SCUMBAG COLONIAL Bank Sues State Lawmaker

Sarah Buduson
Reporter, KPHO.com

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Ariz. Rep. Michele Reagan, R-District 8, is better known for fighting for new laws, but now, she is speaking about her fight against a lawsuit.

 

Reagan is being sued by her mortgage company after she questioned who owned held the note on her home. 

“It’s really scary,” she said, “I think that this really needs to be brought to light that this is happening to people in Arizona.” 

Reagan had wanted to find out she and her husband, David Gulino, could refinance their south Scottsdale home. 

“In doing research, I began to wonder if the lender even owned the note to my home,” she said. “So I sent them a letter and asked them and asked them several things. I want to know who owns my property. Am I paying the right person?” 

Soon after, Colonial Savings filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against Reagan and her husband. The company says the couple is trying “to rescind their home loan,” or back out on the loan. 

“We’re not interested in walking,” Reagan said. “We’re not interested in saying we’re not going to pay. We just need a little help with the interest rate.” 

“I’m current on my loan. Never missed a payment. We’ve never been late. We were sued for asking too many questions,” said Reagan. 

As a state lawmaker, Reagan said she had been hesitant to speak out about her ordeal. 

“This has now snowballed into something so much bigger and scarier than refinancing and asking who owns your note,” she said. 

With a state senate campaign on the horizon, she feared some people may get the wrong impression about the lawsuit, but she ultimately decided speaking out was the right thing to do. 

“I finally thought if this could happen to me, how many people has happened to mean to or that means it could happen to people without the resources I have,” she said. “Even with all the information that I have and all the contacts I have, they scared the bejesus out of us and that was their intent and it worked.” 

CBS 5 News attempted to contact Colonial Savings and its attorneys, but has yet to receive a comment.

 

FUCK YOU OBAMA. THE IMBECILE SCUMBAG PRESIDENT

This is for telling people they’re deadbeats. YOU GOT YOUR HOUSE PAID BY THE SAME SCUMBAG THAT BOMBED PLACES IN THE 60’S. SCUMBAG BANK, CHASE, ALSO CLEARED ANOTHER HOME. WHO’S THE DEADBEAT NOW, IMBECILE?

WHAT DID WE EXPECT FROM AN INEXPERIENCED ILLEGAL ALIEN?

VIDEO – SHERIFF TOM DART, EXPLAINING EXACTLY WHY HE WON’T ENFORCE FORECLOSURE EVICTIONS

Posted by Foreclosure Fraud on October 21, 2010 ·

Sheriff Tom Dart

“This is not the lotto… this isn’t something where we’re rolling the dice and saying, possibly this has been done legally. Maybe it hasn’t but in the meantime, you and your children go find someplace else to live, plenty of homeless shelters out there. We can’t do that.”

AND SO IT BEGINS – CHICAGO SHERIFF SAYS NO TO ENFORCING FORECLOSURES

The sheriff for Cook County, Illinois, which includes the city of Chicago, said on Tuesday he will not enforce foreclosure evictions for Bank of America Corp, JPMorgan Chase and Co. and GMAC Mortgage/Ally Financial until they prove those foreclosures were handled “properly and legally.”

Bank of America, the largest U.S. mortgage servicer, and GMAC, on Monday both announced rollbacks from their foreclosure moratoriums.

The announcement by Cook County Sheriff Thomas Dart comes after weeks of damaging accusations of shoddy paperwork that may have caused some people to be illegally evicted from their homes.

“I can’t possibly be expected to evict people from their homes when the banks themselves can’t say for sure everything was done properly,” Dart said in the statement.

“I need some kind of assurance that we aren’t evicting families based on fraudulent behavior by the banks. Until that happens, I can’t in good conscience keep carrying out evictions involving these banks,” he added.

Or as Denniger puts it…

Here’s a message to all the County Sheriff’s: Tell the banks to **** off!

The sheriff for Cook County, Illinois, which includes the city of Chicago, said on Tuesday he will not enforce foreclosure evictions for Bank of America Corp, JPMorgan Chase and Co. and GMAC Mortgage/Ally Financial until they prove those foreclosures were handled “properly and legally.”

