Best of the Week
Most Popular
1. US Housing Market Real Estate Crash The Next Shoe To Drop – Part II - Chris_Vermeulen
2.The Coronavirus Greatest Economic Depression in History? - Nadeem_Walayat
3.US Real Estate Housing Market Crash Is The Next Shoe To Drop - Chris_Vermeulen
4.Coronavirus Stock Market Trend Implications and AI Mega-trend Stocks Buying Levels - Nadeem_Walayat
5. Are Coronavirus Death Statistics Exaggerated? Worse than Seasonal Flu or Not?- Nadeem_Walayat
6.Coronavirus Stock Market Trend Implications, Global Recession and AI Stocks Buying Levels - Nadeem_Walayat
7.US Fourth Turning Accelerating Towards Debt Climax - James_Quinn
8.Dow Stock Market Trend Analysis and Forecast - Nadeem_Walayat
9.Britain's FAKE Coronavirus Death Statistics Exposed - Nadeem_Walayat
10.Commodity Markets Crash Catastrophe Charts - Rambus_Chartology
Last 7 days
Silver Bull Market Update - 7th Aug 20
This Inflation-Adjusted Silver Chart Tells An Interesting Story - 7th Aug 20
The Great American Housing Boom Has Begun - 7th Aug 20
NATURAL GAS BEGINS UPSIDE BREAKOUT MOVE - 7th Aug 20
Know About Lotteries With The Best Odds Of Winning - 7th Aug 20
Could Gold Price Reach $7,000 by 2030? - 6th Aug 20
Bananas for All! Keep Dancing… FOMC - 6th Aug 20
How to Do Bets During This Time - 6th Aug 20
How to develop your stock trading strategy - 6th Aug 20
Stock Investors What to do if Trump Bans TikTok - 5th Aug 20
Gold Trifecta of Key Signals for Gold Mining Stocks - 5th Aug 20
ARE YOU LOVING YOUR SERVITUDE? - 5th Aug 20
Stock Market Uptrend Continues? - 4th Aug 20
The Dimensions of Covid-19: The Hong Kong Flu Redux - 4th Aug 20
High Yield Junk Bonds Are Hot Again -- Despite Warning Signs - 4th Aug 20
Gold Stocks Autumn Rally - 4th Aug 20
“Government Sachs” Is Worried About the Federal Reserve Note - 4th Aug 20
Gold Miners Still Pushing That Cart of Rocks Up Hill - 4th Aug 20
UK Government to Cancel Christmas - Crazy Covid Eid 2020! - 4th Aug 20
Covid-19 Exposes NHS Institutional Racism Against Black and Asian Staff and Patients - 4th Aug 20
How Sony Is Fueling the Computer Vision Boom - 3rd Aug 20
Computer Gaming System Rig Top Tips For 6 Years Future Proofing Build Spec - 3rd Aug 20
Cornwwall Bude Caravan Park Holidays 2020 - Look Inside Holiday Resort Caravan - 3rd Aug 20
UK Caravan Park Holidays 2020 Review - Hoseasons Cayton Bay North East England - 3rd Aug 20
Best Travel Bags for 2020 Summer Holidays , Back Sling packs, water proof, money belt and tactical - 3rd Aug 20
Precious Metals Warn Of Increased Volatility Ahead - 2nd Aug 20
The Key USDX Sign for Gold and Silver - 2nd Aug 20
Corona Crisis Will Have Lasting Impact on Gold Market - 2nd Aug 20
Gold & Silver: Two Pictures - 1st Aug 20
The Bullish Case for Stocks Isn't Over Yet - 1st Aug 20
Is Gold Price Action Warning Of Imminent Monetary Collapse - Part 2? - 1st Aug 20
Will America Accept the World's Worst Pandemic Response Government - 1st Aug 20
Stock Market Technical Patterns, Future Expectations and More – Part II - 1st Aug 20
Trump White House Accelerating Toward a US Dollar Crisis - 31st Jul 20
Why US Commercial Real Estate is Set to Get Slammed - 31st Jul 20
Gold Price Blows Through Upside Resistance - The Chase Is On - 31st Jul 20
Is Crude Oil Price Setting Up for a Waterfall Decline? - 31st Jul 20
Stock Market Technical Patterns, Future Expectations and More - 30th Jul 20
Why Big Money Is Already Pouring Into Edge Computing Tech Stocks - 30th Jul 20
Economic and Geopolitical Worries Fuel Gold’s Rally - 30th Jul 20
How to Finance an Investment Property - 30th Jul 20
I Hate Banks - Including Goldman Sachs - 29th Jul 20
NASDAQ Stock Market Double Top & Price Channels Suggest Pending Price Correction - 29th Jul 20
Silver Price Surge Leaves Naysayers in the Dust - 29th Jul 20
UK Supermarket Covid-19 Shop - Few Masks, Lack of Social Distancing (Tesco) - 29th Jul 20
Budgie Clipped Wings, How Long Before it Can Fly Again? - 29th Jul 20
How To Take Advantage Of Tesla's 400% Stock Surge - 29th Jul 20
Gold Makes Record High and Targets $6,000 in New Bull Cycle - 28th Jul 20
Gold Strong Signal For A Secular Bull Market - 28th Jul 20
Anatomy of a Gold and Silver Precious Metals Bull Market - 28th Jul 20
Shopify Is Seizing an $80 Billion Pot of Gold - 28th Jul 20
Stock Market Minor Correction Underway - 28th Jul 20
Why College Is Never Coming Back - 27th Jul 20
Stocks Disconnect from Economy, Gold Responds - 27th Jul 20
Silver Begins Big Upside Rally Attempt - 27th Jul 20
The Gold and Silver Markets Have Changed… What About You? - 27th Jul 20
Google, Apple And Amazon Are Leading A $30 Trillion Assault On Wall Street - 27th Jul 20
This Stock Market Indicator Reaches "Lowest Level in Nearly 20 Years" - 26th Jul 20
New Wave of Economic Stimulus Lifts Gold Price - 26th Jul 20
Stock Market Slow Grind Higher Above the Early June Stock Highs - 26th Jul 20
How High Will Silver Go? - 25th Jul 20
If You Own Gold, Look Out Below - 25th Jul 20
Crude Oil and Energy Sets Up Near Major Resistance – Breakdown Pending - 25th Jul 20
FREE Access to Premium Market Forecasts by Elliott Wave International - 25th Jul 20
The Promise of Silver as August Approaches: Accumulation and Conversation - 25th Jul 20
The Silver Bull Gateway is at Hand - 24th Jul 20
The Prospects of S&P 500 Above the Early June Highs - 24th Jul 20
How Silver Could Surpass Its All-Time High - 24th Jul 20

