Just A Few Bank Burglaries?

Felix Salmon writing in Reuters’ Analysis and Opinion

In order to know that cases like these are “a tiny percentage of foreclosures,” you need to know what that percentage is, n’est-ce pas? So this defense is not particularly convincing, unless and until we can see some numbers. Surely, mistakes like these would happen occasionally even during the boom years. But if the percentages are rising, that’s clear empirical evidence that overwhelmed servicers are doing an increasingly shoddy job.

Next time a newspaper wants to write about this particular trend, then, let’s get the names of those bank representatives on the record, let’s ask them how they know that the proportion of dreadful mistakes they make is “tiny” or “minuscule,” and let’s be a bit more determined that we should be the ones making the determination as to how small the percentage is, rather than the bank’s own flacks.

Exactly. I made the same point several months ago when the banks said that only a handful of mortgages had been mishandled. The banks were lying about the scale of the problem. It turned out there were minimally hundreds of thousands. This does not give one confidence in bank claims of “just a few cases,” “a few bad apples,” and all those other things you say when you don’t want to admit the scale of your crimes.

I don’t believe Mr. Salmon is mistaken in his assessment. Breaking into people’s homes and taking their stuff is an extremely intimidating tactic. You can just imagine the desk bound suits chortling over a business lunch about how they forced the deadbeats out.

Let’s get some lawsuits going. They are the public’s last line of defense and we can be quite sure law enforcement, politicians and regulatory agencies will sit this one out.

James Pilant