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  • Wed, Mar 4 2009
  • 9:30 AM » Knock on 'Opportunity': Sharp Losses
    Published Wed, Mar 04 2009 9:30 AM by WSJ
    In a sign that institutional investors are about to get clobbered by losses in commercial real estate, Morgan Stanley told investors to expect up to a 60% write-down on the equity in a marquee fund.
  • 9:30 AM » Mortgage Bill Language Undermines Protections, Critics Say
    Published Wed, Mar 04 2009 9:30 AM by Washington Post
    A quiet effort to pass legislation increasing protections for mortgage borrowers has provoked opposition from banking trade groups and members of Congress, who say the bill will have unintended consequences and that the idea deserves public debate.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Washington Post
  • 9:30 AM » The World's 50 Safest Banks in 2009
    Published Wed, Mar 04 2009 9:30 AM by Seeking Alpha
    submits: The magazine released the world’s safest banks list for 2009 on February 25th. For the first time they published this mid-year update due to the turmoil in the world’s banking industry. The list was compiled based on the comparison of long-term credit ratings and total assets of the 500 largest banks in the world. The ratings were issued by Standard & Poors, Moody’s and Fitch.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Seeking Alpha
  • 9:14 AM » One in five U.S. mortgage borrowers are underwater
    Published Wed, Mar 04 2009 9:14 AM by Reuters
    NEW YORK (Reuters) - One in five U.S. homeowners with mortgages owe more to their lenders than their properties are worth, and the rate will increase as housing values drop in states that have so far avoided the worst of the crisis, a new study shows.
  • 9:14 AM » Toll Brothers Shrinks Loss; Calls For Home-buyer Tax Credit
    Published Wed, Mar 04 2009 9:14 AM by feeds.foxbusiness.com
    Toll Brothers Shrinks Loss; Calls For Home-buyer Tax Credit
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: feeds.foxbusiness.com
  • 9:14 AM » Trump and lenders temporarily suspend litigation: report
    Published Wed, Mar 04 2009 9:14 AM by Reuters
    (Reuters) - Real estate developer Donald Trump and his lenders agreed to temporarily suspend litigation on the Trump International Hotel & Tower project in Chicago, the Wall Street Journal said.
  • Tue, Mar 3 2009
  • 4:02 PM » Hope Now Facts or Fiction?
    Published Tue, Mar 03 2009 4:02 PM by loanworkout.org
    Loanworkout.org and loansafe.org are committed to providing data from various sources that may help to ameliorate the foreclosure crisis in America. Loanworkout.org and loanSafe.org are consumer websites that never accept corporate donations or advertising dollars from the entities we monitor…we feel taking anything from them would undermine our objectivity. Not everyone feels the same. This week, HOPE [...]
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: loanworkout.org
  • 4:01 PM » A huge regulatory gap condoned by the Fed
    Published Tue, Mar 03 2009 4:01 PM by themessthatgreenspanmade.blogspot.com
    Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke testified before the Senate Banking Committee earlier today on the many challenges the U.S. economy now faces. He had a few thoughts to share about the government's most troublesome ward, failed insurer AIG. I think if there is a single episode in this entire 18 months that has made me more angry, I can’t think of one other than AIG. AIG exploited a huge gap in the regulatory system. There was no oversight of the financial-products division. This was a hedge fund basically that was attached to a large and stable insurance company. They made huge numbers of irresponsible bets. They took huge losses. There was no regulatory oversight because there was a gap in the system. We were then forced - we had no choice but to stabilize the system - because of the implications that the failure would have had on the broad economic system. Yes, there was a huge gap in the system. There is little disagreement on that fact. But, interestingly, it wasn't viewed as a "gap" at the time. In fact, no one seemed to mind all that much that giant insurance companies were creating trillions of dollars worth of unregulated liabilities, particularly the Federal Reserve. That is, until the wheels started falling off. It takes only a few minutes to cull, from the Fed's website, these gems: Before the Council on Foreign Relations, Washington, D.C. November 19, 2002 International Financial Risk Management Today I would like to share with you some of the evolving international financial issues that have so engaged us at the Federal Reserve over the past year. I, particularly, have been focusing on innovations in the management of risk and some of the implications of those innovations for our global economic and financial system. ... The market for credit derivatives has grown in prominence not only because of its ability to disperse risk but also because of the information it contributes to enhanced risk management by banks and other financial intermediaries...
