March 2011

Teach Your Children the Value of Money

Posted on Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Key Points Earlier is Better Where Does Money Come From? Your Child Could Become a Millionaire Children and Allowances Make Saving Interesting Banking and Investing Compounding The Lesson Plan A Little Learning Can Pay Off Points to Remember "Reading, writing, 'rithmetic" — too bad that...

HOW TO KNOW YOUR BANK’S IN TROUBLE&WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT

Posted on Sunday, March 27, 2011

Background 159 failures in 2010 Florida had the most. 40% Florida banks “troubled” or “problematic” Reasons: Economy, real estate, regulation, undercapitalized. The Signs: How To Know Federal Financial Institute Examination Counsel (FFIEC.gov) Uniform Bank Performance Report Deposit money m...

The Housing Disconnect: Numbers keep going up and down. Is this a recovery or a double dip?

Posted on Thursday, March 24, 2011

TRENDS. All indicators MOM and YOY are (1) moving in the wrong direction (2) for enough time to be called a trend. Another trend is spreading to other states; . others included in ‘top’ foreclosure states now (CA,FL,AZ,MI,GA,TX,IL,NV,OH,WI). Prices were down in 18 states 6 months ago. Now 4...

JOINT LETTER TO REGULATORS AGAINST HIGH-DOWNPAYMENT REQUIREMENTS

Posted on Tuesday, March 22, 2011

CRL, the National Association of Realtors, the National Association of Homebuilders, and the Consumer Federation of America sent a joint letter to federal regulators, urging them to avoid arbitrary high down payment requirements on mortgage loans. We argue that this would make buying a home more c...

Distressed Sales in Southern California Remain High

Posted on Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Southern California’s distressed home sales – the combination of foreclosed home sales and short sales – made up more than half of February’s resale market. Foreclosure resales accounted for 37.1 percent of resales last month, up from 36.8 percent in January but down from 42.4 percent a year earli...

Frank Wants Tax on Banks, Hedge Funds to Subsidize Housing Programs

Posted on Tuesday, March 22, 2011

House Republicans may have succeeded in passing legislation to end federal housing programs that provide assistance to unemployed homeowners and fund efforts to clean up vacant foreclosed homes, but their Democratic counterparts aren’t going to take it lying down. Rep. Barney Frank, the top-rankin...

TARP’s Watchdog: A Tough Act to Follow

Posted on Tuesday, March 22, 2011

THE American taxpayer will lose a rare straight shooter when Neil M. Barofsky, the special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, leaves his post on March 30. In his frequent testimony before Congress and in the nine quarterly reports and 13 audits his office has published, Mr. Bar...

Keycorp Plans To Repay Entire $2.5 Billion TARP Bailout

Posted on Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Keycorp said on Friday that it planned to repay $2.5 billion in U.S. government bailout funds, becoming one of the latest banks to shake off the lingering effects of the financial crisis. The Cleveland-based bank plans to raise $625 million through a common stock offering, which it will use to exit...

After Stress Tests, Bank Dividends Set To Rise As Fed Lifts Limits

Posted on Tuesday, March 22, 2011

NEW YORK — Bank shareholders got a long-awaited gift from the U.S. Federal Reserve on Friday when the central bank cleared the way for major lenders to increase their dividends. It was the last hurdle left on the path to recovery for banks and signified a return to health for the industry. Banks we...

$2,000 Rent-Deregulation Limit Up in the Air

Posted on Tuesday, March 22, 2011

As legislators in Albany debate the future of the city's rent laws, a key provision of the law that has allowed landlords to deregulate at least 100,000 apartments may be up for a change. Since 1993, state law has allowed landlords to convert vacant regulated apartments into market-rate units when ...

SWAPS

Posted on Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Swaps do not generate new funding; rather, they convert one interest rate basis to a different rate basis (e.g., from floating to fixed, or vice versa). The payments on a swap are a function of the notional principal amount, interest rates, and time. ...

Interest rate swap

Posted on Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A swap is a derivative in which one party exchanges a stream of interest payments for another party's stream of cash flows. Interest rate swaps can be used by hedgers to manage their fixed or floating assets and liabilities. They can also be used by speculators to replicate unfunded bond exposur...

Decrease In Credit Card Debt All Down To Write-Offs, Report Says

Posted on Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Credit card debt fell last year only because of consumer defaults and bank write-offs, a new study argues. In 2010, U.S. credit card debt dropped to the lowest level in eight years, according to credit reporting agency TransUnion. But there is more evidence Americans may have taken on more credit ...

Food Stamps and Tax Aid Kept Poverty Rate in Check

Posted on Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Without a flood of food stamps and tax benefits for low-income families, about 250,000 more New Yorkers would have slipped into poverty at the height of the recession, according to calculations to be released Monday by city officials. As it was, while the federal poverty rate for the city remained...

Educated, Unemployed and Frustrated

Posted on Tuesday, March 22, 2011

WE all enjoy speculating about which Arab regime will be toppled next, but maybe we should be looking closer to home. High unemployment? Check. Out-of-touch elites? Check. Frustrated young people? As a 24-year-old American, I can testify that this rich democracy has plenty of those too. About one...

A Badge of Honor for a Regulator

Posted on Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Sheila C. Bair may unwittingly have discovered a simple litmus test for bank regulator effectiveness. As chairwoman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, she faced catcalls last week from a mob of community bankers. She was taken aback by the booing. But in fact, watchdogs should bask in suc...

Crises in Japan Ripple Across the Global Economy

Posted on Tuesday, March 22, 2011

In the wake of Japan’s cascading disasters, signs of economic loss can be found in many corners of the globe, from Sendai, on the battered Japanese coast, to Paris to Marion, Ark. Container ships sit in the Pacific or at docks in Japan, wary of unloading tons of pork and steak because of that nat...

Japanese Government Plans To Lend Struggling Businesses Up To $127B

Posted on Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Japanese government plans to dedicate up to 10 trillion yen ($127 billion) in crisis lending to businesses to help them finance day-to-day operations and repair damage from last week's deadly earthquake and tsunami, the Nikkei newspaper reported on Saturday. The government can provide special f...

SEC moves to charge Fannie, Freddie execs

Posted on Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Securities and Exchange Commission is moving toward charging former and current Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac executives with violations related to the financial crisis, setting up a clash with the housing regulator that oversees the companies, according to sources familiar with the matter. The SE...

Ex-Goldman Sachs Director Rajat Gupta Sues SEC For Not Providing Jury Trial

Posted on Tuesday, March 22, 2011

NEW YORK - A former Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) director accused of leaking confidential boardroom information has sued U.S. regulators, saying they are trying to unfairly deprive him of a jury trial. Rajat Gupta is fighting civil charges that he tipped Gall...

The Law Is a Class

Posted on Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The British economist John Maynard Keynes famously observed, 75 years ago, that statesmen who think that they are pursuing policies of their own devise are really showing themselves to be "the slaves of some defunct economist." In America today statesmen are more likely to be the slaves of some defu...

Attorneys General Push for Loan Reductions, Seek Bank Accord

Posted on Tuesday, March 22, 2011

State attorneys general are pushing lenders to reduce loan balances and said they hope to reach a final settlement with banks over their mortgage-servicing and foreclosure practices within two months. The states along with federal agencies submitted a 27-page settlement proposal last week to the c...

Lehman Brothers Trustee Sues Citibank To Recover $1B Deposit

Posted on Tuesday, March 22, 2011

NEW YORK - The trustee overseeing the liquidation of Lehman Brothers Holdings'(LEHMQ.PK: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) broker dealer has sued Citibank to recover more than $1.3 billion in cash and other assets, according to court papers filed on Friday. The assets include a $1 billion depos...

State Budget Battles Converge on Prison Labor Force

Posted on Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Prison isn't just about doing hard time. For many, it's about working full-time, too. These days, state governments seem ready to squeeze their captive workforces to plug budget gaps on the cheap. From the chain gang to the gulag, labor in the prison population predates our modern labor regulations...

Senators Introduce Own Legislation to End HAMP

Posted on Tuesday, March 22, 2011

With so much attention focused on the House of Representatives’ efforts to stamp out four separate federal foreclosure programs, a bill making its way through the Senate – which like its House counterpart would effectually terminate the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) – has received less...

Property Investors: Solving or Contributing to Neighborhood Blight?

Posted on Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Two recent reports about investors who buy vacant and deteriorating homes and resell them quickly paint vastly different pictures of the effects such actions have on neighborhoods. A report released by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland says many cities are being hurt by irresponsible behavior ...

Sales of Previously Owned Homes Slump 9.6%

Posted on Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Existing-home sales fell in February following three straight monthly increases, according to data released by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) Monday. Existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family, townhomes, condominiums, and co-ops, dropped 9.6 percen...

U.S. Wages Aren't Keeping Up With U.S. Productivity, EPI Says

Posted on Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Ever feel your work isn’t being adequately represented by the final amount on your paycheck? Turns out that nagging sense of injustice isn’t just a hunch. A recent report by the Economic Policy Institute reveals that benefits and wages haven’t kept up with the increasing productivity of American ...

9 Million Laid-Off Americans Lost Health Insurance In Last Two Years: Study

Posted on Tuesday, March 22, 2011

WASHINGTON -- During the last two years, 57 percent of Americans who lost a job that provided them health insurance -- nearly 9 million people -- could not afford to regain coverage, according to a new study published by the Commonwealth Fund, a longtime advocate of health care reform. In addition...

Is Corruption on Wall Street All in the Eyes of the Beholder?

Posted on Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Japan's Nikkei share average plunged 10.6 percent on Tuesday, posting the worst two-day rout since 1987, as hedge funds bailed out after reports of rising radiation near Tokyo. ~ Reuters, March 15, 2011 While it's far too early to assess the full impact of the Japanese disaster on markets around th...

Financial Services: The Industry Women Love to Hate

Posted on Tuesday, March 22, 2011

According to a BCG survey, 73 percent of women said they are "most dissatisfied" with the financial services industry. Women claim they are not respected, often treated in a condescending manner, receive poor or contradictory advice, and get worse terms and deals than men. One participant shared her...

Renting v. Buy? A few Quick Bullet Point Updates...

Posted on Monday, March 21, 2011

More Reasons to Buy Than Ever Before Usual reasons • Affordability. $1.3 trillion lost means savings to buyers, • Selection. Nicest new places. Example: 21.03% of the homes in Florida are vacant. (2nd worst in U.S.). But construction of new homes is also down (81.37% in Florida – 3rd worst in U...

FDIC Proposes Liquidation Pecking Order To Solve 'Too Big To Fail'

Posted on Sunday, March 20, 2011

Creditors who help authorities liquidate a troubled financial firm would be among those paid off first among unsecured creditors, according to a proposal issued by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Bank and financial services groups have complained that more clarity is needed about how unsecur...

Elizabeth Warren Says Consumer Bureau to Serve as a "Cop on a Beat"

Posted on Sunday, March 20, 2011

In a testimony before the House Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and the Consumer Credit Committee on Financial Services, Elizabeth Warren explained the role the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) will have regulating mortgage lenders and servicers. Warren, whose role is the spec...

House Votes to Rescind $1B in Neighborhood Stabilization Grants

Posted on Sunday, March 20, 2011

The U.S. House of Representatives voted Wednesday to pull the plug on HUD’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) and rescind $1 billion in grant money that was appropriated under the Dodd-Frank Act but has not yet been awarded. NSP provides funding to local governments and nonprofits for the ac...

Has Dodd-Frank Slayed the Mortgage Monster?

Posted on Sunday, March 20, 2011

There's that scene in Young Frankenstein, when Gene Wilder's character, pronounced "Fronkensteen," cries out, "Give my creation life!" And so, on April 1, just ahead of us, additional provisions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act will come into existence and originating...

Congressional Oversight Panel: TARP Helped Perpetuate A 'Too Big To Fail' System

Posted on Sunday, March 20, 2011

WASHINGTON - The watchdog panel for the $700 billion bank bailout faulted the U.S. government for the last time on Wednesday, saying the program helped underpin the perception that federal authorities will always prevent troubled financial firms from failing. In its final report on the bank bailout...

Bank Bailouts Close to Breaking Even, GSEs' Projected Price Tag Shrinks

Posted on Sunday, March 20, 2011

When the federal government stepped up with its pockets full of cash to bail out the nation’s floundering financial system nearly three years ago, public outrage was widespread as critics lamented the big bill being passed on to American taxpayers. Those that opposed the hefty handouts still have ...

Senators Back Delay In Crackdown On Fees That Yield Billions For Banks

Posted on Sunday, March 20, 2011

WASHINGTON -- On Tuesday, a group of nine senators led by Montana Democrat Jon Tester put their names behind legislation to delay the Federal Reserve's upcoming crackdown on the "swipe fees" that banks charge merchants for processing debit card transactions -- a huge moneymaker for the banking indus...

Chase Tests $5 ATM Fee

Posted on Sunday, March 20, 2011

Bank customers could face $5 ATM fees. In Illinois, JPMorgan Chase is testing $5 fees for non-customers, in Texas, it's $4. If the trial runs make enough money, the fees could be rolled out nationwide, the Wall Street Journal reports. HSBC has already hiked rates, charging all non-customers $3 for...

Bauer gives 44 Florida banks zero stars

Posted on Sunday, March 20, 2011

Dozens of Florida banks entered 2011 on perilous financial footing, according to Bauer Financial. The Coral Gables-based bank ratings agency rated 44 Florida-based banks zero stars in the fourth quarter. While that’s down from 45 in the third quarter, three of the previous zero-rated banks failed. ...

Poverty Isn't Just About Income

Posted on Sunday, March 20, 2011

When we think about poverty, we usually think in terms of income. That's how the federal government defines poverty: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, for example, defines poverty this year as an income of $22,350 or less for a family of four. But income isn't the whole story. And t...

Could You Come Up With An Extra $2000 In 30 Days?

Posted on Sunday, March 20, 2011

What would you do if you had thirty days to find an extra $2,000? That's the question posed by the Brookings Institute in a recent paper, "Financially Fragile Households: Evidence and Implications." Their findings, Brookings says, indicate an alarming inability among U.S. families to deal with ord...

When A College Education Doesn't Help You Find A Job

Posted on Sunday, March 20, 2011

Higher education is a huge asset for American workers -- except when it comes to leaving the ranks of the unemployed. The past several years have been particularly unkind to the long-term unemployed. As of last month, more than 6 million Americans were unemployed for 27 weeks or more, accounting f...

