The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.
from The Great Debate:
A year ago the federal government and 49 states completed a $25 billion agreement with the nation’s largest mortgage servicers to settle claims of “robo-signing” and unlawful foreclosure practices. President Barack Obama announced the creation of the federal-state mortgage securities working group in his 2012 State of the Union address. The nation seemed on the verge of transforming the way banks treat struggling homeowners ‑ particularly those with “underwater” mortgages, in which a homeowner owes more than the house is worth.
The Fed calls it an “apparent misunderstanding.” Whatever term you prefer, a new Cleveland Fed study makes one thing clear: lenders are still overstating home values. The study focuses on real-estate-owned or REO inventory, which covers properties that are now owned by lenders.
from Edward Hadas:
Once upon a time there were 11 prosperous merchants who lived in a land of peace and plenty. They decided to form a league that would work together for everyone’s greater good. But then a charming man in a fine suit came around with a tempting speech: “I love your project and trust your businesses. I will lend you money at a very attractive interest rate”. How nice, thought the merchants. Our customers will love us if we use the money we borrow to give them better deals.
from Financial Regulatory Forum:
NEW YORK, Oct. 12 (Business Law Currents) - The first half of 2011 saw rebounding credit markets and an uptick in debt issuance. Due to uncertain economic conditions in the second half of 2011, however, even the most fundamental aspects of loan documentation are facing increasing scrutiny. Representations & warranties that were more routine and non-contentious transformed into significantly stricter provisions as a result of the credit crisis.
When the financial crisis hit, panicked small businesses were scrambling to find credit. Nearly three years later it’s a much different story.
Lenders do not seem to be good learners. To judge from the credit market, the 2008-9 crisis might never have happened. Perhaps this is the healthy fading of traumatic memories, but the current buying frenzy looks more like a return to an old bad habit.
Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein has an image problem on his hands.
The most ardent critics of his firm are likening it to a blood-sucking vampire, while others simply see the Wall Street investment bank as a greedy and ruthless financial titan. But there is a way for Blankfein to start turning public opinion around, and that involves a quick buyout of ailing mid-market lender CIT Group, which provides financing to some retailers, manufacturers and aviation operators.