OK LAWYERS, STEP UP TO THIS ONE — It is literally a no- brainer

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Editor’s Comment: The very same people who so ardently want us to remain strong and fight wars of dubious foundation are the ones who vote against those who serve our country. Here is a story of a guy who was being shot at and foreclosed at the same time — a blatant violation of Federal Law and good sense. When I practiced in Florida, it was standard procedure if we filed suit to state that the defendant is not a member of the armed forces of the United States. Why? Because we don’t sue people that are protecting our country with their life and limb.

It IS that simple, and if the banks are still doing this after having been caught several times, fined a number of times and sanctioned and number of times, then it is time to take the Bank’s charter away. Nothing could undermine the defense and sovereignty of our country more than to have soldiers on the battlefield worrying about their families being thrown out onto the street.

One woman’s story:

My husband was on active duty predeployment training orders from 29 May 2011 to 28 August 2011 and again 15 October 2011 to 22 November 2011. He was pulled off the actual deployment roster for the deployment date of 6 December 2011 due to the suspension of his security clearance because of the servicer reporting derogatory to his credit bureau (after stating they would make the correction). We spoke with the JAG and they stated those periods of service are protected as well as nine months after per the SCRA 50 USC section 533.

We have been advised that a foreclosure proceeding initiated within that 9 month period is not valid per the SCRA. I have informed the servicer via phone and they stated their legal department is saying they are permitted to foreclose. They sent a letter stating the same. I am currently working on an Emergency Ex Parte Application for TRO and Preliminary Injunction to file in federal court within the next week. It is a complicated process.

The servicer has never reported this VA loan in default and the VA has no information. That is in Violation of VA guidelines and title 38. They have additionally violated Ca Civil Code 2323.5. They NEVER sent a single written document prior to filing NOD 2/3/2012. They never made a phone call. They ignored all our previous calls and letter. All contact with the servicer has been initiated by us, never by them. This was a brokered deal. We dealt with Golden Empire Mortgage. They offered the CalHFA down payment assistance program in conjunction with their “loan” (and I use that term loosely). What we did not know was that on the backside of the deal they were fishing for an investor.

Over the past two years CalHFA has stated on numerous occasions they do not own the 1st trust deed. Guild (the servicer) says they do. I have a letter dated two weeks after closing of the loan saying the “servicing” was sold to CalHFA. Then a week later another letter stating the “servicing” was sold to Guild. Two conflicting letters saying two different things. The DOT and Note are filed with the county listing Golden Empire Mortgage as the Lender, North American Title as the Trustee and good old MERS as the Nominee beneficiary.

There is no endorsement or alonge anywhere in the filing of the county records. We signed documents 5/8/2008 and filings were made 5/13/2008. After two years of circles with Guild and CalHFA two RESPA requests were denied and I was constantly being told “the investor, the VA and our legal department” are reviewing the file to see how to apply the deferrment as allowed by California law and to compute taxes and impound we would need to pay during that period. Months of communications back in forth in 2009 and they never did a thing. Many calls to CalHFA with the same result. We don;t own it, call Guild, we only have interest in the silent 2nd.

All of a sudden in December 2011 an Assignment of DOT was filed by Guild from Golden Empire to CalHFA signed by Phona Kaninau, Asst Secretary MERS, filed 12/13/2011. om 2/3/2012 Guild filed a Cancellation of NOD from the filing they made in 2009 signed by Rhona Kaninau, Sr. VP of Guild. on the same date Guild filed a substitution of trustee naming Guild Admin Corp as the new trustee and Golden Empire as the old trustee, but on out DOT filed 5/13/2008 it lists North American Title as the Trustee. First off how can Rhona work for two different companies.

Essentially there is no fair dealing in any of this. Guild is acting on behalf of MERS, the servicing side of their company, and now as the trustee. How is that allowed? Doesn;t a trustee exist to ensure all parties interests are looked out for? It makes no sense to me how that can be happening. On the assignment I believe there is a HUGE flaw… it states ….assigns, and transfers to: CalHFA all beneficial interest…..executed by Joshua as Trustor, to Golden Empire as Trustee, and Recordeed….. how can you have two “to’s” .. shouldn’t after Trustor it say FROM???? Is that a fatal flaw???

