A Swift Deal May Not Be a Sound One
March 13, 2011, New York Times
One crucial reason the nation’s mortgage industry ran itself — and the entire nation — off the rails was its obsession with speed. Mortgages had to be approved chop-chop, loans pooled instantly. When it came to foreclosure, well, the quicker the better. So it is disturbing that the same need for speed is at work in the bank settlement being devised by state attorneys general relating to improper loan-servicing and foreclosure practices. When Tom Miller, the Iowa attorney general who leads the talks, announced initial terms of a deal on Monday, he said, “We’re going to move as fast as we can.”
Settlement Could Put Real Muscle Behind Efforts to Prevent Foreclosure
March 14, 2011, San Jose Mercury News (Editorial)
Even as some in Congress are vowing to gut the Obama administration's foreclosure prevention programs, which admittedly have been lackluster, a real remedy is on the horizon. A settlement that state attorneys general and federal regulators are negotiating with lenders could at long last bring relief to the 4 million families facing the loss of a home this year.
A Foreclosure Settlement Plan Might Make Matters Worse
March 14, 2011, Washington Post (Editorial)
The nation’s mortgage companies have engaged in questionable practices - or worse - regarding loan modifications and foreclosures. Even now the banks have not entirely conquered the scandal that erupted last fall over alleged widespread errors, procedural irregularities and outright misrepresentations - including the notorious "robo-signing" of foreclosure documents. The resulting confusion and controversy forced some banks to halt foreclosures, then start them again, adding a new element of uncertainty to an ailing housing market.
More Mortgage Mischief
March 15, 2011, Wall Street Journal (Opinion)
The new federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's website proclaims that no financial company "should be able to build, or feel pressure to build, a business model around unfair, deceptive, or abusive practices." How ironic, then, that the bureau itself is trying to extend its reach by extorting billions of dollars from private mortgage servicers, regulating their business by fiat, and stalling a U.S. housing market recovery
Alabama's Spencer Bachus Leads GOP Push to Gut Mortgage Relief Program
March 14, 2011, Birmingham News
House Republicans, led by Rep. Spencer Bachus, are halfway toward their goal of killing four federal programs meant to prevent home foreclosures. The U.S. House voted Thursday and Friday to end the Emergency Mortgage Relief Program and the FHA Refinance Program. Votes next week are scheduled on ending the Home Affordable Modification Program and the Neighborhood Stabilization Program.
Another Inside Job
March 13, 2011, New York Times (Opinion)
Count me among those who were glad to see the documentary “Inside Job” win an Oscar. The film reminded us that the financial crisis of 2008, whose aftereffects are still blighting the lives of millions of Americans, didn’t just happen — it was made possible by bad behavior on the part of bankers, regulators and, yes, economists. What the film didn’t point out, however, is that the crisis has spawned a whole new set of abuses, many of them illegal as well as immoral.