Feb 26

Dimon Decries Washington?s Treatment of Banks

Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, says he believes Washington has become increasingly erratic and unfair in its treatment of the banks over the last few months, and he now has some regrets about participating in the government?s Troubled Asset Relief Program.
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?F.D.I.C. is going to cost us a lot of money. TARP cost us a lot of money. This bank tax, my first reaction was, ?That will cost us a lot of money,?? Mr. Dimon said Thursday at the bank?s annual Investor Day conference in New York. ?I think we are getting into the capricious, arbitrary and punitive behavior.?

Mr. Dimon said he did not know whether he would have taken the $25 billion that the government lent to JPMorgan during the 2008 financial crisis to bolster its capital if he knew then how troublesome the TARP money would be for the bank.

?The mistake was we let the government and the politicians not differentiate between irresponsible companies and prudent companies, from irresponsible, imprudent, and everybody got lumped together in the same boat,? Mr. Dimon said ?Yes, a lot of those companies needed TARP to survive, and yes, a lot did not.?

Mr. Dimon has expressed some of these complaints before. During JPMorgan?s earnings conference call in January, he said it was unfair that the big banks would be the only ones forced to pay the Obama administration?s proposed bank tax to ensure that all the TARP money is repaid.

Mr. Dimon said Thursday at the Investor Day conference that he supported certain new regulations to secure the financial system, but not all of them. He said JPMorgan had always supported the creation of a systemic risk regulator, which would be controlled by the Federal Reserve, to monitor the largest and most interconnected banks in the nation.

He disagreed with one proposal to create a separate agency devoted to consumer protection, which would regulate a whole host of activities from mortgages to credit cards.

?We want better consumer protection; we just don?t want a new agency. We think it should be done by the O.C.C. and the Fed,? Mr. Dimon said, referring to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

?Yes, you can say they didn?t do a great job, but they are professional people,? he said. The elegant solution is for Congress to tell them do a better job.?

Mr. Dimon may get his wish, thanks to some persuasive lobbyists in Washington. Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut and chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, said last month that he might drop demands for a new agency after pushing for its creation.

Thursday was certainly a day for JPMorgan to express its concerns about regulatory changes in Washington. Earlier in the day, James E. Staley, the bank?s investment banking chief, acknowledged that regulatory changes being considered in Congress had influenced the bank?s acquisition strategy.

? Cyrus Sanati

Dec 10

Winning Lower Payments Takes Patience, and Luck

Published: November 28, 2009
On the day in June when her mortgage company finally agreed to lower her monthly payments, Yolanda Thomas felt a twinge of hope that she would hold on to her Queens apartment, the first home she had ever owned. The loan modification extended by Chase Home Finance was technically a trial, not a permanent alteration, but this fact seemed of lesser significance.

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U.S. Will Push Mortgage Firms to Reduce More Loan Payments (November 29, 2009) ?I felt they were working with me,? Ms. Thomas said. ?I felt very positive and hopeful, like I had a chance to keep my house.?

But five months later, Ms. Thomas, 35, is back at the beginning. She has made her reduced payments on time. She has submitted the proper paperwork, she says, while enduring a bewildering array of conflicting instructions from her bank. But last month, Chase rejected her application for a permanent loan modification and invited her to start over and send in a new application, for another trial.

?At this point, I don?t know what is going on,? she said.

Ms. Thomas?s experience shows the confusing and frustrating ways of the Obama administration program aimed at keeping millions of troubled American borrowers in their homes.

Four years ago, she bought her apartment ? a three-bedroom condominium in Ozone Park ? for $530,000, putting down about 10 percent and borrowing the rest through an interest-only loan from Washington Mutual. Given her $130,000 salary at a marketing job, she had no difficulty making the $2,700 monthly payments. Indeed, she continued to add to her savings, which grew to about $80,000, while paying college tuition for two younger brothers.

But in April 2008, amid the recession, Ms. Thomas was laid off. She continued to make her mortgage payments by tapping her savings. By that fall, with her savings nearly exhausted and credit-card debt mounting, she turned to a housing counselor at the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council, a nonprofit group based in Brooklyn. The counselor began seeking a loan modification from Washington Mutual, which had been purchased in distress by JPMorgan Chase.

This March ? after several rounds of mislaid paperwork and resubmitted forms ? Chase extended a so-called forbearance arrangement, allowing her to make no payments for two months while she continued to look for a job.

Ms. Thomas soon found a new marketing job that paid roughly half as much as her previous position. In June, on the basis of that income, Chase approved her for a trial loan modification, which reduced her payments to $1,174.30 a month.

The trial loan modification documents that Ms. Thomas signed promised that the new payments would become permanent, provided she made her three trial payments on time and then submitted required documents confirming her financial situation.

According to notes kept by Ms. Thomas, Chase promised not to report her to credit agencies as delinquent while she made her lowered payments. But by early July, Chase collection agents were calling regularly, threatening to foreclose. Chase reported her to credit agencies as delinquent, which increased the interest on her credit card debt and her car insurance rates. When Ms. Thomas began calling Chase to try to reverse this, she got nowhere.

