An Examination of the Political and Economic Crisis in Ireland

I very much enjoyed this documentary. I find it insightful. A citizen of Ireland who worked as a foreign correspondent returns home and looks at his country with some perspective.

It’s easy to see the very similar problems in both the United States and Ireland. In both cases, the government baled out the banks without asking any serious questions nor taking into account the actual value of the bank loans. In both cases, a real estate bubble that was clearly propelled by speculation was considered to be a safe and continuing source of prosperity for the country. And in both cases, the taxpayers wound up footing the bill, while unemployment doubled and services were reduced.

In other words, the well connected walked away and discussed with great seriousness their loss of reputation and minor financial irritations, while the great majority of the nation’s citizen’s suffered for their crimes.

James Pilant

Ireland The Rise and Fall of the Economy, Real Estate, Development – YouTube


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Looking Back at One Media Story about the Foreclosure Crisis

You wake up in the morning hoping and praying that some justice will be meted out to the giant foreclosure industry for the crimes they have committed. In that hope is mixed the great sorrow for all the people who have suffered the loss of their homes in this foreclosure crisis.

Now, let’s go back a little in time and see how the crisis was treated by the public’s stalwart defenders in the press. Obviously, once the stories of owned foreclosed, shabby procedures and busted paperwork trail, the press was eager to fight for the public.

Not exactly, more of a yawn and a condemnation of the homeowners who owed too much.

In mid 2010, the beltway press knew it was all overblown. It has become a bit overblown in some tellings.“ You see, “there’s little evidence that this has resulted in improper foreclosures..” You see, “Anectdotally, these things do seem to have happened…” At that time we had only heard the occasional, once in a while, sort of, story about some poor schmuck losing his property.

This is from the Atlantic Monthly, an article called – The Real Scandal of the Foreclosure Mess – October 8th, 2010 – by Megan McCardle –

The story on the foreclosure mess has become a bit overblown in some tellings. It’s clear that banks have been taking some shortcuts in preparing their foreclosure documents. The banks are obviously overwhelmed with the volume of foreclosures, and the (apparently) many instances in which sloppy securitization has resulted in lost paper trails, obscuring who, exactly has a right to foreclose. Rather than seeking legislative or judicial clarification, they’ve resorted to dubious practices that seem (to my non-legally-trained eye) illegal.

That is bad. But as Arnold Kling points out, there’s little evidence that this has resulted in improper foreclosures: evicting people who’ve paid, or who never had a mortgage with your company. Anectdotally, these things do seem to have happened, but there’s no evidence that they’re frequent, or that they are connected to the procedural irregularities that we’re now discovering with foreclosure documents.

Arnold says that the real scandal is our antiquated title system:

The real scandal is that the process of recording property title is so antiquated, and there are so many interest groups that resist modernizing it. The MERS mortgage database shows what a modern system could look like. But all of the counties that charge fees for title recording, the title “insurance” companies that shake down home buyers to buy “protection” from getting sued to prove that they own their property–these interest groups want to keep the title recording system as expensive and unreliable as possible.

. . . and that it’s taking so long to get people out of homes they can’t afford.

These are my comments on the Atlantic web site –

What!? You don’t see much but “anectdotal” evidence? What were you going to see? No one knew to look until now. You can’t have statistical evidence until you know there is a problem and can look at the numbers.
Anecdotal evidence is the beginning of discovery. Sometimes it turns out that the stories lead nowhere. This time they scored big. And now, and only now, can we find out how big the problem is.
“Only anecdotal evidence” Oh, PLEASE!

And then, about five minutes later, when I got even more angry –

The saddest thing about this article is that in two years after this disaster, this legal catastrophe, when the facts and the numbers are available, no one is going to pull this article out of their Windows’ recycle bin, and wonder what in the hell possessed the author to write it.

According to the article, the “real” scandal of the mortgage crisis is 1) our antiquated title system and 2) “. . . and that it’s taking so long to get people out of homes they can’t afford.” Now, Ms. McArdle is all in agreement with Arnold Kling on the the title system being the real scandal but on the second statement (getting the people out of homes…) she disagrees. I give her full credit for disagreeing with the second statement and therefore my scorn for her writing is only for the first statement.

What?!, the antiquated title system is the real scandal? I cannot generate enough invective for this statement. The world is too short of obscenities for me to throw at it. Let’s just go to the next one.

“… and that it’s taking so long to get people out of homes they can’t afford.”

