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  • Wed, Mar 25 2009
    Published Wed, Mar 25 2009 12:05 PM by
    WASHINGTON - Just over a month after President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 into law, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban announced today that, subject to HUD approval, public housing authorities can begin spending nearly $3 billion to make significant improvements to tens of thousands of public housing units nationwide. HUD is informing 3,122 local housing authorities in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands that spending can begin on a backlog of previously underfunded capital improvement projects.
  • 11:18 AM » New Home Sales Unexpectedly Climb 4.7% in February
    Published Wed, Mar 25 2009 11:18 AM by
    Sales of newly built U.S. single-family homes unexpectedly rose at their fastest pace in 10 months in February, while prices fell by a record margin from a year ago, a government report showed on Wednesday. The Commerce Department said sales rose 4.7% to a 337,000 annual pace, the fastest increase since April last year, from an upwardly revised 322,000 in January. Despite the increase, February sales were the second lowest ever after the drop in January to the slowest pace in records going back to 1963, the department said. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast sales at a 300,000 rate in February. The median sales price in February fell a record 18.1% to $200,900 from a year earlier, the department said. The median marks the half-way point, with half of all houses sold above that level and half below. The inventory of homes available for sale in February was at 330,000, the smallest since June 2002. The February sales pace left the supply of homes available for sale at 12.2 month's worth.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

