David vs. Goliath.
We like those stories, right?
Recently "The Big Short" won several awards. It's a dramatic comedy that attempted to show how a few people were able to take advantage of the impending implosion of the mortgage market.
A lesser known story involves Lisa Epstein who had a hand in blowing the lid off foreclosure fraud.
The larger story can be found in "Chain of Title: How Three Ordinary Americans Uncovered Wall Street's Great Foreclosure Fraud" by David Dayen. The shorter story is encapsulated in the Salon article, "How one woman beat the big banks: The amazing true story about how Wall Street's mortgage fraud unraveled."
This is not a post about how great the books and movies were. Instead, it's a resource for a few less dry ways to learn about the consequences of a) insufficiently seeing warning signs in financial markets and b) persons of limited political stature doing what they could to address the problems that appear to be too big for a single person to correct.
One might say that the "heroes" of the big short were rewarded handsomely for discovering fraud. I've spent a great deal of time reading about them as well as interviews with them. If anything, they appear to be a bit disgruntled that the market reached such a point that greed won the day and so many people lost their homes and hit a financial spiral as forces bigger than them managed to extract a great deal of financial gain from the market conditions.
Also, they don't seem to feel that we've righted the ship. We're not immune to the conditions that existed creeping up again. Hopefully though- we'll be better at spotting the conditions next time around.
In the case of Lisa Epstein she was undaunted in her pursuit to read the fine print that could save her home.
I hate to be a spoiler- I'm not going to give her story away. Please read the Salon story if you're interested. I'm sure it will be time well spent.
Also- foreclosures are down to 2007 levels. I'm hoping this is a trough that will be longer lasting and not the beginning of an upward slope.