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  • Thu, May 14 2009
  • 4:17 PM » Fed Purchases $27.2bn Agency MBS
    Published Thu, May 14 2009 4:17 PM by NY Fed
    Purchases in agency MBS by investment managers acting as agents for the System Open Market Account (SOMA).
  • 2:28 PM » Zillow:Homeowner Confidence Shrinks; Most Americans Now Believe Their Home's Value Has Declined
    Published Thu, May 14 2009 2:28 PM by PR Newswire
    American homeowners have a solid understanding of what has happened to the values of their own homes over the past year. A majority (60 percent) believe their own home lost value during the past 12 months , according to the Zillow Q1 Homeowner Confidence Survey(1). In reality, 80 percent of homes across the country lost value during the past 12 months, according to Zillow's first quarter Real Estate Market Reports.
  • 2:25 PM » Subprime Billionaire: Commercial Real Estate Not a Buy
    Published Thu, May 14 2009 2:25 PM by CNBC
  • 2:13 PM » Treasury and HUD Release New Details of Making Homes Affordable Program
    Published Thu, May 14 2009 2:13 PM by financialstability.gov
    With the Making Home Affordable (MHA) program delivering much-needed relief to homeowners and to our economy just over two months after the release of program guidelines, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan today provided an update on the program’s impact on stemming the housing crisis and keeping families in their homes and announced new options for homeowners facing foreclosure.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: financialstability.gov
  • 2:10 PM » History says 10-year yields set for a summer slide
    Published Thu, May 14 2009 2:10 PM by Market Watch
    Yields on 10-year Treasury notes tend to drop substantially during the summer and early fall, as investors often turn away from stocks and Japanese selling no longer weighs on the bond market.
  • 1:24 PM » Obama: Credit-card industry needs immediate reform
    Published Thu, May 14 2009 1:24 PM by Market Watch
    The credit-card-industry needs immediate reform, President Barack Obama says, as Congress continues working on legislation aimed at curbing rates and fees decried as abusive by some.
  • 12:22 PM » The revolution within
    Published Thu, May 14 2009 12:22 PM by www.economist.com
    The way banks manage risk—including how they reward managers for taking it—will change greatly THE changes to the environment in which banks operate—tougher regulation, higher capital requirements and scarcer funding—will have a dramatic impact on the way that banks are managed. But banks are also reflecting hard on some fundamental internal questions, such as how to manage risk, compensation and growth itself. Too many bosses and shareholders accepted years of double-digit returns without probing the sources and sustainability of those profits. “No one was asking the ‘Columbo’ questions,” says Toos Daruvala of McKinsey, a consultancy. The most basic of these questions, particularly for banks with large wholesale operations, is what kind of businesses they want to be. The bubble was characterised by a game of copycat, in which banks strove to match the returns of their most profitable rivals by piling headlong into asset classes where they were lagging, irrespective of the risks. “The securities industry was based on revenue, not on risk-adjusted returns,” says a bank boss. ...
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: www.economist.com
  • 10:34 AM » Geithner Admits: Easy money did us in
    Published Thu, May 14 2009 10:34 AM by Google News
    In an interview with on Tuesday, Tim Geithner admitted the bubble was caused by Greenspan’s easy money policy. Unfortunately, Charlie didn’t ask the obvious follow-up: “why will this time be different? Why will Bernanke’s easy money policy lead to different results?” Here was the crucial exchange: Rose: “Looking back, what are the mistakes and what should you have done more of? Where were your instincts right, but you didn’t go far enough?” … Geithner: “…I would say there were three types of broad errors of policy and policy both here and around the world. One was that monetary policy around the world was too loose too long. And that created this just huge boom in asset prices, money chasing risk. People trying to get a higher return. That was just overwhelmingly powerful.” Rose: “It was too easy.” Geithner: “It was too easy, yes…. What makes Geithner’s admission so frustrating is that the government is engaged in the same disastrous policy today, to fight the same bogeyman: deflation. As Geithner makes plain, a huge side effect was that investors seeking meaningful returns inflated the bubble taking flyers on overpriced, risky securities. Toxic structured products are the obvious example. Credit rating agencies get lots of blame as enablers, rating trash “AAA.” But fixed-income investors wanted an excuse to invest in riskier stuff that carried slightly higher yields; hell, artificially low interest rates meant many needed an excuse.* Truly low risk securities like Treasurys and money market instruments were yielding so little, they were of no use to portfolio managers trying to match assets with liabilities. That’s a simple concept, really. Pension fund managers, for instance, rely on actuarial estimates to determine their future liabilities. What the plan will have to pay out to retirees at a particular future date. So they have to invest in such a way that plan assets will grow to meet plan liabilities. Stocks are typically too risky, so they rely on high quality...
