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  • Thu, Feb 3 2011
  • 4:00 PM » New Instructor-Led Appraisal Online Class - Statistics, Modeling and Finance
    Published Thu, Feb 03 2011 4:00 PM by Google News
    New Instructor-Led Online Classes Promote a Traditional Classroom Experience Through the Convenience of a Personal Computer STAMFORD, Conn., Jan. 26, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- CompuTaught, part of Cengage Learning and a leading developer of computer-based real estate education, today unveiled a...
  • 4:00 PM » S&P: 4 More Years to Clear Shadow Inventory
    Published Thu, Feb 03 2011 4:00 PM by Google News
    The high shadow inventory of distressed homes in the country will take four years to fully clear, according to a recent report by Standard & Poor. Here are the cities where shadow inventories are expected to loom even longer than the national average.
  • 4:00 PM » What if HUD disappeared?
    Published Thu, Feb 03 2011 4:00 PM by Google News
    With all the recent debate surrounding the future of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the question, “What if Fannie or Freddie disappeared from the market” has come up quite a bit. But HUD…I honestly haven’t really been thinking “What would happen if HUD disappeared?” That is until today. My friend Peter Miller : Newly-minted Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) has a way to instantly save from the federal budget. His plan? Eliminate HUD, cut its budget to zero. According to Senator Paul, among other things, we need to end public housing and rental subsidies. “Rather than providing a one-time stop for families on their way out of poverty,” says Paul, “public housing has largely been a failure. Public housing projects have become havens of crime and dysfunction, driving away the very business investment and homeowners that would revitalize a city block. The Low Income Housing Tax Credit, which subsidizes construction or rehabilitation of low-income housing, is a perfect example of market manipulation that does nothing to further the mission of public housing.” At least on this blog, we haven’t contemplated a housing market without public housing. Unless Sen. Paul has a viable alternative to HUD’s departure, I tend to agree with : So what’s the alternative to public housing suggested by Sen. Paul? There is none. If you slash the budget to zero there is no replacement program or policy. Instead, what you will instantly have are large numbers of people who suddenly have no housing. They will be homeless. That is, they will be homeless if they peacefully move from such housing as they now have and then onto the streets. With their children. If you think public housing is a bad idea, then no public housing is a worse idea. : “By removing programs that are beyond the constitutional role of the federal government, such as education and housing, we are cutting nearly 40% of our projected deficit and removing the big-government bureaucrats who stand in the way of efficiency in our federal government...
  • 3:29 PM » Bernanke: Congress Shouldn’t Use Debt Ceiling as Bargaining Chip
    Published Thu, Feb 03 2011 3:29 PM by WSJ
    Fed Chairman Bernanke said congressional lawmakers shouldn't use the country's debt ceiling as a bargaining chip when they debate how to reduce the budget deficit.
  • 3:29 PM » Bernanke: Don’t Blame Me for Higher Food Prices
    Published Thu, Feb 03 2011 3:29 PM by WSJ
    Supply and demand abroad for commodities, not U.S. monetary policy, are causing higher food and energy prices rattling much of the world, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Thursday.
  • 3:29 PM » Employment Situation: A Lighter Shade of Gray
    Published Thu, Feb 03 2011 3:29 PM by Calculated Risk Blog
    The numbers are grim: almost 15 million Americans are unemployed, another 9 million are working part time for economic reasons, and about 4 million more have left the labor force since the start of the recession (we can see this in the dramatic drop in the labor force participation rate). Of those unemployed, 6.4 million have been unemployed for six months or more. And the situation is also bleak for many of those who have jobs. A recent showed most of the employment growth has been in low-to-mid wage industries (more skewed than in previous recoveries). And real earnings for most Americans have been under pressure for some time. Against that backdrop, the recent spate of good employment news might seem almost insignificant, but it is a start. Tomorrow the BLS will release the January Employment Situation Summary at 8:30 AM ET. The consensus is for an increase of 150,000 payroll jobs in January, and for the unemployment rate to increase slightly to 9.5% (from 9.4% in December). That would be an improvement – the U.S. economy only added about 95,000 jobs per month in 2010 - however 150,000 additional payroll jobs is still pretty small compared to the number of unemployed. And that is barely enough to keep up with the growth of the working age population. So while news reports might suggest “improvement”, many of the unemployed and marginally employed will not see it, at least not yet, and probably not for some time. Here is a look at a few of the recent employment related reports: • ADP Private Employment increased by 187,000 in January, and has averaged 217,000 over the last two months. • Weekly initial unemployment claims were down significantly over the last few months. The . The average over the last 5 weeks was 425,000 initial claims per week, down sharply from the October the average of 456,000. • The ISM indexes showed significantly stronger employment growth. The ISM manufacturing registered 61.7 in January, 2.8 percentage points higher than the 58.9 percent reported...
