Relevance: THE FORECLOSER HAS NO RIGHT TO BE IN COURT WITHOUT THE SECURITIZATION DOCUMENTS AND RECORDS

 Courts and lawyers are continually ignoring the obvious. By zeroing in on the NOTE, they are ignoring the documents that allow the person in possession of the note to be in court. That results in elimination of critical elements of a prima facie case in which the Defendant borrower lacks the superior knowledge and resources of the Plaintiff and its co-venturers that would show the truth about his loan ownership and balance.

Premise:

Chronologically the document trail starts with the securitization documents. Without the securitization documents there is no privity or nexus between the borrowers and the lenders. Neither one of them signed the deal that the other signed. Without the Assignment and Assumption Agreement, the Prospectus and the Pooling And Servicing Agreement, the trust does not exist, the servicer has no powers, the trustee has no powers, and there is no right of representation or agency between any of those parties as it relates to either the lender investors or the homeowner borrowers.

 

The Assignment and Assumption Agreement between the originator and the aggregator sets forth all the rules and actions preceding, during and after the loan”closing”, including the underwriting by parties other than the originator and the ownership of the loan by parties other than the originator. It is a contract to violate public policy, the Federal Truth in Lending Law prohibiting table funded loans designed to withhold disclosure, and usually state deceptive and predatory lending statutes.

 

The Assignment and Assumption Agreement was an agreement to commit illegal acts that were in fact committed and which strictly governed the conduct of the originator, the closing agent, the document processing, the delivery of documents, the due diligence, the underwriting, the approval by parties other than the originator and the risk of loss on parties other than the originator. The Assignment and Assumption Agreement is essential to the Court’s knowledge of the intent and reality of the closing, intentionally withheld from the borrower at closing. It cannot be anything other than relevant in any action sought to enforce the documents produced at a loan closing that was conducted in strict adherence to the illegal Assignment and Assumption Agreement.

 

The other closing is with the investors who were accepting a proposed transaction to lend money for the origination or acquisition of loans through a trust. Those documents and records (Prospectus, Pooling and Servicing Agreement, Distribution reports, etc) provide for the creation and governance of the trust, the appointment of a trustee and the powers of the trustee, and the appointment and the powers of the Master Servicer and subservicers. Those documents also provide for there requirements of reporting and record keeping, including the physical location and custody of actual loan documents. Without those documents, there is no power or authority for the trustee, the trust, the Master Servicer, the subservicer, the Depository, the Securities Administrator the purchase of insurance, credit default swap trading, funding the origination or acquisition of loans, or collection and enforcement of loan documents. without those documents the Court cannot know what records should be kept and thus what records need to be produced to show the status of the obligation in the books and records of the creditor — regardless of whether the loan was actually securitized or just claimed to be securitized.

 

Procedure and UCC
In Judicial States, the Plaintiff is bringing suit alleging a default by the Defendant on a promissory note and for enforcement of a mortgage. The name of the payee on the note is different from the name of the Plaintiff in the lawsuit. The name of the mortgagee is different from the the name of the Plaintiff. The suit is bought by (a) a trustee on behalf of the holders of securities that make the holders of those securities (Mortgage Bonds) in a NY Trust (b) the “servicer” on behalf of the trust or the holders or (c) a company that alleges it is a holder or a holder with rights to enforce. None of them assert they are holders in due course which means they concede that the Plaintiff did not buy the loan in good faith without knowledge of the borrowers defenses. They assert they are holder in which case they are subject to all of the borrowers defense — which procedurally means the issues concerning the initial loan and any subsequent transfers can be in issue if the preemptive facts are denied and appropriate affirmative defenses and counterclaims are filed. These defenses are waived at trial if an objection is not timely raised.

 

In Non-Judicial States, the name of the “new” beneficiary is different from the name of the payee on the promissory note and the name of the beneficiary on the Deed of Trust. The “new beneficiary” files a “Substitution of Trustee”, the Trustee sends a notice of default, notice of sale and notice of acceleration based upon “representations” from the “new beneficiary.” This process allows a stranger to the transaction to assert its position outside of a court of law that it is the new beneficiary and even allows the new beneficiary to name a company as the “new trustee” in the Notice of Substitution of Trustee. The foreclosure is initiated by the new trustee on the deed of trust on behalf of (a) a trustee on behalf of the holders of securities that make the holders of those securities (Mortgage Bonds) in a NY Trust (b) the “servicer” on behalf of the trust or the holders or (c) a company that alleges it is a holder or a holder with rights to enforce. None of them assert they are holders in due course which means they concede that the Plaintiff did not buy the loan in good faith without knowledge of the borrowers defenses. They assert they are holder in which case they are subject to all of the borrowers defense — which procedurally means the issues concerning the initial loan and any subsequent transfers can be in issue if the preemptive facts are denied and appropriate affirmative defenses and counterclaims are filed. These defenses are waived at trial if an objection is not timely raised. In these cases it is the burden of the borrower to timely file a motion for Temporary Injunction to stop the trustee’s sale of the property.

 

Argument:
By failing to assert with clarity the identity of the creditor on whose behalf they are “holding” the note and mortgage (or deed of trust) and failing to assert the presence of the actual creditor (holder in due course) the parties initiating foreclosure have (a) failed to assert the essential elements to enforce a note and mortgage and (b) have failed to establish a prima facie case in which the burden should shift to the borrowers to defend. The present practice of challenging the defenses first is improper and contrary to the requirements of due process and the rules of civil procedure. If the Plaintiff in Judicial states or beneficiary in non-judicial states is unable to sustain their burden of proof for a prima facie case, then Judgment should be entered for the alleged borrower.

 

Evidence:
Virtually all loans initiated or originated or acquired between 1996 and the present are subject to claims of securitization, which is the first reason why the securitization documents are relevant and must be introduced as evidence along with proof of compliance with those documents because they are almost all governed by New York State law governing common law trusts. Any act not permitted by the trust instrument (Pooling and Servicing Agreement) is void, which means for purposes of the case narrative, the act or event never occurred.

If the Plaintiff or beneficiary is alleging that it is a holder and not alleging it is a holder in due course then there is a 96% probability that the creditor is either a trust or a group of investors who paid money to a broker dealer in an IPO where securities were issued by the trust and the investors money should have been paid to the trust. In all events, the assertion of “holder” status instead of “Holder in Due Course” means by definition that one of two things is true: (1) there is no holder in due course or (2) there is a Holder in Due Course and the party initiating the foreclosure and collection proceedings is asserting authority to represent the holder in due course. In all events, the representation of holder rather than holder in due course is an admission that the party initiating the foreclosure proceeding is there in a representative capacity.

 

THE FORECLOSER HAS NO RIGHT TO BE IN COURT WITHOUT THE SECURITIZATION DOCUMENTS:

 

If the proceeding is brought by a named trust, then the existence of the trust, the authority of the trust, the manner in which the trust may acquire assets, and the authority of the servicer, Master servicer, trustee of the trust, depository, securities administrator and others all derive from the trust instrument. If there is a claim of securitization and the provisions of the securitization documents were not followed then in virtually all foreclosure cases the wrong parties are initiating the foreclosures — because the money of the investors went direct to the origination and purchase of loans rather than through the SPV Trust which for tax purposes was designed to be a REMIC pass through trust.

 

If the foreclosing party identifies itself as a servicer and as a holder it is admitting that it is there in a representative capacity. Their prima facie case therefore includes the documents and events in which acquired the right to represent the actual creditor. Those are only the securitization documents.

 

If the foreclosing party identifies itself as a holder but does not mention that it is a servicer, the same rules apply — the right to be there is a representative capacity must derive from some written instrument, which in virtually cases is the Pooling and Servicing Agreement.

 

Representations that the loan is a portfolio loan not subject to securitization are generally untrue. In a true portfolio loan the UCC would not apply but the rules governing a holder in due course can be used as guidance for the alleged transaction. The “lender” must show that it actually funded the loan, in good faith (in accordance with the requirements of Federal and State law governing lending) and without knowledge of the borrower’s defenses. They would be able to show their underwriting committee notes, reports and correspondence, the verification of the loan, the property value, the ability of the borrower to repay and all other national standards for underwriting and appraisals. These are only absent when there is no risk of loss on the alleged loan, because if the borrower doesn’t pay, the money was never destined to be received by the originator anyway.

 

In addition, the Prospectus offering to the investors combined with the Pooling and Servicing Agreement constitute the “indenture” describing the manner in which the investment will be returned to the investors, including interest, insurance proceeds, proceeds of credit default swaps, government and non government guarantees, etc. This specifies the duties and records that must be kept, where they must be kept and how the investors will receive distributions from the servicer. Proof of the balance shown by investors is the only relevant proof of a dealt and the principal balance due, applicable interest due, etc. The provisions of the contract between the creditors and the trust govern the amount and manner of distributions to the creditor. Thus it is only be reference to the creditors’ records that a prima facie case for default and the right to accelerate can be made. The servicer records do not include third party payments but do include servicer advances. If records of servicer advances are not shown in court, and the provision for servicer advances is in the prospectus and/or pooling and servicing agreement, then the Court is unable to know the balance and whether any default occurred as a result of the borrower ceasing to make payments to the servicer.

 

In short, it is the prospectus and pooling and servicing agreement that provide the framework for determining whether the creditors got paid as per their expectations pursuant to their contract with the Trust. It is only by reference to these documents that the distribution reports to the investors can be used as partial evidence of the existence of a default or “credit event.” Representations that the borrower did not pay the servicer are not conclusive as to the existence of a default. Only the records of the creditor, who by virtue of its relationships with multiple co-obligors, can establish that payments due were paid to the creditor. Servicer records are relevant as to whether the servicer received payments, but not relevant as to whether the creditor received those payments directly or indirectly. The servicer and creditors’ records establish servicer advance payments, which if made, nullify the creditor default. The creditors’ records establish the amount of principal or interest due after deductions from receipt of third party payments (insurance, credit default swaps, guarantees, loss sharing etc.).

For more information call 954-495-9867 or 520-405-1688.

 

 

AMGAR

After years of writing about the AMGAR program, people are finally asking about this program. So here is a summary of the program. As usual I caution you against using my articles as the final word on any subject. Before you make any decisions about your loans, whether you are in foreclosure, collection or otherwise you should seek competent legal counsel who is licensed in the jurisdiction in which the collateral is located. Also for those who think they would invest in such a program, you should seek both legal advice and consult with a person qualified and licensed as a financial adviser. And for full disclosure, this plan does include an equity provision and fees to the livinglies team.

The AMGAR program was first developed by me when I was living in Arizona where, after the 2008-2009 crash, the state was facing a $3 Billion deficit. The Chairman of the Arizona House Judiciary Committee invited me to testify about possible solutions to the foreclosure crisis, which at that time was just ramping up. So I developed a program that I called the Arizona Mortgage Guarantee and Resolution plan, which was dubbed “AMGAR.” Now the acronym stands for American Mortgage Guarantee and Resolution program. In Arizona it was mostly a governmental program with some private enterprise components.

For a while it looked as though Arizona would adopt the program and pass the necessary legislation to do it. All departments of the legislative and executive branches of government had examined it carefully and concluded that I was right both as to its premises and its results.

The objective was to tax and fine the various entities that were “trading” in loans improperly, illegally and failing to report it as taxable income, as well as failing to pay the fees associated with filing such transfers in the County records of each county.

The State would essentially call the bluff of the banks, which was already obvious in 2008 — they did not appear to have any ownership interest in the loans upon which they initiated foreclosures.

Thus the State and private investors would offer to pay off the mortgage at the amount demanded if the foreclosing party could prove ownership and the balance (it was already known that the banks had received a lot of money from both public and private sources that reduced the loss and thus should have reduced the balances owed to investors, which in turn reduces the balance owed from borrowers).

The offer to pay off the the money claimed due by the forecloser was on behalf of the homeowner who would enter into an agreement with AMGAR for a new, real, valid mortgage at fair market value with industry standard terms instead of the exotic mortgages that borrowers were lured into signing when they understood practically nothing about the loan. The State would levy a tax or enforce existing taxes against the participants in the alleged securitization plan for the trading they had been doing. The State would foreclose on the tax liens thus opening the door to settlements that would reduce the amount expended on paying off the old loan.

The AMGAR program would receive a mortgage and note equal to what was actually paid out to the foreclosing parties, which was presumed to be discounted sharply because of their inability to prove ownership and balance. Hence the state would receive a valid note and mortgage for every penny they paid and it would receive the taxes and fees that were due and unpaid, and then sell these clean mortgages into the secondary market place. Both the legislative and executive branches of Arizona government — all relevant departments — concluded that the plan would erase the $3 Billion Arizona deficit and put a virtual halt on foreclosures that had already turned new developments into ghost towns.

But the plan went dark when certain influential Republicans in the state apparently received the word from the banks to kill the program.

Not to be deterred from what I considered to be a bold, innovative program aimed at the truth about the hundreds of thousands of wrongful foreclosures, I embarked on a persistent plan of to raise interest and capital to put the program into use. This time the offer to payoff the old loan would come from (1) homeowners who could afford to make the offer and (2) investors who were willing to assume the apparent risk of paying $700,000 as a payoff, only to receive a mortgage and note equal to a much lower fair market value. But the new plan had a kicker for investors to assume that risk.

