Catch Us on the Radio Today

We are on Harry Shearer’s Le Show, a full hour interview on the mortgage mess. Harry really did his homework, so I think readers will enjoy the conversation. It’s “live” at 1 PM EST, then runs throughout the day at various times on public radio stations around the country, including 7 PM on WNYC-AM in New York. Streams from other stations available through

Hope you enjoy it!

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  1. Alex

    This is listed under “Saturday, December 4, 2010” on the front page, which might cause people to think they missed it. (It almost did in my case.)

  2. deeringothamnus


    News flassh: here is a cable from wikileaks labelled SECRET that shows how G.E. does business. I would appreciate comments on the forum. It seens like extortion to me to coerce a head of state into being as a shoe salesman.

    DE RUEHMD #0071/01 0211713
    R 211713Z JAN 09



    E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/20/2034

    REF: A. 08 MADRID 1359
    ¶B. 08 MADRID 518

    Classified By: Charge d’Affaires Arnold A. Chacon for reasons 1.4 (b) a
    nd (d)


    For example, at one point the Ambassador informed Zapatero that
    U.S. CEO’s might decide to stop bidding in Spain due to a
    growing perception that the GOS was not welcoming US bidders
    on procurement contracts. Zapatero had told the Ambassador
    to let him know if there was something important to the USG
    and he would take care of it. Later – when the USG had
    agreed to advocate on behalf of GE in a bid against Rolls
    Royce for a Spanish MOD contract to provide helicopter motors
    – GE informed the Ambassador that failure to win the contract
    would cause that branch of GE to cease operations in Spain,
    which the Ambassador duly informed Zapatero’s economic
    adviser. Although there was considerable all-source evidence
    to suggest that the MOD decided to award the contract to
    Rolls Royce, Moncloa – the office of the President –
    overturned the decision and it was announced that GE had won
    the bid. The Ambassador is convinced that Zapatero
    personally intervened in the case in favor of GE.


  3. Tom

    Amazing. Just 30 minutes into Harry’s broadcast and I’ve already learned more about the machinations behind the foreclosure mess than all other media sources have bothered to explain in the past six months.

  4. Fractal

    This is the perfect confluence of my favorite podcast and one of my favorite blogs. I listen to Harry Shearer’s podcast religiously every Sunday afternoon. I know, I know, I could catch it “live” but it’s lots more fun to be able to rewind and replay the best bits. I have saved some of his classics from years ago. Yves, this is entirely awesome. You have hit the big time. No lie.

  5. soulmatic09

    That was great. I missed the first half though.

    I must say that your comment about young people adding to the fire, only out of the fear that if they didn’t buy immediately, they would never be able to afford a house. I have to admit to being a sucker to that… A bunch of my friends were as well.

    1. F. Beard

      I must say that your comment about young people adding to the fire, only out of the fear that if they didn’t buy immediately, they would never be able to afford a house. soulmatic09

      Yep, that’s a perverse incentive of a government backed counterfeiting cartel; either borrow from it yourself or be priced out of the market forever by those who do.

  6. Debbie

    Thanks so much for appearing on this show. I just listened and I must say, even though I have been reading about this stuff for some time, you explained it so very clearly and really helped me to understand how the individual pieces fit together. I am a layperson who has been following this stuff for the past few years, and plan to listen to this podcast a second time.

    Thanks again for all of your hard work and for your commitment to keeping the public informed.

  7. miranda

    Just heard the show which led me to this site. This is the first time I’ve heard the forclosure crisis explained so clearly and logically. Really did clear up a lot of misconception I’ve had…thanks, will have to read up on the rest of the info here!

  8. J. Bramlett

    Yves’s talk on Le Show was the most perceptive and informative discourses on this topic I’ve yet heard. Now I know where to come for the real scoop. Thanks Yves !

  9. Brian

    Great show! I muted football for an hour for it. I’m biased by being a regular reader here, but I think that was fairly understandable.

  10. Lanny

    Anybody know a stream that it can be listened to afterwards? The Syndicate station link on the Le Show page doesn’t seem to be working….