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: themessthatgreenspanmade.blogspot.com
  • 4:00 PM » Niall Ferguson on moral hazard
    Published Tue, Mar 03 2009 4:00 PM by themessthatgreenspanmade.blogspot.com
    In what is otherwise a very nicely done by historian Niall Ferguson, whose PBS documentary "" should be considered required viewing for every individual on the planet (particularly economists and bankers), comes this rather stunning view of moral hazard as it relates to fixing the housing mess. The second step we need to take is a generalised conversion of American mortgages to lower interest rates and longer maturities. About 2.3 million US households face foreclosure and that number is certain to rise. For example, $US97 billion of $US200 billion of option adjustable-rate mortgages will reset in the next two years. The average monthly payment will increase by more than 60 per cent. As a result, up to eight million households could be driven into foreclosure, driving down home prices even further . Few of those affected have any realistic prospect of refinancing at more affordable rates. So, once again, what is needed is state intervention. The idea of modifying mortgages appalls legal purists as a violation of the sanctity of contract. But, as with the principle of eminent domain, there are times when the public interest requires us to honour the rule of law in the breach. ... Another objection to such a procedure is that it would reward the imprudent. But moral hazard only really matters if bad behaviour is likely to be repeated. I do not foresee anyone asking for, or being given, an option adjustable-rate mortgage for many, many years. The issue, then, is simply one of fairness. Paraphrasing Mark Twain, the housing bubble kind of rhymed with the stock bubble... My take on things over the last ten years is that the housing bubble was made much worse than it otherwise might have been as a result of the millions of individuals who just sat by and watched equity markets rise, then fall, then get rescued by one percent interest rates. I can't remember how many wild-eyed individuals I talked to who didn't know a thing about ETRADE or Ameritrade back in...
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: themessthatgreenspanmade.blogspot.com
  • 4:00 PM » Homeowners Rights: What are they?
    Published Tue, Mar 03 2009 4:00 PM by Google News
    Is your state unfriendly towards homeowners? Probably. Further, most states are particularly unfriendly towards homeowners being foreclosed upon. A new report from the reveals that three out of five states allow for so-called fast-track foreclosures without any court oversight. In addition, the report, titled “Foreclosing A Dream: State Laws Deprive Homeowners of Basic Protections” found that 33 states do not require direct notification of homeowners when a lender begins the foreclosure process. As a result, state foreclosure laws may actually be contributing to the current foreclosure crisis. “ The bottom line is that most state laws are not part of the foreclosure crisis solution today; the are a big part of the problem,” explains John Rao, NCLC staff attorney and co-author of the report. “Most Americans not well-versed in property law would assume that homeowners have greater rights than renters, or at least equal rights. The stark reality is that while most states updated their landlord/tenant laws decades ago to give renters basic due process protections in the eviction process, no similar reform effort has been made to assist homeowners in the foreclosure process. Many state foreclosure laws were enacted in the 19 th and 20 th centuries and have gone largely unchanged since that time. These laws came into effect at a time when the residential mortgage industry, to the extent it existed at all, bore no relation to what exists today. Significantly, these laws pre-date the enormous changes in the mortgage market that began in the 1980’s” Changing laws at the state level to protect homeowner rights will not bring an end to the financial crisis, according to NCLC experts. It will, however, help to slow the pace of foreclosures giving other efforts such as the Obama Administration’s stimulus and housing plans time to take effect and for the effect to be felt by ordinary Americans. “ The foreclosure crisis continues to spin out of control. Modernization and improvement...
