Archive for October, 2010
“The world breaks everyone, and afterward many are strong in the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too, but there will be no special hurry.”
– Ernest Hemingway, “A Farewell To Arms”
By Jim Willie CB, Golden Jackass
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The mortgage & foreclosure scandal runs so deep that ordinary observers can conclude the US financial foundation is laced with a cancer detectable by ordinary people. The metastasis is visible from the distribution of mortgage bonds into the commercial paper market, money market funds, the bank balance sheets, pension funds under management, foreign central banks, and countless financial funds across the globe. Some primary features of the cancerous tissue material are mortgage bond fraud, major securities violations, absent linkage to property title, income tax evasion, forged foreclosure documents, duplicate property linkage to single mortgage bonds, NINJA (no income, no job or assets) loans to unqualified buyers, and more. In fact, more is revealed it seeems each passing week toward additional facie to high level and systemic fraud. The world is watching. The growing international reaction will be amplified demand for Gold, from recognition that the USDollar & USEconomy have RICO racketeering components extending to Wall Street banks and Fannie Mae mortgage repositories.
The centerpiece question, when the US bond fraud is coupled with European sovereign debt distress, comes down to WHAT IS MONEY? The answer is Gold & Silver and not much of anything else. Other assets like crude oil or farmland are effective hedges against tainted money, but when they contain debt tethers, they too are vulnerable. Huge flows of funds are fleeing traditional asset groups. Some mistakenly still believe the USTreasurys to be a safe haven. A shock of cold water comes to them when that bubble goes into reverse perhaps several months later after reaching 2% yields. The big magnificent epiphany in the last couple years has been that a house is not a hard asset, but rather a debt instrument extension. Important questions have arisen as to what assets are free from counter-party debt risk. The grand demands for physical gold prove that the futures gold contracts are not money either, but tainted Wall Street and London securities contracts that keep the system going.
The big banks have been called too big to fail. What a ruse! They are too big to plow under without removal from power of the bankers themselves. They are too big to permit their balance sheets to be liquidated without a US banking system seizure together, and a 30% to 50% additional housing market price decline. They are too big to send into receivership without igniting a credit derivative sequence of explosions. They are too big to block the widespread practice of fraud and enforcement of law of regulations. However, a wondrous spectacle has begun to shine light. The mortgage & foreclosure scandal could turn out to be the big US Bank tombstone epitaph, as bank revenues from mortgages halt, as home owners refuse to make mortgage payments, as court cases unfold in full view, as class action lawsuits prove racketeering at a systemic level, as MERS and REMICs are frozen by the courts from further activity. Time will tell. Time will reveal extraordinary efforts by the USCongress to pass ex-post facto laws that legalize the bond fraud and contract violations from the past. Remember back in July 2007 when Bernanke claimed this was just a subprime mortgage problem. The Jackass called it an absolute bond crisis.
THE GIGANTIC ACHILLES HEEL EXPOSED
Two critical elements have been identified. The MERS electronic title registry system was designed to facilitate recording of property titles as associated mortgage bonds traded freely and changed ownership hands. Unfortunately, the title database has no legal standing, as declared by several state courts, including some supreme courts. Banks or financial firms holding the mortgage notes cannot team with the title database and force eviction during the home foreclosure process. That is the first gaping flaw. The second is the REMIC funding facility. The Real Estate Mortgage Investment Conduit was designed to facilitate funding mortgages, in particular Fannie Mae mortgages. Unfortunately, the conduit funding vehicle intentionally omitted citation of the mortgage income stream owner, so as to avoid income taxes. The lack of identification means that the Fannie Mae asset backed securities might lack any legal tie to the mortgage loan income stream.
If the casual observer concludes that Fannie Mae mortgage bonds have no value, then that observer matches the same thought pattern of the Jackass, and the same as an increasing number of financial experts. The mortgage finance boom was more a racketeering scheme to send financial products through the pipeline, earn fees, set up arbitrage, enable leveraged schemes, and justify executive bonuses. At the same time, the scheme had the perceived benefit of putting money in people’s hands to spend when their jobs were shanghaied on a ship to China. It concealed the destruction of the USEconomy. It made homes very convenient piggy banks to abuse in consumer binges, as people eagerly burned their furniture. Harken back to the Great Macro Asset Economy, a slippery chapter scripted by Greenspan, one of several heretical chapters. Many citizens were turned into paupers who lost all their home equity, while 22% of the nation today lives in homes bearing negative equity overhead. To claim an elaborate Ponzi Scheme seems a fair characterization. The USGovt hands are dirty. The reflection on USTreasurys is filled with risk of a popped bubble. The reflection on the USDollar is filled with risk of downdrafts since a corrosive currency.
The Europeans have their damaged sovereign debt, but the Americans can boast twin beasts in the USTreasury Bond bubble and the USAgency Mortgage Bond scam. The scam involves mortgage bond fraud from improper perfection of property title that ensures revenue stream. The scam involves securities violations from usage of the MERS title database, duplicate properties in multiple bonds, and forged documents. The scam involves faulty finance vehicles (REMIC) with deep intractible flaws in the structure of funding the loans, whose remedy would come with a $1 trillion tax bill due (estimated by bank analysts). Just last weekend, the state of Californiademanded as part of a class action lawsuit, with MERS at the center, between $60 and $120 billion in unpaid property title recording fees. One might wonder if any potential criminal fraud was avoided in the mortgage industry during the last decade that saved a few bucks and added to bank profit. The MERS & REMIC twins represent the two unfixable banking Achilles Heels. Can the USCongress forgive the fraud with a fresh piece of supercharged legislation?? If they do, then civil disobedience will blossom across the land, in the form of public demonstrations, marches on Washington, non-payment of monthly mortgage bills, and demands to prove property title. The global response will be to sell any bonds with a US$ denomination.
The fallout comes as shattered integrity of the USDollar after broken credibility of the USFed and ruined prestige of Wall Street, all while a sanctioned USTreasury Bond bubble puffs. The full USGovt guarantee of the Fannie Mae clearinghouse cesspool contents bridges the gap between USTBonds and USAgency Mortgage Bonds. One might argue that Agency Bonds differ from USTBonds only in the claim of linkage to mortgage income and ultimately home seizure, except that linkage is being removed in plain view to the public. The USDollar will suffer. Rather than fall versus other major currencies, the wrecked monetary system will take down all major currencies. Each fiat paper currency is being exposed as illegitimate in different ways. The consequences will be:
- All cost structures will rise, causing a worse global recession, a very heavy painful consequence.
- Income levels will not rise to meet the challenge, since monetary inflation destroys capital and erodes wealth engines in corporate structures.
- The US$-based bond markets take on a racketeering glow in global view.
The vast monetization schemes are set to come into motion for the bond market in general. The objects are hardly just USGovt debt securities, not even just Fannie Mae mortgage securities, but big bank Corporate Bonds as well. The scheme will paint the USDollar in a light with a RICO tint, as in racketeering, sanctioned by the US finance ministry and shielded from prosecution by US legal authorities and regulatory bodies. Worse still, the Financial Accounting Standards Board has permitted accounting fraud to the big dead US banks. Since April 2009, they have been permitted to declare any value they wish on their toxic balance sheets. That has enabled them to take advantage of USGovt largesse, direct USFed redemption of toxic bonds, called widely banker welfare. That has enabled them to tap the 0% money tree that produces carry trade profits. The only stipulation was the banks were required to place their excess cash at the USFed itself, which thereby hid the central bank’s insolvency, and distracted attention from the absence of Loan Loss Reserves for the banks. Details on the USFed balance sheet, and big bank vulnerability to further losses, are provided in the October Hat Trick Letter. Toss in the High Frequency Trading schemes, and the US financial markets look to contain more crooked venues than the Las Vegas casinos. The USDollar lies at great risk in the process.
