How regulators, Republicans and big banks fought for a big increase in lucrative but risky corporate loans

April 6, 2019 | Washington Post Actions by federal regulators and Republicans in Congress over the past two years have paved the way for banks and other financial companies to issue more than $1 trillion in risky corporate loans, sparking fears that Washington and Wall Street are repeating the mistakes made before the financial crisis.

The moves undercut policies put in place by banking regulators six years ago that aimed to prevent high-risk lending from once again damaging the economy. Read more here.

“It is happening again”: David Dayen on the Epidemic of Mortgage Fraud and the Rigged Economy that Sets it in Motion

David Dayen's new book explores the criminal conspiracy that destroyed the lives of millions

Salon| May 19, 2016      Earlier this week the New York Times featured a depressing story about homeless people living in the foreclosed and abandoned houses that still dot the landscape in Nevada, reminding everyone of that awful time just a few years ago when families all over the country lost their homes in what has become euphemistically known as “the housing crisis.” It was actually much more specific than that, it was an epidemic of criminal mortgage fraud and it devastated millions of people, many of whom have still not recovered.

My Salon colleague (and one-time blogging cohort) David Dayen has written a wonderful new book called “Chain of Title” about some amazing Americans down in Florida who were caught in the maw of this epic criminal conspiracy and bravely took on the system when no one else would do it. Faced with a morass of impenetrable documents and intractable officials they took matters into their own hands and uncovered the crime of the new century by becoming internet muckrakers, using crowd-sourcing and social media. And in the process of following their fascinating story, we learn the full scope of this massive crime which goes all the way from the Florida suburbs to the boardrooms of Wall Street.

I had a chance to ask Dayen some questions about the book this week.   Read more here.

Donald Trump’s Finance Chair Is the Anti-Populist From Hell

Steve Mnuchin specialized in fraudulent foreclosures during the heart of the Great Recession. Power to the people.

New Republic |  May 9, 2016     Donald Trump’s first major staff selection since securing the Republican nomination, national finance chairman Steven Mnuchin, co-founded and manages the hedge fund Dune Capital. Not only did he make partner at Goldman Sachs, so did his father in the 1960s. With over 30 years of experience at the top levels of finance, Mnuchin was present for every recent major banking innovation, including those that brought the country to the brink of economic collapse.

Critics have raised many questions about Mnuchin’s financial dealings, from a lawsuit over pocketing profits in the Bernie Madoff case to his suspiciously quiet exit from the Hollywood production company Relativity Media just before it took huge losses and filed for bankruptcy. Just his association with “vampire squid” Goldman Sachs has motivated some anger. But another part of Mnuchin’s history is more relevant: his chairmanship of OneWest Bank, a major cog in America’s relentless foreclosure machine.

Even among the many bad actors in the national foreclosure crisis, OneWest stood out. It routinely jumped to foreclosure rather than pursue options to keep borrowers in their homes; used fabricated and “robo-signed” documents to secure the evictions; and had a particular talent for dispossessing the homes of senior citizens and people of color.  Read more here.

Attorneys at Jeffrey Jackson & Associates, LLP are against Donald Trump and his Wall Street insiders.

Who Can Go After Banks for the Foreclosure Crisis?

Cities are arguing that they, too, were damaged by risky loans, and that they should be able to take the lenders to court to regain their losses.

The Atlantic | May 3, 2016     In the wake of the housing crisis, surprisingly few people or institutions have been held accountable for the risky lending practices that nearly wrecked the U.S. economy.  That’s partly because the people who were most damaged by the foreclosure crisis—the people who lost their homes—don’t have the resources to bring lawsuits.

But the families who lost their homes weren’t the only ones hurt by the foreclosure crisis. So there’s an argument to be made that they shouldn’t be the only ones who can go after the lenders. Cities, for example, lost tax revenue when homes sat vacant, and saw property values within their boundaries decrease when vacant and boarded-up homes sat empty. Cities had to pay for police and fire protection to keep those homes from being vandalized and to respond to reported break-ins and criminal activity at the houses.

So should cities be able to sue the banks, too?

That’s the question making its way through courts across the country after municipalities including Los Angeles, Miami, Oakland, and Providence all filed lawsuits against lenders under the Fair Housing Act. The lawsuits, which the banks are fighting to have dismissed, argue that the lending practices of these banks harmed the cities too. When lenders targeted minorities for risky loans, knowing that the borrowers would likely lose their homes, they knowingly deprived cities of tax revenue while making them shoulder the expenses of blocks of foreclosures, the lawsuits allege. Oakland, for instance, argues in its complaint against Wells Fargo that the city “has suffered economic injury based upon reduced property tax revenues resulting from (a) the decreased value of the vacant properties themselves, and (b) the decreased value of properties surrounding the vacant properties.” Last month a judge declined to dismiss the suit.

In these cases, the municipalities have accused lenders, including Wells Fargo, JP Morgan, and Bank of America, of “redlining,” or the practice of denying credit to people in particular neighborhoods because of their race, and “reverse redlining,” or the practice of flooding a minority neighborhood with exploitative loan products. These practices, they say, violate parts of the Fair Housing Act.  Read more here.

Is the Rocket Mortgage a Fast Ride to Trouble?

CBS News | February 9, 2016   NEW YORK -- Bad mortgages to buyers who couldn't afford them put the U.S. on the road to the Great Recession. So CBS News was curious when we saw an ad during the Super Bowl for an eight-minute mortgage.

Quicken Loans' Super Bowl ad made a simple proposition.

"What if we did for mortgages what the Internet did for buying music and plane tickets and shoes," the voice-over in the advertisement said.

That's what they're offering with Rocket Mortgages.

But just seven years after the housing crisis nearly took down the economy, the ad rang alarm bells.

"Let's do the financial crisis again, but with apps," Dave Weigel of the Washington Post tweeted.

Rocket Mortgage:   Let's do the financial crisis again, but with apps!
— daveweigel (@daveweigel) February 8, 2016

Holden Lewis with bankrate.com said the median credit score of a mortgage applicant is now 753 (out of 850) the highest since 2001. Rocket Mortgage is just trying to streamline the application process.

"I know that a lot of people interpreted the commercial as saying we're going back to the days of easy money, but that's just simply not happening," said Lewis. "I think it's a game changer, in a sense that other mortgage companies are going to have to make it easier to put in your documentation and your paperwork."   Read more here.