Wednesday, October 20, 2010

William Black details news media's failure to cover fraud

Back in the dark days of the Bush reign of terrifying incompetence based on unapologetic ideological purism, Dan Froomkin used to cover the White House in a blog for the Washington Post. Froomkin's blog was one of the few islands of sanity in a country that had pretty much gone stark raving mad. Soon after Obama was elected, the Post dropped any pretense of being "liberal" and hired a bunch of wrong-wing loonies to ru(i)n the place. One of the very first steps the loonies took was to kick Froomkin out. Fortunately for us, The Huffington Post hired Froomkin. Yesterday, he interviewed criminologist and former savings and loan regulator William Black, who provided a stunning listing of the many forms of financial fraud that have been and are being committed, and which the mainstream news media just are not providing proper coverage of. Black lists nine frauds, so be sure to click through to read the entire post.
1. The astonishing amount of mortgage fraud (literally, millions of cases annually) and how it hyperinflated the bubble and led to the Great Recession.

2. The fact that these mortgage frauds were overwhelmingly due to consciously fraudulent lending practices in which the CEOs of seemingly legitimate entities used accounting tricks as their “weapon of choice" to report higher profits and get bigger bonuses. (George A. Akerlof and Paul R. Romer got it right in the title to their 1993 article: Looting: The Economic Underworld of Bankruptcy for Profit.)

3. The disgraceful lack of prosecutions which has resulted from regulators virtually ending the practice of making criminal referrals and the pathetic March 2007 "partnership" that the FBI entered into with the Mortgage Bankers Association (the trade association of the "perps") that led the FBI and the Department of Justice to (implicitly) define out of existence fraud by the lenders (and to conceive of them as the "victim" -- which they are, but only of their controlling officers). Bush administration attorney general Michael Mukasey in June 2008 notoriously refused to create a national task force against mortgage fraud based on his claim that mortgage fraud was analogous to "white collar street crime."

Story continues below

4. The "echo" epidemics of fraud set off by the primary epidemic of accounting “control fraud". The fraud designed by CEOs in turn kicked off an epidemic of fraud among loan brokers and appraisers. Reporters should explore the concept of the Gresham's-style dynamic in which bad ethics were a competitive advantage and drove good ethics out of the marketplace.

5. The massive foreclosure fraud we are seeing now as another "echo" epidemic. To optimize their accounting control fraud, lenders gutted underwriting. That led to "fraud in the inducement" (
vis a vis borrowers), endemic documentation problems, and an extraordinary numbers of defaults. The process required tens of thousands of real estate financing personnel to commit fraud on a daily basis as their core function. Some of these people are unemployed, but many are in the industry and are presently engaged in loan servicing. Now that their job is to foreclose on properties, there is no reason to expect that they would suddenly become honest, and they haven't.

Read more.

No comments:

Post a Comment