Monday, June 29, 2015


When someone can't pay his or her monthly mortgage payment owed the lender (mortgagee) and walks way from that obligation by mailing the house keys to the mortgagee, that someone has pulled a jingle mail trick. In short, the borrower has said to the lender, Here is the pledged collateral, the house. It's yours now. I refuse to pay you.

Why did many so-called homeowners do this during the Banking Crisis in 2008? First, many couldn't pay their mortgage payments from their incomes, though many could. Second, many couldn't refinance their mortgage deals precisely because the likely re-sale price of the house given the current market had fallen below the amount owed on the loan. In banking parlance, that's known as being underwater or being upside-down.

Many Americans who were greedy and nervous, but had the means to pay their mortgages walked away from having property in their improved parcels, turning over those parcels to the original lenders. They didn't like being underwater and paying on a loss. To them, never could they see a future where the economy would recover, house prices would recover and they might at least break even.

So rather than uphold their obligation, many stuffed their house keys into envelopes, called the Midnight Moving Company and dropped off those envelopes in the nearest mailbox as they skipped town. Apologists, mostly anti-capitalists and those jealous of anyone else richer by $50, stepped in and began calling such unscrupulous misdeeds, strategic defaults.

For those Americans with non-recourse mortgages, they faced few consequences from sending off their jingle mail. Lenders were stuck with many houses they couldn't sell. For those houses they could sell, lenders were stuck with losses on the differences between what they lent and what the they could gain in sales on much lower street prices.

The story was different for Americans with recourse mortgages. Those who tried to walk away from their mortgages discovered that lenders had legal standing to sue to have wages garnished and other assets seized.

Many non-recourse jingle mailers claimed that even though they knew they agreed to the terms of their contracts, they believed they had the right to walk away from what they claimed were bad deals. To win the war for supporting minds, these jingle mailers compared their plights to big corporations that write-down billions of dollars of debt and incur losses for shareholders.

An individual agreeing to the terms of the mortgage to gain the funds to buy a house in which to sleep is not the same as enterprisers who have sold bonds to gain funds to buy capital in quest of producing property which they hope to trade a profit.

More so, none were walking away from bad deals. All of the deals were good deals.

In every case, luckily, each borrower found a lender who put forth actual credit in large sums in exchange for mere promises. All of those borrowing gleefully became homeowners and likely many bragged to their friends about their new digs.

In each deal, borrowers received actual funds, typically in the form of bank credits, in trade for promises to pay. None of the deals were contingent upon changing street prices based on the sales of other houses.

To claim bad deals as justification to stiff creditors is mere twisted rhetoric to cover for misdeeds. As well, all those who stuck creditors with jingle mail, walked away from houses upon which they put wear and tear, which of course, is a kind of loss. Of course, those who believed in that way tortured reality to justify their misdeeds. Not surprisingly, noted lefty Keynesian economist Paul Krugman championed jingle mail, at least according to writers of Wikipedia.

Greeks go to the polls on July 5, 2015, to vote on a referendum asking whether their legislators should continue to pay on debts owed to the IMF and the European Financial Stability Mechanism or should legislators stick the keys in the mail and send those running the IMF and EFSM jingle mail.

Since every election is a referendum of sorts, for decades, the majority of Greeks voted yes on referendums approving of their legislators borrowing excessively so legislators could pay for high-paying, make-work government jobs and pensions. All of that borrowing led to legislators spending more than 50% of GDP in many years. Worst of all, all of that borrowing and spending led Greeks to believe they were rich even though that borrowing and spending would cripple the Greek legislators and bring them to their current state, near bankruptcy.

Greeks are much like those underhanded Americans with non-recourse mortgages and incomes to pay their mortgages but who found themselves underwater.

Right now Greeks find themselves underwater. The street price of everything Greeks sell is falling. Yet, Greeks have the income to pay debts. However, Greek legislators don't feel like paying their debts. So, Greeks are being encouraged by their unscrupulous leaders to send jingle mail.

Unlike most Americans who found themselves underwater and who could not renegotiate their deals after the Housing Bubble burst, a bubble caused by the Greenspan-Bernanke Great Inflation, the biggest credit bubble in the history of mankind, Greek law givers can renegotiate their deal. However, those Greek law givers don't want to renegotiate.

As I explain in TSIPRAS AND VAROUFAKIS, THE GREEK DUMB AND DUMBER SEEK TO FORCE GREEKS TO DRINK HEMLOCK, what Greek law givers need to do is cut their per capita spending. That is what they have been asked to do. If Greek law givers do so, they will get their deal reworked. But, Greek law givers still want to live in a bubble.

The Greeks borrowed from lenders to buy a McMansion. And then for decades, Greeks piled on HELOC after HELOC to pay for ongoing parties as they swilled ouzo, munched on baklava and danced to Zorba. And now the Greeks want to run out the back door, stiffing the owners of the catering hall while mailing in the keys.

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