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According to the Collins English Dictionary 10th Edition fraud can be defined as: "deceit, trickery, sharp practice, or breach of confidence, perpetrated for profit or to gain some unfair or dishonest advantage".[1] In the broadest sense, a fraud is an intentional deception made for personal gain or to damage another individual; the related adjective is fraudulent. The specific legal definition varies by legal jurisdiction. Fraud is a crime, and also a civil law violation. Defrauding people or entities of money or valuables is a common purpose of fraud, but there have also been fraudulent "discoveries", e.g. in science, to gain prestige rather than immediate monetary gain
*As defined in Wikipedia

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Goldman Sachs Promised Not to Do "Robo-signing"

Although Goldman Sachs is not one of the banks included in the settlement with the Obama administration and the states AGs, it did participate in so-called "robo-signing." But Goldman, being the genius that it is, stopped securitizing sub-prime mortgages before the 2008 meltdown; nevertheless, Goldman had to promise not to do robo-signing anymore in order to sell its mortgage servicer company, Litton. The agreement with New York financial services cost Goldman a mere $53 million.

Robo-signing is an euphemism for "forgery." So we see Goldman Sachs once again playing ahead of the curve and free to carry on in spite of committing crimes of "fraud, forgery, securities violations and tax evasion."

Ellen Brown explains the importance of the agreement made with the banks and we learn about how banks like Goldman Sachs play the system for their own benefit:

Why All the Robo-signing? Shedding Light on the Shadow Banking System
By Ellen Brown - OWSNews

The Wall Street Journal reported on January 19th that the Obama Administration was pushing heavily to get the 50 state attorneys general to agree to a settlement with five major banks in the “robo-signing” scandal. The scandal involves employees signing names not their own, under titles they did not really have, attesting to the veracity of documents they had not really reviewed. Investigation reveals that it did not just happen occasionally but was an industry-wide practice, dating back to the late 1990s; and that it may have clouded the titles of millions of homes. If the settlement is agreed to, it will let Wall Street bankers off the hook for crimes that would land the rest of us in jail – fraud, forgery, securities violations and tax evasion.

To the President’s credit, however, he seems to have shifted his position on the settlement in response to protests before his State of the Union address. In his speech on January 24th, President Obama did not mention the settlement but announced instead that he would be creating a mortgage crisis unit to investigate wrongdoing related to real estate lending. “This new unit will hold accountable those who broke the law, speed assistance to homeowners, and help turn the page on an era of recklessness that hurt so many Americans,” he said.

The Deeper Question Is Why

Whether massive robo-signing occurred is no longer in issue. The question that needs to be investigated is why it was being done. The alleged justification—that the bankers were so busy that they cut corners—hardly seems credible given the extent of the practice.

The robo-signing largely involved assignments of mortgage notes to mortgage servicers or trusts representing the investors who put up the loan money. Assignment was necessary to give the trusts legal title to the loans. But assignment was delayed until it was necessary to foreclose on the homes, when it had to be done through the forgery and fraud of robo-signing. Why had it been delayed? Why did the banks not assign the mortgages to the trusts when and as required by law?

Here is a working hypothesis, suggested by Martin Andelman: securitized mortgages are the “pawns” used in the pawn shop known as the “repo market.” “Repos” are overnight sales and repurchases of collateral. Yale economist Gary Gorton explains that repos are the “deposit insurance” for the shadow banking system, which is now larger than the conventional banking system and is necessary for the conventional system to operate. The problem is that repos require “sales,” which means the mortgage notes have to remain free to be bought and sold. The mortgages are left unendorsed so they can be used in this repo market.

The Evolution of the Shadow Banking System

Gorton observes that there is a massive and growing demand for banking by large institutional investors – pension funds, mutual funds, hedge funds, sovereign wealth funds – which have millions of dollars to park somewhere between investments. But FDIC insurance covers only up to $250,000. FDIC insurance was resisted in the 1930s by bankers and government officials and was pushed through as a populist movement: the people demanded it. What they got was enough insurance to cover the deposits of individuals and no more. Today, the large institutional investors want similar coverage. They want an investment that is secure, that provides them with a little interest, and that is liquid like a traditional deposit account, allowing quick withdrawal.

The shadow banking system evolved in response to this need, operating largely through the repo market. “Repos” are sales and repurchases of highly liquid collateral, typically Treasury debt or mortgage-backed securities—the securitized units into which American real estate has been ground up and packaged, sausage-fashion. The collateral is bought by a “special purpose vehicle” (SPV), which acts as the shadow bank. The investors put their money in the SPV and keep the securities, which substitute for FDIC insurance in a traditional bank. (If the SPV fails to pay up, the investors can foreclose on the securities.) To satisfy the demand for liquidity, the repos are one-day or short-term deals, continually rolled over until the money is withdrawn. This money is used by the banks for other lending, investing or speculating. Gorton writes:

This banking system (the “shadow” or “parallel” banking system)—repo based on securitization—is a genuine banking system, as large as the traditional, regulated banking system. It is of critical importance to the economy because it is the funding basis for the traditional banking system. Without it, traditional banks will not lend and credit, which is essential for job creation, will not be created.

Read the entire article here
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Will Government Bank Mortgage Deal Help or Hinder Prosecutions?
By Yves Smith interviewed on The Real News

You can see the video and transcripts here


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