  11. PDGal

    The 12/05/10 – NPR broadcast of conversation with Harry Shearer: Fantastic! But if everything as so clearly obvious as Yves Smith presents the problem, why aren’t more people screaming?
    I think its because the problem is generally seen as a large miscellaneous tome the size and weight of a 90 story sky-scraper with hundreds of thousands of foot notes that trail off in to hundreds of thousands of tangents.
    One way to simplify think would be to PERSONALIZE the issues and challenges. People pay attention to people behaving in situations that exemplify the elements factors acting rather than abstract entities like MERSA and TRUST FUND. Every American has been negatively affected by this economic meltdown. Every American should be as angry as I was by the time Harry Shearer and Ms Smith signed off KCRW, our local NPR station!

  12. Marianne

    Outstanding show! If you haven’t already listened, do tune in via podcast. Loved Senator Lieberman’s on-air call.

  13. Charlotte Wolter

    The best, most comprehensive exploration of the foreclosure mess that I have heard. There’s a tremendous amount of information in one hour, covering multiple topics: the mortgage ownership mess, the fraud behind mortgage modification, the role of payment processors in increasing foreclosures (because they make more money that way). Yves has the priceless ability to make the complex world of mortgages understandable, no mean feat!

  14. Andrew George

    What a great peice of investigative reporting about the Mortgage Forclosure and the behind the scenes Bank dealings with sloppy procedures and the servicers verses the lender/investors.

    This is a peice only NPR could bring to light.

    This is truely a great peice of reporting, my hat off to the Auther for her great knowledge of the Corruption on Wall Street.

  15. AR

    I ‘live-blogged’ while listening on iTunes @ 2PM on 88.5-3:

    Yves on LeShow 12/5/10

    (I missed the first 5 minutes)

    PSAs were never changed to accord w/MERS. But they couldn’t, because this would void REMIC tax status, AAA ratings, and BK remoteness.

    MERS’ 2 functions: track MSRs; MERS members are servicers & FC Mills; Also: keep track of who owns the loan, but compliance is voluntary & no penalties if data isn’t inputted. So the ABCD transfers, if even done, weren’t always inputted. Only ~48 employees. EDS handles the database. MERS is almost virtual [of course, to avoid prosecution].

    Claim the ‘MERS handshake’ ensures a transfer can’t happen w/out both sides agreeing, but docs have the signature of the same person as VP of both parties (conflict); and also transfers from a BK entity to the forecloser. (using robo-signers).

    Investors being hurt by the FCs now (not reported by MSM, that blames deadbeats, saying they deserve FC). In other types of loans, lenders write down (Ch 11) to get at least something, rather than liquidate. A high % of borrowers could repay loan at a reduced rate, but over 70% losses from FCs now, so the mtg could be crammed down by 50% & investor would make money, so obviously the FCs don’t make sense except as the servicers make the money from FC. Investors don’t like to sue, but may have to, to get svcrs to modify.

    Dual-track: Servicers gamed HAMP to force people to get delinquent for 90 days. On day 91 they start FC, and by day 120-150 it’s over, meanwhile bank sweet-talks as if they’re getting a mod, while they FC.

    Linda Green. Very badly paid robo-signers. Affidavits = sworn testimony. 478 days to FC per WSJ. Banks aren’t FCing quickly due to REO inventory & taxes & maintenance cost. Obama Admin doesn’t want the perception of the right to FC to be questioned by stopping FC. But the slowing is by the banks to game the system. [Yves didn’t mention that fees are piling up during the default period, to be paid to svcr upon FC sale.]

    % to investors: Under servicing agreement, svcrs must continue sending $ to investors, so FC stops this, but there’s a conflct. They don’t have to advance once the borrower is toast. Yves says they never set up their software with this equation, determining when the borrower is toast, so they’ve had to keep sending $. This is a big mess.

    Media doesn’t cover this: only since robosigning scandal came out has this become widely known; FC-defense lawyers are dismissed, vs. banks which have credibility and media access. Media ignores FC-defense lawyers simply because they don’t make much $$, treats them like ambulance chasers. Eggert, Levitin, in Congr hearings are being taken seriously.

    Prognosis: What do we do? Prospective fix can’t work because it’s all state-based ‘dirt law’ & SCOTUS has ruled it’s exempt from federal intervention, which could make more uncertainty if tried. Did securitization made this inter-state? FCs are handled locally. Couldn’t pass anything in this Congress (Shelby beating up on RK Arnold).

