Category: Mortgage crisis


breakingtheset breakingtheset

Published on Dec 9, 2013

Abby Martin speaks with Richard Wolff, economist and Professor Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts about the recent district court ruling on Detroit’s bankruptcy and how it could affect the pensions of thousands of city workers.

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 The mortgage crisis, fueled by racially discriminatory lending practices, destroyed 53% of African American wealth and 66% of Hispanic wealth.    Wall Street hedge funds and private equity firms have quietly amassed an unprecedented rental empire on the backs of those who fell victim the first time around.   Where is the justice?

~Desert Rose~
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The Empire Strikes Back: How Wall Street Has Turned Housing Into a Dangerous Get-Rich-Quick Scheme — Again

You can hardly turn on the television or open a newspaper without hearing about the nation’s impressive, much celebrated housing recovery. Home prices are rising! New construction has started! The crisis is over! Yet beneath the fanfare, a whole new get-rich-quick scheme is brewing.(Cover for the book of the same title by Bryan M. Chavis)

Over the last year and a half, Wall Street hedge funds and private equity firms have quietly amassed an unprecedented rental empire, snapping up Queen Anne Victorians in Atlanta, brick-faced bungalows in Chicago, Spanish revivals in Phoenix. In total, these deep-pocketed investors have bought more than 200,000 cheap, mostly foreclosed houses in cities hardest hit by the economic meltdown.

Wall Street’s foreclosure crisis, which began in late 2007 and forced more than 10 million people from their homes, has created a paradoxical problem. Millions of evicted Americans need a safe place to live, even as millions of vacant, bank-owned houses are blighting neighborhoods and spurring a rise in crime. Lucky for us, Wall Street has devised a solution: It’s going to rent these foreclosed houses back to us. In the process, it’s devised a new form of securitization that could cause this whole plan to blow up — again.

Since the buying frenzy began, no company has picked up more houses than the Blackstone Group, the largest private equity firm in the world. Using a subsidiary company, Invitation Homes, Blackstone has grabbed houses at foreclosure auctions, through local brokers, and in bulk purchases directly from banks the same way a regular person might stock up on toilet paper from Costco.

In one move, it bought 1,400 houses in Atlanta in a single day. As of November, Blackstone had spent $7.5 billion to buy 40,000 mostly foreclosed houses across the country. That’s a spending rate of $100 million a week since October 2012. It recently announced plans to take the business international, beginning in foreclosure-ravaged Spain.

Few outside the finance industry have heard of Blackstone. Yet today, it’s the largest owner of single-family rental homes in the nation — and of a whole lot of other things, too. It owns part or all of the Hilton Hotel chain, Southern Cross Healthcare, Houghton Mifflin publishing house, the Weather Channel, Sea World, the arts and crafts chain Michael’s, Orangina, and dozens of other companies.

“In other words, if Blackstone makes money by capitalizing on the housing crisis, all these other Wall Street banks — generally regarded as the main culprits in creating the conditions that led to the foreclosure crisis in the first place — make money too.”

Blackstone manages more than $210 billion in assets, according to its 2012 Securities and Exchange Commission annual filing. It’s also a public company with a list of institutional owners that reads like a who’s who of companies recently implicated in lawsuits over the mortgage crisis, including Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, UBS, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, and of course JP Morgan Chase, which just settled a lawsuit with the Department of Justice over its risky and often illegal mortgage practices, agreeing to pay an unprecedented $13 billion fine.

In other words, if Blackstone makes money by capitalizing on the housing crisis, all these other Wall Street banks — generally regarded as the main culprits in creating the conditions that led to the foreclosure crisis in the first place — make money too.

An All-Cash Goliath

In neighborhoods across the country, many residents didn’t have to know what Blackstone was to realize that things were going seriously wrong.

Last year, Mark Alston, a real estate broker in Los Angeles, began noticing something strange happening. Home prices were rising. And they were rising fast — up 20% between October 2012 and the same month this year. In a normal market, rising home prices would mean increased demand from homebuyers. But here was the unnerving thing: the homeownership rate was dropping, the first sign for Alston that the market was somehow out of whack.

The second sign was the buyers themselves.

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“I went two years without selling to a black family, and that wasn’t for lack of trying,” says Alston, whose business is concentrated in inner-city neighborhoods where the majority of residents are African American and Hispanic. Instead, all his buyers — every last one of them — were besuited businessmen. And weirder yet, they were all paying in cash.

Between 2005 and 2009, the mortgage crisis, fueled by racially discriminatory lending practices, destroyed 53% of African American wealth and 66% of Hispanic wealth, figures that stagger the imagination. As a result, it’s safe to say that few blacks or Hispanics today are buying homes outright, in cash. Blackstone, on the other hand, doesn’t have a problem fronting the money, given its $3.6 billion credit line arranged by Deutsche Bank. This money has allowed it to outbid families who have to secure traditional financing. It’s also paved the way for the company to purchase a lot of homes very quickly, shocking local markets and driving prices up in a way that pushes even more families out of the game.

“You can’t compete with a company that’s betting on speculative future value when they’re playing with cash,” says Alston. “It’s almost like they planned this.”