  • 4:00 PM » Mortgage Bankruptcy Bill Vote Expected On Thursday
    Published Tue, Mar 03 2009 4:00 PM by CNBC
    Posted By: Reuters Key U.S. House Democrats have agreed on changes in legislation letting bankruptcy judges reduce mortgage debt, and hope to have a vote on the legislation on Thursday, House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank said on Tuesday. Topics: | | | | MEDIA:
  • 11:48 AM » Treasury's Explicit Banking Subsidies
    Published Tue, Mar 03 2009 11:48 AM by Seeking Alpha
    submits: The government's plans for bailing out the financial sector are, according to the , getting "fleshed out", although the ideas in the graphic above are hardly new. The WSJ story is worth reading in conjunction with , who explains that financial institutions are always subsidized by taxpayers in one form or another, and that this kind of explicit subsidy might actually be a better option than the implicit subsidy we've had in the recent past:
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Seeking Alpha
  • 11:33 AM » Bernanke urges bold action to avoid lengthy slump
    Published Tue, Mar 03 2009 11:33 AM by Reuters
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on Tuesday urged bold action action to pull the economy out of a deepening slump, even if it means a surge in U.S. government debt.
  • 11:33 AM » Mortgage Delinquencies Rise for Eighth Straight Quarter
    Published Tue, Mar 03 2009 11:33 AM by www.thetruthaboutmortgage.com
    Mortgage loan delinquencies increased for the eighth straight quarter, according to the latest data from credit bureau TransUnion. The data, which is pulled from 27 million anonymous, individual credit files, found a whopping 4.58 percent of mortgage holders nationally were at least two months behind in payments, up from 3.96 percent a quarter earlier and 2.99 [...]
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: www.thetruthaboutmortgage.com
  • 10:30 AM » The Fed: New lending program targets consumers, business
    Published Tue, Mar 03 2009 10:30 AM by Market Watch
    “The [TALF] program could represent a turning point for the economy and the financial markets by jump starting lending in critical areas of the economy and by reviving the asset-backed securities market, where issuance has fallen to a crawl from a pace of about $1.5 trillion to $2 trillion in 2005-07,” according toTony Crescenzi, chief bond-market strategist for Miller Tabak.
  • 10:30 AM » James Baker: "Prevent Zombie Banks"
    Published Tue, Mar 03 2009 10:30 AM by Calculated Risk Blog
    James Baker writes in the Financial Times: [T]he US may be repeating Japan’s mistake by viewing our current banking crisis as one of liquidity and not solvency. Most proposals advanced thus far assume that, once confidence in financial markets is restored, banks will recover. But if their assumption is wrong, we risk perpetuating US zombie banks and suffering a lost American decade. ... First, we need to understand the scope of the problem. The Treasury department – working with the Federal Reserve – must swiftly analyse the solvency of big US banks. Treasury secretary Timothy Geithner’s proposed “stress tests” may work. Any analyses, however, should include worst-case scenarios. We can hope for the best but should be prepared for the worst. Next, we should divide the banks into three groups: the healthy, the hopeless and the needy. Leave the healthy alone and quickly close the hopeless. The needy should be reorganised and recapitalised, preferably through private investment or debt-to-equity swaps but, if necessary, through public funds. It is time for triage. There are calls across the political spectrum to avoid zombie banks. No one wants to nationalize the banks, just preprivatize the "hopeless". This is similar to my (and others) a few weeks ago: The banks will probably fall into one of three categories: 1) No additional assistance required. ... 2) The banks in between that will need additional capital. This is where the comes in: ... 3) Banks that will need to be nationalized or sold. ... The sooner the better, although March 12th works for me (30 days from Geithner's speech)! ... BTW the banks have been their stress test results to the Treasury by Wednesday March 11th. Although the stress test appears inadequate, and the 3rd option - "closing the hopeless" - is apparently off the table.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Calculated Risk Blog
  • 9:11 AM » WSJ: Leaked Details on Public-Private Entities Buying Bad Bank Assets
    Published Tue, Mar 03 2009 9:11 AM by Calculated Risk Blog
