How the banks f*cked themselves over

Chase mortgage memo pushes 'Cheats & Tricks'
Thursday, March 27, 2008
JEFF MANNING
The Oregonian

A newly surfaced memo from banking giant JPMorgan Chase provides a rare glimpse into the mentality that fueled the mortgage crisis.

The memo's title says it all: "Zippy Cheats & Tricks."

It is a primer on how to get risky mortgage loans approved by Zippy, Chase's in-house automated loan underwriting system. The secret to approval? Inflate the borrowers' income or otherwise falsify their loan application.

The document, a copy of which was obtained by The Oregonian, bears a Chase corporate logo. But it's unclear how widely it was circulated or used within Chase.

Bank spokesman Tom Kelly confirmed that the "Cheats & Tricks" memo was e-mailed from Chase but added that it does not reflect Chase corporate policy.

"This is not how we do things," [editor's note: I call 'bullshit'] he said. "We continue to investigate" the memo, Kelly said. "That kind of document would neither be condoned or tolerated." [editor's note: Who cares? It's too late now!]

The March e-mail was sent by Tammy Lish, a former Chase account representative in Portland. Chase fired her days after discovering she had sent it.

"I did not write it," Lish said. "It was sent to me by another (Chase) rep in another office along with some other documents that were more step-by-step customer training documents."

Even if the memo was penned by a single employee [editor's note: Yeah, right.] , it illustrates an attitude prevalent in certain corners of the mortgage industry during the boom years. In the face of sustained and significant home price increases, much of the industry veered away from traditional notions of safe and sound lending. Loan volume became as important as loan quality, particularly for the rank and file typically paid on commission.

During the boom, it was common for lenders and brokers to get paid more for risky subprime loans than for 30-year fixed-rate loans because the higher-interest loans fetched a higher price on Wall Street.
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