When you read news like the recent reports that Benjamin Lawsky, superintendent of the New York Department of Financial Services, asserts that "[n]onbank mortgage servicers are growing too fast and regulators need to protect homeowners by making sure these companies can handle the volume of business they are taking on," you assume that Lawsky must have a great grasp of the mortgage servicing business, information technology systems, staffing, business growth, mergers and acquisitions, personnel management, and, in a business environment, how to do it right and, most important, how to avoid doing it wrong. You'd think that. Of course, if you did, you'd be sucking wind.
According to his official biography, Lawsky is a lawyer. As anyone who reads this blog knows, that qualifies you for...the practice of law...maybe. It also likely means that you're adept at opening your pie hole and emitting various loud intonations about a myriad of subjects about which you have little, if any specific knowledge. All that goes with the job description.
Lawsky's bio also touts the following mortgage servicing specific job experience:
- Governor Andrew Cuomo's Chief of Staff.
- Deputy Counselor and Special Assistant to then-Attorney General Cuomo.
- Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York, "where he prosecuted white collar crime, organized crime, and terrorism cases."
- Chief Counsel to Senator Charles Schumer on the Senate Judiciary Committe.
- Trial Attorney in the Civil Division of the Department of Justice.
So, when Lawsky shoots down Ocwen's purchase of Wells Fargo's servicing rights on the grounds that he's concerned about Ocwen's ability to handle the increased volume, you can see how his background has made him uniquely qualified to second-guess Ocwen on that matter. After all, when it comes to private business acquisition decisions, Lawsky's job experience has provided him valuable insight's into such matters as which way Andy Coumo's wind is blowing on Tuesday morning, does Chuck Schumer take his grande chai latte with one lump or two, and which upstate village mayor needs to be kneecapped for not supporting the boss in the last general election.
Ocwen may or may not be able to adequately handle the Wells Fargo servicing business. Homeowners may, in fact, need protection in this or some other similar instance. However, why would we believe Lawsky on this specific issue? Why, instead, does he appear to be the second coming of The Spitz (absent, we hope, the "crossing-state-lines-to-visit-Ashley" issue)?
We'll see how all this shakes out. Perhaps it's not merely one more political grandstanding stunt by a New York pol on the make, and is based upon hard evidence. If it's based upon industry-specific expertise, we assume someone other Lawsky is supplying it.