The plan worked for the few people who were homeowners, in foreclosure and who had the resources to make the offer. Unlike the buyback issue raised by Martha Coakley last week, the plan avoided any possible rule prohibiting the homeowner from getting the house back and in fact employed existing laws permitting the borrower to pay off the loan rather than suffer the loss of the property.

The offer specifies what constitutes proof for purposes of the offer and thus avoids varying interpretations by judges who might think one presumption or another carries the day for the banks. This plan requires actual transactional proof of payments for the origination and acquisition of the loan, and actual disclosure of the loss mitigation payments received by or on behalf of the creditors (investors).

As expected, the banks tried to say that they didn’t have to accept the money. They wanted the foreclosure. But nobody bought that argument. The myth that the bank was “reclaiming” the property was just that — a myth. The bank never owned the property. It was interesting watching the bank back peddle on producing proof that it MUST have had if it brought foreclosure proceedings. But they didn’t have it because it didn’t exist.

Banks claimed to have loaned money to the homeowner and thus were entitled to payment first, or failing that, THEN foreclosure. And what has resulted is an array of confidential settlements in which I cannot reveal the contents without putting the homeowner in danger of losing their home. Suffice it to say they were satisfied.

The reason I am writing about this again is that the latest development is a series of investors have approached me with a request for development of a plan that would put AMGAR into effect. They are looking for profit so that is what I am giving them in the new plan. This has not yet been launched but there are several iterations of the plan that may be offered through one or more entities. You might say this plan is published for comment although we are already processing candidates for which the plan would be used.

If I am right, along with everyone else who says the mortgages, assignments, transactions are all fake with no canceled checks, wire transfer receipts or anything else showing that they funded the origination or acquisition of the loan, then it follows that at the very least the mortgage is an unenforceable document even if it is recorded.

If things go according to plan, then the bank will be forced to either put up or shut up in court — either providing the reasonable proof required by the commitment or offer or suffer a dismissal or judgment for the homeowner. It would not be up to the Judge to state what proof was required. Instead the Judge would only be called upon to determine that the bank had failed to properly respond — giving information they should have had all along. The debt might theoretically exist payable to SOMEONE, but it wouldn’t be secured debt and therefore not subject to foreclosure. The mortgage encumbrance in the public records could then be removed by a court order. Title would be cleared.

Investors would be taking what appears to be a giant risk but obviously perception of the risk is declining.   If the bank comes up with verifiable proof of ownership and balance (according to the terms of the offer or commitment), then the investor pays the bank and gets back a note and mortgage for much less. If the bank loses and the mortgage encumbrance is removed as a result of the assumption of that risk, then the investor gets a fee — 30% of the original loan balance expressed in a new mortgage and note at market rates over 30 years.

So the payoff is quite large to the investors if their assumptions are correct. If they are incorrect they lose all the expenses advanced for the homeowner, all the expenses of selection and potentially the money they put in escrow or the court registry to show proof that the offer is real.

We are currently vetting potential candidates for this program both from the homeowner side and the investor side. This type of investment while potentially lucrative, poses a large risk of loss. People should not invest in such a program unless they do not rely on the money invested for their income or lifestyle. They should be qualified investors as specified by SEC rules even if the SEC rules don’t apply. No money will be accepted and no homeowner will be signed up for the program until we have concluded all registrations necessary for launching the program.

Homeowners who want to be considered as candidates for this program should acquire a title and securitization report, plus a review by our staff, including myself.

You should have a title and securitization report anyway, in my opinion. If you already have one then send it to neilfgarfield@hotmail.com. If you don’t have such a report but would like to obtain one call 954-495-9867 or 520-405-1688 to order the report and review. If you already know someone who does this work, then call them, but a review by a qualified person with a financial background is important as well as a review by a qualified, licensed attorney.

Don’t Admit the Default

Kudos again to Jim Macklin for sitting in for me last night. Excellent job — but don’t get too comfortable in my chair :). Lots of stuff in another mini-seminar packed into 28 minutes of talk.

A big point made by the attorney guest Charles Marshall, with which I obviously agree, is don’t admit the default in a foreclosure unless that is really what you mean to do. I have been saying for 8 years that lawyers and pro se litigants and Petitioners in bankruptcy proceedings have been cutting their own throats by stating outright or implying that the default exists. It probably doesn’t exist, even though it SEEMS like it MUST exist since the borrower stopped paying.

There is not a default just because a borrower stops paying. The default occurs when the CREDITOR DOESN’T GET PAID. Until the false game of “securitization started” there was no difference between the two — i.e., when the borrower stopped paying the creditor didn’t get paid. But that is not the case in 96% of all residential loan transactions between 2001 and the present. Today there are multiple ways for the creditor to get paid besides the servicer receiving the borrower’s payment. the Courts are applying yesterday’s law without realizing that today’s facts are different.

Whether the creditor got paid and is still being paid is a question of fact that must be determined in a hearing where evidence is presented. All indications from the Pooling and Servicing Agreements, Distribution Reports, existing lawsuits from investors, insurers, counterparties in other hedge contracts like credit default swaps — they all indicate that there were multiple channels for payment that had little if anything to do with an individual borrower making payments to the servicer. Most Trust beneficiaries get paid regardless of whether the borrower makes payment, under provisions of the PSA for servicer advances, Trustee advances or some combination of those two plus the other co-obligors mentioned above.

Why would you admit a default on the part of the creditor’s account when you don’t have access to the money trail to identify the creditor? Why would you implicitly admit that the creditor has even been identified? Why would you admit a payment was due under a note and mortgage (or deed of trust) that were void front the start?

The banks have done a good job of getting courts to infer that the payment was due, to infer that the creditor is identified, to infer that the payment to the creditor wasn’t received by the creditor, and to infer that the balance shown by the servicer and the history of the creditor’s account can be shown by reference only to the servicer’s account. But that isn’t true. So why would you admit to something that isn’t true and why would you admit to something you know nothing about.

You don’t know because only the closing agent, originator and all the other “securitization” parties have any idea about the trail of money — the real transactions — and how the money was handled. And they are all suing the broker dealers and each other stating that fraud was committed and mismanagement of the multiple channels of payments received for, or on behalf of the trust or trust beneficiaries.

In the end it is exactly that point that will reach critical mass in the courts, when judges realize that the creditor has no default in its business records because it got paid — and the foreclosure by intermediaries in the false securitization scheme is a sham.

In California the issue they discussed last night about choice of remedies is also what I have been discussing for the last 8 years, but I must admit they said it better than I ever did. Either go for the money or go for the property — you can’t do both. And if you  elected a remedy or assumed a risk, you can’t back out of it later — which is why the point was made last night that the borrower was a third party beneficiary of the transaction with investors which is why it is a single transaction — if there is no borrower, there wold be no investment. If there was no investment, there would have been no borrower. The transaction could not exist without both the investor and the borrower.

Bravo to Jim Macklin, Dan Edstrom and Charles Marshall, Esq. And remember don’t act on these insights without consulting with a licensed attorney who knows about this area of the law.

The Banks: Consideration is Irrelevant, Really? Then so is payment!

The issue is what are the elements of the loan contract? Who are the parties? And who can enforce it?

I would agree that an overpayment at closing from the source of funds is rare. What is not rare and in fact common is that the wire transfer instructions that accompany the wire transfer receipt often instructs the closing agent to refund any overpayment to the party who wired the money — not the originator. This leads to questions. If it is a true warehouse lender, such instructions could be explained without affecting the validity of the note or mortgage.

In truth, the procedures used usually prevent the originator from ever touching the flow of funds. Wall Street banks were afraid of fraud — that if the originators could touch the money, they might have faked a number of closings and taken the money. In short, the investment banks were afraid that the originators would not use the money the way it was intended. So instead of doing that, they created relationships by having the originators sign Assignment and Assumption agreements before they started lending. This agreement says the loan belongs to an “aggregator” that is merely a controlled entity of the broker dealer. But the money doesn’t come from either the originator or the aggregator. Thus they have an agreement that controls the loan closings but no consideration for that either.
But this is a lot like the insurance payments, proceeds of credit default swaps etc. The contracts almost always specifically waive subrogation or any other right of action against the borrowers or any other enforcement of the notes or mortgages. It has been presumed that these contracts were for the mitigation of losses and that is true. But they are payable to the broker dealers and not the trust or trust beneficiaries. The investment banks committed fraud when they represented to the insurers, FDIC, Fannie, Freddie and CDS counterparties that they had an insurable interest. Those parties presumed that the investment banks were creating these hedge products for the benefit of the owner of the mortgage bonds or the owner of the loans. But it was paid to the investment banks. That is why all those parties are claiming losses that resulted from fraud — all of which have resulted in settlements (except the Countrywide verdict for fraud).
The similarity is this: in both the closing with borrowers and the closings with investors the same fraud occurred. When dealing with the closing agent they interposed their nominee in the closing which resulted in no note and no mortgage in favor of the investors or the trust. Whether the closing agent is liable is another issue. The point is that the money came from a third party which was a controlled entity of the broker dealer. Thus the investor gets a promise from a trust that is not funded while their money is used to pay fees, create the illusion of trading profits for the broker dealer and funding mortgages.
The wire transfer is not a wire transfer from the originator, nor from the bank at which the originator maintains any account. The wire transfer instructions and the wire transfer receipt fail to identify the actual source of funds and fail to refer to the originator as a real party. If they did, there would not be a problem for the banks to enforce the note and mortgage. If they did, the banks would simply show the transaction record and there would be nothing to fight about.
The only occasion in which the banks appeared to be willing to provide adequate documentation for consideration appears to be in a merger or acquisition with the party that was named as the mortgagee in the mortgage document or the beneficiary in the deed of trust. And all the other transactions, the banks say that consideration is irrelevant or they quote the law that says that courts cannot question the adequacy of consideration. They are dodging the issue. We are not saying that consideration was not adequate; what we are saying is that there was no consideration at all. The banks are fighting this issue  because when it comes out that there really was no consideration the entire house of cards could fall.
 The issue is counterintuitive because everyone knows that there was money on the closing table. Unless the issue is argued and presented with clarity, it will appear to the judge that you are trying to say that there was no money on the closing table. And when a judge hears that, or thinks that he heard that, he or she will not take you seriously. There are three parts to every contract —  offer, acceptance, and consideration. A few courts have started to deal with this question. In the context of foreclosure litigation all three elements are in question. If the lenders are investors who believed that their money was being put into a trust that they were beneficiaries of a trust, they are unaware of the fact that their money is being offered to borrowers on terms that are contrary to their instructions. And the loan is not made on behalf of the investors or the trust. It is made on behalf of some sham entity controlled by the broker dealer. Sometimes the origination is made by an actual bank that is acting in the capacity of a sham lender. Either way the money came from the investors.
So the issue is not whether there was money on the table but rather whether there was a meeting of the minds between the investors and lenders in the homeowners as borrowers. The lender documents (trust documents) reveal far different terms of repayment than the borrower documents. Each of them signed on to a deal that actually didn’t exist because neither of them had agreed to the same terms.
 The fact that money was on the table at the time of the alleged closing of the loan can only mean that the homeowner owed money to repay the source of the money. This duty to repay arises by operation of law and extends from the homeowner to the investor despite the lack of any documentation that explicitly states that. The result is false documentation in which the homeowner was induced to sign under the mistaken belief that the payee on the note and the mortgagee on the mortgage was the source of funds.
If you receive funds from John Smith and the note and mortgage are drafted for the benefit of Nancy Jones as “lender” would that bother you? What would you do as closing agent? Why?

Is Donald Duck Your Lender?

 

I was asked a question a few days ago that runs to the heart of the problem for the banks in enforcing false claims for foreclosure and false claims of losses that should really allocated to the investors so that the investor would get the benefits of those loss mitigation payments. This is the guts of the complaints by insurers, investors, guarantors et al against the investment banks — that there was fraud, not breach of contract, because the investment bank never intended to follow the plan of securitization set forth in the prospectus and pooling and servicing agreement. The question asked of me only reached the issue of whether borrowers could claim credit for third party payments to the creditor. But the answer, as you will see, branches much further out than the scope of the question.

If you look at Steinberger in Arizona and recent case decisions in other jurisdictions you will see that if third party payments are received by the creditor, they must be taken into account — meaning the account receivable on their books is reduced by the amount of the payment received. If the account receivable is reduced then it is axiomatic that the account payable from the borrower is correspondingly reduced. Each debt must be taken on its own terms. So if the reduction was caused by a payment from a third party, it is possible that the third party might have a claim against the borrower for having made the payment — but that doesn’t change the fact that the payment was made and received and that the debt to the trust or trust beneficiaries has been reduced or even eliminated.

The Court rejected the argument that the borrower was not an intended third party beneficiary in favor of finding that the creditor could only be paid once on the debt. I am finding that most trial judges agree that if loss-sharing payments were made, including servicer advances (which actually come from the broker dealer to cover up the poor condition of the portfolio), the account is reduced as to that creditor. The court further went on to agree that the “servicer” or whoever made the payment might have an action for unjust enrichment against the borrower — but that is a not a cause of action that is part of the foreclosure or the mortgage. The payment, whether considered volunteer or otherwise, is credited to the account receivable of the creditor and the borrower’s liability is corresponding reduced. In the case of servicer payments, if the creditor’s account is showing the account current because it received the payment that was due, then the creditor cannot claim a default.

A new “loan” is created when a volunteer or contractual payment is received by the creditor trust or trust beneficiaries. This loan arises by operation of law because it is presumed that the payment was not a gift. Thus the party who made that payment probably has a cause of action against the borrower for unjust enrichment, or perhaps contribution, but that claim is decidedly unsecured by a mortgage or deed of trust.

You have to think about the whole default thing the way the actual events played out. The creditor is the trust or the group of trust beneficiaries. They are owed payments as per the prospectus and pooling and servicing agreements. If those payments are current there is no default on the books of creditor. If the balance has been reduced by loss- sharing or insurance payment, the balance due and the accrued interest are correspondingly reduced. And THAT means the notice of default and notice of sale and acceleration are all wrong in terms of the figures they are using. The insurmountable problem that is slowly being recognized by the courts is that the default, from the perspective of the creditor trust or trust beneficiaries is a default under a contract between the trust beneficiaries and the trust.

This is the essential legal problem that the broker dealers (investment banks) caused when they interposed themselves as owners instead of what they were supposed to be — intermediaries, depositories, and agents of the investors (trust beneficiaries). The default of the borrower is irrelevant to whether the trust beneficiaries have suffered a loss due to default in payment from the trust. The borrower never promised that he or she or they would make payment to the trust or the trust beneficiaries — and that is the fundamental flaw in the actual mortgage process that prevailed for more than a dozen years. There would be no flaw if the investment banks had not committed fraud and instead of protecting investors, they diverted the money, ownership of the note and ownership of the mortgage or deed of trust to their own controlled vehicles. If the plan had been followed, the trusts and trust beneficiaries would have direct rights to collect from borrowers and foreclose on their property.

If the investment banks had not intended to divert the money, income, notes and mortgages or deeds of trust from the creditor trust or trust beneficiaries, then there would have no allegations of fraud from the investors, insurers and government guarantee agencies.

If the investment banks had done what was represented in the prospectus and pooling and servicing agreements, then the borrower would have known that the loan was being originated for or on behalf of the trust or beneficiaries and so would the rest of the world have known that. The note and mortgage would have shown, at origination, that the loan was payable to the trust and the mortgage or deed of trust was for the benefit of the trust or trust beneficiaries, as required by TILA and all the compensation earned by people associated with the origination of the loan would have had to have been disclosed (or returned to the borrower for failure to disclose). That would have connected the source of the loan — the trust or trust beneficiaries — to the receipt of the funds (the homeowner borrowers).

Instead, the investment banks hit on a nominee strawman plan where the disclosures were not made and where they could claim that (1) the investment bank was the owner of the debt and (2) the note and mortgage or deed of trust were executed for the benefit of a nominee strawman for the investment bank, who then claimed an insurable interest as owner of the debt. As owner of the debt, the investment banks received loss sharing payments from the FDIC. As agents for the investors those payments should have been applied to the balance owed the investors with a corresponding reduction in the balance due from the borrower —- if the payments were actually made and received and were not hypothetical or speculative. The investment banks did the same thing with the bonds, collecting payments from insurers, counterparties to credit default swaps, and guarantees from government sponsored entities.

When I say nominee or strawman I do not merely mean MERS which would have been entirely unnecessary unless the investment banks had intended to defraud the investors. What I am saying is that even the “lender” for whom MERS was the “nominee” falls into the same trapdoor. That lender was also merely a nominee which means that, as I said 7 years ago, they might just as well have made out the note and mortgage to Donald Duck, a fictitious character.

Since no actual lender was named in the note and mortgage and the terms of repayment were actually far different than what was stated on the borrower’s promissory note (i.e., the terms of the mortgage bond were the ONLY terms applicable to the plan of repayment to the creditor investors), the loan contract (or quasi loan contract, depending upon which jurisdiction you are in) was never completed. Hence the mortgage and note should never have been accepted into the file by the closing agent, much less recorded.

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George W. Mantor Runs for Public Office on “No More Dirty Deeds”

Mantor for Assessor/Recorder/Clerk of San Diego County

Editor’s note: I don’t actually know Mantor so I cannot endorse him personally — but I DO endorse the idea of people running for office on actual issues instead of buzz words and media bullets.

Mantor is aiming straight for his issue by running for the Recorder’s Position. I think his aim is right and he seems to get the nub of some very important issues in the piece I received from him. I’d be interested in feedback on this campaign and if it is favorable, I might give a little juice to his campaign on the blog and my radio show.

His concern is my concern: that within a few years, we will all discover that most of us have defective title, even if we didn’t know there was a loan subject to claims of securitization in our title chain. This is not a phenomenon that affects one transaction at a time. It affects every transaction that took place after the last valid loan closing on every property. It doesn’t matter if it was subject to judicial or non-judicial sale because real property is not to be settled by damages but rather by actual title.

Many investors are buying up property believing they have eliminated the risk of loss by purchasing property either at or after the auction sale of the property. They might not be correct in that assumption. It depends upon the depth and breadth of the fraud. Right now, it seems very deep and very wide.

Here is one quote from Mantor that got my attention:

Despite the fact that everyone knows, despite the fact that they signed consent decrees promising not to steal homes, they go right on doing it.

Where is law enforcement, the Attorneys General, the regulators? They all know but they only prosecute the least significant offenders.

Foreclosures spiked 57% in California last month. How many of those were illegal? Most, if not all.

An audit of San Francisco County revealed one or more irregularities in 99% of the subject loans. In 84% of the loans, there appear to be one or more clear violations of law.

Fortune examined the foreclosures filed in two New York counties (Westchester and the Bronx) between 2006 and 2010.  There were130 cases where the Bank of New York was foreclosing on behalf of a Countrywide mortgage-backed security.  In 104 of those cases, the loan was originally made by Countrywide; the other 26 were made by other banks and sold to Countrywide for securitization.

None of the 104 Countrywide loans were endorsed by Countrywide – they included only the original borrower’s signature.  Two-thirds of the loans made by other banks also lacked bank endorsements.  The other third were endorsed either directly on the note or on an allonge, or a rider, accompanying the note.

No_More_Dirty_Deeds

Reuters: Credit Unions Fail As a Result of Buying Mortgage Bonds

As regulators conclude their long investigation into the cloud of companies and the maze of paths of paperwork and money the real victims are being revealed. We know Pension funds got hit hard and are now underfunded strictly as a result of buying worthless mortgage bonds from investment bankers who promised them protection and transparency but instead proved to be the predator. Now regulators are suing Morgan Stanley for defrauding two credit unions that failed as a result of taking a loss on those bonds — a loss that was a gain to the investment banker.

But they still don’t have it exactly right. The regulators are now freely describing mortgages that were “faulty”, “defective”‘ or “non-conforming”. They are describing bonds whose indentures were violated. Yet the government still stands on the sidelines when we look at the damage caused to millions of homeowners who have been forced from their homes and lost everything. The guise is “personal responsibility” — meaning that homeowners are to blame for what happened to them. Meanwhile the question of ownership of who owns the loan and the balance of the loan are being circumvented through destructive litigation, led by judges who are ill-informed mostly because lawyers have failed to learn securitization of debt.

Thus the government has failed to lead the way to stopping Foreclosures. It is still a basic axiom in the offices of regulators, the courtrooms of the judiciary and in mainstream media that individual borrowers are the people who must take responsibility and pay for the fraud. They should have known better. They should have read the documents. But this “logic” flies in the face that two branches of government have already recognized is that the one party who is at a disadvantage in a mortgage loan transaction and credit generally is the borrower — not the lender.

This issue was officially decided by the Federal Government in The Federal Truth in Lending Act was enacted for just that purpose and reason. The Federal Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act was enacted for just that purpose. And the many states that have enacted deceptive lending statutes that freely borrow from TILA and RESPA. Lawyers need to include this in their pleadings, memorandums and oral arguments to start where we should start — at the beginning. If those mortgages are being settled with the creditors who loaned the money because the loans were defective, and they are being settled with shared risk of loss, then why should our attitude toward borrowers be any different as to the same defective mortgages?

A good starting point would be to find the list of defective mortgages to see if your mortgage is in the
list of mortgages claimed to have been securitized, where the mortgages were described as defective, and where the mortgage bonds were described as fraudulent. Fraudulent appraisals are being ignored in the courtroom despite the clear provisions TILA that makes the appraisal and the viability of the loan the responsibility of the lender. Foreclosure defense attorneys are missing an important part of their argument when they fail to start with the responsibilities of the lender, the reasons why those standards were not applied, and the fact that the real lenders in millions of table-funded (predatory per se– I.e. Presumptively predatory) were being defrauded in two ways — non-conforming defective loans and mortgage bonds.

Of course the agencies could make thing easy by forcing publication of a list of REMIC trusts that have been subject to settlements relating to fraudulent and deceptive lending, and fraudulent and deceptive sale of mortgage bonds. But the truth is that the false axioms of the cloud of companies acting under cover of false claims of securitization are settling in the minds of judges, lawyers and regulators that somehow tens of millions of mostly unsophisticated people conspired to defraud the system. How likely is that? Or is it more likely that mortgage companies were pushing, coercing, lying, and deceiving the borrowers — just as the the lawsuits against the investment banks state? And just as they have done in the past?

Those lawsuits frequently allege that the underlying mortgages were non-compliant and unenforceable. If the investment bankers and investors, insurers and government agencies can agree that those mortgages were not enforceable, why is it that lawyers have not brought that message with them into the courtroom? And when they do, why are judges ignoring the argument. It has already been decided at the highest levels of government that the homeowner is hopelessly outgunned at closing. Why assume anything different? When those laws were passed , the number of loan options was 4 or 5. During this period of mortgage madness and meltdown, the number of mortgage products climbed to over 400 options. Borrowers didn’t do that. It was the mortgage originator who had no risk of loss because the money of the investor was what ended up on the table at closing.

Morgan Stanley

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/09/24/us-morganstanley-creditunion-lawsuit-idUSBRE98N02E20130924

JPMorgan hit by U.S. bribery probe into Chinese hiring

How did the banks get away with it? Bribery takes many forms. It doesn’t need to be a direct payment, but merely something of value to the regulator or law enforcement officer. In this case it is the hiring of children of banking regulators in China. There is no reason why we should think that couldn’t happen here. It did. The revolving door of regulators, law enforcement and the banks has long been known.

Even if it isn’t a bribe, the bank is hiring people and then designating them for important positions in government regulation. Jamie Dimon sits on the Board at the New York Federal Reserve. Being immersed in the bank culture, the people involved come to believe the myths repeated every day. It becomes part of their culture.

The reason why the decisions on banking have been so chaotic is that there is a direct conflict between the real world and the illusions created by the banks. Put another way, the difference is between truth and fiction.

The fact remains that practically no mortgage can be satisfied or released because the ownership is completely deranged. The correction can only come from the courts when they realize and learn that the origination of the loan was a sham transaction, not just a table funded loan, and that the intent was fraud on the investors and homeowners (who were also “investors”). The scheme unraveled precisely in concert with investors ceasing to buy the “mortgage bonds” issued by entities in “street name.” That is the red flag that alerts authorities that the securitization chain was in fact a fraudulent PONZI scheme. The issuers were designated asset pools that had nothing in them, and in most cases were not funded, directly or indirectly. So the mortgage bonds were worthless.

And now that the facts are being slowly revealed, the depth of malfeasance by the banks is being recognized for what it is — but the government is sticking with its policy of “no prosecution.” Until the government steps up to the mike and says outright that the scheme was a fraudulent scheme in which the borrowers were used as pawn to steal money from investors, most people are not going to believe it. Until respectable economists and legal scholars step up and say that the loan transaction described in the note never existed and was a strawman transaction that should have been revealed to the borrower, this tragedy will stop.

Study the Assignment and Assumption Agreements executed before the first loan application was ever accepted for review. Track the money from strangers showing up at closing as though it was the money of the designated payee on the note and mortgage. The rest will be easy. But until regulators see the public as their boss instead of the banks, don’t expect any help from outside the courtroom.

JPMorgan hit by U.S. bribery probe into Chinese hiring

Borrower Beware: Don’t Payoff Without Tender of REAL Original Note

The Perils of Payoff

On the road again: I met a fellow on the Red Coach from Tallahassee to Fort Lauderdale who is pursuing a case that proves the central point of this blog: Whether you are selling, refinancing, Short-Selling, or otherwise paying off your supposed loan balance, the institution that receives the payoff (a) has no right to the money and (b) has no authority to execute a satisfaction of the note and mortgage even upon receipt of the money. And the reason is that in most cases they don’t have the note, which means it is still in circulation somewhere supporting as much as 42 times the face value of the note in hedges and derivatives. When confronted with a payoff of the loan, the institution is more than happy to take your money but will lie and cheat to avoid providing you with a real non-photo-shopped original note.

Unfortunately, most people are still taking it on FAITH that the note is indeed satisfied and that the mortgage is released and satisfied at the time of the payoff but they are very wrong if they don’t get the original note at closing, since THAT is what is presumptively the cash equivalent instrument that is traded in the secondary market, and since the mortgage usually is presumed to follow the note, that gives the actual owner of the note the opportunity to make a claim — something that is already happening and will occur with increasing frequency.

