Thursday, April 04, 2013

The Mortgage Melt-down as "affinity fraud."

Steve Sailer points to recent studies indicating that the process of placing minorities into mortgages that they couldn't afford has the earmarks of classic "affinity fraud":

By lack of trust, they mean, I suspect, resentment that banks in the community didn’t trust them to pay back loans. Of course, that it turned out the the bad old banks were right about them won't make them like the bad old banks more.
….Empirical research studies, however, have revealed that during the subprime boom, yield spread premiums coupled with a push for a greater volume of loan originations provided a financial incentive for brokers to work against the interests of the borrower(e.g. Ernst, Bocia and Li 2008). In addition, since there was no statutory employer‐employee relationship between lending institutions and brokers, there were few legal protections to ensure that brokers provide borrowers with fair and balanced information. This aligns with the “trust” that social relations engender. … 
In both Stockton and Oakland, respondents did not seem to be aware of the potential for perverse incentives on the part of brokers, and instead trusted them fully to actin their best interests.

… The quantitative data, however, shows that the decision to “trust” a broker often worked against the best financial interests of the borrower, especially for minority borrowers. Research has shown that regardless of their FICO score, Blacks and Hispanics were much more likely to receive a high‐cost loan, especially when that loan was facilitated by a mortgage broker. This hold strue even when we control for other factors, such as local housing and mortgage market conditions, fico score, and loan to value and debt to income ratio. 
Indeed, in a multivariate model that controls for the majority of underwriting variables, we find that origination by a mortgage broker has a large statistically significant effect on the likelihood of getting a high cost loan for certain borrowers, and that this effect is greater for Hispanics and Blacks. (Figure 5) The marginal effect of using a broker is 22 percent for Hispanics, and 18 percent for Blacks. While it may not seem like an extremely large effect, it is approximately equivalent to a 200 point decrease in a borrower’s FICO score. In contrast, white borrowers who used the services of a mortgage broker were 4 percent less likely to get a high cost loan, suggesting that in their case, on average, brokers helped them to navigate a better mortgage product based on their risk characteristics. 
So, were these loans “sold” or “sought”? While certainly not conclusive, the interviews suggest both are true. First, mortgage brokers in Oakland and Stockton were specifically targeting their services to borrowers with lower FICO scores, and much of the marketing focused on reaching borrowers with poor credit records. (Figure 6) Second, borrowers with lower credit scores actively sought out mortgage brokers who they had heard would help them wade through the paperwork and get a mortgage approved. What was less clear from the interviews was whether or not brokers had intentionally duped borrowers into taking on irresponsible loan products.

In Reid's sample, four of her 80 interviewees were also mortgage brokers themselves. They all felt fine about what they did, and few of her other minority interviewees blasted their brokers. Most felt pretty warmly about their brokers still. The affinity part of affinity fraud really works.

Affinity scams in which people are duped into trusting that a promoter has their best interests in heart because he's a fellow whatever are sadly common. Affinity fraud and Ponzi schemes (which the Housing Bubble was a variant of) frequently go together.

Yet, I'm not sure if anybody has previously pointed out how the government, media, activist, and social pressure to diversify the mortgage industry turned places like Stockton into a government-endorsed affinity fraud Ponzi scheme?

No comments:

Who links to me?