Georgetown U.’s Adam Levitin has become something of a rock star during the foreclosure fraud crisis. He had some of the best and most biting commentary in the Senate Banking Committee hearings on the issue, and he also appeared today at the House Financial Services Committee hearings. And under questioning from Rep. Brad Miller (D-NC), he let loose, and said what everyone has been thinking about the foreclosure crisis.
First off, he lamented the fact that we have been holding hearings like this since 2007. “Every year we have another set of hearings, and you can add 2 million foreclosures” to the bottom line. Nothing gets fixed, despite all kinds of documented evidence that the banks and servicers have committed fraud. Levitin’s position is that the servicers should be banned from the loan modification business entirely, because they don’t have any interest in it except as a profit-maximization scheme, and they have massive conflicts of interest that cut against doing right by the borrowers (and even the investors for whom they work).
But this was the key moment. Levitin said that we don’t have the full data sets from the servicers, or any comprehensive data to see whether there is a full-on crisis of unclear title and improper mortgage assignment. In other words, we don’t quite know the full extent of the problem. Levitin said, essentially, “The federal regulators don’t want to get info from servicers, because then they’d have to do something about it.” They don’t want to recognize the scope of the problem because it would require them to act.
And Levitin in particular singled out the Treasury Department. “The prime directive coming out of Treasury is ‘protect the banks’ and don’t force them to recognize their losses.” That says it in a nutshell, and it was said in open testimony in Congress.