Friday, March 29, 2013

Arrested

"Federal agents have arrested a SAC Capital Advisors portfolio manager, the most senior employee at the giant hedge fund ensnared in the government’s vast insider trading investigation.

Michael Steinberg, 40, was arrested at his Park Avenue apartment early Friday morning and taken out of his building in handcuffs. He has worked for SAC and its owner, the billionaire investor Steven A. Cohen, since 1997 and became one of the firm’s senior portfolio managers, focusing on technology stocks."

It's frightening just how much fraud there is in these big financial/bank institutions.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

US growth


"US growth data for the fourth quarter of 2012 was revised up again to an annualised rate of 0.4 per cent, providing further evidence that the US economy did not take a dip at the end of last year.
The third revision comes after an initial estimate that the economy shrank 0.1 per cent. That was later revised to growth of 0.1 per cent.

But the quarter was still dragged down by big falls in defence spending and business inventories, both of which analysts regard as temporary, suggesting that underlying growth continued at a slow but steady 2 per cent.

The big change in the latest revision was a much higher estimate of business investment in buildings. The Bureau of Economic Analysis now estimates that it added 0.46 percentage points to the growth rate instead of a previous estimate of 0.16 percentage points before.

A revival in the commercial real estate sector could add another leg to the economic recovery after a turnround in housing has helped to drive growth this year."

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Home sales


"Fewer Americans signed contracts to purchase previously owned homes in February as limited inventory and access to credit held back a more robust recovery in housing.
The index of pending home sales fell 0.4 percent to 104.8, the second-highest level since April 2010, after a revised 3.8 percent increase the prior month, the National Association of Realtors reported today in Washington. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey called for a 0.3 percent drop.
Improvements in the housing market are rippling through the economy -- from construction companies and agents to lenders and retailers such Home Depot Inc. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

A smaller number of properties for sale may be hindering buyers with access to credit, while others with limited cash for a down payment are finding it difficult to take advantage of historically low interest rates. At the same time, a pickup in property values may encourage more people to list their homes as the spring selling season gets under way.
“Lending is excessively tight and continues to be,” Benjamin Ayers, an economist with Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. in Columbus, Ohio, said before the report. “It’s limiting the expectations for growth.”

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Rode roughshod

"NICOSIA — The chairman of Cyprus’s biggest bank, the Bank of Cyprus, resigned abruptly Tuesday following a showdown with the head of the central bank and the Finance Ministry.

Antreas Artemis complained that authorities rode roughshod over him and his board of directors by moving unilaterally to sell off units of the bank in Greece and planning to hit big depositors to pay for losses. 

The changes at the Bank of Cyprus are part of the latest bailout deal negotiated between Cypriot officials and the so-called troika of international lenders: the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund

Mr. Artemis’s resignation, while not wholly unexpected following the controversial decision by international lenders to impose significant losses on the bank’s larger depositors, still caught the market by surprise and was a further reminder of how volatile and uncertain Cyprus’s financial system has become in recent days."

Take his big severance package and leave his mess to someone else.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Another bank bailout

"Cyprus clinched a last-minute solution to avert imminent financial meltdown early Monday after it agreed to slash its oversized banking sector and use funds raised by seizing bank assets from large deposit holders -- which in some cases could amount to 40 percent -- in troubled banks to secure a 10 billion euro ($13 billion) bailout.

The deal, described by the country's politicians as "painful," was agreed with euro finance ministers in Brussels just in time. The European Central Bank had threatened to cut off crucial emergency assistance to the Cyprus' embattled banks after Monday if no agreement was reached.

Without that funding, Cyprus' banks would have collapsed, dragging the country's economy down with them and threatening the small Mediterranean island's membership of the 17-strong group of European Union countries that use the euro -- all of which would have sent the EU's markets spinning.

"It's not that we won a battle, but we really have avoided a disastrous exit from the eurozone," Finance Minister Michalis Sarris said in Brussels."



It's amazing banks continue to get bailouts--mostly due to their bad decision making.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Whale...

"The U.S. Department of Justice is in the advanced stages of an investigation into whether former traders in JPMorgan Chase's chief investment office in London engaged in criminal misconduct in the marking of credit positions last year, according to someone familiar with the matter.

The Justice Department probe centers on whether a handful of individual traders deliberately mis marked certain complex credit positions in an effort to mask the growing losses in a key CIO portfolio during the spring of 2012, according to this person.

That portfolio, whose positions in complex corporate-credit securities eventually went badly awry, costing the bank more than $6 billion, eventually took on the nickname "London Whale" because of its geographic origin and size."

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Shareholders

Yesterday BofA asked me to re-date all the original documentation from two months ago and send it to them again. Such an efficient system---I am only one in many. Brian Moynihan, the CEO, runs a very broken machine--his shareholders should be proud.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Another mistake, BofA

After submitting modification paperwork on 1-8-2013 on 3-12-2013 I got a decline letter stating they didn't have all the paperwork--typical BofA response. I called my customer service manager who the week prior had called me to say the final thing they needed was a verbal financial, that they had everything else.

He tells me he has no idea why the processor says they don't have everything because they do, he will get it re-opened.

Are you kidding me, this is absolutely by design as most people would just become so frustrated that they would give up.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Housing starts

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
A worker builds a new home on March 5, 2013 in Phoenix, Arizona. 
 
