I take a mortgage out at Joe’s Lending, a mortgage originator. A mortgage consists of two parts. The first is the note, or the IOU, which is the borrower’s promise to pay. The second is the mortgage, which is the security, or the lien, or the actual interest.
Joe’s lending takes the mortgage note to a sponsor to turn these mortgages into a bond. The sponsor was often an investment bank like Bear Sterns. Now that investment bank puts an intermediary in between itself and the trust. This intermediary is usually called a depositor, and sometimes there are several of them in the chain.
What’s the worry here? Well many of these mortgage originators were fly-by-night shops, shady enterprises that collapsed the moment they hit trouble. And many of them cut corners and one of the corners they may have cut would have been to send the note to the trust. Specifically, there is worry that many mortgage originators never sent the notes to the depositors. Originators wanted volume to get fees and may not have done all the paperwork correctly. There are a lot of things that have to end up in the trust when I take out a mortgage, things like the note, title insurance, supporting documents. But the note is the most important.
Why is this important? Well the trustees usually sign several certificates saying that they have verified all the documentation in these trusts. Many of these trusts are under New York trust law which is particularly clear and strict when it comes to these matters. With this in mind, tackle these three posts by Yves Smith (one two three).
So connect the two together, and you can see why we might have a systemic crisis on our hands:
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