Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Curious Gift Giving of John Paulson that Will Result in Further Delclines in Mortgage Backed Securities

Andrew Mellon reports via Lila Rajiva:
John Paulson, recently back in the news due to the SEC’s civil suit against Goldman Sachs was the most famous winner of the subprime mortgage debacle, as he used derivatives to bet against mortgage-backed securities that in some cases he had worked with banks to create in order to profit when the housing market crashed. He has received much acclaim for being an astute investor who took a contrarian view and put his money to work accordingly even in the face of rising housing prices, placing bets that ended up paying off handsomely. Paulson & Co. earned an unprecedented $15 billion from the trades, and Paulson himself was said to pocket approximately $4 billion in 2007.
While overnight, Paulson became a celebrity in the financial community, with the media following his every move, interestingly one tidbit seems to have largely evaded them. As John Paulson noted in a statement to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in November of 2008.
As we saw the difficulty homeowners were having in making mortgage payments, in July 2007, prior to the initiation of any government support programs, Paulson & Co. made a $15 million charitable contribution to the Center for Responsible Lending to form the Institute for Foreclosure Legal Assistance (IFLA). The institute supports local groups across the country providing legal representation to families facing foreclosure.

Incidentally, the IFLA is being managed by the National Association of Consumer Advocates (NACA), another ACORN-like organization that helped inflate the housing bubble with its dubious practices.

That Paulson would make such a donation is ironic, in that his contribution came from money that Paulson & Co. had earned from the collapse of the very housing bubble that the CRL had helped to blow.  While most in the media remained mum on this curious gift, to its credit, Business Week provided a disturbing but logical reason for it, insinuating that Paulson was to financially benefit from a bankruptcy reform bill that the CRL was advocating.

According to a trade publication called the Credit Union Times, in early 2008 Republican Representative Patrick McHenry sent a letter to Democratic Representative Barney Frank requesting a hearing on the use of non-profits to manipulate markets, citing Paulson’s donation as being reflective of this problem.  Specifically he asserted, “In October, he [Paulson] gave $15 million to the Center For Responsible Lending, which has been leading the charge in lobbying for a law that would let bankruptcy judges restructure mortgage loans. By forcing servicers to accept lowered monthly payments, market values would likely fall even further, and Mr. Paulson would most definitely benefit financially.” ...

Paulson was not the only major benefactor of the CRL.  As Activist Cash notes, George Soros’ Open Society Institute has donated at least $100,000 to the CRL.
Here's another curiosity surrounding Paulson, Soros, CRL and Senator Chuck Schumer, detailed in the same article,  that worked out well ($$$) for Paulson and Soros:

During the throes of the credit crisis with banks failing across the country due to their collapsing loan portfolios, friends of the CRL John Paulson and George Soros along with a handful of other money managers formed an investment vehicle called IMB Management Holdings to acquire these beaten down assets. The first bank that they purchased? IndyMac.

As you may remember, IndyMac was the struggling bank that New York Democratic Senator Charles Schumer curiously was said to have caused a run on in July of 2008, and I say curiously given that a. IndyMac was a commercial bank in California, about as far as could be from Schumer’s constituents, and b. normally it does not fall under the job description of members of Congress (even ones with a fetish for the camera as great as that of Schumer) to leak statements that may materially affect financial institutions. Schumer’s statements on the problems of IndyMac were eerily similar to those divulged in a report released by the Center for Responsible Lending entitled “IndyMac: What Went Wrong? How an “Alt-A” Leader Fueled its Growth with Unsound Abusive Mortgage Lending.” The very business that the CRL had helped push banks like IndyMac into was now being criticized by the CRL as abusive.

The timing of Schumer’s actions and those of CRL are worth noting. Sen. Schumer released his “concerns” about Indymac on a Thursday. On the following Monday, CRL released their “report” on Indymac. Understand, the CRL report was the first time in the organization’s history that they released a full research report on an individual company. Built on interviews with former employees, the report would have taken some time to compile. It may have been a weird coincidence, but a PR firm could not have designed a better schedule.

Whether or not Schumer and the CRL orchestrated the bank run, within 11 days of Schumer’s revelations, depositors withdrew more than $1.3 billion from IndyMac. A bank that at its peak in March of 2008 had held $32 billion in assets was sold to Paulson and Soros’ holding company for $13.9 billion in a deal that closed in March of 2009. Created out of IndyMac’s remains was OneWest Bank.
Rajiva comments:
Can this all be a coincidence? Given George Soros’ proclivity for shady dealings in his profiting from the collapse of the Soviet Union, and in his downright frightening instigation of “velvet revolutions” abroad, it is hard to imagine him partaking in a venture in which the odds are not decidedly in his favor. Soros’ investing style is to guarantee success by supporting policies that undermine countries and their industries, and profit handsomely off of their failures and at times subsequent bailouts, be it in the case of the British pound or Citigroup. What is peculiar is how wedded Soros has become to John Paulson, a man whose past I have not found to be checkered with progressivism, but I suppose their profits trump partisanship.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Bob -

    thanks for linking me..
    but that's not my comment. I think I forgot to close a parenthesis..that's all Andrew Mellon's piece.
    I only inserted a line linking back to Nightmore on Wall Street, where I make the point about the credit unions being central to the break up of the banks