"Builders began work on more houses in February and permits for future construction climbed to the highest level in almost five years, pointing to a sustained rebound that will help power the U.S. expansion.

Housing starts climbed by 0.8 percent last month to a 917,000 annualized pace, the Commerce Department reported today in Washington. Permits (NHSPATOT) rose 4.6 percent to a 946,000 rate, the most since June 2008.

Advances in residential construction will probably give an even bigger boost to growth this year than in 2012, when it contributed for the first time in seven years. The gains are rippling through the economy as improving property values help restore consumer confidence and benefit builders such as Ryland Group Inc. (RYL) and home-improvement retailers, offsetting some of the damage from government cutbacks"

Friday, March 8, 2013

Desperate times

"Often desperate times call for desperate measures, but before you shell out money to a company to help save your home, 3 On Your Side Consumer Reporter Jim Donovan has a warning for you.
“We were very vulnerable and you know, they preyed on that,” says Misty Corsey.
Corsey had hoped to lower her mortgage payments when her husband’s hours were cut. A company called Mortgage Foreclosure Experts promised to help for a $2300 upfront free."

Don't do this. I went through a mortgage specialist and then a lawyer, spent thousands on lots of promises and neither was able to do what I have done with persistence.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Indicators

“Recent economic indicators suggest that the worst of the housing crisis has passed, with home sales and prices reaching bottom in 2012. Construction, housing prices and homeowner’s equity show early signs of resumed growth. While these signs are encouraging, a notable disconnect has emerged. Rental inflation has surpassed historic levels despite a supply of housing that partly reflects a persistent inventory of foreclosed, vacant homes. Several impediments have hindered a market-based resolution to the crisis’ lingering effects. Among them, individuals have found mortgages hard to come by due to tougher credit standards, and investors interested in bulk purchases have encountered owners unwilling to enter into these types of sales.”

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Still mixed opinion

"The worst of the foreclosure wave might be past, but the wave hasn’t finished crashing yet. Cincinnati-based Fifth Third Bank’s home loans that were in the foreclosure process rose by nearly $4 million during the fourth quarter to top $579 million at year-end, according to filings with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

That increase flies in the face of the national trend that had banks’ one- to four-family home loans (which are generally referred to as single-family home loans) in foreclosure falling 6 percent in the quarter, according to a study by Charlottesville, Va.-based research firm SNL Financial. The year-ago difference is even more stark. Fifth Third’s home loans in foreclosure climbed 10 percent from year-end 2011."

Monday, March 4, 2013

More bull

Bank of America hits me with a late fee on my supposedly newly modified mortgage. I call my specialist on it and she gets servicing on the line and they state my payment was short .01 cents. So I have to make a payment of .01 over the phone.

I go back and dig out my paperwork--nope paid exactly what the told me in black and white.

Probably some new kind of fraud they've conjured up to not honor the modification.

Hmm, tougher stance?

"Big banks discovered they wrongfully foreclosed on more than 700 military members during the housing crisis and seized homes from about two dozen other borrowers who were current on their mortgage payments, Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Ben Protess report in The New York Times. The banks — Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo — found the foreclosures after regulators ordered them to examine mortgages as part of a multibillion-dollar federal settlement, according to people with direct knowledge of the findings.

“The analysis, which was turned over to regulators in recent days, provides the first detailed glimpse into the extent of wrongful foreclosures amid the collapse of the housing market,” Ms. Silver-Greenberg and Mr. Protess write. “While lenders previously acknowledged that they relied on faulty documents to push through foreclosures, the banks claimed borrowers were rarely evicted by mistake, including military personnel protected by federal law.” The new revelations “could provide fresh ammunition for Wall Street critics and prompt regulators to adopt a tougher stance.”

Sunday, March 3, 2013

5%

"Bank of America dropped 5 percent of its workforce over the last year, declining to 267,000 full-time employees, the bank said Thursday.

That marks about 22,000 jobs cut by the bank since fall 2011, when it announced its large-scale cost-cutting program known as Project New BAC, named after the bank’s ticker symbol."

Hmmm job cutting---should be CEO reduction in pay

Friday, March 1, 2013

Favors the banks

"A foreclosure settlement between the government and 13 banks will spread $3.6 billion in cash among millions of borrowers starting in April, regulators said Thursday.

But the $5.7 billion in mortgage relief that's also part of the deal may favor borrowers with the biggest unpaid loan balances, consumer advocates say.

The settlement, first announced in January, is intended to compensate borrowers for foreclosure and mortgage servicing abuses.

The cash will be split among 4.2 million borrowers who were in foreclosure in 2009 or 2010 and had home loans serviced by one of 13 banks. They include Bank of America, Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase.
Cash payouts will range from a few hundred dollars up to $125,000, says the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). It's overseeing the settlement with the Federal Reserve Board.

The companies are expected to meet their $5.7 billion mortgage relief obligation, in part, by modifying loans. They'll earn certain levels of credit toward that $5.7 billion for certain actions.

Consumer advocates said they were shocked and dismayed when they learned Thursday how some of the credits will be tallied.

For instance, a bank forgiving $15,000 in principal owed on a $100,000 unpaid balance would get a $100,000 credit. 

If the bank forgave $15,000 in principal on a $500,000 unpaid balance, they would get a $500,000 credit, says Bryan Hubbard, OCC spokesman."

Of course it favors the banks!