Jesse's Café Américain Wed 2010-09-29 09:13 EDT

Slouching Towards Bethlehem: Double Dip or Banana Split?

NBER: "If the 2010 contraction we are now monitoring in consumer demand for discretionary durable goods scales to the full economy as faithfully as the "Great Recession" did, the second dip will, at minimum, be 33% more painful than the first dip and will extend at least half again as long." This is the case for trouble dead ahead, a worse decline in consumer activity and therefore GDP than the first, and the likelihood of further quantitative easing from the US Federal Reserve to patch over the inability of the political process to reform the financial system and balance the real economy because of their myriad conflicts of interest. These policy errors favoring a small minority will most likely result in a stagflation of the most pernicious and corrosive kind, high unemployment and a rising price of essentials, that may ultimately test the fabric of society...

Banana Splits; Bethlehem; double dip; Jesse's Café Américain; Slouching.

New Economic Perspectives Wed 2010-09-29 09:11 EDT

An Interview with Warren Mosler: Modern Money Theory and the Exonomy

...unemployment is evidence of a lack of aggregate demand, so what the world is lacking is sufficient aggregate demand. *In the United States, my prescription includes 1) what we call a payroll tax holiday, i.e., a tax reduction, 2) a revenue distribution to the states by the federal government and 3) a federally funded $8.00-per-hour job for anyone willing and able to work. * *For the euro zone, I propose a distribution from the European Central Bank to the national governments of perhaps as much as 20 percent of GDP to be done on a per capita basis so it will be fair to all the member nations*.

Exonomy; interview; Modern Money Theory; New Economic Perspectives; Warren Mosler.

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