  • 11:18 AM » Why BlackRock wants to buy up toxic assets
    Published Wed, Mar 25 2009 11:18 AM by CNN
    When Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner unveiled details of the government's plan to help banks get toxic assets off their balance sheets, the plan got an instant boost when such investment firms as PIMCO and BlackRock expressed enthusiasm over the program. BlackRock has also said it will apply to Treasury to manage some of these bad assets. Fortune talked with BlackRock's Curtis Arledge, a managing director and co-head of the firm's U.S. fixed-income department, about the pros and cons of Treasury's plan. Here are excerpts of the conversation:
  • 11:18 AM » Developers Scale Back Luxury Projects
    Published Wed, Mar 25 2009 11:18 AM by WSJ
    A number of shopping developments are slated to open this year, even though many will be less extravagant than initially envisioned.
  • 9:13 AM » Refinance applications up 41.5% last week: MBA
    Published Wed, Mar 25 2009 9:13 AM by Market Watch
    Applications filed to refinance an existing mortgage rose an unadjusted 41.5% last week, compared with the week before, after an announcement by the Federal Reserve caused fixed-rate mortgage rates to fall, according to the latest Mortgage Bankers Association survey results, released on Wednesday.
  • 9:13 AM » America's Abandoned Cities
    Published Wed, Mar 25 2009 9:13 AM by Google News
    Flint Michigan typifies the plight of inner city urban decay. Inquiring minds are wondering what if anything can be done. MLive explores that issue in an article discussing . The view through an abandoned house's broken window looks out on a boarded-up house across the street on East Russell Avenue in Flint. Look in any direction from Bianca Bates' north Flint home, and you'll see graffiti-covered siding, boarded-up windows and overgrown lots. About half of the homes on her block are burned out or vacant magnets for drug dealers and squatters. It isn't where she thought she'd end up, but it's all she can afford to rent. Property abandonment is getting so bad in Flint that some in government are talking about an extreme measure that was once unthinkable -- shutting down portions of the city, officially abandoning them and cutting off police and fire service. Temporary Mayor Michael Brown made the off-the-cuff suggestion Friday in response to a question at a Rotary Club of Flint luncheon about the thousands of empty houses in Flint. City Council President Jim Ananich said the idea has been on his radar for years. The city is getting smaller and should downsize its services accordingly by asking people to leave sparsely populated areas, he said. "It's going to happen whether we like it or not," he said. "We'd have to be creative about it, but it's something worth looking into. We're not there yet, but it could definitely happen." The concept of "shrinking cities" isn't new to urban areas similar to Flint. Last year, the city of Youngstown, Ohio, proposed incentives to encourage people to move out of nearly empty blocks and relocate to more populated areas closer to the heart of the city. Some people were offered upward of $50,000, according to news reports. The idea was to shut down entire streets and bulldoze abandoned properties so the city could discontinue services such as police patrols and street...
  • 9:13 AM » Successful bank rescue still far away
    Published Wed, Mar 25 2009 9:13 AM by
    With the IMF expecting world output to shrink by up to 1 per cent this year and the economies of the advanced countries to shrink by between 3 and 3.5 per cent, this is the worst global economic crisis since the 1930s. So far the congressional response has been a disaster, writes Martin Wolf
  • 9:11 AM » Miami "condo king" hit by boom-to-bust downturn
    Published Wed, Mar 25 2009 9:11 AM by Reuters
    The once-booming real estate market that made Jorge Perez a billionaire is crumbling around Miami's "condo king" in what may be the biggest U.S. condo glut.
  • Tue, Mar 24 2009
  • 3:48 PM » Duke, Credit availability and prudent lending standards
    Published Tue, Mar 24 2009 3:48 PM by Federal Reserve
    Testimony before the Committee on Financial Services, U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Federal Reserve
  • 2:48 PM » Economic Data Cheat Sheet-Updated
    Published Tue, Mar 24 2009 2:48 PM by US Treasury
    Monthly Economic Statistics Summary
  • 1:11 PM » Q4 Mortgage Equity Extraction Strongly Negative
    Published Tue, Mar 24 2009 1:11 PM by Calculated Risk Blog
    Here are the Kennedy-Greenspan estimates (NSA - not seasonally adjusted) of home equity extraction for Q4 2008, provided by Jim Kennedy based on the mortgage system presented in "," Alan Greenspan and James Kennedy, Federal Reserve Board FEDS working paper no. 2005-41. Click on graph for larger image in new window. For Q4 2008, Dr. Kennedy has calculated Net Equity Extraction as minus $77 billion, or negative 2.9% of Disposable Personal Income (DPI). This graph shows the net equity extraction, or mortgage equity withdrawal (MEW), results, both in billions of dollars quarterly (not annual rate), and as a percent of personal disposable income. Dr. Kennedy provides several other measures of equity extraction. The second graph shows what Dr. Kennedy calls "active MEW" (Mortgage Equity Withdrawal). This is defined as "Gross cash out" plus the change in the balance of "Home equity loans". This measure is near zero ($7.2 billion for the quarter) and is probably a better estimate of the impact of MEW on consumption. When people refinance with cash out or draw down HELOCs, they usually spend the money. The Fed's Flow of Funds report shows the amount of mortgages outstanding is declining, and this is partially because of debt cancellation per foreclosure sales, and partially due to homeowners paying down their mortgages (as opposed to borrowing more). Note: most homeowners pay down their principal a little each month (unless they have an IO or Neg AM loan), so with no new borrowing, equity extraction would always be negative. Clearly the Home ATM has now been closed for a few quarters. Note: This will be the last update of MEW from Dr. Kennedy. My thanks to Jim Kennedy and the other contributors to the MEW updates.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Calculated Risk Blog
  • 1:11 PM » MBA Ups 2009 Mortgage Forecast by $800 Billion
    Published Tue, Mar 24 2009 1:11 PM by
    More good news…for loan originators. The Mortgage Bankers Association increased its 2009 mortgage lending forecast by $800 billion to $2.78 trillion thanks to the expected refinance bonanza. The group now expects refinancing to total $1.96 trillion in 2009 and purchase originations to ring in at $821 billion. The refinance figure is up from an estimated $765 billion [...]
  • 11:21 AM » Mortgage Bankers Association Cuts 16 Percent of Staff
    Published Tue, Mar 24 2009 11:21 AM by
    The embattled Mortgage Bankers Association cut another 20 full-time staff positions yesterday, according to National Mortgage News. The layoffs affected roughly 16 percent of its workforce, which has now been reduced by some 30 percent since last year thanks to ongoing contraction in the mortgage industry. The latest cuts included four of its vice presidents, bringing the [...]
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

