Posts filed under “Legal”
“In hindsight, it was spot on.”
-Jeffrey Brown, former top official at the Office of Comptroller of the Currency, one of the first agencies to raise concerns about risky lending.
A brutally damning article about the warnings the Bush administration received and ignored was published this morning by the Associated Press. The AP summed up the philosophy of the Bush White House, writing: “The administration’s blind eye to the impending crisis is emblematic of its governing philosophy, which trusted market forces and discounted the value of government intervention in the economy. Its belief ironically has ushered in the most massive government intervention since the 1930s.”
The Bush administration backed off proposed crackdowns on no-money-down, interest-only mortgages years before the economy collapsed, buckling to pressure from some of the same banks that have now failed. It ignored remarkably prescient warnings that foretold the financial meltdown, according to an Associated Press review of regulatory documents.
“Expect fallout, expect foreclosures, expect horror stories,” California mortgage lender Paris Welch wrote to U.S. regulators in January 2006, about one year before the housing implosion cost her a job.
Bowing to aggressive lobbying — along with assurances from banks that the troubled mortgages were OK — regulators delayed action for nearly one year. By the time new rules were released late in 2006, the toughest of the proposed provisions were gone and the meltdown was under way.
“These mortgages have been considered more safe and sound for portfolio lenders than many fixed rate mortgages,” David Schneider, home loan president of Washington Mutual, told federal regulators in early 2006. Two years later, WaMu became the largest bank failure in U.S. history.
Bank regulators had proposed new guidelines for writing risky loans in 2005, but were rebuffed by the White House. The proposed regulations might have avoided the worst fo the housing and credit crisis, had they been enacted.
What was so especially damning was these proposals were all stripped from the final Administrative rules by the Bush White House. None required congressional approval or even the president’s signature:
• Before banks could purchase mortgages from brokers, they should verify the process to ensure buyers could afford their homes.
• Regulators told bankers exotic mortgages were often inappropriate for buyers with bad credit.
• Banks would have been required to increase efforts to verify that buyers actually had jobs and could afford houses.
• Regulators proposed a cap on risky mortgages so a string of defaults wouldn’t be crippling.
• Banks that bundled and sold mortgages were told to be sure investors knew exactly what they were buying.
• Regulators urged banks to help buyers make responsible decisions and clearly advise them that interest rates might skyrocket and huge payments might be due sooner than expected.
The banks that lobbied most aggressively against the rules reads like a who’s who of bankruptcy and FDIC conservatorship: IndyMac, Countrywide Financial, Washington Mutual, Lehman Brothers, and Downey Savings.
US diluted loan rules before crash
AP, December 1, 2008
Government warned of mortgage meltdown
Regulators ignored warnings about risky mortgages, delayed regulations on the industry.
December 1, 2008: 6:38 AM ET
WSJ: SEC charges Dallas Mavericks owner and Internet entrepreneur Mark Cuban with insider trading related to sales of Mamma.com, now known as Copernic. The Securities and Exchange Commission filed insider trading charges against Mark Cuban, the outspoken owner of the Dallas Mavericks, for allegedly dumping shares in Mamma.com upon learning it was raising money in…Read More
“Some people look at subprime lending and see evil. I look at subprime lending and I see the American dream in action. My mother lived it as a result of a finance company making a mortgage loan that a bank would not make.” -former United States senator Phil Gramm > There was a fascinating front…Read More
Front page NYT article on the increasing number of personal bankruptcy filings:
The number of personal bankruptcy filings jumped nearly 8 percent in October from September, after marching steadily upward for the last two years, said Mike Bickford, president of Automated Access to Court Electronic Records, a bankruptcy data and management company.
Filings totaled 108,595, surpassing 100,000 for the first time since a law that made it more difficult — and often twice as expensive — to file for bankruptcy took effect in 2005. That translated to an average of 4,936 bankruptcies filed each business day last month, up nearly 34 percent from October 2007.
Let me remind you that this bill was pushed by the credit card industry — mostly based on claims that were factually inaccurate. Now, the same industry weasels who pushed this legislation thru are going back to DC begging for TARP money and a handout.
Question: How long before The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 act — a 1997 credit card industry drafted boondoggle, signed by President Bush — gets revised or even revoked?
The wide-opposed bill — dislike by consumer advocates, legal scholars, retired bankruptcy judges — was passed after the credit card industry spent more than $100 million lobbying for the bill. (See this Bloomberg video on Credit Cards and the TARP)
Downturn Drags More Consumers Into Bankruptcy
TARA SIEGEL BERNARD and JENNY ANDERSON
NYT, November 15, 2008
Yesterday’s Washington Post had a chilling article about the trillion dollars in bailout money. It is, lacking a better word, rogue — there is no real oversight committee or audit rules in place. The key watchdog roles remain unfilled. WaPo: In the six weeks since lawmakers approved the Treasury’s massive bailout of financial firms, the…Read More
Front page article in the Washington Post today, calling attention to a highly questionable aspect of the $750 billion bailout plan: A Quiet Windfall For U.S. Banks. We learn from WaPo that the Treasury Department slipped through a $140 billion tax windfall to US banks — in theory repealing 1986 legislation, passed by Congress and…Read More
Joe Kernan on CNBC continues to get this not just a little bit wrong, but terribly, horribly, mind numbingly wrong. His favorite NYT article comes form 1999 (he referenced it again this morning). This piece has become a right wing meme: Fannie Mae Eases Credit To Aid Mortgage Lending. The article discusses a 24 bank,…Read More