January 2011

Obama Spending Freeze Would Save $200 Billion: Report

Posted on Monday, January 31, 2011

President Barack Obama proposed a five-year freeze in government spending in his State of the Union speech Tuesday night, but the actual significance of that freeze will depend upon how it's implemented. The size of the savings from such a freeze is unclear, just as the permanence of such a policy ...

TARP Special Inspector General's Report Says HAMP is Failing

Posted on Monday, January 31, 2011

In his report to Congress published this week, Neil Barofsky described the drawbacks and potential problems the bank bailout had created in regard to companies deemed “too-big-to-fail.” His report also covered controversial issues surrounding the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), designed...

Cities Where It's Cheaper to Buy Than Rent

Posted on Monday, January 31, 2011

It’s cheaper to buy a home rather than rent one in 72 percent of the 50 largest U.S. cities, according to Trulia’s rent vs. buy index, which compares the total cost of home ownership to the cost of renting. "Since the start of the 'Great Recession,' many former home owners have flooded the renta...

2011 Top Public Policy Priorities

Posted on Monday, January 31, 2011

During the 2010 REALTORS® Conference & Expo in New Orleans, NAR asked the members of its 12 policy-making committees to identify and rank the top federal policy issues which they believed would be of critical importance to the real estate industry in 2011. The committees reported to the Public P...

Fed Sticks to Policy Initiatives as Economic Growth Remains Constrained

Posted on Monday, January 31, 2011

The Federal Reserve board held its first meeting of 2011 this week. It may be a new year with new faces around the Fed’s boardroom table, but there’s nothing new in the central bank’s policy direction or its guarded assessment of the nation’s economic recovery. Board members voted to keep the Fed’...

Foreclosures Up in 72% of Major Metros but Down in Hardest-Hit Areas

Posted on Monday, January 31, 2011

RealtyTrac has released its 2010 foreclosure tallies for the nation’s largest metropolitan areas. The tracking firm found that foreclosure activity increased from 2009 in 149 of the 206 metros with a population of 200,000 or more, or 72 percent. Interestingly enough, the metro areas with the 10 hi...

Best, Worst Real Estate Markets

Posted on Monday, January 31, 2011

More than 15 states are projected to experience housing inflation or appreciation during the year, according to Housing Predictor, which releases an annual report of its choices for best and worst housing markets. The top five housing markets are: 1. Portland, Maine 2. Kansas City, Kan. 3....

FIELD GUIDE TO BUSINESS ETIQUETTE WHEN WORKING WITH OTHER CULTURES

Posted on Monday, January 31, 2011

Want to make a good first impression with your international clients? Should you commence the relationship with a handshake, polite bow, or a simple nod? What steps do you need to take to go the extra mile with an international or foreign client? This Updated Field Guide will assist you in building ...

New Home Sales Hit 8-Month High

Posted on Monday, January 31, 2011

WASHINGTON: New single-family home sales raced to their highest level in eight months in December while prices were the highest since April 2008, raising cautious optimism for a housing market recovery. The Commerce Department said on Wednesday sales jumped 17.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted 329...

Low-Tax States Lure New Residents

Posted on Monday, January 31, 2011

More home owners may start factoring in taxes more as they pick where to live, particularly as some states’ dramatic tax increases make them less affordable. Some of the states with the largest population gains from the 2010 U.S. Census are also known as low-tax states, such as Florida, Texas, a...

MBA Sees 36% Falloff in Mortgage Production in 2011

Posted on Monday, January 31, 2011

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) released its market outlook to the media on Wednesday. The trade group’s economists are expecting mortgage lending to shrink by 36 percent this year. They project originations – including loans for home purchases and refinancing – to total $966 billion in 201...

Wells Fargo to Accept FHA Mortgages with Credit Scores Under 600

Posted on Monday, January 31, 2011

Wells Fargo announced that effective January 15, 2011, they will accept Federal Housing Administration (FHA) mortgages for borrowers with credit scores as low as 500. For borrowers with credit scores 500-579 a 10 percent downpayment is required and the downpayment may not be a gift or be part of a d...

Affordability Motivated Buyers in 2010

Posted on Monday, January 31, 2011

A Weichert, REALTORS® survey of 1,261 home buyers who made purchases between July 1, 2010, and Dec. 31, 2010, reveals that 28 percent were motivated by "favorable financing," down from 31 percent in 2009 but up from 14 percent in 2008. While 26 percent of those polled in 2005 said the desire to ...

International Trade—Should It Matter to REALTORS®?

Posted on Monday, January 31, 2011

International trade is increasingly important as a major driver of the U.S. economy. It affects American jobs, and the U.S. jobs outlook has a major impact on residential and commercial real estate activity. In addition, approximately three percent of all residential sales in the U.S. are to interna...

Unemployment Rate To Remain Above 9% Through 2011, Will Remain Above 'Natural Rate' Until 2016

Posted on Monday, January 31, 2011

The jobs crisis isn't going anywhere, according to the latest forecast from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, which puts the national unemployment rate above 9 percent through 2011 and 8 percent through 2012. Unemployment will fall to a more "natural rate" only in 2016, when CBO estimate...

Dow Hits 12,000 For First Time Since 2008

Posted on Monday, January 31, 2011

NEW YORK — The Dow Jones industrial average broke through 12,000 for the first time in two and a half years Wednesday, but a late fade kept it from closing above that level. The index of 30 prominent U.S. companies finished the day with a modest gain. Weak profit forecasts from Boeing Co. and Xero...

Dispute over collateral ties up bulk condo deal

Posted on Friday, January 28, 2011

Finding buyers for condos at the Ibis Villas at Doral has been almost impossible for developer Pablo Valdes. So, when investor Michael Lawrence agreed to pay cash for five units in the mostly unsold project, Valdes began counting the days to closing. Now, almost a month after the deal was to be c...

In-house salary range breakdown, where is the money for GCs

Posted on Friday, January 28, 2011

Any in-house lawyers looking for a job in the New Year might be interested in finding out which U.S. regions offer the best-paying prospects. For them, we're trotting out yet another set of numbers from ALM's "Law Department Compensation Benchmarking Survey, 2010 Edition." This time, we'll take a ...

PENDING HOME SALES CONTINUE UPTREND

Posted on Friday, January 28, 2011

Pending home sales improved further in December, marking the fifth gain in the past six months, according to the National Association of Realtors® The Pending Home Sales Index,* a forward-looking indicator, increased 2.0 percent to 93.7 based on contracts signed in December from a downwardly revise...

Job Creation Tops Obama’s State of the Union

Posted on Friday, January 28, 2011

In his State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Barack Obama made scant reference to housing and no mention of the mortgage interest deduction. That was probably a wise move on his part — not only because most Americans favor the deduction and there’s speculation (but no evidence that I k...

Watchdog Says Bank Bailouts Made 'Too-Big-to-Fail' Even Bigger

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

The passing of the Dodd-Frank Reform Act last summer was hailed as the end of “too-big-to-fail” and the end of corporate bailouts. But Neil Barofsky, head of the group charged with overseeing the government’s handling of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) says the “too-big-to-fail” problem has...

With Issa Leading, Oversight Panel Eagerly Begins Its Work

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

WASHINGTON — If Representative Darrell E. Issa, Republican of California, gets his wish, he will have only two years to serve as a chief tormenter of the Obama administration. So he was understandably eager to get started on Wednesday with his first hearing as chairman of the House Committee on Ov...

ATTEMPTS AT RELIEF AND REFORM - Vampire Squid? Big Government? U.S. Crisis Reports Murky

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

WASHINGTON Three competing, politically recognizable tales of the financial crisis will emerge this week when a U.S. congressional panel finally concludes its 20-month investigation. The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission has failed to produce a consensus explanation of the 2007-2009 banking deba...

THE FEDERAL RESERVE - Fed Backs Down From Plan To Gut Mortgage Regulation

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

WASHINGTON -- Following a public outcry from consumer advocates, the Federal Reserve is quietly backing down from a plan to gut the most significant federal remedy for predatory lending. The central bank has informed several consumer agencies that it will table its proposal to eliminate "rescissi...

The state fiscal crisis has a number of causes, writes David Wessel:

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

"The deep and long recession devastated tax revenue. At the worst point, in early 2009, state and local tax revenue combined were down 11% from year-earlier levels... In the good times, governments enjoyed and spent a tax windfall; state and local tax revenue rose 36% in the five years before the b...

STATISTICAL INDICATORS - Treasury's Toxic Asset Funds Up 27 Percent

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

The U.S. Treasury's toxic asset funds have gained 27 percent since they were created to help revive the mortgage-backed securities market, according to data expected to be released later on Monday. As part of the government's deeply unpopular $700 billion bailout program, the funds were set up to...

House oversight committee to hear testimony from TARP watchdog

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

Rep. Darrell E. Issa (R-Calif.) on Wednesday will use his first hearing as chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to take a critical look at the Obama administration's bank bailouts and its efforts to help homeowners avoid foreclosure. On tap is a warning from a federal...

Bank of America and Wells Fargo Most Sued Banks in 2010

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

A recent report by Institutional Risk Analytics (IRA) says Bank of America, and Wells Fargo are two of the most sued financial service firms in the United States. IRA says that mortgage exposure is what is causing these two banks and others in similar situations to be embroiled in so many federal l...

Why our Fundamental Approach to Banking Regulation Is Inherently Unsound

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

Greetings from the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) annual enforcement conference in Charleston, S.C. I'm giving the keynote address Monday. I'll discuss the NASAA members' exceptionally important and often effective role against securities fraud in future columns. This c...

BUY v. RENT / GOOD TIME TO BUY - Buying A Home Cheaper In Nearly Three Quarters Of Big U.S. Citis: T

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

Thanks to the foreclosure crisis, buying a two-bedroom home is cheaper than renting in most big cities. In its quarterly Rent vs. Buy Index, real estate data firm Trulia found that buying a property -- including the mortgage principal, interest, taxes and insurance -- was cheaper than renting in 72...

Buying Still More Affordable Than Renting in Most Cities: Report

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

Data released Monday by real estate Web site Trulia says even with the current state of the housing and financial market, it is still more affordable to buy a home than rent one. Trulia’s latest Rent vs. Buy Index studied the 50 largest cities in the United States and found that it is more affordab...

COMMERCIAL SUPPLY AND DEMAND - Fitch: $23 Billion in Commercial Mortgages Coming Due in 2011

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

Fitch Ratings says approximately 2,000 commercial mortgage loans are due to mature over the next 12 months, representing an outstanding balance of $22.5 billion. According to a new report released by the ratings agency Friday, the maturing loans, which have an average balance of $11.4 million, were...

Dramatic Decline in Hotel Capitalization Rates Reflects Shift in Market Sentiment

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

The increase in hotel transactions and low cost of debt and equity have driven down rates of return to pre-recession levels. This article sets forth an overview of recent hotel cap and discount rate trends and provides an outlook for 2011. The hotel investment market has taken a 180 degree turn ove...

Consumer Confidence, Spending Show Big Jumps

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

As president Obama prepares to address the nation in tonight's State of the Union, he'll be speaking to an increasingly cheery group of American consumers. Consumer confidence hit an eight-month high in January, with spending growing at the best rate since 2006. The Conference's Board's widely-wat...

Consumer Confidence Index in Florida soars this month

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

Consumer confidence among Floridians soared in January, according to a University of Florida survey. The increase to 77 points from 70 in December is the largest since the index rose seven points from March to April 2010, and the score of 77 is the highest since the April 2010 mark of 78. “Th...

Three Wishes for Davos; Inclusive Growth, Support Entrepreneurship, Empower Women.

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

The World Economic Forum's (WEF) annual meeting in Davos is one of the most exclusive events in the world and I am certainly aware of what a privilege it is to be invited. Since 1971 this event has drawn some of the most influential people in the world to discuss improving the state of the world. WE...

US COMPARED TO OTHER COUNTRIES - U.S. Stellar Bond Rating in Jeopardy:Moody's

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

Rising federal debt could pose a negative outlook for the country’s AAA credit rating, Moody’s warned in a quarterly report on Thursday. The negative outlook would be dropped only if the U.S. imposed measures of fiscal austerity, such as curbing spending or raising taxes, according to the repor...

Tax Cuts

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

Here's the question: Do tax cuts cause deficits? If not, then there's no reason to worry about the Congressional Budget Office's revised estimate that the deficit will reach $1.5 trillion this year, not $1 trillion, as they'd predicted in 2010. The bulk of the difference, as you can see in this ta...

Board of Contributors: Phantom units are a hidden problem in distressed condominiums

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

A byproduct of the recent real estate boom and bust is an outbreak of phantom condominium units, once a rare phenomenon. Investors or lenders considering an investment in a distressed condominium project with phantom units need to be attuned to potential problems. Phantom units are possible because...

CBO projects U.S. budget deficit to reach $1.5 trillion in 2011, highest ever

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

The still-fragile economy and fresh tax cuts approved by Congress last month will drive the federal deficit to nearly $1.5 trillion this year, the biggest budget gap in U.S. history, congressional budget analysts said Wednesday. The grim forecast from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office ca...

Why We Need the Fed

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

FEDERAL RESERVE - For years, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) has been on a crusade to reduce the influence of the Federal Reserve. Indeed, he even wrote a book called "End the Fed," which suggests that the U.S. would be better off without a central bank. While it might have been easy for Congress to dismiss su...

Area still ranks high in foreclosures

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

MANATEE -- Fewer filings didn’t keep the Sarasota-Bradenton region from continuing to have one of the nation’s highest foreclosure rates last year, according to data released today. One in every 21 homes in the two-county region received a foreclosure filing in 2010, ranking Sarasota-Bradenton No. ...

E-mails Suggest Bear Stearns Cheated Clients Out of Billions

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

Former Bear Stearns mortgage executives who now run mortgage divisions of Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, and Ally Financial have been accused of cheating and defrauding investors through the mortgage securities they created and sold while at Bear. According to e-mails and internal audits, JPMorgan ...

Merrill Paying $10M To Settle SEC Fraud Charges

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

Without admitting or denying any wrongdoing, Bank of America Corp.'s Merrill Lynch unit has agreed to pay $10 million to settle the Securities and Exchange Commission's charges of securities fraud and charging customers undisclosed trading fees. According to the SEC's report Merrill operated a pro...

Bank of America's Countrywide Accused Of 'Massive Fraud' By Investors' Suit

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

A lawsuit alleges Countrywide Financial Corp. and two of its former executives misled institutional investors who were stuck with huge losses from mortgage-related investments that they say were portrayed as low-risk. The lawsuit was filed Monday in New York State Supreme Court by investors who bou...

IMF: EU Needs Bigger Rescue Fund

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

JOHANNESBURG - Europe needs to strengthen its financial rescue fund to reduce the risk of renewed global instability as U.S. tax cuts and buoyant emerging economies help propel the recovery elsewhere, the IMF said on Tuesday. Rich nations should nurture their slower growth rates by keeping monetary...

Shared Norms for the New Reality

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

Following a decade characterized by an explosion of global challenges, and most recently a structural economic crisis, we now live in a completely new reality. Never before has the world faced so many serious challenges simultaneously. Leaders from all sectors of society are finding it increasingly ...

GLOBAL CRISIS - Poverty in Numbers: The Changing State of Global Poverty from 2005 to 2015

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

Poverty reduction lies at the core of the global development challenge. For the international development community, this objective serves not only as a source of motivation, but as a defining theme across its work. Many of the world’s most prominent aid organizations cite poverty reduction as their...

ATTEMPTS AT RELIEF AND REFORM - Fannie Mae OKs Foreclosure Delays for Hardest Hit Fund Assistance

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

Fannie Mae has issued a notice to its servicers, instructing them to postpone foreclosure proceedings for unemployed homeowners who are receiving financial help through Hardest-Hit Fund programs run by state housing finance agencies. According to the GSE’s newly released directive, if a housing ...

GSEs AND FHA - Future of GSEs Uncertain, Many Lobbying for Their End

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

For decades the GSEs have made it possible for many people to achieve their homeownership goals by reducing the cost of credit and making it more readily available. In light of the recent financial meltdowns across a wide breadth of sectors, banks and other corporations are calling for reform that...

THE MORTGAGE INDUSTRY - Mortgage Giants Leave Legal Bills to the Taxpayers

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

Since the government took over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, taxpayers have spent more than $160 million defending the mortgage finance companies and their former top executives in civil lawsuits accusing them of fraud. The cost was a closely guarded secret until last week, when the companies and th...

Home prices fall in major US cities

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

Home prices are falling across most of America's largest cities, and average prices in eight major markets have hit their lowest point since the housing bust. The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index released Tuesday fell 1 percent in November from October. All but one city, S...

Case-Shiller: S. Fla. home prices slide to new low

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

The average price of a South Florida home slid to a new post-peak low in November. According to the closely watched Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller index, the average price of single-family homes in South Florida in November tumbled even lower than lows set in spring of 2009. South Florida joins...

Case-Shiller: S. Fla. home prices slide to new low

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

The average price of a South Florida home slid to a new post-peak low in November. According to the closely watched Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller index, the average price of single-family homes in South Florida in November tumbled even lower than lows set in spring of 2009. South Florida joins se...

Case-Shiller: Home Prices Continued Their Descent In November

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

A second wave of falling home prices is battering some cities that had escaped the worst of the housing market bust. Prices in Seattle, Charlotte, N.C., and Portland, Ore., have hit their lowest points since peaking in 2006 and 2007. Denver and Minneapolis are nearing new lows. High unemployment an...

Outside D.C., a grim housing market

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

HOME PRICES - While home prices continue to tumble in many major metropolitan areas, the Washington region is one of the few bright spots where prices are rising, according to two reports released Tuesday. Only four of the 20 areas tracked by the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index posted year-ove...

STATES AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT - Will States Default on Their Debt?

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

Will states soon begin defaulting on their debts, with further negative implications for localities and U.S. metropolitan areas? More people are beginning to ask that question, and it's a natural one given the genuinely disturbing state budget conditions my group has been anatomizing out West in...

Homelessness In The Middle Class: Stable Families Reduced To Poverty

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

. -- Three and a half years ago, Kathleen Cooke was breathing easy. Having left her well-paying job for a new career as a teacher, she spent a blissful summer with her kids, sipping lemonade and baking cookies. But within months, the life she had built evaporated. When she failed to secure a new ...

