Dude, Where’s My Mortgage? How an Obscure Outfit Called MERS Is Subverting Our Entire System of Property Rights

From AlterNet.

Banks have scrambled America’s system of private property ownership to the point that no one knows who owns what.

“For the first time in the nation’s history, there is no longer an authoritative, public record of who owns land in each county.” — University of Utah law professor Christopher Peterson

Created in 1995 by the country’s biggest banks, MERS quietly took control of and privatized mortgage record-keeping across the country and, in the span of a few years, scrambled America’s private property ownership records to the point where no one could figure out who owns what. This was no accident, and was done by design: MERS was a tool used by America’s top financial institutions to pump up the real estate market. Mortgage-backed securities, robo-signers, lightning quick foreclosures, subprime mortgages and just about everything else that went into feeding the biggest real estate bubble in U.S. history could not function without help from MERS. But unlike many of the Wall Street scandals, this one could blow up in the banks’ faces, with the little guy laughing all the way back to his free McMansion, and local governments seeing their empty coffers fill back up with the billions of dollars in unpaid fees that MERS circumvented. …