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Posts Tagged ‘sub-prime lending’

“The Subprime 25”

Posted by Larry Doyle on May 6th, 2009 8:09 PM |

I came across the Center for Public Integrity in my travels today. I commend them and those supporting this initiative.

They produced a very interesting piece today: Who’s Behind The Financial Meltdown?

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 6, 2009 — The top subprime lenders whose loans are largely blamed for triggering the global economic meltdown were owned or backed by giant banks now collecting billions of dollars in bailout money, according to Who’s Behind the Financial Meltdown?, a new investigation by the Center for Public Integrity.

“The mega-banks that funded the subprime industry were not victims of an unforeseen financial collapse, as they have sometimes portrayed themselves,” said Center Executive Director Bill Buzenberg. “These banks were deliberate enablers that bankrolled the type of lending that’s now threatening the financial system.”

These are among the findings that emerged from the Center’s computer analysis of government data on nearly 7.2 million “high-interest” or subprime loans made from 2005 through 2007, a period that marks the peak and collapse of the subprime boom. The analysis also revealed “The Subprime 25“ — the top 25 originators of the high-interest loans, accounting for nearly $1 trillion and about 72 percent of industry — who reported subprime loans during that period.

The Center found that U.S. and European banks poured huge sums into the subprime lending market due to unceasing demand for high-yield, high-risk bonds backed by home mortgages. The banks — including household names like Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Citigroup, Credit Suisse/First Boston, and Goldman Sachs & Co — made huge profits while their executives collected handsome bonuses until the bottom fell out of the real estate market.

According to the analysis:

• At least 21 of the top 25 subprime lenders were financed by banks that received bailout money — through direct ownership, credit agreements, or huge purchases of loans for securitization.
• Nine of the top 10 lenders were based in California, including all of the top 5 — Countrywide Financial Corp., Ameriquest Mortgage Co., New Century Financial Corp., First Franklin Corp. and, Long Beach Mortgage Co.
• Twenty of the top 25 subprime lenders have closed, stopped lending, or been sold to avoid bankruptcy. Most were non-bank lenders.
• Eleven of the lenders on the list, including four recipients of bank bailout funds, have made payments to settle claims of widespread lending abuses.

A second story in the package, “Predatory Lending: A Decade of Warnings,” details the troubling history of congressional oversight involving abusive lending practices. The story traces how obscure laws passed by Congress in the 1980s paved the way for creation of the subprime lending industry, and documents how lawmakers essentially ignored repeated warnings that high-cost loans represented a systemic risk to the American economy.

Included in the Center’s online package are extensive maps and tables detailing the extent of the companies’ subprime lending nationwide, the banking industry’s backing of subprime lenders, and political contributions and lobbying expenditures by the real estate and financial industries.

Although this particular piece does not present any new information, I always appreciate a venture dedicated to bringing increased integrity and transparency into our business and political worlds. I am adding this site to my favorites.


Don’t Be Downwind From Barney Frank

Posted by Larry Doyle on April 26th, 2009 9:04 AM |

Barney Frank may try to rewrite his Congressional record on housing finance, but he will forever be linked to supporting the activities of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae which drove irresponsible sub-prime lending. A review of a WSJ article, What They Said About Fan and Fred, is truly damning. I strongly recommend your reading it. Who can ever forget back in 2003 Barney Frank stating in Congressional testimony addressing Freddie and Fannie specifically and housing finance:

House Financial Services Committee hearing, Sept. 10, 2003:

Rep. Barney Frank (D., Mass.): I worry, frankly, that there’s a tension here. The more people, in my judgment, exaggerate a threat of safety and soundness, the more people conjure up the possibility of serious financial losses to the Treasury, which I do not see. I think we see entities that are fundamentally sound financially and withstand some of the disaster scenarios. . . .

Tension? Threat of safety and soundness? Financial losses? Fundamentally sound? Disaster scenarios? With a “watchdog” like Barney is there really any surprise how and why Freddie and Fannie were plundered by their own executives and the sub-prime lending industry? It is not a stretch in stating that Barney had the welcome mat out and held the door open.

I am not stating that Barney was directly complicit in the fraudulent sub-prime lending, but he certainly defines naivete and incompetence on this front. His Democratic sidekicks – Dodd, Schumer, and Waters -were complicit and also drinking from the same punch bowl.

What about Barney’s comment regarding oversight of Freddie and Fannie:

House Financial Services Committee hearing, Sept. 25, 2003:

Rep. Frank: I do think I do not want the same kind of focus on safety and soundness that we have in OCC [Office of the Comptroller of the Currency] and OTS [Office of Thrift Supervision]. I want to roll the dice a little bit more in this situation towards subsidized housing. . . .

Again in 2005, Barney continued to stand his ground on the housing front despite rampant signs at that point of irresponsible lending and incipient fraud:

Well now that Barney and our entire country have “crapped out” on his roll of the dice, Barney decides homeownership may not be the best thing for all concerned. In a height of pandering well beyond the Washington norm, Barney offers the following in this excerpt from an interview on the Tavis Smiley show on PBS on April 20, 2009:

Is there any doubt that the burgeoning wind power industry in our country should engage Barney as their spokesperson? In so doing, Barney’s hot air may actually become a source of revenue for our great country rather than such an enormous expense.

Barney’s hot air should come with a warning, though, “Don’t Be Downwind!!”


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