BIG BANK VULNERABLES AGAIN
The next QE2 is a done deal but with the details missing. The next TARP-2 bailout package is having its justification and foundation fashioned from the building blocks of need and desperation, along with the cement provided by banking lobbies. The two initiatives will likely meld paths. A disorderly condition comes. An armada of lawyers is on the job ready to challenge mortgage securities, foreclosure orders, and much more. Class action lawsuits are on the docket. The US financial platforms are unraveling. The USDollar will follow a path to oblivion, locked in a destructive spiral. The Competing Currency War assures that other major nations will undermine, debase, and devalue their currencies rather than seek out, plan, and establish a new monetary system. The investment in a broken system will soon be realized as infinite, with unchecked aid, even $trillions tossed in Black Holes. The sound money experts have always argued that accelerated funds are required to maintain a bubble. Gold will therefore skyrocket in price, as the monetary system will be actively ruined from unchecked money creation. The silver price gains will be at least double the gold gains. Markets are beginning to take control, and kick aside the corrupt control levers. The horizon features a big US bank on death watch. The ripple effects will be shocking even to those who expect it. Other big banks will be dragged down in a chain reaction, while illicit control in certain key markets will be stripped away. Control will be lost by the Powerz. Confusion will rein. The bank stock index BKX signals an imminent breakdown. The dustbin awaits!!
The pressured bank stock index breakdown will be led by Bank of America, HSBC, and Wells Fargo. The Wall Street firms remain protected bastions. The comprehensive fraud in a chain link, from home loan origination to bond securitization to debt ratings to ultimate foreclosure, reveals a corrupt protected broken bankrupt system. Its financial status will be clearly broken soon in full view. Further accounting fraud sanctioned by the FASB might come about, but the date with the destiny of failure is assured. My best source from the banking world believes the wheels come completely off the renegade wagon train that blocks the free market for determining a fair gold price when HSBC fails, and that event is imminent. That renegade wagon train has trademarks bearing the name USGovt and Wall Street nameplates, a merged enterprise. A chain reaction will follow. HSBC manages the SPDR gold exchange traded fund for its gold bullion inventory (symbol GLD). To those who were shocked by the mortgage fraud, wait until they witness the broken suppression levers and devices holding down the gold market. An estimated 50 to 60 thousand tonnes of gold bullion have been naked shorted by the biggest banks. Its value is worth between $2.16 and $2.60 trillion. Wait until the GLD fund lawsuits line up, since most of their gold has been leased by the COMEX and LBMA, since many of its shares have been used to cover short gold contracts.
PERHAPS JUST LAUNCH QE2 AT NIGHT
The USFed is showing some reluctance, remorse, or second thoughts about launching a gigantic second Quantitative Easing ship loaded with acid into icy waters. John Hilsenrath has reported the hesitation in the Wall Street Journal, claiming only a few hundred $100 billion of bond debt might be monetized. The prevailing sentiment is that QE2 might not succeed in reviving the USEconomy and not might succeed in clearing the sclerotic condition in the banks. Whether wrenching constipation or multiple sclerosis in the banking channels and arteries, what difference!! My main question is WHEN DID ‘QE1′ EVER END?? The grand bond monetization is mostly hidden from view for USTreasurys, since almost every auction is a failure. The grand bond monetization is mostly hidden from view for USAgency Bonds, since mammoth activity in Fannie Mae basements keeps the lid on evidence that their bonds have gone worthless, and contains the acidic spillover. Watch the backdoor bank welfare in a TARP-2 package soon to be tossed into QE2. Watch the overall debt monetization be kept much more hidden from view, a new national priority. The USDept Treasury and the USFed do care what the world thinks, when the threat of them pulling the global plug on the United States seems a viable option to stop the cancer from spreading even more on a global scale. A cancer has been exposed in the global reserve currency. Reaction should be much more evident in the Gold price than in currency exchange rates. They move relative to each other.
An enormous pressure point in the legal process right here, right now is the threat of Put-Backs. A mortgage security is put back to the bank that packaged the securities from a portfolio neatly arranged in tranches of loans, when the mortgage backed bond is forced by the courts to be bought back by the bank, after fraud or negligence or contractual defects were demonstrated. A fiduciary responsibility is enforced in the bond securitization process. Estimates wildly have come forth that $2 trillion, give or take a few hundred $billion, in mortgage bonds will be put back to the big banks. They are scrambling to win support from the USCongress for quick action. The TARP-1 package worth almost $800 billion was motivated by declines in the housing market. To be sure, plenty of Bait & Switch was evident, but leave that aside. The TARP-2 package might be required at least $1.5 trillion, motivated this time by securities violations, defective fraudulent MERS & REMIC devices, and contract fraud, when the specter of class action lawsuits, even with RICO claims, hangs overhead. These are felony crimes, a far cry from a declining market.
The second round of big bank TARP bailouts certainly has come in a vastly different light. To solve the challenge, look for the USDept Treasury (controlled by Goldman Sachs) and the USFed (controlled by godfathers to Wall Street banks) to conduct a more secretive monetization of the big bank bond exposure. THEY WILL MONETIZE THE PUTBACKS IN THE DEAD OF NIGHT, DONE IN SECRET, WITHOUT FANFARE, IN A MORE DIRECT CABAL EXERCISE. They will use Fannie Mae as a bad bank, a bond garbage can, its reason for being, its raison d’être. When caught, they will claim they did it to avoid a USEconomic Depression. The truth is more that they will conceal their activity in order to retain power, to enable much more banker welfare courtesy of the captured USGovt, even to prevent a collapse on US soil.
GLOBAL BANKERS ANGRY & FEISTY & DEMANDING
The G-20 ministers have come forth with a vacant pledge as a working theme. Regard it as the billboard message of crisis. Ignore the words, but take serious note of the theme, since it wraps words around the alarm. The competitive currency devaluations will be devastating, even as fast moving trade deficits will be the visible outcome. National trade gaps will go out of control. The G-20 finance ministers issued an opening preliminary statement, a working theme. They will pledge to refrain from competitive devaluations and endorse market based exchange rates, whatever that means. Of course, the silent vote is not made by nations that shun attendance, like Brazil. They decided not to attend, due to stated concerns over growing hostility in competitive currency policy. China might have pulled that cord, as Brazil earned a favor. A US proposal was evaluated to set targets for current account gaps on the pathway to rebalancing global growth and realigning exchange rates. The United States will surely be kept exempt, causing more friction. The G-20 Meeting is telling of the crippling devastation coming in the Competing Currency War, which will take down the entire monetary system. And furthermore, the evidence will be seen in the trade deficits. For instance, even Turkey is setting record deficits. Large deficits will be unavoidable. The obvious outcome of the G-20 Meeting was a sharp pullback in the US monetization project planning, but it will be temporary.
Talk of a Plaza-2 Accord has begun, but it will find zero traction. Unfortunately, any such accord requires nations to take the lead in sacrificing their domestic economies and banking systems. Such nations would have to agree to higher currencies, which harm their economies. Not gonna happen!! Instead, expect conflict, disruption, and chaos to grow. What is needed is consensus and order to depreciate the USDollar in relation to the other major world currencies by direct intervention. The present day environment has no maturity, no cooperation, and no order. It is loaded with resentment, animosity, and a desire to topple the horribly corrupt and recognized villains in Wall Street and London, where power is wielded without respect and thefts are perpetrated without conscience. In fact, a spirit of retribution and deserved vengeance permeates the FOREX winds. Witness the Competing Currency Wars soon in full glory, which have moved past first gear, and are well into second gear. USFed Chairman Bernanke has in essence threatened to inflate with QE2 to infinity in order to support a system that cannot any longer be supported, a rickety US$-centric system. Commodity prices are surging, and emerging economies are battling against fast rising price inflation. The USEconomy operates under 7% to 8% annual price inflation, but emerging nations have it a bit worse. Currency appreciation is a necessary tool to keep prices under control for other nations. The BIG problem here is that they are reluctant to allow significant currency appreciation as long as the Chinese Yuan remains static and fixed. The key is China. No nation will agree to a currency rise without China doing so first, and doing so with some magnitude to matter. Emerging nations are cutting deals, even with non-Anglo industrial nations, to avoid usage of the USDollar in trade settlement. If Plaza-2 happens, it will have China as its champion.
