Archive for the ‘mortgage’ Category

Mortgage firm arranged stealth campaign to avoid tighter government oversight

October 20, 2008

Freddie Mac secretly paid a Republican consulting firm $2 million to kill legislation that would have regulated and trimmed the mortgage finance giant and its sister company, Fannie Mae, three years before the government took control to prevent their collapse.

In the cross hairs of the campaign carried out by DCI of Washington were Republican senators and a regulatory overhaul bill sponsored by Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb. DCI’s chief executive is Doug Goodyear, whom John McCain’s campaign later hired to manage the GOP convention in September.

Freddie Mac’s payments to DCI began shortly after the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee sent Hagel’s bill to the then GOP-run Senate on July 28, 2005. All GOP members of the committee supported it; all Democrats opposed it.

In the midst of DCI’s yearlong effort, Hagel and 25 other Republican senators pleaded unsuccessfully with Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., to allow a vote.

“If effective regulatory reform legislation … is not enacted this year, American taxpayers will continue to be exposed to the enormous risk that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pose to the housing market, the overall financial system and the economy as a whole,” the senators wrote in a letter that proved prescient.
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http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081020/
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Fear, Panic, the Economy and Ridding Ourselves of Debt

October 13, 2008

By Robert J. Samuelson
The Washington Post

It’s easy to explain the continuing financial chaos — and the failure of governments to control it — as the triumph of psychology. Fear reigns, and panic follows. Everyone dumps stocks because everyone believes that everyone else will sell. Only rapidly falling prices attract sufficient buyers. All this is true. But it ignores the real engine of mayhem: “deleveraging.” That’s economic shorthand for purging the financial system of too much debt.

Just how this deleveraging proceeds will largely determine the fate, for good or ill, of the crisis. The turmoil has already moved beyond “subprime mortgages,” which (it now seems) merely exposed widespread financial failings. These were global, not just American, and their pervasiveness explains why leaders of the major economies have struggled, so far unsuccessfully, to fashion a common response.

An employee of the Korea Exchange Bank (KEB) counts U.S. 100-dollar ...

Alone, American subprime mortgages should not have triggered a global crisis. Losses are smaller than they seem. Mark Zandi of Moody’s Economy.com estimates that all U.S. mortgage losses will ultimately reach $650 billion. But that hefty amount pales against the value of all financial assets — stocks, bonds, bank loans. For the United States, these totaled almost $60 trillion at the end of 2007; for the world, the comparable figure exceeded $250 trillion.

Such a vast financial system should have absorbed the subprime losses without calamity. By way of contrast, the stock market’s drop since its peak in October 2007 to Friday was $8.4 trillion, or 42 percent, reports Wilshire Associates. The official response to the subprime losses also seems larger than the problem. The government has taken over mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; the Federal Reserve is pumping out short-term loans of $1 trillion or more; and Congress’s $700 billion rescue allows the Treasury Department to buy subprime securities and to make direct investments in banks.

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http://www.washingtonpost.com/w
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12/AR2008101201631.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

McCain: A Candidate Who Embraces Opposites

October 11, 2008

At the presidential debate in Nashville last Tuesday, Senator John McCain made his case for fiscally conservative, smaller government, calling for an “across the board” spending freeze and denouncing what he described as Senator Barack Obama’s “government will do this and government will do that” approach to health care.

But Mr. McCain’s big proposal that night was to spend $300 billion in taxpayer money to buy bad mortgages from banks and refinance them, a plan conservatives quickly criticized as an expensive effort to nationalize the mortgage industry.

Republican presidential candidate, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., ... 

The juxtaposition of a hands-off approach to governing with an embrace of intervention — albeit intervention at a moment of national crisis — was hardly unusual for Mr. McCain. Throughout his run for the presidency, he has often proposed policies that appear to be incompatible with one another, if not contradictory.

His foreign policy, for example, calls for ostracizing Russia for its undemocratic ways by expelling it from the Group of Eight industrialized powers, a hard-line position that he took long before Russia’s war with Georgia this summer. But Mr. McCain also calls for fostering closer ties with Russia to cooperate with it on a new nuclear disarmament agreement.

Mr. McCain’s economic policy centers on extending President Bush’s deficit-swelling tax cuts and on cutting even more corporate taxes. But at the same time, Mr. McCain has vowed to balance the federal budget by the end of his term, a pledge he has reiterated even with the fiscal crisis threatening to throw the budget even deeper into the red.

