Why Mortgage-Backed Securities Aren’t (Backed by Securities): How MERS Toasted the Banks

L. Randall Wray L. Randall Wray

In a series of pieces I have argued that MERS, a creation of the mortgage banking industry, has effectively destroyed the institution of private property in America. Ironically, MERS was created to facilitate quick and easy and cheap securitization of mortgages — what are called mortgage-backed securities. In fact, what it did was to eliminate any backing of the securities by mortgages. Of the total securitized asset universe, something like $7 trillion are (supposedly) backed by residential mortgages. However, MERS helped to delink the securities from the mortgages. At best, they are unsecured debt — there is no property backing the securities. What this means is that foreclosure is not permitted. As I have said before, it is likely that most or even all foreclosures occurring in the US are illegal seizures of property — home thefts. We are talking about 100,000 completed home thefts per month, with another 250,000 new foreclosures started to steal homes every month. Projections are that 13 million homes will have been “foreclosed” (read: stolen) by 2012.

Worse, from the perspective of the banks, they’ve got to take back all the fraudulent MBSs, most of which are toxic.

In what follows I want to present the most favorable case for the mortgage industry. That is to say, I will ignore fraud and criminal conspiracies. Let us look at the current predicament as if it resulted from a series of monumental errors. With that in mind, what is the best-case scenario? First a caveat: I am not a lawyer nor am I an investigative reporter. I have relied on my perusal of reported evidence, plus a discussion with James McGuire who has put together an entirely convincing argument that the securitizations of mortgages resulted in securities that are not backed by mortgages. I urge interested readers to go to his website.

With that caveat, let us work through the problems now facing the banks.

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