The Yen Carry Trade has a vast hidden doorway. Japan has revealed a hidden pressure point. It is the unwind of the great Yen Carry Trade. It was the greatest financial engineering project in modern history. The Jackass found it utterly amazing that the venerable Kurt Richebacher had no idea what it was, and his popular acclaimed newsletter had a moniker devoted to credit and currency markets. Its unwind is coming to an end finally with a climax upward thrust in the Yen, amidst clouding factors like the rise of China. In fact, China is diversifying its FOREX reserves to some extent by using USTreasurys to purchase Japanese Govt Bonds, which has drawn great anger from Tokyo. Witness more currency war battles, bigger than skirmishes.
The climax chapter of the USTreasury Bond bubble, with its benchmark 0% label, removes the Yen Carry Trade since both sovereign bonds offer near 0% yield. The yield differential is eliminated. The end of the great carry trade signals a monetary system breakdown and finally a USGovt debt default. The carry trade provided tremendous demand for the USTreasurys, which has been replaced by the Printing Pre$$. The Yen currency is the quiet litmus index of the competing currency war, its turbo-charge. It remains hidden from view and free from discussion. Details are provided on it in the October issue of the Hat Trick Letter, along with many implications of the bank condition on the gold price.
GOLD CONSOLIDATES BIG GAINS
The gold price rose almost 200 points from the beginning of August to the first week of October. It is consolidating the gains, a digestion process. The resistance was broken. More importantly, the big US bank chokehold of the gold market was somewhat broken. A bull market remains, and the strong seasonal months of December and January lie around the corner. The effect of a seasonally strong September has been seen. The Competing Currency War, the deadly round robin exercise to devaluate currencies, feeds the gold bull in magnificent style. The G-20 platitudes will be brushed aside. The gold bull is given a rich diet in huge volumes of fiat money from strained monetary presses, justified to protect export trade, committed to serve the broken banks. In the middle of the sovereign debt crisis and the mortgage bond eruption and the insolvent bank condition, GOLD IS REGARDED AS THE SAFER HAVEN, since not tied to debt and not associated with counter-party risk. Gold has emerged as a global reserve asset, a competing currency!!
Expect a consolidation in the gold price while the USDollar attempts to bounce up. The Euro currency defense is only beginning. The Euro hit 140 per US$, and has come down with a mild selloff. The damage to be done to the European Economy is being evaluated. The 78 level on the US$ DX index was not defended. A bounce was made possible at 77 instead, a firmer support level. The monetary system is crumbling. All attention is on the USDollar, especially after the mortgage foreclosure scandal erupted. Pay note to the bearish crossover of the 20-week MA below the 50-week MA. It signals a test of the 75 critical support, which will bring about a thrust move in Gold past $1400. Notice how the bullish MA crossover in March signaled a test of the upside resistance. A full 800 basis point run-up followed the reliable sentinel signal. My expected 78 to 84 range was blown out. An eerie calm does not seem likely, not with the mortgage bond fraud and home foreclosure scandal in full blossom. The United States financial structures have never looked more corrupt or broken in the national history. As the US$ standard bearer of the monetary system takes severe damage, look for the Gold price to march toward $1500 and the Silver price to march toward $30. It is written; it will be done. The bankers in the temple will eventually be placed in their deserved domicile or find themselves on the run.
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At least 30 recently on correct forecasts regarding the bailout parade, numerous nationalization deals such as for Fannie Mae and the grand Mortgage Rescue.
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Boston University economist Laurence Kotlikoff says U.S. government debt is not $13.5-trillion (U.S.), which is 60 per cent of current gross domestic product, as global investors and American taxpayers think, but rather 14-fold higher: $200-trillion – 840 per cent of current GDP. “Let’s get real,” Prof. Kotlikoff says. “The U.S. is bankrupt.”
Writing in the September issue of Finance and Development, a journal of the International Monetary Fund, Prof. Kotlikoff says the IMF itself has quietly confirmed that the U.S. is in terrible fiscal trouble – far worse than the Washington-based lender of last resort has previously acknowledged. “The U.S. fiscal gap is huge,” the IMF asserted in a June report. “Closing the fiscal gap requires a permanent annual fiscal adjustment equal to about 14 per cent of U.S. GDP.”
This sum is equal to all current U.S. federal taxes combined. The consequences of the IMF’s fiscal fix, a doubling of federal taxes in perpetuity, would be appalling – and possibly worse than appalling. Prof. Kotlikoff says: “The IMF is saying that, to close this fiscal gap [by taxation], would require an immediate and permanent doubling of our personal income taxes, our corporate taxes and all other federal taxes.
“America’s fiscal gap is enormous – so massive that closing it appears impossible without immediate and radical reforms to its health care, tax and Social Security systems – as well as military and other discretionary spending cuts.”
He cites earlier calculations by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) that concluded that the United States would need to increase tax revenue by 12 percentage points of GDP to bring revenue into line with spending commitments. But the CBO calculations assumed that the growth of government programs (including Medicare) would be cut by one-third in the short term and by two-thirds in the long term. This assumption, Prof. Kotlikoff notes, is politically implausible – if not politically impossible.
One way or another, the fiscal gap must be closed. If not, the country’s spending will forever exceed its revenue growth, and no one’s real debt can increase faster than his real income forever.
A Paralyzed Fed Defers Decision On Monetary Policy To Primary Dealers In An Act That Can Only Be Classified As Treason
As if there was any doubt before which way the arrow of control, and particularly causality, points in America’s financial system, the following stunner just released from Bloomberg confirms it once and for all. According to Rebecca Christie and Craig Torres, the New York Fed has issued a survey to Primary Dealers, which asks for suggestions on the size of QE2 as well as the time over which it would be completed. It also asks firms how often they anticipate the Fed will re-evaluate the program, and to estimate its ultimate size. This is nothing short of a stunning indication of three things: i) that the Fed is most likely completely paralyzed due to the escalating confrontation between the Hawks and the Doves, and that not even Bernanke believes has has sufficient clout to prevent what Time magazine has dubbed a potential opening salvo into a chain of events that could lead to civil war: in effect Bernanke will use the PD’s decision as a trump card to the Hawks and say the market will plunge unless at least this much money is printed, ii) that the Fed is effectively asking the Primary Dealers to act as underwriters on whatever announcement the Fed will come up with, and thus prop the market, and, most importantly, iii) that the PDs will most likely demand the highest possible amount, using Goldman’s $2-4 trillion as a benchmark, and not only frontrun the ultimate issuance knowing full well what the syndicate of 18 will decide in advance of what the final amount will be, but will also ramp stocks on November 3 to make the actual QE announcement seem like a surprise. This also means that the Primary Dealers of America, which include among them such hedge funds as Goldman Sachs, such mortgage frauds as Bank of America, such insolvent foreign banks as Deutsche, RBS, UBS and RBS, and such middle-market excuses for banks as Jefferies, are now in control of US monetary, and as we explain below fiscal, policy.
It also means that the Fed has absolutely no confidence in its actions, and, more importantly, no confidence in how its actions will be perceived by the market which is why it is not only telegraphing its decision to the bankers, but is having its decision be dictated by them, an act so unconstitutional it would be seen as treason in any non-Banana republic! This is the last straw confirming that the only ones left trading the market are the Fed and the PDs, passing hot potatoes to each other, and the HFTs, churning the shit out of everything else to pretend someone is still trading.
And the saddest conclusion is that this is the definitive end of US capital markets: not only is the Fed’s political subordination a moot point, but the Fed, and the middle class’ purchasing power via the imminent dollar destruction that is sure to follow as the PDs seek to obliterate their underwater assets by raging inflation, is now effectively confirmed to be a bitch of Lloyd Blankfein and his posse.
The official explanation for this unprecedented incursion by the banking crime syndicate in US monetary policy is as follows:
Treasury officials say they want to avoid any disruption to the $8.5 trillion market in U.S. government debt, the world’s most liquid, as the Fed weighs restarting large-scale asset purchases. The Treasury also doesn’t want to give any impression to investors, particularly those based overseas, that it might be coordinating with the Fed to finance the national debt.
“Treasury debt-management decisions are designed to deliver the lowest cost of borrowing over time and are entirely independent from monetary-policy decisions made by the Federal Reserve,” Mary Miller, assistant secretary for financial markets, said in an e-mail to Bloomberg News yesterday. Before joining the Treasury last year, Miller was head of global fixed- income portfolio management at T. Rowe Price Group Inc. in Baltimore.
