Sunday, October 30, 2016

Happy Halloween, Nice Mask! Oh, you’re not wearing one?

“What’s Going on…?”

“Picket lines and picket signs
Don’t punish me with brutality
Talk to me, so you can see
Oh, what's going on
What's going on
Yeah, what's going on
Ah, what's going on…”

Like the late Marvin Gaye, I, too, want to know what’s going on?

Hillary Clinton can’t seem to put a stake through the heart of the Trump campaign, despite the fact that he’s been the worst presidential candidate in decades and has run a bad and understaffed campaign, threatening to sue anyone who challenges his brazen statements and behaviors or disagrees with him.

Bill Clinton has managed to make millions from some of the same companies/interests which have donated to the Clinton Foundation, an organization—as foundations go—which has been diligent in spending its money on children, families, and those in need all over the world. Unnerving.

And this weekend, the FBI decided that it needed to look again at the HRC private email system IN THE CONTEXT OF ANOTHER CASE IT’S INVESTIGATING INVOLVING FORMER NEW YOUR MoC DEMOCRAT ANTHONY WEINER.

As I am fond of noting, I may have come into town in the back of a turnip wagon, but not last night!

FBI Director James Comey—MAYBE FIGURING HE COULD SALVAGE SOME GOP CRED-- made a “I know this will come back to bite me”  move involving former Congressman  Weiner (D-NY) and his wife Huma Abedin, long time HRC aide, from whom the “sexting” Weiner now is separated.

Despite his suggestions to the contrary, I suspect Comey knew exactly what impact this nothing burger announcement would have aiding the Trump campaign, but he argued--inside the agency--the Department would look bad or hesitant, if he failed to notify the few Congressmen and Senators to whom he wrote.

Excuse, me I’m calling Bull Shit on Comey.

There’s a reason the Justice Department—whose leadership Comey ignored and dissed--typically avoids discussing or calling attention to its investigations within 60 days of an election, since the absence of detail, as this one lacked, could produce a distorted understanding by the public and influence voting, in this instance 11 days before an unprecedented presidential election and hundreds of congressional races.

The early headlines—which produced near identical Trump and Clinton responses, asking DoJ to supply more information--could give Trump a few more votes than he otherwise would have gotten from some folks who didn’t need much more reason to vote against Hillary. But, if people just read their newspapers and listen to TV, they’ll see the craven emptiness of Comey’s gesture.

Highlighting the fact that none of the reported emails, copies of which the FBI may already possess, were sent to her or by her to others.

That’s why Mrs. Clinton has asked the FBI to fully disclose its concerns and objectives so the America people can decide “What’s going on?”
Comey skullduggery?

It’s also necessary, for those who believe Trump that Mrs. Clinton needs to go to jail over her use of the private email service, the Washington Post today reminded us that Comey said, “No prosecutor could bring a case (against Mrs. Clinton) because the FBI could not find evidence that indicated ‘clearly intentional and willful mishandling of classified information.’ ”

On the GSE Court front, too
 “What’s Going On?”………

(If GSE earnings possibly come this week—as has been reported--look for them to be decent, further filling the General Fund with additional taxpayers money, undercutting the “GSEs=bad business model” rhetoric.)

The federal government—the White House, the Treasury, the Department of Justice, and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA)—collectively have given the one finger salute (which ain’t “You’re #1”) to Judge Margaret Sweeney and her request for the Obama Administration to provide plaintiffs’ lawyers access to 50 or so documents which she ruled the attorneys should see, as part of their legal actions against the government.

As I write this, the government is balking, appealing, and trying to hide behind a variety of excuses, i.e. the information is part of super sensitive executive communications and—if made public—it could roil the national and international debt markets because of their inherent confidential and hush-hush character!!

Really? Really??

OK, OK, you all can stop laughing now.

It doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes or Boston Blackie to know there is nothing in these documents, some of them nearing nine and ten years old which—if published—would move anyone to do anything financially dire.

