May 18, 2020 - Economy & Business

Commercial mortgage-backed securities trouble could reprise 2007 meltdown

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Major banks including Wells Fargo, Deutsche Bank and others have engaged in a pattern of fraud in commercial mortgage-backed securities that is putting the whole market at risk, according to a whistleblower complaint submitted to the SEC, ProPublica reported Friday.

Why it matters: That report was published on the same day as the Fed's financial stability report, which warned the commercial real estate market could be among the hardest-hit industries from the coronavirus pandemic.

The big picture: Should there be a washout in the CMBS market it could have a major impact on the real economy, similar to what happened with mortgage-backed securities in the 2008 global financial crisis, ProPublica notes.

What they're saying: The Fed cited commercial real estate as being particularly susceptible to a major decline in asset prices because “prices were high relative to fundamentals before the pandemic,” and COVID-19 has caused major disruptions in the hospitality and retail industries, "putting the ability of these sectors to make timely mortgage and rental payments into question."

  • Those prices were artificially inflated by the banks, ProPublica reports, citing the SEC complaint, with lenders and securities issuers regularly marking up financial data for commercial properties by as much as 30% “without justification.”
  • The changes "make the properties appear more valuable, and borrowers more creditworthy, than they actually are."
  • "As a result, it alleges, borrowers have qualified for commercial loans they normally would not have, with the investors who bought securities birthed from those loans none the wiser."

Go deeper: Coronavirus is upending the U.S. mortgage market

Go deeper

New York City to impose curfew amid ongoing protests

Photo: Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

New York City will be placed under curfew on Monday from 11pm until 5am Tuesday morning following days of protests over the death of George Floyd, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday.

The state of play: The decision was a result of conversations with NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York Police Department commissioner Dermot Shea. Cuomo said the number of police officers on the street will double from 4,000 to 8,000.

Family-commissioned autopsy says George Floyd's death was homicide

Police watch as demonstrators block a roadway while protesting the death of George Floyd in Miami. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Preliminary results from an independent autopsy commissioned by George Floyd's family found that his death in the custody of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was "homicide caused by asphyxia due to neck and back compression that led to a lack of blood flow to the brain," according to a statement from the family's attorney.

Why it matters: The autopsy contradicts preliminary findings from the Hennepin County medical examiner, who found “no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxiation or strangulation,” according to charging documents against Chauvin. The official examination is still ongoing.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Trump lashes out at governors, calls for National Guard to "dominate" streets

President Trump berated the nation’s governors in a video teleconference call Monday, calling many of them "weak" and demanding tougher crackdowns on the protests that erupted throughout the country following the killing of George Floyd, according to audio of the call.

The latest: White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said at a briefing Monday that Trump's call for law enforcement to "dominate" protesters referred to "dominating the streets" with a robust National Guard presence in order to maintain the peace.