The Treasury is scheduled to hold its quarterly meetings with bond dealers tomorrow, ahead of the department’s Nov. 3 refunding announcement.
Fill in the blank: the Fed has essentially given PDs the option of $250BN, $500BN or $1 trillion in monetization over six months. It is now absolutely clear that the PDs will pick the biggest number possible… which incidentally amounts to $2 trillion per year, and is precisely what Goldman’s downside case was, as we presented previously.
The New York Fed surveyed primary dealers required to bid in U.S. debt auctions. It asked dealers to estimate changes in nominal and real 10-year Treasury yields “if the purchases were announced and completed over a six-month period.” The amounts dealers can choose from are zero, $250 billion, $500 billion and $1 trillion.
Of course, since a $2 trillion purchase over 1 year means the Fed will have to monetize every single bond issued, the SOMA limit will have to be raised, another prediction we made months ago:
The Fed is unlikely to buy up the entire supply of new securities, although it may adjust its internal guidelines of how much it can hold of any given issue. The Fed limits itself to owning no more than 35 percent of any specific security it holds in its System Open Market Account, or SOMA.
“Our Treasury strategists point out it could also cause pricing distortions along the curve, if, for example, the Fed continues to target a 40 percent purchase concentration in the 6-10 year maturity bucket, as it has in its recent purchases,” analysts at JPMorgan Chase & Co., including Alex Roever, wrote in an Oct. 22 research report. The report predicts the Fed will buy about $250 billion a quarter during the easing campaign.
How about $500 billion?
And, incidentally, since the “independent” Treasury will be forced to issue more debt to fill all the demand for $2 trillion over the next 12 months, as there is not enough debt in the pipeline to fill $2TN worth of demand and prevent the entire curve pancaking at zero (i.e., the 30 year yielding precisely 0.001%) it also means that the government will be forced to come up with more deficit programs, which also means that primary dealers will now also determine US fiscal policy.
Which begs the question, why is anyone pretending that the political vote on November 3 matters at all?
Below are the 18 banks that, in a completely separate vote, will henceforth rule America, regardless of what particular puppets end up in the Congress and Senate:
BNP Paribas Securities Corp.
Banc of America Securities LLC
Barclays Capital Inc.
Cantor Fitzgerald & Co.
Citigroup Global Markets Inc.
Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC
Daiwa Capital Markets America Inc.
Deutsche Bank Securities Inc.
Goldman, Sachs & Co.
HSBC Securities (USA) Inc.
Jefferies & Company, Inc.
J.P. Morgan Securities LLC
Mizuho Securities USA Inc.
Morgan Stanley & Co. Incorporated
Nomura Securities International, Inc.
RBC Capital Markets Corporation
RBS Securities Inc.
UBS Securities LLC.
I noted this in a comment last night, but because some of you may not have seen it, let me point out here that many of the voting “glitches” (which of late have a remarkable habit of accidentally benefiting Democrats) documented thus far in this year’s Nevada election, have a distinct air of worry about them. To wit:
Did you know that the SEIU represents the voting machine technicians in Clark County (Las Vegas), Nevada? Is it any surprise, as we noted earlier today, that there was a voting glitch in Clark County, Nevada? The glitch caused Harry Reid’s name to be automatically checked on the ballot before voters had indicated who were they were supporting.
The agreement between the SEIU and Clark County specifically puts all voting machines under the control of the SEIU. See the collective bargaining agreement:
The County hereby recognizes the Union as the sole and exclusive collective bargaining representative of the County employees assigned to the classifications listed in Appendix A who are eligible to be represented by the Union except as limited by Section 2 of this Article. The Union shall be notified of additions to the list of classifications (Appendix A), within seven (7) days of posting for the position classification and shall receive 30 days advance notice of any deletions. Upon written request by the Union, the parties shall meet and confer regarding deletions within the 30 day notification period referenced herein. Both parties recognize that the Union retains its right to appeal under the provisions of NRS 288.170.
On page 75 of the agreement, in Appendix A, Voting Machine Technician is listed as a classified position that the SEIU represents. Even though the CBA expired on June 30, 2010, the CBA continues until this day because of language in Article 43 which says that the County and SEIU can continue the CBA year to year until one party deems it unfit.
What a coincidence that the voting machines in Clark County just happen to be automatically set to support the candidate that the union that represents the “voting machine technicians” supports… You vote, we decide.
So’s you know, the SEIU has spent close to a quarter of a million dollars to oppose Sharron Angle.
Then, of course, there’s this: “Reid ‘Intends to Steal this Election if He Can’t Win it Outright,’” according to Angle’s campaign attorney Cleta Mitchell.
The media is pretending to remain dubious over such allegations.
You and I, however, know better than to put anything past these people.
How A Gang of Predatory Lenders And Wall Street Bankers Fleeced America — And Spawned A Global Crisis
Michael W. Hudson, The Center for Public Integrity
Oct. 26, 2010
Bait and Switch
A few weeks after he started working at Ameriquest Mortgage, Mark Glover looked up from his cubicle and saw a coworker do something odd. The guy stood at his desk on the twenty-third floor of downtown Los Angeles’s Union Bank Building. He placed two sheets of paper against the window. Then he used the light streaming through the window to trace something from one piece of paper to another. Somebody’s signature.
Glover was new to the mortgage business. He was twenty-nine and hadn’t held a steady job in years. But he wasn’t stupid. He knew about financial sleight of hand—at that time, he had a check-fraud charge hanging over his head in the L.A. courthouse a few blocks away. Watching his coworker, Glover’s first thought was: How can I get away with that? As a loan officer at Ameriquest, Glover worked on commission. He knew the only way to earn the six-figure income Ameriquest had promised him was to come up with tricks for pushing deals through the mortgage-financing pipeline that began with Ameriquest and extended through Wall Street’s most respected investment houses.
Glover and the other twentysomethings who filled the sales force at the downtown L.A. branch worked the phones hour after hour, calling strangers and trying to talk them into refinancing their homes with high-priced “subprime” mortgages. It was 2003, subprime was on the rise, and Ameriquest was leading the way. The company’s owner, Roland Arnall, had in many ways been the founding father of subprime, the business of lending money to home owners with modest incomes or blemished credit histories. He had pioneered this risky segment of the mortgage market amid the wreckage of the savings and loan disaster and helped transform his company’s headquarters, Orange County, California, into the capital of the subprime industry. Now, with the housing market booming and Wall Street clamoring to invest in subprime, Ameriquest was growing with startling velocity.
Up and down the line, from loan officers to regional managers and vice presidents, Ameriquest’s employees scrambled at the end of each month to push through as many loans as possible, to pad their monthly production numbers, boost their commissions, and meet Roland Arnall’s expectations. Arnall was a man “obsessed with loan volume,” former aides recalled, a mortgage entrepreneur who believed “volume solved all problems.” Whenever an underling suggested a goal for loan production over a particular time span, Arnall’s favorite reply was: “We can do twice that.” Close to midnight Pacific time on the last business day of each month, the phone would ring at Arnall’s home in Los Angeles’s exclusive Holmby Hills neighborhood, a $30 million estate that once had been home to Sonny and Cher.On the other end of the telephone line, a vice president in Orange County would report the month’s production numbers for his lending empire. Even as the totals grew to $3 billion or $6 billion or $7 billion a month—figures never before imagined in the subprime business—Arnall wasn’t satisfied. He wanted more. “He would just try to make you stretch beyond what you thought possible,” one former Ameriquest executive recalled. “Whatever you did, no matter how good you did, it wasn’t good enough.”
Inside Glover’s branch, loan officers kept up with the demand to produce by guzzling Red Bull energy drinks, a favorite caffeine pick-me-up for hardworking salesmen throughout the mortgage industry. Government investigators would later joke that they could gauge how dirty a home-loan location was by the number of empty Red Bull cans in the Dumpster out back. Some of the crew in the L.A. branch, Glover said, also relied on cocaine to keep themselves going, snorting lines in washrooms and, on occasion, in their cubicles.
