The short version is that folks got tired of waiting around for the raises they hadn't had since 1973, jumped into miracle loan products that were invented so they could be packaged and sold to pension funds and other huge buyers as mortgage-based securities, and were assured that their house value could only go up so that they could always refinance before their balloon payment or interest rate reset bankrupted them. And here we are with housing prices down over 50% in centers of black home buying like Las Vegas, and the bottom 1/3 of the market still falling at about a 25% annual rate.
DN has one segment on how the feds' Making Home Affordable program is giving $21 billion to 25 banks to get them to restructure troubled mortgages - 21 of which were major subprime lenders to begin with. See the report by John Dunbar of the Center for Public Integrity - the biggest chunk, over $5 B, going to B of A's infamous, recently-purchased unit Countrywide.
There's a segment with Wells Fargo subprime whistleblower Elizabeth Jacobson. Some highlights:
- Wells Fargo had a separate subprime loan division. Commissions there were 3-4 times higher than in the prime loan division. Interest rates could go from 6% to 12% in two years, had extra origination points, etc. raising customer cost along with commission. Additional revenues were built in by structuring the product to induce a new loan every two years.
- "As a company, Wells Fargo pushed the subprime loans, because it was their goal to have the subprime division pay for the fixed costs of the whole company. So there were [subprime] quotas to be met."
- deception at the top: "I happened to see a news report with the CFO of Wells Fargo, and he was questioned about the subprime division and denied at that point that Wells Fargo even had a subprime division. So here he is, the chief financial officer, where the subprime loans were supposed to be paying for the fixed costs of the company, and he’s denying that Wells Fargo even did subprime loans."
- targeting minority communities: bank management "would encourage the loan officers, the subprime loan officers, to go into Baltimore city and target the churches, the African American churches, to get a relationship going with the minister or the reverend at the church and try to get that person to schedule some sort of meeting. They would call it a “wealth-building seminar” to get the parishioners of the church to attend. And any loan that was funded by Wells Fargo, whether a purchase or a refinance, $350 would then be donated to the church. And so, that was the incentive for the church to want to have these seminars there."