Thursday, November 29, 2012

Friday November 30 Housing and Economic stories


HOA Installs Radar, Issues Speeding Tickets - ( With no one but themselves to police the speed limits of their gated a community, a homeowners association in Colorado has set up a radar system and begun issuing tickets to speeders. Drivers caught violating the max. 30 mph speed limit in the community will be subject for fines from anywhere from $15 to $100, depending on how fast they are driving. If the violating driver is a visitor of the subdivision, their ticket will be given to whichever homeowner they are visiting at the time. As you might expect with most HOA restrictions, some residents are not thrilled.  “It’s just a little bit overboard for a private community to be policing themselves,” one homeowner tells CBS Denver. Another resident, who says she was almost hit twice in a night by speeding cars is still against the measure. “No, that’s outside the boundaries of what the HOA was established to do,” she explains. “That is within the boundaries of what the law is supposed to do.”

Realtors object to bulk foreclosure sales which do not pay Realtors commissions - ( California Realtors are strongly objecting to the bulk foreclosure sale program and calling for a change of leadership at the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the agency that initiated the pilot program. In a recent statement, the California Association of Realtors objected to the Nov. 5 REO bulk sale transaction between Fannie Mae, the FHFA and Colony Capital. The Santa Monica real estate investment company won an auction by the federal government to purchase 970 foreclosed homes in California, Arizona and Nevada from Fannie Mae for $176 million. "Fannie Mae and FHFA's decision to move forward with the REO bulk sale in California amounts to another gift to Wall Street at the expense of taxpayers," said the state group president, LeFrancis Arnold. "The deal, which calls for the sale of more than 400 foreclosed homes in Los Angeles and the Inland Empire, not only hurts taxpayers and prospective home buyers, but will also delay a full recovery in the housing market."

Million dollars for a mice infested shack! - ( A severe mouse infestation of a million-dollar Winnipeg home has shocked people across the country, but a local biologist says he's not surprised. The CBC News story from Monday has been viewed more than 100,000 times and commented on by more than 300 people as of Tuesday. Many who saw the story expressed disbelief that a problem could be so widespread without anyone knowing sooner. But James Hare, a biological sciences professor at the University of Manitoba, says once mice get into a nesting place, they start breeding fast — having up to five litters of six mice in a year — and can stay quite well hidden. And the mice can always find enough food, he said. "They could forage for anything, you know plant material, they'll eat insects as well, whatever they can get. So there'd be lots for them to eat," Hare said.

German Notes Sold at Negative Yield on Greece, U.S. Concern - (  Germany sold two-year notes at a negative yield for the second time on record, with the Federal Finance Agency saying the debate over Greece’s fiscal sustainability boosted demand for the securities. The nation auctioned 4.3 billion euros ($5.5 billion) of the debt at an average yield of minus 0.02 percent, down from 0.07 percent when similar-maturity debt was offered on Oct. 17, according to a statement from the Bundesbank today. It’s the first time since July the rate has been below zero. A negative yield means investors who hold the security until it matures will receive less than they paid to buy it.

Real estate investor Seaborne pleads guilty to bank fraud - ( Arthur R. Seaborne has pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit bank fraud and could spend up to five years in prison. The 69-year-old investor, who has already been stripped of his real estate and mortgage licenses by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, is expected to be sentenced in Tampa’s U.S. District Court on Jan. 24. From March 2003 through July 2008, Seaborne lured investors into a “no money down” real estate scheme by holding investment seminars in Sarasota. He bought dozens of new houses in Ellenton and Venice, marked up the price by $8,000 to $75,000, and sold them to the seminar attendees. He then filled out mortgage applications for the investors using false information.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Thursday November 29 Housing and Economic stories


Faber: Prepare for a Massive Market Meltdown - ( The markets are going to go into meltdown soon so expect stocks to lose 20 percent of their value, Marc Faber, author of the Gloom, Boom and Doom report told CNBC on Tuesday. "I don't think markets are going down because of Greece, I don't think markets are going down because of the "fiscal cliff" - because there won't be a "fiscal cliff," Faber told CNBC's "Squawk Box." (Read More Below Video.) "The market is going down because corporate profits will begin to disappoint, the global economy will hardly grow next year or even contract, and that is the reason why stocks, from the highs of September of 1,470 on the S&P, will drop at least 20 percent, in my view." Faber, who is known for his bearish views, cited tech giant Apple (AAPL), a company whose disappointing earnings have caused its stock to fall 20 percent from its September highs and 14 percent in the past month. A series of poor quarterly earnings from corporate giants such as Amazon (AMZN), McDonalds (MCD) and Google (GOOG) have hurt investor sentiment in recent weeks.

