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  • Fri, Feb 19 2010
  • 5:49 PM » Fannie Mae Favorites
    Published Fri, Feb 19 2010 5:49 PM by www.mortgageprocessor.org
    Written By: Stacey Sprain, Certified Ambassador Loan Processor (CALP) At the end of last year and beginning of the New Year I like to share my favorite resources for finding information that can be utilized to learn agency product guidelines, requirements and restrictions. Because HUD was so active releasing Mortgagee Letters and a number of important FHA guideline change dates were taking affect, I was interrupted a bit before finishing the issuing of my lists. Now that things have slowed a bit on the “FHA front” for now, I would like to resume my communications of my favorite freebie lists. That being said, here are my favorite and most commonly utilized Fannie Mae websites and links: Fannie Mae Single Family Main Page: Subscribe to Receive Fannie Mae Bulletins, Announcements and Updates Single Family Loan Limits: Mortgage Products Page: Mortgage Product Training: Selling and DU Guides: Desktop Originator Main Page: Desktop Originator Training: DO Release Notes: Desktop Underwriter Main Page: Desktop Underwriter Training: DU Release Notes: DU Lender Administrator Quick Steps Training Page: DU Guide for FHA: DU Guide for VA: Fannie Mae Forms: Single Family Reference Materials-Matrices, Summaries, Approved Condo/PUD Listing: Glossary of Mortgage Terms: (available in English & Spanish!) Housing Finance Institute Live Training Opportunities: Originator & Underwriter Web Training Seminars: Web Training Seminars on Income, Assets, Liabilities, Credit, Appraisals, etc. Becoming a Landlord Guide for Borrowers: Mortgage Fraud Prevention Resources: Publications for Quality Assurance, Underwriting, Servicing & Selling Fannie Mae In the Loop Newsletter Archives: Letters and Announcements: Brokers & Correspondents Page: Appraisers Page: LOS Vendor Page: Mortgage Insurers Page: Real Estate Developers & Manufacturers: Real Estate Professionals Page: About the Writer. As one of NAMP's volunteer writers, Stacey Sprain is currently a NAMP member in good standing...
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: www.mortgageprocessor.org
  • 10:30 AM » Dudley Calls Discount-Rate Change ‘Technical’
    Published Fri, Feb 19 2010 10:30 AM by WSJ
    Federal Reserve Bank of New York President William Dudley said Friday the increase in the discount rate done by the central bank late Thursday was “technical” in nature. “We made a very small technical change” by raising the discount rate, Dudley said. “The action yesterday was really an action about the improvement in banks,” and reflected the fact these institutions no longer need this emergency source of cheap funding the way they did during the depths of the financial crisis, the official said. The discount rate increase “is not at all a signal of any imminent tightening” in monetary policy, and the Fed’s commitment to keep rates very low for an extended period “is still very much in place,” Dudley said. The central banker’s comments came in response to audience questions followed a speech he gave before the Center for the New Economy 2010 Economic Conference, in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He is the vice chairman of the interest-rate setting Federal Open Market Committee. Dudley’s speech comes a day after the Federal Reserve boosted modestly its discount rate, which determines the cost of emergency loans made to deposit taking banks. The action was largely symbolic in the view of economists and central bankers had suggested in advance the move was coming, framing it as a further normalization of policy.
  • 10:30 AM » New Housing Aid Tackles Negative Equity, Second Mortgages
    Published Fri, Feb 19 2010 10:30 AM by Google News
    Associated Press Pres. Obama announcing last year’s ambitious plan in Arizona. One year and one day after President Obama rolled out the most ambitious federal effort yet to stem foreclosures, the president is announcing a new round of during a townhall event this morning in Las Vegas, the nation’s foreclosure capital. The new effort offers $1.5 billion in housing aid to the hardest-hit housing markets: Nevada, Arizona, California, Florida and Michigan. The Treasury will give the money to state housing finance agencies, and state officials will work to set up programs that they deem fit to help as many borrowers as effectively as possible. The White House isn’t laying out any specific approaches, but says that programs should be designed to address unemployment relief, negative equity and second mortgages. Those are the main challenges in the housing market that have compromised the effectiveness of the administration’s signature Home Affordable Modification Program or HAMP. Nearly $36 billion had been allocated to HAMP, as of the end of 2009. For months, there’s been that the administration would unveil another major effort to modify loans, possibly by ramping up principal write-downs. But Friday’s announcement should put to rest such talk of another major modification initiative, though it’s reasonable to expect further tweaks and refinements to the existing programs. Last year’s initiatives, such as HAMP, offered detailed, comprehensive, industry-wide prescriptions for helping troubled borrowers. Under HAMP, mortgage companies receive incentive payments for reducing mortgage payments for borrowers under a specific rubric. That program has cut mortgage payments at least temporarily for about 947,000 households, but a much smaller share of those borrowers, around 116,000, have earned permanent fixes so far. The Treasury Department has conceded that the program got off to a slower-than-expected start. While the program has helped more borrowers than previous federal...
