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The register for deeds in Southern part of Essex County, Massachusetts has asked the state’s attorney general to investigate whether the Mortgage Electronic Registration system has failed to pay recording fees required when mortgages are transferred.
MERS, an electronic mortgage database that touches 3 out of 5 mortgages in the United States, has come under fire from an array of critics. Some say it encourages sloppy record keeping and contributed to the robo-signing scandals that led Bank of America and others to suspend foreclosures last month. Others say the system is an attempt to privatize public land records. And some say the system is so flawed it could result in a great unwinding of the mortgage backed securities whose assets passed through it.
John O’Brien, the Salem based register for deeds in Southern Essex County, said in the letter to Coakley that it had come to his attention that a number of states have alleged in court filings that MERS intentionally failed to pay recording fees, and failed to disclose the transfer and assignments of interest in property, solely to avoid and decrease the recordation fees owed to the counties and the state.
Yesterday morning, the economist Nouriel Roubini sent out the following tweet: "Greece & Ireland are solvency not liquidity."
Professor Roubini of course was referring to the European debt crisis.
And his meaning was perfectly clear: The financial situation in Greece and Ireland isn't the result of a short-term cash crunch—rather, its causes are deep and profound economic failures that can't simply be fixed through short-term monetary policy.
But what exactly is the difference between a liquidity crisis and a solvency crisis? Like many other concepts in economics, the terminology can be challenging, and best described metaphorically. So I began searching for a way to adequately capture the bad planning, ludicrous assumptions, and occasional inexcusable behavior that led to the crisis in the first place. After twenty minutes of skimming through the Financial Times, the obvious allegory presented itself to me: My own life during my twenties.
For most of the past decade, renting a home has been a smarter move than buying one in most areas of the United States. The cost of renting a similar home has been far less than owning one, even after things like mortgage interest tax deductions are taken into account.
Many believed that falling home prices would change this reality. As home prices fell, buying a home would seem more attractive. What’s more, foreclosures would push former owners into rental apartments—driving up rental rates and making home-buying even more attractive.
The end result—at least according to the conventional wisdom—was that rising rents would provide a floor to falling home prices. Eventually—fingers crossed—rising rents could even lead home prices to rise if the balance between renting and buying swung too far in the opposite direction.
As it turned out, this was way too rosy of a scenario. Even after the housing bubble deflated, the Rent Ratio—the purchase price of a house divided by the annual cost of renting a similar one—remained elevated in much of the country. It was still better to rent than to buy in most places.
Today, a new idea that is at least as unsettling: Fragmentation in Europe, not just along national lines, but along class and economic lines as well.
Michael Pettis, a Professor of Finance at Peking University and a frequent writer on international economics wrote in a recent blog post , in reference to Europe's most economically troubled nations:
"Political radicalism in these countries will rise inexorably as a consequence of rising class conflict. As Keynes pointed out as far back as 1922, the process of adjusting the currency and debt will primarily be one of assigning the costs to different economic groups, and this is never an easy or conflict-free exercise."
This is indeed a frightening scenario. If, as Milton Friedman suggested in 1965 "We are all Keynesians now," perhaps it is time to think through some of the darker ramifications for Europe.
The idea of decriminalizing insider trading—and perhaps even removing some of the securities regulation rules that impose civil sanctions on insider trading—is finally becoming respectable.
For a long time, legalization of insider trading was a cause restricted to a few libertarians, some hardcore efficient market types, and a handful of academics. But in recent years, the idea has gone mainstream—in part, I suspect, because the government’s costly and legally extravagant attempts to enforce the rules seem to have so little effect at deterring insider trading.
The backlash against legalized insider trading has already begun. One forcible critique comes from Bruce Carton, a former senior counsel in the enforcement division of the Securities and Exchange Commission who now runs Securities Docket —an online publication monitoring securities enforcement.
Writing at Compliance Week , Carton imagines what would happen if we let our ban against insider trading fall by the wayside:
Although deal volume is still running at less than half of the 2007 peak of nearly $1 trillion, M&A is making a comeback this year. A good portion of the growth has come not from the headline grabbing mega-mergers but from middle market deals ranging from $50 to $500 million, according to the independent research firm Accordion Partners.