In hindsight, it’s clear that the Great Recession fueled a terrific wealth and asset transfer away from ordinary Americans and to financial institutions. During that crisis, Americans lost trillions of dollars of household wealth when housing prices crashed, while banks seized about five million homes. But what’s just beginning to emerge is how, as in the recession years, the recovery itself continues to drive the process of transferring wealth and power from the bottom to the top.

From 2009-2012, the top 1% of Americans captured 95% of income gains. Now, as the housing market rebounds, billions of dollars in recovered housing wealth are flowing straight to Wall Street instead of to families and communities. Since spring 2012, just at the time when Blackstone began buying foreclosed homes in bulk, an estimated $88 billion of housing wealth accumulation has gone straight to banks or institutional investors as a result of their residential property holdings, according to an analysis by TomDispatch. And it’s a number that’s likely to just keep growing.

“Institutional investors are siphoning the wealth and the ability for wealth accumulation out of underserved communities,” says Henry Wade, founder of the Arizona Association of Real Estate Brokers.

But buying homes cheap and then waiting for them to appreciate in value isn’t the only way Blackstone is making money on this deal. It wants your rental payment, too.

Securitizing Rentals

Wall Street’s rental empire is entirely new. The single-family rental industry used to be the bailiwick of small-time mom-and-pop operations. But what makes this moment unprecedented is the financial alchemy that Blackstone added. In November, after many months of hype, Blackstone released history’s first rated bond backed by securitized rental payments. And once investors tripped over themselves in a rush to get it, Blackstone’s competitors announced that they, too, would develop similar securities as soon as possible.

Depending on whom you ask, the idea of bundling rental payments and selling them off to investors is either a natural evolution of the finance industry or a fire-breathing chimera.

“This is a new frontier,” comments Ted Weinstein, a consultant in the real-estate-owned homes industry for 30 years. “It’s something I never really would have dreamt of.”

 

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News Corp. headquarters in New York. (Photo: Mary Altaffer/AP/DAPD)Here in Manhattan the other day, you couldn’t miss it — the big bold headline across the front page of the tabloid New York Post, screaming one of those sick, slick lies that are a trademark of Rupert Murdoch’s right-wing media empire. There was Uncle Sam, brandishing a revolver and wearing a burglar’s mask. “UNCLE SCAM,” the headline shouted. “US robs bank of $13 billion.”

“The problem: ideology and self-interest trump the facts or even caring about the facts, whether it’s banking, Obamacare or global warming.”

Say what? Pure whitewash, and Murdoch’s minions know it. That $13 billion dollars is the settlement JPMorgan Chase, the country’s biggest bank, is negotiating with the government to settle its own rip-off of American homeowners and investors — those shady practices that five years ago helped trigger the financial meltdown, including manipulating mortgages and sending millions of Americans into bankruptcy or foreclosure. If anybody’s been robbed it’s not JPMorgan Chase, which can absorb the loss and probably take a tax write-off for at least part of it. No, it’s the American public. In addition to financial heartache we still have been denied the satisfaction of seeing jail time for any of the banksters who put our feet in cement and pushed us off the cliff.

This isn’t the only scandal JPMorgan Chase is juggling. A $6 billion settlement with institutional investors is in the works and criminal charges may still be filed in California. The bank is under investigation on so many fronts it’s hard to keep them sorted out – everything from deceptive sales in its credit card unit to Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme to the criminal manipulation of energy markets and bribing Chinese officials by offering jobs to their kids.

Nor is JPMorgan Chase the only culprit under scrutiny. Bank of America was found guilty just this week of civil fraud, and a gaggle of other banks is being investigated by the government for mortgage fraud. No wonder the camp followers at Fox News, The Wall Street Journal, CNBC and other cheerleaders have ganged up to whitewash the banks. If justice is somehow served, this could be the biggest egg yet across the smug face of unfettered, unchecked, unaccountable capitalism.

One face in particular: Jamie Dimon, the chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase. One of Murdoch’s Fox Business News hosts, Charlie Gasparino, claims the Feds are on a witch hunt against Dimon for criticizing President Obama, whose administration, we are told, “is brutally determined and efficient when it comes to squashing those who oppose their policies.” But hold on: Dimon is a Democrat, said to be Obama’s favorite banker, with so much entree he’s been doing his own negotiating with the attorney general of the United States.

But that’s crony capitalism for you, bipartisan to a fault. Rupert Murdoch has been defending Dimon in his media for a long time. Last spring, when it looked like there might be a stockholders revolt against Dimon, Murdoch was one of many bigwigs who rushed to his defense. He tweeted that JPMorgan would be “up a creek” without Dimon. “One of the smartest, toughest guys around,” Murdoch insisted. Whether Murdoch’s exaltation had an effect or not, Dimon was handily reelected.

“Ignorance will kill democracy as surely as the big money that funds and encourages the media outlets, parties and individuals who spew the lies and hate.”

