- Federal judge refuses to dismiss suit against prosecutor Preet Bharara, FBI agents by hedge funder David Ganek over treatment in now-dismissed Chiasson inside trading case [Peter Henning, New York Times “DealBook”; Business Insider] SEC agrees to return $21.5 million extracted from Ganek’s Level Global Investors [BNA via Ira Stoll]
- CFPB follies: “Government-Directed Lending Comes to America” [Ike Brannon, Cato] Agency casts its eye on marketplace, otherwise known as peer-to-peer, lending [Thaya Brook Knight, Cato]
- SEC inspector general sides with agency against allegations of undue sway over ALJs [Reuters, earlier here, here, etc.]
- Third party liability for crime: “HSBC Sued Over Drug Cartel Murders After Laundering Probe” [Bloomberg]
- Former Ally Bank CEO: administration extorted race-lending settlement by threatening to derail regulatory approvals [Paul Sperry/New York Post, more]
- Bellevue, Wash.: $213,000 award to complainant Leticia Lucero “could mean other cases where homeowners argue lenders [cause] emotional distress during negotiations.” [AP/Yakima Herald]
Following the 2008 crash, government enforcement action extracted $110 billion from lenders and other players over a variety of alleged sins relating to the rise and collapse of the mortgage bubble. Where did it go? Governments held on to a lot of it, a lot went to the government-sponsored Fannie and Freddie mortgage enterprises, favored “housing-related community groups” got some, some went to homeowners with mortgage struggles or to new low-interest loans. In New York, money is going to rebuild the Tappan Zee bridge and “the annual state fair is using bank-settlement money to build a new horse barn and stables.” But no one has kept track of where a lot of the money went, there being no overall effort to account for it. [Christina Rexrode and Emily Glazer, WSJ]
Unintended consequences: “It was the second consecutive month that Maryland led the nation in [the rate of] foreclosure filings, RealtyTrac said.” While filings nationwide were down 7 percent from a year earlier, those in Maryland were up 13 percent. [Baltimore Business Journal] We’ve noted before that although liberal legislators in Annapolis imagined they were doing poorer homeowners a favor by making the state’s foreclosure process so slow, the results have included unusual delays in bounce-back from housing recessions and persistent neighborhood blight. That’s to say nothing of the entrenchment of non-paying occupants in luxury homes for years at a stretch. To quote another commentator’s words in our March item:
“Living rent-free in a $600,000 house is a ‘plight’ only in the sense that at some point you may have to stop.” [Arnold Kling on the Washington Post’s naive Prince George’s County foreclosure series; coverage of Maryland’s unusually lender-hostile foreclosure law at Overlawyered here, here, here, here, here, and here]
[cross-posted from Free State Notes]
- “Fee-shifting: Delaware’s self-inflicted wound” [Stephen Bainbridge, more] Needed: a new Delaware [Reuters] Fordham lawprof Sean Griffith fights trial bar on shareholder suits [Bainbridge, more]
- Goodbye, insurance (hugs). I think I’ll miss you most of all. [Bridget Johnson on anti-cinema, anti-stock-trading views of radical Islamist British activist and former lawyer Anjem Choudary]
- Rare coalition of bankers, housing advocates urges limits on mortgage-related suits [W$J]
- “The Administrative State v. The Constitution: Dodd-Frank at Five Years” hearing includes testimony from Mark Calabria of Cato (law delegates vast authority to bureaucracy, has failed to generate clear rules for regulated parties) and Neomi Rao of George Mason (unconstitutionality of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau) [Senate Judiciary Committee, related on a CFPB constitutional challenge]
- Do-it-yourself Operation Choke Point: letter from one Illinois sheriff shut down adult-ad credit card payments [Maggie McNeill, Daniel Fisher]
- “Obama DOJ Channels Bank Shakedown Money To Private Groups” [Dan Epstein, Investors Business Daily]
- “The U.S. listing gap” [Doidge, Karolyi, & Stulz NBER paper via Tyler Cowen, MR]
Hmmm, this doesn’t match the received account [Fernando Ferreira, Joseph Gyourko, “A New Look at the U.S. Foreclosure Crisis: Panel Data Evidence of Prime and Subprime Borrowers from 1997 to 2012”, National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) Working Paper No. 21261, just out]:
Utilizing new panel micro data on the ownership sequences of all types of borrowers from 1997-2012 leads to a reinterpretation of the U.S. foreclosure crisis as more of a prime, rather than a subprime, borrower issue. Moreover, traditional mortgage default factors associated with the economic cycle, such as negative equity, completely account for the foreclosure propensity of prime borrowers relative to all-cash owners, and for three-quarters of the analogous subprime gap. Housing traits, race, initial income, and speculators did not play a meaningful role, and initial leverage only accounts for a small variation in outcomes of prime and subprime borrowers.
