Nye Lavalle

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Nye Lavalle
Detroit, Michigan
OccupationSocial scientist
Consumer and investor advocate
EmployerSports Marketing Group
Pew Mortgage Institute
Known forSocial research
Exposure of mortgage and foreclosure fraud
Political partyIndependent
Parent(s)Ramon Muniz Lavalle
Anthony & Matilde Pew

Nye Lavalle is an American sports marketing executive, futurist, and social scientist who turned consumer and investor advocate and activist in the nineties.[1] He is known for his studies on American sports, culture, charities, and media conducted during the 1980s and 1990s.[2] Since 1996, Lavalle has focused his time on advocacy and activism for consumer and investor issues, primarily on fraud in the areas of mortgage servicing and securitization.[1] He is credited with discovering and documenting foreclosure fraud and robo-signing in the mid to late nineties.[1][3] He currently acts as a foreclosure fraud expert.[4]

Sports marketing career[edit]

Lavalle began his career managing professional tennis players with Pro Tennis International and consulting sports agents, major corporate sponsors, advertisers, ad agencies, and media. He was the founder of the American Sports Marketing Association in 1989[5] and was a partner and managing director at World Sports Group, an international sports marketing firm.[6]

In 1986, Lavalle established Sports Marketing Group (SMG), a sports and sponsorship research consultancy based in Boca Raton, Florida.[7] From 1988 to 1994, SMG conducted what many media sources considered the largest surveys and research of spectator sports and sponsorship in America.[citation needed] In 1991, Adweek Magazine called the studies "the most comprehensive popularity study of its kind."[8] In 1993, Adweek again stated "The head of one international ad agency called it the first social and cultural census of America."[9] The AP called SMG's 1993 survey "the most detailed survey ever of America's sports tastes" researching "114 spectator sports they might attend, follow on television or radio or read about in newspapers or magazines."[10]

Most notable in Lavalle's career was the January 16, 1994 edition of US News & World Report that quoted Lavalle as saying "more people will view the Winter Olympics than any event in the history of sports. It's the dream team of figure skating."[11] While many sportswriters and columnists scoffed at Lavalle's prediction, Adweek reported "Dallas researcher and sports marketing specialist Nye Lavalle has said it ever since the results of his first sports popularity survey came out in 1989: figure skating rivals NFL football in popularity in this country and will one day become recognized by TV programmers and advertisers. That day has come with the controversy and drama surrounding figure skating at the '94 Winter Olympics."[11]

"It took the Nancy Kerrigan-Tonya Harding spectacle to open a few eyes, but Lavalle, who was looked upon skeptically last summer when he predicted high Nielsens for Olympic figure skating, now looks like a genius. His forecast of 35-37 ratings for the women's events and 28-33 ratings for the other figure skating events didn't turn out to be generous at all with the women's pulling in the high 30s and the other events around 30. Skating he asserted, would have pulled high numbers even without the controversy."[12] Lavalle also successfully predicted the future growth of NASCAR.[1]

SMG's studies, often reported on by award-winning Associated Press columnist Steve Wilstein, received widespread media attention around the world for not only disclosing the most popular sports in America, but also its most hated. Even the Russian newspaper Pravda would publish American likes and dislikes of sports.[13] In 1991, Lavalle and Wilstein also collaborated on the first study[14] of the economic size and impact of sports marketing and the business of sports in America. The joint SMG/AP study documented that the entire sports industry was one of the largest industries in America totaling $180 billion a year.[15] The Sports Business Journal has built upon Lavalle and Wilstein's methodology and continues to conduct an annual study of the economic size of the sports industry in America.