FDIC Seeks Comment on Seeking Pay Clawbacks in Resolutions

Posted on Sunday, March 20, 2011

March 15 (Bloomberg) -- The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. is seeking comment on a measure that would subject executives and directors to clawbacks of as much as two years’ pay if they are found “substantially responsible” for the failure of a systemically important financial company. FDIC board m...

FDIC Board Approves Proposed Rule to Set Claims Process Under the Dodd-Frank Act's Orderly Liquidati

Posted on Sunday, March 20, 2011

Press Release FDIC Board Approves Proposed Rule to Set Claims Process Under the Dodd-Frank Act's Orderly Liquidation Authority Provisions FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 15, 2011 Media Contact: Andrew Gray (202) 898-7192 Email: angray@fdic.gov The Board of Directors of the Fede...

FDIC Bank Assessments Change on April 1st As Dodd-Frank Comes to Banking

Posted on Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) is the buck stops here office of U.S. bank regulation. Chairman Sheila Bair and company are the checkbook behind the sign on every bank's door sign guaranteeing that your deposit is FDIC insured. Funding America's Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF) is done ...

Moody's: CMBS Loan Delinquencies Rise to 9.18%

Posted on Sunday, March 20, 2011

The delinquency rate on loans included in commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) conduit and fusion transactions increased 17 basis points in February to 9.18 percent, according to Moody’s Investors Service. Moody’s noted that while still rising, increases in CMBS delinquencies have been mode...

China's Central Bank To Slow 'Unacceptable' Yuan Growth, Says Central Bank Official

Posted on Sunday, March 20, 2011

BEIJING - China will not tolerate any sharp yuan rises to shield local exporters, limiting annual appreciation to 3 percent in the next five years, a senior central bank official was quoted by local media as saying. China's central bank has to keep buying foreign exchange to limit yuan gains, a rep...

U.S. Economic Policy Not Changing In Response To Japan As Officials See Little Risk

Posted on Sunday, March 20, 2011

American policy makers are expressing assurance that the ongoing crisis in Japan will not affect the tenuous economic recovery underway in the United States, and anticipate no additional measures to spur growth. Friday's 9.0-magnitude earthquake off the northeastern coast of Japan has sent financi...

Japan Could Avoid An Economic Meltdown By Pulling Together

Posted on Sunday, March 20, 2011

TOKYO - In these dark hours, Japan would do well to heed former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel's memorable maxim that you never want a serious crisis to go to waste. As the nation struggles to avert a nuclear catastrophe on the heels of a deadly earthquake and tsunami, it takes a huge leap...

U.S. Dollar Falls Below Eighty Yen, Close To Postwar Low

Posted on Sunday, March 20, 2011

NEW YORK — The dollar dropped to a record low against the yen late Wednesday as Japan's nuclear crisis deepened. Debt woes in Europe, tension in the Middle East and weak economic reports at home also weighed on the greenback. The dollar plunged to 76.53 Japanese yen late Wednesday, falling far b...

Japan’s Meltdown and the Global Economy’s

Posted on Sunday, March 20, 2011

Four years ago, there were fears of a financial meltdown — a term borrowed from the nuclear power industry. Now there are fears of a real meltdown. Comparing the two events may risk seeming insensitive to the rising human toll in northern Japan, but there are similarities in causation. In each c...

Freddie Mac’s Former Chief May Face S.E.C. Action

Posted on Sunday, March 20, 2011

The former chief executive of Freddie Mac may face a civil action as the government ramps up an investigation of disclosure practices at the mortgage finance giant and its sister company, Fannie Mae, people briefed on the investigation said. The executive, Richard F. Syron, a former president of th...

Former Freddie Exec Receives Wells Notice Over Subprime Loans

Posted on Sunday, March 20, 2011

Former Freddie Mac executive Richard F. Syron has been added to a growing list of GSE executives who have received a Wells notice from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Syron, former CEO of the company, received notice that the SEC is considering a suit against him. Like former Fannie ...

In Proposed Mortgage Fraud Settlement, a Gift to Big Banks

Posted on Sunday, March 20, 2011

Lurking in a proposed mortgage fraud settlement with the state attorneys general is a clause that could be worth billions for the big banks. Yes, I mean the settlement that might extract the supposedly large sum of $20 billion from the banks to settle foreclosure fraud. The one denounced as a “shak...

Foreclosure Deal Could Be Delayed

Posted on Sunday, March 20, 2011

A plan to force the nation’s biggest mortgage firms into helping millions of homeowners avoid foreclosure was supposed to take two months to hammer out. The timeline, it turns out, was overly optimistic. The effort, endorsed by the Obama administration and an assortment of state regulators, is fac...

Ex-WaMu Execs Sued By FDIC For Gross Negligence Over Bank's Collapse - READ The Lawsuit

Posted on Sunday, March 20, 2011

WILMINGTON, Del., - A U.S. government regulator sued three former top executives at Washington Mutual Bank for their role in the biggest bank failure in the nation's history, accusing them of recklessly making billions of dollars in shoddy home loans. The three "gambled billions of dollars of WaMu'...

$144,000 real estate commission fight in shopping center deal

Posted on Sunday, March 20, 2011

This article has been corrected to show that requests for attorney and accounting fees have yet to be submitted by the plaintiffs to the court. Due to a reporting error, the original version erroneously stated that the fees were included in a final judgment totaling $3.4 million. In one of the lon...

Lawyer loses license for advising clients to break into foreclosed homes

Posted on Sunday, March 20, 2011

The State Bar of California has removed the law license of Michael T. Pines, a lawyer who garnered substantial media coverage for advising clients to break into their foreclosed homes. The state bar advised Pines, of Pines & Associates in Encinitas, Calif., on March 11 that the it was placing hi...

3rd DCA: Companies in foreclosure must still make payments

Posted on Sunday, March 20, 2011

I. A Doral company must make monthly payments to its lender regardless of the expected outcome of its commercial foreclosure cases, the 3rd District Court of Appeal decided Wednesday. The ruling on the cases brought by the Bank of Miami against Farah Real Estate and Investment marks the first appel...

Senate proposal still leaves courts $33 million short

Posted on Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Senate proposal to fill a shortfall in the budgets of the state courts and clerks would fill most of the gap but still leave the judicial system $32.9 million short of what it needs to finish the fiscal year. A draft budget released by the Senate Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Committe...

Tim Geithner: All Parties 'Have A Strong Stake' In Quickly Settling Alleged Mortgage Abuses

Posted on Sunday, March 20, 2011

WASHINGTON - A comprehensive settlement between U.S. authorities and banks over alleged abuses of mortgage servicing needs to be reached quickly to help the housing market heal, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said on Tuesday. Geithner said such a settlement would allow the government to focus ...

Obama Administration Pushing For Banks To Modify Millions Of Mortgages To Settle Foreclosure Claims

Posted on Sunday, March 20, 2011

NEW YORK -- The Obama administration is seeking to force the nation's five largest mortgage firms to reduce monthly payments for as many as three million distressed homeowners in as little as six months as part of an agreement to settle accusations of improper foreclosures and violations of consumer...

Welcome to Debtors' Prison, 2011 Edition

Posted on Sunday, March 20, 2011

Some lawmakers, judges and regulators are trying to rein in the U.S. debt-collection industry's use of arrest warrants to recoup money owed by borrowers who are behind on credit-card payments, auto loans and other bills. More than a third of all U.S. states allow borrowers who can't or won't pay to...

California Foreclosure Losses in Billions, Lawmaker Wants Banks to Pay

Posted on Sunday, March 20, 2011

According to a community advocacy group in California, home value losses from foreclosed homes in California have cost a minimum of $632 billion, and could end up costing as much as $1 trillion. The Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) released a report on Thursday detailing th...

The States With The Strongest and Weakest Unions

Posted on Sunday, March 20, 2011

The size of American labor unions has fallen sharply in the last decade. Much of this has to do with the erosion of the US manufacturing base. The single best example of this is the decline of The Big Three automakers which ended with the bankruptcies of GM and Chrysler. The UAW gave up tens of thou...

Obama Administration Issues Veto Threat Against Bill to End Controversial HAMP Housing Program

Posted on Sunday, March 20, 2011

President Obama would be urged to veto the House Republican bill that would kill his administration’s underperforming housing assistance program and replace it with a new program, a statement from the Office of Management and Budget said this afternoon. “The Administration strongly opposes House pa...

Congressional Panel Report Says Foreclosure Mitigation "Largely Failed"

Posted on Sunday, March 20, 2011

The final report released on Wednesday by the Congressional Oversight Panel (COP) regarding the programs and uses of money under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) paid special attention to foreclosure mediation programs, particularly the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). The pane...

Midwest Firm Offers Service to Speed Up Fannie Mae Short Sales

Posted on Sunday, March 20, 2011

Midwest Real Estate Data LLC (MRED) has teamed up with Fannie Mae to provide its brokers and agents with a service designed to shorten the time they have to wait for approval from the GSE on short sale transactions. MRED is a real estate data aggregator and distributor that provides multiple listi...

Who’s Afraid of Elizabeth Warren?

Posted on Sunday, March 20, 2011

I. The next big political battle in Washington -– whenever the budget debate is declared over –- is likely to feature the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and whether Elizabeth Warren will become its first official head. Harry Hamburg/Associated Press Elizabeth Warren, head of Consumer Financia...

House Republicans Amplify Attacks On Elizabeth Warren, Consumer Protection

Posted on Sunday, March 20, 2011

WASHINGTON -- In a hearing marked by openly hostile questioning from House Republicans, consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren made her highly anticipated first appearance before Congress as a member of the Obama administration, emphasizing the need for stronger oversight of big banks and small mortgage...

Tripped Up At The Finish Line: The Perils Of Unemployment After 50

Posted on Sunday, March 20, 2011

WASHINGTON -- Americans are more pessimistic than ever about their retirement prospects, with 27 percent of all workers saying they are "not at all confident" about retirement, according to a yearly survey released Tuesday by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, a nonpartisan think tank. That's ...

Most workers have saved just $25,000 for retirement

Posted on Sunday, March 20, 2011

NEW YORK -- Most Americans have less than $25,000 saved up for retirement. And surprise!: Retirement confidence is at record lows. More than a quarter, or 27%, of workers say they are "not at all confident" about retirement, according to an annual survey from the Employee Benefit Research Institute...

Workers Gloomier, More Fearful Than Ever About Retirement, Survey Says

Posted on Sunday, March 20, 2011

In its annual Retirement Confidence Survey, it found that worker expectations for their later years withered in the face of high unemployment, government budget problems, rising health care costs, lower investment returns and other factors. But the study's authors saw a silver lining in the finding...

Housing Starts Drops To Lowest Rate Since 1984; Building Permits Lowest On Record

Posted on Sunday, March 20, 2011

Housing starts posted their biggest decline in 27 years in February while building permits dropped to their lowest level on record, suggesting the beleaguered real estate sector has yet to rebound from its deepest slump in modern history. Groundbreaking on new construction dropped 22.5 percent last...

Nevada's Boom Ends In Record Number Of Empty Homes

Posted on Sunday, March 20, 2011

LAS VEGAS -- The promise of palm tree groves and low-priced real estate lured Alan and Katherine Ackerly across the Rocky Mountains from Denver to Nevada in 2004, where thousands of new houses beckoned brightly as any neon sign. They came to buy their retirement home. But the real estate bust took ...

The Forgotten Millions

Posted on Sunday, March 20, 2011

More than three years after we entered the worst economic slump since the 1930s, a strange and disturbing thing has happened to our political discourse: Washington has lost interest in the unemployed. Jobs do get mentioned now and then — and a few political figures, notably Nancy Pelosi, the Democ...

New Bill Would Ban Discrimination Against The Jobless

Posted on Sunday, March 20, 2011

WASHINGTON -- Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, employers cannot discriminate against applicants based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) introduced legislation on Wednesday that would add unemployed people to that list of protected groups. The Fair ...

An Important Starting Point -- With One Gap

Posted on Sunday, March 20, 2011

I had one major source of unhappiness with last week's IMF conference: the participants were largely silent about the dismal outlook in the advanced economies for the next several years. The current outlook for unemployment in the United States, Europe, and Japan is probably worse than it was in lat...

Unpaid internships gain popularity among the jobless

Posted on Sunday, March 20, 2011

Working for no pay isn't the preferred route out of unemployment, but it offers valuable experience and the inside track to jobs once they do open up. But critics say employers are exploiting the slow economy by not hiring paid workers. Malibu resident Ashley St. Johns-Jacobs, 40, typically rises...

Fairness for Workers

Posted on Sunday, March 20, 2011

Yesterday, I participated in an Oversight Committee hearing on the future of organized labor in America. Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) ensure that construction workers are paid good wages for the very dangerous work that they do. Republicans in Congress are trying to end PLAs -- meaning lower wage...

Chicago Cutting 4,000 Summer Jobs For Teens As Federal Money Dries Up

Posted on Sunday, March 20, 2011

Four thousand fewer teens will have gainful employment through the City of Chicago this summer, as federal stimulus dollars for a flagship city program have run out. The "Youth Ready Chicago" program provided 18,000 jobs last summer to youths ages 14 to 21. About 3,700 of those jobs came from a las...

Mortgage Industry To Face Massive Changes Under Regulators' Plan; Homeowners, Investors Better Prote

Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011

Federal regulators and the top law enforcement officers in all fifty states are eyeing big changes to the dysfunctional home loan industry. If these officials have their way, borrowers who take out home loans and the investors who buy them will work closer together and find common ground to minimize...

Root Causes of Financial Crisis Remain Unaddressed

Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011

Crises are like stories; they have a beginning, middle and an end, and on occasion, we learn something along the way. In times of crisis, choices must be made. In the most recent global economic crisis policymakers moved quickly to stabilize the system, providing massive financial support, which is...

BofA to Double Outreach Staff but Fixing Legacy Issues to Take 3 Years

Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011

Bank of America said Tuesday that it is stepping up efforts to help distressed homeowners before they fall into foreclosure, but company officials warned shareholders that same morning that BofA’s $1 trillion portfolio of problem assets — loans that are already delinquent and those risky home lendin...

The Most Dangerous States for Banking

Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011

There were 157 U.S. bank failures last year, which sounds like another bad year for American banks until you realize that more than half of those failures -- 89 of them -- occurred in just five states. In contrast, twenty states had no bank failures at all. Clearly, banking is much more dangerous in...

Buy

Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011

Deutsche Bank released a study showing that renting a home costs U.S. householdsmore than paying a mortgage for the first time in at least two decades. The rent-buyratio, or rent as a percentage of after-tax mortgage payments, is based on figuresthat Deutsche Bank compiled from NAR and the REIS info...

