FDL Book Salon Welcomes Eric John Abrahamson, Building Home: Howard F. Ahmanson and the Politics of the American Dream

By: Saturday August 17, 2013 1:59 pm

Are you old enough to remember when Masters of the Universe actually felt the need to give back? Can you remember the days when regulations were seen as good things? When the phrase “consumer protection” was used by someone other than Elizabeth Warren? If you’re too young to remember what the world was like when we had decades of prosperity and relative economic fairness in the “managed economy”, or if you want to take stroll down memory lane, back to the days of economic regulation, you may want to crack the spine on this book.

 

The Pileup Behind the Fiscal Slope, and the Consequences of Inaction

By: Friday December 21, 2012 10:23 am

Say what you will about the 2010 deal to extend the Bush tax cuts, which helped to set up what we’re seeing this month. But there was definitely a virtue in getting it done by early December, allowing for a productive lame duck session that repealed Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, passed the New START arms reduction treaty, and several other measures. Because this entire lame duck has been consumed with fiscal slope negotiations, and really only the tax rate and social insurance part of it, bills that might have had a chance to pass through Congress if the pipeline were unclogged instead remain dormant. And unlike 2010, the bills in question in 2012 are more of the must-pass variety.

Glenn Hubbard’s Hilarious Deposition on Behalf of Countrywide

By: Friday December 21, 2012 8:16 am

More than half of the loans Glenn Hubbard “studied” came from lenders being sued by other entities for fraud in their underwriting process.

It’s pretty incredible that Hubbard, an academic, thought he could throw this fastball by lawyers involved in MBS litigation for years and years. And it’s almost a shock that Countrywide got so little for their money.

The Mortgage Scam Against Widows, and Why No Mortgage Lender Should Ever Get Legal Immunity

By: Thursday December 20, 2012 5:54 am

Dealbook had an item about the qualified mortgage rule and the bid by mortgage lenders to acquire a “safe harbor,” essentially a shield against consumer lawsuits, in the process. I’ve already gone over this topic and continue to oppose giving banks a safe harbor of any kind on the merits. But just to shift gears away from the precise details for a moment, consider why you would want to give any entity that does something like this protection from legal exposure:

Yes, We’re Still in the Middle of a Foreclosure Crisis

By: Friday December 14, 2012 5:55 am

The Office of Mortgage Settlement Oversight released some interesting data on the first-lien and second-lien portfolios of the five services sanctioned in the foreclosure fraud settlement. Calculated Risk reproduces the data here. Despite the heavy investment in a narrative of the foreclosure crisis being over and the housing recovery underway, these loan portfolios show substantial weakness at the big banks, particularly Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase. Even at Wells Fargo, the bank with the best data here, nearly 1 in 11 first-lien mortgages in their portfolio are in some stage of delinquency.

That number widens with BofA, which only has 84.4% of its loans current, and 4.81% in foreclosure, well above traditional averages. JPMorgan Chase’s foreclosure rate is 5.06%.

These just aren’t good numbers, and they suggest continuing softness in the sector. Worse, home seizures have begun to rise for the first time in two years.

Short Sales Increase As Debt Relief Tax Time Bomb Nears

By: Friday December 7, 2012 5:54 am

I’ve had more than a few assurances that Congress would get its act together and pass an extension of the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act, so that underwater homeowners who get some debt relief won’t have a big tax bill staring them in the face to make their financial situation even worse. But if that’s the case, you have to wonder why lenders are packing in so many short sales as we near the expiration date.

Justice: Wells Fargo Still Liable for FHA Abuse, Despite Foreclosure Fraud Settlement

By: Monday December 3, 2012 2:52 pm

Late last week, the Justice Department issued a filing that attempts to reinforce the release limitations set by the foreclosure fraud settlement, stopping Wells Fargo from reimagining the deal as a broader release of liability on various mortgage claims. However, a judge will have to make the final decision.

The US sued Wells Fargo in late October over issuing insurance claims on FHA loans while knowing that the loans did not meet underwriting requirements set by the agency. Wells charged in court that these specific charges were covered under the foreclosure fraud settlement. I actually thought Wells made a fairly compelling case on that front, but the DoJ disagrees.

White House Makes Aggressive Opening Bid in Fiscal Slope Negotiations

By: Thursday November 29, 2012 4:48 pm

In the context of doing a deficit reduction deal at all, this is an extremely strong bid that Tim Geithner delivered to John Boehner today. Now we know why Boehner whined and cried all afternoon.

Let’s walk through it.

Financial Services Roundtable Joins Up With Homeowner Group to Urge Extension of Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Tax Relief

By: Thursday November 29, 2012 4:00 pm

It’s not often that the homeowner advocates at the Center for Responsible Lending and the bank lobbyists at the Financial Services Roundtable agree on anything. But they’re teaming up on urging Congress to extend the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act, which would continue the foreclosure crisis-era policy of forgiving payment of taxes on debt forgiveness like a principal reduction or a short sale.

In letters to the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee, which have jurisdiction over tax law, CRL and the FSR describe the debt relief law as “critical to helping homeowners and communities struggling with the ongoing foreclosure crisis.” They also note that failing to extend the law would threaten a housing recovery.

On Economy, Justice, Obama Housing Plan Fell Well Short

By: Monday November 26, 2012 11:15 am

Geithner’s protestations about employing the “best feasible solutions” are really disingenuous. Unless by “feasible” he means the “solutions which hold banks the most harmless.” The truth is that Geithner wanted to protect banks and their bondholders at all costs, and that didn’t match with delivering debt relief to borrowers. Period.

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