Best Overhyped Shakedown

Most media outlets fell in line when Tom Perez, the U.S. assistant attorney general for civil rights, made the rounds in July to announce the latest "massive" settlement of bank-acting-badly charges. Wells Fargo agreed to pay $175 million back to customers and cities (and their lawyers) to make a bunch of reverse-redlining cases go away. Reverse redlining is when banks target minorities for loans on crappy terms-high interest, prepayment fees, etc. Wells did it (though they don't admit it). The city sued in 2008, claiming it-the city-suffered tens of millions in damages. The city's examples of Wells' misdeeds were stippled with blatant mortgage frauds. But these cases always settle eventually. That's what's been happening for two decades. Baltimore is getting $7.5 million. Actual victims are getting who knows what. And the total settlement represents .3 percent of the bank's profits over the settlement period. "This agreement," Mayor SRB told the press, "allows us to move forward collaboratively." Until next time, then.

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