Top 5 Thriving Second-Home Markets

Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011

Home prices in second home markets are on the rebound, climbing more than 10 percent last year in some places, Barron’s online reports. Barron’s recently released a list of its top picks for second-home markets that are likely to see a big rebound in sales and price soon. 1. Sea Island, Ga.:...

4 Red Flags That Send Buyers Running

Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011

How you present a listing online and the words you choose to describe it may be turning off some buyers. Bankrate.com recently asked real estate professionals to weigh in on what listing red flags are turning off their buyers. 1. No photos. "One red flag in many buyers' eyes is the lack of photo...

Debit Card Fees Prompt a Push Near Deadline

Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011

WASHINGTON — It seemed a good idea last year, when the financial crisis had turned banks into Public Enemy No. 1 and lawmakers were looking for ways to reward consumers still bitter about billion-dollar bailouts and executive bonuses. Without much warning or debate, the Senate passed an amendment ...

DOES PRIVATE SCHOOL TUITION REALLY PAY OFF?

Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011

WHEN YOU HEAR THAT SOMEONE GRADUATED FROM HARVARD OR PRINCETON, DO YOU AUTOMATICALLY ASSUME THAT THEY’RE MAKING THE BIG BUCKS? YOU’RE PROBABLY RIGHT, ACCORDING TO PAYSCALE’S DATA ON WHAT DIFFERENT COLLEGE GRADUATES EARN. BUT, THEY ALSO LIKELY PAID THE BIG BUCKS TO GO TO AN ELITE PRIVATE SCHOOL RAT...

HOW DOES A COLLEGE DEGREE IMPACT YOUR WORKING FUTURE?

Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011

HERE ARE SOME ANSWERS, HIGHLIGHTED IN THE OCCUPATIONAL OUTLOOK QUARTERLY (FALL 2002) ARTICLE BY ARLENE DOHM AND IAN WYATT, "OUTLOOK AND EARNINGS FOR COLLEGE GRADUATES", 2000-2010. THE BIG QUESTION THESE AUTHORS RAISE IS, "ARE YOU WILLING TO PAY NOW, IN TIME AND MONEY, FOR THE FOLLOWING LONG-TERM R...

Education ROI Depends on Career

Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011

DOES A COLLEGE DEGREE PAY OFF? THE DATA SHOWS THAT A COLLEGE DEGREE CORRELATES DIRECTLY TO YOUR SALARY RANGE—AND THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN COMPENSATION AND EDUCATION LEVEL IS BECOMING EVEN MORE PROMINENT. AT THE TURN OF THE 20TH CENTURY, AMERICAN WORKING LIFE WAS DIFFERENT. ONLY A MINORITY OF ADUL...

DOES A COLLEGE DEGREE REALLY PAY OFF?

Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011

YOU HEAR IT OVER AND OVER AGAIN: A HIGHER EDUCATION LEADS TO BETTER PAYING CAREERS AND FINANCIAL STABILITY. NOW, AT A TIME WHEN EVEN THE MOST EXPERIENCED AND EDUCATED INDIVIDUALS REMAIN UNEMPLOYED AFTER THE RECENT MASSIVE ECONOMIC DOWNTURN, MANY ARE CALLING THAT BELIEF INTO QUESTION. JOBS ARE S...

THE BUSINESS OF YOU: DOES COLLEGE PAY OFF FOR BLACK STUDENTS?

Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011

BY JACKIE JONES IN A RECENT STUDY CONDUCTED BY THE ECONOMIC POLICY INSTITUTE, A NONPARTISAN THINK TANK IN WASHINGTON, D.C., THE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE FOR GRADUATES OF FOUR-YEAR COLLEGES, WHO ARE UNDER 27 YEARS OF AGE, WAS 13.3 PERCENT. THE OVERALL UNEMPLOYMENT RATE FOR AFRICAN AMERICANS WAS 15 PERCEN...

How Long For College To Pay Off?

Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011

BY SCOTT BURNS DOES IT PAY TO GO TO COLLEGE? IF YOU CHECK WWW.COLLEGEBOARD.COM, YOU'LL FIND A REASSURING STUDY SHOWING THAT EDUCATION REALLY DOES PAY. WITHOUT CONSIDERING THE INTANGIBLES, THE STUDY SHOWS THAT EACH ADDITIONAL LEVEL OF EDUCATION DRAWS A HIGHER LIFETIME INCOME. WHILE THE MEDIAN HIG...

Value of Degreee Varies By What You End Up Doing With It

Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011

THE FINANCIAL BENEFITS OF ATTENDING COLLEGE DOES COLLEGE REALLY PAY OFF? YES. EVEN PEOPLE WHO WORK IN JOBS THAT DO NOT REQUIRE A COLLEGE DEGREE USUALLY MAKE MORE MONEY THAN THEIR COWORKERS WITHOUT COLLEGE DEGREES. AS THE AMERICAN WORKFORCE BECOMES MORE SPECIALIZED AND LOWER-SKILL JOBS ARE BEING...

THE FINANCIAL BENEFITS OF ATTENDING COLLEGE

Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011

Does college really pay off? Yes. Even people who work in jobs that do not require a college degree usually make more money than their coworkers without college degrees. As the American workforce becomes more specialized and lower-skill jobs are being farmed out to workers in other countries, a co...

Education ROI

Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011

INVESTING IN A COLLEGE EDUCATION PAYS BIG LIFETIME DIVIDENDS, WITH COLLEGE GRADUATES GENERALLY EARNING FAR MORE THAN HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATES. AND SOME STUDIES FIND THAT, AFTER FACTORING IN POTENTIALLY HIGHER COSTS, DIPLOMAS FROM THE MOST PRESTIGIOUS INSTITUTIONS MAY BE WORTH EVEN MORE. MARK SCHNEIDER...

A FOUR-YEAR COLLEGE DEGREE, SEEN FOR GENERATIONS AS A TICKET TO A BETTER LIFE, IS NO LONGER ENOUGH T

Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011

JUST ASK BEA DEWING. AFTER SHE EARNED A BACHELOR'S DEGREE -- HER SECOND -- IN COMPUTER SCIENCE FROM MARYLAND'S FROSTBURG STATE UNIVERSITY IN 1986, SHE ENJOYED ALMOST UNBROKEN ADVANCES IN WAGES, EVENTUALLY EARNING $89,000 A YEAR AS A DATA MODELER FOR SPRINT CORP. IN LAWRENCE, KAN. THEN, IN 2002, SPRI...

Pubilc or Private: To Be or Not To Be

Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011

IT’S WONDERFUL TO KNOW THAT YOU’RE SENDING YOUR KIDS TO A SCHOOL THEY LOVE, WHERE THEY SEEM TO BE THRIVING ACADEMICALLY AND SOCIALLY. I’M SURE THOSE ARE TWO OF THE MOST IMPORTANT CRITERIA YOU SOUGHT WHEN YOU SELECTED THIS SCHOOL FOR YOUR CHILDREN. OF COURSE, ONCE YOUR KIDS ENROLLED, YOU LEARNED SOME...

A COLLEGE EDUCATION MAY NOT BE WORTH AS MUCH AS YOU THINK.

Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011

BY MARY PILON WALL STREET JOURNAL FOR YEARS, HIGHER EDUCATION WAS TOUTED AS A SAFE PATH TO PROFESSIONAL AND FINANCIAL SUCCESS. EASY MONEY, IN THE FORM OF STUDENT LOANS, FLOWED TO HELP PARENTS AND STUDENTS FINANCE DEGREES, WITH THE IMPLICATION THAT IN THE LONG RUN, A BACHELOR'S DEGREE WAS A GOOD BET...

Foreclosure Process Disclosure

Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011

UNDERWRITING BULLETIN 2011-07 To: ALL FLORIDA OFFICES AND AGENTS OF Chicago Title Insurance Company Commonwealth Land Title Insurance Company Fidelity National Title Insurance Company From: FNTG Florida Agency Underwriting Department Date: March 9, 2011 Re: Foreclosure Process Disc...

FNC Study Takes Closer Look at Foreclosure Data

Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011

Recent data released by FNC, Inc reveals that 2008 and 2009 were the worst in terms of market distress, with more than 25 percent of foreclosed properties liquidated at a more than 40 percent discount. The data reveals that since then, only the bottom quartile of foreclosure sales have been so dis...

UK Businessmen Among Nine Arrested In Connection With Collapsed Icelandic Bank

Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011

LONDON — Police have arrested nine people, including two of Britain's wealthiest entrepreneurs, on suspicion of fraud in connection with the 2008 collapse of Iceland's Kaupthing bank during the global financial crisis. Britain's Serious Fraud Office said seven men aged between 42 and 54 were held i...

Saving the Yen

Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011

Howard Schneider and Neil Irwin: "The United States and other major industrialized nations will combine in a rare coordinated currency intervention on Friday to keep the Japanese yen from rising too sharply in value in the wake of the country’s recent natural disasters, a sign of the deep global con...

Future of 30-Year Mortgages at Risk?

Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011

Proposals to phase out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac may make 30-year fixed-rate mortgages harder to find, housing experts say. An outline drafted by the Treasury Department, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the White House and circulated last month calls for winding down Fannie...

Did Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Cause the Financial Crisis and How Can They Be Reformed?

Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011

The financial crisis has been blamed on many factors: Wall Street bankers, out of control hedge fund managers, incompetent ratings agencies, weak government oversight and a collapse in the housing mortgage markets. Seemingly all of these forces played a role. Peter Wallison of the American Enterpris...

Without Loan Giants, 30-Year Mortgage May Fade Away

Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011

WASHINGTON — How might home buying change if the federal government shuts down the housing finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage loan, the steady favorite of American borrowers since the 1950s, could become a luxury product, housing experts on both sides of the...

HUD Losses From Noncomplying FHA Loans Top $11M

Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011

HUD’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) reviewed more than 250 loans from 15 lenders and found that nearly half of those loans did not meet the Federal Housing Administration’s (FHA) guidelines. The OIG launched Operation Watchdog in January 2010 to examine loans from the lenders to monitor the...

Freddie Mac to Require More Equity in Purchased Loans

Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011

Freddie Mac said last week in a bulletin to lenders that performance of loans with loan-to-value ratios of less than 5 percent has been “unacceptable,” and starting June 1, the GSE will no longer purchase them. “In our continuing effort to support responsible lending and sustainable homeownership, ...

With Negative Equity Still Rising, Dodd-Frank Could Make Things Worse

Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011

Fourth quarter data from CoreLogic reveals negative and near-negative (mortgages with less than 5 percent equity) equity mortgages account for 27.9 percent of all residential properties with a mortgage nationwide, and the company says recent legislation could make a gloomy situation even darker for ...

Research Firm Says U.S. Housing Has Never Been This Undervalued

Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011

The continuing depreciation of residential property values at the end of last year has made housing look more undervalued relative to income than ever before, according to analysts at the research firm Capital Economics. Based on the latest Case-Shiller home price index, Capital Economics’ study sh...

Variety of bills would restructure courts

Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011

The Florida Supreme Court is in for an upheaval if the Republican-dominated Legislature has anything to say about it. A blockbuster announced Monday by House Speaker Dean Cannon would break the court in two — one for civil cases and the other for criminal cases. The measure, which would require a ...

State attorneys general expect major changes in their mortgage servicing settlement

Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011

State attorneys general expect major changes in their mortgage servicing settlement, reports Brady Dennis: "State attorneys general, who soon will enter settlement talks with the nation’s largest mortgage servicers after revelations of flawed foreclosure paperwork and other shoddy practices, will ac...

SIFMA pushes back on mortgage settlement proposal

Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011

States' mortgage settlement proposal with banks WASHINGTON, (Reuters) - The leading U.S. securities industry trade organization expressed strong reservations about a settlement proposal that state attorneys general have presented to five banks over allegations of widespread wrongdoing in servicing...

Class Warfare III -- Losing Your Right to Fight Back

Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011

Everyone has heard of the woman who spilled coffee on herself and won $3 million from McDonald's. Perhaps you recall an editorial similar to this one, which ran in the San Diego Union Tribune: "A winning lottery ticket... absurd... a stunning illustration of what's wrong with America's civil justice...

Foreclose Deal Near, State Officials Say

Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011

WASHINGTON — A broad agreement could be struck within two months to overhaul how millions of foreclosures are handled by the nation’s biggest banks and to expand the use of home loan modifications, according to Tom Miller, the attorney general of Iowa. All 50 state attorneys general, along with fe...

The latest on the Attorney General servicer settlement

Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011

The latest on the Attorney General servicer settlement news can be found here:PostAGServicer[http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?llr=zy6u9cdab&et=1104871779075&s=6013&e=001XoJ2389h64umIjsfiB-i9lGEjohAzRzFXKhOL1gjsF6P7dN6_Xlxj1ZAgQe6yKM6uR4wyC1dmgPjhrY9BvXbdvSZlsWy8CkVUkA3WACK6Mi41zbEXbAK8IoWPK2ikrjQUx6UDsa18x...

State attorneys general tackle mortgage servicing

Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011

By Brady Dennis, State attorneys general, who soon will enter settlement talks with the nation’s largest mortgage servicers after revelations of flawed foreclosure paperwork and other shoddy practices, will accept nothing less than wholesale changes to the way those companies treat troubled homeowne...

Details of Servicer Settlement Surface, Resolution Still A Long Way Away

Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011

The settlement terms prompted by robo-signing investigations and presented to servicers by government agencies and attorneys general last week feature 27 pages of rules and regulations for the handling of loans on owner occupied primary residences. Though the details of the settlement have been rel...

Proposed Servicer Settlement Met With Resistance

Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011

As predicted by many reports following the recent settlement proposal from the state attorneys general and several federal agencies, servicers are not reacting with enthusiasm to the terms offered. One of the biggest conflicts in coming to an agreement is the proposed punishments servicers will ha...

Q&A with AG Tom Miller

Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011

By Brady Dennis Washington Post Staff Writer Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, who is heading a 50-state investigation into flawed and fraudulent foreclosure practices by big banks and lenders, is scheduled to testify about the issue Tuesday afternoon before the Senate Banking Committee. He also ...

The nation's overburdened foreclosure system is riddled with faked documents

Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011

By Ariana Eunjung Cha and Brady Dennis Washington Post Staff Writers The nation's overburdened foreclosure system is riddled with faked documents, forged signatures and lenders who take shortcuts reviewing borrower's files, according to court documents and interviews with attorneys, housing adv...