  • 10:33 AM » FEDS 2009-16: Reset Price Inflation and the Impact of Monetary Policy Shocks
    Published Thu, May 14 2009 10:33 AM by Federal Reserve
    A standard state-dependent pricing model implies very limited scope for using active monetary policy to stabilize real activity. Two modeling strategies which expand the role of monetary policy are time-dependent pricing and strategic complementarities between price-setting firms. These mechanisms have telltale implications for the persistence and volatility of "reset price inflation." Reset price inflation is the rate of change of all desired prices (including for goods that have not changed price in the current period). Using the micro data underpinning the CPI, we construct an empirical measure of reset price inflation and use this measure to assess the validity of the modeling approaches. We find that time-dependent models imply unrealistically high persistence and stability of reset price inflation. This discrepancy is exacerbated by adding strategic complementarities, even under state-dependent pricing. A state-dependent model with no strategic complementarities aligns most closely with the CPI data.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Federal Reserve
  • 10:33 AM » FEDS 2009-15: Inflation Expectations, Uncertainty, the Phillips Curve, and Monetary Policy
    Published Thu, May 14 2009 10:33 AM by Federal Reserve
    Inflation expectations play a central role in models of the Phillips curve. At long time horizons inflation expectations may reflect the credibility of a monetary authority's commitment to price stability. These observations highlight the importance of inflation expectations for monetary policy. These comments touch on three issues regarding inflation expectations: The evolving treatment of inflation expectations in empirical Phillips curve models; three recent models of information imperfections and inflation expectations; and potential policy implications of different models.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Federal Reserve
  • 10:33 AM » FEDS 2009-14: Household Welfare, Precautionary Saving, and Social Insurance under Multiple Sources of Risk
    Published Thu, May 14 2009 10:33 AM by Federal Reserve
    This paper assesses the quantitative importance of a number of sources of income risk for household welfare and precautionary saving. To that end I construct a lifecycle consumption model in which household income is subject to shocks associated with disability, health, unemployment, job changes, wages, work hours, and a residual component of household income. I use PSID data to estimate the key processes that drive and affect household income, and then use the consumption model to: (i) quantify the welfare value to consumers of providing full, actuarially fair insurance against each source of risk and (ii) measure the contribution of each type of shock to the accumulation of precautionary savings. I find that the value of fully insuring disability, health, and unemployment shocks is extremely small (well below 1/10 of 1 percent of lifetime consumption in the baseline model). The gains from insuring shocks to the wage and to the residual component of household income are significantly larger (above 1% and 2% of lifetime consumption, respectively). These two shocks account for more than 60% of precautionary wealth.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Federal Reserve
  • 9:03 AM » Obama administration to expand housing plan
    Published Thu, May 14 2009 9:03 AM by Washington Post
    WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration is expected to expand its mortgage aid program on Thursday, announcing new measures that would help homeowners avoid a blemished credit record even if they don't qualify for other assistance.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Washington Post
  • 9:03 AM » SEC proposes suit versus Countrywide founder Mozilo
    Published Thu, May 14 2009 9:03 AM by Reuters
    LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - U.S. regulators have recommended filing a civil fraud suit against Countrywide Financial co-founder Angelo Mozilo for insider trading, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.
  • Wed, May 13 2009
  • 8:56 PM » Paying With Cash Could Soon Pay Off
    Published Wed, May 13 2009 8:56 PM by WSJ
    Retailers could get more aggressive about levying higher prices on shoppers using credit cards, under a bill now before the Senate.
  • 8:56 PM » SEC Staff to Recommend Civil Charges for Mozilo
    Published Wed, May 13 2009 8:56 PM by www.topix.net
    Staff at the Securities and Exchange Commission have decided to recommend filing civil fraud charges against Angelo Mozilo, the co-founder of Countrywide Financial Corp., according to people familiar with the investigation.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: www.topix.net
  • 8:56 PM » U.S. Foreclosure Filings Hit Record for Second Month
    Published Wed, May 13 2009 8:56 PM by www.topix.net
    Foreclosure filings in the U.S. rose to a record for the second consecutive month in April as banks increased efforts to seize homes from delinquent borrowers.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: www.topix.net
  • 1:50 PM » MBA's Agenda to Stabilize the Housing and Mortgage Markets
    Published Wed, May 13 2009 1:50 PM by www.mortgagebankers.org
    By anchoring communities, providing jobs and building family wealth, the real estate finance industry has played an important role in bringing prosperity to American families. Recent turmoil in the industry and the markets has, however, threatened this critical responsibility. The Mortgage Bankers Association is eager to work closely with the 111th Congress and the Obama administration to help rebuild and justify the faith in our industry by restoring liquidity to the capital markets, assisting borrowers and renters and preventing reoccurrences of the recent troubles. In 2009, MBA will advocate for the following policy issues....