    From the WSJ: The Obama administration ... is considering creating multiple investment funds to purchase the bad loans and other distressed assets that lie at the heart of the financial crisis ... The Obama team announced its intention to partner with the private sector to buy $500 billion to $1 trillion of distressed assets as part of its revamping of the $700 billion bank bailout last month. ... ... one leading idea is to establish separate funds to be run by private investment managers. The managers would have to put up a certain amount of capital. Additional financing would come from the government, which would share in any profit or loss. These private investment managers would run the funds, deciding which assets to buy and what prices to pay. The government would contribute money from the $700 billion bailout, with additional financing likely coming from the Federal Reserve and by selling government-backed debt. Other investors, such as pension funds, could also participate. To encourage participation, the government would try to minimize risk for private investors, possibly by offering non-recourse loans. ... the government wants to encourage private investors to buy up the assets in a way that would come closer to setting a market price where no market currently exists. By offering low interest non-recourse loans, these public-private entities can pay a higher than market price for the toxic assets (since there is no downside risk). This amounts to a direct subsidy from the taxpayers to the banks. It is amazing how many different ways they've tried to recycle the same bad idea.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Calculated Risk Blog
  • 9:11 AM » HSBC Pulls Out of US Consumer Lending
    Published Tue, Mar 03 2009 9:11 AM by Google News
    The UK-based bank announced a flurry of changes to its business in the States. . The company is most notorious for its purchase of Household International, one of America’s most prolific subprime lenders. In addition to aggressive subprime first mortgages, HSBC also bought subprime second mortgages at high loan-to-value limits, many of which are completely underwater or non-performing. The company announced that it will finally close Household (renamed HFC and Beneficial) lending units after bleeding red ink in trying to prop up the failing arms of the business. From the New York Times: HSBC Holdings, the British banking giant, said Monday that it would ask investors for nearly $18 billion in new capital and cut more than 6,000 jobs as it braces for more market turmoil and positions itself for possible acquisitions. HSBC, which has not sought to raise cash from the British government, said it was seeking to raise £12.5 billion, or about $18 billion, in a rights issue of shares. HSBC made the announcement as it reported 2008 net income of $5.7 billion, down from $19.1 billion in 2007. The bank also cut its 2008 dividend by 29 percent to 64 cents a share. HSBC’s foray into the American subprime mortgage market has cost it dearly. In 2003, it paid $15.5 billion for Household International, making it the world’s top subprime lender. It has since had to inject billions of dollars into the unit to keep it afloat. On Monday, it said it would shut down the business, renamed HFC and Beneficial, and cut 6,100 jobs. It said its American retail bank and credit card businesses would remain intact.
  • 9:08 AM » FEDS 2009-11: Salience and Taxation: Theory and Evidence
    Published Tue, Mar 03 2009 9:08 AM by Federal Reserve
    This paper presents evidence that consumers underreact to taxes that are not salient and characterizes the welfare consequences of tax policies when agents make such optimization errors. The empirical evidence is based on two complementary strategies. First, we conducted an experiment at a grocery store posting tax inclusive prices for 750 products subject to sales tax for a three week period. Scanner data show that this intervention reduced demand for the treated products by 8 percent. Second, we find that state-level increases in excise taxes (which are included in posted prices) reduce alcohol consumption significantly more than increases in sales taxes (which are added at the register and are hence less salient). We develop simple, empirically implementable formulas for the incidence and efficiency costs of taxation that account for salience effects as well as other optimization errors. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the formulas imply that the economic incidence of a tax depends on its statutory incidence and that a tax can create deadweight loss even if it induces no change in demand. Our method of welfare analysis yields robust results because it does not require specification of a positive theory for why agents fail to optimize with respect to tax policies.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Federal Reserve
  • 9:07 AM » The Term Securities Lending Facility: Origin, Design, and Effects.
    Published Tue, Mar 03 2009 9:07 AM by NY Fed
    Michael J. Fleming, Frank Keane, and Warren B. Hrung. The Term Securities Lending Facility: Origin, Design, and Effects. Federal Reserve Bank of New York Current Issues in Economics and Finance , Volume 15, Number 2.
  • 9:04 AM » 'Bad Bank' Funding Plan Gets Fleshed Out
    Published Tue, Mar 03 2009 9:04 AM by WSJ
    Obama is considering creating multiple investment funds to purchase the bad loans and other distressed assets that lie at the heart of the financial crisis.