Tumbling from middle-class security, and struggling to regain it

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

Five years ago, an automated voice on the phone would not have reduced Sondi Moore to tears. But five years ago, she was not behind on her electric bill. A couple of days after Christmas, Moore, 63, called Dominion Virginia Power to pay her bill, which was overdue - again. She was desperate to avo...

CBO projects U.S. budget deficit to reach $1.5 trillion in 2011, highest ever

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

The still-fragile economy and fresh tax cuts approved by Congress last month will drive the federal deficit to nearly $1.5 trillion this year, the biggest budget gap in U.S. history, congressional budget analysts said Wednesday. The grim forecast from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office ca...

In the GOP's budget, a surplus of spite

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

POLITICS – Despite what you might have heard, the coming battle on Capitol Hill is not really about "government spending" in the abstract. It's about two radically different visions of how money should be spent. Republicans who feign attacks of the vapors and fainting spells over the big, scary ...

The Fact Checker: Obama's 2011 State of the Union address

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

POLITICS - "I'm willing to look at other ideas to bring down [health-care] costs, including one that Republicans suggested last year: medical malpractice reform to rein in frivolous lawsuits." Since his time in the Senate, President Obama has favored certain ways of trying to lower costs related t...

State of the Union

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

POLITICS - PRESIDENT OBAMA entered office promising to be a different kind of politician - one who would speak honestly with the American people about the hard choices they face and who would help make those hard calls. Tuesday night's State of the Union Address would have been the moment to make go...

Obama's State of the Union feels comfortably traditional in the age of info overload

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

POLITICS - As a function of the times we live in, Tuesday night's State of the Union address and the traditional theatrics that accompany it (Purple necktie? Lavender? "Or am I colorblind, Candy Crowley?" Wolf Blitzer pleaded to his CNN colleague upon first glimpsing President Obama's tie) are now t...

The Economic State of the Nation Is Not Good

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

POLITICS - The economic state of the nation is not good. The President will surely address this fact in his State of the Union address. Unfortunately he faces three big impediments which limit the actions he can take: political opposition, the budget, and the limited tools available to any President...

POLITICS - Reactions to Obama's speech

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

Reactions from across the political spectrum "Parts of his speech were contradictory in that he seemed to be calling for a lot of new spending and at the same time calling for a freeze." - Sen. Susan M. Collins (R-Maine) "Tonight's speech should have been called a State of the Stimulus, and...

Lots of vision, but few policy specifics

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

POLITICS - At more than 6,000 words, there was a lot in tonight's State of the Union. The bulk of it was a vision of what American economic policy should be pointed towards in the years to come: A country that has a better educated workforce, a more sophisticated infrastructure, and a more innovat...

A Look Back At Failed Presidential Promises On The Economy

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

When it comes to job growth, has President Barack Obama kept all the promises he's made to the American people? Will he be able to keep the promises he will surely make Tuesday evening, in his latest State of the Union speech? If he hasn't, he's at least in good company. A review of presidential pr...

State of the Union 'response' often a mixed-blessing for the responder

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

POLITICS - Two House Republicans offered back-to-back responses to the State of the Union address Tuesday night - both bashing President Obama for ballooning government budgets but offering few specifics for solving the problem. The first came from Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.), who offered the GOP's of...

First thoughts on President Obama's State of the Union Speech

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

POLITICS - President Obama's second State of the Union address is in the books. Let the analysis begin! Our first -- but surely not last -- thoughts on the speech are below. What did you think? Make sure to take our user poll at the end of this post! * America the Exceptional: While the buzzword...

At the State of the Union, a spirit of camaraderie, at least for a while

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

POLITICS - As bright lights illuminated the House chamber Tuesday for the annual rite of Washington officialdom, the trauma surgeon and the congressional intern who saved the life of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords 17 days earlier joined the first lady in the gallery. Down below, a single seat in a sea of b...

State of the Union 2011: reactions

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

POLITICS - We're gathering reactions to President Obama's State of the Union address from across the political spectrum. Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Tx.) on MSNBC's "Morning Joe": Obama's speech, while patriotic, "was combined with some very small, old, recycled ideas." Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md...

SOTU Address: The Real Story of Obama and Corporate America

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

The president isn’t caving to business. He’s co-opting it. I’ll admit it: I was worried when the president named Bill Daley as his second chief of staff. True, Daley was a loyal Democrat long before he was a bank executive. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that the White House was giving in to mo...

State of the Union 2011: 'Win the future,' Obama says

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT - President Obama sought to rouse the nation from complacency in his State of the Union address Tuesday, urging innovation and budget reforms that he said are vital to keep the United States a leader in an increasingly competitive world. "Sustaining the American dream has neve...

State of the Union 2011: Grousing from oil, enviro lobbyists suggests Obama found center

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

POLITICS - If President Obama was looking for the political (or policy) center in his State of the Union address, there was an early sign that he may have succeeded - with rumblings of dissatisfaction coming quickly Tuesday night from environmentalists and oil lobbyists alike. On one side, oil al...

MEMORANDUM FOR NEW MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

Stanford, California Sunday, January 16, 2011 1 I work as a Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution and a Lecturer at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. I served President George W. Bush as Director and Deputy Director of the National Economic Council. I write about American econom...

Michele Bachmann delivers tea-party response to State of the Union

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

POLITICS - Minnesota Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann delivered her own rebuttal of President Obama's State of the Union address following the Republican Party's official response, which was delivered by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). In her brief remarks, which were streamed online and also aired by...

PREDATORY LENDIGN - At Fort Sill, High-Interest Lenders Circle The Gates

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

LAWTON, Okla. - Just outside the front gates of the sprawling Fort Sill military installation, in a scrubby corner of the windswept Great Plains, a panorama of "military loan" brokers, pawn shops and car stereo dealers awaits. In this landscape of high-interest, easy credit, Mike, a U.S. Army Priva...

Financial Meltdown Was 'Avoidable,' Crisis Panel Finds

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

The financial crisis could have been avoided and was the result of poor decision making both in Washington and at top financial firms that fostered a culture of excessive risk taking, according to a draft report written by Democrats on a panel that investigated the meltdown and obtained by Reuters. ...

SEC Illinois Pension Fund Probe Confirmed, WSJ Reports

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

On Monday night, the Illinois state governor's office confirmed that the Securities and Exchange Commission has launched an investigation into public officials' statements concerning the state's chronically underfunded pension fund -- which faces one of the biggest shortfalls in the nation. The Wa...

RECENTLY IN THE NEWS - 'The Last Name Effect' -- Study Says Your Name Affects Your Buying Habits

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

When your e-mail inbox lights up with a new message advertising "Get it while supplies last!" how do you respond? Do you delete it, save it for later or jump at the chance to get the deal before it's gone? Your reaction depends on the first letter of your last name, according to a recent study co...

FORECLOSURE STATISTICS - Slow Loan Resolutions Extend Shadow Inventory's Staying Power: S&P

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

The volume of distressed residential properties in the United States is the primary factor hindering a full recovery in the country’s housing market, according to Standard & Poor’s (S&P). Given the pace of defaults during the housing downturn, the market’s inability to quickly absorb the excess vo...

Case Shiller Released Jan 2011

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices - & FiServ U.S. Home Prices Keep Weakening as Nine Cities Reach New Lows According to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices New York, January 25, 2011 – Data through November 2010, released today by Standard & Poor’s for its S&P/Case-Shiller1 Home Price I...

Florida loses 8,500 construction jobs in December

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

Florida lost 8,500 construction jobs in December, falling to 338,400 from 346,900 in the previous month. And, between December 2009 and December 2010, the Sunshine State lost a whopping 20,200 construction jobs, according to employment figures compiled by the Associated General Contractors of Americ...

Job Growth Expected in Real Estate and Finance Sectors: Survey

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

The National Association for Business Economics (NABE) released the results of its latest quarterly survey this week, which polls member firms to assess their upcoming hiring strategies and gauge expectations for economic growth. Fifty percent of the responding companies in the finance, insurance,...

Florida loses 8,500 construction jobs in December

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

Florida lost 8,500 construction jobs in December, falling to 338,400 from 346,900 in the previous month. Florida lost 8,500 construction jobs in December, falling to 338,400 from 346,900 in the previous month. And, between December 2009 and December 2010, the Sunshine State lost a whopping 20,2...

UN: Global Unemployment Still High

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

DAVOS, Switzerland — Adjusting to the "new reality" framed the backdrop of the World Economic Forum on Tuesday, with some 2,500 business leaders, politicians and social activists looking forward while trying to anticipate unexpected shocks. "The post-crisis era should not be the pre-crisis era," Fo...

UNEMPLOYMENT - The changing face of American jobs

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

It's a tense time for many workers as career paths fade away and others emerge This is part of our year-long look at the unemployment crisis and prospects for recovery. If you're a travel agent, bank teller or a file clerk; if you run a printing press, answer a switchboard or work at a sewing ...

WALL STREET - S.E.C. Study Recommends More Oversight of Brokers

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

WASHINGTON — Investment advisers and stockbrokers should be subject to the same fiduciary standard of conduct — putting a customer’s interests above their own — rather than the different governance regimes that currently apply to the two groups, the Securities and Exchange Commission recommended on ...

Financial Crisis Commission Finds Cause For Prosecution Of Wall Street

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

The bipartisan panel appointed by Congress to investigate the financial crisis has concluded that several financial industry figures appear to have broken the law and has referred multiple cases to state or federal authorities for potential prosecution, according to two sources directly involved in ...

WALL STREET - Bernanke's QE1 and QE2 Pushed Stocks Skyward

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

No doubt about it, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's use of well over $2 trillion in Fed funds did help push higher the price of many securities, especially those in natural resource or commodity businesses -- increasing the paper wealth of the investing class. A related goal was to buttress the rate of...

State of the Union 2011: 'Win the future,' Obama says

Posted on Wednesday, January 26, 2011

President Obama sought to rouse the nation from complacency in his State of the Union address Tuesday, urging innovation and budget reforms that he said are vital to keep the United States a leader in an increasingly competitive world. "Sustaining the American dream has never been about standing p...

Why We Need the Fed

Posted on Wednesday, January 26, 2011

For years, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) has been on a crusade to reduce the influence of the Federal Reserve. Indeed, he even wrote a book called "End the Fed," which suggests that the U.S. would be better off without a central bank. While it might have been easy for Congress to dismiss such calls to abolis...

Continued troubles for housing market

Posted on Wednesday, January 26, 2011

RealtyTrac's report today on housing revealed ongoing troubles concerning the housing market. JEREMY HOBSON: We have new numbers on foreclosures this morning, and they signal more trouble ahead. Lenders are on track to take back more homes this year than any other year since the recession began. R...

Outside D.C., a grim housing market

Posted on Wednesday, January 26, 2011

While home prices continue to tumble in many major metropolitan areas, the Washington region is one of the few bright spots where prices are rising, according to two reports released Tuesday. Only four of the 20 areas tracked by the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index posted year-over-year price gai...

Michele Bachmann delivers tea-party response to State of the Union

Posted on Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Minnesota Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann delivered her own rebuttal of President Obama's State of the Union address following the Republican Party's official response, which was delivered by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). In her brief remarks, which were streamed online and also aired by CNN, Bachmann ...

At the State of the Union, a spirit of camaraderie, at least for a while

Posted on Wednesday, January 26, 2011

As bright lights illuminated the House chamber Tuesday for the annual rite of Washington officialdom, the trauma surgeon and the congressional intern who saved the life of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords 17 days earlier joined the first lady in the gallery. Down below, a single seat in a sea of brown leathe...

The Fact Checker: Obama's 2011 State of the Union address

Posted on Wednesday, January 26, 2011

"I'm willing to look at other ideas to bring down [health-care] costs, including one that Republicans suggested last year: medical malpractice reform to rein in frivolous lawsuits." Since his time in the Senate, President Obama has favored certain ways of trying to lower costs related to malpracti...

State of the Union 2011: Addressing a Divided Congress

Posted on Wednesday, January 26, 2011

President Obama delivered his State of the Union address to a divided Congress on January 25, turning the constructive agreements reached during the lame duck session last month, and appeals for civil discourse in the aftermath of the Tucson shootings, into broader policy overtures for the year ahea...

State of the Union

Posted on Wednesday, January 26, 2011

PRESIDENT OBAMA entered office promising to be a different kind of politician - one who would speak honestly with the American people about the hard choices they face and who would help make those hard calls. Tuesday night's State of the Union Address would have been the moment to make good on that ...

The Economic State of the Nation Is Not Good

Posted on Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The economic state of the nation is not good. The President will surely address this fact in his State of the Union address. Unfortunately he faces three big impediments which limit the actions he can take: political opposition, the budget, and the limited tools available to any President. He faces ...

In the GOP's budget, a surplus of spite

Posted on Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Despite what you might have heard, the coming battle on Capitol Hill is not really about "government spending" in the abstract. It's about two radically different visions of how money should be spent. Republicans who feign attacks of the vapors and fainting spells over the big, scary deficit would...

State of the Union: Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons reacts

Posted on Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Discussion Jamal Simmons is a Democratic strategist and principal at the Raben Group, a legal and public policy consulting firm. XVI. JAMAL SIMMONS : Thank you to the Washington Post for having me here. Surprise! I thought the President did a great job last night. I've been saying for months ...

Lots of vision, but few policy specifics

Posted on Wednesday, January 26, 2011

At more than 6,000 words, there was a lot in tonight's State of the Union. The bulk of it was a vision of what American economic policy should be pointed towards in the years to come: A country that has a better educated workforce, a more sophisticated infrastructure, and a more innovative economy t...

State of the Union: John Boehner adviser David Winston reacts

Posted on Wednesday, January 26, 2011

David Winston, Republican strategist and adviser to Speaker of the House John Boehner, will be online Wednesday, Jan. 26, at 1 p.m. ET to discuss reaction to President Obama's State of the Union address. I. The Discussion David Winston here - a Republican Strategist - to take your questions about...

First thoughts on President Obama's State of the Union Speech

Posted on Wednesday, January 26, 2011

President Obama's second State of the Union address is in the books. Let the analysis begin! Our first -- but surely not last -- thoughts on the speech are below. What did you think? Make sure to take our user poll at the end of this post! * America the Exceptional: While the buzzwords of Obama's ...

Obama's State of the Union feels comfortably traditional in the age of info overload

Posted on Wednesday, January 26, 2011

As a function of the times we live in, Tuesday night's State of the Union address and the traditional theatrics that accompany it (Purple necktie? Lavender? "Or am I colorblind, Candy Crowley?" Wolf Blitzer pleaded to his CNN colleague upon first glimpsing President Obama's tie) are now tweeted, dis...

State of the Union 2011: reactions

Posted on Wednesday, January 26, 2011

We're gathering reactions to President Obama's State of the Union address from across the political spectrum. Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Tx.) on MSNBC's "Morning Joe": Obama's speech, while patriotic, "was combined with some very small, old, recycled ideas." Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) on MSNBC's "...

Reactions to Obama's speech

Posted on Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Reactions from across the political spectrum "Parts of his speech were contradictory in that he seemed to be calling for a lot of new spending and at the same time calling for a freeze." - Sen. Susan M. Collins (R-Maine) "Tonight's speech should have been called a State of the Stimulus, and the...

State of the Union 2011: Grousing from oil, enviro lobbyists suggests Obama found center

Posted on Wednesday, January 26, 2011

If President Obama was looking for the political (or policy) center in his State of the Union address, there was an early sign that he may have succeeded - with rumblings of dissatisfaction coming quickly Tuesday night from environmentalists and oil lobbyists alike. On one side, oil allies were mif...

State of the Union 'response' often a mixed-blessing for the responder

Posted on Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Two House Republicans offered back-to-back responses to the State of the Union address Tuesday night - both bashing President Obama for ballooning government budgets but offering few specifics for solving the problem. The first came from Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.), who offered the GOP's official respon...

Identifying and Regulating Systemically Important Financial Institutions: The Risks of Under and Ove

Posted on Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Certain financial institutions are so central to the American financial system that their failure could cause traumatic damage, both to financial markets and to the larger economy. These institutions are often referred to as “systemically important financial institutions” or SIFIs. Among its numerou...

Dramatic Decline in Hotel Capitalization Rates Reflects Shift in Market Sentiment

Posted on Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The increase in hotel transactions and low cost of debt and equity have driven down rates of return to pre-recession levels. This article sets forth an overview of recent hotel cap and discount rate trends and provides an outlook for 2011. The hotel investment market has taken a 180 degree turn ove...

U.S. Stellar Bond Rating in Jeopardy: Moody's

Posted on Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Rising federal debt could pose a negative outlook for the country’s AAA credit rating, Moody’s warned in a quarterly report on Thursday. The negative outlook would be dropped only if the U.S. imposed measures of fiscal austerity, such as curbing spending or raising taxes, according to the report. ...

The changing face of American jobs

Posted on Wednesday, January 26, 2011

It's a tense time for many workers as career paths fade away and others emerge This is part of our year-long look at the unemployment crisis and prospects for recovery. If you're a travel agent, bank teller or a file clerk; if you run a printing press, answer a switchboard or work at a sewing ma...

Fannie Mae OKs Foreclosure Delays for Hardest Hit Fund Assistance

Posted on Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Fannie Mae has issued a notice to its servicers, instructing them to postpone foreclosure proceedings for unemployed homeowners who are receiving financial help through Hardest-Hit Fund programs run by state housing finance agencies. According to the GSE’s newly released directive, if a housing fi...

Vampire Squid? Big Government? U.S. Crisis Reports Murky

Posted on Tuesday, January 25, 2011

WASHINGTON Three competing, politically recognizable tales of the financial crisis will emerge this week when a U.S. congressional panel finally concludes its 20-month investigation. The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission has failed to produce a consensus explanation of the 2007-2009 banking deba...

Buying A Home Cheaper In Nearly Three Quarters Of Big U.S. Cities: Trulia

Posted on Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Thanks to the foreclosure crisis, buying a two-bedroom home is cheaper than renting in most big cities. In its quarterly Rent vs. Buy Index, real estate data firm Trulia found that buying a property -- including the mortgage principal, interest, taxes and insurance -- was cheaper than renting in 72...

