“It was the Wild West. If you were alive, they would give you a loan. Actually, I think if you were dead, they would still give you a loan.”

-Steven M. Knobel, a founder of appraisal firm Mitchell, Maxwell & Jackson

>

Interesting article in the Sunday NYTimes about WaMu, the company that could not say no. The Times missed a golden opportunity to proclaim a major bank a “slut” – any opportunity one gets to do so should be taken without hesitation.

And just how slutty were WaMu’s loans? By the first half of this year, the value of its bad lending had reached $11.5 billion. Here’s why:

WaMu pressed sales agents to pump out loans while disregarding borrowers’ incomes and assets, according to former employees. The bank set up what insiders described as a system of dubious legality that enabled real estate agents to collect fees of more than $10,000 for bringing in borrowers, sometimes making the agents more beholden to WaMu than they were to their clients.

WaMu gave mortgage brokers handsome commissions for selling the riskiest loans, which carried higher fees, bolstering profits and ultimately the compensation of the bank’s executives. WaMu pressured appraisers to provide inflated property values that made loans appear less risky, enabling Wall Street to bundle them more easily for sale to investors.

Why the disregard for traditional lending standards, the risky mortgages, the lending to unqualified people? Was it the CRA or Fannie/Freddie? To the contrary, it was a relentless drive for sales volume and market share. Loan officers were givens 100s of new loans per day, ensuring  review and oversight were minimal. Investigating into loan apps was actively discouraged.

I know from personal experience that WaMu was amongst a group of predatory lenders and mortgage felons who actively misrepresented loans. I have disagreed with those who called the no doc loans predatory borrowing. It was the banks that actively misrepresented the loan products to borrowers; It was the banks that had the fiduciary obligation to their depositors and investors not to engage in reckless lending.

My wife has a WaMu account, and we got a sales pitch on mortgages from them in 2004, and again when we sold one house and bought another in 2006. I am pretty savvy about mortgages, and I was aghast about their Option ARM and their Neg Am sales pitch. I spoke with several WaMu salespeople — in person in a NYC branch, and over the phone — and they tried to make the teaser rate sound like this was a non-resetting, permanent payment. If you pressed them about the reset, they would eventually fess up. If you asked them about Neg Am, they never explained the total amount owed went up every month you underpaid principle. But if you were naive about finance or didn’t understand how these loans worked, they steamrolled right over you.

Here’s the ugliness:

The ARM Loan Niche:  WaMu’s retail mortgage office in Downey, Calif., specialized in selling option ARMs to Latino customers who spoke little [or no] English and depended on advice from real estate brokers, according to a former sales agent who requested anonymity because he was still in the mortgage business.

According to that agent, WaMu turned real estate agents into a pipeline for loan applications by enabling them to collect “referral fees” for clients who became WaMu borrowers.

Buyers were typically oblivious to agents’ fees, the agent said, and agents rarely explained the loan terms. “Their Realtor was their trusted friend,” the agent said. “The Realtors would sell them on a minimum payment, and that was an outright lie.”

This is predatory lending. The FBI, which has already arrested over 1000 people, should be hunting for all of these dirtbags, clawback any and all commissions from them — then toss them in jail.

And again, what some have termed “predatory borrowing” was in the real world, simply fraud perpetrated by bank employees and mortgage brokers: “[Managers] in the Irvine, Calif, office coached brokers to leave parts of applications blank to avoid prompting verification if the borrower’s job or income was sketchy.”

I’ve mentioned this many times before: Many of the people who have 2/28 ARMs had no idea they had a mortgage that was going to reset. I’ve spoken to many people who had no idea, and remain convinced its a paper work error. From what I personally saw from the sales staff at WaMu, this was not an accident.

Excerpt after the jump . . .

At WaMu, getting the job done meant lending money to nearly anyone who asked for it — the force behind the bank’s meteoric rise and its precipitous collapse this year in the biggest bank failure in American history.

On a financial landscape littered with wreckage, WaMu, a Seattle-based bank that opened branches at a clip worthy of a fast-food chain, stands out as a singularly brazen case of lax lending. By the first half of this year, the value of its bad loans had reached $11.5 billion, nearly tripling from $4.2 billion a year earlier.

Between 2001 and 2007, Mr. Killinger received compensation of $88 million, according to the Corporate Library, a research firm. He declined to respond to a list of questions, and his spokesman said he was unavailable for an interview.