  • 8:54 AM » Citigroup to allow jobless cut mortgage payments
    Published Tue, Mar 03 2009 8:54 AM by Reuters
    NEW YORK (Reuters) - Citigroup Inc said on Tuesday it will allow some newly unemployed homeowners to temporarily reduce payments on their mortgages.
  • 8:53 AM » Inside the Bear Stearns boiler room
    Published Tue, Mar 03 2009 8:53 AM by CNN
    Years from now, when academics search for causes of the stock market crash of 2008, they will focus on the pivotal role of mortgage-backed securities. These exotic financial instruments allowed a downturn in U.S. home prices to morph into a contagion that brought down Bear Stearns a year ago this month - and more recently have brought the global banking system to its knees.
  • 8:53 AM » Tighter lending criteria pay off for Provident
    Published Tue, Mar 03 2009 8:53 AM by www.ft.com
    The group, which lends to customers on low incomes, reported an 11.8% rise in full-year profits as it tightened its lending criteria at a time of rising demand for its home-collected loans
  • Mon, Mar 2 2009
  • 4:03 PM » Mortgage Vote By US House Delayed By Snow Storm
    Published Mon, Mar 02 2009 4:03 PM by CNBC
    Posted By: Reuters A blanket of snow across much of the Washington area prompted the Democratic-led House to push back its schedule, including a possible vote Tuesday on a home mortgage bill. Topics: | | | | | Sectors: MEDIA:
  • 4:03 PM » East Coast Loan Modification Firm Accused of Scamming Homeowners
    Published Mon, Mar 02 2009 4:03 PM by loanworkout.org
    It looks like American Modification Agency or AmeriMod is in the papers again and it isn’t for fixing loans and saving homes. I wrote about the Long Island based loan modification firm back in January when they were sued in a $100 million class action: Former sales agents say working for AMA was a nightmare. They received [...]
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: loanworkout.org
  • 4:03 PM » Freddie Mac CEO to Step Down
    Published Mon, Mar 02 2009 4:03 PM by www.thetruthaboutmortgage.com
    How’s this for a shot of confidence. David Moffett, who served as the CEO of Freddie Mac after it went in conservatorship just months ago, has announced his resignation. He will leave his post as chief of the company and as a member of the board by no later than March 13, but indicated that he [...]
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: www.thetruthaboutmortgage.com
  • 3:58 PM » TMZ Story Forces Bank to Return $1.6 Billion!!!!
    Published Mon, Mar 02 2009 3:58 PM by www.tmz.com
    How's this for action. Northern Trust -- the bank TMZ exposed this week for throwing a series of lavish parties and concerts in L.A. -- is giving back the $1.6 billion in federal bailout money!
  • 2:13 PM » BofA chief calls Merrill aid 'tactical mistake'
    Published Mon, Mar 02 2009 2:13 PM by www.ft.com
    Bank of America's request for $20bn of government money to prop up its acquisition of Merrill Lynch was a "tactical mistake" that made the bank appear as weak as Citigroup, Ken Lewis, BofA's chief executive told the Financial Times
  • 2:13 PM » HSBC to cut more than 6,000 U.S. jobs
    Published Mon, Mar 02 2009 2:13 PM by CNN
    European bank HSBC is shuttering hundreds of branches in the U.S. that specialize in mortgage and consumer lending, and axing thousands of jobs, as it pulls back from its foray into the American housing market.
  • 9:31 AM » Pimco advising U.S. government on BofA: report
    Published Mon, Mar 02 2009 9:31 AM by Reuters
    (Reuters) - Pacific Investment Management has been hired to advise the U.S. government on the value of $118 billion of assets guaranteed in the bailout of Bank of America Corp , Bloomberg said, citing two people with knowledge of the decision.