And then looking at the Substitution it states “Whereas the undersigned present Beneficiary under said Deed of Trust” (which on the DOT at that time would show MERS but on the flawed assignment says Golden Empire was the trustee), it then goes on the say “Therefore the undersigned hereby substitutes GUILD ADMIN CORP” and it is signed “Guild Mortgage Company, as agent for CalHFA”, signed by Rhona Kaninau (same person who signed the assignment as a MERS Asst Secretary). I mean is this seriously legal??? Would a federal judge look at this and see how convoluted it all is?

I appreciate the offer of the securitization discount but in out current economic situation and having to pay $350 to file a federal case we just can’t afford it right now. I hope you will keep that offer open. Will this report cover tracking down a mortgage allegedly backed by CalHFA bonds? This is their claim.

Thank you so much for your assistance. This is overwhelming. Do you have any attorneys here in Southern California you world with I might be able to talk to about what they would charge us for a case like this?

Now They See the Light — 40% of Homes Underwater

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Editor’s Comment:

They were using figures like 12% or 18% but I kept saying that when you take all the figures together and just add them up, the number is much higher than that. So as it turns out, it is even higher than I thought because they are still not taking into consideration ALL the factors and expenses involved in selling a home, not the least of which is the vast discount one must endure from the intentionally inflated appraisals.

With this number of people whose homes are worth far less than the loans that were underwritten and supposedly approved using industry standards by “lenders” who weren’t lenders but who the FCPB now says will be treated as lenders, the biggest problem facing the marketplace is how are we going to keep these people in their homes — not how do we do a short-sale. And the seconcd biggest problem, which dovetails with Brown’s push for legislation to break up the large banks, is how can we permit these banks to maintain figures on the balance sheet that shows assets based upon completely unrealistic figures on homes where they do not even own the loan?

Or to put it another way. How crazy is this going to get before someone hits the reset the button and says OK from now on we are going to deal with truth, justice and the American way?

With no demographic challenges driving up prices or demand for new housing, and with no demand from homeowners seeking refinancing, why were there so many loans? The answer is easy if you look at the facts. Wall Street had come up with a way to get trillions of dollars in investment capital from the biggest managed funds in the world — the mortgage bond and all the derivatives and exotic baggage that went with it. 

So they put the money in Superfund accounts and funded loans taking care of that pesky paperwork later. They funded loans and approved loans from non-existent borrowers who had not even applied yet. As soon as the application was filled out, the wire transfer to the closing agent occurred (ever wonder why they were so reluctant to change closing agents for the convenience of the parties?).

The instructions were clear — get the signature on some paperwork even if it is faked, fraudulent, forged and completely outside industry standards but make it look right. I have this information from insiders who were directly involved in the structuring and handling of the money and the false securitization chain that was used to cover up illegal lending and the huge fees that were taken out of the superfund before any lending took place. THAT explains how these banks are bigger than ever while the world’s economies are shrinking.

The money came straight down from the investor pool that included ALL the investors over a period of time that were later broker up into groups and the  issued digital or paper certificates of mortgage bonds. So the money came from a trust-type account for the investors, making the investors the actual lenders and the investors collectively part of a huge partnership dwarfing the size of any “trust” or “REMIC”. At one point there was over $2 trillion in unallocated funds looking for a loan to be attached to the money. They couldn’t do it legally or practically.

The only way this could be accomplished is if the borrowers thought the deal was so cheap that they were giving the money away and that the value of their home had so increased in value that it was safe to use some of the equity for investment purposes of other expenses. So they invented more than 400 loans products successfully misrepresenting and obscuring the fact that the resets on loans went to monthly payments that exceeded the gross income of the household based upon a loan that was funded based upon a false and inflated appraisal that could not and did not sustain itself even for a period of weeks in many cases. The banks were supposedly too big to fail. The loans were realistically too big to succeed.

Now Wall Street is threatening to foreclose on anyone who walks from this deal. I say that anyone who doesn’t walk from that deal is putting their future at risk. So the big shadow inventory that will keep prices below home values and drive them still further into the abyss is from those private owners who will either walk away, do a short-sale or fight it out with the pretender lenders. When these people realize that there are ways to reacquire their property in foreclosure with cash bids that are valid while the credit bid of the pretender lender is invlaid, they will have achieved the only logical answer to the nation’s problems — principal correction and the benefit of the bargain they were promised, with the banks — not the taxpayers — taking the loss.