Over the last few days, The Wall Street Journal, both Bible and supplicant of high finance as well as one of Murdoch’s more reputable publications — at least in its reporting — echoed the “UNCLE SCAM” indignation of the more lowbrow Post. The government just wants “to appease their left-wing populist allies,” its editorial writers raged, with a “political shakedown and wealth-redistribution scheme.” Perhaps, the paper suggested, the White House will distribute some of the JPMorgan Chase penalty to consumers and advocacy groups and “have the checks arrive in swing congressional districts right before the 2014 election.” We can hear the closet Bolsheviks panting for their handouts now and getting ready to use their phony ID’s to stuff the box on Election Day with multiple illegal ballots.

Such fantasies are all part of the Murdoch News Corp. pattern, an unending flow of falsehood and phony populism that in reality serves only the wealthy elite. Fox News is its ministry of misinformation, the fake jewel of the News Corp. crown, a 24/7 purveyor of flimflam and the occasional selective truth. Look at the pounding they’ve given Obama’s healthcare reform right from the very start, whether the non-existent death panels or claims that it would cause the highest tax increase in history.

While it’s true that the startup of Obamacare has been plagued by its website nightmare and other problems, Fox News consistently has failed to mention Republican roadblocks that prevented the program from getting proper funding or the fact that so many states ruled by Republican governors and legislatures — more than 30 — have deliberately failed to set up the insurance marketplaces critical to making the new system work. Just the other day, Eric Stern at Salon.com fact-checked a segment on Sean Hannity’s show. “Average Americans are feeling the pain of Obamacare and the healthcare overhaul train wreck,” Hannity declared, “and six of them are here tonight to tell us their stories.”

Eric Stern tracked down each of the Hannity Six and found that while their questions about health reform may have been valid, the answers they received from Hannity or had decided for themselves were not. “I don’t doubt that these six individuals believe that Obamacare is a disaster,” Stern reported. “But none of them had even visited the insurance exchange.”

And there you have the problem: ideology and self-interest trump the facts or even caring about the facts, whether it’s banking, Obamacare or global warming. Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists say that climate change is happening and that humans have made it so, but only four in ten Americans realize it’s true. According to a new study in the journal Public Understanding of Science, written by a team that includes Yale University’s Anthony Leiserowitz, the more that people listen to conservative media like Fox News or Limbaugh, the less sure they are that global warming is real. And even worse, the less they trust science.

Such ignorance will kill democracy as surely as the big money that funds and encourages the media outlets, parties and individuals who spew the lies and hate. The ground is all too fertile for those who will only believe whatever best fits their resentment or particular brand of paranoia. It is, as an old song lyric goes, “the self-deception that believes the lie.” The truth will set us free; the lie will make prisoners of us all.

Bill Moyers

Journalist Bill Moyers is the host of the new show Moyers & Company, a weekly series of smart talk and new ideas aimed at helping viewers make sense of our tumultuous times through the insight of America’s strongest thinkers.. His previous shows on PBS included NOW with Bill Moyers and Bill Moyers Journal. Over the past three decades he has become an icon of American journalism and is the author of many books, including Bill Moyers Journal: The Conversation Continues, Moyers on Democracy, and Bill Moyers: On Faith & Reason.He was one of the organizers of the Peace Corps, a special assistant for Lyndon B. Johnson, a publisher of Newsday, senior correspondent for CBS News and a producer of many groundbreaking series on public television. He is the winner of more than 30 Emmys, nine Peabodys, three George Polk awards and is the author of three best-selling books.

Michael Winship

Michael Winship, senior writing fellow at Demos and president of the Writers Guild of America-East, is senior writer for Bill Moyers’ new weekend show Moyers & Company.

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Jon Stewart Goes on Epic Smackdown Against CNBC, FBN ‘F*ck All Y’all!’

PoliticalStar!·

Published on Oct 23, 2013

Jon Stewart does not often dip into the shenanigans of the financial world, but when he does, it’s certainly something to see. And he set his sites Wednesday night on financial networks CNBC and Fox Business Network for their incredibly hyperbolic outrage over JP Morgan paying a settlement fine of $13 billion.

Business analysts are calling the settlement a “shakedown and a jihad.” Stewart took it one step further, suggesting “it’s like if the Holocaust had sex with slavery while the last ten minutes of Human Centipede watched!”

Stewart pointed out how JP Morgan anticipated potential litigation issues and set aside a rainy day fund. “And guess what? It’s raining, motherfucker!” He mercilessly mocked the two networks for their unqualified defense of anyone and everything in the business world, and ended the segment with an impassioned “Fuck all y’all!”

 

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JPMorgan Chase’s $13 Billion Fine Pales Next To Profits From Crisis Deals

 

The Huffington Post  |  By

Posted: 10/21/2013 11:42 am EDT  |  Updated: 10/22/2013 2:57 pm EDT

If JPMorgan Chase is a scapegoat, it is an extremely well-paid scapegoat: The crisis-era mergers that are costing the bank a small fortune in fines probably have racked up an even bigger fortune in profits.

Many on Wall Street, including the Wall Street Journal editorial page, are in a fit of rage over the news that JPMorgan has struck a tentative deal to pay $13 billion to settle federal charges that it sold bad mortgage securities to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac ahead of the crisis.

The source of the rage is the fact that most of these securities were sold by Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual, two banks that JPMorgan bought in 2008 to help calm the financial crisis.