    Modifications, deep principal mods, are required not 5-yr payment reduction plans. “Borrowers are more motivated to keep the house if they think they’ll have positive equity some day.” [This refutes Terry Edwards of FNMA, who stated (12/1/10 Sente Banking Cte hearing) that Families detach from the home @ 3-4 months of delinquency.] Streamlined principal mods could be done using NACA’s method at their fairs: borrowers sit down w/NACA person & work out a budget, determine what they can afford, then present this to the servicer, doing the job that servicers won’t pay staff to do. We need a template (need pressure on banks) to determine what mod levels are appropriate. Treasury won’t do this due to 2nds. There are enough state AGs on the case (pressuring the banks), that there’s some probability that we might see that as the outcome. Underwater borrowers don’t fight FC. People who fight FC are fighting svcr error or are in BK, & bank is trying to take the house anyway.

    Where are the TARP toxic assets: CDOs. Convoluted. Structured so that some people got $ 1st, then when AAA got his all, then next guy would get $ (senior/junior). The riskier bonds weren’t sold (snout, hooves of the pig). CDOs are the unwanted parts, re-tranched, but all was junk, none was AAA. The banks wound up holding these, to game their bonus systems, or just couldn’t sell them. This is a big reason for the banking crisis. German Landesbank & other ‘stuffees’ got some of these junk CDOs: UBS, 2 French banks, Deutsche.

    What about the 2nds? FASB change, ZIRP, makes all look better. Some of the CDOs are being unwound, sold in the market. Liquidations being done slowly. 2nds are bigger prob than CDOs.

    Resolution? Like in 1980’s-90’s? Unwilling to admit TARP, etc. was wrong, so not likely to now go the Resolution route: separating good & bad assets. Receivership is seen as socialism. Strip out bad assets & find a way to liquidate them over time. Take the better parts of the bank & get it back into private hands w/new management & new board. Fire executives for cause.

    Big Bank leaders now have more clout than the S&L guys, need more than 5 senators (Keating). 2nd-biggest contributor (after healthcare) to Congress. Revolving door. Regulators are captured, even the ones who think they are public servants. Geithner thinks he’s doing the right thing, he’s drunk the industry kool-aid & thus is worse than people who are cynical.

    Securitization 20 years old, but exploded in 2000 due to Greenspan’s low interest rates & ARMs. Easy consumer credit substituted for living wage. Shoots to the moon starting in 1999. Saving rate ~0. FED rationalized this. Regulatory inattention to irresponsibility taking place (at banks/lenders? or consumers charging stuff?). Aggressive promotion of homeownership helped.

  16. Francois T


    Great interview, bringing much needed clarity to this whole mess. It is much easier to connect the dots listening than reading. (well, it is for me)

    You do understand that you ought to appear on 60 Minutes or Charlie Rose, right?

    How can we make that happen? There’s a big readership here.

    (hint! hint! wink!)

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      A reader who is a personal friend of Charlie Rose has tried. Charlie only interviews Big Names. I am not a Big Name.

      I can’t even get on Democracy Now. Go figure.

      More reader pressure/requests would be very much appreciated.

      1. Francois T

        Big names huh?

        Ya! I’ll hold back my professional opinion about that.

        That Democracy Now won’t have you is VERY surprising.

        Hmmm! I wonder if Barry Ritholz, (cough!) could/would “introduce” you (cough! cough!) to Dylan Ratigan.

        It’s very simple! Your interview with Harry was the best explanation of the Fraudclosure mess around, hands down, no contest, “thou shall genuflect and make room for the technician who knows”!

        Therefore, it must gain wider audience.

        J’ai dit!

      2. Francois T

        I’m so stupid: Terri Gross on Fresh Air.

        I’m a member of WHYY. Can’t hurt to try, can it?

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          I’ve spoken to Ratigan’s producer, and also spoke to Ratigan directly at a conference last fall, my publicist (for my book, at Palgrave) has tried with Terry Gross. Nothing ever comes of it. The Ratigan folks seem interested but there is never any follow through.

  17. hermanas

    Outstanding Yves, I closed my eyes and imagined it was the Jim Lehrer news hour, you and Harry created a comprehensible dialoge. Senator Lieberman’s on-air call perfectly illustrated how clueless are representatives are. Do it again.

  18. aletheia33

    bravo! bravo! a great collaboration. i’ve been reading NK for weeks following this story, but this step by step rundown shocked me with the sheer number of points at which different abuses were committed. there are so many different kinds of violation of proper procedure–legal or not. and, isn’t the area of established property law one of the most sacrosanct?

    i look forward to reliable reporting here at NC on what the state AGs are up to. was the essex county mass. registrar aware of that investigation or not? and was it likely already aware of the kind of thing he was bringing up? anybody know?

    another question: what else has been securitized and become toxic along with mortgages? anything? is there another shoe to drop on other types of securitizations?

    and: with the HELOCs (and other?) unrecoverable “assets” still on their books, are the TBTF banks, now insolvent, and exposed in europe, likely heading for another meltdown a la 2008, or does it look as though some measures are being/will bei taken in time to head that off?

