Tag: ek Politics

Justice?

Bending the Tax Code, and Lifting A.I.G.’s Profit

By ANDREW ROSS SORKIN, The New York Times

February 27, 2012, 8:55 pm

Last week, the American International Group reported a whopping $19.8 billion profit for its fourth quarter. It was a quite a feat for a company that was on its death bed just a little over three years ago, so sick that it needed a huge taxpayer bailout.

But if you dug into the numbers, it quickly became clear that $17.7 billion of that profit was pure fantasy – a tax benefit, er, gift, from the United States government. The company made only $1.6 billion during the quarter from actual operations. Yet A.I.G. not only received a tax benefit, it is unlikely to pay a cent of taxes this year, nor by some estimates, for at least a decade.



(O)fficials said A.I.G.’s tax benefit would help taxpayers because it would raise the insurer’s share price. That may be true, but that assumes that the government is able to sell its shares and exit its investment. That’s still a big “if.”

Why Treasury is being so nice to AIG

By Felix Salmon, Reuters

February 28, 2012

But there’s something else going on here too, which is the optics of the AIG bailout. The New York Fed today announced that it had finally exited its Maiden Lane II portfolio – the toxic securities bought at a discount from AIG in the 2008 bailout – at a healthy profit of $2.8 billion. It held on to those securities in May 2011, when AIG itself offered to buy them back at a much more modest profit for the Fed. And when forced to choose sides between AIG and the Fed in 2011, Treasury sided with AIG. At all times, Treasury wants what’s best for AIG’s share price, so that it can, hopefully sooner rather than later, sell off its entire 77% stake in the company at some kind of profit.

It’s already taken longer than Treasury would have liked: there was a feeling when I spoke to Millstein that the sale of AIG might be reasonably imminent, and yet here we are, more than 16 months later, and we don’t seem to be all that much closer to such an event. So unless and until AIG gets sold, expect Treasury to continue to shower it with as much regulatory forbearance as it can possibly corral.

I’m sure there are a lot of people at Treasury who would dearly love the company to be fully privatized before the election, and there’s essentially no chance that’ll happen if the share price is much below the break-even point of $29 per share. We’re close, now, and I’m sure that Treasury wishes that AIG had managed to buy back those Maiden Lane II assets on the cheap so that the share price could have been even higher. There’s still time to privatize AIG while Tim Geithner is still Treasury secretary. And Treasury will do everything it can to make that happen, if it can do so without exiting at a loss.

Michigan/Arizona Primary Open Thread

I don’t expect you to care about the Insane Clown Posse any more than I do, but I was born in Michigan so I suppose I should say something about it.

On the Yuper side my Grands had one of the very first cable companies since reception was extremely bad.  On the Troll side my Greats were early investors in GM and Smuckers and basically cut off my Grandad because he married a poor crippled girl.

We visited Troll side most often and it’s flat.  The big ski hill is a mountain of garbage and you can see the weather coming for miles and miles.  Gran knew Mike Moore and didn’t like him, thought he was a smart ass.

One thing a lot of people don’t internalize is that Michigan has a large population of Dutch Reformed Calvinists of the George C. Scott Hardcore type which explains their swing state status.  I’ve been to Grand Rapids and I found most of the people to be pleasant enough, but we didn’t talk politics.

Arizona has more Mormons than you think (like Nevada).

Whatever happens I’m pretty sure we can count on continued hilarity.

Everything we thought we knew is wrong!

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Sunday the Washington Post put up a piece by Dylan Matthews that gives relatively serious treatment to Modern Monetary Theory.

You know the deficit hawks. Now meet the deficit owls.

Posted by Dylan Matthews, Washington Post

10:10 AM ET, 02/19/2012

In contrast to “deficit hawks” who want spending cuts and revenue increases now in order to temper the deficit, and “deficit doves” who want to hold off on austerity measures until the economy has recovered, Galbraith is a deficit owl. Owls certainly don’t think we need to balance the budget soon. Indeed, they don’t concede we need to balance it at all. Owls see government spending that leads to deficits as integral to economic growth, even in good times.

