In the worst-case scenario, the panel said banks may be unable to prove that they own the mortgage loans they claim to own, legal challenges could call into question the validity of 33 million mortgage loans — many of which were then securitized and sold to investors — and banks could face billions of dollars in unexpected losses.
"If such problems were to arise on a large scale, the housing market could experience even greater disruptions than have already occurred, resulting in significant harm to major financial institutions," the 125-page report said. "At present, the reach of these irregularities is unknown."
The panel, created to oversee the $700 billion bank rescue approved by Congress in 2008, also said banks could end up losing $52 billion from so-called mortgage put-backs, or loans that were sold to other investors but would have to be bought back due to problems that have turned up.
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