Political Lesson: Run Against the Banks

Don’t wait until we find out what Trump really means to do as President. We should make up his mind and express outrage to him and all sitting Senators, Congressman, Governors, State legislators, law enforcement, County and City Government and even the Courts. This election is not over, unless we let it be over and accept more of the same.
Ever since I took my first peek at what was going on in the marketplace for residential mortgage loans, I have been saying that if politicians want to win and be loved, they should run against the banks. The election last night was determined by hatred and disgust. The pundits tells us it was because of bigotry. But if you take the long view you can easily see how most of the population of the U.S., and indeed around the world, has been subjected to the overall view that they don’t matter. If the election of Obama told us anything it was that as a whole we are NOT a bigoted country. We are an indifferent country, if you measure that by who leads us. The arrogance with which average working people have been treated has been virtually unprecedented. The voters were not indifferent last night. Any politician who continues to be aloof and arrogant about the little guy who doesn’t matter should be challenged at the polls in the next election cycle.
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While the politicians refused to see it, comfortable in their world view and talking points, the anger of working class Americans has grown rather than diminished by the recognition that the banks and other big businesses pulled the rug out from under us by patently illegal acts — and price gouging — especially in drugs and medical services. The anger consumers felt when the financial system was portrayed as collapsing in 2008-2009 grew, rather than diminished in time.
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Consumer/voter rage is directly related to the fact that government did nothing about it except to allow working families to bear the entire brunt of a loss created by the banks. People lost their homes, their jobs, their lifestyle while government touted all the progress we were making. That progress never reached tens of millions of Americans. Meanwhile the banks received trillions upon trillions of dollars from the U.S. Treasury, the Federal reserve, and the theft of investor money capped by the bonus of getting ownership of homes that should never have been subjected to foreclosure proceedings.
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If this election is being called an upset, ask Bernie Sanders whose meteoric rise in the polls was only tempered by the view that he couldn’t win. He couldn’t win because the democratic party apparatus had already set up a rigged system that made it impossible for Hillary Clinton to lose. Between the 400 “super delegates” already pledged before the primaries began, and tipping the procedures and scales by the DNC in so many ways, no candidate stood a chance of becoming the nominee against Hillary Clinton.
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Up until now politicians have been largely successful at misdirection: instead of accepting blame for failure to do their job in office, they have succeeded in getting us to blame each other. Between the Trump and Sanders supporters we actually have a vast majority of Americans who are now insisting that the system change for the benefit of all its citizens. The consistent surveys of people who think the country is headed in the wrong direction clearly point to the fact that their lives are not getting better, their hope is diminished and their world view arises from despair over their economic position in the world.
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Trump was right: this was an election of the people versus a corrupt, aloof and arrogant establishment. Despite the obvious advantages of allowing a fair fight in which Sanders could have won the Democratic nomination and possibly the general election, the Democrats chose a candidate who was deeply flawed and deeply indebted to Wall Street. The Democrats may well have selected the only candidate who would lose against Trump. Such is the “wisdom” at the top.
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While Trump was also literally indebted to Wall Street through his loans, he never lost track of the fact that people were mad as hell. The party apparatus of both major political parties ignored that, which made the angry voters even angrier. A review of the numbers shows that in virtually every county and precinct the strength of that hatred resulted in lop-sided support for Trump as high as 80% or more.
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We have all heard the scream. Now it is time to inform those who are still in Washington DC know that the rigged system has expired. It is the follow through by voters that will determine how the country goes- writing to Congressman and Senators, law enforcement and even the courts, will seal the deal. Let them know that you were voting for real change where the average American citizen is priority #1. There is nothing like an active, informed citizenry to make changes that throw out old self-serving ideas and the politicians who espouse them.
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Don’t wait until we find out what Trump really means to do as President. We should make up his mind and express outrage to him and all sitting Senators, Congressman, Governors, State legislators, law enforcement, County and City Government and even the Courts. This election is not over, unless we let it be over and accept more of the same.

