Solving the California Debt Crisis – The State Could Walk Away and Create Its Own Credit Machine

In the latest twist to the California budget saga, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, and JPMorgan Chase (which each got $25 billion in bailout money from the taxpayers) and Bank of America (which got $15 billion) have refused California’s request for a loan to tide it over until October. Until the State can get things sorted out, it has started paying its creditors in IOUs (“I Owe You’s” or promises to pay bearing interest, technically called registered warrants). Its Wall Street creditors, however, have refused to take them. Why? The pot says the kettle is a poor credit risk!

California expects to need to issue only about $13 billion in IOUs through September, and all its Governor has asked for in the way of a loan from the federal government is a guarantee for $6 billion. Total loans, commitments and guarantees to rescue the financial sector and stem the credit crisis have been estimated at $12.8 trillion. But California has not been invited to the banquet. The total sum California needs to balance its budget is $26.3 billion. That is about the same sum given to Citigroup, Wells Fargo and JPMorgan in bailout money; and it is only about one-tenth the sum given to AIG, a mere insurance company. Corporations evidently trump States and their citizens in the eyes of the powers controlling the purse strings. California has a gross domestic product of $1.7 trillion annually and has been rated the world’s eighth largest economy. Its 38.3 million people are one-eighth of the nation’s population and a key catalyst for U.S. retail sales. When the California consumer base falters, businesses are shaken nationwide. If AIG and the other Wall Street welfare recipients are too big to fail, California is way too big to fail.

Fitch Rating Agency has downgraded California’s municipal bonds to junk bond status B triple B. Why? AIG and Lehman Brothers had A ratings right up until they declared bankruptcy. California has never defaulted on its bonds, and it cannot arbitrarily decide to default; the State Constitution mandates that debt principal and interest must be paid as promised. California bonds lost their triple A rating only when the municipal bond insurers (Ambac and MBIA) lost theirs. It was these insurers, not the State of California, that got into hot water gambling in derivatives. The State Attorney General has opined that California’s IOUs are valid and binding obligations of the State. In rejecting them, however, Wall Street may have ulterior motives. A lower credit rating can justify investors in demanding higher interest rates. The interest offered on the IOUs is substantially lower than the interest banks can get on triple B rated municipal bonds.

There may be deeper motives than that. Considering the enormous importance of the California economy to the country, and the relatively small sum it needs in loans, the refusal to support the State financially seems highly suspicious, especially when much more has been given to less creditworthy private institutions. The banks say they want to keep the pressure on California legislators to work it out among themselves, but what does that mean? The options are even higher taxes, even more cuts in services, or even more fire sales of public assets; in short, the sort of austerity measures expected of supplicants reduced to Third World debtor status. State legislators are understandably reluctant to crawl into that debt pit. Governor Schwarzenegger has refused to approve higher taxes, while Democratic leaders say further cuts in services could leave some Californians starving in the streets.


There is an alternative to that dark future, and perhaps it is to keep the public from waking up to it that arms are being twisted to accept the new burdens quickly. If Wall Street and the Feds won’t extend credit to California on reasonable terms, the State could simply walk away and create its own credit machine. California could put its revenues in its own state-owned bank and fan these “reserves” into many times their face value in loans, using the same “fractional reserve” system that private banks use. Many authorities have attested that banks simply create the money they lend on their books. Congressman Jerry Voorhis, writing in 1973, explained it like this:

“[F]or every $1 or $1.50 which people B or the government B deposit in a bank, the banking system can create out of thin air and by the stroke of a pen some $10 of checkbook money or demand deposits. It can lend all that $10 into circulation at interest just so long as it has the $1 or a little more in reserve to back it up.”

If private banks can leverage deposits into multiple amounts of “credit” on their books, a state-owned bank could do the same thing — and return the profits to the public purse. One State already does this. North Dakota boasts the only state-owned bank in the nation. It is also one of only two states (along with Montana) that are currently able to meet their budgets. The Bank of North Dakota was established by the legislature in 1919 to free farmers and small businessmen from the clutches of out-of-state bankers and railroad men. By law, the State must deposit all its funds in the bank, and the State guarantees its deposits. The bank’s surplus profits are returned to the State’s coffers. The bank operates as a bankers’ bank, partnering with private banks to lend money to farmers, real estate developers, schools and small businesses. It makes 1% loans to startup farms, has a thriving student loan business, and purchases municipal bonds from public institutions.

