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Obama to Use Pension Funds of Ordinary Americans to Pay for Bank Mortgage “Settlement”

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Obama’s latest housing market chicanery should come as no surprise. As we discuss below, he will use the State of the Union address to announce a mortgage “settlement” by Federal regulators, and at least some state attorneys general. It’s yet another gambit designed to generate a campaign talking point while making the underlying problem worse.

The president seems to labor under the misapprehension that crimes by members of the elite must be swept under the rug because prosecuting them would destablize the system. What he misses is that we are well past the point where coverups will work, and they may even blow up before the November elections. If nothing else, his settlement pact has a non-trivial Constitutional problem which the Republicans, if they are smart, will use to undermine the deal and discredit the Administration.

To add insult to injury, Obama is apparently going to present his belated Christmas present to the banking industry as a boon to ordinary citizens. He refused to appoint a real middle class advocate, Elizabeth Warren, to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, but he’s not above stealing her talking points.

We and other commentators have discussed how the mortgage settlement negotiations nominally led by Iowa attorney general Tom Miller had descended into farce. Almost nothing the Miller camp said was believable. They were presented as “attorney general” discussions when the Administration was pulling the strings. They’ve described a deal as weeks away for over a year. They kept claiming that they had undertaken investigations when not a single subpoena was issued by the AGs still involved in the negotiations. They’ve argued from the get go that a pact will be good for homeowners when the deal reached by under-resourced Nevada attorney general Catherine Cortez Masto with a single servicer, Saxon, resulted in a payout that is 10 to 20 times what the Administration is calling a victory. And that assumes that the banks will live up to their side of the deal when past settlements of servicing abuses have shown that they don’t.

The administration has finally woken up to the fact that the housing mess is almost certain to get worse before it gets better, and Obama must therefore be armed with better propaganda. The Miller-led talks have become a bit of an embarrassment and needed to be put out of their misery. So Team Obama and Federal banking regulators have agreed on terms and as we discussed last Friday, are upping the pressure on state attorneys general to fall into line. As reported by Shahien Nasiripour of the Financial Times:

Banks and government negotiators have cleared a big hurdle in efforts to resolve allegations of widespread mortgage-related misdeeds, agreeing on terms for a settlement that are being circulated to the 50 US states for approval, state officials and a bank representative say.

The proposed pact would potentially reduce mortgage balances and monthly payments by more than $25bn for distressed US homeowners…

State prosecutors have already received a set of documents detailing new mortgage servicing standards that the banks and the government negotiators have agreed to. The states were also being sent documents detailing other main components of the deal, such as the liability release for the banks, the so-called “menu” of options describing the various forms of aid to be given to borrowers, as well as the precise language of the so-called “most favoured nation” clause, which spells out how participating states in the deal would be eligible to receive more advantageous terms should a holdout state strike a more favourable deal on its own with the five targeted banks.

The story did not outline terms, but previous leaks have indicated that the bulk of the supposed settlement would come not in actual monies paid by the banks (the cash portion has been rumored at under $5 billion) but in credits given for mortgage modifications for principal modifications. There are numerous reasons why that stinks. The biggest is that servicers will be able to count modifying first mortgages that were securitized toward the total. Since one of the cardinal rules of finance is to use other people’s money rather than your own, this provision virtually guarantees that investor-owned mortgages will be the ones to be restructured. Why is this a bad idea? The banks are NOT required to write down the second mortgages that they have on their books. This reverses the contractual hierarchy that junior lienholders take losses before senior lenders. So this deal amounts to a transfer from pension funds and other fixed income investors to the banks, at the Administration’s instigation.

Another reason the modification provision is poorly structured is that the banks are given a dollar target to hit. That means they will focus on modifying the biggest mortgages. So help will go to a comparatively small number of grossly overhoused borrowers, no doubt reinforcing the “profligate borrower” meme.

But those criticisms assume two other things: that the program is actually implemented. The experience with past consent decrees in the mortgage space is that the servicers get a legal get out of jail free card, a release, and do not hold up their end of the deal. Similarly, we’ve seen bank executives swear in front of Congress in late 2010 that they had stopped robosigning, which turned out to be a brazen lie. So here, odds favor that servicers will pretty much do nothing except perhaps be given credit for mortgage modifications they would have made anyhow.

There are two clever features of the deal, but neither look intended to benefit ordinary citizens. One is that the deal throws some funding at chronically cash stressed mortgage counselors. They are thus certain to voice approval of the pact. The other is (per the FT story) the deal’s “most favored nations clause” is designed to reduce the bargaining leverage of any AGs that go their own way. It means that any servicer will have the incentive to fight hard against giving any state a better deal because it will automagically trigger improved terms across the states that signed on to the Federal deal. But this may have interesting perverse effects, since banks that refuse to settle with breakaway AGs will ultimately have damages awarded by a court. That means longer and most costly fights by the states, but in most cases, ultimately bigger awards (frankly, the fact set is so bad that all the state AGs need to do is focus on fairly conservative legal theories to have good odds of scoring big wins).

Dave Dayen seemed to think that the AG rebellion was likely to stay firm, given how few of the Democrats were going to Chicago on Monday for an arm-twisting meeting with HUD head Shaun Donovan and an unnamed emissary from the Department of Justice. I would not be so certain. With states so budget starved, I don’t see how anyone can justify sending a live body to Chicago when a phone briefing would work just as well. More important, the most favored nation clause is nasty, and may nudge some fence-sitters over the line.

And I have also been told that Donovan was on the Hill late last week pressuring Congressmen to support the deal. Since this is a regulatory measure that does not require Congressional approval, this move is meant to deprive dissenting state AGs from any support in local media from sympathetic Congressmen. For instance, 31 California representatives wrote the Justice Department, the Federal Reserve and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency calling on them to “investigate possible violations of law or regulations by financial institutions in their handling of delinquent mortgages, mortgage modifications and foreclosures.” Clearly they could be expected to support California attorney general Kamala Harris’ withdrawal of the deal. Donovon is trying to get them and like minded solons speaking from the Obama script.

But the Administration’s scheme may not be playing out according to script. Senator Sherrod Brown sent a letter last week to associate attorney general Thomas Perelli, Donovan, the CFPB’s Richard Cordray and Tom Miller criticizing the settlement pact. It could have been written by Naked Capitalism readers. Key section:

Now while Republicans may relish the specter of Democrats infighting, the fact is no one is going to want to be seen to be undermining the leader of the party in an election year. So that will put a damper on how aggressive the opponents will be. And media outlets have been amplifying Obama’s efforts to take credit for gravity. For instance, the Administration is touting the fall in foreclosures as an indicator of success when their policies have ranged from do nothing to disasters like HAMP. The fall in foreclosures is actually a sign of failure, as banks are attenuating the process more and more, in some cases due to their inability to come up with necessary documentation, in others out of a desire to wring even more fees out of investors (when a borrower can’t pay, the bank’s fees come first out of the eventual sale of the house).

Either a Gingrich nomination or Romney getting too dented during Republican primary fights increase the odds of what heretofore seemed impossible: an Obama win in November. So if the Republicans were smart, they’d take advantage of a serious weakness in this deal: that it violates the 5th Amendment takings clause. I am told by Bill Frey of Greenwich Financial that a servicer safe harbor provision in HAMP, which was supposed to shield servicers from investor lawsuits over mortgage modifications, was passed by both the House and Senate but was removed in reconciliation because that provision would have run afoul of the 5th Amendment. This settlement is intended to have servicers engage in even more aggressive mortgage modifications and would thus seem to have precisely the same Constitutional problem.

As I urged last week, please call your state attorney general and tell them you think taking from your pension to enrich banks for abusing homeowners is a lousy idea and they should therefore refuse to sign on to the settlement. You can find their phone numbers here. Please call today if you haven’t already. Thanks!