Fitch: $23 Billion in Commercial Mortgages Coming Due in 2011

Posted on Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Fitch Ratings says approximately 2,000 commercial mortgage loans are due to mature over the next 12 months, representing an outstanding balance of $22.5 billion. According to a new report released by the ratings agency Friday, the maturing loans, which have an average balance of $11.4 million, were...

Fed Backs Down From Plan To Gut Mortgage Regulation

Posted on Tuesday, January 25, 2011

WASHINGTON -- Following a public outcry from consumer advocates, the Federal Reserve is quietly backing down from a plan to gut the most significant federal remedy for predatory lending. The central bank has informed several consumer agencies that it will table its proposal to eliminate "rescission...

Slow Loan Resolutions Extend Shadow Inventory's Staying Power: S&P

Posted on Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The volume of distressed residential properties in the United States is the primary factor hindering a full recovery in the country’s housing market, according to Standard & Poor’s (S&P). Given the pace of defaults during the housing downturn, the market’s inability to quickly absorb the excess vo...

Distressed Property Sales Surges in December: Report

Posted on Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Sales of distressed properties surged in December as many banks resumed foreclosures following the suspensions prompted by robo-signing issues last fall, according to an industry study conducted by Campbell Surveys. The company’s HousingPulse Distressed Property Index (DPI) recorded a sharp jump la...

Poverty in Numbers: The Changing State of Global Poverty from 2005 to 2015

Posted on Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Poverty reduction lies at the core of the global development challenge. For the international development community, this objective serves not only as a source of motivation, but as a defining theme across its work. Many of the world’s most prominent aid organizations cite poverty reduction as their...

Future of GSEs Uncertain, Many Lobbying for Their End

Posted on Tuesday, January 25, 2011

For decades the GSEs have made it possible for many people to achieve their homeownership goals by reducing the cost of credit and making it more readily available. In light of the recent financial meltdowns across a wide breadth of sectors, banks and other corporations are calling for reform that...

S&P Case-Shiller Index Points to Double-Dip in Home Prices

Posted on Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The latest Case-Shiller figures released by Standard & Poor’s (S&P) Tuesday signal home prices across the United States continue to weaken. Based on data through November 2010, the 10-city composite of the closely watched gauge was down 0.4 percent and the 20-city composite fell 1.6 percent from t...

Will States Default on Their Debt?

Posted on Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Will states soon begin defaulting on their debts, with further negative implications for localities and U.S. metropolitan areas? More people are beginning to ask that question, and it's a natural one given the genuinely disturbing state budget conditions my group has been anatomizing out West in...

At Fort Sill, High-Interest Lenders Circle The Gates

Posted on Tuesday, January 25, 2011

LAWTON, Okla. - Just outside the front gates of the sprawling Fort Sill military installation, in a scrubby corner of the windswept Great Plains, a panorama of "military loan" brokers, pawn shops and car stereo dealers awaits. In this landscape of high-interest, easy credit, Mike, a U.S. Army Priva...

'The Last Name Effect' -- Study Says Your Name Affects Your Buying Habits

Posted on Tuesday, January 25, 2011

When your e-mail inbox lights up with a new message advertising "Get it while supplies last!" how do you respond? Do you delete it, save it for later or jump at the chance to get the deal before it's gone? Your reaction depends on the first letter of your last name, according to a recent study co-a...

Taxpayers Footing $160M Legal Bill for Fannie and Freddie

Posted on Tuesday, January 25, 2011

In November, Texas representative Randy Neugebauer sent a letter to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) requesting a report from Acting Director Edward DeMarco detailing how much taxpayer dollars are being spent on legal costs for former Fannie and Freddie execs. A report released last week ...

Trust in Financial Industry Rising, Distrust in Mortgage Lenders Remains

Posted on Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A recent report by the Chicago Booth/Kellogg School shows around 26 percent of Americans have faith in America’s financial system. And though that number doesn’t seem to be that impressive, it is, says the Financial Trust Index, which was released Monday. In January 2009, when the Chicago Booth/Ke...

Treasury's Toxic Asset Funds Up 27 Percent

Posted on Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The U.S. Treasury's toxic asset funds have gained 27 percent since they were created to help revive the mortgage-backed securities market, according to data expected to be released later on Monday. As part of the government's deeply unpopular $700 billion bailout program, the funds were set up to r...

Mortgage Giants Leave Legal Bills to the Taxpayers

Posted on Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Since the government took over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, taxpayers have spent more than $160 million defending the mortgage finance companies and their former top executives in civil lawsuits accusing them of fraud. The cost was a closely guarded secret until last week, when the companies and thei...

S.E.C. Study Recommends More Oversight of Brokers

Posted on Tuesday, January 25, 2011

WASHINGTON — Investment advisers and stockbrokers should be subject to the same fiduciary standard of conduct — putting a customer’s interests above their own — rather than the different governance regimes that currently apply to the two groups, the Securities and Exchange Commission recommended on ...

Bernanke's QE1 and QE2 Pushed Stocks Skyward

Posted on Tuesday, January 25, 2011

No doubt about it, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's use of well over $2 trillion in Fed funds did help push higher the price of many securities, especially those in natural resource or commodity businesses -- increasing the paper wealth of the investing class. A related goal was to buttress the rate of i...

Bank Of America Reports Big Loss In 4Q

Posted on Monday, January 24, 2011

It should come as no surprise that Brian Moynihan, CEO of Bank of America Corp., wants to put 2010 behind him. "Last year was a necessary repair and rebuilding year," Moynihan said Friday. His comments came as the nation's largest bank reported a fourth-quarter loss of $1.6 billion and a full-year ...

More Banks Closed

Posted on Monday, January 24, 2011

WASHINGTON (AP) — Regulators on Friday closed banks in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Colorado, bringing to seven the number of closures in 2011. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation took over the banks, the largest by far being United Western Bank, based in Denver, with $2.05 bi...

Lenders See Little Choice: Layoffs

Posted on Monday, January 24, 2011

The banking industry, racked by the financial crisis and facing slower revenue growth, is starting to cut costs—increasingly at the expense of jobs. Wells Fargo & Co. and American Express Co. said Wednesday that they would take action to reduce expenses and lay off employees to become leaner. PNC F...

The Looming Budget Train Wreck

Posted on Monday, January 24, 2011

Many economists believe that the great recession resulted from a “perfect storm” of various factors that were not too serious individually, but when combined they interacted in ways that created a crisis that was larger than the sum of the contributing causes. Something similar is developing with th...

Fannie-Freddie Report Likely to Be Late

Posted on Monday, January 24, 2011

The Obama administration is likely to miss a deadline for issuing a long-awaited report about the future of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and what might replace them. The Dodd-Frank law enacted last year to overhaul financial-industry regulations didn't address how to reshape the trou...

Faulty foreclosure may mean Massachusetts buyer isn't

Posted on Monday, January 24, 2011

Massachusetts’ highest court will consider whether a home buyer can rightfully own a property if the bank that sold it to him didn’t have the right to foreclose on the original owner. The state’s Supreme Judicial Court, which agreed last month to take the appeal, already ruled Jan. 7 that banks c...

New Point of Foreclosure Contention: Default Notice

Posted on Monday, January 24, 2011

Last year's robo-signing scandals delayed tens of thousands of foreclosures in the 23 states where the process is handled in court. A new controversy could complicate foreclosures in the other 27 states. At issue is the notice of default, the first letter that a mortgage lender or servicer sends to...

The State That Went Bust

Posted on Monday, January 24, 2011

AS the states dream up budget plans for a new year, some find themselves staring at deficits in the billions of dollars, vanishing federal stimulus funds, mounting health care costs, their own struggling cities and a canyon of underfunded pension liabilities ahead. That — meshed with images from t...

Cash-Strapped States Seeking A Way To Declare Bankruptcy

Posted on Monday, January 24, 2011

States are looking for relief. As they confront massive debts and diminished revenue, some state officials are trying to determine whether they could take a drastic and illegal step: declaring bankruptcy, the New York Times reports. Such a move, though currently out of the question, might free stat...

With Retirement Savings, It’s a Sprint to the Finish

Posted on Monday, January 24, 2011

What would you do if your financial planner prescribed the following advice? Save and invest diligently for 30 years, then cross your fingers and pray your investments will double over the last decade before you retire. You might as well go to Las Vegas. Yet that’s exactly what many professional...

The 20 Most Frugal U.S. Cities

Posted on Monday, January 24, 2011

Known for Coca-Cola, peach trees and Gone With the Wind, Atlanta now holds yet another honor: It is home to some of the most frugal shoppers in the country. According to data collected by Coupons.com, residents of Atlanta used the site's online coupons more than any other city in the country, pri...

College Saving Gets Trickier

Posted on Monday, January 24, 2011

Burned by your 529 plan? There's a chance that your provider has sweetened the deal. But recent tax changes may make other strategies more attractive. Families need to know which college-savings vehicles make sense right now -- and which don't. After being pilloried by critics and written off by m...

Shamed Into Altering a Mortgage

Posted on Monday, January 24, 2011

In physics, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle states that the process of observing subatomic particles affects their behavior. We have a similar principle in journalism: the process of reporting a story can sometimes affect the behavior of those being reported on. Last Wednesday, the Heisenberg J...

Big Banks Want To Cash In On Fannie, Freddie Reform

Posted on Saturday, January 22, 2011

As the government struggles to revamp Fannie and Freddie, big banks are trying to capitalize on changes to the government sponsored enterprises. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is expected to release a report on changes to Fannie and Freddie later this month, and banks want in, the New York Times r...

Prevé Predicts 10-Year Miami Office Recovery

Posted on Saturday, January 22, 2011

MIAMI-Ask 10 people for their take on Downtown Miami's office market and you'll get at least three different answers. Some pundits expect a faster recovery than others-and some don't predict much of a recovery for the next decade. The overall office vacancy rate for Miami-Dade County fell to 18.1% ...

The metastasizing state-bankruptcy meme

Posted on Saturday, January 22, 2011

Talk of introducing legislation allowing states to declare bankruptcy began in earnest in November. A speech by Newt Gingrich was followed up by a big Weekly Standard piece on the subject by David Skeel, and soon the meme filtered into the blogosphere. Unlike most political chatter, this kind of tal...

Plan for Retirement

Posted on Saturday, January 22, 2011

Retirement can seem like a long way off, especially if you're struggling to make ends meet now. However, you do need to make saving for your "golden years" a priority. At the same time, you need to be smart about how you do it. It's also important to be realistic about your retirement needs. Think a...

TUNE-IN TO YOUR INNER SELF.

Posted on Saturday, January 22, 2011

If you find you’re having problems sticking with the budget, this tip may help. Many things, particularly the larger ticket items, you buy for other reasons other than necessity; the need to feel important, keeping up with the Joneses. If you can afford to do that, its just fine. But if you ne...

2008 Merrill Lynch New Retirement Study

Posted on Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Research The study, formally known as the 2008 Merrill Lynch New Retirement Study, delved specifically into four loosely constructed categories: nonfinancial behaviors, financial attitudes and behaviors, goals (both financial and life), and personality. We asked hundreds of questions about to...

The Importance of Having a WRITTEN Budget

Posted on Saturday, January 22, 2011

A WRITTEN BUDGET IS A MUST HAVE. If you're serious about saving, invsetment or making ends meet there's no way around it. Before you can save money you have to know what you’re spending it on. If you're reading this, make a promise to yourself to do this today – it’s the number one thing fol...

Improve your credit score and save thousands

Posted on Saturday, January 22, 2011

Improving your credit score can potentially save you thousands in interest up-charges and finance costs added in to compensate for the added lending risk bad credit is perceived as having. You can get your own free credit report and call each reporting company to fix the blemishes, speak with a fre...

Spending figures from Bureau of Labor Statistics

Posted on Saturday, January 22, 2011

spending figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and see how you measure up against the average American household (you should try to be lower in each category): • 33 percent of their income on housing • 19 percent on transportation • 13.5 percent on food (with more than 40 percent being sp...

If you find you've done everythng you can and still cant make ends meet...

Posted on Saturday, January 22, 2011

A lot of folks should probably consider down sizing their home altogether. If your house payment (or rent) is more than 30% of your income, you’re one of them. If you look at your budget and simply can’t find anyplace else to cut back, that’s also a sign that you may need to down-size or move to ...

Budgeting for Savings

Posted on Saturday, January 22, 2011

One of the hardest parts is for people to realize that your budget is not to be based on your full paycheck. It should be calculated after taxes and after you’ve already taken money out for your savings. Determine what your take-home pay is each month, then subtract about 10 percent for contribution...

Saving On Your Home Realted Costs

Posted on Saturday, January 22, 2011

Everyone’s tightening their belts. Biggest drop in American borrowing we’ve seen for seven decades. 80% are living paycheck to paycheck. For most folks the home carries the biggest expenses. Here are some tips to save home related costs: Seek a reduction in you home real estate taxes (6...

Some reader suggestions...

Posted on Saturday, January 22, 2011

It is always a better idea to buy goods in bulk, rather than in small quantities or from vending machines. If you buy in bulk, it saves money. * If you use compact fluorescent lamps to light up your homes, it will save you a lot of money, as they consume less electricity than other bulbs. * Keep t...

Some reader suggestions...

Posted on Saturday, January 22, 2011

It is always a better idea to buy goods in bulk, rather than in small quantities or from vending machines. If you buy in bulk, it saves money. * If you use compact fluorescent lamps to light up your homes, it will save you a lot of money, as they consume less electricity than other bulbs. * Keep t...

GET THE KIDS ON BOARD.

Posted on Saturday, January 22, 2011

Who doesn’t feel guilty saying ‘no’ when their kids want something? But when you pretend you can afford things you cannot pay for you’re setting a bad example for your kids. You’re teaching them to grow up and have their own credit card debt. Thinking substitute instead of sacrifice and keepin...

Possible Tax Breaks or Retirement Plan Exemptions

Posted on Saturday, January 22, 2011

There are a couple of options available that might free up much needed money for you or a loved one including possible tax breaks or retirement plan exemptions. For instance, if you've been unemployed for 12 weeks or more, you can take money out of an IRA to pay health-insurance premiums for you an...

KEEP A ‘CLEAN HOUSE’

Posted on Saturday, January 22, 2011

An eBay/Nielsen study found an average US household has 52 unused items lying around worth $3100. Typically clothes, toys, electronics and sporting goods. Think consignment store, garage sale or e-bay or an e-bay trading store (Plato’s Closet is another great spot for teen-agers and young ad...

The Cost of Being Connected

Posted on Saturday, January 22, 2011

Connectivity is another huge expense. It’s one that snuck up on us over the past decade and former generations didn’t have to deal with. We all talked about how technology would change our lives but we certainly weren’t thinking about it in terms of driving us to the poor house; cell phones, cab...

Save for a Rainy Day

Posted on Saturday, January 22, 2011

Cash is king, and if you run into financial difficulties such as job loss or another emergency, you will need plenty of cash on hand to make ends meet. That's why it's essential you have an emergency fund. Financial guru Suze Orman recommends you have enough cash to cover at least eight months worth...

Think "Substitute" not "Sacrifice"

Posted on Saturday, January 22, 2011

Entertainment; The average American is spending about 15% of their income on food, almost half of that in restaurants! Choose restaurants you have coupons for or where the meals are big enough to make a second meal at home from left overs. Take your kids to the library instead of book store. Try...

Insurances, a big ticket item on your budget

Posted on Saturday, January 22, 2011

Insurances (auto, homeowners, health, life, disability) add up to one of the biggest expenses. Make it a practice to contact all of your insurance carriers a month before your annual renewals and re-shop insurance. Make sure you’re getting all of the allowed discounts. For example, there may be ...

Avoid Debt

Posted on Saturday, January 22, 2011

There are two kinds of debt: good and bad. An example of good debt is a mortgage. While you certainly don't enjoy paying the bill every month, you've made an investment and are earning equity. Bad debt comes in the form of credit card bills. You're paying interest and possibly fees to fund a purchas...

U.S. for sale - Uncle Sam's real estate play

Posted on Friday, January 21, 2011

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- As Washington deficit hawks scour the federal budget for ways to trim the size of government, they are arriving at one idea with increasing frequency: Put government property on the auction block. It's an opportunity rooted in the scale of federal holdings. The government own...

BancAlliance: Former Treasury Advisor Starting Company That Could Help Small Banks

Posted on Friday, January 21, 2011

In an effort to restore a crucial segment of the economy that was wounded in the financial crisis, a former government official is starting a company aimed at helping small banks. Lee Sachs, a former advisor in the Treasury department, is teaming with John Delaney, former chief executive of the ban...

Trillion-Dollar Banks Could Get Bigger Under Financial Overhaul Law

Posted on Friday, January 21, 2011

WASHINGTON -- The nation's four biggest banks can grow even bigger, with the potential to add at least another trillion dollars onto their balance sheets before they even reach the limits imposed by the Obama administration, according to an administration study released Tuesday. Dodd-Frank, the 201...

Banks Want Pieces of Fannie-Freddie Pie

Posted on Friday, January 21, 2011

As the Obama administration prepares a report on the future of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, some of the nation’s largest banks are offering a few suggestions. Wells Fargo and some other large banks would like private companies, perhaps even themselves, to become the new housing finance giants helpi...

From Struggling Owners to Stable Renters

Posted on Friday, January 21, 2011

Greenport, N.Y. THERE are many factors behind the mortgage crisis, but there is only one simple explanation for why we have failed to solve it. Any effort to help homeowners by forgiving some of their loans is said to create a moral hazard, rendering it politically toxic. But without help, homeown...

'Right To Rent' Program Not On The Horizon, Officials Say

Posted on Friday, January 21, 2011

On Wednesday, the New York Times published an op-ed by the former mayor of Greenport, N.Y., David E. Kapell, with a powerful suggestion for helping struggling homeowners and fixing the mortgage crisis. But according to officials at Treasury and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the id...

