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Most Americans Are Slaves And They Don’t Even Know It

Chain - Public DomainMost Americans spend their lives working for others, paying off debts to others and performing tasks that others tell them that they “must” do.  These days, we don’t like to think of ourselves as “servants” or “slaves”, but that is what the vast majority of us are.  It is just that the mechanisms of our enslavement have become much more sophisticated over time.  It has been said that the borrower is the servant of the lender, and most of us start going into debt very early into our adult years.  In fact, those that go to college to “get an education” are likely to enter the “real world” with a staggering amount of debt.  And of course that is just the beginning of the debt accumulation.  Today, when you add up all mortgage debt, all credit card debt and all student loan debt, the average American household is carrying a grand total of 203,163 dollars of debt.  Overall, American households are more than 11 trillion dollars in debt at this point.  And even though most Americans don’t realize this, over the course of our lifetimes the amount of money that we will repay on our debts is far greater than the amount that we originally borrowed.  In fact, when it comes to credit card debt you can easily end up repaying several times the amount of money that you originally borrowed.  So we work our fingers to the bone to pay off these debts, and the vast majority of us are not even working for ourselves.  Instead, our work makes the businesses that other people own more profitable.  So if we spend the best years of our lives building businesses for others, servicing debts that we owe to others and making others wealthier, what does that make us?

In 2015, the words “servant” and “slave” have very negative connotations, and we typically don’t use them very much.

Instead, we use words like “employee” because they make us feel so much better.

But is there really that much of a difference?

This is how Google defines “servant”…

“a person who performs duties for others, especially a person employed in a house on domestic duties or as a personal attendant.”

This is how Google defines “slave”…

“a person who is the legal property of another and is forced to obey them.”

This is how Google defines “employee”…

“a person employed for wages or salary, especially at nonexecutive level.”

Yes, most of us might not be “legal property” of someone else in a very narrow sense, but in a broader sense we all have to answer to someone.

We all have someone that we must obey.

And we all have obligations that we must meet or else face the consequences.

At this point, Americans are more dependent on the system than ever before.  Small business ownership in the U.S. is at a record low, and the percentage of Americans that are self-employed has fallen to unprecedented levels in recent years.  From a very early age, we are trained to study hard so that we can get a good “job” (“just over broke”) and be good cogs in the system.

But is that what life is about?

Is it about being a cog in a system that ultimately benefits others?

Perhaps you don’t think that any of this applies to you personally.

Well, if someone came up to you and asked you what you truly own, what would you say?

Do you own your vehicle?

Most Americans don’t.

In fact, today the average auto loan at signing is approximately $27,000, and many of them stretch on for six or seven years.

What about your home?

Do you own it?

Most Americans don’t.

In fact, overall the banks have a much greater “ownership” interest in our homes and our land than we do.

But even if you have your home totally “paid off”, does that mean that you actually “own” it?

Well, no, not really.

Just see what happens if you quit paying your property taxes (rent) to the proper authorities.

So if they can take your home away from you for not paying rent (property taxes), do you really own it?

That is something to think about it.

What about all of your stuff?

Do you own it?

Perhaps.

But a very large percentage of us have willingly enslaved ourselves in order to acquire all of that stuff.

Today, the typical U.S. household that has at least one credit card has approximately $15,950 in credit card debt.

And if you do not pay off those credit card balances, the credit card companies will unleash the hounds on you.

Have you ever had an encounter with a debt collector?

They can be absolutely brutal.  And they use those tactics because they work.  In fact, they are so good at what they do that many of those that own debt collection companies have become exceedingly wealthy.  The following is from a recent CNN article

Yachts. Mansions. Extravagant dinner parties. Life is good for the founders of one of the nation’s biggest government debt collectors.

That firm, Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, rakes in big money from government contracts that allow it to pursue debtors over toll violations, taxes and parking tickets. While the debts often start small, the Austin-based firm charges high fees, which can add hundreds or even thousands of dollars to the bill.

After growing this business from a small Texas law firm in the late 1970’s to a nationwide debt collection powerhouse, the firm’s founders and top brass have walked away with millions of dollars.

And I haven’t even mentioned our collective debts yet.

We have willingly chosen to collectively enslave ourselves on a local, a state and a national level.

It is bad enough that we are doing this to ourselves.  But we are also cruelly saddling future generations of Americans with the largest mountain of debt in the history of the planet.  The following is from my previous article entitled “Barack Obama Says That What America Really Needs Is Lots More Debt“…

When Barack Obama took the oath of office, the U.S. national debt was 10.6 trillion dollars.  Today, it has surpassed the 18 trillion dollar mark.  And even though we are being told that “deficits are going down”, the truth is that the U.S. national debt increased by more than a trillion dollars in fiscal 2014.  But that isn’t good enough for Obama.  He says that we need to come out of this period of “mindless austerity” and steal money from our children and our grandchildren even faster.  In addition, Obama wants to raise taxes again.  His budget calls for 2 trillion dollars in tax increases over the next decade.  He always touts these tax increases as “tax hikes on the rich”, but somehow they almost always seem to end up hitting the middle class too.  But whether or not Congress ever adopts Obama’s new budget is not really the issue.  The reality of the matter is that the “tax and spend Democrats” and the “tax and spend Republicans” are both responsible for getting us into this mess.  Future generations of Americans are already facing the largest mountain of debt in the history of the planet, and both parties want to make this mountain of debt even higher.  The only disagreement is about how fast it should happen.  It is a national disgrace, but most Americans have come to accept this as “normal”.  If our children and our grandchildren get the opportunity, they will curse us for what we have done to them.

So can we really call ourselves the “home of the brave and the land of the free”?

Isn’t the truth that the vast majority of us are actually deeply enslaved?

Please feel free to share what you think by posting a comment below…

 

The United States Of Debt: Total Debt In America Hits A New Record High Of Nearly 60 Trillion Dollars

America Is BrokeWhat would you say if I told you that Americans are nearly 60 TRILLION dollars in debt?  Well, it is true.  When you total up all forms of debt including government debt, business debt, mortgage debt and consumer debt, we are 59.4 trillion dollars in debt.  That is an amount of money so large that it is difficult to describe it with words.  For example, if you were alive when Jesus Christ was born and you had spent 80 million dollars every single day since then, you still would not have spent 59.4 trillion dollars by now.  And most of this debt has been accumulated in recent decades.  If you go back 40 years ago, total debt in America was sitting at about 2.2 trillion dollars.  Somehow over the past four decades we have allowed the total amount of debt in the United States to get approximately 27 times larger.  This is utter insanity, and anyone that thinks this is sustainable is completely deluded.  We are living in the greatest debt bubble of all time, and there is no way that this is going to end well.  Just check out the chart…

Total Debt

When the last recession hit, total debt in America actually started going down for a short period of time.

But then the Federal Reserve and our politicians in Washington worked feverishly to reinflate the bubble and they assured everyone that everything was going to be just fine.  So Americans once again resorted to their free spending ways, and now total debt in the United States is rising at almost the same trajectory as before and has hit a new all-time record high.

