by ilene - May 9th, 2011 2:09 pm
Courtesy of Trader Mark at Fund My Mutual Fund
The same economists shocked by the original housing crash (prices can’t go up forever?), now appear to be in the fetal position as the much too obvious second leg of the downturn has arrived. While I do have an economist degree, living in the locale experiencing a 1 state Depression [Jan 27, 2011: Metro Detroit Home Prices Back to 1994 Levels...Before Accounting for Inflation] had me much more negative than those who live in the ivory towers of Manhattan or D.C.. I wrote a few years ago about a few articles that also opened my eyes to what was going on out there in the rest of the country. [May 30, 2005 - Fortune: Riding the Boom] [Sep 11, 2006: Option ARMs - Nightmare Mortgages] Hence in late 07, I showed with simple math why we were in for a doozy of a drop in the housing market. [Dec 6, 2007: What Should Median Housing Prices be Today?]
As you can see from the mid/late 1970s to 2001/2002 the ratio was consistent in a tight range between 2.6x to 3.0x. Essentially this means the median home price in this country was 2.6x – 3.0x median household income. And it’s been right around 2.8x for most of that time. That’s 30 years….
Then in 2002+, we had innovation…. great innovation… and 1% interest rates. Easy money. No mortgage regulation. Happy times. And crazy housing prices that detached from reality. In 2006 at the height of ‘innovation’ (where were these politicians 1 year ago? seriously), the ratio went "off" the chart, it appears 4.0x. After the ‘correction’ we’ve had, that ratio has fallen all the way to…. 3.8x.
In July 2006 at the height of insanity the median price of a home was $230,200
It has already fallen in less than a year (October 2006) to $207,800
Pain over, correction done – time to party. Right? Wrong.
What are median incomes nowadays? As of 2006 the median household income was $48,201.
$48,201 x 2.8 ratio
by ilene - January 25th, 2011 4:07 pm
One of the big reasons there have been so few fraud charges leveled against what looks like clear and widespread banking industry is that under the law, “fraud” is pretty difficult to prove. Needless to say, that puts commentators in a bit of a bind, because they can be depicted as being hysterical if they use the “f” words, since behavior that is often fraud by any common sense standard may be hard or impossible to prove in court.
The hurdle in litigation and prosecution is proving intent. Basically, the party who is being accused has to not only have done something bad, he has to have been demonstrably aware that he was up to no good. Thus po-faced claims of “I had no idea this was improper, my accountants/lawyers knew about it and didn’t say anything” or “everyone in the industry was doing it, so I had not reason to think this was irregular” is a “get out of jail free” card. Similarly, even if lower level employees knew that their company was up to stuff that stank, if the decision-makers can plausibly claim ignorance, again they can probably get away with it.
So it is gratifying in a perverse way to see a case in which the perp not only looks to have engaged in chicanery, but the facts make it pretty hard for him to say he didn’t know he was pulling a fast one. And even more fun, it involves JP Morgan, which has somehow managed to create the impression that it was better than all the other TARP banks, when on the mortgage front, there is plenty evidence to suggest that all the major banks have been up to their eyeballs in bad practices.
The case involves the bond insurer Ambac and the mortgage company EMC, which was the Bear Stearns conduit for buying mortgages to securitize and now thus part of JP Morgan. In 2010, reports surfaced that EMC had been falsifying mortgage data to keep its pipeline moving as fast as Bear wanted and contain costs.
But a suit by bond insurer Ambac alleges far more serious misbehavior. The discovery process in outstanding putback litigation has unearthed a scheme to defraud investors and Ambac and led the bond insurer to add fraud charges to its complaint. The Atlantic, which broke the 2010 story, gives a…
LPS Mortgage Monitor: Foreclosure Inventory Rising for 5th Straight Month, Nearly 2.2 Million Loans are 90 days+ Delinquent Not Yet in Foreclosure
by ilene - December 28th, 2010 11:41 pm
Courtesy of Mish
A press release from LPS’ Mortgage Monitor Report shows Foreclosure Inventory Rising for 5th Straight Month
The November Mortgage Monitor report released by Lender Processing Services, Inc. (LPS) shows that the volume of loans moving to REO continued to drop as moratoria further delayed foreclosure sales. While the 90+ delinquency category has steadily declined, the number of loans moving to seriously delinquent status beyond 90 days far outpaced the number of foreclosure starts. Nearly 2.2 million loans are 90 days or more delinquent but not yet in foreclosure.
