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  • Fri, Feb 13 2009
  • 9:55 AM » Lloyds unveils $12 billion HBOS loss
    Published Fri, Feb 13 2009 9:55 AM by Reuters
    LONDON (Reuters) - Lloyds Banking Group said its HBOS subsidiary lost about 8.5 billion pounds ($12.28 billion) last year, while its Lloyds TSB unit made a profit of about 1.3 billion pounds.
  • 9:54 AM » Have Bankers Faced Enough Heat?
    Published Fri, Feb 13 2009 9:54 AM by CNBC
    "RBS and HBOS were extremely badly run and made major mistakes," Ruth Lea from Arbuthnot Banking Group said. She continued to discuss the reasons the banks failed, and what the future has in store. MEDIA:
  • 9:53 AM » Why the salary caps are only symbolic
    Published Fri, Feb 13 2009 9:53 AM by CNN
    Here's why the caps on Wall Street compensation announced by President Obama and Treasury secretary Tim Geithner don't amount to much.
  • 9:52 AM » Ailing U.S. banks may require more aid to stay solvent: report
    Published Fri, Feb 13 2009 9:52 AM by Reuters
    (Reuters) - Some large U.S. banks, may require more aid to stay solvent, the New York Times reported on Friday, citing economists and other finance experts.
  • 9:51 AM » Nationalize the Banks! We're all Swedes Now
    Published Fri, Feb 13 2009 9:51 AM by Washington Post
    The U.S. banking system is close to being insolvent, and unless we want to become like Japan in the 1990s -- or the United States in the 1930s -- the only way to save it is nationalization.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Washington Post
  • 9:51 AM » White House Considers Subsidizing Mortgage Modifications
    Published Fri, Feb 13 2009 9:51 AM by Washington Post
    The Obama administration is considering a proposal to help distressed homeowners by subsidizing lenders who cut the interest rate on mortgages, according to sources familiar with the discussions.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Washington Post
  • 9:51 AM » The Law of Unintended Consequences: CMBS and TALF
    Published Fri, Feb 13 2009 9:51 AM by Seeking Alpha
    submits: On Tuesday, Treasury Secretary Geitner announced the emperor has no clothes, but the Commercial Mortgage Back Securities ((CMBS)) markets cheered when the Fed announced that the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility ((TALF)) would now accept CMBS as collateral. Unfortunately, someone forgot about the law of unintended consequences. By accepting AAA securities, they implicitly made the lower tranches less desirable. Check out the CDS spreads on the CMBX Index from . click to enlarge
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Seeking Alpha
  • Thu, Feb 12 2009
  • 10:44 PM » Goldman denies CNBC report of "emergency" meeting
    Published Thu, Feb 12 2009 10:44 PM by Reuters
    NEW YORK (Reuters) - Goldman Sachs Group Inc denied a CNBC television report on Thursday that it had convened an "emergency" meeting of top investors earlier this week, prompted by worries Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner's bank rescue plan was not viable.
  • 6:34 PM » IMF plans $600 billion in 2009 to aid emerging nations: report
    Published Thu, Feb 12 2009 6:34 PM by Market Watch
    The International Monetary Fund and other multilateral financial bodies aim to provide some $600 billion in emergency assistance to developing countries in 2009, nearly 10 times last year's total.
  • 6:28 PM » Greenspan Says He Was Mystified by Subprime Market
    Published Thu, Feb 12 2009 6:28 PM by dealbook.blogs.nytimes.com
    Alan Greenspan, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve, told CNBC in a documentary to be shown Thursday night that he did not fully understand the scope of the subprime mortgage market until well into 2005 and could not make sense of the complex derivative products created out of mortgages.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: dealbook.blogs.nytimes.com
  • 6:18 PM » Mortgage mess sinks development bank portfolio
    Published Thu, Feb 12 2009 6:18 PM by Washington Post
    WASHINGTON -- The Inter-American Development Bank, the largest lender for projects including roads and power plants in Latin America, lost $1.9 billion on mortgages and other securities as part of an unusually aggressive investment strategy, according to internal bank documents obtained by The Associated Press.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Washington Post
  • 5:47 PM » Virgin Money Entering U.S. Wholesale Mortgage Market
    Published Thu, Feb 12 2009 5:47 PM by www.thetruthaboutmortgage.com
    Virgin Money announced today that it’s entering the U.S. wholesale mortgage market, despite an ongoing exodus by nearly all other domestic players. “As a consumer champion, Virgin Money offers greater options and a better deal,” said Sir Richard Branson, founder and chairman of the Virgin Group. “At a time when others are exiting the mortgage space, leaving [...]