Imagine that: A lawman who understands that The Bill of Rights actually applies to the people!

The 5th Amendment, specifically: You may not be deprived of liberty or property without due process of law.

“Robosigned” documents violate that right.  So does perjury in court proceedings.

“I need some kind of assurance that we aren’t evicting families based on fraudulent behavior by the banks. Until that happens, I can’t in good conscience keep carrying out evictions involving these banks,” he added.

Now that’s even better.  Will Sheriff Dart extend this all the way back to the origination of these loans, their pooling into securities, and questions about whether or not they were in fact sold more than once, rendering the person who claims to be foreclosing not necessarily the real party at interest?

What if the note has been bifurcated and nobody has a right to foreclose? Sue to collect, yes.  Foreclose, maybe not.

Let’s see lawmen and lawwomen all across this nation refuse to accede to the banksters demands until they prove that the law was complied with – up and down the line.

Sheriffs are elected officials.

The elections are coming.

We the people must demand that each and every Sheriff standing for election take a position on this – will you stop enforcing foreclosures NOW and continue to do so until the banks prove that each and every one is 100% legal, including all required transfers and endorsements, from origination to eviction?

Largest US Title Insurer To Demand Indemnity And Foreclosure Warranty From Banks

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Tyler Durden on 10/20/2010 14:55 -0500

The good news: title insurers may be getting back into the game. The bad news: they will demand indemnity and warranties from the issuing bank assuring their paperwork is sound before backing sales of foreclosed homes. At least this is what the largest title insurer in the US, Fidelity National, will do going forward (which makes one wonder just what exactly FNF’s job function is if the mortgage issuing bank, such as BofA, now caught in too numerous RoboSigning scandals to mention, essentially takes over the title guarantee process…) From Bloomberg: “An indemnity covering “incompetent or erroneous affidavit testimony or documentation” must be signed for all foreclosure sales closing on or after Nov. 1, the Jacksonville, Florida- based company said in a memorandum to employees today. The agreement was prepared in consultation with the American Land Title Association and mortgage finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Fidelity National said.” And what happens if the bank is once again caught to be, gulp, lying? Who foots the bill then? Why the buyer of course. All this does is to remove the liability from companies like Fidelity National and puts it back to BofA, which is already so much underwater it has no chance of really getting out without TARP, contrarian Goldman propaganda notwithstanding.

More from Bloomberg:

“It’s just the prudent thing to do,” Peter Sadowski, executive vice president and chief legal officer for Fidelity National, said in an interview. “It is important for the servicers and the lenders to represent to us and to the people we are going to be insuring that there are no problems.”

Bank of America Corp., the biggest U.S. lender, agreed to a similar contract with Fidelity National on Oct. 8, the same day it extended a freeze on foreclosures to all states amid concern by federal and state officials that lenders are seizing homes without properly reviewing documents. The bank plans to start resubmitting foreclosure affidavits next week. Attorneys general across the country have opened a joint investigation into foreclosures, saying they will seek an immediate halt to any improper practices at mortgage lenders and loan servicers.

Title insurers use their records and public documents to verify a seller is the home’s true owner and that the property is free from liens. They collect a one-time premium at the closing of the purchase and pay costs that may arise if someone disputes the new owner’s right to the property.

The indemnity agreement requires lenders to protect title insurers at their own expense from “any and all liability, loss, costs, damage and expense of every kind” if errors arise in foreclosure procedures, according to the document.

The expenses may include attorney’s fees, a decrease in the property’s value and inability to sell the title, Fidelity said in the document. The lender must also notify the insurer in each case that a foreclosure complies with state laws and regulations, according to the agreement.

The indemnity agreement is available for use by all title insurers, Fidelity National said.

The American Land Title Association, which is nothing but a lap dog for the bankers, of course applauded this development: after all there are millions in pending foreclosures to be done.

