Wednesday, November 5, 2008

CRASH TALK

NY Times - As a senior mortgage underwriter, Keysha Cooper was proud of her ability to spot fraud and other problems in a loan application. . . But as a senior mortgage underwriter at Washington Mutual during the late, great mortgage boom, Ms. Cooper says she found herself in a vise. Brokers squeezed her from one side, her superiors from the other, she says, and both pressured her to approve loans, no matter what. "At WaMu it wasn't about the quality of the loans; it was about the numbers," Ms. Cooper says. "They didn't care if we were giving loans to people that didn't qualify. Instead, it was how many loans did you guys close and fund?" Ms. Cooper, 35, was laid off a year ago and is still unemployed. She came forward to discuss her experiences at the bank in order to help shareholders recover money from WaMu executives. . . "If a loan came from a top loan officer, they didn't care what the situation was, you had to make that loan work," she says. "You were like a bad person if you declined a loan." One loan file was filled with so many discrepancies that she felt certain it involved mortgage fraud. She turned the loan down, she says, only to be scolded by her supervisor. "She told me, 'This broker has closed over $1 million with us and there is no reason you cannot make this loan work,' " Ms. Cooper says. "I explained to her the loan was not good at all, but she said I had to sign it." The argument did not end there, however. Ms. Cooper says her immediate boss complained to the team manager about the loan rejection and asked that Ms. Cooper be "written up," with a formal letter of complaint placed in her personnel file.

Crains -
American Express will cut 7,000 jobs. The financial giant, which will cut 10% of its workforce, says it is also suspending management level salary increases next year and instituting a hiring freeze.

Consumerist - Circuit City is closing 155 stores and withdrawing from 12 markets. . . . Employees in certain departments, like car installation, and Firedog, will likely be out of a job within 48 hours. Warranties will still be honored.

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