The term isn’t Galbraith’s. It was coined by Stephanie Kelton, a professor at the University of Missouri at Kansas City, who with Galbraith is part of a small group of economists who have concluded that everyone – members of Congress, think tank denizens, the entire mainstream of the economics profession – has misunderstood how the government interacts with the economy. If their theory – dubbed “Modern Monetary Theory” or MMT – is right, then everything we thought we knew about the budget, taxes and the Federal Reserve is wrong.

‘Relatively’ is the key word and there are some serious flaws in Matthew’s piece that letsgetitdone discusses in a 6 part, 4 part series over at Corrente.

WaPo Covers MMT, But Does Its Usual Bad Job: Part One, Some Basics and Solvency

letsgetitdone, Corrente

Tue, 02/21/2012 – 5:48pm

Deficit owls, believe that there is no structural deficit, and that most of the present US deficit will go away when full employment is reached, but probably not all of it, unless the private savings levels in the economy are balanced by an equal or greater foreign sector deficit (trade surplus). They also believe that in times of unused productive capacity like these, Government deficits are caused by the state of the economic system, and that explicitly managing them by taxing more or spending less will not improve its condition, but only result in a downward economic spiral making conditions still worse.

On the other hand, if real economic problems like unemployment, alternative energy capacity and production, infrastructure renewal, education, and industrial innovations are addressed through Government deficit spending, then aggregate demand spurring private sector business activity and ending U6 unemployment will result. In addition, deficit owls believe that in a fiat money system, where there is no debt in foreign currencies, and no “peg” to such currencies, solvency is never a problem for the Government, and that while inflation partly caused by Government deficit spending can become a problem in such a system, this can only happen when full employment is achieved.



(N)ecessary for currency sovereignty is to have a non-convertible currency, a floating exchange rate, and no debt in a currency not your own. These qualifications are very important because examples (e.g. Weimar, Zimbabwe) that are often given contradicting the claim that there’s no solvency problem for Governments like the US don’t fulfill these conditions.

WaPo Covers MMT, But Does Its Usual Bad Job: Part Two, Inflation/Hyperinflation

letsgetitdone, Corrente

Wed, 02/22/2012 – 1:00am

(I)t’s easy to wave off MMT by saying there is a risk of inflation in using deficit spending to create full employment, but it is entirely another matter to say what the level of risk is, and to provide compelling arguments about why that risk is appreciable, and more costly than the effects of chronic unemployment in a stagnating economy. This Mankiw doesn’t begin to do. I think Dylan should have pointed this out, rather than just mentioning Mankiw’s opinion. Who cares about his opinion? It’s his arguments, his theories, for expecting inflation that we care about. So, why doesn’t Dylan outline what these are and critically evaluate them?

When Mankiw tells us that default might be a better option than risking inflation by printing money, he is going way beyond his claimed area of expertise in economics. The 14th Amendment to the US constitution prohibits even questioning Government debt, much less defaulting on it. Mankiw in his capacity as an economist is unqualified to say whether a violation of the US constitution is a better option than taking the risk of triggering hyperinflation by “printing money.”



What MMT replies is that bond issuance isn’t an inevitability, but a result of choices made by the US Congress and the Executive Branch of Government. The Congress could place the Fed under the authority of the Treasury Secretary in the Executive Branch, and then no debt would have to be issued to deficit spend, since the Fed could just mark up the Treasury General Account (TGA) under orders from the Secretary.

MMT also points out that the Fed controls the Federal Funds Rate which, in turn, heavily influences all bond rates. If the Fed targets a near zero FFR, and the Treasury issues no bonds longer than say, three months in duration, then bond interest rates can be kept near zero no matter how much debt is issued. Japan has proved this is the case since its debt-to-GDP ratio is now in excess of 200% while its interest rates are very near zero on short-term debt instruments.



If the Fed buys bonds with money it prints, this will increase reserves in the private sector, but it won’t increase Net Financial Assets (NFA), because buying the bonds is just an asset swap. So with no new NFA being added to the private sector by the Government, this sort of Fed operation won’t be inflationary, as its massive QE programs have just demonstrated empirically. In fact, by removing the payment of interest on bonds from the private sector, and given that most of the Fed profits are returned to the Treasury, some MMT economists say that the end result of such operations may well be deflationary.

