A while back Bear Stearns sold some mortgage-backed securities to a thing called FSAM, which was basically a subsidiary of Franco-Belgian monstrosité Dexia, and FSAM sold the RMBS on to Dexia, and the mortgages were all terrible, and their value dropped, and Dexia sued JPMorgan, currently the proud owner of Bear Stearns, and today JPMorgan won:
JPMorgan Chase & Co has won the dismissal of the vast majority of a lawsuit accusing it of misleading the Belgian-French bank Dexia SA into buying more than $1.6 billion of troubled mortgage debt.
The decision, made public Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan, is a victory for the largest U.S. bank, in a case that gained notoriety after emails and other materials were disclosed that suggested the bank and its affiliates knew the debt was toxic, but sold it anyway.
Despite the notoriety this is kind of a boring case: it’s a garden-variety RMBS fraud case; Bear said various things in the offering documents that maybe weren’t so true, and the market crashed and the investors lost a lot of money, and now they’re mad. There’s like a zillion of those cases; actually there’s like a zillion of those cases just against Bear Stearns (here are two).
But the fact that the bank won is pretty interesting? Like, if JPMorgan can win a garden-variety RMBS case then so can anyone? I guess? So I suppose it’s worth spending a minute figuring out what this means for other banks.
We run into immediate problems because it’s hard to know exactly why JPMorgan won; the judge’s order is two pages of “opinion to follow.” But reading JPMorgan’s submissions you can get behind CNBC’s interpretation: Read more »
AIG is in the news today for two very small numbers in connection with much larger numbers. First: AIG is no longer bailed out! I know, you thought that happened like six months ago, and then again three months ago, but today AIG got rid of the last little bits of government ownership, really this time:
American International Group, Inc. (NYSE: AIG) announced today that it completed the repurchase of warrants issued to the United States Department of the Treasury (U.S. Treasury) in 2008 and 2009. … AIG and the U.S. Treasury agreed upon a repurchase price of approximately $25 million for the warrants. The U.S. Treasury does not have any residual interest in AIG after AIG’s repurchase of these warrants.
“With AIG repurchasing all outstanding warrants issued to the U.S. Treasury, we are turning the final page on America’s assistance to AIG,” said Robert H. Benmosche, AIG President and Chief Executive Officer. “We appreciate the opportunities this support allowed and are proud to have returned to America every cent plus a profit of $22.7 billion.”
Back in December, I speculated baselessly about why AIG didn’t just buy back these warrants in connection with Treasury’s final sale of stock back in December, since they were just rounding error on the $7.6bn offering. I figured waiting would let the government get a better deal, and it seems to have: I ballparked a value of $18,000,000.393 for those warrants in December, so Treasury made an extra $7mm by waiting three months.1 One possible explanation is that AIG and Treasury enjoyed the dynamic of announcing “AIG HAS PAID OFF ITS BAILOUT” every three months, so they milked it for all it was worth. I’m sure someone from Treasury left a pen or something at AIG’s offices, and its return will be announced with great fanfare in a few months.
But this is a distraction from more amazing, less pleasant AIG news: Read more »
Countrywide is both an albatross and a boon for Brian Moynihan. Sure, it’s the reason for all of Bank of America’s troubles, but it’s also really convenient to have such a reason.
This, however, is less convenient: Read more »
Was the “worst merger in Wall Street history” a merger at all?
