Banksters, Bastards, And Greed

If you didn’t see the 60 Minutes segment last night on how bankers have screwed up mortgage paperwork and how the bastards tried to remedy their screw-ups, then you should.  

Because the greedy bastards (yes, I know, I repeat myself) were in such a hurry to sell their manifestly bad loans for profit (by the way, where are those who blamed the financial crisis on the poor and those who were trying to help them?), in many cases banks that now want to foreclose—mostly on victims of Republican economic and regulatory policies—can’t prove who owns the houses.  So, some of the bastards resorted to forging documents.

As Les Leopold at AlterNet put it:

The big banks, now accused of fraudulent foreclosure procedures, are the same ones who puffed up the housing bubble, polluted the financial system with toxic assets, and nearly sent us back to the Great Depression. These banks helped put in motion the entire cavalcade of disastrous processes that crashed the value of homes all over the country. At this point it should be clear that too-big-to-fail banks are at the core of the problem and they owe us big-time.

Leopold also reports that Elizabeth Warren, doing God’s work, briefed the states’ Attorneys General by saying , according to Leopold,

that the five big banks (JP Morgan Chase, CitiGroup, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Ally Financial) saved about $20 billion over the last three years by not hiring enough staff to properly process the tens of thousands of loan modifications and foreclosures

Greed upon greed.

From the AlterNet article, Warren and the AG’s are, presumably in lieu of jail time, demanding from the banksters:

• $30 billion in reparations.

• The creation of thousands of jobs to properly process foreclosures and loan modifications.

• Reform of the foreclosure process so that it rewards bank personnel for processing loan modifications as opposed to foreclosures; make sure home titles don’t “vanish into the black hole of securitization,” and ensure that distressed homeowners aren’t saddled with unjustified penalties.

• Making additional loan modifications “that might cost these five banks up to $135 billion.”

As Leopold points out, the AGs “have enough evidence of criminal activity to force a settlement and the banks will pay.”  “The only questions,” he writes, “are how much and how tough the reforms will be.”

Sadly, the Obama Treasury Department—the running of which conclusively proves Obama is no wild-eyed liberal—is trying to limit the damage by arguing for a smaller penalty and “less interference” in the banking business. 

And, of course, Congressional Republicans will attack Elizabeth Warren fiercely as she attempts to advocate on behalf of consumers.

Again, I recommend a view of the first segment of the 60 Minutes broadcast and you will understand why I used the word “bastard” four times now.

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11 Comments

  1. Jane Reaction

     /  April 4, 2011

    Excellent topic. I wish the AG’s luck.

    As we speak, 8,500 families per day are being foreclosed upon and nothing has changed. Judges are still accepting affidavits instead of deeds, county governments are losing large sums because of MERS, and nobody is helping.

    I wrote about this in October. See my story at- Seven Percent Evicted on truxtop.blogspot.

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    • Jane,

      Yes, the issue has been around awhile, but the 60 Minutes segment was very effective in both making it clear and making it available to a large audience.

      I did appreciate your article, which included this:

      What kind of mess will result when title documents are inadequate or clouded on perhaps as many as 75 million houses in the US? Among the unintended consequences could be a complete shutdown in issuance of title insurance, since chain of title is a requisite, which will in turn completely seize up the market for all resale housing.

      I wondered about the title companies myself. Since you know way more than I do about this subject, just how did the title clear in all those cases and why aren’t those title companies responsible?

      Duane

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  2. I saw it and while I give CBS kudos for doing the story, I did note that they scrupulously avoided words like ‘fraud’. There was one reference to behavior that ‘might be criminal’. Very cautious

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    • Moe,

      This is one of those cases, I think, where the actions speak for themselves. Scott Pelley didn’t have to accuse them directly of fraud, since as the story unfolded, the viewer could clearly see that a crime was committed.

      Given that, though, I think you need to consider that in Pelley’s introduction the word “forgery,” which is obviously a crime, appeared:

      Now that banks want to evict people, they’re unwinding these exotic investments to find, that often, the legal documents behind the mortgages aren’t there. Caught in a jam of their own making, some companies appear to be resorting to forgery and phony paperwork to throw people – down on their luck – out of their homes. Scott Pelley

      Near the beginning, too, was this statement: “In my mind this is an absolute, intentional fraud,” Lynn Szymoniak, the lawyer-victim, who figured prominently in the story, said to Pelley.

      So, in my mind, Pelley let the story do the talking, and didn’t find it necessary to state the obvious.

      Duane

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      • Okay. I’m good with that, but it is a magazine show, not a news show, so the reporter is not constrained as he would be in news. I’d still like to have heard the words from 60 Minutes. (Think Mike Wallace)

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        • Moe,

          I forgot to mention that none of the banks involved would consent to an interview. They’ve learned something since the days of Mike Wallace, don’t you think?

          Pelley couldn’t on camera ask them Wallace-like questions, which Wallace was damn good at.

          Duane

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  3. I too saw the 60 Minutes segment and thought it breath-takingly outrageous. It was no less blatant than Bernie Madoff! How on God’s earth can it NOT be FRAUD? They hired people to forge false names! Some of those bankers really, really need to go to JAIL! I bet Bernie would like the company.

    I know the mortgage on our previous house was sold several times. We paid it off before I retired, so I guess it didn’t get “bundled”, but I’m not sure.

    Here’s an interesting story for you. We had our present house built, so we are its first owners. The title company wanted to sell me full title insurance at closing, but I objected because nobody could have owned it before us- it didn’t exist before us! I offered to pay their customary percentage on the value of our lot only, my reasoning being that someone might conceivably have a previous claim to the land. The title people were obviously upset, but they finally conceded that it didn’t make any sense to have title insurance on a brand-new house. Besides, we don’t have no stinkin’ mortgage on this one, so they didn’t have that leverage on me.

    I wonder if my smaller one-time premium will buy me adequate protection if someone does place some kind of claim to our lot? Maybe the title company will make only a 20% effort to defend me?

    Did anyone else have an experience similar to this?

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    • No similar experience Jim, but I thank elvis every night that I finally own my house outright.

      On the CBS segment – my memory is that 20 years ago, 60 Minutes would have been agressively calling them crooks and liars. Would you concur?

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      • Absolutely, Moe. 60 Minutes has been and continues to be the exemplar of the People’s Defender.

        And being debt-free remains one of the greatest feeling in life. I wish I could communicate that goal to every young person in the country.

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        • I wish you could too. Lately, I know so many people – mostly younger – in trouble with debt that I’m reluctant to mention I’m debt free lest it make them feel even worse.

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