This morning Rick Santelli went nuclear on the entire "fraudulent mortgage" game - the culmination of a series of rants that he has (correctly) launched over the last year.
(As an aside, great minds must think alike, as we both had the "extra bathroom" thing in our morning rants!)
You can view it here (can't embed as its a CNBS video clip)
Here's the point folks, when you get down to it:
And that's not the only thing Denninger feels strongly about. Though the Internet made him a millionaire -- his stake in MCS was rumoured to be worth US$12 million at the time of the company's sale -- the feisty Midwesterner has nothing but scorn for the industry overall.
"I refused to take any stake in the acquiring firm. The shell game being played by these corporations is astounding," he said.
Denninger has also steadfastly avoided investing any of his personal fortune in the Internet: "I refuse to have anything to do with the Nasdaq 100. There will be a shake-out, and when it comes, it will be ugly and it will happen fast."
He might as well have been speaking of Black Week, April 10 through April 14, when the Nasdaq crashed.
The volatility of Net stocks in the past few weeks makes Denninger seem prescient, but his dislike for the unseemly marriage of breathless hype and dubious business plans is visceral.
When the Internet bubble collapsed it was decided to intentionally pump liquidity into the system and ignore both banking regulations and the law, making possible the housing bubble.
If you measure "prosperity" by stock prices we're somewhere back in 1997 or 1998. But if the entirety of these two bubbles were fraud-driven (and they were) then a realistic expectation is that we will not only return to 1995 stock prices (about ~450 on the S&P 500) but we will over-correct significantly because the debt that this fraud created still remains in the economy!
That could easily cut the S&P in half again, which puts my 210 "oh God" print on the table, no?
Let's be clear here: There is no way out of this box, and the corruption and fraud have permeated every corner of our financial, media and governmental systems.
We give "free" education and health care to illegal aliens, paid for out of citizen tax dollars. Our government supports this.
We propose to give "foreclosure relief" to people who lied on their mortgage applications; how many of the so-called "rescue" programs would have ANY uptake among the public if as part of the refinance or assistance process the original paperwork was re-underwritten to discover if you lied, and if you did, you were prosecuted instead of being helped?
We have done exactly nothing to indict and prosecute the banking executives, the housing industry executives and others in the business world who contributed to these lies and frauds, in some cases explicitly.
The Congresspeople who got "special deals" from Countrywide Financial (and others) on their mortgages remain in office and are not being charged and tried for what, in my opinion, amounts to public corruption. The amounts involved here are not small - the "savings" in many cases ran into the tens of thousands of dollars.
It has been disclosed that several sitting Congressmen received tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from Stanford Financial (now under investigation on suspicion of not only bilking investors but also money laundering!); the firm also allegedly gave eight hundred thousand dollars to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee during a year that Congress was debating a bill that would have tightened anti-fraud provisions against the securities industry. The bill was killed in a Senate committee.
We learned that government employees are also profligate tax cheats! Not only the high-profile ones like Geithner and Daschle either - this is an across-the-board problem:
The Internal Revenue Service is trying to collect billions of dollars in unpaid taxes from nearly half a million federal employees. According to IRS records, 171,549 current federal workers did not voluntarily pay their federal income taxes in 2007. The same is true for 37,752 active duty military and nearly 200,000 retired civilian and military personnel.
Documents obtained by WTOP through the Freedom of Information Act show 449,531 federal employees and retirees did not pay their taxes for a total of $3,586,784,725 in taxes owed last year.
What?! Oh, and with the exception of the IRS, you can't be fired as a government employee for not paying your taxes either. You can't make stuff like this up folks - nobody would believe you.
I'm tired of people demanding that I cover the bad bets they made as a consequence of fraud throughout the system, while the people responsible, including those in industry and Washington DC go unpunished.
The fruit of a poison tree is also poisonous and if you were a victim of that fraud (that is, you didn't knowingly buy a house you can't afford, you didn't overstate your income and you didn't intentionally speculate on home price appreciation - you instead bought responsibly, you didn't exceed 36% DTI on the back end, you put significant money down and you took a conventional mortgage - not one of those fancy "Option ARM" rent-a-house products that you'd NEVER be able to pay off on the original terms) then you should be looking to those who DID commit fraud for recourse, not the government and everyone else's tax dollars.
If on the other hand you did overstate your income, you did take out an OptionARM, you did lever yourself up to your neck, you did play the "House is an ATM" game or you did speculate with your house then you deserve exactly nothing for help because you participated in an intentional attempt to game economic and financial reality and lost.
Now for those who merely speculated and lost (and there are a lot of them) I believe we should reverse the Bankruptcy "reform" act so you can access the courts and find relief, both spreading the pain to the lender who imprudently granted you credit and accepting a lot of that pain yourself in the form of a destroyed credit rating for the next seven years.
But for those who overstated their income or otherwise committed some form of fraud - and let's be clear here folks, mortgage fraud is a federal offense - what those people deserve is a long stay in prison.
Since we seem to have a shortage of prison space I recommend that we immediately decriminalize all non-violent drug possession and consensual sales between adults, expunging their sentences and releasing those prisoners. We can then tax drug sales (and sell them in DRUG STORES, which are conveniently named), use the money to pay for treatment programs, but more importantly we will have plenty of room to jail all the fraudsters, including the banking executives and Congresspeople that got us into this mess.
Our economy must contract to a sustainable level - period. This is not a matter of what we want, it is a matter of what is possible.
A bubble economy built on fraud cannot be reflated once it pops and the fraud is exposed at the level to which it occurred in this case. It is simply not possible.
We must deal with the underlying rot in our financial and political systems, and until we do in a forceful and forthright fashion we will continue to see economic malaise and destruction.
Wake up America.
Where We Are, Where We're Heading (2013) - The annual 2013 Ticker
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