We see a similar thing when we look at a chart for consumer debt in America…

Total Consumer Credit

For a while after the recession it was trendy to cut up your credit cards and get out of debt.

But that fad wore off rather quickly, didn’t it?

It is almost as if 2008 never happened.  We are making the same mistakes with debt that we did before.

As I noted recently, total consumer credit in the U.S. has risen by 22 percent over the past three years alone, and at this point 56 percent of all Americans have a subprime credit rating.

And have you noticed that a lot of people are not afraid to extend themselves in order to buy shiny new vehicles these days?

During the first quarter 0f this year, the size of the average vehicle loan soared to a new all-time record high of $27,612.

Five years ago, that number was just $24,174.

And as I noted in one recent article, the size of the average monthly car payment in this country is now up to $474.

That is practically a mortgage payment.

Speaking of mortgage payments, even though home sales have been falling and the rate of homeownership in the United States is the lowest that it has been in 19 years, a very large percentage of those who own homes are still overextended.

In fact, one recent survey discovered that a whopping 52 percent of Americans cannot even afford the house that they are living in right now.

At the same time, an increasing number of Americans are acting as if the last financial crisis never happened and are treating their homes like piggy banks.   Home equity loans are soaring again, and when the next great crisis strikes a lot of those people are going to end up getting into a lot of financial trouble.

There has been much written about what is wrong with the housing industry, but the truth is that home prices are still way too high and young adults cannot afford to purchase homes because they are already loaded down by huge amounts of debt even before they get to the point where they are ready to buy.

In fact, a newly released survey found that 47 percent of millennials are spending at least half of their paychecks on paying off debt…

Four in 10 millennials say they are “overwhelmed” by their debt — nearly double the number of baby boomers who feel that way, according to a Wells Fargo survey of more than 1,600 millennials between 22 and 33 years old, and 1,500 baby boomers between 49 and 59 years old.

To try to get out from underneath it, 47% said they spend at least half of their monthly paychecks on paying off their debts.

When I read that I was absolutely astounded.

Of course the biggest debt that many young adults are facing is student loan debt.  According to the Federal Reserve, there is now more than 1.2 trillion dollars of student loan debt in this country, and about 124 billion dollars of that total is more than 90 days delinquent.

What we have done to our young people is shameful.  We have encouraged them to sign up for a lifetime of debt slavery before they even understand what life is all about.  The following is an excerpt from my previous article entitled “Is College A Waste Of Time And Money?“…

In America today, approximately two-thirds of all college students graduate with student loan debt, and the average debt level has been steadily rising.  In fact, one study found that “70 percent of the class of 2013 is graduating with college-related debt – averaging $35,200 – including federal, state and private loans, as well as debt owed to family and accumulated through credit cards.”

That would be bad enough if most of these students were getting decent jobs that enabled them to service that debt.

But unfortunately, that is often not the case.  It has been estimated that about half of all recent college graduates are working jobs that do not even require a college degree.

Considering what you just read, is it a surprise that half of all college graduates in America are still financially dependent on their parents when they are two years out of college?

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, only 36 percent of all Americans under the age of 35 own a home at this point.  That is the lowest level that has ever been recorded.

And we are passing on to our young people the largest single debt in all of human history.  Weighing in at 17.5 trillion dollars, the U.S. national debt is a colossal behemoth.  And almost all of that debt has been accumulated over the past 40 years.  In fact, 40 years ago the U.S. national debt was less than half a trillion dollars.

But this is just the beginning.  As the Baby Boomer “demographic tsunami” washes through our economy, we are going to be facing a wave of red ink unlike anything we have ever contemplated before.

Meanwhile, the rest of the planet is drowning in debt as well.

As I wrote about the other day, the total amount of debt in the world has risen to a new all-time record high of $223,300,000,000,000.

Our “leaders” keep acting as if these debt levels can keep growing much faster than the overall level of economic growth indefinitely.

But anyone with even a shred of common sense knows that you can’t spend more money that you bring in forever.

At some point, a day of reckoning arrives.

2008 should have been a major wake up call that resulted in massive changes.  But instead, our leaders just patched up the old system and reinflated the old bubbles so that they are now even larger than they were before.

They assure us that they know exactly what they are doing and that everything will be just fine.

Unfortunately, they are dead wrong.

Money Problems That Never Seem To End: 25 Reasons To Be Absolutely Disgusted With The U.S. Economy

It seems like wherever you turn there is bad news for the U.S. economy.  Unemployment is rampant, the cost of gasoline is going up, the cost of food is going up and American families are getting poorer.  Millions of jobs continue to leave the country and everyone is wondering why it seems like the “American Dream” is dying.  American consumers are absolutely swamped with staggering levels of credit card debt, student loan debt and mortgage debt and each year the consumer debt crisis only seems to get worse.  For millions of American families the money problems never seem to end.  Meanwhile, our politicians are doing next to nothing to fix our horrific national debt problem.  So yes, there are a whole lot of reasons to be absolutely disgusted with the U.S. economy.  We are living in the greatest debt bubble in the history of the world, and anyone with half a brain can see that we are heading for complete and total disaster.

A lot of Americans do not like to read about economics, but what has been going on over the last few years has been nothing short of extraordinary.  The Federal Reserve has basically tripled the adjusted monetary base.  We have now been conditioned to accept that trillion dollar deficits are “normal”.  The U.S. dollar is being systematically destroyed right in front of our eyes and most Americans don’t even seem alarmed about it.

Our entire financial system is coming apart.

The signs are everywhere.

The following are 25 reasons to be absolutely disgusted with the U.S. economy….

#1 There are now 6.4 million fewer jobs in America than there were when the recession began.

#2 In Southern California, the average price of a gallon of gasoline is $1.00 higher than it was at this time last year.

#3 The average price of gasoline in the United States has jumped about 20 cents in just the last two weeks.

#4 Over the past 12 months the average price of gasoline in the United States has gone up by about 30%.

#5 In the 8 days leading up to the “historic” $38.5 billion budget deal, the U.S. national debt increased by $54.1 billion dollars.

#6 The $38.5 billion in budget cuts that the Republicans and the Democrats have agreed to represent approximately one percent of the federal budget.

#7 During the 2010 campaign, the Republicans promised voters they would cut $100 billion from the budget for 2011.  Instead, they gave in when the Democrats offered just $38.5 billion.

#8 The Obama administration had been estimating that the federal budget deficit for fiscal 2011 would be approximately 1.6 trillion dollars.  Now it will likely be somewhere around 1.55 trillion dollars which will still be an all-time record.

#9 According to numbers released by Deloitte Consulting, a whopping 875,000 Americans were “medical tourists” in 2010.

#10 The median pay for CEOs increased by 27 percent during 2010.

#11 Thanks to globalism, U.S. workers now must directly compete for jobs with workers in places such as Indonesia.  In Indonesia, full-time workers make as little as two dollars a day.  So how are Americans supposed to compete with that?

#12 Last week, the price of gold set a new all-time record on Tuesday, on Wednesday, on Thursday and on Friday.

#13 The price of silver rose almost 7 percent last week alone.

#14 Total home mortgage debt in the United States is now about 5 times larger than it was just 20 years ago.

