Pace of Home Sales Quickened in December
By The Associated Press, Jan 20, 2012
Home sales in the United States rose in December to the highest pace in nearly a year, the National Association of Realtors reported. The gain coincided with other signs that show the troubled housing market improved at the end of 2011. Still, sales remain depressed and ended the year well below healthy levels. The Realtors group said home sales increased 5 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.61 million.
GE Lending Unit Said to be Target of U.S. Probe
By Michael Hudson and E. Scott Reckard, Los Angeles Times, Jan 20, 2012
Federal authorities are investigating possible fraud at General Electric Co.'s former subprime mortgage arm amid increased public pressure to hold Wall Street accountable for its role in the financial crisis. The FBI and Justice Department are looking into potentially criminal business practices at WMC Mortgage Corp. in Burbank during the home-loan boom, according to four people with knowledge of the investigation. They declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the investigation.
‘Robo’ Foreclosure Settlement Turns Political
By Diana Olick, CNBC, Jan 19, 2012
For over a year now, state attorneys general have been negotiating some kind of settlement deal with the nations four largest lenders, as well as several smaller ones. The settlement pertains to faulty foreclosure processing, first uncovered in October of 2010 and now commonly referred to as “Robo-signing.”
The Foreclosure Fraud Settlement Road Tour
By David Dayen, Firedoglake, Jan 19, 2012
Everything you heard from Shaun Donovan yesterday about an “imminent” foreclosure fraud settlement is predicated on the idea that Democratic Attorneys General, of which between 1/3 and 1/2 have pursued or are supporting their own investigations, will sign onto the deal in the end. To help that along, Donovan, along with the short-timer at DoJ Thomas Perrelli, will hit the road to pressure the Democratic AGs to go along with the settlement.
Bet the House: Why the FHA is Going (for) Broke
By Peter Wallison and Edward Pinto, America Enterprise Institute,
No serious observer of the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) believes its financial future is bright. But few recognize just how troubled this government agency really is. That is because it uses lax accounting standards that obscure real and present danger to its own bottom line and the American taxpayer. In fact, when measured against the accounting system used by private mortgage insurers, the FHA is deeply insolvent, with a capital shortfall of tens of billions of dollars. If it were a private firm, state regulators would immediately shut it down. Even using its own rosy numbers puts the FHA’s leverage at 840 to 1, a far more scandalous ratio than even Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
The Top 50 Technology Blogs to Watch in 2012
By Evan Carmichael, The Entrepreneur Blog, Jan 17, 2012
Attention technology geeks! Here’s a list of the Top 50 technology blogs to watch in 2012.
Time To Concede Home 'Ownership' Is A Fraud
By Mike Shedlock, Business Insider, Jan 20, 2012
The only long-term durable solution to the unreal estate mess is to cease further securitization by agencies and shut them down. It's time to concede that "homeownership" is a fraud. When there is $16 trillion in mortgage and consumer debt outstanding and an estimated $16 trillion in residential unreal estate value, with the risk of another 20% decline in prices, there is no "ownership". Rather, virtually everyone with a mortgage is renting debt-money from a lender and leasing the land from a local taxing authority. The mortgagees have a "dead pledge" in the value of the debt owed, not an "asset". The lenders and taxing authorities are the "owners" of a lien (a bond or constraint on the real property), which entitles them to income in the form of compounding interest and tax receipts in perpetuity.