Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Wednesday December 19 Housing and Economic stories


France Sexy No More for Entrepreneurs Escaping Hollande: Taxes - (www.bloomberg.com) Hollande’s hitting businesses and individuals with at least a dozen new measures, including a 75 percent levy on income of more than 1 million euros, to narrow the budget gap. “France is no longer a sexy place to be,” said Rosenblum, founder and former owner of Pixmania, an online seller of computers. “To attract and keep business and jobs you have to put on your best face, especially in tough economic times. With all the costs, the taxes and the social pressure, France looks more like an old maid to me.” Rosenblum -- who says he’s leaving France with his wife and two little children this month to open a new business in a country he won’t disclose -- is among people fleeing a slew of levies announced by Hollande since the Socialist president was elected in May. The 75 percent millionaire tax was followed by new levies on capital gains, an increased tax on income and wealth, a boost to inheritance charges and an exit tax for entrepreneurs selling their companies.

Kicking widows to the curb, the sad fallout of excessive senior debt - (www.ochousingnews.com) Geraldine Bates lost her husband to kidney failure last year. Now, she has fallen behind on her mortgage payments and is terrified that she will lose her home in Jacksonville, Fla. Ms. Bates, 70, is caught in a foreclosure trap that is ensnaring widows across America: she cannot get help lowering her payments until her name is added to the mortgage note, but the lender says she must be current on payments before that can happen. I’m surprised lenders would have such a requirement. Why would they want to limit anyone from assuming responsibility for repaying a loan? The reality is that they don’t. Lenders are merely using this obscure provision they wrote into the contract to compel surviving spouses to dip into savings to make good on overdue payments. It’s backfiring on them when the surviving spouse doesn’t have the savings to dip into.

Fed’s Dudley Sees Obstacle in Mortgage Bond, Rate Spreads - (www.bloomberg.com) Federal Reserve Bank of New York President William C. Dudley said a wider gap between yields on mortgage-backed securities and home loans is reducing the potency of the central bank’s monetary stimulus. While there is “solid evidence” the Fed’s monthly purchases of $40 billion in housing debt have been effective in lowering yields, “the impact of monetary easing on the economy through housing and mortgage finance has been impeded to some degree,” Dudley said today in opening remarks at a workshop on mortgage rates held at the New York Fed.

French auto market faces worst year since 1997: CCFA - (www.reuters.com)  The French auto market is on course for its worst performance in 15 years in 2012, the CCFA industry association said as it reported a 19.2 percent drop in November new car registrations. The CCFA forecast on Monday that the French market would decline by 13-15 percent this year, most likely around 14 percent. This compared with its previous estimate of a drop of at least 12 percent. "That will give us a market that will be below 1.9 million vehicles in 2012, and you need to go back to 1997 to find a worse year," CCFA Chairman Patrick Blain told reporters. November declines were led by France's Renault and Japanese partner Nissan, and U.S. automaker General Motors (GM.N), according to the latest CCFA figures.

SF Housing Director "incompetent bully" - (www.sfgate.com) The San Francisco Housing Authority, which runs more than 6,000 units of public housing for the city's poor, is headed by an executive director who discriminates against white employees in favor of African Americans and regularly employs offensive, outlandish language and behavior in the workplace, according to a lawsuit filed by the agency's own lawyer. The suit, filed in San Francisco Superior Court by the agency's assistant general counsel, Tim Larsen, paints executive director Henry Alvarez as a mercurial bully - a description echoed in interviews with The Chronicle by several others who have had close contact with Alvarez since his arrival at the Housing Authority in 2008. Alvarez was recruited by Mayor Ed Lee, who was the city administrator at the time, from the Housing Authority in San Antonio to lead an agency that has had a series of leaders ousted or scrutinized. During Alvarez's tenure, the agency's federal scorecard has gotten worse, and housing advocates say Alvarez's leadership hurts those who need housing the most.

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