Wall Street Journal Unaware of Illegal Foreclosures?

English: Offering subprime mortgage.
English: Offering subprime mortgage. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Do you suppose that Mary Kissel has no internet access where she works? I’ve been following the story of illegal foreclosures with many web posts for more than four years. There must be hundreds if not thousands of web sites from personal stories to major news outlets detailing the crimes. And there have federal investigations culminating in the much ballyhooed settlement over the robosigning scandal.


I guess it makes one’s ideological prejudices more comfortable to deny unpleasant realities.


I’m not impressed with that quality of comment. It insults the intelligence when a supposed authority doesn’t acknowledge basic facts. I have read several times the Wall Street Journal’s preferred narrative of the housing crisis, that too many people bought “too much” house. That’s an interesting definition of a crisis surrounded by financial industry fraud and law breaking on a breath taking scale.


Mary Kissel’s commentary should cast doubt on the ability of the Wall Street Journal to accurately report on this subject.


James Pilant


Conservative Pundit Claims No Homeowners Have Been Wrongfully Foreclosed




Despite hundreds of thousands of wrongful foreclosures uncovered by investigators, Wall Street Journal editorial board member Mary Kissel claimed that “there hasn’t been a single homeowner who has been identified who was foreclosed on who shouldn’t have been foreclosed on” in a Friday appearance on Fox Business.


The reality of the situation is far different, with $1.4 trillion worth of mortgages being rendered legally unenforceable by the paperwork abuses that were so common during and after the subprime mortgage boom. Foreclosures based on shoddy or forged documents have become commonplace since the financial crisis. These aren’t faceless numbers, either, as reporters have indeed identified individual homeowners who were wronged.


Louise and Ceith Sinclair of Altadena, California might like a word with Kissel. The Sinclairs were current on their modified home loan when a company called Nationstar bought the loan from the original servicer, ignored the finalized loan modification, and foreclosed on the Sinclairs while ducking their repeated inquiries. Nationstar sold the house out from underneath them, and without a local news investigation that shamed the company into reversing the sale, it’s unclear whether the Sinclairs would have a home today.


via Conservative Pundit Claims No Homeowners Have Been Wrongfully Foreclosed.

From around the web.

From the web site, E Credit Daily.


Two huge settlements with the biggest U.S. banks — dubbed the National Mortgage Settlement and the Independent Foreclosure Review — involved millions of wronged homeowners thrust into foreclosure. But that’s not enough to convince Wall Street Journal editorial board member Mary Kissel.

She was adamant about this mind-boggling claim she made during the October 11 edition of Fox Business’ Varney & Co.

From the web site, Foreclosure Help SCC.


Did you hear the recent news about a homeowner in West Sacramento effectively using the new California Homeowner Bill of Rights to stop foreclosure on his home?  You can read about it in the Sacramento Bee: “West Sacramento homeowner uses new state law to stop foreclosure (5/23/2013)” The Fair Housing Law Project at the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley prepared a summary of the California Homeowner Bill of Rights which homeowners can use when working with their bank or servicer to apply for a loan modification.



Manufacturing Renaissance?

Le vitrail de la renaissance
Le vitrail de la renaissance (Photo credit: Geoffroy65)

Manufacturing  Renaissance?

Is there or isn’t there a manufacturing Renaissance? I would love to give you a simple yes or no response but the fact is, it is just too early to tell. There is a wonderful chart provided at http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2013/07/26/manufacturing_rennaissance_is_it_really_happening.html from the magazine, Slate, and the article by Matthew Yglesias, that does tend to indicate such a Renaissance is happening. But that is the best evidence I have seen so far, and there is a lot of disagreement.

A manufacturing Renaissance would a game changer in many areas of corporate social responsibility. The idea that global competition is inevitably destructive of the middle class, labor unions and government regulation would be even less intellectually persuasive than it is now.

It would be wonderful for the nation. It would empower American firms and the nation more generally in their dealings with the world. It would increase American revenues and give American workers more income and more bargaining power.

