11-8-11 USA TODAY

Mortgage payments show surprising rise in deliquencies

NEW YORK – While lawmakers in Washington debated the debt ceiling and consumer confidence dropped, more homeowners were having a harder time making their mortgage payments.

The rate at which mortgage holders were late with their payments by 60 days or more rose in the June-to-September period for the first time since the last three months of 2009, according to TransUnion.

The credit reporting agency said 5.88% of homeowners missed two or more payments, an early sign of possible foreclosure. The increase surprised TransUnion researchers, who had expected late payments, or delinquencies, to fall for the quarter.

The problems were widespread. Between the second and third quarters, all but 10 states and the District of Columbia saw delinquency rates increase.

Martin could not pinpoint one particular reason for the jump. Normally, for instance, housing prices and unemployment have a big influence on delinquency.

“Those are both still important, but neither has noticeably deteriorated,” he said. In fact, (Insert: the fraudulent but official ~Dek)unemployment was steady during the summer and the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller index showed small improvements in housing prices in most major cities during July and August.

That leaves wider economic issues having a larger role, Martin said. He pointed to the U.S. credit rating downgrade, the U.S. and European debt crises (Read: mainstream press is finally beginning to call it the US AND European debt crisis as oppose to just an issue with PIIGS nations ~Dek) and the tanking U.S. stock markets during this period. And he noted that two different measures of consumer confidence — the Conference Board and the University of Michigan— both showed those issues hurt consumer attitudes.

That atmosphere “could make folks question paying their mortgage,” he observed, especially if they are under water, that is, they owe more than the house is now worth.

Although TransUnion (Insert: is a slow learner and thus  ~Dek) still expects the delinquency rate to continue to fall in 2012, the company is now forecasting a few quarters of elevated nonpayment rates due to the uncertain economic outlook. The company doesn’t predict a return to the national peak rate of 6.9%, but said some increase is expected.

“More and more homeowners are likely to struggle,” Martin said. “I’m not sure this is a one-quarter blip.”

That echoes predictions from other sources, like RealtyTrac.

This isn’t just about bad loans anymore,” said Blomquist. “It’s about a bad economy that’s pushing people into foreclosure.”

 

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Apr 21, 2011 Bloomberg

U.S. administration officials failed to persuade Standard & Poor’s not to lower its outlook on the U.S. credit rating to “negative” from “stable,” the Washington Post reported, citing two unidentified people familiar with the matter.

Treasury Department officials discussed a possible change in the rating company’s outlook for the U.S. for several weeks before S&P issued its statement April 18, the newspaper said. (Read: The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. board of directors sought personal safety guarantees from the executive branch of the federal government prior to issuing a negative statement on the outlook of the nation’s fiscal health.  ~Dek)

 

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20 April 2011 Bloomberg

While Greek Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou said on April 16 that his nation has no plans to restructure its debt and French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde also ruled out a restructuring yesterday,(Read: Greek debt will be restructured ~Dek) German officials have openly discussed the possibility. Greece will probably have to restructure its debt, and bond buybacks are a possible solution,(Read: can-kick ~Dek) Lars Feld, a member of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s council of economic advisers, told Deutschlandfunk radio today.

Greece paid 4.1 percent to sell 13-week Treasury bills yesterday, as its two-year yields rose above 20 percent to a euro-era record. (Read: To fund a 20% interest rate, annual tax receipts would have to grow at a 20% annual rate. Obviously this, is NOT going to happen. Hence, default debt restructuring is already guaranteed  ~Dek)

 

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Apr 16, 2011  Bloomberg

The University of Texas Investment Management Co., the second-largest U.S. academic endowment, took delivery of almost $1 billion in gold bullion and is storing the bars in a New York vault, according to the fund’s board. The holdings are worth about $987 million, based on yesterday’s closing price of $1,486 an ounce for Comex futures.

“Central banks are printing more money than they ever have, so what’s the value of money in terms of purchases of goods and services,” Bass said yesterday in a telephone interview. “I look at gold as just another currency that they can’t print any more of.”

Gold reached an all-time ( record ) high of $1,489.10 an ounce yesterday in New York as sovereign debt concerns boosted demand for the metal as a store of value. Gold has climbed 28 percent in the past year on Comex.

(Read: Displaying a lack of faith, not only of Federal Reserve Notes but of the entire commodity market clearing mechanism in general. The second largest U.S. academic endowment chose to take physical delivery of more than 6600 one-hundred-ounce gold bars and pay a MONTHLY storage fee of about $82,000. In the words of J. Kyle Bass the famous Dallas hedge-fund manager who advised the University of Texas Investment Management Co. on the deal.  “Open interest in gold futures and options traded on the Comex typically exceeds supplies held in its warehouses. If the holders of just 5 percent of those contracts opted to take delivery of the metal, there wouldn’t be enough to cover the demand~Dek)

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Apr 12, 2011 Reuters


Operators are pouring money into high-tech security measures they hope will prevent the theft of the metal after its price has more than tripled since early 2008 to over $9,000 per tonne. “The number of thefts is directly correlated,” Fiumara said. “It hits railway infrastructure heavily, and it’s gotten much worse of late.”