Who's buying homes? The rich

Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011

NEW YORK - The rich are different from you and me: They're buying real estate. After four straight years of declines, sales of million-dollar homes and condos rose last year in all 20 major metro areas, according to DataQuick Information Systems. On average, these cities saw an 18.6% jump in high-...

US considers mass mortgage write down

Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011

It was the rant from Chicago that resounded in Washington. In 2009, Rick Santelli, a reporter from CNBC, captured the mood of a sizeable portion of the country when he railed against government efforts to “subsidise the losers’ mortgages”. To cheers from the CME Group’s trading floor, he went on to...

Early Workouts Central to Game Plan for 2011

Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011

Freddie Mac is in the process of transforming the way it measures mortgage servicer performance and one imminent change is designed to push servicers to help more delinquent borrowers within 60 days of the first missed payment. How? By retooling our 15-year-old Servicer Performance Profile metrics ...

Short Sale Success Faces Hurdles in California: Survey

Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011

Ninety-four percent of Realtors surveyed by the California Association of Realtors (C.A.R.) participated in a short sale transaction during 2010, demonstrating the growing presence of short sale listings in today’s distressed real estate environment. Despite increased market interest in the short ...

Ability to Refinance

Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011

The ability for a borrower to refinance is determined by several factors: currentrates, credit quality, and collateral value being primary. Lenders know that higherfees have a negative impact on refinancing volumes going forward as FHLMC, FNMA and the FHA have all recently increased costs for certai...

Federal Foreclosure Programs to Cost Less than Expected

Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011

Members of the House Financial Services Committee are advocating for the termination of federal foreclosure relief programs largely based on the argument that their cost outweighs the benefits. The committee sent two bills to the full House last week that would end the Federal Housing Administratio...

Committee Advances Bills to End Two More Foreclosure Aid Programs

Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011

The House Financial Services Committee voted Wednesday in favor of two bills that would terminate the administration’s flagship Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) and HUD’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP), which provides funding to local governments and nonprofits for the acquisiti...

Loan mod program left homeowners' fate in hands of dysfunctional industry

Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011

Last February, with 6 million homeowners in danger of losing their homes, the mortgage industry was assembled at a luxury hotel in San Diego applauding themselves — literally. “As a group, we owe ourselves a round of applause,” said Yvette Gilmore, vice president of loss mitigation at Freddie Mac...

Public Pensions 101

Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011

With the recent spate of attacks on climate science and evolution it should not be a surprise that traditional defined benefit pensions in the public sector are now also under attack. There are powerful political actors in this country who are anxious to build a bridge back to the 19th century; taki...

The Social Security lockbox is a fiction

Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011

The Social Security lockbox is a fiction, writes Charles Krauthammer: "f these trust fund bonds represent anything real, why is it that in calculating national indebtedness they are not even included? We measure national solvency by debt/GDP ratio. As calculated by everyone from the OMB to the CIA, ...

Foreclosure Activity Sinks to Three-Year Low

Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011

New data from RealtyTrac shows that foreclosure filings nationwide dropped 14 percent between January and February, as overall activity last month sunk to its lowest level since February of 2008. RealtyTrac says total foreclosure filings – including default notices, scheduled auctions, and bank rep...

Zillow: S. Fla. home values down in January

Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011

South Florida home values fell 14.5 percent, year-over-year, in January, to a Zillow Home Value Index of $138,600, according to data from the Seattle-based online real estate company. By comparison, home values nationwide fell 7.3 percent, to an index value of $172,182. The index measures the valu...

Washington has forgotten about America's unemployed

Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011

Washington has forgotten about America's unemployed, writes Paul Krugman: "Earlier this week, the White House budget director declared: 'There is an agreement that we should be reducing spending,' suggesting that his only quarrel with Republicans is over whether we should be cutting taxes, too. No w...

A U.S. Recovery Built on Low-Paying Jobs

Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011

Before she lost her job last November as a full-time health department caseworker in Aurora, Ill., Amy Valle was making $23 an hour. Now she's paid $10 an hour as a part-time assistant coordinator in an after-school program. "From here on out, it will be a struggle," says Valle, 32, whose husband lo...

The White House Report on Women: 3 Surprising Insights

Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011

How Are American Women Doing? March 8th was International Women's Day. Celebrated around the globe, each year there is a different focus. For 2011, "Equal access to education, Training and science and technology, Pathway to decent work for women" were highlighted themes. Given that the White Hous...

This is Far From Over...

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

Life Underwater Some areas of the nation seem to have stabilized for now, but falling home prices in other areas pushed more borrowers into a negative equity position. CoreLogic's recent study showed that in the 4th quarter of 2010 23% of borrowers nationwide, or 11.1 million, were holding "unde...

Geithner Concedes Government Incentives Distorted Housing Market

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

In a speech given Tuesday before the House Committee on Financial Services, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said the government played a role in bringing down the housing market. Geithner also blamed the government for creating moral hazard and leaving taxpayers responsible for cleaning up the ...

House Votes to End Emergency Homeowner Relief Program

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

On Friday the U.S. House voted to end the Emergency Homeowner Loan Program (EHLP), a program that helps homeowners who are unable to make their mortgage payments because of unemployment. The fund was established under the Dodd-Frank Act to provide interest-free loans to homeowners for up to 24 mont...

Crisis Is Over, but Where’s the Fix?

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

When the financial system began to crumble more than three years ago, the world rushed to rescue it. Country after country went deeply into debt to keep banks afloat and prevent a deep recession from turning into something worse. It worked. This week was the second anniversary of the nadir of the ...

Commercial Real Estate Breathes Life Into a Moribund Market

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

A crucial part of the securitization market — the Wall Street credit machine that helped set off the financial crisis — is kicking back into gear. In the last few weeks, a number of big banks have successfully bundled and sold new securities backed by commercial real estate loans. Morgan Stanley an...

Commercial real estate deals are on the rise

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

Confident that a long-anticipated meltdown won't happen, real estate investors are aggressively returning to the commercial real estate market. Some of the region's biggest deals since the nation went into a recession closed in the last six months. In most cases, the transactions were not propertie...

Miami Hotel Market Set For 250% Surge in Investor Interest

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

MIAMI-After struggling through the downturn, Miami's hotel market is starting to return to health. Indeed, as a key international gateway market, Miami is attracting investor interest once again. So says Jones Lang LaSalle's Hotel Intelligence Miami report. In fact, hotel transaction volume in the ...

Home Loans Now Less of a Toxic Threat than Commercial Real Estate

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

While the housing crisis is what triggered the economic downturn and pushed so many lenders under early on in the receession, it seems the biggest threat has now shifted from residential mortgages to souring commercial real estate (CRE) loans. Commercial real estate seems to have been the downfa...

Fannie Mae Finds Consumers Expect Home Prices to Hold Firm in 2011

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

Fannie Mae’s latest national housing survey finds that Americans are more confident about the stability of home prices than they were at the beginning of 2010, even though they lack confidence in the strength of the economy. The GSE’s fourth quarter survey, conducted between October 2010 and Decemb...

Credit Card Data Tells Mixed Story

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

American shoppers did not shed their reliance on credit cards over the year-end holidays. While the average debt on credit cards in December decreased by 4 percent compared with the same month a year before, Americans still carried an average of $4,284 on credit card statements in December 2010, a...

Student Debt Can Be Deadly

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

We may be trying to Win the Future, be we sure do like to get our young people mired in debt at an early age. And we're doing less to help them stay out of it. President Obama's recent budget proposal included ending an experiment that gave out Pell Grants for summer courses and eliminating a subsi...

White House revamping plan to sell federal buildings

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Obama administration is hoping to revamp plans to sell off thousands of federal buildings by recruiting outside experts to determine which office towers, courthouses and warehouses the government no longer needs. Once established, a new independent commission would recommend potential savings t...

Senators and Top Servicers Increase Assistance for Military Members

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

Senators and banks across the country are joining forces in order to provide mortgage protection for members of the military. After reports that some members of the military and their families are struggling to remain in their homes, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island) and others including Se...

Giving Back: A Grad Student's Do-It-Yourself Solution To The Foreclosure Crisis

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

Today, as HuffPost and AOL unite to launch the Huffington Post Media Group, we're celebrating by making a statement about the importance of giving back and helping others. Led by HuffPost Impact -- The Huffington Post's section devoted to service, causes, and volunteering -- every HuffPost section ...

Broke Is the New Rich

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

This week I was the recipient of a Barn Raising, but instead of a barn it was my house and instead of a raising it was more of a razing and instead of building a place in which to put my cows, it was more along the lines of preparing the place to try and sell it to avoid The New F Word -- foreclos...

U.S. Millionaires Say $7 Million Doesn't Make You Rich, Survey Says

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

NEW YORK - A million dollars ain't what it used to be. More than four out of ten American millionaires say they do not feel rich. Indeed many would need to have at least $7.5 million in order to feel they were truly rich, according to a Fidelity Investments survey. Some 42 percent of the more th...

Fed Study Reveals Down Payments Help Prevent Defaults

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

Research released this week by the senior research economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland reveals homeownership is more sustainable for people who come to the table with down payments. The study examines the types of homeowner assistance that the government uses to promote homeownership...

U.S. Inquiry on Military Family Foreclosures

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Justice Department is investigating allegations that a mortgage subsidiary of Morgan Stanley foreclosed on almost two dozen military families from 2006 to 2008 in violation of a longstanding law aimed at preventing such action. A department spokeswoman confirmed on Friday that the Morgan Sta...

Coping With Chicago's Foreclosure 'War Zones'

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

Bryan Esenberg's job is to tend the graveyard of Chicago's housing boom. Esenberg works for a local nonprofit that steps in to prevent abandoned buildings mired in the foreclosure process from falling apart while mortgage companies, lenders, owners and investors grapple over who is responsible. O...

Miami developer Renzo Renzi files for bankruptcy

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

Renzo Renzi, a Miami developer who was hit hard by the collapse of the housing market, has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. According to a petition filed Thursday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Renzi has less than $50,000 in assets and between $10 million to $50 million in debt. In the filing, Renzi ...

Sheila Bair, FDIC Chief: Too Big Banks Should Be 'Downsized'

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

WASHINGTON - America's big international banks should restructure their operations unless they can prove they can easily be broken up if they start toppling during a financial crisis, said U.S. regulator Sheila Bair. Multinationals will need to set up more foreign subsidiaries and realign their leg...

With fewer foreclosures court money may dry up

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

Florida state courts could be forced to shut down April 1 and furlough staff and judges if a budget shortfall caused by a drop in foreclosure filing fee revenue isn't addressed by the Legislature, Miami-Dade Circuit Chief Judge Joel Brown said Thursday. If courts do not receive emergency funding be...

Foreclosures Fall To 3-Year Low In February

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

NEW YORK: Foreclosure filings dropped to a 3-year low in February due to an ongoing backlog following last year's halt in activity, according to a RealtyTrac report on Thursday. Notices of default, auctions and bank repossessions tumbled 13.9 percent from January to 225,101, the lowest since Febr...

Brooklyn, Bronx foreclosures surge as city rates hold steady, national rates drop

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

More Brooklyn and Bronx homeowners found themselves at risk of losing their homes last month, while foreclosures citywide held steady. Nearly 1,350 city homeowners received some form of foreclosure notice in February, up 1.3% from January but down 4% from a year ago, according to stats set to be re...

LPS Finds Foreclosure Starts Declined in January but Outpaced Sales

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

Data released by Lender Processing Services (LPS) Wednesday shows that while foreclosure starts decreased in the first month of 2011, they still outnumber foreclosure sales by almost three to one. According to the Florida-based company’s analysis, lenders initiated 230,000 foreclosure actions in Ja...

FTC Targets 'Last Dollar Frauds' Preying On The Unemployed

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Tom Bernard was swayed by a simple e-mail pitch in June 2009: he could make money from home by building his own web site, using the expert software and accounting assets from a company called Ivy Capital. Out of work and desperate for income, he reluctantly agreed to pay $6,88...

Hackers Say Email Leaks Offer Evidence of Fraud by Bank of America

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

A group of Internet hackers has released internal emails that they say proves Bank of America committed mortgage fraud by “knowingly hiding foreclosure info from federal auditors.” The hacker group, Anonymous, claims to have obtained a slew of inter-departmental emails from a former employee of Ba...

Another Inside Job

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

Count me among those who were glad to see the documentary “Inside Job” win an Oscar. The film reminded us that the financial crisis of 2008, whose aftereffects are still blighting the lives of millions of Americans, didn’t just happen — it was made possible by bad behavior on the part of bankers, re...

Bank Of America Anonymous LeakAlleges 'Corruption And Fraud'

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

The WikiLeaks-allied hacker group Anonymous has posted a series of emails purported to be from a former Bank of America employee, which the organization says prove "corruption and fraud" at the nation's largest bank. In a release announced with the Twitter hashtag #BlackMonday, Anoymous posted th...

Chief of Beazer Homes Settles a Fraud Claim for $6.5 Million

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

The chief executive of Beazer Homes, Ian J. McCarthy, agreed to return $6.5 million in compensation that he had received while the company was accused of accounting fraud, the Securities and Exchange Commission said on Thursday. Mr. McCarthy, 58, had not reimbursed Beazer for bonuses and other inc...

Three indicted on mortgage fraud charges

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

Indictments unsealed Tuesday charge three South Florida residents with mortgage fraud in the Versailles neighborhood of Wellington, in Palm Beach County. According to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, fraud charges were unsealed against Patrick Brinson, 34, of Miami; David Lam, 42, of...

Point Blank fraud: Overvalued inventory

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

It’s amazing how one company’s finances can get so warped just by overvaluing obsolete military inventory and a few other accounting sleights-of-hand. But that’s the picture federal authorities are painting about Pompano Beach-based Point Blank Solutions (Pink Sheets: PBSOQ), formerly DHB Industrie...

Board of Contributors: The practicality of handling fraud cases

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

Fraud is rampant, but there are many issues to consider in bringing litigation or taking actions to recover losses arising out of a fraudulent transaction. Often, what looks like a fraud and smells like a fraud is, in fact, a fraud. Sometimes the fraud is plainly evident, such as a clear misreprese...

Former Taylor Bean mortgage president pleads guilty to fraud

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

Raymond E. Bowman, the former president of Taylor, Bean & Whitaker Mortgage Corp., pleaded guilty to two charges over his role in what U.S. prosecutors said was a $1.9 billion fraud scheme. Bowman, 45, of Ocala, Florida, entered his plea today in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, to one count ...

