Homework Regulators Aren’t Doing - (www.nytimes.com) “ONE too many times, this court has been witness to the shoddy practices and sloppy accountings of the mortgage service industry. With each revelation, one hopes that the bottom of the barrel has been reached and that the industry will self-correct. Sadly, this does not appear to be reality.” This trenchant take comes courtesy of Elizabeth W. Magner, a bankruptcy court judge in the Eastern District of Louisiana. In an April 7 opinion involving a couple whose bank tried to foreclose on them even though they were current on their mortgage, you can sense Ms. Magner’s frustration with financial institutions that administer home loan payments and records. Ms. Magner is just one of many judges overseeing cases involving troubled borrowers, of course. But because her judicial duties seem to have made her an expert on mortgage servicing, Ms. Magner’s views could not be more timely and important. This is especially true, given that state attorneys general seem intent on striking a settlement with servicers before they have conducted a comprehensive and thorough examination of industry practices. By presiding over a variety of cases involving borrower abuse, Ms. Magner has probably done more investigating than some of the attorneys general who are so eager to cut a deal with the banks.
The True Finns Stun The World With Gigantic Success In The Finnish Election - (www.businessinsider.com) Official results aren't settled, but the early vote suggests a massive victory for the True Finns in the Finnish election. It's not clear yet whether they will be the single largest party. You can follow the results here. At the moment, while they have the most share of the vote, the National Coalition Party has the most seats. The True Finns -- as their name suggests -- are the Finnish nationalist party lead by Timo Soini. They are anti-bailouts and anti-immigration. For a really good overview of what the True Finns believe, and what they mean to Europe, see this profile in the Telegraph. This quote from one candidate -- a professor running in this election -- encapsulates it all "Here in the Nordic nations we draw a line between the decent, hard-working countries of the north, and the easy-going, relaxed southern states." It appears the party will be in coalition talks with the other Finnish parties, the result of which is sure to throw a wrench in the Portuguese bailouts.
'Fracking' for natural gas also splits towns and families - (www.usatoday.com) Ron Hilliard came back from church one Sunday to find hundreds of plastic $5, $10, $20 and $100 bills hanging on his fence in Flower Mound, Texas — Ron Hilliard came back from church one Sunday to find hundreds of plastic $5, $10, $20 and $100 bills hanging on his fence in Flower Mound, Texas — another message from townsfolk angry at him for signing a lucrative natural gas drilling lease on his suburban Dallas property. Across the country, in Damascus, Pa., drilling advocate Marian Schweighofer awoke one morning to the word “LORAX” — from the Dr. Seuss book about environmental destruction — spray-painted on the road near her family’s 712-acre farm. Hilliard and Schweighofer are both living with the rancor erupting in communities nationwide over the volatile issue of producing gas by hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
Gas at $4 in nation's capital, 5 states; NY next - (finance.yahoo.com) Drivers in Washington, D.C., on Saturday joined motorists in five states who are paying more than $4 per gallon for gasoline. The average price for gas in New York could top $4 by early next week. Hawaii, Alaska, California, Illinois and Connecticut already have pump prices above that mark, according to AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge. Hawaii has the highest price in the U.S. at $4.47 per gallon. The national average for gas has increased for 25 straight days, and is now $3.82 per gallon. Retail surveys suggest motorists are reacting to higher prices now by buying less fuel. Still, the government expects pump prices to keep climbing this summer as vacationers take to the highways.
World finance chiefs chastise U.S. on budget gap - (www.reuters.com) World finance leaders on Saturday chastised the United States for not doing enough to shrink its massive overspending and warned that budget strains in rich nations threaten the global recovery. Finance ministers in Washington for semi-annual talks took sharper aim than in previous years at the United States' $14 trillion debt. While most of the criticism came from emerging market economies, some advanced nations joined the chorus. Dutch Finance Minister Jan Kees de Jager warned that if the United States and other advanced nations move too slowly it could undermine confidence in the global economy. "Insufficient budgetary consolidation may spark off further escalation of debt sustainability issues, with repercussions on confidence and the still fragile financial sector," de Jager told the International Monetary Fund's steering committee. "Debt dynamics in other advanced economies, including the United States, are of concern." The IMF this week said the U.S. budget deficit was on course to hit 10.8 percent of nation's economic output this year, tying with Ireland for the highest deficit-to-GDP ratio among advanced economies. It urged Washington to move quickly to put a credible plan in place to tighten its belt.