  19. aletheia33

    p.s. forgot to mention, i believe the coverage this blog has provided on this story should get a pulitzer. not kidding.

  20. Sufferin' Succotash

    What I’m still finding hard to believe is the implicit contempt for property rights on the part of an industry whose entire existence is premised on private property rights.
    Talk about forgetting where you came from!

    1. readerOfTeaLeaves

      Yes, but there’s a ‘globalization’ layer that is completely disconnected from the reality of local and state governments.
      As we see daily evidence…

  21. YY

    That was truly awesome! By far the best appearance you’ve made in interview format, and the best Harry Shearer show in the serious format that he’s occasionally ventured into.

  22. P Joseph

    The Le Show appearance was sublime. Of course even such wonderful illumination of the corrupt choke-hold the Wall Street Cabal has upon our body politic will do no good except to the extent it brings us closer to the day U.S. Senators do not have to spend the majority of their time and effort engaging political speech “investors”. That day will only follow amendment of the U.S. Constitution–not a moment before. Too hard; we can’t wait that long? Than give up the country–you already have. The “right” is on such a gall fueled roll that they have taken to recently proposing various demagogic constitutional amendments to nowhere with regularity. All the while, there is not a single prominent progressive championing the following amendment (or its like) which will be the only legal way to take back our country from the transnational corporate cabals. Please read and forward this following amendment, and venture to ask a progressive constitutional lawyer how anything less might allow reversal of the “Citizens United” metastasized corruption of Supreme Court created corporate civil rights.

    The 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution:

    “Only a mortal human being shall have any constitutional right, privilege or immunity of a person, citizen, or part of the people.

    Each citizen’s voice being equal notwithstanding wealth, the Congress and several states shall regulate political gifts and spending to discourage corruption and the undue influence of wealth upon elected representatives.”

  23. M. LaRowe

    Just heard you on NPR here in Ohio and I am so grateful to have been able to listen.

    I worked in the mortgage industry for 2 of the giants (1 now taken over by the other) I worked in Post-foreclosure back in the mid 1990’s and then later I was an underwriter working with all those subprime loans back in 1999.

    As an underwriter I knew even as the salepeople were calling and saying “buy as much as you can get your hands on” that something fishy was going on. Big money was being tossed about in those days and it didnt really make sense.

    We underwriters werent really underwriters- just file checkers making sure the papers were actually in the files we werent even ALLOWED to reject a loan for too high of a DTI ratio etc. I knew there was a ticking bomb in there somewhere and that someplace there must be an economics professor who didnt care much for Alan Greenspan messing with the rates. (I know hindsite and all…) I just didnt know what to do with my theories (at the time that’s all they were). So I didnt do anything but get out of that business.

    Fast forward to the present: a very dear person in my life was one of the financially scammed by the Builder/Lender they bought their home from. The became late in their payments and then were TOLD to skip payments so they could get a loan modification by the bank. They did also “lose” their paperwork at least once as you talked about today.

    They are in their home still but lost every bit of their equity in the most ruinous loan modification I had ever heard of- they simple took all the fees & costs ($20K) and put it right back into the new loan.

    There was a lot of pressure to sign right away and never any suggestion that any of the Obama plan (which we researched to know the details) would ever be a fit. Never. Not one attempt to actually mitigate a potential loss for anyone involved. It never made sense to me until listening to you today.

    The borrowers are now back in the same position as before- almost unable to pay and about to slip behind (their position of hardship didnt change just the amount the bank now says they). It is all so incredibly unethical and I would say criminal.

    But here the clincher — remember the Supreme Court ruling last January about campaign finances being private and all?

    This last election in Ohio (with these new candidates coming on board next month) is tossing out our great Attorney General Cordray(who actually might have been able to take on these banks) and replaced it with a corporate-puppet Republican.

    We also (and my neighbor knows him personally) have a new Republican Gov coming on board and he is one of the most heartless cruel money-driven people to ever take office. Mark my words.

    Ohio is going to go right down the tubes and frankly plenty of folks are already suffering around here.