Who Has the Toughest Banking Rules, U.S. or Europe?

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

Regulatory arbitrage is the latest buzz-phrase. Wall Street’s new parlor game is guessing whether Swiss, British or United States banks will end up with the toughest rules on capital and liquidity. But as reforms play out around the world there’s also the possibility that entire business lines will ...

Geithner Wants Fannie, Freddie Reform Bill In 2 Years

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

WASHINGTON — Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is telling Congress that the Obama administration wants Congress to approve legislation overhauling Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the nation's troubled housing finance giants, within two years. In remarks he planned to deliver Tuesday to the House Fina...

Federal support for home loans essential, Geithner warns

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner used his strongest language yet to warn on Tuesday about the dangers of a mortgage system that does not include a significant role for the government. Two weeks after releasing a white paper on how to overhaul the badly battered housing market, Geithner said ...

Fannie Mae Adds 14 States to Mandatory Foreclosure Attorney Network

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

Fannie Mae issued a servicing guide update Tuesday, which adds 14 additional states to the GSE’s list of jurisdictions in which its servicers must use one of the legal firms approved by Fannie Mae to handle all foreclosure and bankruptcy matters, as well as post-foreclosure legal proceedings and act...

Without Loan Giants, 30-Year Mortgage May Fade Away

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

WASHINGTON — How might home buying change if the federal government shuts down the housing finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage loan, the steady favorite of American borrowers since the 1950s, could become a luxury product, housing experts on both sides of the...

Ex-Fannie Mae CEO Daniel Mudd May Face Claims Of Misleading Investors On Subprime Loans

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

Daniel Mudd, the former CEO of government-sponsored mortgage firm Fannie Mae, has received notice from U.S. regulators that he may face claims for allegedly misleading investors about the mortgage company's exposure to subprime loans, Bloomberg said. Mudd, who was ousted from Fannie Mae in 2008 a...

GOP Set to Begin Chipping Away at Mortgage Giants

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

Republican lawmakers are preparing this week to introduce a series of legislative proposals to gradually reduce the role of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The effort represents a tactical shift from the comprehensive approach for a speedier wind-down of the mortgage-finance giants that Republicans b...

Former GSE Exec Issued Wells Notice as Lawmakers Plan Wind-Down

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

Daniel Mudd, former CEO of Fannie Mae, received a Wells notice from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) last week, regarding his service with the GSE. A Wells notice informs the recipient that the agency is considering legal action against him. The recipient may elect to respond to the We...

Fannie Mae Turns a Profit for First Time in Three Years

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

Fannie Mae has released its fourth-quarter and full-year 2010 earnings results. The GSE reported net income of $73 million for the last three months of 2010, compared to a net loss of $1.3 billion in the third quarter. It’s the first time the company’s been in the black in over three years. For the...

Updates to the Mandatory Retained Attorney Network

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

Announcement SVC-2011-02 March 1, 2011 Introduction In the Servicing Guide, Part VIII, Section 104.01: Fannie Mae-Retained Attorneys, Fannie Mae outlines its mandatory network of retained attorneys to handle all foreclosure and bankruptcy matters (as well as post-foreclosure legal proceedings an...

Shadow Inventory, Negative Equity Impacting Home Price Recovery

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

Home prices in January were down 5.7 percent from a year earlier after factoring the month’s REO sales and short sales into the mix, according to new data from the research and analytics firm CoreLogic. January marked the sixth month in a row that the company has recorded a year-over-year decline in...

Household Worth Up $2.1 Trillion: A Positive for the Mortgage Market

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

Americans are beginning to gain ground against the worst recession in recent history as more and more economic indicators point to recovery. A new study from the Federal Reserve says household net worth in the U.S. soared $2.1 trillion during the last three months of 2010. From October through Dec...

Household Wealth Jumps $2.1 Trillion In Last Quarter

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

WASHINGTON - Household wealth rose by $2.1 trillion in the fourth quarter and their debt contracted at the slowest pace since 2008 as consumers stepped up spending and boosted the fragile economic recovery. Gains made in investments such as mutual funds boosted overall household wealth to $56.8 t...

Housing Loves Inflation

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

Inflation is not the only reason to risk diving back into the housing market, but it may be the best reason. John Paulson agrees with this logic. Paulson is the hedge fund manager who placed various negative bets on various mortgage-backed securities during 2007 and early 2008. As these securities ...

Talks Continue over Servicer Penalties in Robo-Signing Settlement

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

Federal regulators and state attorneys general say their investigations of servicing practices and foreclosure processes have uncovered “critical deficiencies and shortcomings” that have resulted in violations of foreclosure laws. They’ve made it clear that mortgage servicers will be required to mak...

A Swift Deal May Not Be a Sound One

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

ONE crucial reason the nation’s mortgage industry ran itself — and the entire nation — off the rails was its obsession with speed. Mortgages had to be approved chop-chop, loans pooled instantly. When it came to foreclosure, well, the quicker the better. So it is disturbing that the same need for s...

More Mortgage Mischief

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

The new federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's website proclaims that no financial company "should be able to build, or feel pressure to build, a business model around unfair, deceptive, or abusive practices." How ironic, then, that the bureau itself is trying to extend its reach by extort...

Guilty Plea in Fraud Case Tied to TARP

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

Raymond E. Bowman, the former president of Taylor, Bean & Whitaker Mortgage, pleaded guilty on Monday in connection with a $1.9 billion fraud that included trying to deceive the federal bank bailout program. Mr. Bowman, 45, of Atlanta, admitted to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, bank...

Does That Proposed Foreclosure Deal Help Main Street or Wall Street?

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

Bankers began whining as soon as word of a proposed mortgage fraud settlement case hit the street, even though it was a pretty sweet deal for them. From the Wall Street Journal: "Banks Bristle at Mortgage-Loan Plan." Even the lightest, most symbolic of penalties is apparently too much for their ...

Bank of America Facing More Lawsuits and Repurchase Demands

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

More legal woes have developed for Bank of America, as some of its mortgage investors brought a lawsuit against the lender in an attempt to force the bank to buy back bad loans. According to Bloomberg, the original balance of securitized loans involved in the case was $2.8 billion, and the plainti...

Lawmakers Demand Answers from Treasury on Proposed Settlement

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

More backlash from the 27-page proposed servicer settlement developed on Wednesday when five representatives from the House Financial Services Committee voiced their disapproval and concern in a letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. The letter, signed by committee chairman Spencer Bachus, ...

Two More Rulings Confirm MERS' Right to Foreclose

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

Two more rulings have defended the right of Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems (MERS) to foreclose on behalf of lenders. A case in New Hampshire and another in California affirmed the right of the company to act as a nominee on behalf of its members and foreclose on properties. In his decis...

SunTrust Discloses Affidavit Problems in Thousands of Foreclosure Cases

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

An internal review by SunTrust Banks, Inc. has uncovered problems with the paperwork in thousands of foreclosure cases, according to the Atlanta-based company’s annual regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. “We recently conducted an assessment of our foreclosure process in ...

The Continuing Mortgage Mess

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

One of the most startling exit-poll results to emerge from the 2010 midterm elections was the finding that the 35 percent of voters who (correctly) blamed the economic collapse on Wall Street actually voted Republican by a margin of 56-42 percent. As Ruy Teixeira and John Halpin wrote in a sifting...

Too Big to Sue

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

Never underestimate the power of an employee who feels wronged. One of the striking ideals of the American experiment in democracy is that we should all be equal under the law, whether we are a middle-aged African-American woman struggling to make ends meet or a multi-billion dollar internationa...

HSBC Suspends All U.S. Foreclosures

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

HSBC Holdings PLC has suspended all foreclosure actions in the United States, according to the company’s annual regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). HSBC says it decided to temporarily halt foreclosure proceedings after examinations by federal regulators uncovered w...

Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (MERS)

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

UNDERWRITING BULLETIN 2011-06 To: ALL FLORIDA OFFICES AND AGENTS OF Chicago Title Insurance Company Commonwealth Land Title Insurance Company Fidelity National Title Insurance Company From: FNTG Florida Agency Underwriting Department Date: March 3, 2011 Re: Mortgage Electroni...

U.S. Pushes Mortgage Deal

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

Obama Proposal Seeks Multibillion-Dollar Settlement of Loan-Servicing Cases The Obama administration is trying to push through a settlement over mortgage-servicing breakdowns that could force America's largest banks to pay for reductions in loan principal worth billions of dollars. Terms of th...

Michael Lewis Sued For Defamation In 'The Big Short'

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

NEW YORK - Michael Lewis, best-selling author of "The Big Short" about the mortgage meltdown, has been sued for defamation by an asset manager featured in the book. Other targets in the lawsuit are Lewis' publisher and prominent hedge fund manager Steven Eisman of FrontPoint Partners LLC. Wing Cha...

Officials Disagree on Penalties for Mortgage Mess

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

Even as state attorneys general and regulators in Washington approach the end of their investigation into abuses by the nation’s biggest mortgage companies, deep disputes are emerging over how much to punish the banks as well as exactly who should benefit from a settlement. The newly created Consu...

Bank Of America Pushes Back Against Government Mortgage Proposal

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan is pushing back against a government proposal that would force his company to assume responsibility for billions of dollars in mortgage debt, according to The New York Times. The proposal would encourage financially-troubled homeowners to default, Bank of Ameri...

Pension Funds Strained, States Look at 401(k) Plans

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

Lawmakers and governors in many states, faced with huge shortfalls in employee pension funds, are turning to a strategy that a lot of private companies adopted years ago: moving workers away from guaranteed pension plans and toward 401(k)-type retirement savings plans. The efforts come as the gove...

Union Contracts, Not Pay, Are States’ Problem

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

When Ed Rendell became the mayor of Philadelphia in 1992, he started a fight with the city’s labor unions that will sound familiar to anyone who has been following the recent news from Wisconsin. In his inaugural address, Mr. Rendell, a Democrat, announced, “Philadelphia stands on the brink of total...

State Worker Retirements Are Soaring Across the Country

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

Call it a sign of the troubled fiscal times, when governors are pushing for steep cuts in employee wages and benefits as they seek to restore their states to fiscal health. Whatever you call it, it amounts to a huge challenge. Many employees of cash-strapped states, such as New Jersey, Californi...

The Burden of Pensions on States

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

For public workers in Wisconsin, there’s more bad news. Having lost the battle on collective bargaining, they may soon be asked to make more financial sacrifices. The state’s workers offered to start picking up part of the cost of their pensions and health insurance early in their showdown thi...

When Cities Struggle, Workers Punished -- But Bondholders Spared

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

NEW YORK -- As cities across the nation struggle to balance their budgets, a chorus of experts has told investors to take cover. Economists, analysts and financiers have given speeches, released reports or made the television rounds arguing that cash-strapped municipalities will default on many bi...

US states make serious forecasting errors

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

US states have been making serious errors in forecasting their revenues during economic downturns, saddling lawmakers with new budget shortfalls as they try to allocate fewer resources, new research shows. According to a joint study by the Pew Center on the States and the Nelson A Rockefeller Insti...

Americans' Wealth Jumps 3.8 Percent -- Thanks To The Stock Market

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

Thanks to a rebounding stock market, Americans' household wealth increased by $2.1 trillion last year, even as high unemployment and a sagging real estate market weighed down the economic recovery. At the end of last year, American households saw their net worth rise 3.8 percent over the previous ...

Committee Votes to Kill Two Housing Programs, Delays Decision on Two

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

The House Financial Services Committee voted Thursday to scrap two foreclosure relief programs – one that gives underwater homeowners a federal refinancing option, and a second that provides temporary mortgage assistance to unemployed homeowners. The FHA Refinance Program Termination Act (H.R. 830...

Obama Administration's Foreclosure Program Shambles Along

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Treasury Department announced Wednesday that more than 600,000 homeowners across the country have been granted "permanent" mortgage modifications under the Obama administration's signature anti-foreclosure effort, the Home Affordable Modification Program. The latest monthly ...

House Votes to Terminate FHA's Short Refi Program

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed legislation to end the Federal Housing Administration’s (FHA) Short Refi Program aimed at helping homeowners who owe more on the mortgage than their home is worth obtain a new FHA-insured loan with a reduced principal. In a 256 to 171 vote Thursday eve...

Most Short Sale Transactions Taking Four or More Months to Complete

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

Despite new rules for Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives (HAFA) short sales that went into effect on February 1, real estate agents responding to a survey said short sale transactions are still taking too long. A survey published recently by Santa Barbara, California-based property valuation...

Foreclosure Follies

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

Recent price data show home values at nearly their lowest levels in the postbubble era, and a coming tide of foreclosures means prices will drop further. Seven million families have lost their homes so far, and another three million foreclosures are expected through 2012. The ongoing crash is furt...

House to Determine Fate of Four Foreclosure Mitigation Programs

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

Last week it was announced that a meeting would be held in front of the Insurance, Housing and Community Opportunity Subcommittee on Wednesday to determine the fate of four federal foreclosure mitigation programs. The Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), HUD’s Neighborhood Stabilization Pr...

Servicers, Some Attorneys General Speaking Out Against Write-Downs

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

Following last week’s statement by Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan that principal reductions are unfair and not in everyone’s best interest, more banks and even some attorneys general have spoken out against the controversial clause in the settlement proposal. According to an article by Reuters,...

Officials Tout HAMP Positives, with Nearly 540K in Permanent Mods

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

Treasury released its new numbers for the administration’s Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) Wednesday, just hours before a House Financial Services subcommittee convened a hearing to terminate the government’s flagship foreclosure prevention program and three other federal housing program...

Extension of the Home Affordable Refinance Program

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

Announcement SEL-2011-02 On March 11, 2011, the Federal Housing Finance Agency announced two changes to the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP). This program is for borrowers who have demonstrated an acceptable payment history on their mortgage but, due to a decline in home prices or where ...

FHA Commissioner Says Short Refi Program Necessary for Recovery

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

As the House prepares to debate on the future of the Federal Housing Administration’s Short Refinance option, FHA Commissioner David Stevens implored House subcommittee members to give the program a chance. The program is a voluntary option for lenders to agree to offer principal write downs and re...

Refinance Program for Underwater Borrowers Open Through Mid-2012

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) has pushed the cut-off date for the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) out by a year. HARP is one of several mortgage aid programs under the administration’s Making Home Affordable umbrella. It allows homeowners who owe more on their mortgage than th...