New York Times Provides The Ultimate Inside-The-Bubble Guide To Economic Crisis

Posted on Friday, January 21, 2011

In a magazine piece previewed in today's New York Times, Peter Baker drops thousands and thousands of words concerning the White House's effort to do something about the terrible economy and its attendant massive unemployment crisis. The "path from crisis to anemic recovery," Baker says, "was marked...

LPS: 6.87 Million Mortgages Delinquent or in Foreclosure

Posted on Friday, January 21, 2011

As of the end of December, 6.87 million mortgages in the United States were delinquent or in the process of foreclosure, according to Lender Processing Services (LPS). The company provided the media with a preview of its soon-to-be-released mortgage performance report this week, covering data throu...

The Making of a 'Liar's Loan,' With Help From the Loan Officer

Posted on Friday, January 21, 2011

Now that we're in the midst of the post-housing bubble foreclosure mess, it's easy to lose sight of part of how we got here: "liar's loans." Liar's loans were mortgages that didn't require the wannabe borrower to prove she could repay the loan. They came in various flavors, allowing the borrower ...

Condo seeks sanctions over 'fraudulent' foreclosure filings

Posted on Friday, January 21, 2011

A condominium association in Weston is seeking monetary sanctions against the Law Offices of David J. Stern, which it claims filed "fraudulent" court documents that led to two simultaneous foreclosures being filed on the same unit. The foreclosures brought on behalf of two lenders claiming to own t...

SEC Requires Reporting Of Data On Loans

Posted on Friday, January 21, 2011

WASHINGTON — Federal regulators are requiring firms selling securities tied to mortgages, credit cards and student loans, which froze during the financial crisis, to publicly report information on the loans that back them. The Securities and Exchange Commission adopted new rules Thursday requiring ...

For Late Boomers, The Recession Hit Harder

Posted on Friday, January 21, 2011

Not the youngest, nor the oldest, but the people right in the middle are having a tough time dusting themselves off from the recession. Research from Mintel, a market research firm, found that many younger Baby Boomers and older Gen Xers are spending less now, plan to spend less in the future and ...

Miami Home Sales Rise 18% in December

Posted on Friday, January 21, 2011

MIAMI -- Sales of existing single-family homes in the Miami metropolitan area in December were 734 vs. 623 a year earlier, a increase of 18%. Meanwhile, December sales in Miami rose 70% from December 2008, according to the Miami Association of Realtors and the Southeast Florida Multiple Listing Se...

2010 Was The Weakest Year For Home Sales Since 1997

Posted on Friday, January 21, 2011

WASHINGTON — The number of people who bought previously owned homes last year fell to the lowest level in 13 years. But home sales in December jumped to fastest pace in seven months. The National Association of Realtors says sales dropped 4.8 percent to 4.91 million units in 2010. That was slightly...

Existing-Home Sales Soar to Seven-Month High

Posted on Friday, January 21, 2011

Sales of previously owned homes surged 12.3 percent in December, according to data released by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) Thursday. Existing-home sales have increased five of the last six months and have now hit a seven-month high, at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.28 millio...

Housing Starts Fall To Lowest Level Since 2009

Posted on Friday, January 21, 2011

WASHINGTON: Groundbreaking on new U.S. home construction fell more than expected in December to its lowest in over a year, suggesting the battered housing sector remains a major roadblock to economic recovery. U.S. housing starts dropped to an annual rate of 529,000 units, the Commerce Department s...

2010 weakest year for home sales since 1997

Posted on Friday, January 21, 2011

Fewer people bought previously owned homes last year than in any year since 1997. But home sales in December jumped to fastest pace in seven months. The National Association of Realtors says sales fell 4.8 percent to 4.91 million units in 2010, the weakest performance in 13 years. Home prices ...

FHFA to Develop New Mortgage Servicing Compensation Plan

Posted on Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) on Tuesday said it has directed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to work in coordination with FHFA and HUD to consider alternatives for future mortgage servicing structures and fees for single-family mortgage loans. The current compensation plan is typically base...

Regulators to Release Results of Foreclosure Probe Next Month

Posted on Thursday, January 20, 2011

The task force assembled by federal banking regulators to investigate the industry’s servicing and foreclosure practices is expected to release the results of its findings as early as February. The Federal Reserve, FDIC, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), and the Office of Thrift Sup...

Bank Foreclosures in Miami-Dade County Priced 47% Below Market

Posted on Thursday, January 20, 2011

According to RealtyStore, a provider of local foreclosure listings and data, the median price of bank foreclosures in Miami-Dade County, Florida, are nearly half that of the current market rate. RealtyStore analysis showed that 64 percent of all foreclosures for sale in the county are marketed by b...

FDIC's Bair Warns of Double-Dip if Servicing Problems Aren't Remedied

Posted on Thursday, January 20, 2011

FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair warned mortgage bankers Wednesday that failure to take immediate and decisive action to deal with the foreclosure crisis and breakdowns in servicing procedures will trigger a double-dip in U.S. housing markets and keep the industry deeply mired in a cycle of credit distress...

Adjustable-Rate Mortgages Likely to Gain Favor with Borrowers: Report

Posted on Thursday, January 20, 2011

Since the onset of the mortgage crisis, homebuyers have shied away from adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) because they are wary of the risks, but these loan products are slowly gaining back lost market share, according to Frank Nothaft, VP and chief economist for Freddie Mac. “The potential for muc...

Fed Economist To Greenspan In 2005: Discovery Channel's 'Flip That House' Should Cause 'Existential

Posted on Wednesday, January 19, 2011

In late 2005, as the housing bubble that would ultimately pop and bring down the economy continued to inflate, Federal Reserve economists briefed the central bank's then chairman, Alan Greenspan, on the state of the economy during a meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee. Amid an onslaught o...

VA Authorizes Relocation Help for Short Sales and Deeds-in-Lieu

Posted on Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) has instructed mortgage servicers to pay relocation assistance to borrowers completing short sales or deeds-in-lieu (DIL) of foreclosure on VA loans. “VA has a longstanding policy of encouraging servicers to work with veteran borrowers to explore all reasonab...

Association of Mortgage Investors Encourages Bank Transparency

Posted on Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Banks already facing many legal issues have yet another group on their hands that is closely examining servicing practices and demanding greater transparency. The Association of Mortgage Investors has released a white paper featuring remedies to restore and stabilize the U.S. mortgage and housing m...

The Eight States Running Out Of Homebuyers

Posted on Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The single biggest problem in the U.S. real estate market is simple: There are very few homebuyers. That seems obvious, but the “buyers’ strike” has caused house prices to drop, along with an epidemic of foreclosures. What’s worse, the long depression in real estate is probably not over. S&P has fo...

How Government Failure Caused the Great Recession

Posted on Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Today we see how utterly mistaken was the Milton Friedman notion that a market system can regulate itself. We see how silly the Ronald Reagan slogan was that government is the problem, not the solution . . . I wish Friedman were still alive so he could witness how his extremism led to the defeat of ...

Lawmakers Urge Federal Reserve to Abandon TILA Rule Change

Posted on Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Consumer advocacy groups have been joined by federal lawmakers in their campaign against a mortgage lending rule change proposed by the Federal Reserve. The Fed has recommended revising a stipulation that allows homeowners to stop a foreclosure on the grounds that the lender violated the disclosur...

Foreclosure-to-REO Roll Rates Fall Dramatically on Robo-Signing Delays

Posted on Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Recent data from Barclays Capital examines the ramifications of the fourth quarter foreclosure debacles on REO roll rates. Data released Friday shows the foreclosure-to-REO rate dropped 57 percent in judicial states the last few months of 2010, and dropped 42 percent in the non-judicial states. I...

Sellers Drop Asking Prices on Fewer Homes in December: Report

Posted on Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The number of price-reduced homes on the market in December 2010 fell by 7.7 percent from the previous month, according to a survey of 26 major U.S. markets conducted by the national real estate brokerage ZipRealty. Despite the month-to-month decline, the company says the number of homes with a red...

Price Corrections Leave Some Hard-Hit Markets 'Undervalued'

Posted on Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Home price declines have been sharp and widespread across the country as foreclosure numbers mount, the gap between supply and demand widens, and local markets inherently correct the unsustainable price run-ups that characterized the housing boom of a few years ago. But according to Local Market Mo...

Mass Supreme Court Rules...more thoughts

Posted on Wednesday, January 19, 2011

From a PR standpoint, the Mass ruling is further encouraging parties on both side to ‘dig’ in. It's being leveraged by everyone else to essentially further their own agendas. This is a situation where, in truth, very few folks are driven purely by the desire for an accurate and just foreclosure s...

City Debt Market Hits Worst Level Since Crisis

Posted on Wednesday, January 19, 2011

As the financial struggles of cities and states become ever more worrisome to investors, the market in their debt has hit its lowest level since the financial crisis, the Wall Street Journal reports. It's been a dismal few months for local governments. The market in their bonds fell every day this ...

State Budgets: Year Ahead Looms As Toughest Yet

Posted on Wednesday, January 19, 2011

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — If 2011 is hinting at a national recovery, there is little sign of it in statehouses across the country. States that already have raided their reserve funds, relied on borrowing or accounting gimmicks, and imposed deep cuts on schools, parks and public transit systems no longer...

A Dozen Ways to Eliminate the Middle Class

Posted on Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Cleaning out my files at year's end, I came across notes that I wrote in early 2002 on a dozen ways to eliminate America's middle class through the actions of government and private industry. I must have put the notes away because it did not seem possible that all these things could come to pass. Ho...

Obama's Bogus Explanation For Troubles: Too Much Regulation

Posted on Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Two years after inheriting the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression, President Barack Obama has settled on an unhelpful new explanation for his failure to restore jobs: A surplus of suffocating regulations. In an op-ed published in Tuesday's Wall Street Journal, the president decries ...

Private Equity Real Estate Fundraising Took a Hit in 2010

Posted on Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Private equity real estate funding totaled $35.8 billion globally in 2010, which is the lowest annual total since 2003, when funds raised just over $14 billion, a study found. The numbers are 28 percent lower than the $49.8 billion raised in 2009. The study, conducted by Preqin, an information co...

The Chinese Yuan vs. the Power of the Dollar

Posted on Wednesday, January 19, 2011

China and Russia's recent agreement to allow their currencies to trade on spot inter-bank markets should be welcomed as a sign that both countries have matured to a stage where they can compete in the global currency markets. Although the official purpose of the move is to promote bilateral trade an...

Moody's: CMBS Loan Delinquencies Soar 79% in 2010

Posted on Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The delinquency rate on loans included in conduit and fusion U.S. commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) deals skyrocketed 79 percent over the past 12 months, according to Moody’s Investors Service. Delinquencies started 2010 at 4.90 percent. By the end of December, the rate of past-due loan...

From Defending to Policing Wall Street

Posted on Wednesday, January 19, 2011

J. Bradley Bennett, over the last two decades, has defended financial advisers, brokerage firms and corporate chieftains accused of everything from insider trading to accounting fraud. Now, he’s switching sides. On Jan. 3, Mr. Bennett became the top cop at Wall Street’s self-policing organization,...

Report Says Excessive Risk Remains After Bank Bailout

Posted on Saturday, January 15, 2011

WASHINGTON — Citigroup, the giant financial services company bailed out by the government in November 2008, is still too big to be allowed to fail, a situation that could make future bailouts of big banking companies a necessity, a report by a government watchdog said Thursday. The report, issued ...

Treasury Launches Debit Cards For Tax Refunds

Posted on Saturday, January 15, 2011

Americans without bank accounts may soon be able to carry debit cards. The Treasury Department is rolling out a new program to let people collect tax refunds on government-issued debit cards, rather than via checks sent in the mail, the government announced Tuesday. By allowing consumers to collect...

The Fed Has Spoken: No Bailout for Main Street

Posted on Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Federal Reserve was set up by bankers for bankers, and it has served them well. Out of the blue, it came up with $12.3 trillion in nearly interest-free credit to bail the banks out of a credit crunch they created. That same credit crisis has plunged state and local governments into insolvency, b...

Is Another Bank Bailout Coming?

Posted on Saturday, January 15, 2011

Everything I am reading these days on financial issues points to some serious reckoning soon to come, especially because of -- as the folks at Third Way are calling it -- foreclosure-gate. The Massachusetts Supreme Court ruling in the Ibanez case, along with a growing body of cases where the banks a...

Banks Lose Pivotal Foreclosure Case

Posted on Saturday, January 15, 2011

A recent decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court is expected to have sweeping implications for the nation’s banking industry when it comes to how they’ve approved foreclosures and may even invalidate thousands of foreclosures across the country. The court, in affirming a lower court’...

What Goldman Sachs Failed to Acknowledge

Posted on Saturday, January 15, 2011

To great fanfare, this week Goldman Sachs introduced the report of its business standards committee, which makes recommendations regarding changes to the internal structure of what is currently the fifth-largest bank-holding company in the United States. Some recommended changes are long overdue – p...

As Banks Raise Fees, You Have Options

Posted on Saturday, January 15, 2011

So now we know what the big banks’ New Year’s resolution was: Keep the profits flowing from basic checking accounts. Earlier this month, Bank of America announced its intent to test a number of different monthly fees for customers in some states, depending on the balance in their accounts or other...

Big Banks to New Jersey: Stop Bugging Us About Foreclosure Documents

Posted on Saturday, January 15, 2011

When New Jersey tightened its rules for foreclosures in response to the crisis over false loan documents, it took the unprecedented step of ordering the six largest servicers -- Ally Bank/GMAC, Bank of America (BAC), Citibank (C), JPMorgan Chase (JPM), Wells Fargo (WFC) and OneWest -- to explain why...

Citigroup Was On The Verge Of Failure, New Report Finds; Rescue Was Based On 'Gut Instinct'

Posted on Saturday, January 15, 2011

Citigroup, the nation's third-largest bank by assets, was on the verge of being closed by regulators the week of Nov. 24, 2008 as depositors rapidly withdrew money and the bank's counterparties declined to provide it credit, according to a government report released Thursday. The new findings shed ...

THE ECONOMY & COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE

Posted on Saturday, January 15, 2011

Fed’s Beige Book: Continued Pockets of Economic Distress, but Definite Signs of Recovery; Commercial Real Estate on the Mend, But Not Out of Danger Yet The Federal Reserve’s Jan. 12 “Beige Book” — intended to help guide the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) when it next discusses monetary polic...

Foreign Investors Rank U.S. No. 1 in Commercial Real Estate

Posted on Saturday, January 15, 2011

The U.S. commercial real estate market is ranked the No. 1 choice for investment this year and viewed as the best opportunity for price appreciation, according to a survey of foreign investors by the Association of Foreign Investors in Real Estate (AFIRE). More than 60% of respondents indicated t...

Fed Official: $600 Billion Bond Program Could Backfire

Posted on Saturday, January 15, 2011

WASHINGTON — A member of the Federal Reserve's policymaking committee suggested Tuesday that the Fed may need to scale back its $600 billion Treasury bond-buying program if the economy grows more quickly than expected. But Charles Plosser, who becomes a voting member this year, is unlikely to sway ...

Fed's Mortgage Investments Result in Record Returns

Posted on Saturday, January 15, 2011

Income and expense data released by the Federal Reserve this week shows the central bank is earning a pretty penny from its investments in mortgage securities. The Fed began buying mortgage bonds from Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Ginnie Mae in November of 2008 to help prop up the nation’s deterior...

Foreclosure Record: Banks Seize 1.05 Million Homes In 2010

Posted on Saturday, January 15, 2011

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Banks seized more than a million U.S. homes in one year for the first time last year, despite a slowdown in the last few months as questions around foreclosure processing arose, a leading firm said on Thursday. Banks foreclosed on 69,847 properties in December, bringing the y...

RealtyTrac: More Than One Million Homes Seized by Lenders in 2010

Posted on Saturday, January 15, 2011

Lenders repossessed 1,050,500 homes last year, according to the 2010 end-of-year foreclosure report from RealtyTrac. The annual figure marks a record-high number of new bank-owned properties tracked by the company. The 2010 tally is up 14 percent from the previous year, when banks seized 918,376 h...

Commentary: The True Market Revealed

Posted on Saturday, January 15, 2011

While problems in the foreclosure process will impact the market in the 4th quarter, the 3rd quarter was telling for the long-term trend of the nation's housing market. In the wake of the Federal tax credit home sales plummeted, but price trends were a mixed bag with some markets declining while oth...

December Foreclosure Activity Mixed on West Coast: Report

Posted on Saturday, January 15, 2011

A recent report by ForeclosureRadar shows unexpectedly mixed foreclosure activity in its coverage area for the month of December. The California-based firm tracks foreclosures and provides auction updates for Arizona, California, Washington, Nevada, and Oregon. According to the company, foreclos...

SEC Inspector General Probes Khuzami's Role in Citi Settlement

Posted on Saturday, January 15, 2011

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s internal watchdog is reviewing an allegation that Robert Khuzami, the agency’s top enforcement official, gave preferential treatment to Citigroup Inc. executives in the agency’s $75 million settlement with the firm in July. Inspector General H. David K...

Blame the Victims and Enrich the Perpetrators

Posted on Saturday, January 15, 2011

It's outrageous the way subprime borrowers swarmed and solicited unsuspecting lenders and camped out in the offices of investment banks to push them to find ways to finance their insatiable need for capital to purchase homes. It's a scandal the way they got in bed with appraisers to get the home val...

Paul Krugman: Why The Euro Could Be Doomed

Posted on Saturday, January 15, 2011

Call it the curse of the single currency. In this week's New York Times Magazine, Paul Krugman argues that the pace of recovery in Europe is being slowed because each country is tied to using the euro as a currency, but lacks the benefits of a single government. While the human cost of the econo...

World Bank: Rich Nations' Growth Lags Need For Jobs

Posted on Saturday, January 15, 2011

WASHINGTON - Economic growth in the world's wealthier nations is still too slow to create enough jobs for the tens of millions who lost their during the worst global recession since World War Two, the World Bank said on Wednesday. In a report detailing its outlook for 2011, the multilateral lender...

New European Banking Regulator Will Conduct a Stress Test on Lenders

Posted on Saturday, January 15, 2011

PARIS — The European banking regulator said on Thursday that it would conduct another round of stress tests on lenders this spring, a move that investors hope will offer more clarity on the health of balance sheets than previous exercises. Also Thursday, a panel of international regulators said th...