During Mr. Killinger’s tenure, WaMu pressed sales agents to pump out loans while disregarding borrowers’ incomes and assets, according to former employees. The bank set up what insiders described as a system of dubious legality that enabled real estate agents to collect fees of more than $10,000 for bringing in borrowers, sometimes making the agents more beholden to WaMu than they were to their clients.

WaMu gave mortgage brokers handsome commissions for selling the riskiest loans, which carried higher fees, bolstering profits and ultimately the compensation of the bank’s executives. WaMu pressured appraisers to provide inflated property values that made loans appear less risky, enabling Wall Street to bundle them more easily for sale to investors.

>

Previously:
Tyler Cowen: “Predatory Borrowing The Bigger Problem” (January 2008)

http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2008/01/tyler-cowen-predatory-borrowing-the-bigger-problem/

Getting Mortgage Fraud Down to an Art (December 2008)

http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2008/12/getting-mortgage-fraud-down-to-an-art/

Source:
By Saying Yes, WaMu Built Empire on Shaky Loans
PETER S. GOODMAN and GRETCHEN MORGENSON
NYT, December 27, 2008

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/28/business/28wamu.html

Category: Bailouts, Corporate Management, Credit, Legal, Real Estate

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

33 Responses to ““If you were dead, they would still give you a loan”

  1. Vinnie Boombatz says:

    Even worse:

    “Top producers became heroes. Craig Clark, called the “king of the option ARM” by colleagues, closed loans totaling about $1 billion in 2005, according to four of his former coworkers, a tally he amassed in part by challenging anyone who doubted him. “He was a bulldozer when it came to getting his stuff done,” said Lisa Alvarez, who worked in the Irvine office from 2003 to 2006.

    Christine Crocker, who managed WaMu’s wholesale underwriting division in Irvine, recalled one mortgage to an elderly couple from a broker on Mr. Clark’s team. With a fixed income of about $3,200 a month, the couple needed a fixed-rate loan. But their broker earned a commission of three percentage points by arranging an option ARM for them, and did so by listing their income as $7,000 a month. Soon, their payment jumped from roughly $1,000 a month to about $3,000, causing them to fall behind. Mr. Clark, who now works for JPMorgan, referred calls to a company spokesman, who provided no further details.”

    ~~~

    What a total scumbag. And JPM still has this asswipe working for them? Remind me again why we are bailing these assholes out?

    This elderly couple should be suing the piss out of this little fucker. If they were a relative of mine, I would be introducing this cocksucker to the business end of a Louisville Slugger.

    Good luck typing a mortgage application with all of your fingers broken . . .

  2. Leisa says:

    I find it fascinating that it has taken the media THIS LONG to write this story. This story was timely 2 years ago when the public wanted to believe that this was a subprime issue. This has never been about subprime, but rather about minting money through fees. The loan documentation was fuzzy and loan resets (for both fixed payment and teaser rates) would be incomprehensible to any without an Excel spreadsheet. Overall, the journalism from mainstream media has been largely non-existent. What took them so long to write this story?

  3. cynicalgirl says:

    Yes, they do lend money to dead people. When my mom died 3 years ago, we opened the estate account with WaMu because her checking account was there. They gave us an estate account with a line of credit that nobody asked for.

  4. bonghiteric says:

    Leisa,
    Two years ago subprime, Alt-A, CDO, etc. had barely entered the common lexicon so there wasn’t a single reporter who knew the first word regarding structured finance and how to connect the dots to the impending real estate crash. Flash forward two years later and here we are. In this artcle the legal system has done all the legwork for the reporter via the class-action lawsuit. The reporter now just has to get some names, comments on the work environment and management and tie it to recycled public information on WAMU. The heavy lifting was already done. MSM at its finest.

  5. Greg0658 says:

    yep it was happenin all over the place … but why … widen your lens Big Picture

    imo:
    1. baby boomer retirement promises have been spent on things that will not return their value 2. so the intelligent designed a fix 3. ie disaster capitalism for the privy … disaster repossesions for the edgers 4. and finally a huge bankruptcy for America in General 5. ushering in the Amero and a rebirth for a new century

    what do I know … just ideas to ponder from a voice in the wilderness

  6. mlomker says:

    What I find interesting is the sociological aspects of this whole debacle. A lot of people bemoan the greed or say that free market economies can’t function on their own. This is a very simple case of getting more of what you incentivize. The government via Fannie and Freddie encouraged the packaging of loans and the mortgage originators paid everyone through the chain a higher commission on whatever they could make the most money on. How could it have turned out any other way? The real problem is that the people making the laws in this country are more interested in playing politics than understanding the consequences of the incentives that they create.