More: Daniel Fisher.
- Administration has abused the law in mortgage lender settlements [House Judiciary hearing: Paul Larkin, Ted Frank testimony]
- Department of Justice official says banks may need to go much farther in informing authorities of customers who may be up to no good than just sending Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) [Kevin Funnell] Interpol Red Notices, which among other effects cut off banking access, are open to geopolitical manipulation [Ted Bromund, Weekly Standard]
- No, Operation Choke Point hasn’t gone away, not in the slightest [Funnell, Jared Meyer/Economics21]
- What Elizabeth Warren has done to Michael Greve’s mortgage refinance application isn’t pretty [Liberty and Law]
- Battle over loser-pays clauses in corporate governance rages on in Delaware [Reuters]
- “The U.S. government’s stupid tax war on expatriates” [Brett Arends, earlier on FATCA]
- Dodd-Frank: “Wall St. attacked, Main St. wounded” [Iain Murray]
Who could possibly have seen this coming? [Arnold Kling]:
Servicing [of mortgages] has been traditionally a very low-margin business, with the whole ballgame about keeping costs low.
Back in 2009, policy makers treated mortgage servicers like a piñata. They beat on servicers to provide foreclosure relief, loan modifications, and so forth. They told them to administer new programs that combined loan origination procedures with loan servicing procedures. They sought to punish servicers for noncompliance.
Well, guess what. Now servicers do not want anything to do with any loan that might become delinquent. The cost of dealing with such loans has skyrocketed, thanks to Washington’s piñata-bashing. So if you originate a loan to someone with a low credit score, the servicer charges a hefty premium. That in turn means that risky borrowers either have to pay that premium or get rationed out of the market altogether.
Not wholly unrelated: Sunday’s Washington Post laments that home values in suburban Prince George’s County, Maryland have not bounced back from the crash the way those in Reston, Va., have, and discerns a racial-injustice angle. Unfortunately, it misses a big legal angle that might explain some of the difference, about how the two states’ laws and lawmakers reacted to the foreclosure wave. And: more from Arnold Kling.
House Republicans want answers on how federal agencies’ mega-settlements with issuers of mortgage-backed securities came to include tens of millions of dollars in payments to “housing counseling” groups allied with the Obama Administration [DS News] Earlier on banks’ payments to activists here, here, etc.
The Obama Administration has repeatedly dodged cases in fear of judicial review of its controversial application of the disparate impact theory to mortgage lending and other aspects of the housing market, but its position has now met with a stiff rebuke from district court judge Richard Leon [Insurance Journal]:
“This is yet another example of an administrative agency trying desperately to write into law that which Congress never intended to sanction,” Leon wrote.
He called the rule “nothing less than an artful misinterpretation of Congress’s intent that is, frankly, too clever by half.”
- SEC regs suppress small business capital formation and that’s a shame [Commissioner Daniel Gallagher via Bainbridge]
- Federally sponsored gripe site for financial institutions not likely to end well [Hester Peirce and Vera Soliman, Mercatus via Kevin Funnell]
- Alleged terror payments “routed through” sued bank also went through major New York banks, which shouldn’t be surprising [Fisher]
- Did mid-level managers in securitized mortgage finance know they were in a housing bubble but cynically go ahead? Evidence against [Cheng et al., American Economic Review via MR]
- Shareholder litigation: “New ‘loser pays’ standard could curb abusive lawsuits” [Examiner editorial] Delaware take note: corporate by-law changes that cut off fee-seeking opportunism deserve acclaim [Keith Paul Bishop via Bainbridge]
- NYT was hot on “Goldman Sachs manipulated aluminum market” allegations but judge wasn’t [Reuters, July 2013 NYT]
- CFPB might shrug off discrimination and retaliation charges, but many of the firms it regulates could not afford to [Hans Bader]