MORTGAGE BACKED SECURITIES: LEGAL COUNTERFEITING

COMBO Title and Securitization Search, Report, Documents, Analysis & Commentary COMBO Title and Securitization Search, Report, Documents, Analysis & Commentary

EDITOR’S NOTE: If you want to get the FEEL of what just happened in our world of finance and the ensuing effects on our economy, you might be better off reading a book like “Moneymakers: The Wicked Lives and Surprising Adventures of Three Notorious Counterfeiters” (Penguin, $27.95), Ben Tarnoff. It might come as some surprise that proprietary issuance of currency was all the rage in this country and was used not only legally and illegally, but as an instrument of warfare. Ben Franklin and others saw the “moral hazard” of allowing for paper money because the paper had no intrinsic value — unlike the universal perception of gold or silver.

Eventually in 1862 the U.S. Government made government issued currency “legal tender” but there were so many loopholes that while it had an effect, it has yet to take hold 150 years later.

Banks issued their own Banknotes in early U.S. History and lately, for the past 20 years, they have returned to the same practice calling them derivatives, mortgages backed securities and other exotic names. The Bank Notes, as observed by many during that period had no value except that they supposedly DERIVED their value from the gold that the bank had on deposit. They were not the first “derivatives” but they were the most important up to that point in history.

In a 1996 article Alan Greenspan articulated the free market view that the value of those bank notes or proprietary currency would be resolved in a free market as people found out which banks were issuing more bank notes than they could support. In fact, he predicted that proprietary currency would take over as a the principal currency stock of the world — hardly a difficult prediction since it had already happened by the time he wrote that article.

Now for every monetary unit of value issued by any government in the world, the private sector has issued 12 units. In other words the proprietary currency volume is 12 times as big as the fiat currency — fueled largely by the use of derivatives that derived their value from credit instruments, most of which were loans that were supposedly backed by notes and mortgages and which now are like rare earths when it comes to producing one in the flesh.

In 1998, Congress passed and Clinton signed into law the death knell of the American economy. The law specifically excluded this proprietary currency from regulation of ANY sort from government. In short, they created a sovereign country out of the oligopoly that controlled Wall Street and hence the world of finance. Counterfeiters are usually put in jail. But certain types of counterfeiters have prospered as this article and the book it reviews shows clearly.

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Early America, Ripe for Counterfeiters

By NANCY F. KOEHN

NY Times

“THERE is properly no history; only biography,” Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote in 1841. In “Moneymakers: The Wicked Lives and Surprising Adventures of Three Notorious Counterfeiters” (Penguin, $27.95), Ben Tarnoff lends ample credence to that notion. He shows how three con men were able to thrive in America’s early days because of a weak central government, an often-chaotic banking system, a turbulent economy and an entrepreneurial populace.

Few countries, Mr. Tarnoff writes, “have had as rich a counterfeiting history as America.” Creating fake currency, he states, “gave enterprising Americans from the colonial era onward a chance to get rich quick: to fulfill the promise of the American dream by making money, literally.”

Mr. Tarnoff, who graduated from Harvard in 2007 and has worked at Lapham’s Quarterly, focuses on the lives of three counterfeiters who lived in the 18th and 19th centuries. Taken together, he writes, these three biographies “tell the story of a country coming of age — from a patchwork of largely self-governing colonies to a loosely assembled union of states and, finally, to a single nation under firm federal control.”

The first subject of this rollicking good read is Owen Sullivan, an Irish immigrant who was born around 1720 and originally was a silversmith in Boston. In the seven years he was a counterfeiter, he built a loosely organized team called the Dover Money Club.

Like his partners, Sullivan was behind bars several times in the course of his career. Until his final arrest, however, these encounters with the law were small detours on an entrepreneurial journey in pre-industrial crime. When he was hanged in New York City in 1756, he claimed to have forged more than £25,000 worth of colonial money.

Sullivan capitalized on a number of prevailing conditions in the colonies: the collective thirst for liquidity to fuel a growing economy, the often unruly nature of the financial system, and scanty law enforcement.

Underlying these factors was a deep, abiding ambivalence about paper money. Many early Americans, like Benjamin Franklin, recognized the pressing need for paper money as a medium of exchange and a store of value in a world where specie like that made of gold and silver was in short supply.

At the same time, paper money made the economy more mercurial. Unlike precious metals that could be bought and sold as commodities, paper money had no intrinsic value; it could become worthless overnight. Paper money had other dangers, including a greater vulnerability to inflation. Cognizant of all this, the delegates to the Constitutional Convention in 1787 voted against giving the federal government explicit authority to print paper notes, coming down squarely “on the side of a hard currency under national control.”

But the demand for a ready medium of exchange and a recognized measure of value in the burgeoning American economy continued to outstrip the meager supply of precious metals in circulation.

By the early 1800s, paper money in the form of individual bank notes had returned in force. And with it came enterprising counterfeiters like David Lewis (1788-1820), who worked the rural counties of southwestern Pennsylvania forging notes and stirring up populist rage against financial elites.

Lewis became something of a popular hero, known for audacious jailbreaks and sporadic generosity toward strangers. Mr. Tarnoff argues that in the financial panic of 1819, crime acquired a certain status. “Not only was it a way for the dispossessed to make a living, but compared with the perfectly legal frauds perpetuated by the nation’s banks, lawbreaking seemed honest.” Lewis was apprehended for the last time after being shot in the arm and leg. He died from these injuries in a jail in central Pennsylvania.

Finally, Mr. Tarnoff recounts the story of Samuel Upham (1819-1885), a Philadelphia shopkeeper who, in 1862, began printing $5 Confederate notes, which he sold as “mementos of the Rebellion” for a cent each. Along the bottom of each note, he included a strip with the following lettering: “Fac-Simile Confederate Note — Sold Wholesale and Retail by S. C. Upham, 403 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia.”

Backed by heavy newspaper advertising, Upham’s souvenir notes became best sellers, and at some point he must have known that they were no longer being viewed as facsimiles, Mr. Tarnoff says. Borne by Union soldiers, they found their way into the Confederate money supply as counterfeits, and helped fuel rampant inflation and monetary disruption.

As the war progressed, Confederate authorities became convinced that Upham and others were part of a Union campaign to wage economic war on the South. There is no historical evidence that Abraham Lincoln or his administration was involved in such tactics.

But Upham and other moneymakers did play a de facto role in the Union war effort. As Lincoln and his Treasury head, Salmon Chase, understood all too well, the military prospects of either side owed much to the reliability of their respective money supplies. Without a stable, trustworthy form of liquidity, neither combatant could continue to wage war while sustaining its citizens.

Responding to this imperative, Congress in 1862 passed a law that, for the first time since the Revolutionary War, made money printed by the federal government legal tender. A year later, legislation set up federally chartered banks that printed a uniform national currency — making counterfeiting more difficult, though not impossible.

Mr. Tarnoff is an engaging writer who has a fine eye for detail and the relevance of larger, historical forces. But the book ignores a larger question, raised by its description of early American capitalism as an “evolving confidence game” that oscillated “between manic exuberance and total collapse”: Is there something in the speculative nature of the American character and the nation’s economic beginnings that continues to produce people like Bernard Madoff, as well as excessive volatility in the system itself?

Though this and similar questions are unanswered, they do not tarnish the power of the stories that Mr. Tarnoff so delightfully uses to teach us history.

COAL ECONOMICS AND POLITICS: REALITY CHECK — OBAMANOMICS

 

It is Obama who will ironically do the most to preserve the way of life in West Virginia, Kentucky and other states — even though they vote overwhelmingly against him out of fear, prejudice and disinformation

The reality is that coal is going to be with us for a while and perhaps permanently. Regardless of who is President, despite all the concerns about the noxious fumes and heat emanating from mining and firing coal, it will be many years before demand for coal decreases. Technology, innovation, and alternative energy sources will play an increasing role in providing the power to run our homes, offices, hospitals and factories. But the process will take many years and perhaps many decades before the time comes that demand for coal decreases.

Thus the people of West Virginia, Kentucky and other coal producing states are not in jeopardy — but their children or grandchildren might be doing something other than mining. This is the reality.

Politics being what it is, results in pandering to the worst fears of voters and getting them to believe that the candidate speaking is the only one who will not let coal mining decline and will fight to keep them in business. It is a lie.

No candidate can stop this progression and no candidate is going to fight in favor of coal, which is perceived now as a major source of emissions and heat. It is political suicide for a candidate to say what Clinton is saying anywhere outside of West Virginia. She doesn’t care because she has no chance of elected but she wants to make a big finish.

The problem with that is once again people are being mislead and are being coerced into voting against themselves. Coal’s survival depends not on running against global warming but running with it. Someone who promises to fight for you against the environmentalists is telling you a whopper.

But someone who promises innovation and technology dividends might just be the person who can save you in spite of yourselves. And supporting that person will hasten the resurgence of coal and your economic security as well as the economic security of your country, your children and your grandchildren. 

