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Personal Finance News 08/2009

European Banks Get More Confident (BusinessWeek)
BusinessWeek - Banks in the euro area have relaxed restrictions on borrowers from companies and households, while demand for home loans has surged for the first time since early 2006, a fresh survey by the European Central Bank has found.

Gov't counting on public shame to help loan effort (AP)
AP - The Obama administration wants to shame the mortgage industry into doing a better job of helping borrowers avoid losing their homes to foreclosure.

GMAC net loss widens to $3.9 billion (Reuters)
Reuters - Auto and mortgage lender GMAC Financial Services said on Tuesday its quarterly net loss widened to $3.9 billion in the second quarter, from $2.5 billion a year ago, reflecting charges related to the company's incorporation and mortgage losses.

2 big banks lag in mortgage aid program (AP)
AP - Both Bank of America and Wells Fargo got low marks in the first monthly report card on the Obama administration's plan to stem the foreclosure crisis.

GMAC Financial posts wider 2Q loss of $3.9 billion (AP)
AP - GMAC Inc., said Tuesday it posted a wider second-quarter loss of $3.9 billion as it shifted from being primarily an auto and mortgage loan company to an online, retail bank.

Global automakers beat forecasts, stay cautious (Reuters)
Reuters - Leading global automakers reported forecast-beating quarterly results on Tuesday, but continued to give cautious outlooks for the industry, which remains hard hit by weak demand and a lack of consumer credit.

Wall Street edges up on home sales data (Reuters)
Reuters - Stocks edged higher on Tuesday as better-than-expected data on home sales underpinned signs of an economic recovery, but the gains were capped as investors took profits in shares that propelled the recent rally.

Fla.-based mortgage company suspended (AP)
AP - A prominent U.S. mortgage company is being investigated by the Housing and Urban Development Department after allegedly failing to submit a required financial report, raising concerns of fraud.

Citi plans to sell 20 consumer finance businesses: report (Reuters)
Reuters - Citigroup plans to sell 20 businesses in consumer finance area, many of them located in Europe, its CEO Vikram Pandit said in an interview with Singapore's Business Times.

British home prices rise in July: survey (AFP)
AFP - British home prices rose by 1.1 percent in July from the level the previous month, but fell over 12 months, a survey from home-loans provider Halifax showed on Wednesday.

Mortgage demand boosted by refinancing as rates drop (Reuters)
Reuters - Demand for U.S. home loans rose last week as a decline in 30-year fixed mortgage rates to a three-week low boosted applications for refinancing, the Mortgage Bankers Association said on Wednesday.

Tips for borrowers dealing with loan servicers (AP)
AP - Having trouble paying your mortgage? To find out if you qualify for a loan modification, you'll have to work with a loan servicer — the company that collects your mortgage payments.

Summary box: Servicers facing hundreds of lawsuits (AP)
AP - WHO'S ACCUSED OF WHAT? Loan servicers are middlemen who collect mortgage payments from homeowners and pass them to banks and other investors. An Associated Press investigation found thousands of lawsuits accusing servicers of charging illegal fees, foreclosing prematurely and otherwise preying on homeowners they're supposed to help.

Fannie, Freddie regulator to step aside (Reuters)
Reuters - James Lockhart, the U.S. regulator who nationalized Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, will soon resign after more than three years as overseer for the mortgage finance companies, an administration official said on Wednesday.

The servicers in gov't loan-modification plan (AP)
AP - A look at the loan servicers in Treasury's mortgage-modification program, the taxpayer money they could receive and the percentage of eligible loans they've offered to modify so far. The servicers will keep some of Treasury's money and will pass some of it on to investors and homeowners. (Modification figures are not available for some servicers because they joined the program too recently.)

AP IMPACT: Gov't mortgage partners sued for abuses (AP)
AP - Billions of dollars the government is spending to help financially pressed homeowners avert foreclosure are passing through — and enriching — companies accused of preying on the people they're supposed to help, an Associated Press investigation has found.

Housing agency chief Lockhart to step down (AP)
AP - The head of the federal agency that regulates mortgage finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is planning to step down by the end of the month.

White House views splitting Fannie, Freddie assets (Reuters)
Reuters - U.S. officials are considering a plan to isolate failing assets held by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac , The Washington Post reported on Wednesday, while an administration official said such an idea was in the early stages of development.

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac could be split: report (AFP)
AFP - The US government could split troubled state-backed mortgage firms Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and place the firms' toxic assets in a federal corporation, The Washington Post reported.

FHFA names interim replacement for Lockhart (AP)
AP - The federal agency that regulates Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac named Thursday an interim replacement for its director, who is stepping down at the end of the month.

Mortgage rates dip this week (AP)
AP - Rates on 30-year mortgages dipped this week after economic reports came in better than expected, Freddie Mac said Thursday.

Demand rises for gov't consumer credit program (AP)
AP - Investors' appetite picked up this month for a government program aimed at spurring lending to consumers and small businesses at lower rates.

Fannie Mae draws on U.S. support after $14.8 billion loss (Reuters)
Reuters - Fannie Mae, the largest provider of U.S. home mortgage funding, on Thursday reported a $14.8 billion quarterly net loss that it said would force it to go to the U.S. Treasury trough a third time for money to stay in business.

Fannie Mae seeks $10.7B in US aid after 2Q loss (AP)
AP - Fannie Mae plans to tap $11 billion in new government aid after posting another massive quarterly loss as the taxpayer bill from the housing market bust keeps growing.

House Democrat received Countrywide loans: report (Reuters)
Reuters - A leading Democrat in the House of Representatives who has rebuffed Republican efforts to subpoena records of a mortgage program for favored borrowers at Countrywide Financial Corp got home loans from that lender, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.