Overpriced, Underpriced Housing Markets

Posted on Saturday, January 15, 2011

What are the most overvalued and undervalued housing markets in the country? The Local Market Monitor recently released a list for investors analyzing buying conditions for real estate markets in the United States. Overall, Las Vegas was a city they flagged as the worst -- or “frankly dangerous,”...

Best Cities to Buy a Home

Posted on Saturday, January 15, 2011

WalletPop, a consumer finance Web site, offers its unscientific list of the best places to purchase a home in 2011. (The following cities are listed in no special order.) Pocono Mountains, Pa.: An attractive vacation-home spot that comes with affordable prices; median home price: $78,000 for Poco...

Tables Turn in 2011 on Rent vs. Own

Posted on Saturday, January 15, 2011

Rents have surged as home prices have dropped, which have prompted some to ponder whether homeownership is really worth it. Moody’s Analytics data has suggested that it makes more financial sense to rent than buy in many U.S. cities, but Moody’s chief economist Mark Zandi now says that is about to c...

Beige Book Points to Moderate Growth but Weak Housing Conditions

Posted on Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Federal Reserve published its latest edition of the popular Beige Book Wednesday. Based on information received from contacts in the field, the central bank says economic activity across the country “continued to expand moderately” during the last part of 2010 with steady improvements seen in la...

Vacation Homes Emerge as Hot Market

Posted on Saturday, January 15, 2011

Vacation communities across the United States are showing big signs of a rebounding real estate market, reporting soaring sales at levels that have not been been seen since the days of the housing boom, The Wall Street Journal reports. The increase has been driven by deep discounts and cash purc...

MBA Files Suit Against Labor Dept. Over Reversal of Overtime Ruling

Posted on Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) in an attempt to set aside a March ruling by the department that declared loan officers are entitled to overtime pay. In 2006 DOL issued an interpretation to MBA stating that typical loan ...

The Rise of the New Global Elite

Posted on Saturday, January 15, 2011

F. Scott Fitzgerald was right when he declared the rich different from you and me. But today’s super-rich are also different from yesterday’s: more hardworking and meritocratic, but less connected to the nations that granted them opportunity—and the countrymen they are leaving ever further behind. ...

How to Invest Successfully in Emerging Market Real Estate

Posted on Saturday, January 15, 2011

Today, I'm revisiting my "Five Golden Rules for Buying Pre- construction." I find this a useful process whenever a pre-construction project I have invested in or recommended is delivered. To remind you, buying pre-construction is where you buy into a development before it has been constructed. You ...

ENERGY EFFICIENCY AT HOME AND ON THE GO CAN EASE PAIN OF COLD WEATHER, ADVISES ALLIANCE TO SAVE ENER

Posted on Saturday, January 15, 2011

Winter’s chill pervades much of the nation, and escalating gas prices are putting their own chill down the spines of U.S. consumers. But until the spring thaw arrives, simple energy-efficiency steps at home and on the road—potentially supplemented by federal income tax credits for specific energy-ef...

Rehabilitation Cuts REO Sales Cycle by More Than Two-Thirds: Study

Posted on Saturday, January 15, 2011

The market’s been flooded with REOs, and banks are struggling to get these properties off their books and back into the hands of responsible homeowners. According to Field Asset Services, the answer to moving these properties faster is simple – with some pretty standard repairs, such as fresh paint...

'Home Sales Will Struggle,' Depend On Jobs: Home Builders

Posted on Saturday, January 15, 2011

ORLANDO, Fla. — The housing market could gradually begin to emerge from its doldrums this year, industry experts said Wednesday, but their forecast depends on a steady ramp-up in hiring and for the U.S. jobless rate to get no worse than it is right now. And even if their outlook proves true, a full...

What to Learn From Florida's Mortgage Meltdown

Posted on Saturday, January 15, 2011

If anyone wants to see a real live mortgage meltdown in progress, they should visit Florida where, according to the American Securitization Forum, more than 50% of securitized non-agency Florida residential mortgages are greater than 60 days past due. That means that at least 50% of all borrowers ...

Private Mortgage Insurance Plays Supporting Role in Housing Market

Posted on Saturday, January 15, 2011

A recent study examining the role of private mortgage insurance reveals the instrument serves a vital role in helping to establish stability within the housing market. The study, conducted by Promontory Financial Group, provides a review of how private mortgage insurance policies protect mortgage l...

Jumbo Mortgages: Price Differences Are Shrinking

Posted on Saturday, January 15, 2011

If you’re considering taking out a jumbo mortgage, now may be a good time to get the loan. According to data released last week from LendingTree, the difference in price between a conforming 30-year fixed mortgage and a jumbo mortgage for a higher amount was recently at around 60 basis points. (A b...

FHA Extends Temporary Condominium Rules, NAR Calls for Additional Enhancements

Posted on Saturday, January 15, 2011

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released Mortgagee Letter 2011-03, which extends the temporary guidance for condominium rules through June 30, 2011. NAR has been calling for an extension of the temporary measures for several months and recommended additional enhancements to ...

Mortgage Interest Rates Ease Further This Week

Posted on Saturday, January 15, 2011

Two separate industry reports released Thursday show that mortgage rates retreated this week, marking the second week in a row they’ve headed lower. Interest rates began a sharp ascension from record lows in early November, and experts have warned that the trend is likely to continue. Rates across ...

Commentary: Market on the Mend

Posted on Saturday, January 15, 2011

Florida was hard hit by the subprime mess and subsequent economic slide and no city in the state was spared. A sharp price correction and improvements in employment have helped turn the corner for the housing market in Cape Coral-Fort Myers, though. To find out how your market has done, see any of t...

60% Of New Jobs In 2010 Were In Low-Paying Industries

Posted on Saturday, January 15, 2011

Following last week's disappointing job report, investment research group TrimTabs brings us an even sharper picture of an economy not on the verge of an economic recovery. (Hat tip to Zero Hedge.) TrimTabs drills into the Labor Bureau's data for new jobs added in last year, to reveal some unsettin...

Older Workers Are Keeping a Tighter Grip on Jobs

Posted on Saturday, January 15, 2011

THE American work force is getting older. More people over 55 are working while fewer people under that age are employed. The Labor Department’s household survey in December found that 28.2 million people over 55 years of age had jobs, an increase of 7.6 percent from three years earlier, when the ...

Tumbling from middle-class security, and struggling to regain it

Posted on Friday, January 14, 2011

Five years ago, an automated voice on the phone would not have reduced Sondi Moore to tears. But five years ago, she was not behind on her electric bill. A couple of days after Christmas, Moore, 63, called Dominion Virginia Power to pay her bill, which was overdue - again. She was desperate to avo...

Homelessness In The Middle Class: Stable Families Reduced To Poverty

Posted on Friday, January 14, 2011

Three and a half years ago, Kathleen Cooke was breathing easy. Having left her well-paying job for a new career as a teacher, she spent a blissful summer with her kids, sipping lemonade and baking cookies. But within months, the life she had built evaporated. When she failed to secure a new job, sh...

The Housing Slump Has Salem On a Witch Hunt Again

Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2011

Buyers Worried About Bad Vibes From Foreclosed Homes Seek a Cleansing SALEM, Mass.—There's a certain look and feel to a foreclosed home, and 31 Arbella St. has it: fraying carpet, missing appliances, foam insulation poking through cracked walls. That doesn't faze buyer Tony Barletta since he pl...

City Bankruptcies Will Increase, Dimon Warns

Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2011

As cities across the nation face increasing budget strains, the vocal group of experts warning about municipal defaults has gained a powerful member: Jamie Dimon. The JPMorgan CEO said he expects to see more U.S. municipalities declare bankruptcy, Bloomberg News reports. His concerns echo those of ...

It’s Time to Stop Criticizing Bankers, Barclays Chief Says

Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2011

LONDON — A public debate about bankers’ bonuses is heating up in Britain as lawmakers ask for restraint on pay while some bankers ask to stop being blamed for the weak economy. The chief executive of Barclays, Robert E. Diamond Jr., said Tuesday that it was time to move on from criticizing and to l...

In their fight with banks over mortgage losses, investors get on borrowers' side

Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2011

The fight between big banks and investors who lost a fortune on mortgage-backed securities is shifting from private litigation to the public arena. The change in strategy comes as the number of foreclosures continues to skyrocket. Banks repossessed 1 million homes in 2010, and the number is expect...

Judge holds bankers in contempt, threatens jail

Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2011

Representatives from six major banks that skipped a hearing in a Miami condo association receivership case could face the wrath of Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey today if they fail to show up a second time. The judge already has declared lenders that own or are foreclosing on units at Bir...

Community Banks Win By Losing: Inside The K Street Hustle

Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2011

WASHINGTON - During the fight over Wall Street reform, community banks were most often pitted against their behemoth rivals. Small banks, which hold great sway on Capitol Hill, backed reforms to regulate derivatives, break up big banks and prevent them from trading for their own benefit with taxpaye...

Federal programs on hold along with spending bill

Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2011

Congress' passage of temporary funding in lieu of a budget for the year leaves many agencies unable to proceed with projects, including those to help the needy, the elderly and AIDS patients. Congress' failure to pass a massive spending bill — opting instead to fund the government with a temporary ...

Could The U.S. Central Bank Go Broke?

Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2011

WASHINGTON/CHICAGO - The U.S. Federal Reserve's journey to the outer limits of monetary policy is raising concerns about how hard it will be to withdraw trillions of dollars in stimulus from the banking system when the time is right. While that day seems distant now, some economists and market anal...

New York Judges Hold Foreclosure Lawyers Responsible For Filings

Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2011

As foreclosure cases continue to pour into courts, judges in New York are holding their fellow legal professionals accountable for their role in perpetuating foreclosure fraud. Judges in the state say foreclosure lawyers have filed often ludicrous paperwork on behalf of their clients, which Nassau ...

37% fewer foreclosures for Palm Beach County

Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2011

Palm Beach County saw a 37 percent decline in the number of foreclosures filed last year compared with 2009, marking the first year-over-year drop in foreclosure filings in five years, according figures released Wednesday by the county clerk’s office. The office said there were 19,840 foreclosure...

Lingering Foreclosure Mess Threatens Economic Recovery

Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2011

Hopes for economic improvement this year are being threatened by the lingering mess of unresolved foreclosures. Alleged foreclosure fraud committed by banks, mortgage firms and foreclosure attorneys is slowing down foreclosure proceedings which may in turn stifle the housing market's recovery in 20...

Goldman Sachs self-evaluation calls for disclosure of operations

Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2011

After Goldman Sachs escaped the financial crisis with hardly a scratch, the legendary Wall Street bank learned last year that the biggest risk to its business was in Washington. Regulators and lawmakers bloodied the firm, slapping it with a massive fraud suit alleging that it betrayed its clients ...

Feds charge 15 in bank fraud scheme

Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2011

Federal authorities on Wednesday charged a Palm Beach County consulting firm and 15 people with bank fraud in a complicated scheme to steal money and, for some defendants, support narcotics trafficking. Five of the defendants are identified in court documents as loan officers for large and well-kno...

South Florida bankers charged in $10 million scheme

Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2011

Seven South Florida bankers were among 15 people charged today with participating in a $10 million scheme to defraud banks through bogus commercial loans and lines of credits. The federal defendants include a loan broker, seven bank officers and seven customers. “They were taking bribes so they wo...

Rising Chinese Inflation to Show Up in U.S. Imports

Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2011

BEIJING — When garment buyers from New York show up next month at China’s annual trade shows to bargain over next autumn’s fashions, many will face sticker shock. “They’re going to go home with 35 percent less product than for the same dollars as last year,” particularly for fur coats and cotton s...

Zillow: S. Fla. home prices beginning to stabilize

Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2011

South Florida home values fell 1.1 percent from October to November, according to data from Zillow. Year-over-year, home values fell by 15.4 percent. The real estate website reported that 50 percent of homes in the tri-county area sold for a loss, while prices on 22.2 percent of homes on the market...

Housing's anemic rebound gives little boost to U.S. economy

Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2011

This may be the year the U.S. housing market starts crawling up from rock bottom. Held back by foreclosures, the pace will be so weak it won’t do much for economic growth. Home prices probably will start to gain in 2011’s third quarter and rise 0.6 percent for the year, the first annual advance sin...

The upward mobility gap

Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2011

College-educated Americans live in a different country than high school dropouts. The best way to mend the divide is by providing access to a decent education. Here's a familiar fact: Economic inequality is rising in the United States. The rich have gotten richer, the poor have stayed poor, and fam...

A Looming Debt Limit Crisis

Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2011

U.S. dollar notes. (Nicky Loh/Courtesy Reuters) The year has begun with fresh signs of political infighting over raising the amount of debt the country can legally hold, threatening to delay progress on debt reduction and rattle international confidence in the U.S. economy. The government is expe...

The Return to Fiscal Sanity Began in 2010—Or Did It?

Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2011

DECEMBER 28, 2010 — Historians of our era may describe 2010 as the year Americans finally woke up to the fact that their federal budget was on a dangerous course, hurtling toward a debt crisis that threatens American prosperity and international leadership. They may, but we won’t know until we see...

Economists Need a Code of Ethics

Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2011

Economists, no less than anyone else, need a code of conduct. The economics profession already has such a code, which the vast majority of economists respect and observe. Economists learned about this code of conduct not by seeing it in black and white (it's not written down), but by observing the b...

Good News for Real Estate: The Probable Scenario

Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2011

A raging debate has been taking place concerning the health of real estate, and how long it will take to absorb the excess supply. Here is a probable scenario (data thanks to Century Management): In September 2010, there were 3,585,000 homes listed for sale. At the current average rate of 350,000 h...

Minimum Wage Workers In Florida Are Getting Short Changed

Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2011

Six-cents seems like small change, but for nearly two hundred thousand low-wage workers in Florida, it's adding up to a legal battle. The National Employment Law Project (NELP) and Florida Legal Services (FLS) filed suit today against Florida's Agency for Workforce Innovation (AWI) for not raising...

The day of reckoning for public employees unions is here

Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2011

In July 2009, economist Barry Bluestone wrote an op-ed article for the Boston Globe warning that his state's public employees unions were on the same path to economic and political decline as the United Auto Workers was back in the mid-1980s. Voters, he warned, would no longer accept wages and ben...

Understanding inequality, Part II

Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2011

In response to this post, Brookings's Gary Burtless wrote in with some helpful comments on inequality and median incomes that I want to quote at length. Standard disclaimer: I've made light edits for space and clarity. I asked what made inequality jump so sharply in 1987. Probably the tax-reform bi...

What a plan to replace Fannie and Freddie should include

Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2011

WE ARE ABOUT to find out what the Obama administration proposes to do about the nation's mortgage finance system. By the end of January, it must produce a long-term plan for replacing the failed government-sponsored enterprises, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which back about half of the $10.6 trillion...

What the Doomsayers Don't Say to You

Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2011

Friday's report on the nation's unemployment situation had a little for the bulls and a little for the bears, when it comes to this nation's economic outlook for 2011. While the unemployment rate plunged in December to 9.4 percent from 9.8 percent, only half of the improvement came from Americans fi...

AP Analysis: Jobs Crisis Still Strong, Economy Will Continue Struggling

Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2011

Higher unemployment and foreclosure rates, especially in South Atlantic and Mountain states, raised the nation's economic stress in November, according to The Associated Press' monthly analysis. One month after economic stress reached an 18-month low nationally, it rose in three-quarters of the 3,1...

High Unemployment Helps Make 2010 Record For Workplace Discrimination Complaints, Resolutions

Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2011

Persistently high unemployment levels and a brutal job market contributed to a record number of workplace discrimination complaints in 2010, the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission reported Tuesday. "I think when people are less likely to find a new job, they're more inclined to file a charge ...

AP Analysis: Jobs Crisis Still Strong, Economy Will Continue Struggling

Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2011

Higher unemployment and foreclosure rates, especially in South Atlantic and Mountain states, raised the nation's economic stress in November, according to The Associated Press' monthly analysis. One month after economic stress reached an 18-month low nationally, it rose in three-quarters of the 3,1...

The job market: a lost decade

Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2011

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — The number of jobs in the U.S. economy today is about the same as 10 years ago. That’s already bad news, but combine it with an ever-growing population competing for those positions, and you see why the unemployment rate has been hovering around 10%. But, as the following ...

We're on Track for Full Employment By ... 2030? 2040?

Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2011

To give you a sense of how deep our employment hole is, consider one statistic: Even if we doubled the rate of December's job growth, we would still only achieve full employment by the mid-2020s. This graph from the Hamilton Project has been circulating the Web, and I'm passing it along. It sh...

'The Truth Behind The Jobless Recovery': Startups Can't Find Funding

Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2011

Even as the nation lacks the jobs to employ millions of workers, one crucial source of job-creation is being squelched: New businesses, which, according to a new study, contribute a fifth of the nation's new jobs, often can't get off the ground. After years of lax lending policies contributed to th...

The Most Persistent Myth About The Unemployment Rate

Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2011

Every time the government reports that the unemployment rate declined during the previous month, swarms of Internet users say in forums, comment sections and emails that the only reason the jobs situation seemed to improve is because thousands of people had their unemployment insurance benefits cut ...

Job Openings Tumble In November

Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2011

WASHINGTON — Companies planning to ramp up hiring this year will have an added luxury: their choice from a flood of applicants, without having to pay a premium for top talent. Unemployment remains near double digits, and there are nearly five unemployed workers competing for each available job. Tha...

Nightmare on Wall Street

Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2011

In a ruling that could be historic, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts ruled against two fraudster banks, US Bancorp and Wells Fargo, who illegally foreclosed on homes. In short, the two banks stole homes to which they had no legal claim. This rattled stock markets, causing the broad-base...

Under Fire, Goldman Sachs Reveals New Information On Lucrative Trading Activities

Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2011

Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs generated at least 18 percent of its revenues last year through trading and investing for its own benefit, according to a regulatory filing made Tuesday detailing the first nine months, flatly contradicting the firm's previous claims that such speculative activity mad...

Board of Contributors: Dodd-Frank eliminates exemptions for many fund advisers

Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2011

New requirements under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act will affect advisers to private investment funds such as private equity funds, hedge funds and other pooled investment vehicles with the costs and resources dedicated to compliance expected to disproportionately aff...