  • 10:30 AM » Consumer Prices in U.S. Rose 0.2% in January; Core Drops 0.1%
    Published Fri, Feb 19 2010 10:30 AM by Business Week
    The cost of living in the U.S. rose in January less than anticipated and a measure of prices excluding food and fuel fell for the first time since 1982, indicating the recovery is showing few signs of inflation.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Business Week
  • 8:10 AM » $1.5 billion in housing help coming to 5 states
    Published Fri, Feb 19 2010 8:10 AM by CNN
    Under pressure to do more for troubled homeowners, President Obama is expected to announce on Friday a $1.5 billion program to help borrowers in the five states hit hardest by the housing crisis.
  • 8:10 AM » Investor Report: HUD Regulations
    Published Fri, Feb 19 2010 8:10 AM by Google News
    Seller financing to buyers is an essential tool for many real estate investors, but proposed regulations from HUD could create big problems.
  • 7:57 AM » Elizabeth Warren on CRE
    Published Fri, Feb 19 2010 7:57 AM by Calculated Risk Blog
    We started discussing the coming Commercial Real Estate (CRE) bust in 2006, and the FDIC was well aware of the potential CRE problems back then. See the last graph in this post from 2006 from an FDIC report concerning "emerging risks": During the bubble, the small and regional banks were locked out of the residential market (lucky for them!), but many of these banks became overexposed to Construction & Development (C&D) and CRE loans. Now that the CRE bust is here - and is about to get much worse - many small and regional banks will fail over next couple of years. From V. Dion Haynes at the WaPo: "There's been an enormous bubble in commercial real estate, and it has to come down," said Elizabeth Warren, chairman of the Congressional Oversight Panel, the watchdog created by Congress to monitor the financial bailout. "There will be significant bankruptcies among developers and significant failures among community banks." ... Nearly 3,000 community banks -- 40 percent of the banking system -- have a high proportion of commercial real estate loans relative to their capital, said Warren, whose committee issued a report on commercial real estate last week. There is much more in the article. Here is the TARP Congressional Oversight Panel released last week on Commercial Real Estate (CRE): .
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Calculated Risk Blog
  • 7:56 AM » Citigroup Offers to Help Americans Lose Their Homes
    Published Fri, Feb 19 2010 7:56 AM by Seeking Alpha
    submits: With much self-congratulatory fanfare, Citigroup () announced a new program to help itself maximize profits on foreclosures – as it boots one American family after another onto the streets. Citigroup's “generous” offer allows foreclosure victims to stay in their homes for up to six months, along with a grand sum of $1,000 to help their victims try to start over again. In return for Citi's generosity, the homeowner agrees to sign over title of the property to Citigroup – and thus Citi avoids a formal, foreclosure proceeding.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Seeking Alpha
  • 7:55 AM » Analysts warn of foreclosure crisis in commercial real estate
    Published Fri, Feb 19 2010 7:55 AM by www.smartbrief.com
    Analysts said a wave of foreclosure on commercial properties in the U.S. likely will hit community banks especially hard. --
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: www.smartbrief.com
  • 7:54 AM » Fed is not truly tightening policy yet, Pimco's Gross says
    Published Fri, Feb 19 2010 7:54 AM by www.smartbrief.com
    The U.S. --
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: www.smartbrief.com
  • 7:54 AM » Greece will test waters with bond sale
    Published Fri, Feb 19 2010 7:54 AM by www.smartbrief.com
    The Greek government appears to be moving forward with a 10-year bond offering of as much as €5 billion, sources said. --
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: www.smartbrief.com
  • 7:54 AM » City’s Affordable Housing Program Faces Trouble Finding Buyers
    Published Fri, Feb 19 2010 7:54 AM by NY Times
    Falling prices for market-rate units has left city-subsidized ones looking like less of a deal.