It seems JPMorgan is being punished unfairly for its kind-hearted assistance to the U.S. government at its darkest hour. That should make JPMorgan and other massive banks far less likely to come to the rescue in the next financial crisis, in Wall Street’s view.

“My only hope,” bank analyst Gerard Cassidy of RBC Capital Markets sobs on the Wall Street Journal’s MoneyBeat blog, “is that the next time a large financial institution gets into trouble and the government calls a large bank CEO to help with a bail out that he chooses not to pick up the phone.”

But before we start playing the world’s smallest violin for America’s biggest bank (by assets), it is worth remembering that JPMorgan and its CEO, Jamie Dimon, knew the risks when they bought Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual. They took the good with the bad, and there will likely be a lot more good from those deals than bad.

When asked for comment on this story, JPMorgan spokesman Joseph Evangelisti pointed to Dimon’s annual letters to shareholders in the past two years, saying “he gives plenty of detail on the pluses and minuses of the WaMu and Bear purchases.” You can read them for yourself, but I didn’t see all that much detail in them. The 2010 letter has a little bit more detail, but no tally of the pros and cons.

In each letter, Dimon brags that the bank absorbed Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual without hurting its capital levels. That is at least partly because JPMorgan bought both banks at fire-sale prices.

 

Read More and Watch Video Here

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Underwater Homeowners Press Conference in front of Richmond City Hall (Photo: ACCE)Using the authority of state government to actually help people has Wall Street bankers in a panic, spurring threats of aggressive legal retaliation against the town of Richmond, California simply for trying to help some of its struggling homeowners.

‘Eminent domain’ has long been a dirty term for housing justice advocates who have seen municipalities invoke public seizure laws to displace residents and communities to make way for highways, shopping malls, and other big dollar projects.

But in Richmond, city officials are using eminent domain to force big banks to stop foreclosing on people’s homes in an innovative new strategy known as ‘Principle Reduction’ aimed at addressing California’s burgeoning housing crisis.

Richmond became the first California city last week to move forward on a plan that has been floated by other California municipalities to ask big bank lenders to sell underwater mortgage loans at a discount to the city (if the owner consents), and seize those homes through eminent domain if the banks refuse. The city has committed to refinancing these homes for owners at their current value, not what is owed.

City officials launched this process by sending letters in late July to 32 banks and other mortgage owners offering to buy 624 underwater mortgages at the price the homes are worth, not what the owners owe.

“After years of waiting on the banks to offer up a more comprehensive fix or the federal government, we’re stepping into the void to make it happen ourselves,” Mayor Gayle McLaughlin said in late July.

Wall Street is furious at the plan and has vowed to sue the municipality, a threat that did not stop Richmond but did slow other California cities in adopting the strategy.

Big banks have been slammed for their damaging mortgage loan policies that target poor and working class people and communities of color with high risk loans, policies that have had a profound impact on Richmond, which has large latino, African American, and low-income communities.

Eminent domain laws also have a painful history in Richmond, but housing justice advocates are hopeful about this new twist on the seizure law.

“For years we have seen cases where eminent domain was used in a harmful way, and it really hurts low-income communities of color,” David Sharples, local director for Contra Costa Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, told Common Dreams. “People here in Richmond talk about when they built the big 580 Freeway, and people had their houses taken and were displaced.”

“But we see this as a way eminent domain is finally being used to help keep families in their homes,” he added. “It is finally a way for it to be used in a good way.”

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Watch Bill Moyers’ July 9, 2013 Frontline documentary about two ordinary, hard-working families in Milwaukee.

Watch Video HereSince 1992, Bill Moyers has been following the story of these two middle-class families — one black, one white — as they battle to keep from sliding into poverty. He first met the Stanleys and Neumanns when they were featured in his 1990 documentary Minimum Wages: The New Economy. The families were revisited in 1995 for Living on the Edge, and again in 2000 for Surviving the Good Times.

Bill Moyers revisited his reports on the Stanleys and Neumanns and talked about issues raised with authors Barbara Miner and Barbara Garson on the July 5 episode of Moyers & Company, “Surviving the New American Economy.”

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What’s Happened to the Two American Families?

by

It’s been two months since FRONTLINE left the Neumanns and the Stanleys in Milwaukee. We caught up with Terry Neumann and Keith Stanley to ask how they and their families are doing, why they chose to participate in the film, and what they hope viewers take away from their story. Below are excerpts from those conversations.

THE NEUMANNS

Why did your family decide to participate in the film?

TERRY: It wasn’t so much to get into my personal life. I did it because I wanted [viewers] to know how devastating it was to families trying to feed their kids and clothe them for school when you don’t have those high-paying jobs.

My kids didn’t want to [participate in Two American Families]. They remembered how they were when they were younger, with the cameras all around them. I said: “You’re older now and you have a say. … You have a chance to say something. Or someone might offer you a job.”

I’m hoping that somebody may see this and see the type of person that I am, and want to hire me. …

When I did the first one there were so many people in the same boat. People’s whole lives were destroyed. I could say I’ve been through this a couple of times up and down, finding bad jobs, good jobs. I said, “I’m not going to give up,” and I [want to] give someone else hope to say, “It’s going to get better.” … I hope it’s going to help people. I really do.

