Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Thursday December 6 Housing and Economic stories

Germany Can’t Stomach Forgiving Greece on Debt - ( German objections to suffering losses on official loans to Greece have forced the euro zone to explore more complex means of helping Athens cope with its debt mountain. After almost 10 hours of intense talks on Tuesday night, euro zone finance ministers failed to agree on how fast to cut Greece’s debt pile. They called a further meeting next week to settle differences and release 44 billion euros of long-overdue aid. The main stumbling block was Berlin’s refusal to back “illegal” cuts to the interest rates on bilateral loans to Greece or return the profits from the European Central Bank’s purchases of Greek bonds, said people involved in the talks.

Argentina Is Accusing the US of 'Judicial Colonialism' - ( Argentina will appeal a U.S federal court ruling ordering it to pay $1.33 billion to holdout bond investors, the government said on Thursday, vowing to fight "judicial colonialism" all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary. The stakes in the years-long legal battle were raised when New York federal judge Thomas Griesa on Wednesday ordered Argentina to immediately pay bondholders who shunned two exchanges of defaulted debt in 2005 and 2010. As financial markets fretted about a possible new default ahead for the South American county, Economy Minister Hernan Lorenzino said the government will take the judge's ruling to the U.S. Second Circuit Appeals Court on Monday.

Realtors press for bogus appraisals - ( When Cris Robinson put her Rancho Santa Margarita townhouse on the market earlier this year, she noticed that the only nearby homes selling were foreclosures and short sales. "There wasn't a single standard sale to (compare) me with," said Robinson, an equity seller. Robinson said a buyer offered to pay $317,000, but the appraisal came in at $310,000 – the price at which another home in the neighborhood recently sold. That townhouse was the same model, Robinson said, but it was distressed and needed work. By contrast, her own place had thousands of dollars in custom upgrades, including travertine floors. A homeowner looking askance at an appraisal is nothing new. But many Realtors also complain that lowball appraisals are hurting home sales. The National Association of Realtors says a recent survey indicated that in some cases appraisals are lagging behind the recovering housing market. Appraisers aren't always familiar with neighborhoods, and some use foreclosures and short sales as comparable sales without adjusting for them.

100 million in compensation: no performance metrics required - (  SHAREHOLDERS get little say on executive pay. Yes, they can get angry. But they can rarely get even. One big investor, the Louisiana Municipal Police Employees’ Retirement System, wants to change that. Its target is the Simon Property Group of Indianapolis. Last year, that company granted its chief executive, David Simon, a stock award worth $120 million. The folks down in Baton Rouge aren’t very happy about that. The Louisiana pension fund argues that Mr. Simon’s award should have been put to a shareholder vote, and it has sued Simon Property’s board. The suit raises questions not only about Simon Property but also about the New York Stock Exchange, where Simon’s shares are traded. The Big Board has rules that are supposed to protect shareholders from questionable pay practices.

Time share resale scam uncovered - (  Seven Las Vegas residents were arrested by federal authorities this week on charges of wire fraud and money laundering stemming from a fraudulent timeshare resale scheme. The seven, plus one Los Angeles-based co-conspirator, are accused of soliciting advanced payments from victims in exchange for promising to provide willing buyers for timeshare properties or points, according to a statement from the United States Attorney’s Office. Instead of following through, the conspirators, acting as the Jariv Companies, simply kept the payments, pocketing more than $6 million between Feb. 1, 2011, and Jan. 31, 2012.

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