  • 11:21 AM » MBA: Refinance Boom will Boost Mortgage Originations to $2.7 Trillion in 2009
    Published Tue, Mar 24 2009 11:21 AM by Calculated Risk Blog
    From Paul Jackson at Housing Wire: [T]he Mortgage Bankers Association, which said that it had increased its forecast of mortgage originations in 2009 by over $800 billion, due to a refinancing boom ... The MBA said it now expects originations to total $2.78 trillion, which would make 2009 the fourth highest originations year on record, behind only 2002, 2003, 2005. ... “This boost is due entirely to the expected increase in mortgage refinancing activity motivated by the drop in interest rates following last week’s Federal Reserve’s announcement on the Treasury bond and mortgage-backed securities purchases programs and the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac refinance programs,” the mortgage lobbying and trade group said in a press statement. ... This origination boom, however, will differ from recent years past — while previous record origination years of 2002, 2003 and 2005 had large amounts of subprime loans and jumbo loans, the MBA said it expects 2009 originations to consist almost entirely of conforming and/or FHA-eligible mortgages. ... The MBA projected that total existing home sales for 2009 will drop 2.5 percent from 2008 to 4.8 million units, while new home sales will decline a far sharper 39 percent in 2009 to 293,000 units. It sounds like the mortgage brokers will be busy this year! This refinance boom will lower the payments for homeowners with conforming loans, but that doesn't help much in the higher priced areas.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Calculated Risk Blog
  • 11:05 AM » Geithner wants powers to wind down firms like AIG
    Published Tue, Mar 24 2009 11:05 AM by Reuters
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told an angry Congress on Tuesday that he needs authority to step in to shut down troubled institutions like American International Group to avoid future government bailouts.
  • 8:42 AM » Geithner to Ask Congress for Broad Power to Seize Firms
    Published Tue, Mar 24 2009 8:42 AM by Washington Post
    The Obama administration will ask Congress to give the Treasury secretary unprecedented powers to initiate the seizure of non-bank financial companies, such as large insurers, investment firms and hedge funds, whose collapse would damage the broader economy, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said this morning.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Washington Post
  • Mon, Mar 23 2009
  • 9:17 PM » AIG employees hand over bonuses: NYAG Cuomo
    Published Mon, Mar 23 2009 9:17 PM by Reuters
    NEW YORK (Reuters) - Fifteen of 20 American International Group leading bonus recipients have agreed to give them back in full, said New York's top legal officer who is probing into $165 million in executive pay at the troubled company bailed out by the U.S. government.
  • 9:17 PM » Credit Markets: Subprime mortgage MBS index rallies on Treasury plan
    Published Mon, Mar 23 2009 9:17 PM by Market Watch
    An index that tracks subprime mortgage-backed securities makes its biggest one-day jump since early February, rallying after the Treasury Department releases details of a plan to encourage investors to buy banks’ illiquid assets.
  • 9:17 PM » BofA investor files to strip CEO of chairman job
    Published Mon, Mar 23 2009 9:17 PM by Reuters
    NEW YORK (Reuters) - Longtime Bank of America Corp shareholder Jerry Finger launched on Monday his formal campaign to strip Chief Executive Kenneth Lewis of his job as chairman, saying the bank took too much risk by acquiring Merrill Lynch & Co.
  • 9:10 PM » Geithner's Five Big Misconceptions
    Published Mon, Mar 23 2009 9:10 PM by
    The trouble with the economy is that the banks aren't lending. The reality: The economy is in trouble because American consumers and businesses took on way too much debt and are now collapsing under the weight of it. As consumers retrench, companies that sell to them are retrenching, thus exacerbating the problem. The banks, meanwhile, are lending. They just aren't lending as much as they used to. Also the shadow banking system (securitization markets), which actually provided more funding to the economy than the banks, has collapsed.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

  • 1:57 PM » JP Morgan denies report it plans to buy new planes
    Published Mon, Mar 23 2009 1:57 PM by Reuters
    PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - Investment bank JPMorgan Chase & Co said on Monday it had no plans to purchase new corporate jets or build an airport hangar until it has repaid the funds it got through the U.S. governments Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).
  • 1:57 PM » IMF says clean up banks to tackle dire world crisis
    Published Mon, Mar 23 2009 1:57 PM by Reuters
    GENEVA (Reuters) - The world is in a dire economic crisis, but no recovery is possible until the financial sector is cleaned up, the head of the International Monetary Fund said on Monday.
  • 1:54 PM » Nobel laureate Krugman slams Geithner bailout plan
    Published Mon, Mar 23 2009 1:54 PM by Reuters
    Nobel-prize winning economist Paul Krugman said in remarks published on Monday that the latest U.S. Treasury bailout program is nearly certain to fail, triggering a sense of personal despair.
  • 1:49 PM » The People Running Bank of America Right Now are "a bunch of idiots."
    Published Mon, Mar 23 2009 1:49 PM by
    Virginia Hammerness says that the people running Bank of America right now are "a bunch of idiots." But Hammerness is not just another angry stockholder. Her grandfather was A.P. Giannini, the founder of Bank of America.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

  • 9:01 AM » WaMu sues FDIC for more than $13 billion. Really.
    Published Mon, Mar 23 2009 9:01 AM by
    he bankrupt, seized and 'under investigation' Washington Mutual bank, which saw some operations forcibly sold off to JPMorgan Chase in 2008, is suing the agency that guarantees your deposits ... And that agency is running low on funds.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

