All items from Credit Slips

At a hearing on September 29, Judge Griesa indicated that he would hold Argentina in contempt of court but deferred his ruling on what the sanction would be. He has now issued the sanctions order. Somewhat surprisingly, the order does not impose even a monetary fine. (Perhaps the judge is not eager to deal with Argentina's inevitable noncompliance?) Instead, the order simply declares that Argentina will remain in contempt until it (i) "reaffirms and confirms" BNY-Mellon as trustee and (2) terminates any local trustee appointed as part of the already-not-too-attractive plan to let investors swap into local bonds. The order concludes by noting that the court "will consider the imposition of sanctions upon further application by Plaintiffs."



Posted 2 weeks 4 days ago

The revelation that 76 million JPMorgan Chase consumer accounts were compromised by hacking should be scaring the heck out of us. The Chase hacking is a red flag that hacking poses a real systemic risk to our banking system, and a national security risk as well. Frankly, I find this stuff a lot scarier than either ISIS or our still largely unregulated shadow banking space.  
Consider this nightmare scenario:  what if the hackers had just zeroed out all of those 76 million Chase accounts and wipes out months of transaction history making it impossible to determine exactly how much money was in the accounts at the time they were zeroed out? The money wouldn't even have to be stolen.  Just the account records changed.  What would happen then? "Not to worry," you say, "Chase's equity will make things good.  Jamie's got a fortress balance sheet."  Perhaps.  But 76 million accounts could be an awful lot of money, rendering Chase undercapitalized.  And what if Chase's equity isn't enough?
"Relax," you say, "the accounts are FDIC insured." But the FDIC can only pay insurance on account balances it can verify. If the FDIC can't determine account balances it's going to be hard to pay consumers without serious disruption.



Posted 2 weeks 5 days ago

Former Credit Slips blogger Elizabeth Warren who also happens to be the senior senator from Massachusetts was a category on Jeopardy! last night. H/T to the WSJ's Bankruptcy Beat, which has a more complete story on the topic including the questions that were asked. None of the questions related to Credit Slips probably because they would have been too easy. Please let me hold on to that illusion.
None of the contestants could correctly give the full name of the agency of which Senator Warren was interim director, "the CFPB for short." Although she was commonly referred to as the "interim director," the title I remember her holding is "assistant to the president and special advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury" (e.g., here and here). It's a trivial point -- which I suppose is the point of Jeopard! -- but was she ever formally the "interim director" of the CFPB?



Posted 2 weeks 5 days ago

Some thoughts on how much faith we should have in the debt markets, and whether they are actually markets at all, over at Dealb%k.



Posted 2 weeks 5 days ago

The CFPB entered into a Consent Order with Flagstar Bank regarding its default mortgage servicing practices. This order is really important. It's the first enforcement action of the CFPB's new servicing rules, and its "benching" remedy that prevents Flagstar from most default servicing until it demonstrates compliance shows that the Bureau is serious about cleaning out the Augean stables of servicing. (The Ocwen order had a much larger dollar figure attached, but was about pre-2014 conduct).
The details given in the consent order tell an all-too-common picture about mortgage servicing.  

In 2011, Flagstar had 13,000 active loss mitigation applications but only assigned 25 full-time employees and a third-party vendor in India to review them. For a time, it took the staff up to nine months to review a single application. In Flagstar’s loss mitigation call center, the average call wait time was 25 minutes and the average call abandonment rate was almost 50 percent. And Flagstar’s loss mitigation application backlog numbered well over a thousand. 

And we wonder why loss mitigation hasn't been more effective?



Posted 3 weeks 22 hours ago

A long long time ago in this same galaxy, I wrote what may be Credit Slips' most popular post: What do bankruptcy mortgage servicing and phone sex in common? Today, I bring you a new comparison: bankruptcy mortgage servicing and ebola. At the outset, let me be very clear that ebola is a tragic health care crisis. I do not mean to minimize those deaths and illnesses with a comparison to mortgage servicing--although to be sure, poor mortgage servicing has tragic financial consequences.



Posted 3 weeks 6 days ago

IMG_4527Just back from European Law and Economics, where the big topics at the coffee breaks were the Scottish vote, until that was resolved, sort of, Argentina, which is widely seen as a self-created mess for the U.S. courts, and the Air France strike, which caused presenters and chairs to miss sessions at random throughout the conference.



Posted 4 weeks 21 hours ago

Yoga for lawyersAnd now time for something entirely different. I noticed a great new book in our list of library acquisitions recently that might be of particular interest to two groups that suffer from lots of stress: lawyers and debtors! Credit Slips' own Nathalie Martin has teamed up with a lawyer-turned-yogi and the ABA to produce a really wonderful new book, Yoga for Laywers: Mind-Body Techniques to Feel Better All the Time. The book contains a very nice discussion of stress, its causes and effects, and its relief through yoga poses, mindfulness and meditation.  I've read a lot of these kinds of books, and this one stands out as particulary clear and readable. Moreover, the yoga section is extraordinarily accessible.



Posted 4 weeks 1 day ago

The Second Circuit has refused to hear Citibank's appeal of Judge Griesa's order enjoining Citi from making payment on USD-denominated, Argentine-law bonds. The Second Circuit's order is a bit... Delphic. Weighing in at all of 56 words, not counting citations, the court simply "decline[d] to find jurisdiction" because the district judge's order "is a clarification, not a modification" of the injunction. The distinction seems a bit fine, given the stakes. Recall that some USD-denominated, Argentine law bonds are Exchange Bonds (and thus subject to the injunction) while some are not. But it seems that it is impossible to tell them apart. Two options, then: (1) forbid Citi to pay anyone, even though NML concededly has no right to block payment on non-Exchange Bonds, or (2) allow Citi to pay everyone, thus allowing a subset of Exchange Bonds to escape the injunction. The district judge chose option one. In theory, the district judge can reconsider (re-clarify?) that decision, but I am not holding my breath.



Posted 4 weeks 4 days ago

A Adp-garnishment-report-1 valuable and groundbreaking source of data on wage garnishment has just been released by ADP, the nation's largest payroll services provider. I immediately recalled a great paper by Rich Hynes about the paucity of wage garnishments in Virginia and Illinois in the mid-2000s. According to ADP, things have changed since the recession, especially for blue-collar (manufacturing and transportation/utilities) workers in the Midwest making between $25,000 and $40,000 a year, of whom more than 10% suffered a garnishment in 2011-2013. About half of these garnishments were for child support, but the other half were for taxes, consumer debts, and bankruptcy cases (presumably wage orders entered for Chapter 13 plans).



Posted 4 weeks 6 days ago