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: www.mortgagebankers.org
  • 1:46 PM » Bernanke Says U.S. Banks Must Test More to Identify Other Risks
    Published Wed, May 13 2009 1:46 PM by Bloomberg
    Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said efforts by U.S. banks to raise capital are “encouraging” and called on firms to identify other risks through internal stress tests.
  • 1:43 PM » MBA Survey Shows Continued Slowdown of Commercial/Multifamily Mortgage Lending in 1Q 2009
    Published Wed, May 13 2009 1:43 PM by www.mbaa.org
    Commercial and multifamily mortgage loan originations continued to drop in the first quarter of 2009, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Quarterly Survey of Commercial/Multifamily Mortgage Bankers Originations. First quarter originations were 70 percent lower than during the same period last year and 26 percent lower than during the fourth quarter of 2008. The year-over-year decrease was seen across all investor groups and most property types.
  • 1:41 PM » Realtors® Report: Jumbo Mortgage Market is Holding Recovery Back
    Published Wed, May 13 2009 1:41 PM by Realtor.Org
    Limited availability and unusually high interest rates in the jumbo loan market are adversely affecting the rest of the housing market. This is just one of the insights from recent National Association of Realtors ®
  • 12:21 PM » GM stock touches $1, lowest since Depression
    Published Wed, May 13 2009 12:21 PM by CNN
    General Motors Corp. stock briefly plunged to $1 a share in Wednesday trading, flirting with the lowest levels since the Great Depression, but then managed a recovery.
  • 12:11 PM » FHFA to Allow Homeowners to Use $8,000 Tax Credit as Downpayment
    Published Wed, May 13 2009 12:11 PM by Realtor.Org
    Shaun Donovan, secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, said that the Federal Housing Administration is going to permit its lenders to allow homeowners to use the $8,000 tax credit as a downpayment.
  • 12:05 PM » Liddy Uneasy on Property Market
    Published Wed, May 13 2009 12:05 PM by WSJ
    Liddy told lawmakers that he's worried about potential problems with the commercial real-estate market and AIG's commercial real-estate portfolio.
  • 12:05 PM » Secondary Sources: Stress Tests, Social Security, Inflection Points
    Published Wed, May 13 2009 12:05 PM by WSJ
    A roundup of economic news from around the Web. Cleveland Fed economists Ken Beauchemin and Brent Meyer defend the projections used in the government’s stress tests on banks. “Notwithstanding further unexpected and dramatic declines in the economy, recent projections by professional forecasters indicate that the stress-test scenarios remain viable and relevant to the task of assessing the potential losses faced by nation’s largest bank holding companies. While the adverse scenario may seem more likely than when it was first drawn up, it is only the near-term outlook for unemployment that has significantly strayed from baseline assumptions. Furthermore, the alternatively adverse scenario looks to be plenty adverse, and exposes the wisdom of planning for a more stressful outcome in the first place.” Chuck Blahous , who was a top Bush adviser on social security, looks at the latest trustee’s report on the entitlement programs. “Remember all of those advocacy pieces saying that there was no entitlements problem, no Social Security problem, but only a health care problem? Guess what: Social Security costs are rising this year by more ($57 billion) than all of the components of Medicare combined ($43 billion.) Medicare certainly has the greater long-term shortfall, but in the near-term, Social Security’s cost growth is just as great an issue as Medicare’s. The total effect of the worsened Social Security outlook is to severely constrain the choices facing policymakers as well as the time during which they need to be made. If we act soon, we can fix program finances, without cutting benefits for those in retirement, without imposing real declines in future benefit levels, and even without raising taxes. But the window for avoiding these tough choices will close in just a few more years.” Separately, Journal economics editor David Wessel on NPR this morning. On his maverecon blog, Willem Buiter puts in the math to show that ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet ’s statement about...
  • 10:36 AM » White House mulls cap on financial execs' pay: WSJ
    Published Wed, May 13 2009 10:36 AM by Market Watch
    The Obama administration is in serious discussions about ways to restructure and restrict executive pay at financial-services firms, according to a Wall Street Journal report Wednesday.