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Calculated Risk Blog
  • 11:52 AM » Real Estate News: Home Equity Lending Is Back
    Published Thu, Feb 03 2011 11:52 AM by Google News
    Here is a look at real-estate news in today's WSJ:
  • 11:52 AM » Bernanke Meets the Press Today
    Published Thu, Feb 03 2011 11:52 AM by WSJ
    Ben Bernanke will take questions from the press Thursday, a rare move for a Federal Reserve chief keen to explain and defend the central bank's actions aimed at improving the U.S. economy.
  • 11:22 AM » ISM Non-Manufacturing Index showed expansion in January
    Published Thu, Feb 03 2011 11:22 AM by Calculated Risk Blog
    The January ISM Non-manufacturing index was at 59.4%, up from 57.1% in December. The employment index showed faster expansion in December at 54.5%, up from 52.6% in December. Note: Above 50 indicates expansion, below 50 contraction. Click on graph for larger image in graph gallery. This graph shows the ISM non-manufacturing index (started in January 2008) and the ISM non-manufacturing employment diffusion index. From the Institute for Supply Management: Economic activity in the non-manufacturing sector grew in January for the 14th consecutive month, say the nation's purchasing and supply executives in the latest Non-Manufacturing ISM Report On Business®. The report was issued today by Anthony Nieves, C.P.M., CFPM, chair of the Institute for Supply Management™ Non-Manufacturing Business Survey Committee. " The NMI (Non-Manufacturing Index) registered 59.4 percent in January , 2.3 percentage points higher than the seasonally adjusted 57.1 percent registered in December (the seasonal adjustment did not change the reading that was originally reported), and indicating continued growth in the non-manufacturing sector. The Non-Manufacturing Business Activity Index increased 1.7 percentage points to 64.6 percent, reflecting growth for the 18th consecutive month and at a faster rate than in December. The New Orders Index increased 3.5 percentage points to 64.9 percent , and the Employment Index increased 1.9 percentage points to 54.5 percent , indicating growth in employment for the fifth consecutive month and at a faster rate. The Prices Index increased 2.6 percentage points to 72.1 percent, indicating that prices increased at a faster rate in January. According to the NMI, 13 non-manufacturing industries reported growth in January. Respondents' comments are mostly positive about business conditions ; however, they still remain cautious about the sustainability." emphasis added This was a solid report and above expectations of 57.0%.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Calculated Risk Blog
  • 11:21 AM » Weekly Initial Unemployment Claims decrease to 415,000
    Published Thu, Feb 03 2011 11:21 AM by Calculated Risk Blog
    The DOL reports on weekly : In the week ending Jan. 29, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 415,000, a decrease of 42,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 457,000. The 4-week moving average was 430,500, an increase of 1,000 from the previous week's revised average of 429,500. Click on graph for larger image in new window. This graph shows the 4-week moving average of weekly claims for the last 10 years. The dashed line on the graph is the current 4-week average. The four-week average of weekly unemployment claims increased this week by 1,000 to 430,500. This was slightly lower than consensus expectations. The decline in the four week average over the last few months has been good news.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Calculated Risk Blog
  • 8:18 AM » In overhauling Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, it's better to be late than sorry
    Published Thu, Feb 03 2011 8:18 AM by Washington Post
    To hear congressional Republicans tell it, the Obama administration is much like the harried white rabbit that mutters, "Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!" in Lewis Carroll's "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland."