I mean what hasn’t be said publicly/loudly about the GSEs, in truth or with lying deceit (much more the latter), yet F&F still seem to be pumping out copious amounts of mortgage liquidity for US mortgagors all across the nation, just like the Energizer Bunny?

So our government is hiding a bunch of boneheaded Fannie and Freddie predictions its employees made, threats, inaccurate prognostications, which likely include written reports lying to courts, Congress, the media, and the American people,  Yep, this government is the one President Obama promised would be the most transparent in history?

The Feds are covering the political asses—probably not very well—of Treasury executives, White House appointees, FHFA officials, maybe some Federal Reserve personnel, and an outside cabal, i.e. “the fellow travelers,” with whom this Admin bunch consorted.

The usual suspects are Stegman, Parrott, Sperling, Weiss, Lew, but the names on/in those docs probably range farther and wider.

When/if those reports get published, those people will be embarrassed—since it will be after the Obama Admin leaves town to be replaced by the Clinton or Trump Administration (maybe they do have a worry here??)—but nobody will go to jail, right? (Maloni legal friends, I am right about that aren’t !? Oh, there is that perjury thing.)

Remember, VOTE ON NOV. 8

Along with many of your friends, colleagues and family, I am hoping this presidential election will end, smoothly on Nov. 8 or Nov. 9, with the loser conceding victory to the election winner.

But, we know that may not happen and that’s all out of our control.

All we citizens can do is make sure that we—our relatives and people in our personal networks—are properly registered to vote and then vote on Nov. 8.

Valued readers, your task is to check with all of your peeps—whether D’s or R’s-- between now and Tuesday, Nov. 8, email, text, or phone, to insure they are ready and can get to their local polling places.

I get incensed at the (too many) stories of GOP efforts, mainly, to suborn the vote and keep certain people away from the polls, limiting their right to select their chosen public officials.

That’s heinous/destructive behavior by anyone, no matter your party affiliation. So, blow the whistle, too, on any Democrats you see or hear doing it.

Our nation will survive this election and hopefully, when it finally is over, all of us will work together at making the country secure, better, and more fair to all of its citizens.

Maloni, 10-30-2016

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

GSEs and the Election

I know little more than most of you—and probably a lot less—when the issue is what are the positions or intentions of Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton on the questions surrounding Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac?

Before discussing where they might be, let me note something related.

Wrong Twice

Last July when the GOP assembled its presidential candidates, I suggested that Texan Rick Perry would be the easiest for Hillary Clinton to whip, since I just assumed she would be the D nominee and Perry wasn’t very sharp.

About a blog later, I changed my choice to Donald Trump, when I realized that he was serious about running for the post. Trump’s brashness and offensive personality I assumed/suggested would be very easy for Hillary to overcome or so I wrote. I was wrong, as events have shown. She may win, but....

I just never believed that Trump could win and the Republican Party would dip so low and embrace this flawed, openly pugnacious thin-skinned, egotistical billionaire, whose next touch with everyday Americans would be his first.

I underestimated his fans’ social and financial discontent and willingness to follow a carnival barker, making promises he could never keep.

Trump likely won’t prevail—but in this year, who knows—yet he’s is guaranteed like Godzilla to stomp and crush lots of people, personalities, historic institutions (think fair elections and the GOP), before he slinks back to the depths of Hell where he started.


Some will disagree, but I believe Hillary would be the better national leader

Hillary has flaws, they are display as we speak, but she is far superior to Donald Trump, who seems to respect nobody and nothing except himself and his own egotistical needs. Because of her experience and true passion, she would be a superior President, warts and all.

And that’s before I note that Trump’s buddy Putin is afraid of Hillary.

(No, Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Trump is not a worthy “role model” for our kids.)

Possible GSE Futures

First off, keep all eyes on the courts as an appeals panel reviews the very damaging Lamberth decision which said the federal government can do anything it wants to the GSEs and their shareholders.

