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  • Thu, Feb 12 2009
  • 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.
  • 10:48 AM » Home sweet retirement home
    Published Wed, Feb 11 2009 10:48 AM by CNN
    My wife and I recently swallowed hard and bought a tiny cabin on a prime lake-front lot near the Berkshire hills in western Massachusetts where we'd like to retire one day. (At a later date, we'll build a bigger house.) Were we early, buying before housing prices hit rock bottom? Almost certainly. Are we losing sleep over it? Absolutely not.
  • 10:01 AM » Bank of England ready to boost money supply in recession fight
    Published Wed, Feb 11 2009 10:01 AM by Market Watch
    The Bank of England is prepared to further ease monetary policy and could buy British government bonds in an effort to boost the money supply as it battles a “deep recession,” the central bank’s governor, Mervyn King, said Wednesday.
  • 10:01 AM » Toll Bros. Revenue Sinks 51%, Confident on Liquidity
    Published Wed, Feb 11 2009 10:01 AM by CNBC
    Posted By: CNBC.com Home builder Toll Brothers reported a sharp drop in first-quarter revenue Wednesday, but said it had enough liquidity to get it through the current turmoil in the industry. Topics: | | | Sectors: Companies:
  • 9:30 AM » Cuomo blasts Merrill executives on bonus plan
    Published Wed, Feb 11 2009 9:30 AM by Washington Post
    ALBANY, N.Y. -- New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo accused Merrill Lynch & Co. executives of corporate irresponsibility by secretly and prematurely awarding $3.6 billion in bonuses as taxpayers were bailing out the industry.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Washington Post
  • 9:30 AM » Facing Oversight, Banks Go on Offense
    Published Wed, Feb 11 2009 9:30 AM by Washington Post
    Wall Street is trying to move out of its defensive crouch, with top bankers planning to tell Congress today that they are making loans, managing their money prudently, and intending to pay back any public funds at a profit to the U.S. Treasury.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Washington Post
  • 9:23 AM » Bank Execs to Face House Panel
    Published Wed, Feb 11 2009 9:23 AM by WSJ
    Bank chieftains including J.P. Morgan's Dimon, Bank of America's Lewis and Citigroup's Pandit plan to tell Congress they are lending despite economic headwinds.
  • Tue, Feb 10 2009
  • 2:35 PM » Let the Wall St. "Talent" Walk
    Published Tue, Feb 10 2009 2:35 PM by www.usnews.com
    On Wall Street, the “talent” doesn’t come up with better ways to serve customers, or solve vexing problems, or create something new that people can use. Those deemed “talent” are the rainmakers: The ones with the most lucrative clients, the biggest book of business, the most profitable deals. This so-called talent is richly rewarded with bonuses, to make sure the fees they generate keep flowing.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: www.usnews.com
  • 2:18 PM » Wal-Mart Cutting Up to 800 Jobs at Home Offices
    Published Tue, Feb 10 2009 2:18 PM by CNBC
  • 2:18 PM » Bernanke says Fed actions easing strains
    Published Tue, Feb 10 2009 2:18 PM by Reuters
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Federal Reserve believes an array of extraordinary programs aimed at stabilizing credit and banking have improved market conditions and eased strains despite a drumbeat of negative economic news, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said on Tuesday.
  • 12:28 PM » Secretary Geithner Introduces Financial Stability Plan
    Published Tue, Feb 10 2009 12:28 PM by US Treasury
    To view or print the PDF content on this page, download the free . February 10, 2009 TG-18 Secretary Geithner Introduces Financial Stability Plan Remarks by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner Introducing the Financial Stability Plan Tuesday, February 10, 2009 As prepared for delivery As President Obama said in his inaugural address, our economic strength is derived from "the doers, the makers of things." The innovators who create and expand enterprises; the workers who provide life to companies; this is what drives economic growth. The financial system is central to this process. Banks and the credit markets transform the earnings and savings of American workers into the loans that finance a first home, a new car or a college education. And this system provides the capital and credit necessary to build a company around a new idea. Without credit, economies cannot grow at their potential, and right now, critical parts of our financial system are damaged. The credit markets that are essential for small businesses and consumers are not working. Borrowing costs have risen sharply for state and local governments, for students trying to pay for college, and for businesses large and small. Many banks are reducing lending, and across the country they are tightening the terms of loans. Last Friday we learned that the economy had lost three million jobs last year, and an additional 600,000 just last month. As demand falls and credit tightens, businesses around the world are cutting back the investments that are essential to future growth. Trade among nations has contracted sharply, as trade finance has dried up. Home prices are still falling, as foreclosures rise and even credit worthy borrowers are finding it harder to finance the purchase of a first home, or refinance their mortgage. Instead of catalyzing recovery, the financial system is working against recovery. And at the same time, the recession is putting greater pressure on banks. This is a dangerous dynamic...
  • 12:08 PM » Can We Really Believe "California Comeback" Report?