Let me tell you a story… About ten years ago, housing prices began to go up but strangely the ease of buying them multiplied. Banks began to demand less and less evidence of credit history and salary down to the point where they eventually just filled in the blanks. This lack of oversight was because the great financial institutions of this nation were packaging mortgages as securities and using them as chips in the great game of casino capitalism. It was a strange time, in which the Internet was utterly blanketed by ads calling upon you to refinance your credit card debts – mortgage your home or to refinance your home for a lower rate. By about 2005, that something was terribly wrong was becoming clear. But the the regulatory agencies, the Congress, the Presidency, the financial press or the “Fed” did nothing about it. The selling if anything became more frenzied. Banks hired celebrities to participate in sales meetings in the black communities. Phone banks and mailings to those who rented and those who owned their own homes or even to those who were about to finish paying their mortgages proliferated. The messages was always the same, re-mortgage for lower rates, re-mortgage to pay off debts and the best one, buying a home is cheaper than rent. Many of the ads were carefully aimed at first time home buyers counting on their lack of financial sophistication to smooth the process. In 2006, the boom was pretty much exhausted, but the great financial institutions nursed it along for the next year by trading securities based on mortgages to the foolish as good investments and to each other simply to keep the market going. And then it all fell down.

“… and that it’s taking so long to get people out of homes they can’t afford.”

Simple statement. Factually correct.

They signed the contract, didn’t they? They’re adults. They got in too deep. They have to pay the price.

That is what it looks like if you live in a skycastle. “Skycastles,” that’s where people live so high and so far above the common herd, that they and only they can see what’s real, where the air is clear and the thoughts razor sharp.

From there they watch the little people like bacteria on a petri dish and wonder why God made so many, unless their cold hard intellects have freed them from religious delusions.

I’m down here with the other inconsequential. I say that these people were victimized and deserve mercy. These people did what the government, the media, and the financial industry told them was the intelligent, the correct and the best decision. These people were generally misled, lied to directly and were often the victims of fraud.

But I don’t live in a skycastle.

James Pilant

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Goldman Sachs Hit With More Sanctions (via Axsmith Law Blog)

No firm deserves sanctions more!

James Pilant

Goldman Sachs is being sanctioned by the Federal Reserve related to illegal mortgage practices, specifically robo-signing. Robo-signing is when a person signs affidavits used in a foreclosure case using someone else's name. Often these employees of banks or law firms will sign hundreds of documents in a single day – with someone else's name. … Read More

via Axsmith Law Blog

Citizen-Led Movement in California Proposes to Outlaw Foreclosures (via Ketron Property Management, Inc.)

If you think this is a little crazy, you’re right. But in the light of how home owners have been treated over the last few years, it is totally understandable.

You can do a lot to people when they’ve been trained to take it. Currently they believe that the system is fair and that the terrible things that have happened to hundreds of thousands of Americans will be remedied once the right people figure out what’s going on.

Many of the right people knew from the beginning what was going on in the housing market and when the massive number of foreclosures began, those same right people closed their eyes.

A lot of Americans are waking up each day a little more sure that no one cares about them, their property or their rights. When justice is denied, people are going to start looking at other remedies.

This may look crazy now but if simple justice is denied large parts of the population, it’s going to get a lot crazier than this.

And it should.

James Pilant

Citizen-Led Movement in California Proposes to Outlaw Foreclosures Posted by Carole VanSickle on Wednesday, August 3rd 2011 In Sacramento, California, one citizen is taking on the lenders directly, using his “Foreclosure Modification Act” to demand that lenders provide principal and interest rate reductions in order to keep borrowers in their homes[1]. And according to the author of the proposal, David A. Benson, the best way to make this happen … Read More

via Ketron Property Management, Inc.

National Guard Sergeant Sues Citigroup Over Foreclosure (via Blog for

Another “patriotic” American corporation in action.

They wanted to foreclose his house while he was on active duty, so they cut a few corners like telling the judge in the lawsuit that he wasn’t on active duty.

Is there no shame with these people? How many times did they get away with this?

James Pilant

Lee’s comments: Many of you may know that I am a veteran of the US Army myself, having served twice, both post and prior to the tragedy of 9/11/01. If you’re not aware, there is a law which is supposed to protect against this happening. This is simply a HUGE oversight on the foreclosing bank’s part which further illustrates the foreclosing bank’s lack-luster approach to handling the foreclosure process. THEY SHOULD ABSOLUTELY KNOW BETTER! I can a … Read More

via Blog for

What’s MERS? We’ll ALL soon know their importance (via News Unwrapped)

I’ve written about MERS several times, most recently  MERS And Ownership and A Thirty Dollar Fee?

I’m astonished that any lawyer would have encouraged a mortgage bank into this kind of deal, but it was one of those free money things. Any bank using the MERS system paid no property transfer fees like everyone else. So, it was worth millions of dollars to use that system even though it had never been authorized by law in any state.

This is big news. If property cannot be transferred using the MERS system, hundreds of thousands of mortgage foreclosures were done outside the law and hundreds of thousands of pending foreclosures will not be possible.

