It's easy to sit there and say you'd like to have
more money. And I guess that's what I like about it. It's easy. Just
sitting there, rocking back and forth, wanting that money.
---Deep Thoughts, by Jack Handey
Cleveland may have taken it on the chin when it tried to blame its decrepit state of existence on bankers and other lenders, but Baltimore is hanging in there.
A federal judge on Thursday denied Wells Fargo's motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Baltimore over what city officials said were racially discriminatory lending practices that led to a wave of foreclosures that cost the city millions.
The courtroom victory means the city, whose lawsuit is being closely watched by other municipalities, could gain access to the inner workings of one of the largest mortgage providers in the region.
U.S. District Judge Benson E. Legg wrote in a memo Thursday that the city had produced enough evidence to continue its claim and is entitled to discovery.
Surviving a motion to dismiss is a long way from proving your claims at trial by a preponderance of the evidence. On the other hand, it's better than a kick to the nether regions.
Wells Fargo isn't backing down (not that it has much choice given the seriousness of the allegations and the potential financial disaster that would follow should the city's Hail Mary legal pass actually be caught in the end zone).
"We continue to believe that this lawsuit lacks merit," said Cara Heiden, co-president of Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. "We welcome the opportunity to set the record straight and demonstrate the many controls we have in place to ensure fair, responsible and nondiscriminatory lending for all our customers."
n an all-day "test run" of the case Monday, lawyers for Wells Fargo argued that it will be impossible for the city to assess damages specific to vacant houses that once were purchased with Wells Fargo loans. They said a fraction of 1 percent of the city's 33,000 foreclosures in recent years involved Wells Fargo, and that the city itself is responsible for 9,000 vacancies.
Wells Fargo's case hasn't been helped by two former employees who have given affidavits and, we assume, are prepared to testify, that Wells Fargo consciously "steered" minority applicants into high-cost, subprime mortgage loans, even those applicants who qualified for prime mortgage loans. Then again, it's one thing to prove a violation of fair housing laws. It's another thing to prove that such violations have wrecked your city, as Baltimore claims. As in every other case of this sort, proving causation for the damages that are claimed is a rocky shoal on which many a ship of state (or of municipality) has foundered and, in my view, will continue to founder.
For a "fair and balanced" take on this latest development we (shockingly) did not turn to Fox News, but to another unbiased news source, The Party for Socialism and Liberation, which put the kind of spin on Judge Legg's decision that only those who believe in the resurrection of Lenin, not Jesus, could conjure.
Banks under capitalism are all too eager to victimize the most exploited and vulnerable segments of society in pursuit of profit. By preying on the dreams of oppressed people, Wells Fargo and other lenders unabashedly ruined lives to inflate their bottom line.
Even the crisis caused by the overproduction of housing and the resulting explosion of sub-prime foreclosures has been used by big banks to further their aims for ultimate profits: After taking billions of taxpayer dollars from the government, the largest U.S. banks consumed their weaker competitors, speculated on volatile international markets and pocketed billions more in outright profit, all while working people continue to bear the brunt of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
Freakin' Banks! Borrowers of the World Unite! You have nothing to lose but your homes (and your credit cards, SUVs, ATVs, boats, and all the other "stuff" that makes living a middle class existence in this capitalist cesspool a living hell-on-earth)! How can anyone sleep at night knowing that banks (as well as other capitalist warmongers and their running dog lackeys, bank lawyers) are working 24/7/365 "to further their aims for ultimate profits"?
By the way, are "ultimate profits" akin to "Ultimate Cage Fighting"? If so, we want tickets to the front row, center stage.
After giving this entire mess the deep thought it deserves, Bank Lawyer's Blog has decided that the only solution to capitalism's problems are to bring in the ultimate capitalist, Warren Buffett, to serve as The God Emperor, and to "regulate" the entire economy. Here, for your viewing and listening enjoyment, is the latest rap video by Warren B, Graham & Dodd, shot by MBA graduate students at Columbia University for their latest Follies, in which Warren and his wing-men tell us how it ought to be. Who knew Buffett was still so spry?