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Euro Resurgence and QE Wind-down, US Political Dysfunction Weigh on Dollar

IEHI News feed - Mon, 01/15/2018 - 13:46
... the drop [in the dollar of 12% this year so far and last year] is a bit of a mystery because the Federal Reserve has been raising interest rates for the past year... Hussein Sayed, chief market strategist at FXTM, an online currency brokerage firm, wrote in a report Monday that signs of life in Europe's economy, particularly Germany and France, are causing some investors to flock to the euro instead of the dollar.

Sayed added that the resurgence in Europe even has more investors betting that the European Central Bank will unwind its massive bond-buying program, similar to the Fed's after the 2008 financial crisis, sooner than expected.

...

But the dollar's slide can't be pinned entirely on what's happening overseas. Some analysts suggest that political dysfunction in the United States is also pushing the dollar down.

Boris Schlossberg, managing director of foreign exchange strategy at BK Asset Management, said in a report Monday that "there is more to dollar weakness than just the global feel-good story."

Schlossberg said more investors are starting to believe there is a real chance of a government shutdown in Washington later this week. That would happen Friday unless Congress passes a short-term funding resolution to keep the government open.''

Don't be fooled. Wall Street, not Main Street, is the big tax winner

IEHI News feed - Mon, 01/15/2018 - 12:27
While Winer is skeptical about how much money will be used to reward workers, he's confident about one thing: Most of the tax savings will be lavished on shareholders through stock buybacks and dividends.

"It's far better for investors than it is for employees," he said.'

...

It's true that personal income taxes are going down for many Americans. The White House has said that 90% of wage earners will likely take home more money as soon as February.

But it would be tough for those gains to offset the huge savings companies are guaranteed. The tax cuts are "skewed toward businesses and high-income earners," Beth Ann Bovino, S&P Global's chief U.S. economist, wrote in a report.

This doesn't even discuss the deficit effect. Guess who's going to pay for that (in the form of inflation)? Hint: the inflation measure for social security and other support payments was modified by this legislation to be even lower.

Britain's Carillion collapses after banks pull the plug

IEHI News feed - Mon, 01/15/2018 - 12:25
Carillion collapsed on Monday when its banks pulled the plug, triggering Britain's biggest corporate failure in a decade and forcing the government to step in to guarantee public services from school meals to roadworks.

The 200-year-old business went into compulsory liquidation at 0600 GMT after costly contract delays and a slump in new business left it swamped by debt and pensions liabilities of at least 2.2 billion pounds ($3 billion).

Its demise threatens to hurt smaller suppliers, merchants, rivals and Britain's biggest banks. The British government was left to ensure there was no disruption to public services... The government stopped short, however, of bailing out the company as it did with major banks during the 2007-09 financial crisis.

...

Employing 43,000 people around the world, including 20,000 in Britain, Carillion has been fighting for survival since July, when it revealed it was losing cash on projects and had written down the value of its contract book by 845 million pounds.

With banks refusing in recent days to accept the latest restructuring plan, May's senior ministers met around the clock, under pressure from the Labour Party and unions not to use taxpayer money to prop up the failing company.

Ministers, top bankers and company bosses scrambled to find a way to save the company in last-ditch talks over the weekend.

...

Spun out of Tarmac nearly 20 years ago and including construction names such as Wimpey and Alfred McAlpine, Carillion operates in Britain and Ireland, Canada, the Middle East and North Africa.

Trump Floated Post-2007 By Secretive, High Money Laundering-Risk Condo Purchases

Implode Explode - Sun, 01/14/2018 - 12:45
More than one-fifth of Donald Trump's US condominiums have been purchased since the 1980s in secretive, all-cash transactions that enable buyers to avoid legal scrutiny by shielding their finances and identities, a BuzzFeed News investigation has found.

Records show that more than 1,300 Trump condominiums were bought not by people but by shell companies, and that the purchases were made without a mortgage, avoiding inquiries from lenders.

...

Treasury's financial-crimes unit has, in recent years, launched investigations around the country into all-cash shell-company real-estate purchases amid concerns that some such sales may involve money laundering. The agency is considering requiring real-estate professionals to adopt anti-money-laundering programs.

...