Buying Bank Property

John F. Kennedy once said, “You can’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been”.

The funny thing about bank property is you need to know where you are buying it and that most markets are not Stockton California.

Bank owned property in the Fort Worth metropolitan area is the fastest mover today in all homes for sale. There is a large misconception that a perspective buyer may offer a bank significantly less than the listing price and the bank will be grateful for the offer. While we all wish this to be true let’s talk about how banks are pricing properties today. The North Texas Real Estate association came out with the latest statistics concerning sale amounts and list price. The statistics tell us that homes on the market today are selling for around 98% of their final list price.

Banks, just like any other seller of an asset will start at a beginning price. Should the home not receive the appropriate activity the bank more often than not will go through an automated price reduction every 30 days or so until the property shows activity and eventually sells. Buyers who submit offers on these properties at significantly lower than list offers will face one of 2 scenarios.

1. The Bank will reject your offer outright.
2. The Bank will hold your offer and take a great deal of time responding. They may soft counter however the selling strategy is to receive multiple offers and put the buyer into a highest and best situation.

The leverage in this situation shifts to the bank as you have no idea where the other offer or offers are. Many times after the highest and best is submitted the bank takes none of the offers and continues to move along at a pricing strategy as mentioned above.

What does all this mean to a buyer? The best bank properties to consider are the one that have already seen price reductions and are a solid buy at their present list. The buyer should then come in with a realistic offer and you might have just purchased a home at an outstanding value.

The lesson learned from this is that the bank does not might giving you a solid equity position however they have plenty of time to maximize their property selling prices as well. Shop smart with a qualified Realtor and you will find your bargain home. Just do it the right way.

How to Levy a Bank Account

I am not a lawyer. This is my opinion and a summary of what I have learned and observed. If you need legal advice, contact a lawyer.

Although this article uses the State of California as an example of specific costs and procedures, the concepts will be similar in most States.

A levy (also known as a garnishment) of a debtor’s bank account is one of the least complex ways to get paid, if you know where your debtor banks.

Even this simple method can seem complex, but after you do this once, it will be easier next time. Your court may have an advisor to offer some help.

If you do not know where a debtor banks, finding their bank account is sometimes difficult. Of course if the debtor has almost no money in their account, a levy is a waste of time and money.

Bank accounts can be found by having an old check from the debtor, having someone buy something from the debtor, a debtor examination, examining third-parties such as a friend or business partner, or hiring a private investigator.

Most States let you levy on any branch of the bank within the State. In California, the law is (unless the bank agrees otherwise) one must serve the exact same branch of the bank where the debtor first opened their account.

This law (CCP 684.110) was written in days of the typewriter, where one had to refer constantly to filed signature cards. Those days are long gone, and since money is fungible, it is silly to pretend the debtor’s cash is only at one specific branch. As an example, you can get cash from your bank account at any branch.

Some banks such as Wells Fargo are modern and smart enough to let you serve any branch. Most other California banks make it harder to enforce judgments by making you serve the specific branch. Some banks, like Chase, are particularly uncooperative on bank levies. If the bank does not cooperate, you might be able to sue them, but that is beyond the scope of this article.

The first step of a bank levy is to get a writ. The writ is a paper form showing that the Court agrees you have permission to have a Sheriff take a debtor’s assets. Writs cost $25, and generally last for only six months.

The writ has a math work sheet, that must be carefully inspected. It will be checked carefully by the Court and then will be endorsed with the Court’s seal.

If you want the writ to include costs you incurred (such as debtor exams, liens, previous levy costs) and interest earned on a judgment, you need to fill out a Memorandum Of Costs (MC-12) form, and if there are costs, serve the MC-12 by mail to the debtor.

The requirements for proof of service may tip the debtor off that you are going after their assets. Sometimes it’s better not to claim costs until the first bank levy results are known.

Without a Writ, the Sheriff will not be able to levy. You cannot levy the debtor’s bank account yourself. You need the Sheriff and/or a process server to serve the levy on the bank.

Specific Instructions:

1) Get a writ from the Court (currently $25) and fill it out. The best way to do this is to have a PDF program like Adobe Acrobat, and find and download download the fillable EJ-130 writ form. Fill out the writ on your computer and print out two copies. Make sure the writ is for the same County the debtor’s bank account is at. If you do not have a PDF setup, you must type or very neatly write in ink on one original copy, and make a copy of it.