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Washington Post
  • 8:17 AM » US Sen. Hagan ‘Very Concerned’ About Mortgage Rules
    Published Thu, Feb 03 2011 8:17 AM by Google News
    Rules being developed by regulators could make it more difficult for consumers to get home loans, a U.S. senator warned Wednesday.
  • 8:16 AM » ECB Keeps Rate at 1% as Trichet Fights to Curb Inflation Risks
    Published Thu, Feb 03 2011 8:16 AM by Business Week
    The European Central Bank kept interest rates at a record low today as policy makers weigh the risk of faster inflation against the danger that higher borrowing costs could worsen the region’s sovereign debt crisis.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Business Week
  • 8:16 AM » Foreclosed Homeowners Go to Court on Their Own
    Published Thu, Feb 03 2011 8:16 AM by NY Times
    With legal aid groups overwhelmed, courts are seeing a sharp rise in defendants representing themselves.
  • 8:16 AM » PIMCO's Bill Gross blasts U.S. culture of money and greed
    Published Thu, Feb 03 2011 8:16 AM by Reuters
    NEW YORK (Reuters) - Billionaire bond maven Bill Gross in a February report says America needs new priorities and blasts a culture that worships money and greed.
  • 8:06 AM » Home Buyers Kick Tires on a Rocky Road
    Published Thu, Feb 03 2011 8:06 AM by CNBC
    January isn't exactly a hot season for home sales historically, and this year, in many markets, you'd be hard pressed to find any homes under all the snow. Still, the traffic online, where I imagine most folks go before even heading to an open house, is an important sign, as we head into the Spring market.
  • 8:05 AM » Empty Houses: Ownership Society Is Over
    Published Thu, Feb 03 2011 8:05 AM by CNBC
    "The increase in the vacancy rates in principal cities continues to illustrate the hangover from the 'ownership society' supported by the Clinton and Bush administrations," notes one analyst.
  • 8:04 AM » 10 surprise foreclosure hotspots
    Published Thu, Feb 03 2011 8:04 AM by CNN
    Las Vegas always wins the title of foreclosure king. But these 10 unexpected cities -- like Savannah -- are where the plague is spreading fastest.
  • 8:03 AM » Oversight Committee Introduces Bill to End ‘Colossal Failure’ HAMP
    Published Thu, Feb 03 2011 8:03 AM by
    Calling it a “failure,” Republican lawmakers have introduced new legislation that would end the Home Affordable Modification Program, the Treasury Department's program to help troubled borrowers avoid foreclosure, according to a Jan. 28 House Oversight and Government Reform Committee news release.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

  • 8:02 AM » HUD Announces HOME Program Door Knocker Awards Competition
    Published Thu, Feb 03 2011 8:02 AM by National Council of State Housing Agencies
    Applications for HUD’s HOME Program Door Knocker Awards competition are now available on HUD’s new HOME Investment Partnerships program technical assistanc
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: National Council of State Housing Agencies
  • 8:01 AM » FHFA Announces Organizational Changes and New Positions
    Published Thu, Feb 03 2011 8:01 AM by FHFA
    February 2, 2011: FHFA Announces Organizational Changes and New Positions
  • 8:01 AM » Senate Rejects Bid to Repeal Healthcare Law
    Published Thu, Feb 03 2011 8:01 AM by CNBC
    Senate Rejects Bid to Repeal Healthcare Law
  • 8:01 AM » S&P: No Plans to Cut US Rating in Medium Term
    Published Thu, Feb 03 2011 8:01 AM by CNBC
    S&P: No Plans to Cut US Rating in Medium Term
  • Wed, Feb 2 2011
  • 6:02 PM » Some 43 Million Use Food Stamps
    Published Wed, Feb 02 2011 6:02 PM by WSJ
    Nearly a year and a half into the economic recovery, more than 14% of the population drew food stamps to purchase groceries as high unemployment and muted wage growth crimped budgets.
  • 6:02 PM » Lawler: How Many Folks Have “Lost Their Homes” to Foreclosure/Short Sales/DILs?
