Posts Tagged ‘mortgages

22
Aug
14

Team Obama-Holder: Getting The Job Done

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AP: Bank Of America Agrees To Nearly $17B Settlement

The government has reached a $16.65 billion settlement with Bank of America over its role in the sale of mortgage-backed securities in the run-up to the financial crisis, the Justice Department announced Thursday. The deal calls for the bank, the second-largest in the U.S., to pay a $5 billion cash penalty, another $4.6 billion in remediation payments and provide about $7 billion in relief to struggling homeowners. The settlement is by far the largest deal the Justice Department has reached with a bank over the 2008 mortgage meltdown.

In the last year, JPMorgan Chase & Co. agreed to a $13 billion settlement while Citigroup reached a separate $7 billion deal. At a news conference, Attorney General Eric Holder said the bank and its Countrywide and Merrill Lynch subsidiaries had “engaged in pervasive schemes to defraud financial institutions and other investors” by misrepresenting the soundness of mortgage-backed securities. The penalties, Holder said, go “far beyond the cost of doing business.”

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Bloomberg: Housing Starts Rebound In U.S. As Inflation Eases

Home construction rebounded in July and the cost of living rose at a slower pace, showing a strengthening U.S. economy has yet to generate a sustained pickup in inflation. A 15.7 percent jump took housing starts to a 1.09 million annualized rate, the strongest since November, and halted a two-month slide, the Commerce Department said in Washington. The consumer price index increased 0.1 percent after rising 0.3 percent in June, the Labor Department also reported. An improving job market and cheaper borrowing costs are helping revive residential real estate, helping boost sales at companies such as Home Depot Inc. (HD) As inflation continues to run below the Federal Reserve’s target, it gives the central bank room to keep interest rates low well after the projected end of its bond-buying program in October.

The pickup in housing starts in the U.S. exceeded all estimates in a Bloomberg survey of 75 economists. The median projection called for 965,000, within a range of 898,000 to 1.03 million. The Commerce Department also revised June’s reading up to a 945,000 pace from a previously reported 893,000. The report also indicated the building industry will probably consolidate gains in coming months as permits for future projects advanced 8.1 percent to a 1.05 million pace, about in line with the current level of starts. The gain reflected the most applications for single-family dwellings since November.

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Bloomberg: Job Market Tilts Toward U.S. Workers In Virtuous Cycle

The balance of power in the job market is shifting slowly toward employees from employers. Bob Funk sees it firsthand from his position as chief executive officer of staffing agency Express Employment Professionals. “We’re short of people in a number of cities,” he said. So he’s changing the focus of his $2.5 billion, Oklahoma City-based business. Instead of concentrating on finding jobs for those who want them, Express Employment is putting more effort into finding workers for companies that need them. “We’re back in the recruiting market again,” Funk said. The 74-year-old industry veteran isn’t the only one to notice the change. Americans who have been hunting for employment for more than six months

are finding they’re having better luck landing a job, while people who had given up looking are returning to the labor force to resume their search. Companies, meanwhile, are beefing up their in-house recruiting teams and increasingly using complicated computer algorithms to scour the Web for prospective job candidates. This is all good news for the economy, according to Nariman Behravesh, the Lexington, Massachusetts-based chief economist for IHS Inc. He said the U.S. has entered a “virtuous cycle” where job gains are leading to increased household expenditures, encouraging employers to hire more workers. Consumer spending rose in June by the most in three months, according to Commerce Department data published Aug. 1.

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07
Aug
14

Rise and Shine

On This Day: President Barack Obama gestures during a roundtable discussion with Hispanic print and web media in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, on Aug. 7, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Today (All Times Eastern)

11:20: The President delivers remarks and signs H.R. 3230, the Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act of 2014; Fort Belvoir, Virginia

12:15: White House press briefing

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Courant: Number Of Residents Without Health Insurance Drops 50%

The number of people in Connecticut without health insurance has dropped by 50 percent since 2012, according to research findings released Wednesday by the state’s health insurance exchange. Access Health CT, the state-run onlinehealth insurance marketplace created under the federal Affordable Care Act, has enrolled more than 256,000 state residents in private health plans or Medicaid since the website launched last fall.

CEO Kevin Counihan said at a press conference with the governor Wednesday that the percentage of state residents who lack health coverage dropped from 7.9 percent at the start of the open enrollment period to 4 percent now. About 286,000 residents did not have insurance before the launch of the marketplace. “Nobody expected us to be down to 4 percent,” said Counihan, who compared the figure to those of European countries with national health insurance, where uninsured rates hover around 2 percent to 3 percent.