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THE STANLEYS

Why did your family decide to participate in the film?

KEITH: At the beginning, I think it was maybe a little bit of, “This is interesting. Let’s see what happens if we open our lives up and let people know what’s happening.”

My parents believe that if you work hard, you can scrape out some kind of living, and if you have principles and values in your life, at some point you can make it out OK. They wanted to let people know that we’re working hard. Sharing that story was really good for them.

[For this film], they said, “We’re fine sharing our story, letting people know where we’ve landed.” This past decade has been difficult, and they don’t mind sharing the story about how they tried to overcome these obstacles. It’s been a difficult ride, and they still keep pushing forward.

What do you want people to take away from your story?

KEITH: People should know we’re survivors. It’s been difficult, it’s been challenging. But we all go through that, trying to figure out our life. Things are not as easy as they were a generation ago. So the realities of my dad when he got out of high school and my brothers is totally different. Some things have changed as far as America, and what we thought, but we’re not going to give up. … We want to let people to know that we can keep going despite these ups and downs that we go through in life.

 

Read More  Here

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Senators Near Plan to Abolish Fannie Mae, Shrink Government Role

Bloomberg
Senators Near Plan to Abolish Fannie Mae, Shrink Government Role

According to the draft, Washington-based Fannie Mae and McLean, Virginia-based Freddie Mac would be liquidated within five years and the U.S. Treasury would assume responsibility for their existing mortgage guarantees. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

A bipartisan group of U.S. senators are putting the final touches on a plan to liquidate Fannie Mae (FNMA) and Freddie Mac (FMCC) and replace them with a government reinsurer of mortgage securities behind private capital.

The proposed legislation, which could be introduced this month, would require private financiers to take a first-loss position adequate to cover price declines as steep as those seen during recessions over the past century, according to a draft obtained by Bloomberg News.

According to the draft, Washington-based Fannie Mae and McLean, Virginia-based Freddie Mac would be liquidated within five years and the U.S. Treasury would assume responsibility for their existing mortgage guarantees. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

The bill, which is being written by Tennessee Republican Bob Corker and Virginia Democrat Mark Warner with input from other senators, is still being drafted. As the first serious bipartisan effort to shape a new housing finance system, it could frame a discussion that is heating up as the housing market rebounds.

“A bipartisan bill that’s thorough becomes, at a minimum, a good baseline to begin the process of the full debate that could go through Congress,” David Stevens, president of the Mortgage Bankers Association, said in an interview.

According to the draft, Washington-based Fannie Mae and McLean, Virginia-based Freddie Mac would be liquidated within five years and the U.S. Treasury would assume responsibility for their existing mortgage guarantees. The two companies, which have been under U.S. conservatorship since 2008, package mortgages into securities on which they guarantee payment of principal and interest.

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Foreclosure compensation checks arrive, but anger some homeowners

Families who endured years of anguish or lost their homes due to banks wrongly reporting they were behind on their mortgage payments are calling the compensation payments resulting from a government settlement, many of which number in the low hundreds, “insulting.” NBC’s Lisa Myers reports.

Millions of American homeowners who have struggled with foreclosures are now receiving checks for compensation from the companies that serviced their mortgages — part of the federal government’s efforts to resolve the foreclosure crisis. But some of those receiving checks tell NBC News that the payments are an insult that neither punishes the banks enough for “deficient” practices nor helps harmed homeowners recover.

Karen Pooley, 50, of Seattle, told NBC News that she fell behind on her mortgage after losing her job in the building industry in early 2009, and received a notice of default in February 2010.

Pooley said she’s been fighting to save her home from foreclosure for the past three years.   Believing that her servicer did not follow legal procedures, she said she has contested the foreclosure through her state’s foreclosure process, and managed to stop three foreclosure sales.  She said she also has tried to get authorities to investigate.

Last month, she received her settlement payment, a check for $300.

“It was more than pathetic. It was insulting,” Pooley told NBC News. “I spent more in money on postage providing government agencies with detailed descriptions of what had happened in my case.”

Timothy Platt, 52, a truck driver from Indianapolis, told NBC News he’s also been fighting to save his home from foreclosure the past three years.  He claims his servicer made a mistake, declaring he and his wife behind on their mortgage when they were not.  Platt is suing the servicer, but has found trying to prove his case frustrating.

“They (the banks) have misrepresented the facts,” he wrote to NBC News in an email last month, “they have insisted on pursuing foreclosure.” 

On Thursday morning, Platt emailed NBC News, saying his settlement check had just arrived. It was for $500.

“It’s kind of like a, like a slap in the face,” Platt told NBC News during a stopover in Chicago.  “We’ve been trying to work through this for three years now, and we have no help whatsoever, and we’ve lost lots.”

Both homeowners believe their mortgage servicers are in the wrong.  Each has gone to court to prevent the servicers from taking their homes.  Their respective servicers declined to comment to NBC News.

The compensation payment checks, which range from $300 up to $125,000, are part of the Independent Foreclosure Review Payment Agreement announced in January between federal regulators and 13 mortgage servicing companies, which were subject to enforcement actions for “deficient practices in mortgage loan servicing and foreclosure processing.”  Deficient practices have included errors and misrepresentations and the “robo-signing” of documents.