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: www.thetruthaboutmortgage.com
  • 5:47 PM » Private Mortgage Insurers Tighten the Screws
    Published Thu, Feb 12 2009 5:47 PM by www.thetruthaboutmortgage.com
    Private mortgage insurers announced severe restrictions this week in light of the ongoing mortgage crisis. MGIC unveiled a number of sweeping underwriting changes, including a ban on second homes, manufactured homes, and cash-out refinances. The company also lowered its maximum debt-to-income ratio to 38 percent from a prior 45 percent, and will require two months reserves on [...]
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: www.thetruthaboutmortgage.com
  • 5:45 PM » 25 People to Blame for the Financial Crisis
    Published Thu, Feb 12 2009 5:45 PM by www.time.com
    The son of a butcher, Angelo Mozilo co-founded Countrywide in 1969 and built it into the largest mortgage lender in the United States.
  • 5:00 PM » Fed: Americans' net worth hammered by recession
    Published Thu, Feb 12 2009 5:00 PM by Washington Post
    WASHINGTON -- The recession has cut many Americans' net worth by about 20 percent as the value of homes, stock portfolios and businesses have plummeted, the Federal Reserve said Thursday.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Washington Post
  • 3:57 PM » Goldman denies report of "emergency" meeting
    Published Thu, Feb 12 2009 3:57 PM by Reuters
    NEW YORK (Reuters) - Goldman Sachs Group Inc denied a CNBC television report on Thursday that it had convened a "emergency" meeting of top investors earlier this week, prompted by worries about the viability of Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner's bank rescue plan.
  • 3:57 PM » Obama eyes home loan subsidies in rescue plan: sources
    Published Thu, Feb 12 2009 3:57 PM by Reuters
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Obama administration is hammering out a program to subsidize mortgage payments for troubled homeowners who have gone through a standardized re-appraisal and affordability test, sources familiar with the plan said on Thursday.
  • 3:10 PM » NY AG Cuomo Letter to Barney Frank on Merrill Bonuses
    Published Thu, Feb 12 2009 3:10 PM by Calculated Risk Blog
    For those who haven't seen it, here is the letter (pdf) The letter breaks down the timing and amounts of the bonuses. "One disturbing question that must be answered is whether Merrill Lynch and Bank of America timed the bonuses in such a way as to force taxpayers to pay for them through the deal funding. We plan to require top officials at both Merrill Lynch and Bank of America to answer this question and to provide justifications for the massive bonuses they paid ahead of their massive losses.... What my Office has learned thus far concerning the allocation of the nearly $4 billion in Merrill Lynch bonuses is nothing short of staggering. Some analysts have wrongly claimed that individual bonuses were actually quite modest and thus legitimate because dividing the $3.6 billion over thousands upon thousands of employees results in relatively small amounts estimated at approximately $91,000 per employee. In fact, Merrill chose to do the opposite. While more than 39 thousand Merrill employees received bonuses from the pool, the vast majority of these funds were disproportionately distributed to a small number of individuals. ... [T]hese payments and their curious timing raise serious questions as to whether the Merrill Lynch and Bank of America Boards of Directors were derelict in their duties and violated their fiduciary obligations. We will also continue to examine whether senior officials at both companies violated their own fiduciary obligations to shareholders. If they did, this raises additional serious issues with regard to the inappropriate use of taxpayer funds." New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, Feb 10, 2009
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Calculated Risk Blog
  • 2:38 PM » Hartford loses access to U.S. lending facility, shares plunge
    Published Thu, Feb 12 2009 2:38 PM by Reuters
    NEW YORK (Reuters) - Hartford Financial Services Group Inc lost access to a U.S. commercial paper lending facility after recent debt rating downgrades, it said in a regulatory filing, and shares dropped 11 percent.