So whether you are buying property, selling property or paying off the “old” mortgage for any reason you are not only creating a title mess, you have no proof that the original note has been canceled. Which led me to suggest in a few articles that for those able to do it, call the bluff of the pretender lender. And for those investors looking to make an infinite return on their money, they should be helping homeowners do this in or out of court: OFFER TO PAY THE BALANCE IN FULL AS DEMANDED BY THE PRETENDER LENDER ON THREE CONDITIONS: (A) PRODUCTION OF THE ORIGINAL NOTE AND THE RIGHT TO INSPECT IT FOR AUTHENTICITY (B) PRODUCTION OF PROOF OF PAYMENT AT ORIGINATION AND ALL TRANSFERS UPON WHICH THE PRETENDER LENDER RELIES FOR ITS AUTHORITY TO COLLECT THE MONEY AND (C) PROOF OF LOSS BY ACCESS TO THOSE PEOPLE WHO MIGHT HAVE RECEIVED AN ASSIGNMENT OF THE LOAN OR WHO HAVE A BACK-DOOR OWNERSHIP INTEREST IN THE LOAN THROUGH OWNERSHIP OF A DERIVATIVE OR CREDIT DEFAULT SWAP.

This is not for the feint of heart nor the people who don’t have access to actual funds that can be tendered in full payment. It is possible for the occasional real note to pop up and perhaps even sufficient proof that the Judge would rule it is sufficient to close the deal in which case you will have paid 100 cents on the dollars demanded in exchange for a loan valued at perhaps half that amount. But most of the time it will look like the following case described to me last night. I’ve changed facts (identities and figures) to protect the privacy of the individuals involved. But the foundation of the case is accurately described.

Owner Schwartenheimer has a mortgage claimed by Bank of America. It is for $3 million on a private residence in the State of Florida. He has a buyer at $2 million which leaves him $1 million short of the amount demanded by the “bank” claiming to own and service his mortgage. An estoppel letter is issued by BofA indicating the payoff amount and the dates that the estoppel letters is effective and may be relied upon.

The closing is in 5 weeks. And the Owner has elected to payoff the extra $1 million rather than attempt a short-sale. So the Bank is going to get full payment at closing — $2 million from the buyer and $1 million from the seller.

But the Owner’s daughter, an astute business woman who happens to be an avid reader of this blog intervenes with the demand that the original note be produced at closing. BofA assures her that the original note will be produced. At closing without the daughter in attendance, the father, as instructed by his daughter, demands to see a copy of the original note before he turns over the money to BofA. His buyer is there with the money and he has a bank check ready and payable to BofA for $1 million.

The curious answer from BofA is that they have the note but were unable to get it to the closing agent in time for the morning closing, but that it would be available for delivery at 4PM that afternoon. The proper thing would have been to wait until they produce the note. The Owner asks his lawyer, who is also a title agent, for advice on what to do. The lawyer thinks that the daughter is nuts and so is Neil Garfield with his livinglies conspiracy blog.

The lawyer advises the client to proceed with the closing under the belief that BofA obviously MUST have the original note or else they would not have issued an estoppel letter and signed the papers to satisfy and discharge the mortgage in recordable form. Whether that advice will further be the subject of a malpractice case against the lawyer is another matter to consider at a later time. And the repercussions of that could extend to all sorts of situations where a “mortgage” and “note” are involved —even to the far reaches of family law.

As you have no doubt guessed, at 4pm the Owner and his daughter show up at 4pm to get the original note and of course it is not there, despite having been informed that it WAS there. The daughter although not a lawyer, is far from amused. She writes a bristling letter to BofA demanding that either they produce the original note or give the money back — and she demands not only the $3 million paid at “closing” but all the interest and principal paid before that for a total demand of $5 million.

BofA immediately responds with apologies and assures her and her father that the note will be provided.

[A word of context here: if BofA wanted to take the position that the note was lost or destroyed they could have filed an appropriate action to reconstitute the note and mortgage. But they didn't do that, for good reason --- the mortgage loan was supporting $60 million in credit derivatives, insurance and credit default swaps upon which BofA had already been paid. If they admit they don't have the note and they can't account for where it was last seen, and when it disappeared in the manner required to re-establish the note with assurance to the court that the real original won't show up at a later time in the hands of a different claimant, in that event they might be subject to claims from insurance companies and counter-parties of credit default swaps for repayment of $60 million they paid and which was received by BofA. [considerable over-simplification is being used here, but the point remains true].

So BofA and the owner (with the new owner in the background wringing his hands over whether he really received clear title and whether his title policy excluded claims from securitization) go back and forth until BofA counsel informs the owner he doesn’t need the original note because BofA has already signed the satisfaction.

The owner and daughter, unsatisfied with that response (as well they should be) file a lawsuit against BofA for return of all money ever paid to them, plus statutory interest. BofA defends the action with various motions to dismiss and has now delayed discovery 5 times.

Suddenly the senior partner of the prestigious law firm representing BofA calls the daughter and asks what she wants. She replies that she wants her money back and he says “well, without saying we agree to your demand, for settlement purposes what would you take to satisfy your demand for your money back.” He understands that even if they pay the father $5 million or more, they are still saving the client (a) the $60 million payback to insurers who already paid and (b) the prospect of facing a lot more of these lawsuits from people who have the money and the right fact pattern to prosecute the case.

The daughter wants to dig in her heals knowing she has BofA over a barrel.

The lawyer who represented the owner at closing is still clueless and believes the action filed by the father and daughter is totally without merit. His advice, perhaps self-serving, is that they demand nothing.

The daughter wants it all — if BofA can’t produce any evidence that they ever bought the loan, that they ever knew or anyone ever knew where the note was, then she wants all the payments, monthly or otherwise were made to BofA without BofA having any right or authority or even excuse to collect the money.

The father as previous and perhaps still owner of the property would be satisfied with the money paid at closing to BofA — $3 million. BofA’s attorneys are now in process of suggesting a modification to the claim filed by the father in court upon which they will settle — and from the looks of it, the settlement will be for the full amount paid at closing. Thus if the note is still in circulation, the father will have received the full value of it from BofA who accepted it under false pretenses. The case is not settled yet, but is looming on the horizon.

The moral of the story is that this is all about money. And if you can find a way to come up with actual cash you can make the same offer as the owner did above — and in my opinion achieve the same results. And if people pool their money and make the offer to refinance the property at the full value of the demand made by the pretender lender — whether in foreclosure or not — a bona fide actual offer can be made and cannot be ignored by either the court or the pretender lender.

For those with entrepreneurial spirit  this is a business plan that I wish to raise money for. Write to neilfgarfield@hotmail.com if you are interested in combining resources with other investors to execute this business plan.

In Summary: The refinance package signed by the present owner provides that if the payment is required to be made, they now owe the money to the hedge fund or whatever entity put up the money and provides modification terms acceptable to the owner — which means a net loss to the investor. But, if the usual case prevails, and the pretender lender is forced to back off, a quiet title action, plus refinance of the property at 1/3 of the amount demanded by the pretender lender results in a windfall note and mortgage to the source of refinancing without ever having paid the “prior note”.

These entrepreneurs, if I am right, will rarely have to pay an actual some of money to discharge the old note and mortgage while at the same time the owner gets the property free and clear except for a new mortgage to the investors for 1/3 of the original principal demanded plus a reasonable fixed interest rate with 40 year amortization, all of which can be sold into the secondary market. It is a virtually infinite return without putting very much money at risk and no risk of a total loss.

And for those without money — check the court file to see whether the original note has been tendered because most states, like Florida want the original note filed and out of circulation before they will allow a foreclosure sale even if it is determined that a foreclosure sale is proper in the circumstances. There is only one party that can submit a credit bid at auction — the party with the original note and proof of loss.

BEFORE EXECUTING ANY SUCH PLAN OR TAKING ANY ACTION BASED UPON THE GENERAL INFORMATION PRESENTED IN THIS ARTICLE YOU SHOULD CONSULT WITH LEGAL COUNSEL LICENSED IN THE JURISDICTION IN WHICH YOUR PROPERTY IS LOCATED.

CRIME AND PUNISHMENT: 2013 AND BEYOND

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For assistance with presenting a case for wrongful foreclosure, please call 520-405-1688, customer service, who will put you in touch with an attorney in the states of Florida, California, Ohio, and Nevada. (NOTE: Chapter 11 may be easier than you think).

——————–HOW TO GET AWAY WITH IT——————–

“Thus under the current scenario each one ($1) dollar spent on criminalizing certain acts, prosecuting them and punishing them is met by a comparative figure of seventeen thousand ($17,000) dollars in damages caused solely by the Wall Street mortgage meltdown alone. It’s impossible to graph on a single piece of paper — it would take 12 reams of paper for economic crimes versus 1/4 inch on a single piece of paper for all other crimes.

‘If the current societal cost of all crimes including nonviolent drug related offenses was plotted at 1/4 inches, the next line down for economic crimes would be 68,000 inches long or 6,181 pages. Yet the number of people prosecuted and incarcerated for economic crimes is, thus far, less than 1% of the number of people snared in the 1980’s savings and loan scandal which all admit to have had far less reaching consequences than the PONZI “derivative” scheme of 1996-2012. ” Neil F Garfield, Esq., http://www.livinglies.me

CRIME AND PUNISHMENT

Do you think that a person who possesses marijuana should be given a state or federal pension? What would you do if you found out that this is exactly what is happening for 1,000,000 U.S. Citizens every year? What would you think if you were told that they were each getting a pension of $40,000 year, free medical care, plus the initial cost of processing their pension applications to the state or federal government which adds another $40,000 for each pensioner?  The cost is $40 Billion per year plus the cost of initial processing of another $15 Billion per year.

$55 Billion per year is spent on pensioning possessors of marijuana and other drugs, plus the cost of socialized medicine and care for all pensioners, which includes those who commit violent crimes when they are young who are now senior citizens posing no threat to society but nonetheless retain their room, board, and medical care. The total cost of this system exceeds $80 Billion per year, which using the ten year budgets that are being hotly debated in Washington, would reduce the deficit by about $1 TRILLION dollars.

Most of the pensioners would be forced to work if they were not on the pension system. The loss from taking these people out of the workforce is another $6 Billion per year, which over ten years is another $6 Billion and the loss to economic activity is at least another $25 Billion per year or over a ten year period $250 Billion to the federal and state government on income and sales taxes is another

There are 1,500,000 people incarcerated in the United States at any one time — more per capita than any other country in the world, most of whom have far lower violent crime rates than those in the U.S. which admittedly are declining due to factors not well understood (economic, abortion, lead in gasoline and other products etc. – nobody knows).

If you were to draw out a simple three stage pyramid of incarcerated people in this country the vast base of nearly 1 million people would be comprised of those committed non-violent acts which means by definition that nobody got hurt. The vast majority of those were given sentences of “pension” for minimum mandatory periods for possession of controlled substances, mostly, marijuana. Hence, these people committed acts that posed no threat to anyone in society, or to put it simply, posed no threat to society. We spend $40 billion per year, which with inflation and other factors will cost nearly a Trillion dollars over the next ten years on these people.

The next level comprising just half the size of the foundation of the pyramid consist of people who committed violent crimes. And the last level is composed of a tiny fraction of people who committed “economic” crimes that are presumed to be non-violent. The fact that these economic criminals altered the landscape of the finance and economies all over the world in whole or in part, resulting in inevitable suicides, mass shootings, riots, wars and billions of dollars in mental health costs which leads to tens of billions of dollars in physical ailments brought on stress does not get any consideration as to whether their crimes hurt society more than say, a murderer, who shoots his partner for stealing.

Up until thirty years ago the pyramid didn’t look anything like the pyramid today. Costs for incarcerated “pensioners” and other people held in prisons and jails were far less than 1/3 of what they are today. The reason that the cost of and size of the prison system has quadrupled in 3 decades is MONEY. The prison system was privatized and this is what happens when you privatize a societal function like police, fire, and prisons. After years of lobbying big business managed to support or convince legislators that privatizing the prison system was a good idea.

This was a great idea for business — but only if they kept the jails full, using the same business model as the hotels. If you have no guests staying there you lose money. The more you can count on a full prison or jail the more you can spend on new jails and prisons, using the Wall Street markets to bankroll you. The trick is to make sure that people are convicted of something and sent to prison. And if the prison industry had their way they would make breathing a criminal event because that would give them an unlimited number of people to choose from in filling their ever growing prison system.

The closest thing they could come to criminalized breathing is taking a puff of a cigarette and since there were many types of cigarettes — tobacco and other substances, they supported anyone who was “afraid” of marijuana and managed to pass a new era of prohibition where we all know is where organized crime got its start.

To make certain they were reaching the huge population of people who used marijuana they even made it a crime just to possess it. This coup enabled the prison industry to grow into one of the largest industries in our economy (over $60 Billion per year) and create one of the largest lobbying systems to make certain that as many thing could be criminalized as possible, so long as it was directed to large numbers of potential “guests.” Violent crimes were not as much fun as non-violent crimes because costs of insurance and other measures goes up exponentially as the risk goes up, guards demand more pay for assuming the risk of dealing with violent individuals and the list goes on. Hence the lower sentences on violent crimes than possession of pot.