2) Bring the two copies to the court. Don’t be surprised if the court says something is wrong, and you have to repeat step one a few times. When you get it right, you will have it ready to use as a template for future levies.

3) After the court accepts your writ and stamps it, they will make a copy for themselves. They will then stamp one of your copies as the official copy, and one as a receipt copy. Keep the receipt copy, but it does not do much as only the court-stamped copy of the writ counts.

4) Take the official copy, and make four copies of it, because they will likely be needed on future steps.

5) Make a letter of instruction for the Sheriff. This must be signed and dated by you, here is an example:

To the Sheriff of COUNTY, STATE Your Name, address, phone, and email.

Please execute this bank garnishment against judgment debtor Barny Rubble, residing at 123 Pebble Lane, Bedrock, CA, 99999. Enclosed is a check for $30.00. If the levy is not fully successful, please hold the Writ Of Execution until it expires.

Please garnish (the amount necessary to satisfy this Judgment and all fees) all accounts in which the judgment debtor has any interest, including but not limited to any and all bank saving or checking accounts (including any remaining overdraft protection balances and lines of credit), CDs, safety deposit accounts and boxes, lock boxes, money market accounts, pledged securities, or notes – to satisfy Judgment Case # 1099-CV-123456

Thank You. Your name (Judgment creditor for judgment # 1099-CV-123456) Signed and Dated.

6) In some Counties, the Sheriff does bank levies for you. In this case, all you need is the original and the copies of the writ, a signed Sheriff letter, and a check to the sheriff for $30.

6a) If the Sheriff (in the County where the debtor’s bank is) does not serve levies themselves, there are more forms and another check to write.

You must still pay the Sheriff ($30), and also pay a registered process server (about $85). You can find process servers easily, or Google NAPPS to find one.

You still need the signed Sheriff letter. You also have to provide two filled out (fillable PDF is best) copies of both EJ-150D and EJ-150G (notice of levy to both debtor and the bank) forms. Finally, you need two copies of EJ-152 (Memorandum Of Garnishee for the bank) form.

The old-school thoughts on when the best time to do a bank levy were based on dates of the month. Rent is due on the first, home loan payments are due on the 15th, so the old rule was to levy right before the end of the month or right before the middle of a month.

Less people have traditional jobs, and not every payment comes on the 1st and the 15th. Some levies are timed for when tax refunds are due. If you know your debtor’s situation, you should attempt to time your bank levy.

If you don’t know your debtor’s schedule, or if the Sheriff serves it (the Sheriff levy processing time is not always quick), maybe just let fate determine the exact day the levy hits the debtor’s bank account.

When your levy hits, you need to be very patient. The bank freezes funds for about 15 days, and then sends it to the Sheriff. The Sheriff usually keeps funds for at least 30 days.

Note the debtor can file a “Claim of Exemptions”, and you must show up in Court on the specified date to prevent them from automatically canceling your levy.

If you get a notice of this in the mail, visit your court and ask them how to proceed. In general you must file an opposition to their claim. If the debtor does not have a valid reason, their attempt will not work.

The bank levy is a relatively simple way to Enforce a judgment. It’s not as simple as it should be, and this leads some people to find a judgment enforcer to enforce their judgment.

Southern California Bank Levies to Enforce a Judgment: You Need to KNOW

Here are some need to KNOW tips to ensure the success of your levy.

KNOW the Bank

Since AB 2364 was passed and enacted into law in California Code of Civil Procedure Section 684.115, as of January 15, 2013, banks with more than nine branches in the state had to either elect a specific branch for services, including bank levies, or, their failure to elect is deemed an election that any branch is proper for service. Under the new law, the California Department of Financial Institutions (now, the California Department of Business Oversight) had to publish the bank’s designations on their website.

So, go to the CDBOs website, and under the “Service of Legal Process”, you will find the list. Pay close attention to the information. First, determine whether the bank is on the list. If they aren’t, you can serve a bank levy at any branch. A glaring example of absence on the list is Wells Fargo. On the other hand, if they are on the list, for instance, Bank of America, you should note three things, 1) the proper name of the bank, not just the trade name, “Bank of America, N.A.”; 2) the address for service, which in Bank of America’s case, is only one address, and it’s in downtown Los Angeles. That means every bank levy in the State of California for Bank of America has to go through the downtown Los Angeles location listed and is done through the downtown Los Angeles Sheriff’s Office; 3) the days and hours for service, Bank of America only allows service from 9-2, Mon-Fri.