  • 12:48 PM » Stimulus Bill Deals ‘Major Blow’ to Big Homebuilders
    Published Thu, Feb 12 2009 12:48 PM by WSJ
    Michael Corkery reports: The will leave the nation’s big home building companies a little cash poorer. The final version of the bill, hashed out in conference between the House and Senate Wednesday night, dropped a tax measure that would have allowed large corporations to claim write-offs on taxes they paid five years ago, instead of a two year carry back allowed under the current law. The stimulus bill only allows for a five year carry back for companies with under $5 million in revenue, leaving the larger builders out in the cold. Big builders are expected to use the current tax law, allowing a two year carry back, to reap as much as $2.4 billion in cash this year, far more than they will generate from selling houses. But small builders complained that the law, if extended to five years, would encourage their large competitors to dump land to obtain tax write offs. That would continue to depress values across housing markets, they argue. The stimulus also axed another home builder plum: a proposed . The bill includes an $8,000 credit that does not have to be paid back, up from the current $7,500 credit that did have to be repaid, which builders have declared entirely inadequate at spurring demand. In a research note, housing analyst Ivy Zelman called the downsized credit in the bill “a major blow to builders.” Share of the large builders had slipped in morning trading by as much as 10%. Earlier:
  • 12:48 PM » Homebuyer Credit Won’t Stabilize Market, Analysts Say
    Published Thu, Feb 12 2009 12:48 PM by WSJ
    Nick Timiraos reports: The $15,000 homebuyer tax credit didn’t survive the final negotiations on the stimulus bill. Instead, Congress slightly increased to $8,000 an existing $7,500 credit for first-time homebuyers and eliminated repayment provisions.Congressional negotiators said that $8,000 number isn’t yet finalized. The move was sure to disappoint those who had favored a more generous $15,000 credit for all home buyers in the Senate bill. The new credit is retroactive to Dec. 31, 2008, which means that anyone who buys a house this year, through August, won’t have to repay it. First time buyers who used the credit in 2008 still have to pay it back over a 15-year period. The real-estate industry had closely followed the tax credit debate, hoping that a larger credit would make potential buyers more comfortable at a time when declining values and rising job losses have scared off buyers. Without a larger tax credit, some say more action is needed. “Washington needs to do more at compensating home buyers for the now considerable danger of yet lower home prices,” writes John Lonski, chief economist at Moody’s Investors Service. “The near-term stabilization of either the economy or the financial system may be impossible until the now 5.25% 30-year mortgage yield falls to something no greater than 4.5%, and even the latter may prove to be too costly.” Interest rates edged up slightly at the end of January, and mortgage applications for new homes fell 14% during the four week period ending Feb. 6 from the previous four weeks. Readers, does the slimmed down tax credit change your home buying plans?
  • 12:32 PM » Geithner’s Plan May Not Save Commercial Real Estate
    Published Thu, Feb 12 2009 12:32 PM by Bloomberg
    Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s financial stability plan may come too late to rescue the commercial property market, which is following housing into a slump.
  • 12:01 PM » AIG probed by U.K. fraud office
    Published Thu, Feb 12 2009 12:01 PM by CNN
    Read full story for latest details.
  • 12:00 PM » Foreclosures push U.S. home prices to 5-year low
    Published Thu, Feb 12 2009 12:00 PM by Reuters
    NEW YORK (Reuters) - Prices of existing U.S. single-family homes dropped a record 12.4 percent in the fourth quarter from a year earlier to the lowest level since 2003, the National Association of Realtors said on Thursday.