So, I can be hopeful but the evidence is still lacking that this event is actually happening.

James Pilant

(But the idea does have its adherents) –

Monsters Abroadhttp://monstersabroad.wordpress.com/tag/manufacturing-renaissance/

A regular theme in this blog has been that America’s strategic prospects are being revived by the dynamism of its private sector even as China faces a more problematic future.  As earlier posts (here, here and here) have outlined, the marked surge in U.S. oil and natural gas production that has transformed the country’s energy outlook over the last few years promises to have far-reaching economic and geopolitical ramifications.  The bonanza of low-cost energy, which the Wall Street Journal dubs “Saudi America”, has also given the U.S. manufacturing sector a significant competitive advantage.

Separate from the energy boom but fortifying its manufacturing effects are America’s innate advantages in what is becoming known as the “third industrial revolution” – one that is powered by high-skill labor as well as seminal progress in the areas of artificial intelligence, robotics, nanotechnology, composite materials, and “additive manufacturing” or three-dimensional computerized manufacturing.

From around the web.

From the web site, Inside Public Minds.


If so, this could mean good news for the economy. Manufacturing represents 67% of private-sector research and development (R&D) spending and 30% of the country’s productivity growth. Every $1 of manufacturing activity returns $1.48 to the economy. For the first time in more than a decade, the number of factory jobs has increased instead of decreased. American productivity growth, compressed wages, and higher energy costs have contributed to the return of manufacturing jobs in the U.S. Some of America’s largest blue chip multinationals, like Ford, GE, and United Technologies, are headed back to the states.

From the web site, Barberbiz.


For awhile there, I was feeling like a voice in the wilderness. I was going against the tide and still am to some degree. But I no longer feel so much alone.

Now others, with more credibility than me, are saying what I’ve been saying in this blog for more than a year. It was a Wall Street Journal last week from which I felt some vindication. Here’s the headline: “Signs of Factory Revival Hard to Spot.”

And here is the first sentence or the lead, which states it better than I ever have: “The idea that American manufacturing is on the cusp of a renaissance is everywhere these days – except in the hard numbers.”

As my friend Paulie on the Lower East Side would say, “badda bing, badda boom.”

From the web site, America and the Global Economy.


It is still unclear if the “Manufacturing Renaissance” will generate enduring consequences for the U.S. economy—an increase in U.S. industrial production has yet to occur. According to the Federal Reserve, industrial production fell by 0.5 percent in April. Furthermore, although the total number of manufacturing jobs in the United States has increased by 520,000 since January 2010, only 50,000 of those jobs are due to re-shoring. It is therefore disputable as to whether efforts to bring manufacturing back to the U.S. will contribute to profound and lasting benefits for the U.S. economy, or if companies’ current efforts in this capacity will merely amount to a short-lived phase.

From the web site, paco manufacturing’s blog.


Back in May, an analysis by The Boston Consulting Group, was released stating that the rise in China’s labor cost could see a “Manufacturing Renaissance” within the United States, particularly within certain states.  It was an uplifting article as it stated, “We expect net labor costs for manufacturing in China and the U.S. to converge by around 2015.  As a result of the changing economics, you’re going to see a lot more products ‘Made in the USA’ in the next five years.”  The article goes on to state that a number of companies have already begun to rethink their production locations and supply chains for goods destined to be sold in the U.S.  It looks as if a window of opportunity is opening within the manufacturing sector of the U.S. economy, which should be given serious consideration by all.

From the web site, Ryan’s Writing House.


In order for the manufacturing sector to truly begin to grow again in the United States, we have to understand where the growth is and promote that. The strengths that we have here is that we are located in a major consumer base, and can produce extremely high quality goods faster than pretty much anywhere else. If the US focuses more on higher end manufacturing, it can still take advantage of the fact that every dollar of manufacturing activity returns $1.48 to the economy, without losing sight of our strengths. This also means that we have to make significant changes to our education system, to ensure that it is giving out the type of education that people need to be successful in this increasingly globalized game.

