It’s time for eggnog and yearend lists—top news stories, newsmakers, stuff like that. But what about the great mortgage rumors that got away? Here lay five stories/rumors that went nowhere:
• Bank of America will throw Countrywide Financial into bankruptcy.
This one never happened, but may still. B of A’s purchase of Angelo Mozilo‘s CFC was the worst banking acquisition in U.S. history, just ahead of HSBC‘s purchase of Household Finance. CFC has cost the bank upwards of $30 billion in losses and legal settlements with more to come. Who knows, perhaps a “BK” filing may happen yet, but don’t count on it. CFC has been absorbed into the mothership. Euthanasia may be the only option, not bankruptcy.
• FHFA‘s Edward DeMarco is toast.
DeMarco, a career civil servant, has been fired (pushed out) by the White House more times than I can remember. The “acting” successor to James “Fannie and Freddie Won’t Fail” Lockhart is still in charge, and doing what all good conservators do: maintaining the financial assets of his wards. Since the GOP absolutely hates President Obama it’s guaranteed that any White House picked successor will be DOA.
• Angelo Mozilo will be indicted.
The founder and former chairman and CEO of CFC settled (out of court) a civil fraud complaint filed against him by the SEC. Criminal investigators looked at corporate malfeasance at CFC and decided the burden of proof was too great to prove to a jury. Once the most admired mortgage banker in the nation, Mozilo is now a pariah. His greatest crime was his desire to compete and win—no matter the cost. His biggest failure: losing control of a company that employed 50,000 workers. His last five years at CFC Mozilo was clueless to the loan frauds being committed by his retail LOs and freelance brokers. The wrongdoing now hangs on him.
• Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will merge. OK, no one really thought they would merge in 2011, but some actually believed Congress might come up with a workable plan to merge them and find a path to their ultimate resolution. Well, guess what? The two political parties are more polarized than ever before. There is no consensus on what to do with Fannie and Freddie and there may never be.
• The 20% down QRM test will hammer the mortgage market. What 20% down QRM test? There is none. Sheila Bair‘s desire to exempt pristine loans from MBS risk retention never happened. From what we’re told the whole idea of risk retention is dead. Why? Answer: Lenders are so fearful of buybacks that they only originate high credit quality loans. And of course, we still have Fannie and Freddie.
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I’m on Twitter, discussing mortgage matters and the Giants’ playoff hopes.
LAST WORD: Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and have a safe and prosperous New Year.
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