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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Great Recession Roundup — March 4, 2009

Items of Interest:

Edmund / NYT
Treasury Releases Details of Loan Plan — The Obama administration kicked off a new program Wednesday intended to help up to nine million borrowers stay in their homes through refinanced mortgages or loans that are modified to lower monthly payments...

Renae Merle / Wash Post Business:
Treasury Dept. Details Foreclosure Prevention -- The Obama administration today released guidelines of its massive foreclosure prevention program and it includes a refinancing program for homeowners with little equity in their homes...

related:
Meg Marco / Consumerist: Find Out If You Qualify For Mortgage Assistance

USAToday:
Details of administration's housing rescue plan released — Details of the Obama administration's housing rescue plan are expected Wednesday, and banks and other servicers are bracing for ...

Bizjournals Banking:
Treasury launches program to prevent foreclosure — As many as 9 million borrowers might be able to stay in their homes under a loan modification program launched Wednesday by the Obama administration...
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Wall Street Watch:
$5 BILLION IN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTIONS BOUGHT WALL STREET FREEDOM … – The financial sector invested more than $5 billion in political influence purchasing in Washington over the past decade, with as many as 3,000 lobbyists winning deregulation and other policy decisions that led directly to the current financial collapse, according to a 231-page report issued today by Essential Information and the Consumer Education Foundation.

The report, "Sold Out: How Wall Street and Washington Betrayed America," shows that, from 1998-2008, Wall Street investment firms, commercial banks, hedge funds, real estate companies and insurance conglomerates made $1.725 billion in political contributions and spent another $3.4 billion on lobbyists, a financial juggernaut aimed at undercutting federal regulation. Nearly 3,000 officially registered federal lobbyists worked for the industry in 2007 alone. The report documents a dozen distinct deregulatory moves that, together, led to the financial meltdown...
discussion:
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David Evans / Bloomberg:
Hidden Pension Fiasco May Foment Another $1 Trillion Bailout — The Chicago Transit Authority retirement plan had a $1.5 billion hole in its stash of assets in 2007. At the height of a four-year bull market, it didn't have enough cash on hand to pay its retirees through 2013, meaning it was underfunded to the tune of 62 percent...
discussion:
Soren Dayton / The Next Right: The coming public pension queen?
John Cole / Balloon Juice: The Next Bomb
Rich Miller / The Capitol Fax Blog: It's probably worse than we think
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Thomas L. Friedman / NY Times:
Obama’s Ball and Chain -- Two signs of the times: First, a banker friend remarked to me that you know your bank is in trouble when its share price is less than the cost of taking money out of one of its A.T.M.’s...

At the moment, the Obama team seems to prefer a gradual attempt to nurse these sick banks back to health with repeated blood transfusions — $30 billion more to A.I.G. today, another $40 billion to Citigroup tomorrow. And Lord only knows how much Bank of America will need after its weekend fling with Merrill Lynch has left it with Toxic Asset Disease. The Federal Reserve and the Treasury seem to be trying to give these banks enough capital to survive the next two years, as they de-leverage and de-risk their portfolios — and then hope for the best.

If they are right, the president (and the rest of us) will just have a wrenching first year and then be able to gradually put the banking crisis behind him.

For now, though, the banks still threaten to consume the Obama presidency. Indeed, I’m sorry to report that if you just type two letters into Google — “b-a” — the first thing that comes up is not Barack Obama. It’s “Bank of America.” Barack Obama is third...
discussion:
Barrett Brown / Vanity Fair:
Thomas Friedman's Five Worst Predictions — In this morning's New York Times, columnist Thomas Friedman makes a grave prediction regarding Obama and the ongoing financial crisis: “I fear that his whole first term could be eaten by Citigroup, A.I.G., Bank of America, Merrill Lynch …

Joe Weisenthal / Clusterstock: Thomas Friedman Thinks The Crisis Might Be Kind Of A Big Deal
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Bethany McLean / Vanity Fair
What Comes after the Hedge Fund Bubble? -- The five hotshots who took Fortress Investment Group public were worth billions at first. Today they look like arrogant showboats, and their story helps explain why hedge funds are imploding by the thousands—and why there’s still a truckload of money to be made.
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Susanne Craig / Wall Street Journal:
Merrill's $10 Million Men — Top 10 Earners Made $209 Million in 2008 as Firm Foundered — As bad as 2008 was for Merrill Lynch & Co., it was very good for Andrea Orcel, the firm's top investment banker. Although Merrill's net loss ballooned to $27.6 billion last year, Mr. Orcel …
discussion:
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----Has the recession reached bottom yet?

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Calculated Risk

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The Big Picture - Barry Ritholtz

naked capitalism - Yves Smith

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