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AP: BofA Nears $16-$17B Settlement With US

Bank of America is nearing a $16 billion to $17 billion settlement to resolve an investigation into its role in the sale of mortgage-backed securities before the 2008 financial crisis, a person directly familiar with the matter said Wednesday. The deal with the bank, which must still be finalized, would be the largest Justice Department settlement by far arising from the economic meltdown in which millions of Americans lost their homes to foreclosure.

It would follow earlier multibillion-dollar agreements reached in the last year with Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase & Co. The deal would be the latest arising from the sale of toxic mortgage securities leading up to the recession. The Justice Department last year reached a $13 billion settlement with JPMorgan and in July announced a $7 billion settlement with Citigroup. Each of these deals is designed to offer some financial relief to homeowners, whose mortgages were bundled into securities by the banks in question and then sold to investors.

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Reid Cherlin: The Presidency And The Press

Somewhere between Seoul and Kuala Lumpur, with Air Force One cruising just shy of the speed of sound, Barack Obama decided to have a word with the press. It has been tradition for Obama to make a visit back to the press cabin during the last leg of exhausting presidential foreign trips – just a friendly off-the-record chat – but this junket, a barnburner taking the chief executive to Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines this past April, wouldn’t be over for three days. The president’s blood was up over two analysis pieces in The New York Times. One, written by national security correspondent David Sanger and timed for Obama’s arrival in Seoul, accused the administration of dangerously underestimating Kim Jong-Un. A second story, splashed on the paper’s front page, had effectively declared the trip a failure while it was still in progress.

With the chat being off the record, a definitive accounting of what was said is hard to come by; it is clear, though, that the thrust of the president’s message was this: Foreign policy is hard, you guys are scoring it like a campaign debate, and moreover, you’re doing it inaccurately. He went further, telling the dozen or so reporters that what he favored was a judicious use of American power, and that his primary concern was not to get the country embroiled in situations from which it might take a decade to extract ourselves. He offered up an oddly sophomoric mantra for his foreign policy: “Don’t do stupid shit.”

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Victoria Stilwell: Jobless Claims Fall As Average Drops To Eight-Year Low

Fewer Americans filed applications for unemployment benefits last week, sending the average over the past month to an eight-year low, a sign the labor market continues to gain momentum. Jobless claims decreased by 14,000 to 289,000 in the week ended Aug. 2 from 303,000 in the prior period, a Labor Department report showed today in Washington. The median forecast of 47 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for an increase to 304,000. Companies are holding on to more workers in an effort to keep up with increased orders and stronger consumer demand, contributing to a virtuous cycle of growth as the economy accelerates. Fewer layoffs and more jobs

would support further gains in incomes and household spending, which accounts for 70 percent of the economy. “This is one of the early steps in the process of a really good run for the labor market,” said Thomas Simons, a money market economist at Jefferies LLC in New York, whose forecast for the drop in claims was the closest in the Bloomberg survey. “If we have fewer layoffs, it’s a necessary precondition for an acceleration in hiring, and as hiring increases and the slack in the labor force is taken up, that should put some upward pressure on wages as well.”

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Tommy Christopher: Liberal MSNBC Host Says Obama “Broke Politics”

Fresh off his weeks-long stint flacking for Paul Ryan’s poverty plan, Vox publisher and All In fill-in host Ezra Klein further dabbled in Beltway view-from-nowhere dumbshittery Wednesday night when he declared, to MSNBC viewers, that President Obama broke politics. He promised to change politics, but instead, he broke them worse than they already were broken…

…. The theory is that despite all of his promises, Republicans were such pricks that Obama had no choice but to become a partisan ramrod, further dividing our country. Now, even if you accept that narrative, saying Obama broke politics is like saying Jesus sure stained the shit out of that cross… The truth is, it started within hours of President Obama’s inauguration. President Obama didn’t break politics, politics set out to break him…

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Seventeen: Michelle Obama’s Open Letter To American Girls: Commit To Your Education & Get Involved In Others

Did you know that right now, 62 million girls around the world are not in school, and in some countries, fewer than ten percent of girls complete high school (as compared to 85 percent in the U.S.)? Did you know that when girls are educated, they go on to earn higher wages, get married later, and have healthier children who are more likely to attend school themselves? So you might be wondering: why on earth are so many girls worldwide not in school? There are many answers to this question. Sometimes, families simply can’t afford to send their daughters to school (some countries don’t have free public education, and families have to pay school fees); or girls live in rural areas, far from schools, and have no means of transportation; or girls can’t afford to buy sanitary pads, so they’re unable to attend school during their periods, and they wind up falling behind and dropping out.

