Warren Buffett Explains the 2008 Financial Crisis


In this interview Warren Buffett repeatedly cites the financial crisis as beginning in September of 2008 and gaining momentum in 2009.  Framing the great financial crisis in this period ignores the root cause of the great financial crisis. The root cause of the financial crisis was the collapse of the housing bubble.  Single family home prices and the mortgages backing home financing began a rapid and fairly constant decline in March of 2006. The significant loss of value in these two major (related) asset classes - single family homes and mortgages - translated, by September 2008, into the broader banking disaster due to the foreclosure crisis and because banks had been trading financial derivatives and interest rate swaps which were based on single family home values and mortgage values. 

Any discussion of the great financial crisis should begin with the root cause of the crisis. That is, such discussions should include information about how cheap-and-easy single family home financing arrangements fueled demand for homes, which fueled rapidly escalating home prices, which led to the ill-fated single family home price bubble.

 

 

MERS in the News Again

A podcast interview of David Dayan author of the book Chain of Title (26:31):

Odd Lots: How Three Self-Taught Activists Fought the Giant American Foreclosure Machine with Joe Weisenthal and Tracy Alloway - pub. Bloomberg -June 13, 2016.  

More:

During a December 15, 2010 U.S. House of Representatives Justice Committee hearing witnesses gave testimony on issues relating to "Mortgage Servicing and Foreclosure Practices". A critical focus of the discussion was apparent problems with the recordation of land title and note ownership. Witnesses claim that the Mortgage Electronic Registration System (MERS) has failed to reliably record changes in title and note ownership. The accompanying video-clip is a segment from the C-SPAN hearing video (see, C-SPAN Video Library). 

                                         

                                       The History of the Mortgage Electronic Registration System (MERS)

From some internet searches I performed at the beginning of the controversy about the Mortgage Electronic Registration System (MERS), I learned MERS was first proposed by representatives of Fannie Mae at a Mortgage Bankers' Annual Convention in the early 1990's. Some of the materials I saw on-line at that time said that mortgage bankers showed interest in the concept Fannie Mae presented, so Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac each contributed 2 million dollars (4 million total) to develop MERS.

The articles I saw on-line said Fannie and Freddie hired a large D.C. law firm (Covington & Burling) to design and program MERS. And, these articles claimed that, once the design and programming was complete Fannie and Freddie incorporated MERSCorp. and hired Electronic Data Systems (EDS) as ‘facilities manager’ for MERSCorp.  Then Fannie and Freddie sold MERSCorp to a consortium of large mortgage industry participants (mortgage banker securitizers, and mortgages servicers).

It was also noted that as MERS was in development Fannie and Freddie modified some of their mortgage qualification requirements and documentation standards to favor MERS recordings. And, it was noted that without Fannie and Freddie’s interest and support for MERS, MERS probably would not have been a ‘successful’ venture.

I thought this history of MERS was interesting. I’ve also found it interesting that, as the controversy around MERS, and the controversy around the GSE's has brewed over the last few years, the documentation for the history of the creation of MERS and MERSCorp seems to have become more-and-more obscure.

Related information:

(1) Oregon State Supreme Court Media Release of Bart G. Brandrup, et al., v. Recontrust Company, N.A., et al., (USDC Case No. 311CV1390HZ, 311CV1399HZ, 311CV1533SI, 312CV0010HA) (SC S060281), at: http://www.ojd.state.or.us/SCA/WebMediaRel.nsf/Files/2013-06-06_Media_Release.pdf/$File/2013-06-06_Media_Release.pdf

(2) Is FM Watch a Crusader With an Agenda? By Louis Sichelman – RealtyTimes, pub. 7/5/1999 at: http://realtytimes.com/rtpages/19990705_fmwatch.htm

(3) Two Faces: Demystifying the Mortgage Electronic Registration System's Land Title Theory By Christopher L. Peterson University of Utah - S.J. Quinney College of Law, pub. SSRN, at: September 19, 2010, at: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1684729

(4) Reston Based Company MERS in the Middle of Foreclosure Chaos By Brady Dennis & Ariana Cha Washington Post -October 8, 2010. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/10/07/AR2010100702742.html

(5) MERS? It May Have Swallowed Your Loan An obscure company claims to hold title to roughly half of the home mortgages in the nation - 60 million loans By Michael Powell and Gretchen Morgenson - New York Times, March 6, 2011 at: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/06/business/06mers.html?emc=eta1&_r=0