The mortgage fraud settlement for $25 billion is pennies on the dollar, ignores rampant criminality that went on for years, and was pushed for hard by Obama, who never met a banksters he didn’t want to protect. There’s no need to bother with quaint concepts like rule of law when banksters need their crimes ignored. Obama is always willing to oblige them.
Remember robosigning and the whole fraudclosure scandal? In a few days you can forget it. Because in America, the cost of contractual rights was just announced, and it is $25 billion: this is the amount of money that banks will pay to settle the fact that for years mortgages were issued and re-issued without proper title and liens on the underlying paper, courtesy of Linda Green et al. Why is this happening? Because staunch hold outs for equitable justice (at least until this point), the AGs of NY and California folded like cheap lawn chairs (we can’t wait to find what corner office of Bank of America they end up in), but not before the one and only intervened.
From the WSJ: “The Obama administration made a full-court press over the past four days to secure the support of key state attorneys general, including those from Florida, California and New York.” Nothing like a little presidential persuasion to help one with overcoming one’s conscience. Because in America the push to abrogate the very foundation of contractual agreements comes from the very top.
Dan Edstrom is an expert in charting such relationships and it took him a year to find out who actually owned his home. Note the “Black Hole” on the right side near the top. Apparently some details are unknowable, even to an expert.
Such a deranged system of mortgage securitization is error-prone, obviously way too complicated, and no doubt designed this way on purpose so as to deliberately obfuscate ownership and responsibility. “This diagram shows that they are not following the borrower’s instructions in the security instrument.”
Thousands of bank execs went to prison during the S&L crisis of the 1980’s. Not a single bankster has yet during this current debacle. In fact, virtually none have even been criminally charged. This is a disgrace, a subversion of justice, and an obvious corruption of the legal system.
We need thousands of criminal prosecutions for this biggest fraud ever. Will we get them?
Ezra Klein: What’s happening here? Why are we suddenly faced with a crisis that wasn’t apparent two weeks ago?
Janet Tavakoli: This is the biggest fraud in the history of the capital markets. And it’s not something that happened last week. It happened when these loans were originated, in some cases years ago.
EK: And how much danger are the banks themselves in?
JT: When we had the financial crisis, the first thing the banks did was run to Congress and ask for accounting relief. They asked to be able to avoid pricing this stuff at the price where people would buy them. So no one can tell you the size of the hole in these balance sheets. We’ve thrown a lot of money at it. TARP was just the tip of the iceberg. We’ve given them guarantees on debts, low-cost funding from the Fed. But a lot of these mortgages just cannot be saved. Had we acknowledged this problem in 2005, we could’ve cleaned it up for a few hundred billion dollars. But we didn’t. Banks were lying and committing fraud, and our regulators were covering them and so a bad problem has become a hellacious one.
(Janet Tavakoli is the founder and president of Tavakoli Structured Finance, Inc. (TSF), a Chicago based consulting firm providing expert experience and knowledge about maximizing value in the face of complexity and uncertainty.)