But often, the problem isn’t just about resources, it’s also about attitudes and beliefs. In some places, girls are viewed as less worthy of an education than boys, so when a family has limited funds, they’ll educate their sons instead of their daughters. Knowing the heartbreaking challenges so many girls in the world are facing, think about all the girls you know who don’t take their education seriously – girls who skip class, or don’t do their homework, or even drop out because they don’t see the point of school. To any girl – or any young person – who might be thinking this way, I have a simple message: you can do better – for yourself, your family and your country.

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On This Day

 President Obama delivers remarks on the economy from the Rose Garden, on Aug. 7, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama signs a bill in the Oval Office, on Aug. 7, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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 President Obama talks with members of the 2012 Summer White House intern class before a group photo in the East Room of the White House, Aug. 7, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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 President Obama greets troops during a rally at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., Aug. 7, 2013 ( Photo by Pete Souza)

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09
Feb
12

afternoon all

Charles Pierce: …. Emboldened by enablers, the bishops have expanded their demands for exemptions from simply Catholic institutions to every business in America. There’s a reason for this …. they’ve been sitting back on their ermined duffs, believing that they were done so very wrong in the investigation of their crimes, and nursing the mother of all grudges, for over a decade. Now they’ve decided to strike back for the power they’ve lost. Women’s health is the issue they’ve chosen, because, in their little unindicted world, women don’t count, and never have….

There were a couple of ways all of this could have been avoided. One … would have been to toss a whole lot of bishops in jail for conspiracy to obstruct justice, enough of them so their power to influence the secular law was destroyed forever. They needed to be humbled, unmercifully, until the hubris was wrung out of every damn one of them. Now, a woman working a low-income service industry job under the supervision of a Catholic boss will have her access to essential health-care truncated by a discredited encyclical to which no Catholic has paid any heed since the administration of Lyndon Johnson. These bastards needed to be broken, publicly, and into a thousand pieces that were scattered to the winds. Instead, they are “voices of conscience” again. It is to weep.

Full post here

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Greg Sargent (Washington Post): Is media getting politics of contraception all wrong?

Since the controversy over the White House’s new contraception policy broke, it’s been widely assumed that the battle is terrible politics for Obama, because it will cost him among Catholic swing voters.

But some polling from August suggests a majority of Americans supports the White House position – and that the opposition to the provision from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops makes no difference to them. Even a majority of Catholic respondents said the same.

….. The White House very well may buckle in this fight. But these numbers do suggest at least the possibility that leading commentators have been far too quick to declare this a certain political loser.

Full post here

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You can sign the petition here

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Greg Sargent: Since details of the big foreclosure settlement began leaking out, liberals have been watching to see how New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman would react, as a sign of whether the deal is a giveaway to big banks – or whether it contains the promise of real accountability.

In an interview with me just now, Schneiderman – who has gained a national liberal profile for his insistence on true accountability for financial institutions – conceded the settlement announced today was “small” in financial terms, given the struggles of underwater homeowners and people who lost their homes.

But he insisted that time will show that today’s settlement was a win – that it secured a framework that will ultimately result in a true accounting of the role big banks played in sparking the economic meltdown…..

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Attorney General Eric holder listens as President Obama speaks about a mortgage settlement in the Eisenhower Executive Office building

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President Obama arrives to deliver remarks on the No Child Left Behind law in the East Room of the White House

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Jonathan Bernstein (Washington Post): Today’s economic news is that new claims for unemployment benefits have fallen again, with the four-week average now at the lowest point since spring 2008. That’s not all; the stock market is also at its highest point since spring 2008, and Gallup’s economic confidence numbers are also approaching post-recession highs.

It’s no coincidence that the run of good economic news – and employment is only a part of that – has been accompanied by a climb by Barack Obama in the polls. Indeed, the Pollster average now has Obama with an average 5.5 point lead over Romney.

….. It’s certainly possible that the new economic momentum will, again, dissipate. But the signs are mounting that people are being a bit too pessimistic. And if so, there’s a chance that Democrats and the president could be about to receive a whole lot of unexpected good news indeed.