“This is a standard all lenders should follow,” said Kurt Pfotenhauer, chief executive officer of the American Land Title Association, a Washington-based trade group. “The sooner that indemnification agreement is adopted market-wide, the more confidence investors can have in this foreclosure market.”

At this point it is only a question of who can kick the massive mortgage fraud can the farthest down the road, before it all comes crashing down. In the meantime, we can get back to more important things: like record banker bonuses due to be paid in a few months (of the pre-TARP 2 version).

 

STOPA STOMPS ON THE LOAN MOD LIES – LOAN MODIFICATIONS – HOW BANKS DUPE HOMEOWNERS

SCUMBAG BANKS WILL DO ANYTHING TO DEFRAUD YOU…

Posted by Foreclosure Fraud on October 20, 2010 ·

Mark Stopa has been fighting this fight along with the rest of us and he just did a spot on piece on loan mods…

Keep it up!

LOAN MODIFICATIONS – HOW BANKS DUPE HOMEOWNERS

Posted on October 20, 2010 by mstopa

I’ve repeatedly expressed my frustrations with the loan modification process, or lack thereof, on this blog.  Honest, well-intentioned homeowners cannot get a bank representative to communicate with them.  Many such homeowners were actively induced to default, purportedly to become eligible for a modification that, in my experience, never arrives.  Even in those rare instances where a loan modification is offered, it’s typically not a meaningful modification – the homeowner is essentially making the same monthly payment that he/she was paying all along.  What does that accomplish?  What’s the point?

Unfortunately, it’s even worse than that.  As this article illustrates, banks often want homeowners to enter a modification just so a subsequent foreclosure will be easier for them!  I’ve seen this often enough that I feel comfortable opining:

Banks aren’t offering modifications to help homeowners – they’re offering modifications to help themselves!

Lest you disagree, consider the loan modification agreement that just came across my desk.  Like most modifications I’ve seen, three aspects of this agreement are just brutal for homeowners:

1)  All foreclosure defenses are waived. Under most loan modification agreements, if a homeowner signs, then defaults on the modification agreement, the homeowner agrees that all defenses to foreclosure are waived.  Essentially, if the homeowner defaults on the modification agreement, the bank can dribble up to the basket and slam-dunk a foreclosure without opposition.

“But the bank doesn’t own and hold the Note,” you argue.  Maybe so, but since the homeowner warrants otherwise in the modification agreement, the homeowner is barred from challenging the bank’s standing after defaulting on the modification agreement (or that’s what the bank will argue, anyway).

What does this mean?  Essentially, the homeowner takes what may be a very defensible foreclosure case – one where the bank may be unable to prove it owns and holds the Note and Mortgage – and turns it into an easy case for the bank by signing a modification agreement.  In my view, the banks are offering modifications to make it easier for themselves to foreclose! It’s a one-sided agreement – for the banks!

With this in mind, if the modification agreement doesn’t entail a significant reduction in payments, what’s the point?  In my view, modification agreements generally aren’t a good idea (the way they’re currently set up) unless the homeowner is absolutely certain that he/she can make the requisite payments indefinitely into the future.  After all, once you default on a modification agreement, chances are it’s “game over.”

2)  The foreclosure lawsuit remains pending.  In most lawsuits, when the parties enter a settlement agreement, the lawsuit is dismissed.  Sometimes, the suit is dismissed with a court order that reserves jurisdiction to enforce the parties’ settlement agreement, but this is standard fare – lawsuits are dismissed when the parties settle.  Unfortunately, that’s not how it works with loan modification agreements in foreclosure cases.  To illustrate, the modification agreement in my hands says “The Lender agrees to suspend all foreclosure activities so long as I comply with the terms of the Loan Documents.”  Hence, if the homeowner defaults – or if the Bank asserts the homeowner defaults – all the Bank has to do is resume prosecution of the existing foreclosure lawsuit, which remains pending.  It doesn’t matter if the default occurred six months after the modification or two years – all the bank has to do is resume the existing foreclosure case.  And since the homeowner has waived all defenses, obtaining a foreclosure judgment truly is the equivalent of Shaq dunking the ball on an 8-foot basket without any defense.

