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America's ‘Retail Apocalypse' Is Really Just Beginning

Implode Explode - Fri, 11/10/2017 - 09:52
The reason isn't as simple as Amazon.com Inc. taking market share or twenty-somethings spending more on experiences than things. The root cause is that many of these long-standing chains are overloaded with debt--often from leveraged buyouts led by private equity firms. There are billions in borrowings on the balance sheets of troubled retailers, and sustaining that load is only going to become harder--even for healthy chains.

The debt coming due, along with America's over-stored suburbs and the continued gains of online shopping, has all the makings of a disaster. The spillover will likely flow far and wide across the U.S. economy. There will be displaced low-income workers, shrinking local tax bases and investor losses on stocks, bonds and real estate. If today is considered a retail apocalypse, then what's coming next could truly be scary.

Until this year, struggling retailers have largely been able to avoid bankruptcy by refinancing to buy more time. But the market has shifted, with the negative view on retail pushing investors to reconsider lending to them...

China Makes Historic Move to Open Market for Financial Firms

IEHI News feed - Fri, 11/10/2017 - 09:38
``China took a major step toward the long-awaited opening of its financial system, saying it will remove foreign ownership limits on banks while allowing overseas firms to take majority stakes in local securities ventures, fund managers and insurers.''

Here's a summary:

  1. Foreign firms will be allowed to own stakes of up to 51 percent in securities ventures; China will scrap foreign ownership limits for securities companies three years after the new rules are effective
  2. The country will lift the foreign ownership cap to 51 percent for life insurance companies after three years and remove the limit after five years
  3. Limits on ownership of fund management companies will be raised to 51 percent, then completely removed in three years
  4. Banks and so-called asset-management companies will have their ownership limits scrapped

Caesars turns to CMBS to fund exit from bankruptcy

National Mortgage News - Fri, 11/10/2017 - 09:31
A mortgage on the marquee Caesars Palace Las Vegas is being used as collateral for $1.6 billion of mortgage bonds; proceeds will be used to repay existing indebtedness.

Capital One to exit mortgage originations, cut 1,100 jobs

National Mortgage News - Fri, 11/10/2017 - 09:31
Capital One Financial will stop originating mortgage and home-equity loans after competition made it difficult for the businesses to be profitable.

FHA losing customers rapidly as premiums spur refinancing

National Mortgage News - Fri, 11/10/2017 - 09:31
More FHA homeowners than expected are refinancing out of the program and into conventional mortgages, despite an increase in mortgage rates over the past year.

Distressed home sales falling in Sarasota-Manatee region

National Mortgage News - Fri, 11/10/2017 - 09:31
Distressed home sales in the North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, Fla., metropolitan area during the third quarter accounted for 11% of the residential real estate market.

Oahu home prices creep higher

National Mortgage News - Fri, 11/10/2017 - 09:31
Oahu's housing market stayed on track to set a sixth consecutive price record as the latest tally of home sales showed slight gains for prices in October.

Meet the startups fighting Bay Area's soaring housing costs

National Mortgage News - Fri, 11/10/2017 - 09:31
An emerging group of local entrepreneurs is taking up arms against the sky-high cost of living in the Bay Area, hoping to end once and for all the housing crisis crippling the region.

Housing still more affordable than long-term benchmarks

National Mortgage News - Fri, 11/10/2017 - 09:31
Despite continued growth in national home prices, housing remains more affordable today than long-term benchmarks, according to Black Knight.

Ringleaders Of A $20 Million Florida Mortgage Fraud Scheme Convicted

IEHI News feed - Fri, 11/10/2017 - 09:26
Former Newspaper Publisher, Mortgage Lender, and Real Estate Agent Convicted in $20 Million Florida Mortgage Fraud Scheme

Irish Border Throws Unexpected Hurdle Into Brexit Talks

IEHI News feed - Fri, 11/10/2017 - 09:16
The future of the Irish border erupted unexpectedly into Brexit talks this week, as the European Union made new demands on Britain that risk distracting from efforts to push negotiations to a breakthrough by year-end.

The EU circulated a document to a meeting of EU diplomats Wednesday that called for Northern Ireland to maintain the rules of the customs union and single market after Brexit. The EU calls for no hard frontier on the island, meaning that regulations have to be the same on each side of the line that will become the U.K.'s only land border with the EU after Brexit.

...

Ireland is aware that it essentially has veto power now, and once talks move on to trade it will be just one of 27 countries fighting to get its voice heard. It has been considering seeking explicit guarantees on the border as a condition for progress in talks.

...

What the EU is demanding is all but impossible for Britain, unless the whole U.K. stays in the customs union, which Prime Minister Theresa May has ruled out. Allowing Northern Ireland to stay in the customs union would mean putting a border between Northern Ireland and mainland Britain. That's unthinkable for the U.K., and more so at a time when the Conservative government is propped up by the pro-U.K. Democratic Unionist Party from Northern Ireland.

