Hey AGs: Banks Aren’t Credible Negotiating Partners

As reports of a 50 state AG settlement negotiation with the big banks continue to surface, the big mystery to me is why the AGs think they have good faith negotiating partners in the banks. I mean, the Nevada AG sued BofA for “almost immediately” violating, in basic and profound (“material”) ways, a settlement agreement that BofA negotiated and signed with attorneys general over Countrywide’s practices. Nor is that blatant settlement fraud by BofA the only sign the banks aren’t credible enough to talk to.

How about the consent decrees with their wholly captured regulator, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, that promised an end to robosigning/document fraud? Journalists willing to actually look at public records have easily documented that the banks’ document fraud continues, despite the consent decrees. The banks’ bad faith shows up on the microscale too; individual homeowners can’t trust that banks say what they mean. For starters, homeowners can’t trust the banks when they say “don’t worry about the foreclosure notices, we’re considering you for a modification…” But homeowners also can’t trust banks when they sign formal settlement agreements either.

In short, everyone should see the banks have no credibility; any settlement they sign is likely not to be worth the paper it’s written on. Unless such settlement has teeth unlike anything proffered to date, negotiations are a waste of time. And yet the negotiations continue, and the reports about them continue to take the negotiations far more seriously than they should.

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