(Judges, I respectfully submit you should do something about this.  How many pending cases are on your dockets where nothing has happened because the parties agreed to a loan modification but the bank refuses to dismiss?  I’d suggest an Administrative Order that requires dismissals of foreclosure lawsuits where the parties enter a Loan Modification Agreement.  There is no reason for cases to remain pending for months or even years when the parties have amicably resolved their dispute.)

3.  The bank makes no representations whatsoever.  You know what scares the heck out of me with these modification agreements, more than anything else?  The bank that is receiving the money does not make any warranties or representations whatsoever – not even a representation that it is the rightful owner and holder of the Note and Mortgage!  Lest you think that’s “no big deal,” consider this.

We all know that most Notes and Mortgages have been transferred or assigned from one bank to another, many times over.  Often the banks don’t know who owns/holds the Note and Mortgage, much less prove it.  If the Bank you’re entering a loan modification with does not represent, in writing, that it owns and holds your Note and Mortgage, then what’s to stop another bank from emerging, months down the road, and suing you for foreclosure on that same Note and Mortgage?  Unfortunately, absolutely nothing. That’s why, if it were my client, I’d require the bank to sign the loan modification with a written representation that it owns and holds the Note and Mortgage and is the party entitled to collect mortgage payments.  I’d also demand to see the original Note.  Without these precautions, my clients may be handing out money to an absolute stranger – one with no right to collect – and with what I know, that’s not a risk I’d feel comfortable recommending.

But even that’s not good enough.  In addition to this representation, I’d want the bank to indemnify my clients from any losses they incur as a result of another bank making a successful claim on that Note and Mortgage.  In other words, if another bank sues my client for foreclosure, after the modification agreement, the bank that modified with us should bear the losses, not my clients.  To ensure the bank would be able to foot this bill, I’d also want some financial disclosures, especially if the bank was one I’m not familiar with.

In sum, if you’re a homeowner facing foreclosure and the bank is offering you a loan modification, I’d be very careful about what you’re getting.  Read the fine print closely.  If your payments aren’t going down significantly, you’re waiving defenses, the foreclosure lawsuit remains pending, and the bank isn’t making any written representations, chances are the modification agreement is designed to help the bank, not the homeowner.

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You can check out Mark in more detail here…

Anyway, in other words, they are stealing your money and setting you up to fail…

Ever wonder where all your trial payments went while you were waiting for the permanent modification?

Have you noticed the whole time you were making those payments you were being reported delinquent?

Did you catch all the late fees piling up every month?

Yea, me too.

After they decline you for your modification, although you have done EVERYTHING possible, and you get foreclosed upon anyway, ever wonder why all those “trial payments” never reflected on your amounts due and owing…

Thousands upon thousands of dollars lost into the abyss…

They trick you into getting all your financial information to calculate how long they can string you along until you have exhausted every last resource, 401k, kids college fund, your cookie jar etc., and once they sucked you dry, they foreclose.

As Capt Jack puts it…

Savings drained – check, 401ks all gone – check. Kicked out of their homes – check. “Lenders” made whole many times over via Credit Default Swaps – check. Homeowners foreclosed and “lender” buys back property for pennies on the dollar – check.

Don’t believe me? Ask one of the tens of thousands of Americans that had it happen to them…

Then, on top of all that, they use all your financials that you submitted to profile you on how to collect the “deficiencies” for decades…

Sound crazy? Of course it does…

Try this America.

If you decide to go through with submitting your loan mod package with all your financial information, WATERMARK all of the documents you submit to the “lender” with something like “THIS INFORMATION IS FOR LOAN MODIFICATION PURPOSES ONLY”

Cause that’s what it’s for right?

Right?

Watch what happens…

 

Foreclosuregate: Time to Break Up the Too-Big-to-Fail Banks?

With risky behavior by big finance again threatening economic stability, how can we get things right this time?

by Ellen Brown

Looming losses from the mortgage scandal dubbed “foreclosuregate” may qualify as the sort of systemic risk that, under the new financial reform bill, warrants the breakup of the too-big-to-fail banks. The Kanjorski amendment allows federal regulators to pre-emptively break up large financial institutions that-for any reason-pose a threat to U.S. financial or economic stability.