#15 According to the Economic Policy Institute, almost 25 percent of U.S. households now have zero net worth or negative net worth.  Back in 2007, that number was just 18.6 percent.

#16 Americans now owe more than $903 billion on student loans.

#17 According to the New York Times, as of 2009 the wealthiest 5 percent of all Americans had 63.5 percent of all the wealth in America.  Meanwhile, the bottom 80 percent had just 12.8 percent of all the wealth.

#18 According to a recent report from the National Employment Law Project, higher wage industries accounted for 40 percent of the job losses over the past 12 months but only 14 percent of the job growth.  Lower wage industries accounted for just 23 percent of the job losses over the past 12 months and a whopping 49 percent of the job growth.

#19 The first week of air strikes in Libya cost the U.S. government about 600 million dollars.

#20 The price of corn has more than doubled over the past year.

#21 According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average length of unemployment in the U.S. is now an all-time record 39 weeks.

#22 Back in the 1950s, corporate taxes accounted for about 30 percent of all federal revenue.  Today they account for less than 7 percent of all federal revenue.

#23 If the U.S. government eliminated all discretionary spending and all defense spending it would still not balance the budget.

#24 It is being projected that U.S. government debt will rise to about 400 percent of GDP by the year 2050.

#25 Americans spend approximately 27.7 billion dollars a year preparing their tax returns.

That last statistic really gets me.  During the month of April the American people are going to be spending massive amounts of time and money to prepare their taxes.

But what do Americans get in return for their taxes?

What they get is a government that is completely and totally incompetent.  Our “leaders” are running the greatest economy in the history of the world into the ground, but unfortunately most Americans have no idea what is happening.

Why are Americans so clueless?

Well, the truth is that over time we have been turned into a nation of idiots and morons.

To get an idea of just how “dumbed down” we have become as a nation, just check out this Harvard entrance exam from 1869.

I wouldn’t have a prayer of passing that exam.

What about you?

Thanks to the slothfulness of society, the deficiencies in our education system and the toxins in our food, air and water it has become hard for most of us to think clearly.

Most of us are fat, dumb and totally clueless.  The entire economic system is being shredded and most of us just drool and turn up the television a little louder.

If we have money problems, most of us just run out and apply for another credit card.  If our state and local governments run into financial problems they just borrow even more money.

Of course the biggest offender of all is the federal government.  What our politicians are doing to future generations is not just criminal.  It is beyond criminal.  It is absolutely unconscionable.

So please excuse me if I am absolutely disgusted with the U.S. economy.

We took the greatest economy in the history of the world and we wrecked it.

How in the world are we going to explain this to our children and our grandchildren?

20 Shocking New Economic Records That Were Set In 2010

2010 was quite a year, wasn’t it?  2010 will be remembered for a lot of things, but for those living in the United States, one of the main things that last year will be remembered for is economic decline.  The number of foreclosure filings set a new record, the number of home repossessions set a new record, the number of bankruptcies went up again, the number of Americans that became so discouraged that they simply quit looking for work reached a new all-time high and the number of Americans on food stamps kept setting a brand new record every single month.  Meanwhile, U.S. government debt reached record highs, state government debt reached record highs and local government debt reached record highs.  What a mess!  In fact, even many of the “good” economic records that were set during 2010 were indications of underlying economic weakness.  For example, the price of gold set an all-time record during 2010, but one of the primary reasons for the increase in the price of gold was that the U.S. dollar was rapidly losing value.  Most Americans had been hoping that 2010 would be the beginning of better times, but unfortunately economic conditions just kept getting worse.

So will things improve in 2011?  That would be nice, but at this point there are not a whole lot of reasons to be optimistic about the economy.  The truth is that we are trapped in a period of long-term economic decline and we are now paying the price for decades of horrible decisions.

Amazingly, many of our politicians and many in the mainstream media have declared that “the recession is over” and that the U.S. economy is steadily improving now.

Well, if anyone tries to tell you that the economy got better in 2010, just show them the statistics below.  That should shut them up for a while.

The following are 20 new economic records that were set during 2010….

#1 An all-time record of 2.87 million U.S. households received a foreclosure filing in 2010.

#2 The number of homes that were actually repossessed reached the 1 million mark for the first time ever during 2010.

#3 The price of gold moved above $1400 an ounce for the first time ever during 2010.

#4 According to the American Bankruptcy Institute, approximately 1.53 million consumer bankruptcy petitions were filed in 2010, which was up 9 percent from 1.41 million in 2009.  This was the highest number of personal bankruptcies we have seen since the U.S. Congress substantially tightened U.S. bankruptcy law several years ago.

#5 At one point during 2010, the average time needed to find a job in the United States had risen to an all-time record of 35.2 weeks.

#6 Back in 1970, 25 percent of all jobs in the United States were manufacturing jobs. Today, only 9 percent of the jobs in the United States are manufacturing jobs, which is believed to be a new record low.

#7 The number of Americans working part-time jobs “for economic reasons” was the highest it has been in at least five decades during 2010.

#8 The number of American workers that are so discouraged that they have given up searching for work reached an all-time high near the end of 2010.

#9 Government spending continues to set new all-time records.  In fact, at the moment the U.S. government is spending approximately 6.85 million dollars every single minute.

#10 The number of Americans on food stamps surpassed 43 million by the end of 2010.  This was a new all-time record, and government officials fully expect the number of Americans enrolled in the program to continue to increase throughout 2011.

#11 The number of Americans on Medicaid surpassed 50 million for the first time ever in 2010.

#12 The U.S. Census Bureau originally announced that 43.6 million Americans are now living in poverty and according to them that was the highest number of Americans living in poverty that they had ever recorded in 51 years of record-keeping.  But now the Census Bureau says that they miscalculated and that the real number of poor Americans is actually 47.8 million.

#13 According to the FDIC, 157 banks failed during 2010.  That was the highest number of bank failures that the United States has experienced in any single year during the past decade.

#14 The Federal Reserve brought in a record $80.9 billion in profits during 2010.  They returned $78.4 billion of that to the U.S. Treasury, but the real story is that thanks to the Federal Reserve’s continual debasement of our currency, the U.S. dollar was worth less in 2010 than it ever had been before.

#15 It is projected that the major financial firms on Wall Street will pay out an all-time record of $144 billion in compensation for 2010.

#16 Americans now owe more than $881 billion on student loans, which is a new all-time record.

#17 In July, sales of new homes in the United States declined to the lowest level ever recorded.

#18 According to Zillow, U.S. housing prices have now declined a whopping 26 percent since their peak in June 2006.  Amazingly, this is even farther than house prices fell during the Great Depression.  From 1928 to 1933, U.S. housing prices only fell 25.9 percent.

#19 State and local government debt reached at an all-time record of 22 percent of U.S. GDP during 2010.

#20 The U.S. national debt has surpassed the 14 trillion dollar mark for the first time ever and it is being projected that it will soar well past 15 trillion during 2011.

There are some people that have a hard time really grasping what statistics actually mean.  For people like that, often pictures and charts are much more effective.  Well, that is one reason I like to include pictures and graphs in many of my articles, and below I have posted my favorite chart from this past year.  It shows the growth of the U.S. national debt from 1940 until today.  I honestly don’t know how anyone can look at this chart and still be convinced that our nation is not headed for a complete financial meltdown….

