More Chapters Opening in the Criminal Enterprise Called Banking Orleans    You probably haven’t heard about this yet, but in many public high schools in the “red” states like those in the USA where I have long lived and worked, business has managed to force students to take a course or half-course in “free enterprise” in hopes of moving their young minds in the “right” direction as early as possible. A standard feature that is going to have to be mandatory at the insistence of mothers and fathers of such students everywhere is that in the same way they had to learn to “just say no” to drugs, part of this curriculum will counsel the youngsters to never, never ever join a criminal enterprise and become bankers.

Every day there are more reports of criminality or of things that should at the very least be considered criminal.

Citi cut its profit estimates because of new investigations that it was involved in currency manipulation. Deutsche Bank said it lost money on the quarter because of legal costs. Bank of America continues to be implicated in yet more mortgage mess. And on top of that, various attorney generals and the Justice Department are now saying they’re going to reopen some of the earlier settlements with banks and jack up the fines because the banks continued doing the same ol’ same ol’ even after they swore on a stack of millions of dollars that they would change their ways.

They just can’t do right. Period.

It’s getting so bad that a professor from NYU in an op-ed came out in favor of using check cashing and pay day lending outfits on the street corners, essentially because they steal from you to your face rather than having bank accounts where they sneak the money away from you at every turn with an average check bouncing charge of over $32 a pop now, excessive monthly service charges even on savings accounts where you are only be paid a quarter of one-percent for letting them invest your money, and generally nickel-and-dime you at every turn.

Yet somehow they were able to still muscle up on the Federal Home Finance folks in exchange for being willing to offer housing loans again and convince them that they would be OK lending some money for home purchase again, but only on the condition that they could pretty much off-load all of the mortgages to the government and others rather than keeping any of the risk on their books. Former Congressman Barney Frank of the Dodd-Frank so-called banking reforms said that “risk retention” was the key to making the Dodd-Frank overhaul work, and that’s now long gone, pecan, cher! More recently he has been quoted colorfully saying essentially that the bill is a dead letter now given the deal the banks have cut.

Seems when they are not engaged in predatory and criminal behavior at home and abroad, they are fast dealing and scamming the rest of us right and left.

So, American mothers have almost universally changed their minds and the words to the old Willie Nelson song, and have decided it’s ok for their boys to now be cowboys, as long as they never become bankers and lawyers and such.


Banks Shirking Responsibility for Foreclosed Property Maintenance

bank-owned-foreclosures-12New Orleans  I woke up to headlines indicating that the National Fair Housing Alliance has accused Minneapolis-based U.S. Bank of effectively “red lining” blight into largely African-American and Latino neighborhoods in 35 different cities in 15 metropolitan areas.  Recently the alliance added New Orleans, Dallas, New Haven, and Hampton Roads, Virginia to an amended complaint charging that US Bank had not maintained foreclosed properties in minority neighborhoods compared to what it does in white areas.  Similar complaints have been filed against Bank of America and Wells Fargo, though reportedly Wells Fargo settled with the group.

            So, what says U.S. Bank?  Their defense is that they are simply the corporate trustee for a security pool of investors and claim that they have no legal right to maintain the properties.   Well, I’ve been there and heard that, so at best U.S. Bank and the rest of these banks are hiding behind half-truths.   They are the legal trustee for the properties though and it’s their name on the property titles.  In reality at best U.S. Bank is trying to have its cake and eat it too.  They get paid to be the holder of the investment pool and the named owner of the mortgage properties, but they are essentially trying to sing a verse with the old rock group, Dire Straits, and “get money for nothing and get their chicks for free.” 

ACORN struggled with this problem for years and interestingly in negotiating with Deutsche Bank, which at the time in 2007-2008 was a trustee for a huge number of mortgage security pools, we learned quite a bit about how it really works. The bottom line is that the banks know the owners, and in a wink-and-nod in those days, Deutsche agreed to give us the information on specific properties that were problems in our neighborhoods when they became issues.  My point in that U.S. Bank and the other bankers are in effect earning their money by allowing the real owners and their lack of maintenance to hide behind their corporate veil, so they deserve to go down.

And, their problem just gets bigger when the fair housing alliance and others do the ground work around the country and bust them for not lifting a finger to take care of properties that are foreclosed in black and brown neighborhoods, while in fact making sure that properties are maintained in white areas. 

Call it redlining or just flat out racial discrimination, U. S. Bank and the boys can keep whining about it, but they are just shucking and jiving for the real owners and it is past time for them to do right and stop ruining our neighborhoods with callous disregard, while they count their money for doing nothing.  They can either name out the real owners or take the weight and step up.