Monday, February 10, 2014

Revisiting the Financial Crisis: Predatory Lending

According to a Wall Street Journal article, former Federal Reserve Governor Edward Gramlich proposed in 2000 to crack down on predatory lending in the subprime mortgage industry. Chairman Alan Greenspan shot down the proposal.

"I would have liked the Fed to be a leader" in cracking down on predatory lending, Mr. Gramlich, now a scholar at the Urban Institute, said in an interview this past week. Knowing it would be controversial with Mr. Greenspan, whose deregulatory philosophy is well known, Mr. Gramlich broached it to him personally rather than take it to the full board.

"He was opposed to it, so I didn't really pursue it," says Mr. Gramlich, a Democrat who was one of seven Fed governors.

Predatory lending was very real. Washington Mutual Bank was bought by JP Morgan Chase. The United States District Court for the Central District of California ruled against JP Morgan Chase.

The first formal complaint was filed against Washington Mutual Bank on January 6, 2012 by the Kenneth Eade Law Firm. Washington Mutual was eventually purchased by JP Morgan Chase. The complaint alleges that Washington Mutual Bank issued both a traditional mortgage and a home equity line of credit in order to finance a customer's Southern California home purchase. In 2008 both loans fell into foreclosure, and the owner's request for a short sale was denied.

After JP Morgan Chase took ownership of Washington Mutual, the bank attempted to collect approximately $250,000 additional dollars from the home equity line of credit. The delinquency also negatively affected the customer's credit score. According to anti-delinquency statutes in California, a bank is prohibited from collecting on money mortgages after a foreclosure has occurred. The suit alleges that JP Morgan Chase is in violation of the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act as well as the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act.

JP Morgan Chase was trying to quickly collect cash from homeowners. In Florida, the defunct David J. Stern law firm attempted to foreclose on homeowners with forged documents.

JP Morgan Chase bought Washington Mutual so they could sell the bad mortgages as mortgage-back securities. The problem was JP Morgan Chase didn't tell investors that the mortgage-backed securities were toxic. JP Morgan Chase was forced to agree to a $13 billion settlement with the state of New York. $4 billion of the money went for relief to homeowners.

New York Attorney General Schneiderman had less than kind words for JP Morgan Chase.

“Since my first day in office, I have insisted that there must be accountability for the misconduct that led to the crash of the housing market and the collapse of the American economy,” said Attorney General Schneiderman, co-chair of the RMBS working group. “This historic deal, which will bring long-overdue relief to homeowners around the country and across New York, is exactly what our working group was created to do. We refused to allow systemic frauds that harmed so many New York homeowners and investors to simply be forgotten, and as a result we’ve won a major victory today in the fight to hold those who caused the financial crisis accountable.”

Goldman Sachs bought derivatives that bet on the housing market crashing. Goldman Sachs sold to their investors bad mortgage-backed securities.

Sen. Carl Levin questioned CEO Lloyd Blankfein about about Goldman Sachs betting against investments they are selling.

Levin reads internal emails of Goldman Sachs sale force telling each other that Timberwolve was a "shitty deal" for their clients.

An internal email shows that Goldman Sachs knew they making money betting against their clients.

The predatory lending placed homeowners at risk. The mortgages were then bundled up into toxic mortgage-backed securities that hurt such investors as pension funds. Alan Green span did nothing about this when he had the chance in 2000.

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