Lavalle's last known published SMG study came in 2003 when results of the "most hated" sports in America were released via Wilstein and the Associated Press. Dogfighting was America's most hated sport with 81% of Americans over 18 years of age saying they hated or disliked a lot the sport of dogfighting. Rounding out the top 10 of most hated sports in America were No. 2 Pro Wrestling; No. 3 Bullfighting; No. 4 Pro Boxing; No. 5 PGA Tour Golf; No. 6 PGA Sr. Tour Golf; No. 7. LPGA Golf (29.2%); No. 8 NASCAR (27.9%); No. 9. MLS Soccer; and No. 10 ATP Men's Tennis.[16]

Lavalle was one of the original board members of Mark Tudi's Sports Careers[17] with Robert Helmick (then-president of the USOC), Jerry Colangelo (sports owner), Gary Bender (sportscaster), and Charles Higgins (Ohio University Professor). Colangelo later purchased Sports Careers before selling the business to Franklin Covey.[18]

Sports Marketing Group has advised and counseled major corporations, ad agencies, sports leagues, networks and organizations across four continents[19] on issues ranging from Olympic and World Cup sponsorship to sports league television and expansion plans.[20]

SMG's work has been sourced, quoted and featured in thousands of stories in newspapers, magazines, television and radio shows throughout the world and Lavalle has appeared on shows for the BBC and Tokyo Broadcasting as well as on Hardball with Chris Matthews to discuss Tiger Woods' first win at the Masters and on CNBC's PowerLunch to discuss Woods' signing with NIKE. He has made numerous appearances on CNBC as well as a number of appearances on PBS’ Nightly Business Report.[21] Lavalle is even quoted in a version of Meriam Webster's Dictionary of Allusions.[22]

Sports predictions[edit]

Lavalle obtained prominence in the media, advertising and sports marketing industries for his prediction in 1989 that figure skating and NASCAR would be the sports of the 1990s in the US. NASCAR indeed experienced major expansion during this era, building new tracks across the US outside of its traditional Southeastern base, and continues to be a major American sport today.[citation needed]

In the 1990s, Lavalle was a frequent critic of soccer, including the 1994 FIFA World Cup.[23] Before the event, Lavalle's surveys had claimed that soccer was less popular than sports like college wrestling, log rolling, skeet shooting and dog racing, and that the World Cup organizers had botched the event.[24] Afterwards, the New York and LA Times quoted Lavalle as saying "for World Cup soccer worldwide, the World Cup gets a grade A; for staging of the World Cup in America, it gets a grade A. But for the future of soccer in America, the grade is incomplete. If you want a prediction, it seems like the term paper will be turned in and it will get a failing grade. To say that it will ever be on par with hockey or golf or even wrestling is way off the mark."[25] About the launch of Major League Soccer, Lavalle was quoted as saying in 1994, "There is no chance it will survive. Absolutely no chance whatsoever." [26]

Major League Soccer has now operated continuously since 1996 and has expanded to 19 teams in the United States and Canada; in 2011 it had a higher average attendance than either the NBA or the NHL.[27] In 2012, a Luker/ESPN survey showed that soccer was the second most popular sport among Americans aged 12–24, behind only NFL football; seven percent of this age bracket described themselves as "avid" MLS fans.[28]

Nye Lavalle & Associates[edit]

In 1994, the Chronicle of Philanthropy, a non-profit industry publication, released the results of the first and largest study of charitable and non-profit organization popularity and credibility in America, conducted by Nye Lavalle & Associates,[29] founded by Lavalle.[30] The study measured the popularity, credibility and support of over 100 charitable organizations and non-profits in America.[31] Results showed that the International Special Olympics ranked as the "most credible charity/non-profit in America of over 100 charities researched with 73% of Americans over the age of 12 choosing Extremely and Very Honest for Special Olympics. The study also reflected that Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) [32] was viewed as the "most popular charity/non-profit in America with 51% of Americans over the age of 12 choosing Love and Like A lot for MADD.[33]

Financial and mortgage fraud career[edit]

Since the Olympics in 1996, Lavalle has pursued the investigation, analysis and exposure of mortgage fraud, abuse and predatory lending, servicing and securitization schemes. He began his investigation in 1993 after identifying mortgage fraud on a family property in Dallas, Texas.[34]

In 2000, Lavalle as a whistleblower and activist registered a number of Internet domain names involving the trademarks and service marks of Bear Stearns and EMC Mortgage and claimed on the websites that they were engaged in predatory servicing and lending abuses as well as cooking their books. Lavalle claimed that Bear Stearns and EMC's mortgage practices would ultimately bring down the U.S. economy and international financial markets via their frauds and abuses in the securitization of mortgages. Bear Stearns filed a lawsuit and obtained an injunction against Lavalle preventing his use of those names.[35]

Financial market predictions[edit]

At the 2000 National Consumer Law Conference in Broomfield, Colorado,[36] Lavalle released two reports that described wide scale mortgage abuse and fraud, including robo-signing practices.