As for the economic crimes, the pickings are slim. The prison business model views it as a loser. There are just not enough people committing them as those who commit drug offenses and violent crimes. So prosecutions are sparse and the number of guests is very limited — really of no consequence in the business model of the prison industry. Besides it was the kingpins of Wall Street that financed the privatization of prison systems with new bonds, stock offerings and hedge products like credit default swaps. The last thing the prison lobby wants are prosecutions of Wall Street titans who are supporting the prison industry. And the last thing a politician wants is to to decriminalize non-violent drug crimes if he or she is dependent upon Wall Street or direct donations to their campaigns from the prison industry. The two lobbies combined probably exceed the total of all other lobbying.

I submit that the pyramid is inverted and that any politician  who lacks the nerve to do what is best for society should be removed from office and replaced with someone who will vote with an eye towards what will most benefit his or her constituents and the country as a whole, as is stated in their oath of office. I submit that the reason why Wall Street criminals were not prosecuted is that they are indirectly in charge of criminal prosecution system and the departments of corrections in each state and federal prison or jail.

If you analyze the pyramid in terms of damage to society, the base would be economic crimes costing some 1/3 of the world’s wealth — $17 trillion — through an obvious PONZI scheme that was named “securitization.” The principal flag for recognizing a PONZI scheme is that it collapses when people stop buying in because the venture is using incoming investments to pay the old investors. That is exactly what happened.

Compounding the crime, the Wall Street Bankers took money from investors under false pretenses, intentionally diverted a large part of that money into their own pockets, and then funded mortgages from remote thinly capitalized entities of dubious or impossibility viability by manipulating property values, rating systems, mortgage brokers and nominees that became called “originators, as if that term means anything.

The Wall Street Banks diverted investor money into their own pockets, then compounded that with  making themselves (instead of the investors they were required to protect) beneficiaries of insurance, federal bailouts and proceeds from “hedge” products like credit default swaps.

Instead of protecting the investors by having them named as payee on the funded loans, they created plainly defective notes and mortgages that were patently wrong as potential liens on the homeowner’s property.

Instead of having the money that funded the loans come from REMIC trusts that issued the bogus mortgage backed bond, they funded the loans from other entities leaving the REMIC and the investor with nothing.

They had simply diverted the paperwork from the investors for whom they were supposedly acting as agents, and created the illusion that the Wall Street Banks owned the mortgage backed bonds that contained no mortgages, no notes, were not backed and therefore bogus bonds  with no capacity to pay the expected interest and principal back to the investor.

So the foundation of pyramid based upon societal damage would be $17 trillion, with a continuing cost of trillions of dollars per year caused by squeezing values of currency on which the banks made even more money, minimum, whereas the cost to society of even the most violent crimes would be under $10 billion using the most liberal formulas. The cost to society of non-violent drug crimes could be computed as high as $3 Billion per year depending upon whose analysis you look at.

Thus under the current scenario each one ($1) dollar spent on criminalizing certain acts, prosecuting them and punishing them is met by a comparative figure of seventeen thousand ($17,000) dollars in damages caused solely by the Wall Street mortgage meltdown alone. It’s impossible to graph on a single piece of paper. If the current societal cost of all crimes including nonviolent drug related offenses was plotted at 1/4 inches, the next line down for economic crimes would be 68,000 inches long or 6,181 pages.

The outcome is clear — the bigger the economic crime the less likely the punishment regardless of the damage to society. And, as we all know, criminals who are successful tend to escalate their criminality rather than say “‘enough.”

Unless the State and Federal and Local governments understand and act on these self-evident truths, it is virtually certain that whatever is left in world wealth will be taken on the next round of Wall Street exotic securities that only robotic supercomputers can properly value — on chips containing programs created on Wall Street and never reviewed by any regulatory agency.

I submit that like the FDA, an agency I have no love for, the labeling of products from Wall Street should await approval from a newly created division of the SEC that can review —- and understand — the tricks and tools of the new “securities” being offered and that the U.S. attorneys and Attorneys General get together a task force and claw back what they can to cure or assist their deficits.

Until that happens Wall Street will continue its 4 decades long pursuit of selling crap instead of investments.

Banks Keep Winning, But Borrowers Are Picking Up the Pace

What’s the Next Step? Consult with Neil Garfield

CHECK OUT OUR NOVEMBER SPECIAL

For assistance with presenting a case for wrongful foreclosure, please call 520-405-1688, customer service, who will put you in touch with an attorney in the states of Florida, California, Ohio, and Nevada. (NOTE: Chapter 11 may be easier than you think).

Editors’ Analysis: Based upon reports coming from around the country, and especially in Florida, Nevada, New York, and other states, it seems that while the tide hasn’t turned, borrowers are finally mounting a meaningful challenge to the improper, illegal and fraudulent practices used at loan originations , assignments and foreclosures. As I have discussed with dozens of attorneys now, the strategies I suggested 6 years ago, once thought of as “fringe” are now becoming mainstream and the banks are feeling the pinch if not the bite of homeowners’ wrath.

The expression I like to use is that “At the end of the day everyone knows everything.” By using DENY and Discover tactics or strategies like that, borrowers are shifting the urden of persuasion onto the would-be foreclosers who in most cases do not have “the goods.” They are not a creditor, they didn’t fund the loan, they didn’t buy the loan and they don’t have any legal authorization to pursue foreclosure, submit a credit bid or otherwise trade in houses that were never subject to a perfected lien, and never owned by them.

It is becoming perfectly clear that something wrong is happening when the foreclosure strategies of the Wall Street puppets results in tens of thousands of homes being abandoned, blighting entire neighborhoods, towns and even cities. The banks are not stupid, although arrogance is not far from stupidity.

In ordinary times in any ordinary recession, the banks would do almost anything to avoid foreclose. They simply don’t have the money or the desire to acquire a portfolio of properties and they certainly don’t want to foreclose where the the end result is that the value of the collateral is diminished BELOW ZERO. And they certainly would not pursue policies that they knew would tank housing prices because it would only decrease the value of the loan and the likelihood of getting repaid for the loans they made.

But these are not ordinary times. Banks DO want price declines, so they can create REITS and other vehicles to pick up cheap properties. They DO want foreclosures even where the value of a blighted neighborhood is not worth the taxes, maintenance and insurance to keep the properties.

The reason is simple: if the loan is a total failure and under applicable state law they are able to create the appearance of a valid foreclosure, then the case is closed. Investors have not questioned the foreclosure process, mostly because they think that the basic problem was in the low underwriting standards which  certainly did contribute to the mortgage meltdown. If you look at most of the mortgages they have fatal flaws which increase the likelihood that the loan will fail — especially with blacks and other minorities who have been deprived of decent education and couldn’t possibly understand the deals they were signing.

Disclosure was required — but never made in terms that the borrowers understood — that the loans were being priced too high for the income of the household, and priced higher that the rates for which the household qualified. Blacks were 3.5x more likelihood to be steered into subprime loans when they qualified for conventional loans. People of Latin decent were treated like trash too being presented with documents that not only went above their education or sophistication in real estate transactions but also used words they never learned in English.

But the real reason I learned in my interviews was unrelated to the defective foreclosures. It goes back to the study made by Katherine Ann Porter when she was at the University of Iowa. Her study of thousands of mortgages and foreclosures came to the inescapable conclusion that at least 40% of all the origination documents were intentionally destroyed or claimed as lost. Other studies have shown the figure to be higher than 65%.

In ordinary times the  promissory note executed by the borrower in a conventional residential loan is a negotiable document supported by consideration from the payee who loaned money to the borrower. These notes were given to a custodian of records whose job was to preserve and protect these papers because they were considered by all accounting standards as CASH EQUIVALENT.

So on the balance sheet of the lender the cash was added to cash equivalents as total liquidity of the lender or bank. [What you are looking for on the balance sheet of the "lenders" are "loans receivable" and corresponding entry on the liability side of a reserve for bad debt. You won't find it in the "new mortgages" because they never had the real stake or risk of loss on that loan and therefore was excluded entirely from the balance sheet or placed in a category in loans held for sale along with a footnote or entry that zeroed out the asset of loans for sale because they were committed to third parties who had table funded the loan contrary to the express rules of TILA and Reg Z which state that the loans are presumptively predatory loans if the pattern of lending was  table funded loans.] See My workbooks on www.livinglies-store.com

The notes were considered liquid because there was always a secondary market in which to sell the notes and mortgages. And there, the proper chain of authorized signatures, resolutions, and endorsements was carefully followed, same as they would require from any borrower claiming an asset as proof of their credit-worthiness.

So why would any bank or any reasonable person intentionally destroy the original documents that constituted by definition the origination of the loan collateralize by a supposedly perfected lien? In my seminars and workbooks I answer this question with an example: “If you tell someone you have a hundred dollar bill and that they can have it if they buy to from you for $100, but that you will hold onto it because you will make some more money for them by lending it out, then the fraud is complete. And there you have the beginning of a PONZI scheme.

As long as you are paying them as though they had $100 invested, they are happy. But what if you were holding a $10 bill and not a $100 bill. What if they took your word for it that you were holding a $100 bill. AND what if now they want to see the $100 bill? Now you have a problem. You have no $100 bill to show them. You never did. For a while you could take incoming investor money and then show the original investor the money but when investors stop buying new deals, then you don’t have the $100 bills to show everyone you dealt with because all you ever had was a $10 bill.

So better to say that you destroyed it under the premise that the digitized copy would suffice or lost it because of the complexity of the securitization process than to admit that you never had it to begin with. If you admit it, you go to jail and you are ordered to pay restitution, your assets seized and marshaled to return as much money as possible to the victims of the PONZI scam.

If you don’t admit it, then there is the possibility that after probing why the investors didn’t get their money back, they start discovering how you were using their money, and what you were doing as business plan. The only way to shut that off and make it least likely that investors would ever question whether you had represented the deal correctly at the beginning, to avoid criminal prosecution, is to COMPLETE the FORECLOSURE Process which gives the further appearance that there is an official state government seal of approval on a perfectly illegal foreclosure and probably an economic crime.

See below for the suffering and light and lives lost because of this incredible crime that nobody seems to want to prosecute. A crime, by the way, they has corrupted title records that will haunt us for decades to come.

wall-street-kept-winning-on-mortgages-upending-homeowners.html

Lawyers cashing in on Class Action Lawsuits for Investors: What About Homeowners?

“I can’t predict the next scandal,” Mr. Berger said. “But I know that fraud is a growth industry, and so is greed.”

Editor’s Comment: Max W. Berger, partner of Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann, based in Manhattan has brought in over $1 Billion in damages for class action lawsuits filed ion behalf of investors. I’ve been predicting here that the amount of money that a lawyer can make correcting the malfeasance of the megabanks and servicers is staggering — far beyond profitable areas like personal injury and medical malpractice.

They are producing settlements rather than verdicts and judgments simply because the banks don’t really have a credible defense to what they did. They lied, cheated and stole. By diverting money from the securitization scheme that they said they were following and diverting the documentation away from the investors, as well as diverting huge payoffs and profits away from investors, the banks have screwed the investors (and all the pensioners and retirement account holders), screwed the taxpayers with creating false premises for bailouts, and screwed homeowners with false claims for foreclosures.

Is it time yet for lawyers to realize that even more money is to be made representing homeowners? The obstacles in the law create problems for certification of class actions but the possibilities remain. Any foreclosure pattern that REQUIRED the use of false documentation that was forged by unsophisticated clerks at the direction of the people who were claiming plausible deniability MUST be the target of such lawsuits and the answer to the problem of underwater mortgages, strategic defaults which are on the rise, and the limp economic recovery caused in large measure by the housing crash that cannot recover until the foreclosure scheme is stopped.

Lawyers for homeowners should be pouring through the discovery documents and pleading of the cases filed for investors, There they will find a treasure trove of information that drove the banks into offering billions in settlements of actions brought by civil action lawyers as well as government agencies. But the real question is why are the big name class action lawyers ignoring the horrendous damage to homeowners?

These lawyers have the resources and the knowledge that has been disclosed here on this blog and hundreds of other articles, mainstream news stories and bloggers across the country.

Iceland understood the problem and reduced household debt, bringing itself out from an actual economic depression into the fastest growth of western nations. Ireland is now about to require reductions in principal due to prevent the wave of foreclosures that has been hanging over that market as well, leading the way for other European countries to follow suit.

Each day thousands of lives are ruined by the false claims in foreclosures that dominate the “foreclosure industry” comprised of participants in a securitization chain to nowhere — the money wasn’t sent through that channel, the documents were diverted from that channel leaving the investors with nothing. Shareholders in the banks were misled and kept shares of the mega banks in their portfolios. Managed funds for pensions and retirement funds, have lost as much as 50% of their value endangering current pension benefits (a fact that will be revealed after the elections).

Why do I need to convince lawyers to make more money and do some good for society into action on behalf of homeowners when on the same facts, lawyers for the investors are making money hand over fist?

Business is booming for lawyers who care about investors, but not so much for lawyers representing the homeowners who were screwed worse than the investors. The homeowners in most cases have lost everything and more.

Their own pension benefits probably come from a managed funds that bought into the bogus mortgage bonds. Their pension benefits are in danger of being cut even while they lose their home and lifestyles from tricky defective mortgages that not even Alan Greenspan understood much less the unsophisticated home-buyer or homeowner refinancing homes that were in many cases in the family for generations.

