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Columbia Savings revisited

subprime.jpgTwo memorable things in my life were tied to Columbia Savings. The first was the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger. I was a recent college graduate working for a large international accounting firm, KPMG Peat Marwick. I remember sitting in a conference room, clad in a conservative business suit, already on hour 5 of an 18-hour workday. These were the days before the Internet; we still relied on the Big 3 to provide us with news. One of the higher ups came into the room, solemn look on his face, and turned on the television. The ten of us sat there and watched hope gone awry….seven lives gone due to an improperly sealed O-ring.

A few years later, the “Feds” came in and took the CEO, the CFO, and several others out of the building in handcuffs. It was a scary sight. These were our friends…our role models. What the hell? What was going on?

The S&L crisis changed the American way of life. Without an extensive legal or financial background, you may not understand how. But, trust me, rules were changed. I worked for the next several years with the Resolution Trust Corporation (RTC), the branch of the government created to ensure that we would all enjoy a safe financial future. They were a bunch of dumbshits who had absolutely no chance of being hired by Peat Marwick, or any other reputable company. Like so many, the government is a safe haven for idiots who crave authority.

Moving on. Despite the noble efforts of the RTC, the country is facing another financial crisis. As interest rates have gone down over the past several years, a new brand of leech has been unleashed on the unsuspecting public. The mortgage broker. We are in a housing crisis due to the prevalence of SUBPRIME loans. Let me explain. In the past, a family had to meet certain requirements in order to obtain a mortgage. They had to earn enough income, own assets, show that they would be able to meet ongoing financial obligations. Banks and S&Ls had strict underwriting requirements. They extended credit and collected interest in return. Borrowers had to be a PRIME candidates to qualify for a mortgage loan.

Today, the mortgage industry has gone wild. There are zillions of mortgage brokers who can find ANYONE a loan. They shop around for a third tier underwriter who is willing to lend the money. The broker receives a large commission. The underwriter receives an origination fee and various other payments. Neither care if you are in over your head. They will offer you an initial rate of 2 or 3% with adjustable rate mortgage (ARM), and convince you that rates won’t go up much. You can afford it. Buy that bigger house. Once the deal is inked, the lender simply takes the cruddy mortgage portfolio and sells it to the next prick in line, greedy for the soon-to-be usurious interest payments.

For the past two years, mortgage rates have increased. Over a trillion dollars of ARM loans are due to reset in the next 18 months. Homeowners’ adjustable payments have gone from $400/month to $600 to $1500. With no end in sight. Foreclosures are at an all time high. Too bad for the idiots, you say? Well, I would normally agree with you. But let’s hope that you don’t have a house to sell. As the banks divest themselves of the properties they’ve foreclosed on, real estate prices will be driven into the ground. The lenders will have to write off trillions of dollars of bad loans, likely rendering many of them insolvent. Huge investment funds tied to subprime loans will become worthless. Many Americans will lose their homes, their market investments, and their ability to obtain future credit. I’m predicting another bail out that will cost the taxpayers billions.

Meanwhile, my best friend saw the potential in the industry, despite the fact that she knew nothing about mortgage banking, and earned $18,000. Last month.

3 thoughts on “Columbia Savings revisited

  1. (HomeOphobia and The American Creme)

    The 13th gets the welcome mat back out of his suitcase and places it in front of the freshly sodded tiger pit in his front yard.

    “Great! More economic despair! Pretty soon I can trap enough wage slaves to start my own business!!”

    The road to recovery is filled with enterprising minds.

    NEXT UP: Group Health Insurance – The Return of the Boss Daddy

    COMING SOON: Pension Plans Versus Inflation, The Myth of Retirement (or How I Learned to Stop Worrying And Love My Dog Food)

    A Public Service Message sponsored By World Fear Investment Securities because Dammit, we can’t afford you to believe otherwise!

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