Minorities Increasingly Dependent on Government Welfare Programs

Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2011

An alarming report coming out of the American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau indicates that more than half the family households in parts of the District of Columbia and Prince George`s County are run by single parents. That these areas have a high minority population, largely...

Philadelphia Sheriff Announces 50-Day Moratorium on Foreclosure Sales

Posted on Wednesday, January 12, 2011

When Philadelphia Sheriff John Green resigned on Friday, his replacement instituted some major changes almost immediately. Acting Sheriff Barbara Deeley announced a move to dismiss several top members of the staff and hired a new chief deputy. Deeley also announced that a 50-day moratorium on she...

Industry Responds to Massachusetts Foreclosure Ruling

Posted on Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Friday ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Court that invalidated two foreclosures by Wells Fargo and U.S. Bank has prompted an outpouring of responses from the industry, and many are wondering if the ruling will have far reaching effects on other foreclosure sales. U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo f...

Renewing Economically Distressed American Communities

Posted on Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Deep recessions can put some places in a tailspin for decades. Some modest policies can help speed the recovery. All communities do not fare equally well after recessions and other economic shocks. Some bounce back fairly quickly. Others suffer more and take longer to recover—sometimes decades long...

Court gives banks 'beat-down' over foreclosures

Posted on Wednesday, January 12, 2011

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- The Massachusetts high court ruled on Friday that two foreclosures are invalid because the banks could not prove they had the proper paperwork to foreclose. The banks "failed to make the required showing that they were the holders of the mortgages at the time of foreclosur...

Facing Scrutiny, Banks Slow Pace of Foreclosures

Posted on Wednesday, January 12, 2011

PHOENIX — An array of federal and state investigations into the way banks foreclose on delinquent homeowners has contributed to a sharp slowdown in foreclosures across the country, especially in hard-hit cities like this one. Over the last several months, some banks have been reluctant to seize ho...

Florida and Arizona Banks Become First Failures of 2011

Posted on Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Just one week into the new year and regulators have moved to shut the doors on two community-based lenders in Florida and Arizona. Officials at the FDIC say they expect bank failures to begin tapering off from last year, when a total of 157 financial institutions were shuttered and the lingering e...

$2.6 Billion to Cover Bad Loans: It’s a Start

Posted on Wednesday, January 12, 2011

BANK investors cheered the announcement last week that Bank of America would pay $2.6 billion to buy back mortgages it had improperly sold during the housing bubble to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the beleaguered mortgage finance giants. It seemed a sweet deal for the bank, whose Countrywide Home Loa...

New York City Comptroller Issues 2nd Request for Audits From Banks

Posted on Wednesday, January 12, 2011

In November after the robo-signing scandal broke, New York City Comptroller John C. Liu, on behalf of the New York City Pension Funds, called on the directors at four banks to conduct an independent audit of their mortgage and foreclosure practices. The four banks – Bank of America, Citigroup, JP ...

FDIC May Have Stricter Servicing Rules in the Works For Banks

Posted on Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Reports have surfaced that the FDIC is contemplating stricter requirements for banks that service loans and own second lien loans. New requirements would force banks to disclose what potential ramifications a loan modification on the first loan would have on the second lien loan. A December speec...

Capital Sources: Spanish banks staying the course in S. Florida

Posted on Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Santiago Carbo-Valverde could be describing South Florida’s housing woes and their impact on the region’s economy and banking, not the damage the industry inflicted on his native Spain. “The exposure of our banks has been too high. We got carried away,” Carbo-Valverde said. “We observed from 2000...

Judges Berate Bank Lawyers in Foreclosures

Posted on Wednesday, January 12, 2011

With judges looking ever more critically at home foreclosures, they are reaching beyond the bankers to heap some of their most scorching criticism on the lawyers. In numerous opinions, judges have accused lawyers of processing shoddy or even fabricated paperwork in foreclosure actions when represe...

Foreclosure Case Deals Big Blow To Banks, Lenders

Posted on Wednesday, January 12, 2011

NEW YORK - In a ruling that may affect foreclosures nationwide, Massachusetts' highest court voided the seizure of two homes by Wells Fargo & Co and US Bancorp after the banks failed to show they held the mortgages at the time they foreclosed. Bank shares fell, dragging down the broader U.S. stoc...

Getting More Help With Your Down Payment

Posted on Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Home prices have dropped, and mortgage rates are low. For anyone with the tens of thousands of dollars now required for a down payment, it's a pretty good time to buy a house. Now, it's even getting easier without that hefty down payment, as governments step in to help out. A growing number of st...

Some Good Signs Appear in Commercial Real Estate

Posted on Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The commercial property market is an interesting economic indicator, shedding light on the overall strength of a metro economy — which segments are doing the best, and what is valued the most by job-creating businesses. The signals are mixed in the Bay Area, but they do suggest that a rebound is und...

Will bigger paychecks bring a better economy?

Posted on Wednesday, January 12, 2011

As a key piece of President Obama's signature tax-cut package begins boosting paychecks this month, American workers will confront a critical question that could determine the pace of country's economic recovery: Spend or save? One of the most visible components of the $858 billion plan passed by ...

Financial Literacy: What Works? How Could It Be More Effective?

Posted on Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Abstract This paper highlights the extent and effects of financial illiteracy among American households, reviews previous efforts to promote financial literacy, and discusses new directions for such initiatives. None of the four traditional approaches to financial literacy - employer-based, school...

CoreLogic Home Price Index Shows Decline for Fourth Straight Month

Posted on Wednesday, January 12, 2011

CoreLogic released its November home price index Tuesday, which shows that home prices in the United States declined for the fourth month in a row. The California-based analytics and property information provider reported that national home prices, including distressed sales, fell by 5.07 percent ...

Home Prices and Inventory Start Year Down: Altos Research

Posted on Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The first week of January typically marks the seasonal low point for home sales, new listings, and closings, as weather and holiday celebrations keep buyers and sellers from the market, and this year is no different, according to Altos Research. The company says both home prices and inventory are do...

A Housing Double Dip in New York?

Posted on Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Recent data from the Case-Shiller Index showed U.S. home prices slowing down and raised the specter of a double dip in the housing market. While critics say Case-Shiller isn't a very good gauge of the New York City market (it measures repeat sales of single-family homes and so doesn’t include condo...

Buy a House... Then Buy Another

Posted on Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Investment ideas are cyclical. They go dormant for a while, then revive, like fashions or cicadas - obeying their own curious rhythms. During the past few years, rare was the investment thinker who said you should buy a house. Housing was in a bubble that was deflating. But the investment seasons t...

Budget Woes Threaten Vital Services In New York City: 'When Parents Hear About This, They Start To C

Posted on Wednesday, January 12, 2011

NEW YORK -- The children at Strong Place day care in Brooklyn can recognize a Van Gogh. They can discuss the effects of acid rain. Some of these preschool-aged kids can even read. But in July, if New York City sticks to its current plan, this learning will end. Strong Place is one of 16 city-fun...

State Assembly May Tie Property-Tax Cap to City’s Rent Rules

Posted on Wednesday, January 12, 2011

ALBANY — Democratic leaders in the State Assembly are signaling that they are ready to embrace a cap on local property taxes, which could clear the way for its passage this year. The cap, popular with voters in New York’s suburbs, who pay some of the highest property taxes in the nation, is one ...

In Black America, The Depression Rolls On

Posted on Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The latest snapshot of the American job market, released by the Labor Department on Friday, confirms what most ordinary people already knew without need of a government report: Little is improving quickly or broadly enough to dislodge the anxiety that has taken up long-term residence in many communi...

Developer Sergio Pino's suit claims BankUnited broke promise on loan

Posted on Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Developer Sergio Pino, accusing BankUnited of being a "predatory financial institution," has sued the lender claiming it cost him more than $200 million in lost profits. Pino's Miami-Dade Circuit Court suit centers on the Grand Bay at Doral mixed-use project that was to be built on 350 acres in wes...

Identity Theft Victim Can't Convince Freddie Mac He Owns His Home

Posted on Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Identity Theft Resource Center says Ty Powell is a victim of identity theft. Freddie Mac says he hasn't paid his mortgage in two years. The local paper says he's dead. Powell says, "I don't know what to say." He's afraid to leave his Casa Grande, Ariz. house for an extended period of time ...

Big business is back in business

Posted on Wednesday, January 12, 2011

There was a festive atmosphere at U.S. Chamber of Commerce headquarters Tuesday morning as the corporate lobby delivered its annual "State of American Business" address. Margaret Spellings, the former Bush Cabinet officer who cashed out and joined the business group, made the introductions, tellin...

Gauging Those Tremors in Municipal Bonds

Posted on Wednesday, January 12, 2011

MARILYN COHEN, the founder of Envision Capital Management, manages $300 million in bond portfolios for individual investors. Since early November, she says, she has also taken on the job of running “the municipal bond equivalent of the Butterball turkey hot line,” fielding calls from investors worri...

JPMorgan Chase economist sees turnaround in Florida, nation

Posted on Wednesday, January 12, 2011

JPMorgan Chase's senior economist says "the lights are starting to come on" in both the nation's and Florida's economy. James E. Glassman said the key message for Florida is that while its economy is still struggling, "I personally think that we are closer to the end in Florida because the pace of ...

New Decade, New Hopes for Job Growth

Posted on Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The December employment numbers, released today by the U.S. Department of Labor, show signs of improvement in the labor market. The economy added 103,000 jobs last month—although encouraging after last month’s disappointing growth, this is not large enough to absorb new entrants and make a dent in t...

In Tucson's sprawling suburbs, recession has dimmed the American dream

Posted on Wednesday, January 12, 2011

TUCSON - North Soledad Avenue is wide and perfectly curved. The ranch houses along the street are set atop desert yards that require little maintenance: palm trees and prickly pear cactuses, gravel or stone or red pebbles. This was the dream - a quiet and peaceful block tucked within the suburba...

The Alarming Tidal Wave of Hotel Mortgage Loan Defaults/Workouts

Posted on Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The “Extend and Pretend” era is rapidly giving way to “Get Real to Heal,” and this article explores the complexities surrounding workouts of securitized hotel mortgages. Workouts of Securitized Hotel Mortgages Since 2003, roughly $110 billion of lodging mortgage debt has been originated and securi...

Losses on Private-Label Mortgage Securities to Increase: Moody's

Posted on Wednesday, January 12, 2011

As the backlog of foreclosures continues to drive down housing prices, losses on private-label residential mortgage backed securities (RMBS) will increase in 2011, according to Moody’s Investors Service. The New York-based rating agency’s forecast for more red ink seeping from home loans packaged ...

Profits are Booming. Why Aren’t Jobs?

Posted on Wednesday, January 12, 2011

To gaze upon the world of American corporations is to see a sunny place of terrific profits and princely bonuses. American businesses reported that third-quarter profits in 2010 rose at an annual rate of $1.659 trillion, the steepest annual surge since officials began tracking such matters 60 years ...

The Jobs lost in the Great Recession May Return... By 2018

Posted on Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The charade in the bloodied jobs market just won't quit. That's the growing contention--strongly promoted by the White House and Wall Street--that the employment picture is on the verge of taking a decided turn for the better and that it's only a matter of time, thanks to a peppier economy and g...

Introducing WaysHome

Posted on Tuesday, January 11, 2011

January 6, Fannie Mae launched WaysHomeTM, a new interactive video to educate homeowners about their options to avoid foreclosure, motivate them to make the right decisions, and encourage them to seek help. WaysHome is part of Fannie Mae's Know Your OptionsTM consumer initiative to help today's st...

EU Wants Bondholders To Share Bank Bailout Costs

Posted on Tuesday, January 11, 2011

BRUSSELS — The European Union is moving ahead with plans to shield taxpayers from having to bail out big banks in the future, but there are substantial obstacles to making bondholders share losses. The EU's executive Commission on Thursday presented plans that could give national regulators the pow...

11 States Where Bankruptcies Soared In 2010

Posted on Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Last year was a brutal one for Americans filing for personal bankruptcy, as long term unemployment and dire housing prices caught up to those who had managed to stay afloat. In 2010, personal bankruptcy filings topped 1.5 million -- a 9% increase from 2009, and the highest level since 2005, when a r...

The Limits of Consumption

Posted on Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The essential promise of a consumer society is that virtually all satisfaction can be purchased. This promise runs so deep in us that we've come to take our identity from our capacity to purchase: I shop, therefore I am. The dependency on shopping is not just about things, it includes the belief tha...

Geithner Asks Congress to Raise U.S. Debt Limit Quickly

Posted on Tuesday, January 11, 2011

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration warned Congress on Thursday that the government would reach its legal borrowing limit as early as the end of March and no later than May 16 and urged House and Senate leaders to move quickly to raise the debt ceiling to avoid an unprecedented default. The Trea...

Rep. Bachmann Introduces Bill to Repeal Dodd-Frank

Posted on Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Members of the 112th Congress were sworn in just days ago, and already lawmakers are making big waves. Rep. Michele Bachmann, a Republican from the state of Minnesota in her third term, introduced legislation Thursday that would repeal the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill that was signed into law ju...

Record High Food Prices Stoke Fears For Economy

Posted on Tuesday, January 11, 2011

SINGAPORE/LONDON - Record high food prices are moving to the top of policymaker agendas, driven by fears it could stoke inflation, protectionism and unrest and dent consumer demand in key emerging economies. The United Nations' food agency (FAO) said on Wednesday that food prices hit a record hig...

U.S. Home Prices Hit New Lows

Posted on Tuesday, January 11, 2011

There is a white elephant in the room that no one seems to be talking about. The push for short sales on the part of the lender and in some cases the government is at epic proportions. I agree that in some cases short sale may be the only option, but in most cases, it is not the only option. How on ...

Mortgage Interest Rates Fall Back

Posted on Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Two separate industry reports released Thursday show that mortgage interest rates across the board retreated this week, beginning the new year slightly lower than levels seen at the end of 2010, and still well below where they sat at the beginning of last year even with the sharp run-ups witnessed d...

Recession-bruised states' revenue sank 30 percent in 2009, Census Bureau reports

Posted on Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Clarification to This Article This article about the impact of the recession on state finances between 2008 and 2009 included a D.C. revenue figure that is not directly comparable to the Maryland and Virginia numbers cited. As the article said, the Census Bureau reported that revenue fell 28.4 pe...

State Budgets Unlikely To Get Aid From Congress In 2011

Posted on Tuesday, January 11, 2011

WASHINGTON — Cut spending, raise taxes and fees, and accept billions of dollars from Congress. That's been the formula for states trying to survive the worst economy since the 1930s. As Republicans prepare to take control of the House and exert more influence in the Senate, it's clear that option N...

Shadow Elite: Do Economists Need a Code of Ethics?

Posted on Tuesday, January 11, 2011

"An ethical code for economists? That's a bit like adopting a chastity vow at the Bunny Ranch." -reader comment to the New York Times, This comment is striking, and not just because it manages to put "economists" and "Bunny Ranch" in the same unlikely sentence. It shows the stark disillusionm...

Mistrust and Betrayal: The Far Deeper Costs of the Foreclosure Crisis

Posted on Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The financial costs of the seemingly endless foreclosure crisis have been widely reported with Credit Suisse estimating that as many as 12 million families will lose their homes before this is all over. The predatory lending that led to the spike in foreclosures, and the robo-signings coupled with t...

Report Says Struggling Cities May Not Recover for Years

Posted on Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A report conducted by a professor at the Rockefeller Institute of Government in New York and sponsored by the Mortgage Bankers Association paints a dire picture for the future of struggling neighborhoods and cities. A Study of Real Estate Markets in Declining Cities analyzes the recession’s impact ...

Number Of Poor May Be Millions Higher

Posted on Tuesday, January 11, 2011

WASHINGTON (AP By Hope Yen) - The number of poor people in the U.S. is millions higher than previously known, with 1 in 6 Americans -- many of them 65 and older -- struggling in poverty due to rising medical care and other costs, according to preliminary census figures released Wednesday. At the sa...

Trepp: CMBS Delinquencies Hit Record High Despite Market Optimism

Posted on Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The delinquency rate for loans held in commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) rose again in December with the percentage of loans 30 or more days delinquent, in foreclosure, or REO climbing 27 basis points to 9.20 percent, according to data released this week by Trepp LLC. The New York-based...

Where the Jobs Are: The Right Spots in the Recovery

Posted on Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Kent Niederhofer can't find enough mechanical engineers to work for him — in southeastern Michigan. You know, where Detroit is, with its 13.3% unemployment rate. Niederhofer is president of the American branch of Ricardo, an engineering consultancy that designs the power trains of some of the cooles...

Small Business Jobs Half-Way Back To Pre-Recession Levels: Intuit

Posted on Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Hiring grew at a modest pace at America's smallest companies in December, as firms with fewer than 20 employees added 57,000 new jobs to the economy, according to an Intuit report released Tuesday. The increase amounts to a 3.4 percent annual pace. Preparing for Friday's official employment report...

Houston, We Have a Problem With HAMP Loan Modifications

Posted on Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Meet Francia. Francia is a working professional and mother of three wonderful children and lives in a suburban neighborhood in Houston. When the economy took a nose dive so did her commissions in new home sales. She held on as long as she could digging into her savings account to try to keep up. As...

Fannie Launches Interactive Video to Help Borrowers Avoid Foreclosure

Posted on Monday, January 10, 2011

The Air Force uses visual flight simulators to train its pilots on proper procedures and prepare them for the actual experience. Virtual reality simulation models are used as therapeutic techniques to help people overcome their fears or uneasiness about certain real-life situations. By personally ...

Lawmaker Labels BofA-GSE Repurchase Settlement a "Backdoor Bailout"

Posted on Monday, January 10, 2011

The widely publicized agreement reached between Bank of America and the nation’s two largest mortgage companies to resolve claims that BofA’s Countrywide soldthem poorly underwritten loans was well received by the markets. But at least one lawmaker, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-California), is raising a re...

Regulators Want $2.5 Billion From Execs Of Failed Banks

Posted on Monday, January 10, 2011

WASHINGTON: U.S. banking regulators have authorized lawsuits against 109 bank officials so far as they seek to recover at least $2.5 billion in losses connected to recent bank failures. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp said on Tuesday the suits target bank directors and officers for "either gross...