The regulators are the U.S. Treasury’s Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.

The recipients of the checks are mortgage loan borrowers whose homes were in any stage of a foreclosure process during 2009 or 2010, and whose mortgage servicers were among the 13 companies, or their subsidiaries or affiliates.  Compensation payment checks, which began going out April 12, have so far been sent to 3.7 million homeowners. In all, 4.2 million eligible mortgage loan borrowers will receive them.

The 13 servicers are: Aurora, Bank of America, Citibank, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, JPMorgan Chase, MetLife Bank, Morgan Stanley, PNC, Sovereign, SunTrust, U.S. Bank, and Wells Fargo.

According to the OCC’s online FAQ about the agreement, the servicers agreed “to provide more than $9.3 billion in cash payments and other assistance to help borrowers. The sum includes $3.6 billion in direct cash payments to eligible borrowers and $5.7 billion in other foreclosure prevention assistance, such as loan modifications and forgiveness of deficiency judgments.”

By comparison, the five largest banks alone – Wells Fargo, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JPMorganChase, Bank of America – earned $60 billion in total profits last year.

Payout guided by ‘the matrix’
What determines how much homeowners receive?

The largest payouts – $125,000 – are going to 1,082 members of the military wrongly foreclosed upon, and to just 53 homeowners across the country foreclosed upon even though they never missed a mortgage payment.  But most of the recipients – almost 2 million homeowners – will get the smallest payments of $300 to $600.

How much each homeowner gets depends on a complicated financial matrix designed by the regulators.

“In determining the payment amounts,” reads a recent OCC press release, “borrowers were categorized according to the stage of their foreclosure process and the type of possible servicer error.  Regulators then determined amounts for each category, using the financial remediation matrix published in June 2012 as a guide, incorporating input from various consumer groups.”)

Read Full Article and Watch Video Here

BoozWheezBoozWheez

Published on Mar 23, 2013

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The Cyprus debt crisis is being felt by the banks but also by the people who work at them. Nick Paton Walsh reports

 

Now  let’s be  honest.  We all know  that  unless  something  goes   extremely  wrong we will not  be seeing  any zombies  like the  ones in the Hollywood  Horror flicks B or  otherwise.  The  CDC claims they are  using  the  term  tongue in cheek to get younger  people interested  in preparedness.  Ok,  I  can  deal with  that.  However,  more than  just the  CDC  are  referring to  zombies.  So  what  exactly  are they  referring to  if they are  not  talking  about the   brain eating  , gnaw on your  entrails  kind of   zombie?

Well in most  instances  they are  referring to  those  who have laughed  when approached  with the  concept of preparing  for a   potential  disaster.  Neighbors, Co- workers, family  members, people  that   we  run into  in  our  everyday  lives  You  know  who they are ,  we  have  all run into them now  and  again.  Some  maybe  more than others.  Or  the  multitude that  will become  ill  from  lack of  medicine,  water,  hygiene as  well as  accidents.

Now  I   really  think  that  referring to these people as  zombies is  a  bit  over the  top.  However, I  think we  can  agree that  in a  disaster  scenario  where  despair  ,  hunger  or perhaps  injury  of themselves or a  loved  one will propel anyone of these  individuals  to an  act  of  violence in the grips of fear .

All one  need do  is  watch a  video of the Black  Friday  Madness, or  what  happens  during a  blackout to  understand what the potential  for  violence and lawlessness can be.  Think Hurricane Katrina and  the scenario in  New Orleans.  Think  Hurricane Sandy and the multitude of  people  who were  unprepared.  How  many  resorted to   dumpster  diving  because they  had  nothing to  eat in their  homes and there  was  nothing  available in the  surrounding  area.  If  Occupy  had not  taken it  upon themselves  to  start helping  when FEMA  and  the  government  failed to  do their  job, what   could have  developed?

Now  let’s  go a  bit  further  and imagine  with all the  people  affected  by  Hurricane  Sandy.  What  happens  if there  are  neighbors  that  they  are aware of  had  been   storing  food  and  water.  The  government  is  not helping.  FEMA is  not  helping.  Occupy  had  not been a factor.   Their  children are going  hungry, they  have  elderly  that  must  be cared  for   and they  neither  have  food  nor supplies.  Now  please  understand I am  an  eternal optimist  and  I  believe  there  are  a lot  of good  people  out  there.  However,  if there is  something life  has  taught  me  is  that  there are   not  so good  people  out there   as  well.  This  is what  you must  prepare  for.  The good  people,  the ones  that  understand  that violence is not the  answer will not  be  an  issue.

What  do you  do about the  ones  who are?

Have  you  considered it?

Have you  prepared?

Can  you tell me  aside  from  the fact that   zombies are  dead  and  out to  eat  you rather  than  your  supplies   what the  difference  would  be?  In  either  case they  would  threaten   the survival of  your loved  ones  and  yourself.  And , well there is  always  the  possibility that the development  of  mutant  and  killer  virus’  in   government  and military  research  labs should  be  a  concern  to everyone. 