The easiest way to move these tremendous sums of money was to make it look like it was cheap and at the same time make certain that they had an arguable claim to enforce the debt when the fake payments turned into real payments. SO they created false and frauduelnt paperwork at closing stating that the payee on teh note was the lender and that the secured party was somehow invovled in the transaction when there was no transaction with the payee at all and the security instrumente was securing the faithful performance of a false document — the note. Meanwhile the investor lenders were left without any documentation with the borrowers leaving them with only common law claims that were unsecured. That is when the robosigning and forgery and fraudulent declarations with false attestations from notaries came into play. They had to make it look like there was a real deal, knowing that if everything “looked” in order most judges would let it pass and it worked.

Now we have (courtesy of the cloak of MERS and robosigning, forgery etc.) a completely corrupted and suspect chain of title on over 20 million homes half of which are underwater — meaning that unless the owner expects the market to rise substantially within a reasonable period of time, they will walk. And we all know how much effort the banks and realtors are putting into telling us that the market has bottomed out and is now headed up. It’s a lie. It’s a damned living lie.

One in Three Mortgage Holders Still Underwater

By John W. Schoen, Senior Producer

Got that sinking feeling? Amid signs that the U.S. housing market is finally rising from a long slumber, real estate Web site Zillow reports that homeowners are still under water.

Nearly 16 million homeowners owed more on their mortgages than their home was worth in the first quarter, or nearly one-third of U.S. homeowners with mortgages. That’s a $1.2 trillion hole in the collective home equity of American households.

Despite the temptation to just walk away and mail back the keys, nine of 10 underwater borrowers are making their mortgage and home loan payments on time. Only 10 percent are more than 90 days delinquent.

Still, “negative equity” will continue to weigh on the housing market – and the broader economy – because it sidelines so many potential home buyers. It also puts millions of owners at greater risk of losing their home if the economic recovery stalls, according to Zillow’s chief economist, Stan Humphries.

“If economic growth slows and unemployment rises, more homeowners will be unable to make timely mortgage payments, increasing delinquency rates and eventually foreclosures,” he said.

For now, the recent bottoming out in home prices seems to be stabilizing the impact of negative equity; the number of underwater homeowners held steady from the fourth quarter of last year and fell slightly from a year ago.

Real estate market conditions vary widely across the country, as does the depth of trouble homeowners find themselves in. Nearly 40 percent of homeowners with a mortgage owe between 1 and 20 percent more than their home is worth. But 15 percent – approximately 2.4 million – owe more than double their home’s market value.

Nevada homeowners have been hardest hit, where two-thirds of all homeowners with a mortgage are underwater. Arizona, with 52 percent, Georgia (46.8 percent), Florida (46.3 percent) and Michigan (41.7 percent) also have high percentages of homeowners with negative equity.

Turnabout is Fair Play:

The Depressing Rise of People Robbing Banks to Pay the Bills

Despite inflation decreasing their value, bank robberies are on the rise in the United States. According to the FBI, in the third quarter of 2010, banks reported 1,325 bank robberies, burglaries, or other larcenies, an increase of more than 200 crimes from the same quarter in 2009. America isn’t the easiest place to succeed financially these days, a predicament that’s finding more and more people doing desperate things to obtain money. Robbing banks is nothing new, of course; it’s been a popular crime for anyone looking to get quick cash practically since America began. But the face and nature of robbers is changing. These days, the once glamorous sheen of bank robberies is wearing away, exposing a far sadder and ugly reality: Today’s bank robbers are just trying to keep their heads above water.

Bonnie and Clyde, Pretty Boy Floyd, Baby Face Nelson—time was that bank robbers had cool names and widespread celebrity. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Jesse James, and John Dillinger were even the subjects of big, fawning Hollywood films glorifying their thievery. But times have changed.

In Mississippi this week, a man walked into a bank and handed a teller a note demanding money, according to broadcast news reporter Brittany Weiss. The man got away with a paltry $1,600 before proceeding to run errands around town to pay his bills and write checks to people to whom he owed money. He was hanging out with his mom when police finally found him. Three weeks before the Mississippi fiasco, a woman named Gwendolyn Cunningham robbed a bank in Fresno and fled in her car. Minutes later, police spotted Cunningham’s car in front of downtown Fresno’s Pacific Gas and Electric Building. Inside, she was trying to pay her gas bill.