    Published Wed, Feb 02 2011 6:02 PM by Calculated Risk Blog
    CR: This is an interesting question and hard to answer ... the following is from economist Tom Lawler ... How Many Folks Have “Lost Their Homes” to Foreclosure/Short Sales/DILs Over the Past Few Years? According to estimates, completed foreclosure sales (rounded) were about as follows over the past few years. Year Completed Foreclosure 2007 514,000 2008 914,000 2009 949,000 2010 1,070,000 While these numbers are disturbingly high, they are not nearly as large as one would have expected given the surge in seriously delinquent loans and loans in the process of foreclosure. For the latter, here is a chart based on data from the MBA’s National Delinquency Survey, which covers “over 85%” of total 1-4 family first-lien mortgages. On one side, the “completed foreclosure sales” understates the number of homes “lost,” given that many homeowners have “lost” their homes but been able to negotiate a short sale or (much less likely) done a deed in lieu of foreclosure. While there are no official estimates of either short sales or DILs, there is no doubt that the volume of short sales increased dramatically in 2009 and 2010. Using CoreLogic’s estimates and grossing them up to reflect its incomplete geographic coverage, one would get short sales estimates of around 78,000 for 2007, 164,000 for 2008, 278,000 for 2009, and 331,000 for 2010. However, based on data reported by lenders on short sales in the OCC/OTS mortgage metrics reports, the CoreLogic estimates of short sales look way too high for 2007 and 2008 (the 2009 estimates look OK, but the 2010 estimates – which admittedly are not available for the full year – look a tad low). Using instead my own estimates for 2008 through 2010, here’s what completed foreclosure sales plus short sales might look like (I don’t have a DIL estimate, but it appears as if the volume of DILs was pretty low). Year Completed Foreclosure Sales Short Sales Total 2008 914,000 95,000 1,009,000 2009 949,000 263,000 1,212,000 2010 1,070,000 375,000 1,445...
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Calculated Risk Blog
  • 6:02 PM » Fannie And Freddie Now Send Taxpayer Cash Directly To Wall Street
    Published Wed, Feb 02 2011 6:02 PM by The Big Picture
    ~~~ Source : Henry Blodget Tech Ticker Feb 02, 2011
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: The Big Picture
  • 2:12 PM » Treasury: 100-Year Bonds Interesting, but Not Coming Soon
    Published Wed, Feb 02 2011 2:12 PM by WSJ
    The U.S. Treasury has no plan to issue 100-year or other "ultra-long" bonds, a senior Treasury official said Wednesday.
  • 2:11 PM » America’s Kitchen and Bath Dealers Optimistic
    Published Wed, Feb 02 2011 2:11 PM by Google News
    There's an index measuring the confidence of about 150 kitchen and bath dealers nationwide.
  • 2:11 PM » BofA Mortgage Investors Extend Discussions on Putback Demands
    Published Wed, Feb 02 2011 2:11 PM by Business Week
    The investor group including Pacific Investment Management Co. that is weighing whether to sue Bank of America Corp. over about $47 billion in mortgage bonds agreed to extend talks with the lender for the second time.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Business Week
  • 2:11 PM » Bad Weather a Temporary Hitch in U.S. Recovery, Economists Say
    Published Wed, Feb 02 2011 2:11 PM by Business Week
    A strengthening U.S. recovery means the depressing influence of the winter storms that disrupted travel from Chicago to New York over the past few days and blanketed much of the country in January will be temporary, economists said.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Business Week
  • 11:36 AM » Treasury Resets Debt-Ceiling Deadline
    Published Wed, Feb 02 2011 11:36 AM by WSJ
    Citing better-than-expected tax receipts, the Treasury Department extended its estimate of when the country hits the debt ceiling to somewhere between April 5 to May 31.
  • 11:36 AM » Genworth Posts Surprise Loss
    Published Wed, Feb 02 2011 11:36 AM by WSJ
    Genworth Financial posted a surprise fourth-quarter loss on charges tied to its troubled mortgage-insurance unit.