Judge Margaret Sweeney’s lengthy deliberations in the Court of Claims still are meandering and likely will for another year. But she seems, justly, to be unhappy with the many government delays and obstacles it’s thrown in the way of process. Sweeney’s request for plaintiffs lawyers to review 60 new documents—a motion, surprise, the government is slow walking—indicates some hope for judicial relief in her court. But, her early moves while welcome, are not dispositive.

Turning to future GSE policy after the election. let me establish first off, that I could be 180 degrees away from where ultimately they will fall on the support/oppose GSE continuum. But, I’ll still share my opinion.

The easy one to project on GSE matters I think is Donald Trump.

The GOP platform is filled with the standard ant-GSE rhetoric which seeks to demolish the GSEs and replace them with something which doesn’t involve the federal government standing so big in the mortgage market. (Good luck with that when Trump finds out his voters don’t want to be slaves to the big banks and like long term fixed rate financing. But that’s another story.)

Here’s where we get to conjecture.

Trump and his personal businesses likely depend a great deal of easy access to large commercial bank credit lines or loans. That would be easier to know if he ever made public his taxes, which he might do (NOT!) if he gets elected.

Ergo, to insure his children, who would handle his businesses if he gets elected--since he has refused to put his operation in a blind trust, as previous presidents--Trump would want Eric, Jr, and Ivanka to have similar access to the same bank credit windows, meaning Trump will back the banks 100% and seek an end to the GSEs.

Hillary is surrounded by people who have not been GSE friendly, like Gary Gensler and Gene Sperling, and therefore heavily will consider the Obama position on GSEs, which has been decidedly anti-Fannie and Freddie.

Also, the red light/green light regarding her Wall Street opinions sends some confusing signals about supporting the Street, which wants the GSEs out of the way so they can sop up that income with their big bank allies, no matter what the consumer impact might be.

However....the Black and Hispanic communities for the past 20 years have been very supportive of the two companies, when the latter focus on the GSEs and what they bring to aspiring minority mortgagors. That’s because Fannie and Freddie delivered when they could (before the Treasury/FHFA forced the GSEs to give up their management discretion on running their businesses).

While it hardly has been dispositive, even in recent weeks and months, those two demographics through Black churches and more mainline community groups have engaged with FHFA and Treasury arguing to keep Fannie and Freddie operational and serving their communities and citizens.

Now, here’s where I head, again, for speculation and “maybes.”

If Hillary Clinton is elected on Nov. 8, owing to massive Black and Hispanic voter support and the political representatives of those organizations, plus the Congressmen/women and Senators who have largest numbers of those voters in their states and districts, urge President Clinton not to scuttle Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, I think the GSE have some chance of surviving going forward.

I also think HRC may have a greater sensitivity and appreciation for homeownership than certainly Trump, and also some of the campaign apparatchiks around her.

Is the Right Recognizing the “Lamberth Threat?”

Once again, I am not sure how effective it will be with the courts, but the fact that the conservative Cato Institute filed an amicus brief challenging the “takings” from a Anthony Piszel, a Freddie Mac employee dismissed and denied benefits from his departure agreement, i.e. “golden parachute,” is a development worth considering.

Cato says the government overreached which indeed is the same the same principle with the “takings” lawsuits which most of the plaintiffs allege in their lawsuits.

It may mean bupkis (nothing), but it still represents a first entry on the broader GSE side for the “traditionalists.” Maybe there are more opportunities for them which could catch the attention of some GOP Senators and Members.

Maloni, 10-18-2016

Make sure you and your eligible family members are registered to vote and then go and vote. Take others who are registered but may need transportation or other help.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Congress goes home to campaign

Congress Goes Home, Here’s Your Chance

(Yay Judge Margaret Sweeney; need a few more from you!)

You folks at home, lock your doors and windows, keep the children within arm’s length, and your cats and dogs in. Check your alarm systems and don’t put any fresh baked pies on the window sills. Arm yourselves.

