Philadelphia's Plan to Suspend Foreclosure Auctions
Recently, the local government in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania has made the decision to suspend sheriff sales of foreclosed properties. No more foreclosure auctions will be connected for homeowners who have adjustable rate, subprime mortgages, and the suspension will last all through the month of April. This remarkable measure may provide relief to thousands of homeowners, and is one of the very small victories for individuals in the foreclosure crisis.
From Ohio judges throwing foreclosure lawssuits out of court to this latest suspension of sheriff sales, local Governments have been able to act much more forcefully to combat the rising foreclosures than the federal government. Anyway, no one can really tell which companies, hedge funds, investors, or banks own the paperwork and have the legal right to collect on the loan. The marketing of subprime loans was just a scheme to generate as much money as possible in loan origination fees and sell toxic loans to investors. This has been completed and now the fallout must be deal with.
But banks are getting their bailout courtesy of the American public, through generous loans and packages provided by the Federal Reserve. It seems that it is only just for people, through their community leaders, to come up with their own solutions. In fact, perhaps the entire foreclosure crisis will reach some sort of perverse equilibrium with the Fed stealing money from the public to bail out the banks, creating massive inflation and taking the banking industry completely away from all government regulation, while homeowners find ways to void out their mortgage contracts complete and suspend the auctioning of their properties and the financial destruction of their communities.
Another question that should be raised is if the banks are suffering any actual damages from the foreclosing mortgages. They are receiving hundreds of billions of dollars from the Federal Reserve, which essentially pays off many of these mortgages. So where is their standing to sue? The people who pay taxes have already paid off the default mortgages through the Fed's granting of US Treasury securities to the banks. If the banks no longer own the mortgages, and have had paid off nonetheless, it would seem that they have little reason to keep going after homeowners to steal properties.
Ending the incessant whining about subprime mortgages going bad and the danger of the survival of the banking industry, though, would mean the banks would not be able to ask for more bailouts. The banks already made a killing on the way up by packaging what they knew were bad loans and selling them to unsuspecting investors, who were fooled by the bond-rating agencies into purchasing what they believed were prime-rated securities. Now that the loans are going bad, the banks' reserves are drying up (on paper), so they need generous loans and free money from the Fed to ensure that they can make more money on the resulting crash of the market.
The people of Philadelphia, by suspending foreclosure auctions, may be on to something important. Hopefully, the suspension will last longer than just one month and the banks will have no choice but to deal with homeowners as negotiating partners, rather than as hosts for their parasitic lending practices. The banks have put themselves into a situation where the only logical reaction for local Governments is to realize the invalidity of the mortgage loans. With the decrease in property taxes to local governments, the banks' ability to manipulate local communities into preventing invalid foreclosure lawsuits to go forward may also be evaporating.