The list goes on: In October 2011, a Phoenix-area man stole $2,300 to pay bills and make his alimony payments. In early 2010, an elderly man on Social Security started robbing banks in an effort to avoid foreclosure on the house he and his wife had lived in for two decades. In January 2011, a 46-year-old Ohio woman robbed a bank to pay past-due bills. And in February of this year, a  Pennsylvania woman with no teeth confessed to robbing a bank to pay for dentures. “I’m very sorry for what I did and I know God is going to punish me for it,” she said at her arraignment. Yet perhaps none of this compares to the man who, in June 2011, robbed a bank of $1 just so he could be taken to prison and get medical care he couldn’t afford.

None of this is to say that a life of crime is admirable or courageous, and though there is no way to accurately quantify it, there are probably still many bank robbers who steal just because they like the thrill of money for nothing. But there’s quite a dichotomy between the bank robbers of early America, with their romantic escapades and exciting lifestyles, and the people following in their footsteps today: broke citizens with no jobs, no savings, no teeth, and few options.

The stealing rebel types we all came to love after reading the Robin Hood story are gone. Today the robbers are just trying to pay their gas bills. There will be no movies for them.

Another Ruse: Realtors Gleeful over Equator Short Sale Platform

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Editor’s Comment:

Banks have adopted a technology platform to process short sale applications. It is called Equator, presumably to imply that it equates one thing with another, and produces a result that either gives a pass or fail to the application. In theory it is a good thing for those people who want to save their homes, save their credit (up to a point) and move on. In practice it essentially licenses the real estate broker to take control over the negotiations and police the transactions so that the new “network” rules are not violated. This reminds me of VISA and MasterCard who control the payment processing business with the illusion of being a quasi governmental agency. Nothing could be further from the truth, but bankers react to net work threats as though the IRS was after them.

Equator is meant as another layer of illusion to the title problem that realtors and title companies are trying to cover up. The short sale is getting be the most popular form of real estate sale because it is a form of principal reduction where there is some face-saving by the banks and the borrowers. The problem is that while short sales are a legitimate form of workout,  they leave the elephant in the living room undisturbed — short sales approved by banks and servicers who have neither the authority nor the interest in the loan to even be involved except as an agent of Equator but NOT as an agent of the lenders,  if they even exist anymore.

So using the shortsale they get the signature of the borrower as seller which gives them a layer of protection if they are the bank or servicer approving the short-sale. But it fails to cure the title defect, especially in millions of transactions in which Nominees (like MERS and dummy originators) are in the chain of title. 

The true owner of the obligation is a group of investor lenders who appear to have only one thing in common— they all gave money to an investment bank or an affiliate of an investment bank, where it was divided up and put into various accounts, some of which were used to fund mortgages and others were used to pay fees and profits to the investment bank on the closing of the “deal” with the investor lenders. As far as the county recorder is concerned, those deposits and splits are nonexistent. 

The investor lenders were then told that their money was pooled in a “Trust” when no such entity ever existed or was registered to do business and no attempt was made to fund the trust. An unfunded trust is not a trust. This, the investor lenders were told was a REMIC entity.  While a REMIC could have been established it never happened  in the the real world because the only communications between participants in the securitization chain consisted of a spreadsheet describing “closed loans.” Such communications did not include transfer, assignment or even transmittal or delivery of the closing papers with the borrower. Thus as far as the county recorder’s office is concerned, they still knew nothing. Now in the shortsales, they want a stranger the transaction to take the money and run — with no requirement that they establish themselves as creditors and no credible documentation that they are the owner of the loan.

This is another end run around the requirements of basic law in property transactions. They are doing it because our government officials are letting them do it, thus implicitly ratifying the right to foreclose and submit a credit bid without any requirement of proof or even offer of proof.

It gets worse. So we have BOA agreeing to accept dollars in satisfaction of a loan that they have no record of owning. The shortsale seller might still be liable to someone if the banks and servicers continue to have their way with creating false chains of ownership. But the real tragedy is that the shortsale seller is probably getting the shaft on a false premise — I.e, that the mortgage or deed of trust had any validity to begin with. 

The shortsale Buyer is most probably buying a lawsuit along with the house. At some point, the huge gaps in the chain of title are going to cause lawyers in increasing numbers to object to title and demand that it be fixed or that the client be adequately covered by insurance arising from securitizatioin claims. Thus when the shortsale Buyer becomes a seller, that is when the problems will first start to surface.