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135 comments

  1. Middle Seaman

    It seems that the Obama gang never tires in its efforts to protect, enrich and serve the financial institutions. To the average citizen that should be repulsive. A Republican candidate may boil down the effort into: “Obama tries to rob you blind again” with hilarious results.

    It also appears to be proven that campaign donations from the elite to Obama’s 2008 run were predicated of the donors knowing exactly who they are dealing with.

    1. sgt_doom

      Yeah, we’ve got Obama of Wall Street, or this guy of Wall Street:

      http://www.salon.com/2012/01/20/the_roots_of_bain_capital_in_el_salvador/singleton/

      When Louis Brandeis was testifying before the US Senate on monopolies and combinations and trusts, he continuously repeated the phrase, but “..there must be the enforcement of criminal law.”

      We could sure use his testimony today, just as he was so important in pointing out the very few who owned so much of America back in the early part of the 20th century (J.P. Morgan’s Money Trust, etc.) through interlocking directorates and interlocking stock ownership, we need and require someone of his genius and stature to explain who owns JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, Bank of America, ExxonMobil, BP, etc. etc. etc.

      Plus, we need Obama to read that frigging Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission Report, especially the passage on Clayton Holdings and Vicki Beal.

    2. Cugel

      And massive donations to Romney as well of course. The Bankters aren’t picky about who gets elected and after all it’s Chump Change compared with the profits they stand to make.

      That is after all the cardinal rule of lobbying. Have BOTH sides beholden to you and then you can’t lose whoever wins.

      1. Nathanael

        This is why I’m predicting the collapse of the federal government.

        The banksters have bought both sides, but the situation is so bad that the banksters’ preferred solution is *impossible*. By forcing whoever they put in power to try to implement an *impossible* solution, they merely discredit the entire government. An unwise move.

        Though people may doubt it, governments exist based largely on the consent of the governed.

    3. Batman

      People like to toss around the term class warfare in the context of “rich” versus ” poor.” But there’s another kind of class warfare going on: those with lobbyists versus those without lobbyists.

      Those with lobbyists push for tax loopholes to lower THEIR tax rates, get subsidies & bailouts for THEIR businesses, legal immunity legislation to protect THEM from being sued for THEIR corruption etc. Perhaps no segment of our economy is committing these abuses on a greater scale than those on Wall St. According to opensecrets . org , “the financial sector is far and away the largest source of campaign contributions to federal candidates and parties, with insurance companies, securities and investment firms, real estate interests and commercial banks providing the bulk of that money.”

      Those without lobbyists just go to work every day, pay their taxes and take responsibility for their actions.

      People without lobbyists need to wake up to the corruption and greed of those with lobbyists. Every day THEIR lobbyists are working to manipulate YOUR government to THEIR advantage at YOUR expense.

      It’s time to hold Goldman Sachs and the like accountable. End too big to fail, too big for jail. Vote against all politicians who prostitute themselves to Wall St. Vote for America and against your own economic enslavement. Vote against Wall St.

      1. LeonovaBalletRusse

        Sounds like there needs to be a MORATORIUM on LOBBYING by registered lobbyists as well as non-registered lobbyists (such as Newt Gengrich for Freddie Mac–in which case his non-declaration of lobbying activity may have been illegal, since he was ipso facto a lobbyist for Freddie Mac & Principals interests).

  2. bhikshuni

    So much for Occupy DC (thanks for the middle finger, Mr. President!)

    Where is Rep Alan Grayson? He must have something to say about this too!

    Thanks, Ms. Yves, for you continued vigilant reporting!

    1. Heavy Armor

      If Alan Grayson has something to say, it would be as a private citizen. He was swept out of office back in 2010 when the DNC let him whither on a vine for not towing the company line.

  3. goldenruler

    A relative, who clearly qualifies for relief under HAMP(death of spouse hardship and meets all other guidelines) has been jacked around for 5 months now by Bof A on the lost docs merry go round-oh now your other docs are too old-please reapply.And the people on the HOPE line are impotent to cause action, other than phone conversations with b of A. NOW, it all makes sense-why approve any mods UNTIL they can “count it” in the give back numbers…

    1. WoodRiver

      Facts for your cousin: 1. BofA is the worst to deal with.
      All mortgage attys and courts know this. 2. Send everything by certified mail to BofA. 3. Sue.
      This works.

      1. aletheia33

        also, make a big noise and get media attention. the banks do not like publicization of individual cases of their clear malfeasance. they will call and offer a deal when that begins to happen.

        (invite occupy to occupy your front lawn.)

      2. LillithMc

        Better sue fast before this deal gets cut and she will not be able to sue. That is the point of this “settlement”.

    2. Cugel

      As any attorney can tell you BoAm is notoriously horrible. But, they will probably send out their loan to their servicing agent Saxon Mortgage, who can at least be reached during short-sale negotiations; which is more than can be said of Chase or perhaps the worst violator — Ocwen Servicing.

      Best option for underwater homeowners, do a short-sale and have an attorney make sure you get a release on the note. If this fails, consumer bankruptcy is probably your best option.

      There is no upside to paying endless financing charges on an investment that has less value than the note you’re paying.

  4. Norman

    That old commercial: “The market goes up, you make money, the market goes down, you make money”, but in the “O”s case, “you win reelection, you make money, you lose reelection, you make money”. In other words, he has nothing to lose, so he thinks he has everyone over the barrel, so to speak. He may think he’s like slick “Willie”, but he will find out just how slick he is when either the revolution hits or the Military Coup happens. Just mind boggling how these people go to the lengths to screw the citizenship of this country. If justice is served, then he should be among the first to feel the result of that nasty little bill he signed after Christmas.

  5. uaretoblame

    Elizabeth Warren as “Real Middle Class Advocate”.

    WHAT A HOWLER!!

    One could not get farther away from the middle class that E. W. Truly, you people are out of your minds.

    E.W. is part of the marxist Democrat Nomenklatura and has a first class seat on their taxpayer funded gravy train.

    She hates, hates, HATES the middle class. They are the dread kulacks.

    That phrase, “Middle class”, does not mean what you seeem to think it does. It does not describe Democrat Union thugs living high on the hog via polotical manipulations.

    Obama is doing what Democratss alweays do. You, mired as you are in your absurd poltical abstractions, just do not understand what a den of theives and subversives comprise the Democrat Party.

    It is comic that you imagine that anyone of them, including Hilary and warren, care for “the people”. When they are not busy being Maoist–or just plain outright criminals–they are hard core Marxist Leninists.

    1. ambrit

      Dear Trollie;
      Miene Gott! You haf uzed zer wrong meme for zis blogg!
      As Kleinereichprotektor Koch has told us many times, graduation of Lies is zer most efficient use of Das Kapital!
      Zer readers of zis blogg are zer too well read to fall for zuch zimplifications und Lies, gross or petty!
      Be patient! Zer SOPA on der rope vill do zer job for us!
      Your Uncle Screwtape III.

    2. Paul Tioxon

      On the contrary, Yves only understands Obama and Dems as a den of thieves and subversives, where have you been?? They have corrupted capitalism and undermined democracy, it’s on the front cover of her book. Up on the “left” at the top of the blog masthead. Since Rick Perry has dropped out of the race, there are some campaign operatives with too much time and too many y chromosomes on their hands.

    3. Adrian Haiwei

      You’re obviously a concerned citizen. Perhaps we can seek common ground through dialog.

      Let me invite you to start with a bit more background on where you’re coming from: which Dartmouth fraternity are you part of?