Colonial BancGroup faces criminal probe, FDIC action (Reuters)
Reuters - Colonial BancGroup Inc said it faces a criminal probe by the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) related to accounting irregularities at its mortgage lending unit, and the struggling lender warned it may be put under receivership.

Colonial BancGroup faces federal investigation (AP)
AP - Colonial BancGroup said Friday it is under criminal investigation by the Department of Justice over alleged accounting irregularities at its mortgage warehouse lending unit.

Consumers cut debt for 5th straight month (AP)
AP - Consumers paid down their credit cards and cut other debt in June for the fifth straight month as they rebuild savings battered by the recession.

Freddie Mac swings to profit, after steep losses (AFP)
AFP - US mortgage finance giant Freddie Mac announced Friday it swung to a profit of 768 million dollars in the second quarter, after a 9.9 billion dollar loss in the previous quarter.

Freddie Mac reports first profit in two years (Reuters)
Reuters - Freddie Mac, the second largest provider of U.S. home mortgage funding, on Friday posted its first quarterly profit in two years as gains from hedges and a one-time accounting change offset still-lofty credit losses.

First Horizon's performance earns it a downgrade (AP)
AP - First Horizon National Corp.'s aggressive handling of its bad mortgage and construction loans earned the bank praise, but it's stock got a downgrade Monday.

High-profile Calif. real estate agent acquitted (AP)
AP - A high-profile Beverly Hills real estate agent has been acquitted of participating in a massive mortgage fraud scheme that caused federally insured banks to lose more than $40 million.

Norwegian towns sue Citigroup over subprime loss (AFP)
AFP - Seven Norwegian towns, some clustered around the Arctic Circle, have sued US banking giant Citigroup for more than 200 million dollars of losses plus damages linked to the sub-prime mortgage crisis, their lawyer said Tuesday.

Bankruptcy seen "imminent" for lender Taylor Bean (Reuters)
Reuters - Lawyers for Taylor, Bean & Whitaker Mortgage Corp, the 12th-largest U.S. mortgage lender, said in court papers last week that a "bankruptcy filing is imminent" for the lender after it was forced to shut down mortgage lending operations.

Mortgage applications drop as loan rates rise (Reuters)
Reuters - U.S. mortgage applications fell last week, reflecting a drop in demand for home refinancing loans as interest rates soared to their highest levels since June, data from an industry group showed on Wednesday.

Clarification: Mortgage fraud story (AP)
AP - In the first paragraph of an Aug. 10 story about a mortgage fraud trial, The Associated Press reported that real estate agent Joseph Babajian was acquitted in the scheme, while two others were found guilty. The paragraph should have noted that Babajian was acquitted only of several charges.

U.S. home foreclosures set another record in July (Reuters)
Reuters - U.S. home loans failed at a record pace in July despite ongoing federal and state programs to avoid foreclosures, which have severely strained housing and the economy.

Arison family plans to sell some Carnival shares (AP)
AP - Cruise operator Carnival Corp. said Thursday that some Arison family members and related entities plan to sell up to 8.5 million common shares for tax planning, estate planning and diversification purposes.

U.S. mortgage rates rise, may curb demand: survey (Reuters)
Reuters - U.S. mortgage rates rose in the latest week as Treasury yields climbed, according to a survey released on Thursday, a move that may dampen home loan demand.

Ginnie Mae top exec leaving for private sector job (AP)
AP - The head of the government agency that packages federally backed mortgages into investments is stepping down for a new job, people familiar with his plans said.

Visteon seeks to end retiree benefits (AP)
AP - Auto parts supplier Visteon Corp. is asking a Delaware bankruptcy judge for permission to terminate retiree health care and life insurance benefits for thousands of current and former workers.

U.S. says ex-Credit Suisse broker in bait-and-switch (Reuters)
Reuters - A former Credit Suisse Group AG broker used bait-and-switch tactics in fraudulently steering corporate clients into risky mortgage investments they did not want, federal prosecutors said on Friday.

Visteon judge mulls retiree benefits (AP)
AP - A Delaware bankruptcy judge is weighing whether auto parts supplier Visteon Corp. can cut off retiree health care and life insurance benefits for thousands of current and former workers.

Auto suppliers under bankruptcy protection (AP)
AP - Auto parts supplier Visteon Corp. has asked a Delaware bankruptcy judge for permission to cut health and life insurance benefits for thousands of current and former workers.

STORY REMOVED: TransUnion-Mortgage Delinquencies (AP)
AP - The Associated Press has withdrawn its story about mortgage delinquencies in the fourth quarter of 2008. The story contained dated information. A corrected story will be sent shortly.

Mortgage deliquency rate hits all time high in 2Q (AP)
AP - The delinquency rate on U.S. mortgage loans hit an all-time high in the second quarter, but the pace of growth for the rate slowed, a possible sign the mortgage crisis may be beginning to turn the corner.

Fed survey: bank lending tight through mid-2010 (AP)
AP - The Federal Reserve said Monday most banks expect their lending to remain tight through the second half of next year, with the exception of mortgage standards, which already are loosening a bit.

Huntington Preferred Capital declares dividend (AP)
AP - Huntington Preferred Capital Inc., which buys and manages mortgage assets, said Monday its board declared a regular quarterly dividend of 49 cents per share of its Class C preferred stock.

Summary Box: Fed extends lending program (AP)
AP - WHAT HAPPENED?: The Federal Reserve said it's extending a program that was due to end Dec. 31. The major part of the program, aimed at boosting consumer and business lending, will now run through March 31. Another part that supports new loans for commercial mortgage-backed securities will be extended through June.

U.S. housing starts, permits fall in July (Reuters)
Reuters - New U.S. housing starts and permits unexpectedly fell in July, pulled down by steeper declines in multifamily units, a government report showed on Tuesday.

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