Realtors understand this analysis whereas buyers from Canada and other places do not understand it. But realtors see shortsales as the salvation to their diminished incomes. Thus most realtors are incentivized to misrepresent the risk factors and the title issues in favor of controlling the buyer and the seller into accepting pre-established criteria published by the members of Equator. It is securitization all over again, it is MERS all over again, it is a further corruption of our title system and it is avoiding the main issue — making the victims of this fraud whole even if it takes every penny the banks have. Realtors who ignore this can expect that they and their insurance carriers will be part of the gang of targeted deep pockets when lawyers smell the blood on the floor and go after the perpetrators.

Latest Changes to The Bank of America Short Sale Process

by Melissa Zavala

When processing short sales, it’s important to know about how each of the lending institutions handles loss mitigation and paperwork processing. If you have done a few short sales in Equator with different lenders, you may see what while your same Equator account is used for all your short sales at all the lending institutions, each of the servicers uses the platforms in a different manner.

Using the Equator system

When processing short sales, it’s important to know about how each of the lending institutions handles loss mitigation and paperwork processing. Many folks already know that Equator is the online platform used by 5 major lenders (Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Nationstar, GMAC, and Service One). If you have done a few short sales in Equator with different lenders, you may see what while your same Equator account is used for all your short sales at all the lending institutions, each of the servicers uses the platforms in a different manner.

And, my hat goes off to Bank of America for really raising the bar when it comes to short sale processing online. And, believe me, after processing short sales with Bank of America in 2007, this change is much appreciated.

New Bank of America Short Sale Process

Effective April 13, 2012, Bank of America made a few major changes that may make our short sale processing times more efficient.  The goal of these changes is to make short sale processing through Equator (the Internet-based platform) at Bank of America so efficient that short sale approval can be received in less than one month.

First off, Bank of America now requires their new third party authorization for all short sales being processed through the Equator system. Additionally, the folks at Bank of America will be working to improve task flow for short sales in Equator by making some minor changes to the process.

According to the Bank of America website,

Now you are required to upload five documents (which you can obtain at http://www.bankofamerica.com/realestateagent) for short sales initiated with an offer:

  • Purchase Contract including Buyer’s Acknowledgment and Disclosure
  • HUD-1
  • IRS Form 4506-T
  • Bank of America Short Sale Addendum
  • Bank of America Third-Party Authorization Form

And, now, you will have only 5 days to submit a backup offer if your buyer has flown the coop.

The last change is a curious one, especially for short sale listing agents, since it often takes awhile to find a new buyer after you learn that the current buyer has changed his or her mind.

Short sale listings agents should be familiar with these changes in order to assure that they are providing their client with the most efficient short sale experience possible.


Everything Built on Myth Eventually Fails

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Editor’s Comment:

The good news is that the myth of Jamie Dimon’s infallaibility is at least called into question. Perhaps better news is that, as pointed out by Simon Johnson’s article below, the mega banks are not only Too Big to Fail, they are Too Big to Manage, which leads to the question, of why it has taken this long for Congress and the Obama administration to conclude that these Banks are Too Big to Regulate. So the answer, now introduced by Senator Brown, is to make the banks smaller and  put caps on them as to what they can and cannot do with their risk management.

But the real question that will come to fore is whether lawmakers in Dimon’s pocket will start feeling a bit squeamish about doing whatever Dimon asks. He is now becoming a political and financial liability. The $2.3 billion loss (and still counting) that has been reported seems to be traced to the improper trading in credit default swaps, an old enemy of ours from the mortgage battle that continues to rage throughout the land.  The problem is that the JPM people came to believe in their own myth which is sometimes referred to as sucking on your own exhaust. They obviously felt that their “risk management” was impregnable because in the end Jamie would save the day.

This time, Jamie can’t turn to investors to dump the loss on, thus drying up liquidity all over the world. This time he can’t go to government for a bailout, and this time the traction to bring the mega banks under control is getting larger. The last vote received only 33 votes from the Senate floor, indicating that Dimon and the wall Street lobby had control of 2/3 of the senate. So let ius bask in the possibility that this is the the beginning of the end for the mega banks, whose balance sheets, business practices and public announcements have all been based upon lies and half truths.

This time the regulators are being forced by public opinion to actually peak under the hood and see what is going on there. And what they will find is that the assets booked on the balance sheet of Dimon’s monolith are largely fictitious. This time the regulators must look at what assets were presented to the Federal Reserve window in exchange for interest free loans. The narrative is shifting from the “free house” myth to the reality of free money. And that will lead to the question of who is the creditor in each of the transactions in which a mortgage loan is said to exist.

