Banking Settlement Is Baloney

Five Banks who were caught destroying the American Dream of home ownership are getting a slap on the wrist and wished well.  The  banking settlement reached between five major banks and some States Attorney Generals is pathetic pandering. It’s another example of how the 1% make out like bandits, even when they are caught red-handed.

Some state Attorney Generals refused to sign on, because it was far too weak.

In the settlement terms, the five biggest banks involved will pay approximately $2000 to everyone whose home went imto foreclosure when the banks had run amuck.  That won’t seem like much to the homeowners who lost huge multiples of that, to the same banks.

It’s as if someone got caught robbing your business of 50K and they got to keep $48,000 and as a penalty had to return only $2000 of what you lost.  Meanwhile your business goes under, and the banks make record profits stealing from you.

Or, it is as if a fat cat got drunk, and he crashed his BMW into your Volvo, crippling your daughter and then he had to pay 1% of her medical bills. However, since he could afford a  good lawyer, he can still keep their driver’s license, with a promise that next time maybe he wont drink so much when he drives.  Such a deterent.

Of course Bank of America, Citibank, JPMorgan, Ally, and Wells Fargo have also agreed to refinance some more loans, which might be a little to their disadvantage. However, the chances they will do that, are the same as their compliance on other matters to date- slim and none.  If they ignore the settlement, what will be the consequences? Who will know, other than the next homeowners who go under?

The state of California and Countrywide already had a much bigger settlement about the same illegal practices, but Bank of America, who acquired Countrywide, has ignored the previous agreement.  All 5 banks flagrantly ignored legislation aimed to fixing the problem when it was starting to boil over, and did they ever pay a penalty?

No!  So why would they worry about complying this time?  These settlements are merely a small fee of doing business- dirty business that is anti-American.

Remember none of these Robber Barons have done any jail time.  Robosigning is fraud and theft. It was at times like these (homes being lost to unscrupulous banks)  that Bonnie and Clyde captured the hearts of the American People, by robbing the banks that brought this country into the depression. 

Now the banks are at it again, teamed up with politicians from both parties. Where are the populists of both parties?  The little guy needs a voice, has anyone got one? Where is Teddy Roosevelt when we need him?


Delaying the Retirement Age

Protests in France against changing the retirement age, from 60 to 62 have so far not succeeded in derailing the legislation. Indeed the senate in France voted to move forward with these changes. Like America, France has a divided government, and while the conservatives do not have to deal with filibusters, the shutdowns of the street protests, organized by labor and other groups with more progressive leanings, put the U.S. Tea Party movement to shame.

The tea party riff-raff here can be impolite and their extremists make accusations that are alternatively wacky, dumb or bigoted, by they do not rally the working class. To think of these people as populist, when most of their money comes from billionaires, is the height of absurdity.

Their goals, for the most part, seem to be to win seats at the table, so they can be in charge. That is politics not populism. If the Republicans take over the US senate as well as the house, they will then be the  “government”  that the tea party has begun to protest, when Democrats run it.  Then there will be some real populists in the opposition, and progressive populists may make things a little less comfortable for the wall street banks. I wouldn’t be surprised to see marches against foreclosure,  and some real protests akin to the 60’s.

Our  government in the US is broke, but not for the reasons the Tea Party harps on. It is because we did not heed Eisenhower’s warning about the military industrial complex, and have let defense contractors, banks, and insurance companies purchase unprecedented power, and neither political party has an interest in stopping them.

Bank of America Says Its Foreclosure Paperwork is in Order

Just like their amazingly effective mortgages, which made and burst the bubble. the big boys (known affectionately as TOO BIG TO FAIL), are at it again, only now it is with sketchy foreclosures.  Bank of America announced today that they were unfreezing the foreclosures that they had frozen, which had effectively allowed the effective stop of foreclosures. They had a freeze of their foreclosures, in order to review what was thought to be poorly documented paperwork. They did not, however, explain how they had determined that this mess had actually been vetted, and suddenly found to be in order. Other banks will likely soon  follow in this masquerade.

These are the same institutions that gave us the housing bubble. They gave us mortgages that were not worth the paper they were written on, and derivatives, which broke the mortgages up into tiny, indigestible, toxic pieces. Now these institutions cannot prove that they actually own the mortgages. Instead they rely on individuals to certify that the paperwork in order. Their assertions are often based on less than a minute’s time reviewing the documents, (robosigning) and that is not a way to prove you own something that may have been sold and resold dozens of times before you got it, if you ever actually got it.

Wait till the lawyers get a hold of this; they now have a method of how to stop foreclosure. A few lawsuits have already been filed, that led to the freeze originally. Now they are counting on the courts accepting that they have “standing,” (are the owners)  and to prove that, they are relying on an industry front that they set up, possibly with the sole intention of rubber stamping their (at best) sloppy and risky practices. If you are one of the large chunk of Americans who are attempting to learn how to stop foreclosure this may be something to look into.

And while we are on the topic of foreclosure, it’s worth connecting that to the huge increase in bankruptcies that are sweeping the US in the wake of its greatest recession. In the article How to File for Bankruptcy Without an Attorney I not only give suggestions on what to do if you need to file a pro se bankruptcy, but I also discuss how Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies are connected to avoiding foreclosure. 

The best method for portecting your home, if you can quailfy, is a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. It would be hard to file for bankruptcy without an attorney if you go that route, and with your house at stake, an attoney is certainly advisable. However you may well be able to roll the payments to the attorney into your 3-5 year reorganization, and that could allow you to stop foreclosure and keep your home.  However, if you can successfully file for bankruptcy without an attorney (using Chapter 7), the best you can expect is a delay in stopping a foreclosure of 3-5 months. Possibly if your home has a lot of equity, you may get some money back from a sale where you use a homestead exemption in that type of bankruptcy. You may not be able to stop foreclosure that way, but you could at least save some of your equity.