Why is this so difficult for the lawyers and the judiciary to understand? Whose name would you put on the note and mortgage if you were lending money? Why wasn’t the name of the actual lender disclosed, much less shown as payee or mortgagee? If the REMIC trusts were real, no originator would have been allowed to place their name on the closing documents.

The money DID come from investors but did NOT come from the REMIC trusts that are alleged. The mortgage liens were not perfected and the underwriting process upon which the bank settlements with investors were based, was completely scuttled, especially where it came to intentionally inflated values of the property.

So where are the lawyers to take advantage of this huge opportunity where so much of the work has already been done for them by government agencies and class action lawyers for investors?

Investors’ Billion-Dollar Fraud Fighter
By PETER LATTMAN, NY Times

A few days after securing the largest shareholder recovery arising from the financial crisis – $2.43 billion from Bank of America – the plaintiffs’ lawyer Max W. Berger was not taking a victory lap.

“It makes me sad that in all of these scandals, no matter how good a job we do of getting results and inflicting pain, the government doesn’t seem to follow suit, and nobody learns, and it’s business as usual,” he said in an interview.

After a pregnant pause, Mr. Berger broke into a sly smile. He had another thought: “It gives us a lot of business, but it still makes me sad.”

With last month’s settlement with Bank of America, which resolved claims that the bank had misled shareholders about its acquisition of an ailing Merrill Lynch, Mr. Berger, 66, has now been responsible for six securities class-action settlements of more than $1 billion. His firm, Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann, based in Manhattan, has represented investors in five of the 10 largest securities-fraud recoveries. So far, it has recovered $4.5 billion for investors in cases connected to the subprime mortgage collapse.

“He is unquestionably one the giants of the plaintiffs’ bar,” said Brad S. Karp, the managing partner at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, who represented Bank of America and has faced off against Mr. Berger in several other cases. “And what sets Max apart, beyond his talents as a lawyer, is that he’s a mensch, a person of real humility and integrity.”

There was a time, not too long ago, when the lions of the securities class-action bar were described in far less flattering terms. For decades, Melvyn I. Weiss and William S. Lerach, a pair of brash, crafty plaintiffs’ lawyers, dominated this lucrative pocket of the legal industry. Their firm, Milberg Weiss, revolutionized shareholder class-action suits by filing streams of cases against corporations, accusing them of accounting fraud. Critics called their aggressive tactics legalized blackmail. Congress passed laws aimed at reining in their practices.

The careers of Mr. Weiss and Mr. Lerach ended in disgrace in 2006, when their firm was indicted on charges that it had funneled illegal kickbacks to clients to induce them to sue. Mr. Weiss, Mr. Lerach and two other Milberg Weiss partners ultimately served prison terms. (It did not help the standing of the plaintiffs’ bar that at about the same time, Richard F. Scruggs, the Mississippi class-action lawyer, was imprisoned for trying to bribe a judge.)

“To be tarred by those brushes was very upsetting, but it was even worse to have everyone presume that we operated in the same way,” Mr. Berger said. “After they were charged, I can’t tell you how many people said, ‘Well, isn’t that what all of you do?’ “

Yet a half-decade after Milberg’s downfall, there has been a shift in the public image and reputation of the securities class-action bar. The Bank of America settlement, which is still subject to judicial approval, comes at a moment when plaintiffs’ lawyers are being praised for extracting stiff penalties from banks related to their actions during the housing boom and the subsequent economic collapse. At the same time, resource-constrained government regulators have been criticized for not being tough enough.

In several cases, private plaintiffs have settled lawsuits for amounts far greater than the government received in similar actions. Bank of America, for instance, paid the Securities and Exchange Commission just $150 million to settle the commission’s lawsuit connected to the Merrill acquisition. Judge Jed S. Rakoff reluctantly approved the S.E.C. settlement, calling it “inadequate and misguided” and the dollar amount “paltry.”

“The securities class-action bar has come under relentless assault over the years,” said J. Robert Brown Jr., a corporate law professor at the University of Denver. “Yet these suits, especially the ones tied to the financial crisis, actually have had real value in the capital markets because companies need to know that there is a heavy price to pay for their misconduct.”

There are still detractors who scoff at that notion. These critics view securities class-action lawyers as bounty hunters who file nuisance lawsuits against deep-pocketed targets and then force them to settle rather than engage in costly litigation. They argue that the settlements have little deterrent effect because the payments almost always come from the corporations, not the executives and directors running the companies.

And questions have arisen over plaintiffs’ lawyers’ campaign contributions to local politicians who control the selection of legal counsel for shareholder lawsuits filed by public pension funds.

But even the most vocal opponents of securities-fraud class actions acknowledge that a variety of factors, including a combination of federal legislation and court rulings, have curbed abuses in the system. Many of the weakest cases are now thrown out earlier, and large institutional shareholders like state pension funds and insurance companies have taken greater control of the lawsuits.

They are also reining in the lawyers’ fees. In the past, plaintiffs’ lawyers received 20 percent to one-third of the settlement amount. Today the average fee award as a percentage of the recovery is much lower. In Bank of America, for example, Bernstein Litowitz and two other firms – Kessler Topaz Meltzer & Check and Kaplan Fox & Kilsheimer – are expected to ask for about $150 million, or 6 percent of the settlement.

“Things have definitely improved,” said Theodore H. Frank, an adjunct fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a longtime critic of abusive class actions. “Is it perfect? No. Is it better? Yes.”

Legal experts say the class actions filed after the financial crisis highlight the improvements. The lawsuits were far more risky and complex than the template “strike suits” that plaintiffs’ firms once churned out every time a company’s share price plummeted. And unlike large corporate scandals like Enron or WorldCom, there were no balance-sheet restatements or criminal convictions to use as evidence.

“We never viewed these cases as easy but felt we needed to be in them in a big way, so we really doubled down,” Mr. Berger said.

Bernstein Litowitz’s recent settlements read like a who’s who of the “too big to fail” era. Wachovia and its auditor paid its bondholders $627 million to resolve charges related to its mortgage holdings. Merrill Lynch settled claims that it had misled buyers of mortgage products for $315 million. Lehman Brothers’ underwriters paid $426 million to end a lawsuit over its stock sales. Washington Mutual’s underwriters and insurers paid $205 million to investors in the now-collapsed bank.

The big mortgage-related settlements are expected to add up to hundreds of millions in fees for Bernstein Litowitz, a 52-lawyer firm. Mr. Berger and his three founding partners started the firm in 1983 after splitting off from Kreindler & Kreindler, a plaintiffs’ firm best known for its aviation-disaster litigation.

The Bank of America settlement is a boon for the firm, ending nearly four years of bruising litigation and coming less than a month before it was set for trial. The lawsuit accused Bank of America of concealing from its shareholders, who were voting on the Merrill acquisition, the billions of dollars in mounting losses at Merrill, as well as billions in bonuses being paid out to Merrill executives.

Bernstein Litowitz and two other firms represented five plaintiffs: two Ohio pension funds, a Texas pension fund and two European pensions. Working with Mr. Berger on the case were his partners Mark Lebovitch, Hannah Ross and Steven B. Singer.

“This case will now serve as Exhibit A for corporate directors tempted to withhold information from shareholders,” Mr. Berger said. “The message isn’t complicated: Just tell the truth.”

New matters, meanwhile, are coming in. Bernstein Litowitz was appointed lead plaintiffs’ counsel in a lawsuit against JPMorgan Chase related to the bank’s multibillion-dollar trading loss out of a unit in London. And it is involved in the litigation against Facebook and Morgan Stanley over the social networking company’s botched initial public offering of stock.

Mr. Berger said finding cases had rarely been a problem.

“I can’t predict the next scandal,” Mr. Berger said. “But I know that fraud is a growth industry, and so is greed.”

CFPB Safe Harbor Rule Would Allow Homeowners to Fight Bad Mortgages

Editor’s Comment: The practice of disregarding normal loan underwriting standards creates a claim that homeowners were tricked into loans that they could never repay. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, built by Elizabeth Warren under Obama’s direction is about to pass a rule that addresses that very issue. The new Rule would allow homeowners contesting foreclosure to introduce evidence challenging whether the “lender” correctly determined a borrower’s ability to repay the loan.

The details of the test for the “safe harbor” provision that is being contested are not yet known. The objective is to separate those who are using general knowledge of bad practices in the industry from those who were actually hurt by those practices. It would provide the presiding judge with a simple, clear test to determine whether the evidence submitted (not merely allegations — so the burden is still on the homeowner) are sufficient to determine that the “lender” wrote a loan that it knew or should have known could not be repaid.

The game being indirectly addressed here is that the participants in the fake securitization scheme intentionally wrote bad loans and then were successful at entering into contracts that paid insurance, credit default swap and federal bailout proceeds to the participants in the scheme even though they neither made the loan nor did the forecloser actually buy the loan (no money exchanged hands).

Those who do not meet the test would have “frivolous” claims dismissed summarily by the Judge. But they would have other grounds to sue the “lender” or the party making false claims of default and foreclosure. Those who do meet the test, would defeat the foreclosure leaving the loan in a state of limbo.

The net legal effect of the rule could be that the mortgage is void and the note is no longer considered evidence of the entire transaction — because the risk of loss on the homeowner shifts to the lender, at least in part. This would clear the path for principal reduction and new loans that would correct the corruption of title in the county title records.

The rule is coming at the behest of the Federal Reserve, which has is own problems on how to account for the trillions they have advanced for “bad” mortgages or worthless bogus mortgage bonds.

The question remains whether the purchase of these bonds conveys some right of action to collect money that the investors advanced, and who would receive that money. It also leaves open the question of whether a mortgage bond purportedly owned by the Federal reserve or even sold by the the Federal Reserve changes the players with standing to bring lawsuits or other foreclosure proceedings.

This rule, when it is finally written and passed, won’t solve all the problems but it could have a cascading effect of restoring at least some homeowners to at least a better financial condition than the one in which they find themselves.

The issue that would be interesting to see litigated is whether the homeowners who meet the test now have a claim to recover part or all of the money they paid on the mortgage thus far or if they are given an additional credit for the overage they paid — another way of reducing principal.

The bottom line is that there is recognition at all levels of government agencies —Federal and State — that there are problems with the origination of the loans and not just with the robo-signed assignments, allonges endorsements and fake powers of attorney. This recognition is going to be felt throughout the regulatory and judicial system and will redirect the attention of Judges to the reality that Wall Street banks wanted bad loans so they could make millions on each bad loan through multiple sales of the same loans using insurance, credit default swaps, TARP and other schemes to cover it all up.

http://www.housingwire.com by John Prior

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray told a House committee Thursday that mortgage lenders would still not be safe if the bureau elects to grant a safe harbor provision to the upcoming Qualified Mortgage rule.

“The safe harbor versus rebuttable presumption is a mirage,” Cordray said. “Even safe harbor isn’t safe. You can always be sued for whether you meet the criteria or not to get into the safe harbor. It’s a bit of a marketing concept there. The more important point is are we drawing bright lines? If someone were to say to me safe harbor or anything else, I would go with a safe harbor. But I don’t think safe harbor is truly safe. And I think it oversimplifies the issue.”

Rep. Michael Grimm, R-N.Y. then right away pressed Cordray on which he would choose: a safe harbor or rebuttable presumption. The director was forced to remind him the rule was still under development and would be finalized in January.

“I have not taken a position. I have discussed the issue,” Cordray said.

Mortgage industry lobbyists have been pressing the bureau since it overtook QM rulemaking responsibility from the Federal Reserve last year to install “clear, bright lines” and a legal safe harbor that protects lenders from future homeowner suits during foreclosure.

A rebuttable presumption provision allows homeowners to introduce evidence in court challenging whether the lender correctly determined a borrower’s ability to repay the loan before it was written. But a safe harbor allows a simple test for a judge to find if the mortgage met the QM rule, and frivolous suits could be dismissed early.

The Mortgage Bankers Association even showed the CFPB that attorney fees go up to an average $84,000 for a summary judgment from $26,000 if it’s dismissed. The risk of this increased cost would be passed on to borrowers, they claim.

Some consumer advocacy groups previously said such suits are rare, and a safe harbor could clear lenders from risks down the road rule makers cannot anticipate now.

Cordray repeatedly said in the hearing Thursday that his goal on QM and upcoming rules for the mortgage market is to protect consumers but not cut off access to credit. Forcing courts to define areas left gray by regulators is not something he would permit.

“As a former attorney general in Ohio, gray areas of the law are not appreciated,” Cordray said. “They’re difficult for people trying to comply. If we write rules that are murky, they’ll end up getting resolved in courts and it will take years and be very expensive. We are making real efforts to draw very bright lines.”

jprior@housingwire.com

Barofsky: We Are Headed for a Cliff Because of Housing

Editor’s Note: Hera research conducted an interview with Neil Barofsky that I think should be  read in its entirety but here the the parts that I thought were important. The After Words are from Hera.