    4. PL

      Do you have any facts to support your sweeping statements? There’s not a single cite to an actual event or quote in your post denouncing the motivations of others. Completely lacking in development of your ideas, it’s impossible to take your post seriously.

    5. Valissa

      Reminder… “don’t feed the trolls”

      trolls feed on your righteous reaction to their verbal attack.

      I advise ignoring troll until Yves team blocks their IP address.

      Of course I know some of you can’t resist a good game of whack-a-troll ;)

    6. Walter Wit Man

      Hey, I actually agree with a lot of this. You’re right to be angry. I share your anger at these people.

      The Democrats are frauds and they are suckering average people into thinking they care about them.

      But you couldn’t be more wrong about the motivation. These Democrats are not socialists or communists, they are neoliberals! They are right wingers. Even Warren in right of center and probably has more in common with a Nixon Republican than she does a Marxist.

      So not only am I pissed that Warren and the Democrats are selling out the middle class, but it makes me sad to think that the meager resistance to their selling out is coming from someone that thinks they are too Marxist!

    7. Up the Ante

      “You .. just do not understand what a den of theives and subversives comprise the Democrat Party. ”

      Against a backdrop of Utter Republican hypocrisy, I refuse to argue w/him.

      :)

    8. Yves Smith Post author

      Gods, we are getting more trolls, always first time commentor whack jobs who aren’t plausible enough to be entertaining. I hope this is just an election year phenomenon, but even so, ten more months of this sort of thing is going to be painful.

      1. JTFaraday

        I once told a higher education blogger associated with a conservative scholars group who kept referring to Obama as a “socialist,” that if he was going to use the term in a way that was non-consistent with accepted scholarly usage, then I was okay with that–provided he explained what he meant by the term with reference to Obama.

        After a couple times, he dropped it and didn’t bring it up again. I watched his intellectual production very carefully, LOL.

        Given that we were fresh off the “socialize the losses” bailouts at the time, Professor Teatard was at least smart enough to know he had backed himself into a corner.

  6. jo6pac

    It’s alway good to see 0 and friends stay on track to the distruction of Main Street and if they stay on schedule we should fall into the final death spiril as the EU does. We won’t even be a third world country by the time this happens. Oh look isn’t a that a drone over there;)
    Thanks Ives

    1. Doug Terpstra

      Yes, Obama is undeniably consistent. We can rely on him implicitly, without fail, to betray the American people and shaft the middle class.

  7. G man

    I just sent the Whitehoue this note:

    Dear Mr. President,
    Although I give you credit for what positive steps you have taken in your administration and especially lately.
    You are wrong on the bank settlements regarding robo-signing, etc. IF you just prosecute the wrongdoers the rest will take care of itself. Fixing our housing crisis would be accomplished without further tarnishing your reputation by ceasing to renege promises that you made while running for office the first go around. Please read the following from a well respected website to help you in your decision:

    “Either a Gingrich nomination or Romney getting too dented during Republican primary fights increases the odds of what heretofore seemed impossible: an Obama win in November. So if the Republicans were smart, they’d take advantage of a serious weakness in this deal: that it violates the 5th Amendment takings clause. I am told by Bill Frey of Greenwich Financial that a servicer safe harbor provision in HAMP, which was supposed to shield servicers from investor lawsuits over mortgage modifications, was passed by both the House and Senate but was removed in reconciliation because that provision would have run afoul of the 5th Amendment. This settlement is intended to have servicers engage in even more aggressive mortgage modifications and would thus seem to have precisely the same Constitutional problem.”

    We are using the internet to defend ourselves from politically driven decisions and to replace those who undermine the trust of the people. So we are urging all citizens to call their state attorney generals and to tell them that taking from pension money to enrich banks for abusing homeowners is a lousy idea and they should therefore refuse to sign on to the settlement.
    We are paying attention to what is happening and quickly spreading the word. I urge you to just allow the laws to be enforced so we can have a fighting chance to get our country back from the jaws of the financially powerful.

    Respectfully,
    Me

    1. Up the Ante

      So the apparent silence we see from the lawyers’ world is only apparent.
      Their are doubtless hordes working to place those servicer-type protections.

      Lobbying, political aides come into focus. Election campaign operatives.

    1. Lambert Strether

      As Marcy points out, the amount is too small to give any real relief. Of course, the goal of the program is impunity for criminal banksters, not relief, but you’d think Obama would at least have the common decency to give the homeowners a reach-around. Just goes to show there’s no accountablility at all, electoral or otherwise.

      1. F. Beard

        I looked up “reach-around” and wish I hadn’t!

        This is some sick world. I won’t be surprised if efforts at reform fail.

        1. aletheia33

          i looked it up also. i can’t believe lambert strether would use it in that sense. if he has so done, i am shocked, shocked… or maybe i haven’t been around this place long enough to really know the depths of, shall we say, colloquialism to which its denizens are capable of descending. (do not look up “descend.”)

      2. LeonovaBalletRusse

        Why would you “think that Obama would have the common decency…”? History shows that his deeds against the People and the Republic are highly indecent, to say the least; and his duplicity is extremely indecent.

  8. Mark

    Why all the confusion? Obama’s (and of course all other politicians) primary governing principle is “Get re-elected”. In 2012 that means “all policies must ensure that I will have more campaign money than my opponent”. Obama’s political aids tell him he needs $1 billion to get re-elected. That’s pretty much all one really needs to know to explain every Obama policy initiative.

    It’s the 21st century equivalent of “L’etat, c’est moi”.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Mark, so right: “L’etat c’est moi” and “Apres moi le deluge” — as he continues to fill the shoes of “The Decider” the Emperor George W. Bush, the TRAITOR in his office before him. This is “The Imperial Presidency” that must brought to a decisive end ASAP.

      BILL BLACK/YVES SMITH (Susan Webber) 2012: IF NOT NOW, WHEN?

      1. Nathanael

        “Apres moi le deluge” would indicate more intelligence, and indeed more canny management, than I’m seeing from anyone in a position of power. In fact, the deluge is likely to hit all of them while they’re still alive.

  9. ep3

    “Either a Gingrich nomination or Romney getting too dented during Republican primary fights increase the odds of what heretofore seemed impossible: an Obama win in November”

    Yves, the intent of the republicans was never to win the White house. Hence the idiots that have ran as candidates. I believe they know that winning the Congress is where they can do the most damage. They can better control the legislation. Also, I think Obama has directed the party to abandon local races in favor of “maintaining control of the white house at all costs”.
    If u believe a conspiracy theory, the idea is to make the republican candidate look so crazy that Obama becomes the “safe” choice, with the banks winning no matter what.
    Yves, it blows my mind more people don’t see that something is rotten.

    1. mk

      don’t forget the never-ending pressure to push all framing, arguments, debates, discussions of the issues to the right.

      1. TK421

        I’d hate to have Mitt Romney as president. He would probably expand America’s secret prisons, start a war without Congressional approval, pay for tax cuts for the rich by raiding Social Security, and force everyone to buy health insurance they can’t afford to use.

      2. Neo-Realist

        While I don’t believe Obama is all that, a candidate like Romney who says he likes firing people has to rub far too many Americans the wrong way to get enough votes to win an election–at least the Americans who pay attention.

        1. Nathanael

          I don’t actually believe any of the Republicans has a chance in hell of winning. Everyone but Romney is already openly detested (“will not vote for”) by an outright majority of Americans, and Romney is going to be there as soon as people learn about his tax returns.

          Obama will win due to disarray among third parties, who will be the only real competition in coming years as the Republican Party goes from “unpopular” to “less popular than the Black Plague”.

    2. different clue

      According to this theory, the Rs would prefer a candidate like Gingrich or whatever to scare DDs (Disaffected Democrats) into voting for Obama again to spare themselves something truly worse.

