Friday, November 12, 2010


His Own Petard
Robert Gover, USA

The developing conflict over foreclosures is an amazing example of being "hoisted by his own petard," a phrase from Shakespeare's Hamlet, Act III, scene IV.
A petard is a bucket of gunpowder used to blow down enemy fortifications.  Being hoisted by one's own petard means that the explosives went off and "hoisted" the handler rather than the target.  
And that is what happened to a lot of big banks during the ballooning of the real estate bubble that crashed in 2008 bringing down the whole economy, under the Saturn-Uranus opposition that hit the USA's Mars square Neptune.

The mortgage system that was developed in the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s is a lot different from the one in the movie "It's a Wonderful Life." The banker that sells you the home loan today bundles your loan with a lot of others and resells them as mortgage backed securities (MBS) to investors around the world.

This Uranian variation on the old Saturnian way of doing loans worked so well it became a wondrous money-maker for bankers and loan brokers—and seemed an equally wondrous deal for buyers of MBS. Lenders scrambled to sell any home loan they could. As real estate prices zoomed up, people bought homes or refinanced, investors bought rental real estate at an amazing pace, and lenders flipped those loans into MBS and investors collected the monthly mortgage money and everybody danced and drank Champaign.  

The real estate industry created a thing called MERS, Mortgage Electronic Registration System, to record the conversion of home loans into MBS. MERS did not, however, retain title to properties.
Inevitably this wondrous scheme collapsed and a lot of homeowners lost jobs or discovered they'd signed a mortgage that suddenly popped their monthly payments beyond their means.  So the foreclosure "industry," as its being called now, went into action, foreclosing on failed mortgage payers, and reselling their homes, then reselling new bundles of MBS.
It was around this time that Pluto became involved, creating a T square with the Saturn-Uranus opposition. Pluto's involvement suggested there was something unsavory going on behind the scenes.
That hidden something is now coming to light in a most dramatic way. A judge in California may have triggered this new angst when he noted that one cannot transfer a real estate title one does not have. Titles to homes had been sliced and diced like ingredients in a huge MBS gumbo and could not now be extracted from the bubbling gumbo and restored to their previous condition.
Buyers of MBS securities were as distressed as foreclosed homeowners and frustrated bankers and foreclosure specialists who'd smelled fresh meat in the bloody waters of the housing market, who are now huddling with armies of lawyers, trying to figure out what can be done to get those deadbeats out of their homes so the homes can be resold fast and cheap, as the system was designed to do.   
To the foreclosure specialists, it's a legal technicality that should be smoothed over by a judge friendly to the big money. But the foreclosed homeowners have their lawyers, too, and Pluto's participation in the Saturn-Uranus T square probably has more secrets to reveal.
Congress persons will soon become stressed as they are caught between the devil of distressed homeowners and the deep blue sea of profit-hungry bankers—their voters v. their campaign funders. The Wall Streeters who created this trap are now caught in it and screaming as the Uranus-Pluto square tightens and we head into what is likely to become the most revolutionary time in US history.