WaPo Covers MMT, But Does Its Usual Bad Job: Part Three, Banking, and Default vs. "Hyperinflation"

letsgetitdone, Corrente

Wed, 02/22/2012 – 4:00pm

(I)ncreasing the amount of reserves does not lead to increased borrowing, because banks don’t need more reserves to make loans. All they need are credit worthy borrowers and access to the Fed discount window to make whatever quantity of loans they want to. This is one of the main points about the banking system MMT makes. Put simply: lending is not reserve constrained! It’s constrained by bank willingness to lend to credit worthy borrowers.



MMT’s Sectoral Financial Balances (SFB) model is exactly right in its explanations, since they are able to run surpluses without disaster, only because, unlike the United States, the foreign sectors of their economies run deficits (that is Canada and Australia run trade surpluses) large enough to accommodate the private sector savings desires of Australians and also the Government’s desire to run a budget surplus. The US however, currently has a need to run Government deficits of 10% to support both our private sector savings desires of 6% of GDP, and our foreign sector’s desires to export 4% of US GDP to US consumers so they can accumulate US dollars in the form of electronic credits.



Governments can voluntarily default if they choose to. MMT economists have always said this and still say it. So why is political stupidity or perfidy counted against the truth of the MMT proposition that Governments sovereign in their currency have no fiscal solvency problems, only voluntary constraints and political problems?

On the contrary, I think the Russian case is one of the primary illustrations of a point that deficit owls have been trying to spread far and wide. Namely, that sometimes default is due to stupidity and perfidy and not to economic forces and that citizens in a democracy need to be aware of that, and of the full capabilities of currency sovereign Governments to always pay debts incurred in their fiat currency and to spend whatever is necessary to enable full employment in their nations. They are never, never, out of money except by choice. So, the real questions are:

  • why are they choosing to default?
  • Who will benefit from this political choice?
  • And who will be asked to pay the price?

And how does the Russian case “prove” that: “Default, while technically always avoidable, is sometimes the best available option”? Is Dylan, through this quote from Gregory Mankiw suggesting that “public purpose” in Russia was better served by its voluntary default than it would have been if the Russians repaid their ruble debts in the rubles they might have created had they wished to? I’m afraid that both Dylan and Mankiw will have to prove that statement to me, since Russian citizens seem to have suffered quite a lot by taking the default choice and accepting austerity when they didn’t have to do so.

WaPo Covers MMT, But Does Its Usual Bad Job: Part Four, The Victory

letsgetitdone, Corrente

Thu, 02/23/2012 – 1:00am

For many years now, MMT economists and others who write in support of them have been trying to make a very important point to the mainstream. And that is that the claim:

The Government is running out of money,

is a myth, a fairy tale, or a deadly innocent fraud.

Dylan doesn’t say that in so many words. But he and the economists he cites, even Greg Mankiw grant this very important MMT/deficit owl point in passing.

If this post is any indication, mainstream economics, and certainly deficit doves, and hawks like Mankiw, now acknowledge that a nation like the US which is sovereign in its own fiat currency can never run out of money, or be prevented by the pure fiscal aspects of any situation from paying its debts or buying whatever goods and/or services it needs that are available for sale in its own sovereign currency.

So, that part of the great debate is now over. It will be very hard from here on, for the deficit hawks to maintain their deficit/insolvency terrorism in the face of the general recognition in economics that the Federal Government is not like a household, because it can never run out of the currency that it has the sole legitimate power to issue.

If they try, they will now be the ones facing ridicule and marginalization. And, increasingly, those politicians who try to claim we are running out of money, will also face ridicule and be viewed as ignoramuses by others.



Every critic of MMT cited in the post raises the objection either implicitly or explicitly that MMT policy proposals will lead to worrisome inflation, or hyperinflation. Now, that’s progress, because unlike the level of one’s national debt, or the size of one’s deficit in the abstract, or the nonsense debt-to-GDP ratio, which means nothing in itself, inflation is a real issue, not an artifact of some economist’s fevered theories.



In other words, let’s get real. Let’s talk about real problems of real people that can be alleviated through fiscal policy and Government programs. Let’s stop taking about fairy tales, myths, and bogeymen. And let’s get on with the job of rebuilding the United States for our children and grandchildren and using every tool we have, including our fiat currency system, to realize the blessings of liberty and equality of opportunity for everyone.