Full post here

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Steve Benen: How many counties did Romney win in Missouri’s doesn’t-really-count primary this week? Zero:

TPM

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President Obama and Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Monti meet in the Oval Office, February 9

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First lady Michelle Obama greets U.S. Air Force personnel in the dining facility at Little Rock Air Force Base in Jacksonville

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01
Feb
12

afternoon all

First lady Michelle Obama is joined by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at the future site of a Northgate Market in Inglewood, Calif., Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2012. Michelle Obama says the proposed new supermarket in the middle of a blue-collar Hispanic neighborhood in Southern California is an example of how the effort to bring healthy foods to low-income communities is paying off.

AP: First lady Michelle Obama on Wednesday said the campaign to bring healthy food to all Americans is happening neighborhood by neighborhood.

Standing in a vacant Southern California store set to be refurbished and reopened this summer, Obama lauded efforts to bring large grocery retailers to inner-city areas that traditional supermarket chains spurn.

…. Obama, who is on the second day of her two-day visit to the Los Angeles area, made the stop in the blue-collar, largely Hispanic neighborhood as part of her “Let’s Move!” campaign to boost healthy food and fitness.

Part of the campaign includes promoting initiatives such as the $264 million California FreshWorks Fund, which finances grocery businesses willing to open in urban areas.

…. After the Inglewood event, Obama was scheduled to appear on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and to deliver a luncheon speech at the Democratic National Committee.

Full article here

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Washington Post: U.S. factories grew in January at the fastest pace in seven months, boosted by a rise in new orders. And builders ended a poor year for construction by spending more on homes and projects for the fifth straight month.

The reports bolster other data showing the U.S. economy started the year strong.

The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing managers, said Wednesday that its manufacturing index rose last month to 54.1 from 53.1 in December. Readings above 50 indicate expansion.

Consumers are buying more cars and trucks, while businesses ordered more machinery and other equipment. That has driven manufacturing, which expanded for the 30th straight month.

Both new orders and order backlogs rose to nine-month highs. Increasing order backlogs suggest manufacturers are lacking the capacity to meet demand. That could mean more growth in production and employment in the near future, economists said.

Export orders also rose, a sign that U.S. manufacturers haven’t yet been affected by Europe’s slowing economy.

“This is a very encouraging report on manufacturing activity that shows particular strength in leading indicators,” said John Ryding, an economist at RDQ Economics.

Full article here

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Gallup

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Steve Benen: For campaign watchers, Florida’s Republican presidential primary was the big draw yesterday, but there was another noteworthy race on the other side of the country: a U.S. House special election in Oregon’s 1st congressional district.

Just two weeks ago, the National Republican Congressional Committee took an interest in the race, airing attack ads against Democratic candidate Suzanne Bonamici. The GOP candidate, Rob Cornilles, even released an internal poll showing him trailing by only four points.

Yesterday, however, it became clear Republicans were chasing a mirage.

Democrat Suzanne Bonamici swept to victory Tuesday in Oregon’s 1st Congressional District, continuing her party’s nearly four-decade-long hold on the seat covering the northwestern corner of the state. With the bulk of ballots counted, Bonamici was defeating Republican Rob Cornilles by about 15 percentage points…..

Full post here

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President Barack Obama at the James Lee Community Center in Falls Church, Virginia, February 1

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TPM

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Forgot to post this yesterday:

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TPM: The Obama administration announced Wednesday that the Medicare Advantage program, which allows seniors to receive health coverage through a private insurer, is enjoying lower costs and more customers as a result of the health care reform law.

More here

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Yahoo: If you watched President Obama’s Google+ hangout Monday night, you saw two interesting exchanges between the president and Jennifer Wedel, a 29-year-old Texas mother of two.

It turns out that Wedel’s digital meeting convinced her to vote for Obama in this year’s presidential election – despite her support for the GOP.

…. Afterwards, Wedel, who described herself as a “good Republican,” is now planning to vote for Obama in this year’s presidential election.

“I didn’t vote for him four years ago. But I have been so disappointed with the presidential race. I haven’t seen anybody who would have been a good replacement. I know how Obama is now. I know how he rolls. So I’d probably vote him back in,” said Wedel in an interview with The Atlantic. “I (feel) like I know him a little more,” Wedel said. “There was a connection. He should definitely do this with more people…..”

….. for those who watched the event, a slightly odd moment near the end might have jumped out. During that personal question round, Wedel asked Obama if he would do a little jig. Obama demurred. What was that about? It’s a YouTube meme thing, explained Wedel. An extremely popular video on the site is a minute-and-a-half clip of then-candidate Obama shaking it on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” back in 2007; one version has 12 million hits and counting.

“It’s so funny,” said Wedel. “You’ve got to watch it.”

More here

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