  • 9:31 AM » Getting Home Buyers Off the Sidelines
    Published Mon, Mar 02 2009 9:31 AM by Washington Post
    How to rescue housing? The Obama administration doesn't have a plan -- or, more accurately, it has only half a plan. It presupposes that preventing or minimizing home foreclosures is a formula for revival. It isn't.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Washington Post
  • Sat, Feb 28 2009
  • 12:57 PM » February Economic Summary in Graphs
    Published Sat, Feb 28 2009 12:57 PM by Calculated Risk Blog
    Here is a collection of 20 real estate and economic graphs from February ... Click on graphs for larger image in new window. New Home Sales in January The first graph shows monthly new home sales (NSA - Not Seasonally Adjusted). Note the Red column for January 2009. This is the lowest sales for January since the Census Bureau started tracking sales in 1963. (NSA, 23 thousand new homes were sold in January 2009). From: Housing Starts in January Total housing starts were at 464 thousand (SAAR) in January, by far the lowest level since the Census Bureau began tracking housing starts in 1959. Single-family starts were at 347 thousand in January; also the lowest level ever recorded (since 1959). From: Construction Spending in December This graph shows private residential and nonresidential construction spending since 1993. Residential construction spending is still declining, and now nonresidential spending has peaked and will probably decline sharply over the next 18 months. From: January Employment Report This graph shows the unemployment rate and the year over year change in employment vs. recessions. Nonfarm payrolls decreased by 598,00 in January, and the annual revision reduced employment by another 311,000 in 2008. The economy has lost almost 2.5 million jobs over the last 5 months! The unemployment rate rose to 7.6 percent; the highest level since June 1992. Year over year employment is now strongly negative (there were 3.5 million fewer Americans employed in Jan 2008 than in Jan 2007). From: January Retail Sales This graph shows the year-over-year change in nominal and real retail sales since 1993. Although the Census Bureau reported that nominal retail sales decreased 10.6% year-over-year (retail and food services decreased 9.7%), real retail sales declined by 10.9% (on a YoY basis). The YoY change decreased slightly from last month. From: LA Port Traffic in January This graph shows the combined loaded inbound and outbound traffic at the ports of and in TEUs (TEUs...
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Calculated Risk Blog
  • 12:56 PM » Berkshire Reports Worst Year Ever
    Published Sat, Feb 28 2009 12:56 PM by WSJ
    Berkshire Hathaway's net sank 96% in the fourth quarter. Warren Buffett said credit markets turned "nonfunctional."
  • 12:56 PM » Why Some 'Weathy' Americans May Avoid Higher Taxes
    Published Sat, Feb 28 2009 12:56 PM by CNBC
  • 12:56 PM » Obama Defends His Budget as ‘a Threat to the Status Quo’
    Published Sat, Feb 28 2009 12:56 PM by NY Times
    Saying he would defend his budget plan, President Obama on Saturday cast himself as a populist crusader willing to do battle with special interests.
  • Fri, Feb 27 2009
  • 9:44 PM » Regulators close banks in Illinois, Nevada
    Published Fri, Feb 27 2009 9:44 PM by Washington Post
    NEW YORK -- Regulators on Friday closed Heritage Community Bank in Illinois, and Security Savings Bank in Nevada, marking 16 failures this year of federally insured institutions.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Washington Post
  • 9:44 PM » AIG talks weigh securitizing life policies: source
    Published Fri, Feb 27 2009 9:44 PM by Reuters
    NEW YORK (Reuters) - American International Group Inc may securitize some U.S. life insurance policies and have the interest rate on a government loan lowered, as talks continue to help the insurer deal with its financial problems, a source familiar with the matter said on Friday.
  • 9:44 PM » The Fed: Fed presidents square off over credit policy
    Published Fri, Feb 27 2009 9:44 PM by Market Watch
    Two Federal Reserve bank presidents square off over the central bank’s new credit easing policy, with one describing it as essential and the other saying the jury is still out.
  • 5:40 PM » BORROWERS: FANNIE MAE NEIGHBORS PROGRAM
    Published Fri, Feb 27 2009 5:40 PM by Fannie Mae
    FannieNeighbors® is a nationwide, neighborhood-based mortgage option designed to increase homeownership and revitalization in census tracts designated as underserved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
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