FEDERAL RESERVE PLANS TO BUY $40 BILLION IN MORTGAGE SECURITIES A MONTH
The Federal Reserve said today that it will expand its holdings of long-term securities with open-ended purchases of $40 billion of mortgage debt a month in a bid to boost growth and reduce unemployment, Bloomberg News reported today. "If the outlook for the labor market does not improve substantially, the committee will continue its purchases of agency mortgage-backed securities, undertake additional asset purchases and employ its other policy tools as appropriate," the Federal Open Market Committee said today. The FOMC said it would likely hold the federal funds rate near zero "at least through mid-2015." Since January, the Fed had said that the rate was likely to stay low at least through late 2014. The Fed also said it will continue its program to swap $667 billion of short-term debt with longer-term securities to lengthen the average maturity of its holdings, an action dubbed “Operation Twist.” The central bank will also continue reinvesting its portfolio of maturing housing debt into agency mortgage-backed securities. Read more.
FORECLOSURE STARTS FELL ON ANNUAL BASIS IN AUGUST
Foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac Inc. said that fewer homes were placed on the foreclosure track last month than in August last year, when they hit a 17-year high, the Associated Press reported yesterday. More than 99,400 homes entered the foreclosure process in August 2012, up 1 percent from July but down 13 percent from August last year, RealtyTrac said. At the same time, foreclosure starts increased almost exclusively in judicial states like Florida and New York, where the courts must sign off on foreclosures, the firm said. Conversely, in many non-judicial states like California and Arizona, the number of foreclosure starts declined versus August last year. Read more.
ANALYSIS: INVESTMENT FIRMS FLOCK TO FORECLOSURE AUCTIONS
The business of buying foreclosed homes, renovating and renting them out is morphing from a largely mom-and-pop business into the next big thing on Wall Street, according to a report in yesterday's Wall Street Journal. Investors who once chased only big-ticket deals now are buying houses one at a time. According to investment bank Jefferies & Co., major financial firms led by Colony Capital LLC, Blackstone Group LP, Och-Ziff Capital Management and Oaktree Capital Group LLC have raised more than $8 billion to buy houses, largely in markets pummeled by the housing crisis. At first, many investors hoped lenders would sell foreclosed houses in bulk. But most banks prefer to sell one house at a time, figuring that approach will fetch higher prices. As a result, the foreclosure circuit has not yet produced a giant windfall for buyers like Colony, though executives say early returns are promising. Yields on rents from houses owned by the firm are 7 to 8 percent, higher than many other types of real estate. Purchase prices have averaged 12 percent less than Colony expected, which should make it easier to sell the homes or borrow against them and exit with double-digit percentage gains. Read more. (Subscription required.)
REPORT: FINANCIAL CRISIS, RECESSION COST U.S. $12.8 TRILLION
The financial crisis and the Great Recession have taken a heavy toll on the U.S., and now public interest group Better Markets, which supports tougher financial regulations, said that it has calculated that cost to be at least $12.8 trillion, the Los Angeles Times reported today. The report tries to calculate the effect of the crisis and the recession in terms of reduced economic output and the costs of stabilizing the markets and bailing out banks and large financial firms. The estimate builds off previous calculations, including one by economists Alan S. Blinder and Mark Zandi. Blinder and Zandi released a report in 2010 estimating the total budgetary cost of the financial crisis to be $2.35 trillion. Better Markets used that amount as a jumping-off point for what it said was a conservative estimate of the true costs of the crisis. The group estimated that the loss in gross domestic product from 2008 to 2018 will be $7.6 trillion. Then they used the estimates of Blinder and Zandi to add an additional figure: an estimate of how much GDP loss was avoided by government bailouts and other interventions. That figure was $5.2 trillion from 2008 to 2012. Read more.
COMMENTARY: WHY MARKETS NEED "NAKED" CREDIT DEFAULT SWAPS
Many regulators, politicians and academics are recommending a ban on "naked" credit default swap (CDS) purchases, but the premise that only sovereign-debt holders suffer when a country defaults is false, according to a commentary in the Wall Street Journal yesterday. Many other agents are adversely affected by a default, and they should be allowed to purchase sovereign CDS, according to the commentary. A 2006 Bank of England study found that the output losses for 45 sovereign debt defaults between 1970 and 2000 "appear to be very large—around 7 percent a year on the median measure—as well as long lasting." The haircut taken by investors after sovereign defaults ranges from 20-70 percent. But many bystanders in the sovereign-default drama also suffer significant losses of wealth and livelihood. Domestic importers and foreign exporters suffer when the default is accompanied by a devaluation. Financial institutions and holders of domestic corporate debt suffer as their asset values fall. Domestic companies suffer as their credit risk increases, with smaller businesses being especially harmed as banks reduce loan availability. Read the full commentary. (Subscription required.)
REPORT: HOUSEHOLD INCOME SINKS TO 1995 LEVEL
A report from the Census Bureau yesterday said that annual household income fell in 2011 for the fourth straight year to an inflation-adjusted $50,054, an amount last approached in 1995, the Wall Street Journal reported today. Median annual household income—the figure at which half are above and half below—now stands 8.9 percent below its all-time peak of $54,932 in 1999, at the end of the 1990s economic expansion. Other measures of well-being in the report were more positive. The poverty rate, which had risen in the past four years, held steady in 2011, and the number and share of people without health insurance fell. The shift in health coverage is in large part due to more Americans getting covered by government programs, such as Medicare. Read more. (Subscription required.)
ABI MEMBERS WELCOME TO ATTEND ACB'S FREE HALF-DAY "BANKRUPTCY: BACK TO THE FUTURE" PROGRAM IN SEPTEMBER
The American College of Bankruptcy invites you to attend a free half-day program on Sept. 28 in Chicago for a discussion of many of the challenging topics facing current bankruptcy and reorganization professionals. Topics to be addressed include recent decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court and Court of Appeals, important work of the Advisory Committee on Bankruptcy Rules, and developments in the field of bankruptcy ethics. The nation’s leading judges, academics and bankruptcy professionals are among the speakers for the program. While there is no cost to attend, seating is limited, so early reservation is suggested. For more information and to register, please click here.
LATEST CASE SUMMARY ON VOLO: LEFKOWITZ V. MICHIGAN TRUCKING LLC (IN RE GAINEY CORP.; 6TH CIR.)
Summarized by Omid Moezzi from the Office of Nancy Curry, Chapter 13 Trustee
The Sixth Circuit affirmed the bankruptcy court's ruling for an order dismissing the appellant's (the liquidation trustee) adversary complaint for failure to state a claim for relief pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).
There are more than 600 appellate opinions summarized on Volo, and summaries typically appear within 24 hours of the ruling. Click here regularly to view the latest case summaries on ABI’s Volo website.
NEW ON ABI’S BANKRUPTCY BLOG EXCHANGE: WHOSE FAULT IS IT THAT PONZI SCHEMES THRIVE?
The Bankruptcy Blog Exchange is a free ABI service that tracks 35 bankruptcy-related blogs. A recent blog post examines how defrauded investors are increasingly directing their blame at the SEC for failing to detect ponzi schemes.
Be sure to check the site several times each day; any time a contributing blog posts a new story, a link to the story will appear on the top. If you have a blog that deals with bankruptcy, or know of a good blog that should be part of the Bankruptcy Exchange, please contact the ABI Web team.
ABI Quick Poll
Bankruptcy courts should have unfettered discretion in adjusting fee applications, even when no party-in-interest has raised objections.
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