Top Republican: 'Senate May Approve' Elizabeth Warren For CFPB

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

WASHINGTON -- A top Republican broke with what he called "conventional wisdom" Tuesday morning, saying that consumer watchdog Elizabeth Warren is "very persuasive" and may be confirmed by the Senate to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. In an interview with CNBC, House Financial Ser...

Congressional Republicans Set Sights On Homeowners, Elizabeth Warren As Split Emerges with State GOP

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

WASHINGTON -- As state and federal officials near an agreement with the nation's largest financial firms to settle allegations of abusive foreclosure practices, top Republicans in Congress are aggressively disputing their authority, decrying the possibility of expensive penalties against banks and q...

Bank Lobby Splinters On CFPB Ahead Of Director Confirmation Deadline

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

WASHINGTON -- A rift is emerging among bank lobbyists over the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as the deadline approaches for President Barack Obama to nominate a permanent director for the nascent agency. A Tuesday letter urging greater deliberation and care in adopting new regulations th...

Keep a Cool Head: 4 Tips for Avoiding Financial Mistakes

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

Instinct often causes people to make financial decisions emotionally—not logically. Understanding how human behavior affects you can help you rise above those emotions to make financial choices that make more sense for you. Avoid knee-jerk decisions Michelle Fuller, an employee benefits advisor at...

Home Price Declines Moderate, Except in the West: Report

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

New data from Clear Capital indicates that the slow-down in foreclosure activity may be having a positive effect on property values in some parts of the country. However the company’s report states that despite a national trend toward flattening of home prices, the western United States is draggin...

NAR's Pending Home Sales Index Drops 2.8%

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

Industry data released Monday showed that the number of homebuyers who signed contracts in January for the purchase of previously owned homes declined from both the previous month and year-ago levels. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) says its January index of pending home sales is down 2....

FHFA Home Price Index Records Largest Quarterly Drop in Over a Year

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) reports that home prices nationally dropped 0.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010 when compared to the previous three-month period. FHFA’s index is calculated using home sales price information from mortgages acquired by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. O...

Foreclosure Sales in January Up, Permanent Mods Down

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

Data released Thursday from HOPE NOW shows that while permanent loan modifications outpaced foreclosure sales in the month of January, the gap between the two is getting smaller. In January there were around 101,000 permanent loan modifications completed, down from 111,000 in December 2010. There w...

10 Small Business Tax Deductions Most Commonly Overlooked

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

With tax season in full swing, almost everyone is preoccupied with tax returns, W-2s, and old receipts. Preparing your taxes can be very stressful, as can paying the tax bill that comes as a result. However, while paying your taxes may be a requirement, paying too much in taxes is not. There are m...

Layoffs Reach 11-Month High, But They're Not The Major Worry

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

The number of planned layoffs in February rose to an 11-month high according to data released Tuesday, but economists think it's too soon to say whether this is indicative of a broader slump in the labor market. According to a separate survey released Wednesday -- the ADP National Employment Report...

America: We Need a National Manufacturing Strategy

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

What did you buy this week? Now - how many of those items were made in America? Not many, I bet. Because even if we wanted to, most of us would be hard-pressed to buy only American-made products. While U.S. jobs are steadily shipped overseas, the tidal wave of foreign-made goods in our stores and ...

Unemployment Rate Rises In Ten States, In Spite Of Optimistic Jobs Report

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

WASHINGTON -- The unemployment rate fell or held steady in 40 states in January, the latest sign that hiring is strengthening throughout the country. The Labor Department says the unemployment rate fell in 24 states and remained the same in 16. The unemployment rate rose in only 10 states. In Decem...

Marketing Overqualified to Your Advantage in the Job Search

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

If you are lucky enough to land a job interview in this difficult market, make sure you are in control of your message. This is especially important for seasoned candidates who often hear that they are overqualified for a position. With a generation of experienced individuals that were laid off in t...

Why Your Boss Is Wrong About You

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

Los Angeles IN the raging battle over union rights in Wisconsin, those seeking to curtail collective bargaining for state employees have advanced an argument that seems hard to resist: It will make it easier to reward those workers who perform the best. What could be fairer than that? If only th...

America Waking up to Value of Unions

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

As Abraham Lincoln famously said, "You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time." When you put enough dots in front of people sooner or later they will connect the dots. And Americans are connecting th...

More Equity, Less Government: Rethinking Bank Regulation

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

History's two most influential advocates for economic liberty, Adam Smith and Milton Friedman, nevertheless turned away from "free banking" to support some financial regulation and legislative reform in the wake of financial crises. Smith's views were influenced by the global banking crisis of 1772 ...

Women: Do You Work Just for the Sake of Working?

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

Detrix Young, a Wal-Mart employee in Aiken, South Carolina, reports that she sat in a store-wide meeting where one of her female co-workers asked why the men in the store earned more than the women. One of the male managers answered that "men are working as the heads of their households, while women...

Suits: A Woman on Wall Street

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

Have you ever wondered what it's like being a woman working on Wall Street? In 2009, New York Times Op-Ed Columnist Nicholas Kristof eloquently pointed out that our economy might be in a very different place had it been Lehman Sisters and Brothers rather than merely Lehman Brothers. In his piece ...

GOP Oversight Report: Excessive Regulation Could Hinder U.S. Hopes of “Winning the Future”

Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A preliminary report issued Feb. 10 by House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) — based on nearly 2,000 pages of letters from business groups — asserts that federal regulations are harming U.S. competitiveness and contributing to unemployment, especially in the manufacturing sector (Da...

Debit Card "Swipe" Fees: Will Low-Income Consumers Be Protected?

Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A rule change being considered by the Federal Reserve Board could have a big effect on banking services millions of us use every day, and on whether low-income Americans are able to access those services. It's important that the Fed approach this decision in a way that protects consumers. The propo...

President Submits FY 2012 Budget; House Republicans Propose FY 2011 Spending Cuts

Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

On February 14, 2011, President Obama released his proposed Budget for FY 2012. The Budget includes cuts aimed at reducing the deficit, but does not project a balanced Budget even as far out as 2020. As is always the case, the President's Budget is the starting point for the work of Congress and wil...

Waiting Seven Years for Two Answers

Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

WHEN Zella Mae Green of Georgia filed for bankruptcy to save her home from foreclosure in 2004, she and her lawyer wanted to know two things: Did she actually owe any back payments on her mortgage? And, if so, to whom? It didn’t seem like a lot to ask. But until last week, those questions had been...

Buying Your Way Into College

Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Forget the standard advice that everyone should apply for financial aid. This year, forgoing aid applications may actually boost the chances of getting accepted. Thanks to the recent recession, more colleges are giving seats to wealthier students—especially international or wait-listed applicants—w...

Buying Your Way Into College

Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Forget the standard advice that everyone should apply for financial aid. This year, forgoing aid applications may actually boost the chances of getting accepted. Thanks to the recent recession, more colleges are giving seats to wealthier students—especially international or wait-listed applicants—w...

Boomers Expected to Change Housing Priorities

Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Developers and builders expect baby boomers to re-emerge in the real estate market soon, but they say boomers likely will come with a simpler agenda when it comes to what they’re looking for in a home. "We have an opportunity to rethink a lot of the things we've done" in designing communities an...

FDIC's List of "Problem" Banks Grows to 884

Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The number of lending institutions on the FDIC’s problem-bank watch list rose to 884 as of the end of last year. That’s up from 860 three months earlier, but the agency noted that the rate of increase in the number of “problem” banks has declined in each of the past four quarters. The FDIC does not...

Troubled banks rise to highest level in 18 years

Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

WASHINGTON -- The number of banks at risk of failing made up nearly 12 percent of all federally insured banks in the final three months of 2010, the highest level in 18 years. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp said Wednesday that the number of banks on its confidential "problem" list rose to 884 ...

4 Tips to Avoid Foreclosure Scams

Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

More home owners are falling prey to scams that promise to “stop the foreclosure” and “save your home.” The Federal Trade Commission has released a report to help borrowers avoid falling victim to such scams, here are a few of its tips: 1. Watch for outlandish claims. "Eliminate your debt!" ...

The Government’s Role in the Housing Finance System: Where Do We Go From Here?

Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

INTRODUCTION It is time to commit to a future housing finance system for the United States as the current state of uncertainty is likely deterring the recovery of the housing market and the broader economy. The pre-crisis model, which was centered around the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs)...

Freddie Mac Needs $500M More from Taxpayers after Q4 Loss

Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Freddie Mac reported Thursday that it lost $113 million in the fourth quarter of 2010. The loss, compounded by the company’s $1.6 billion quarterly dividend payment to Treasury on stock the company relinquished in exchange for bailout money, left the GSE with a net worth deficit of $401 million as o...

Freddie Mac posts $1.7B loss for Q4

Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

WASHINGTON — Government-controlled mortgage buyer Freddie Mac managed a narrower loss of $1.7 billion for the October-December quarter of last year. But it has asked for an additional $500 million in federal aid – up from the $100 million it sought in the previous quarter. Freddie Mac also posted a...

REFORMING AMERICA'S HOUSING FINANCE MARKET

Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

On Friday, February 11, 2011, the Obama Administration released its plan for reforming America's Housing Finance Market. The proposal offers three options for handling the secondary mortgage market participants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac: • Full privatization, • A guarantee mechanism during...

Fannie Mae Unveils Servicer Achievement Program

Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Fannie Mae unveiled on Wednesday the Servicer Total Achievement and Rewards (STAR) program, which will measure and evaluate mortgage servicers’ performance in supporting the housing recovery. The program will examine how the servicers help homeowners avoid foreclosure. The program will provide cl...

ADMINISTRATION’S HOUSING PLAN LEAVES TAXPAYERS AND THE ECONOMY AT RISK

Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

While Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac need serious reform, we must get these reforms right. Among the Administration’s several proposals, only one—the one that maintains a limited role for the GSEs—even has potential for ensuring all families have access to home loans and achieving stability in the housi...

Restructuring the U.S. Residential Mortgage Market

Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

There is wide bipartisan agreement that government housing policies, past and present, need to be re-evaluated given their role in the financial crisis. While the reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac was not included in financial reform legislation last year, the Obama administration and congression...

Fannie, Freddie Narrow Losses, But Want More Government Aid

Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

NEW YORK -- Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the troubled mortgage giants taken over by the federal government, reported improved earnings last quarter as losses abated and soured mortgages continued to decline. But the firms, still 79 percent owned by the U.S. government, say they will need another $3.1...

S&P Case-Shiller Index Posts Another Drop as Home Prices Near Trough

Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Data through December 2010, released Tuesday by Standard & Poor’s show that the S&P/Case-Shiller national home price index declined by 3.9 percent quarter-over-quarter during the last three months of 2010. The closely watched gauge is down 4.1 percent versus the fourth quarter of 2009, which is the...

Re: Insurance after Foreclosure and Purchase of REO

Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

To: All Florida Offices and Agents of Chicago Title Insurance Company Commonwealth Land Title Insurance Company Fidelity National Title Insurance Company From: FNTG Florida Agency Underwriting Department This Bulletin supplements Underwriting Bulletin 2010-23. The Bank of America (“B...

Banks Say They Expect Penalties From Foreclosure Probe

Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Three of the nation's largest banks said Friday that they expect to be sanctioned by the U.S. government for their foreclosure practices, securities filings show. The disclosures come on the heels of reports federal regulators are nearing a multi-billion dollar deal to settle allegations that the b...

Regulator Stands In Way Of Potential Multi-Billion Dollar Mortgage Settlement

Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Obama administration is seeking to broker a deal that would have the nation's largest mortgage lenders agree to pay as much as $30 billion in fines to settle state and federal claims that they abused borrowers and illegally foreclosed on homes, according to state and federal officials engaged in...

Newark Police Layoffs Threaten Crime-Fighting As Budget Cuts Spark Fears

Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

NEWARK, N.J. -- Early on a recent Wednesday morning, a 23-year-old former cop named Robert looked out to his driveway and noticed his car was gone. He had left it idling out front, to warm it up amid the winter chill while he finished getting dressed, and had not imagined someone might steal it. L...

State budget clashes spread to Indiana, Ohio

Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

TRENTON, N.J. - The offensive by Republican governors to tackle the power of public employee unions sparked new clashes Tuesday as protesters descended on Ohio's capitol and Democratic lawmakers in Indiana fled the state to avoid a vote on anti-union legislation. Meanwhile, New Jersey Gov. Chris C...

State And Local Budget Cuts Are Slowing U.S. Economy

Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

WASHINGTON — Deep spending cuts by state and local governments pose a growing threat to an economy that is already grappling with high unemployment, depressed home prices and the surging cost of oil. Lawmakers at state capitols and city halls are slashing jobs and programs, arguing that some pain n...

Foreclosure mediators: Banks pushed us to fail

Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Florida's Supreme Court sought a foreclosure lifeline in forcing banks and borrowers to mediation. It was hoped a judicial referee could help unclog court dockets and free struggling borrowers. But in documents obtained by The Palm Beach Post and described in a recent court order, mediators complai...

America’s Endangered Middle Class

Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

EVENT SUMMARY Conservatives and progressives divide over how best to restore the promise of a broad middle class society, a debate especially fraught due to the severe economic challenges ahead. Should Congress reduce budget deficits first? Or do we increase social investment and count on growth to...

The Widening Gap Between Company Productivity And Workers Wages 'Redolent Of Scrooge' [CHART]

Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

As corporate America picks up steam -- The Economist described the current profit-reporting season as "shaping up to be one of the best ever" -- when will employee compensation catch up? If the history of the last several decades is any indicator, it could be a while. On Friday, the Bureau of Labor...

Four Federal Foreclosure Mitigation Programs on the Chopping Block

Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Alabama), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, announced this week that he has scheduled a subcommittee hearing and full committee markup of four bills that will terminate what he says are “failed and ineffective housing foreclosure programs.” On the chopping b...

A Corporate Sleuth Tries the Credit Rating Field

Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

FEW people ever penetrate the dark side of money, but Jules Kroll is one of them. Fortunes plundered, ransoms paid, deals cut — the uncovering of such secrets, and the million smaller confidences that are his history, have made Mr. Kroll a rich man. It was nearly 40 years ago, when he practicall...

Approaching Retirement Age and Still Doing the Work-Life Juggle?

Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

We hear a lot about the struggles modern parents face in juggling work and family needs. Meeting the demands of today's 24-hour, Blackberry-fueled workplace and still finding time for your kids (let alone time for yourself) can seem next to impossible. But here's the thing that should really scare e...

