March 26, 2009

PennyMac is here to help

Sanford Kurland, who was Angelo Mozilo's right-hand man at Countrywide Financial through 2006, has a new business, PennyMac, which buys dubious mortgages for pennies on the dollar that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation has wound up with from taking over collapsing banks.

It all makes perfect sense. Who knows more about toxic assets than Countrywide executives?

Interestingly, one of the largest banks to be "resolved" by the FDIC last year was IndyMac.

IndyMac, PennyMac. Hmmhmm ... Must be just a coincidence.

Except, that IndyMac was another spinoff of Countrywide. Wikipedia says:
IndyMac Bank was founded as Countrywide Mortgage Investment in 1985 by David S. Loeb and Angelo Mozilo as a means of collateralizing Countrywide Financial loans too big to be sold to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. In 1997, Countrywide spun off IndyMac as an independent company.[7] "Mac" is an established contraction for "Mortgage Corporation," usually associated with Government sponsored entities such as "Freddie Mac" (Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation) and "Farmer Mac" (Federal Agricultural Mortgage Corporation). Indymac, however, had always been a private corporation with no relationship to the government.

PennyMac is also a private corporation, although it does a lot of business with the federal government. Perhaps, though, this whole distinction between private for-profit businesses versus government entities has become academic in the Bush-Obama Era.

For 20 months now, I've been reading about how it's completely beyond the power of human comprehension to untangle mortgage backed securities and figure out about what they are really worth, that no mortal man could possibly understand their complexity, that not enough computing power exists to make sense of them. I guess I kind of believed that when I heard it back in August 2007, but that was a long time ago.

I suspect that insiders have been working hard on this question for some time, and Tim Geithner's new "legacy asset" plan has come along at just the right time for them to cash in.

Funny how investors with less than $10 billion are not allowed to bid ...


Anonymous said...

Yes, it's (relatively) certain that you could make money by dealing in some of these "toxic assets". And some of the people well-positioned to do that are likely the same ones who created the whole mess in the first place. What's less certain is that, thinking about the Geithner plan (i.e. and not about, ahem, "assets" the FDIC owns after seizing failed institutions), banks would be willing to sell paper they currently hold at prices that would it just as attractive as that held by the FDIC.

Or maybe not:

Banks Leaving Money on the Table "All Day Long"

Anonymous said...

The ten billion limit is wrong. I can see how, in certain circumstances, this could be a good idea. In this istnace, however, restricting bidders by that limit is the wrong idea.

Pools can and should be sold in increments that allow almost anybody to participate.

Anonymous said...

"Funny how investors with less than $10 billion are not allowed to bid ..."

..........Kind of like when they set up the federal reserve back in 1913, only those with x-amount of money were allowed to "invest", restricting ownership in the reserve to the very wealthiest people.

Ever notice how much Bush parrotted "Public-Private" partnerships? I know what he means now by that. He's all for political campaign contributers getting to start up companies that "take over" formerly public utilities and the like (Goldman Sachs attempting incessantly to privatize roads in the Midwest to make toll roads out of them, Bechtel providing water "services" in South American countries, charging much higher rates than the former public utility did, etc), and screwing the republic by allowing the connected to set up quasi-monopolies owned by the overclass.

Anonymous said...

So the ignorant supplicants are tithing on their knees while the First Estate assures them they have the complications of the universe under control. At least conventional religions had a promise of paradise in the after life. All we have to look forward to now is a penalty for not turning off the lights.

kurt9 said...

The events of the past few years have made it clear that corruption and what the Japanese call "money politics" is as much a part of our country and culture as it is in East Asia. In terms of corruption and parasitism, there is no longer any difference between us and the rest of the world.

Anonymous said...

In terms of corruption and parasitism, there is no longer any difference between us and the rest of the world.

Or, as I like to put it, we got the banana republic government, we got the banana republic business. All that's left is to fill the place up with banana republic citizens.

I tell people all the time: import Mexicans, import Mexico; import Haitians, import Haiti. Middle Easterners, Sicilians, Hindus, Liberians, and on and on.

Blank stares.

--Senor Doug

Anonymous said...

kurt9 said...
The crash has laid bare many unpleasant truths about the United States. One of the most alarming, says a former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, is that the finance industry has effectively captured our government—a state of affairs that more typically describes emerging markets, and is at the center of many emerging-market crises. If the IMF’s staff could speak freely about the U.S., it would tell us what it tells all countries in this situation: recovery will fail unless we break the financial oligarchy that is blocking essential reform.

AMac said...

This long Bloomberg article describes many small businesses in California that rescue desparate homeowners from foreclosure.

Surprise, the homeowners get scammed and fleeced.

Anonymous said...

@Pat Shuff

I agree with you point that the money power must be broken, but the IMF is part of that power. The IMF either needs to be abolished or else it needs to be thrown off us soil and the US needs to withdraw.

Incidentally, I feel the same way about the UN.


I recently attended the REOMac convention in Palm Desert, and met a few PennyMac asset managers. Does anyone know if they are selling to investors only or if they are assigning listings as well?