The Bank Terrorist
By INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Wednesday, November 19, 2008 4:20 PM PT
Housing: For years, a self-described “bank terrorist” blackmailed banks into making bad home loans in our inner cities. Now those loans are defaulting by the millions, and he’s blaming banks.
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Bruce Marks, founder of the leftist Neighborhood Assistance Corp. of America, makes a good living shaking down banks for loans to deadbeat borrowers that he thinks are entitled to homes.
Last month, he and about 100 urban protesters stormed Fannie Mae’s headquarters, demanding it stop foreclosures on subprime houses — the same homes his group pressured Fannie to fund.
As usual, the bullying tactics worked: Fannie Mae is now reviewing every foreclosure, while increasing the number of mortgages it restructures by lowering interest rates and extending loan terms to make payments more affordable. The government-backed firm guarantees some 30% of the nation’s outstanding mortgages.
Marks founded Boston-based NACA last decade to fulfill his warped sense of the American dream. He thinks owning a home is a right, not a goal. And he thinks every American should have a house — even those who can’t pay for one.
Marks, who proudly calls himself a bank terrorist, has extorted billions of dollars from Citigroup and other large banks to subsidize uncreditworthy borrowers in the inner city, where he accused the banks of “redlining.”
In 2004, for example, he threatened to blow up a merger deal between Bank of America and Fleet Bank by complaining to regulators that the banks weren’t making enough loans to minorities under the Community Reinvestment Act. The banks, in turn, paid him off with $6 billion in mortgage commitments.
The nonprofit NACA uses such ransom money to fund its own mortgages to high-risk borrowers without requiring down payments or good credit. Marks considers such underwriting requirements “patronizing and racist.”
He boasts that 99% of the mortgage applications taken through NACA are approved, giving new meaning to the term “easy lending.” Listen to NACA’s pitch:
“Come to NACA, and regardless of how bad your credit is, regardless of how little you have saved, we will work with you for as long as it takes, until you are prepared for a mortgage better than what the wealthiest, most connected borrowers get.”
These are the standards NACA and ACORN and other bank terrorists foisted on the banking industry, using as their cudgel the Community Reinvestment Act, which mandates (under threat of severe penalty) that banks make inner-city loans to people who can’t afford them. Now these groups have the nerve to demonize the banks for the inevitable foreclosures.
How many of NACA’s borrowers default on NACA’s own loans? We don’t know. Marks won’t disclose his internal data.
But by the end of the last decade, 8% of the mortgages NACA had arranged through Fleet Bank were delinquent, compared with the national average of 1.9%
Congress’ banking committee chiefs, Sen. Chris Dodd and Rep. Barney Frank, are also demanding banks stop foreclosures. And guess who they’ve invited to testify about that? That’s right: Marks, who has proposed stopping all resets on subprime adjustable mortgages and allowing late payments for up to 90 days.
Marks insists that regulators “force” lenders to restructure their loans to prevent foreclosures from going forward.
“For noncooperative lenders,” he says, “the regulators can and must impose ‘cease and desist’ orders.”
For future underwriting practices, Marks urges lenders to adopt the NACA model.
“NACA has done lending the right way,” he says. “No down payment. No closing costs. No fees. No perfect credit. At a below-market fixed rate.”
And no repayment or profit. Call it Marksism.