Recapture of the heat from coal fired plants, some of which spew 650 degree or more superheated air into the atmosphere could turn any coal fired plant making steel, concrete or even electric power into augmented power.

Every coal fired plant could be a clean source of additional energy if we recapture the energy being wasted.  Every emission being discarded randomly into the environment could be captured as well and buried where it will do no harm.

Paradoxically it is the resistance of the mining lobby and mining interests, who are ill-informed about Obama and ill-advised in their direction, who could derail what would otherwise be a perfect outcome for West Virginia and Kentucky.

The abundance of coal reserves in the U.S. could thus paradoxically become one of the major green initiatives of the next administration and congress. Who would lead this?

Fortunately, whether you vote for him or not, Obama is very likely to be our next President. It is fortunate because he is the first person in politics to break the logjam, break the hold of special interest lobby groups and actually use innovation, technology and creative -in depth thinking and action to create an army of 750,000 active volunteers, 1,300,000 donors who have freed him from having to respond to any BIG DOG, and who will use the same techniques to overwhelm the opposition.

Obama is unstoppable precisely because he alone understands the significance of community organizing and he is unique in being the only one who has a successful track record in doing it, even under the most despondent circumstances. In this case, the community to organize is more daunting than the South Side of Chicago — it is now the country and eventually the world. But the dynamics of despair, fear, hopelessness versus empowerment, hope and relevance are the same. 

For him, American innovation and problem solving from the bottom up is his first priority. For every other candidate in recent years it has been through regulation and selling out to groups who already had too much power. With the support of the American people and indeed the world behind him, Obama is the one who can make this happen for coal and hundreds of other industries, large and small. 

It is therefore Obama who will ironically do the most to preserve the way of life in West Virginia, Kentucky and other states — even though they vote overwhelmingly against him out of fear, prejudice and disinformation

Thomas Friedman Calls Out Clinton and McCain on Gas Tax Proposal

The McCain-Clinton gas holiday proposal is a perfect example of what energy expert Peter Schwartz of Global Business Network describes as the true American energy policy today: “Maximize demand, minimize supply and buy the rest from the people who hate us the most.”

Good for Barack Obama for resisting this shameful pandering.

 

April 30, 2008
OP-ED COLUMNIST

Dumb as We Wanna Be

It is great to see that we finally have some national unity on energy policy. Unfortunately, the unifying idea is so ridiculous, so unworthy of the people aspiring to lead our nation, it takes your breath away. Hillary Clinton has decided to line up with John McCain in pushing to suspend the federal excise tax on gasoline, 18.4 cents a gallon, for this summer’s travel season. This is not an energy policy. This is money laundering: we borrow money from China and ship it to Saudi Arabia and take a little cut for ourselves as it goes through our gas tanks. What a way to build our country.

When the summer is over, we will have increased our debt to China, increased our transfer of wealth to Saudi Arabia and increased our contribution to global warming for our kids to inherit.

No, no, no, we’ll just get the money by taxing Big Oil, says Mrs. Clinton. Even if you could do that, what a terrible way to spend precious tax dollars — burning it up on the way to the beach rather than on innovation?

The McCain-Clinton gas holiday proposal is a perfect example of what energy expert Peter Schwartz of Global Business Network describes as the true American energy policy today: “Maximize demand, minimize supply and buy the rest from the people who hate us the most.”

Good for Barack Obama for resisting this shameful pandering.

But here’s what’s scary: our problem is so much worse than you think. We have no energy strategy. If you are going to use tax policy to shape energy strategy then you want to raise taxes on the things you want to discourage — gasoline consumption and gas-guzzling cars — and you want to lower taxes on the things you want to encourage — new, renewable energy technologies. We are doing just the opposite.

Are you sitting down?

Few Americans know it, but for almost a year now, Congress has been bickering over whether and how to renew the investment tax credit to stimulate investment in solar energy and the production tax credit to encourage investment in wind energy. The bickering has been so poisonous that when Congress passed the 2007 energy bill last December, it failed to extend any stimulus for wind and solar energy production. Oil and gas kept all their credits, but those for wind and solar have been left to expire this December. I am not making this up. At a time when we should be throwing everything into clean power innovation, we are squabbling over pennies.