?Once, I was told this happens all the time,? she said. ?Then I was told that this never happens and there was nothing that could be done. It was just bad information all the time.?

In a letter this month, Chase told Ms. Thomas that it had asked major credit rating agencies to ?remove any negative payment history? from her credit profile. But this admission that the bank had made a mistake was itself made in error, Tom Kelly, a Chase spokesman, said.

?We actually should not have sent her the letter,? Mr. Kelly said, maintaining that Ms. Thomas should indeed have been reported to the credit agencies. ?We?re not always perfect.?

As her trial period ended at the beginning of October, Ms. Thomas still had no word about a permanent loan modification, so she sent in a fourth month?s payment.

In late October, Chase told her that she had been turned down for a permanent loan modification because her income was insufficient. She insists that her income remained the same, though Chase produced a pay stub showing that she had in fact worked full-time in May and only part-time in September, earning less.

Two days later, Ms. Thomas received a letter from Chase saying that her application was still being considered, but missing a required tax document. Then, by phone, Chase told her that, never mind, she should start over.

Despite the mishaps, the Chase spokesman says, Ms. Thomas?s case amounts to a success story.

?She?s ahead of where she would have been without this program,? Mr. Kelly said.

Where she is now is in limbo, awaiting word on another trial modification, this time based on her new salary of about $100,000, courtesy of a new job.

?I?ve been working my whole life and paying my bills,? she said. ?I just want to pay my mortgage.?

Dec 09

“will not file the documents,” Jamie Dimon,

Take you hands away from your eyes Mr. Dimon.

Mortgage industry executives say homeowners simply are not complying with the program’s requirements, despite their best efforts to reach out. Homeowners “will not file the documents,” Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s CEO, said this week. “We need the documents. We are trying to simplify it.”

There are so many storys of people sending paperwork into Chase and Chase will lose it. Mr. Dimon only blames the home owner and never his company. Chase has lost my paper over 4 times in last year.

Dec 08

Hit Hard By Home Foreclosures

At a Congressional hearing on the foreclosure crisis, a Cuyahoga County official said the situation is “worse than it’s ever been – far worse.”

Paul Bellamy, who oversees the Foreclosure Prevention Program for County Treasurer Jim Rokakis, says the problem is quiet because the banking industry has changed the rules. “The industry is not processing loans the way it used to,” Bellamy says. “It makes it look liked we’ve leveled off, and in fact, we haven’t.”

Chairing the hearing was Congressman Dennis Kucinich, who called Cleveland “the epicenter of home foreclosures in the United States.”

Kucinich said the government had not adequately addressed the crisis when it gave the nation’s major banks bailout money last fall. One proposal put on the table was to force banks that took bailout money to offer better terms to people facing foreclosure.

But Rep. Jim Jordan, a Republican from southern Ohio, said government is not the answer. “If big federal government spending, big federal government regulation was going to get us out of this economic downturn,” Jordan said, “we’d have been out of it a long time ago because that’s all the government has been doing.”

Dec 04

Chasing JPMorgan: Picture the Homeless Takes Aim at Chase Bank

JPMorgan Chase head Jamie Dimon better watch out this Christmas?the homeless are coming to town.

At least 30 homeless and housing activists rallied outside the headquarters of banking giant Chase December 2 to demand that the bank utilize their ownership of vacant property in New York City to create housing for poor people and the homeless.

Activists at the rally, organized by the grassroots organization Picture the Homeless, scoffed at the $25 billion bailout received by Chase after Wall Street crumbled while the numbers of homeless people in the city are at its highest level since the Great Depression. Chase paid back the bailout money last June.

Picture the Homeless, an organization founded and led by homeless people, is pushing for the creation of a Homeless People?s Trust Fund and a Community Land Trust to create and maintain affordable housing for low-income people from the vacant property the bank owns.

?The whole point of this action is to get Chase to give up the vacant lots that they got, to us, and we?re going to turn it into housing for people who can?t afford? it, said Herberth Rodriguez, a Picture the Homeless member who is currently homeless and in the shelter system.

Demonstrators picketed outside JPMorgan Chase?s headquarters at 270 Park Ave. in midtown Manhattan as they chanted, ?Chase Bank needs to share the dough? and ?JPMorgan Chase, you?re too big for the human race.?

During last year?s financial meltdown, Chase acquired the investment bank Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual. The bank?s investment arm has earned $7.6 billion so far this year, and is scheduled to dole out over $20 billion in bonuses, according to a New York State Comptroller report. JPMorgan Chase?s high earnings are part of a larger trend of big profits on Wall Street while unemployment across the country continues to rise.

?The money they have for these vacant lots, they could be using that to build homes. Homes for families, homes for single men and women,? said Picture the Homeless member Maria Walles, who currently lives in a shelter in Brooklyn.

