Viewpoint: My Crime Was Not Curbing the Guilty

American Banker

By Robert Gnaizda

Many minority leaders concerned about foreclosures and lack of future homeownership opportunities, have asked me, a co-founder and former general counsel of the Greenlining Institute, to respond to charges that it caused the financial crisis by promoting predatory lending practices.

My response is that the accusations against Greenlining are not without some merit, though the facts are a little more complex. For example, the institute unfortunately was far less influential than suggested by the CEO of Countrywide, Angelo Mozilo, when he blamed it for his predatory actions.

In 1992, Greenlining sent a letter to Mozilo criticizing Countrywide for finishing last among California financial institutions in making conventional, prime, fixed-rate loans to blacks, Latinos and Asian-Americans.

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Health Insurance Rate Hikes Need Thorough Examination

L.A. Daily News
By Carla Saporta and Bruce Mirken

HERE they go again. Major health insurers are announcing another round of rate increases, and something doesn’t smell right. Ironically, this is happening just as a Virginia judge ruled that a provision of the national health insurance reform law – that should keep rates down – is unconstitutional, setting up a continuing court battle.

For many Californians, this is the second round of big rate increases this year. Higher rates will place a heavy burden on recession-weary families that are already struggling to make ends meet.

Some insurers are trying to pin blame on the Affordable Care Act, the federal health reform law that has begun to take effect, as well as a California reform that bans insurers from charging women more than men for health insurance. But the numbers don’t seem to add up.

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How Credit Scores Disproportionately Hurt Communities of Color
By Preeti Vissa

To most of us, credit scores are an obscure subject, something to think about only when we’re applying for a loan. But they’re deeply tied to the foreclosure crisis and the cloud of gloom surrounding the housing market and the economy generally. They have contributed to the disproportionate effect of the foreclosure crisis on minorities, and have the potential to create a vicious cycle that will pound communities of color even further.

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Hazards, Moral and Otherwise
By Preeti Vissa

I and other consumer advocates have been arguing for an effort to head off the coming new wave of foreclosures, primarily by writing down the principal of mortgages that were based on unrealistic, bubble-inflated home values. But we keep running into an argument against such a program that many seem to find persuasive: the idea of “moral hazard.”
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Don’t Blame Poor And Do See ‘Inside Job’
By Orson Aguilar

It has been fascinating to observe the reactions of anti-regulation zealots to the film “Inside Job.” Many — including Paul Sperry in his Nov. 18 column on this page, “10 Reasons You Should Not Waste Your Money On Film ‘Inside Job,'” — have resorted to constructing a sort of alternate economic history of the past 20 years.

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The Greenlining Institute Responds to Peter Wood – Innovations

By Orson Aguilar, Executive Director, and Bruce Mirken, Media Relations Coordinator, of the Greenlining Institute

On Stanford University’s Web site, university President John Hennessy declares, “We believe that the richness of our backgrounds, cultures, talents, and interests has made Stanford University one of the world’s leading research and teaching institutions.”

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Real Foreclosure Relief Can’t Wait
By Preeti Vissa

No less an expert than Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Prize-winning economist and president-elect of the International Economic Association, has concluded that that there is a real answer to the foreclosure crisis: Principal reduction. Forcing banks to write down the principal of troubled loans is, as Stiglitz told the Sacramento Bee, the “best option for the country… For banks, it means coming to terms with reality, with the fact that they lent money on the basis of prices that were inflated by a bubble. It ends the fiction that they will get repaid the full amount lent.”

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2011: The Main Action Won’t Be in Congress
By Preeti Vissa

The punditocracy is anxiously war-gaming the expected battles between the Obama Administration and Congress. But while there will be plenty of strong rhetoric and political theatrics on Capitol Hill, much of the real action will occur elsewhere, in administrative and regulatory processes that typically occur offstage.

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