Category Archives: Foreclosure

JP Morgan Foreclosing On Former Civil Rights Activist

Helen Bailey

JP Morgan is in the process of foreclosing on Helen Bailey, a 78-year-old former civil rights activist and current resident of Nashville, Tennessee. According to change.org, she is being foreclosed on because she cannot keep up with her mortgage payments.  

Helen Bailey is a 78-year-old grandmother who participated in the civil rights movement, worked as a childcare provider for autistic children, and was a community volunteer. She has paid her mortgage since 1999, but now she can’t keep up the payments. All she wants is to stay in her home until she dies, in the neighborhood where she feels safe and has lived for nearly quarter of a century. She could have refinanced with a company willing to let her live in the house for free until her death, but Chase Bank would not reduce her principal by $9,000. She’s been paying 7% interest, well above most rates, so Chase could have decided they had made enough. Instead, they have started foreclosure…While Chase tries to tie itself to the incredible legacy of Martin Luther King, who really did believe in communities, Chase tries to throw a grandmother who marched for civil rights out onto the street. 

Juxtapose this with the fact that JP Morgan Chase has just launched a project to digitize the documents of MLK along with other civil rights leaders to make them available online. Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JP Morgan, said “It’s important for JPMorgan Chase to support Dr. King’s legacy because of the important values he committed his life to promoting, such as equality, equal opportunity, and quality education for all. People like Dr. Martin Luther King are what made America what it is today. The values he espoused are the values that JPMorgan Chase also tries to stand for around the world.”  

Gary Flowers, Executive Director and CEO of the Black Leadership Forum, Inc, responded to the news of the foreclosure. “JP Morgan Chase must practice what it preaches. On one hand, the bank cannot earnestly invoke the values of Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. while devaluing the very principles for which he lived and died.” 

Change.org has started a petition to save her house. To date more than 44,000 people have signed the petition.

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How Bad Is The Income Gap In America – A Few Facts About The 1%

Why are Occupy Wall Street protesters out there….they don’t even know what they are protesting about? That is what we are hearing over and over from Fox News and other conservative pundits on an hourly basis.

I can’t speak for them all but here are a few clues: How about protesting to object corporate control of government policies, which has led to unfair tax loopholes, job outsourcing, cuts to public programs and gross overcompensation of executive employees, a widening wealth disparity between the top 1 percent and the rest of the country. 

So what is the disparity? How is wealth distributed in the United States? When you hear your conservative, Tea Party relatives or friends talking down the OWS movement, here are a few fun facts you can mention. These were compiled by staff writer of Life’s Little Mysteries, Natalie Wolchover

FACT #1: The wealthiest 1 percent of households own 34.6 percent of all privately held wealth, and 42.7 percent of all financial wealth (total net worth minus the value of one’s home). 

According to the NYU economist Edward Wolff a 2010 report, the bottom 80 percent of the population holds just 15 percent of the total wealth and only 7 percent of the total financial wealth (as a large portion of their wealth is tied up in their homes). The bottom 40 percent of Americans — that’s 120 million people — hold just 0.3 percent of the wealth. 

FACT #2: The United States has more income and wealth inequality than most countries that have been studied, including India and China — countries that are traditionally viewed as having unequal distributions of wealth. 

The degree of income inequality in each country is assigned a “Gini coefficient” — a number that ranges from zero (if everyone in the country has the same income) to 1 (if one person in the country has all the income). According to data gathered by the Central Intelligence Agency for 2010, the United States has a Gini coefficient of 0.45, on par with such countries as Iran (0.44) and Mexico (0.48); this is higher than the Gini coefficients of 94 of the 134 countries that have been studied, including China (0.42) and India (0.37), and much higher than Canada, Australia and all of Europe. Sweden has the lowest Gini coefficient at 0.23.  

The United States’ Gini coefficient has been rising for decades; it was just 0.35 in the 1960s. 

FACT #3: Among the 299 companies listed in the S&P 500 Index, the average CEO’s compensation was $11.4 million in 2010, or 343 times more than the median pay ($33,190) of American workers. The ratio of CEO pay to median worker pay was just 42:1 in 1980, and is currently 25:1 in Europe. 

Bill Domhoff, a sociologist at UC Santa Cruz, claims the ballooning of chief executives’ salaries in recent years has resulted from the fact that, for the most part, they set their own wages. “If you wonder how such a large gap could develop, the proximate, or most immediate, factor involves the way in which CEOs now are able to rig things so that the board of directors, which they help select — and which includes some fellow CEOs on whose boards they sit — gives them the pay they want,” Domhoff wrote in a 2011 articleon his website. 

FACT #4: Between 1979 and 2005, the average after-tax income for the top 1 percent increased by 176 percent, compared with an increase of only 6 percent for the bottom 20 percent. Between 1990 and 2005, the purchasing power of the federal minimum wage actually declined by 9.3 percent when adjusted for inflation. 

This rapid widening in the income gap between the rich and poor was identified in a 2007 report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The report attributed the trend to tax policies that favor the wealthy. According to Domhoff, other contributing factors include the diminishing political clout of labor unions and decreased expenditure on social services. 

FACT #5: Most Americans have no idea that the wealth distribution is as concentrated as it is, but regardless of their gender, age, income level or party affiliation, they believe wealth should be much more evenly distributed than they think it is

In 2010, Michael Norton of Harvard Business School and behavioral economist Dan Ariely of Duke University surveyed 5,522 Americans about their views on the country’s wealth distribution. They found that most respondents (regardless of their genders, ages, income levels and party affiliations) guessed that the top 20 percent of Americans hold about 60 percent of the wealth (rather than the 85 percent that they actually hold). Survey respondents also guessed that the bottom 40 percent hold between 8 and 10 percent of the wealth in the U.S. (rather than the 0.3 percent that they actually hold).

BofA Says Not to Think of Your Home as an Asset

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Bank of America CEO, Brian Moynihan , said on Tuesday at the 2011 National Association of Attorneys General conference that homeowners need to look elsewhere for long-term investments rather than their home due to slow growth in population in certain areas.

“It’s sobering to think, but some people shouldn’t be thinking of (their home) as an asset. They should be thinking of it as a great place to live.”

Mr. Moynihan cited the situation of an Ohio customer who complained that his 100-year-old home was valued at $50,000. Mr. Moynihan said it would be valued as “some multiples of that figure” if located elsewhere, but due to population levels that have remained unchanged, the demand for homes in that state are low, which in turn drives down home prices.

Joe Rauch reported many attorneys general attended and are in the process of negotiating with BofA and other lenders about a settlement to allegations that the industry cut corners on foreclosures.