After 20 years, Mary Meeker is leaving Morgan Stanley to join the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers as a partner.
Meeker became known as “Queen of the Net” during the Internet mania of the late 1990s. Her Net Queen title was first intended to lionize her as a visionary. The phrase then came to symbolize something else entirely: The excesses of the dotcom bubble—and possibly the conflicts of interest inherent at investment banks during the same period. Meeker survived the waves of allegations that eventually forced analysts Jack Grubman and Henry Blodget out of the securities industry. In fact, in a fascinating and redemptive third act, the term “Queen of the Net” largely returned to its original usage — which is to say un-ironical.
It's the festive color of the holidays. It’s also what the U.S. Postal Service is seeing. Lots of red, without a bailout in sight.
Even though Cyber Monday, one of the busiest shopping days for online retailers, is expected to bring in more sales than last year, the Postal Service is not in much of a position to benefit.
"The problems are much bigger than one holiday season… The postal service needs to work on its cost structure," said Morgan Keegan Transportation Analyst Arthur Hatfield.
The Postal Service is trying to stamp out a multi-billion dollar budget shortfall. Its net loss in its fiscal year ending September 30 was $8.5 billion. Operating revenue came in at $67.1 billion - down one billion from 2009 due mainly to lower volume.
The foreclosure crisis still divides us into two camps. There are those who believe that foreclosing rapidly on homes subject to defaulted mortgages is vital to clearing the market. Others believe we should do everything we can to keep people in their homes, urging loan modifications to forestall foreclosures.
John Taylor, President and CEO of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, falls solidly in the latter camp. Taylor would like to see widespread mortgage modifications that would allow homeowners in danger of defaulting to keep their homes. Taylor is on the board of directors of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition and the Leadership Conference for Civil Rights. He has also served on the Consumer Advisory Council of the Federal Reserve Bank Board, The Fannie Mae Housing Impact Division as well as The Freddie Mac Housing Advisory Board. He is extremely passionate on why his idea is the right choice to help turn around the real estate market.
Ireland Gets 85 Billion Euro Package (Bloomberg) Bloomberg's lede graf provides a good index of the sentiment: "European governments sought to quell the market turmoil menacing the euro, handing Ireland an 85 billion-euro ($113 billion) aid package and diluting proposals to force bondholders to bear some cost of future bailouts."
Four words— 'sought', 'quell', 'turmoil', and 'menacing' —would seem to capture the current tone of the markets in Europe. Also, German Chancellor Angela Merkel's initial insistence on haircutting Irish bondholders would appear to have been removed. But: "The twin decisions were not enough to placate investors today that the crisis is now contained. Irish 10-year bonds erased an early advance, European stocks and the euro declined and the cost of insuring the debt of Spain and Portugal against default soared to record highs." Investors seem to believe that if you plug the hole in Ireland, the fear just migrates south and east.
Greece Bailout Repayment Timeline Extended \(CNBC via Reuters\) Greece will have an additional six years to pay back its 110 Billion Euro bailout loan to the EU and IMF. The loan, which was originally due to be repaid in 2015, has been extended to 2021. In exchange for the extension, Greece will pay another 30 basis point of interest – bringing the total rate to 5.8 percent, from an initial interest rate of 5.5 percent. The plan has been agreed to informally, with details expected to emerge after a formal agreement during the next Eurogroup and Ecofin councils on Dec 6-7.
CNBC's Patti Domm and Jeff Cox discuss the jobs report and the current dilemma of long-term unemployment.
CNBC's Patti Domm and Jeff Cox discuss the recent GDP numbers and what factors have been affecting it.
Investors give and investors take away, and nowhere has that been more true lately than in value stocks.
The lack of volume in this market might make it hard for the rally to continue, says veteran trader Art Cashin.
The mid-term election will be a disappointment—but that's a good thing for Wall Street, says hedge-fund manager Todd Schoenberger.
Charles Schwab has lost a case against Morgan Stanley, accusing it of improperly recruiting brokers from a Schwab San Francisco branch.