White Plains CPA Sentenced To 22 Months In The Big House

IEHI News feed - Fri, 11/10/2017 - 09:14
White Plains CPA Sentenced To 22 Months In Prison For $23 Million Tax Fraud Scheme

Suffolk County Attorney Indicted For Money Laundering

IEHI News feed - Fri, 11/10/2017 - 09:11
Suffolk County Attorney Indicted For Mail Fraud, Wire Fraud And Money Laundering

Madoff victims set to receive $772 million payout

IEHI News feed - Thu, 11/09/2017 - 20:17
The U.S. government on Thursday announced that it would begin paying out $772.5 million to more than 24,000 victims of the Ponzi scheme.

The money comes out of the Madoff Victim Fund, an account the government put together four years ago to help people who were scammed by the notorious fraudster.

All told, federal authorities say they'll pay out $4 billion from the fund. The money was collected through seized assets and settlement agreements with people and companies connected to the case.''

[In parallel, Irving Picard] has distributed around $10 billion to victims so far -- money amassed largely through civil settlements.

The U.S. government took that tack, too. About $1.7 billion in its own victims fund came from JPMorgan Chase, which agreed three years ago to pay to settle allegations that it ignored red flags about Madoff's crimes while it was his banker.

The bank insisted that its employees did not knowingly assist in the crimes.

But federal authorities also funded their account through the forfeiture of civil assets. The agency seized around $2.2 billion from the estate of Madoff investor Jeffry Picower, who died in 2009.

Picower is said to have benefited the most from Madoff's scheme, though his wife has denied his involvement.

Equifax profit falls as hacking costs take toll

IEHI News feed - Thu, 11/09/2017 - 20:14
Equifax Inc (EFX.N) on Thursday reported lower quarterly profit, and quarterly revenue missed estimates, as the credit bureau warned that its massive data breach had prompted some customers to hold back business... Equifax reported third-quarter revenue of $834.8 million, missing analysts' average estimate of $845.94 million, according to I/B/E/S Thomson Reuters....

The breach, which compromised sensitive data of 145.5 million people, has harmed the company's reputation and prompted investigations in every U.S. state, a federal criminal probe and hundreds of lawsuits. Equifax said it was not possible to estimate how much it would cost the company to respond to the probes and litigation.

The Atlanta-based company said it recorded $87.5 million in expenses related to the hack during the quarter, including legal fees, investigation of the breach, and free credit monitoring for U.S. consumers whose data was exposed in the breach.

Equifax estimated a range of additional costs between $56 million and $110 million to continue providing the free services.

The company warned there could be further attacks. "We cannot assure that all potential causes of the incident have been identified and remediated and will not occur again," it said in a quarterly filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.''

Optimism about housing market dampened by end of buying season

National Mortgage News - Thu, 11/09/2017 - 15:06
With the end of the summer home buying season, consumers were less optimistic that it was a good time to purchase or sell a home in October.

What to do with unprofitable branches? Donate them and get CRA credit

National Mortgage News - Thu, 11/09/2017 - 12:04
Rather than pull up stakes and leave two low-income Mississippi towns at the mercy of payday lenders, Regions Bank donated the branches to a local credit union and kicked in another $500,000 for operating costs.

Freddie Mac warns lenders about selling system outage

National Mortgage News - Thu, 11/09/2017 - 12:04
Lenders selling loans through Freddie Mac's system experienced access difficulties Monday afternoon, when the government-sponsored enterprise sent out an alert to lenders about the problem.

Macy's Gains On Cost-Cuts As Peers Ail

IEHI News feed - Thu, 11/09/2017 - 12:00
This week provides a broader gauge of department-store health, with several of the biggest chains reporting their quarterly results. Kohl's Corp. posted a disappointing earnings forecast on Thursday morning, sending its shares tumbling. Nordstrom Inc., which is coming off a failed attempt at a leveraged buyout, plans to deliver its results after the close. J.C. Penney Co., meanwhile, weighs in on Friday morning.  

Investors have been skeptical of the sector. Macy's shares lost more than half of their value this year through Wednesday's close. The company got some reprieve on Thursday, however, when the shares rose as much as 7.2 percent to $18.84 -- the biggest intraday rise since early February.

Macy's cost-cutting efforts have bolstered profit. Excluding some items, earnings amounted to 23 cents a share last quarter. Analysts had projected 16 cents. The company said gross margin improved, "primarily due to our tightly controlled inventory position."

Foreclosed $51 Million "Billionaire's Row" Penthouse Sells At A 30% Discount

IEHI News feed - Thu, 11/09/2017 - 11:57
``Kola Aluko's posh penthouse apartment in One57, one of Manhattan's most expensive luxury towers, has finally sold after months of delays in what New York realtors agree is the most expensive residential foreclosure in city history. The sale price - a paltry $36 million - suggests that the stress seen in the ultra-high-end real estate market in New York City has only worsened as buyers brace for a glut of new luxury buildings coming online in the coming years... "It's probably the most-expensive foreclosure we've ever seen in luxury development," said Donna Olshan, president of high-end Manhattan brokerage Olshan Realty Inc. "I don't know of a foreclosure that's larger than that."''