House Prices – Up Or Down In 2011?

How soon will it be before people finally start using the term “depression” to describe what has happened to the U.S. housing market?  It has been four and a half years since housing prices began to decline, and they are still falling.  In fact, U.S. housing prices have now fallen further during this economic downturn than they did during the Great Depression of the 1930s.  Just think about that.  We are now in unprecedented territory, and most analysts believe that U.S. house prices will continue to decline in 2011.  Mortgage rates have been moving up, mortgage delinquencies are on the rise again, U.S. mortgage lenders have really tightened lending standards and “foreclosuregate” continues to plague the entire mortgage industry.  It would be really nice for the overall economy if house prices did go up in 2011, but right now it looks like that simply is not going to happen.

For many U.S. homeowners, all of this is absolutely sickening.  Millions of homeowners are stuck in houses that they desperately want to sell, but they don’t want to take huge losses on their investments either.

Millions of other U.S. homeowners are stuck paying on mortgages that are for far, far more than their homes are now worth.

Could you imagine paying $400,000 for a home that is now only worth $200,000?

Unfortunately, U.S. house prices just continue to decline.

According to CoreLogic, U.S. house prices have fallen for four months in a row, and in November (the last month CoreLogic has released numbers for) housing prices actually fell 5.1% on a year-over-year basis.

Sadly, house prices have dropped so much at this point that we have entered truly historic territory.

According to Zillow, U.S. housing prices have declined a whopping 26 percent since their peak in June 2006.  Amazingly, this is even farther than house prices fell during the Great Depression.  From 1928 to 1933, U.S. housing prices only fell 25.9 percent.  A brand new record has now been established.

So have we hit bottom yet?

Will house prices recover in 2011?

Unfortunately, every indication seems to point to even more declines in U.S. home prices.  The following are five key factors that will continue to drive house prices down….

#1 Mortgage Rates Are Going Up

Over the past couple of months, mortgage rates in the United States have been moving up fairly steadily.  That is going to make mortgages even more expensive for potential home buyers.

#2 Mortgage Delinquencies Are Increasing Again

As we approached the end of 2010, the number of mortgages in the U.S. that are “seriously delinquent” started to creep up once again.  That means that we are likely to see another bump in foreclosures at some point in 2011.  There are already way, way too many homes on the market, so more foreclosures will only add even more supply to a market that already has way too many homes for sale.

#3 Mortgage Lenders Have Really Tightened Standards

Most large financial institutions have responded to the mistakes of the past decade by really, really tightening mortgage standards.  It is now much harder to get a home loan in the United States.  But if less people can qualify for a mortgage that means that less people will be out there buying homes.

#4 The Entire Mortgage Industry Continues To Be Mired In Legal Problems

Foreclosuregate is a huge story that simply refuses to go away.  For example, just the other day the highest court in Massachusetts voided the seizure of two homes after the big banks involved failed to prove that they actually held the mortgages at the time they foreclosed.  This case made headlines all over the nation, and precedents such as this will encourage even more homeowners to challenge their foreclosures in court.  This is going to be really bad for the big mortgage lenders and it is going to really slow down the pace of mortgage lending.

#5 The Underlying Economy Continues To Be Very Poor

The American people cannot afford to buy good homes if they do not have good jobs.  But today there are seven million fewer middle class jobs than there were about ten years ago.  As 2007 began, there were just over 1 million Americans that had been unemployed for half a year or longer.  Today, there are over 6 million Americans that have been unemployed for half a year or longer.  Until there is a “jobs recovery” there simply is not going to be a “housing recovery”.

There are very few top economists that are actually optimistic about the U.S. housing market in 2011.  In fact, there seems to be an emerging consensus among analysts that house prices in America are going to decline quite substantially this year….

*Mark Zandi of Moody’s Analytics says that U.S. house prices are “double dipping” and that we will likely see another 5 percent decline in housing prices during 2011.

*Economist Nouriel Roubini recently declared to CNBC that the “double-dip” for the U.S. housing market has already arrived….

“It’s pretty clear the housing market has already double dipped.”

*Standard & Poor’s analysts are projecting that U.S. home prices will fall another seven to ten percent during 2011.

*Zillow chief economist Stan Humphries expects home prices to continue to fall until at least mid-2011 and he is convinced that more hard times for the U.S. real estate market are still to come….

“Zillow believes that we’ll see bottom in national home values in Q2 or Q3 of 2011 (more likely the latter), that home values will fall another 5-7% nationally (in the Zillow Home Value Index) between now and then, and that we’ll experience a very long, protracted bottom before home value appreciation returns to historically normal rates.

So it looks like the U.S. housing crash is going to continue for a while.

For those that make a living by building or selling homes, this has got to be very depressing news.

But for those that are seeking to buy a house or that are seeking to buy some land, there could potentially be some very good deals out there over the next year or two.

So what do you think is going to happen to house prices in 2011?  Please feel free to leave a comment with your analysis….

14 Eye Opening Statistics Which Reveal Just How Dramatically The U.S. Economy Has Collapsed Since 2007

Most Americans have become so accustomed to the “new normal” of continual economic decline that they don’t even remember how good things were just a few short years ago.  Back in 2007, unemployment was very low, good jobs were much easier to get, far fewer Americans were living in poverty or enrolled in welfare programs and government finances were in much better shape.  Of course most of this prosperity was fueled by massive amounts of debt, but at least times were better.  Unfortunately, things have really deteriorated over the last several years.  Since 2007, unemployment has skyrocketed, foreclosures have set new all-time records, personal bankruptcies have soared and U.S. government debt has gotten completely and totally out of control.  Poll after poll has shown that Americans are now far less optimistic about the future than they were in 2007.  It is almost as if the past few years have literally sucked the hope out of millions upon millions of Americans.

Sadly, our economic situation is continually getting worse.  Every month the United States loses more factories.  Every month the United States loses more jobs.  Every month the collective wealth of U.S. citizens continues to decline.  Every month the federal government goes into even more debt.  Every month state and local governments go into even more debt.

Unfortunately, things are going to get even worse in the years ahead.  Right now we look back on 2005, 2006 and 2007 as “good times”, but in a few years we will look back on 2010 and 2011 as “good times”.

We are in the midst of a long-term economic decline, and the very bad economic choices that we have been making as a nation for decades are now starting to really catch up with us.

So as horrible as you may think that things are now, just keep in mind that things are going to continue to deteriorate in the years ahead.

But for the moment, let us remember how far we have fallen over the past few years.  The following are 14 eye opening statistics which reveal just how dramatically the U.S. economy has collapsed since 2007….

#1 In November 2007, the official U.S. unemployment rate was just 4.7 percent.  Today, the official U.S. unemployment rate is 9.4 percent.

#2 In November 2007, 18.8% of unemployed Americans had been out of work for 27 weeks or longer.  Today that percentage is up to 41.9%.

#3 As 2007 began, there were just over 1 million Americans that had been unemployed for half a year or longer.  Today, there are over 6 million Americans that have been unemployed for half a year or longer.