  7. cynical,

    you should check this: “Yes, they do lend money to dead people.”

    ‘Banks’ are, legally, Proscribed from lending ‘money’..

    Peeps should really figure out what ‘banks’ ‘lend’, who funds the transaction, and what the implicit rates of returns are, to the ‘banks’, in those transactions..

    Past that, if tripe, this story, as above, continues to pass for ‘investigative jouralism’, waay late as it is, we’ll, still, be in a WOS, years from now..

  8. danm says:

    If I had to blame someone in this whole real estate bubble, I would would have to say that the biggest culprits in my eyes, were the bankers. They were outright deceitful or fraudulent, preying on the unsavvy consumer.

    The bankers are the ones who had ALL the data and risk profiles yet they disregarded the facts. As consumers, we’ve been brought up to understand that bankers won’t take on a loan that could bankrupt them yet that did not stop them this time. Most of the population did not know about securitization.

    A couple of years ago, here in canada, I called my bank to refinance my mortgage. Had I taken a mortgage with frills, they would have seen me right away. When I told them I wanted a plain vanilla one, they told me they were too busy to see me as they were in their RRSP season. I called a mortgage broker and got what I wanted. I don’t want to think about what the average Joe who knows nothing about mortgages got when he called his bank.

  9. Patrick Neid says:

    Yup, it always comes back to the old “chicken or the egg” conundrum.

  10. danm says:

    I take it back… the culprit is the Fed. Isnt’t it the Fed who’s supposed to supervise the bankers?

  11. mknowles says:

    Here is an interesting response to subprime loan origination – Did anyone see the press release (below) from the Massachusetts AG, Lender can’t foreclose without court approval if loan origination was structurally unfair, “BOTSFORD, J. The Commonwealth, acting through the Attorney General, commenced this consumer protection enforcement action against the defendant Fremont Investment & Loan and its parent company, Fremont General Corporation (collectively, Fremont), claiming that Fremont, in originating and servicing certain “subprime” mortgage loans between 2004 and 2007 in Massachusetts, acted unfairly and deceptively in violation of G. L. c. 93A, § 2.” (link to opinion below, there’s a note that the lender has filed bankruptcy):
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    MARTHA COAKLEY
    ATTORNEY GENERAL OF MASSACHUSETTS

    December 09, 2008 – For immediate release:

    Supreme Judicial Court Affirms Injunction Obtained by Attorney General Martha Coakley Restricting Foreclosures by Subprime Lender, Fremont Investment & Loan

    BOSTON – In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) has affirmed the Superior Court’s order barring subprime lender Fremont Investment & Loan from foreclosing on any structurally unfair loan without court approval. The preliminary injunction, issued February 25, 2008, was the first order in the nation that restricted a subprime lender’s ability to foreclose based on unfair or deceptive loan origination misconduct. Today’s decision from the high court sets precedent by affirming the application of Consumer Protection Law to subprime lending and the foreclosure crisis.

    “In affirming the ruling of the Superior Court earlier this year, the SJC today confirmed what we have alleged for some time: that we have a likelihood of proving that it is illegal for subprime lenders to issue loans that they knew borrowers likely could not pay and, therefore, would predictably lead to foreclosure,” said Attorney General Coakley. “The SJC held that type of lending—without meaningful regard for a borrower’s ability to repay—is unfair and deceptive in violation of the Consumer Protection Act. A lender like Fremont who made those unsustainable loans should be required to achieve reasonable workouts and avoid foreclosures. Our office will continue to apply those standards and seek accountability from lenders who engaged in this unfair, deceptive, and illegal conduct and we will continue to seek significant relief from lenders that violate the Consumer Protection Act.”

    The decision confirms the fundamental aspects of Attorney General Martha Coakley’s lawsuit, which was filed in Suffolk Superior Court in October 2007, against California-based Fremont. The complaint contends that a lender’s failure to reasonably assess a borrower’s ability to repay his loan and the use of loan features that predictably lead to foreclosure is unfair and deceptive and in violation of Massachusetts law.

    Suffolk Superior Court Judge Ralph D. Gants found that the Attorney General’s Office had established a likelihood of success on the merits of her claim that Fremont committed an unfair act or practice by originating home mortgage loans that it knew the borrower would not be able to afford, thus inexorably leading to default and foreclosure.

