Even Playing Field for Borrowers- Don’t Bet On It

Posted by kevin on April 14, 2013 under Foreclosure Blog | Comments are off for this article


Check out the You Tube. It’s only about 4 minutes. Elizabeth Warren takes two federal bank regulators to task for waffling on whether their agencies will provide evidence of illegal activity of the banks to families who were victimized so the families could bring lawsuits against the banks.

Bank regulators are supposed to serve the public by regulating the banks. Instead it appears that they are protecting the banks. Why? Well, when I was an intern at the SEC many years ago, my boss told me that the only to get to the bottom of a complex factual/legal scenario was to follow the money. The great criminal of the early 20th century, Willie Sutton, was asked why he robbed banks. Sutton reply because that is where the money is. Regulators know that one day, they will leave government service. Then, they would need to get a job. Ponder the choices. Get a job with a large bank where the money is and where you have made friends, or go to work for a consumer group? You got a mortgage and two kids to educate. Not a real tough choice. No wonder why some of regulators appear more interested in not pissing off their prospective employers than in protecting the public.

It is no different on the state level. Clearly, there has been an overabundance of predatory lending. Yet, I have not seen any reported decisions in NJ finding predatory lending since the mortgage crisis. Is that because the borrowers’ attorneys never raise this issue? No. Or could it be that Countrywide, WAMU, New Century and the like made sure that their loans were clean as the driven snow because of the fear of swift and definite punishment for violation of the law in NJ? I don’t think so.

The Romans had a phrase that summed up their view of business. It was “Caveat Emptor” Let the buyer beware. In other words, it was assumed that the seller of a product or service would try to rip you off. So, it was up to the buyer to defend himself and family from the predatory seller. Over the centuries, however, the courts realized that a large seller and a buyer were not on equal footing. In the mid-twentieth century, consumer laws were enacted to protect the little guy. Our leading law is the Consumer Fraud Act which applies to mortgages. Isn’t it about time that the courts turn to the CFA big time to level the playing field. If it is done, 30-40-50 times, the banks will get the message, settlements will miraculously appear, and the housing crisis will end much sooner than it will under the present course.

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