Copper thieves strike usually at night, targeting cables, signal boxes and dynamos at the heart of a railway’s communication system. Last year, theft of copper wire around Europe caused well over 10,000 hours of train delays and tens of millions of euros in damages, five rail operators told Reuters. By the time a network operator discovers the problem, often late the next morning, time has already been lost. Even hasty repairs bring slowdowns that reverberate across a network.

SNCF officials declined to provide a delay forecast for 2011 but said police had recorded some 50 copper-stealing events per week since the start of the year — triple the rate of 2009.

The outlook is no brighter in Britain, where National Rail predicts that copper thievery will cause some 500,000 minutes of delays this year in addition to millions of pounds in damages. “It’s a massive, massive problem for us,” a spokeswoman said. “Those delays are people not getting to business meetings, businesses losing customers, disruptions to an essential service that the country relies on.”

Last year such incidents caused nearly 45,000 minutes of delays across Italy, and 10,000 minutes of theft-related delays have already been recorded in 2011, the operator told Reuters.

Belgium was hit hard with 48,000 minutes, while a spokesman for Spain’s Adif state rail infrastructure firm admitted copper theft was a real problem but provided no data.

France promising to spend 40 million euros over the next 18 months to fight theft on several fronts, from surveillance and prevention to funding for research into anti-theft technology.

In March some 50 helicopters from the Gendarmerie, or national police, started sweeps over thousands of kilometres of exposed track using infra-red vision to spot warm-blooded thieves. Another option is trying to use cheaper alternatives such as aluminium, zinc or optic fibres — reflecting a trend among industrial users after copper for three-month delivery breached $10,000 per tonne in February.

But, once the effects of decline become apparent, we will lose much of what we might call the operational fabric of our civilization. The operational fabric comprises the given conditions at any time that support system wide functionality. This includes functioning markets, financing, monetary stability, operational supply-chains, transport, digital infrastructure, command & control, health service, institutions of trust, and sociopolitical stability. It is what we casually assume does and will exist, and which provides the structural foundation for any project we wish to develop.   ~David Korowicz

April 4, 2011 ABC NEWS

LUXORA, AR – Like many rural counties across the country and here in Arkansas copper theft is becoming a large problem once again. Mississippi County Sheriff Dale Cook says he is utilizing all his assets and stepping up efforts to make arrests.

Sheriff Cook says the primary targets are the center pivot irrigation systems as well as abandoned or empty houses. They are being stripped of copper wire and copper piping. Other targets include copper radiators off irrigation pumps and aluminum tubing off irrigation systems.

Cook says, “What they are stealing and destroying is a lot less than what it costs the farmers and insurance companies to replace on these wells.”

“Drugs” Cook says, “Are a big part of why these thefts are getting so prevalent again; that and the rising value of copper.” (Read: The debasement of the U.S. Dollar ~Dek)

 

Apr 04, 2011 St Petersburg Times

In the past week, Florida’s average price increased 9 cents to more than $3.67, according to AAA. The national average price of unleaded regular gasoline is $3.64 per gallon.

 

Money only has value because it can be exchanged for a real asset such as food, clothing, or a train journey. As long as we share the confidence in monetary stability we can save, trade and invest. Like bonds and shares, it is a virtual asset, as it represents only a claim on something physically useful. However, the current valuation of virtual assets towers over real productive assets on which their value is supposed to be based. A bond is valuable because we expect to be paid back with interest some years hence; paying twenty times earnings for shares in a company is a measure of confidence in the future growth of that company. The output of real productive assets must collapse because of energy and resource constraints and the failing operational fabric. The implication is that virtual wealth including pension funds, insurance collateral, and debt will become worthless.

The acknowledgment by market participants that peak oil is upon us, coupled with an understanding of the consequences is likely to permanently crash the global financial system. That is, the behavior of the market is based on a combination of (a) fundamental physical constraints, such as rising loan defaults induced by the current economic crisis, (b) energy and food price inflation, and (c) interactions of (a) and (b) with the hopes and fears of market participants, particularly their faith in the overall stability and continued growth of the system. The transition from a few market participants accepting the idea that peak oil is a major constraint, and large-scale acceptance can be very rapid, though the onset of the fast transition can be difficult to predict. Tipping Point by David Korowicz

 

 

 

March 30, 2011 The Philadelphia Jewish Voice

CENK UYGUR: Joining me now is former Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson to answer some of those questions. That conflict of interest blows me away. He’s got a company making millions of dollars from drug tests and he’s pushing the drug tests all over Florida? I mean, should they investigate that? What should they do about that?

