Financial Institutions

Break up Bank of America?


Steve's title was subtle, so in case anyone missed it, here are the materials on Public Citizen's website. The petition calls on the Federal Reserve and the Financial Stability Oversight Commission to use their authority under Dodd-Frank to break up Bank of America.


The Fed on Mortgage Servicing


I had the privilege today of hearing Federal Reserve Board Governor Sarah Bloom Raskin deliver the keynote address to the Section on Financial Institutions at the American Association of Law Schools Annual Meeting.  Governor Bloom Raskin's topic: mortgage servicing, which is not something the Fed has previously addressed.  I strongly commend her speech to you.


MBIA v. Countrywide Ruling


There's been a lot of media coverage of the recent ruling of the NY Supreme Court (that's the trial court, not the final Court of Appeals) in MBIA v. Countrywide, a suit by the monoline bond insurer against Countrywide for fraud, negligent misrepresentation, etc. that induced it to insure Countrywide's mortgage-backed securities. This and Syncora's similar suit are being carefully watched because they are the MBS litigation that is the farthest along and thus seen as a belleweather for other rep and warranty suits.


A New Theory of the Role of the GSEs in the Housing Bubble


Bill Black has an interesting new take on the role of Fannie and Freddie in the housing bubble. He sees their investment in non-prime mortgages as being driven by executive compensation, rather than a fight for market share against investment bank securitization conduits or govt affordable housing policy.


More Rot in the OCC Foreclosure Reviews


Michael Olenick, Gretchen Morgenson, and Yves Smith have all written pretty damning things about the


Robbing Peter to Pay Paul: US Economy Edition


The Administration seems to have cut a deal to extend the payroll tax cut, which is a smart economic move in terms of trying to support demand. But it's being paid for by an increase in the "G-fee" (guarantee fee) charged by FHA and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on the loans they purchase. In other words, anyone refinancing or taking out a mortgage now will be subsidizing reduced payroll taxes.


Lies and Denial: the 2012 GOP Strategy


The last 24 hours have witnessed some remarkable historical revisionism on financial regulation coming out of the GOP.

First, we had one of the most bizarre and simply untrue attack ads I've ever seen, courtesy of Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS outfit. The ad calumnies Elizabeth Warren, claiming that first she was responsible for the TARP bailout and then set out to butter up bankers. Is this man on drugs? Rove seems to be confusing Elizabeth Warren with George W. Bush. 


Is Bank of America Gambling on Resurrection (or Is BoA Holding the US Hostage)?


What would you do if you were running an insolvent company? The smart thing is to bet big:  go with a high-risk/high-return strategy.  If the gamble pays off, you're solvent, and if not, well, you're already insolvent.  You're playing with the creditors' money. (And without a tort of deepening insolvency, there really isn't a clear downside for management.)  This is gambling on resurrection.  


The Multistate Foreclosure Settlement


The New York Times came out with a strong editorial urging state AGs and the Administration not to rush into the proposed multi-state settlement deal. I think it's worthwhile reviewing what we know about the deal and the arguments for and against it.


The US's Missing Housing Policy


The United States has no housing policy. And there's none on the horizon either. That's a scary thing, given the centrality of housing to domestic economic woes.  

Once upon a time, the US had a housing policy. It was focused on increasing homeownership. It might have been a misguided policy or at least a policy taken too far, but it was a policy and everyone understood that. It meant that programs were designed to work toward that goal.