S&P and Fitch accused of market manipulation in Italy - ( Italian prosecutors have filed charges against Deven Sharma, the former president of Standard & Poor’s, and six other credit rating officials for issuing downgrades that destablised the country and fuelled the debt crisis. Prosecutor Michele Ruggiero has asked a court in Trani, Italy to indict five S&P employees and two from Fitch Ratings for market manipulation, in a move that could trigger a raft of similar claims against rating setters around the world. Mr Ruggiero, who has pursued the agencies since they placed Italy on negative watch last summer, accused them of “aggravated and continuous…market abuse”. He claimed they leaked “biased and distorted information” about Italy’s financial stability to traders. In a statement, he said the rating agencies had tried to “destabilise Italy’s image, prestige and credit confidence on the financial markets, alter the value of Italian bonds by depreciating them [and] weaken the euro”.

Spanish Yields Climb to Six-Week High as IMF, Europe Disagree - (  Spanish 10-year bonds rose, pushing down yields from the highest in more than six weeks, after German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble signaled Greek aid payments may be bundled into a single installment. Germany’s 10-year bonds erased a gain after Bild-Zeitung earlier reported that the nation favored giving Greece a one-off disbursement of 44 billion euros ($55.8 billion). European policy makers extended by two years the Mediterranean country’s deadline to reduce its budget deficit, though they didn’t say how the additional funding needs would be covered. The yields on Austrian and Belgian securities slid to records and French bonds climbed for a ninth day, the longest winning streak since 1997. “The headlines on Schaeuble” have boosted Spanish and Italian bonds, said Marc Ostwald, a rates strategist at Monument Securities Ltd. in London. “He’s saying all that is left to discuss is process rather than principal. That gives markets a bit of reassurance.”

Carry Trades Lose Most Since ’11 as HSBC Gauge Warns: Currencies - ( The foreign-exchange market is signaling more pain ahead for currencies that benefit from a sustained global recovery, five years after the onset of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. HSBC Holdings Plc’s Global Hazard Indicator, which combines implied volatility readings in options for the dollar, euro and yen, shows wider price swings in currencies over the next year than in the coming three months. If history is any guide, that means the dollar and yen will strengthen and higher-yielding, higher-risk currencies such as the Brazilian real and South African rand will depreciate.

EU-IMF feud erupts over Greek debt - ( Eurozone finance ministers last night postponed agreement on Greece's long-delayed €31.3bn aid payment for yet another week as divisions between the International Monetary Fund and EU creditors over how fast Athens must reduce its burgeoning debt levels burst into the open. Christine Lagarde, the IMF chief, and Jean-Claude Juncker, chair of the eurogroup of finance ministers, publicly sparred over whether Greece must reduce its debt levels to 120 per cent of economic output by 2020, long viewed the target to get Athens back to a sustainable debt level. An agreement between the IMF and eurozone governments is essential to releasing the bailout tranche since both creditors disburse financial assistance concurrently. In a rare breach, Mr Juncker told a post-meeting press conference the target would be moved to 2022, prompting Ms Lagarde to insist the IMF was sticking to the original timeline. When Mr Juncker again insisted it would be moved -- "I'm not joking," he said -- Ms Lagarde appeared exasperated, rolling her eyes and shaking her head.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Wednesday November 28 Housing and Economic stories


A New Crisis in Spain: Suicides and Homelessness - ( The first night after Francisco Rodríguez Flores, 71, and his wife, Ana López Corral, 67, were evicted from their small apartment here after falling behind on their mortgage, they slept in the entrance hall of their building. Their daughters, both unemployed and living with them, slept in a neighbor’s van. “It was the worst thing ever,” Mrs. López said recently, studying her hands. “You can’t image what it felt like to be there in that hall. It’s a story you can’t really tell because it is not the same as living it.” Things are somewhat better now. The Rodríguezes are among the 36 families who have taken over a luxury apartment block here that had been vacant for three years. There is no electricity. The water was recently cut off, and there is the fear that the authorities will evict them once again. But, Mrs. López says, they are not living on the street — at least not yet.