  • 12:00 PM » Criminal Investigations of $3.6 Billion Bonuses Says NY AG
    Published Thu, Feb 12 2009 12:00 PM by feeds.digg.com
    Good Get the Greedy Bastards & Get Some of That Money Back: Criminal Investigations of $3.6 Billion in Bonuses by Merrill Lynch & Co. (and other wall street execs) & Securities Fraud Charges Says New York AG
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: feeds.digg.com
  • 12:00 PM » NAR: Distressed Sales Accounted for 45% of Q4 Activity
    Published Thu, Feb 12 2009 12:00 PM by Calculated Risk Blog
    From the National Association of Realtors (NAR): Distressed sales – foreclosures and short sales – accounted for 45 percent of transactions in the fourth quarter, dragging down the national median existing single-family price to $180,100, which is 12.4 percent below the fourth quarter of 2007 when conditions were more balanced; the median is where half sold for more and half sold for less. Median home prices are a poor measure of house price changes, especially right now since the mix of homes has shifted significantly to the low end. Repeat sales indexes are better measures of price changes. The largest sales gain in the fourth quarter from a year earlier was in Nevada, up 133.7 percent, followed by California which rose 84.7 percent, Arizona, up 42.6 percent, and Florida with a 12.5 percent increase. “Once again, we see a pattern of strong sales gains, particularly in lower price homes, in areas with price declines resulting from foreclosures,” Yun said. “... in California and Florida ... distressed sales accounted for roughly two-third of all sales ...” Distressed sales are the market in many areas of California, Florida, Nevada and other bubble states.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Calculated Risk Blog
  • 11:45 AM » Mortgage-Servicing Debacle
    Published Thu, Feb 12 2009 11:45 AM by The Big Picture
    Yes another example of why you, the individual investor , should be cautious about following the ultra-rich into investments. Their investment goals are different than yours. Bruce Sherman’s newspaper investments, Sam Zell’s real estate bottom call, Warren Buffett’s GE/GS buys, Michael Dell’s Dell stock purchase — were all terribly timed. But they have plenty of time to sit and wait. Being a year or 3 early will not impact their lifestyle. The latest case in point: Billionaire Wilbur Ross’s way early purchase of mortgage-servicing business via his 2007 purchase of American Home Mortgage Investment. If you followed his lead in this sector, you are suffering mightily. The WSJ provides the details: Billionaire Wilbur Ross, who plunged into the mortgage-servicing business with a slew of acquisitions in the past year, is running into problems in a new sign of increasing stress in the business that is on the front line of the U.S. housing crisis… Until the downturn in the U.S. housing market, mortgage-servicing firms had inhabited a relatively obscure pocket of the lending industry, handling back-office duties such as collecting mortgage-loan payments, assessing late fees and working with struggling borrowers. Now, as delinquencies force widespread modifications to loan terms, mortgage servicers are finding themselves increasingly in the spotlight. The industry also includes big banks such as Bank of America Corp. and Wells Fargo & Co. as well as a business owned by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. At the American Securitization Conference in Las Vegas Tuesday, panelists discussed the growing number of foreclosures. Mary Coffin, a Wells Fargo executive vice president, said that servicing arms had been inundated with borrower requests to change the terms of their loans. “We have a tsunami upon us,” Ms. Coffin told attendees of a servicing panel. Foreclosures tied to subprime loans — or those mortgages made to borrowers with sketchy credit histories — are expected to increase sharply...
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: The Big Picture
  • 11:45 AM » Leaning on Fed, U.S. Bank Plan Can Work
    Published Thu, Feb 12 2009 11:45 AM by The Big Picture
    Dan Greenhaus is at the Equity Strategy Group at Miller Tabak + Co. where he covers markets and portfolio theory. He has contributed several chapters to (by Anthony Crescenzi). This is his most recent commentary: ~~~ Leaning on Fed, U.S. Bank Plan Can Work Details missing but failed speech will hasten arrival of a better plan Dan Greenhaus, Anthony Crescenzi FEBRUARY 11, 2009 U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner recently announced a plan to stabilize the U.S. financial system. Investors said it was short on details, sending share prices lower in the U.S. and throughout the world. Despite the reaction, many feel that the framework is good, particularly the scale of the plan, put at as much as $2 trillion or more. This means that when the details arrive, there is a good chance that financial conditions will improve and share prices will recover. One of the most important aspects of the U.S. bank stabilization plan is its use of the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet. Without it, the efforts would fall flat because the amount of money needed to stabilize the banks and the credit system in general far exceeds the amount available in the so-called TARP, the Troubled Asset Relief Program, and what could be generated through any authorization of new funding for the TARP. The fact is, actions taken by the Federal Reserve have thus far been the most potent and effective weapon against the financial crisis, with successes that have been far-reaching and much greater than those of the U.S. Congress and the U.S. Treasury Department. The Fed’s Successes Examples of the Federal Reserve’s effectiveness are numerous, with the dollar amounts stretching well beyond those available in the TARP. In each case, the Fed stabilized either a market or an entity simply by creating new money, money that the Treasury would otherwise have to borrow. Importantly, most of the money created can be destroyed just as quickly and leave no legacy costs, the opposite of what is likely to happen with some...
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: The Big Picture
  • 10:11 AM » Lenders drop mortgage brokers
    Published Thu, Feb 12 2009 10:11 AM by CNN
    Some big banks have cut back on doing business with mortgage brokers - and if the trend continues, many mortgage brokers could close down.