  • Thu, Feb 18 2010
  • 6:38 PM » Fed hikes discount rate but not tightening policy
    Published Thu, Feb 18 2010 6:38 PM by Reuters
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Federal Reserve said on Thursday it raised the interest rate it charges banks for emergency loans but insisted that its first rate move since December 2008 would not raise borrowing costs for consumers or companies.
  • 6:22 PM » Short Sales Increasing
    Published Thu, Feb 18 2010 6:22 PM by Calculated Risk Blog
    From Alejandro Lazo at the LA Times: In a short sale the lender lets a homeowner unload a house for less than what is owed on the mortgage. The transaction recognizes that the home isn't worth what the owner paid for it after more than two years of falling real estate values. Such deals are appealing to struggling homeowners because they escape weighty house debts -- but they don't get away unscathed. Their credit scores will be damaged, perhaps less severely than in foreclosure, but still badly enough to limit for years their ability to borrow money. There may be tax consequences. And any money invested through down payments and renovations will be lost. Lenders, which can withhold approval of a short sale if they don't like the price, have resisted such sales because they are difficult to execute, particularly when multiple creditors and other parties are involved. And short sales lock in losses that might be reduced if the sale is delayed until the market improves. But that resistance is softening. With more Americans losing jobs and missing mortgage payments, banks and investors increasingly are agreeing to short sales as a less costly alternative to foreclosure. Short sales approved by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which own 57% of U.S. mortgages, nearly quadrupled in the first nine months of 2009 compared with the same period in 2008. At the nation's largest mortgage servicers, short sales soared 165% to 74,513 in the first nine months of 2009 from the year-earlier period. Short sales are still few compared with foreclosures, but policymakers are looking at such sales to shrink the number of bank-owned homes on the market. There is much more in the article. As Lazo notes, many servicers haven't had adequate staff to handle all the short sale requests. And another reason lenders have been hesitant to approve short sales is because of potential fraud. The Treasury's will probably increase short sale activity significantly. Under HAFA, the lender...
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Calculated Risk Blog
  • 4:48 PM » High Delinquency Rates Suggest Recent Drop in Credit Card Losses Is Only Temporary
    Published Thu, Feb 18 2010 4:48 PM by Seeking Alpha
    submits: US credit card losses dropped to 9.4% in December after sharply increasing 60 basis points (bps) to 9.9% in November, according to Standard & Poor’s Credit Card Quality Index . However, S&P views the decline as a temporary pause given the current levels of early- (30-plus days) and late-stage (90-plus days) delinquencies of 5.8 % and 3.1%, respectively. While these delinquency levels remained stable for the last quarter of 2009, they reflect historical highs.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Seeking Alpha
  • 4:48 PM » New Data: See the Mortgage Mod Logjam for Each Servicer
    Published Thu, Feb 18 2010 4:48 PM by feeds.propublica.org
    by , ProPublica - February 18, 2010 1:41 pm EST The logjam of people stuck in trial modifications continues. Data released by the Treasury Department on Wednesday shows that the number of trial mods that have become permanent jumped in January, but the overall number is still just a small percentage of the number of borrowers who’ve begun the trials. To illustrate the performance of the servicers in the program, . There, you can see how bad the logjam is at each one.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: feeds.propublica.org
  • 3:13 PM » First American CoreLogic: House Prices Decline in December
    Published Thu, Feb 18 2010 3:13 PM by Calculated Risk Blog
    The Fed's favorite house price indicator from First American CoreLogic’s LoanPerformance ... From LoanPerformance: On a month-over-month basis the national average of home prices declined moderately, falling by 1.0 percent in December 2009 compared to November 2009, indicating seasonal slowing in a fledging housing recovery. ... Including distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the national HPI (from April 2006 to December 2009) is -28.2 percent. Excluding distressed properties, the peak-to-current change in the HPI is -21.5 percent. ... "The housing market, after experiencing stabilization in many, but not all, markets in the spring and summer of 2009 is going through the typical seasonal winter malaise," said Mark Fleming, chief economist for First American CoreLogic. "The big unknown for the 2010 spring selling season continues to be the future of the federal home buyer tax credit." ... First American CoreLogic’s forecast continues to project declining house prices into the spring months. The national HPI is projected to fall an average of 4.4 percent through April 2010, as high levels of unemployment, housing inventories and foreclosures continue to exert downward pressure on prices. Click on graph for larger image in new window. This graph shows the national LoanPerformance data since 1976. January 2000 = 100. The index is off 3.7% over the last year, and off 28.2% from the peak. The index has declined for four consecutive months.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Calculated Risk Blog
