“William Black: Why Nobody Went to Jail During the Credit Crisis”

Did you buy a house during the boom? Do you wanna know why you paid too much?

Professor William Black recently did an interview with Jim Puplava of the Financial Sense Newshour. Follow the link above and listen to the interview (Once on the linked page, click on your preferred media format to start the audio interview). About 30 minutes. Bill Black is famed for his role in cleaning up the S&L crisis and setting up the prosecutions that followed it. This is as clear and understandable an explanation of the origin of the credit crisis as can be found anywhere.

If you prefer, a transcript of the entire interview can be read at the linked page. Here are some relevant quotes:

The Savings & Loan crisis was a tragedy in two parts. First part was not fraud, it was interest rate risk. But the second phase, which was vastly more expensive, was to defraud and the National Commission that looked into the causes of the crisis said that the typical large failure fraud was invariably present. And there were real regulators then. Our agency filed well over 10,000 criminal referrals that resulted in over 1,000 felony convictions and cases designated as nature. And even that understates the grade in which we went after the elite. Because we worked very closely with the FBI and the Justice Department, to prioritize cases – creating the top 100 list of the 100 worst institutions which translated into about 600 or 700 executives – and so the bulk of those thousand felony convictions were the worst fraud, the most elite frauds.

In the current crisis, of course they appointed anti-regulators. And this crisis goes back well before 2007 and of course it is continuing, it does not end at 2009. So the FBI warned in open testimony in the House of Representatives, in September 2004 – we are now talking seven years ago – that there was an epidemic of mortgage fraud, their words, and they predicted that it would cause a financial crisis, crisis being their word, if it were not contained. Well no one thinks that it was contained.

All right so you have massive fraud driving this crisis, hyperinflating the bubble, an FBI warning and how many criminal referrals did the same agency do, in this crisis. Remember it did well over 10,000 in the prior crisis. Well the answer is zero. They completely shut down making criminal referrals and whichever administration you hate the most, you can hate because while most of this certainly occurred in the Bush Administration, the Obama Administration has obviously not changed it. Obviously did not see it as a priority to prosecute these elite criminals who caused this devastating injury.

And here I am going to quote from the Mortgage Bankers Association. That is the trade association of the perps and this is their Anti-Fraud Specialist Unit, and they reported this to every member of the Mortgage Bankers Association in 2006. So nobody can claim they did not know. They found three critical things, first they said this kind of loan where you do not do underwriting is, and I am quoting again, “an open invitation to fraudsters.” Second, they said “the best study of this found a 90% fraud incident.” In other words, if you look at 100 liars loans, 90 of them are fraudulent. And third they said, therefore these loans where the euphemism is stated income are Alt-A loans, actually deserve the title that the industry calls them Behind Closed Doors, and that is liars loans. The other thing we know from other studies and investigations, is that it was overwhelmingly lenders and their agents that put the ‘lie’ in liars loans. Now that is obvious when you look at the lies about appraisals, because homeowners cannot inflate appraisals. But lenders can and how they did it was shown in an investigation by then New York Attorney General Cuomo, now Governor, who found that Washington Mutual, which is called WAMU, and is the largest bank failure in the history of the United States, and indeed the history of the world, had a black list of appraisers. But you got on the black list if you were an honest appraiser, and refused to inflate the appraisal….

By the way, these are the banks you bailed out with TARP. Remember that $700 Billion that Cantor stole from you and me? These are the banks he gave it to. And there are people out there in the world who still think TARP was a good idea. They call themselves “Republicans,” and you can find them in the comments here.