KNOW the County Sheriff

Now that you KNOW the bank, you KNOW which Sheriff’s office (the “Levying Officer”) you are going to have to go through for the levy, and that means you can order your Writ of Execution from the court that issued your judgment for the county where the bank’s designated branch for service is. Now, you need to familiarize yourself with the Sheriff. Go to their website, and read all their information regarding Civil Processes. You’ll note for the Los Angeles Sheriff that they have a nice tracking system on-line that shows when service was made, information on the writ, and pending and past payments. Also, if the Sheriff has form Sheriff’s Instructions specifically for a bank levy on their system, it’s not mandatory, but it’s a good idea to use them simply because the Sheriff will be familiar with the form.

Next, you need to decide whether you are going to open the bank levy file and have the Sheriff serve the bank levy or you are going to utilize a Registered Process Server (RPS). This depends on several factors: 1) Do you need the service to occur on a specific date? 2) Are you in a rush to complete the bank levy? 3) Do you want to complete the bank levy as inexpensively as possible? You might want to call the Sheriff and ask how long it takes for them to serve a bank levy. At the time of the writing of this article, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s backlog for levies was well over three months, so unless you are okay with waiting and not knowing when the bank levy will “hit”, you might want to use an RPS.


Only use an RPS that is experienced with bank levies. Don’t just hire the cheapest RPS and assume they know what they are doing. In fact, some RPSs won’t do full bank levies, which includes: opening the file with the Sheriff, serving the levy on the bank, and closing the file with the Sheriff. And, as far as I know, none of them will prepare the paperwork. There’s a reason for that. It’s a lot of paperwork, and it must be prepared perfectly, and the steps must be timed correctly. You usually only get one bite at the apple when it comes to bank levies, so, if the Sheriff rejects your paperwork after your RPS makes service on the bank, you will be S.O.L. (which is not an acronym for Statute of Limitations), because your Judgment Debtor will find out about the levy from the bank, and he or she will likely close the bank account or withdraw all or most of the money.

Suffice it to say that doing a bank levy using the Sheriff as the server is much easier than using an RPS because of the complications involved with the paperwork and the number of steps. In fact, caveat-you should carefully consider using a judgment enforcer or attorney if you are going to do a bank levy and need to use an RPS. It’s quite the ordeal. There are five distinct steps and no less than 13 documents that have to be prepared for an RPS bank levy.

KNOW your Judgment Debtor

This ties in to KNOW your Sheriff and RPS and your decision on whether to proceed with the Sheriff or with an RPS. If it’s a small dollar judgment and you have no idea how much money, if any, the judgment debtor has in the bank, or if you are certain the judgment debtor has a good Claim of Exemption and you just want to get their attention, you might want to use the Sheriff and save yourself some money.

However, if you KNOW the judgment debtor gets paid via auto-deposit on every other Thursday, you might want to have an RPS serve the bank levy on the following Friday. Or, if you know, the judgment debtor just sold his house and you know the close of escrow date, again, you might want to have an RPS serve the bank levy. Or, maybe you know the judgment debtor always gets a company bonus on a certain date… the scenarios are endless, and hopefully, so is your success.

So… KNOW your bank levy.

Best CD Rates in California Banks in 2010 – Benefits of Investing

Do you want to get more returns by investing in certificate of deposits? You should spend some time by analyzing the various banks. There are many famous banks in California. Some of them are:

Bank of the West – Jensen Avenue, California
Union Bank – Park Boulevard, California
Comerica Bank
National Bank of California – Brentwood, California
Excel National Bank – Beverly Hills, California

These are some of the banks in California and you can also find more banks near to your location. If you visit the bank website, you can also spot the other branches of the same bank near to your location.

Certificate of Deposit Rates:

There are lot of CD plans available for investing. They are 3 months CD, 6 months CD, 12 months CD etc. You can choose the best based on your choice. The banks are offering best interest rates for this current year 2010.

Excel National Bank located in Beverly Hills in California is offering a rate of 1.44% (as on July, 2010) for a 12 month CD with a minimum amount of $ 10,000. These CD rates vary periodically and it is your duty to check the latest rates by visiting the bank or by looking into the bank or related websites.


If you spend some time and spot the best CD rates for the year 2010, then you could earn a good return for your investments in a short period of time.
It is one of the safe ways to invest your money.