  • 2:57 PM » Delinquency Rates Suggest Recent Drop in Credit Card Losses Is Only Temporary
    Published Thu, Feb 18 2010 2:57 PM by Seeking Alpha
    submits: US credit card losses dropped to 9.4% in December after sharply increasing 60 basis points (bps) to 9.9% in November, according to Standard & Poor’s Credit Card Quality Index . However, S&P views the decline as a temporary pause given the current levels of early- (30-plus days) and late-stage (90-plus days) delinquencies of 5.8 % and 3.1%, respectively. While these delinquency levels remained stable for the last quarter of 2009, they reflect historical highs.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Seeking Alpha
  • 1:56 PM » Rising Delinquencies Suggest December’s Drop in U.S. Credit Card Losses Was Temporary
    Published Thu, Feb 18 2010 1:56 PM by Seeking Alpha
    submits: US credit card losses dropped to 9.4% in December after sharply increasing 60 basis points (bps) to 9.9% in November, according to Standard & Poor’s Credit Card Quality Index . However, S&P views the decline as a temporary pause given the current levels of early- (30-plus days) and late-stage (90-plus days) delinquencies of 5.8 % and 3.1%, respectively. While these delinquency levels remained stable for the last quarter of 2009, they reflect historical highs.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Seeking Alpha
  • 1:56 PM » John Hussman: Unlegislated Bailout of Fannie and Freddie
    Published Thu, Feb 18 2010 1:56 PM by Seeking Alpha
    submits: Excerpt from the Hussman Funds' (2/16/10): Let's put two and two together here. Fannie Mae () and Freddie Mac () are already insolvent, and face "significant negative impact" on their net worth resulting from the required consolidation of "off balance sheet" loans into their financial reporting, which will take effect in financial statements for periods beginning January 1, 2010. Over 60% of the U.S. foreclosure market now falls under the umbrella of these two entities.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Seeking Alpha
  • 1:56 PM » GSE Losses and the Shadow Bailout
    Published Thu, Feb 18 2010 1:56 PM by Seeking Alpha
    Rortybomb submits: I want to talk about this, : It’s looking increasingly like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are going to cost the US government much more than AIG. In its latest long-term budget outlook released in late January, the CBO projected that the AIG bailout would ultimately cost the Treasury $9 billion dollars. Indeed, the entire private financial industry bailout is ultimately expected to cost less than $30 billion…By contrast, the nationalization of the Government Sponsored Entities is expected to cost the Federal government $64 billion between 2011 and 2020, on top of the $110 billion we’ve already spent.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Seeking Alpha
  • 1:56 PM » Default Expectations on U.S. Alt-A Option ARM Loans Double
    Published Thu, Feb 18 2010 1:56 PM by Seeking Alpha
    submits: Investors’ default rate forecasts for collateral in nearly all classes and vintages of U.S. residential mortgage-backed securities have risen dramatically in Standard & Poor’s Fixed Income Risk Management Services’ latest quarterly survey, while predictions for European mortgage default rates have fallen across all classes and vintages with the exception of Spain. Twelve-month default rate expectations on certain U.S . RMBS collateral have doubled since the previous quarterly survey, with U.S. 2007 Alt-A pay option ARM RMBS collateral default rate predictions rising to 25% from 12% polled in Q3.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Seeking Alpha
  • 1:55 PM » FHFA Proposes New GSE Affordable Housing Goals
    Published Thu, Feb 18 2010 1:55 PM by National Council of State Housing Agencies
    On February 17, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) a proposed rule to establish new s
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: National Council of State Housing Agencies
  • 1:55 PM » Renters: You have rights if your landlord faces foreclosure
    Published Thu, Feb 18 2010 1:55 PM by Google News