      If this theory is correct, the DDs can make Obama most defeatable by invading the R primaries and voting for Romney. Romney is the least scary R nomination-seeker currently running. A candidate Romney would set many DDs free to vote against Obama, because how much difference is there between Obama and Romney anyway, really? The choice between a genuine OverClass MegaMillionaire, or the OverClass MegaMillionaire’s little frontman.

      But a President Gingrich would open up a whole other can of hurt.

      1. Up the Ante

        “Romney is the least scary R nomination-seeker currently running. ”

        Which isn’t saying much as the pattern has been to make promises, get elected, and be told on day 1 how things are going to be after being sworn in, and step aside.

        Told by his continuity of govt. masters, that is.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      As George Carlin said: “They don’t give a F*$% about you; they don’t care about you at ALL, at all, at all. … You are not in The Club. … And now they’re after your PENSIONS, your Social Security, ….”

      He was a Prophet–ignored, as in the tradition.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      I probably should have said “retirement funds” since people with fixed income funds in 401(k)s are likely to be hit too (as in a lot of fixed income fund have some MBS).

      And for those of you who don’t have a lot of savings, you get hit too, since insurers are also MBS investors. When insurers lose money on their investment portfolios, they increase rates.

  10. Mcmike

    We are in the fifth stage of simulacra of democracy – wherein GOP candidates attack hedge funds, and attack a Dem president for his coziness with wall street, and nothing is left of the cat but his smile

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Mcmike, yes, a simulacrum of democracy: that which resembles a democracy (on the surface) but which is not a democracy.

      1. Mcmike

        In the fifth stage, the imitation completely replaces the original and does not even pretend to be the original. The original function/ purpose is forgotten.

        1. Up the Ante

          “In the fifth stage, the imitation completely replaces the original and does not even pretend to be the original. The original function/ purpose is forgotten. ”

          An almost perfect description of troll lab exploits.

          Very good to see such ‘astuteness’, lol.

      1. aletheia33

        they hate public shaming.

        tarring and feathering, being paraded down main street wearing a sign including their name, a few days’ pillorying in the public square (citizens throw rotten eggs and tomatoes) will take the starch out of ‘em.

        failing that, there’s always La Veuve.

        http://www.whonamedit.com/doctor.cfm/2275.html

  11. Martskers

    I’m reminded of the old high school cheer,
    chanted when a referee made a call that went
    against our team: “Elevator, elevator, we got
    the shaft.”

  12. S Haust

    He is an utterly despicable, bald-faced, lying, hypocritical
    whore. Worst of all, he will whore for anyone.

    Literally, anybody can be Obama’s pimp with a big enough
    bag of someone else’s cash.

    By the way, some of the AG phone numbers in the list aren’t
    good. In PA, for instance, someone answers, then diverts
    the call to Consumer Protection, where you can make a
    complaint against a business, if you have one handy. There
    is, though, an oficial AG website where you can make a
    written email contact (supposedly).

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      S Haust, thank you. Maybe Michelle is his pimp? She did perform for big bucks within the arms of BigMedPharma. And isn’t she the Capo in the Obama Family?

      1. Up the Ante

        “She did perform for big bucks within the arms of BigMedPharma.”

        Was she on her meds or off when sporting that AK-47 in the political cartoon ?

  13. BenE

    This is a very important fight. The country should rally against the banks to get back what was stolen from their pensions and savings.

    I find, that too often, the media victimizes people who lost their house when it is people who lost part of their pensions that are the real victims in all of this.

    I have difficulty feeling bad for the people who got to stay in nicer houses than they could afford. Sure it can be unsettling having to move more times than expected and it probably made it difficult to plan their finances but it isn’t the end of the world.

    Those who are suffering here aren’t the ones who bought the overpriced houses, it is the ones who bought the mortgages or mortgage backed securities.

    One of the group that got passed the bag full of these toxic assets are the people with pubic or private pensions. These banks didn’t steal from home buyers, it’s quite the opposite, they gave a small kickback in the form of a better house to the home buyers in order to get them to participate in the the MBS scam. The banks peddling these securities made money off the back of your (or your parents) retirement savings, not off the back of home buyers.

    What they effectively did is this: Took some of your parents’ retirement savings, lent them to people who couldn’t repay while taking a commission in the process. They then simply got out of the way while the system imploded and left those who had saved for their retirement no way to get back their money.

    If your pension had state guaranteed defined benefit pensions, the state probably increased taxes or lowered services in order to fill the holes the bankers created and shift the losses to everyone else. If your parent’s had defined contributions pensions they simply lost their savings to these bankers.

    For maximum effect, the MBSs were put into CDOs which amplified the risks while inflating the bubble. They peddled these to pension funds always taking a commission out of the deal. Rating agencies were enabling all of this and also taking a cut in the deals.

    Of course pension funds were not the only ones holding these securities. Banks had to keep some to convince others that they were safe so they took losses too when it all came crashing down. But then again, some of these insiders were in a position to secretly bid against the toxic MBSs to offset their losses and others, were simply bailed out and propped up by the government so they wouldn’t feel any losses and continue getting their fees and bonuses.

    1. Bridget

      “I find, that too often, the media victimizes people who lost their house when it is people who lost part of their pensions that are the real victims”

      So far the losses to the pension funds have been hidden because the assets haven’t been written down. Or, the losses have been passed off to the taxpayers via the Fed.

      The lenders have screwed the paperwork up beyond belief, and something needed to be done about it if this mess is ever going to be cleaned up. However, most mortgages, liens and notes were validly created and recorded when the purchase took place, it was in the assignment and securitization process where everything went off the rails. The concept of “curing” defects in title is a well recognized one, and had the settlement been confined to an agreed upon method for curing defects in the assignment and securitization process, plus criminal sanctions against those who engaged in criminal behavior, it would have been supportable.

      1. Bridget

        Before the crash, my 401k was invested in a Pimco fixed income fund. After the Crash, I took a look at the fund’s portfolio. Much to my horror, it was stuffed full of MBS. As were all of the fixed income offerings. I knew that dreck wasn’t worth face value, although it was all carried on the books as such. It was then that I realized that my 401k was a ponzi scheme, but with one important difference…the investors can’t demand their money. (unless they are willing to leave their job) So, the ponzi can continue for a long time. Fortunately for me, and unfortunately for the taxpayers, Bill Gross, head of Pimco, is a very well connected man. Within a year, all of the dreck had been unloaded to the government. Not all pension holders are so lucky.

        1. LeonovaBalletRusse

          Thanks for the info, Bridget. Now, who will blow this whistle LOUD and CLEAR?

          Quotations below are for educational purposes.

          YVES, please connect the dots ASAP, since you are a Mensch:

          http://www.npr.org — on THIS AMERICAN LIFE 21 Jan 2012: “Continental Break-Up” presented by Planet Money Team: When “Greece’s Socialist leader revealed in 2009 that deficit was not 6% but 13%, PIMCO bond traders in Newport Beach CA realized that “overnight Greece went from a bad bet to a SURE THING” [xref Black re Ackerlof's verbal coinage]. Mohammed El Arian is quoted: “PIMCO sold ALL Greek, Portuguese, Spanish bonds” with report that PIMCO stated: “Our analysis shows that sovereign risk is an issue.” Then PMT spokesperson states: “SUDDENLY, no money is available in Greece,” and alleges that this is when “the sovereign debt crisis began.”

          YVES, connect w/ Leo Panitch interview by Paul Jay, posted on http://www.TRNN.com on 19 Jan 2012. Panitch: “We’re in hostage to these bloody ruling classes” who clink to Hayek ideology [perhaps as cover to justify their decisions].