EMC Mortgage was later found by the FTC to be in widespread violation of various consumer laws and abuses that Lavalle detailed in his report and was fined $28 million.[37]

However, more pertinent predictive quotations in Lavalle's report on Bear Stearns included: "This report also details what could be one of America's largest financial scandals ever, resulting from the development, placement and sale of various mortgage backed securities and "derivative" products by Bear Stearns.[38] "This report is the story of one of America's largest Wall Street investment bank's "direct" involvement in the development, making, and support of a nationwide system of predatory lending practices, frauds and abuses."[38] "The effects of Bear's behavior has a wide range effect on many, not just the EMC customers being abused. This includes Bear Stearns’ own shareholders,investors, government and the public."[38] Lavalle predicted the effects of Bear Stearns’ actions on financial markets would include: (a) devaluing of various mortgage derivative products; (b) failure of major banks and wall street firms; and (c) reluctance of corporations, mutual funds and other investors to invest in legitimate mortgage backed securities.

Lavalle's most dire prediction came from the second report he released at the 2000 National Consumer Law Conference in Broomfield. Lavalle's report, authored in 1999, foresaw the impending collapse of the mortgage and credit markets and the failure of major Wall Street firms and banks over their subprime mortgage investments. On pages 30 to 33 of Lavalle's 21st Century Loan Sharks Report, Lavalle wrote: "The effects of a predator's behavior has a wide range effect on many, not just the borrowers being abused. This includes the predator's own shareholders, investors, government and the public. "The effects of predatory lenders and the subprime mortgage market on these constituencies and the financial markets include: 1) devaluing of various mortgage derivative products; 2) failure of major banks and Wall Street firms; 3) reluctance of corporations, mutual funds and other investors to invest in legitimate mortgage backed securities; 4) increased government regulation and supervision; 5) illegal stripping of equity of customer's homes; 6) outcries from shareholders and constituents; 7) credit downgrading of mortgage backed securities; 8) reduced value and marketability of mortgage backed securities; 9) reduced stock and option prices; 10) elimination of jobs due to cuts and layoffs; 11) overpayment of false and fraudulent claims by federal government; and 12) increase in foreclosed and abandoned homes in communities across America."[39][40][41] Virtually each of Lavalle's predictions came true in the collapse of the international mortgage and financial markets that was precipitated by the collapse of two Bear Stearns hedge funds specializing in MBS products in the summer of 2007.

Robo-signing controversy[edit]

In the fall of 2010, major U.S. lenders such as JP Morgan Chase,[42] Ally Financial f/k/a GMAC, and Bank of America[43] suspended judicial and non-judicial foreclosures across the United States over the potentially fraudulent practice of robo-signing, a practice first identified and reported by Lavalle in 1999. Robo-signing is a term used by consumer advocates to describe the robotic process of the mass production of false and forged execution of mortgage assignments, satisfactions, affidavits and other legal documents related to mortgage foreclosures and legal matters being created by persons without knowledge of the facts being attested to. It also includes accusations of notary fraud wherein the notaries pre and/or post notarize the affidavits and signatures of so-called robo-signers.

At the 2000 National Consumer Law Conference in Broomfield, Colorado,[36] Lavalle released two white papers, titled "Predatory Grizzly 'Bear' Attacks Innocent, Elderly, Poor, Minorities, Disabled & Disadvantaged"[44] and "21st Century Loan Sharks."[45] In a follow-up report in 2008, titled "Sue First, Ask Questions Later,"[46] Lavalle detailed the wide-scale practice of robo-signing in the mortgage servicing industry.