The wayward behavior didn’t stop with drugs. Glover learned that his colleague’s art work wasn’t a matter of saving a borrower the hassle of coming in to supply a missed signature. The guy was forging borrowers’ signatures on government-required disclosure forms, the ones that were supposed to help consumers understand how much cash they’d be getting out of the loan and how much they’d be paying in interest and fees. Ameriquest’s deals were so overpriced and loaded with nasty surprises that getting customers to sign often required an elaborate web of psychological ploys, outright lies, and falsified papers. “Every closing that we had really was a bait and switch,” a loan officer who worked for Ameriquest in Tampa, Florida, recalled. ” ‘Cause you could never get them to the table if you were honest.” At companywide gatherings, Ameriquest’s managers and sales reps loosened up with free alcohol and swapped tips for fooling borrowers and cooking up phony paperwork. What if a customer insisted he wanted a fixed-rate loan, but you could make more money by selling him an adjustable-rate one? No problem. Many Ameriquest salespeople learned to position a few fixed-rate loan documents at the top of the stack of paperwork to be signed by the borrower. They buried the real documents—the ones indicating the loan had an adjustable rate that would rocket upward in two or three years—near the bottom of the pile. Then, after the borrower had flipped from signature line to signature line, scribbling his consent across the entire stack, and gone home, it was easy enough to peel the fixed-rate documents off the top and throw them in the trash.
At the downtown L.A. branch, some of Glover’s coworkers had a flair for creative documentation. They used scissors, tape, Wite-Out, and a photocopier to fabricate W-2s, the tax forms that indicate how much a wage earner makes each year. It was easy: Paste the name of a low-earning borrower onto a W-2 belonging to a higher-earning borrower and, like magic, a bad loan prospect suddenly looked much better. Workers in the branch equipped the office’s break room with all the tools they needed to manufacture and manipulate official documents. They dubbed it the “Art Department.”
At first, Glover thought the branch might be a rogue office struggling to keep up with the goals set by Ameriquest’s headquarters. He discovered that wasn’t the case when he transferred to the company’s Santa Monica branch. A few of his new colleagues invited him on a field trip to Staples, where everyone chipped in their own money to buy a state-of-the-art scanner-printer, a trusty piece of equipment that would allow them to do a better job of creating phony paperwork and trapping American home owners in a cycle of crushing debt.
Carolyn Pittman was an easy target. She’d dropped out of high school to go to work, and had never learned to read or write very well. She worked for decades as a nursing assistant. Her husband, Charlie, was a longshoreman.In 1993 she and Charlie borrowed $58,850 to buy a one-story, concrete block house on Irex Street in a working-class neighborhood of Atlantic Beach, a community of thirteen thousand near Jacksonville, Florida. Their mortgage was government-insured by the Federal Housing Administration, so they got a good deal on the loan. They paid about $500 a month on the FHA loan, including the money to cover their home insurance and property taxes.
Even after Charlie died in 1998, Pittman kept up with her house payments. But things were tough for her. Financial matters weren’t something she knew much about. Charlie had always handled what little money they had. Her health wasn’t good either. She had a heart attack in 2001, and was back and forth to hospitals with congestive heart failure and kidney problems.
Like many older black women who owned their homes but had modest incomes, Pittman was deluged almost every day, by mail and by phone, with sales pitches offering money to fix up her house or pay off her bills. A few months after her heart attack, a salesman from Ameriquest Mortgage’s Coral Springs office caught her on the phone and assured her he could ease her worries. He said Ameriquest would help her out by lowering her interest rate and her monthly payments.
She signed the papers in August 2001. Only later did she discover that the loan wasn’t what she’d been promised. Her interest rate jumped from a fixed 8.43 percent on the FHA loan to a variable rate that started at nearly 11 percent and could climb much higher. The loan was also packed with more than $7,000 in up-front fees, roughly 10 percent of the loan amount.
Pittman’s mortgage payment climbed to $644 a month. Even worse, the new mortgage didn’t include an escrow for real-estate taxes and insurance. Most mortgage agreements require home owners to pay a bit extra—often about $100 to $300 a month—which is set aside in an escrow account to cover these expenses. But many subprime lenders obscured the true costs of their loans by excluding the escrow from their deals, which made the monthly payments appear lower. Many borrowers didn’t learn they had been tricked until they got a big bill for unpaid taxes or insurance a year down the road.
That was just the start of Pittman’s mortgage problems. Her new mortgage was a matter of public record, and by taking out a loan from Ameriquest, she’d signaled to other subprime lenders that she was vulnerable—that she was financially unsophisticated and was struggling to pay an unaffordable loan. In 2003, she heard from one of Ameriquest’s competitors, Long Beach Mortgage Company.
Pittman had no idea that Long Beach and Ameriquest shared the same corporate DNA. Roland Arnall’s first subprime lender had been Long Beach Savings and Loan, a company he had morphed into Long Beach Mortgage. He had sold off most of Long Beach Mortgage in 1997, but hung on to a portion of the company that he rechristened Ameriquest. Though Long Beach and Ameriquest were no longer connected, both were still staffed with employees who had learned the business under Arnall.
A salesman from Long Beach Mortgage, Pittman said, told her that he could help her solve the problems created by her Ameriquest loan. Once again, she signed the papers. The new loan from Long Beach cost her thousands in up-front fees and boosted her mortgage payments to $672 a month.
Ameriquest reclaimed her as a customer less than a year later. A salesman from Ameriquest’s Jacksonville branch got her on the phone in the spring of 2004. He promised, once again, that refinancing would lower her interest rate and her monthly payments. Pittman wasn’t sure what to do. She knew she’d been burned before, but she desperately wanted to find a way to pay off the Long Beach loan and regain her financial bearings. She was still pondering whether to take the loan when two Ameriquest representatives appeared at the house on Irex Street. They brought a stack of documents with them. They told her, she later recalled, that it was preliminary paperwork, simply to get the process started. She could make up her mind later. The men said, “sign here,” “sign here,” “sign here,” as they flipped through the stack. Pittman didn’t understand these were final loan papers and her signatures were binding her to Ameriquest. “They just said sign some papers and we’ll help you,” she recalled.
To push the deal through and make it look better to investors on Wall Street, consumer attorneys later alleged, someone at Ameriquest falsified Pittman’s income on the mortgage application. At best, she had an income of $1,600 a month—roughly $1,000 from Social Security and, when he could afford to pay, another $600 a month in rent from her son. Ameriquest’s paperwork claimed she brought in more than twice that much—$3,700 a month.
The new deal left her with a house payment of $1,069 a month—nearly all of her monthly income and twice what she’d been paying on the FHA loan before Ameriquest and Long Beach hustled her through the series of refinancings. She was shocked when she realized she was required to pay more than $1,000 a month on her mortgage. “That broke my heart,” she said.
For Ameriquest, the fact that Pittman couldn’t afford the payments was of little consequence. Her loan was quickly pooled, with more than fifteen thousand other Ameriquest loans from around the country, into a $2.4 billion “mortgage-backed securities” deal known as Ameriquest Mortgage Securities, Inc. Mortgage Pass-Through Certificates 2004-R7. The deal had been put together by a trio of the world’s largest investment banks: UBS, JPMorgan, and Citigroup. These banks oversaw the accounting wizardry that transformed Pittman’s mortgage and thousands of other subprime loans into investments sought after by some of the world’s biggest investors. Slices of 2004-R7 got snapped up by giants such as the insurer MassMutual and Legg Mason, a mutual fund manager with clients in more than seventy-five countries. Also among the buyers was the investment bank Morgan Stanley, which purchased some of the securities and placed them in its Limited Duration Investment Fund, mixing them with investments in General Mills, FedEx, JC Penney, Harley-Davidson, and other household names.
It was the new way of Wall Street. The loan on Carolyn Pittman’s one-story house in Atlantic Beach was now part of the great global mortgage machine. It helped swell the portfolios of big-time speculators and middle-class investors looking to build a nest egg for retirement. And, in doing so, it helped fuel the mortgage empire that in 2004 produced $1.3 billion in profits for Roland Arnall.
