[C.I. note added morning of Feb. 10th. In my notes, I wrongly called Stephanie Mudick "Susan." That was my mistake. My apologies.]
Ava here, filling in for Trina to report on today's House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing.
The Committee heard this morning about the abuses of JP Morgan Chase in regards to mortgages. One couple, Julia and Capt Jonathan Rowles, were targeted and harassed by JP Morgan Chase for five years. They were following the rules, making the payments but lived in constant fear of foreclosure because JP Morgan Chase wasn't following the rules, because JP Morgan Chase was not just 'breaking the rules,' they were breaking the law.
Susan Mudick, one of JP Morgan Chase's many vice presidents -- many? how many? Bob Filner asked and it's apparently so many that Mudick didn't even have a number to provide him with -- appeared before the Comittee representing the bank.
She offered hollow words. I did feel a small degree of sympathy for her personally because she's not the owner, she's not the CEO. And, as Bob Filner rightly pointed out (see C.I.'s snapshot) at the end, she can't do anything really. She has no power.
But she does have the power to quit and she chose not to. She chose to appear before the Committee and represent JP Morgan so I do hold her accountable for the company's actions and she'd be crazy not to expect others to feel as I do.
Her words were hollow. I'll note this exchange with US House Rep Michael Michaud.
Michael Michaud: You had mentioned earlier that there were errors and you regretfully -- sorry for the errors. And you're going to pay back what you owe these individuals. What is the interest rate you're paying giving the money back?
Susan Mudick: The interest rate -- the interest rate, sir, is seven-and-a-quarter percent.
Michael Michaud: Seven-and-a-quarter percent?
Susan Mudick: Yes, sir.
Michael Michaud: You heard the Rowles went through a lot. And you mentioned errors. And originally when I heard about it, I figured, yeah, it was for people to meke errors but what the Rowles went through -- five years of harassing phone calls, three or four o'clock in the morning is just beyond errors. And you heard some of my colleagues talk about arrogance, greed within JP Morgan and, actually, Mr. [US House Rep Cliff] Stearns mentioned the fact that JP Morgan received -- I know they paid it back -- $25 billion of the TARP funding [US government bail out of the bank industry at the end of 2008]. Mr. Diamond, the CEO for JP Morgan, received a bonus in 2007 of $28 million. Last year, almost $16 million bonus. And you're paying these individuals seven-and-a-half percent interest? I think there is a disconnect when you look at the bonuses received to the CEOs and what you have done to individuals who have served this country very well. I'm sure that the CEO for JP Morgan has a very nice home he probably can cater Christmas parties, Thanksgiving parties at his very elegant home and he can probably sleep very well at night.
And that's what it really does come down. A billion dollar company (maybe trillion dollar) got rich by breaking the laws. And now that they're caught, they say "Oh, error! But will throw a few coins at the situation!"
Mudick wanted to insist, for example, that it wasn't a big deal about the people -- 18 was the number she gave, 18 service members -- whose homes were foreclosed on because "the bank owns the homes" so they really didn't lose them and the bank can now give them back. What crazy world does that woman live in?
I don't care whether you threatened to take away my home or actually did -- both would be unnerving and stressful to me. And the idea that you're going to break the law but excuse yourself because you're throwing some coins at your victims is beyond crazy.
I wish the hearing had been longer. I wish it had been pointed out that JP Morgan Chase broke numerous laws related to service members but that they also broke other laws. Calling someone at three in the morning -- whether they are a service member or not -- about a bill is breaking the law. And I would have loved to have seen JP Morgan Chase forced to answer about those practices and so many others.
I think the Congress needs to begin an inquiry into the business practices of JP Morgan Chase. Unless and until that happens, the crooks will be getting away with it because a few coins tossed at their victims doesn't hurt JP Morgan Chase at all.
And now here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"