Tim Fernholz

Tim Fernholz is a former staff writer for the Prospect. His work has been published by Newsweek, The New Republic, The Nation, The Guardian, and The Daily Beast. He is also a Research Fellow at the New America Foundation.

Recent Articles

Blind Trust

Are efforts to offer borrowers mortgage modifications endangered by the current documentation crisis?

Chase Home Lending CEO David Lowman's testimony is disrupted by protesters at a Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee hearing on mortgage servicing. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
The mortgage mess isn't going away. Loans, sold as many as 12 times before ending up in a complex security or on a financial institution's balance sheet, have been found with key legal paperwork misplaced or incorrectly transferred. If you've followed the issue, you know documentation problems prevent mortgage servicers from foreclosing on homes: They lack proof of their legal right to do so. It's a symptom of underlying irregularities, not the end of the story. The infamous "robo-signer," who approved 400 foreclosure filings a day without determining their validity, helped reveal these problems, but they appear to go much deeper. The observer most well positioned to see what was happening with the servicing industry was the U.S. Treasury, which administered HAMP -- the Home Affordable Modification Program -- an anti-foreclosure initiative that paid servicers to craft sustainable loan modifications according to government standards. Today, Treasury maintains that the foreclosure...

Ross Douthat Isn't Listening.

Ross Douthat writes about the fiscal commission's working paper: The fact that so many Democrats look at Simpson-Bowles’s vision of a future where the government takes in substantially more revenue than it does today and see a dreadful sell-out to the right tells you something important, and depressing, about liberal intransigence where the future trajectory of federal spending is considered. While that's a lovely straw man, it's not what worries liberals. Contrary to Douthat's weird ideas, liberals don't want bigger government; they want government that accomplishes government-appropriate tasks and does that well. Douthat's analysis only makes sense if you assume that liberals are merely the polar opposite of conservatives, just out to create a state that raises the most revenue ever. It's just not accurate. Actual liberal concerns about the fiscal commission plan are based around the imbalance between spending and revenue and concerns about enforceability -- spending caps don't...

If There's A Zany Idea on the Internet ...

... Glenn Beck is repeating it on television. I recently wrote about an idea being promoted on Business Insider, a financial news website, that October's employment report was misleading due to bad data adjustment. Well, it turns out that Beck was ahead of me ; yesterday on his show he noted, quite accurately, that "some people would say [the government] lied to you, but those would only be people like me": BECK: Who can you trust? Can you trust the government and their numbers right now? Well we know about their numbers for the jobs that they reported on Friday and they're better than expected. That's good right? Job numbers earlier this month, payrolls supposedly expanded by over 151,000 jobs. That's great. I mean, look at the headlines here. It's fantastic. Bad news here: They misled you. They misled you. Some people would say they lied to you but those would only be people like me. The government changed the seasonal adjustment. They changed that formula so they could make the --...

Check Out How Blatantly Henry Blodget Misled Us With the October Jobs Numbers.

The jobs report released earlier this month reported a surprising amount of jobs growth, even though it continued to show that we aren't producing enough to dig ourselves out of 9.6 percent unemployment. Last week, I noticed that Henry Blodget , the disgraced former investment analyst who has reinvented himself as a financial journalist, had a new post up on his business news website: " Wow -- Check Out How Blatantly Our Government Misled Us With The October Jobs Numbers! " Blodget links to another story that ran on his website arguing that October's results were overstated and that the Bureau of Labor Statistics is fudging the numbers by changing the way it adjusts the employment report for seasonal changes, implying some sort of unspoken conspiracy. He concludes: In other words, it wasn't that there were a surprising number of jobs created in October. It was that the government changed its "seasonal adjustment" assumption in a way that made it look as though there were a surprising...

Contrarian Administration Narratives, Geithner vs. Summers Edition.

Sam Stein has excerpts from Richard Wolffe's new book on the White House. Here's a somewhat contrarian take on the dynamics between Larry Summers , Tim Geithner , and President Obama as the White House moved toward supporting former Fed Chair Paul Volcker's plan to ban proprietary trading at Wall Street banks. [Summers'] doubts sat there in the West Wing, blocking the Volcker rule for months. Obama had signaled that he wanted the rule to move forward back in October. The banks were on safe ground again, but could still benefit from subsidized lending by the federal government. That seemed wrong when they could use the money to trade for themselves rather than lend it to customers in the real economy... Biden was an old friend of Volcker's and started to press for the rule to take force. But as the weeks dragged on, Summers rehashed his same old questions and concerns. At one fall meeting with his economics team in the Oval Office, Obama wanted to know why nothing had moved yet...

Pages