          YVES, connect w/ “THE BUBBLE THAT BROKE THE WORLD” by Garet Garrett (Boston; Little, Brown, and Company, June 1932; 1931), a collection of essays originally published in “The Saturday Evening Post.” SEE pdf at http://mises.org/books/bubbleworld.pdf. SEE first piece: “Cosmology of the Bubble” — quotations below, all caps mine:

          p. 6: “Dr. SCHACT, former head of the German Reichsbank” — through:

          p. 12: “Where is the State of Minas Geraes? You would not be expected to know. We loaned siteen millions of American credit to the State of Minas Geraes, and all we know about it is that the BONDS of MINAS GERAES are in DEFAULT. … Of the many BRAZILIAN bonds floated in this country, he [the U.S. citizen creditor, the banker's mark] may happen to have one of the issues named in the banker’s prospectus: $25,000,000 [then!] United States of Brazil (Central Railway Electrification loan of 1922) 30-year 7 per cent GOLD BONDS.” [caps mine]

          YVES, here’s the connection from then to now: follow $$$ and DNA:

          “The New York Times: International: Saturday, January 21, 2012″ prints on p. A6: “A Brazilian Magnate Points to Himself for Inspiration” by Alexei Barrionuevo (Rio de Janeiro), from which I quote:

          Par4-5: “Instead, Mr. [ Eike] BATISTA surfaced in the gossip magazines only in the 1990s after married the model and Carnival dancer Luma de OLIVEIRA. Back then, his father, Eliezer Batista, a beloved former government official, told him to keep a low profile, as his son’s rapidly expanding fortune made him a target for kidnappers. … At 55, he is not only considered South America’s wealthiest man, with a fortune estimated by Forbes at $30 billion, but he is also one of Brazil’s most public figures, ….”

          Par 16-17: “He peppered his GERMAN-accented English … with French phrases …. “Mr. Batista said his journey began as a ‘quest towards financial independence’ and a burning desire to escape the shadow of his famous father, a BRAZILIAN ENGINEER who helped increase Brazil’s INTERNATIONAL TRADE IN COMMODITIES.”

          Par 18-19: “Born in the Brazilian state of MINAS GERAIS, Mr. Batista … His MOTHER, a GERMAN … “When he was a teenager, his family moved to Europe, living in Geneva, Dusseldorf and Brussels. Mr. Batista’s FATHER, who back in Brazil had been president of the state MINING company, decided to go into a ‘friendly exile’ …. In Europe, Eliezer Batista worked to build the mining company’s INTERNATIONAL business.”

          Par 22-26: “His parents returned to Brazil when Mr. Batista was 18. … trading diamonds …. In 1978, Mr. Batista read about the gold rush in the Amazon. At 22, he left the University of Aachen in North Rhine-Westphalia, where he was studying metallurgical engineenrig, and took off for Brazil. He persuaded a jeweler in Rio to lend him $500,000 …. With the loan, he began trading GOLD, acting as an intermediary between peasant miners and buyers in Rio and Sao Paulo. He said he made $6 million in a year and a half of trading. …”

          Par 30: “After his Amazon experience, Mr. Batista went to look for BRAZIL’s richest GOLD mines. …”

          YVES, the rest is history, as recounted in the Times piece. You and Bill Black together might work twice as fast on the SCOOP.

          As for “tangential names” — connect: “Luma de OLIVEIRA” with Plinio Correa de OLIVEIRA, author of “NOBILITY and Analogous Traditional Elites in the Allocutions of Pius XII” (York, PA; The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property [TFP]: “a registered name of the Foundation for a Christian Civilization, Inc.”; 1993) — AND

          “Fulgencio BATISTA” — mob gambling boss of Cuba under Mayer Lansky et al. “Fulgencio Batista grew up in the shadow of the United Fruit Company. … In Cuba the company had more or less given birth to the town where Batista was born and raised. … Ultimately, he went where the money was, which brought him under the sway of companies such as United Fruit, IT&T, and General Motors, and led him to men like Meyer Lansky, a ‘tourism expert’ …” [pp. 59-60] — “HAVANA NOCTURNE: How the Mob owned Cuba …and Then Lost It to the Revolution” by T.J. English (New York, William Morrow/HarperCollins Publishers 2008; Mainstream Publishing, 2007)

          YVES, recall that Sosthenes BEHN was head of IT&T (International Telephone and Telegraph); and that General Motors manufactured the “Opel” in GERMANY. Recall the involvement of Standard Oil with I.B. Farben conjoined with Prescott Bush and the Dulles Brothers in Wall Street Banking and Lawyering (Sullivan & Cromwell) during the Third Reich. SEE:
          “TRADING WITH THE ENEMY: The Nazi-American Money Plot 1933-1949″ by Charles Higham (New York, Barnes & Noble, 1995; 1983).

          For BEHN, see Chapter 6: The Telephone Plot” — N.B. “In 1906, Behn and his brother took over a SUGAR business in Puerto Rico and snapped up a small primitive local telephone company by closing in on a mortgage. … He bacame a U.S. citizen in 1913. In World War I, Behn served in the SIGNAL CORPS as chief of staff for General George RUSSELL. … Back in the United States, Behn became associated with AT&T, of which WINTHROP ALDRICH was later a director. In 1920, Behn’s work in the field of cables enabled him toset up the ITT with $6 million paid in capital. … Behn was aided by fascist governments, into which he rapidly interlocked his system by assuring politicians promising places on his boards. He ran his empire from 67 Broad Street.” [pp. 93-94]

          YVES, does this recall the success in telecom of Carlos Slim Helu in Mexico, another man said to come up from nothing and make his own fortune?

          “Through Mann, BEHN was closely connected with Wilhelm KEPPLER, who formed the Circle of Friends of the Gestapo and introduced him to Shcroder and Westrick. Not only did Keppler, Schroder, and Himmler see to it that Behn’s German funds and industries were untouched by forfeit or seizure, but Schroder arranged for Emil Puhl at The REICHSBANK to pay off ITT’s bills.” [94]

          YVES, “After fleeing Cuba [as result of Castro's Revolution], BATISTA lived for a time in the Dominican Republic but soon moved on to PORTUGAL.” ["HAVANA NOCTURNE, p. 325]. Recall that Portugal and BRAZIL share a common language: PORTUGUESE. Did BRAZIL have SUGAR plantations? Is there not a huge GERMAN (esp. NAZI refuge) community in BRAZIL? (xref: “The Boys From Brazil”). Was SUGAR a Cash Cow in Cuba [and rum from sugar]? Please NOTE:

          “By the time of BATISTA’s birth in January 1901, United Fruit had decided to forgo banana production in the Banes rgion in favor of cultivating SUGAR, the island’s MAIN EXPORT. United Fruit constructed a huge sugar processing plant, and ove the next few years it bult a fence around its properties in Banes, IMPORTED managers from the United States, and created entire neighborhoods for its owrkers, with separate security, shop, and schools.” ["HAVANA NOCTURNE," p. 39]

          YVES, connect the dots, the money, the DNA from THEN until NOW. Garet Garret’s book provides the FRAME of “banker/gold/industrial” reference. It’s BIG.

          Not only Bill Black, but Chris Hedges may assist you with alacrity. The three of you are well prepared for a DISCOVERY most timely–the ROOTS of the “Crisis of 2008.”

          1. LeonovaBalletRusse

            YVES, two more items connected with the above:

            “BEHN” is pronounced “BAIN”–note that many names are “laundered.”

            Garet Garrett adds: “The bonds [of the State of MINAS GERAES] are in DEFAULT and the central Railway was NEVER electrified. What was done with the credit ONLY BRAZIL KNOWS. The bankers do not know. And what can be done about it is nothing.” (THE BUBBLE THAT BROKE THE WORLD”, op. cit., pp. 8-9)

            Meanwhile, in every case of loss, the Bankers claim INNOCENCE. The are “only salesmen” who fulfill the demands of investors.

