In a filing with the SEC, Countrywide reports that it's one ratings cut away from junk...and a whole lotta trouble. I keep waiting for the sky to fall in Calabasas. It isn't.
I live near Countrywide headquarters in Calabasas, Calif., out in Thousand Oaks, where Countrywide Bank is based. Here, there are two major employers--Countrywide and Amgen . Both have problems, both have announced layoffs. But when I ask dry cleaners and hair dressers and dentists if they're seeing a drop off in business, they tell me they're only losing Amgen business.
It's almost as if the scientists and researchers at Amgen have hunkered down to wait this one out, while the realtors and salesmen at Countrywide still continue to spend. There are 600 Countrywide layoffs planned for this month across Southern California, but less than half of those are out near headquarters, and that is a far cry from the 10,000-12,000 job cuts Countrywide announced company wide in August. It seems these cuts are coming in dribs and drabs, devastating those who get pink slips, but not yet making a huge impact on the community.
It seems odd to me. But am I not getting the whole story? Are Countrywide employees oblivious to the potential downside reported by their own company? Has Countrywide exaggerated potential job cuts in an effort to buy sympathy from the Fed and the debt markets?
Meantime, go to the Countrywide web site, and they have more then 2,800 job OPENINGS. Type in "foreclosure" in the search box and you'll find 49 jobs available. Some are "Bilingual Workout Negotiators," who try to help people keep their homes. But there are also "Foreclosure Specialists," who have the responsibility of "Mitigating loss and legal risk to Countrywide and its investors by accurately managing the foreclosure process."
I also know personally that the company is interviewing appraisers who can specialize in revaluing repossessed homes. I know some out-of-work appraisers who need a job after the housing boom burst. When a door closes...
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