A judge’s answer to that question will go a long way towards determining if the more than $40 billion (and counting) that Brian Moynihan & Co. have already paid in penance (and write-downs and legal fees, etc.) for the albatross that was and is the “world-class” company known as Countrywide is enough, or if MBIA is entitled to some billions of its own. Read more »
In June 2008, Countrywide founder and CEO Angelo Mozilo stood before a group of CFC shareholders and, through salty tears, told them that Bank of America would “reap the benefits of what we have sowed.” He wasn’t kidding, and in the 4+ years since Ken Lewis paid $4 billion for the place, BofA has had the pleasure of ponying up an additional $40 billion (and counting) in write-downs and legal fees associated with cleaning up Countrywide’s messes, while CEO Brian Moynihan has publicly described the acquisition as an albatross around his neck. Additionally, Ang Moz forked over $67.5 million in 2010 to “resolve SEC claims that he misled investors,” and separately, there has been talk by some that Countrywide contributed in no small way to the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. In light of all that, does Ang Moz, have any regrets about the way his company was run? Not a fucking one and if he had to do it all over? He wouldn’t change a thing. Read more »
Was there mortgage-related misbehavior at Bank of America and its various after-acquired subsidiaries? I wasn’t there, but on public information, I mean, sure, why not. Some days it looks like there was mortgage fraud everywhere. But whereas everyone else is all “sorry about the mortgage fraud” and “here is a large settlement,” BofA is not into that. When you accuse them of mortgage fraud, they take the fight to you. They did that with Fannie Mae, refusing to sell it any new mortgages just because Fannie thinks BofA should be buying back some of the old mortgages it mmmmaybe fraudulently sold Fannie. And they’re doing it with MBIA, suing the bejesus out of them just because MBIA is suing the bejesus out of BofA over mortgage fraud.
But that’s old news; the new news is this Bloomberg article about how BofA is opening another front in the MBIA battle. You should read it because it is amazing. Here is the story so far, from BofA’s offer today:
- Bank of America1 bought $6.15 billion notional of insurance/CDS contracts against (surprisingly?) commercial mortgages from MBIA Insurance Corporation, which everyone calls “MBIA Corp.,” and which is a subsidiary of MBIA Inc., which is a public company and which everyone calls just “MBIA.” There’s a deductible, and BofA hasn’t yet eaten through it, so these policies are all outstanding and untouched though dicey-looking.
- Bank of America2 also bought a lot of insurance against home loans that it packaged, also from MBIA Corp.; those loans were terrible, MBIA Corp. has paid off some of the insurance, and now it’s suing to get it back because fraud fraud fraud fraudy fraud fraud.
- Meanwhile MBIA did some internal rejiggering, taking its nice relatively sensible municipal-insurance business, called National Public Finance Guarantee Corp. (everyone calls it “National”), out of MBIA Corp., and put it directly under MBIA, leaving MBIA Corp. with mostly terribleness like Bank of America mortgage insurance. This, one assumes, was done in preparation for casting MBIA Corp. into the fires of Mount Doom. Read more »
Time was, Bank of America loved buying companies. Bonus points if there was a not-so-subtle suggestion by the target’s CEO that BofA would one day be very sorry for doing so, or that they would’ve been better off picking up an asbestos manufacturer, or that they were looking at roughly $40 billion (and counting) in legal fees associated with fuck-ups that were to become Bank of America’s problem, or that they would have night terrors for the rest of their lives about signing those papers. As it’s been a while since BofA went shopping, some in the financial services industry have been wondering if we can expect any announcements re: big deals anytime soon or if Ken Lewis’s unsolicited suggestions (Groupon, Sino Forest, The Thirsty Beaver, and most recently: “a P&C insurer with outsized exposure to the Northeast”) are or have ever been under consideration. Read more »
Bank of America bought Countrywide Financial in 2008 and it’s fair to say that went poorly; the Wall Street Journal totted up total Countrywide losses at about $40 billion but that was in July so they’re probably, like, $80 billion by now. If you were trying to figure out the maximum past and future losses you might start with the fact that Countrywide Financial originated about $2.2 trillion of mortgages between 2003 and 2007; ignoring anything before that you might ballpark the upper bound at $2.2 trillion. Let me draw you a Venn diagram, because this is now that kind of blog:
Eventually that yellow circle can grow to the size of the blue circle, but no bigger: the absolute highest number of fraudulent mortgages that Countrywide could have written is “all of the mortgages it wrote.” Right? No, wrong, of course: Read more »
And then decided that sticking with the “worst deal in the history of American finance,” which has cost it $40 billion in cleanup so far, made them at least look like responsible adults, facing the consequences of their actions, rather than deadbeats trying to take the easy way out. Read more »
Remember when Bank of America bought Countrywide in 2008 and CFC Chief Executive Officer/Oracle Angelo Mozilo said they wouldn’t be sorry and it wouldn’t be long before BofA would “reap what Countrywide hath sowed“? He wasn’t kidding and now, finally, BAC and Ken Lewis, the guy who had the foresight to do the deal, are having their vision and skills recognized. Read more »
Just something to keep in mind. Read more »