Blame Wall Street, Not Hard Working Americans, for the Pension Funds Fiasco

Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The confrontations in Wisconsin and other states are the opening salvo of a political blame game -- who is responsible for the gigantic public pension fund deficits that threaten states' solvency and workers' retirement savings? The conservative spin machine blames public employees, claiming their g...

5 Most Affordable Housing Markets

Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Buying a home in Ohio is very affordable, according to a recent article at CNNMoney.com, which reveals the five metro areas where the average family can easily afford to buy a median-priced home. Ohio cities claimed three of the five spots. Here are the most affordable housing markets, accordi...

HOME SALES STATISTICS

Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

-- More people bought previously occupied homes in January. But sales surged on a rising number of foreclosures and all-cash deals, and not first-time home-buyers. The rising number of distressed sales forced home prices down to the lowest level in nearly nine years, a troubling sign for the strugg...

Rising Home Sales Don't Offset Lagging Confidence in Market

Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Amid reports of home sales being boosted, the reality remains that the market is in a dark place. Sales prices are down, and though mortgage rates remain at record-lows, few people are qualifying for loans under the strict standards banks have in place. Add to that list the woes of real estate agen...

Discrepancies in Home Sales Data Illustrate Market Volatility

Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

They say “it’s all in the numbers,” but what if the numbers don’t match up, in fact don’t even come close, even when comparing apples to apples – in this case nationwide homes sales to nationwide home sales? The real estate data and analytics firm CoreLogic has released a market report in which th...

U.S. GDP Revised Down To 2.8% From 3.2%

Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

WASHINGTON - The economy grew slower than initially estimated in the fourth quarter as government investment contracted more sharply and consumer spending was less robust, a government report showed on Friday. Gross domestic product growth was revised down to an annualized rate of 2.8 percent, the ...

Housing Starts Jump 14.6% in January

Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Housing starts in January reached their highest rate in four months, increasing more than analysts expected, the Commerce Department reports. Housing starts jumped 14.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 596,000 units. Housing starts in January were helped by a 77.7 percent jump in ...

Ways and Means Committee Repeals Landlord Reporting

Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The House Ways and Means Finance Committee held a markup to review various 1099 reporting issues. Included in the legislation that was ordered reported from the Committee was a bill that would repeal both the onerous 1099 reporting rules that were included in the Health Care legislation and the la...

Savvy Moves For Tax Refunds

Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

If your tax refund is substantial, consider revising your Form W-4 to have less tax withheld from your paycheck. After all, you don't want to give the government an interest-free loan that you can't collect until you file your return next year. If your paycheck does wind up a little fatter, try to s...

How to Refocus U.S. Mortgage Interest Relief

Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The mortgage interest deduction is a huge budget item – almost $100bn per year in federal taxes forgone – with a weak link to its stated goal of promoting home ownership. In its most recent budget, the Obama administration proposed to eliminate the MID for all taxpayers with annual incomes of $250,0...

Amity Shlaes's Forgotten History: When Unions Go Bust, We All Do

Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

For years, American workers' wages have stagnated even as they produced more. Since 2008, they have been socked with staggering new bills for bank bailouts and hammered by a Great Recession brought on by the very same banks. Now public sector workers are confronted by a new crop of Republican govern...

.S. Economy Trades High-Paying Jobs For Low-Paying Positions, Report Finds

Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

UIn the last 12 months, the U.S. economy has largely traded high-quality jobs for poorly-paid positions, according to a new report by the National Employment Law Project. Though the economy has added more than a million jobs over the last year, new positions have skewed towards relatively low-wage...

Remarks by the President at Meeting with the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness

Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I don't want to waste too much time with a big windup. And I know that everybody here has already been busy today doing some terrific work. I just want to, first of all, thank Jeff and I want to thank all of you for your willingness to participate in our Jobs Council. Just ...

White House Launches Jobs Council Featuring Top U.S. Business Leaders; Tells Congress Economy is “Mo

Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

President Obama yesterday led the first session of a new Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, seeking input from top U.S. business and union leaders about potential strategies for boosting private-sector employment and promoting American businesses. The new advisory body includes AOL co-founder ...

How the Servant Became a Predator: Finance’s Five Fatal Flaws

Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

What exactly is the function of the financial sector in our society? Simply this: Its sole function is supplying capital efficiently to aid the real economy. The financial sector is a tool to help those that make real tools, not an end in itself. But five fatal flaws in the financial sector’s curren...

In Praise of Mercantilism (or Why Economic History Isn't Boring)

Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Does economic history hold a giant clue for getting America out of its present trade mess? Yes, because it debunks the idea that free trade is how nations become prosperous. Instead, it shows that nations win at international trade by playing a 400-year-old game called mercantilism. Let's look a...

Women and Quotas: Will It Break the (Plexi) Glass Ceiling?

Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A debate on boardroom quotas continues to percolate through the European and American media, especially of late. Bloomberg BusinessWeek recently hosted a rather tepid discussion on the topic, while the Financial Times published a more thoughtful set of articles tackling the issue. The fact is, in th...

Bernanke: Regulators Can Handle 'Too Big To Fail' Banks

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Fed chairman Ben Bernanke said on Thursday that regulators could now handle the collapse of a "too big to fail" bank. The next day, presenting a new research paper, Bernanke argued that foreign investors helped fuelled the financial crisis. Speaking at a meeting of the Senate Banking Committee on T...

GOP Budget Plan Would Cut CFPB Funding Nearly In Half

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

WASHINGTON -- A new federal budget proposal from House Republicans would dramatically restrict the budget of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau during its first year of operation. No House Republicans voted for the Wall Street reform bill that created the CFPB, which is currently being se...

DODD-FRANK IMPLEMENTATION / DERIVATIVES

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Lawmakers, End-Users Press for Greater Clarity on Pending Derivatives Regulations; Jobs, Capital Could be Hurt by Overly Broad Application of New Margin Requirements, Survey Shows Regulatory implementation of the Dodd-Frank Act’s derivatives provisions was again under scrutiny this week, as two...

House Hearing Outlines Government Barriers to Housing Recovery

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

On Wednesday a House subcommittee held a hearing to examine private sector involvement in the housing market, in order to determine if the high amount of government participation is a hindrance to the sector’s recovery. Rep. Judy Biggert, chair of the subcommittee, said, “Government intervention i...

'Flash Crash' Panel Calls For U.S. Market Overhaul

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK - U.S. regulators should stem the growing tide of anonymous stock-trading and consider charging high-frequency traders for their disproportionate amount of buy and sell orders, said a panel of experts advising how to avoid another "flash crash." The panel's 14 recommendations fo...

Investors Say Transparency is Necessary for a Recovery

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Association of Mortgage Investors (AMI) said on Wednesday they consider the Obama administration’s GSE reform white paper a good start, but the organization says the plan is missing a key ingredient: transparency. At the House Financial Services subcommittee hearing this week, the issue of brin...

Servicers Face New Rules, Penalties for Foreclosure Processing Mistakes

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

When evidence surfaced last fall of flawed foreclosure documentation and robo-signers within some of the nation’s largest servicing shops, federal regulators launched an investigation into the foreclosure and servicing practices of 14 companies, including Bank of America, Citigroup, GMAC Mortgage, J...

Bank Regulator Pushing For Modest Settlement With Industry Over Improper Mortgage Practices

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The federal bank regulator overseeing the nation's largest lenders is pushing for a quick and modest settlement to the months-long federal and state probes into abusive mortgage practices, frustrating other federal agencies and state regulators and raising questions over President Barack Obama's del...

Covering Your Assets: 7 Signs Your Bank May Be Failing

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Even though the banking sector is getting healthier, there were still 157 bank failures in 2010. When a bank fails, FDIC insurance should protect your checking and savings accounts (as long as you don't exceed the $250,000 deposit limit), but accessing money from a failed institution can be inconve...

Credit CARD Act One Year Later: Was it a Success?

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

One year ago on February 22, 2010, the epic Credit CARD Act took effect, which aimed to reform the entire credit card industry and help young people under age 21 steer clear of credit card dangers. Now one year later, was the CARD Act a success? The simple answer: yes and no. Studies publishe...

Looking For A Credit Card? It Pays To Be Rich

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

NEW YORK — It pays to be rich if you need a credit card. A year after sweeping credit card regulations upended the industry, banks are showering perks and rewards on big spenders with sterling credit scores. And they're socking customers with spottier histories with higher interest rates, lower cre...

Why Credit Card Rates Are Higher In 2011

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

NEW YORK — Credit card interest rates are climbing. It's just not clear exactly why. A study released Tuesday suggests that today's higher rates are mainly a reflection of the struggling economy. That's contrary to the credit card industry's refrain that tighter regulations have forced banks to pas...

After Credit Card Reform, What You See is MUCH Closer to What You Get

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

New credit card rules in the Credit CARD Act of 2009 are making credit card pricing significantly clearer, a new CRL research report finds. This means lower costs for consumers, by spurring competition and making it harder for issuers to manipulate or arbitrarily raise prices. The report, “Credit ...

Banks Push Home Buyers to Put Down More Cash

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The down payments demanded by banks to buy homes have ballooned since the housing bust, forcing many people to rethink what they can afford and potentially shrinking the pool of eligible buyers. WSJ's Mitra Kalita reports banks are requiring prospective new home buyers to come up more cash for dow...

Healing a Wounded Credit Score

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Millions of consumers have fallen out of favor with the credit scoring gods. Some lost their jobs or were just overwhelmed by mounting debt. Others got caught up in the real estate bubble or had major medical bills. Whatever the reason, the rising number of foreclosures, short sales, late credit c...

A RESPONSE: The ingredients are in place for a crisis

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

IT'S a good thing the cacophony surrounding Ben Bernanke’s testimony to the Congressional budget committee last week passed largely unheard in the financial community. Congresswoman Schwartz, in a litany of “what-ifs”, asked Mr Bernanke if he thought it was morally correct for Congress to require Am...

A RESPONSE: Gradual steps should be taken to avert an abrupt crisis

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

IT IS clear that America cannot just "count on" growth going forward. While growth-enhancing strategies may work, and corporations may invest more as jobs and demand pick up, creating a virtual cycle, the scale of efforts and mixed results over the past two years suggest that any counting on growth ...

A RESPONSE: America is bankrupt

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

THE US has a fiscal gap—the present value of all its future spending (including servicing its official debt) less all its future taxes of $202 trillion—almost 14 times GDP. Greece, by comparison, has a fiscal gap of about 11 times GDP. To close the US fiscal gap would require raising all federal tax...

Sale of federal buildings could be difficult

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

President Obama could not have been more clear, when outlining his budget proposal in Baltimore last week. "Now, some of the savings will come through less waste and more efficiency," he said. "To take just one example, by getting rid of 14,000 office buildings, lots and government-owned propertie...

The question is: How close is America to fiscal crisis?

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Congressional Budget Office projects that America's 2011 deficit will be $1.5 trillion, or 9.8% of GDP, and debt held by the public in the 2011 fiscal year will approach 70% of GDP. How close is America to facing a bond market crisis? Should drastic cuts to the budget be made now? Over what hori...

American Dream of Home Ownership Still Strong

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Three out of four home owners — or 78 percent — say their homes are the best investment they ever made, according to Trulia.com’s biannual American Dream survey, which has tracked attitudes toward home ownership since 2009. Despite foreclosures and underwater homes continuing to batter the real e...

A Good Investment in Tough Times

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

About 2.5 million residents of New York State, trapped at the margins of the economy, lack the basic skills that come with a high school education. To help these people — and strengthen the economy — the state must work with the cities to expand access to the relatively inexpensive programs that pre...

Where Are You Startup America?

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

During the State of the Union address, I was lying on the living room floor listening to the president talk about the entrepreneurial spirit and the future of the United States of America. I got chills down my spine thinking about how important that statement is to our future. Our future is now. As...

Facing Foreclosure Without Missing A Payment: One Couple's Housing Nightmare

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

For the past 30 days, Kendra and Todd Parker have been trying to figure out what to tell their four children, fearing that they, like millions of other Americans facing foreclosure, could be tossed out of their home. But unlike the vast majority of homeowners in their predicament, Kendra Parker sa...

Foreclosure Hero: Man Pesters Executives, Saves Friend's House

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Lee Castillo, 34, is an IT systems engineer with zero experience in the mortgage industry. But when he found out that his friend had been scammed by a loan modification company and was a week away from losing his home, Castillo decided to get involved. "He had been trying to work with CitiMortg...

It's All About The Money: Jamie Dimon's Big Pay Hike and the Home Foreclosure of Our Servicemen

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

It was always about the money, but over the past few years that truism has descended into a miasma of self-interested perversity that has begun to put the entire game at risk with more and more of the nation's economically disenfranchised sensing that they have become powerless in a system that look...

Mortgage Delinquencies Fall to Lowest Level in Two Years

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The delinquency rate for mortgage loans on single-family residential properties dropped to 8.22 percent at the end of 2010, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) reported Thursday. That’s down about 10 percent from the rate reported by the trade group three months earlier and is its lowest mortga...

West Coast Foreclosure Sales Climb to Pre-Robo-Signing Levels

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Foreclosure auction sales in states along the West Coast have bounced back to levels not seen since robo-signing moratoriums went into effect last fall, the California-based tracking firm ForeclosureRadar reported Tuesday. The company’s coverage area includes the states of Arizona, California, Neva...

Improvement in Mortgage Delinquencies Slows: TransUnion

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

TransUnion has released its findings and analysis on mortgage delinquency for the fourth quarter of 2010, which found that the national mortgage loan delinquency rate dropped to 6.41 percent. This statistic, which is traditionally seen as a precursor to foreclosure, reflects a decrease of 0.47 per...

Fla. mortgage delinquency highest in U.S.

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

There was no change in the nationwide average rate on a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage over the past week. Florida’s mortgage delinquency rate at the end of 2010 was the highest in the nation, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. More than 24 percent of the home loans in Florida were one p...

LPS Records Increase in Nonperforming Loans

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

After several months in which the nation’s volume of non-current home loans declined, the contraction has come to an end. Lender Processing Services (LPS) says there were 6.92 million residential mortgages past due or in foreclosure as of the end of January. That’s up from 6.87 million reported by t...

JPMorgan Accused Of Fraud by Allstate

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

JPMorgan Chase is being sued by Allstate insurance company for fraud, in the latest example of a big bank being accused of knowingly selling a poor-quality product. In a lawsuit dated Wednesday, the insurance company accuses the bank of knowing that the bundles of loans it was selling were very lik...