  • 8:56 AM » Credit is Key to Real Estate Recovery
    Published Wed, May 13 2009 8:56 AM by Realtor.Org
    Improving the availability of credit and access to capital are essential to recovery in the real estate market. Addressing these challenges was the focus of the "Financing Real Estate for Tomorrow" session, part of the National Association of Realtors ® ' daylong “Real Estate Summit: Advancing the U.S. Economy.”
  • 8:55 AM » Foreclosure and Short Sale Discounts Weigh Down Metro Area Median Prices
    Published Wed, May 13 2009 8:55 AM by Realtor.Org
    First-time home buyers responding to improved affordability conditions, and lower prices of foreclosures and short sales, impacted metropolitan area median home prices in the first quarter, while existing-home sales remained sluggish in many parts of the country, according to the latest survey by the National Association of Realtors ® .
  • 8:44 AM » Putting the REIT Maturity Crunch Into Perspective
    Published Wed, May 13 2009 8:44 AM by Seeking Alpha
    submits: As Zero Hedge's all time favorite investment bank Merrill Lynch (BAC) is all too happy to attest, the REITs have proven to be a phenomenal source of underwriting revenue. Amusingly, the REITs which face staggering near-term maturities are still unable to access the debt capital markets (with one or two notable exceptions), yet have raised well over $10 billion in equity to date (which they have used almost exclusively to pay down the cheapest form of capital: secured credit facilities: why?) leaving one to truly wonder just what is the big picture here really all about (aside from ML pocketing dilution cash). So just how far down the road are recent equity raises going to take the (still) very troubled REIT space? (Why still? Redo the FFO calc with a 9% cap rate. Come back then). Answer- not all that far.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Seeking Alpha
  • 8:44 AM » Why Are Stress Tests So Pessimistic on Commercial Real Estate?
    Published Wed, May 13 2009 8:44 AM by Seeking Alpha
    Banks howled that stress test “” were outrageous and got on this and other items. For the past year, the best way to make money has been to bet that whatever the banks claimed was wrong. In this case, the banks should know what is happening to their commercial real estate loans. They are either right on this or just trying to do some more deception to hide the truth for a few more weeks.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Seeking Alpha
  • 8:44 AM » House prices at auction continue to fall
    Published Wed, May 13 2009 8:44 AM by www.ft.com
    The prices paid for property at auction still have a long way to fall, but the outlook for the housing market is not quite as dire as a few months ago
  • 8:43 AM » Money Market Rates Fall to Pre-Lehman Levels
    Published Wed, May 13 2009 8:43 AM by www.ft.com
    Key money market rates have fallen below levels seen before Lehman Brothers collapsed in September as confidence tentatively returns.
  • 8:41 AM » Freddie Mac Asking for $6.1bn After 1Q Loss of $9.9bn
    Published Wed, May 13 2009 8:41 AM by www.ft.com
    Freddie Mac said on Tuesday it would draw $6.1bn of capital from the US Treasury after a $9.9bn first-quarter loss drove its net worth below zero.
  • Tue, May 12 2009
  • 6:20 PM » Freddie Mac Announces Changes to Relief Refinance Program and Super Conforming Mortgages
    Published Tue, May 12 2009 6:20 PM by Freddie Mac
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  • 5:19 PM » Greenspan, Geithner, and Darth Vader
    Published Tue, May 12 2009 5:19 PM by themessthatgreenspanmade.blogspot.com
    It's good to see that we've not completely forgotten former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, two items appearing today as reminders of just what a mess has been made. Dan O'Connor at the Mises Institute the former Fed chief is a lot like Darth Vader (hat tip BY). The former chairman of the US Federal Reserve shares a lot in common with one of the most famous villain characters in the history of Hollywood, Darth Vader, who was first a member of the Jedi coalition when his name was Anakin Skywalker. ... The policies of the Federal Reserve Bank had an enormous impact on our current crisis; and the American people have come to realize how destructive the force of the Fed can be. By expanding the supply of credit, inflating the currency, and keeping interest rates artificially low and fixed for an extensive period of time (a form of price fixing), the country — and globe — became plagued by malinvestment: people and banking institutions were encouraged by this dark and opaque monolith in Washington DC to buy and spend. Dan goes on to suggest that the former "Maetsro" might redeem himself in some way by exposing the Federal Reserve and all of its evils before its too late. Fat chance! After having confessed to in his ideology, his reputation suffering dearly as part of that process, don't look for any more mea culpas from him. And don't look for too many more U.S.-based economists or gubment workers to start pointing fingers even if they cite the former Fed chief's errors. Current Fed chairman Ben Bernanke has been loathe to cast any aspersions his way, sticking with his increasingly strained "savings glut" rationalization of how things went so wrong. Over at the Treasury Department, the guy who used to be the head of the New York Federal Reserve and who now sits in the big chair at the Treasury Department talked to Charlie Rose the other day and couldn't bring himself to utter his name as he criticized his policies. The Wall Street...