    Rent an apartment? Landlord losing the property to foreclosure? Think you have to move? Think again. If you have a valid lease and have been paying your rent, the law says the new owner of the property most likely must honor the term of your lease. If you’re renting month-to-month, you’re owed 90 days’ notice before you have to move out. These protections are guaranteed under the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act passed by Congress last May. Still, some renters have faced bullying by ill-informed — or less-than-scrupulous — property managers and the like. (Read this story from CNN: ) Know your rights. And if you need help, turn to The Burlington organization provides free direct services to tenants including advice, advocacy and referrals. Share this entry:
  • 1:55 PM » Forbes: Housing shortage coming in 2011
    Published Thu, Feb 18 2010 1:55 PM by Google News
    If we don’t focus on building new housing, the nation’s headed for a crisis larger than the one we’ve already seen. That’s the warning made by First Trust Advisors Chief Economist Brian Wesbury in a recent interview with Steve Forbes . Nationally, “we need 1.5 million houses per year just to keep up with population growth,” he says. “And then if you throw in, you know, fires and tear-downs and just worn-out properties, we need 1.6 million or more per year. “Right now, we’re down to about six and a half, seven months’ inventory whether you look at new homes or existing homes.” Vermont’s housing needs were recently outlined in the 2010 Vermont Housing Needs Assessment, published Dec. 11, 2009. VHFA produced the report under contract for the Vermont Department of Economic, Housing and Community Development. and . Share this entry:
  • 1:23 PM » Pilot intentionally crashes plane into Texas building
    Published Thu, Feb 18 2010 1:23 PM by Reuters
    HOUSTON (Reuters) - A pilot intentionally crashed a small aircraft into a building next to an FBI office in the Texas state capital of Austin on Thursday, CNN reported, quoting a federal official.
  • 8:43 AM » U.S. looks to reluctant foreign investors to help fund the housing market
    Published Thu, Feb 18 2010 8:43 AM by Washington Post
    As the U.S. housing market boomed in the past decade and fueled a bull market in mortgage investments, Norway's government-owned fund went along for the ride -- and the fall.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Washington Post
  • 8:42 AM » Fannie, Freddie regulator pitches new housing goals
    Published Thu, Feb 18 2010 8:42 AM by Reuters
    NEW YORK, Feb 17 (Reuters) – The federal regulator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on Wednesday proposed an overhaul of government rules on how the mortgage funding giants serve low-income homeowners while limiting their risks. The Federal Housing Finance Agency wants new goals that would target borrowers with lower incomes than in the past – including families with incomes at or below 80 percent of their area’s median, down from 100 percent — while giving Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac more flexibility in measuring success. In a twist from past practices, the proposals would prohibit Fannie Mae <FNM.N> and Freddie Mac <FRE.N, the two biggest sources of U.S. housing finance, from buying home equity loans and Wall Street’s mortgage securities to satisfy the goals. Analysts said the proposals are likely aimed to balance the companies’ support of the housing market while preventing them from making hazardous expansions to fulfill requirements. Both companies are still reeling from purchases of some of the riskiest loans during the housing boom, which have caused billions of dollars in losses that are now being subsidized by the U.S. Treasury. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which were seized by the government in September 2008 after losses threatened their ability to stabilize a faltering housing market, agree to purchase mortgages outright from lenders or to bundle them into mortgage securities. Those practices relieve banks of the risks of the mortgages and free up banks’ balance sheets to allow them to make more loans. The proposed rules “are ‘better’ in that the GSEs are less likely to be faced with having to make ‘risky’ decisions in order to hit arbitrary goals,” Thomas Lawler, founder of Lawler Economic & Housing Consulting and a former Fannie Mae senior vice president, said in an e-mail. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had aggressively purchased so-called “private-label” securities to help fulfill goals as Wall Street banks took a larger share of the U.S. mortgage...
  • 8:42 AM » Short Sale Transaction a Tall Order
    Published Thu, Feb 18 2010 8:42 AM by Google News
    A short sale could be a better deal than bankruptcy or foreclosure, but it can also sap your time, wither your credit score and well, cost you money.