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

How to Get Rich Investing in Stocks by Riding the Electron Wave

U.S. Home Foreclosures and Shadow Banking: Why All the "Robo-signing"?

Politics / US Housing Feb 05, 2012 - 12:25 PM GMT

By: Ellen_Brown

Politics

Best Financial Markets Analysis ArticleA foreclosure settlement between five major banks guilty of “robo-signing” and the attorneys general of the 50 states is pending for Monday, February 6th; but it is still not clear if all the AGs will sign.  California was to get over half of the $25 billion in settlement money, and California AG Kamala Harris has withstood pressure to settle. 


 

That is good.  She and the other AGs should not sign until a thorough investigation has been conducted.  The evidence to date suggests that “robo-signing” was not a mere technical default or sloppy business practice but was part and parcel of a much larger fraud, the fraud that brought down the whole economy in 2008.  It is not just distressed homeowners but the entire economy that has paid the price, resulting in massive unemployment and a shrunken tax base, throwing state and local governments into insolvency and forcing austerity measures and cutbacks in government services across the nation.

 

The details of the robo-signing scam were spelled out in my last article, here.  The robo-signing fraud and its implications are expanded on below.

 

Why All the Robo-signing?

 

Over half the homes in the country are now held in the name of an electronic database called MERS—Mortgage Electronic Registration Services.  MERS is a smokescreen behind which mortgages were sold to trusts that sold them to investors.  The mortgages were chopped into pieces and sold as “mortgage-backed securities” (MBS), which traded in a supposedly liquid market.  That meant the investors could sell them in the money market at any time on a day’s notice.  Yale economist Gary Gorton gives this example:

 

Suppose the institutional investor is Fidelity, and Fidelity has $500 million in cash that will be used to buy securities, but not right now. Right now Fidelity wants a safe place to earn interest, but such that the money is available in case the opportunity for buying securities arises. Fidelity goes to Bear Stearns and “deposits” the $500 million overnight for interest. What makes this deposit safe? The safety comes from the collateral that Bear Stearns provides. Bear Stearns holds some assetbacked securities [with] a market value of $500 millions. These bonds are provided to Fidelity as collateral. Fidelity takes physical possession of these bonds. Since the transaction is overnight, Fidelity can get its money back the next morning, or it can agree to “roll” the trade. Fidelity earns, say, 3 percent.