#4 Nearly 10 million Americans now receive unemployment insurance, which is almost four times as many as were receiving it back in 2007.

#5 More than half of the U.S. labor force (55 percent) has “suffered a spell of unemployment, a cut in pay, a reduction in hours or have become involuntary part-time workers” since the “recession” began in December 2007.

#6 According to one analysis, the United States has lost a total of approximately 10.5 million jobs since 2007.

#7 As 2007 began, only 26 million Americans were on food stamps.  Today, an all-time record of 43.2 million Americans are enrolled in the food stamp program.

#8 In 2007, the U.S. government held a total of $725 billion in mortgage debt.  As of the middle of 2010, the U.S. government held a total of $5.148 trillion in mortgage debt.

#9 In the year prior to the “official” beginning of the most recent recession in 2007, the IRS filed just 684,000 tax liens against U.S. taxpayers.  During 2010, the IRS filed over a million tax liens against U.S. taxpayers.

#10 From the year 2000 through the year 2007, there were 27 bank failures in the United States.  From 2008 through 2010, there were 314 bank failures in the United States.

#11 According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the number of U.S. families with children living in homeless shelters increased from 131,000 to 170,000 between 2007 and 2009.

#12 In 2007, one poll found that 43 percent of Americans were living “paycheck to paycheck”.  Sadly, according to a survey released very close to the end of 2010, approximately 55 percent of all Americans are now living paycheck to paycheck.

#13 In 2007, the “official” federal budget deficit was just 161 billion dollars.  In 2010, the “official” federal budget deficit was approximately 1.3 trillion dollars.

#14 As 2007 began, the U.S. national debt was just under 8.7 trillion dollars.  Today, the U.S. national debt has just surpassed 14 trillion dollars and it continues to soar into the stratosphere.

So is there any hope that we can turn all of this around?

Unfortunately, the massive amount of debt that we have piled up as a society over the last several decades has made that impossible.

If you add up all forms of debt (government debt, business debt, individual debt), it comes to approximately 360 percent of GDP.  It is the biggest debt bubble in the history of the world.

If the federal government and our state governments stop borrowing and spending so much money, our economy would collapse.  But if they keep borrowing and spending so much money they will continually make the eventual economic collapse even worse.

We are in the terminal stages of the most horrific debt spiral the world has ever seen, and when the debt spiral gets stopped the house of cards is going to finally come down for good.

So enjoy these times while you still have them.  Yes, today is not nearly as prosperous as 2007 was, but today is most definitely a whole lot better than 2015 or 2020 is going to be.

Sadly, we could have avoided this financial disaster completely if only we had listened more carefully to those that founded this nation.  Once upon a time, Thomas Jefferson said the following….

I wish it were possible to obtain a single amendment to our Constitution. I would be willing to depend on that alone for the reduction of the administration of our government to the genuine principles of its Constitution; I mean an additional article, taking from the federal government the power of borrowing.

The Big Wall Street Banks Have Found A New Way To Strangle The American People: Predatory Property Tax Collection

It turns out that the big Wall Street banks have found a dirty new way to make loads of cash from U.S. homeowners, and they really, really don’t want to talk about it.  So what is this dirty new business?  America’s biggest financial institutions have become property tax collectors, and it is extremely lucrative.  From coast to coast, the big Wall Street banks are buying up thousands upon thousands of tax liens and are making a killing by socking distressed homeowners with predatory interest, outrageous penalties and almost unbelievable legal fees.  In some areas, the big banks are able to foreclose on these homes in as little as six months.  The elderly and the poor are the most common targets of these practices.  An absolutely brilliant expose in the Huffington Post has brought these issues to light, and it is creating quite a controversy in the financial world.  The big banks are doing nothing illegal here.  Local governments are offering to sell thousands of tax liens and somebody is going to end up buying them.  But something seems extremely unsavory about the big Wall Street banks capitalizing on the economic downturn that they were so instrumental in causing in such a predatory manner. 

Today, millions of American families are barely hanging on to their homes by their fingernails.  Millions are out of work and millions of others are barely making enough to put food on the table.  Meanwhile, property taxes have absolutely soared in most areas of the nation over the past decade.  Many Americans are finding that when that time rolls around they simply do not have a big chunk of extra money to pay a property tax bill. 

So millions of American families, including many that have completely paid off their homes, now find themselves in danger of being thrown out on to the street over an unpaid property tax bill.

For many local governments, the headache of trying to collect on thousands of property tax liens is just too much, so they are glad to “outsource” the work of collection.

So how do the big Wall Street banks get involved?  Well, it goes something like this….

1) The big Wall Street banks set up or invest in shell companies that will disguise who they really are.

2) These shell companies run around and buy up all of the tax liens that they can get their hands on.

3) Predatory levels of interest (in some states as high as 18 percent), fees and penalties rapidly pile up on these unpaid tax liens.  The affected homeowners quickly end up owing much, much more than what the original tax bills were for.    

4) If the collecting firm has to hire a lawyer, then that gets charged to the homeowner as well.  The bloated legal fees for some of these lawyers can end up being the biggest expense of all.

5) If the tax liens do not get paid, the collecting firms move in to foreclose as quickly as legally possible.       

According to the Huffington Post, Wall Street banks such as Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase have been gobbling up several hundred thousand tax liens from local governments.  It appears that “distressed housing markets” are being particularly targeted.

Many of these tax liens are sold in online auctions, so it is unclear if many local government officials even realize who the big money behind many of these shell companies is. 

Once again, this is all perfectly legal, but it is more than a little distasteful.

The following video by the Huffington Post does a good job of summarizing what they found….

The truth is that there is a huge difference between the letter of the law and true justice.

Just consider the following tragic story from the Huffington Post article….

Barbara Carpenter, a 58-year-old disabled Ohio retiree, found herself in such a situation. The former worker for the American Red Cross struggled to save her Toledo home from a JPMorgan entity called Plymouth Park Tax Services, which in recent years has been among the nation’s top buyers of tax liens.

“It’s a great neighborhood and the house is in good condition,”said Carpenter, who paid $67,000 for the one-story home in 2004. But she fell behind in paying her taxes and a certificate for $1,500 in unpaid taxes was sold off to Plymouth Park, which is based in New Jersey.

Carpenter’s lawyer, Joseph Westmeyer, said Plymouth Park routinely charges an upfront fee of around $1,500 as soon as it buys the lien and 18 percent interest on the debt. If they don’t get paid, they foreclose.

“It’s not a good deal for poor customers,” said Westmeyer. Carpenter wound up selling the house in August for less than half what she had paid. Plymouth Park received about $12,000 in legal fees and other charges, including some additional taxes, Westmeyer said, quoting from court records.

Does that sound like an honorable way of making money to you?

Would you like to make your living by throwing elderly women out of their homes and into the street over unpaid tax bills?

Unfortunately, this problem is not going to go away any time soon.  One out of every six Americans is enrolled in a government anti-poverty program.  Tens of millions of Americans are barely hanging in there.  In addition, tens of millions of elderly Americans live on fixed incomes.  Meanwhile, property taxes just continue to go up in many areas of the United States.

