August 27, 2014

Clearly the chief of Wells Fargo cannot tell us the whole truth about the "bad mortgages", so the more reason for us to expect FT doing so.

Sir, Camilla Hall writes “The US is still picking over the wreckage of the financial crisis, in which some mortgage originators willfully ignored underwriting standards to sell as many loan as possible to government-backed institutions and private investors”, “Wells chief warns on mortgage lending” August 27.

What a tremendous loss of short term memory!

First all those lousily awarded mortgages were not sold directly to any government-backed institutions and private investors, but to security re-packagers who were able to confound credit rating agencies so much that they obtained an AAA rating for these.

Secondly the investors were not buying mortgages, God forbid, they were buying AAA rated securities backed with mortgages… something entirely different.

And thirdly and most important, the only reason why there was such an intense demand for these AAA rated securities so that all caution was thrown to the wind, over €1 trillion of European investments were sunk into those securities in less than 3 years, was that Basel II, approved in June 2004, had the audacity of allowing banks to own these securities, or give loans against these securities, holding only 1.6% in equity, meaning being able to leverage their equity a lunacy of 62.5 times to 1.

Fanny Mae? Fanny Mae did not award or buy one single of these mortgages to the subprime sector. It also got to these through the purchase of the AAA rated securities, when it could not resist the temptation.

No! If history is not told correctly how can we avoid making mistakes?

How do I know what happened? First I had warned over and over again about the risks of trusting so much the credit ratings, and when the crash came… I also took the examinations to be a certified real estate and mortgage broker in the state of Maryland, with the primary purpose of finding out what really happened.

And to hear stories told by small real estate agents being pressured into signing whatever lousy mortgage… because it did not matter… because what was important was that the interest rate was as high as possible and that the terms were as long as possible, since that would maximize the profits when selling it at low AAA rates… and because they would make bundle of commissions that would make them rich… and because “stop asking questions about what you cannot understand”… was something truly saddening.

No Sir, it is obvious that the chief of Wells Fargo cannot tell us the whole truth and nothing but the truth, as that would have to include spelling out that his regulators were stupid, but, therefore, the more the reasons we have to expect FT to do so.