Towards the end of last week, after we’d all spent a good 24 hours parsing the details of the national mortgage settlement, the American Banker posted this article, questioning why the actual legal settlement was still not available.Since then, its argument has made its way around, with the full original article even being posted at the Huffington Post.
The core of the argument is that we don’t yet have the full legal documentation underlying the settlement.
And therefore, well…anything from inquisitive scepticism to conspiratorial concern may be warranted. The settlement is not finalised, might not even exist or, if it does exist, could be radically different than what was announced. Or something much more and much less significant. Either way, the article’s implication is clear: “doubts” should be raised.
It is true that the section of the settlement website that will host the final documentation does in fact read ‘coming soon.’ And also true that the settlement itself has not been otherwise released.
The thing is, there’s nothing terrifying or malicious or any of the other adjectives the American Banker suggests might be warranted about this fact. Right now, expending any time you spend thinking about what this might ‘mean’ in some nefarious sense is time you spend wearing a proverbial tin foil hat.
The mortgage settlement is not fully finalised and has not been released because additional banks still have the opportunity to join. And the federal government and states’ attorneys general are undoubtedly working to get additional banks join.
The fact that additional banks have the opportunity to join is why the dollar amount for the settlement was reported at between the $25 and $40 billion.
When the group of banks joining the settlement is finalised, so will the accompanying documentation.
Really, that’s all there is to it.