Reuters blog archive
from Unstructured Finance:
Jenn Ablan and I have done a lot reporting on Mortgage Resolution Partners' plan to get county governments and cities to use eminent domain to seize and restructure underwater mortgages. As we've reported, it's an intriguing solution to the seemingly intractable problem of too much mortgage debt holding back the U.S. economy. But it's also a controversial one that threatens to rewrite basic contractual rights and the whole notion of how we view mortgages in this country.
And then there's the issue of just who are are the financiers behind Mortgage Resolution Partners and whether they've gone about selling their plan in the right way.
The debate over using eminent domain has sparked a lively debate on editorial pages, on blogs and in other media, and that debate is likely to continue now that Suffolk County, NY says it is looking at eminent domain just like San Bernardino County, Calif. So here's a bit of sampler of some of the differing views and coverage on this important topic:
Joe Nocera: Housing's Last Chance?
Robert Shiller: Reviving housing requires collective action
Rep. Brad Miller: No wonder eminent domain mortgage seizures scare Wall Street
San Bernardino Sun: Agency created to fight foreclosures holds first meeting
Alison Frankel: Eminent domain, MBS and the constitution
Robert Hockett: A solution for underwater mortgages
Bloomberg View: Eminent domain is bad ploy for underwater mortgages
Naked Capitalism: The mortgage condemnation plan
from Photographers' Blog:
By Will Webster
Russia goes to the polls on March 4, in a presidential election that present Prime Minister and former two term President Vladimir Putin is widely expected to win. Russian politics is a strange beast, opaque is the most constructive word to describe the process of moving and shaking that goes on in the corridors of power. A whole class of analytical Kremlinologists aim to shed light on the minutiae of the process, although opinions widely differ, and the outcome appears to be the same - 6 more years of Putin in top spot. In this atmosphere behind closed doors, with one outcome highly probable, it's difficult to illustrate the campaign trail, if such a thing exists. However in this story of same old, same old, there is a group of individuals that stand out, that no one seems to ask about: the Russian people - they are the ones that cast the votes. People like Anatoly, an artist from Moscow.
Following a parliamentary election in December, one of the typical plays of allegiance shifting and maneuvering in the top levels of the power vertical something changed. Widespread claims of vote falsification brought out around 5,000 people onto the street in Moscow, a show of opposition to the authorities that hasn't been seen for years. The movement grew, organized and strenghtened in the fertile fields of social networks. It provided leaders that in principal have no political leverage apart from a following online. People like Alexey Navalny, anti corruption blogger, and Yevgrnia Chirikova, an environmental activist battling the destruction of her local forest to make way for a new highway. Would they be able to maintain their voice of protest and public displays of opposition throughout the winter (a bigger problem for those not aware of it - ask the Grande Armee of 1812) in order to make a difference in the presidential vote? The protests did grow, a couple more followed, the numbers swelled - up to 100,000 came out to call for fair elections in January. The authorities seemed to be at a loss on how to snuff out this unplanned voice of opposition. Official plans were immediately drawn up to make the voting process more transparent, webcams in polling stations, symbolically see-through ballot boxes. Still, the unrest persisted. Another strategy was started - organized supporter events for United Russia, let the people know (on state run television networks) that actually most people are with Putin. By necessity these shows of support must be more impressive than that of these Muscovites wearing white condoms (Putin's initial response when the white ribbons appeared on the street).
As martial law comes to an end in the Gulf Arab state of Bahrain this week, opposition activists are wondering whether they threw away what might have been the first real chance for democracy in the Gulf Arab region.
Bahrain's opposition must change its leadership for the divided Gulf Arab state to move on with political reconciliation after crushing a pro-democracy movement led by majority Shi'ites, a Sunni cleric said on Saturday. Sheikh Abdullatif Al-Mahmoud said the democracy movement, which began in February when protesters inspired by uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt occupied a roundabout in Manama, had been hijacked by Shi'ite opposition leaders with a sectarian agenda who were in contact with Iran's clerical leadership.
The Muslim Brotherhood is treading cautiously in the new Egypt, assuring the military government and fellow Egyptians that it does not want power and trying to dispel fears about its political strength. The target of decades of state oppression, the Brotherhood wants to preserve the freedoms it is enjoying under the new military-led administration that took power from Hosni Mubarak.
The Muslim Brotherhood will be the only group in Egypt ready for a parliamentary election unless others are given a year or more to recover from years of oppression, said a former Brotherhood politician seeking to found his own party.
The banned Islamist group Justice and Charity, believed to be Morocco's biggest opposition force, has said "autocracy" will be swept away unless the country pursues deep democratic reform.
The group of Sufi inspiration is believed to have 200,000 members, most of whom are university students, and is active mainly in the poor districts of some cities. Banned from politics, its avowed aim is to achieve a peaceful transition to a pluralist political system inspired by Islam.
The first time Essam el-Erian went to jail, he was 27. Last Sunday, he left prison for the eighth time at the age of 57. The medical doctor's crime for each incarceration was belonging to the Muslim Botherhood, Egypt's most influential and best-organised Islamist opposition movement and long feared by President Hosni Mubarak, Israel and the United States.
Tunisia's Islamists have been shut out of the interim government, Islamist leader Rachid Ghannouchi said, calling for a cabinet that brings together all parties and for the dismantling of Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali's police state. Banned for over 20 years, his Ennahda (Arab for "Renaissance") party applied this week for a license and will take part in Tunisia's first free elections, though Ghannouchi himself has pledged not to run for any office.
(Photo: Sheikh Rachid Ghannouchi (C, with red scarf) is welcomed by supporters upon his arrival in Tunis January 30, 2011/Louafi Larbi)
Thousands of Tunisians turned out on Sunday to welcome home an Islamist leader whose return from 22 years of exile indicated that his party would emerge as a major force in Tunisia after the ousting of its president.