Unless the U.S. economy experiences a dramatic turnaround, we are going to continue to see large numbers of Americans get behind on their property taxes, and the big banks will continue to be there to scoop up the tax liens.

Large numbers of poor and elderly Americans that don’t even have a mortgage will lose their homes and it will all be perfectly legal.  Executives at the big banks will be having a good laugh about their huge bonus checks as thousands upon thousands of our most vulnerable citizens are dumped out into the street.

But weren’t the big banks largely responsible for causing the housing crash and the economic meltdown that followed? 

Yes.

But so far none of them is really paying any kind of a price.  The big banks got bailed out by the U.S. government, and now it looks like the Federal Reserve is preparing another round of “backdoor bailouts” to help them out again.

But do the big banks show any mercy on the poor and the elderly who have gotten behind on their property taxes?

Not at all.

This is 2010 – a time when greed dominates the financial world and when most banks don’t seem to know a thing about kindness or mercy.

The Real Horror Story: The U.S. Economic Meltdown

This October, millions of Americans are going to watch horror movies and read horror stories because they enjoy being frightened.  Well, if you really want to be scared, you should just check out the real horror story unfolding right before our eyes – the U.S. economic meltdown.  It seems like more bad news for the U.S. economy comes out almost every single day now.  Unfortunately, things are about to get a whole lot worse.  The mainstream media has been treating “Foreclosuregate” as if it is a minor nuisance, but the truth is that the lid is about to be publicly lifted on years and years of massive fraud in the U.S. mortgage industry, and this thing has the potential to cause economic chaos that is absolutely unprecedented.  Over the past several days, expert after expert has been coming forward and warning that this crisis could completely and totally paralyze the mortgage industry in the United States.  If that happens, it will be essentially like pulling the plug on the U.S. economic recovery. 

Not that there was going to be a recovery anyway.  The truth is that economic statistic after economic statistic has been pointing to incredible trouble for the U.S. economy.

For example, the U.S. government just announced that the U.S. trade deficit went up again in August.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. trade deficit was $46.3 billion during August, which was up significantly from $42.6 billion in July.

So how much coverage did this get in the mainstream media? 

Well, just about none.

We have gotten so used to horrific trade deficits that it isn’t even news anymore.

But these trade deficits are absolutely killing our economy.

How long do you think that the U.S. economy can keep shelling out 40 or 50 billion more dollars than we take in every single month?

If you look at the countries around the world that have become very wealthy, almost all of them have gotten that way by trading with the United States.

Meanwhile, many of our once great manufacturing cities are turning into open sewers.

Every single politician in the United States should be talking about the trade deficit.

But hardly any of them are.

Is it because Americans have all become so dumbed-down that we don’t understand these things anymore, or is it because we are so distracted by the various forms of entertainment that we are addicted to that we just don’t care? 

But the trade deficit is not the only economic statistic that is getting worse.

According to the Department of Labor, for the week ending October 9th the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial jobless claims was 462,000, which represented an increase of 13,000 from the previous week.

We have an unemployment epidemic going on in this country, but what did the mainstream media do in response to this news?

They yawned.  Instead, many of the “financial experts” were busy talking about how wonderful it is that the Stock Market is going up, up, up.

Well, as one reader recently reminded me, if you want to evaluate an economy by how much the stock market is going up, then the economy of Zimbabwe has had an absolutely wonderful decade!

The truth is that the stock market is not a good barometer for what is actually going on.

What is really happening is that the U.S. economic system is literally coming apart at the seams. 

Yet another piece of really bad economic news that just came out is that the number of home repossessions by banks set a new all-time record during the month of September.  The record total of 102,134 bank repossessions was the first time ever that bank repossessions climbed over the 100,000 mark for a single month.

The good news is that bank repossessions are about to come to a screeching halt.

The bad news is that it is because the U.S. mortgage industry is about to become completely and totally paralyzed by this foreclosure fraud crisis.

The following are three basic points to remember about this foreclosure mess….

A) Massive Fraud Was Committed At Every Stage By The Mortgage Industry

In a previous article entitled “Foreclosure Fraud: 6 Things You Need To Know About The Crisis That Could Potentially Rip The U.S. Economy To Shreds“, I attempted to describe just how widespread the fraud in the mortgage industry has been….

The truth is that there was fraud going on in every segment of the mortgage industry over the past decade.  Predatory lending institutions were aggressively signing consumers up for mortgages that they knew they could never repay.  Many consumers were also committing fraud because a lot of them also knew that they could never possibly repay the mortgages.  These bad mortgages were fraudulently bundled up and securitized, and these securitized financial instruments were fraudulently marketed as solid investments.  Those who certified that these junk securities were “AAA rated” also committed fraud.  Then these securities were traded at lightning speed all over the globe and a ton of mortgage paperwork became “lost” or “missing”.

Finally, when it came time to foreclose on these bad mortgages, a whole lot more fraud was committed.  Thousands upon thousands of foreclosure documents were “robo-signed”, but the truth is that investigators are starting to discover a lot of things about these mortgages that are a lot worse than that. 

B) Nobody Really Knows Who Owns Or Who Has The Right To Foreclose On Millions Upon Millions Of Mortgages

The legal rights to millions of U.S. mortgages has been scrambled so badly that it might actually be impossible to fully sort this mess out.  In particular, MERS (Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems) has created a paperwork nightmare that may never be able to be completely remediated. 

On a previous article, a reader named William left a comment that did a great job of describing the very serious problem that we are now facing because of MERS….

MERS – potentially the most serious problem because it affects who really owns the loans. Securitization mandates that loans be transferred into REMIC trusts within a strict timeframe. Late transfers are not allowed. In spite of the supposed “ease” of transfer through MERS, it now appears that perhaps 60% of US loans were never properly transferred. Absent remedial legislation, it is impossible to do so now. And the former owners may be out of business or bankrupt. So how do we get these loans to the trust beneficiaries who were supposed to own them? This is no simple paperwork correction. The train has left the station, with no more to follow.

C) Unprecedented Chaos Is Going To Erupt As Faith In The Mortgage System Completely Dies

So what is going to happen as a result of all of this fraud and confusion in the mortgage industry?  Well, basically everybody is going to sue everybody.  It is going to be absolute mayhem. 

Charles Hugh Smith recently put it this way….

Real estate attorneys can rejoice: everyone will get sued, in every court in the land. Banks will get sued, title insurance companies will get sued, realtors will get sued, foreclosure mills will get sued, MERS will get sued, and so on. The attorneys general of the states will all sue the banks and mortgage mills, claiming billions in damages.

Meanwhile, virtually nobody will want to buy any house that has been foreclosed on in the past ten years or so until this mess is sorted out (which could take years and years). 

Meanwhile, title insurance companies are going to avoid foreclosures like the plague.

Meanwhile, all of the investors that have been propping up the housing market by buying foreclosures are going to be fleeing the market in droves.

Meanwhile, the financial world is going to be trying to figure out which U.S. lending institutions are still solvent.  The value of most mortgage-based assets is now totally up in the air.

