Erika Eichelberger

Erika Eichelberger

Reporter

Erika Eichelberger is a reporter in Mother Jones' Washington bureau. She has also written for The NationThe Brooklyn Rail, and TomDispatch. Email her at eeichelberger [at] motherjones [dot] com. 

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Can These New Federal Rules Rein in Foreclosure-Frenzied Banks?

| Thu Jan. 17, 2013 12:52 PM EST

On Thursday, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the federal consumer watchdog set up by the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill, announced a new set of foreclosure-prevention rules focused on keeping loan servicers honest.

Servicers, which collect mortgage payments from borrowers and work out terms of a loan, are supposed to explore all alternatives to foreclosure before reclaiming a home, and to give homeowners a fair and clear evaluation process. But as millions of borrowers fell behind on payments in the wake of the financial meltdown, loan servicers got slammed by tons of added legwork and administration, and many more got perverse incentives to fast-track borrowers into default. Some servicers put on a spectacular show of incompetence and outright fraud, routinely losing paperwork, "robo-signing" people into wrongful foreclosures, and locking people out of their houses when the borrowers thought they were on road to loan modification. Much of this is still happening. The new CFPB rules are supposed to help fix it. (A similar set of regulations targeting mortgage lenders was released last week.)

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JPMorgan Chase Gambles Away $6B, Gets "Slap on the Wrist"

| Tue Jan. 15, 2013 6:33 PM EST

Federal banking regulators have decided it's a bad thing that JPMorgan Chase lost $6 billion on a risky bet last year and failed to close money-laundering loopholes. But that's pretty much all they've decided.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Reserve ordered the bank Monday to fix risk-management failures that led to the massive loss on a trade out of its London office in May 2012, as well as tighten up monitoring of cash transactions that may have allowed suspected terrorists and drug dealers to launder money. But there will be no fines or hard penalties levied for the bank's failures.

Greece's Latest Fiscal Solution: Create an Ecological Crisis!

| Mon Jan. 14, 2013 4:31 PM EST

The green crowd used to feel pretty rosy about Greece. After former Prime Minister George Papandreou was elected in 2009, he set up a government ministry to study the environment, energy, and climate change, and he talked up initiatives on eco-tourism and renewable energy. But now, after six years of recession, the country has begun buying into several new environmentally damaging development schemes to generate liquidity, the New York Times reports.

3 Years After the Earthquake, Haiti Is Still in Shambles

| Fri Jan. 11, 2013 3:02 PM EST

The devastating Haiti earthquake that killed 217,000 people and left 1.5 million homeless happened three years ago Saturday. For a year or so, the drama captured plenty of headlines and human interest; our own human rights reporter, Mac McClelland, traveled to Port-au-Prince to document the hazards that befell Haitians and the morass that doomed much of the nation's inbound aid. This year's anniversary hasn't generated much media attention, but that's not because everything in the island nation is fixed. Almost 360,000 people remain in tent camps, and the country's infrastructure is still in shambles. A lot of that is due to the failures of the international community.

Only half of the $13.34 billion in international aid allocated for Haiti reconstruction has been disbursed. And of that, only a small portion has gone to "reconstruction," strictly defined. Instead, the New York Times reported in December, "much of the so-called recovery aid was devoted to costly current programs, like highway building and HIV prevention, and to new projects far outside the disaster zone."

Bad News for Vampire Cops Everywhere

| Thu Jan. 10, 2013 10:55 AM EST

So this is where the Roberts Court draws the line on civil liberties: warrantless, forced blood tests. The Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday in Missouri v. McNeely, on whether someone arrested for drunk driving can be forced to provide blood samples without consent or a warrant.

Missouri’s top court had unanimously rejected a argument by the state that there should be a categorical exception to the Fourth Amendment warrant requirement in all DWI cases. And it looks as though the highest court in the land will go the same way.

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