    The Attorney General’s Office obtained an injunction on February 25, 2008 that requires Fremont to give it advance notice of its intent to foreclose on any home mortgage loan. The injunction also requires that Fremont work with the Attorney General’s Office to modify or restructure any loan that possesses characteristics that made the loan “presumptively unfair” in order to avoid foreclosure if at all possible. The injunction was further expanded on March 31, 2008 to ensure that the protections of the injunction extend to the purchasers of Fremont Massachusetts loans or the servicing obligations on those loans.

    The SJC affirmed Judge Gants’s finding that Fremont knew or should have known that the combination of features its loans contained essentially guarantee that the borrower would be unable to pay, and unless real estate values continued to rise indefinitely, would doom the borrower to foreclosure. This, the SJC confirmed, was unfair and deceptive and a violation of Massachusetts law.

    The high court also found that Fremont made no effort to determine whether borrowers could make the scheduled payments under the terms of the loan. Instead, Fremont loans were made with the understanding that house prices would increase, permitting its borrowers to refinance before higher payments began. The SJC found that relying on “such unsupportable optimism” instead of sound underwriting judgment was “unreasonable, and unfair to the borrower.”

    Today’s ruling stated that Fremont had ample notice that its conduct likely was unfair in light of numerous, prior warnings by state and federal regulators, and established, statutory expressions of unfairness found in Massachusetts law, including the Predatory Home Practice Act. The ruling further stated that the Superior Court’s order unquestionably served the public interest by requiring Fremont to explore alternatives to foreclosure in the first instance and only if foreclosure is unavoidable for it to seek court approval.

    The Attorney General’s Office filed suit on October 5, 2007, in Suffolk Superior Court against Fremont and its parent company, Fremont General Corporation based on the defendant’s unfair and deceptive loan origination and sales conduct. The complaint specifically alleges that the company was selling risky loan products that it knew was designed to fail, such as 100% financing loans and “no documentation” loans. The complaint further alleges that the company sold these loans through third party brokers and provided financial incentives to these brokers to sell high cost products. In addition to injunctive relief, the Attorney General’s Office is seeking civil penalties and restitution.

    View PDF of the SJC Opinion on Fremont:
    http://www.mass.gov/Cago/docs/press/2008_12_09_sjc_fremont.pdf
    Commonwealth vs. Fremont Investment & Loan

    This matter is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Christopher Barry-Smith, Chief of the Consumer Protection Division, Assistant Attorneys General Jean Healey, John Stephan, and Shannon Choy-Seymour, and Financial Investigator Christine Murphy, all of the Consumer Protection Division.

  12. For the good peep with, the faintest, Spirit of Inquiry:

    http://www.amazon.com/Creature-Jekyll-Island-Federal-Reserve/dp/0912986212
    By Jeffrey Leach (Omaha, NE USA) – See all my reviews

    G. Edward Griffin is to be commended for this splendid work. At first glance The Creature from Jekyll Island is a huge book. While this may be daunting to some, once the book is actually started, it flows smoothly and reads quickly. There are so many fascinating tidbits of information here that the reader won’t even be concerned about the size of the book. The title refers to the formation of the Federal Reserve System, which occurred at a secret meeting at Jekyll Island, Georgia in 1910. It was at this meeting, as Griffin relates, that the “Money Trust”, composed of the richest and most powerful bankers in the world, along with a U.S. Senator, wrote the proposal to launch the Federal Reserve System (which Griffin calls a banking cartel) to control the financial system so that the bankers will always come out on top…

    That this book was FOS, we should be so lucky..

    To download/play
    The Creature from Jekyll Island
    http://www.spielbauer.com/JekyllDownload.htm

    the d-load, above, I have no personal knowledge of..

  13. Steve Barry says:

    JM Morgan Chase…another slut. Everytime I walked into my branch they would beg me to take out a home equity line. Within the last month, I went in to open a CD. They said, “why open a CD, when you can open a annuity with a better rate?…talk to our in-house advisor” Not knowing much about annuities, I said I would think about it…he never told me that I would be locking my money in till age 59 or take a penalty for withdrawal. The guy wanted his commission. Instead, I opened the 5 year CD at 5%. My revenge is that CD is now paying only 4%…I basically beat them for 1%.