Meanwhile, millions more homeowners across the United States will be emboldened to quit making payments on their mortgages as they realize that those holding their mortgages may not have the legal right to foreclose on them.

And that is where the true horror of this entire situation may lie.  What is going to happen if millions upon millions of Americans holding underwater mortgages look at this situation and decide that they really don’t have to be afraid of the threat of foreclosure any longer?

If a massive wave of homeowners suddenly decides to simply quit paying their mortgages, it would basically wipe out nearly the entire mortgage industry.

That would likely mean more government bailouts, more government control, much higher mortgage rates and eventually a serious crash in housing prices.

This crisis is incredibly complicated and it has a ton of moving parts, so it is extremely difficult to describe accurately.  But the reality is that this mess has the potential to hurt the U.S. real estate market much more than “subprime mortgages” ever did.

Hopefully this crisis will not be “the straw that broke the camel’s back” for the U.S. economy, but with each passing day this thing looks even more horrifying. 

One way or another, real estate law in the United State is going to be changed forever as a result of this crisis.  It is going to be extremely interesting to see how all of this plays out.

Foreclosure Fraud: 6 Things You Need To Know About The Crisis That Could Potentially Rip The U.S. Economy To Shreds

The foreclosure fraud crisis seems to escalate with each passing now.  It is being reported that all 50 U.S. states have launched a joint investigation into alleged fraud in the mortgage industry.  This is a huge story that is not going to go away any time soon.  The truth is that it would be hard to understate the amount of fraud that has gone on in the U.S. mortgage industry, and we are watching events unfold that could potentially rip the U.S. economy to shreds.  Many are now referring to this crisis as “Foreclosure-Gate“, and already it is shaping up to be the worst thing that has ever happened to the U.S. mortgage industry.  At this point, it seems inevitable that some financial institutions will go under as a result of this mess.  In fact, by the end of this thing we might see a whole bunch of lending institutions crash and burn.  This crisis is very hard to describe because it is just so darn complicated, but it is worth it to try to dig into this thing and understand what is going on because it has the potential to absolutely decimate the entire U.S. mortgage industry.

The truth is that there was fraud going on in every segment of the mortgage industry over the past decade.  Predatory lending institutions were aggressively signing consumers up for mortgages that they knew they could never repay.  Many consumers were also committing fraud because a lot of them also knew that they could never possibly repay the mortgages.  These bad mortgages were fraudulently bundled up and securitized, and these securitized financial instruments were fraudulently marketed as solid investments.  Those who certified that these junk securities were “AAA rated” also committed fraud.  Then these securities were traded at lightning speed all over the globe and a ton of mortgage paperwork became “lost” or “missing”. 

Then, when it came time to foreclose on these bad mortgages, a whole bunch more fraud started being committed.  The reality is that the “robo-signing” scandal is just the tip of the iceberg.  The following are six things that you should know about how deep this foreclosure fraud crisis really goes….   

#1 According to the Associated Press, financial institutions were hiring just about whoever they could find, including hair stylists and Wal-Mart employees, as “foreclosure experts” to help them rush through the massive backlog of foreclosures that were rapidly piling up.

Apparently many of these “foreclosure experts” barely even knew what a “mortgage” was according to the AP….

In depositions released Tuesday, many of those workers testified that they barely knew what a mortgage was. Some couldn’t define the word “affidavit.” Others didn’t know what a complaint was, or even what was meant by personal property. Most troubling, several said they knew they were lying when they signed the foreclosure affidavits and that they agreed with the defense lawyers’ accusations about document fraud.

#2 There is soon going to be a colossal legal scramble to figure out who actually owns millions of U.S. mortgages.

In his recent article entitled “Invasion Of The Robot Home Snatchers“, Robert Scheer described the complete and total mess that the U.S. mortgage industry has created….

How do you foreclose on a home when you can’t figure out who owns it because the original mortgage is part of a derivatives package that has been sliced and diced so many ways that its legal ownership is often unrecognizable? You cannot get much help from those who signed off on the process because they turn out to be robot signers acting on automatic pilot. Fully 65 million homes in question are tied to a computerized program, the national Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems (MERS), that is often identified in foreclosure proceedings as the owner of record.

Meanwhile, more organizations are stepping forward to help homeowners fight foreclosures.  National People’s Action, PICO National Network, Industrial Areas Foundation, Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment and the Northwest Federation of Community Organizations have all partnered with the SEIU to launch the “Where’s The Note” campaign which is going to encourage homeowners to demand to see the note before submitting to a foreclosure.  Campaigns such as this are going to make foreclosures much more costly for banks.

#3 Legal battles over foreclosure documents could soon spawn thousands upon thousands of lawsuits across the United States.

Adam Levitin, a Georgetown University Law professor who specializes in mortgage finance and financial regulatory issues was recently quoted in an article on CNBC as saying the following about the situation we are currently in….

The mortgage is still owed, but there’s going to be a problem figuring out who actually holds the mortgage, and they would be the ones bringing the foreclosure. You have a trust that has been getting payments from borrowers for years that it has no right to receive. So you might see borrowers suing the trusts saying give me my money back, you’re stealing my money. You’re going to then have trusts that don’t have any assets that have been issuing securities that say they’re backed by a whole bunch of assets, and you’re going to have investors suing the trustees for failing to inspect the collateral files, which the trustees say they’re going to do, and you’re going to have trustees suing the securitization sponsors for violating their representations and warrantees about what they were transferring.

#4 The problems with foreclosure paperwork may be more widespread than anyone would have dared to imagine.

Attorney Richard Kessler recently conducted a study in which he found “serious errors” in approximately 75 percent of the court filings related to home repossessions that he examined.  Now he says that the foreclosure crisis could haunt the U.S. mortgage industry for the next ten years….

“Defective documentation has created millions of blighted titles that will plague the nation for the next decade.”

#5 If some banks discover that they are missing the paperwork for large numbers of mortgages (as is currently being alleged), those banks could be forced to significantly revalue those assets (as in “close to zero”) on their balance sheets. 

John Carney of CNBC recently described it this way….

The most damaging thing that could happen to banks would be the discovery that they simply cannot prove they hold a mortgage on a house. In that case, the loan would probably have to be written down to near zero. Even for current loans, the regulatory reserve requirements would double as the loan would no longer be a functional mortgage but an ordinary consumer loan. Depending on the size of the “no docs” portion of the loan portfolio, this might be a minor blip or require a bank to raise new capital to fill the hole in the balance sheet.

#6 Renowned investor Jim Sinclair is actually warning that the collapse of securitized mortgage debt could be the “final shot” that will wipe out many financial institutions across the United States. 

The recent warning that Sinclair posted on his blog is more than a little sobering…. 

I am asking for your attention again because of the depth of the fraud and now the size of the securitized mortgage debt OTC derivative pile of garbage that is in the trillions. This entire mountain of weapons of mass financial and social destruction is now in question. I have been telling you this for more than 2 years since the manufacturers and distributors of this crap were called by the NY Fed due to the loss of control over the paperwork.

I had dinner with my former partner, then lead director of and CEO of Bear Stearns. I could not contain myself so I asked him why he did so much business in OTC derivatives which were certain to bankrupt them. The answer I got was it was more than 50% of their profit. The right answer should have been it was more than 80% of their earnings.