Outside their headquarters, the entrance was barricaded while private security and the New York Police Department stood guard. At one point, the head of security met with members of Picture the Homeless and received a letter addressed to JPMorgan Chase investment officer Lauren M. Taylor from Picture the Homeless. Rob Robinson, a formerly homeless board member and housing campaign leader with Picture the Homeless, warned the security head that as long as they hold vacant property and refuse to meet with homeless people, the bank will be hounded by activists? presence.

The letter reads, ?we are here today seeking a meeting with you or whomever you suggest to discuss the disposition of vacant lots and buildings currently held by your bank to be placed in a Community Land Trust, which when coupled with sufficient bank resources placed within a Homeless Peoples Trust Fund, could enable the construction of housing that is truly affordable for our people.?

?They have over a hundred million dollars in property [in the city], let ?em go,? said Robinson. ?There?s 39,000 people sleeping in the shelters every night, and untold numbers on the streets. They have a moral obligation, since taxpayers bailed out these banks, to house people.?

The action follows Picture the Homeless? takeover of a vacant lot that JPMorgan Chase is a party to in East Harlem last July. Ten people were arrested at that action, but the charges were dropped this fall. In an October interview, Robinson speculated that JPMorgan Chase didn?t press ahead with the charges because they wanted the whole episode to go away.

There is no precise accounting of the amount of warehoused property Chase owns, but a City Council bill introduced by Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-East Harlem, Manhattan Valley, Mott Haven) would require the city to conduct a census count of vacant property every year, and to publish information online and in print concerning who owns the vacant property and when the property became vacant.

?Given the fact that it?s our tax money and that it?s human beings who are going on the street, I think it?s important that we protest them and make clear our opposition to what?s happening,? said Max Rameau, a founding member of the Miami-based organization Take Back the Land.

Next Tuesday, Picture the Homeless plans to continue targeting and protesting Chase while CEO Jamie Dimon gives a speech at the Goldman Sachs Conference Center.

Nov 28

Obama’s Administration plans new efforts on foreclosures. Great more money down the toilet.

Search & Win

The Obama administration, battling a foreclosure crisis that shows no signs of relenting, will step up pressure on mortgage companies to do more to help people remain in their homes, officials said Saturday.

The administration will announce its expanded program on Monday, Treasury spokeswoman Meg Reilly said.

“We are taking additional steps to enhance servicer transparency and accountability,” Reilly said. She said the goal was to increase the rate that troubled home loans were converted into new loans with lower monthly payments.

Industry officials said the new effort would include increased pressure on mortgage companies to accelerate loan modifications by highlighting firms that are lagging in that area.

The Treasury is also expected to announce that it will wait until the loan modifications are permanent before paying cash incentives to mortgage companies that lower loan payments.

Under the $75 billion Treasury program, companies that agree to lower payments for troubled borrowers collect $1,000 initially from the government for each loan, followed by $1,000 annually for up to three years.

The government support, which is provided from the $700 billion financial bailout program, is aimed at providing cash incentives for mortgage providers to accept smaller mortgage payments rather than foreclosing on homes.

The program has come under heavy criticism for failing to do enough to attack a tidal wave of foreclosures. Analysts said the foreclosure crisis is likely to persist well into next year as high unemployment pushes more people out of their homes.

Rising foreclosures depress home prices and threaten the sustainability of the fledgling economic recovery.

A report last week from the Mortgage Bankers Association found that 14 percent of homeowners with mortgages were either behind on payments or in foreclosure at the end of September, a record level for the ninth straight quarter.

The Congressional Oversight Panel, a committee that monitors spending under Treasury’s bailout program, concluded in a report last month that foreclosures are now threatening families who took out conventional, fixed-rate mortgages and put down payments of 10 to 20 percent on homes that would have been within their means in a normal market.

Treasury’s program, known as the Home Affordable Modification Program, “is targeted at the housing crisis as it existed six months ago, rather than as it exists right now,” the report said.

Scott Talbott, senior vice president of government affairs for the Financial Services Roundtable, said the industry supported many of the changes Treasury was proposing.

But he said the foreclosure problem, which began with heavy defaults on subprime mortgages, was expanding to more traditional types of mortgages because of unemployment which has now hit a 26-year high of 10.2 percent.

“The subprime problem has regrettably morphed into an unemployment problem,” Talbott said. He said there was no government program to help the unemployed who are in danger of losing their homes but “many private lenders are modifying loans for the unemployed on their own.”

Treasury’s Reilly said the expanded program would, among other steps, make more aid available to struggling borrowers and expand the number of organizations providing help.


Associated Press writer Jim Kuhnhenn contributed to this report.

Copyright 2009 AP News

Aug 07

You’re killing me a little, Mr. President.

President Obama states that the U.S. economy has been ‘rescued from catastrophe’ because of the economic stimulus package passed earlier this year, but cautioned that America still has an uphill climb to recovery.

The Economy would have come back by itself. The only people that made money out of this were the banks.
You’re killing me a little, Mr. President.