The surge was driven by the opening of 11 Trump condo buildings between 2008 and 2010 as Trump shifted his real-estate business from developing high-rises to licensing them. Nine were Trump-licensed, and they drew hundreds of shell companies that paid an average of $1.2 million in cash for a condo. In six of the licensed buildings, cash-paying shell companies bought at least a third of the condos, records show.

It's not clear how much Trump received from the sale of Trump-licensed condos, but when Trump announced his candidacy in 2015, he said his "real estate licensing deals" and other brands were worth $3.3 billion.

...

Eighty-three percent of the secretive sales occurred in markets that FinCEN is investigating for possible money laundering in real estate sales. In those markets -- Manhattan, South Florida, and Honolulu -- FinCEN is examining every luxury-home sale to a shell company that paid cash.

At least 28 shell companies resold their Trump properties within six months of buying them in cash. The National Association of Realtors says that immediate resales can indicate money laundering, "especially if the resale price is significantly higher or lower than the original purchase price."

At the Trump SoHo Hotel Condominium New York in Manhattan, 77% of the sales were to shell companies that paid cash. One of the project's Russia-born developers was convicted of money laundering in the 1990s. A pending lawsuit calls Trump SoHo a "monument to spectacularly corrupt money-laundering and tax evasion," though it says in a footnote that "there is no evidence that Trump took any part in, or knew of, their racketeering."

Trump Floated Post-2007 By Secretive, High Money Laundering-Risk Condo Purchases

IEHI News feed - Sun, 01/14/2018 - 12:45
More than one-fifth of Donald Trump's US condominiums have been purchased since the 1980s in secretive, all-cash transactions that enable buyers to avoid legal scrutiny by shielding their finances and identities, a BuzzFeed News investigation has found.

Records show that more than 1,300 Trump condominiums were bought not by people but by shell companies, and that the purchases were made without a mortgage, avoiding inquiries from lenders.

...

Treasury's financial-crimes unit has, in recent years, launched investigations around the country into all-cash shell-company real-estate purchases amid concerns that some such sales may involve money laundering. The agency is considering requiring real-estate professionals to adopt anti-money-laundering programs.

...

The surge was driven by the opening of 11 Trump condo buildings between 2008 and 2010 as Trump shifted his real-estate business from developing high-rises to licensing them. Nine were Trump-licensed, and they drew hundreds of shell companies that paid an average of $1.2 million in cash for a condo. In six of the licensed buildings, cash-paying shell companies bought at least a third of the condos, records show.

It's not clear how much Trump received from the sale of Trump-licensed condos, but when Trump announced his candidacy in 2015, he said his "real estate licensing deals" and other brands were worth $3.3 billion.

...

Eighty-three percent of the secretive sales occurred in markets that FinCEN is investigating for possible money laundering in real estate sales. In those markets -- Manhattan, South Florida, and Honolulu -- FinCEN is examining every luxury-home sale to a shell company that paid cash.

At least 28 shell companies resold their Trump properties within six months of buying them in cash. The National Association of Realtors says that immediate resales can indicate money laundering, "especially if the resale price is significantly higher or lower than the original purchase price."

At the Trump SoHo Hotel Condominium New York in Manhattan, 77% of the sales were to shell companies that paid cash. One of the project's Russia-born developers was convicted of money laundering in the 1990s. A pending lawsuit calls Trump SoHo a "monument to spectacularly corrupt money-laundering and tax evasion," though it says in a footnote that "there is no evidence that Trump took any part in, or knew of, their racketeering."

Trump's 'Shithole' Moment Is His Ugliest Yet

IEHI News feed - Sun, 01/14/2018 - 11:10
The president's remarks were met with disbelief even among hardcore conservatives. The right-wing commentator Erik Erikson wrote on Twitter: "So the President would prefer we allow Norwegian socialists with no special love of America into the country, but not the Ghanan who will work his ass off with a grand appreciation for our free market system and raise his kids to be proud Americans."

...

