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.  


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:$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:

(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:

(4) Reston Based Company MERS in the Middle of Foreclosure Chaos By Brady Dennis & Ariana Cha Washington Post -October 8, 2010.

(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:

Mortgage Crisis Deja Vu

In the name of diversity, Watt greases looser credit by mandating mortgages for "very low income" borrowers.

Mortgage Crisis Déjà Vu – Investors Business Daily – Op/Ed - November 5, 2014

Dissenting Statement of Commissioner Daniel M. Gallagher Concerning Adoption of Rules Implementing the Credit Risk Retention Provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act By SEC Commissioner Daniel M. Gallagher - Oct. 22, 2014, at:

Relevant video-clips:

Bill Clinton: Laying the Foundation for The House of Cards

Former Mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg, “Wall Street Didn’t Cause the Financial Crisis, Plain and Simple Congress Caused It”

Warren Buffett testifies before The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission Who Caused the Financial Crisis?


"Wall Street Didn't Cause the Mortgage Crisis, Congress Did"

On November 1, 2011, during a "Town Hall" meeting in mid-town Manhattan, a reporter asked Mayor Michael Bloomberg for his thoughts on the "Occupy Wall Street" protests. Mayor Bloomberg responded by, in effect, saying the movement's focus on Wall Street was mis-directed, because in the mayor's words, ". . . . Plain and simple, Wall Street didn't cause the financial crisis, Congress did."

If you are unfamiliar with Michael Bloomberg’s credentials you might logically ask, “Does Michael Bloomberg have the background and experience to make judgment about financial matters?”.  You be the judge:

From Wikipedia

Michael Bloomberg attended Johns Hopkins University. He graduated in 1964 with a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering. In 1966 he received his Master of Business Administration from Harvard Business School

In 1973, Bloomberg became a general partner at Salomon Brothers, a bulge-bracket Wall Street investment bank, where he headed equity trading and, later, systems development. In 1981, Salomon Brothers was bought and Bloomberg was laid off from the investment bank and given a $10 million severance package. Using this money, Bloomberg went on to set up a company named Innovative Market Systems. His business plan was based on the realization that Wall Street (and the financial community generally) was willing to pay for high quality business information, delivered as quickly as possible and in as many usable forms possible, via technology (e.g., graphs of highly specific trends). In 1982, Merrill Lynch became the new company's first customer, installing 22 of the company's Market Master terminals and investing $30 million in the company. The company was renamed Bloomberg L.P. in 1987. By 1990, it had installed 8,000 terminals. Over the years, ancillary products including Bloomberg News, Bloomberg Message, and Bloomberg Tradebook were launched.  

One year into his second term of office President Bill Clinton explained it this way:

For more on this subject see, "The Role of the Government Sponsored Enterprises  and Federal Housing Policy in the Financial Crisis" at:

The Ten Thousand Pound Gorilla

A Mortgage Market Out of Balance By Peter Eavis New York Times DealBook Investment Banking Investment Services September 6, 2013.

The above linked article mentions put-back-risk as a possible cause for what, on its face, appears to be an economic anomaly in the current pricing of mortgages. Over the past couple of years, I’ve been reading articles which discuss mortgage put-backs and put-back-risk, and every time I see the phrase put-back-risk I wonder . . . whatever happened to “buyer beware” and I wonder, did Fannie and Freddie abandoned due-diligence in their processes while attempting to buy as many loans as they could buy in order to hit their mandated executive bonus targets?

RE: Put-Back-Risk

In the late 1990's Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac created automated underwriting systems. Fannie and Freddie encouraged mortgage originators to use their automated systems as “conduits” for underwriting and submitting loans to be purchased by Fannie and Freddie. If mortgage originators were using automated underwriting systems developed by the purchasers (Fannie and Freddie) why didn't the systems detect the poorly underwritten loans? Were there no audit procedures in place for ongoing audit and quality testing of the loans the GSEs were buying? I'd like to see an examination of the effect of the automated underwriting systems used by Fannie and Freddie.

In the mid to late 1990’s The GSE's also created the Mortgage Electronic Registration System (MERS) which is a mess because it lacked supervisory controls and audit controls on in-puts (mortgage records) which were supposed to record land title changes and supposed to record changes in mortgage note ownership.

Below, I’ve hyperlinked a couple of interesting articles which discuss important historical information about the competitive environment in the mortgage industry.

For more on this subject, see: Why Big Lenders Are So Afraid Of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac” By Patrick Barta - Staff Reporter of The Wall Street Journal – pub. April 5, 2001, at:

And, Is FM Watch a Crusader With an Agenda? By Louis Sichelman – RealtyTimes, pub. 7/5/1999 at: