Mortgage Roundup (3/10/20) – Fake Accounts, Regulators & Refinancing

Several in the White House and Congress self-quarantine after coming in contact with the coronavirus. Global stocks and oil prices rebound after the Dow’s worst day in 12 years. 

And in mortgage news …

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced a lawsuit against Fifth Third Bank for allegedly creating fake accounts on customers’ behalf to artificially inflate sales numbers. Fifth Third officials said they reject the allegations. The lawsuit was filed the same day two Wells Fargo board members resigned amid criticism the board did too little in response to the bank’s fake account scandal.

A coalition of six banking regulators announced Monday that it would support financial institutions if they are impacted by the coronavirus.

House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters expressed concern about the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s plan to close offices and offer buyouts to 20 percent of its workforce.

Senate Democrats are urging regulators to offer lenders more coronavirus guidance. They want to encourage banks to modify terms on existing loans or extend credit to businesses and consumers affected by the virus.  

Italy’s deputy finance minister has said the government will suspend mortgage payments and other household bills across the entire country during the coronavirus outbreak.

Mortgage lenders could benefit from the surge in refinancing due to widening market spreads, and that could help offset negative Mortgage Servicing Rights marks. 

A Forbes columnist argues that Freddie Mae and Fannie Mae should operate with the same strict capital requirements other banks face. Currently, their leverage has been at least 5 times higher than that of the largest U.S. banks.

Coronavirus volatility will test the mortgage industry’s funding models

The American Bankers Association, the National Association of Realtors, the Mortgage Bankers Association and almost two dozen other industry groups sent a joint letter to Congress warning against using G-fees like a “piggy bank” to offset government spending.