Securitized mortgage debt is going to be the final shot that kills all kinds of financial entities in the Western world. The biggest holder of this putrid junk is pension funds.

Meanwhile, the stock market continues to go up, up, up as if everything is right in the world and as if a juicy new bull market is now upon us.

Well, let’s all join hands and sing happy songs around the campfire.

Perhaps if we all close our eyes and wish real hard all of this foreclosure fraud will just go away.

Then again, maybe not.

Foreclosure-Gate

If you work in the mortgage industry or for a title insurer, you might not want to make any plans for the next six months.  Foreclosure-Gate is about to explode.  It is being alleged that many prominent mortgage lenders have been using materially flawed paperwork to evict homeowners.  Apparently officials at quite a few of these firms have been signing thousands upon thousands of foreclosure documents without even looking at them.  In addition, it is being alleged that much of the documentation for these mortgages that are being foreclosed upon is either “improper” or is actually “missing”.  As lawyers start to smell blood in the water, lawsuits challenging these foreclosures have already started springing up from coast to coast.  In fact, some are already calling Foreclosure-Gate the biggest fraud in the history of the capital markets.  JPMorgan Chase, Ally Bank’s GMAC Mortgage and PNC Financial have all suspended foreclosures in the 23 U.S. states where foreclosures must be approved by a judge.  Bank of America has actually suspended foreclosures in all 50 states.  Now, law enforcement authorities from coast to coast are calling for investigations into this controversy and it could be years before this thing gets unraveled.

This thing just seems to escalate with each passing day.  It is being reported that the attorneys general of up to 40 U.S. states will be working together on a joint investigation into this foreclosure crisis.  Lawmakers in both houses of the U.S. Congress, including Nancy Pelosi and Christopher Dodd, have called for an investigation to begin on the national level.  U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said last week that he is looking into the issue.  Things are certainly getting very serious out there.  Never before has there ever been such a national focus on foreclosure paperwork.

But apparently there are good reasons for such scrutiny….

*One GMAC Mortgage official admitted during a December 2009 deposition that his team of 13 people signed approximately 10,000 foreclosure documents a month without reading them.

*One Bank of America employee confessed during a Massachusetts bankruptcy case that she signed up to 8,000 foreclosure documents a month and typically did not look them over “because of the volume”.

But the “robo-signing” aspect of Foreclosure-Gate is just the tip of the iceberg.  Apparently there is a whole lot more going on than just a bunch of bad signatures. 

Peter J. Henning, a professor at Wayne State University Law School in Detroit, was recently quoted by MSNBC as saying the following about Foreclosure-Gate….

“You’ve got so many potential avenues of liability. You don’t even know the parameters of this yet.”

The sad truth is that potentially millions of foreclosures across the United States could potentially be invalid because the securitization process has muddied the chain of ownership.  In fact, an increasing number of judges from coast to coast have been ruling that the “owners” of the mortgage have no right to foreclose on a property because they lack clear title.

At the core of this title controversy is MERS – Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems.  MERS is based in Reston, Virginia and it was created by the mortgage industry to enable that big financial firms to securitize and swap mortgages at high speed.  MERS allowed these big financial firms to largely avoid the hassle of filling out more forms and submitting new filing fees every time that a mortgage was traded.

But now MERS is facing some very serious legal challenges.  A recent article in Businessweek described the situation this way….

A lawsuit filed on September 28th in federal court in Louisville on behalf of all Kentucky homeowners claims that MERS was part of a conspiracy to create false promissory notes, affidavits, and mortgage assignments to be used in mortgage foreclosures. Similar class actions have been filed on behalf of homeowners in Florida and New York. Karmela Lejarde, a MERS spokeswoman, declined to comment on any pending litigation.

The reality is that as millions of U.S. mortgages have been bunched together and traded around the globe at lightning speed, it has become increasingly unclear who actually has title to them and who actually has the right to foreclose on these properties.

Title insurers have backed the titles of millions of these foreclosed properties and now potentially find themselves in a heap of trouble.  Some of the biggest title insurers have already begun circling the wagons in an attempt at damage control.  For example, one of the biggest title insurance companies in the United States, Old Republic National Title Insurance, has already declared that it will no longer write new policies for homes that have been foreclosed on by JPMorgan Chase and GMAC Mortgage.

So what happens if nearly all title insurers start avoiding foreclosed properties? 

Won’t that make it much more difficult for the banks to sell the massive backlog of foreclosed properties that they have accumulated?

In addition, Americans that have purchased foreclosed homes may now be facing some serious problems themselves.  Millions of Americans may now “own” homes that they do not have clear title for.  When it comes times to sell those homes, many Americans may find themselves unable to do so. 

Needless to say, this is a complete and total mess.

Already, U.S. banks have a record number of foreclosed properties that they need to clear out, and now all of this scrutiny on foreclosure paperwork and all of these lawsuits are going to grind the process of getting these homes sold off to a standstill.

In fact, the true legacy of Foreclosure-Gate may be the massive amount of bank failures that it causes.

It would be difficult to understate how much of a nightmare Foreclosure-Gate is going to be for U.S. mortgage lenders.  Having to go back through the paperwork of millions of old mortgages is going to be a complete and total disaster.  If banks end up being unable to foreclose on a large number of bad mortgages, it could potentially be enough to put many banks out of commission for good.  Not only that, but the legal fees that many of these banks will accumulate defending lawsuits related to Foreclosure-Gate will be astronomical.

The U.S. mortgage industry was already on the verge of death, and Foreclosure-Gate may just be the straw that broke the camel’s back.

The reality is that U.S. banks are drowning in foreclosures and this current crisis is just going to make things a lot worse.  Back in 2005, there were approximately 100,000 home repossessions in the United States.  In 2009, there were approximately 1 million home repossessions in the U.S. and RealtyTrac is now projecting that there will be an all-time record of 1.2 million home repossessions in the United States this year.

For the U.S. mortgage industry, Foreclosure-Gate must feel like someone has dropped a bomb on them after they have already been beaten up and doused with gasoline.

Attorney Richard Kessler, who recently conducted a study that found serious errors in approximately three-fourths of court filings related to home repossessions, says that Foreclosure-Gate could haunt the U.S. mortgage industry for the next ten years….

“Defective documentation has created millions of blighted titles that will plague the nation for the next decade.”

While it may be easy to beat up U.S. mortgage lenders and say that they deserve all this, let us not forget that this is going to impact a whole lot of other people too.

It is going to become much harder to get a mortgage.  It is going to become much harder to buy a home.  It is going to become much harder to sell a home.  The U.S. housing industry is likely to suffer a significant downturn due to all of this.  There is even a good chance that the entire U.S. economy could be dragged down for an extended period of time.

So no, Foreclosure-Gate is not good news for anyone. 

Well, except maybe for lawyers. 

But for virtually everyone else this is really bad news.  Any hope that the U.S. housing industry would experience a quick recovery is completely and totally gone.

Finca Bayano

Panama Relocation Tours




 

Credible Warning

ProphecyHour

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