Jingle bell, jingle bell, jingle bell shlock – jingle bell tinsel, jingle bell crock. No, that’s not how the classic holiday song goes, is it? Well, sorry if I am bit distracted – I am doing my holiday shopping, and I have a list of gifts to give to the people that shaped (or disfigured, depending how you look at it) the mortgage world in 2013.
Let me share my holiday shopping list with you!
For the shareholders of JPMorgan Chase: A trip to a fish market. You know the old expression that the fish rots from the head down, yes? Well, how come shareholders for JPMorgan Chase aren’t complaining about that distinctive piscine aroma coming from Jamie Dimon’s office? Dimon has repeatedly avoided taking any responsibility for the problems, potholes and hefty fines that befell his. Contrary to Harry S. Truman’s belief system, the buck doesn’t stop at Dimon’s desk – although he continues to pocket plenty of bucks for his less-than-stellar stewardship. Maybe the shareholders will have a massive revival of their olfactory senses in 2014 and start rethinking some basic issues related to competent corporate leadership.
For Janet Yellen: A new GPS. Yellen has already broken new ground as the first woman picked to run the Fed, but she won’t be of much value if she continues to follow Ben Bernanke’s roadmap and steer the country further into the realm of QE-Forever. Going forward, the economy needs bold and intelligent strategies to address acute problems, ranging from the evaporation of interest rates to an employment environment that is creating a gross surplus of low-paying part-time jobs. Yellen needs to be her own woman and not Bernanke in a dress.
For Edward DeMarco: A framed copy of the U.S. Constitution. I hope that DeMarco can use his gift to point out where he got the idea that the acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency has the constitutional authority to unilaterally redesign the federal government’s housing set-up without bothering to inform Congress or the White House of his plans (let alone get their respective approvals). While DeMarco has done some commendable work in his four-plus years as an interim appointee, his astonishing usurpation of authority has thrown the federal system of checks-and-balances thoroughly out of whack.
For Mel Watt: A Blu-ray disc of “Pinocchio.” Meanwhile, at the other extreme, we have Obama stooge Mel Watt lined up as DeMarco’s replacement. With this gift, Watt can get the hint that a former puppet can lose his strings and become a fully independent person – or, he can sing along to “When You Wish Upon a Star” and add a lyric about hoping the Blue Fairy can restore the housing market’s stability with her magic wand.
For the 34% of Americans classified as obese: A serious fitness and diet regimen. Health-related spending has been cited by industry studies as a primary reason why many homeowners fall behind on their mortgage payments. A 2012 study by the Journal of Health Economics found that the annual medical spending for an obese person was $3,271, while a non-obese person only spent $512. With Obamacare being put into place, we can easily expect those sums to rise in 2014 and beyond. There is no evidence that Americans are getting slimmer, but the expanding national waistlines and the increased medical costs associated to them will do little to help solidify the housing market. Healthier homeowners will ultimately help to build a healthier mortgage marketplace.
For the Progress in Lending readers: A deep hug of friendship and gratitude. Since joining this winning team in the spring, I have been overwhelmed by the extraordinary positive feedback by the Progress in Lending readers. I am also ecstatic to be part of Progress in Lending’s new publication Today’s Lending Insight – and this wonderful monthly could only have occurred thanks to the mega-strong support across the industry for the innovative work that our publisher Tony Garritano is doing.
I believe that I can speak for the entire Progress in Lending team in wishing you the very best for this holiday season and for the New Year. And remember, folks: Keep fighting the good fight, and fight to win!
About The Author
Phil Hall has been (among other things) a United Nations-based radio journalist, the president of a public relations and marketing agency, a financial magazine editor, the author of six books and a horror movie actor. Also, as you will discover, he is not shy about stating his views.