    Not sure of what the next step is actually but I am saving my money the rainy day I am sure is still coming our way – I sense a storm.

    Your talk today showed that you understand all of this so thank you for the many hours of work it must have taken to get the full picture both of the past and present.

  24. john

    Listening to this now, Yves. As someone who visits the site daily and has been following your posts for years, this is the best thing I’ve heard from you. Great interview.

    Kudos to Harry Sheerer as well for being more knowledgeable than 110% of interviewers in the mainstream media.

  25. Matthew Katz

    This is an excellent interview, I just ordered your book and am thrilled to find someone else working hard on behalf of the working people who are getting defrauded by these banks left and right. Keep up this very important work!

  26. Deus-DJ

    Mr. Laroe,

    It pains me to read what you just wrote. My only suggestion at this current time is for you and the “dear person” in your life to scream and yell as much as you can. You need to. Always remember that there is nothing wrong with that, the ones in society who would prefer the peace be kept are those in power, and when I say those in power I include the corporations who run the show.

    Mr. Katz,

    It’s actually much worse than just the banks…our democracy/republic is not working, and I’m not saying this just because of the dysfunction in Washington. I’m talking about us as a people. We are not being loud enough in screaming down the losers who prefer nothing good be done, and not being loud enough in advocating for the policies we need, such as strong and effective regulation(of all sorts, including consumer protection). The very fact that we haven’t really introduced strong regulations and strong regulators, which are both a function of a strong democracy, suggests our system of democracy is broken. Ideology has blinded all of us into believing the status quo is the only method of existence available to us, and that anyone who questions it is not a normal person. As Reinhold Niebuhr warned us long ago, the rich in society prefer the peace be kept. To fight for what is right, struggle and conflict is an absolute necessity. As I’ve said before, my personal preference is polemics because it invites a sort of anarchy to the debate that generally destroys the “debate” and allows the loudmouth to win it, while the original loudmouth is in shock that someone attacked his personal integrity. Hehehehehe oops sorry for that bit, but that is the social problem we face today.

    1. ks

      And what does a woman write like? Pauline Kael? Susan Sontag? Naomi Klein? Digby? Barbara Tuchman? What?

      A spurious compliment, even from the wonderful Harry Shearer.

      1. craazyman

        A real woman writes like Emily Dickenson and a real man writes like Ernest Hemingway. All the rest of us are somewhere in between. Although it’s not at all clear whether William Wordsworth was a man or a woman.

      2. Dikaios Logos

        I enjoyed the interview greatly, but this whole business of writing like a man or woman bothers me. Like many, I first assumed Yves was a man, but only based upon the name. I never thought ‘writes like a man’ or anything like that: much of the material here is so specialized that sex differences aren’t on my mind.

        Joan Didion is the author Yves’s writing most evokes for me (and that is a very rough impression). In both cases their unique voices dwarf the impact sex differences have on their writing.

  27. Carlos Pi


    Well done. It was a great interview and left me wanting to hear more!

    I’ve written to the show to ask for another program with you. If not, I’ll be glued to your blog to see where you appear again. The Daily Show perhaps?

    So congratulations. It’s always great to hear someone so bright and with the heart in the right place.



  28. Sundog

    Cheers to Harry & Yves for a solid hour aimed at “the reality-based community.”

    Harry did seem to me, as Yves noted, well prepared. Beyond that he asked pointed questions and made room for his guest to expound at length. Result is the best media appearance by Yves I’ve come across.

    Apologies to Harry if posting the KCRW link near the top of this comments thread means less traffic to his site, but given limited attention spans & whatnot I thought it was the right thing to do.

    Cooking Sunday breakfast to the dulcet tones of Mr. Shearer is common in my house… cheers Harry!

  29. Kurt Eggert


    Great interview with Mr. Shearer, and since I live in Los Angeles, that’s a big deal. Thanks for the shout out in the interview.

    My prediction. Things are only going to get weirder from here.

  30. PianoRacer

    Transcript available here:

    Also, I noticed that Yves uses the term “you know” frequently as a filler phrase, over 60 times in this interview. I don’t mean to criticize because I LOVE Yves and everything that she does, but if she wanted to improve her interview / speaking skills (and she did a FINE job regardless), she may want to look into eliminating that phrase from her vocabulary. It can just tend to be distracting past a certain point.

    Once you’ve got that down, “I mean” could probably be reduced as well (30+ instances).

    Just trying to help :)

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