Those mortgage loans are thought to exist because of a number of incorrect presumptions. One of them is that the obligation remains unpaid and is secured. Neither is true. Some loans might still have a balance due but even they have had their balances reduced by the receipt of insurance proceeds and the payoff from credit default swaps and other credit enhancements, not to speak of the taxpayer bailout.

This money was diverted from investor lenders who were entitled to that money because their contracts and the representations inducing them to purchase bogus mortgage bonds, stated that the investment was investment grade (Triple A) and because they thought they were insured several times over. It is true that the insurance was several layers thick and it is equally true that the insurance payoff covered most if not all the balances of all the mortgages that were funded between 1996 and the present. The investor lenders should have received at least enough of that money to make them whole — i.e., all principal and interest as promissed.

Instead the Banks did the unthinkable and that is what is about to come to light. They kept the money for themselves and then claimed the loss of investors on the toxic loans and tranches that were created in pools of money and mortgages — pools that in fact never came into existence, leaving the investors with a loose partnership with other investors, no manager, and no accounting. Every creditor is entitled to payment in full — ONCE, not multiple times unless they have separate contracts (bets) with parties other than the borrower. In this case, with the money received by the investment banks diverted from the investors, the creditors thought they had a loss when in fact they had a claim against deep pocket mega banks to receive their share of the proceeds of insurance, CDS payoffs and taxpayer bailouts.

What the banks were banking on was the stupidity of government regulators and the stupidity of the American public. But it wasn’t stupidity. it was ignorance of the intentional flipping of mortgage lending onto its head, resulting in loan portfolios whose main characteristic was that they would fail. And fail they did because the investment banks “declared” through the Master servicer that they had failed regardless of whether people were making payments on their mortgage loans or not. But the only parties with an actual receivable wherein they were expecting to be paid in real money were the investor lenders.

Had the investor lenders received the money that was taken by their agents, they would have been required to reduce the balances due from borrowers. Any other position would negate their claim to status as a REMIC. But the banks and servicers take the position that there exists an entitlement to get paid in full on the loan AND to take the house because the payment didn’t come from the borrower.

This reduction in the balance owed from borrowers would in and of itself have resulted in the equivalent of “principal reduction” which in many cases was to zero and quite possibly resulting in a claim against the participants in the securitization chain for all of the ill-gotten gains. remember that the Truth In Lending Law states unequivocally that the undisclosed profits and compensation of ANYONE involved in the origination of the loan must be paid, with interest to the borrower. Crazy you say? Is it any crazier than the banks getting $15 million for a $300,000 loan. Somebody needs to win here and I see no reason why it should be the megabanks who created, incited, encouraged and covered up outright fraud on investor lenders and homeowner borrowers.

Making Banks Small Enough And Simple Enough To Fail

By Simon Johnson

Almost exactly two years ago, at the height of the Senate debate on financial reform, a serious attempt was made to impose a binding size constraint on our largest banks. That effort – sometimes referred to as the Brown-Kaufman amendment – received the support of 33 senators and failed on the floor of the Senate. (Here is some of my Economix coverage from the time.)

On Wednesday, Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio, introduced the Safe, Accountable, Fair and Efficient Banking Act, or SAFE, which would force the largest four banks in the country to shrink. (Details of this proposal, similar in name to the original Brown-Kaufman plan, are in this briefing memo for a Senate banking subcommittee hearing on Wednesday, available through Politico; see also these press release materials).

His proposal, while not likely to immediately become law, is garnering support from across the political spectrum – and more support than essentially the same ideas received two years ago.  This week’s debacle at JP Morgan only strengthens the case for this kind of legislative action in the near future.

The proposition is simple: Too-big-to-fail banks should be made smaller, and preferably small enough to fail without causing global panic. This idea had been gathering momentum since the fall of 2008 and, while the Brown-Kaufman amendment originated on the Democratic side, support was beginning to appear across the aisle. But big banks and the Treasury Department both opposed it, parliamentary maneuvers ensured there was little real debate. (For a compelling account of how the financial lobby works, both in general and in this instance, look for an upcoming book by Jeff Connaughton, former chief of staff to former Senator Ted Kaufman of Delaware.)

The issue has not gone away. And while the financial sector has pushed back with some success against various components of the Dodd-Frank reform legislation, the idea of breaking up very large banks has gained momentum.