  • 10:11 AM » Fed cautious on Treasuries buying idea: report
    Published Thu, Feb 12 2009 10:11 AM by Reuters
    (Reuters) - The Federal Reserve's idea of buying Treasury bonds to aide U.S. growth is still on the table, but officials are wary of moving quickly on it, the Wall Street Journal said.
  • 9:55 AM » Foreclosures Fall from December to January
    Published Thu, Feb 12 2009 9:55 AM by feeds.foxbusiness.com
    The number of Americans on the verge of losing their homes fell in January but was still up from the same month a year ago. The numbers would have been higher if not for efforts to stall the foreclosure process.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: feeds.foxbusiness.com
  • Wed, Feb 11 2009
  • 6:09 PM » Mall Mauled
    Published Wed, Feb 11 2009 6:09 PM by WSJ
    The developers of the Mall of America are watching a bet on retail property in Las Vegas sour.
  • 6:08 PM » Regulator Calls for Lenders to Stop Foreclosures
    Published Wed, Feb 11 2009 6:08 PM by Washington Post
    The Office of Thrift Supervision today called for the mortgage lenders it regulates to halt foreclosures until the Obama administration puts in place a program to help struggling homeowners.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Washington Post
  • 6:07 PM » FDIC lets banks borrow cheaply for longer
    Published Wed, Feb 11 2009 6:07 PM by Market Watch
    The FDIC extends its guarantees for new bank debt until October for an additional premium.
  • 6:07 PM » Housing Tax Credit: "Largely Dropped"
    Published Wed, Feb 11 2009 6:07 PM by Calculated Risk Blog
    From Bloomberg: Asked what a proposed $15,000 tax credit for homebuyers looks like in the compromise plan, Baucus laughed and said, “not much.” He said that proposal has largely been dropped, though he didn’t provide details. We still need the details on what "not much" means, but this is a little bit of good news. Note: I'm still working on some Google technical issues. This includes the feed not working. Sorry for the inconvenience.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Calculated Risk Blog
  • 6:07 PM » Report: Stimulus Agreement Reached
    Published Wed, Feb 11 2009 6:07 PM by Calculated Risk Blog
    Update: CNBC: The White House and key congressional negotiators have tentatively settled on a $790 billion price tag for President Barack Obama's economic recovery plan, Democratic aides on Capitol Hill said. The aides said one way negotiators are trimming the measure's cost below the $838 billion plan that passed the Senate Tuesday is to pare back Obama's signature "Making Work Pay" tax credit for 95 percent of workers. This should be cut to $400 a year instead of $500. A married couple would get $800 instead of the $1,000 initially proposed by Obama. Update: WSJ: Under the framework coming together, lawmakers would trim the cost of Senate-approved tax cuts intended to spur auto and home sales, but would preserve a measure intended to shield millions of middle-income Americans from the alternative minimum tax, a levy originally designed to hit the wealthy. Among other things, a signature Obama tax cut—the payroll tax holiday for workers –would be scaled back, under the framework being negotiated. One headlines says "reach", the other "near" ... It sounds like a deal is close, and the stimulus package will likely be smaller than either the House or Senate versions.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Calculated Risk Blog
  • 12:23 PM » Geithner pressed for details
    Published Wed, Feb 11 2009 12:23 PM by CNN
    A day after unveiling his new financial rescue plan, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner again went before Congress to defend it.
  • 12:22 PM » Bargain search and banks fuel Wall Street rebound
    Published Wed, Feb 11 2009 12:22 PM by Washington Post
    NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stocks rose on Wednesday as investors snapped up beaten down financial shares, a day after worries about a plan to shore up the financial system sent equities tumbling.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Washington Post
  • 12:22 PM » Bank CEOs flogged in Washington
    Published Wed, Feb 11 2009 12:22 PM by CNN
    Top executives from eight of the nation's largest financial institutions told Congress Wednesday that they are continuing to lend, even as banks have come under severe scrutiny in recent weeks about their use of billions of dollars in government aid.
  • 12:22 PM » Merrill secretly moved up bonus payments: Cuomo
    Published Wed, Feb 11 2009 12:22 PM by Reuters
    NEW YORK (Reuters) - Merrill Lynch secretly accelerated bonus payments and gave at least $1 million to each of nearly 700 employees as the brokerage was amassing billions of dollars of losses, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said in a letter to Rep. Barney Frank.
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