            YVES, do these situations ring a bell?

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The Silent Victims.

      Their suffering continues with today’s near zero percent money market rates.

    3. LeonovaBalletRusse

      BenE — Pensions, 401Ks, captured by Insitutional Funds serving as Banker Shills, are the LIFE BLOOD feeding VAMPIRE SQUIDS of all sizes across the globe.

  14. Klassy!

    I will confess to not understanding this deal when I read about it in my local paper this morning.
    I guess, as with all previous homeowner relief programs that is the point?

  15. Jill

    I call Obama the “headline president”. He’s able to generate just what he needs for his believers, right on cue. The headlines are always the exact opposite of what is really happening.

    Thank you, Yves, for fleshing this out. I’ve been wondering how the elites plan to hide so many of their failures (crimes) to get their lackey elected. Cities are crumbling and people are thrown into the streets. Can this, along with so many other crimes really be potemkined until the election? I don’t know. I can only say I have never experienced a more venal, disgraceful and stupid group running things. At this point I would take an enlightened depot. Insted, we just have the despot!

    1. Jackrabbit

      Hi Jill.

      “Headline?” seems too kind. Your second paragraph more accurately describes the “headfake” President.

      ZH calls him the “teleprompter,” which also seems fairly accurate.

      Will the GOP seize on this issue? I wouldn’t bet on it as it a) helps the Banks, and b) probably helps wealthier homeowners*.

      * If I am reading this correctly: Yves points out that there is an incentive to help those will large loans – and from what I’ve read previously, banks have been reluctant to close on such borrowers (b/c they may have the financial means to fight back?).

      If anyone could/should/would make an issue of this it is OWS. Maybe that would shut up the GOP candidates (esp. Romney) who talk like Obama is an OWS sympathizer/leader.

    2. Walter Wit Man

      Right on Jill. It’s so brazen Obama gets away with it.

      I can’t believe we’re still having a conversation about whether Obama really supported the public option, for instance.

  16. A Concerned Citizen

    The insolence of the banksters is breathtaking. These psychopaths keep pushing and pushing, and are winning (look at all the criminals in government, i.e., Geithner, Bernanke, Lew). The corrupt Supreme Court assures a continuation of the financial elite winning for a long time to come (look at the Citizens United decision of unlimited, undocumented money controlling elections). Resulting in progressive candidates being forced to run against other progressives in 2012 (e.g., Rep. Dennis Kucinich from Ohio and Rep. Brad Miller from North Carolina). Is anyone else tired of being ruled by Wall Street?

  17. Eugene Villarreal

    A continuation of Obama’s new plan PIMP(Principal Interest Modification Plan). He’ll be handing out milti-colored rubbers to the banksters after his State of the Union address.

  18. orionATL

    this current act in the farce “obama as man of the people” began with lines of whines from jaimie damon two weekends ago. the essentials are described in this emptywheel column:

    http://www.emptywheel.net/2012/01/15/ubercapitalist-begs-for-government-intervention/

    which begins

    “… Fresh off the Friday news dump that its profits stalled in the last quarter (after it had to stop laundering money for Iran and inheriting the lost money of MF Global customers), fresh off the news that JPMorgan Chase might lose $5 billion in the Europe crisis, and, it should be said, fresh off the departure of a JPMC Exec from the White House Chief of Staff position, Jamie Dimon is calling for a real solution to the housing market.

    “I would convene all the people involved in the business, I would close the door, I’d stay there until we resolved a bunch of these issues so we could have a more healthy mortgage market,” the 55-year-old chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase & Co. said today…”… ”

    that quote from dimon comes from this bloomberg article:

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-01-13/if-jamie-dimon-were-in-charge-u-s-housing-market-would-be-fixed-he-says.html

  19. Walter Wit Man

    Great post Yves!

    I am certain delay is part of the strategy. The statue of limitations for criminal charges is running (under both state and federal law) and we are losing the ability to put anyone in jail for the crimes they committed from about the mid 2000s onward (which was probably the critical time period). I’m not aware of any major criminal charges (I’m aware of the state governments going after modification attorneys, and some small time mortgage brokers, etc., but not the big banks and servicers).

    One benefit of this hold out drama by some AGs is that it makes any sort of criminal charge more and more unlikely. There are no tolling agreements for criminal charges (that I’m aware of). There is no major effort to gather evidence. How in the world could there not be any subpoenas issued? Heck, a grand jury was formed to go after Barry Bonds and other athletes taking steroids. Why no grand jury for this stuff? Once the evidence comes out the AGs will throw their hands in the air and say it’s too late.

    Even the “good” AG holdouts are not doing enough, as far as I know. I’m mostly familiar with Kamala Harris and let me tell you–it’s foolish to hope that she is looking out for the public interest. Where are the criminal charges or investigations? Where is the grand jury or the prosecution of the civil suits (depositions, requests for documents, etc.)? You mean to tell me the big banks didn’t commit any crimes in California during this period?

    1. Tom

      After reading your post, I’m sitting here trying to think of a specific law that could have been violated by bankers to warrant criminal charges, as they issuanced mortgage loans. I can’t come up with any. Do you have any examples?

      1. Walter Wit Man

        Fraud? Embezzlement? Two old-fashioned and broadly defined crimes that any of the state or federal AGs could have pursued.

        There are also various federal statues where one could get creative as well. Like racketeering. There are also consumer laws that carry criminal penalties–like truth in lending laws. The feds have more crimes to pick from and they probably have longer statue of limitations as well.

        But any state AG can pursue a fraud conspiracy, no? And they can start small and work their way up. Even the biggest frauds that took place in other countries very well could have a connection to a state like California. All it would take would be one motivated prosecutor to start peeling the onion.

        1. sleeper

          Simple – Wire and mail Fraud

          By transmitting documents signed by robosigners and notarized the banks who caused these documents to be transmitted the banks engaged in wire and mail fraud.

          1. Walter Wit Man

            Yep. Easy.

            If they worked for a black gang or Megaupload the government would be charging these low level people–the robosigners, underwriters or people that mailed the documents–and threatening to slam them with years in federal prison unless they ratted out their superiors that devised the plan.

            Surely this was a coordinated fraud and not a few rotten apples. Hell, weren’t there even law firms that were advising their clients it was legal and to go for it? Who knows where the facts of an investigation would lead.

            Basically, if higher up people did engage in a broader conspiracy we are gradually losing the ability to prosecute these crimes–maybe RICO and other crimes have a greater ability to reach back, I’m no expert, but it is a big loss to lose the ability of state AGs to go after a grander and broader conspiracy. Most of these state AGs are now losing the ability to prosecute crimes from 2006 and 2007, right? Is this a Pre-2008 ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ card?

          2. Walter Wit Man

            But the more I think about it we aren’t really losing much. Just the idea of going after these crooks, I guess.

            It’s not like there is any AG that is really going after them . . .

          1. Walter Wit Man

            In California it is 4 years for criminal fraud. I think the feds is 5 years or so (maybe 6), but I would have to check. For civil fraud it is 3 years in CA (the banks have signed tolling agreements with the AGs while they negotiate, is my understanding).

            One exception may be defrauding the government, which has much longer statue of limitations (like 10 or 20 years or so). So a future prosecutor could conceivably go after the FHA, Freddie, and Fannie angle (the government buying fraudulent securities).

            But a prosecutor would be in a much better position having all the arrows in her quiver.

      2. Walter Wit Man

        And unfortunately, the bankers have been able to buy off the police so there has been no real investigation. So there is no way for us to know the extent of the crimes.

