Audit Notes: ProPub vs. BofA, Wall Street in the White House, Short-Armed

I love to see the press just flat-out say somebody’s full of it.

ProPublica’s Karen Weise does that today, calling out a Bank of America executive for testifying before Congress that it can’t modify more mortgages because investors won’t let it (it’s worth noting that The New York Times this morning parroted the BofA line):

Desoer’s testimony echoes what homeowners have long heard, that investors are frequently denying them help from federal program created to foster loan modifications. But as ProPublica has reported, that’s simply not the case. Investors rarely have a say in loan modifications or block such modifications.

Weise notes that one study found that just 8 percent of contracts prohibit banks from making mods, and “almost two-thirds of the contracts explicitly gave servicers the authority to make modifications, particularly for homeowners who had defaulted or would likely default soon

Indeed, she reports:

Many investors want more modifications and have been putting legal pressure on mortgage servicers to improve their operations.

Will Desoer have to answer for this?

— Bloomberg reports that the Obama administration is leaning toward replacing Robert Rubin acolyte and Wall Street millionaire Larry Summers with Robert Rubin acolyte and Wall Street millionaire Roger Altman.

Altman, 64, has close ties to the business community, and the people familiar with the matter said he might be able to repair the rift that has emerged between Obama and investors.

Ahh, yes. The all-important Wall Street investor: Some 0.1 percent of the population.

What about the rift that has emerged between Obama and the vast majority of voters who despise Wall Street these days?

Do you side (or appear to) with the people who pull the strings or the people who pull the levers? Trial balloon or not, these guys are political geniuses.

Bloomberg BusinessWeek has a brief story on how Neil Barofsky, the special inspector general of the TARP and the Obama administration hate each other.

That’s all well and good, but this kind of story needs a few more column inches than what BBW gives it. There’s a controversy over TARP. The two disagree. He said/she said. Some sewage in the basement: This kind of thing just makes you feel like you’re missing something, like whether Barofsky or Treasury is right or has the better argument. We’re not able to determine that from the meager amount of info we’re given.

And this “you don’t have time to read and/or comprehend our 500 word stories” thing at the bottom is flimsy:

The bottom line: The war of words between Treasury and the Special Inspector General for TARP has turned nasty.

All righty, then.

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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum. Tags: , , , ,