Daddy, this is boring – when are they going to talk? The Nutcracker had just started and already my 6 year-old daughter, Audrey, was complaining. Evidently no one had explained to her that there is no dialogue in a ballet. I blame my wife. It is not a Dad’s job to know the storyline of a stage production involving men in tights.
Audrey was sitting on my lap and like most kindergartners she had a lot of questions about the show. Is that girl a princess? Is she dreaming? What is that big mouse doing? Why are those ballerinas dancing in the forest?
The last time I saw the Nutcracker my wife and I were just dating. I was still trying to impress her back then so I agreed to go. That was 13 years ago. Needless to say, I don’t remember much about the Nutcracker Suite so I wasn’t prepared for my daughter’s interrogation.
What’s a Daddy to do? Well, like any good parent I just started making up stuff. Audrey bought it. Lucky for me that little girl doesn’t know how to use Google yet. If she did I’d be a candidate for worst father of the year.
And the best part of the show? Well for Audrey and me, the end – I mean when it came to a stop.
As the Danish Marzipan Shepherdess Performers, the Mouse King and the Sugar Plum Fairy finally walked off the stage an announcement was made – Santa Claus was in the building. Children of all ages rushed the stage to have their picture taken with the big guy. It looked like some old footage I once saw of a Beatles’ concert.
As we waited in line I started wondering about Santa’s naughty list. How many of these kids were on it? How many of their parents were on it? Was I on it? If Santa Claus was compiling a naughty list for the real estate industry who would be at the top?
I’m fairly certain Santa keeps up with the news. If that’s the case then no doubt Bank of America will be getting a lump of coal in their stocking on Christmas Day. In October, they suspended foreclosure proceedings in all 50 states because of procedural errors. Last Friday, the Arizona Attorney General filed a lawsuit against Bank of America for alleged mortgage fraud. In the suit Terry Goddard, Arizona’s Attorney General, said “BofA is abusing borrowers systematically. It showed a blatant disregard for people’s rights and practiced blatantly deceptive procedures.”
Bank of America isn’t just on the naughty list, they ARE the naughty list.
I have a feeling that little Fannie Mae and her brother Freddie Macare on the naughty list too. Together they own 1,390,000 delinquent mortgages – more than any other bank or investor. According to ProPublica, Fannie and Freddie reduced principal on 141 of 287,000 mortgages. That’s just a tad over 0%. Meanwhile, banks reduced principal during this same time period by almost 30%.
The Peabody Energy Corporation is the largest coal producer in the United States. In 2009, they churned out 189,000 tons of coal. Santa Claus may need every ounce of it for Bank of America, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. And I sure hope Santa doesn’t have his place at the North Pole mortgaged with one of these behemoths. He may find a foreclosure notice taped to the outside of his door when he gets home on Saturday morning.
I’m a real estate investor. I like a market that is uncertain and inefficient because there is more opportunity. On the other hand, I’m also a homeowner involved in my community. The actions these companies take, or don’t take, may be felt for decades to come – in my neighborhood and yours.
Hopefully, Santa won’t ding me too much for stretching the truth with my daughter at the Nutcracker last week. All I want for Christmas this year is clarity for the politicians, integrity for business leaders and responsibility for homeowners. Oh, and a blue-ray disc player would be nice too. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!