In recent months, servicing failures have led to executive mea culpas, Washington drubbings and a 50-state investigation of the country's biggest banks. As unpleasant as all of those things were, they have only dented large servicers' profitability.

Despite the drag of the housing crisis, the underlying economics of the servicing business remain strong, especially for large banks operating on a grand scale. This is because the higher costs associated with defaulted loans, while real, are outweighed by servicer profits from efficient collection of on-time mortgage payments, industry data and interviews suggest.

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