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Monday, May 5, 2008

Housing/Subprime/Credit Roundup — May 5, 2008

Items of Interest:

“The worst loans are made in the best of times.”
- Alan Greenspan
Bennet Sedacca / Minyanvill.com:
How Did We Get Into This Mess? --This question can be answered in both simple terms or with complicated industry clichés and jargon. The simple answer is that massive amounts of debt and liquidity have been created. The more complicated answer involves the Wall Street greed machine turning the debt into securities that are so esoteric that in my opinion it's threatening the entire fabric of our financial system...

The second-most frequent question would be "Is this mess over and what comes next?" My standard answer is that "They have probably sung the National Anthem but we haven’t gotten to the seventh inning stretch."
---
Lynnley Browning / NY Times:
Government Intensifies Mortgage Investigation -- Federal agencies are intensifying a criminal investigation of the mortgage industry and focusing on whether some lenders turned a blind eye to inflated income figures provided by borrowers.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the criminal division of the Internal Revenue Service have formed a task force to examine mortgages that were made with little or no proof of the earnings or assets of borrowers, a government official who had been briefed on the matter said Sunday.

The group also includes federal prosecutors in New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Dallas and Atlanta, said the official, who spoke on the condition that he not be identified.

The task force, which was established in January, stepped up its investigation in recent weeks as the financial industry disclosed billions of dollars in additional write-downs from bad mortgage investments. The latest inquiry is broader and deeper than a separate F.B.I. investigation of mortgage lenders that is also under way.

While the new task force is focusing on the role of mortgage lenders and brokers in low- or no-documentation loans, it is also examining how the loans were bundled into securities...
Portfolio.com: Subprime Crime Squad
Wall Street Journal: Prosecutors Amplify Subprime Scrutiny
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Bloomberg:
Buffett Castigates Wall Street, Bankers on Blunders -- ``There's going to be more pain,'' said Buffett, who repeated that the U.S. is in a recession. Even after the Federal Reserve arranged JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s $2.4 billion rescue of Bear Stearns in March, ``that doesn't mean the losses are over by a long shot." ...
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