From the Desk of the President & CEO:
Yesterday, the Justice Department announced an agreement with JPMorgan Chase for a record-level civil settlement of $13 billion. Yes, $13 billion—the largest sum of money ever paid by a single company to the federal government.
Forget the state AGs’ settlement, forget the millions of foreclosures prevented vis-à-vis loan mods and short sales, and let’s absolutely forget the repayment of TARP (with interest) to the Treasury Department. Oh, and here’s an interesting tidbit: Many of the loans referenced as the basis for the government’s grievances were products of Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual. The same Bear Stearns that the federal government pleaded with Chase to acquire to assuage the reeling financial markets at the height of the housing crisis. Smart.
By all means, take another pound of flesh—or in this case, 13 billion pounds. Let’s keep punching the banks in the gut because, well after all, it must make somebody feel better. Not sure that any of that money is headed for the city of Chicago, where 1 in every 427 homes is in foreclosure or Miami, where it’s 1 in every 264. Look, I get it. Our financial institutions must be held accountable, but there is a difference between accountability and being bullied repeatedly.
I encourage responsibility by our financial institutions, and I also expect a responsible and reasonable government. I would urge the federal government to take into consideration the acts of stability put in place by our nation’s banks following the recession; the taxing, often thankless, work those throughout our industry have carried on in order to keep millions of American families in their homes; and the painstaking effort our industry is putting forth to satisfy a slew of new regulations.
It is time to move forward, come out of the past, and help our housing economy grow. The more we keep playing the blame game with the banks, the less confidence consumers have in our financial system, and our economy will continue to suffer.
President and CEO
The Five Star Institute