“The people who sold these products reside very near the apex of human assholedom, and there were quite a lot of them, which unfortunately led to a worldwide financial crash. On what passes for the bright side, many of them were stupid enough to leave behind records of their sleazy practices for history. So hopefully, at least, there won’t be any more illusions about what went on.”
Lost amid the hoopla over JP Morgan Chase’s record-setting $13 billion settlement this fall was news of another monster court resolution – a $2.46 billion judgment, the largest ever awarded after trial in a securities fraud class action case, handed down in October against a HSBC acquisition called Household International.
It’s an old case, with the trial completed way back in 2009 and the fraud in question having all taken place between 1997 and 2002. But it has crucial ramifications for the present, for one key reason:
The evidence uncovered in the Household suit should put to lie once and for all the oft-repeated myth – spread by many of America’s most notable dumb people, from Rush Limbaugh to New York City Mayor-unelect Mike Bloomberg – that the financial crisis was caused by the government “forcing” banks to lend to poor people.
In reality, of course, the subprime bubble exploded because financial companies and banks were in a mad rush to get as many iffy borrowers into loans as quickly as possible – and not because they were forced to, but because they made assloads of money doing so.
Nowhere was that more in evidence than in this case, Lawrence E. Jaffe Pension Plan v. Household International, Inc., et al., where a major trafficker in subprime and “alternative” mortgage products schemed in every conceivable way to get low-income, high-risk borrowers into as many dangerous mortgages and refinance deals as they could.
Thankfully, the principals in this case left behind a treasure trove of amazingly disgusting videos and internal memoranda showing in graphic detail an elaborate, company-wide plan to herd unsuspecting high-risk borrowers into bad loans. We can share some of that evidence here, with particular emphasis on the firm’s “training videos,” and I can pretty much guarantee that some readers may actually vomit with rage when they watch them.