The WaPo MMT Post Explosion: Dean Baker Weighs In on MMT

letsgetitdone, Corrente

Fri, 02/24/2012 – 12:58am

(Th)ere are some differences that are very significant for policy activism between a Keynesian deficit dove approach employed by people like Paul Krugman, Brad DeLong, Robert Reich, and Dean Baker (op.cite, link added), and a Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) approach employed by people like Warren Mosler, L. Randall Wray, Bill Mitchell, Jamie Galbraith, Stephanie Kelton, Marshall Auerback, Scott Fullwiler, and Pavlina Tcherneva. So, here are some contrasts between the two approaches on seven important issues.

The WaPo MMT Post Explosion: Jared Bernstein’s Cool Up To a Point

letsgetitdone, Corrente

Thu, 02/23/2012 – 12:19pm

  • Tax Cuts Hard to Unwind? Not If You Legislate Properly!
  • Default vs. Hyperinflation? A False Choice for the US?
  • Debt Should Grow More Slowly Than GDP? Why?
  • Deficits Must Respond Dynamically To Growth? They Will If They’re the Right Deficits
  • MMT Not Effective in Deficit Reduction Mode; or Congress Ineffective In Its Legislation?
  • Fiscal Sustainability and the Health Care Issue or Mis-allocation of Net Financial Assets to the Health Care Industry at the Cost of Weakening Our Democracy?
  • Does Jared Bernstein Really Understand MMT, Yet?



Finally, I also think that Jared doesn’t fully understand that MMT is not just an approach to economic policy and analysis, but primarily embodies certain Macroeconomic propositions and propositions about how modern money works, and what policies could be followed to achieve public purpose. If he did, then why would he keep making objections to MMT policy proposals based on his ideas about how Congress will act in reply to them?

In the end, it’s not MMT’s responsibility to propose policies that Congress will legislate. It is, instead, up to MMT to propose policies that will achieve full employment with price stability and other favorable social, cultural and political impacts for our democracy.

From that point on, it is up to political advocates to make these policies popular enough to get Congress and the President to pass them. And any failings in passing these policies are not failings of MMT economics, but failngs of the oligarchy which will not pass the policies it recommends.

Cartnoon

Goofy Groceries

Barack Obama- Populist

Remind me again why Republicans are worse.  Court appointments?

Federal judge weighs whether to let regulators rein in oil speculators

By Kevin G. Hall, McClatchy Newspapers

Monday, February 27, 2012

WASHINGTON – A federal judge on Monday refused to halt efforts by a key regulator to limit excessive speculation in the trading of oil contracts – which is driving up oil and gasoline prices – but hinted that he might soon rule in favor of Wall Street and let speculation go unchecked.



Judge Wilkins expressed concern that Congress would direct the agency to impose market-wide limits without detailed study beforehand. President Barack Obama nominated Wilkins to the bench and the Senate confirmed him in 2010.



“That seems to me an astonishing position to take,” the judge told CFTC deputy general counsel Jonathan Marcus, who had said that Congress ordered the agency to first impose limits on oil trading, then other commodities.

As a sign of how high the stakes are, the trade groups hired Eugene Scalia to make their case. He’s the son of outspoken conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, and last year he won a key challenge to a Dodd-Frank rulemaking being carried out by the Securities and Exchange Commission. In that case, the courts struck down provisions that would have made it easier for shareholders to run candidates for corporate boards.

Congress ordered the CFTC to impose position limits, concerned that financial speculators now far outnumber producers, merchants and end users of oil and other commodities in the trading of contracts for future delivery of product known as futures contracts. Reporting by McClatchy has shown that these speculators now outnumber by more than 2-to-1 the traders who actually produce or consume oil.

Oh, after 3 and a half years it’s too soon to tell.

Gotcha.

A History of AIDS

Not qualified to judge the veracity of this, simply drawing it to your attention.

Colonialism in Africa helped launch the HIV epidemic a century ago

By Craig Timberg and Daniel Halperin, Washington Post

Published: February 27

Scientists had long known that a blood sample, preserved from 1959, showed that HIV had been circulating in Kinshasa, the capital of Congo, for several decades before the virus first drew international attention in the 1980s. In 2008, evolutionary biologist Michael Worobey sharpened that picture when he reported in the journal Nature the discovery of a second sample of the virus, trapped in a wax-encased lymph node biopsy from 1960.

