Friday, December 17, 2010

SEC Looking at Securitization Process in Mortgage Foreclosure Probe

About time, and therefore that means the feds are getting close to striking a deal with the banksters, legitimatizing everything they've done.

Reuters reports that the SEC has sent out a new round of subpoenas to Wall Street banks in its probe of mortgage/foreclosure fraud, and this time the regulators are looking at the very root of the fraud - securitization:

U.S. regulators have opened a new line of inquiry in their mortgage foreclosure probe and are asking big Wall Street banks about the beginning stages of mortgage securitization, two sources familiar with the probe said.

The Securities and Exchange Commission launched the new phase of its investigation by sending out a fresh round of subpoenas last week to big banks like Bank of America Corp, Citigroup Inc, JPMorgan Chase & Co, Goldman Sachs Group Inc and Wells Fargo & Co, the sources said.

The SEC's subpoenas focus on the earliest stage of the mortgage securitization process, said the sources, who requested anonymity because the probe is not public.

The sources said the SEC is asking for information about the role of so-called "master servicers" -- specialized firms that oversee the selection and maintenance of the large pool of home loans that go into every mortgage-backed bond.

...One of the sources said the SEC is seeking information about the role banks had in mortgage securitization. The regulator is also looking at the role trustees for the trusts that issued the mortgage-backed securities had in monitoring the performance of the underlying loans.
"Master servicers" - read Bank of America, J.P.Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citibank. Servicers are the ones who collects mortgage payments from the borrowers.

"Trustees of the trusts [REMIC]" - read Wells Fargo, US Bankcorp, Bank of New York Mellon, Deutschebank. Trustees of the REMICs are the ones who were supposed to verify all the necessary documents were properly transferred to the trusts.

Foreclosures in mostly judicial states have turned out to be the discovery process, as the homeowners and lawyers defending them have found out that their mortgages were never transferred properly to the REMICs, and the foreclosing parties (either the servicer or the trustee) do not have the legal standing in foreclosure.

Attorneys who have been trying to help homeowners in foreclosure will tell you that they've known for a long time that mortgages were never transferred to the REMIC, but that was business as usual for the industry and no one raised a stink about it.

And who bought the securities issued out of these trusts, which may have been issued without any backing? Banks, hedge funds, pension funds, mutual funds around the world. One of the largest holders of these securities - mortgage-backed securities - is the Federal Reserve under Ben "Bernank". The Fed has over $1 trillion of these MBS.

These banks have been telling us "Oh it's just minor document processing problems", precisely because it is not.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Obama to Dems: My Presidency Will End If You Don't Pass Tax Deal That I Detest


Is this some kind of ploy to make sure that the tax deal will be voted down? (I'm sure there are many people who will rejoice if Obama;s presidency ends in 2012, if not sooner.)

The Hill reported on 12/15 that the Obama White House is urging the House Dems to vote for the bill that will extend the Bush-era tax cuts for two more years; otherwise, the WH says, Obama's presidency would end:

In urging lawmakers to vote for his tax deal, President Obama is using one of his go-to lines from the healthcare debate, according to a Democratic lawmaker.

Obama is telling members of Congress that failure to pass the tax-cut legislation could result in the end of his presidency, Rep. Peter DeFazio (Ore.) said.

"The White House is putting on tremendous pressure, making phone calls, the president is making phone calls saying this is the end of his presidency if he doesn't get this bad deal," he told CNN's Eliot Spitzer.

But the White House shot back late on Wednesday.

"The president hasn’t said anything remotely like that and has never spoken with Mr. DeFazio about the issue," said White House spokesman Tommy Vietor.

Obama's push shows that the president is going to the mat in order to push through Congress the compromise brokered with Republicans.

During the end of the healthcare debate, Obama reportedly told Democrats upset that the bill did not contain a public healthcare option that not passing it could put his presidency on the line and stall the liberal agenda for decades.

The White House has been aggressively selling the deal, which includes a two-year extension of all the expiring Bush tax cuts in exchange for a 13-month extension of unemployment benefits, to skeptical lawmakers and the public.

Hmmm. Tough choice. I believe to let the Bush-era tax cuts expire in a moribund economy would be a disaster, unduly punishing people who work to earn income (as opposed to super-rich who may not necessarily work to remain rich). But if we have Obama as a one-term prez by not passing the bill, It may be more beneficial to economy in the long run.

But as always, we the small people don't have any say. House passed the bill today by 277-148. Oh well. (So Obama's presidency will continue beyond 2012? Yuck.)

I know the real reason why Obama was pushing for the passage of the bill. He just wants to start his Hawaiian vacation - playing golf and watching ESPN.

Let's see if Moody's downgrades the US tomorrow...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Flash Mob Sing "Hallelujah" in a Mall Food Court

from George F. Handel's famous oratorio "Messiah".

