EDITORIAL - Picking up the pieces: Countrywide's ex-chief profits on mortgage misery

Written by Susan Mannella on .

Just when we thought the word "reprehensible" couldn't take on a more odious connotation comes the story of how a key player in the subprime mortgage debacle is getting rich on the misery he helped produce.

Stanford Kurland led Countrywide Financial into the high-risk loan business that helped send the economy into a tailspin. Today he is leading a startup business that stands to make millions cleaning up on defaulted loans.

While the financial community is trying to stave off disaster precipitated when these loans were securitized and spread to investors worldwide, business is reported to be "off-the-charts good" at Mr. Kurland's Private National Mortgage Acceptance Company, known as PennyMac. The government is eager to unload troubled mortgages from failing banks, sometimes for pennies on the dollar, and the Kurland firm gets a piece of what it collects.

Shamelessly, he views his venture as a noble undertaking to help stabilize the housing market and lead the nation out of recession. But Margot Saunders, a lawyer with the National Consumer Law Center, likens the case to an "arsonist who sets fire to the house and then buys up the charred remains and resells it."

Another attorney told The New York Times, "It's tragic and ironic. But then again, greed is a growth industry."


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