  14. Moss says:

    I doubt this will do much to rebuke those that still believe the CRA, Fannie, Freddie the Fed. and the borrowers were the main culprits. As I have said before.. to admit as much is a self indictment of the very philosophy that makes them who they are. I find it ironic to hear these people say they hate Bush now since he has given up on capitalism. The system, as defined by the Conservative Economic philosophy and embraced by all politicians has failed.

  15. Transor Z says:

    Maybe a stupid question, but… ARMs that reset in 2009 pegged to current LIBOR/Fed rates won’t be a problem for borrowers, right?

    So the Times is just re-treading stuff that regular blue collar people with common sense have known about for the last 3+ years?

  16. wally says:

    I doubt very much that there will ever be any serious attempt by any law enforcement or regulatory agency to do anything to go after people who did this sort of thing.
    In the more rarified world of investment banking we have already rewarded those who took the baton from the mortgage originators and ran the next leg. In fact, we have promised a part of our future to keep them out of harm’s way.
    There is no civilized response left to US citizens about these things. Go sit in the coffee shop and whine, complain about it at work, post it on a blog. So what? You’ve been looted and the looters are now running things. Equally bad, to me, is that this all happened with the economics profession cheering on the sidelines in pollyanna ignorance.

  17. Mannwich says:

    This akin to Abu Graib (sp?) where the lower level employees take all of the heat, while the higher-ups get away scott-free. The likes if Killinger, Mozillo and others at the top should be sitting in a jail cells right now but are instead sitting on the beach with their millions intact.

  18. Jeff,

    re: sp?

    http://www.icerocket.com/search?tab=blog&fr=h&q=Abu+Gharib

    http://blogs.icerocket.com/search?tab=web&q=Abu+Gharib
    ~~

    Moss,

    with: “The system, as defined by the Conservative Economic philosophy and embraced by all politicians has failed.”

    see: “..this all happened with the economics profession cheering on the sidelines in pollyanna ignorance.”–wally

    the ‘Econ Pros’ are JMK-acolytes, the vast majority, or U CHI-derivatives..

    big problem is/was JMK was a PoliSci-Fin author, not an Political Economist, in the ‘classical’ sense..

    the aptness, of this:
    Practical men … are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. —John Maynard Keynes

    needs to speak for itself..

  19. just doug says:

    While I agree with most of the comments about predatory lending and fraud on the part of WaMu (and others) I have little sympathy for the borrowers in these cases. When taking on a claim against your future to the tune of more than several times your annual income only the most reckless fool does so without doing due diligence – and just because that sort of stupidity is rampant doesn’t excuse or justify it.

    I used to know a guy that tested BMX parts by riding bikes off the roof of his house. Even his parents didn’t really feel that sorry for all his dismemberments. I see many of these borrowers in the same light.

    I worked with a number of low income people over the last decade who could be considered victims of these practices and when questioned none understood what they were signing but at the same time all knew they were getting loans and houses they had no business getting. And all persisted even after I explained to them what was going on and the likely consequences. So in their minds if they were getting screwed it was still a fair deal since they were returning the favor. And with that in mind they headed off the roof…

  20. ottovbvs says:

    This illegality went on in these organizations because it was company policy for it to go on. This is not Nick Leeson or the French guy whose name I forget, operating in some little corner unobserved. Mozilo and Killinger let this go on because they were making a lot of money personally and so they either encouraged the activity or turned a blind eye. Someone made an analogy with the Defense dept and Abu Ghraib and while this is probably a bit controversial it’s not that far fetched. This sort of stuff doesn’t go in a big organization without the folks at the top knowing about it. Whether they’ll ever catch up with them is another matter.

  21. ottovbvs says:

    just doug Says:

    December 28th, 2008 at 11:02 am

    All that you say may be true Doug, there are a lot of incredibly dumb people around, but they have to be protected from themselves particularly when they produce a load of collateral damage that affects the rest of us. For example would you really want to keep renewing the license of a habitual DUI offender, or leave some mother in charge of her children when she neglects them. We’re not living in the Wild West any longer but in modern integrated societies.

  22. Mannwich says:

    Thanks Hoffer. Was too lazy (or maybe just too sick of it all) in my Sunday morning stupor to look it up. Very unusual of me but perhaps all of this crap is finally wearing me down to the point of not caring anymore……

    When many of us finally do “capitulate” (I’m not there yet) and really don’t care anymore, that’s when we’ll have our market “BOTTOM”.

