Poor Us: The Great Depression 2.0

May 15, 2009

There’s A Pony In There Somewhere: US Owns 38,000 (and counting) Foreclosed Homes

Pony Rides by kirawolfess Deviantart.com

How do the rich get richer? Now that Bernie Madoff is out of business, a lot of previously well-fixed folks are themselves trying to remember the magic formula.

Rest assured, for every never-rich person such as myself contemplating work without end, there is a get-rich schemer scanning the economic wasteland for ways to turn catastrophe into cash. A handful will undoubtedly succeed in finding a pony wrapped up in all that bad paper.

Case in point: I once worked for a man of significant wealth who had made his money buying up real estate abandoned by the military following WWII. Sites in strategic military locations like the strip of ocean frontage now known as Marina del Rey, CA.

That’s why when I read today’s headlines about the governments’ growing stockpile of foreclosed homes, and burgeoning tent cities I can’t help but think that somewhere someone is seeing the ghost neighborhoods of Detroit the the floating cities of the future or Hobbity tree-house retirement villages for eco-sensitive baby boomers.

Gov’t losses big in home market – USATODAY.com

Since 2007, the Department of Housing and Urban Development has acquired at least 110,000 foreclosed houses, its records show, spending about $12.2 billion to reimburse lenders after the owners defaulted on government-backed loans. So far, HUD has been able to recover only about $5.5 billion by reselling them. It has about 38,000 homes still for sale.

The government’s houses are divided among a handful of agencies. Most came into federal hands when borrowers defaulted on government-backed mortgages; in some cases, the government foreclosed on loans it wrote, or took over foreclosed properties from private lenders. The list doesn’t include homes repossessed by federally chartered mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Gov't losses big in home market - USATODAY.com

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May 6, 2009

Matt Taibbi sez “Stop Whining About Populist Anger!”

Filed under: Wise up — Tags: , , , — debacled @ 9:45 pm

Character, Southern Illinois, by Lee Russell, WPA 1937

My own populist outrage has been muted by the flu just when I should be bulking up my torch-waving arm for a march against  big investors angling to take over banks (and steal what’s left of our prosperity). Luckily, journalist Matt Taibbi has enough for both of us and then some.

Start your blood boiling below, but then read Taibbi’s full fury here  … and just know that I agree with him even though I’m currently too sick to shake a fist much less a pitchfork.

“As for the credit card companies, fuck them. The biggest of them are engaged in one of the all-time great scams right now, gorging themselves on cheap money lent to them by the Fed or the government via bailout programs and then turning right around and further widening their spread by increasing prices to the ordinary consumer. Imagine an oil company that got to buy government crude from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve at a discount during the Katrina crisis and then turned around and gouged consumers during the shortage.

Think there would be public anger then? Maybe. This is close to the same thing, and let’s not forget who these motherfuckers are: they are the people who spent most of the last decade and a half showering congressmen with cash in order to get the Bankruptcy Bill passed. That bill made it significantly harder for people to declare bankruptcy to get out from credit card debt so that they could keep their homes. A study by the New York Federal Reserve last year concluded that there are roughly 32,000 more foreclosures per quarter because of this bill than there would have been had the old bankruptcy laws remained in place. The study estimated that the bill resulted in about 400,000 additional foreclosures total since its inception.

Gee, you think that played a role in the financial crisis at all? Forgetting all the predatory practices that these people are known for, they were a major accomplice in the financial disaster — and now they’re fighting tooth and nail to keep Congress from forcing them to stop arbitrarily jacking up fees on consumers. In other words the same banks (like Citi, for instance) that got a hot sexy multi-billion-dollar massage from the Fed and TARP when they pushed their debt-to-equity ratios to insane levels, borrowing 30 and 40 dollars for every dollar they had and investing them in the housing casino and the derivatives market, now are arguing that ordinary losers like you and me who might have $5000 or $10000 in revolving credit card debt shouldn’t get a break on their fees just because times are tough (or because they’re too stupid to hire a $500-an-hour lawyer to decipher their insane consumer contracts). In other words, when you borrow $500 billion against $20 billion and blow all of it at the roulette table, you should get a bailout; but when you take out a $10,000 credit card to pay for gas and groceries, you should pay whatever freight the company deems fit.”

Matt Taibbi – Taibblog – Stop Whining About Populist Anger! – True/Slant

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