  • 8:42 AM » Fannie and Freddie Call in the Cleanup Crew
    Published Thu, Feb 18 2010 8:42 AM by www.fixedincomecolor.com
    Fannie and Freddie roiled the MBS market last week by announcing that they would buy “substantially all” (in Freddie's language) of the loans that are 120+ days delinquent out of MBS pools. Freddie’s announcement indicated a one-time burst of prepayments that will hit the March prepayment tape (i.e., holders of record at the end of Feb). Fannie’s was more ambiguous, but the effect will start in April (one month after Freddie) and last for “a few month[s]”. Needless to say, the high coupon passthrough market has been all over the place (below).
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: www.fixedincomecolor.com
  • 8:26 AM » Q4: Quarterly Housing Starts and New Home Sales
    Published Thu, Feb 18 2010 8:26 AM by Calculated Risk Blog
    This morning the Census Bureau has released the "" report for Q4 2009. Monthly housing starts (even single family starts) cannot be compared directly to new home sales, because the monthly housing starts report from the Census Bureau includes apartments, owner built units and condos that are not included in the new home sales report. However it is possible to compare "Single Family Starts, Built for Sale" to New Home sales on a quarterly basis. The quarterly report shows that there were 71,000 single family starts, built for sale, in Q4 2009, and that is less than the 82,000 new homes sold for the same period. This data is Not Seasonally Adjusted (NSA). This is the 9th consecutive quarter with homebuilders selling more homes than they start. Note: new home sales are reported when contracts are signed, so it is appropriate to compare sales to starts (as opposed to completions). This is not perfect because homebuilders do build spec homes and many builders were stuck with some “unintentional spec homes” because of cancellations during the bust. Click on graph for larger image in new window. This graph provides a quarterly comparison of housing starts and new home sales. In 2005, and most of 2006, starts (blue) were higher than sales (red), and inventories of new homes increased. For the last 9 quarters, starts have been below sales – and new home inventories have been falling. The second graph shows the NSA quarterly starts intent for four categories since 1975: single family built for sale, owner built (includes contractor built for owner), starts built for rent, and condos built for sale. Condo starts in Q4 were at an all time record low of 3,000 condos built for sale. This breaks the record set in Q1, Q2 and Q3 of 2009 of 5,000 condos per quarter. The previous record was 8,000 set in Q1 1991 (data started in 1975). Only 18,000 condos were started in 2009, far below the previous low of 41,000 in 1991. Units built for rent set an all time record low...
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Calculated Risk Blog
  • 8:26 AM » Coming Soon: Chapter 9 Municipal Bankruptcies
    Published Thu, Feb 18 2010 8:26 AM by The Big Picture
    “People believe that municipal debt is safe based on assumptions that are no longer true.” -Kenneth Buckfire > The above quote comes from the CEO of Miller Buckfire & Co., an investment bank that is currently advising cities on municipal restructurings. Technically, these are called Chapter 9 reorganizations. The WSJ notes: “The seldom-used part of U.S. bankruptcy law gives municipalities protection from creditors while developing a plan to pay off debts. Created in the wake of the Great Depression, Chapter 9 is widely considered a last resort and filings under it are more taboo than other parts of bankruptcy code because of the resulting uncertainty for everyone from municipal employees to bondholders. The economic slump, however, is forcing debt-laden cities, towns and smaller taxing districts throughout the U.S. to consider using Chapter 9. As their revenue declines faster than expenses, some public entities are scrambling to keep making payments on municipal bonds. And that is causing experts to worry about the safety of securities traditionally considered low risk.” There have been but 600 cases since this chapter of the bankruptcy code became law in 1934. The largest Chapter 9 filing was back in 1994, when Merrill Lynch bankrupted Orange County, California via a form of unsuitable investments that lost a billion plus dollars on a form of Interest Rate Swaps. Given the various pressures states and cities are under, a surge in municipal bankruptcy filings is all but unavoidable . . . > Source: IANTHE JEANNE DUGAN And KRIS MAHER WSJ, FEBRUARY 18, 2010 http://online.wsj.com/article/SB20001424052748704398804575071591602878062.html
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: The Big Picture
  • 8:26 AM » Wal-Mart Profit Rises, Expects Weak Quarter
    Published Thu, Feb 18 2010 8:26 AM by WSJ
    Wal-Mart beat its guidance to post a 22% profit increase for the fiscal fourth quarter, but sales at the world's largest retailer fell short of expectations.
