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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Credit Crunch Roundup — November 11, 2008

Items of Interest:

Wall Street Journal:
Fannie, Freddie Work on Mass Loan Modification Plan -- Details to Be Unveiled by GSEs, Officials at 2 p.m. ET

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and U.S. officials are expected to announce plans Tuesday to speed up the modification of hundreds of thousands of loans held by the housing finance giants, marking the latest effort to try and prevent more foreclosures, two people familiar with the matter said.

The effort will target certain loans that are past due and will aim to bring the ratio of household debt to income for these borrowers down to 38%, these people said. It could apply to a broad range of borrowers. U.S. government officials plan to encourage big banks that hold loans in their portfolios to take similar steps.

The announcement is expected to come at a press conference at 2 p.m. ET at the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which temporarily has Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in conservatorship because of their shaky financial condition...

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Down the road from Johnsville is Fanniemaeville a sleepy, but fast growing town.

Reuters:
Fannie Mae, America's accidental property baron -- Fannie Mae said on Monday that the housing finance company has taken over so many homes through foreclosures that if it were a town, it would be bigger than Dayton, Ohio.

It is also on track to pass Richmond, Virginia, this year in terms of the number of houses, and would crack the top 100 municipalities as ranked by DataPlace, a web-based source of housing and demographic data.

As a record number of Americans lose their homes during the worst housing crash since the Great Depression, Fannie Mae now owns 67,519 homes...
discussion:
Housing Doom blog: “Fanniemaeville” is America’s largest ghost town
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MarketWatch:
Toll Bros: home buyer traffic, demand plummet -- Home builder says buyer traffic, demand plummet after financial crisis

Toll Brothers Inc. on Tuesday estimated its fiscal fourth-quarter home-building revenue fell 41% from the year-ago period as October's economic meltdown wiped out any hopes of stabilization in the housing market...
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Bloomberg:
Revised AIG Terms Begin Treasury Transfusions to 'Zombie' Firms -- The revised bailout of American International Group Inc. marks a new phase in the government's effort to shore up financial markets: It's the first time cash from the rescue fund Congress created last month has been committed to a failing company.

The Federal Reserve, which saved the insurer from collapse two months ago with an $85 billion loan, yesterday reduced that loan and offered lower rates, while the Treasury chipped in $40 billion from its bank-rescue fund to buy preferred shares. The new terms represent a departure for Secretary Henry Paulson, who until now has said he only wants to invest Treasury funds in ``healthy'' firms.

Taxpayers are ``keeping the zombie alive,'' said Robert Eisenbeis, chief monetary economist at hedge fund Cumberland Advisors and former director of research at the Atlanta Fed. ``We keep getting deeper and deeper into these holes.'' ...
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NY Times:
A Town Drowns in Debt as Home Values Plunge -- MOUNTAIN HOUSE, Calif. — This town, 59 feet above sea level, is the most underwater community in America.

Because of plunging home values, almost 90 percent of homeowners here owe more on their mortgages than their houses are worth, according to figures released Monday. That is the highest percentage in the country. The average homeowner in Mountain House is “underwater,” as it is known, by $122,000.

A visit to the area over the last couple of days shows how the nationwide housing crisis is contributing to a broad slowdown of the American economy, as families who feel burdened by high mortgages are pulling back on their spending...
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Palm Beach Post:
Subprime mortgages fueled fraud, foreclosures -- Florida is first in mortgage fraud and second in foreclosures. From flipping scams involving all facets of the industry to loan originators and borrowers fabricating income, the problems are abundant. Mortgage fraud is nothing new. So why does America continue to see an implosion in the banking and lending industries and number of foreclosures? The answer is subprime mortgages...

Florida needs two initiatives. The state needs to assist counties in setting up real property fraud task forces, and higher standards are needed for entry into the mortgage industry. Anyone who meets with consumers regarding financing should have to be educated, licensed and pass a background check. During the boom, Florida had too many unscrupulous individuals enter our industry with an eye on the fast buck...
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Calculated Risk

MishTalk - Mike Shedlock

Paul Krugman - NY Times

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naked capitalism - Yves Smith

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Paper Economy

The Daily Reckoning - Australia