The metastasis of residential mortgage backed securities: Interview with Joe Mason
"....the threat which faces us all in the real estate and banking system is more akin to metastatic cancer, a slow wasting destruction of the American political economy which our leaders neither see nor understand. Witness the little love note from our friend Josh Rosner, heralding the unwinding of the RMBS market into unsecured debt. The fiber going into most securities law firms is literally melting down from the inquiries from risk averse investors, trustees and custodians who now know that the emperor has no clothes. When pondering how amusing the mortgage document snafu is becoming, remember that it is the property tax base in American communities that we ultimately must defend. The key question seem to be how long will it take to find people in our public life with sufficient courage and skills to embrace the appropriate cocktail of chemo therapy, a medical metaphor for financial restructuring. To start, we suggest the immediate rehabilitation of Angelo Mozillo, the former head of Countrywide Financial. Gretchen Morgenson describes in the Sunday New York Times, "How Countrywide Covered the Cracks," the story of a small mortgage originator which became one of the largest banks in the U.S. And you can see the entire institutional history of Countywide on The IRA Bank Monitor. And that history is not yet written. Instead of vilifying and tormenting one of the architects of our demise, we should use his talents to public advantage. Rather than banning Mozillo from the industry, President Obama should set aside the SEC penalties and put this very smart man back to work fixing the problem. During the course of a year, Countrywide originated hundreds of billions of dollars per year in new loans, an amount many times the bank's assets and a level of productivity far above that of larger banks. Countrywide was one of the most aggressive and efficient lenders in the industry, and also one of the best in terms of underwriting and documentation. The people and operations at Countrywide were once the envy of the industry."