THE FIFTEEN MOST HATED AMERICAN COMPANIES OF 2010

Posted on Monday, January 10, 2011

Customers, employees, shareholders and taxpayers hate large corporations for many reasons. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed many of these to choose the 15 most hated companies in America. We examined each company based on six criteria. First, employee opinions, using research firm Glassdoor and other servi...

Honey, I Shrunk The Credit Score

Posted on Monday, January 10, 2011

Steven Marks knew he was wasting thousands of dollars every month paying the mortgage on a home he bought during the housing bubble that will never be worth that much again. But he'd read plenty of horror stories about people having serious trouble modifying their mortgages due to bank confusio...

Multifamily Fares Worst as Defaults Hit New High

Posted on Monday, January 10, 2011

NEW YORK CITY-Confirming that this past October's one-month drop in the CMBS delinquency rate was an anomaly, the December 2010 percentage of loans at least 30 days past due climbed 27 basis points to reach an all-time high of 9.2%, with multifamily faring the worst, according to Trepp. Separately,...

States With the Longest Foreclosure Processes

Posted on Monday, January 10, 2011

Once a home owner falls into foreclosure, the eviction doesn’t happen right away — in fact, it may take years before delinquent borrowers finally have to turn over their keys. Data by LPS Applied Analytics shows that New York holds the longest average in the nation--mortgage loans in the foreclo...

BBB's Top 10 Scams, Schemes and Rip-Offs of 2010

Posted on Monday, January 10, 2011

Job hunters, consumers trying to dig themselves out of debt and those desperate to earn some extra money on the side were frequent victims of fraudsters, hackers and dishonest businesses in 2010, according to a list of the year's top 10 scams just published by the Better Business Bureau. "With th...

Clear Capital Reports 4.1% Drop in Home Prices in 2010

Posted on Monday, January 10, 2011

Clear Capital has released its home price report for the 2010 calendar year. The company’s analysis shows that compared to where prices were at the end of 2009, nationally, residential properties lost 4.1 percent of their value over the last 12 months, with 70 percent of major markets reporting pric...

Fed Moves To Gut Predatory Lending Regulation

Posted on Monday, January 10, 2011

The Federal Reserve is pushing a new mortgage regulation that would effectively eliminate the most powerful federal remedy for predatory lending. The regulation would severely limit a practice called "rescission," used to strike down demonstrably-illegal or fraudulent loan contracts and void a b...

Restarting the economic machine

Posted on Monday, January 10, 2011

"We have magneto trouble. How, then, can we start up again?" mused John Maynard Keynes in December 1930, likening the stagnant economy of the Great Depression to a broken generator in an automobile. Fear not, he wrote, the car eventually would get rolling again, and "we need not assume . . . that mo...

HOPE NOW Celebrates 4 Years, Releases November Data

Posted on Monday, January 10, 2011

HOPE NOW, the industry alliance of mortgage servicers and other professionals, investors, and counselors, completed its fourth year in existence in 2010. The alliance includes companies such as Bank of America, GMAC Mortgage, and Wells Fargo. The organization’s latest market report estimates 1.6...

Corporate America, paving a downward economic slide

Posted on Monday, January 10, 2011

The city on a hill and the last, best hope of mankind has entered a new period in its history. We are now America, the downwardly mobile. The problem isn't due to the recession. Would that it were. The decade just concluded is the first in which Americans, on average, have seen their incomes dec...

Why Gold Still Has a Long Way to Run

Posted on Monday, January 10, 2011

The supply of paper currencies is infinite; the supply of gold is finite. This striking contrast provides an excellent reason to exchange the former for the latter. The gold supply is limited...very limited. According to one estimate, all the above-ground gold in the world totals between 120,000 ...

IRS Liens 'Torment' Struggling Taxpayers

Posted on Monday, January 10, 2011

WASHINGTON — A government watchdog says the Internal Revenue Service is tormenting struggling taxpayers in the midst of a slumping economy by increasing the number of liens the agency has filed against people who owe back taxes. The IRS filed nearly 1.1 million liens in the budget year that ended i...

Who Wants a 30-Year Mortgage?

Posted on Monday, January 10, 2011

As we all move forward with our New Year’s resolutions, it’s a good time to remember the promises our politicians have been making about the American mortgage market. The Obama administration, at a conference last August on the future of housing finance, pledged to have, come January, a plan for F...

Consumer Protection Bureau Inks Deal with State Regulators

Posted on Friday, January 07, 2011

The new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau established under the Dodd-Frank Act will be working closely with state regulators to supervise mortgage lenders and servicers. The Bureau’s implementation team and the Conference of State Bank Supervisors signed a memorandum of understanding Tuesday th...

Consumer Protection Bureau Inks Deal with State Regulators

Posted on Friday, January 07, 2011

The new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau established under the Dodd-Frank Act will be working closely with state regulators to supervise mortgage lenders and servicers. The Bureau’s implementation team and the Conference of State Bank Supervisors signed a memorandum of understanding Tuesday ...

Why I'm Not Buying Banks

Posted on Friday, January 07, 2011

Everyone knows that the Fed's money printing spigots are on. The underlying question is why? The party line has been a concern about inflation being at lower than desired levels. However, many people, myself included, are seeing signs in other markets that would suggest otherwise. Gold, agricultural...

For Apartments, a Hot Winter

Posted on Friday, January 07, 2011

The nation's apartment market remained robust in the fourth quarter with vacancies falling below 7% for the first time in two years, according to new data. The strong demand, which defied typical winter slowness, pushed the average national rent up for the fourth quarter in a row, a departure fr...

Regulators: Completed Foreclosures in Q3 Up 57% from Year Ago

Posted on Friday, January 07, 2011

New data from federal regulators show that the nation’s largest banks and thrifts repossessed nearly 187,000 homes during the third quarter of 2010. The number of foreclosures completed during the three-month period is up 14.7 percent from the previous quarter and is 57.5 percent more than a year ea...

Homeowner Beats Bank Of America In Small Claims Court

Posted on Friday, January 07, 2011

A California homeowner sued Bank of America in small claims court and won $7,595 from the bank after it burned him on a mortgage modification. "It was a good victory for me and I think for homeowners around the country," Dave Graham told HuffPost. Graham, who lives in Big Bear City, Calif., appl...

Mass Supreme Court Rules

Posted on Friday, January 07, 2011

In a major ruling in the Massachusetts Supreme Court today, US Bank and Wells Fargo lost the “Ibanez case,” meaning that they don’t have standing to foreclose due to improper mortgage assignment. The ruling is likely to send shock waves through the entire judicial system, and seriously raise the sta...

Attorneys General Close to Making Agreements with Top Five Servicers

Posted on Friday, January 07, 2011

There has been no shortage of reports of state attorneys general seeking accountability from servicers that they allege mishandled foreclosures. In December, Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard filed a fraud suit against Bank of America (BofA). Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto a...

Admin Order 01-2010 Jersey

Posted on Friday, January 07, 2011

IN THE MATTER OF RESIDENTIAL MORTGAGE FORECLOSURE PLEADING AND DOCUMENT IRREGULARITIES Administrative Order 01-2010 ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER DIRECTING SUBMISSION OF INFORMATION FROM RESIDENTIAL MORTGAGE FORECLOSURE PLAINTIFFS CONCERNING THEIR DOCUMENT EXECUTION PRACTICES TO A SPECIAL MASTER ...

Deficiency Judgments in Florida - Statute

Posted on Friday, January 07, 2011

Florida Statutes 55.10 Judgments, orders, and decrees; lien of all, generally; extension of liens; transfer of liens to other security. — (1) A judgment, order, or decree becomes a lien on real property in any county when a certified copy of it is recorded in the official records or judgment lien...

SUPREME COURT OF NEW JERSEY

Posted on Friday, January 07, 2011

It is ORDERED that the attached amendments to Rules 1:5-6, 4:64-1 and 4:64-2 are adopted effective immediately. And, It is FURTHER ORDERED that in all uncontested residential foreclosure cases pending entry of judgment as of December 20, 2010, (1) within 60 (sixty) days, plaintiff’s counsel shal...

GSEs Settle Buy Back Claims with BoA, Other Banks

Posted on Friday, January 07, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC-Bank of America has settled demands from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that it buy back mortgage loans that the GSEs said were sold and repackaged based on faulty data. The $2.8-billion settlement will relieve some pressure of Bank of America's balance sheet, as well as its stock price...

Attorneys General Close to Making Agreements with Top Five Servicers

Posted on Friday, January 07, 2011

There has been no shortage of reports of state attorneys general seeking accountability from servicers that they allege mishandled foreclosures. In December, Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard filed a fraud suit against Bank of America (BofA). Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto als...

More From Jersey

Posted on Friday, January 07, 2011

NOTICE TO THE BAR RE: Emergent Amendments to Rules 1:5-6, 4:64-1 and 4:64-2 In light of irregularities in the residential foreclosure practice as reported in sworn deposition testimony in New Jersey and other states, the Court has adopted, on an emergent basis, amendments to Rules 1:5-6, 4:64-1 ...

Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts.

Posted on Friday, January 07, 2011

U.S. BANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION, trustee FN1 v. Antonio IBANEZ (and a consolidated case FN2 ). For ABFC 2005-OPT 1 Trust, ABFC Asset Backed Certificates, Series 2005-OPT 1.FN3). No. SJC-10694. October 7, 2010. January 7, 2011. Real Property, Mortgage, Ownership, Record title. Mortgage, Real...

New jersey Admin Orders

Posted on Friday, January 07, 2011

Bank of America Corp., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and four other mortgage lenders and service providers face a possible suspension of foreclosures in New Jersey by Jan. 19, under a judge’s order. The action, announced today by New Jersey Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner, also covers Citigroup ...

Pending Massachusetts Supreme Court Ruling May Invalidate Securitization Mortgage Transfers

Posted on Friday, January 07, 2011

Bloomberg has a bombshell today, that a case before the Massachusetts Supreme Court may invalidate certain types of mortgage transfers, a central process in mortgage securitizations. A ruling for the plaintiffs would render some past foreclosures invalid, raising the possibility that the borrowers...

Ally Financial Reaches $462M Settlement with Fannie Mae

Posted on Friday, January 07, 2011

Last week Ally Financial announced that its mortgage unit, Residential Capital (ResCap), and some of its subsidiaries reached an agreement with Fannie Mae to resolve potential repurchase exposure for breaches in selling representations and warranties. The $462 million settlement releases ResC...

New Jersey Threatens Statewide Suspension of Foreclosures

Posted on Friday, January 07, 2011

At the direction of the Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court, the New Jersey Superior Court yesterday directed six of the nation’s largest mortgage lenders and servicers to show cause why uncontested foreclosure actions they have filed should not be suspended. The Order to Show Cause, w...

A court case to challenge securitisation standards

Posted on Friday, January 07, 2011

Currently winding its way through the Massachusetts Supreme Court — a little court case that could end up having big consequences for mortgage securitisations. It’s called the ‘Ibanez case’ and here’s the story. In late 2005, Antonio Ibanez gets a $103,500 adjustable-rate mortgage loan on a Spring...

Bank of America Agrees to $3B Settlement with Fannie and Freddie

Posted on Friday, January 07, 2011

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have reached another agreement with a lender to cover repurchase claims from alleged faulty underwriting standards in origination. Bank of America (BofA) announced Monday that it paid a nearly $3 billion settlement to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on the last day of 2010 ...

New Jersey orders 6 mortgage lenders into court over charges of foreclosure irregularities

Posted on Friday, January 07, 2011

NEWARK, N.J. - Six lenders who have combined to file nearly 30,000 foreclosure actions in New Jersey this year face the possible suspension of their operations next month under a court order announced Monday by state Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner. The action follows a report submitted t...

Mass. court ruling has potential to void thousands of foreclosures

Posted on Friday, January 07, 2011

The Massachusetts Supreme Court on Friday upheld a lower court ruling voiding two foreclosures because the banks failed to show the proper paperwork to prove they owned the loans-a decision that challenges the way mortgages were bundled and sold around the world. Shares of Wells Fargo and U.S. Ba...

Pending Massachusetts Supreme Court Ruling May Invalidate Securitization Mortgage Transfers

Posted on Friday, January 07, 2011

Bloomberg has a bombshell today, that a case before the Massachusetts Supreme Court may invalidate certain types of mortgage transfers, a central process in mortgage securitizations. A ruling for the plaintiffs would render some past foreclosures invalid, raising the possibility that the borrowers...

Unions Threatened By State Governments

Posted on Friday, January 07, 2011

As labor costs continue to strain state budgets, governors and lawmakers have proposed monumental reforms to public labor unions, the New York Times reports. In some cases, the proposals would dissolve the unions altogether. Unions, which can bargain for high wages, health care and pensions, have...

Recession-bruised states' revenue sank 30 percent in 2009, Census Bureau reports

Posted on Friday, January 07, 2011

The recession blew a huge hole in the already shaky finances of state governments, causing them to lose nearly one-third of their revenue in 2009, according to a Census Bureau report released Wednesday. The severe drop in revenue resulted largely from the big investment losses experienced by sta...

LPS: Foreclosure Inventory Rises for Fifth Straight Month

Posted on Friday, January 07, 2011

Recent market data analyzed by Lender Processing Services (LPS) highlights evidence of delays in the resolution of unpaid mortgages in the wake of widespread reports of robo-signing and reveals congestion in areas where delinquent loans are languishing. The clogged foreclosure pipelines servicers ...

Restarting the Economic Machine

Posted on Friday, January 07, 2011

"We have magneto trouble. How, then, can we start up again?" mused John Maynard Keynes in December 1930, likening the stagnant economy of the Great Depression to a broken generator in an automobile. Fear not, he wrote, the car eventually would get rolling again, and "we need not assume . . . that mo...

Pending Sales of Existing Homes Swell by 3.5%: NAR

Posted on Friday, January 07, 2011

The number of contracts signed for purchases of previously owned homes climbed again in November, according to data released by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) late last week. The organization’s pending home sales index rose 3.5 percent based on contracts signed in November. That follo...

S&P Index Records Sharpest Drop in Home Prices Since 2009

Posted on Friday, January 07, 2011

The latest home price gauge published by Standard & Poor’s recorded its largest monthly decline since February 2009 and its largest annual decline since December 2009. The data has led the firm’s top analysts to make the claim, “The double-dip is almost here.” The closely watched S&P/Case-Shiller...

Most Americans Say Tax The Rich To Balance The Budget: Poll

Posted on Friday, January 07, 2011

NEW YORK: Most Americans think the United States should raise taxes for the rich to balance the budget, according to a 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll released on Monday. President Barack Obama last month signed into law a two-year extension of Bush-era tax cuts for millions of Americans, including t...

Postcrisis, a Struggle Over Mortgage Bond Ratings

Posted on Friday, January 07, 2011

Two weeks ago, Standard & Poor’s put out a news release warning that it was poised to lower its ratings on almost 1,200 complex mortgage securities. So what? Isn’t that dog-bites-man at this point? Well, two-thirds of these mortgage bonds were rated only last year, long after the financial crisis....

Fed: Economy Still Weak Despite Improvements

Posted on Friday, January 07, 2011

WASHINGTON (Federal Reserve officials in December felt the U.S. economic recovery was still weak enough to warrant monetary support despite growing signs of strength, Fed meeting minutes released on Tuesday showed. Wall Street economists have been busy revising up their forecasts for economic gr...

Corporate America, paving a downward economic slide

Posted on Friday, January 07, 2011

The city on a hill and the last, best hope of mankind has entered a new period in its history. We are now America, the downwardly mobile. The problem isn't due to the recession. Would that it were. The decade just concluded is the first in which Americans, on average, have seen their incomes decli...

Ending Federal Subsidies for Mortgages

Posted on Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Could the government stop subsidizing mortgages altogether? Probably not in real life. But that is where the debate over reforming Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as well as righting the public-private sector balance in housing, should begin. This unlikely dream imagines the government out of the bu...

Lenders Shift Some Loan Costs to Big Borrowers

Posted on Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Banks feeling squeezed by rising regulatory costs are trying to pass along the pain to big corporate borrowers. In the past several weeks, lenders such as J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Bank of America Corp. have begun including in loan documents language that will help banks shift to their large borr...

Dodd-Frank and the Return of the Loan Shark

Posted on Wednesday, January 05, 2011

The least surprising event of 2010 was that, in the wake of new federal limits on how credit-card issuers can price risk and adjust interest rates, more Americans had to go to payday lenders, pawn shops and local loan sharks in order to get credit. It's simply the latest installment in the old...

Bankruptcy Filings Leapt 9% Last Year

Posted on Wednesday, January 05, 2011

The number of Americans filing for personal bankruptcy topped 1.5 million last year, as high long-term jobless rates and depressed home prices drove more households to seek court protection. Sortable List: Personal Bankruptcies, by State Personal bankruptcies rose to 1.53 million, up 9% from 20...

Consumer Bankruptcies Hit 5-Year High In 2010

Posted on Wednesday, January 05, 2011

NEW YORK (By Jonathan Stempel) - The number of U.S. consumers who filed for bankruptcy protection in 2010 was the highest in five years, and the figure could rise as Americans struggle with excess debt in an uncertain economy, a report issued Monday said. Roughly 1.53 million consumer bankruptcy p...

Full Catastrophe Banking in 2011

Posted on Wednesday, January 05, 2011

With a $4.7 trillion bailout under their belts and no harm done to their billion-dollar bonuses, don't expect Wall Street bankers to be chastened by the 2008 financial crisis. Below we list eight things to watch out for in 2011 that threaten to rock the financial system and undermine any recovery....

Facing Threat From WikiLeaks, Bank Plays Defense

Posted on Wednesday, January 05, 2011

By the time the conference call ended, it was nearly midnight at Bank of America’s headquarters in Charlotte, N.C., but the bank’s counterespionage work was only just beginning. A day earlier, on Nov. 29, the director of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, said in an interview that he intended to “take d...

2011 Predictions for Home Sellers

Posted on Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Past is prologue, they say. And that's certainly true when looking forward to what the housing market will hold for home sellers next year. WalletPop's predictions for sellers in 2011 are: 1. More Distressed Homes Come on Market, but 'Regular' Deals Have Cachet The number of homes reposs...