A Washington Post article about the robo-signing foreclosure crisis on October 7, 2010, concluded with Lavalle's warning to the industry when the post wrote "several years ago (2003), on a message board still active on the MERS Web site,[47] one participant (Lavalle) accused the company of participating in fraud and concealing the transfer of loans from public scrutiny." "The company's president and chief executive, R.K. Arnold, responded by insisting that MERS actually increased the transparency of the mortgage system and reduced the cost of homeownership by making the industry more efficient." "We're not perfect," Arnold wrote, "but there's nothing sinister about who we are and what we do."

Fannie Mae independent counsel report[edit]

As an investor advocate, Lavalle took one share of stock in many mortgage, Wall Street, and banking companies so as to allow him access to annual meetings and make complaints as a shareholder.[48] One such company Lavalle targeted at the turn of the century was Fannie Mae whose servicers he found to engage in foreclosure fraud abuse by routinely filing false pleadings, affidavits, and assignments of mortgages in courts across America, not unlike the fraudulent paperwork that has since made “robo-signing” a household term.[1]

Even then, Lavalle found, the nation’s electronic mortgage registry system, Mortgage Electronic Registration System, was playing fast and loose with the law — something that courts have belatedly recognized, too.[1] Lavalle's efforts to get Fannie Mae to investigate its servicers' abuses and frauds began increased in 2003 with letters to the Fannie board of directors and their CEO, Franklin Raines. After Fannie Mae was investigated for major accounting fraud and abuse after post-ENRON, the Fannie Mae board listened to Lavalle and caused in 2005 an independent counsel investigation to be undertaken by Baker Hostetler, a prestigious D.C. law firm.

In 2006, after months of interviews with Lavalle, Fannie Mae executives, and a review of Fannie Mae's securitization, foreclosure, and legal practices and procedures, the independent counsel, Mark Cymrot issued Report to Fannie Mae Regarding Shareholder Complaints By Nye Lavalle, OCJ Case No. 5595.[49]

Personal and family history[edit]

Lavalle was born in Detroit, Michigan and later raised in Grosse Pointe during his formative years. His father, Ramon Lavalle a/k/a Ramon Muniz Lavalle, was an Argentinean diplomat and journalist[50] who served as Argentine consulate to Japan during World War II before renouncing his citizenship and coming to the United States to work in[51] intelligence operations[52] for the Office of War Information.

Ramon Lavalle was witness to war crimes by Japanese soldiers and officers[53] and provided testimony to World War II war crime trials.[54] Ramon Lavalle's grandfathers and Nye Lavalle's great-grandfathers were Juan Lavalle, former Argentine President, General, Governor of Buenos Aires Province, and an Argentinean folk-hero[55] and Francisco Muniz, a prominent doctor in Buenos Aires. The men are honored in their country by being buried in the world-famous national cemetery of La Recoleta Cemetery. Juan Lavalle is furthered honored with one of the most famous plazas in Buenos Aires, Plaza Lavalle and the largest pedestrian street, Calle Lavalle.[56] The world-famous Teatro Colón Opera House, national post office, and Argentina's Supreme Court surround the Plaza. Muniz is honored with Buenos Aires' major hospital being named Hospital Muniz.

Ramon Lavalle attended the London School of Economics where he befriended Labour Party leader Nye Bevan, Nye Lavalle's namesake. Lavalle's mother, Matilde Lavalle was born in Havana, Cuba where Ramon Lavalle met her during one of his frequent visits to lifelong friend, Ernest Hemingway,[57] the author, at Hemingway's finca. Letters from Hemingway to Ramon Lavalle,[58] stolen from Nye Lavalle, are now in the Baker Collection at the John F. Kennedy Library. Hemingway and Ramon Lavalle had a deep affection for and friendship with the late president and rumors circulate that each served their country in intelligence roles in Cuba and around the world.

Matilde Lavalle years later remarried Anthony Pew and he later adopted Nye Lavalle, as his son. Nye Lavalle retained his natural father's last name.


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