Foreclosure inventories also continued to rise for the fifth straight month as delinquent accounts are referred for foreclosure, but the sale of foreclosure properties continued to decline. When compared to January 2008 levels, the foreclosure inventory of Jumbo Prime loans is nearly seven times higher; the inventory of Agency Prime loans is nearly six times higher; and the foreclosure inventory of Option ARM loans is approaching five times the inventory in January 2008.
The report also shows that one-third of loans that are 90 days or more delinquent have not made a payment in a year; however, the number of new problem loans declined nearly 5.4 percent from October, which is opposite of the seasonality trend that typically impacts new delinquencies this time of year. Self-cures for loans one to two months delinquent increased in November to a six-month high.
In the month of November, 261,153 loans were referred to foreclosure, which represents a 0.7% month-over-month decline. The total number of delinquent loans is nearly 2.1 times historical averages – and foreclosure inventory is currently at 7.7 times historical averages.
As reported in LPS’ First Look release, other key results from LPS’ latest Mortgage Monitor report include:
- Total U.S. loan delinquency rate: 9.02 percent
- Total U.S. foreclosure inventory rate: 4.08 percent
- Total U.S. non-current* loan rate: 13.10 percent
- States with most non-current* loans: Florida, Nevada, Mississippi, Georgia, New Jersey
- States with fewest non-current* loans: North Dakota, South Dakota, Alaska, Wyoming, Montana
Charts From The Report
The report is 34 pages long. Inquiring minds may wish to give it a closer look. Here are a few select charts.
click on any chart for sharper image
Delinquent and Foreclosure Rates by Month
Total Delinquency Percent Excluding Foreclosures
Total Foreclosure Percent By Product
Foreclosure Increase Compared to January 2008
by ilene - November 15th, 2010 5:14 pm
Courtesy of Michael Hudson
Now that President Obama is almost celebrating his willingness to renew the tax cuts enacted under George Bush for the super-rich ten years ago, it is time for Democrats to ask themselves how strongly they are willing to oppose an administration that looks increasingly like Bush-Cheney III. Is this what they expected by his promise of an end to partisan politics?
It is a reflection of how one-sided today’s class war has become that Warren Buffet has quipped that “his” side is winning without a real fight being waged. No gauntlet has been thrown down over the trial balloon that the president and his advisor David Axelrod have sent up over the past two weeks to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% for “just” two more years. For all practical purposes the euphemism “two years” means forever – at least, long enough to let the super-rich siphon off enough more money to bankroll enough more Republicans to be elected to make the tax cuts permanent.
Mr. Obama seems to be campaigning for his own defeat! Thanks largely to the $13 trillion Wall Street bailout – while keeping the debt overhead in place for America’s “bottom 98%” – this happy 2% of the population now receives an estimated three quarters (~75%) of the returns to wealth (interest, dividends, rent and capital gains). this is nearly double what it received a generation ago – while the rest of the population has been squeezed, and foreclosure time has now arrived.
One would not realize that the financial End Time is here from today’s non-confrontational White House happy-talk. Charles Baudelaire quipped that the devil wins at the point where he manages convince the world that he doesn’t exist. We might paraphrase this today by saying that the financial elites win the class war at the point where voters believe it doesn’t exist – and believe that Mr. Obama is trying to help the middle class, not reduce it to debt peonage and a generation of victimhood as the economy settles into debt deflation.