As  we already  know  things  will be  difficult enough with the   sheer  amount  of  people  that  will  be sickened  and   dying in a  scenario  such  as  this lasting  an  extended  period  of  time  especially  in  a collapse , as  the  following  article details……

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Why there will be WAY more zombies than you anticipated

Lizzie Bennett
Medically Speaking

via The Daily Sheeple
March 6th, 2013

Electricity hasn’t been around all that long. For most of our history mankind has managed very well without it. Large numbers of people around the world still live without an electricity supply. If the grid goes down does it really mean the end of the human race?

On June 3rd I did a post about pandemics. I said in the introduction, that in my opinion only two things could be serious enough to put an end to humans. Pandemic and grid failure. Looking at the figures for the 1918-1920 pandemic, and using those percentages with current population, it seems I may have been wrong in my assumptions about pandemics.

So, onto grid failure, which to cover all the things that would be affected, and the speed at which they would be affected would need a large book, it is way too big a subject for an article. This article is based the things we have all heard, that 99% of the population of the United States would be dead within a year and that the world population will plummet. Let’s see.

I have chosen 2010 as the year all of the figures relate to, as that is the closest year that has a full set of statistics available. Figures are taken from World Health Organization records, love them or hate them they are very good pen pushers and compile statistics about anything and everything.

Okay, we all know that if the grid goes down, so does everything else in short order. Food supply chain, large scale agriculture,hospitals, traffic lights, everything that we regard as part of the very fabric of our lives. We have come to rely on electricity to such an extent that should it vanish from our lives it really would mean the end of the world as we know it. The question is though, would it be an extinction level event?

In 2010 there were 133,000,000 million births and 57,000,000 deaths from all causes. The WHO records the following for 2010:

34,000,000 known type 1 diabetics world wide.
64,234,000 known COPD (chronic obstructive airways disease sufferers)world wide.
22,800,000 known cancer sufferers world wide.

These conditions are considered to be those that contribute most to the mean global death rates. Now I am not a statistician, and it is impossible to know the life expectancy of the people suffering from these conditions, so, for the purposes of the exercise I am going to assume they all die in the first year.

This would add 120,000,000 deaths to the 57,000,0000 ‘usual’ deaths giving us 177,000,000 deaths for the first year. On top of this there would be a rise in the murder rate, the death rate from heart attacks would soar, mainly due to unfit people having to engage in hard physical labor, and deaths from lack of medication and medical intervention would skyrocket, as would deaths from malnutrition and disease.

Read Full Article here

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Then  we  have  those in the  Prepper  and non  Prepper  community usually  at  odds with the  way  one or the other chooses to  prepare .  As  well  as  their outlook.  Not to mention those  who  outright  ridicule  and  insult  those  who seriously prepare for a  future unseen disaster  scenario.  Anyone  who has  seriously  embarked on preparing  and  have  tried  to  explain to  family  and  friends  why they  should  as  well, have  experienced  this.  So  you are  well aware  of  what  I  mean when I  say  this…..

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Why everyone hates preppers

Uploaded on Sep 10, 2011

Why is there such a chasm between preppers and non-preppers? It’s because of ignorance on BOTH sides.

1. Preppers look down on non-preppers.
Many seem to be thinking that non-preppers are silly, ignorant little children.
2. Non-preppers think that preppers are insane.
They think that preppers are focused on ridiculous problems and wasting money on solutions that they will never use.

Both are wrong.

Most people ARE preppers.

You might be a prepper if:
*you check your car’s spare tire
*you keep bandaids in your house
*you are saving money for a rainy day
*you keep a can of Fix-a-flat in your car

Those are preps!

There are more preppers than either side is willing to admit.

WE aren’t arguing apples and oranges. We are arguing about how many apples we need. It’s a matter of scale.

It isn’t a matter of intelligence. It’s a matter of having different priorities.

Edit: forgot the link for the Risk Assessment Chart: http://www.gotprep.com/downloads/?did=5

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Why most Doomsday preppers will die (part 1)


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And then  we  have  those  unprepared   neighbors  that  you   spoke  to  early on and  tried to get them  to  think  seriously  about  prepping.  All they  would  do   was  kid you  about  your  preparing for the  end of the  world.  Laugh a little  at you   , shake  their  heads  and  walk  away always turning your concerned advice into  jokes and an  opportunity  to  poke  fun at you.  If  not   just  outright  call you  nuts?

The  following is  an  episode  from the  Twilight Zone.  Yes it is  just  a  show  , it’s not  real.  However,  if you  watch it  , you  will see  in the   developing  drama that  everything that  happens  is indeed plausible.  If  you  watch  it   you  can  see how   a  scenario  like that  can  easily  develop  even   among  people   you thought  you  knew  well.  One  never  knows and  can  never be  sure  how   any  one  individual  will react   or  behave  in a  situation  such as  this.  Watch the  videos and think about it….. I  bet the  possibility of it taking place won’t  seem so  crazy  then…..