  • 9:32 AM » Standoff in Egypt continues to dominate market sentiment
    Published Wed, Feb 02 2011 9:32 AM by
    Protests against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak are continuing despite his vow to not seek re-election. --
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

  • 9:17 AM » Wallison Reinvents History – and His Own Positions on the Causes of the Crisis
    Published Wed, Feb 02 2011 9:17 AM by The Big Picture
    Bill Black is the author of and an associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He is a white-collar criminologist who has spent years working on regulatory policy and fraud prevention as Executive Director of the Institute for Fraud Prevention, Litigation Director of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board and Deputy Director of the National Commission on Financial Institution Reform, Recovery and Enforcement, among other positions. ~~~ The big news in U.S. regulation last week was the release of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission reports. (There’s a major article in the New York Times about Kabul Bank that supports warnings made in my earlier column on that scandal.) The Commission report and the two dissents discuss some of the most important topics in financial regulation, so I will devote a series of columns to the reports, beginning with the dissent of the nation’s leading anti-regulator – Peter Wallison. Wallison’s passion, for forty years, has been financial deregulation and desupervision. The Republican Congressional leadership appointed him to the Commission to serve as apologist-in-chief for the deregulation and desupervison that made the crisis possible. We’ll explore Wallison’s dissent in greater detail in future columns, but this overview column addresses his three primary arguments: Fannie and Freddie are the Great Satans, they caused the crisis because of demands politicians put on it to purchase the subprime loans that caused the crisis, and all of this was compounded by the Fed’s easy money policies. This column discusses Wallison’s views on the first two subjects while the crisis was developing. Wallison is well-known for his long-standing criticisms of Fannie and Freddie, but most people do not know the nature of those criticisms. Wallison praised subprime mortgage loan and complained that Fannie and Freddie purchased too few subprime loans. Wallison (correctly) explained that Fannie and Freddie’s CEOs acted to...
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: The Big Picture
  • 9:17 AM » Planned layoffs rise 20 percent in Jan: Challenger
    Published Wed, Feb 02 2011 9:17 AM by Reuters
    NEW YORK (Reuters) - The number of planned layoffs at U.S. firms in January rose 20 percent from the previous month to 38,519, but the tally was still the lowest for a January since at least 1993,...
  • 9:17 AM » California Wants Underwriters' Money Back
    Published Wed, Feb 02 2011 9:17 AM by WSJ
    The California State Treasurer's office is demanding the return of hundreds of thousands of dollars that it says it unwittingly paid bond underwriters who then channeled it into a trade group that lobbied on issues—sometimes going against the grain of the state.
  • 9:17 AM » In Construction, More Spending Can Also Mean Less
    Published Wed, Feb 02 2011 9:17 AM by
    Residential and nonresidential building compete for investment, and an extra dollar spent on one may be at partial expense to the other, even in a recession, an economist writes.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

  • 9:17 AM » Bet on Foreclosure Boom Turns Sour for Investors
    Published Wed, Feb 02 2011 9:17 AM by NY Times
    Investors hoping to make millions buying the back-office operations of a foreclosure lawyer have come up short.
  • Tue, Feb 1 2011
  • 11:20 PM » Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Delinquency Rates decline slightly
    Published Tue, Feb 01 2011 11:20 PM by Calculated Risk Blog
    Earlier: • A and my current economic outlook. • Fannie Mae that the serious delinquency rate decreased to 4.50% in November from 4.52% in October. Freddie Mac that the serious delinquency rate decreased to 3.84% in December from 3.85% in November. (Note: Fannie reports a month behind Freddie). These are loans that are "three monthly payments or more past due or in foreclosure". Click on graph for larger image in graph gallery. Some of the rapid increase over the last couple of years was probably because of foreclosure moratoriums, and also because loans in trial mods were considered delinquent until the modifications were made permanent. As modifications have become permanent, they are no longer counted as delinquent. The increases for Freddie Mac in October and November were probably related to the new foreclosure moratoriums. Now it appears the rate has started to decrease again.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Calculated Risk Blog
  • 11:19 PM » S&P: Modifications and Slower Foreclosures Shrink Shadow Inventory
    Published Tue, Feb 01 2011 11:19 PM by Google News
    An S&P report says the country’s shadow inventory continues to fall, albeit at a progressively slower rate.
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