The first pretense is that “two years” will get us through the current debt-induced depression. The Republican plan is to make more Congressional and Senate gains in 2012 as Mr. Obama’s former supporters “vote with their backsides” and…
by ilene - October 29th, 2010 3:18 am
Courtesy of Gordon T Long of Tipping Points
In September 2008 the US came to a fork in the road. The Public Policy decision to not seize the banks, to not place them in bankruptcy court with the government acting as the Debtor-in-Possession (DIP), to not split them up by selling off the assets to successful and solvent entities, set the world on the path to global currency wars.
By lowering interest rates and effectively guaranteeing a weak dollar through undisciplined fiscal policy, the US ignited an almost riskless global US$ Carry Trade and triggered an uncontrolled Currency War with the mercantilist, export driven Asian economies. We are now debasing the US dollar with reckless spending and money printing with the policies of Quantitative Easing (QE) and the expectations of QE II. Both are nothing more than effectively defaulting on our obligations to sound money policy and a “strong US$”. Meanwhile with a straight face we deny that this is our intention.
It’s called debase, default and deny.
Though prior to the 2008 financial crisis our largest banks had become casino like speculators with public money lacking in fiduciary responsibility, our elected officials bailed them out. Our leadership placed America and the world unknowingly (knowingly?) on a preordained destructive path because it was politically expedient and the easiest way out of a difficult predicament. By kicking the can down the road our political leadership, like the banks, avoided their fiduciary responsibility. Similar to a parent wanting to be liked and a friend to their children they avoided the difficult discipline that is required at certain critical moments in life. The discipline to make America swallow a needed pill. The discipline to ask Americans to accept a period of intense adjustment. A period that by now would be starting to show signs of success versus the abyss we now find ourselves staring into. A future that is now significantly worse and with potentially fatal pain still to come.
Unemployed Americans, the casualties of the financial crisis wrought by the banks, witness the same banks declaring record earnings while these banks refuse to lend. When the banks once more are caught with their fingers in the cookie jar with falsified robo-signing mortgage title fraud, they again look for the compliant parent to look the other way. Meanwhile the US debt levels and spending associated with protecting these failed…
by ilene - October 26th, 2010 2:41 am
Courtesy of James Howard Kunstler
The latest version of Pretend – going on a couple of weeks now – is the nation whistling past the graveyard of mortgage documentation fraud while skeletons dance around everything connected with the money system. Halloween came early this year. The USA is getting to look like one big Masque of the Red Death, so I suppose it’s convenient that our pop culture has been saturated with vampires, zombies, and werewolves for a decade, coincident with the self-cannibalizing of our economy. Something in the zeitgeist told us to get with the program of a twilight existence. We’re well-schooled now in the ways of the undead, operating under cover of darkness, going for the neck at every opportunity, even eating our young – if you consider the debt orgy, both private and public, as a way to party like it’s 1999 by consuming your children’s’ future.
The big banks leading the charge of the anthropophagi are making like it’s no big deal that notes representing money lent have become mysteriously dissociated from the mortgages that secure them. In the good old days, these things traveled in pairs, like boy-and-girl, Laurel and Hardy, a horse and carriage. It made for straight-forward property transfers, where Person A could be confident he was buying something free and clear from Person B. What a quaint concept, free and clear!
Nowadays, these documents can hardly be located at all – not such a surprise, really, since they were ground out like e-coli infested bratwursts in strip-mall boiler rooms run by former used car salesmen, and pawned off wholesale (literally) on banks who served them up sliced-and-diced, sloppy Joe style, on CDO buns to credulous pension funds, cretinous insurance company yobs, double-digit IQ college endowment managers, and other such nitwits bethinking themselves the reincarnation of Bernard Baruch, not to mention foreign sovereign nations who bought this smallpox-blanket-grade investment paper by the container-ship-load and, finally, the innovative geniuses at the very banks who engineered the stuff and got stuck with tons of it themselves when, as they say, the music stopped.
