Maggie Hardiman cringed as she heard the salesmen knocking the sides of desks with a baseball bat as they walked through her office. Bang! Bang! ” ‘You cut my [expletive] deal!’ ” she recalls one man yelling at her. ” ‘You can’t do that.’ ” Bang! The bat whacked the top of her desk. As an appraiser for a company called New Century Financial, Hardiman was supposed to weed out bad mortgage applications. Most of the mortgage applications Hardiman reviewed had problems, she said. But “you didn’t want to turn away a loan because all hell would break loose,” she recounted in interviews. When she did, her bosses often overruled her and found another appraiser to sign off on it. Hardiman’s account is one of several from former employees of New Century that shed fresh light on an unfolding disaster in the mortgage industry, one that could cost as many as 2 million American families their homes and threatens to spill over into the broader economy.
Wow. I mean, just wow. Not because of the revelations, but because a major media outlet — the WaPo, no less — had the guts to actually get out there and get this story right. (Trust me, this is no easy feat, not in this industry.) I have one question: Is doing something because it is a “generally accepted [industry] practice” a sound defense?