These credits are critical because they ensure that if oil prices slip back down again — which often happens — investments in wind and solar would still be profitable. That’s how you launch a new energy technology and help it achieve scale, so it can compete without subsidies.

The Democrats wanted the wind and solar credits to be paid for by taking away tax credits from the oil industry. President Bush said he would veto that. Neither side would back down, and Mr. Bush — showing not one iota of leadership — refused to get all the adults together in a room and work out a compromise. Stalemate. Meanwhile, Germany has a 20-year solar incentive program; Japan 12 years. Ours, at best, run two years.

“It’s a disaster,” says Michael Polsky, founder of Invenergy, one of the biggest wind-power developers in America. “Wind is a very capital-intensive industry, and financial institutions are not ready to take ‘Congressional risk.’ They say if you don’t get the [production tax credit] we will not lend you the money to buy more turbines and build projects.”

It is also alarming, says Rhone Resch, the president of the Solar Energy Industries Association, that the U.S. has reached a point “where the priorities of Congress could become so distorted by politics” that it would turn its back on the next great global industry — clean power — “but that’s exactly what is happening.” If the wind and solar credits expire, said Resch, the impact in just 2009 would be more than 100,000 jobs either lost or not created in these industries, and $20 billion worth of investments that won’t be made.

While all the presidential candidates were railing about lost manufacturing jobs in Ohio, no one noticed that America’s premier solar company, First Solar, from Toledo, Ohio, was opening its newest factory in the former East Germany — 540 high-paying engineering jobs — because Germany has created a booming solar market and America has not.

In 1997, said Resch, America was the leader in solar energy technology, with 40 percent of global solar production. “Last year, we were less than 8 percent, and even most of that was manufacturing for overseas markets.”

The McCain-Clinton proposal is a reminder to me that the biggest energy crisis we have in our country today is the energy to be serious — the energy to do big things in a sustained, focused and intelligent way. We are in the midst of a national political brownout.

Mortgage Meltdown: Fixing Broken Mortgages — Getting New terms

CLINTON — MCCAIN FORECLOSURE FREEZE GETS COLD SHOULDER BUT SOUNDS GOOD

Well here is a version (SEE ARTICLE BELOW) of what we have been pushing for months —- changing the terms of the mortgages so that the homeowner can stay in the house and the mortgage can be modified, sold or recast for capital accounting. This is a lot more sophisticated than the “mortgage freeze” proposed by Clinton and McCain and it is working already so we can’t dispute the success.

  • The problem with a “mortgage foreclosure freeze” is that it is a sound bite that doesn’t really mean anything — like the gas tax holiday. It doesn’t address any of the problems but it gives rise to the illusion that the homeonwer is getting some relief.
  • The problem for Obama is that he sounds like he is against providing relief because he understands the nuances of how to get that relief — without pandering for votes. People don’t like nuance and don’t have the time for complex answers. So they vote against themselves based on sound bites, hoping gas prices will go down (they won’t) and that their house will be saved by just doing one thing like a freeze on foreclosures that lasts ninety days (that won’t work either).

There is no Clinton-McCain plan for relief because no order, legislation or rule is pending that will freeze anything and nothing is pending. Hillary and John are just blathering. They haven’t ACTUALLY proposed the plan by introducing a bill on the Senate floor. The plan of these pandering politicians is get elected (the people be damned): the method is to make use of time-honored sound bites that consist of misleading statements and outright lies. The truth is that neither McCain nor Clinton has a clue about gas prices or mortgages.

Although this trading of mortgage obligations is obviously providing some relief, it doesn’t address the root cause of the mortgage meltdown. And much as I don’t care for the people or their methods who perpetrated this fraud on the world, there is no REAL solution unless some value is restored to the balance sheet of financial institutions and investors who purchased the collateralized mortgage obligations. Thus combining attributes of this plan with a more comprehensive plan to restore the capital reserves of financial institutions and investors would be preferable.

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HOUSING

Investors move in to save broken mortgages

Homeowners who owe more than their property is worth are offered new terms.

By E. Scott Reckard
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

May 1, 2008

Jared Lanning, struggling to pay a home loan on which he owed more than his house was worth, was thinking he might just let the lender take back the property. Then he got a call one evening from an Orange County investor who had bought his mortgage.

“I want out of your loan,” said the investor, Evan Gentry, chief executive of G8 Capital of Ladera Ranch, who offered to lower the balance and the interest rate.