Child’s Education, but Parents’ Crushing Loans - ( When Michele Fitzgerald and her daughter, Jenni, go out for dinner, Jenni pays. When they get haircuts, Jenni pays. When they buy groceries, Jenni pays. It has been six years since Ms. Fitzgerald — broke, unemployed and in default on the $18,000 in loans she took out for Jenni’s college education — became a boomerang mom, moving into her daughter’s townhouse apartment in Hingham, Mass. Jenni pays the rent. For Jenni, 35, the student loans and the education they bought have worked out: she has a good job in public relations and is paying down the loans in her name. But for her mother, 60, the parental debt has been disastrous. “It’s not easy,” Ms. Fitzgerald said. “Jenni feels the guilt and I feel the burden.”

NYC to Cut $1.6 Billion to Close Deficit After Blocked Taxi Sale - ( New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has modified the city’s $69 billion budget with $1.6 billion in spending cuts over the next 18 months to close a current $635 million deficit created when a court stopped the city from selling additional taxi medallions. About $600 million of the spending reductions, dated Nov. 9 by the Office of Management and the Budget and announced today by the mayor’s office, plus $68 million in higher-than- previously-forecast revenue, will make up for the lost taxi medallion sales and balance the current budget. For 2014, $1 billion in trimmed spending plus $425 million in taxi-sales revenue will shrink the deficit to about $1.15 billion from the $2.5 billion forecast when the plan passed in June. The city’s fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30 each year.

Special Report: Greece's far-right party goes on the offensive - ( Arm raised in a Nazi-style salute, the leader of Greece's fastest-rising political party surveyed hundreds of young men in black T-shirts as they exploded into cheers. Their battle cry reverberated through the night: Blood! Honour! Golden Dawn! "We may sometimes raise our hand this way, but these hands are clean, not dirty. They haven't stolen," shouted Nikolaos Mihaloliakos as he stood, floodlit, in front of about 2,000 diehard party followers filling an open-air amphitheatre at Goudi park, a former military camp near Athens.

In This Junkyard, It Seems, There Are No Dogs - ( It’s kind of Orwellian that anyone would rapaciously buy an ETF with the ticker JNK—branding shorthand for “junk,” Wall Street’s sobriquet for high-yield, the riskiest layer of corporate bonds.Nevertheless, JNK, the SPDR Barclays Capital High Yield Bond ETF, and competitor offerings are a hot destinationin these yield-famished days. The appeal is irrefutable: You’ll get precious little income from Treasuries and muni bonds. Creditworthy corporations are borrowing at record lows. Why not then pile into riskier, higher-yielding debt, especially if you can do so via one tidy, exchange-traded ticker? (No need to ring Michael Milken.) What’s more, Moody’s sees the global default rate for “speculative-grade” debt ending the year at 2.8 percent, compared with an average of 4.8 percent since 1983. Yields have fallen 1.65 percentage points this year, to 7.05 percent on Nov. 1, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch data. What’s not to love?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Tuesday November 27 Housing and Economic stories


Secret Documents Show Weak Oversight of Key Foreclosure Program - ( The Obama administration launched its main program to prevent foreclosures in the spring of 2009 with $50 billion and abundant promises. What the Home Affordable Modification Program, or HAMP, lacked — and wouldn’t have for years — was effective oversight of the big banks that were crucial to the program’s success. Documents obtained by ProPublica shed new light on this failing in 2009 and 2010, when the foreclosure crisis was at its peak and six million American homeowners were in danger of losing their homes. HAMP required mortgage servicers to offer loan modifications to eligible homeowners so that their monthly payments would be lower. The servicers — the largest of which were owned by the banks that had fueled the crisis in the first place — were in charge of reviewing homeowner applications, but the government set the rules and was supposed to supervise their work.

Credit Agricole Posts $3.6 Billion Loss After Greek Sale - ( Credit Agricole SA (ACA)France’s third- largest bank, posted a quarterly loss that exceeded analysts’ estimates on costs tied to the sale of its Greek unit. The shares fell the most in a year after the bank, based outside of Paris, reported a third-quarter net loss of 2.85 billion euros ($3.62 billion). That’s wider than the 1.88 billion-euro averageestimate of seven analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Credit Agricole, led by Chief Executive Officer Jean-Paul Chifflet, agreed to sell its Greek unit, Emporiki, last month at a loss of 1.96 billion euros as the lender tries to insulate itself from the potential costs of the country’s exit from the single European currency.

