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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Housing/Subprime/Credit Roundup — July 1, 2008

Items of Interest:

Washington Post:
Resets Peaking on Subprime Loans -- Jumping Payments Raise Foreclosure Projections

The number of homeowners facing an increase in their subprime adjustable-rate mortgage payments will peak this summer, testing the efforts of lenders and others to keep those people out of foreclosure and stabilize the housing market.

The timing reflects the height of subprime lending in the summers of 2005 and 2006, when many borrowers secured loans scheduled to adjust in two or three years. For many, an adjustment means their interest rate will go up two to three percentage points....

Joe Mysak / Bloomberg:
`Banker's Dream Market' Appears in UBS Muni Lawsuit -- ``This is a banker's dream market.''

That's how David Shulman, head of UBS AG's municipal securities group, described the freeze-up of the $330 billion auction-rate securities market in an e-mail to a colleague earlier this year.

The message was sent on Feb. 14, a day after the firm decided to stop bidding in the auctions, which forced most issuers of the securities to start paying penalty rates, sometimes 10 percent or more...

Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin describes the scenario a little differently: ``Within a day after failing its auctions and leaving investors stuck with instruments that were no longer liquid, UBS seized upon the opportunity to profit from this calamity of their own making.''

The UBS e-mails are featured in Galvin's administrative complaint against the firm for defrauding investors, filed on June 26. They provide the back-story to the whole sorry episode, which is still unfolding...
Manhattan Office Vacancy Rates Climb to Two-Year High -- Manhattan's office vacancy rate rose to its highest level since 2006 in the second quarter as financial firms, beset by losses, fired workers and reduced their office space, real estate brokerage Cushman & Wakefield Inc. said.

Vacancies in the most expensive U.S. office market rose to 7.1 percent from 5.3 percent a year earlier, the highest since the third quarter of 2006, New York-based Cushman, the largest closely held commercial real estate brokerage, said today in a report. Rents rose to $71.59 a square foot, up 21 percent from a year earlier and 6.6 percent from the previous three months.

``Space coming on the market is more high-priced than the space coming off the market,'' Joseph Harbert, chief operating officer of the New York metropolitan region for Cushman, said today. ``We live in a space-starved city. Despite the state of the economy and despite the problems in the financial services industry, you're still seeing space leased in Manhattan at very high prices.''

Financial companies took about 14 percent of space that was leased in the second quarter, down from more than a third a year earlier, Cushman said...
Real housing land mines.

Live bombs haunt Orlando neighborhood -- The search teams comb through the backyards of the half-million-dollar homes with metal detectors, placing red flags on the manicured lawns every time they get a hit. To the shock of residents, they sometimes find live bombs.

The bombs are left over from a 12,000-acre World War II bombing range. The area has become an Orlando neighborhood with thousands of homes...

Calculated Risk

MishTalk - Mike Shedlock

Paul Krugman - NY Times

The Big Picture - Barry Ritholtz

naked capitalism - Yves Smith

Pragmatic Capitalism

Washington's Blog

Safe Haven

Paper Economy

The Daily Reckoning - Australia