Lanning, a crane operator in Englewood, Colo., was skeptical. A phone pitch, after all, had led to his getting the unaffordable loan in the first place. But Gentry was legit: He helped Lanning get a new Federal Housing Administration-insured mortgage — with a $12,000 lower balance. Gentry also paid $5,000 in closing costs for the new loan. Lanning’s new monthly payment is $200 less than before.

Investors — including big fish like former Countrywide Financial Corp. President Stanford Kurland as well as smaller fry like Gentry — are buying loans on the cheap from lenders who want them off their books. By paying less than face value for the mortgages, the new holders can modify loan terms, including shrinking the amount owed, and still make money.

With some economists projecting 2 million foreclosures this year, legislators and regulators are hoping to encourage wide use of this model. They want lenders and investors in mortgage bonds to mark down what borrowers owe and then provide them with lower-cost loans. It’s a tricky business: No one wants to be seen as bailing out speculative buyers or imprudent lenders, but they also don’t want mass foreclosures to devastate neighborhoods and the economy.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. described the problem Wednesday as “a self-reinforcing cycle of default, foreclosure, home price declines and mortgage credit contraction, the likes of which we have not experienced since the 1930s.” The agency is proposing that the government lend $50 billion to 1 million borrowers to help them replace unaffordable loans.

Sub-prime mortgages with interest rates ratcheting higher have proved less of a problem than once feared, because interest rates overall have dropped. But a “toxic combination” of falling home prices and borrowers who can’t afford even the initial low rates on adjustable loans is now the issue, FDIC Chairwoman Sheila C. Bair said in an interview this week.

“Many more borrowers are under water,” she said. “And many more are just walking away.”

Many people bought homes with nothing-down loans at the peak of the housing boom — 29% of all buyers in 2007 made no down payments, Treasury Secretary Henry S. Paulson Jr. said recently. Others have sucked all their equity out of their properties with refinancings.

According to Moody’s Economy.com, some 8.8 million Americans — more than 10% of all homeowners — owe more than their houses are worth, although a Mortgage Bankers Assn. economist contended the figure was lower, perhaps 8%. In any case, there is wide agreement that many of those troubled borrowers have proved surprisingly ready to abandon their properties, even when lenders offer to modify their loan terms as they were encouraged to do by the Bush administration.

“We are working with borrowers to keep them in their homes, but a lot of them really don’t want to stay,” said Babette Heimbuch, chairwoman of FirstFed Financial Corp. of Los Angeles, a savings and loan operator that specialized in adjustable-rate mortgages, including many that were made without full documentation of borrowers’ incomes.

FirstFed has about $6.3 billion in loans on its books. It said that $667 million of that balance, more than 10%, was delinquent or in foreclosure as of March 31, up from just $46 million a year earlier. FirstFed said Wednesday that it lost $69.8 million, or $5.11 a share, during the first quarter this year compared with a profit of $8.4 million, or 61 cents, a year earlier. It set aside $150.3 million for loan losses during the quarter, up from $3.8 million during the first quarter of 2007.

Because FirstFed kept most of its loans on its books rather than selling them, it should have been easier for the company to work with borrowers to modify the loans. Heimbuch said FirstFed forecloses only after analyzing 10 other options to offer the borrower, including lowering the interest rate; changing to a five-year, fixed-rate loan requiring payment of interest only; and writing down the loan balance.

Still, she said, up to 50% of borrowers who miss payments don’t respond to letters and repeated telephone calls to see if something can be worked out.

Some customers had acquired second mortgages and couldn’t make new arrangements with the other lender, she said. “I think some know they told us the wrong income and are afraid to come clean, though we would still work with them . . . to keep them in their homes if possible.”

For struggling borrowers, it’s a big mistake not to return such calls these days, said Gus A. Altazurra, a veteran mortgage executive who recently raised $10 million from private investors to buy and modify loans for which homeowners are still making payments.

“They’re probably going to help you, given the current situation,” said Altazurra, whose Irvine-based Vertical Fund Group has been negotiating with lenders of all sizes to buy loans. He said “a flood” of mortgages went up for sale in April after lenders closed their books on a horrendous first quarter.

Altazurra, who has paid as little as 31 cents on the dollar for some loans, said the terms of some mortgages made at the peak of the boom were hard to believe. One loan he bought from a Texas bank was to a borrower with a very low credit score — 484 — who refinanced and cashed out 100% of the equity in the property, he said.

