EDITOR’S NOTE: Earth,the final frontier. Somewhere there are people who grasp the concept of reality. But to give credit where credit is due Floyd gives primary print space to contrary points of view. Even better, he shows his professionalism by asking the two questions (1) why would banks lose the note and (2) “what am I missing here?”
So here is my response and I invite you all to forward the article toFloyd and see what he says in response.
A note is cash equivalent. So why would anyone rip up cash? His question is not so far-fetched. It turns everything on its head to think of banks ripping up money. You have a $10 bill in your hand. Later when things are looking litigious, you rip it up. Why?
The answer Floyd — the only possible answer — is that there is greater risk in having the $10 bill than in keeping it. What circumstances would make the banks believe there wass more risk in cash equivalents than in throwing them out and pretending they had them?
Well, here’s a simple example. Suppose you took a Loan for $1000 after certifying through third parties (whom you control) and your own warraqnty that you had a $1,000 bill in your pocket. Yes, that would be the $10 bill in our example. Now the loan goes bad or the lender wants to actually see the bill. Which would you rather do (1) show the $10 bill and go to jail or (2) say you lost it or it was accidentally destroyed?
The THIING you are missing Floyd is that this was all based upon representations and not the real thing. Fraud was committed on BOTH the investors and the borowers who both purchased financial products predicated on the same assets which were intentionally viability (investment grade, remember?) at an unsustainable value and which were represented to be of the highest quality when in fact the securitization chain all the way from investor to borrower was predominantly toxic.
What you are missing is that there were two HUGE financial incentives to perform in what appears to you and others as erratic: (1) the huge yield spread premium between the aggregating pool and the SPV pool (that’s right there are ALWAYS TWO POOLS NOT ONE) and (2) the geometric steroidal profit rained on the investment banks who created these pools by leveraging insurance 30-70 times over. In simple terms the investment banks (NOT THE INVESTORS) received $30-$70 for each $1 in the promissory note that was funded for the benefit of the homeowner.
In other words, it was ONLY through failure of the pool that a $300,000 note could (a) be paid off with over $9 million (even if it wasn’t in default) through credit default swaps that are insusrance but specifically excluded from official definitions of insurance or securities.
Borrowers are right when they demand the documents becuase it will lead to collapse of the “lender” side (actually pretender lender” because they simply steal the identity of the investor the same way the stole the identity of many borrowers in order to make the pool look good. They are looking for low-hanging fruit not cases where the deceit will be exposed. Or it will lead to a reasonable settlement that reflects true value and affordability wth normal underwriting standards applied.
Floyd this is not legalmumbo jumbo or some technical sleight of hand trick. NONE of these foreclosures are initiated by the creditor. All of these foreclosures are blatent in that they seek to steal the home wihtout having advanced ONE PENNY to anyone for funding or buying the obligation.
My column today has provoked a number of e-mail messages from readers saying — some politely, some not — that I failed to discover that the big problem is that banks are losing documents, over and over again.
“I have faxed/mailed every document requested, for a year now,” complained one troubled homeowner.
Another, who thinks I asked foxes to tell me about chickens, adds:
My employer came under S.E.C. investigation, early this year, resulting in multiple rounds of layoffs. As a result, I was forced — through no fault of my own — to reach out to Bank of America, phoning regularly since MAY, at least twice monthly and faxing copies after each call (the only delivery method they allow — for EACH and every earnings document this year). Between regular assertions that they “lost the copies” and outright, documented LIES that I did not call or fax, I am still struggling with them in DECEMBER!! I can assure you that I have complied promptly and completely with their every request — and I am certain I am not a limited statistic — as your column strongly implies.
Jean Braucher, a law professor at the University of Arizona, points me to a paper she wrote: “Fixing the Home Affordable Modification Program to Mitigate the Foreclosure Crisis.” She thinks the banks are far more culpable than I made it sound:
I think the major reason we are seeing so few permanent modifications may turn out to be that many servicers are losing documents or perhaps refusing to admit that they have documents. There have been many accounts of borrowers getting the runaround at the stage of trying to get a trial modification, and now I believe there is reason to suspect that pattern may be continuing at the stage of conversion from trial to permanent modification.
After reading your column, I posted a query on a listserv this morning to a group of bankruptcy lawyers, some of whom have had experience helping clients try to get HAMP modifications. I got back reports that lenders deny getting documents that have been sent 3 or 4 times. In short, I don’t think you had the full story in your column.
I think that the first thing that the administration needs to do is make sure that Freddie Mac, the compliance agency for HAMP, does a searching audit of the procedures servicers are using, including by talking to borrowers and housing counselors and lawyers for borrowers. I think this will turn up a lot of evidence, some of it concerning continuing lack of capacity to handle modifications but some of it also indicating unfair and deceptive practices and even fraud are occurring. Then the Federal Trade Commission needs to make an example of the worst offenders with some enforcement actions.
I have a couple of reactions.
First, I see no reason for the banks to purposefully lose the papers. What am I missing?
Second, a theory that banks can be clumsy and even incompetent deserves respect.
I am not sure to what extent lost documents are a major part of the problem, but I am now sure that many people think a lot of documents are vanishing.
Perhaps each bank should appoint someone to receive documents from people who think their documents have previously been lost, hand out receipts, and then be available to intervene if that bank’s bureaucracy claims the documents are lost. That person should be willing to take the documents in person, as well as by fax. (The banks have scanners to put the documents into their systems.)
If that solves a big part of the problem, great. But I suspect there are many other reasons that modifications are not becoming permanent.
Filed under: bubble, CDO, CORRUPTION, currency, Eviction, foreclosure, GTC | Honor, Investor, Mortgage, securities fraud Tagged: | borrowers, cash equivalents, credit default swaps, DESTROYED NOTE, discovery, financial loan product, Floyd Norris, investors, lost documents, lost note, Ny Times, two pools