After Words

According to Neil Barofsky, another financial crisis is all but inevitable and the cost will be even higher than the 2008 financial crisis. Based on the way that the TARP and HAMP programs were implemented, and on the watering down of the Dodd-Frank bill, it appears that big banks are calling the shots in Washington D.C. The Dodd-Frank bill left risk concentrated in a few large institutions while doing nothing to remove perverse incentives that encourage risk taking while shielding bank executives from accountability. Neither of the two main U.S. political parties or presidential candidates are willing to break up “too big to fail” banks, despite the gravity of the problem. The assumption that another financial crisis can be prevented when the causes of the 2008 crisis remain in place, or have become worse, is unrealistic. In the mean time, what Mr. Barofsky describes as a “parade of scandals” involving highly unethical and likely criminal behavior is set to continue unabated. Although the timing and specific areas of risk are not yet known, there is no doubt that U.S. taxpayers will be stuck with another multi-trillion dollar bill when the next crisis hits.

*Post courtesy of Hera Research. Hera Research focuses on value investing in natural resources based on original geopolitical, macroeconomic and financial market analysis related to global supply and demand and competition for natural resources

Excerpts from Interview:

HR: Did the TARP help to restore confidence in U.S. institutions and financial markets?

Neil Barofsky: Yes, but it was intended and required by Congress to do much more than that and Treasury said that it was going to deploy the money into banks to increase lending, which it never did.

HR: Were the initial goals of the TARP realistic?

Neil Barofsky: First, if the goals were unachievable, Treasury officials should never have promised to undertake them as part of the bargain. Second, even if the goals were not entirely achievable, it would have been worth trying. Treasury officials didn’t even try to meet the goals.

HR: Can you give a specific example?

Neil Barofsky: The justification for putting money into banks was that it was going to increase lending. Having used that justification, there was an obligation, in my view, to take policy steps to achieve that goal, but Treasury officials didn’t even try to do it. The way it was implemented, there were no conditions or incentives to increase lending.

HR: What policy steps could the U.S. Department of the Treasury have taken to help the economy?

Neil Barofsky: There are all sorts of things that Treasury could have done. For example, they could have reduced the dividend rate—the amount of money that the banks had to pay in exchange for being bailed out—for lending over a baseline, which would have decreased the bank’s obligations. Or, they could have insisted on greater transparency so that banks had to disclose what they were doing with the funds. Treasury chose not to do any of these things.

HR: Weren’t there other housing programs like the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP)?

Neil Barofsky: Yes, but there were choices made to help the balance sheets of struggling banks rather than homeowners. The HAMP program was a massive failure but it wasn’t preordained. It was the result of choices made by Treasury officials.

HR: What could have been done differently in the HAMP?

Neil Barofsky: HAMP was deeply flawed with conflicts of interest baked into the program. The management of the program was outsourced to the mortgage servicers, which were thoroughly unprepared and ill equipped. The program encouraged servicers to extend out trial modifications. It was supposed to be a three month period but it often turned into more than a year. The servicers, because they could accumulate late fees for each month during the trial period, were incentivized to string the trial periods out then pull the rug out from under the homeowner, putting them into foreclosure, without granting a permanent mortgage modification. The servicers could make more money doing that then by doing mortgage modifications. If they had done permanent mortgage modifications, the banks couldn’t have kept the late fees.

HR: Are you saying that the program encouraged banks to extract as much cash as possible from homeowners before foreclosing on them anyway?

Neil Barofsky: Yes. The mortgage servicers exploited the conflicts of interest that were in the program, and blatantly broke the rules, and Treasury did nothing.

HR: When you were serving as Inspector General for TARP, you issued a report indicating that government commitments totaled $23.7 trillion. What was that about?

Neil Barofsky: $23.7 trillion was simply the sum of the maximum commitments for all the financial programs related to the financial crisis. The number was misconstrued as a liability but the government never stood to lose that much. For example, the government guarantee of money market funds was a multi-trillion dollar commitment. Of course, not all of that money could have been lost because it would have required every fund to go to zero. The government guaranteed commercial paper but, again, for that commitment to have been wiped out, every company would have had to have defaulted. But the numbers were very important in terms of transparency. All of the data were provided by the agencies responsible for the various programs, so the $23.7 trillion number was simple arithmetic. It was important to understand the scope of the extraordinary actions that were being taken.

HR: What are the potential future losses that the U.S. government—that taxpayers—might have to absorb?

Neil Barofsky: The real issue is the potential for another financial crisis because we haven’t fixed the core problems of our financial system. We still have banks that are “too big to fail.” Standard & Poor’s estimated last year that the up-front cost of another crisis, including bailing out the biggest banks yet again, would be roughly 1/3 of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) or about $5 trillion. The resulting problems will be even bigger.

HR: What were the problems resulting from the 2008 financial crisis?

Neil Barofsky: When you look at the fiscal impact of the 2008 crisis, you have to look at it not only in terms of lost tax revenues and increased government debt, but also in terms of the loss of household wealth. People who became unemployed suffered tremendous losses and the government’s social benefit costs expanded accordingly. One of the reasons we had the debt ceiling debate last year, when the U.S. credit rating was downgraded, and why we are facing a fiscal cliff ahead is the legacy of the 2008 crisis.

We have a lot less dry powder to deal with a new crisis and we almost certainly will have one.

HR: Why do you expect another financial crisis?

Neil Barofsky: It just comes down to incentives. A normally functioning free market disciplines businesses. The presumption of bailout for “too big to fail” institutions changes the incentives of a normally functioning free market. In a free market, if an institution loads up on risky assets with too little capital standing behind them, it will be punished by the market. Institutions will refuse to lend them money without extracting a significant penalty. Counterparties will be wary of doing business with companies that have too much risk and too little capital. Allowing “too big to fail” institutions to exist removes that discipline. The presumption is that the government will stand in and make the obligations whole even if the bank blows up. That basic perversion of the free market incentivizes additional risk.

HR: Are “too big to fail” banks taking more risks today than they did before?

Neil Barofsky: Bailouts give bank executives an incentive to max out short term profits and get huge bonuses, because if the bank blows up, taxpayers will pick up the tab. The presumption of bailout increases systemic risk by taking away the incentives of creditors and counterparties to do their jobs by imposing market discipline and by incentivizing banks to act in ways that make a bailout more likely to occur.

HR: Is it just a matter of the size of banking institutions?

Neil Barofsky: The big banks are 20-25% bigger now than they were before the crisis. The “too big to fail” banks are also too big to manage effectively. They’ve become Frankenstein monsters. Even the most gifted executives can’t manage all of the risks, which increases the likelihood of a future bailout.

HR: Since bank executives are accountable to their shareholders, won’t they regulate themselves?

Neil Barofsky: The big banks are not just “too big to fail,” they’re ‘too big to jail.’ We’ve seen zero criminal cases arising out of the financial crisis. The reality is that these large institutions can’t be threatened with indictment because if they were taken down by criminal charges, they would bring the entire financial system down with them. There is a similar danger with respect to their top executives, so they won’t be indited in a federal criminal case almost no matter what they do. The presumption of bailout thus removes for the executives the disincentive in pushing the ethical envelope. If people know they won’t be held accountable, that too will encourage more risk taking in the drive towards profits.

HR: So, it’s just a matter of time before there’s another crisis?

Neil Barofsky: Yes. The same incentives that led to the 2008 crisis are still in place today and in many ways the situation is worse. We have a financial system that concentrates risk in just a handful of large institutions, incentivizes them to take risks, guarantees that they will never be allowed to fail and ensures that the executives will never be held accountable for their actions. We shouldn’t be surprised when there’s another massive financial crisis and another massive bailout. It would be naïve to expect a different result.

HR: Didn’t the Dodd-Frank bill fix the financial system?

Neil Barofsky: Nothing has been done to remove the presumption of bailout, which is as damaging as the actual bailout. Perception becomes reality. It’s perception that ensures that counterparties and creditors will not perform proper due diligence and it’s perception that encourages them to continue doing business with firms that have too much risk and inadequate capital. It’s perception of bailout that drives executives to take more and more risk. Nothing has been done to address this. The initial policy response by Treasury Secretaries Paulson and Geithner, and by Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke, was to consolidate the industry further, which has only made the problems worse.

HR: The Dodd-Frank bill contains 2,300 pages of new regulations. Isn’t that enough?

Neil Barofsky: There are tools within Dodd-Frank that could help regulators, but we need to go beyond it. The parade of recent scandals and the fact that big banks are pushing the ethical and judicial envelopes further than ever before makes it clear that Dodd-Frank has done nothing, from a regulatory standpoint, to prevent highly unethical and likely criminal behavior.

HR: Is the Dodd-Frank bill a failure?

Neil Barofsky: The whole point of Dodd-Frank was to end the era of “too big to fail” banks. It’s fairly obvious that it hasn’t done that. In that sense, it has been a failure. Dodd-Frank probably has been helpful in the short term because it increased capital ratios, although not nearly enough. If we ever get over the counter (OTC) derivatives under control, that would be a good thing and Dodd-Frank takes some initial steps in that direction. I think that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a good thing.

Nonetheless, the financial system is largely in the hands of the same executives, who have become more powerful, while the banks themselves are bigger and more dangerous to the economy than before.

HR: How are OTC derivatives related to the risk of a new financial crisis?

Neil Barofsky: Credit default swaps (CDS) were specifically what brought down AIG, and synthetic CDOs, which are entirely dependent on derivatives contracts, contributed significantly to the financial crisis. When you look at the mind numbing notional values of OTC derivatives, which are in the hundreds of trillions, the taxpayer is basically standing behind the institutions participating in these very opaque and, potentially, very dangerous markets. OTC derivatives could be where the risks come from in the next financial crisis.

HR: Can anything be done to prevent another financial crisis?

Neil Barofsky: We have to get beyond having institutions, any one of which can bring down the financial system. For example, Wells Fargo alone does 1/3rd of all mortgage originations. Nothing can ever happen to Wells Fargo because it could bring down the entire economy. We need to break up the “too big to fail” banks. We have to make them small enough to fail so that the free market can take over again.

HR: Does the political will exist to break up the largest banks?

Neil Barofsky: The center of neither party is committed to breaking up “too big to fail” banks. Of course, pretending that Dodd-Frank solved all our problems, as some Democrats do, or simply saying that big banks won’t be bailed out again, as some Republicans have suggested, is unrealistic. Congress needs to proactively break up the “too big to fail” banks through legislation. Whether that’s through a modified form of Glass-Steagall, size or liability caps, leverage caps or remarkably higher capital ratios, all of which are good ideas, we need to take on the largest banks.

HR: Do you think the U.S. presidential election will change anything?

Neil Barofsky: No. There’s very little daylight between Romney and Obama on the crucial issue of “too big to fail” banks. Romney recently said, basically, that he thinks big banks are great and the Obama Administration fought against efforts to break up “too big to fail” banks in the Dodd-Frank bill. Geithner, serving the Obama White House, lobbied against the Brown-Kaufman Act, which would have broken up the “too big to fail” banks.

HR: What will it take for U.S. lawmakers to finally take on the largest banks?

Neil Barofsky: Some candidates have made reforms like reinstating Glass-Steagall part of their campaigns but the size and power of the largest banks in terms of lobbying campaign contributions is incredible. It may well take another financial crisis before we deal with this.

HR: Thank you for your time today.

Neil Barofsky: It was my pleasure.

Illinois Tops List of Most Foreclosures

Starting last month, the mega banks began an aggressive campaign to avoid modification, settlements or principal reductions and seek foreclosures before they are forced to modify.

Yes, we can help at livinglies, but the numbers are so high that there is no way we have the resources to help everyone. I am pitching in too, having become attorney of record for some. Like you, I am tired of waiting for lawyers who get it. I get it and although I am licensed in Florida we can help anyway.

Lawyers, accountants, analysts and others should be seeing this as a major opportunity to do well for themselves and for the owners of these homes by challenging the rights of the those collectors who are taking their money now, or demanding payment or threatening foreclosure. Lawyers have been slow on the uptake and in so doing are potentially setting themselves up for future malpractice claims for anyone, whether they aid or not, who received advice from the lawyer that was not based upon the realities of the securitization scam.

Call 520-405-1688, where you can get help in documenting the fraud, help in drafting the documents, and help in finding a lawyer. If you are a lawyer involved in foreclosure defense, bankruptcy or family law, you need to to start studying the real facts and the strategies that get traction in court.

We are planning a possible new Chicago seminar for lawyers, paralegals and sophisticated investors or homeowners. But we will only schedule it if we get enough calls to indicate that the workshop will at least pay for itself and that there will be volunteers to help on the ground to set up the the venue. It is a full day of information, strategy, role-playing and tactics to use in the court room.

Editor’s Analysis: Despite loosening standards for principal reductions and modifications, the foreclosure activity across the country is increasing or about to increase due to many factors.

The bizarre reason why the titans of Wall Street want these homes underwater combined with the miscalculation of the real number does not bode well for the housing market nor the economy. With median income now reported by the Wall Street Journal at 1995 levels, and the direct correlation between median income and housing prices you only need a good memory or a computer to see the level of housing prices in 1995 — which is currently where we are headed. As the situation gets worse, the foreclosure and housing problem will become a disaster beyond the proportions seen today. And that is exactly what Wall Street wants and needs — the investors be damned. Millions of proposals far  in excess of foreclosure proceeds have been rejected and forced into foreclosure and millions more will follow.

