HAMP Mortgage Bailout Costs, Foreclosures Could Rise Sharply

Avoid foreclosureThe housing market has been on an upswing these past few years, but the mortgage bailout is far from a distant memory. Anyone doubting as much should pore through the most recent quarterly report from the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or SIGTARP (see pdf). That audit, among other things, concluded that nearly 800,000 homeowners enrolled in the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) face higher monthly mortgage payments once their current subsidy runs out. The five-year-old HAMP was designed to prevent foreclosures at a time when home prices were sinking and unemployment was rising. Yet defaults, the precursor to foreclosures, have occurred at high rates anyway. SIGTARP Inspector General Christy Romero admits that if interest rates continue to rise, the problem may get far more pronounced.

National Legal and Policy Center several times (such as here and here) has taken a critical look …

Obama Extends HAMP Mortgage Plan Despite Data Showing Lack of Effectiveness, Need

mortgage-modification-formThe housing market has been on a roll this past year. Prices are rising; vacancy rates are falling; and homeowners are spending small fortunes on upgrading properties. In this context, a White House initiative, the Home Affordable Modification Program, or HAMP, launched in 2009 to reduce mortgage payments for millions of owners at risk of foreclosure, appears downright irrelevant. But Obama Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced this morning that his boss will extend the program for two years beyond its scheduled December 31, 2013 expiration date for new applicants. In April, the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) released a quarterly report (see pdf) concluding HAMP is rife with delays and alarming default rates. “This is a significant problem,” noted Inspector General Christy Romero. “When homeowners fall out of these modifications, all of a sudden they’re facing huge mortgage payments.” …

TARP Watchdog Blasts Treasury on Bailouts

GM logo/ObamaA watchdog for the government’s bailout program, the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP), has hit the US Treasury Department with a hard combo of critique regarding some of the Administration’s actions since pumping billions of taxpayer dollars into bailed-out companies like General Motors and Ally Financial (formerly known as GMAC). SIGTARP issued a report lambasting Treasury for allowing excessive pay for executives at GM, Ally Financial and AIG and followed that with statements that scrutinized Treasury’s continued refusal to exit its stake in Ally Financial, which is currently 74% owned by the government.

The Detroit News quotes the SIGTARP report as stating, “While taxpayers struggle to overcome the recent financial crisis and look to the U.S. government to put a lid on compensation for executives of firms whose missteps nearly crippled the U.S. financial system, the U.S. Department of the Treasury continues to allow excessive …

Big Obama Donor ‘Investigated’ DOE Loan Program

Herbert Allison

When is a government watchdog not really a watchdog?

When he rolls over and lays at the feet of his master rather than sink his teeth into a program that he’s been tasked to guard.

Such appears to be the (unsurprising) case with Herbert Allison, Jr. (pictured), a former Wall Street executive (Merrill Lynch and TIAA-CREF) until he was appointed president and CEO of Fannie Mae in 2008, after it was put into conservatorship. Subsequently President Obama named (and the Senate confirmed) him as overseer of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), the $700 billion asset acquisition fund that bailed out Wall Street financial institutions. He served in that role for about 15 months, until September 2010.

But it’s Allison’s role as a special investigator of the Department of Energy’s stimulus-funded loan program that is sparking curiosity, as explained in an Associated Press story published yesterday. Not long after …

Democratic National Committee Taps Crony Corporations

Obama InvescoAs Democrats struggle to raise funds to coronate President Obama as nominee in Charlotte, N.C. this September, the role of two crony corporations increases daily.

Bloomberg reported yesterday that the president’s re-election organization will consider moving his acceptance speech at the Democrat National Convention to Bank of America Stadium.

Three unidentified Democrats “involved in the fundraising” told the news service the goal would be to sell more skyboxes to wealthy donors, apparently because fewer are available at Time Warner Cable Arena where the convention is presently scheduled.

“The almost 74,000-seat home of the Carolina Panthers professional football team would also have room for the convention to sell more floor passes close to the stage,” Bloomberg reported. “Planners for the event are struggling to meet a $36.6 million fundraising goal, according to the Democrats, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the matter.”