Exclusive: Worried Germany seeks study on French economy - sources - ( German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has asked a panel of advisers to look into reform proposals for France, concerned that weakness in the euro zone's second largest economy could come back to haunt Germany and the broader currency bloc. Two officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters this week that Schaeuble asked the council of economic advisers to the German government, known as the "wise men", to consider drafting a report on what France should do. Schaeuble's request denotes growing concern in Berlin and among private economists over the health of the French economy, which is set to miss a European Union goal for reducing its public deficit next year.

Sweden Industrial Output Plunges as European Demand Falters - ( Swedish industrial production fell more than estimated in September as the export-dependent country suffers from declining sales abroad. Industrial production fell an annual 5 percent, after rising a revised 2.7 percent the previous month, Stockholm-based Statistics Sweden said today. Production was estimated to fall 0.1 percent, according to the median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of six economists. Output fell a monthly 4.1 percent, compared with a predicted drop of 1.5 percent. Sweden’s central bank last month signaled it may cut rates for a fourth time since December last year as it trimmed its 2012 growth forecast to 0.9 percent from 1.5 percent. Exporters including Ericsson AB (ERICB), the world’s largest maker of wireless equipment, and truck maker Volvo AB (VOLVB) are cutting jobs as demand slows from Europe.

Muni Yields Plunge to 1967 Low as Obama’s Tax Plans Stoke Demand - ( U.S. municipal-bond yields dropped to the lowest in more than four decades as PresidentBarack Obama’s re-election fueled speculation that income-tax rates will increase, boosting the appeal of tax-free debt. The interest rate on 20-year general-obligation bonds fell 0.12 percentage point to 3.55 percentin the week ended Nov. 8, according to a Bond Buyer index. That beats this year’s previous low of 3.6 percent and is the lowest since April 1967, when Lyndon B. Johnson was president. And Down Goes Groupon - (  After another bad earnings report, Groupon is getting crushed. It might be time to find a new CEO, or just figure out something else, because the current structure just isn't working.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Monday November 26 Housing and Economic stories


Greek unemployment hits 25.4 percent in August, new record - ( Greece's jobless rate rose for a 39th consecutive month to a new record of 25.4 percent in August, more than double the euro zone average, Greece's statistics service ELSTAT said on Thursday. A crippling, austerity-fuelled recession continued to take its toll on the labour market, putting Greek unemployment at more than double the euro zone average of 11.5 percent. The jobless rate has more than tripled since the country's five-year economic slump began in 2008. It now stands at 58 percent for those aged between 15 and 24 years, compared with 20 percent in August 2008.

Spain Said to Consider Palace Sales to Raise Cash - ( The Spanish government is considering a sale of a small, century-old palace in the heart ofMadrid’s business district as part of a plan to raise cash from 100 prime properties, a person with knowledge of the matter said. Castellana 19, built in 1903 and later used to house Spain’s stock-market regulator, would be sold outright rather than leased, said the person, who asked not to be identified as the plan’s details aren’t public. The property was valued at 28.7 million euros ($37 million) in 2010, the year before the agency moved out. The government said last month it had selected 100 buildings that could be privatized by the end of 2016. The properties, mostly in Madrid, will be sold outright or leased for as long as 30 years, the person said. 

Wall Street reform law won't go away - ( One thing's for sure on the day after the election: the 2010 law to reform Wall Street isn't going away. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney had pledged to repeal the sweeping Dodd-Frank Act, the Democrats' response to big banks' risky behavior that led to the 2008 financial crisis. The law put curbs on banks' ability to make risky investments and introduced new rules safeguarding some complex financial bets that spurred the bailout of insurer American International Group (AIGFortune 500). It's unlikely that House Republican attempts to roll back the reforms -- efforts they've made since recapturing the chamber in 2011 -- will get anywhere. Besides a re-elected President Obama and his veto power, Democrats retain the Senate with the help of a major champion of Wall Street reform,Harvard University professor Elizabeth Warren.

Sewage Backups Mean $1 Trillion Bill for Leaking U.S. Pipes - ( Century-old water pipes backed up in a storm in Washington D.C.’s Bloomingdale section, sending water and sewage cascading into basements. When it happened twice more in nine days last summer, a torrent of complaints flowed. “Citizens are rightly frustrated and upset about sewer backups,” said George Hawkins, the District’s Water and Sewer Authority general manager. “The challenge we face is that the engineering fix is monumental. It runs back into the issue that we have a significant bill we have to figure out how to fund.” While the sewage backups aren’t as destructive as Hurricane Sandy, such breakdowns highlight leaky systems in cash-strapped U.S. cities that are boosting rates to fund long-delayed fixes. At least $1 trillion is needed for water infrastructure by 2035, tripling some home bills, according to an American Water Works Association study. That may benefit such companies as pump supplier Xylem Inc. (XYL) and flow-controls maker Pentair Ltd.