By comparing these two historic pieces of virus and mapping out the differences in their genetic structures in his lab at the University of Arizona, Worobey determined that HIV-1 group M was much older than anyone had thought. Both samples of the virus appeared to have descended from a single ancestor at some time between 1884 and 1924. The most likely date was 1908.

Taken together, these two discoveries offered the clearest clues to the birth and early life of the epidemic.

Pennies on the Dollar

Supreme Court won’t order emergency measures to prevent Asian carp from reaching Great Lakes

By Associated Press

Updated: Monday, February 27, 3:58 PM

Michigan and four neighboring states wanted the Army Corps of Engineers to install nets in two Chicago-area rivers and to expedite a study of permanent steps to head off an invasion by bighead and silver carp, which have advanced up the Mississippi River and its tributaries to within 55 miles of Lake Michigan. Scientists say if the large, prolific carp spread widely in the lakes, they could starve out native species and devastate the $7 billion fishing industry.



They advocate placing barriers in Chicago-area waterways to cut a link between the watersheds created more than a century ago when engineers reversed the flow of the Chicago River to flush the city’s sewage toward the Mississippi. A recent report by groups representing Great Lakes states and cities proposed three methods for doing so, with estimated costs as high as $9.5 billion.



The Obama administration has devoted more than $100 million to shielding the lakes from the carp and recently announced plans to spend $51.5 million this year. Plans include operating and monitoring an electric fish barrier near Chicago, stepped-up commercial fishing in the area, and field testing new strategies such as high-pressure underwater guns and pheromones that could lure carp into lethal traps.

Now about that Title Fraud “Settlement”.

I forget.

Which is Pravda and which is Isvestia again?

Obama’s Deficit Dilemma

Obama’s unacknowledged debt to Bowles/Simpson plan

By JACKIE CALMES, The New York Times

Published: February 27, 2012

Mr. Obama has come to adopt most of the major tenets supported by a majority of the commission’s members, though his proposals do not go as far. He has called for cutting deficits more than $4 trillion over 10 years by shaving all spending, including for the military, Medicare and Social Security; overhauling the tax code to raise revenues and lower rates; and writing rules to lock in savings.



Three weeks ago Mr. Obama met with Erskine B. Bowles, a former chief of staff to Mr. Clinton who was a co-chairman of the commission along with former Senator Alan K. Simpson, a Republican. In speeches nationwide, the chairmen have expressed disappointment that the president – and Republicans – did not take up their plan.



“The president wanted to make sure that we understood that he had had a strategy to take the framework of what we’d negotiated” on the commission, Mr. Bowles said, “and to use that as a vehicle to negotiate a deal.”

Mars, Bitches

Researcher: Obama Budget ‘End Of The Mars Program’

CBS DC

February 27, 2012 7:57 AM

If Obama’s budget sails through as outlined, “in essence, it is the end of the Mars program,” said Phil Christensen, a Mars researcher at Arizona State University. It’s like “we’ve just flown Apollo 10 and now we’re going to cancel the Apollo program when we’re one step from landing,” he said.



(R)obotic Mars missions slated for 2016 and 2018 were cut from the president’s new budget proposal, even though NASA has spent $64 million on early designs with the European Space Agency for the two missions. The most ambitious Mars flight yet and one the National Academy of Sciences endorsed as the No. 1 solar system priority – a plan to grab Martian rocks and soil and bring them back to Earth – is on indefinite hold.



If NASA ignores Mars for a decade, it runs the risk of a brain drain, said Ed Weiler, who resigned last year as NASA’s sciences chief because of budget battles over Mars.

“Landing on Mars is a uniquely American talent and there aren’t too many things that are uniquely American,” Weiler said.

Greece Defaults

I don’t know what else you can call an 87% haircut.

Greece’s bond exchange: it’s official

Felix Salmon, Reuters

Feb 24, 2012 13:32 EST

Firstly, they’re going to receive new Greek bonds, maturing in 2042. It doesn’t matter whether the bonds you’re holding mature on March 20, or whether they mature in 30 years’ time – everybody gets the same new long-dated bonds, according to the face value of what they now own. In other words, the value of Greek bonds right now is wholly a function of what their face value is, and has nothing to do with their coupon or their maturity date.

