The Real Issues Behind the Foreclosure Crisis
Posted by Larry Doyle on October 13, 2010 12:32 PM |
What is really going on in regard to the moratorium on mortgage foreclosures? A lot. Not all of it would qualify as the best of “sense on cents.” My thoughts include the following:
1. Can we now declare the HAMP (Making Home Affordable) program to be totally futile? How is it that everybody on Wall Street and in Washington is now promoting that the economy will be harmed if we forestall the mortgage foreclosure process? What the hell have the wizards in Washington been doing via HAMP and through Freddie and Fannie for the last 18 months? The simple fact is our policy makers have done everything in their power to inhibit the markets from working. Now, all of a sudden, they become proponents of free market principles? Were we born yesterday? Not here at Sense on Cents.
I have continually harangued our Washington politicos for not allowing the housing market to clear, and highlighted how forestalling that process would only prolong our economic pain. We’re feeling that pain now and will be for the foreseeable future.
2. Where are we going with this moratorium?
Do the banks, mortgage servicers, and originators run significant litigation risks for improperly foreclosing on selected mortgages? Perhaps, BUT I personally believe the smokescreen created by this process is a precursor to having Uncle Sam impose mortgage principal forgiveness as the price for settling the potential legal fiasco of improper mortgage foreclosures. Am I being overly cynical, if not outright conspiratorial, in my line of reasoning? The fact is I believe the White House has always wanted to write down mortgage principal as the mechanism to support housing. Does crafting principal forgiveness as the ‘settlement’ for alleged improprieties by the aforementioned mortgage originators become a convenient way to subvert the courts on the issue of contract law? I am not an attorney, but my gut instincts tell me we are headed in this direction. Who gets hurt under this scenario? Mortgage investors who hold the mortgages which will have some form of principal forgiven. On that note, let’s navigate further.
3. The imposition of principal forgiveness may actually be less expensive for banks and servicers than addressing the real root problem behind many mortgages. What is that problem? The fact that a lot of mortgages in our nation today were fraudulently underwritten from point of origination and were then fraudulently conveyed via mortgage securitizations. A handful of investors (including some FHLBS and Freddie/Fannie) have pursued legal actions to have these frauds unearthed and adjudicated in their favor. How would that work? The banks and originators would have to purchase the fraudulently underwritten mortgages back at par. That cost would be enormous. Forgiving principal on an original fraud will not necessarily cure the problem, BUT it does become a means of buying time or ‘kicking the can down the road.’ That, my friends, is all we have been doing for the last few years anyway, so why stop now?
In less polite terms, Wall Street and Washington have been and continue to be hard at work to continue to disguise the massive Ponzi scheme that was our nation’s economy. The moratorium on foreclosures may seem like the principals are trying to be good citizens. I view it in a decidedly different light. The principals on Wall Street and their cronies in Washington are looking for a means to write off the stranglehold of massive mortgage debt that continues to cripple our economy. These developments are merely the next leg in the great financial experiment playing out on our national stage and economic landscape.
Thoughts, comments, color, constructive criticisms always appreciated.
Related Sense on Cents Commentary
Sense on Cents/Mortgage Foreclosures
I have no affiliation or business interest with any entity referenced in this commentary. As President of Greenwich Investment Management, an SEC regulated privately held registered investment adviser, I am merely a proponent of real transparency within our markets so that investor confidence and investor protection can be achieved.