From a small northwestern observatory…

Finance and economics generally focused on real estate

Second quickie from the WSJ

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On the same page (C-1), Nick Timiraos contributes “Critical Signs in Foreclosure Talks”. This is the followup to issues I discussed a few months ago regarding the botched foreclosure processes at many banks. Regulators had hoped to put in place a far-reaching settlement, to forestall many state Attorneys General from filing state suits which would put all of this in a variety of courtrooms (probably ultimately in a multi-district litigation in the Federal Courts, and from there… no one knows…). The regulators and the AG’s are on opposite sides, although both seem to agree that the banks need to be taken out back of the woodshed and given a good spanking.

I have zero sympathy for the banks — it’s one thing to create a high-speed mortgage assembly line, but even the auto makers have figured out how to keep track of the documentation on each car they make. Bankers (and the thousands of lawyers they employ) are supposed to be good at this stuff. If they can’t keep track of a $100,000 mortgage, how exactly do they keep track of a $100 checking account balance? (They do seem to be great at keeping track of every $1 I owe on my visa card.)

However, from a market perspective, this all has extremely serious implications. As I discussed some weeks ago, if the foreclosure log-jam isn’t fixed, the home credit market won’t get fixed either. Housing starts, existing home sales, and millions of jobs depend on straightening out this problem. Hence, this is not just a trivial argument about who gets to spank the bankers.

Written by johnkilpatrick

April 12, 2011 at 2:42 pm

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