Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto just reached a settlement with investment bank Morgan Stanley for up to $40 million, over deceptive practices in mortgage lending and securitization.
This may seem like a small number, but Morgan Stanley was not a big player in Nevada, and the case itself involves just a small slice of mortgages:
The New York-based company, with assets of some $831 billion, was investigated by Cortez Masto’s office for its role in buying and selling to investors some 3,000 subprime mortgages in Nevada.
In a settlement filed in Clark County District Court, called an “Assurance of Discontinuance,” Cortez Masto said the company’s Morgan Stanley Capital Holdings unit committed to improve practices to securitize Nevada mortgages, to refund and adjust interest rates for certain Nevada borrowers and to pay $7.2 million to prevent foreclosures and mortgage fraud in Nevada.
Overall, the settlement will provide relief valued at between $21 million to $40 million to 600 to 700 Nevada consumers, Cortez Masto’s office said.
You can do the math on this yourself. $40 million for 700 Nevada homeowners is $57,000 per person, a significant number. Even if this is at the low end you’re talking about $30,000. Given that the median asking price for a home in Las Vegas is down to $119,900 ($199,000 in Reno), that’s a significant chunk of change.
Put it this way: the “global settlement” with the state AGs aims to help 2 million borrowers, by their estimates. That would translate into $114 billion under the Masto standard.
UPDATE: Via email, Shahien Nasiripour reminds me that the foreclosure fraud settlement group was actually talking about helping three million borrowers. So that would be $171 billion, then. Recall that they’re looking at $17-$25 billion.
This settlement, which turned on incidents of deceptive practices (like lenders lying about the interest rate of a loan, appraised value of a property and the recast rate after a two-year teaser), is substantially similar to Masto’s proposed lawsuit against Bank of America. If anything the deceptive practices are bigger there and more substantial (including deceiving homeowners who sought loan modifications), and BofA was the servicer rather than the financier of an originator, like Morgan Stanley. In that lawsuit she may even seek criminal charges. And BofA has a much wider profile in Nevada and across the country than Morgan Stanley.
So if you look at $57,000 per homeowner in the Morgan Stanley settlement and apply it to BofA, you get a number that probably ranges into the billions, and that’s just one small state. Combine that with all of BofA’s other legal woes, including a new $50 billion private lawsuit over their Merrill Lynch acquisition, and you can see why people are filling in BofA on their dead pools.