Congress has departed DC, until after the November 8 election, and its denizens are headed home to seek your votes, having done nothing in the past two years except fight and, like chimpanzees, show their asses to one another and the world.

Most of them should be embarrassed to come back and ask your electoral help because they did so little to earn it, save harass President Obama who turned to aggressive executive action because he couldn’t get the GOP to respond or cooperate. Yes, that’s my take and I think it’s easily provable.

But, beyond that. With so many of your elected officials home and pandering, go meet them and exercise your right to tell them what you think and what you want.

They actually do want to hear from you, so give them an earful. I repeat, this is your opportunity to engage them one on one. If they are facing you, they’ll try but they can’t get by with a glib non-answer or a “keep your views in mind” letter describing events about which you didn’t ask.
You might surprise yourself about how effective an advocate you can be.
Sure, talk about the GSEs, as I lay out below this segment, but don’t stop there.

They’re going to have to work with a new President/Administration in four months and you need to tell them what you expect, depending upon who wins on Nov. 8, Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, barring something dramatically unforeseen, although in this year, anything could happen.

Do you want higher taxes on the wealthy or lower; do you want a more aggressive US military/diplomatic response in the Middle East, with North Korea, and Russia, let them know.

Are you PO’d with likely Russian hacking of US political and other institutions, possibly with an eye toward corrupting our election results, tell them.
More trade deals or fewer?

Do you want more infrastructure spending, more or less environmental controls; more open borders for Middle Eastern and other immigrants or tighter rules?

They need to hear from you. It’s your chance and don’t waste it.
But make sure that you and all of your family and friends are registered to vote for whatever political party you like and then make sure you do vote.
Don’t sit it out or throw your support to one of the fringe parties. IMO, both are hollow gestures.

Maloni to Congress: Connect the Dots

It certainly was a deserving dish served/thrown red hot in the face of Jack Stumpf, the Wells Fargo CEO who took his lame, “It’s my fault and the buck stops here” to non-accepting Senators and House Members twice in the past two weeks.

Stumpf’s bank was guilty of starting thousands of phony accounts for clients/customers who never requested them, paying bounties to Wells employees who did the evil deeds.

Although Stumpf felt the predictable wrath of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), he also got stung by House Members, D’s and R’s, since he was an easy target owing to the bank’s transgressions and ripe for the beat down they delivered.

But, don’t be fooled or lulled into thinking the big banks are going to get spanked permanently. They will get shouted at--and Stumpf could lose his job and already has lost money--but few sanctions are coming because the GOP likes the big banks, as we have come to learn.

GSE supporters need to capture this moment and press the argument, “The banks are prone to break rules; it’s part of their DNA” with their representatives since pols of all stripes, for a variety of their own selfish reasons, want to grandstand and pretend they have it in for the big financial institutions.

 “Hey Senator/Congressman, do you realize these larcenous, anti-consumer behemoth banks you just excoriated are the same institutions you are setting up to inherent the nation’s primary and secondary mortgage markets when/if you support disassembling Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac?”

“Duh, Huh?”

I don’t think most of these Senators and Congress people connect those dots and see the big bank larceny (and it’s not just Wells, although it’s the most recent institutional miscreant) and it's potential to foul up even more.

If any of these Senators or Congressmen intellectually or politically see that link, they aren’t talking about it.

They don't seem to understand, if the GOP has its way, it’s the same banks they're now hectoring which will get control, with a ribbon tied round it, of the nation's mortgage finance system (with added federal subsidies), 
So voters/constituents make them see the point!

All House Members are up for reelection in November and all will home campaigning.

If you believe in keeping the GSEs operational and helping families finance their homeownership dreams, meet and educate them.

Raise the GSE issue and lead them through the simple thought sequence which starts with, “The GSEs operationally act as a governor on big bank mortgage behavior. Act/vote to remove Fannie and Freddie for whatever reasons, and nobody—including their federal regulators—will be able to stop banks form returning to their corner cutting, process undermining ways. It’s in their bank culture to try and cheat.”