(This web site, News Unrapped, is brand new and I would like my readers to take a good look at it and consider subscribing. jp)

James Pilant

What's MERS? We'll ALL soon know their importance BREAKING FINANCIAL NEWS >>> This is very big happenings for the entire financial system, including but not limited to banks and investment bankers , real estate owners and investors, stock owners (and all associated with that industry), as well as all of us who exist and are subject to market movement. For sure, there will be lots and lots of spin on t … Read More

via News Unwrapped

PB POST | Lawyer Ben-Ezra held in contempt over ‘fraud’ in foreclosure filing (via Foreclosure Fraud – Fighting Foreclosure Fraud by Sharing the Knowledge)

I like this. Too long has the foreclosure industry lived without legal retribution for their crimes. I have argued for months that robo signing and false affidavits were contempt of court. Well, at least one judge agrees with me.

I like this site. If you have the slightest interest in the mortgage crisis, it should be on your favorites.

James PIlant

PB POST | Lawyer Ben-Ezra held in contempt over 'fraud' in foreclosure filing Lawyer held in contempt over ‘fraud’ in foreclosure filing By Kimberly Miller and Christine Stapleton Palm Beach Post Staff Writer A day after federal mortgage giant Fannie Mae fired the prominent law firm of Ben-Ezra & Katz, a Miami judge found the firm’s founding partner, Marc Ben-Ezra, in contempt of court for filing “sham” foreclosure documents and “wasting the court’s time.” On Thursday, Fannie Mae cited document “execution issues” as th … Read More

via Foreclosure Fraud – Fighting Foreclosure Fraud by Sharing the Knowledge

Google Foreclosure Maps–no longer available (via Dregs of the Future)

Take a long last look at accurate maps of the foreclosure crisis. Google says they have low usage. Maybe they just have a high level of influence suggesting a better use of their time. Well, it’s gone. Here’s one more look.

James Pilant

Google Foreclosure Maps--no longer available  Searches for real estate foreclosures on Google Maps are censored no longer possible. Google has announced removal of all real estate listings from their Google Maps platform on February 10th of this year (2011). Google posted this: In part due to low usage, the proliferation of excellent property-search tools on real es … Read More

via Dregs of the Future

California AG to Use $6.5M Settlement to Help Foreclosed Homeowners (via™)

There was fraud in many home mortgages. We should see more of these cases but California is one of the few states where there have been prosecutions.

It is difficult to convince me that with Countrywide’s vast portfolio that this practice was uncommon. One of the best ways to defraud a homeowner is to sell him on the idea of cheap credit, lowering his monthly payments, knowing all along the loan will revert to a floating rate. That new interest rate produces a devastating increase in monthly payments forcing foreclosure. This is fraud. Conning people into home loans is what the great lecturers on personal responsibility claim was a rare event.

I don’t think so.

Here is one of my articles on this subject – Bank of America Sued Over Countrywide Mortgage Related Investments

James Pilant

California AG to Use $6.5M Settlement to Help Foreclosed Homeowners California Attorney General Kamala Harris announced Friday that the $6.5 million settlement from two former Countrywide Financial Corp. executives will be used to establish a fund to help foreclosed homeowners. The settlement comes from a litigation that began more than two years ago against Angelo Mozilo and David Sambol. According to the lawsuit, Countrywide lured buyers with low teaser rates, sometimes as low as 1 percent, and failed to inform … Read More


Business Ethics NEWS – Governor Rick Perry Has Accumulated A Cool Million During Twenty Years Of Government Service?!

How do you do that? I guess you could be really clever. Or you could take some ethical shortcuts. I remember reading Milton Friedman, he says you are supposed to make the maximum profit for shareholders within the rules of the game. Now, I find ole Miltie utterly contemptible. However, that phrase “within the rules of the game” has always troubled me. What does that mean? Here is a situation in which the rules appear to be very flexible. What’s more – How vigorously can you fight or maintain the public interest with such “close” friends?

The Houston Chronicle suggests it might be like thisDuring two decades of full-time government service, Gov. Rick Perry has accumulated a net worth of about $1 million – perhaps through good investment timing.

However, almost everyone who steered Perry to his money-making deals has seen rewards from Texas government.

Six received key state government appointments or jobs. Two benefited from government actions that had the potential to enhance their real estate holdings. Another was poised to get a state grant for his business until the deal fell through.

The bottom line is, all of the real estate deals that made Perry money occurred because of an insider’s tip. The profits mostly go into a blind trust outside of public view or scrutiny.

“Every transaction I have been involved in has been at arms length, has been transparent and it has been reported on so many cotton-picking times that, if there was something there, it would have been reported on,” Perry said recently.

Southern Methodist University political scientist Cal Jillson said Perry’s real estate deals remind him of the story of Texas oilman Sid Richardson hiring future governor John Connally as a lawyer. Richardson told Connally his salary would not be big, but “I’ll put you in the way to make some money.”