Tracking the housing finance breakdown: a saga of corruption, hypocrisy, and government complicity.
About the Mortgage Lender Implode-O-Meter
What We Do
The mission of ml-implode.com is transparency, education, and accountability. We focus on the housing finance sector, which we believe has become the focal point of extreme distortions in the US economy. These distortions have now obviously (within a year of our founding) transitioned to outright collapse. To use a metaphor that deposed Citigroup CEO Chuck Prince might appreciate, "the music has stopped".
We seek the root causes of this distortion and resulting turmoil (who and what policies were responsible); we seek to document the ripple effects and study broader economic and societal implications; and we seek to determine how to heal the housing sector, the economy, and the country. We also seek to provide a historical record, preserving indefinitely our lists, discussions, and linked articles, so that it might be impossible and inexcusable to forget the debacle that is now unfolding.
This site is a forum. We may have our own ideas regarding the above (though our own team does not even agree on everything), but we are here to learn as much as to teach, and wish to foster discussion regarding the issues. All of the primary information on the site is received, either from the mainstream media, independent media and bloggers, or (most importantly) people working in the housing finance sector. We add a bit of editorial work to keep the site coherent, but it is a relatively small amount. In other words, we don't make this stuff up. The site belongs to the community of all those who have a burning interest in this area of concern... a group which is beginning to look more and more like "the general public."
Who We Are
We are a small team of dedicated individuals who care about the housing industry and the economy. Aaron Krowne is the founder of ml-implode.com.
In general we editorially include any factual report or editorial which we feel is credible and/or insightful, with little regard to name recognition or organizational reputation. We care primarily about content, not reputations or resources. Any repeat coverage from a particular writer or outlet is more a testament to our appreciation of the content and other incidental factors of our screening than any sort of deference to reputation. As an independent source, we have this luxury.
For company coverage (in "implosion" or "ailing/watch" lists), we like at least 2 out of three of the following to be met:
These are not hard-and-fast standards; we've been known to lower the bar a bit to include "smaller" failing divisions at major companies. Ultimately what matters is whether the implosion is particularly "noteworthy" for some reason. If it appears the public is "interested" in coverage of a particular company, we will likely cover it.
The "ailing/watch" list tends to stay smaller for a number of reasons. One is that the prevailing opinion on a company (or division) tends to be that it is going to survive... until the day it closes down. This is just natural wishful thinking that is exhibited at all levels. Another reason is that most companies in the industry are in general distress right now, so we must wait until we receive specific information that sets a company apart (on a potential path towards implosion) before listing it. Finally, still-operating companies and units will closely guard any such information, making it difficult to get much more than rumors and hearsay. Plus, even more compelling information might be difficult to post without being sued by a still-operating company (even if not much of it is left).
All leads on companies must be supported by multiple independent sources. We prefer in the following order:
This is not to say that we don't want reports from individuals; however these are more likely to go into our files and inform our research, as opposed to resulting in an immediate publication per se.
If you have a complaint about any information carried on the site, we reccommend as a first course of action posting to the item or our forum with your concerns, in a level-headed manner. This is the appropriate course of action for any material we have included from elsewhere, whether there is a factual error or argument that you find contentious. If it is wrong, say why it is wrong. As a forum, we do not have the authority to say that someone else's contribution is wrong.
If you have an objection to a lending operation we are (or are not) including in one of our lists, please email us with evidence supporting your case (see "Standards"). We are always looking to improve our coverage and our categorization of covered companies. Keep in mind it is impossible to have 100% perfect coverage at any point in time, and your feedback helps us achieve greater accuracy over time.
If you are principal management at one of these companies, please email us at the above address with an official statement of your company's condition that addresses the alleged innaccuracies. We almost always defer to an official statement in the absence of reliable public documentation. We cannot do anything without further (publishable) information; and a legal threat or naked assertion does not constitute sufficient information we can use.
This site was founded on January 1, 2007, by Aaron Krowne, a blogger with a computer science and math background and an avid interest in economics and finance. By early to mid 2006, Krowne had come to the conclusion that housing was the "linchpin" of the US economy, but disconcertingly, it appeared to be in a historically unprecendented bubble. When a number of subprime lending companies (including Ownit!) began imploding in fall of 2006, Krowne deemed it the start of a larger wave and deflation of the housing bubble, with likely wider economic impact (including recession).
When the media failed to catch on to the story within a few months, Krowne resolved to do it himself the "blogger" way, and started ml-implode.com as a single web page with six companies listed.
Soon there were dozens of companies, and the site received increasing links from bloggers and newsletter writers. In March, 2006, the site was covered on-air on Bloomberg and CNBC, and traffic exploded to almost 100,000 visitors a day.
Soon after this, the site became a de facto mortgage industry site, as a core following of industry professionals developed to check out the latest of the turmoil on the daily basis. This audience began regularly sending tips and leads, which allowed ml-implode to begin rivalling mainstream and even mortgage industry media in the timeliness and breadth of its coverage.
As 2007 proceeded, the crisis deepened, spreading throughout the US and global banking system. Homeowner distress also continued, with delinquencies and foreclosure skyrocketing. The housing market was clearly in a freefall. By late year, recession was an openly-discussed possibility.
The skeptical, if bearish case ml-implode had been making with its coverage, as well as the implicit warnings therein, had been vindicated. This continues to be the case to the present day.
In late 2007, ml-implode passed from ownership by Krowne Concepts, Inc, to Implode-Explode Heavy Industries (IEHI). The new company (with principals Aaron Krowne and Justin Owings) focuses on not only housing finance but other issues and sectors throughout the political economy. Some other IEHI sites are:
The suite of IEHI sites allows the inquisitive and concerned to focus on signal areas of the financial economy of the US and globally.
If you like and support what we're doing with this page, a donation would be much appreciated (Credit or transfer via PayPal). No amount is too small or too large. Donations will help support this site and expand its coverage, quality, and information service offerings.
The Mortgage Lender Implode-O-Meter can be contacted here.