Thursday, January 10, 2013

Friday January 11 Housing and Economic stories


Did an invisible run on banks kill the economy? - ( FOUR YEARS after the last financial crisis came to a head, it remains an open question whether the US economy is safe from a repeat. The answer depends on another question: What caused the crisis in the first place? Fault for the crash lies, according to various popular theories, with some combination of over-leveraged banks, a culture of greed on Wall Street, the collapse of mortgage-backed securities, and financial institutions that are too big to fail. But according to Yale University economist Gary Gorton, all of these explanations are wrong, and regulators have done nothing to address the underlying cause of the meltdown.

French Buyout Bosses Join London Flight - ( Several senior private equity executives based in Paris have moved to London, adding to a series of departures of rich individuals from France prompted by rising taxes. Jean-Baptiste Wautier, who co-heads the Paris office of BC Partners, one of Europe's largest buyout firms, is planning to relocate his family to London next year, according to people close to the matter. The rising tax rates and a perceived anti-business sentiment under President Franois Hollande have contributed to Mr Wautier's decision, they said.

Homeowners faking filings to delay foreclosure - (  Homeowners in California are buying fake documents to delay foreclosures on their properties, a local paper reports. Prosecutors in Stanislaus County, California, have cottoned on to the practice and begun cases against four homeowners. The four are accused of filing phony court documents - claiming the debt has been repaid or changing a trustee - in an attempt to stall foreclosure proceedings. "It comes to a point where enough is enough. How many breaks can we give these people?” Jeff Mangar, a prosecutor with the district attorney's fraud unit, told The Modesto Bee. Staff handling filings are now aware of the practice and tip off investigators.

Prop 13 no longer sacred cow - ( The third rail of California politics may not be as deadly as once thought. Three and a half decades after the passage of Proposition 13 shook the political landscape in California and sparked a taxpayer revolt across America, voters appear to be warming up to the idea of reforming the initiative as long as protections for homeowners stay intact. And the apparent sea change in public attitudes, combined with the two-thirds majorities Democrats now hold in both chambers of the Legislature, has emboldened some politicians to take aim at the iconic measure. "It is time for a fix, because Proposition 13 is broken," said Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, who plans to introduce a bill next year aimed at forcing businesses to pay higher property taxes. The landmark 1978 measure rolled back property taxes and capped yearly increases until a property is sold, but critics say one of its unintended consequences was shifting more of the Golden State's property tax burden from businesses to homeowners.

Stung Bankia Investors Look to Courts for Justice - ( Spanish savers and pensioners who have seen their money wiped out by investing in state-rescued lender Bankia are likely to seek redress in court rather than wait for any official inquiry, which looks increasingly unlikely. About 350,000 stockholders will share the pain of the bank's European bailout, many of them bank clients who were sold the shares through an aggressive marketing campaign for its stock market flotation in 2011. Shares in the lender, rescued by the state in May in Spain's biggest ever bank bailout, fell to record lows on Friday, tumbling over 40 percent from the start of the week after it emerged losses on bad loans were worse than expected. The stock has fallen 85 percent since its IPO. "Going to the courts and seeing if a judge can bring us justice is the only path left to us," said Maricarmen Olivares, whose parents lost 600,000 euros ($793,300) they made from selling her father's car workshop by investing in Bankia preference shares.

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