In the first years of the twenty-first century, Ameriquest Mortgage unleashed an army of salespeople on America. They numbered in the thousands. They were young, hungry, and relentless in their drive to sell loans and earn big commissions. One Ameriquest manager summed things up in an e-mail to his sales force: “We are all here to make as much fucking money as possible. Bottom line. Nothing else matters.” Home owners like Carolyn Pittman were caught up in Ameriquest’s push to become the nation’s biggest subprime lender.
The pressure to produce an ever-growing volume of loans came from the top. Executives at Ameriquest’s home office in Orange County leaned on the regional and area managers; the regional and area managers leaned on the branch managers. And the branch managers leaned on the salesmen who worked the phones and hunted for borrowers willing to sign on to Ameriquest loans. Men usually ran things, and a frat-house mentality ruled, with plenty of partying and testosterone-fueled swagger. “It was like college, but with lots of money and power,” Travis Paules, a former Ameriquest executive, said. Paules liked to hire strippers to reward his sales reps for working well after midnight to get loan deals processed during the end-of-the-month rush. At Ameriquest branches around the nation, loan officers worked ten- and twelve-hour days punctuated by “Power Hours”—do-or-die telemarketing sessions aimed at sniffing out borrowers and separating the real salesmen from the washouts. At the branch where Mark Bomchill worked in suburban Minneapolis, management expected Bomchill and other loan officers to make one hundred to two hundred sales calls a day. One manager, Bomchill said, prowled the aisles between desks like “a little Hitler,” hounding salesmen to make more calls and sell more loans and bragging he hired and fired people so fast that one peon would be cleaning out his desk as his replacement came through the door.As with Mark Glover in Los Angeles, experience in the mortgage business wasn’t a prerequisite for getting hired. Former employees said the company preferred to hire younger, inexperienced workers because it was easier to train them to do things the Ameriquest way. A former loan officer who worked for Ameriquest in Michigan described the company’s business model this way: “People entrusting their entire home and everything they’ve worked for in their life to people who have just walked in off the street and don’t know anything about mortgages and are trying to do anything they can to take advantage of them.”
Ameriquest was not alone. Other companies, eager to get a piece of the market for high-profit loans, copied its methods, setting up shop in Orange County and helping to transform the county into the Silicon Valley of subprime lending. With big investors willing to pay top dollar for assets backed by this new breed of mortgages, the push to make more and more loans reached a frenzy among the county’s subprime loan shops. “The atmosphere was like this giant cocaine party you see on TV,” said Sylvia Vega-Sutfin, who worked as an account executive at BNC Mortgage, a fast-growing operation headquartered in Orange County just down the Costa Mesa Freeway from Ameriquest’s headquarters. “It was like this giant rush of urgency.” One manager told Vega-Sutfin and her coworkers that there was no turning back; he had no choice but to push for mind-blowing production numbers. “I have to close thirty loans a month,” he said, “because that’s what my family’s lifestyle demands.”
Michelle Seymour, one of Vega-Sutfin’s colleagues, spotted her first suspect loan days after she began working as a mortgage underwriter at BNC’s Sacramento branch in early 2005. The documents in the file indicated the borrower was making a six-figure salary coordinating dances at a Mexican restaurant. All the numbers on the borrower’s W-2 tax form ended in zeros—an unlikely happenstance—and the Social Security and tax bite didn’t match the borrower’s income. When Seymour complained to a manager, she said, he was blasé, telling her, “It takes a lot to have a loan declined.”
BNC was no fly-by-night operation. It was owned by one of Wall Street’s most storied investment banks, Lehman Brothers. The bank had made a big bet on housing and mortgages, styling itself as a player in commercial real estate and, especially, subprime lending. “In the mortgage business, we used to say, ‘All roads lead to Lehman,’ ” one industry veteran recalled.Lehman had bought a stake in BNC in 2000 and had taken full ownership in 2004, figuring it could earn even more money in the subprime business by cutting out the middleman. Wall Street bankers and investors flocked to the loans produced by BNC, Ameriquest, and other subprime operators; the steep fees and interest rates extracted from borrowers allowed the bankers to charge fat commissions for packaging the securities and provided generous yields for investors who purchased them. Up-front fees on subprime loans totaled thousands of dollars. Interest rates often started out deceptively low—perhaps at 7 or 8 percent—but they almost always adjusted upward, rising to 10 percent, 12 percent, and beyond. When their rates spiked, borrowers’ monthly payments increased, too, often climbing by hundreds of dollars. Borrowers who tried to escape overpriced loans by refinancing into another mortgage usually found themselves paying thousands of dollars more in backend fees—”prepayment penalties” that punished them for paying off their loans early. Millions of these loans—tied to modest homes in places like Atlantic Beach, Florida; Saginaw, Michigan; and East San Jose, California—helped generate great fortunes for financiers and investors. They also helped lay America’s economy low and sparked a worldwide financial crisis.
The subprime market did not cause the U.S. and global financial meltdowns by itself. Other varieties of home loans and a host of arcane financial innovations—such as collateralized debt obligations and credit default swaps—also came into play. Nevertheless, subprime played a central role in the debacle. It served as an early proving ground for financial engineers who sold investors and regulators alike on the idea that it was possible, through accounting alchemy, to turn risky assets into “Triple-A-rated” securities that were nearly as safe as government bonds. In turn, financial wizards making bets with CDOs and credit default swaps used subprime mortgages as the raw material for their speculations. Subprime, as one market watcher said, was “the leading edge of a financial hurricane.”
This book tells the story of the rise and fall of subprime by chronicling the rise and fall of two corporate empires: Ameriquest and Lehman Brothers. It is a story about the melding of two financial cultures separated by a continent: Orange County and Wall Street.
Ameriquest and its strongest competitors in subprime had their roots in Orange County, a sunny land of beauty and wealth that has a history as a breeding ground for white-collar crime: boiler rooms, S&L frauds, real-estate swindles. That history made it an ideal setting for launching the subprime industry, which grew in large measure thanks to bait-and-switch salesmanship and garden-variety deception. By the height of the nation’s mortgage boom, Orange County was home to four of the nation’s six biggest subprime lenders. Together, these four lenders—Ameriquest, Option One, Fremont Investment & Loan, and New Century—accounted for nearly a third of the subprime market. Other subprime shops, too, sprung up throughout the county, many of them started by former employees of Ameriquest and its corporate forebears, Long Beach Savings and Long Beach Mortgage.
Lehman Brothers was, of course, one of the most important institutions on Wall Street, a firm with a rich history dating to before the Civil War. Under its pugnacious CEO, Richard Fuld, Lehman helped bankroll many of the nation’s shadiest subprime lenders, including Ameriquest. “Lehman never saw a subprime lender they didn’t like,” one consumer lawyer who fought the industry’s abuses said.Lehman and other Wall Street powers provided the financial backing and sheen of respectability that transformed subprime from a tiny corner of the mortgage market into an economic behemoth capable of triggering the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
A long list of mortgage entrepreneurs and Wall Street bankers cultivated the tactics that fueled subprime’s growth and its collapse, and a succession of politicians and regulators looked the other way as abuses flourished and the nation lurched toward disaster: Angelo Mozilo and Countrywide Financial; Bear Stearns, Washington Mutual, Wells Fargo; Alan Greenspan and the Federal Reserve; and many more. Still, no Wall Street firm did more than Lehman to create the subprime monster. And no figure or institution did more to bring subprime’s abuses to life across the nation than Roland Arnall and Ameriquest.
Among his employees, subprime’s founding father was feared and admired. He was a figure of rumor and speculation, a mysterious billionaire with a rags-to-riches backstory, a hardscrabble street vendor who reinvented himself as a big-time real-estate developer, a corporate titan, a friend to many of the nation’s most powerful elected leaders. He was a man driven, according to some who knew him, by a desire to conquer and dominate. “Roland could be the biggest bastard in the world and the most charming guy in the world,” said one executive who worked for Arnall in subprime’s early days. “And it could be minutes apart.”He displayed his charm to people who had the power to help him or hurt him. He cultivated friendships with politicians as well as civil rights advocates and antipoverty crusaders who might be hostile to the unconventional loans his companies sold in minority and working-class neighborhoods. Many people who knew him saw him as a visionary, a humanitarian, a friend to the needy. “Roland was one of the most generous people I have ever met,” a former business partner said.He also left behind, as another former associate put it, “a trail of bodies”—a succession of employees, friends, relatives, and business partners who said he had betrayed them. In summing up his own split with Arnall, his best friend and longtime business partner said, “I was screwed.”Another former colleague, a man who helped Arnall give birth to the modern subprime mortgage industry, said: “Deep down inside he was a good man. But he had an evil side. When he pulled that out, it was bad. He could be extremely cruel.” When they parted ways, he said, Arnall hadn’t paid him all the money he was owed. But, he noted, Arnall hadn’t cheated him as badly as he could have. “He fucked me. But within reason.”