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: themessthatgreenspanmade.blogspot.com
  • 5:04 PM » Greenspan sees "seeds of bottoming" for U.S. housing
    Published Tue, May 12 2009 5:04 PM by Reuters
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said on Tuesday that "the seeds of a bottoming" in plunging U.S. home markets were becoming visible.
  • 1:23 PM » FDIC Continues to Sell Performing Commercial Loans at About 50% Off Book Value
    Published Tue, May 12 2009 1:23 PM by Seeking Alpha
    submits: When the results of the FDIC commercial loan auctions and the discount the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation was willing to take in order to offload commercial loans (both non-performing and performing) from its books, the result was very startling, specifically when considered in the context of the vocal endorsement Ms. Bair had given to the PPIP's Legacy Loan program and the expected commercial loan clearing levels in the 80s and 90s. At that time, Zero Hedge concluded that it was very hypocritical for the FDIC to solicit banks in offloading loans, and for hedge funds to buy them at out of market prices (especially with taxpayer-subsidized guarantees for hedge fund purchases, compliments of the administration, Geithner and Bair). The facts: in April, the average auction clearing price on the 331 loans the FDIC sold in January and February was . In March, the number of loans increased almost four-fold to 1,328, for a total of $470 million in book values of sales, with the average price dropping even more: the latest being at 46.4%. So much for a stabilization in the commercial real estate market.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Seeking Alpha
  • 1:23 PM » Stock markets: reversal time?
    Published Tue, May 12 2009 1:23 PM by Google News
    I indicated in Sunday’s “” review that “the speed and sheer magnitude of the rally argue for markets to either consolidate or retrace some of the past nine weeks’ gains prior to moving higher”. Is the rally is about to be reigned in? While most major stock market indices are encountering resistance at their 200-day moving averages and/or at the early January highs, a few other indicators also warrant our attention. Two sectors that have been leading the overall market higher during the rally that commenced on March 9 - small caps and technology - have reversed their outperformance, as seen from the turnaround in the relative performance. The first chart plots the Nasdaq Composite index relative to the NY Composite Index, while the second compares the performance of the Russell 2000 Small Cap Index with that of the S&P 100 Index (large caps). A rising relative strength line indicates outperformance and a declining line underperformance. Source: Source: I will keep a close eye on these two charts as relative weakness of small caps and technology will not be a good sign for an overall market that is overbought and looking exhausted after its monumental rally over the past nine weeks. Another interesting-looking chart is that of the S&P 500 Index’s . Although a close below the 20-day moving average (dotted blue line) is required to confirm a correction, the fact that the price is touching the upper band indicates a short-term overbought condition. Also, the black line in the bottom section of the chart - measuring the width of the Bollinger bands - has turned up and is signaling expanding bands. This usually points to rising volatility and lower prices, similar to those experienced at the January and February lows. Source: For those who missed the item over the weekend on Adam Hewison’s () technical analysis of the S&P 500’s most likely direction and important chart levels, click to access the video presentation. I still maintain that US and other mature stock...
  • 1:14 PM » HUD Announces It Will Move Forward With RESPA Reform That Will Save Consumers An Average of $700
    Published Tue, May 12 2009 1:14 PM by www.hud.gov
    U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan today announced his intention to implement the mortgage reforms under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) that are scheduled to take full effect on January 1, 2010. For the first time in more than 30 years, HUD is updating mortgage rules to help consumers shop for the lowest cost mortgage, avoid costly and potentially harmful loan offers, and save an average of $700.
  • 11:33 AM » Homeowners Turn to Renting, Waiting for Market to Recover
    Published Tue, May 12 2009 11:33 AM by CNBC
    Homeowners are still finding it hard to unload their current residence without suffering a big loss. So they're holding onto the house but renting it out in hopes of selling later when the market improves.
  • 11:12 AM » Fed OMO Update: Fed Purchases $6.007bn in Treasury Coupons Today
    Published Tue, May 12 2009 11:12 AM by NY Fed
    The purchase or sale of Treasury securities on an outright basis adds or drains reserves available in the banking system. Such transactions are arranged on a routine basis to offset other changes in the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet in conjunction with efforts to maintain conditions in the market for reserves consistent with the federal funds target rate set by the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC).
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