The Big Picture looks even worse when you figure in the mischief of so-called synthetic CDOs that represent the multiple securitizations of single underlying mortgages – God knows how many times each – which mean,…
by ilene - October 25th, 2010 10:00 pm
Courtesy of Tyler Durden
Bill Black, who will soon, together with Neil Barofsky, be a guaranteed shoe-in for the POTUS/VP position (both as independents, of course), was on the Ratigan show today, following on his op-ed from last week (here and here) calling for the long-overdue nationalization of Bank of America, and discussing the rampant fraud at the heart of mortgage gate. And contrary to ongoing lowball estimates from the like of JPM and Goldman, Black provides numbers about the bank liability that are simply stunning: "Credit Suisse says that by 2006 49% of all mortgage originations were liars loans. When independent folks study fraud, it is in the 80-90% fraud range. That means there were millions of acts of fraud. Those loan frauds occurred because the banks created incentive structure for the loan brokers to bring them the absolute worst of the worst loans, and to lie on the application forms… These frauds came from the banks, and they propagated through the system through a series of echo epidemics…This fraud spread through the system and that’s why we have a crisis in foreclosures. This stems from the underlying fraud by the lenders in mortgage loans to the tune of well over a million cases a year by 2005."
Furthermore, Black points out the glaringly obvious, that the Fed should not be in charge of any investigation into mortgage fraud, due to its "massive" conflict of interest, to the tune of $1.5 trillion in MBS/agencies held on the Fed’s books, which would be immediately null and voided if rampant MBS fraud is indeed uncovered. Which is precisely why the entitlement of the Fed as supreme regulator (as inspired by the financial generosity of the Wall Street lobby) as part of Frank-Dodd was the one single most destructive decision ever made, and equivalent in many ways with electing America’s very own tyrannical despot, whose only interest is making the multi billionaires, into trillionaires, and leaving everyone else in the cold through the eliminating of the savings class and the destruction of the reserve currency.
by ilene - October 22nd, 2010 1:45 am
Courtesy of Mish
The foreclosure crisis isn’t just about lost documents. It’s about trust—and a clash over who gets stuck with $1.1 trillion in losses say BusinessWeek writers Peter Coy, Paul M. Barrett and Chad Terhune in a comprehensive 7 page article called Mortgage Mess: Shredding the Dream.
The article kicks off with a high-profile case of Joseph Lents who has been in default for 8 years and is still living in his home because no one can come up with the note. Such cases are extremely rare, yet highly publicized as if they widely occur.
The article continues with a discussion about MERS including this interesting comment:
"The Florida Bankers Assn. told the state Supreme Court last year that in many cases the physical document was deliberately eliminated to avoid confusion immediately upon its conversion to an electronic file."
Then there is the issue of LPS, America’s biggest mortgage-and-foreclosure outsourcing firm.
"LPS supplies much of the digital plumbing for the convoluted home-finance system. At the start of 2010 it said its computer programs were handling 28 million loans with a total principal balance of more than $4.7 trillion—or more than half the nation’s outstanding mortgage balances."
Because of robo-signings and other questionable practices the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Tampa and the state of Florida are investigating whether LPS and affiliated companies have fabricated documents and faked signatures.
LPS employees "seem to be creating and manufacturing ‘bogus assignments’ of mortgage in order that foreclosures may go through more quickly and efficiently," the Florida Attorney General’s Office says in an online description of its civil investigation.
To keep the paperwork moving, LPS uses a variety of incentives. Top-performing workers receive monthLY "Drive for Pride" awards that sometimes include $500 in company stock and a spot in an underground parking garage. LPS also devised a coding system to grade outside foreclosure attorneys based on their speed in completing tasks. Fast-acting attorneys receive green ratings; slower lawyers are labeled yellow or red and may receive fewer assignments. "Bill will move quickly and expect you to be there to pull your weight," says Jerry Mallot, executive vice-president of the Jacksonville Regional Chamber of Commerce. "I wouldn’t call the environment at his company kind and genteel."