From Wikipedia:

In many parts of the world, it is the accepted practice for the audience to stand for this section of the performance. The tradition is said to have originated with the first London performance of Messiah, which was attended by King George II. As the first notes of the triumphant Hallelujah Chorus rang out, the king rose to his feet and remained standing until the end of the chorus. Royal protocol has always dictated that when the monarch stands, everyone in their presence is also required to stand. Thus, the entire audience and orchestra stood when the king stood during the performance, initiating a tradition that has lasted more than two centuries.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Iceland May Ban Mastercard and Visa Over WikiLeaks

Iceland, on the way to economic recovery since it decided to let its troubled lenders fail two years ago, is considering taking away the operating licenses from Mastercard and Visa in the country over their ban on donations to WikiLeaks.

From Raw Story on 12/13/2010:

Credit card companies that prevented card-holders from donating money to the secrets outlet WikiLeaks could have their operating licenses taken away in Iceland, according to members of the Icelandic Parliamentary General Committee.

Representatives from Mastercard and Visa were called before the committee Sunday to discuss their refusal to process donations to the website, reports Reykjavik Grapevine.

"People wanted to know on what legal grounds the ban was taken, but no one could answer it," Robert Marshall, the chairman of the committee, said. "They said this decision was taken by foreign sources."

The committee is seeking additional information from the credit card companies for proof that there was legal grounds for blocking the donations.

Marshall said the committee would seriously review the operating licenses of Visa and Mastercard in Iceland.

(Full article at the link)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Man Bites Dog, or Robosigner Sues Foreclosure Defense Attorney

St. Petersburg Times in Florida reported on 12/10/2010 Friday:

Nationwide Title Clearing, a Palm Harbor company at the center of the nation's robo-signing controversy, is going on the offensive against its critics.

On Wednesday, the company sued a St. Petersburg foreclosure defense lawyer, Matthew Weidner, for alleged libel and slander.

And it recently obtained an injunction, ordering Sarasota lawyer Christopher Forrest to remove videotaped depositions he had posted of three Nationwide Title employees describing an assembly-line process of signing mortgage-related documents.

The ACLU of Florida said Thursday that it has filed an emergency appeal of the injunction, which it called a "gag order" and a restraint of free speech.

The legal action marks another chapter in a storm over the validity of documents used to foreclose on millions of American homes. Earlier this fall, Bank of America and other lenders temporarily halted foreclosure proceedings because of evidence that many documents contained errors and fraudulent statements.

One of the most outspoken critics of the foreclosure process is Weidner, who writes a widely read blog in which he has criticized not only banks, but judges, lawyers and companies like Nationwide Title that process mortgage-related documents.

... In a suit filed in Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court, the company says Weidner has "deliberately and maliciously" used the term robo-signers "to vilify NTC for signing documents … when (Weidner) knew that it is entirely legally and appropriate to do so."

The "gist" of statements on Weidner's blog, the suit says, is that Nationwide Title is an "unethical company" that manufactures false evidence used to foreclose. The statements have permanently damaged the company's reputation and subjected it to "public hatred, scorn and ridicule," according to the suit, which seeks damages in excess of $15,000.

ROTFLMAO! Nationwide Title's feeling is hurt! Poor thing!

Matt Weidner's blog is here.

Richard Holbrooke Dead; Obama Czars Now 35

US diplomat Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, aka Obama's Af-Pak czar who had collapsed in Hillary Clinton's office on Friday, died tonight from torn aorta. He was 69.

From ABC News:

Holbrooke, who served in the Obama administration as the U.S. special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, was putting the finishing touches on a major report on American military and diplomatic efforts in Afghanistan, due to be released on Thursday.

... Holbrooke had been in Clinton's office on Friday when he collapsed. He was rushed to George Washington University Hospital, where he went through 20 hours of surgery. His wife, along with their children and other family, were in the hospital room when he died. Just an hour before, they had had a private meeting with Obama at the State Department. The president praised him as "a tough son of a gun."

Virginia Judge Ruled Obamacare Unconsitutional

From Bloomberg:

The Obama administration’s requirement that most citizens maintain minimum health coverage as part of a broad overhaul of the industry is unconstitutional because it forces people to buy insurance, a federal judge ruled, striking down the linchpin of the president’s plan.

U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson in Richmond, Virginia, said today that the requirement in President Barack Obama’s health-care legislation goes beyond Congress’s powers to regulate interstate commerce. While severing the coverage mandate, Hudson didn’t address other provisions such as expanding Medicaid that are unrelated to it. He didn’t order the government to stop work on putting the remainder of the law into effect.

Hudson found the minimum essential coverage provision of the act “exceeds the constitutional boundaries of congressional power.” Hudson was appointed by President George W. Bush in 2002.

The decision left intact other provisions of the law and only affects the part that requires most U.S. citizens to maintain minimum health coverage beginning in 2014.