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Robert Dolan and Business Ethics

Robert Dolan and Business Ethics

Robert Dolan Teaches Business Ethics – YouTube

This is a brief video in which Robert Dolan, at that time, Dean of the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, held forth on a number of issues particularly business ethics. He begins the discussion by talking about the slow down in hiring in the financial sector and the effect on the students, moves into a discussion of how business ethics should be ingrained into the courses rather than a set of separate courses, and he ends with a good discussion of executive compensation.
His idea of action-based learning is used at the Ross School of Business and explained in some detail on their web site. I recommend you watch the video and, if an educator, read the web site explanation.
James Pilant
Wall_Street_SignFrom around the web –
From the web site, Stacy Blackman Consulting:
The most commonly asked question–How is Ross going to maintain its competitive advantage with its action-based learning and what is the school’s high-level strategy going forward?–elicited this response:

“While there was some recent debate surrounding whether or not we should abandon our action-based learning as the cornerstone of our brand and pick a ‘new horse,’ the faculty has chosen to ‘feed and care for the horse we’ve got.’ In other words, the school recognizes that we do action-based learning better than any of our competitors and it should prevail as our primary differentiating factor. Moving forward, Ross looks to grow this strategy by taking it abroad.”

Dean Dolan is also committed to boosting Ross’s global footprint via the strategic placement of international offices, starting in India and then China, the MSJ reports. Having offices in Hyderabad, Mumbai or Bangalore will help Ross better source field-based Multidisciplinary Action Projects (MAP), and offices with local roots will facilitate placement of Ross students in India better than efforts based in the U.S.

From the web site, Big Think:

Question: How does the Ross School integrate real world business problems in the classroom?

Robert Dolan: Well, there’s a number of ways. I guess I’ll start out by talking about the way that we do it is maybe as a little bit distinctive among business schools. I think the signature element of our school, our MBA program in particular, compared to others, is what we call action based learning. 

So right now, for example, all of our 425 first year MBA students would not be found in Ann Arbor.  They would be scattered around the globe in about 90 teams, working on real world problems. So what we’ve done to try to differentiate our students and really provide value added was probably about 10 years ago, slightly before I got to the school, we instituted what we called, this map project, which we call multidisciplinary action projects. So we, since, built that up and really invested in it as our point of differentiation.

And finally from the web site, See Sunshine:
For the second time in three years, the Stephen M. Ross School of Business has been named the No. 1 business school in North America by the Wall Street Journal.The Ross School is one of only two business schools to be ranked in the top four every year since the Wall Street Journal began its rankings in 2001.

“We’re happy the Wall Street Journal has again ranked us as the best MBA program in the country,” said Ross School Dean Robert J. Dolan. “The Journal’s ranking is particularly gratifying as it reflects the sentiment of hiring companies that see our graduates at work every day.”


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A Song For Occupy Wall Street

Nathan Shaffer – Come Back America – YouTube

(Something I found on You Tube – You can buy the music and other works by the artist online.)

Sometimes the music has a message.
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The Average Stock Is Held For 22 Seconds! – The Logical Result of Computer Trading

Michael Hudson

From Michael Hudson

<em>Take any stock in the United States. The average time in which you hold a stock is–it’s gone up from 20 seconds to 22 seconds in the last year. Most trades are computerized. Most trades are short-term. The average foreign currency investment lasts–it’s up now to 30 seconds, up from 28 seconds last month.

What does that mean for you? If you are an actual human being you are competing, when you make a stock purchase, with a supercomputer, like the ones they use to analyze the weather. That is why the amount of time a stock is held is so low – computer trading.

It’s not a level playing field. A more apt comparison might be a gambling house where the table is rigged to favor the owner almost but not quite always every time. You have to have the occasional lucky winner whose stories will keep the others coming in.

An exaggeration?