In particular, informed sentiment has shifted against continuing to allow very large banks to operate in their current highly leveraged form, with a great deal of debt and very little equity.  There is increasing recognition of the massive and unfair costs that these structures impose on the rest of the economy.  The implicit subsidies provided to “too big to fail” companies allow them to boost compensation over the cycle by hundreds of millions of dollars.  But the costs imposed on the rest of us are in the trillions of dollars.  This is a monstrously unfair and inefficient system – and sensible public figures are increasingly pointing this out (including Jamie Dimon, however inadvertently).

American Banker, a leading trade publication, recently posted a slide show, “Who Wants to Break Up the Big Banks?” Its gallery included people from across the political spectrum, with a great deal of financial sector and public policy experience, along with quotations that appear to support either Senator Brown’s approach or a similar shift in philosophy with regard to big banks in the United States. (The slide show is available only to subscribers.)

According to American Banker, we now have in the “break up the banks” corner (in order of appearance in that feature): Richard Fisher, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas; Sheila Bair, former chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation; Tom Hoenig, a board member of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City; Jon Huntsman, former Republican presidential candidate and former governor of Utah; Senator Brown; Mervyn King, governor of the Bank of England; Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont; and Camden Fine, president of the Independent Community Bankers of America. (I am also on the American Banker list).

Anat Admati of Stanford and her colleagues have led the push for much higher capital requirements – emphasizing the particular dangers around allowing our largest banks to operate in their current highly leveraged fashion. This position has also been gaining support in the policy and media mainstream, most recently in the form of a powerful Bloomberg View editorial.

(You can follow her work and related discussion on this Web site; on twitter she is @anatadmati.)

Senator Brown’s legislation reflects also the idea that banks should fund themselves more with equity and less with debt. Professor Admati and I submitted a letter of support, together with 11 colleagues whose expertise spans almost all dimensions of how the financial sector really operates.

We particularly stress the appeal of having a binding “leverage ratio” for the largest banks. This would require them to have at least 10 percent equity relative to their total assets, using a simple measure of assets not adjusted for any of the complicated “risk weights” that banks can game.

We also agree with the SAFE Banking Act that to limit the risk and potential cost to taxpayers, caps on the size of an individual bank’s liabilities relative to the economy can also serve a useful role (and the same kind of rule should apply to non-bank financial institutions).

Under the proposed law, no bank-holding company could have more than $1.3 trillion in total liabilities (i.e., that would be the maximum size). This would affect our largest banks, which are $2 trillion or more in total size, but in no way undermine their global competitiveness. This is a moderate and entirely reasonable proposal.

No one is suggesting that making JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup and Wells Fargo smaller would be sufficient to ensure financial stability.

But this idea continues to gain traction, as a measure complementary to further strengthening and simplifying capital requirements and generally in support of other efforts to make it easier to handle the failure of financial institutions.

Watch for the SAFE Banking Act to gain further support over time.

GOOD PLEADINGS: FAGAN V WELLS FARGO ET AL

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Suit Filed Incorporating Agency Sanctions and Consent Decrees from Last Week

“And most importantly, Fagan goes again to the heart of the securitization illusion, the falsity of the presentations made to both investor-lenders and homeowners, and the manner in which the “fair market value” was intentionally misstated to justify the inflation of the “value” of the bogus mortgage bonds sold to investor lenders. The importance of this attack cannot be overstated — because it debunks, once and for all, the myth that greedy unscrupulous borrowers caused this mess. It states unequivocally that the value of the property was intentionally overstated to induce Fagan and millions of other borrowers in more than 80 million “loan” transactions to assume that the value of the property was worth far more than the value of the loan product they were purchasing from the mortgage broker and mortgage originator. Neither the investor-lender nor the homeowner would have even considered the possibility of entering into this transaction without the value of the property being real — as the ultimate protection for the investor-lender and the homeowner. This is why the reduction of principal is no gift. It is merely a correction that is due to BOTH the investor-lender and the borrower.”