  • 9:00 AM » General Growth remained in talks with bondholders: report
    Published Mon, Mar 23 2009 9:00 AM by Reuters
    NEW YORK (Reuters) - General Growth Properties Inc remained in talks on Sunday with bondholders it was trying to persuade to accept reduced terms, The Wall Street Journal reported.
  • 9:00 AM » World markets surge ahead of US bank crisis plan
    Published Mon, Mar 23 2009 9:00 AM by Washington Post
    HONG KONG -- World stock markets soared Monday ahead of a U.S. announcement to purge as much as $1 trillion in toxic bank assets and as Japan signaled more stimulus measures to resuscitate the world's second-largest economy.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Washington Post
  • 9:00 AM » Obama To Tap Mortgage Exec Stevens To Head FHA: Reports
    Published Mon, Mar 23 2009 9:00 AM by
    TEL AVIV -- David Stevens, a veteran of the mortgage industry, will be appointed to lead the Federal Housing Administration within the Department of Housing and Urban Development, media reports say. The FHA insures mortgage lenders against home-mortgage defaults and provides loans to homebuyers who can't afford substantial down payments. In the current housing climate, private mortgage insurers have raised prices and refused to cover riskier deals, The Wall Street Journal reported. Thus the FHA is taking on more risk within the mortgage market, the Journal reported. Stevens is president and chief operating officer of Long & Foster Cos., the Chantilly, Va., real-estate brokerage. He is also a former executive vice president for Wells Fargo & Co.'s home-mortgage unit and a former senior vice president at Freddie Mac, the Journal reported. Copyright © 2009 MarketWatch, Inc.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

  • Fri, Mar 20 2009
  • 2:07 PM » Bernanke Urges Community Banks to Keep Lending
    Published Fri, Mar 20 2009 2:07 PM by Washington Post
    The nation's community banks could play a key role in spurring an economic recovery, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said today, as he encouraged them to make loans so long as they can do so prudently and "not to let fear drive" their decisions.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Washington Post
  • 2:07 PM » Indymac Federal Becomes OneWest Bank Group
    Published Fri, Mar 20 2009 2:07 PM by
    The FDIC completed its sale of Indymac Federal Bank yesterday to OneWest Bank Group LLC, a newly formed federal savings bank headquartered in Pasadena, CA. Beginning today, 33 branches of Indymac Federal will reopen as OneWest bank branches, and depositors of Indymac will automatically be a part of the new, privately-held thrift. The regional bank said it [...]
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

  • 1:04 PM » Bernanke defends big bank bailouts
    Published Fri, Mar 20 2009 1:04 PM by CNN
    Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke responded to ongoing criticism of the government's efforts to keep alive institutions it has deemed "too big to fail," saying that this is an "enormous problem" that needs to be addressed.
  • 1:04 PM » AIG Sues Countrywide for Misrepresenting Mortgage Quality
    Published Fri, Mar 20 2009 1:04 PM by
    If in doubt, sue Countrywide…that’s what battered down AIG just did. United Guaranty Mortgage Indemnity Co., a unit of insurance company AIG, filed a lawsuit against the now defunct mortgage lender, accusing the company of misrepresenting the quality of the loans the company insured, according to a Bloomberg report. The insurance unit said Countrywide sought insurance for [...]
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

