CFPB Looks Into Deceptive Mortgage Advertising

By: Tuesday November 20, 2012 6:45 am

With the dismaying foreclosure fraud settlement in the rear view mirror and happy days here again for the housing market (at least that’s what the analysts tell me), you’d be surprised to know that lenders continue to work their hardest to rip off their customers. Two regulators have opened an investigation into their deceptive marketing tactics

 

Bernanke Wants Looser Lending Standards in Bubble Reinflation Effort

By: Saturday November 17, 2012 1:00 pm

I don’t know why I felt so insulted by Ben Bernanke’s housing speech yesterday, but it really stuck with me. Probably because he managed to give an entire speech on housing – one that at points implicitly blamed homeowners for their predicaments – without mentioning the word “fraud.” Or saying “I’m sorry.”

It was very much a forward-looking rather than backward-looking speech. But he describes the foreclosure crisis as the prime contributor to the Great Recession without bothering to mention that his agency had oversight responsibility over the mortgage market throughout the inflation of the housing bubble. The Greenspan Fed rejected consumer protection or regulation of any kind as a matter of ideology. And Bernanke wasn’t about to let that fact be known to the Operation HOPE audience. In fact, his message was that originators aren’t writing ENOUGH loans at this point

Administration Housing Policy in a Second Term

By: Sunday November 11, 2012 8:45 am

Of all the thumbsuckers about the second-term Obama agenda I’ve read, the ones that reflect the least contact with reality concern Administration housing policy.

It’s beyond clear that the first-term policy framework sought to protect banks and allocate losses from the collapse of the housing bubble elsewhere. That was the point behind HAMP, designed to “foam the runway” for the banks, allowing them to squeeze out a few extra payments from borrowers and absorb foreclosures more slowly. That was the point behind the foreclosure fraud settlement, reacting to the largest consumer fraud in the history of the world by immunizing the conduct in exchange for a pittance of a fine. That was the point behind a financial fraud task force that turned up precious little financial fraud and sought criminal prosecutions of no individual.

The Banks Devise a New Deal for Homeowners: Token Relief for Liability Waivers

By: Sunday October 28, 2012 4:00 pm

The failings of the 49-state foreclosure fraud settlement have by now become so obvious that even traditional media cannot ignore it. When half of the $2.5 billion earmarked as a hard-dollar penalty to states for aid and relief for struggling homeowners just gets sucked up into filling state budget holes, you can hardly make any excuses. And the other 90% of the settlement isn’t exactly destined to flow into the hands of homeowners, either; as we know, banks will probably honor up to 1/4 of their “penalty” by doing things they already do as a routine part of their business.

There’s another potential element to this that we’re already starting to see. In relation to a resolution outside the settlement, Wells Fargo has been sending along refund checks to homeowners who overpaid for loans that the bank steered them into. Just one thing, though: the refund checks, if cashed, serve as a legal claim of liability release.

Break Up the Banks for a Faster Economy

By: Saturday October 27, 2012 12:00 pm

This week, ex-banker Charles Morris, who was featured in the documentary Inside Job, brings us compelling evidence that countries with a large financial sector create lesser economic growth than countries that have restrained that sector. While a well-functioning financial system is key to growth, there’s a balance that needs to be struck.

Homeowners Lost $2 Trillion in Housing Wealth By Living Near Foreclosures

By: Thursday October 25, 2012 7:36 am

“Why should we bail out the loser’s mortgages,” Rick Santelli yelled in his proto-Tea Party rant. And ever since, practically everyone in Washington has taken care to say that homeowner relief should only be available for “responsible” homeowners, as if there’s a formula to decide whether someone ripped off by a predatory lender is “responsible” or not.

But there’s actually a good answer for why you want to bail out “the loser’s mortgages,” and it’s rooted in basic economics.

CFPB Report on Student Loan Servicing Shows Same Predatory Tactics as Mortgage Servicing

By: Monday October 22, 2012 9:00 am

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released an eye-opening report on student lending late last week that got me thinking about a simple truth I think I had overlooked previously. I’ve documented for well over a year the extent to which mortgage servicers make their profits almost entirely through ripping off their customers, adding on unnecessary fees, and basically using opaque processes to skim money off the top.

Puncturing the Housing Optimism Bubble

By: Tuesday October 16, 2012 12:45 pm

The housing bulls have really started to run wild now. One of them planted this rose-colored story in Bloomberg arguing that consumer deleveraging points to happy times ahead for the economy. The only problem is that the deleveraging comes from defaultsrather than any paying down of debts. And these defaults are destructive for an economy, not a sign of hope.

Housing Has “Turned the Corner” – For Banks

By: Friday October 12, 2012 8:10 am

JPMorgan Chase, feeling little ill effects from the federal attempts at investigation of their business practices, announced a major earnings jump of 34%. Part of this comes from the fact that the previous earnings report included most of the losses from the Fail Whale trades (which have increased to $6.25 billion, as per this earnings report), so this comes off a low bottom. But in the earnings call, CEO Jamie Dimon attributed the strength to increased consumer lending, and he added that the housing market has “turned the corner.”

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