Barry Fagan v Wells Fargo Bank SC112044 OBJECTION TO DISCLAIMER AND DECLARATION OF NON-MONETARY STATUS OF T.D

Barry S. Fagan v Wells fargo Bank Complaint with Exhibits-1

Barry Fagan v Wells Fargo Bank SC112044 REQUEST FOR JUDICIAL NOTICE OCC CONSENT ORDER & PROOF OF SERVICE 4 21 2011

  1. The first thing that is important to note is the identity of the defendants sued by Fagan: Besides Wells Fargo, he names American Securities Company, T.D. Service Company and Ebert Appraisal Service Inc. He thus sets the stage for attacking the reality of the transaction he was tricked into. Naming the Service Company and the Appraisal Company is different from what most people are doing and he really pursues both them and the service company that initiated the foreclosure proceeding.
  2. The second thing of importance is the filing of the objection to disclaimer of non-monetary status of T.D. Service. This is the first time I have seen someone “get it” and realize that T.D. or any company that initiates foreclosures is probably controlled by one of the Wall Street bankruptcy remote shells, and is NOT a party without an interest in the outcome. That is why we see substitutions of trustee every time there is a foreclosure. Why is that necessary — precisely because, as Fagan points out, that an arm’s length company with no interest in the proceeding would never do what T.D. is doing because of the potential exposure to liability — and because T.D. and others like it are siphoning off the money that could otherwise go to the investor-lenders.
  3. As I  have repeatedly said, the consensus of lawyers is that without objecting to EVERYTHING you are conceding that there might be a shred of legitimacy to what is clearly a completely fraudulent claim, fraudulent foreclosure on a fraudulent mortgage securing a fraudulent note. Fagan accuses TD of proceeding despite their knowledge that Wells Fargo was not the creditor, not the real party in interest, lacked standing, had no money in the deal, was not the lender and never purchased the receivable.
  4. In addition Fagan, obviously knowledgeable about the actual procedures in use, thrusts his litigation dagger into the heart of the matter by alleging that the person signing the papers, besides lacking authority, lacked any knowledge of the transaction, and had no way of knowing the identity of the real creditor except that Wells Fargo is plainly eliminated as a real creditor.
  5. Lastly, Fagan attacks at the Achilles heal of the securitization illusion: that the transaction occurred between the borrower and an undisclosed creditor, that the closing documents reflected none of the realities of the real transaction, and that no attempt was made to conform to the the requirements of the pooling and service agreement regarding the transfer of the receivable, the note (fatally defective anyway) and deed of trust (fatally defective anyway). He specifically names for example that the alleged assignments, even putting all the defects in the instrument itself aside, is executed far past the cut-off date stated in the pooling and service agreement. This creates a double violation of the PSA, to wit: that the assignment needs to be recorded or in recordable form within 90 days of the creation of the pool, and the “asset” must consist of a rel asset meaning one that is performing and not in default.
  6. Any reasonable person can understand that the rules accepted by the investor-lenders were that they would be receiving performing loans complying (as per the PSA) with industry standard underwriting guidelines, and within the time periods prescribed by the PSA. Otherwise the investor-lender has advanced money for nothing, which is why they are now all suing the investment banks and NONE of the investors is making any claims against the homeowners; in fact the investors are alleging the mortgages were bad from the beginning and are unenforceable. SO we have the actual lender agreeing with the actual borrower that the real transaction is not the reference point of the closing documents and therefore the closing documents are merely part of an illusion of underwriting mortgages and securitizing them, neither of which actually occurred. 
  7. The next thing to note is that Fagan filed a verified complaint — requiring in California, a verified response. This  puts the other side at jeopardy for perjury prosecution because if Fagan is right, and I am sure he is, none of these parties can file a verified response which would require the signature of a competent witness. A competent witness is one who takes an oath, has personal knowledge through his/her own senses of the facts or statements alleged, has personal recollection of those facts and is able to communicate that knowledge. 
  8. Fagan also includes a compelling argument and pleading for quiet title that I recommend reading and using for those in like situations.
  9. And most importantly, Fagan goes again to the heart of the securitization illusion, the falsity of the presentations made to both investor-lenders and homeowners, and the manner in which the “fair market value” was intentionally misstated to justify the inflation of the “value” of the bogus mortgage bonds sold to investor lenders. The importance of this attack cannot be overstated — because it debunks, once and for all, the myth that greedy unscrupulous borrowers caused this mess. It states unequivocally that the value of the property was intentionally overstated to induce Fagan and millions of other borrowers in more than 80 million “loan” transactions to assume that the value of the property was worth far more than the value of the loan product they were purchasing from the mortgage broker and mortgage originator. Neither the investor-lender nor the homeowner would have even considered the possibility of entering into this transaction without the value of the property being real — as the ultimate protection for the investor-lender and the homeowner. This is why the reduction of principal is no gift. It is merely a correction that is due to BOTH the investor-lender and the borrower.
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