In yet another case involving HSBC …
Judge Sigmund, who has since
by ilene - October 20th, 2010 4:50 pm
Courtesy of Michael Snyder at The American Dream
Everyone knew that the foreclosure fraud crisis was going to spawn a festival of lawsuits, and now it looks like it is already beginning. The New York Federal Reserve Bank is part of a consortium of eight large institutional investment firms that has launched an effort to force Bank of America to repurchase $47 billion worth of mortgages packaged into bonds by its Countrywide Financial unit. It turns out that most mortgage bond contracts explicitly require the repurchase of loans when the quality of the loans falls short of promises made by the sellers. As most of us know by now, many of these mortgages that were packaged together into "AAA rated" securities were actually a bunch of junk. But this is just the beginning. There are going to be hordes of lawsuits stemming from this crisis and it is going to take years and years for this thing to work through the legal system.
All of the big players in the U.S. mortgage industry are going to be paralyzed for an extended period of time by this crisis, and that means that buying a home and achieving the American Dream is going to become a lot harder for millions of Americans. Not only that, if mortgage lending institutions end up being forced to take back gigantic mountains of bad mortgages it could end up sinking a whole lot of them. The implications for the U.S. financial system would be staggering.
And it turns out that the effort by the consortium of eight large institutional investment firms to get Bank of America to take back $47 billion in mortgages is not the only action already being taken. An even larger mortgage repurchase initiative involving investors holding a total of more than $500 billion in mortgage debt is being coordinated by Dallas lawyer Talcott Franklin.…
PIMCO, Blackrock, NY Fed Seek to Force BofA to Repurchase $47 Billion in Soured Mortgages; Viral Nonsense on “Show Me the Note” and “ForeclosureGate”
by ilene - October 20th, 2010 2:45 am
Excellent article by Mish who separates fact and fiction in the Foreclosuregate drama. - Ilene
PIMCO, Blackrock, NY Fed Seek to Force BofA to Repurchase $47 Billion in Soured Mortgages; Viral Nonsense on "Show Me the Note" and "ForeclosureGate"
Courtesy of Mish
At long last, the real issue regarding soured mortgages has stepped up to the plate. The misguided focus on "ForclosureGate" is but a sideshow compared to Pimco, NY Fed Said to Seek BofA Mortgage Repurchases
Pacific Investment Management Co., BlackRock Inc. and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York are seeking to force Bank of America Corp. to repurchase soured mortgages packaged into $47 billion of bonds by its Countrywide Financial Corp. unit, people familiar with the matter said.
A group of bondholders wrote a letter to Bank of America and Bank of New York Mellon Corp., the debt’s trustee, citing alleged failures by Countrywide to service loans properly, their lawyer said yesterday in a statement that didn’t name the firms. The New York Fed acquired mortgage debt through its 2008 rescues of Bear Stearns Cos. and American International Group Inc.
Investors are stepping up efforts to recoup losses on mortgage bonds, which plummeted in value amid the worst slump in home prices since the 1930s. Last month, BNY Mellon declined to investigate mortgage files in response to a demand from the bondholder group, which has since expanded. Countrywide’s servicing failures, including insufficient record keeping, may open the door for investors to seek repurchases by bypassing the trustee, said Kathy Patrick, their lawyer at Gibbs & Bruns LLP.
Patrick represents investors who own at least 25 percent of so-called voting rights in the deals and stand to recover “many billions of dollars,” Patrick said.
Countrywide hasn’t met its contractual obligations as a servicer also because it hasn’t asked for loan repurchases and is taking too long with foreclosures, Patrick said. The delays stem from missing documents, process mistakes and insufficient staffing to evaluate borrowers for loan modifications, she said.
If Countrywide doesn’t correct the servicing problems within a few months, her clients could have the right to pursue legal action against Bank of America, Bank of New York or both, she said. “None of the bondholders are opposed to modifications for deserving borrowers, but you’ve got to get it done” in a timely fashion, she added.
Mortgage-bond contracts are explicit in requiring repurchases of loans when their