Francois Hollande lurches Right in historic U-Turn to save French economy - ( French president François Hollande has bowed to massive pressure for business tax cuts to pull France’s economy out of slump and stave off industrial decline, ditching a core element of his socialist platform. Company taxes will fall by €20bn a year equal to 1pc of GDP, to be phased in gradually by 2015 under a convoluted system of rebates. Premier Jean-Marc Ayrault said it amounted to a 6pc cut in unit labour costs, enough to close the gap with eurozone rivals. "France is not condemned to a spiral of decline, but we need a national jolt to regain control of our destiny," he said. The mid-rate of VAT for restaurants and services will jump from 7pc to 10pc. The top rate will rise slightly to 20pc. Spending cuts will plug the revenue gap in order to meet the EU’s 3pc deficit target.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Friday November 23 Housing and Economic stories


Athens Erupts in Riots During Key Austerity Vote - ( Athens erupted in riots late Wednesday as parliament met to vote on the latest austerity measures needed to win more international aid. Smoke and tear gas filled the streets just as parliament struggled to forge a consensus on the new austerity plans. Meanwhile, workers were winding down a two-day strike to protest the budget-cutting moves designed to reduce Greece's crushing public debt burden. Dozens of workers in Greece's parliament walked off the job, interrupting a heated debate on a package of cost cuts, tax hikes and labor reforms Athens must pass to receive badly needed aid. The parliamentary workers exited the assembly in protest against salary and benefit cuts included in the 500-odd page draft law under discussion in the chamber. Greece’s cash-strapped government needs 151 of 300 members of parliament (MPs) to vote in favor of the bill on austerity measures for 2013-16 – measures that were agreed to with international lenders following a torturous 40 day negotiating marathon.

Tax break for struggling homeowners set to expire - ( The clock is ticking on a tax break that saves struggling homeowners from paying thousands of dollars to the IRS. If the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 does not get extended by Congress by the end of the year, homeowners will have to start paying income taxes on the portion of their mortgage that is forgiven in a foreclosure, short sale or principal reduction. So if you owe $150,000 on your home and it sells for $100,000 in a foreclosure auction, the IRS could tax you on the remaining $50,000. For someone in the 25% tax bracket, that would mean paying $12,500 in taxes on the foreclosure. Similar taxes would apply for forgiven amounts in short sales and principal reductions.

EU predicts bloc’s economy will fall farther, recover more slowly as debt crisis kills growth - ( Europe’s economy is still reeling and unemployment could remain high for years despite the progress made in solving the debt crisis, the European Union warned Wednesday, as it downgraded next year’s forecasts for the 27-country bloc. The European Commission, the executive arm of the EU, on Wednesday revised down its forecast for the region’s gross domestic product, which it now expects to grow by just 0.4 percent in 2013, compared to its expectations this spring of 1.3 percent growth. The commission had previously expected the 17 countries that use the euro to find its footing next year, with 1 percent growth. Now it predicts only a 0.1 percent uptick.

Sandy to turn economic picture cloudier - ( The aftereffects of Hurricane Sandy won’t leave a lasting imprint on the giant U.S. economy, but they will make it harder to figure out what’s going on over the next month. Big storms like Sandy often cause disruptions in areas such as retail sales and construction, causing an immediate dip and an eventual snapback. They can even cause companies to temporarily put off hiring or investment decisions, especially in areas hardest hit by the storm. Although the upcoming week is light on economic data, Sandy’s impact will probably be felt first in the jobless-claims report released Thursday. The number of people applying for unemployment benefits could turn out to be artificially low, perhaps setting a new four-year low.