Wall Street NEEDS foreclosures — not modifications, principal write-downs or settlements. Foreclosures are food for the lions. The reason is simple. They have already received trillions in bailouts from the Federal Government. All of that was predicated upon the homes going into foreclosure. If the loans turn out to be capable of performing, many of those trillion of dollars ( generally reported at $17 trillion, which is more than the total principal loaned out to all borrowers during the meltdown period), the mega banks could be facing trillions of  dollars in liability as the demands are properly made for payback. The banks should not be allowed to collect the money and the houses too. Neither should they be allowed to collect the bailout money and keep the mortgages.

The “underwater” calculation is far off the mark. If selling expenses and discounts are taken into consideration, the value of homes used in that calculation is at least 10% less than what is used in the underwater calculation, which would increase the number of underwater homes by at least 15% bringing the total to nearly 10,000,000 homeowners who know now that they will never see valuation even coming close to the amount owed. The prospect for strategic defaults is staggering —- totaling more than 10 million homes  — or nearly twice the number of foreclosures already “completed”, albeit defectively.

Illinois is now getting hit hard, as the foreclosure menace spreads. Jacksonville up 30% in Florida, South Florida at 22 month high, Arizona with more than 600,000 homes underwater, all the paths lead to foreclosure. With that bogus deed on foreclosure in hand, Wall Street figures it is a  get out of jail free card.

Wall Street wants the foreclosures, needs the foreclosures and is going to get them — unless they are stopped in the courts. Don’t think you won’t end up in foreclosure just because you are current in mortgage payments. They have playbook that will trick you too into a foreclosure. If anyone tells you to stop making payments, watch out!

There’s A NEW Worst State For Foreclosures

By Mamta Badkar

Foreclosure activity in the United States fell 15 percent year-over-year in August. But housing is a local story and a few regions in the country were exceptions to the trend.

With one in every 298 properties receiving a foreclosure filing, Illinois had the highest foreclosure rate in the country for the first time since 2005, according to RealtyTrac’s latest foreclosure report.

Illinois pushed usual suspects like California, Arizona, and Nevada down the list.

The prairie state’s foreclosure rate jumped 29 percent month-over-month (MoM), and 42 percent year-over-year (YoY), with 17,781 properties in the state received a foreclosure filing in August.

And every detail in the state’s foreclosure report was ugly. Foreclosure starts – the pace at which mortgages enter the foreclosure process – were up 18 percent on the year. Scheduled foreclosure auctions were up 116 percent YoY. Bank repossessions climbed 41 percent YoY.

As a state that requires foreclosures to go through the judicial process, Illinois’ foreclosure rate was “artificially low” last year, according to Daren Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac.

5,268 homeowners in Illinois received a total of $357.3 million in assistance as part of the $25 billion national mortgage foreclosure settlement as of June 30, 2012, according to a report by the Office of Mortgage Settlement Oversight. That’s roughly $67,817 per borrower but it’s unlikely to have a large impact in reducing foreclosures in the future.

Foreclosure activity in the Chicago-Naperville-Joliet metro area was up 44 percent YoY, making it the metro with the eighth highest foreclosure rate in the country.

Blomquist told Business Insider in an email interview that in the case of the Chicago metro area, a land bank, like the ones set up in Cleveland and Detroit that rehabilitate properties or demolish them, could help ease the burden of distressed properties.

He doesn’t however expect any improvements in Illinois’ foreclosure rate anytime soon. “The foreclosures coming through the pipeline in Illinois and other states now are likely on mortgages that the banks do not deem are a good fit for any of the foreclosure alternatives outlined in the mortgage settlement.” He does however think that a program similar to Oregon’s foreclosure mediation program could help slow down foreclosures.

This chart from RealtyTrac shows the recent surge in Illinois’ foreclosure activity as its banks and courts push through foreclosures:

illinois foreclosure activity

RealtyTrac

RealtyTrac’s report also broke down US metropolitan areas with the highest foreclosure rates.

Click Here To See The 20 Metros Getting Slammed By Foreclosures

Homeowners Settlements, Shortsales and Modifications Opportunities Arise for Investors

Whether it is in Bankruptcy Court, Federal Civil, or State Civil, the trend is obvious — more and more cases are being settled, modified or otherwise resolved outside the courtroom. In some cases, the settlement is relatively easy, with the pretender lender agreeing to sharp principal reductions and long term paybacks at low fixed rates. The homeowner need only be wary of getting an Order from a Judge through a new or existing lawsuit that quiets title and a new title policy that not exclude risks associated with securitization, assignment or sale into the secondary market. If you need help with this call our customer service line and we will find someone to help settle the matter or help your attorney. 520-405-1688.
But in other cases, especially in bankruptcy court, we have a growing list of homeowners who seek “hard money” sources that will enable them to buy the house out of the bankruptcy estate at deep discounts. In some cases these are loans and in others it is an outright purchase by the investor with an option granted to the homeowner to purchase from the investor. In the meanwhile the homeowner rents from the hard money source on a triple net lease, meaning that the homeowner takes care of everything from utilities to repairs and maintenance. That reduces the monthly rent for the homeowner but it also eliminates any landlord liability.

As an example, we have someone who is in bankruptcy court with 2 1/2 acres, two completed structures on the block and the ability to buy the property out of the estate for 20% of the original finance appraised value. She needs a hard money source who will lend or buy. The specs on the deal make it about as risk free as one could get. And the return make it about as high a return as anyone could even imagine. So if there are investors out there who are looking for deals, look no further. Just call our customer service line (520-405-1688) and ask for a telephone appointment with me and I’ll put you in touch with the right people.

It’s Down to Banks vs Society

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We are trying to rescue the creditors and restart the world that is dominated by the creditors. We have to rescue the debtors instead before we are going to see the end of this process. — Economist Steve Keen

Bankers Are Willing to Let Society Crash In Order to Make More Money

Editor’s Comment: 

I was reminded last night of a comment from a former bond trader and mortgage bundler that the conference calls are gleeful about the collapse of economies and societies around the world. Wall Street will profit greatly on both the down side and then later when asset prices go so low that housing falls under distressed housing programs and 125% loans become available in bulk. They think this is all just swell. I don’t.

The obvious intent on the part of the mega banks and servicers is to bring everything down with a crash using every means possible. When you look at the offers state and federal government programs have offered for the banks to modify, when you see the amount of money poured into these banks by our federal government in order to prop them up, you cannot conclude otherwise: they want our society to end up closed down not only by foreclosure but in any other way possible. They withhold credit from everyone except the insider’s club.

So now it is up to us. Either we take the banks apart or they will take us apart. I had a recent look at many modification proposals. In the batch I saw, the average offer from the homeowner was to accept a loan 20%-30% higher than fair market value and 50%-75% higher than foreclosure is producing. It seems we are addicted to the belief that this can’t be true because no reasonable person would act like that. But the answer is that the system is rigged so that the intermediaries (the megabanks) control what the investors and homeowners see and hear, they make far more money on foreclosures than they do on modifications, and they make far money on all the “bets” about the failure of the loan by foreclosing and not modifying.

The reason for the unreasonable behavior, as it appears, is that it is perfectly reasonable in a lending environment turned on its head — where the object was to either fund a loan that was sure to fail, or keep a string attached that would declare it as part of a failed “pool” that would trigger insurance and swaps payments.Steve Keen: Why 2012 Is Shaping Up To Be A Particularly Ugly Year

At the high level, our global economic plight is quite simple to understand says noted Australian deflationist Steve Keen.

Banks began lending money at a faster rate than the global economy grew, and we’re now at the turning point where we simply have run out of new borrowers for the ever-growing debt the system has become addicted to.

Once borrowers start eschewing rather than seeking debt, asset prices begin to fall — which in turn makes these same people want to liquidate their holdings, which puts further downward pressure on asset prices:

The reason that we have this trauma for the asset markets is because of this whole relationship that rising debt has to the level of asset market. If you think about the best example is the demand for housing, where does it come from? It comes from new mortgages. Therefore, if you want to sustain he current price level of houses, you have to have a constant flow of new mortgages. If you want the prices to rise, you need the flow of mortgages to also be rising.

Therefore, there is a correlation between accelerating and rising asset markets. That correlation applies very directly to housing. You look at the 20-year period of the market relationship from 1990 to now; the correlation of accelerating mortgage debt with changing house prices is 0.8. It is a very high correlation.

Now, that means that when there is a period where private debt is accelerating you are generally going to see rising asset markets, which of course is what we had up to 2000 for the stock market and of course 2006 for the housing market. Now that we have decelerating debt — so debt is slowing down more rapidly at this time rather than accelerating — that is going to mean falling asset markets.

Because we have such a huge overhang of debt, that process of debt decelerating downwards is more likely to rule most of the time. We will therefore find the asset markets traumatizing on the way down — which of course encourages people to get out of debt. Therefore, it is a positive feedback process on the way up and it is a positive feedback process on the way down.

He sees all of the major countries of the world grappling with deflation now, and in many cases, focusing their efforts in exactly the wrong direction to address the root cause:

Europe is imploding under its own volition and I think the Euro is probably going to collapse at some stage or contract to being a Northern Euro rather than the whole of Euro. We will probably see every government of Europe be overthrown and quite possibly have a return to fascist governments. It came very close to that in Greece with fascists getting five percent of the vote up from zero. So political turmoil in Europe and that seems to be Europe’s fate.

I can see England going into a credit crunch year, because if you think America’s debt is scary, you have not seen England’s level of debt. America has a maximum ratio of private debt to GDP adjusted over 300%; England’s is 450%. America’s financial sector debt was 120% of GDP, England’s is 250%. It is the hot money capital of the western world.

And now that we are finally seeing decelerating debt over there plus the government running on an austerity program at the same time, which means there are two factors pulling on demand out of that economy at once. I think there will be a credit crunch in England, so that is going to take place as well.

America is still caught in the deleveraging process. It tried to get out, it seemed to be working for a short while, and the government stimulus seemed to certainly help. Now, that they are going back to reducing that stimulus, they are pulling up the one thing that was keeping the demand up in the American economy and it is heading back down again. We are now seeing the assets market crashing once more. That should cause a return to decelerating debt — for a while you were accelerating very rapidly and that’s what gave you a boost in employment —  so you are falling back down again.

Australia is running out of steam because it got through the financial crisis by literally kicking the can down the road by restarting the housing bubble with a policy I call the first-time vendors boost. Where they gave first time buyers a larger amount of money from the government and they handed over times five or ten to the people they bought the house off from the leverage they got from the banking sector. Therefore, that finally ran out for them.

China got through the crisis with an enormous stimulus package. I think in that case it is increasing the money supply by 28% in one year. That is setting off a huge property bubble, which from what I have heard from colleagues of mine is also ending.

Therefore, it is a particularly ugly year for the global economy and as you say, we are still trying to get business back to usual. We are trying to rescue the creditors and restart the world that is dominated by the creditors. We have to rescue the debtors instead before we are going to see the end of this process.

In order to successfully emerge on the other side of this this painful period with a more sustainable system, he believes the moral hazard of bailing out the banks is going to have end:

[The banks] have to suffer and suffer badly. They will have to suffer in such a way that in a decade they will be scared in order to never behave in this way again. You have to reduce the financial sector to about one third of its current size and we have to also ultimately set up financial institutions and financial instruments in such a way that it is no longer desirable from a public point of view to borrow and gamble in rising assets processes.

The real mistake we made was to let this gambling happen as it has so many times in the past, however, we let it go on for far longer than we have ever let it go on for before. Therefore, we have a far greater financial parasite and a far greater crisis.

And he offers an unconventional proposal for how this can be achieved:

I think the mistake [central banks] are going to make is to continue honoring debts that should never have been created in the first place. We really know that that the subprime lending was totally irresponsible lending. When it comes to saying “who is responsible for bad debt?” you have to really blame the lender rather than the borrower, because lenders have far greater resources to work out whether or not the borrower can actually afford the debt they are putting out there.

They were creating debt just because it was a way of getting fees, short-term profit, and they then sold the debt onto unsuspecting members of the public as well and securitized their way out of trouble. They ended up giving the hot potato to the public. So, you should not be honoring that debt, you should be abolishing it. But of course they have actually packaged a lot of that debt and sold it to the public as well, you cannot just abolish it, because you then would penalize people who actually thought they were being responsible in saving and buying assets.

Therefore, I am talking in favor of what I call a modern debt jubilee or quantitative easing for the public, where the central banks would create ‘central bank money’ (we cannot destroy or abolish the debt, which would also destroy the incomes of the people who own the bonds the banks have sold). We have to create the state money and give it to the public, but on condition that if you have any debt you have to pay your debt down — no choice. Therefore, if you have debt, you can reduce the debt level, but if you do not have debt, you get a cash injection.

Of course, this would then feed into the financial sector would have to reduce the value of the debts that it currently owns, which means income from debt instruments would also fall. So, people who had bought bonds for their retirement and so on would find that their income would go down, but on the other hand, they would be compensated by a cash injection.

The one part of the system that would be reduced in size is the financial sector itself. That is the part we have to reduce and we have to make smaller.  That is the one that I am putting forward and I think there is a very little chance of implementing it in America for the next few years not all my home country [Australia] because we still think we are doing brilliantly and all that. But, I think at some stage in Europe, and possibly in a very short time frame, that idea might be considered.

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