 

That is where the robo-signing came in.  Foreclosure defense attorneys armed with the tools of discovery have discovered that robo-signing -- involving falsified signatures assigning mortgages back to the trusts allegedly owning them -- occurred not just occasionally or randomly but in virtually every case.  Why?  Because the mortgages had to be left free to be bought and sold on a daily basis in the money market by investors.  The investors are not interested in making 30 year loans.  They want something short-term with immediate rights of withdrawal like a deposit account. 

 

The Hazards of Borrowing Short to Lend Long

 

The problem is that when panicked investors all exercise that right at once, there is no cheap funding available to back the 30 year mortgage loans, rendering the banks insolvent.  And that is what happened on September 15, 2008, when Lehman Brothers, a major investment bank like Bear Stearns, went bankrupt. 

 

According to Representative Paul Kanjorski, speaking on C-SPAN in January 2009, the collapse of Lehman Brothers precipitated a $550 billion run on the money market funds.  A report by the Joint Economic Committee pointed to the fact that the $62 billion Reserve Primary Fund had “broken the buck” (fallen below a stable $1 per share) due to its Lehman investments.  The massive bank run that followed was the dire news that Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson presented to Congress behind closed doors, prompting Congressional approval of Paulson’s $700 billion bank bailout despite deep misgivings.

 

The sleight of hand that brought the banking system down was that the mortgages backing the money market were supposedly held by trusts that had lent money to homeowners for 15 years or 30 years.  It was the classic “borrowing short to lend long,” a shell game in which banks have engaged for hundreds of years, routinely precipitating bank panics and bank runs when the depositors or the investors all pull their short-term money out at the same time. 

 

The Shadow Banking System Is Still Unregulated

 

Periodic bank panics were averted in the conventional banking system only when the government agreed to insure the deposits of individual depositors in 1933.  But FDIC insurance covered only $100,000 (now $250,000), and large institutional investors had far more than that to invest.  The shadow banking system, in which deposits were “insured” with mortgage-backed securities, developed in response.  But the shadow banking system is unregulated and is just as prone to another collapse today as it was in 2008.  The Dodd-Frank banking “reforms” barely touched it.  As noted in an article titled “Risky Debt Use on Repo Market Hits 2008 Levels” in today’s Financial Times:

 

In the repo market, banks pledge their securities as collateral for short-term loans from money managers and other investors.  The market played a key role in the build-up to the 2008 financial crisis. Banks used toxic assets, such as repackaged subprime loans, to secure trillions of dollars worth of cheap funding. 

 

When the US housing bubble burst, the banks’ trading partners refused to accept such securities as collateral and the repo market rapidly contracted.

 

However, a study by Fitch Ratings says the proportion of bundled debt being used as security in repo transactions has returned to pre-crisis levels. 

 

Using the repackaged loans can increase risk in the repo market, the rating agency says. This is because the securities may be prone to sudden pullbacks such as the one experienced in 2008.

 

We could be looking at another banking collapse at any time; and to fix the problem, we first need to know what is going on.  The AGs should not agree to drop the curtain on the robo-signing scandal until all the evidence is on the table.  It is not just a matter of punishing the guilty; it is a matter of a banking scheme based on fraud, one that ultimately does not work and has jeopardized the homes, savings and investments of the public not just recently but for hundreds of years. 

 

The Way Out

 

There is another way to design a banking system.  The deposits of large institutional investors do not need to be backed by sliced and diced pieces of our homes to be “safe” (something that has proven not to be safe at all).  The large institutional investors seeking safety are largely “us” – the pension funds and mutual funds in which we have stored our savings and on which we rely for support when we can no longer work.  Hundreds of years of history have demonstrated that the only reliable guarantor is the government itself. 

 

Our pension funds and mutual funds need a government guarantee just as much as our individual deposits do.  But we don’t want to be guaranteeing the gambling and derivatives schemes of too-big-to-fail, for-profit Wall Street banks playing fast and loose with our money.  Banking and credit need to be public utilities, operated for the benefit of the public in plain sight of the public.   

 

Ellen Brown is an attorney and president of the Public Banking Institute, http://PublicBankingInstitute.org.  In Web of Debt, her latest of eleven books, she shows how a private cartel has usurped the power to create money from the people themselves, and how we the people can get it back.  Her websites are http://WebofDebt.com and http://EllenBrown.com.

 

Ellen Brown is a frequent contributor to Global Research.  Global Research Articles by Ellen Brown

© Copyright Ellen Brown , Global Research, 2012

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Centre for Research on Globalization. The contents of this article are of sole responsibility of the author(s). The Centre for Research on Globalization will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article.


© 2005-2019 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in

6 Critical Money Making Rules