By presenting Salvadorans, Haitians, and Africans as dangerous, non-contributing, and unable to assimilate, the president has given his mass-deportation scheme the taint of ethnic cleansing. Philip Gourevitch, who chronicled Rwanda's genocide, tweeted ominously about Trump's language: "To speak of whole categories of people as coming from shitholes & other categories as desirables -- that's the language of apartheid and race war and annihilation," Gourevitch wrote. "The verbal violence invites physical violence -- & in this one realm, at least, he knows exactly what he's doing."

Caliber Home Loans Busted Selling Client Information To Sex Predators

IEHI News feed - Sun, 01/14/2018 - 09:09
Caliber Home Loans Busted Selling Private Information To Convicted Kiddie Porn Peddler & Peeping Tom

Mr. Amazon Steps Out - Jeff Bezos Goes Public

IEHI News feed - Sun, 01/14/2018 - 08:45
As he was shaping Amazon into one of the world's most valuable companies, Mr. Bezos developed a reputation as a brilliant but mysterious and coldblooded corporate titan. He preferred to hunker down in Amazon's hometown, Seattle, at least partly because he thought it was better for Amazon's growing business, largely avoiding public causes and the black-tie circuit.

But while Mr. Bezos -- who at 53 is the world's richest person, with a net worth of more than $100 billion -- can afford virtually any luxury, obscurity is no longer among them.

Amazon, now a behemoth valued at more than $600 billion, has become one of the faces of "big tech," along with Apple, Alphabet's Google and Facebook. These companies are facing a backlash. Amazon is under the microscope for what critics say is its corrosive effect on jobs and competition, and Mr. Bezos has become a bête noire for President Trump, who repeatedly singles out him and Amazon for scorn on Twitter.

"People are starting to get scared of Amazon," said Steve Case, a co-founder of America Online, who recently started an investment fund focused on start-ups in underserved areas, with Mr. Bezos among its contributors. "If Jeff continues to hang out in Seattle, he's going to get a lot more incoming. Even for just defense reasons, he has to now play offense."

Mr. Bezos' portfolio of other ventures has thrust him farther into the spotlight. Four years ago, he bought The Washington Post for $250 million, jump-starting a renaissance of the paper. In 2016, Mr. Bezos bought a $23 million home in Washington, one of the city's most expensive, which is undergoing extensive renovations to make it a suitable party spot for the city's political class. Nearby neighbors include former President Barack Obama and his family, and Mr. Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner.

...

But for nearly two decades, he was adamant that the company should largely stay out of the political limelight and not make a stir in local communities. It also had a bare-bones lobbying operation.

...

A turning point came for Mr. Bezos around 2011 when Amazon faced a public showdown with state governments.

At the time, legislators began hounding internet retailers like Amazon to collect sales tax. In California, Amazon initially campaigned to overturn a new law imposing an internet sales tax. But Mr. Bezos backed off after it became clear that Amazon's image could be tarnished, a former employee involved in the matter said.

Instead, Amazon began to make peace. In 2011, it signed an agreement with California to collect sales tax in the state, reaching numerous similar agreements around the same time.

As part of those state deals, Amazon began building warehouses across the country, which allowed Amazon to deliver orders more quickly and let local politicians trumpet the arrival of thousands of jobs.

Suddenly, a company that once refused to confirm how many employees it had at its Seattle headquarters could not stop talking about how many jobs it was creating. It now has 542,000 employees.

As Mr. Bezos and the company talked about creating jobs, though, he and Amazon faced a counternarrative from critics that the company was really a job-killing bully.

Courts Force DACA Re-start As Shutdown Budget Negotiations and Permanent Immigration Fix In Limbo

IEHI News feed - Sun, 01/14/2018 - 08:33
Multiple groups in Congress are working on their own solutions for immigration as they race to pass a spending bill before the government runs out of funding Friday. And the issue of how to move forward on DACA in March is the primary sticking point holding up a funding package.

On Thursday, Trump rejected a pitch from a bipartisan team of senators on an immigration deal to protect DACA participants while increasing border security.

The proposal included a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children and $1.6 billion toward a border fence, two sources with direct knowledge told CNN.

But negotiations over a deal on the DACA program froze last week after Trump derided African nations as "shithole countries" and asked why more immigrants couldn't come from Norway during the Thursday's closed-door meeting with lawmakers.

Fed Pays Banks $30 Billion Risk-Free for 2017

IEHI News feed - Sat, 01/13/2018 - 12:19
... note how the surging interest payments to the banks slashed into the remittances to the Treasury. If the Fed hadn't decided to pay interest on excess reserves, to benefit the banks, it could remit this money to the Treasury. In other words, every dime the banks receive comes indirectly out of the pocket of taxpayers.

The Fed will likely raise rates further this year. There is talk of four rate hikes. This would push the rate on excess reserves to 2.5% by the end of the year. Excess reserves will likely shrink as QE is being unwound, but not fast enough. And the amount that the Fed pays the banks this year might surge to $40 billion or more -- a glorious and hidden subsidy extracted from taxpayer pockets.

3 Lies Bitcoin Skeptics Tell Themselves

IEHI News feed - Sat, 01/13/2018 - 11:06
``One of the points Posner missed in his 2013 assessment of bitcoin as an asset is that it provides a censor and seizure-resistant store of digital value... [he] referred to bitcoin as a "collective delusion" in his piece for Slate, but as Derek Thompson pointed out in The Atlantic late last year, this has been a property of every form of money throughout history... In short, there's a reason people have decided to store value in bitcoin, and it has to do the intrinsic properties of the system such as a trustless monetary policy and resistance to seizure by governments.''

Dept. Commerce finishes probe on steel imports; Is mum on findings

IEHI News feed - Fri, 01/12/2018 - 15:36
The U.S. Commerce Department said on Thursday it had completed its probe into whether imports of certain steel products threatened U.S. national security and sent its conclusions to President Donald Trump. In a statement that offered no indication of the investigation's findings, the Commerce Department said Trump now has 90 days to decide "on any potential action."

The probe could lead to broad tariffs or import quotas.

...

In August, senior executives from 25 U.S. steel and steel-related companies sent a letter to Trump asking for immediate import restrictions. The executives from companies including Nucor, U.S. Steel, ArcelorMittal and Commercial Metals said the sustained surge of steel imports into the United States had "hollowed out" much of the domestic steel industry and was threatening its ability to meet national security needs.

Critics charge that using national security to erect steel tariffs could trigger a trade war with China, undermine the global rules-based trading system and hurt U.S. allies more than China and damage global growth prospects.

10 cities where housing is still a buyer's market

National Mortgage News - Fri, 01/12/2018 - 15:03
Here's a look at 10 housing markets where limited competition, lower prices and plentiful inventory give buyers the upper hand in home sales transactions.

Is CFPB’s data freeze about security or a political ploy?

National Mortgage News - Fri, 01/12/2018 - 15:03
The CFPB's recent freeze on collecting any personally identifiable information from companies it supervises is slowing investigations and could ultimately cripple the agency's enforcement function — and that may be the point.

Franklin County, Ohio, foreclosures fall to record low

National Mortgage News - Fri, 01/12/2018 - 15:03
Franklin County, Ohio, foreclosures fell to the lowest level on record last year, according to figures released by the county clerk's office.

SCAM ALERT Serenity Financial Services Sends Out Deceiving Solicitation

IEHI News feed - Fri, 01/12/2018 - 14:29
Serenity Financial Services Mails Solicitation Saying People Qualify For Non-Existent Government Programs

Baltimore-area home sale prices continue to climb

National Mortgage News - Fri, 01/12/2018 - 11:59
Baltimore-area home sale prices continued to rise in December, even as the number of sales declined from the same time last year.

Mortgage interest deduction cap should help first time buyers

National Mortgage News - Fri, 01/12/2018 - 11:59
The new cap on the mortgage interest deduction should help the first time home buyer market by forcing sellers to lower prices, at least in the near term.

Greece to Remain Under Lenders' Supervision Until 2059

IEHI News feed - Fri, 01/12/2018 - 09:58
``In a report about Greece's new omnibus bill and a potential break from its bailout in August 2018, German newspaper Handelsblatt claims the country will remain under lenders' supervision for another 40 years.''

CMG launches affinity marketing portal for crowdfunded down payments

National Mortgage News - Fri, 01/12/2018 - 08:55
CMG Financial is offering a new affinity marketing portal on its crowdfunding platform for down payments and positioning it as a way for employers to retain millennials.