Prediction: Mortgage Delinquencies Will Decline in 2011

Posted on Wednesday, January 05, 2011

The annual consumer credit forecast from U.S. credit bureau TransUnion predicts a 20 percent drop in national mortgage loan delinquencies by the end of 2011. TransUnion predicts that the number of delinquent accounts — 60 or more days past due — will drop to 4.98 percent from an expected 6.21 percen...

Foreign Investors Are Back

Posted on Wednesday, January 05, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC-The US commercial real estate industry started off 2010 with eyes firmly fixed on one of the few bright spots: foreign investors said they were chomping at the bit to invest in the country, particularly in such gateway cities as New York City, Washington, DC and Chicago. While so...

What Lies Ahead in 2011?

Posted on Wednesday, January 05, 2011

NEW YORK – The global economy ends 2010 more divided than it was at the beginning of the year. On one side, emerging-market countries like India, China, and the Southeast Asian economies, are experiencing robust growth. On the other side, Europe and the United States face stagnation – indeed, a Ja...

Freddie Mac's Nothaft Predicts Mortgage Rates to Remain Below 5%

Posted on Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Frank Nothaft, chief economist for Freddie Mac, says he expects long-term mortgage interest rates to hold below the 5 percent threshold throughout 2011, as key macroeconomic drivers provide a backdrop that supports a continued, albeit gradual, recovery in the housing and mortgage markets. In Nov...

Judge sanctions Chase Home Finance for trying to delay foreclosure

Posted on Wednesday, January 05, 2011

A Miami-Dade judge has moved out of the mainstream by imposing sanctions on a bank for attempting to delay finalizing a foreclosure — a tactic seen by the defense as a way to avoid taking title and becoming responsible for the payment of association fees. Shortly before the Christmas holiday, Miami...

Foreclosure Settlement May Be Coming For 5 Largest Mortgage Loan Companies

Posted on Wednesday, January 05, 2011

The five largest mortgage loan servicers, including Bank of America Corp (BAC.N) and JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N), may be the first to settle with 50 state attorneys general who are investigating foreclosure practices, Bloomberg reported, citing Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller. The attorney-genera...

Bank Of America Takes Multi-Billion Charge Off To Deal With Mortgage Woes

Posted on Wednesday, January 05, 2011

NEW YORK — Bank of America Corp. reached a $2.8 billion settlement with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac over claims that one of its businesses sold bad mortgages. The payment is far lower than analysts expected and removes some uncertainty that has hovered over the bank. The settlement is the biggest ...

Bank Of America Takes Multi-Billion Charge Off To Deal With Mortgage Woes

Posted on Wednesday, January 05, 2011

NEW YORK — Bank of America Corp. reached a $2.8 billion settlement with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac over claims that one of its businesses sold bad mortgages. The payment is far lower than analysts expected and removes some uncertainty that has hovered over the bank. The settlement is the bigg...

There's One Huge State Budget Crisis That Everyone Is Refusing To Talk About

Posted on Wednesday, January 05, 2011

You know the story and you know the names: states like Illinois, New Jersey, New York, and California are supposed to be in huge financial trouble thanks to bloated governments, business-unfriendly regulations, and strong public sector unions. After a crisis-free 2010, investors are expected to pun...

How to Get Rid of a Second Mortgage Without a Loan Modification

Posted on Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Following the maxim that drastic times call for tepid measures, the banking industry continues to pay "lip service" to loan modifications while doing little. On Dec. 15, the Congressional Oversight Committee admitted the government's HAMP loan modification program has failed to help enough homeowner...

6 Predictions About How The Economy Will Affect Average Americans In 2011

Posted on Wednesday, January 05, 2011

We all remember the worst of 2010: high unemployment, an ongoing foreclosure crisis and megabanks, whose legally dubious practices in foreclosing on millions of homes, managed to spread public anger and financial uncertainty. To figure out just how the economy would shape our lives in 2011, we ...

Property Appreciation Expected in 40% of Major Metro Areas in 2011

Posted on Wednesday, January 05, 2011

According to a recent update to the real estate market forecast from Veros Real Estate Solutions, select markets in the United States can expect 2.5 percent to 3.5 percent appreciation in home values over the next 12 months. Although only mild appreciation is expected, approximately 40 percent...

WSJ Version of 5 Things That Will Impact Housing

Posted on Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Last week the Wall Street Journal > published four housing-related issues to keep an eye on in 2011, which really haven't > changed much. #1 is jobs. "Who's going to buy a house when they're not certain they'll > have a job in six months and when it looks like home prices are likely to fall anoth...

Jobs Are Trickling In, But Millions Have Given Up Looking For Work

Posted on Wednesday, January 05, 2011

U.S. private employers have recorded 11 consecutive months of job gains, yet the number of people who are so discouraged that they have given up searching for work stands at an all-time high. Friday's employment report is expected to show the pace of payroll growth accelerated last month after a...

Career Shift Often Means Drop in Living Standards

Posted on Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Even the lucky ones are not so lucky, it seems. A new study of American workers displaced by the recession sheds light on the sacrifices a large number have made to find work. Many, it turns out, had to switch careers and significantly reduce their living standards. “In many cases, these peo...

Depression Economics

Posted on Wednesday, January 05, 2011

________________________________________ If 2008 was the year of the financial crisis, and 2009 the year of the recession, then 2010 was the year of unemployment. The good news is that things are starting to look up, if modestly. The number of workers making initial unemployment claims—a good indic...

Reducing Unemployment in the New Year

Posted on Wednesday, January 05, 2011

As the New Year begins, Congress and the administration will renew their focus on jobs. From Main Street to Wall Street there is agreement that America needs more of them. Near double digit unemployment is painful and discouraging to unemployed and employed Americans. There is bipartisan agreeme...

Nation's Unemployment Picture Expected to Improve

Posted on Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Experts agree that job creation is critical to getting the housing and mortgage markets back on track – both in curbing delinquencies by ensuring homeowners have the ability to keep up with their mortgage payments and in giving consumers the confidence and security they need to become homebuyers.I...

How Did a Relatively Small Number of Subprime Loans Cause a Record Crisis?

Posted on Wednesday, January 05, 2011

A number of analyses of the U.S. and global crisis begin by attempting to explain what they assume to be a paradox -- how could so small a market segment (subprime housing and CDOs backed by subprime) have caused (1) the largest financial bubble in history, (2) a U.S. economic crisis, and (3) a near...

Obama administration steps up monitoring of banks that miss TARP payments

Posted on Tuesday, January 04, 2011

The Obama administration has begun monitoring the high-level board meetings of nearly 20 banks that received emergency taxpayer assistance but repeatedly failed to pay the required dividends, according to Treasury Department officials and documents. And it may soon install new directors on some of...

Is TARP Working or Not?

Posted on Tuesday, January 04, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC-New figures released by the Treasury Department and analyzed by such media outlets as the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal suggest that TARP -the widely-criticized government bailout of the US financial system in 2008-is not working as well as intended. Nineteen financial i...

Stimulus funds on the slow track

Posted on Tuesday, January 04, 2011

When Democratic senators and representatives voted to approve the $787 billion stimulus package nearly two years ago, the ones who came from swing states and districts knew they were taking a political risk. What they didn't know was that the economic benefits of the stimulus would become so entan...

A.I.G.’s Latest Step to Get Off Government Support

Posted on Tuesday, January 04, 2011

American International Group said on Monday that it had signed $4.3 billion worth of credit deals with 36 lenders — in yet another step by the insurer to get off government life support. In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, A.I.G. disclosed that it had entered into a $1.5 bil...

Expect (alot) more Middle Class Bankruptcies

Posted on Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Of course “Bankruptcy Filings Leapt 9% Last Year.” Filings will increase even more, along with voracity in the fight for bankruptcy ‘cram downs.’ The reduced interest rates on all those mortgage modifications the President promised would save us all will begin to tick upward again - they’re only ...

Shoring Up Banks So None Fail

Posted on Tuesday, January 04, 2011

The “too big to fail” problem among banks will be partly fixed in 2011. Global regulators are expected to reach an agreement that would make a select group of megabanks hold higher levels of capital. That requirement will make them safer, while removing some of the benefit they get from being ...

2010 worst year for bank failures since 1992

Posted on Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Tuesday, December 28, 2010; 11:33 PM More banks failed in the United States this year than in any year since 1992, during the savings-and-loan crisis, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Amid high unemployment, a struggling economy and a still-devastated real estate market, the na...

Rescued Banks Teeter Towards Collapse

Posted on Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Nearly 100 banks previously rescued by the federal government are again poised to fail, despite billions of dollars of support from the American Treasury. The number of banks on the brink of collapse rose from 86 to 98 during the summer months, according to analysis of federal data from the Wal...

Real Estate Predictions for Renters in 2011

Posted on Tuesday, January 04, 2011

For generations now, our national values have placed an emphasis on home ownership. Renters were the people who were rootless or just not being quite ready to "settle down." As home ownership has become less of a financial asset and more of a liability over the last few years, there has been a shift...

Distressed Properties Drive Record-Breaking 2010 Resales

Posted on Tuesday, January 04, 2011

MIAMI-It feels like 2006 again—maybe not with prices, but with the volume of resales. Indeed, more South Florida residences resold this year than in the finale of the real estate boom in 2006. That’s because buyers are rushing to market to get in on deep discounts on distressed properties, as well ...

Doubling Up’ in Recession-Strained Quarters

Posted on Tuesday, January 04, 2011

FORT PIERCE, Fla. — For the three generations of the Maggi family crowded into a recession-beaten three-bedroom ranch house here, the tension from living on top of one another for the last 10 months sometimes erupts at unexpected moments. A nudge from Kathy Maggi for her 26-year-old daughter, ...

Board of Contributors: Developers may be on hook for additional construction liability

Posted on Tuesday, January 04, 2011

For centuries, builders and sellers of residential homes, whom we will collectively call "developers," were protected from construction liability by the Latin legal doctrine known as caveat emptor — "let the buyer beware." This ancient doctrine imposed on a buyer the responsibility to discover a...

Hard Call for FDIC: When to Shut Bank

Posted on Tuesday, January 04, 2011

More than 300 U.S. banks and savings institutions failed in the past four years. But there are huge differences in how sick they were when regulators seized them. About a dozen of the dead financial institutions had a tangible common equity ratio, a widely used measurement of a bank's cushion to ...

financial fraud by elite bankers in 2011

Posted on Tuesday, January 04, 2011

The role of the criminal justice system with regard to financial fraud by elite bankers in 2011 is likely to reprise its role last decade -- de facto decriminalization. The Galleon investigation of insider trading at hedge funds will take much of the FBI's and the Department of Justice's (DOJ) focus...

The Year in Wall Street Investigations

Posted on Tuesday, January 04, 2011

It's been over three years since credit markets started shaking with the early tremors of the subprime crisis, and two years since that spread into a marketwide collapse. Prosecutors, regulators, Congress and journalists have spent the year uncovering the financial shenanigans that brought the marke...

Global Food Prices in 2011 Face Perilous Rise

Posted on Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Food prices globally are rising to dangerous levels. There is talk of a coming crisis, like the ones that produced riots around the world in 2008 and 1974. Many of the ingredients of a disaster are present, but governments can stop the problem before it causes too much damage. A warning sign is th...

China Property Market Limps Into New Year

Posted on Tuesday, January 04, 2011

BEIJING (By Langi Chiang and Simon Rabinovitch) - Chinese housing prices are on track to dip early next year, with tighter monetary policy and rising inventories combining to take some air out of a market that some fear could yet swell into a bubble. The government launched a campaign late last y...

Ally to Pay Fannie Mae $462 Million

Posted on Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Ally Financial said Monday that it would pay $462 million to settle buyback claims on $292 billion in home loans it sold to Fannie Mae before the industry tightened underwriting standards in the wake of the financial crisis. GMAC Mortgage, which is part of Ally’s Residential Capital unit, orig...

Fannie, Freddie may rule mortgages to 2012 as treasury plan due

Posted on Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner will report to Congress this month on how to rebuild the U.S. mortgage finance system amid a growing consensus that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac won’t be dismantled anytime soon. Though Republicans have won a stronger hand in Congress, their push to end Fann...

Washington region posts gains as home prices still falling in most U.S. cities

Posted on Tuesday, January 04, 2011

The Washington region posted the highest year-over-year home price gains in the nation this fall, as real estate values slumped in nearly every other metropolitan area, a key housing report said Tuesday. A healthy job market, particularly for high-salaried workers, buoyed demand and prices for hou...

High-end real estate sales picking up in South Florida

Posted on Tuesday, January 04, 2011

After months of waiting and watching, wealthy buyers are returning to South Florida’s luxury housing market. A stronger stock market, cheap interest rates and signs that prices for luxury properties have bottomed out are boosting the confidence of those who can afford to pay millions for a residenc...

Washington region posts gains as home prices still falling in most U.S. cities

Posted on Tuesday, January 04, 2011

The Washington region posted the highest year-over-year home price gains in the nation this fall, as real estate values slumped in nearly every other metropolitan area, a key housing report said Tuesday. A healthy job market, particularly for high-salaried workers, buoyed demand and prices for hou...

Home prices drop more than forecast in October

Posted on Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Home prices dropped more than forecast in October — including a decline of 3.4 percent in the Miami area — a sign housing will remain a weak link as the U.S. recovery accelerates into the new year. The S&P/Case-Shiller index of property values fell 0.8 percent from October 2009, the biggest year-ov...

October Miami home prices continue decline

Posted on Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Miami was one of six markets to hit their lowest levels since home prices began dropping in 2006 and 2007, according to the S&P Case-Shiller home-price indexes. Between September and October, Miami home prices fell 1.1 percent and were down 3.4 percent for the year. "The double-dip is almost he...

Where Things Stand: Foreclosure Paperwork Scandal

Posted on Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Some struggling homeowners are currently getting a temporary reprieve [1] from foreclosure sales and evictions during the holiday season, but that doesn't mean [2] all foreclosure cases have stopped moving through the courts -- and it doesn't mean we're done covering the developments in the forecl...

Allstate Sues BofA, Mozilo Over Countrywide Losses

Posted on Tuesday, January 04, 2011

NEW YORK (By Jonathan Stempel) - Allstate Corp has sued Bank of America Corp, its Countrywide lending unit and 17 other defendants for allegedly misrepresenting the risks on more than $700 million of mortgage securities it bought from Countrywide. Allstate, the largest publicly traded U.S. home and...

WaMu Settlement Deadline Extended

Posted on Tuesday, January 04, 2011

WILMINGTON, Delaware (Reuters) - Washington Mutual Inc reached agreement to extend a key deadline in its $10 billion settlement that is at the end of its plan to end its bankruptcy, according to a court filing on Tuesday. The company said in a filing with Delaware's bankruptcy court it extended the...

A remedy for beggar states

Posted on Tuesday, January 04, 2011

The nation's menu of crises caused by governmental malpractice may soon include states coming to Congress as mendicants, seeking relief from the consequences of their choices. Congress should forestall this by passing a bill with a bland title but explosive potential. Principal author of the Pub...

L.A. lags behind other big cities on spending of federal stimulus funds

Posted on Tuesday, January 04, 2011

When the federal stimulus program was launched in early 2009, the city of Los Angeles was in dire straits, facing a shortfall of $427 million and the possibility of mass layoffs. City officials scrambled at the new source of funds, ultimately netting more than $630 million in stimulus grants. ...

Government Role In Housing/GSE

Posted on Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Social and economic mobility is what characterizes a fair society. Without it, capitalism becomes a caste system. Yet that is precisely what average Americans are now facing. In times like these, a corporate CEO would honker down with his ‘right hand’ team at a strategic planning retreat of sor...

Does Unemployment Lead to Less Healthy Diets?

Posted on Tuesday, January 04, 2011

I. A new National Bureau of Economic Research paper suggests that increases in unemployment lead to a decrease in fruit and vegetable consumption, with potentially long-lived effects on workers’ health. “Among those who are predicted to be at the highest risk of unemployment, a one percentage point...

Number Of Uninsured Americans Soars To Over 50 Million

Posted on Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Less than a year ago, Francis Campos-Dunn was still working at a county hospital in the San Francisco Bay Area, helping patients navigate the often-maddening bureaucracy required to draw on their health insurance. These days, she has a new set of problems to navigate: how to manage her own care with...

Unemployment and Economic History

Posted on Tuesday, January 04, 2011

If you want to understand what the U.S. faces today with no prospect of bringing unemployment down to 3 or 4 percent you need to read Since Yesterday, Frederick Lewis Allen's book written in 1939 about the Depression years in America. Allen was the editor of Harpers magazine. In 1930 he had writ...

Weighing Costs, Companies Favor Temporary Help

Posted on Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Temporary workers are starting to look, well, not so temporary. Despite a surge this year in short-term hiring, many American businesses are still skittish about making those jobs permanent, raising concerns among workers and some labor experts that temporary employees will become a larger, mo...

The Data and the Reality

Posted on Tuesday, January 04, 2011

I keep hearing from the data zealots that holiday sales were impressive and the outlook for the economy in 2011 is not bad. Maybe they’ve stumbled onto something in their windowless rooms. Maybe the economy really is gathering steam. But in the rough and tumble of the real world, where families ...

In the Rearview, a Year That Fizzled

Posted on Tuesday, January 04, 2011

It was the year that the economy started to recover and then slid back into a slump — only to offer reason for renewed hope in the final weeks. When 2010 began, hiring and consumer spending were finally picking up. But then something changed in the spring — a combination of the debt troubles in ...

Out of Lehman's ashes Wall Street gets most of what it wants

Posted on Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Wall Street's biggest banks, whose missteps caused a global financial crisis and economic slowdown two years ago, were more agile when it came to countering the political and regulatory response. The U.S. government, promising to make the system safer, buckled under many of the financial industry'...

Foreign Investors Pledge Allegiance to U.S. Real Estate

Posted on Monday, January 03, 2011

Finally a “Buy” Signal? Washington, D.C. – (January 18, 2010) Despite a lack of placement opportunities in 2009, foreign investors in real estate say they remain committed to the U.S. as their preferred real estate investment opportunity. The sentiment is underscored by a dramatic increase in the...

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