Here’s How Serious the Attorneys General Are About the Foreclosure Crisis

The Wall Street Journal today published a snapshot of what life is like for our nation’s 50 attorneys general, who’ve now banded together to get to the bottom of apparent legal shenanegans by America’s largest mortgage lenders. And this posse of skull-cracking legal enforcers — a gang of hard-nosed and aggressive untouchables — is, in the name of justice, making some very tough decisions:

Already, there are signs that state officials are working together closely to gain more leverage over companies such as Bank of America Corp., Wells Fargo & Co. and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.

Yet there also was a squabble over what to call the investigation, with some state officials preferring “inquiry” and others the word “effort.”

If the attorneys general continue to busy themselves by nitpicking over the proper label for what it is they’re doing, perhaps a few years from now, the correct term will become obvious: “nothing.” Meanwhile, a less-than-vengeful course of action appears to be in the works:

Some bankers, lawyers and other participants in early discussions related to the investigation say Mr. Miller’s leadership role suggests that state attorney generals will push hard for a sweeping settlement. One potential scenario: mortgage modifications that allow homeowners to stay in their houses.

“One possibility is that instead of having the companies pay huge fines for what they did, they use the money to fully fund the modification process,” Mr. Miller says. “They don’t have enough resources in the modification process-people don’t hear for months, documents get lost.”

mtaylor [at] | @mbrookstaylor

Here’s How Serious the Attorneys General Are About the Foreclosure Crisis