Posts Tagged ‘financial crisis’

Trump Appoints ‘Foreclosure King’ As Treasury Secretary

December 2, 2016

Trump Appoints 'Foreclosure King' As Treasury Secretary

President-elect and self-proclaimed swamp-drainer Donald J. Trump has named Goldman Sachs alum and former hedge fund partner Steve Mnuchin as his Treasury Secretary. Mr. Mnuchin, who was finance chair of the Trump campaign and the producer of Suicide Squad, became infamous as the “Foreclosure King” when his OneWest Bank foreclosed on over 36,000 family homes during the financial crisis. OneWest specialized in “harsh, repugnant and repulsive” foreclosures on the homes of minority families and the elderly, and in one celebrated case foreclosed on a 90-year-old woman over a 27 cent error.

The Department of the Treasury controls mortgage guarantee agencies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and runs the MHA mortgage relief program and the Hardest Hit Fund, which helps homeowners most in danger of foreclosure due to the financial crisis. Oh, it also regulates banks.


“Trump Treasury pick made millions after his bank foreclosed on homeowners,” Lorraine Woellert, Politico

“Steve Mnuchin: Evictor, Forecloser, and Our New Treasury Secretary,” Peter Dreier, American Prospect

“Trump Was Always Going to Be a Gift to Wall Street. His Pick for Treasury Secretary Proves It.,” Jordan Weissmann, Slate

“Donald Trump voter who lost her home to new Treasury pick Steven Mnuchin has ‘no faith in our government anymore,’” Josh Boak and Jeff Horowitz, AP via Salon

“Angus King: Trump’s not draining swamp, he’s adding alligators,” Mark Hensch, The Hill


“Before heading to the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin will grace the silver screen in ‘Rules Don’t Apply,'” Mark Olsen, Los Angeles Times

“The fiancée of Trump’s twice-married new Treasury Secretary, 53, is 35-year-old actress who sparked fury after she ‘invented parts of her memoir about nearly being killed in Africa,'” Jennifer Newton, Daily Mail


Short link:

Image (“American Dream, after Grant Wood”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

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December 20, 2012


“Remember when the Icelandics did the unthinkable and, unlike Ireland, told bank creditors to take a hike? They also imposed capital controls and allowed the value of their currency to fall – the Icelandic krona has lost almost half of its value against the euro over the past five years.

The ‘experts’ queued up to assure us that these latter-day Vikings would be severely punished for their impertinence. While no one forecast that a hole would open up in the North Atlantic and swallow Iceland whole, some of the predictions came pretty darned close.”


Wall Street Scoundrels Skip Jail

February 18, 2011

Wall Street Scoundrels Skip Jail

“Nobody goes to jail,” notes Matt Taibbi. “This is the mantra of the financial-crisis era, one that saw virtually every major bank and financial company on Wall Street embroiled in obscene criminal scandals that impoverished millions and collectively destroyed hundreds of billions, in fact, trillions of dollars of the world’s wealth — and nobody went to jail.”


MERS = Mortgage MERSA?

October 13, 2010

MERS = Mortgage MERSA?

Who “abetted a fly-by-night, pump-and-dump, no-accountability model of structured mortgage finance”? An obscure corporation in Reston, Virginia. You probably should know more about the Mortgage Electronic Registration System (MERS). It may own your house.


The Recession is Over

September 21, 2010

The Recession is Over

The National Bureau of Economic Research has declared the recession over. The Business Cycle Dating Committee has determined that it offically ended in June 2009.

Let the feasting begin. Who’s got the food stamps?


Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

Icelandic Exodus

April 14, 2010

Icelandic Exodus

More people left Iceland in 2009 than in any year since 1887. Some of those who remain line up in charity food lines. A country can expect this after its economy becomes “zombulated” by unregulated financial institutions and a right-wing, laissez-faire government.  In the words of current Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir, “the ideology of an unregulated free market utterly failed.”



Alan Greenspan at FCIC Hearing

April 8, 2010

Alan Greenspan at FCIC Hearing

Formerly legendary former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan testified before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission on Wednesday.

The crisis? It wasn’t him and nobody saw it coming.

Free Market Fundamentalists take note: Mr. Greenspan has reversed his career-long position and now favors meaningful financial services regulation.


Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

Wall Street’s Sleight-of-Hand Accounting

March 13, 2010

Wall Street's Sleight-of-Hand Accounting

Is it a liquid asset or collateral? Both! That’s the magic of Repo 105.

A report on the Lehman Brothers bankrupcy lifts the curtain on the unregulated market in repurchase agreements (repos). In repos, financial instruments are sold with an agreement to buy them back at a later date.

“Lehman’s trick was to use a clause in the accounting rules to classify [a] deal as a sale, even though it was still obliged to repurchase the assets at a later date. That meant the assets disappeared from the balance sheet, and it could use the cash it received to temporarily pay down other liabilities…. [Repo 105] was crucial for maintaining the group’s credit rating as rating agencies and investors began to focus more on leverage and demanded lower risk.” — Simon Kennedy, Market Watch.

A British law firm provided Lehman with cover for double-counting billions pledged to back short-term loans as liquid assets. A U.S. law firm had previously disapproved the practice. Lehman’s auditors, Ernst & Young, did not object.


Shadow Banking System

March 5, 2010

Shadow Banking System

Dogs Dealing Unregulated Securities, after C.M. Coolidge (Mike Licht).

The financial crisis wasn’t caused by mortgages — or mortgage-backed securities, Fannie Mae, or space aliens. It wasn’t trading in CDOs (Collateralized Debt Obligations) but the market in REPOs (repurchase agreements ) which produced a plain old panic in the new-fangled nonbank shadow financial sector. Old fashioned investment banks had morphed into broker-dealer banks and could not survive a “run on the bank” any more than conventional banks.


Hummers for The People!

June 10, 2009

Hummers for The People!

Comrades, start your engines! Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Company, Ltd. of the People’s Republic of China bought the Hummer division of General Motors at Detroit’s big bankruptcy sale.

This year Tengzhong will build Hummers where labor is cheap and compliant — Louisiana —  but the firm is located in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province in southwestern China. Tengzhong makes construction equipment, not cars, and local firms make low-speed, three-wheeled farm vehicles (a Hummer could haul a half dozen of them).

While dealmakers talk up the agreement, there are naysayers on both continents. Nationalistic Americans may be reluctant to purchase Hummers; thrifty Chinese motorists may shun the notorious gas-guzzlers. Some notes on the Hummer deal: