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August 1, 2011 in Campaign 2008, Campaign 2010, Campaign 2012, Capitalism, Economy, Family values, Politics, socialism, Uncategorized | Tags: Bank of America, crisis, foreclosure crisis, foreclosures, mortgage, mortgage bubble | 1 comment
Banks have a new remedy to America’s ailing housing market: Bulldozers.
There are nearly 1.7 million homes in the U.S. in some state of foreclosure. Banks already own some of these homes and will soon have repossessed many more. Many housing economists worry that near constant stream of home sales from banks could keep housing prices down for years to come. But what if some of those homes never hit the market.
Increasingly, it appears banks are turning to demolition teams instead of realtors to rid them of their least valuable repossessed homes. Last month, Bank of America announced plans to demolish 100 foreclosed homes in the Cleveland area. The land is then going to be donated back to the local government authorities. BofA says the recent donations in Cleveland are part of a larger plan to rid itself of its least saleable properties, many of which, according to a company spokesperson, are worth less than $10,000. BofA has already donated 100 homes in Detroit and 150 in Chicago, and may add as many as nine more cities by the end of the year.
July 22, 2011 in Campaign 2008, Campaign 2010, Campaign 2012, Capitalism, Economy, Family values, Politics, socialism, Uncategorized | Tags: Barack Obama, Fannie Mae, foreclosures, Housing bubble, Wall Street Journal | 4 comments
The Obama administration is examining ways to pull foreclosed properties off the market and rent them to help stabilize the housing market, according to people familiar with the matter.
While the plans may not advance beyond the concept phase, they are under serious consideration by senior administration officials because rents are rising even as home prices in many hard-hit markets continue to fall due to high foreclosure levels.
Trimming the glut of unsold foreclosed homes on the market is “worth looking at,” said Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke in testimony to Congress last week.
December 31, 2010 in Campaign 2008, Campaign 2010, Campaign 2012, Capitalism, Economy, Family values, Politics, socialism, Uncategorized | Tags: Bank of America, foreclosures, Fortress Investment Group, tax liens | 1 comment
When Florida retiree Gladys Walker fell behind in paying taxes on her modest Pompano Beach home, she had no idea one of America’s biggest banks and a major Wall Street hedge fund engaged in frenzied bidding for the right to collect her debt—all $768.25 of it.
“I just couldn’t come up with the money,” said Walker, 67, a former hotel worker who makes do on a monthly Social Security check.
Barely more than a year after a taxpayer bailout of major financial institutions, Bank of America and the hedge fund, Fortress Investment Group, spotted a fresh money-making opportunity – collecting the tax debts of tens of thousands of people like Walker. The bank and hedge fund can add interest charges and fees, and they bundled the debts as securities for investors.
In late May and early June, proxies for the two institutions quietly bought hundreds of millions of dollars in homeowners’ property tax debts in Florida by bidding at a series of online auctions held by county tax collectors. They didn’t use their names but donned multiple other identities, dominating the auctions and repeatedly bidding on the same parcels – in the case of Walker’s small home, more than 8,000 times.
Then, in September, Bank of America’s securities division packaged $301 million worth of the tax liens it and Fortress had acquired into bonds pitched privately to major investors. The anticipated return – estimated at between 7 to 10 percent – is possible because buyers of tax debts can assess a panoply of interest charges and other fees. When the debt goes unpaid long enough, the liens buyer can seize properties through foreclosure.
December 10, 2010 in Campaign 2008, Campaign 2010, Campaign 2012, Capitalism, Economy, Family values, Politics, socialism, Uncategorized | Tags: Barney Frank, Fannie Mae, foreclosures, Freddie Mac, investors, TARP | Leave a comment
Last week I interviewed an investor who buys foreclosed properties and rents them out long-term for solid returns. He claims that’s the only way to right the housing market — get long-term investors to eat up the excess inventory. The biggest roadblock, however, is credit. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac both limit the number of investor mortgages.
Fuse | Getty Images
Multiple sources now tell me that the Administration, specifically over at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, is considering ways to get more investors into the housing market, possibly with the help of Fannie and Freddie. HUD would not confirm that, but Fannie Mae’s chief economist Doug Duncan said it is definitely on the table both at HUD and at Fannie
For full story:
October 28, 2010 in Campaign 2008, Campaign 2010, Campaign 2012, Capitalism, Economy, Family values, Politics, socialism, Uncategorized | Tags: Congressional Oversight Committee, Damon Silvers, Fannie Mae, Foreclosure-gate, foreclosures, Freddie Mac, TARP | Leave a comment
October 21, 2010 in Campaign 2008, Campaign 2010, Campaign 2012, Capitalism, Economy, Family values, Politics, socialism, Uncategorized | Tags: Barney Frank, Boston Globe, Fannie Mae, foreclosures, Freddie Mac, Massachusetts, mortgage bubble, Sean Bielat | Leave a comment
Barney Frank has had to loan his campaign $200K. His opponent has closed the gap in the polls, and Charlie Cook is now calling the race between Frank and Sean Bielat “leaning Democrat” instead of solidly Democrat. So the colorful Congressman has had to go into combat-mode:
Rep. Barney Frank (D.-Mass.) is so freaked out over his boyfriend’s behavior and his own election troubles that he’s attempting to be nice to people, according to a columnist at the very liberal Boston Globe.
When Frank’s boyfriend Jim Ready was caught on tape heckling Frank’s Republican challenger Sean Bielat, Globe columnist Brian McGrory reports he phoned the liberal icon to ask if he condoned Ready’s behavior. (h/t Ace of Spades)
From the Globe report:
When I called Frank yesterday to ask if he condones his partner goading and mocking an opponent, he told me that “Jimmy’’ is a talented amateur photographer putting together a photo essay of the campaign.
When I asked if Frank planned to apologize for Ready’s behavior, Frank said: “Jim should have broken it off and not responded. But Bielat shouldn’t have initiated the conversation. I don’t see what was inappropriate about taking his picture.’’
I’ll mark that down as a no.
A few moments later, my phone rang again. It was Frank, adding, “Jim’s new to political campaigning. He takes it more personally than someone who’s used to it.”
After we hung up, Frank called again, saying, “You know, he calls me dude. I didn’t realize that was troubling people. He calls all sorts of people dude.”
There’s a larger point to all of this. For the last three decades, the political establishments in Boston and Washington have excused Frank’s consistently obnoxious behavior as Barney being Barney. Maybe they’ve done it because he was unique as an openly gay congressman. Maybe it was out of deference for the way he unapologetically and effectively carried the flag for the most liberal of causes. Maybe it was out of fear that he’d train his quick wit and substantial intellect against anyone who happened in his path.
What a difference a year makes.
for the rst of the story and videos:
June 1, 2010 in Campaign 2008, Campaign 2010, Campaign 2012, Capitalism, Economy, Family values, immigration reform, Politics, socialism, Uncategorized | Tags: Bank of America, Barack Obama, foreclosures, Harry Reid, mortgage bubble | 1 comment
Classic case of why Gov. and big business coziness is bad for “we the people.”
Where’s Florida’s ‘outreach center?” Where’s Ohio’s? Obviously Reid scratched BoA’s back and now BoA is scratching Dirty Harry’s back.
““Bank of America made a commitment to me and the people of Nevada that it would start doing more to help struggling homeowners in our state,” said Reid. “While this is one step of many in its commitment, it demonstrates that Bank of America is working in good faith to keep its promise and I appreciate that.”
May 21, 2010 in Campaign 2008, Campaign 2010, Campaign 2012, Capitalism, Economy, Family values, Health care reform, Politics, socialism, Terrorism, Uncategorized | Tags: Bank of America, foreclosures, Greg Baer, Nina Easton, SEIU, TARP | 12 comments
Nina Easton recently found her role as a neighbor and as a journalist merge when 14 busloads of SEIU protesters showed up at the home of a Bank of America official on a Sunday afternoon. Ms. Easton is a neighbor of Greg Baer, and this is her account ( article is here in full):
Every journalist loves a peaceful protest-whether it makes news, shakes up a political season, or holds out the possibility of altering history. Then there are the ones that show up on your curb–literally.
Last Sunday, on a peaceful, sun-crisp afternoon, our toddler finally napping upstairs, my front yard exploded with 500 screaming, placard-waving strangers on a mission to intimidate my neighbor, Greg Baer. Baer is deputy general counsel for corporate law at Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500), a senior executive based in Washington, D.C. And that — in the minds of the organizers at the politically influential Service Employees International Union and a Chicago outfit called National Political Action — makes his family fair game.
Waving signs denouncing bank “greed,” hordes of invaders poured out of 14 school buses, up Baer’s steps, and onto his front porch. As bullhorns rattled with stories of debtor calls and foreclosed homes, Baer’s teenage son Jack — alone in the house — locked himself in the bathroom. “When are they going to leave?” Jack pleaded when I called to check on him.
Baer, on his way home from a Little League game, parked his car around the corner, called the police, and made a quick calculation to leave his younger son behind while he tried to rescue his increasingly distressed teen. He made his way through a din of barked demands and insults from the activists who proudly “outed” him, and slipped through his front door.
“Excuse me,” Baer told his accusers, “I need to get into the house. I have a child who is alone in there and frightened.”
Now this event would accurately be called a “protest” if it were taking place at, say, a bank or the U.S. Capitol. But when hundreds of loud and angry strangers are descending on your family, your children, and your home, a more apt description of this assemblage would be “mob.” Intimidation was the whole point of this exercise, and it worked-even on the police. A trio of officers who belatedly answered our calls confessed a fear that arrests might “incite” these trespassers.
What’s interesting is that SEIU, the nation’s second largest union, craves respectability. Just-retired president Andy Stern is an Obama friend and regular White House visitor. He sits on the President’s Fiscal Responsibility Commission. He hobnobs with those greedy Wall Street CEOs — executives much higher-ranking than my neighbor Baer — at Davos. His union spent $70 million getting Democrats elected in 2008.
In the business community, though, SEIU has a reputation for strong-arm tactics against management, prompting some companies to file suit.
Now those strong-arm tactics, stirred by supposedly free-floating (as opposed to organized) populist rage, have come to the neighborhood curb. Last year it was AIG executives — with protestors met by security guard outside. Now it’s any executive — and they’re on the front stoop. After Baer’s house, the 14 buses left to descend on the nearby residence of Peter Scher, a government relations executive at JPMorgan Chase (JPM, Fortune 500).
Targeting homes and families seems to put SEIU in the ranks of (now jailed) radical animal-rights activists and the Kansas anti-gay fundamentalists harassing the grieving parents of a dead 20-year-old soldier at his funeral (the Supreme Court has agreed to weigh in on the latter). But that’s not a conversation that SEIU officials want to have.
When I asked Stephen Lerner, SEIU’s point-person on Wall Street reform, about these tactics, he accused me of getting “emotional.” Lerner was more comfortable sticking to his talking points: “Millions of people are losing their homes, and they have gone to the banks, which are turning a deaf ear.”
Okay, fine, then why not continue SEIU protests at bank offices and shareholder meetings-as the union has been doing for more than a year? Lerner insists, “People in powerful corporations seem to think they can insulate themselves from the damage they are doing.”
Bank of America officials dispute Lerner’s assertion about the “damage they are doing,” citing the success of workout programs to help distressed homeowners, praise received from community groups, the bank’s support of financial reform legislation, and the little-noticed fact that Bank of America exited the subprime lending business in 2001.
SEIU has said it wants to organize bank tellers and call centers — and its critics point out that a great way to worsen employee morale, thereby making workers more susceptible to union calls, is to batter a bank’s image through protest. (SEIU officials say their anti-Wall Street campaign has nothing to do with their organizing efforts.) Complicating this picture is the fact that BofA is the union’s lender of choice — and SEIU, suffering financially, owes the bank nearly $4 million in interest and fees. Bank of America declined comment on the loans.
But SEIU’s intentions, and BofA’s lender record, are ripe subjects to debate in Congress, on air, at shareholder hearings. Not in Greg Baer’s front yard.
Sunday’s onslaught wasn’t designed for mainstream media consumption. There were no reporters from organizations like the Washington Post, no local camera crews who might have aired criticism of this private-home invasion. With the media covering the conservative Tea Party protesters, the behavior of individual activists has drawn withering scrutiny.
Instead, a friendly Huffington Post blogger showed up, narrowcasting coverage to the union’s leftist base. The rest of the message these protesters brought was personal-aimed at frightening Baer and his family, not influencing a broader public.
Of course, HuffPost readers responding to the coverage assumed that Baer was an evil former Bush official. He’s not. A lifelong Democrat, Baer worked for the Clinton Treasury Department, and his wife, Shirley Sagawa, author of the book The American Way to Change and a former adviser to Hillary Clinton, is a prominent national service advocate.
In the 1990s, the Baers’ former bosses, Bill and Hillary Clinton, denounced the “politics of personal destruction.” Today politicians and their voters of all stripes grieve the ugly bitterness that permeates our policy debates. Now, with populist rage providing a useful cover, it appears we’ve crossed into a new era: The politics of personal intimidation.
May 17, 2010 in Campaign 2008, Campaign 2010, Campaign 2012, Capitalism, Economy, Family values, Politics, socialism, Uncategorized | Tags: Bank of America, foreclosures, Gregor y Baer, NPA, SEIU | 1 comment
“I am hearing repeated anecdotes from multiple areas that foreclosed property held by banks with multiple full-price offers that include a financing requirement are being sold instead to people with actual cash at radical reductions from that price. This implies that these financing contingencies are regarded as not only potentially no good but factually no good, as if the banks know for a fact that the credit pipeline will (not might), within weeks or months (in the time required to close), disappear. There is no other rational explanation for this behavior.”