His energy policy is built in part on curbing the use of fossil fuels to reduce global warming, and he was an early Republican supporter of the cap-and-trade approach. But as gas prices shot up he made a series of proposals aimed at making gasoline cheaper and more available, from his call for a gas-tax holiday last summer to his new support for drilling for oil offshore (but still not in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge).

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http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/12/us/politics
/12mccain.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin

All that money you’ve lost — where did it go?

October 11, 2008

By ERIC CARVIN, Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK – Trillions in stock market value — gone. Trillions in retirement savings — gone. A huge chunk of the money you paid for your house, the money you’re saving for college, the money your boss needs to make payroll — gone, gone, gone.

Whether you’re a stock broker or Joe Six-pack, if you have a 401(k), a mutual fund or a college savings plan, tumbling stock markets and sagging home prices mean you’ve lost a whole lot of the money that was right there on your account statements just a few months ago.

A money changer counts out US dollars at a currency exchange ... 

But if you no longer have that money, who does? The fat cats on Wall Street? Some oil baron in Saudi Arabia? The government of China?

Or is it just — gone?

If you’re looking to track down your missing money — figure out who has it now, maybe ask to have it back — you might be disappointed to learn that is was never really money in the first place.

Robert Shiller, an economist at Yale, puts it bluntly: The notion that you lose a pile of money whenever the stock market tanks is a “fallacy.” He says the price of a stock has never been the same thing as money — it’s simply the “best guess” of what the stock is worth.

“It’s in people’s minds,” Shiller explains. “We’re just recording a measure of what people think the stock market is worth. What the people who are willing to trade today — who are very, very few people — are actually trading at. So we’re just extrapolating that and thinking, well, maybe that’s what everyone thinks it’s worth.”

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081011/ap_on_bi_ge/where_s_
the_money;_ylt=AkKucZ8sq3OvinoJZ3KzHyms0NUE

Passers-by stop to view a screen displaying markets news, with ...
Passers-by stop to view a screen displaying markets news, with Moscow’s Micex index displayed, Friday, Oct. 10, 2008, Paris. Regulators in Russia ordered Moscow’s MICEX not to open for regular trading at the usual time, and the opening of the RTS was also postponed until further notice, the state-run RIA-Novosti news agency said.(AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Bush says anxiety feeding market instability

October 10, 2008

By TERENCE HUNT, AP White House Correspondent
October 10, 2008

WASHINGTON – President Bush said Friday that the government’s financial rescue plan was aggressive enough and big enough to work, but would take time to fully kick in.

“We are a prosperous nation with immense resources and a wide range of tools at our disposal … We can solve this crisis and we will,” Bush said in brief remarks from the White House Rose Garden.
President George W. Bush speaks about the global financial and ... 

Bush spoke as leaders of the world‘s leading economies gathered in Washington amid frozen credit markets, panic selling in stock markets and a looming global recession.

The president noted that major Western economies were working together in an attempt to stabilize markets and end the spreading panic.

“Through these efforts, the world is sending an unmistakable signal. We’re in this together and we’ll come through this together,” Bush said.

Finance ministers and central bankers from the Group of Seven — the United States, Japan, Britain, Germany, France Italy and Canada — were here for a weekend meeting. Bush plans to meet with the leaders on Saturday.

Bush said he understood how Americans could be concerned about their economic future, “that anxiety can feed anxiety and that can make it hard to see all that’s being done to solve the problem.”

Bernanke warns of possible recession

April 2, 2008
By JEANNINE AVERSA, AP Economics Writer 

WASHINGTON – Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke warned Wednesday the economy may shrink over the first half of this year and that “a recession is possible.” Yet, he didn’t offer any assurances of further interest rate cuts.

US Federal Reserve Bank Board Chairman Ben Bernanke responds ...
US Federal Reserve Bank Board Chairman Ben Bernanke responds to questions during a joint congressional hearing on the country’s economic outlook on Capitol Hill in Washington, April 2, 2008.REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES)

Bernanke’s testimony to the Joint Economic Committee was a much more pessimistic assessment of the economy’s immediate prospects amid a trio of crises — housing, credit and financial.

“It now appears likely that gross domestic product (GDP) will not grow much, if at all, over the first half of 2008 and could even contract slightly,” Bernanke told lawmakers. GDP measures the value of all goods and services produced within the United States and is the best barometer of the United States’ economic health. Under one rule, six straight months of declining GDP, would constitute a recession.

Still, Bernanke said that he expects more economic growth in the second half of this year and into 2009, helped by the government’s $168 billion stimulus package of tax rebates for people and tax breaks for businesses as well as the Fed’s aggressive reductions to a key interest rate. Nevertheless, the chairman acknowledged uncertainty about the Fed’s next steps, notwithstanding the mounting economic woes.

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x8ZL_k__msZcFHZYas0NUE

Fire Sale of Bear Stearns Bear Sparks Rout, Bush Tries to Calm

March 17, 2008
By Jack Reerink 

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A fire sale of Bear Stearns Cos Inc (BSC.N) stunned Wall Street and pummeled global financial stocks on Monday on fears that few banks are safe from deepening market turmoil.

A U.S. two dollar bill is taped to the revolving door leading ...
A U.S. two dollar bill is taped to the revolving door leading to the Bear Stearns global headquarters in New York March 17, 2008.(Kristina Cooke/Reuters)

Trying to assuage worries that the credit crisis is spinning out of control, President George W. Bush said the United States was “on top of the situation,” but the sell-off intensified in the early afternoon.

The U.S. Federal Reserve geared up for a deep cut in interest rates on Tuesday to blow money into the fragile financial system — the latest in a series of rate cuts that has brought down borrowing costs by 2-1/4 percentage points and hammered the U.S. dollar to record lows.

Staff at Bear Stearns‘ Manhattan headquarters were welcomed to work on Monday by a two-dollar bill stuck to the revolving doors — a spoof on the bargain-basement price of $2 per share that JPMorgan Chase (JPM.N) is paying for the firm. A hopeful Coldwell Banker real estate agent was hawking cheap apartments to employees who saw the value of their stock options go up in smoke.

The combination of Bear Stearns’ bailout and the Fed’s offer on Sunday to extend direct lending to securities firms for the first time since the Great Depression highlighted just how hard the credit crisis has hit Wall Street.

And it scared market players worldwide….

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Agm1uUl9fJe7eEc0zjCowb.s0NUE

Economy Hammered by Toxic Blend of Ailments

March 14, 2008
Almost everything seems to be going wrong for the American economy at once. People are buying less, but most things are costing more. Mortgage rates are rising, the dollar is falling and prices of key commodities like oil are leaping from one record high to the next.
.On Thursday, the dollar plumbed new lows against the Japanese yen and several other major currencies; the price of an ounce of gold jumped above $1,000 for the first time; and lenders raised home loan rates once again. Government figures showed retail sales fell in February as consumers cut back on cars, furniture and electronics.

Stocks fell sharply after the retail sales report was released early in the day, and a large investment fund said it was nearing collapse. The volatility that has defined the market lately continued unabated.

The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index fell 2 percent in the morning, then rebounded partly in reaction to a report that said banks were nearing the end of subprime mortgage losses. It was up nearly 1 percent in the afternoon before paring that gain to close up 0.5 percent, to 1,315.48 points. The Dow Jones industrial average closed up 35.5 points, to 12,145.74 points.

A toxic blend of economic and financial developments is testing policy makers and lawmakers who are struggling to contain the slump brought on by the collapse of the mortgage market, a downturn that now looks sure to push the economy into a recession. Though current conditions are a far cry from the 1970s, resurgent inflation is raising the threat of stagflation — a condition in which unemployment and the price of goods and services both rise.

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http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/14/business/14econ.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin

U.S. economy impacts global markets

March 14, 2008

By Patrice Hill 
The Washington Times
March 14, 2008

Global markets gyrated wildly yesterday on signs that the U.S. economy and mortgage markets continue to unravel despite strenuous efforts to revive them.

A woman shops at a store in Miami. US retail sales fell an unexpectedly ...
A woman shops at a store in Miami. US retail sales fell an unexpectedly strong 0.6 percent in February as consumers retrenched in the face of economic turmoil and rising energy costs.
(AFP/Getty Images/File/Joe Raedle)

The dollar hit new lows, falling below 100 yen for the first time in 12 years, sending oil and gasoline prices to record highs and driving gold prices above $1,000 an ounce for the first time. Credit market turmoil resumed amid a massive liquidation of mortgage assets by the Carlyle Capital Corp. and other hedge funds that made losing bets on prime mortgages.
Investors in the U.S. and abroad were stunned by news of another big drop of 0.6 percent in retail sales last month as overstretched consumers, fearful of recession and weighed down by the rising cost of necessities, dramatically pulled back spending on everything from cars and gasoline to restaurants and groceries.
Chart shows seasonally adjusted retail sales; 1c x 2 3/8 inches; ... 

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http://www.washingtontimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080314/BUSINESS/729448651/1001