  • 8:26 AM » Factories Gear Up to Hire
    Published Thu, Feb 18 2010 8:26 AM by WSJ
    American manufacturers are seeing more signs that the nation's economic recovery is on a solid footing, and their growing confidence is opening the way for new hiring, as well as callbacks of factory workers laid off during the recession.
  • 8:26 AM » More Benefit From Loan-Mod Program
    Published Thu, Feb 18 2010 8:26 AM by WSJ
    The U.S. Treasury said its foreclosure-prevention program has cut mortgage payments for about 947,000 households, at least temporarily.
  • 8:26 AM » Home Builders Are Back, Kinda
    Published Thu, Feb 18 2010 8:26 AM by Google News
    The good news continues rolling in for home builders, who hope they’ve hit bottom and are in recovery mode. But, as we’ve told you before, for the beleaguered sector. Wednesday, Bank of America Merrill Lynch started seven builders with a “buy” rating, a bullish view based “on an expectation of volume growth in 2010 driven by improving economic conditions, which should more than offset any drag from the of government stimulus programs.” The “buy” names include DR Horton, , KB Home, and Pulte, the nation’s largest builder. (Luxury developer Toll Bros. came in at underperform.) Meanwhile, U.S. home construction rose during January as builders recovered from a bout of bad weather. Housing starts climbed 2.8% to a seasonally adjusted 591,000 annual rate compared to the prior month, according to the Commerce Department. The pace of 591,000 was the strongest since July 2009. This follows the National Association of Home Builders’ Tuesday that its housing-market index, a closely-watched confidence measure, climbed two points to 17 out of 100 in February. (We’re well aware that 17 out of 100 is extremely low. But given the industry’s crash, it is good news.) “I hope I don’t sound like a broken record here,” writes Mike Larson, an analyst with Weiss Research. “But the housing market continues to show signs of stabilization. Indeed, builder optimism, sales, and starts are all flattening out after a plunge that reminds me of the ski slopes at the Vancouver Olympics.” With three pieces of good news, it might be easy to assume that builders are back. But not quite. We all know about elevated unemployment and concern that the federal tax credit for buyers is pulling demand forward. There’s also fear of . Add to that foreclosures. Continues Mr. Larson: “A vigorous upturn is unlikely. The supply of ‘used’ homes on the market is still elevated, and distressed property will continue to be parceled out by agents, banks, and other lenders over time. Until that supply is exhausted, construction...
  • 8:26 AM » $1 Trillion Pension Gap is ‘Daunting’ Bill to States
    Published Thu, Feb 18 2010 8:26 AM by Business Week
    States face a more than $1 trillion gap between what they have saved and what they have promised to retired workers for pension and health-care benefits, a report says
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Business Week
  • 8:26 AM » Japan surpasses China as top foreign holder of U.S. debt
    Published Thu, Feb 18 2010 8:26 AM by www.smartbrief.com
    Japan's financial institutions bought U.S. Treasuries in December, helping Japan become the largest foreign investor of U.S. --
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: www.smartbrief.com
  • Wed, Feb 17 2010
  • 3:48 PM » Plosser: Fed should sell MBS sooner instead of later
    Published Wed, Feb 17 2010 3:48 PM by Reuters
    PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - The Federal Reserve should sell its mortgage-backed securities holdings sooner rather than later as the economic recovery gathers steam in order to extricate itself from fiscal policy, a senior central bank official said on Wednesday.
  • 3:32 PM » Housing Affordability Hovers Near Record-High Level for Fourth Consecutive Quarter
    Published Wed, Feb 17 2010 3:32 PM by NAHB
    Press Release
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Mortgage Rates:
  • 30 Yr FRM 4.44%
  • |
  • 15 Yr FRM 3.49%
  • |
  • Jumbo 30 Year Fixed 4.20%
MBS Prices:
  • 30YR FNMA 4.5 106-21 (-0-12)
  • |
  • 30YR FNMA 5.0 109-02 (-0-06)
  • |
  • 30YR FNMA 5.5 110-07 (-0-07)
Recent Housing Data:
  • Mortgage Apps 4.30%
  • |
  • Refinance Index 6.92%
  • |
  • FHFA Home Price Index 0.67%