Carl: Welcome to this morning’s edition of Squawk Box. My name is Carl Quintanilla and I have with me Joe Kernen. Becky Quick is out ill today. Get well quick, I guess you’d say, Beck.
Joe: Funny, Carl. I’ll have to remember that one. With us in the studio today is a man who is sort of a symbol of the recent problems in our nation’s housing market. He’s agreed to come on camera and tell us his story, which is a pretty brave thing to do, considering the facts. This is Mr. Jeffrey, uh, Lebowski, is it?
The Dude: Call me the Dude, man. Or Duder, or his Dudeness. El Duderino if you’re not into the whole brevity thing. Listen, man, I have to, like compliment you. You’re Green Room has everything. Even the Dude’s favorite beverage.
Joe: Milk? On ice?
The Dude: Yeah, man. Something like that. But, look, there’s no Credence on the sound system back there. You need to work on that, man.
Carl: So, Dude, as we understand it, you refinanced your house in Southern California in 2005 through what is known as a subprime loan from Countrywide Mortgage.
The Dude: It was Walter’s idea, man. Oh, and, hey. Hope you don’t mind the, you know, shades. These lights are too bright for the Dude’s eyes.
Joe: Who’s Walter?
The Dude: Bowling buddy of mine. He went to work as a mortgage broker. Answered an ad in the paper and they set him up, like, overnight. Desk, cards, cell phone.
Carl: So Walter solicited you for a new loan on your home.
The Dude: Yeah, man. Said, like, everybody’s doing it.
Joe: Were you employed at the time?
The Dude: No, man. I’m between gigs.
Joe: When did you last work?
The Dude: Roadie for Metallica’s Ecstasy of Gold Tour. ’89.
Carl: But even though you had no income, you were able to refinance your house. At an appraised value several hundreds of thousands of dollars greater than your cost.
The Dude: The Dude has, like, expenses, man. The cost of living has shot way up. Pie stick for example. Costs twice what it used to. And Walter said whatever the house was worth, it would be worth double that in two years. It’s Southern California, man. Real estate never gets cheaper.
Joe: How did you expect to service the mortgage?
The Dude: The Dude is not quite following you there.
Joe: Your house payment. How did you expect to be able to make your house payment?
The Dude: Oh, that. Walter said not to worry about that, man. No one cared, he said. His job was to close the loan and then these Countrywide people would sell it on to somebody else and he’d move on to the next borrower. Pretty sweet, huh? Say, um, could I maybe get, you know, a refill? The girl in back knows how to make-
Carl: But now your lender is threatening foreclosure, is that correct?
The Dude: Yeah, man. Greedy, blood-sucking bastards. It’s corporate greed, man, bringing this country down. These people need more regulation. We said this years ago, in the Port Huron Statement. The first draft, not the watered down second version. Everybody knows this. They say it all the time on TV. It’s the banks fault for being greedy, man. Now look at the mess we’re in.
Joe: But, Dude, don’t you feel somewhat responsible? I mean, taking out a loan that you had no means to repay? Isn’t it in some measure your own fault that now you’ll lose your house to the bank? And isn’t it true that the reason we are in the shape we are in now, when you get to the bottom of it all, is that millions upon millions of Americans did what you did? Leveraged themselves to the eyeballs with debt they couldn’t pay? So they could buy more and more STUFF? And now these self-same people are the ones jumping up and down about Wall Street being bailed out of so-called “toxic assets” which is just a euphemism for a whole lot of bad IOU’s from people like you?
The Dude: Hey, easy, man. Look, this whole subprime thing- it’s complicated, man. Lot of ins, lot of outs, lot of what have yous.
Joe: Well, your revolution is over, sir! The bums lost! And stuck the rest of us with the check!
Carl: Joe, hey, it’s okay. Now, Dude, do you know where you will live yet?
The Dude: Hey, man. The Dude abides. Say, about that refill-
Carl: Thanks, Dude. And thanks for joining us, ladies and gentlemen. Please join us again tomorrow when our guest will be Congressman Barney Frank, who has a new seven point plan for making housing more affordable to people of modest means.