Journalism in the Public Interest

Treasury Launches Shame Offensive Against Mortgage Servicers

Today, the Treasury Department released data (PDF) showing how each of the mortgage servicers participating in the administration's $75 billion foreclosure prevention program has been performing.

We'll be posting the data on our bailout site in a more reader-friendly format later today. But the main takeaway is that a number of the largest servicers are lagging badly behind the others. And among the laggards are two of the top three: Wells Fargo and Bank of America (the largest).

There are some standouts among the large servicers: JPMorgan Chase, GMAC, Aurora and Saxon. The gap between those top performers and the others is quite wide. JPMorgan Chase, for instance, has started nearly three times as many trial modifications under the program as Bank of America. But it services only about half as many eligible loans that are 60 days or more delinquent, a rough indicator that Treasury used to estimate the total eligible loan pool.

In a conference call with reporters this morning, Michael Barr, the assistant secretary of the Treasury for financial institutions, used the word "disappointed" a lot to describe some of the servicers' performance. Clearly the point of releasing the data is to put pressure on the underperforming servicers to improve. After news reports detailed borrowers' frustrations in trying to wring modifications from their servicers, the administration stepped up its criticism of the servicers early last month, finally summoning them to Washington for a talking-to.

But while the administration has publicly wagged its finger at the servicers, it also continues to emphasize that the program is on track to meet its original goal of modifying 3 million to 4 million loans over four years; it's just that officials would like things to move at a "much more rapid pace," as Barr put it today. So while the administration clearly hopes to harness public frustration to put pressure on the underperforming servicers, it's also trying to get the message across that things are going according to plan.

Other bailout links this morning:
In Bailout Investigation, Agents Raid Bank and Lender in Florida (NYT)
BofA Hit by Fine Over Merrill (WSJ)
After 6,000 Employees Take Buyouts, G.M. to Lay Off Thousands (NYT)
AIG Selects Ex-Chief of MetLife as CEO (WSJ)
SEC Actions against Bailed-Out Firms Could Weigh on TARP Investments (WaPo)
Geithner Vents at Regulators as Overhaul Stumbles (WSJ)
U.S. Judge Rules for Fed in Fox News Network Request (Reuters)

This article is part of an ongoing investigation:
Foreclosure Crisis

Foreclosure Crisis: Banks and Government Fail Homeowners

Banks and the government have fallen short in helping homeowners in danger of foreclosure.

The Story So Far

Systemic failures at the country’s banks and mortgage servicers have exacerbated the most severe foreclosure crisis since the Great Depression, and government efforts to limit the damage have fallen short. ProPublica created an unrivaled database of homeowners who have faced foreclosure, opened a Facebook page to encourage homeowners to share their stories, wrote profiles of some of them, and incorporated their experiences into our reporting. We also provided a comprehensive rundown of the numbers behind the crisis.

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