        We don’t even know all the evidence to make an informed decision as to whether the states should settle the civil charges.

        On its face, many of the financial industry actions the last 15 years appears criminal. The entire industry just decided to adopt liar loans as a policy and to make an end run around centuries of recording laws. Then insiders dumped these toxic products on inventors. One can only assume there is massive fraud inside this system–that’s what it looks like on the outside and the incriminating evidence is being covered up!

        It’s very similar to the MF Global case. It just looks like fraud and if this were a poor black man he would be charged or there would be a massive investigation (for reals, not a fake investigation). Say I’m an attorney and my client gives me $100,000 in trust, which I originally put in my trust account. But later I commingle that money with my personal account and my operating account and then that money ends up being gambled in U.S. markets, which I promptly lose. If I’m a small time lawyer and the client tells the police this story I bet I get charged with a crime and then the burden is effectively on me to prove that the lost client money was not embezzlement but was instead simply gross professional negligence. There is no legitimate story for why this money held in trust gets to be gambled. The “oops, I didn’t mean to commingle and gamble client funds” defense is bullshit that would never work for a small timer.

  20. S Haust

    Banksters (wanksters) are not new!

    BBC did a documentary on the Domesday Book in 2010. I thought such a thing would be dry and boring but watched
    it anyway. And No, No No, it’s not. If you want to get
    your blood boiling over the similarities between what we see now (fraudclosure) and what went on in Old Blighty between 1066 and 1086, see this. Even the 1% make an appearance at minute 44:00. They keep coming back, even after a thousand years; even the characters, even the
    tactics are not that much different.

    If you have no other access, Google “BBC Domesday .mkv”
    and you will get lots of torrent links. or try mvgroup.org

    So, now how long do we have to wait for Magna Carta?

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      S Haust, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. You are a candidate for the Book Club for:

      “BABYLON’S BANKSTERS: The Alchemy of Deep Physics, High Finance, and Ancient Religion” by Joseph P. Farrell (Port Townsend WA, Feral House, 2010).

      Highly plausible theory, and it connects with Tesla repression by J.P. Morgan, Bankers, Physics, Nazis, through “our time”.

      Connect with “THE BUBBLE THAT BROKE THE WORLD” by Garet Garrett (Boston; Little, Brown, and Company; June 1932; 1931–sections originally published in “The Saturday Evening Post” before Censorship began in the U.S.A. Link:
      http://mises.org/books/bubbleworld.pdf
      Garrett shows the smoke from the smoking guns, and provides the FRAME of banker/industrial deceit, CronyCapitalist corruption, covert looting of the People, and other crimes from then to now.

      CONNECT the dots, the money, the DNA from then to now, and CRY TREASON:

      “J’ACCUSE” of High Treason against the the United States of America and We the People:

      1) That The “Unitary Executive” Presidents of the U.S.A. from Nixon-Kissinger, Carter-Brzezinski, Reagan-BushSr., Clinton-BushSr., Cheney-Bush-Paulson-Mukasey-Bernanke-Geithner, through Obama-Holder-Summers-Bernanke-Geithner for their performance, while in high office, as de facto AGENTS of a FOREIGN POWER: The GLOBAL Holy Roman Reich IV BANKERS–the .01%–and their accomplices: their fellow profiteers among the Global 1%.

      2) That they did compound their crime of TREASON by (1) performing against the INTERESTS of We the People of the U.S.A. WHILE in Federal Office, while bound by the Constitution to represent the national interest, thus violating their Oaths of Office to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the U.S.A., rather by WILLFULLY SUBVERTING the Constitution of the U.S.A. through the unlawful creation of ad-hoc Law; and (2) by looting the Treasury of the People of the U.S.A., as well as incurring astronomical debt at interest IN ORDER to FUND WARS, Homeland Security, International Police, arms/drugs/supplies that were certain to profit the PRINCIPALS of the Reich Regime and themselves, at the everlasting EXPENSE of We the People of the U.S.A.

      3) That they did willfully, and with malice aforethought, with the utmost deceit and with the complicity of colluding members of all three branches of the U.S. Government and the main-stream media, commit multiple FRAUDS against We the People of the U.S.A., leaving our nation destitute and enslaved to the Principals whom they served against our nation’s interests.

      WHO will bring “The Tyrannicide Brief” for the indictment and conviction of Barack Hussein Obama for TREASON and willful participation in ORGANIZED CRIME, just to start with the most recent President guilty of these high crimes?

      William K. Black? Susan Webber? Chris Hedges? Paul Krugman?

      WHO will lead the People out of bondage to Kings?

    1. Lambert Strether

      Same story at 2:15 under the headline “States Score $25B Settlement In Deceptive Foreclosure Practices Suit,” which I note is different from the 4:15PM headline “$25B deal with banks over deceptive foreclosure practices sent to AGs as settlement nears”. The first headline doesn’t show up in Google as of 5:45PM, and the second does. Hmmm.

  21. Conscience of a conservative

    This is not a settlement but a bail-out of the banks and a transfer of wealth. Let’s get one thing clear, right now the banks are on the hook re a huge potential liability having arisen from their past mis-deeds and because can’t foreclose in many cases risk being turned into giant REITS. To settle this using tax-payer funded credits and to have investors in first mortgage bonds bear risks that from a contract law standpoint should be borne by subordinated mortgage holders is proof that we have a first class corporatocracy between the banks and the white house.

  22. Blurtman

    Citizens of the USA – Write-in William K. Black for President. Obama, Romney, Gingrich – it is all the same disease. Time for a re-set. Write-in Willaim K. Black.

  23. Publius

    Yves, this is nothing, wait until Obama forces the GSEs to reduce principal balances. Guess who will benefit directly?

    http://www.housingwire.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/1-20-12-Response-to-Cummings-RE-Principal-Forgiveness.pdf

    Also, because of Enterprise requirements for credit
    enhancement of high LTV loans, a high percentage of Enterprise loans have mortgage insurance or
    second liens. Consequently, a large share of the potential gains from principal forgiveness on Enterprise
    loans would go to unrelated beneficiaries than may be the case for forgiveness on non-Enterprise loans.

  24. Doug Terpstra

    Thanks, Yves. Apparently, timing is everything. I just called our AG and spoke to his assistant, who said he was in a meeting on this very issue. She was very receptive, so I sent her the following note with a link to this article, which she promised to read and share with the AG.

    Hi Linda,

    Thank you for taking my call about the national mortgage settlement deal. The Obama admin is pushing hard to settle this on behalf of the banks, but I believe it is not in the interest of Arizona and may in fact be unconstitutional. An article at NakedCapitalism.com explains this and why a sweetheart deal for banks is really a raw deal for everyone else.

    [link]

    Notable excerpt: “…the deal’s ‘most favored nations clause’ is designed to reduce the bargaining leverage of any AGs that go their own way. It means that any servicer will have the incentive to fight hard against giving any state a better deal because it will automatically trigger improved terms across the states that signed on to the Federal deal. But this may have interesting perverse effects, since banks that refuse to settle with breakaway AGs will ultimately have damages awarded by a court. That means longer and most costly fights by the states, but in most cases, ultimately bigger awards (frankly, the fact set is so bad that all the state AGs need to do is focus on fairly conservative legal theories to have good odds of scoring big wins).”

    IMO, this is potentially bigger than the tobacco settlement, and AG’s that resist premature settlement may well reap heroic rewards for their courage.

    The article notes that there has been no serious investigation (no subpoenas or depositions) of original and ongoing fraud (predatory lending, appraisal, recording, and robo-signing), yet the Obama admin would settle liability, including likely criminal wrongdoing, for a token pittance of $5 billion, an infinitesimal amount compared to the scale of the crisis.