For House R’s remind them the disdain, during the Wells hearing, Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.) had for the federal regulators. They didn’t stop Wells execs or employees from creating these unwanted checking/savings/credit card accounts and they can’t/won’t stop abusive mortgage lending from similar institutions, if the banks go there, again.

Don’t forget, more than a third of the Senate will be running next month, too, so don’t spare your Senators from the same message.

GSEs are not top of any congressional mind, but chances are your GSE/bank concerns can be elevated to that position if you bring it up and remind them they are connected and the Congress might get a chance to vote on some of these matters.

Soon we’ll hear about some disposition between the Justice Department‘s engagement with Deutsche Bank, not headquartered in the US, but which does major business in our country.

Justice has sought nearly a $15 Billion fine for DB’s mortgage backed securities misdeeds. The bank wants to negotiate and pay less and we’ll know that amount soon enough. But it will be in your back home newspapers and media and make sure your federal elected officials know you’re informed about that, too.

“Call/write to your Congressman and Senator” is a mantra many of us use to encourage civic/political activism, but this time, they will be close, roaming around your neighborhoods and at local meetings pitching you on helping them.

For the next four or more weeks, those not hiding and avoiding their constituents, will be easily reachable. Turn the process around and ask them for whatever federal policy you and your family want and feel you need and deserve.

Worth noting: The Washington Post on Saturday, 10-1, reported that Donald Trump’s businesses owe millions of dollars to that same Deutsche Bank, putting this man who would be our President in a lousy position if federal agencies have to move against one of his personal lenders. (As if you needed another reason to not vote for the Donald, since when you get this blog, you’ll have read about his latest tax "issue.")

New York Clergy Speak Out for GSEs

Church leaders pushed back this week on those who would violate the GSEs?

Thirty eight minority church leaders, who support the continued operation of Fannie and Freddie, wrote to Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), a member of the SBC, both making the GSE case and nailing the large commercial banks for ignoring their neighborhoods, trying to destabilize or destroy the GSEs, seeking just to acquire F&F’s annual revenues.

Schumer (D-NY) is set to be the Senate Majority Leader if the Democrats win 51 seats or will be the Minority Leader if they don’t. The letter was copied to all the New York delegation serving on the House Banking Committee and FHFA Director Mel Watt, as well as others.

In establishing the importance of full GSE service to low and moderate income families, especially minorities, and the corresponding lack of big bank interest in serving those communities, the clergymen wrote:

Since their inception, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have acted to ensure that banks and other lenders would be able to extend mortgage credit in good times and in bad times. Their important service to our economy, from 1938 to the present, has helped lift millions of families out of economic bondage and, by supporting homeownership, provided those families with a chance to join the middle-class, increase their self-sufficiency, and improve the social and educational outcomes of their children and communities. However, as our communities of color seek to pursue those same goals today, Washington is inexplicably curtailing and threatening to eliminate the business functions performed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

Conversely, the biggest banks have consistently displayed a disinterest in lending to us, and the likely effects of their feverish support for “GSE reform” should be as transparent to you as it is to us: more gentrification in our neighborhoods, more rental properties across our communities, less homeownership opportunities for our parishioners. The efforts of these big banks to mint another dollar by controlling the housing finance market will result in an increase of systemic risk, come at the expense of homeownership, reinforce the economic disparities plaguing our communities, and shut the door on our economic self-sufficiency.

Yay, Clergymen.

Their entire excellent letter can be found on GSE Links, thanks to site host “Whiteghost.”

Let’s see how the anti-GSE crowd handles this latest positive campaign, since, already, they are on the defensive owing to the majority of their GSE systemic alternatives will just make the big banks even stronger and groups like the Community Mortgage Lenders of America highlighting those uncomfortable facts.

Maybe this church leader communication could be a trend where housing-enlightened clergymen in other communities—large and small--get together and send similar letters to Congress, especially since certain Washington policy makers have trouble connecting the big bank opposition and GSE dots.

Maloni, 10-2-2016