Case on Mortgage Official Is Said to Be Dropped

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Federal prosecutors in Los Angeles have dropped their criminal investigation into Angelo R. Mozilo, the former chief executive of Countrywide Financial, once the nation’s largest mortgage lender, according to a person with direct knowledge of the investigation. The closure of the case after two ye...

Bernie Madoff: Banks "Had To Know" Of Fraud

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

More than two years have passed since Bernard Madoff was arrested for a massive Ponzi scheme which spanned 16 years and consumed roughly $20 billion in lost cash and nearly $65 billion in paper wealth, and the search for who was complicit is still heating up. Now, in his first interview for public...

SEC Probing Mutual Funds' Muni Bond Pricing

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

U.S. securities regulators are probing whether some mutual funds have overstated the value of thinly traded risky municipal bonds at a time when investors were withdrawing money from muni-bond funds, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter. The probe by the U.S. Sec...

U.S. Said to End Criminal Investigation of Mozilo

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The U.S. Justice Department has ended a criminal investigation of former Countrywide Financial Corp. Chief Executive Officer Angelo Mozilo and won’t bring charges, a person familiar with the investigation said. The person asked not to be identified because the investigation hadn’t been made public....

Mortgage Fraud Risk Spreads Easily to Surrounding Areas: Report

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A new study by analytics firm Interthinx says mortgage fraud risk has been spreading from ZIP code to ZIP code. The company’s quarterly Mortgage Fraud Risk Report covers data collected from the fourth quarter of 2010 and tracks overall and type-specific mortgage fraud risk. It provides an in-depth ...

Congressman Reopens Probe of Countrywide VIP Program

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Rep. Darrell Issa, on Wednesday asked that a subpoena be issued to Bank of America, requesting the company hand over any documents related to the “Friends of Angelo” program formerly offered by Countrywide Financial. The “VIP” program was dubbed Friends of Angelo because it was headed by former Cou...

Bye-Bye Fannie, Freddie? What It Could Mean

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Obama administration announced on Friday plans to reform the housing finance market, including winding down government-controlled mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and turning most of the market over to the private sector, as well as requiring larger down payments. The White House propo...

FHFA Defends Paying $162M Legal Bill for Former GSE Execs

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

In late January it was revealed that taxpayers have spent more than $160 million defending former Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac executives in court, with $132 million of that money going to defend Fannie Mae executives. This week at a congressional analysis hearing, members of several government agen...

Ex-Freddie Mac C.F.O. May Face Civil Charges

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A former chief financial officer of Freddie Mac has been notified by securities regulators that they may soon file civil charges against him, stemming from his tenure at the mortgage finance company, according to a public filing. Anthony Piszel, known as Buddy, who was Freddie Mac’s chief financial...

Obama GSE Report Favors Public-Private Hybrid

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Obama administration puts the emphasis on privatization with a federal backstop as it outlines alternatives for replacing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. NAR wants to be sure affordable 30-year, fixed-rate and other safe mortgages remain available. It also expresses concern over a part of the report...

An End to Fannie and Freddie?

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

When Congress considers the Obama administration’s proposals to phase out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, it needs to keep several goals clearly in mind. It must keep the jittery housing market going and reduce taxpayer risk while enticing private companies back into the mortgage business. And it must k...

After Fannie and Freddie Go, What's Next for the Housing Finance System?

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Great Recession has functioned like a large wrecking ball. One object of destruction has been the housing market. Price declines, loan defaults, and an unprecedented level of foreclosures have created a mess and left the housing finance system in shambles. This past Friday, the Obama Administ...

FHA Raises Annual Mortgage Insurance Premiums

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) is wasting no time putting at least one of the Obama administration’s housing finance reforms into place. The agency announced this week that it is implementing a new premium structure for FHA-insured mortgage loans. FHA is increasing its annual mortgage ins...

Winding down Fannie and Freddie could put minority careers at risk

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Dialing back government support for District-based Fannie Mae and McLean-based Freddie Mac could have far-reaching implications for minority financial professionals in the Washington region. Not only are the mortgage finance giants two of the largest employers in the area, with a total of 10,000 w...

The curse of negative home equity

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Wesley Ulloa bought her first condo for $230,000 in 2007, and watched helplessly as it lost two-thirds of its value during South Florida’s historic housing market tailspin. The 24-year-old real estate agent has been selling units in her Coconut Grove building for $80,000, a figure that makes her s...

6 Real Estate Markets Poised for Recovery

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

While home prices continue to fall in many markets across the country, CNNMoney.com has compiled a list of cities that are expected to defy that trend. Here are six metro areas expected to record some of the largest price gains in real estate by 2012: 1. Tacoma, Wash. Median home price: $2...

SEC Files Fraud Lawsuit Against Former IndyMac Executives

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has charged three former executives at IndyMac Bancorp with securities fraud for misleading investors about the lender’s failing financial condition. The executives, former CEO Michael Perry, and former CFOs A. Scott Keys and S. Blair Abernathy, alleged...

Lehman Brothers Deceived JPMorgan With 'Goat Poo' Assets, Lawsuit Says

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

NEW YORK - Lehman Brothers and Barclays deceived JPMorgan Chase & Co with bad assets that the failed investment bank's own employees dubbed "goat poo," according to new court papers that escalate a legal battle between the financial firms. JPMorgan filed new court claims in the case, contending tha...

Consumer 10.0: Phila. homeowner wins judgment against Wells Fargo over mortgage fees

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

It's not clear how this story will turn out, but right now Patrick Rodgers is living a pay-back fantasy probably shared by millions of struggling U.S. homeowners. Frustrated by a dispute with Wells Fargo Home Mortgage and by his inability to get answers to questions, the West Philadelphia homeowne...

Judge Rules MERS Cannot Act on Behalf of Banks

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A New York judge has ruled that Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (MERS) does not have the right to transfer mortgages on behalf of its members, meaning it does not have the right to file foreclosures on behalf of lenders. The company has recently been under fire for the practice, but...

New York's U.S. Bankruptcy Court Rules MERS's Business Model Is Illegal

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

United States Bankruptcy Judge Robert Grossman has ruled that MERS's business practices are unlawful. He explicitly acknowledged that this ruling sets a precedent that has far-reaching implications for half of the mortgages in this country. MERS is dead. The banks are in big trouble. And all foreclo...

U.S. Pushes Mortgage Deal

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Obama administration is trying to push through a settlement over mortgage-servicing breakdowns that could force America's largest banks to pay for reductions in loan principal worth billions of dollars. Terms of the administration's proposal include a commitment from mortgage servicers to reduc...

How a Whistle-Blower Conquered Countrywide

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

WHAT does it take to hold your powerful bosses accountable if they try to bully you out the door? Documents, e-mails, a former deputy district attorney as your lawyer — and a never-say-die approach. Such was the lesson learned by Michael G. Winston, a former executive at the Countrywide Financia...

Allen Stanford Sues Feds For $7.2 Billion

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

HOUSTON — Jailed Texas financier R. Allen Stanford has filed a lawsuit accusing prosecutors and federal agents of depriving him of his constitutional rights by using abusive law-enforcement tactics. He is asking for $7.2 billion in damages. The lawsuit filed Wednesday comes after Stanford was decl...

SEC Files Fraud Lawsuit Against Former IndyMac Executives

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has charged three former executives at IndyMac Bancorp with securities fraud for misleading investors about the lender’s failing financial condition. The executives, former CEO Michael Perry, and former CFOs A. Scott Keys and S. Blair Abernathy, alleged...

F.D.I.C. Is Said to Weigh Suing Leaders of Washington Mutual

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation has sent letters to several former executives of Washington Mutual warning that it was considering taking legal action tied to their role in the collapse of the savings bank, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. F.D.I.C. officials have discu...

SEC Files Fraud Lawsuit Against Former IndyMac Executives

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has charged three former executives at IndyMac Bancorp with securities fraud for misleading investors about the lender’s failing financial condition. The executives, former CEO Michael Perry, and former CFOs A. Scott Keys and S. Blair Abernathy, alleged...

Conflicting Rulings Abound in MERS Judgments

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Last week a New York judge ruled that the relationship between Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems (MERS) and its members is not one in which the company can act on behalf of the lenders in filing documents and proceeding with foreclosures. But the next day a judge in Kansas ruled the connecti...

Illinois Pension Contribution Plan 'Incredibly Dangerous'

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

As state and local governments face daunting pension shortfalls, some pension systems are taking controversial steps to stay solvent. As lawmakers in Wisconsin attempt to cut benefits, Illinois officials are taking a different approach: borrowing. In an effort to put money behind a fraction of the ...

How the middle class became the underclass

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

NEW YORK -- Are you better off than your parents? Probably not if you're in the middle class. Incomes for 90% of Americans have been stuck in neutral, and it's not just because of the Great Recession. Middle-class incomes have been stagnant for at least a generation, while the wealthiest tier has ...

Economic Recovery Fails to Ease Financial Stress on U.S. Households

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A rise in stock prices has helped to grow consumers’ net worth, but financial duress related to housing and a weak job market are weighing heavy on U.S. households and overshadowing any assurances that an economic recovery is underway. The nonprofit credit counseling agency CredAbility has release...

American Manufacturing Slowly Rotting Away: How Industries Die

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I wrote in a previous post about why America's manufacturing sector, despite record output, is actually in very deep trouble: record output doesn't prove the sector healthy when we are running a huge trade deficit in manufactured goods, i.e. consuming more goods than we produce and plugging the gap ...

How the middle class became the underclass

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

NEW YORK -- Are you better off than your parents? Probably not if you're in the middle class. Incomes for 90% of Americans have been stuck in neutral, and it's not just because of the Great Recession. Middle-class incomes have been stagnant for at least a generation, while the wealthiest tier has ...

GSEs extend HARP. 2009, 10 numbers show uptick

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

FHFA will not be giving up HARP for Lent. It announced an extension of the Home Affordable Refinance Program, which is administered by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac,to June 30, 2012. In addition, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will make the followingadjustments to their programs: Freddie Mac will exempt HA...

Homeless ex-mortgage broker Susan Schneider shows housing bust hit agents hard

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Before the real estate bust, Rob Paxton and Susan Schneider might have met at a networking event or through their home-buyer clients. Instead, they first crossed paths at a day shelter for the homeless in Falls Church. Schneider, once a mortgage broker with plenty of disposable income, arrived one...

Retiring Boomers Find 401(k) Plans Fall Short

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The 401(k) generation is beginning to retire, and it isn't a pretty sight. The retirement savings plans that many baby boomers thought would see them through old age are falling short in many cases. The median household headed by a person aged 60 to 62 with a 401(k) account has less than one-qua...

America's Pension Crisis -- Where's the Rage?

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

We should all be inspired by the breathtaking speed that protests against repressive regimes are spreading across the Middle East. It's amazing how the power of the Internet has enabled these heroes to galvanize the public to take their countries back from the dictators. At the same time, it sadde...

Generation Reinvention: How Boomers Are Changing Business for States and Cities

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

News media have been contemplating implications of the oldest Baby Boomers turning 65 this year. This is a symbolic passage but nevertheless thought worthy. Around 10,000 will reach the milestone daily for the next nineteen years. Never has the nation dealt with population aging of this magnitude. ...

Home Sales Data Doubted

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The housing crash may have been more severe than initial estimates have shown. The National Association of Realtors, which produces a widely watched monthly estimate of sales of previously owned homes, is examining the possibility that it over-counted U.S. home sales dating back as far as 2007. T...

Employment Won't Recover To Pre-Crisis Level, SF Fed Says

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The national employment situation has slowly been improving, but fundamental shifts in the economy may prevent a full recovery, a new Federal Reserve report concludes. The "normal" unemployment rate, or the baseline level to which the economy is progressing, will be worse than it was before the rec...

Ignore the Teen Employment Problem at Your Peril

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

In reviewing the findings of the recently released national report on employment and unemployment developments in the U.S. for January 2011, one might have encountered a sense of double vision in examining the findings for the nation's teenagers (16-19 years old). In January 2011, only 25.7 percent ...

Geithner: GOP Spending Cuts Could Cost Jobs

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Treasury secretary Timothy Geithner isn't happy with the latest round of Republican budget cut proposals. Geithner, speaking at a press conference after a G20 meeting, said the House of Representatives' $60 billion package of spending cuts, passed on Saturday, would cost jobs. "In our judgment, th...

The Next Bubble Won't Be Tech Stocks Or Real Estate

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The prime example of a bubble that really hurt was the parabolic ascent of the NASDAQ Composite Index from a rational level of 2200 in early 1999 to the ridiculously irrational 5000 15 months later. That was vertical mania by investors out of their mind. By the end of 2002 the value of these mostly...

Economic Outlook: Population grows but not number of households

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

South Florida's population growth has resumed following a recession-induced interruption, but the rate of household formation may lag for awhile. Weak job growth may be hindering growth in the number of new households, which has consequences for a wide range of South Florida businesses, from real e...

NASDAQ Nears Highest Level In A Decade

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

NEW YORK — The Nasdaq finished within 25 points of its highest level in a decade Friday, reminding investors of a time many would rather forget: The bursting of the dot-com bubble. Today, tech is hot again. Facebook – which hasn't even gone public yet – is worth some $50 billion. Online content com...

72 percent of all

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

72 percent of all high school valedictorians in 2009 were women. Women now graduate from college in far higher numbers than men. Over the past two decades women have contributed more to the global GDP than either new technology, China or India. Fortune 500 companies with more women board member...

Blacks and the federal budget

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I often wonder what the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. would say about the economic state of black America. Would he see progress? Or would he be disappointed at how far African Americans still have to go? The unemployment rate for blacks is 15.6 percent, compared with 9 percent for the country overa...

"Mancession",

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The great recession may have left more American men unemployed then women, sparking cries of a "Mancession", but in 2009, women's median weekly wage was still only 80 percent of men's. But all professions are not created equal when it comes to salary inequality, as a new chart from the Bureau of La...

B of A is only one bank and they say it will be 3 more years

Posted on Thursday, March 10, 2011

The head of Bank of America's new Legacy Servicing division,which controls about half the 14 million loans serviced by BofA, was quoted as saying that they'll work through the backlog of delinquent mortgages in the next three years. Legacy Servicing, received virtually all of the 60+ day delinque...

Much is Hiding In February 2011 Numbers

Posted on Thursday, March 10, 2011

NATIONWIDE Everyone’s talking about the February foreclosure stats RealtyTrac released this morning. Combined filings (default notices, auctions scheduled, bank repossessions) down 27% year from last year and 14% from last month. This is a three year low, significantly down from the March 2010 p...

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