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Economic Collapse and Unprepared Neighbors(1 0f 3) – Twighlight Zone Example


Uploaded on Jul 5, 2010

A Twilight Zone episode called “The Shelter” illustrates one scenario in being surrounded by people who are unprepared yet know you have been preparing and scoff at your efforts. I thought I would share this with everyone and thank DEMCAD for bringing it to my attention

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Here  we  have a   situation that   is  growing  incrementally   with  every  passing  day   in the  US  alone.  We  have  seen the  devastating   circumstances in  Greece,  Spain and  throughout the  Middle East.  Austerity,  government corrupt  exorbitant  spending,  rising food and energy  prices,  loss of  jobs,  corrupt banks and  financial institutions, etc  , etc , etc. 
The  number  of   homeless  can no longer  be  ignored.  For  those  who deny  that there is a  problem and that  the  economy is  indeed recovering.  Those  who  choose to  believe  the  lies and  the  manipulated  numbers   for  unemployment  and  job creation wake  up  and   face  reality.  The  homeless of  today   are  working  middle  class that  have  lost  their  jobs,   their  homes .  They  live in tent  cities,  in their  cars, in  public  parks when they  can.  They  hide  their  homelessness and their  need  due to pride and  those  who refuse to  see the  truth  accept  the subterfuge  because it is  easier  to lie to  themselves  than  admit  that  it  could very  well happen  to them. 
Why  do  you lie to  yourselves? 
How  long  do you  believe  you  can keep those  blinkers on?
Do you  really  believe  that  ignoring   reality  will  change it  or make it  go  away?
The  longer it  is ignored the  longer  it  goes unchallenged   the  worse  it  will get.
How  many   children  have to  be  homeless for those of  you in  denial to  get  it ?
How  many  children  in the  US have to go  hungry before  you can  deal with the  truth  of  what is  going  on beneath your  very  nose?
I  don’t know  about  you , but  I  see  people  now  more than  ever  on the  street asking  for help because they  are  homeless and  unemployed.  Today a  man with a  sign stating that   they were  homeless and  he  had   3 children with him.  Everyone  looking the other  way. 
How  can you  live  with yourself?
I gave  what  I  had.  Granted  I  don’t have  much  but no matter  how bad  off I am I  have  a roof  over  my  head  and  even if it  is  peanut  butter  sandwiches  I  have food  to eat  even  on the  worst  day.  So many  just  passed  by  this   man and  his  children not  even  giving   them a  passing  glance.  How  sad ,  how  very  sad that  we  have  turned into this  kind  of  Nation.
Well I am  here to   disturb  your  little fantasy  world.  These  are videos  of the very real   homeless  situation  in  this   country.  If  you  know  of  anyone  in denial   please  bring it  to their  attention.  If  you  have  heard  but  are not  sure you  believe  ,  please take some  time  to  watch and   see the   suffering , the need and  the tragedy  that  has  befallen these  people.  Understand that  this  could  happen to anyone   and it is  not  reason to  look  down  nor  feel ashamed.
As  time  goes  by   one must  understand  that  this  situation  will continue  to  worsen, unless by  some  miracle  the   lunacy that  has  gripped  the   government  and the  financial  world is  dealt  with.  For those  who are  preppers I urge  you  to take this into  account.  I know things are  tight  for most, trust  me  I  know  this   very  well as  I  sometimes  find  it  difficult  to  purchase   staples  for  our  everyday  living  .  Much less   items  for  storage.  I think  about this  often and  every time I  buy an  item  for  my  storage  I think of  how  it  can be  used or prepared  to  maximize the  amount of  people  it  can feed .  Thereby ,  ensuring that  I will be  able to  feed  any additional people   that  may  show  up in need and  hungry. 
The  government  will not  be  helping, look at the   victims  of  Hurricane  Sandy.  What  kind of  help  did they  receive?  It will be up to us  to  take  care of  each other.  Which  means  preparing  to  extend a  hand  to those who  were  unable  or too poor  to prepare.
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“Hidden Homeless” Homeless in Rural America

Uploaded on May 5, 2010

This MC-TV documentary tells the story of one homeless person in rural Western Illinois. Thru her story we see the special challenges that confront those individuals who find themselves homeless in area with limited services.

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Homeless In America Families Living In Cars


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homeless in america…….part 1

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“Signs of The Time” a homeless documentary

Published on Jun 25, 2012

A feature documentary about homelessness in the Seattle and surrounding areas

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I know there  are   quite a  few  people  who have  been preparing  for  quite  sometime.  Just  as  I know  there  are  people  who recently  started or  are  starting now to prepare.  Please, please  take this  to heart and  understand what the possibilities  are so that  you  can  properly prepare and  survive  whatever  may  occur.  Please know that  I am  not  trying to  belittle  anyone.  This  has  been on  my  mind   for  quite  sometime and  I  simply  did  not  know  how  to present  it .  Ready  or  not ,  presentable or  not  here it  is .  Please  accept it in the  spirit in which it  has  been   given.  A  heartfelt  wish that  all who read  this may prepare  , be  safe  and  help as  many  people as  they are  able.

Blessings  to you and  yours …….

Desert Rose

Published on Feb 23, 2013

One of America’s biggest banks may be getting another government bailout. This week it was revealed that the New York Fed struck a secret deal with Bank of America over its toxic mortgages. The deal spares the banking giant from billions of dollars in legal claims. Victim’s of B of A’s banking practices, are still losing their homes, but fighting to keep Wall Street accountable.

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