[The Kanjorski amendment-which slipped past lobbyists largely unnoticed-allows federal regulators to preemptively break up large financial institutions that pose a  threat to U.S. financial or economic stability.  If the current foreclosure scandal doesn't qualify, what would? (Graphic: ABC news)]The Kanjorski amendment-which slipped past lobbyists largely unnoticed-allows federal regulators to preemptively break up large financial institutions that pose a threat to U.S. financial or economic stability. If the current foreclosure scandal doesn’t qualify, what would? (Graphic: ABC news)

Although downplayed by most media accounts and popular financial analysts, crippling bank losses from foreclosure flaws appear to be imminent and unavoidable. The defects prompting the “RoboSigning Scandal” are not mere technicalities but are inherent to the securitization process. They cannot be cured.  This deep-seated fraud is already explicitly outlined in publicly available lawsuits.There is, however, no need to panic, no need for TARP II, and no need for legislation to further conceal the fraud and push the inevitable failure of the too-big-to-fail banks into the future.

Federal regulators now have the tools to take control and set things right. The Wall Street giants escaped the Volcker Rule, which would have limited their size, and the Brown-Kaufman amendment, which would have broken up the largest six banks outright; but the financial reform bill has us covered. The Kanjorski amendment-which slipped past lobbyists largely unnoticed-allows federal regulators to preemptively break up large financial institutions that pose a threat to U.S. financial or economic stability.

Rep. Grayson’s Call for a Moratorium

The new Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) probably didn’t expect to have its authority called on quite so soon, but Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) has just put the amendment to the test. On October 7, in a letter addressed to Timothy Geithner, Shiela Bair, Ben Bernanke, Mary Schapiro, John Walsh (Acting Comptroller of the Currency), Gary Gensler, Ed DeMarco, and Debbie Matz (National Credit Union Administration), he asked for an emergency task force on foreclosure fraud. He said:

The liability here for the major banks is potentially enormous, and can lead to a systemic risk. Fortunately, the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation includes a resolution process for these banks. More importantly, these foreclosures are devastating neighborhoods, families, and cities all over the country. Each foreclosure costs tens of thousands of dollars to a municipality, lowers property values, and makes bank failures more likely.

Grayson sought a foreclosure moratorium on all mortgages originated and securitized between2005-2008, until such time as the FSOC task force was able to understand and mitigate the systemic risk posed by the foreclosure fraud crisis. But on Sunday, White House adviser David Axelrod downplayed the need for a national foreclosure moratorium, saying the Administration was pressing lenders to accelerate their reviews of foreclosures to determine which ones have flawed documentation. “Our hope is this moves rapidly and that this gets unwound very, very quickly,” he said.

According to Brian Moynihan, chief executive of Bank of America, “The amount of work required is a matter of a few weeks. A few weeks we’ll be through the process of double checking the pieces of paper we need to double check.”

“Absurd,” say critics such as Max Gardner III of Shelby, North Carolina. Gardner is considered one of the country’s top consumer bankruptcy attorneys. “This is not an oops. This is not a technical problem. This is not even sloppiness,” he says. The problem is endemic, and its effects will be felt for years.

Rep. Grayson makes similar allegations. He writes:

The banks didn’t keep good records, and there is good reason to believe in many if not virtually all cases during this period, failed to transfer the notes, which is the borrower IOUs in accordance with the requirements of their own pooling and servicing agreements. As a result, the notes may be put out of eligibility for the trust under New York law, which governs these securitizations. Potential cures for the note may, according to certain legal experts, be contrary to IRS rules governing REMICs. As a result, loan servicers and trusts simply lack standing to foreclose. The remedy has been foreclosure fraud, including the widespread fabrication of documents.

