Even When They Lose, They WIN! – Vultures, Vampires, and Zombies
“Dead people are the newest frontier in debt collecting…”
I am NOT making up this vulture stuff, OK? This is our society as it really is.
The banks need another bailout and countless homeowners cannot handle their mortgage payments, but one group is paying its bills: the dead.
Dozens of specially trained agents work on the third floor of DCM Services here, calling up the dear departed’s next of kin and kindly asking if they want to settle the balance on a credit card or bank loan, or perhaps make that final utility bill or cellphone payment.
The people on the other end of the line often have no legal obligation to assume the debt of a spouse, sibling or parent. But they take responsibility for it anyway.
“I am out of work now, to be honest with you, and money is very tight for us,” one man declared on a recent phone call after he was apprised of his late mother-in-law’s $280 credit card bill. He promised to pay $15 a month.
Dead people are the newest frontier in debt collecting, and one of the healthiest parts of the industry. Those who dun the living say that people are so scared and so broke it is difficult to get them to cough up even token payments.
That should read “token payments they don’t owe“. So completely out-of-control greedy has our amok-running banking industry become that they’re going after money they cheerfully and openly admit isn’t owed to them by the people they’re harassing.
Well, if you can “retaliate” against some country that didn’t do anything to you because there’s no profit in invading the country actually responsible for the attack on you, why not? But it doesn’t end there, no no no.
The Countrywide execs who were at the forefront of the mortgage scams that are decimating the country and threatening a global collapse not only aren’t in jail where they belong, they’re making new fortunes out of the disaster they created. Of course.
Fairly or not, Countrywide Financial and its top executives would be on most lists of those who share blame for the nation’s economic crisis. After all, the banking behemoth made risky loans to tens of thousands of Americans, helping set off a chain of events that has the economy staggering.
So it may come as a surprise that a dozen former top Countrywide executives now stand to make millions from the home mortgage mess.
Or not much of a surprise at all in a country that worships money and honors thieves and con artists as long as they’re successful. Hell, we’d sigh longingly at pond scum if it was rich.
How are they doing it? The old-fashioned way: picking the bones of the corpse they killed.
Stanford L. Kurland, Countrywide’s former president, and his team have been buying up delinquent home mortgages that the government took over from other failed banks, sometimes for pennies on the dollar. They get a piece of what they can collect.
“It has been very successful — very strong,” John Lawrence, the company’s head of loan servicing, told Mr. Kurland one recent morning in a glass-walled boardroom here at PennyMac’s spacious headquarters, opened last year in the same Los Angeles suburb where Countrywide once flourished.
“In fact, it’s off-the-charts good,” he told Mr. Kurland, who was leaning back comfortably in his leather boardroom chair, even as the financial markets in New York were plunging.
Mr Kurland (above) had no trouble whatever, it seems, raising $millions$ for his new venture despite the destruction caused by his previous efforts to enrich himself at the expense of the planet. There was no shunning, no distaste, no sharp pangs of anger or resentment at his predatory greed. No, investors were eager to help him because, after all, even though he’s a crook and a liar and a cheat and a thief and he helped weaken the global economy to the point of anemia for the sake of his own pocketbook, he’s rich with the money he’s stolen and nobody cares how he got it. They still don’t think “how” matters. The only question that interests them is “how much?”. As in, “how much can I make?”
We not only haven’t learned anything from this experience, we continue to allow ourselves to be robbed by the same people who cleaned us out before. The guys who stole everything in our houses, down the bare walls and wood floors, have come back to steal our windows and doors.
Then there are the vampires, the one who skip corpse-desecrating in order to suck the blood of the barely-living.
Some 40 mortgage brokers and real-estate agents are gathered at the Long Beach Hyatt on a balmy Friday in January to attend a seminar conducted by broker Allen Brodetsky and local real-estate attorney Steve Vondran. The mortgage business might have collapsed, but those assembled in the glittering ballroom have each paid $195 so Vondran and Brodetsky can teach them a fresh way to make money off of other people’s debt.
“The Department of Real Estate has granted brokers a whole new product line you never had before,” says Vondran, as the Dockers- and Ann Taylor-clad crowd read from fat binders and ponder the unfamiliar terms in Vondran’s PowerPoint presentation — “LOAN AUDITS,” “QUALIFIED WRITTEN REQUEST.”
The new product is a loan modification. When borrowers are unable to pay their monthly mortgage bills, a frequent occurrence in this era of self-destructing subprime loans, loan modifications allow the borrowers to renegotiate the terms of their mortgages. They pay a lower monthly charge and keep their houses, and the broker earns a paycheck for arranging the new deal.
Capitalism, friends. The free market in full operation. Laissez-faire, get it while it’s hot, never give a sucker an even break capitalism, unregulated, unchecked, and fuck you very much. First we charged you for digging the hole we throw you into, then we charge you for the ladder that will let you climb out. Maybe.
Meanwhile, Treas Sec Tim “Wall Street Willie” Geithner is siccing zombies on us.
Calculated Risk looks at the latest plan floated by the Treasury — to make low-interest, non-recourse loans to private investors who buy bad assets — and immediately gets it: this is a plan to drive up the prices of toxic assets by creating a lot of moral hazard.
By offering low interest non-recourse loans, these public-private entities can pay a higher than market price for the toxic assets (since there is no downside risk). This amounts to a direct subsidy from the taxpayers to the banks. It is amazing how many different ways they’ve tried to recycle the same bad idea.
Indeed. Every plan we’ve heard from Treasury amounts to the same thing — an attempt to socialize the losses while privatizing the gains. We’re going to buy up all the bad assets at premium prices; no, we’re going to offer the banks guarantees against losses; no, we’re going to let private investors buy the stuff, but offer them de facto guarantees against losses in the form of non-recourse loans.
Timmy G giving a thumbs-up to Wall Street
When’s the next shuttle to the Mars colony?