The new Greek bonds have a step-up coupon: 2% through 2015, then 3% through 2020, then 3.65% in 2021, and then 4.3% from 2022 through 2042. Bondholders will receive new bonds with a face value of €315 for every €1,000 of old bonds they hold. (Again, remember that it’s face value which matters here, not market price.) What’s the market price of the new bonds going to be? Not very much; my guess is that they’ll trade at roughly 40% of face value. Which means that the “NPV haircut”, as far as the new Greek obligations are concerned, is somewhere on the order of 87%.

Mark to market baby.

And now a word from our sponsors…

Target

W(h)eat Thins

Crooks on the Loose!

More Foreclosure Mischief: Bankruptcy Hijackings

Yves Smith, Naked Capitalism

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

One of the common complaints from banks that the concerns raised by borrowers over robosigning are mere “paperwork” problems, that everyone who is foreclosed on deserved it, and no one was really hurt. That is patently false, as there have been an embarrassing number of instances where someone with no mortgage was foreclosed on, as well all too many cases of servicer-driven foreclosures. And that’s before we get to damage to property records.

Attorney Timothy Fong called our attention to a below the radar form of chicanery that is predictable when you have nonjudicial foreclosure with no significant oversight and agents who lack incentives to do a good job.



So get this: the procedures are so bad that totally bogus documents can be created and slipped into the bankruptcy of an innocent victim to stop foreclosure sales. Even worse, the servicer, who OUGHT to know better, treats this person in BK who suddenly materialized out of nowhere from his perspective as a real owner and hits him with a motion for relief of stay so they can take a house from him that he never owned. And the foreclosure mill lawyers don’t question this because more motions of relief of stay means more fees.

If this example wasn’t such a serious indictment of our system, it would serve as a black comedy in bureaucratic incompetence.

Quelle Surprise! Servicers Rip Off Investors as Well as Homeowners

Yves Smith, Naked Capitalism

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

We’ve been giving examples off and on about how servicers scam borrowers. Examples include impermissibly deducting fees before applying payments to interest and principal; force placed insurance, inflated prices on and excessive frequency of broker price opinions, and in altogether too many cases, treating payments that are on time as late. What many observers fail to appreciate is that these are tantamount to scamming investors. If a borrower goes into default, any bogus charges will be deducted from the sale of the house, and hence come out of investors’ hides.

Lisa Epstein of Foreclosure Hamlet is a mortgage document maven and has been looking extensively at investor reports and compared them to court documents and has found serious discrepancies. Her research shows that servicers are not only taking advantage of borrowers but are also scamming investors.



Investors have told me they’ve seen signs of even more gross abuses, such as servicers treating fees as credit losses. But this sort of remark in a way shows investors suffer from the same agency problems as servicers, who have no reason to do a good job but instead are motivated to game a complex system of fees. Institutional investors are running other people’s money and therefore have no incentive to crack down on miscreant servicers (they feel it is not their job, plus if any one investor were to take this issue on, the rest of the industry would free ride on his work).

So no wonder we only have isolated and very dedicated individuals chipping away at this looting. Everyone else appears to be part of the problem.

John O’Brien: Mortgage Settlement Fails to Address Banking Criminal Enterprise

John L. O’Brien of the Southern Essex District Registry of Deeds – Salem, MA, Naked Capitalism

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

When you enter my registry you see a sign that reads “The deeds tell the story.” Before the big banks took it upon themselves to corrupt the land recordation system, the deeds used to tell a happy story, one in which people purchased a home and lived “the American Dream.” Today, however they tell a different story one of greed, fraud, and forgery. By now everyone in Massachusetts knows what I have been doing over the past two years to expose and stop the schemes by the Mortgage Electronic Recording Systems, Inc. and their shareholder banks. The accuracy and integrity of the land records in my registry are of the upmost importance to me.