Back in …

Corporate CEOs Must Heed Election Results, Too

Kindler photoThe electorate’s repudiation of Barack Obama and his Congressional allies was not only a rejection of Big Government, but also of business elites who were buffeted from the downturn by political dealing at the expense of ordinary people.

Unless Corporate America heeds the election results, it too will risk the wrath of an informed and energized public. Here are CEOs who must pay attention to what happened yesterday:

Pfizer CEO Jeffrey Kindler– Not only did Kindler (above) lead the charge of Big Pharma CEOs for ObamaCare, he actually got a multi-million dollar bonus from Pfizer for doing so. This is not going to look very good once ObamaCare spikes insurance premiums, prompts hospital closures, and explodes the number of uninsured. Of course, Kindler wasn’t naïve or confused, he had reason to help destroy the health system. Big Pharma made a deal that guarantees it customers and insulation from competition. …

CNBC: Flaherty Says Bailouts Fuel Wall Street Pay

Today I debated Wall Street pay with Keith Boykin of The Daily Voice. CNBC hosts were Melissa Francis, Larry Kudlow and Trish Regan. Here is a transcript:

Larry Kudlow: Is Wall Street pay too high? Here is what you said: Dave from Texas, “Absolutely they are overpaid. How many other American businesses have this kind of compensation”? But David from Illinois, “If we would stop being concerned about what someone else is making and focus on our own lives, the country would be better off”. Woah. Joining us now to see if the country is better off, Keith Boykin, editor of the Daily Voice and a CNBC contributor and Peter Flaherty, President of the National Legal and Policy Center. Keith Boykin, why do we bother to play these silly games? Who is making what compared to who and how and why? Isn’t that just a little class warfare?

Keith Boykin:

Can Chicago Lobbying Save ShoreBank?

Shorebank logoProbably not. Seems like the more that presidentially-prized ShoreBank gets extensions from private financial institutions (Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, etc.) and from its federal regulators (the FDIC and Federal Reserve), the deeper in the hole it finds itself. Earlier this week the Chicago Tribune reported:

ShoreBank’s capital deficiency worsened in the second quarter, according to newly submitted financial results to regulators, and the Chicago-based lender now needs to raise at least $190 million just to meet targets set out in March by state and U.S. banking regulators….

The South Side bank has arranged a capital infusion of about $150 million from Wall Street investment firms, big banks, insurance companies and philanthropic groups. It’s hoping that private investment will then make it eligible for about $75 million in bailout funds from the U.S. Treasury Department.

Concerns have been raised about whether $225 million will be enough to save

Scott Brown Sells Out

Scott Brown photoOn the evening of Scott Brown’s election, I wrote that among the reasons for his victory was resentment of “a host of actions to prop up Wall Street firms at the expense of taxpayers.”

Who would have thought that less than six months later Brown would cast the decisive vote in favor of legislation that institutionalizes Wall Street bailouts, and whose sponsors — Christopher Dodd and Barney Frank — played key roles in bringing on the meltdown, not to mention representing everything that is sleazy and corrupt about Washington. If Brown wasn’t running against Barney Frank when he railed against the “machine,” then what was he talking about?

I can only assume that even though Brown knew how to ride the wave that swept him into office, he now fails to understand it. He seems to have reverted to the traditional strategy of “moderate” Republicans in Massachusetts, which is to …

Goofy Green Investments Fueled ShoreBank’s Problems

money in trash canA significant portion of ShoreBank Corporation’s progressive vision is investment in “sustainability” and the creation of a “green” economy, which may be part of the reason the distressed lender is in need of a bailout, seeking millions of dollars from Wall Street firms so it will then qualify for funds from the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

For example, ShoreBank has two sub-entities based in the Pacific Northwest: the FDIC-backed ShoreBank Pacific, and the nonprofit ShoreBank Enterprise Cascadia. Both are institutions whose lending criteria are based upon progressively defined notions of “sustainability,” with the bank a partnership between ShoreBank Corp. and the environmental group Ecotrust. The bank’s mission is to “profitably assist businesses, and through them their communities, to be sustainable in economic, social, and environmental practices.” Here’s how they explain their lending criteria:

…Unlike other banks, we are conscientious to whom we lend, and

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