Okay, how about this from 2009 –

With all of the scrutiny that high-frequency trading is now under in the media and in Congress, the New York Stock Exchange is probably none too thrilled that the Wall Street Journal has uncovered fresh details of NYSE’s giant new datacenter, which the exchange is building in a former New Jersey quarry. The new datacenter will significantly advance the amount of computer-automated trading that already dominates global markets, housing as it will “several football fields of cutting-edge computing equipment for hedge funds and other firms that engage in high-frequency trading,” according to the WSJ. So if you were recently shocked to learn that an estimated 70 percent of stock trading is just computers trading against one another, get ready for that number to go even higher.

Or this –

Fewer and fewer Wall Street traders are human beings. Instead, they’re computersthat execute trades in milliseconds (a millisecond is one thousandth of a second). A forerunner of today’s robotic trading, computerized program trading, was largely responsible for the stock market crash of October 19, 1987, when the Dow Jones industrial average plunged 22.6%.


This kind of computer trading or should I say, Algorithmic trading, isn’t going away. So if you are a mere mortal, you might find your ability to make money on stock a little constricted by non-human competitors.

James Pilant

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Rupert Murdoch Pounding Table at Interrogation

Jimmy Kimmel having a little fun at Murdoch’s expense. –

and then he has a little more fun –

Considering the enormity of the crimes being discussed, this is very mild stuff. But I promise you, the news of the last few weeks has left me wanting something different for at least a little while. I am tired of a President, I consider barely competent, and as ideologically free of any principle as any other politician one can name. I am tired of watching a rush toward default as if it were a good political maneuver and not a step into totally unknown consequences ranging from mild economic dislocation to global collapse. This is what our politics have come to. God help us all.

James Pilant

Do The Banks Have Proof Of Ownership?

I’m not the only one who has suspicions that the banks might not have the necessary proof of ownership. Read the following from the Wall Street Journal

Under a far gloomier scenario, the problems created by using robo-signers may be irrelevant if, instead of being lost, mortgage documents weren’t ever properly transferred during each step of the securitization process, says Adam Levitin, a professor of law at Georgetown University. If that happens, “the whole system comes to a halt,” he says. Investors could argue in court that they never owned the mortgages backing their money-losing securities.

Banks and their attorneys say such fears are overblown. Procedures for transferring loans into mortgage-backed securities “are sound and based on a well-established body of law governing a multi-trillion dollar secondary mortgage market,” said Tom Deutsch, the executive director of the American Securitization Forum, in a statement Friday.

I love that second paragraph. Here look at the key phrase, “Procedures for transferring loans into mortgage backed securities are sound and based on well established law…” Wow, you’d think the founding fathers were doing it! Well, this vast body of jurisprudence has existed since that grand old year of history, 2002? I doubt if any of it has been tested in court. His statement is more hopeful than true. You see the transfer of property is one of the most important procedures in the law. It’s surrounded over and over again by legal protections many of them requiring specific procedures. Now, you might ask me if during the Go Go years of financial mismanagement, the mid years of the first decade of this century, that the banks and their mortgage creating boiler rooms did all that proper procedure? Not a chance. Not even a little chance.

Some of the mortgage companies were giving out mortgages with NO capital of their own and Wall Street still bought them. If you’re giving people mortgages with not a single cent of your money on the line, how much do you care about good paperwork?

James Pilant

WSJ Writes Balanced, Intelligent Article – End Of World Imminent

Since the purchase of the Wall Street Journal by Rupert Murdoch, I consigned it to the ash heap of history. I was doing my usual research into the crimes and misadventures of the banks in this foreclosure crisis. Suddenly, there was this article. I read through it and decided to post it. Imagine my surprise when I got to the top of the page and found where it came from.

Isn’t this the newspaper that just a few days ago told the world that lying to judges with false affidavits was just a matter of “paperwork?” Aren’t these the guys who honor the basic right of property ownership to the death just as long as an average American doesn’t attempt to assert it?

There is no explaining this. There must be some cognitive dissonance at the Journal. I hope no one on the editorial board dies of shock having seen a fact for the first time.

Well, give this article a read, it’s a good account of the current crisis in mortgage forclosures.

James Pilant