    This housing crisis was largely a creation of the big Wall Street Banks and has caused widespread loss and pain as well as long-lasting economic damage, in especially in Arizona. And more people are coming to realize that banks now wield inordinate power over our president legislators and jurors. I trust that AG Tom Horne will resist that power and act unambiguously in Arizona citizens’ interests.

    Sincerely,

    Doug Terpstra
    602-265-7525

  25. Fiver

    I was going to say (again) “fear not”, that there’s a trickle-down, lousy-job boomlet underway, but then I saw Paul Krugman is becoming “cautiously optimistic” due to housing of all things, and the bogus claim that the US consumer has done a lot of deleveraging (when it’s almost all due to foreclosures – savings are again shrinking and cars are free for the asking). Now I’m less confident, because nobody is a worse forecaster than Krugman – and of course, he provides absurd reasons, ignoring the reality that the US has been gorging on European, Chinese and others’ money and business investment plans since last Spring, and will continue to do so for some time. Toss back one more glass of Bernanke bucks in some form, and by latter-2014 Obama and MSM will be cooing about “the return of good times” – just before it all goes kersplat because nobody bothered to do 1 single thing that needed doing:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/23/opinion/krugman-is-our-economy-healing.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss

  26. farm manager

    Once the deliquent and under water see that this is going to be “as good as it gets” the walk aways and the throwing of keys on the bankers desk will explode.

    Patience has only so much energy.

      1. farm manager

        No argument here on that. Not so sure that it hasn’t become married to walking away in the jargon. Thanks for the addition.

        Whatever it takes to get this sucker universally marked down to market is part of what needs to be done. I’ll gladly listen to anything else that leads us there.

        There is still hope for a working, participatory toned down quieter economy, but if one is to be acheived there won’t be room in it for residential real estate payments that are 3 and 4 times what rent would be in the same locale.

        Don’t overstimate the wrath of the “above water” schreechers. The can see and smell.

  27. scraping_by

    Hanlon’s Razor goes, “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”

    This phrase is also to be Barry’s 2012 campaign slogan. Not so snappy as “Hope” but that’s been burnt. And it’s been his supporters’ mantra from the inauguration, so they don’t have to learn a new one.

    A timid dolt doesn’t sound like the best choice for any position outside a protected workshop, but that’s the story we’ve heard the last three years. The obvious delight in complicated procedures that are completely beside the point may be genuine. Or it may just be bafflegab, and whether Team Obama is fooling themselves in purely academic question.

    Since the election is much for optics anyway, since a large percentage of the national vote is programmed into the electronic voting machines, the story of “Worse than Obama” might keep the Great Middle of the country pacified for another few years.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanlon%27s_razor

  28. Doug Terpstra

    Congrats, Yves. I just noted this article posted at CommonDreams.org, near a closely related article by Van Jones and George Goehl.

    http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/01/23-5

    I hope that your call to action goes viral, and that the Obama administration suffers mortifying embarrassment.

    The disgrace of this president is apparently bottomless—most audacious, Machiavellian president ever — Reagan 5.0 on perception management. I am in fact almost tempted to watch the SOTU address to see how the teleprompter can twist this into a boon for the American people, when it is clearly a boon for his own bankster investors.

  29. RFK Supporter

    Consistent is this:

    The “offer”

    http://pages.citebite.com/o1i0b7t2q4oui

    to allow the U.S. Government to accept competitive bids from pharma cos. and in exchange
    allowing some of the huge tax breaks running to the uber-wealthy, borrowed from China, and financed by the middle class and its children and grandchildren to lapse.

    (Hint: It’s not a real quid pro quo.)

    Ultra-wealthy but also depraved people prefer
    the middle class bestowing advantages to the wealthiest; and,
    they actually do NOT want the U.S. Government to be able
    to accept competitive bids from pharma.

    So, this looks like a cynical offer worth little
    more than gag value.)

    http://evernewecon.weebly.com/
    http://evernewecon.weebly.com/healthcare.html

    (WARNING: IMAGINE SOMEONE SAYS TO YOU:
    “YOU’RE NOT ACTUALLY ON A CAMPUS.
    YOU CAN DO WHATEVER YOU WANT.
    AND SO I DID.
    THAT WEBSITE IS RESTRICTED TO ADULT VISITORS.
    BY VISITING YOU AGREE YOUR VISIT IS SUITABLE BY VIRTUE OF YOUR BEING AN ADULT (I SIMPLY SAW THE SITE BEING
    POINTLESS IF IT’S INVISIBLE.)

    But if you visit, the accompaniment:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=77IdKFqXbUY

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Thanks for the link to the RFK speech. It’s a very important reminder of who we are and who we might be.

  30. Fiver

    “Either a Gingrich nomination or Romney getting too dented during Republican primary fights increase the odds of what heretofore seemed impossible: an Obama win in November.”

    Don’t see it that way. I think it has been virtually impossible for Obama to lose given the Republicans have essentially thrown the election by putting forward such a pathetic array of cannon fodder. The clear turning point was the coldly efficient dispatch of Trump by MSM in the Spring, with old-guard Republicans leading the charge. From that moment on, each Rep would-be has been picked off in what amounted to a turkey shoot. Only some new serious debacle could possibly counter the fact that Obama was and is Wall Street’s and MSM’s Man. He was going to win even without any real improvement, though with the lowest % turnout ever. And now..

    The economy for the last 2 years has featured summer stallouts in between production and spending gains leading up to Christmas that then tail off. This has now been “officially” incorporated into seasonal models, which leave plenty of room for data manipulation. So it is Obama’s (Bernanke’s) task to remove that stall this summer if required. We’ll know in a couple months, but I think some form of Fed “easing” in the context of that seasonal history AND with Europe as cover will seal the deal. So get ready for another 4 years of minor gains (things like moving from a part-time working poor to full time working poor) for the marginally employed, another fine year for those in the top 30% and no action whatever on fundamental problems.

  31. kfp

    Instead a phone call to the AG’s general office phones (or in addition to calling the states Attorney Generals) I think that a good approach would be to call the Attorney General Fraud Reporting telephone reporting lines.

    Callers could report a pending fraud plan by those Attorney Generals who are contemplating approving the bank sweetheart settlement to the detriment of defrauded mortgagees and taxpayers. Maybe set up a email campaign to email the AG’s Fraud Reporting email service for each state.

  32. Abe Huang

    I highly doubt that any settlement would force a write down of MBS. First, as servicers’ banks are contractually bound by servicer agreements . Therefore the ability to do anything of the sort is spelled out in such agreements.

  33. JOEPUBLIC

    The entire banking industry needs to fail completely before anything will improve.

    Just look at the Scandinavians, It worked for them because they realized it was the only way, The us, EU etc. No different

  34. Chad

    Your getting mad at them for cutting of extremities. If you want the higher ups to pay go after the head of the snake not the whole thing. They are going to give you something they can lose. Go after the individuals of the top. The people that actually made the decisions there has to be a penalty of there grave errors. If your going to go after the corporations and make them pay go after the boards individuals. Your only going to lead to more job losses going after them as a whole. It’s letting your pawns die off to save the kings that is all. It’s not the presidents fault in how they pay. They are only being wise and saving themselves. They have already proven if you go after the whole they will not own up to any of it. It’s a simple go after the head if you want to stop the bull not the rear.

  35. John Anderson

    Obama is just another bought off politician,
    As long as American voters consider themselves Democrats and Republican, were screwed.
    The people who control BOTH major parties are the same people Eisenhower warns us about in his exit speech ” available for viewing on YouTube” the Military Industrial Complex.
    Who owns this complex of industries that prosper only from war and the threat of war? For the most part,the same people who own the FED, the largest player in that club being the Rothschild’s as owner/controler of the Bank of England.

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