Roland Arnall built a company that became a household name, but shunned the limelight for himself. The business partner who said Arnall had “screwed” him recalled that Arnall fancied himself a puppet master who manipulated great wealth and controlled a network of confederates to perform his bidding. Another former business associate, an underling who admired him, explained that Arnall worked to ingratiate himself to fair-lending activists for a simple reason: “You can take that straight out of The Godfather: ‘Keep your enemies close.’ “
Excerpted from THE MONSTER: How a Gang of Predatory Lenders and Wall Street Bankers Fleeced America–and Spawned a Global Crisis by Michael W. Hudson, just published by Times Books, an imprint of Henry Holt and Company, LLC. Copyright (c) 2010 by Michael W. Hudson. All rights reserved.
Karl Denninger…Weekend Roundup: Foreclosuregate Status
EDITOR’S NOTE: This probably applies to private student loans too. The government guarantee is a nullity if the participating member bank did not actually make the loan. Hence the student loan is dischargeable in bankruptcy or already paid in full. Think about it.
There is a very important audio interview on KOH that you need to listen to.
It’s two hours, and that’s a lot. But it’s important.
In particular, listen to the couple of minutes starting at 12:30 in. Then listen to 6:30, and 42:30, right around 50:00 and then again at 70:00 and finally, at 78:00 in.
Pay attention to what’s being said here.
First: The assertion is made that the lenders and holders of the notes were paid in full. That is, they have no economic damage from the default (!) due to the way they structured the deals.
Second: The assertion is made that there was fraud in the inducement in all of these loans, in that there is an implied duty of dealing in good faith in all contracts that was violated by the banks that made knowingly bad loans – which we now have sworn testimony on. While this is not settled by any means, there is currently pending litigation on this point, and if this approach wins, well, then you go – those contracts are voidable.
Third: The allegation is made that the banks were not stupid – they knew the mathematics (as we all do now) and intentionally crashed the market. That just compounds the second point.
Fourth: MERS has given sworn testimony that they have no economic interest and have nothing to transfer. Oh wait a second….. then how the hell do they transfer a deed they don’t have (even though they’re listed as Mortgagee) to someone who then forecloses – or alternatively, forecloses themselves on behalf of someone else?
Incidentally, FDN has picked up on this too. Don’t expect the entire “fraud in the inducement” line of inquiry to remain quiet for very long, and again, if this wins at trial – even once – you’re gonna get this:
The MERS problem is also outlined in a rather long and exhaustive paper in the Cincinnati Law Review. The salient point is here:
With these services on offer, the mortgage finance industry quickly and wholeheartedly embraced recording and foreclosing its mortgage loans in MERS’s name, rather than the actual parties in interest. Instead of legislation or a landmark court ruling, mortgage industry insiders report that the key development in the acceptance of MERS was the endorsement of credit rating agencies such as Moody’s, Standard and Poor’s, and Fitch Investment. 71 For example, in 1999-before any significant appellate judicial opinion on the subject-Moody’s Investors Services issued a report concluding that MERS’s mechanism to put creditors on notice of a mortgage would not be harmed. 72 Moody’s concluded without citation to any court opinion, or even to any state recording statute, that “subsequent creditors of the entity selling the mortgages to the MBS [mortgage backed securities] transactions [sic] should not be able to contest the conveyance of the mortgages based on lack of notice. 73
The agencies concluded without any legal justification whatsoever that this was all ok.
Since when does a ratings agency trump State Law?
There’s been an awful lot of flip-flopping on many of these points in the last week. In particular, you’ve got people who were all over the fraud side of this that suddenly got very quiet.
One wonders why – and note, it’s not that they’re repudiating what they formerly said, it’s that they’re saying nothing at all, and some are now trying to throw this back on the borrowers, making all sorts of claims of “unethical” behavior on their part.
Let me be clear on my position: This entire bubble was predicated on fraud – up and down the line. I’ll simply quote Bill Black, since he’s more concise than I can be:
Nothing short of removing all senior officers who directed, committed, or acquiesced in fraud can be effective against control fraud. We repeat: Foreclosure fraud is the necessary outcome of the epidemic of mortgage fraud that began early this decade. The banks that are foreclosing on fraudulently originated mortgages frequently cannot produce legitimate documents and have committed “fraud in the inducement.” Now, only fraud will let them take the homes. Many of the required documents do not exist, and those that do exist would provide proof of the fraud that was involved in loan origination, securitization, and marketing. This in turn would allow investors to force the banks to buy-back the fraudulent securities. In other words, to keep the investors at bay the foreclosing banks must manufacture fake documents. If the original documents do not exist the securities might be ruled no good. If the original docs do exist they will demonstrate that proper underwriting was not done — so the securities might be no good. Foreclosure fraud is the only thing standing between the banks and Armageddon.
There’s only one solution to all of this: Take all of the big banks into receivership.
Force these securities to be examined, those with fraudulent originations beyond their specifications to be unwound and put back on the securitizers.
This will detonate them. Since they’re in receivership, their stockholders will wind up wiped out and their bondholders will take the hit as they are crammed down into equity.
Where intentional fraud is found in the inducement, as has been alleged by Citibank’s former chief underwriter in over 80% of production for 2007, people need to go to prison. A lot of people. And while this does not necessarily mean “free houses” it sure does mean recission of the deal – and if that winds up forcing renegotiation of the terms (including principal), then so be it.
The more time goes on the deeper this rabbit hole gets and the more fraud we find evidence of. Contrary to the professed claims in the media, this is not getting clearer and headed more toward “clerical errors” – it is headed more toward the entire financial system being one gigantic pyramid of fraudulent transactions layered upon each other, none of which were unwound during the so-called “bailouts.”
Instead, it appears that government decided to attempt to perpetuate the debt and fraud ponzi schemes – likely because, arithmetic or not, they knew that letting it all into the light of day would mean incalculable and insatiable demands for prosecution – at least figurative if not literal heads on pikes.
If you think the idiocy and downplaying of reality is limited to the bankster apologists on CNBS, you’re wrong. We also can look to Housingwire, which put forth a pure fantasy piece that included the following:
The real fact is that the ‘robo-signing’ scandal is a procedural one, albeit one that offends the very nature of due process.
The injured parties from this gross abuse of process are limited to the court, who has seen its rule of law mocked; and potentially investors, who must ultimately pay for the added time and expense of re-filing.
Forgery is not a “procedural issue.” It’s a felony act of perjury. Mocking the rule of law is not a procedural matter – it goes to the very heart of our legal system, not to mention The Constitution. There is this pesky thing called The 5th Amendment. I know that the mortgage and housing industries think that such matters lack substance in this case but I’m quite sure that if the people decided to start stringing up lenders, bankers, and builders from lampposts en-masse, they’d change their tune about “procedural issues” and due process rights in a big damn hurry.
Within minutes of the ‘robo-signing’ scandal, seemingly, commentators were giving credence to long-standing claims regarding the validity of MERS as a foreclosing party, who really owns the note, as well as highlighting put-back risks — a span of issues that are distinctly and utterly separate from the procedural challenges encompassed by ‘robo-signing.’
Nonsense. The entire “robo-signing” thing is part and parcel of the industry’s inability to produce factual documentation right up front. There are only two reasons not to produce the original paperwork, properly endorsed, instead of all this robo garbage:
- You don’t have it because you never got it, and you’re trying to cover that up.
