All the news and views fit to consume during your morning grumpy.
1. The NYTimes reports that 49 states (excluding Oklahoma) and five major mortgage servicers (Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and Ally Financial) have a greed to a $26MM settlement which allegedly holds the banks accountable for foreclosure abuses.
Despite the billions earmarked in the accord, the aid will help a relatively small portion of the millions of borrowers who are delinquent and facing foreclosure.
Dave Dayen at FiredogLake has perhaps the best coverage of the settlement.
This settlement arises from multiple abuses found in the servicing of loans and the foreclosure process over the past several years. At the height of the housing bubble, banks sliced and diced mortgages and traded them with little regard for the rules following land recording or securitization to such a sloppy extent that they lost track of the true owner on potentially millions of homes. To cover up for this massive failure, banks and their servicing units have been found to have routinely forged, back-dated and fabricated documents at county recorder offices and state courts across the country.
Furthermore, they employed “robo-signers,” who signed hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of documents and affidavits without any knowledge of the underlying mortgages. In addition, investigations uncovered massive servicing abuses, including illegal fees charged to borrowers, putting borrowers into foreclosure at the same time as they were working out loan modifications, failing to honor previous settlements where promises were made on modifications, and countless other errors that maximized servicer profits and gouged homeowners.
There are also cases of wrongful foreclosures where homeowners have been turned out of their homes without just cause, and servicer-driven foreclosures, where servicers illegally added late fees and applied payments inaccurately, pushing the homeowner into foreclosure. This is but a smattering of the examples of foreclosure fraud and servicer abuse found in a series of interlocking investigations, court depositions, reviews of documents in registers of deeds offices, and homeowner testimonials.
As The Huffington Post reports, little of this settlement goes directly to borrowers and homeowners.
The total for the top five servicers is now touted as $26 billion (annoyingly, the FT is calling it “nearly $40 billion”), but of that, roughly $17 billion is credits for principal modifications, which as we pointed out earlier, can and almost assuredly will come largely from mortgages owned by investors. $3 billion is for refis, and only $5 billion will be in the form of hard cash payments, including $1500 to $2000 per borrower foreclosed on between September 2008 and December 2011.
More analysis will be forthcoming as journalists scrub the details of the agreement. I’d suggest following Dayen at FiredogLake and the Wall Street Journal for thorough coverage.
2. The Republican Party in America 2012!
Racist stereotypes and fear. The only thing that ad (which ran during the Super Bowl on stations in Michigan) is missing is the woman threatening to go “pee pee in your coke”. Fucking hell.
3. Rick Santorum, big fan of the Crusades.
“The idea that the Crusades and the fight of Christendom against Islam is somehow an aggression on our part is absolutely anti-historical,” former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) told a South Carolina audience yesterday. “And that is what the perception is by the American left who hates Christendom.”
I’m glad someone is standing up for the slaughter of millions in the name of religion! Finally!
4. The incredible tone-deafness of the catholic church rears it’s ugly head, yet again, in an interview with Connecticut Magazine. Cardinal Edward Egan, has rescinded his apology to parishioners regarding the church’s role in the thousands of sexual abuse cases in NY, MA, CT and other states.
CT Magazine: In 2002, you wrote a letter to parishioners in which you said, “If in hindsight we discover that mistakes may have been made as regards prompt removal of priests and assistance to victims, I am deeply sorry.”
EGAN: First of all, I should never have said that. I did say if we did anything wrong, I’m sorry, but I don’t think we did anything wrong.
Well, alrighty then.
Fact Of the Day: On a 1995 visit to Washington, the then-president of Russia Boris Yeltsin was found on Pennsylvania Avenue, drunk, in his underwear and trying to hail a cab in order to find pizza.
Quote Of The Day: “Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost.” ~ Ronald Reagan
Looney Tune Of The Day: Friz Freleng’s masterpiece “Three Little Bops” – In my opinion, the greatest Looney Tune ever created.
Song Of The Day: “Madame George” – Van Morrison
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