  • 8:30 AM » Obama on Leno: Backs Geithner, Pledges Pooch
    Published Fri, Mar 20 2009 8:30 AM by CNBC
  • Thu, Mar 19 2009
  • 2:47 PM » FDIC's Bair: 'too big to fail' strategy must end
    Published Thu, Mar 19 2009 2:47 PM by Washington Post
    WASHINGTON -- The head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said Thursday that the government's strategy in the financial crisis of bailing out huge institutions deemed "too big to fail" must be replaced by a new model.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Washington Post
  • 12:57 PM » 13 Recipients of TARP Funds Owe $220 Million in Back Taxes
    Published Thu, Mar 19 2009 12:57 PM by Washington Post
    A House panel looking into a federal bailout program has found that 13 recipients of government funds owe more than $220 million in unpaid federal taxes, a lawmaker said today.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Washington Post
  • 10:37 AM » Moody's may Downgrade $241 Billion in Prime Jumbo Securities
    Published Thu, Mar 19 2009 10:37 AM by Calculated Risk Blog
    From Reuters: ... reflecting widening stress in the U.S. housing market, Moody's Investors Service on Thursday said it may downgrade $240.7 billion of securities backed by prime-quality "jumbo" U.S. residential mortgages because defaults will be higher than they expected. ... It said 70 percent of the 2005 senior securities will likely remain investment-grade, with the rest falling to "junk." Securities issued later may suffer deeper downgrades. Moody's also said subordinated securities from 2006, 2007 and 2008 transactions "will likely be completely written down." Defaults continue to increase in higher priced areas ...
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Calculated Risk Blog
  • 10:37 AM » 'Zero Payment Defaults' Are on the Rise at FHA
    Published Thu, Mar 19 2009 10:37 AM by
    The FHA is experiencing "a large number of zero payment defaults" in which borrowers fail to make even one payment on their new government-insured mortgages, a Department of Housing and Urban Development official said at the Mortgage Bankers Association's annual National Fraud Issues Conference in Las Vegas. The trend, which Lisa Gore, the assistant special agent in charge of the criminal investigation division in HUD's inspector general's office, called "a huge red flag" that some type of fraud has been committed, is similar to the one experienced in the 1999-2001 housing market turndown... [The Washington Post's] analysis of FHA data found that more than 9,200 loans insured by the agency in the past two years have gone delinquent with either one payment or no payments being made. The analysis found that the pace of what the Post called "instant defaults" has tripled in the last year, and more than two dozen loans are defaulting in this manner every week, the newspaper reported...
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

  • 9:21 AM » Economists React: ‘Huge Step Forward’
    Published Thu, Mar 19 2009 9:21 AM by WSJ
    Economists and others weigh in on . This is a huge step forward , which we have thought inevitable for some time but did not expect to see in the statement today… The point here is to drive new marginal capital flows out of Treasurys, by making them relatively unattractive, and into riskier assets. We aren’t sure $300 billion is enough, but this is a good start. –Ian Shepherdson, High Frequency Economics The largest benefit may come in the form of lower mortgage rates, which have fallen as a spread to Treasuries this year but remain about unchanged year-to-date in level terms. Mortgage refinancing activity is likely to be quite strong in the coming weeks. –Nomura Global Economics Even with energy prices having flattened The Fed’s Treasury purchases will absorb a very significant portion of the amount of gross issuance that we anticipate to occur over the next six months… The Fed’s announcement signals a clear intent to continue to drive mortgage rates lower and we expect them to meet this objective. This could represent a powerful source of stimulus for the household sector of the economy. In 2008, the average mortgage rate on the outstanding stock of loans was about 6.50%. So, if the Fed brings 30-yr fixed rate mortgages down to 4.50% and all homeowners are able refi, the aggregate permanent cash flow savings would be on the order of $200 billion per year. –David Greenlaw, Morgan Stanley Plans to step up purchases of mortgage-backed securities and agency debt are clearly aimed at restoring the housing market. Low mortgage rates have already led to a surge in refinancing activity, without doing much for home sales. It remains to be seen whether the expansion of Fed purchases of mortgage-backed securities will change this, at least until some semblance of stability has been restored to the labor market and consumer confidence begins to improve. Moreover, with the declines in house prices already in the books and the probability that house prices will register further...
  • 9:20 AM » Economic Report: Continuing jobless claims jump by 185,000 to record 5.47 million
    Published Thu, Mar 19 2009 9:20 AM by Market Watch
    The number of people collecting state unemployment benefits jumped by 185,000 to a record seasonally adjusted 5.47 million in the week ending March 7, while new claims dipped by 12,000 to 646,000 in the week ending March 14, the Labor Department reports.
  • 9:20 AM » London shares rally on hopes for US
    Published Thu, Mar 19 2009 9:20 AM by
    London equity markets bounced stongly on Thursday, mirroring moves overnight on Wall Street after the US Federal Reserve set out plans for its own programme of quantitative easing
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Mortgage Rates:
  • 30 Yr FRM 4.64%
  • |
  • 15 Yr FRM 4.14%
  • |
  • Jumbo 30 Year Fixed 4.52%
MBS Prices:
  • 30YR FNMA 4.5 103-31 (-0-01)
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  • 30YR FNMA 5.0 105-23 (0-01)
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  • 30YR FNMA 5.5 106-16 (-0-14)
Recent Housing Data:
  • Mortgage Apps -2.60%
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  • Refinance Index -3.69%
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  • Purchase Index -1.98%