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MetLife fires 4,300 citing uncertainty and overregulation

After successfully growing its mortgage unit, MetLife has decided to shut the division down firing 4, 300 workers in the process. The reason cited by the Fortune 50 company was an "uncertain marketplace and regulatory environment."

Hans Bader, senior attorney and counsel for special projects with the Competitive Enterprise Institute, identified a distinct culprit for this large job loss: the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

MetLife entered the mortgage market in 2008, and managed to achieve a "rising market share" despite a difficult economy and the collapse of the housing market. "Then came Dodd-Frank," and other new legal and regulatory risks and burdens for mortgage lenders. MetLife as a whole was hit with restrictions harmful to shareholders because of its mortgage business, even though "mortgages were less than 1% of MetLife's overall business." So it wanted to sell the mortgage unit to Bank of America or Wells Fargo to escape from those regulations. But it couldn't sell the mortgage unit, because those big banks don't want a new mortgage unit, since their existing mortgage business is already unattractive due to "the Obama Administration's various efforts to halt foreclosures" through government pressure, and "the robo-signing pseudo-scandal" involving the nation's biggest banks -- which will soon have to pay billions to state attorney generals and certain mortgage borrowers even though no one current on their mortgage payments has ever been foreclosed upon due to robo-signing. "So MetLife concluded it was better to shut down its [mortgage] operations, take a $90 million to $110 million after-tax charge, and move on." Its "investors cheered" its escape from Dodd-Frank's tentacles, and its stock price rose in response.

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.