  23. Mannwich says:

    @just doug: True to some extent but the last I checked, if these banks cared about staying in business, they’d care about whether or not the loan could be paid back. That’a pretty fundamental to loan $$, is it not?

    Since they didn’t seem to care and that this fraud seemed to be systemic, the fact that we’re bailing out this rotten system and many of these rotten people (and they were ALL in on it, let’s face it) is beyond ludicrous.

  24. VoiceFromTheWilderness says:

    Couldn’t agree more, and glad someone somewhere is calling out the truth.

  25. Bob A says:

    Nothing more or less than an organized crime operation undercover of a legitimate bank.

    And World Savings

    And … … … … … … … …

    Why not just say so?

    In CA you get life in prison for a third strike offense even if it’s stealing a sixpack from 7-11.

    And Kerry Killinger is doing what this Christmas?

  26. James says:

    And again, what some have termed “predatory borrowing” was in the real world, simply fraud perpetrated by bank employees and mortgage brokers: “[Managers] in the Irvine, Calif, office coached brokers to leave parts of applications blank to avoid prompting verification if the borrower’s job or income was sketchy.”

    ———————-

    And how is it that bank CEOs and other decision makers aren’t facing charges for such fraud? Much like Ken Lay, they knew how their numbers were being generated.

  27. mark mchugh says:

    All things considered, I still like Vinnie’s proposed solution the best. It’s the only one that would make me feel better

  28. Dow says:

    mark,
    It’s in the bankers’ best interests to start dragging everyone into court before it’s too late. Otherwise yes, Vinnie will take the law into his own hands at which point, the nation is lost.

  29. Pat G. says:

    And now that the 3 month LIBOR rate has fallen 70% since 10-10 when it was at 4.82%, the financial institutions are reluctant to make ANY loans. From one extreme to the other.

  30. CJ says:

    @Tranzor Z said:

    “Maybe a stupid question, but… ARMs that reset in 2009 pegged to current LIBOR/Fed rates won’t be a problem for borrowers, right?”

    Very few pay option adjustable rate mortgages are set to LIBOR. According to Mr. Mortgage (making a special guest appearance in the BP Cafe) more than 80% of them use a measure called the Monthly Treasury Average, with only small number using LIBOR.

    This is also explained in a good piece by Doctor Housing Bubble called Option ARMs for Dummies: Why 4.5 Percent Mortgage Rates will do Absolutely Nothing for these Toxic Assets.

    Yes I know that referring to authorities named Mr. Mortgage and Dr. Housing Bubble does look bizarre, but I’ve had more than enough experience with real estate and they’re both excellent sources.

  31. Yet even by WaMu’s relaxed standards, one mortgage four years ago raised eyebrows. The borrower was claiming a six-figure income and an unusual profession: mariachi singer.
    Mr. Parsons could not verify the singer’s income, so he had him photographed in front of his home dressed in his mariachi outfit. The photo went into a WaMu file. Approved.
    “I’d lie if I said every piece of documentation was properly signed and dated,” said Mr. Parsons, speaking through wire-reinforced glass at a California prison near here, where he is serving 16 months for theft after his fourth arrest — all involving drugs.
    While Mr. Parsons, whose incarceration is not related to his work for WaMu, oversaw a team screening mortgage applications, he was snorting methamphetamine daily, he said.
    “In our world, it was tolerated,” said Sherri Zaback, who worked for Mr. Parsons and recalls seeing drug paraphernalia on his desk. “Everybody said, ‘He gets the job done.’ ”

    This has got to take the cake.

  32. Transor Z says:

    @CJ: Thanks! I should do a better job of searching the site.

    Based on those pieces, the answer to the question I asked looks like, “Kinda sorta, depending on the mortgage type.” The information re: lender spread and other insidious aspects of Option ARMs is really good to know.

    A lot of people took out ARMs based on how long they planned (hoped?) to live in the home. So the mentality was like financing a car lease. Rising RE prices would cover any early payment penalties and/or even yield a nice profit on the back end.

    Much has been made of creating an “ownership society.” I’d be curious to know, though, to what extent American’s notions of “ownership” have changed from the goal of a traditional “permanent” family residence to a series of more temporary homes, like a car lease. If anyone has any good links that address this question, I’d appreciate it.

  33. [...] were following your orders to lend to any individual or institution that could fog and mirror (and even some that can’t), then you “collateralize” title to all these inflated streams of unrepayable debt [...]