ALAN GRAYSON: Well, look, he spent $70 million to buy the office of governor in Florida. He wants a return on his money. He promised us that he would run state government like a business. What we didn’t realize is he was going to run it like HIS business, like it’s all his. And that’s exactly what he has been doing. It’s not only what you said. In addition to that, he wants to cut all state funding for health care clinics. There are 4 million people in Florida who can’t afford to see a doctor when they’re sick. They have to go to health care clinics. He’s going to shut them all down so that they will be forced to go to Rick Scott’s clinics.

CENK UYGU: So final question for you. What can the people of Florida do about this? Now that they realize the scam he ran on them and you’ve seen they don’t like him anymore, and they’re like, whoa, I didn’t know he would funnel all this business to his own companies, now run by his wife, what can they do about it?

ALAN GRAYSON: Look, it’s a fundamental problem. The government is being run by a corrupt clique called the Republican Party of Florida. The last person in charge of the Republican Party of Florida was led away in chains and has been indicted. It’s as if the state has been taken over by the mafia, that’s how bad the Republican Party of Florida is. Unfortunately the governor himself appoints five of the nine members of the Florida’s Ethics Commission. So you can be sure that all those republicans are going to do nothing about this. The only recourse we may have in the end is to storm the Bastille.

 

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Mar 23, 2011 Bloomberg

Purchases of new U.S. homes unexpectedly declined in February to the slowest pace on record and prices dropped to the lowest level since December 2003, adding to evidence the industry is floundering.  The median price fell 8.9 percent from the same month in 2010.

Previously owned home purchases dropped 9.6 percent in February, figures from the National Association of Realtors showed two days ago. The median home price fell to a 9-year-low, while the supply of unsold properties rose.

The number of homes in foreclosure rose to a record 2.2 million in January, according to Lender Processing Services Inc. in Jacksonville, Florida. About 23 percent of homeowners with mortgages had negative equity in the fourth quarter, meaning their home-loan balances were higher than the value of their properties, CoreLogic Inc., a research company in Santa Ana,California, said in a March 8 report.

 

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3-21-11 Associated Press

The toll of Japan‘s triple disaster came into clearer focus Monday after police estimates showed more than 18,000 people died in the quake and tsunami, and the World Bank said rebuilding may cost $235 billion.

The safety of food and water was of particular concern. The government halted shipments of spinach from one area and raw milk from another near the nuclear plant after tests found iodine exceeded safety limits. But the contamination spread to spinach in three other prefectures and to more vegetables — canola and chrysanthemum greens. Tokyo’s tap water, where iodine turned up Friday, now has cesium. Rain and dust are also tainted.

 

1-21-11 Guardian UK

The price of some Japanese-made memory chips have risen 20% because of disruption to production lines, while car plants in Asia face shortages of auto parts. “Disruption to production networks, especially in automotive and electronics industries, could continue to pose problems,” the World Bank said. “Japan is a major producer of parts, components and capital goods which supply east Asia’s production chains.”

 

Mar 21, 2011 4:19 AM ET Bloomberg
Asian Stores, Restaurants Drop Japanese Food Imports After Radiation Found
Mandarin Oriental International Ltd. (MAND) joined Shangri-La Asia Ltd. (69) in withdrawing Japanese fresh food from its kitchens. Lotte Shopping Co., South Korea’s biggest retailer, plans to halt sales of some fish from Japan starting tomorrow, Nah Geun Tae, a company spokesman, said by phone today. Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. (293), Hong Kong’s biggest carrier. Marriott International Inc.’s JW Marriott Hotel in Hong Kong has stopped ordering food from Japan, said spokeswoman Fiona Szeto.

City’super, a Hong Kong supermarket chain, isn’t buying food from Fukushima prefecture. Some of Hilton Worldwide Inc.’s hotels in Asia have stopped buying fresh or raw food from Japan. Six prefectures most heavily affected by the March 11 magnitude-9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami accounted for 28 percent of Japan’s 8.48 million tons of rice production in 2010, according to the agricultural ministry figures. Fukushima prefecture accounted for five percent. Japan exported 200,000 metric tons of rice for the year ended October 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

 

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March 1, 2011  ASSOCIATED PRESS

Egyptian stock market officials say they have delayed the reopening of the exchange (again) that has been shuttered for over a month because of the unrest that led to Hosni Mubarak’s ouster.

Trading on the Egyptian Exchange had been slated to resume on Tuesday but a statement sent overnight by the exchange said it would remain closed until March 6.

The exchange says the delay was to “allow investors to profit from the government’s support to guarantee stability in the bourse.” (Read: Market exchanges are only allowed to RISE into perpetuity. If a stock market ever drops it will be immediately closed to prevent investors from accessing their money. This closure allows investors to continue to profit from the fantasy that their investment has not dropped in value. ~Dek)

The market’s benchmark stock index fell almost 17 percent in two consecutive trading session before the market closed on Jan. 27.

Investors and officials have been worried that the unrest in Egypt and the broader Arab world could trigger a massive sell-off once trading resumes.

 

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