There are now trillions of dollars of securitizations of these loans in the hands of investors. The trusts holding these loans are in a legal gray area, as the mortgage titles were never officially transferred to the trusts. The result of this is foreclosure fraud on a massive scale, including foreclosures on people without mortgages or who are on time with their payments. [Emphasis added.]

Why Wasn’t It Done Right in the First Place?

That raises the question, why were the notes not assigned? Grayson says the banks were not interested in repayment; they were just churning loans as fast as they could in order to generate fees. Financial blogger Karl Denninger says, “I believe a big part of why it was not done is that if it had been done the original paperwork would have been available to the trustee and ultimately the MBS owners, who would have immediately discovered that the representations and warranties as to the quality of the conveyed paper were being wantonly violated.” He says, “You can’t audit what you don’t have.”

Both are probably right, yet these explanations seem insufficient. If it were just a matter of negligence or covering up dubious collateral, surely some of the assignments by some of the banks would have been done properly. Why would they all be defective?

The reason the mortgage notes were never assigned may be that there was no party legally capable of accepting the assignments. Securitization was originally set up as a tax dodge; and to qualify for the tax exemption, the conduits between the original lender and the investors could own nothing. The conduits are “special purpose vehicles” set up by the banks, a form of Mortgage Backed Security called REMICs (Real Estate Mortgage Investment Conduits). They hold commercial and residential mortgages in trust for the investors. They don’t own them; they are just trustees.

The problem was nailed in a class action lawsuit recently filed in Kentucky, titled Foster v. MERS, GMAC, et al. (USDC, Western District of Kentucky). The suit claims that MERS and the banks violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, a law originally passed to pursue organized crime. Bloombergquotes Heather Boone McKeever, a Lexington, Ky.-based lawyer for the homeowners, who said in a phone interview, “RICO comes in because the fraud didn’t just happen piecemeal. This is organized crime by people in suits, but it is still organized crime. They created a very thorough plan.”

The complaint alleges:

53. The “Trusts” coming to Court are actually Mortgage Backed Securities (“MBS”). The Servicers, like GMAC, are merely administrative entities which collect the mortgage payments and escrow funds. The MBS have signed themselves up under oath with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC,”) and the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS,”) as mortgage asset “pass through” entities wherein they can never own the mortgage loan assets in the MBS. This allows them to qualify as a Real Estate Mortgage Investment Conduit (“REMIC”) rather than an ordinary Real Estate Investment Trust (“REIT”). As long as the MBS is a qualified REMIC, no income tax will be charged to the MBS. For purposes of this action, “Trust” and MBS are interchangeable. . . .

56. REMICS were newly invented in 1987 as a tax avoidance measure by Investment Banks. To file as a REMIC, and in order to avoid one hundred percent (100%) taxation by the IRS and the Kentucky Revenue Cabinet, an MBS REMIC could not engage in any prohibited action. The “Trustee” can not own the assets of the REMIC. A REMIC Trustee could never claim it owned a mortgage loan. Hence, it can never be the owner of a mortgage loan.

57. Additionally, and important to the issues presented with this particular action, is the fact that in order to keep its tax status and to fund the “Trust” and legally collect money from investors, who bought into the REMIC, the “Trustee” or the more properly named, Custodian of the REMIC, had to have possession of ALL the original blue ink Promissory Notes and original allonges and assignments of the Notes, showing a complete paper chain of title.

58. Most importantly for this action, the “Trustee”/Custodian MUST have the mortgages recorded in the investors name as the beneficiaries of a MBS in the year the MBS “closed.” [Emphasis added.]

Only the beneficiaries-the investors who advanced the funds-can claim ownership. And the mortgages had to have been recorded in the name of the beneficiaries the year the MBS closed. The problem is, who ARE the beneficiaries who advanced the funds? In the securitization market, they come and go. Properties get sold and resold daily. They can be sliced up and sold to multiple investors at the same time. Which investors could be said to have put up the money for a particular home that goes into foreclosure? MBS are divided into “tranches” according to level of risk, typically from AAA to BBB. The BBB investors take the first losses, on up to the AAAs. But when the REMIC is set up, no one knows which homes will default first. The losses are taken collectively by the pool as they hit; the BBBs simply don’t get paid. But the “pool” is the trust; and to qualify as a REMIC trust, it can own nothing.

