---Items of interest:
FBI Director: Mortgage Fraud Substantial -- FBI Director Robert Mueller said Thursday that the agency is committed to investigating and prosecuting companies involved in mortgage fraud and other violations in connection with home loans made to risky borrowers.
Mueller said probes were being conducted across the country, including in Hawaii, where he stopped on his way back from a trip through Asia.
"There is not a state that does not have some investigation," he told reporters at the FBI office in Honolulu. "It is a substantial problem but we've been through problems like this in the past."
The FBI said Tuesday it was working with the Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate 14 companies, from mortgage lenders to investment banks, for possible accounting fraud, insider trading or other issues connected to subprime mortgage lending.
Mueller declined to identify the companies. [...]
Mortgage Fraud blog:
FBI Comments on Mortgage Fraud and Other Real Estate Schemes
Hidden Swap Fees by JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley Hit School Boards -- James Barker saw no way out. In September 2003, the superintendent of the Erie City School District in Pennsylvania watched helplessly as his buildings began to crumble.
The 81-year-old Roosevelt Middle School was on the verge of being condemned. The district was running out of money to buy new textbooks. And the school board had determined that the 100,000-resident community 125 miles north of Pittsburgh couldn't afford a tax increase. Then JPMorgan Chase & Co., the second-largest bank in the U.S., made Barker an offer that seemed too good to be true. [...]
Merrill to repay Springfield for losses -- Wall Street brokerage Merrill Lynch & Co. late yesterday agreed to reimburse Springfield for nearly $14 million in losses on risky investments its brokers sold to the city.
In a deal brokered by Attorney General Martha Coakley, Merrill agreed to repay the city for all its holdings in specialized investments known as collateralized debt obligations, which plummeted in value last summer with the subprime mortgage collapse.
Two Merrill Lynch brokers in Albany used city cash funds to purchase the complex investments without telling Springfield officials; moreover, state law forbids municipalities from investing cash in anything but conservative instruments. In an unusual move, Merrill essentially admitted wrongdoing on the part of its brokers.x
Bush Subprime Plan Undermined, States Shun Borrowers -- President George W. Bush's proposal to help 1 million subprime borrowers avoid foreclosure with tax- exempt bonds has an obstacle: states don't want the risk any more than private lenders do. The state housing agencies that are already offering mortgage refinancing options are turning away so many applicants that they've had no need to raise funds. [...]
- A Better Way to Deal with Mortgage Fallout - David Miles, Morgan Stanley
- Perhaps A Bit Too Stimulated - Joel Stein, Los Angeles Times
- Japan Stocks Fall on Subprime Losses - AP
- Subprime Loan Turmoil & Japanese Credit Markets - Koyo Ozeki, PIMCO
- Treasury: Foreclosures Likely to Remain Elevated for Two Years - Housing Wire
- Like Home-Builder Shares? Look Again - Floyd Norris, New York Times
- The Risks of Fraud Go Well Beyond SocGen - F. Hounnongandji, Fncl Times
- Kerviel Is More Angel Than Bogeyman for Asia - William Pesek, Bloomberg
- A Rogue Ruined the Financial System? - David Weidner, MarketWatch
- After the Fed, Restore Regulation - Editorial, International Herald Tribune
- "Collectively, We're All a Lot Smarter" - Sam Gustin, Portfolio
- High Time for All of Us To ‘Buck Up’ - Samuel Brittan, Financial Times
- For the Fed, Credit Counts More Than Stocks - Randall Forsyth, Barron's
Bill Donoghue / MarketWatch:
Expect more than a typical recession -- Commentary: Bankers' and brokers' greed has undermined our economy
Call this the perfect financial storm or what you will; Wall Street has made fools of financial institutions around the world with their CMOs, CDOs, and greedy boo-boos.
At least they didn’t lose as much as their customers. The stock market is in distress, bond insurers are looking for a $200 billion bailout, junk-bond markets are at risk of further losses and life-, home- and auto insurers’ risk has not yet been fully assessed.
We need real ready-to-go financial leadership and we need it now. Tell the presidential candidates, Congress and economists to stay home. We need regulators with clear priorities.
Former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, former FDIC Chairman Bill Isaacs and anyone they trust would be good choices. They beat inflation and presided over the savings and loan cleanup. Tell Ben Bernanke to go home. [...]
Housing Doom Blog:
The Credit Crunch Illustrated
“Tell Ben Bernanke To Go Home”
---Overheard in New York on the Q65A bus:
Dude: You know what I realized? Everything I need to know or see, I get from Wikipedia, YouTube or Urban Dictionary.
Philosopher: Yes, for they form the triangle of knowledge, first envisioned by the Incas. But once their triangle of knowledge gained too much power, it destroyed their civilization, and that is how one of the great civilizations of old fell.
Dude: ... Damn, man, you always make sh** deep.