Nathaniel Popper:

JPMorgan Chase’s chief financial officer, Marianne Lake, took the stage at a financial conference on Tuesday under strict orders not to mention her company’s involvement in Apple’s new payment system.

But when Apple’s chief executive, Timothy D. Cook, at a news conference in California at the same time, finally brought up Apple Pay, one of Ms. Lake’s deputies in New York took a green apple out of her bag and put it on a table on the stage, signaling that Ms. Lake was free to discuss the service.

Subtle. In other tradecraft:

From the beginning, the project was top secret, with what one person involved called a “code name frenzy.” The card companies had code names for Apple and Apple for the card companies. At Visa, the code name was another consumer electronics company, chosen to avert attention from employees who were not involved. Visa soon had about a thousand people on the team.

Would love to know which other consumer electronics company was served up as the red herring.

All in all, pretty amazing how much pull Apple proved to have over another massive industry. That’s was being the most valuable company in world gets you, I suppose.

Say hello to the next financial crisis, brought to you courtesy of the dumbest new bill of the week: H.R. 5148: Access to Affordable Mortgages Act.

Ordinarily whenever an individual wants to borrow money for a mortgage, the bank conducts due diligence… both on the borrower as well as the property.

It’s in the banks’ interest (as well as the banks’ depositors) to ensure that the property is at least worth as much as the amount being borrowed. Duh.

Congress doesn’t agree. Apparently when banks conduct property appraisals, that seems to unfairly discriminate against some segment of the population trying to buy crap properties.

And we certainly can’t have that going on in the Land of the Free.

So with HR 5148, Congress aims to exempt certain ‘higher-risk mortgages’ from property appraisal requirements.

Curiously, this legislation reverses several provisions in the 1968 ‘Truth in Lending Act’.

It’s as if Congress is now anti- ‘Truth in Lending’ and pro- ‘whatever the hell gets the money on the street’.

And of course, all of this comes at a time when mortgage rates are still near their all-time lows.

You can borrow money to buy a home today at just 4%. That’s less than half the long-term average of 8.5%, and a fraction of the 16%+ people were stuck paying 30 years ago.

Isn’t paying 4% affordable enough? Nope. Not according to Congress.

So now they’re trying to engineer yet another financial crisis by encouraging banks and other lenders to exercise minimal due diligence on their mortgage portfolio.

This comes at a pivotal time. US banks are only now just barely starting to recapitalize after the early days of the financial crisis.

They’ve unloaded their toxic assets to the US government and Federal Reserve.

They’ve borrowed money at essentially 0% from the Fed and loaned it to the Treasury Department at interest (the mother of all scams).

After six years of these freebies and taxpayer-funded bailouts, bank balance sheets are only now starting to clear up.

So what does Congress do? They propose a new law to screw up bank balance sheets all over again.

It’s idiocy on an epic scale… and it makes one wonder what team of monkeys is coming up with these ideas.

Watch on priceofliberty.tumblr.com

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