- You don’t have it because you intentionally destroyed it or are hiding it, as producing it would document that you did something fraudulent earlier on in the process (like at origination, for instance), and you’re trying to cover that up.
In short, there is no other explanation. A few lost pieces of paper here and there? Sure. A system that can’t produce any of the paperwork, properly endorsed over? That’s not accident – it’s an intentional act. Period.
In other words: massive GSE putbacks? Yes. Massive private-label putbacks? Eh, probably not so much. In either case, however, hardly does this seem to be the sort of end-of-the-world scenario that so many have painted recently.
Really? Remember, Lehman wasn’t so much the end of the world for Lehman per-se, as it wasn’t that big a firm. Rather it was the cascading credit default exposure that everyone was worried about.
Does anyone recall us actually fixing that by forcing it all onto regulated exchanges, where margin was maintained on a nightly basis so we know that everyone’s good for the crap they’re holding? Oh, I seem to remember that didn’t happen.
Funny how everyone forgets that the nuclear device that started all this crap is still sitting on the board room table, it’s still ticking, and someone still has tape over the timer window so nobody can see how many more “ticks” we’ve got.
The real brewing issue in the markets currently — and quietly — is one of investor confidence, borne most lately of horrible remittance reporting. Investors have had it with inaccurate reports from servicers, and some are threatening to ditch MBS markets altogether.
Getting lied to repeatedly has a way of doing that. You know, things like Clayton being revealed to have done diligence on these loans and finding them bogus, but then having them shoved into the securities anyway – without disclosure to the buyers. Or Citibank’s chief underwriter stating under oath that eighty percent of production violated reps and warranties in 2007. Eighty percent?! Then you add stiff-arming to this by the securitizers for the original loan data. Gee, I wonder why they wouldn’t want anyone to look after their own people testified that they packaged up loans they knew were dogcrap and sold them on to investors!
The third real issue facing mortgage markets today, quite frankly, is that political reality is allowed to subsume actual reality. This is the outcome that sees the mortgage industry eat its own, if it comes to pass.
In a word, bull****.
The “industry” should eat its own. What integrity does a fraud-laced process have? What sort of weight does someone who refuses to disclose what they did earlier on to a buyer command with a new buyer? Zero, that’s what. Getting rooked once is a bad thing. If you get rooked twice it’s your own fault for trusting someone who has proved, through their own conduct, that they will **** you as long and as hard as they think they can get away with. That is, buyers of these securities appear to now know for a fact that they were sold crap on purpose without proper disclosure.
None of these banks has any reason to expect that any of these buyers would ever do business with them again under any set of terms or conditions. In fact, this alone ought to be enough to put them all out of business – permanently.
The reality here is that what we have is a bunch of piranhas in a tank that have been feasting on Americans for two decades. Now the Americans are down to bare femurs, tibia, fibula and ribcages – they’re out of assets to strip and out of payments to poach.
So now we get to the fun part, where the ravenous piranha, devoid of any sense of ethics and willing to eat literally anything, turn on their buddies and start tearing them apart.
Fed Distances Itself From Banks, Says Will Not Seek Review Of “Pittman” Even Though It Is Lawsuit Defendant
Amusingly, following up on earlier reports that the Clearing House Association (aka the banking oligarchy) will petition the SCOTUS to hide their oh so very secret insolvency which by now everyone knows about, the Fed has decided to amusingly distance itself from the kleptocratic crowd and will not seek court review. In other words, the public’s anger when the SCOTUS sides with the bankers will fall squarely upon Lloyd Blankfein et al, and not Ben Bernanke, even though it is the Fed who is the defendant in the Pittman lawsuit. This is just plain ridiculous. And the reason provided by the banks: why more mutual assured destruction of course: “disclosure of the information threatens to harm the borrowing banks by allowing the public to observe their borrowing patterns during the recent financial crisis and draw inferences–whether justified or not–about their current financial conditions.” Here is an inference about their current financial conditions: they are all insolvent. Does that matter? No. Because the only holders of bank stocks now are other banks. It is called a ponzi for a reason after all.
More from Dow Jones:
An association of large commercial banks on Tuesday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review a ruling that ordered the Federal Reserve to disclose information about the banks that borrowed from its discount window and other emergency lending programs during the financial crisis.
In its petition to the high court, the Clearing House Association said disclosure of the information “threatens to harm the borrowing banks by allowing the public to observe their borrowing patterns during the recent financial crisis and draw inferences–whether justified or not–about their current financial conditions.”
Bloomberg LP ‘s Bloomberg News and Fox News Network LLC’s Fox Business Network separately sought the Fed disclosures under the Freedom of Information Act and sued the Fed when it denied their requests. The news organizations sought the names of the borrowing banks, loan amounts, origination dates and the collateral involved.
Fox News Network is a unit of News Corp . (NWS, NWSA), which owns Dow Jones & Co ., publisher of this newswire.
The New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in March that the Fed was required to disclose documents about bank borrowing from its last-resort lending programs.
The Fed’s Board of Governors and the Clearing House Association have argued that the ruling could severely undermine the Fed’s ability to implement lending programs critical to the economy and monetary policy.
The Fed has not yet filed a petition seeking Supreme Court review.
After the 2nd Circuit refused in August to reconsider the case, it stayed its ruling for 60 days to give the parties the opportunity to petition the high court.
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, curiously, that a lot of real estate is everywhere and nowhere at the same time, plus the Ponzi universe of credit default swap black holes just sitting out there waiting to suck whole civilizations into oblivion. Ollie to Stan: Well, here’s another fine mess you’ve gotten me into….
But I stray a little from my point, which is the massive systematic monkeyshines involving legal documents relating to American real estate. The bankers say, just bring a “lost note” letter to the closing. “The dog ate it.” Signed, Mom. Like, that’s an okay substitute for the rule of law. Oh, and, by the way, the dog ate the title, too. Congress even tried to get in on the act last week with a bill that would have essentially negated the significance of notarization – that is, of witnessing and attesting to the veracity of documents – in order to mitigate the fiasco of robo-signing, which was endemic in places like the mortgage mills of Nevada and Florida where due diligence went AWOL and Burger King-quality employees just threw some contracts in the trash out of sheer boredom. “Oh, the dog also ate my signature….” President Obama vetoed the damn thing, which was passed in the US Senate unanimously by the human dung-beetles who work that manure pile. The dog ate your financial system.
This is hardly to say that the people who bought property based on those improperly processed and/or scam-a-lama-ding-dong mortgages deserve to avoid foreclosure and get to keep and live in million dollar houses they never could have really afforded to buy in an economy run by grown-ups. But they might, because there are an awful lot of hungry lawyers out there who will demand that the agents of foreclosing parties produce the relevant documents. And some of these foreclosing parties may not have the nerve to hand over forged instruments in a court proceeding once everyone is going over them with scanning electron microscopes looking to find one molecule out-of-order.
Bottom line is that we’ve reached the point where nobody in that particular racket can get away with much anymore. That string is played. The banks are toast. Not only won’t they be able to recover the collateral on a lot of loans, but the MBS related crap sitting in their own vaults goes to zero, not thirty cents on the dollar or some mark-to-fantasy number that has kept them in the zombie zone for two years, like cancer victims desperately eating apricot pits in hopes of a cure. And if the banks are toast then the Federal Reserve is toast, because the Fed has been acting as a dumpster for so much of the smallpox-blanket-grade securities off-loaded by the banks since TARP, with a balance sheet that must look like a suicide note, and if the Fed is toast then the dollar is toast because they are promissory notes issued by the Fed.
Anyway, the states themselves are temporarily shutting down foreclosures, and the upshot will be a paralyzed property sales industry. Who will want to buy property when there is any question about owning it free and clear? You can be sure the sickness will spread into commercial real estate, with its much shorter-term loans and its desperate rollover deadlines. Things begin to look a bit gruesome. But ’tis the season for it! The night of the Blood Beast comes Sunday, just in time for the All Souls Day open of the equity markets. That’s the day when the costumes come off and we stop pretending. That’s the day that the skeletons dance on the real estate destined to be our graves.
The sequel to my 2008 novel of post-oil America, World Made By Hand, is available at all booksellers now.
[From The Tombstone Blues]