    Published Tue, Feb 10 2009 12:08 PM by CNBC
    Posted By: A new report scheduled to be released tomorrow from on-line foreclosure sale site, foreclosures.com, claims a “California Comeback” is well under way. Topics: | | Sectors: | MEDIA:
  • 12:07 PM » Text of Geithner's remarks
    Published Tue, Feb 10 2009 12:07 PM by Market Watch
    Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner announced the government’s plan to revitalize the financial sector. Here are his prepared remarks, as released by the Treasury.
  • 12:07 PM » Taking Apart the $819 billion Stimulus Package
    Published Tue, Feb 10 2009 12:07 PM by The Big Picture
    > Source : Washington Post http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/graphic/2009/02/01/GR2009020100154.html
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: The Big Picture
  • 12:07 PM » The Recent History of Gold, 1954-2009
    Published Tue, Feb 10 2009 12:07 PM by The Big Picture
    Attention Gold Bugs : Warm up your credit cards! Back in 2007, we ran this terrific chart by JP Koning of the . JP is at it again, this time, devising this fascinating pictograph showing the . JP adds: “The Recent History of Gold Wall Chart contains the gold price from 1954-2009, as well as 26 crucial events that dramatically affected that price, including the Cuban Missile Crisis, the 1973 oil embargo, and the 2001 World Trade Tower bombing. Also unique is our inclusion of prices from 1954-1968, when gold was fixed at $35. In actuality, the gold price fluctuated in a narrow band between $34.80 and $35.20, and was much influenced by world events. Our chart is one of the first to return to this lost data and analyse it.” Educational and fascinating . . .
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: The Big Picture
  • 11:04 AM » Farewell to 'for sale by owner'?
    Published Tue, Feb 10 2009 11:04 AM by CNN
    Not long ago, for sale by owner (FSBO) Web sites were heralded as a fresh entrepreneurial wave that was going to upend the staid real estate industry. In 2006 real estate sales "unassisted" by a broker accounted for 20% of sales made, says Steve Murray, editor and owner of Real Trends, a market research firm in Castle Rock, Colo.
  • 9:33 AM » WTO Panel Warned of Protectionism Threat
    Published Tue, Feb 10 2009 9:33 AM by Washington Post
    PARIS, Feb. 9 -- The director-general of the World Trade Organization, Pascal Lamy, called Monday for a freer flow of trade information to help guard against protectionism as governments struggle to overcome the global economic crisis.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Washington Post
  • 9:32 AM » Obama Says Economic Crisis Comes First
    Published Tue, Feb 10 2009 9:32 AM by Washington Post
    President Obama declared last night in his first prime-time news conference that the task of saving and creating jobs is more important than cultivating the bipartisan cooperation he promised to bring to Washington, and he pressed his case for the massive economic stimulus plan working its way...
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Washington Post
  • 9:31 AM » UBS: $7 Billion Loss; to Cut 15,000 Jobs
    Published Tue, Feb 10 2009 9:31 AM by Calculated Risk Blog
    Press Release: Update: From the WSJ: UBS AG Tuesday reported a narrower fourth-quarter net loss and said it will cut 15,000 jobs by the end of this year in its loss-making investment bank. The confessional is still very busy. And oldie (Source: ) Here is the actually .
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Calculated Risk Blog
  • 9:30 AM » Some Improvement in Bond Market
    Published Tue, Feb 10 2009 9:30 AM by Calculated Risk Blog
    From the WSJ: A growing number of big companies are taking advantage of the thawing credit markets to raise large sums of money at low interest rates, with Cisco Systems Inc. Monday selling $4 billion in bonds ... The big Cisco offering follows a string of successful efforts just in the past five weeks to tap the market for corporate debt. The size of the offering -- and the relatively low risk premiums attached to the bonds -- indicate that investors are hungry for debt from highly rated companies that issue infrequently. ... Cisco's 10-year notes were sold Monday at two percentage points above Treasurys for a yield of 4.979%, while a 30-year portion of Cisco's offering sold for a yield of 5.916%. ... Cablevision Systems Corp. had to pay interest of 9.375% to borrow $500 million on Monday. [10 year notes] ... Other companies are still shut out of the market completely. The following graph shows the spread between 30 year Moody's Aaa and Baa rated bonds and the 30 year treasury. The Moody's data is from the : Moody's tries to include bonds with remaining maturities as close as possible to 30 years. Moody's drops bonds if the remaining life falls below 20 years, if the bond is susceptible to redemption, or if the rating changes. Click on table for larger image in new window. There has been some improvement (decline in spread) in recent weeks, but the spreads are still very high - even for higher rated paper - but especially for lower rated paper like Cablevision.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Calculated Risk Blog
  • 9:29 AM » GM to Cut Salaried Staff by 14%
    Published Tue, Feb 10 2009 9:29 AM by WSJ
    General Motors will shed 10,000 white-collar jobs this year as the auto maker copes with a severe sales slump. Salary cuts are also planned.
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