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from The Great Debate:

Banks thrive, while homeowners still suffer

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.

These promises, however, have yet to be fulfilled. The latest interim report on the national mortgage settlement is due out this week, and banks will likely again declare that it offers proof that they are fulfilling their obligations. But the communities hit hardest by the foreclosure crisis have yet to see any meaningful relief.

Time is running out to ensure that these communities receive their fair share under the settlement. But it is not too late to provide meaningful assistance. The settlement monitors need to demand greater transparency from banks, and they need to see that banks comply with the fair-lending requirements set out in the agreement. They also need to aggressively police the servicing reforms to ensure that all homeowners get a fair opportunity to save their homes.

This settlement was designed to begin a new chapter in the resolution of the nation’s foreclosure crisis. It provided much-needed funding for legal aid, housing counselors and other foreclosure prevention services. It also committed the banks to billions of dollars in consumer relief to help keep struggling families in their homes. Critics recognized that the settlement size was far too small to solve the entire housing crisis, but they hoped it could change the way banks deal with foreclosures.

from MacroScope:

Lenders still overvaluing properties, Fed study finds

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.

We analyzed sales data from Cuyahoga County, Ohio, and found signs that appraisers, lenders, and investors could be routinely overestimating the property values of foreclosed homes there. We suggest some simple identifiers that can help lenders better estimate home values in weak housing markets. And though we have focused on one county, we believe the situation could be the same in other places. The factors we identify as possible causes of overestimation in Cuyahoga County are likely to be found in many other weak housing markets around the country.

from Edward Hadas:

Mr. Fine Suit visits Europe

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.

All went so well that six other merchants were proud to join the league. Mr. Fine Suit seemed pleased. He reduced the already low interest rate on the loans. The merchants all planned to repay, but today was never quite right. Today, in fact, was always a good day to borrow more, while tomorrow always looked like a better day to raise prices.

from Financial Regulatory Forum:

U.S. credit market remains uneasy in the world of representations and warranties

US dollar note and other currenciesBy Alex Lee

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.

Gun shy lenders began placing more onerous terms in credit facilities and the reps and warranties were dramatically bulked up. Some borrowers are now required to announce their credit worthiness under no uncertain terms. Recent litigation concentrating on reps and warranties has heightened the already palpable sense of market unease. Lenders are escalating the investigative function of the reps & warranties to more fully flesh out the factual matrix in reliance of which they will decide to provide a credit facility.

from Entrepreneurial:

Exclusive: Fewer small businesses shopping for credit: PayNet

When the financial crisis hit, panicked small businesses were scrambling to find credit. Nearly three years later it’s a much different story.

The level of credit shopping - when a borrower seeks a loan or lease from more than one lender - by small businesses has fallen nearly 30 percent since September 2008, according to new data released by PayNet Inc and it may lead lenders to offer better terms said William Phelan, PayNet's president and founder.

from Breakingviews:

Crisis forgotten in bond-buying frenzy

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.

It's hard to find debt that investors don't like. They are snapping up paper from solidly rated companies such as Wal-Mart and Anheuser-Busch InBev, and from still bankrupt Lyondell Chemical. The enthusiasm has reduced the spread on bonds dramatically.

from Commentaries:

Goldman’s “True Blood” moment

matthewgoldstein-Matthew Goldstein is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.-

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.

While a collapse of New York-based CIT would not pose the kind of systemic risk that last September's bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers did, the lender's sudden disappearance from the market would make it even more difficult for some small- and mid-sized American companies to finance their operations.

from The Great Debate UK:

Goldman’s “True Blood” moment

[CROSSPOST blog: 1381 post: 1137]

Original Post Text:
matthewgoldstein-Matthew Goldstein is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.-

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.

from The Great Debate UK:

Porsche must get itself back on autobahn

alexander-smith-- Alexander Smith is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own --

Porsche and Volkswagen gave themselves four weeks to come up with a blueprint for "an integrated car manufacturing group".

Their time is up. The carmakers made their statement on May 6, but investors are still in the dark. In the meantime, VW shares have staged the kind of yo-yo performance more normally associated with a highly leveraged hedge fund.

from UK News:

Little substance to mortgage lenders “help” for borrowers

houses2.jpgThe trade body for the mortgage industry has written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. In its letter to Alistair Darling, the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) outlines the range of steps that lenders are, apparently, taking to minimise problems borrowers may face in the wake of the credit crunch -- and help limit the number of property repossessions. Its members have committed to four "significant specific measures". These are, in the CML's own words:

* To analyse their existing arrears management policies and implement any changes identified as a result of the industry guidance which we (the CML) are preparing. The guidance will be informed by the feedback we receive from the FSA (Financial Services Authority) on its thematic work on arrears management. We hope the industry guidance will in due course be confirmed by the FSA, but we are at a very early stage of this process.

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