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Gretchen Morgenson Likes Neil Barofsky's Book

Gretchen Morgenson on Neil Barofsky:

One battle involved the Public-Private Investment Program, designed to get troubled mortgages off banks’ balance sheets by encouraging private investors to buy them using mostly taxpayer dollars. When the inspector general’s office recommended ways to protect against fraud and to fix other flaws in the program, Mr. Barofsky writes, the Treasury rejected the suggestions, maintaining that they would gut the programs and reduce participation.

Another skirmish involved the department’s ill-conceived loan modification plan, known as the Home Affordable Modification Program. When the Treasury began discussing the program’s outlines, Mr. Barofsky said he became concerned that it would open the door to fraudulent foreclosure rescue schemes, in which large upfront fees could be extracted from desperate borrowers eager to participate in what was supposed to be a free government program. When his office recommended fraud-prevention measures, several were ignored, he writes. A few months after the modification plan was announced, his office began a preliminary audit of its rollout. “We soon verified what we had suspected,” Mr. Barofsky writes. “Treasury had failed to ensure that the servicers had the necessary infrastructure to support a massive mortgage modification program.” It barely got off the ground, and few homeowners have received the help they hoped for....

Despite all of this, Mr. Barofsky ends on something of a positive note. Meaningful changes to our broken system may finally come about, he writes, if enough people get angry. His conclusion is this: “Only with this appropriate and justified rage can we sow the seeds for the types of reform that will one day break our system free from the corrupting grasp of the megabanks".

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