MI Dems Help Propel Fraudclosure Operator’s Sister To Victory In Clerk Race - ( Michigan State Representative Lisa Brown known for her outburst on the floor of the Michigan House in May for telling Republicans, “to stay out of her vagina” during a debate about abortion has won her race to be the next Clerk/Register of Deeds in Oakland County, Michigan.  She beat current clerk Bill Bullard 53.36% to 46.24%who was appointed in January of 2011 when his predecessor, Ruth Johnson was elected Michigan Secretary of State. Brown, whose brother is multi-state foreclosure mill operator Randall Miller, spent nearly $100,000 to win. Most of this money came from the Michigan Democratic Party or Democratic Party friendly special interest groups.  This also does not include any money spent by independent PACs which also participated in the campaign. Why the Michigan Democratic Party was so invested in Lisa Brown is unknown.  Other than talking about her vagina, Brown essentially did nothing as a member of the legislature especially when it came time to debate foreclosure reform last year as member of the House Judiciary Committee.  The GOP sponsored foreclosure bills that passed the legislature last year benefited her brother.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thursday November 22 Housing and Economic stories


Regulators Investigate SunTrust Bank for Fraud - ( A mid-size bank touted as a growth stock by analyst this year is under SEC investigation for selling billions of Alt-A loans labeled as Prime loans to Fannie Mae. I reported on the SEC investigation into SunTrust Bank today at Growth Capitalist. According to whistleblowers, Atlanta-based SunTrust took advantage of a Fannie Mae program designed for the bank’s best of the best borrowers. They called it the Agency Shortcut Mortgage. In 2006, with pressure to keep earnings up as banks like Countrywide were laps head in earnings from resi mortgage origination, borrowers with good credit scores became a target for fraud by SunTrust. The bank needed high credit scores to get entry into the Agency Shortcut Mortgage program but after that SunTrust staff could manipulate the income and assets of the borrowers and force the GSE program to buy the loan. The whistleblower complaint alleges SunTrust did this in the billions from 06 to early 08.

Hurricane Sandy Sets the Stage for Insurance Battles - ( The pain following Hurricane Sandy is just beginning as millions of policyholders discover their insurance will not cover a majority of the damage done by the storm. Most of the destruction from the super storm has been caused not by hurricane winds, but by severe flooding from the tidal surge. But traditional homeowner policies do not cover floods. Flood insurance needs to be purchased separately from the government's National Flood Insurance Program. This may come as a rude shock to victims of the disaster, as it did years ago to the victims of the devastating Hurricane Katrina. At the time, hundreds of policyowners dragged insurance carriers to court, arguing that their policy covered damage caused by wind and that the damage to their homes from the catastophic flood was really nothing more than that caused by "wind-driven rain." =Unfortunately, the law came firmly on the side of the carriers. Courts ruled that so long as the damage is caused by flooding, whether by wind or not, insurers were not liable. Despite the experience of Katrina and numerous examples of widespread devastation caused by floods, less than 15% of homeowners nationwide have taken up flood insurance, according to industry data.

U.S. Offers Mortgage Relief to Homeowners Hurt by Sandy - ( The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has ordered a 90-day moratorium on foreclosures for homeowners with federally insured mortgages in four states recovering from superstorm Sandy. The agency is also allowing officials in Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey to re-allocate federal housing funds toward services for survivors of the disaster. “Families who may have been forced from their homes need to know that help is available to begin the rebuilding process,” said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, who visited storm victims who live in public housing in New York over the weekend. Through the Federal Housing Administration, an arm of HUD, residents of the four states also can obtain as much as 100 percent financing to rebuild their houses or purchase new homes.

EU to predict dire 2013 for Spain: report - ( The European Commission is to forecast Spain's economy will be almost as dire next year as this, a newspaper said on Tuesday, raising the pressure for a euro zone bailout and undermining government promises that 2012 will mark the low point. Neither the Commission nor Spain's economy ministry would confirm the report in El Pais that Brussels will predict an improvement only in 2014 when it officially announces its autumn forecasts on Wednesday. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said Spain would return to growth in 2014, the same year forecast by the Commission according to El Pais, which cited a draft document.

Iceland Sees Bubble Threat From Foreign Cash: Mortgages - ( Iceland’s lawmakers are searching for ways to keep their economy from lurching into another asset bubble as offshore investors forced to keep their money in the country channel it into the housing market. Apartment prices have soared 17 percent since April 2010 and are now just 1.7 percent below the pre-crisis peak in March 2008, Statistics Iceland estimates. The boom stems from currency restrictions imposed in 2008 to prevent the collapse of the Krona after the country’s biggest banks defaulted on $85 billion of debt. While those controls helped cauterize a capital exodus and propel a recovery, it left about $8 billion in offshore kronur that can only flow into Icelandic assets, inflating demand for housing and mortgage bonds. The government is now seeking to correct the imbalances, which risk plunging the island into yet another boom-bust cycle just four years after the banking industry dragged the economy through its worst recession since World War II.