The Daily Caller vs the banks

By Felix Salmon
October 15, 2010
Joseph Tauke has a monster 5,600-word excoriation of the mortgage industry.

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Joseph Tauke has a monster 5,600-word excoriation of the mortgage industry. It’s a great read, and it includes a lot of information you probably won’t know unless you’re a regular reader of Naked Capitalism and 4closureFraud. But the most important thing about the story is nowhere to be found in the story itself; rather, it’s the fact that it was published by the Daily Caller, Tucker Carlson’s right-wing website.

The Tea Party wing of the Republican party has never been a big fan of Wall Street, of course. But at the same time, it has also tended to oppose any Democratic attempts to bring Wall Street into line. And it hasn’t made bank-bashing a central part of its platform at all. (TARP-bashing, yes. But TARP was a government program.)

TARP was a bipartisan deal to save the banks, and its outcome is now regarded as desperately unfair: the rich bankers are now back to making multi-million-dollar bonuses, even as most of the country continues to suffer from a weak economy and high unemployment.

So if the Daily Caller’s story is any indication, there might just be a consensus in Congress to gang up on the banks and dole out a bit of punishment for their fraudulent behavior with respect to respectable homeowners.

The big question mark with regard to foreclosure fraud has always been the willingness, rather than the ability, of authorities to prosecute the banks involved. If the political winds change so that regulators have every incentive to sue, you can be sure that they will do so. Given that any indication of friendliness towards banks constitutes political suicide right now, I’d guess that the banks’ litigation risk is higher than it has ever been.

Which is maybe why JP Morgan Chase set aside $1.3 billion in additional litigation reserves last quarter. At this rate, they might well need all of that — and more.

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