Just this past week the Attorney Generals of this country said they will enter into a deal with the 5 largest banks who have agreed to stop robo-signing, provide principal reductions of between 20 to 25 thousand dollars to a million underwater homeowners. This amount will in no way solve the housing crisis that we are faced with nor even begin to turn our economy around. In addition, the settlement suggests that approximately 750,000 people who have had their homes taken by foreclosure using fraudulent documents will receive a check for $2,000. As Yves Smith has said, “that amount is the new penalty for forgery.” This is merely a slap on the wrists to these lenders. It is my opinion that this deal has been crafted for the banks and by the banks. It is not in the best interest of the consumer, the homeowner, or the taxpayer. Simply put, I do not trust these lenders who have flooded my registry with over 32,000 fraudulent documents to do the right thing. Those homeowners who now have a corrupted title are looking for answers. This deal gives them none. The illegal activity by the banks is nothing shy of a criminal enterprise, where they crossed state lines using the United States Postal Service to deliver the instruments that were fraudulent and contained forgeries.

I will continue to pursue my request for Federal and State grand juries to be impaneled to hold the CEO’s of these banks liable for the crimes that have been committed under their watch. The only thing missing in this illegal scheme that MERS and the big banks came up with was a gun and a mask. I will continue to expose this fraud and work everyday to make sure that the taxpayers are fully reimbursed for the over $44 million dollars in lost recording fees in my district alone by institutions who still believe fees are “for thee but not for me.” A message needs to be sent to these banks that they may think that you are too big to fail but they are not too big to go to jail.

Yes, Virginia, Foreclosure Is Theft

Author: L. Randall Wray, EconoMonitor

February 22nd, 2012

There’s a lot of pushback anytime someone points the finger at banks. As I’ve argued for a couple of years now, virtually all recent foreclosures really amount to theft. The banks have no legal standing to take homes. They created the MERS monster, which destroyed the chain of title and “lost” all the documents. That is why the mortgage servicers hire robo-signers to forge new ones. Yet, 4 years into the crisis, almost no one wants to admit the truth. Foreclosure in the US is theft-as practiced it is almost always illegal. Yet, the servicers are now ramping up foreclosures after they bought out the state attorneys general under pressure from the Eric Holder at the White House.

Audit Reveals 84% of San Francisco Foreclosures Violated Law

David Wallechinsky, Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

City officials requested the audit that examined 382 randomly chosen foreclosures that occurred from January 2009 through October 2011. The findings revealed that 84% of the files involved “what appear to be one or more clear violations of law.” The violations included not giving homeowners warning that they were in default on their loans (6%), not giving homeowners adequate legal warning their property was being sold (10%), backdating of documents (59%) and transfers of loans by entities that had no business doing so (45%).

Another disturbing discovery related to the Mortgage Electronic Registry System (MERS). In 1995 the bigger banks created MERS as a privately owned electronic system for registering mortgage sales that was supposed to replace local county recording. In the words of the New York Attorney General’s Office, they did so “to allow financial institutions to evade local county recording fees, avoid the hassle and paperwork of publicly recording mortgage transfers, and facilitate the rapid sale and securitization of mortgages.” The San Francisco audit found that in 58% of cases, the loan beneficiary listed on the deed of sale was different from the one listed in the MERS database.

Audit Uncovers Extensive Flaws in Foreclosures

By GRETCHEN MORGENSON, The New York Times

Published: February 15, 2012

(T)he detailed and comprehensive nature of the San Francisco findings suggest how pervasive foreclosure irregularities may be across the nation.



The depth of the problem raises questions about whether at least some foreclosures should be considered void, Mr. Ting said. “We’re not saying that every consumer should not have been foreclosed on or every lender is a bad actor, but there are significant and troubling issues,” he said.

California has been among the states hurt the most by the mortgage crisis. Because its laws, like those of 29 other states, do not require a judge to oversee foreclosures, the conduct of banks in the process is rarely scrutinized. Mr. Ting said his report was the first rigorous analysis of foreclosure improprieties in California and that it cast doubt on the validity of almost every foreclosure it examined.

“Clearly, we need to set up a process where lenders are following every part of the law,” Mr. Ting said in the interview. “It is very apparent that the system is broken from many different vantage points.”



The report contradicted the contentions of many banks that foreclosure improprieties did little harm because the borrowers were behind on their mortgages and should have been evicted anyway. “We can deduce from the public evidence,” the report noted, “that there are indeed legitimate victims in the mortgage crisis. Whether these homeowners are systematically being deprived of legal safeguards and due process rights is an important question.”

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