– 12/11/2010

Marci Kaptur’s Anti-MERS Bill Target of Misleading PR by Title Insurance Industry – Yves Smith – Rep. Marci Kaptur of Ohio has introduced a short bill, H.R. 6460, which would seriously restrict the operations of MERS by effectively removing Freddie, Fannie and Ginnie as users. The bill would bar the GSEs from guaranteeing or owning any mortgage that is either assigned to MERS or lists MERS as the mortgage of record. Note that those are the two roles typically set forth in the registrations at local courthouses which register mortgage in the name of MERS. H.R. 6460 Bill Text Not surprisingly, the pushback started quickly. The Kaptur bill requires that HUD, in conjunction with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, undertake a study of land recordation in the US, including the impact of the lack of electronic records, the current state of play in the use of electronic records at the local level, and whether a Federal system could be created that would not interfere with the local recordation system or state laws.

Bank of America Thaws Foreclosure Freeze – If you’re an under-the-gun homeowner with a Bank of America mortgage and you’ve been keeping your fingers crossed that the bank’s temporary suspension of foreclosures would continue indefinitely, you can uncross them. The bank announced today that it would resume foreclosures this month.  CNN reports that Bank of America has examined its processes, and is ready to get back into the foreclosure business. Bank of America expects to foreclose on 16,000 homes this month. But BofA will observe a "holiday suspension" between December 20th and January 2nd, so if you’re not kicked out by then, you’ll get a few extra days before you have to pack up and go.

Special report: Legal woes mount for a foreclosure kingpin – But a Reuters investigation shows that LPS’s legal woes are more serious than he let on. Public records reveal that the company’s LPS Default Solutions unit produced documents of dubious authenticity in far larger quantities than it has disclosed, and over a much longer timespan. Questionable signing and notarization practices weren’t limited to its subsidiary, called DocX, but occurred in at least one of LPS’s own offices, mortgage assignments filed in county recorders’ offices show. And rather than halt such practices after the federal investigation got underway, the company shifted the signing to firms with which it has close business ties. LPS provided personnel to work in the new signing operations, according to information from an LPS spokeswoman and court records including an October 21 ruling by a judge in Brooklyn, New York. Records in county recorders’ offices, and in the judge’s opinion, show that "robosigning" and preparation of apparently false documents went on at these sites on a large scale.

Warren Says Wall Street Bonuses Show ‘We Still Have a Problem’ – Wall Street banks reaping profits and paying bonuses while the rest of the country struggles shows “we still have a problem” with economic disparity, said Elizabeth Warren, the Obama administration adviser responsible for setting up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  “This just staggers me; I mean, I just don’t have words to describe what this means,” she said in an interview for Bloomberg Television’s “Conversations With Judy Woodruff” that will be broadcast this weekend. “For me, what an economic recovery is about is about what happens to American families. It’s what happens in the real economy. It’s whether or not families are building up wealth in their homes or whether or not their homes are dragging them over an economic cliff.”  “It isn’t meaningful to talk about profits and a growing economy until American families are stabilized,” she said.

Bank complaints soar even after law changes— Complaints against banks are soaring, suggesting that new laws and regulations put in place since the financial crisis two years ago aren’t dampening Americans’ anger over overdraft fees and foreclosure practices they view as unfair. If the trend continues, experts say, it will set banks on a collision course with their customers and lead to tougher rules that will hurt their earnings. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency estimates that complaints from customers of the 1,500 banks it regulates will hit 80,000 this year. That would be the highest level in the 15 years it has recorded them and more than double the 2008 total. The Better Business Bureau and state attorneys general also report big increases.  Regulators say the surge has put them on high alert. The Fed sought to head off one area of large complaints in November 2009 by prohibiting banks from charging overdraft fees on ATM withdrawals without customers’ consent. Elizabeth Warren, the Harvard professor chosen by President Barack Obama to set up the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, said she is frustrated with how banks find ways to skirt new laws that ban certain practices.

Number of the Week: 1.6 Million Put Off Retirement – 1.6 million: The number of older Americans  in the labor force as a result of the financial crisis. In  a new paper, two economists at the Chicago Fed estimate that the labor-participation rate among people 51 to 65 years old is 2.9% higher as a result of their financial losses alone. That’s about an added 1.6 million people staying in jobs or looking for work. The financial crisis has been hard on just about everyone. But for older folks, the pain is proving particularly deep and lasting — a problem that could put a drag on the economy for many years to come. People approaching retirement age are suffering on all fronts. Even with the Dow above 11,000, their stock holdings are worth less than they were back in 2006. Fixed-income investments hardly provide any income. Home prices remain depressed. As a result, more older people are trying to make up lost ground by staying at work longer or rejoining the labor force – precisely at a time when finding a job is exceedingly difficult.


Money Printing – From november 10th to december 9th, the Fed purchased about $90 bln worth of US Treasuries.

Total banks deposits before QE2 = $7.897 bln
Total banks deposits after one month of QE2 = $7.896.5 bln

Source: H.4.1 and H.8

OECD Education Rankings – 2010 – The countries which belong to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) produce two-thirds of the world’s goods and services. The organization publishes annual reports about economic and social factors in the member states. School performance league tables are presented in the OECD report, Education at a Glance 2010. It includes comparison tables of educational performance, class sizes, teachers’ salaries, tertiary education and much more. The report can be downloaded as a PDF document. Chart A1·2 [ page 29] ranks countries, in descending order, according to the percentage of 25-34 year-olds who have completed an upper secondary education (the most recent data in the 2010 report is from 2008). The United States of America is the only OECD country where 25-34 year-olds are not better educated than 55-64 year-olds. Chart A1·2 is reproduced here in accordance with the terms specified at: http://www.oecd.org/rights/

Bill Black: No, Mr. President, you did not negotiate a winning tax deal This the third column in a series about President Obama’s decision to agree to support the extension of Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. The first column explained why the President folded on a winning hand on taxes. The second column showed that four of the five economists the administration was citing as supporting its plan were virulent opponents who were delighted that the President was capitulating to the Republicans and making them and their wealthy clients far richer. This column analyses Obama’s claim that he got the better of the Republicans in the negotiations.  . Austan Goolsbee’s (Chairman of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors) white board presentation claims that the administration received concessions by the Republicans that are over twice as large as the concessions that the administration made on reducing taxes for the wealthiest two percent of Americans ($238 v. $114 billion in 2011).The first problem with Obama’s claimed tax miracle is that if you accept Goolsbee’s claims, then it takes a political miracle in America for a political party, pledged to ending the tax cuts for the wealthy, controlling the Presidency and with strong majorities in both Houses to get 98% of the citizens 67% of the benefits while giving the wealthiest two percent of the citizens 33% of the benefits.

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