The lenders were trying to have it both ways; and to conceal what was going on, they dropped an electronic curtain over their sleight of hand, called Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems or “MERS.” MERS is simply an electronic data base. On its website and in assorted court pleadings, it too declares that it owns nothing. It was set up that way so that it would be “bankruptcy-remote,” something required by the credit rating agencies in order to turn the mortgages passing through it into highly rated securities that could be sold to investors. According to the MERS website, it was also set up that way to save on recording fees, which means dodging state statutes requiring a fee to be paid to establish a formal record each time title changes hands.

The arrangement satisfied the ratings agencies, but it has not satisfied the courts. Real estate law dating back hundreds of years requires that to foreclose on real property, the foreclosing party must produce signed documentation establishing a chain of title to the property; and that has not been done. Increasingly, judges are holding that if MERS owns nothing, it cannot foreclose, and it cannot convey title by assignment so that the trustee for the investors can foreclose. MERS breaks the chain of title so that no one has standing to foreclose.

Sixty-two million mortgages are now held in the name of MERS, a ploy that the banks have realized won’t work; so Plan B has been to try to fabricate documents to cure the defect. Enter the RoboSigners, a small group of people signing thousands of documents a month, admittedly without knowing what was in them. Interestingly, it wasn’t just one bank engaging in this pattern of coverup and fraud but many banks, suggesting the sort of “organized crime” that would qualify under the RICO statute.

However, that ploy won’t work either, because it’s too late to assign properties to trusts that have already been set up without violating the tax code for REMICs, and the trusts themselves aren’t allowed to own anything under the tax code. If the trusts violate the tax laws, the banks setting them up will owe millions of dollars in back taxes. Whether the banks are out the real estate or the taxes, they could well be looking at insolvency, posing the sort of serious systemic risk that would bring them under the purview of the new Financial Stability Oversight Council.

No need for disaster

As comedian Jon Stewart said in an insightful segment called “Foreclosure Crisis” on October 7, “We’re back to square one.” While we’re working it all out, an extended foreclosure moratorium probably is in the works. But this needn’t be the economic disaster that some are predicting – not if the FSOC is allowed to do its job. We’ve been here before, and not just in 2008.

In 1934, Congress enacted the Frazier-Lemke Farm Bankruptcy Act to enable the nation’s debt-ridden farmers to scale down their mortgages.  The act delayed foreclosure of a bankrupt farmer’s property for five years, during which time the farmer made rental payments. The farmer could then buy back the property at its currently appraised value over six years at 1 percent interest, or remain in possession as a paying tenant. Interestingly, according to Marian McKenna in Franklin Roosevelt and the Great Constitutional War (2002), “The federal government was empowered to buy up farm mortgages and issue non-interest-bearing treasury notes in exchange.”  Non-interest-bearing treasury notes are what President Lincoln issued during the Civil War, when they were called “Greenbacks.”

The 1934 Act was subsequently challenged by secured creditors as violating the Fifth Amendment’s due process guarantee of just compensation, a fundamental right of mortgage holders. (Note that this would probably not be a valid challenge today, since there don’t seem to be legitimate mortgage holders in these securitization cases. There are just investors with unsecured claims for relief in equity for money damages.) The Supreme Court voided the 1934 Act, and Congress responded with the “Farm Mortgage Moratorium Act” in 1935. The terms were modified, limiting the moratorium to a three-year period, and the revision gave secured creditors the opportunity to force a public sale, with the proviso that the farmer could redeem the property by paying the sale amount. The act was renewed four times until 1949, when it expired. During the 15 years the act was in place, farm prices stabilized and the economy took off, retooling it for its role as a global industrial power during the remainder of the century.

We’ve come full circle again.  We didn’t get it right in 2008, but with the newly empowered Financial Stability Oversight Council, we already have the ready-made vehicle to avoid another taxpayer bailout, and to put too-big-to-fail behind us as well.