Gentry, the other Orange County loan buyer, said he had obtained commitments from investors to provide $100 million in capital for workouts on loans that have stopped paying, current loans that can no longer be sold and foreclosed properties. He has bought nearly $50 million in mortgages and property so far.

Gentry purchased Lanning’s loan in a pool of mortgages from a San Diego lender that was going out of business. He said that on average his private venture was paying 70 cents to 80 cents on the dollar for loans like Lanning’s that were still current, and “less if the loans are nonperforming.”

Lanning had no home equity left — and thus had little incentive to keep sacrificing to make payments — before he got the smaller, cheaper FHA loan. Now his outlook has changed.

“We can’t do anything frivolous now,” he said. “But if we do it right, we have enough. That other loan was just pushing us over the top.”

Clinton Gas Tax is Vapor

Gas prices are up for several reasons, the primary one being that the oil companies are squeezing every last penny of profit out before the inaugeration of the new, presumably Democratic President and a congress that is heavily weighted Democratic. 

  • THERE IS NO CLINTON PLAN OR PROPOSAL: Any Gas Tax “proposal” submitted by a Presidential candidate is straight pandering. Clinton is not President, there is no strong Democratic congress, and she has not neither the existing executive power nor any proposed bill on the floor of the Senate to reduce Gas Prices or Gas Taxes. She knows it will never happen and hopes that voters won’t figure that out.
  • Her suggestion that the plan would go into effect this summer is a blatant lie. 
  • Her suggestion that she would pay for it with a windfall profits tax on oil companies is also made to the voters of Indiana but not to the Senate where it could be considered. Of course it won’t pass as long as oil money continues to flow into the DC lobbyists and the Senators and Congressman they own. 
  • Obama’s answer is reality — no recourse without reforming Washington. Clinton’s view is that Indiana voters are more interested in sound bites than good sense. I hope she is wrong.
  • OBAMA SAYS IT IS NOT PRUDENT TO EVEN MENTION IT AND ALL ECONOMISTS AGREE WITH HIM:Even if Clinton’s Plan was eventually adopted, it would not take effect until over one year from now. It can’t take effect this summer because she isn’t President and she has proposed the tax holiday to the people but not to Congress where it could happen. 
  • What would happen is that one year from now, when Gas prices are $6 per gallon, and it costs $90 to fill your tank some ten times over the summer ($900!!), you might save $30 over the summer. AND that $30 would be taken out of the infrastructure money for repairing roads, bridges and tunnels, reducing employment. 

Clinton Scheme Blows Up: Barbara Reynolds Set Up Wright Press Club Appearance

May 3, 2008: Two interesting things about this posting.

The first is that while I posted it many days ago it has been the number one posting on this site every day.

The second is that it obviously attracted the attention of the Clinton attack machine who have tried to get me to allow comments that suggest that this entire story, which has done so much obvious damage to Obama, was actually a plot by Obama.

I almost let it go up as a comment until I heard the exact same words spoken by Clinton surrogates on TV. I concluded it was a plant and I rejected it. I also concluded that Errol Louis might have stumbled onto something important and that the thought of having the Clintons back in the White House is not nearly as appealing to me as it was a few months ago.

ALSO SEE 

http://www.nydailynews.com/opinions/columnists/louis/index.html

New York Daily News columnist Errol Louiswrites:

The Rev. Jeremiah Wright couldn’t have done more damage to Barack Obama’s campaign if he had tried. And you have to wonder if that’s just what one friend of Wright wanted.
Shortly before he rose to deliver his rambling, angry, sarcastic remarks at the National Press Club Monday, Wright sat next to, and chatted with, Barbara Reynolds.

A former editorial board member at USA Today, she runs something called Reynolds News Services and teaches ministry at the Howard University School of Divinity. (She is an ordained minister).

It also turns out that Reynolds – introduced Monday as a member of the National Press Club “who organized” the event – is an enthusiastic Hillary Clinton supporter. …

I don’t know if Reynolds’ eagerness to help Wright stage a disastrous news conference with the national media was a way of trying to help Clinton – my queries to Reynolds by phone and e-mail weren’t returned yesterday – but it’s safe to say she didn’t see any conflict between promoting Wright and supporting Clinton.

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