People living in Foreclosed home for over 16 months rent free

And people wonder why interest rates aren't lower. So you make it impossible to evict people who aren't paying their mortgages and you wonder why companies might be reticent to make home loans. If you want a measure of how difficult it is to collect mortgages, the number is 492 days.

Banks can’t foreclose fast enough to keep up with all the people defaulting on their mortgage loans. That’s a problem, because it could make stiffing the bank even more attractive to struggling borrowers.

In recent months, the number of borrowers entering severe delinquency — meaning they missed their third monthly mortgage payment — has been on the decline, falling to about 700,000 in October, according to mortgage-data provider LPS Applied Analytics. . . . .

As a result, banks are taking progressively longer to foreclose. The average borrower in the foreclosure process hadn’t made a payment in 492 days as of the end of October, according to LPS. That compares to 382 days a year ago and a low of 244 days in August 2007.

In other words, people who default on their mortgages can reasonably expect, on average, to stay in their homes rent-free more than 16 months. In some states such as New York and Florida, the number is closer to 20 months.

. . . Speeding up the process won’t be easy, as demonstrated by the banks’ continuing legal troubles related to robo-signers, bank employees who signed foreclosure affidavits without properly checking the required loan documentation.

Millions of Americans still are paying their mortgages even though they owe more than their homes are worth. The more banks’ backlog grows, the more likely they are to join it, adding to the already giant pile of foreclosures weighing on the housing market.


Black Friday sales anemic

Well, this is a sign of more sales to come at stores right before and right after Christmas. Sales seem to be quite a bit below expectations.

Black Friday sales rose only slightly from a year ago even though more shoppers visited stores, retail traffic monitor ShopperTrak said Saturday, setting the stage for another uncertain holiday season for retailers.

Sales increased 0.3% to $10.7 billion, according to ShopperTrak, which installs monitoring devices in stores to gauge traffic. . . .


More on Merced Pitchfork murders/Gun Locks/Vin Suprynowicz

Over the years there has been some debate on what exactly happened with the horrific killing of young daughters and son of the Carpenter family in Merced, California. The killings became known as the pitchfork murders. The incident was originally reported on by Vin Suprynowicz in the Las Vegas Review-Journal on September 24, 2000.

Fox News for example had this from the father, John Carpenter:

"Lott cited a Merced, Calif. family whose guns were put away because of the state's safe storage law. John Carpenter, who lost two children in an attack in 2000, said a gun would have stopped the man who broke into his home with a pitchfork. 'If a gun had been here, today I'd have at least a daughter alive,' Carpenter said."

I also talked to the children's grandfather Rev. John Hilton in person and participated in a radio interview with him where he made very similar statements to the father, though I don't have recordings of either discussion.

However, David Friedman was never convinced.

Well, now some comments from the father's parent's have now been found. It doesn't seem to line up exactly with what Suprynowicz wrote, but one thing is clear is that the children's parents and the grandparents on both sides of the family are convinced that gunlocks prevented the family from using guns defensively.

I am the paternal grandmother of the two children who were brutally murdered inside their rural Merced California home on August 23, 2000 by a stranger with a pitchfork. Instead of suing gun manufacturers, I am of the opinion it is our lawmakers who need to be sued. It was you who created the laws that kept my grandchildren from being able to defend themselves with any weapon greater than their bare hands. All of my son's children had been trained in the use of firearms but were unable to get to their Dad's weapon because of California State Law. . . .

See this also.

Labels: ,


My newest Fox News piece: "Playing Chicken With China, why huge increases in the money supply didn't increase inflation"

My newest Fox News piece starts this way:

The Federal Reserve has already injected hundreds of billions of new dollars into the economy since the recession started. Normally, when the government prints up more money, dollars are worth less and that is what we call inflation. But inflation has been surprisingly low.

One measure of the money supply, M1, which includes currency as well as checking accounts, soared by 26 percent between August 2008 and September this year. The amount of currency more than doubled. But prices barely changed.

As Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke goes forward with plans to print up another $880 billion, someone has to ask why the past increases didn't produce the inflation that everyone thought they would.

So where did all that new money go? Many blame businesses for hoarding cash. Obama recently said: “corporate profits are doing just fine. [But] they're holding onto a whole bunch of cash -- they're kind of sitting on it.” . . .

Labels: , , ,

Global warming slowing over past 10 years

So global warming advocates are saying that global warming can be slowed or reduced by pollution?

The rate at which global temperatures are rising has slowed in the past decade, scientists said today.
In a report published today, the Met Office said the slow in the rate of warming was down to a combination of natural variation in the weather and pollution.
Scientists say one of the major factors is the rise in heavy industry and pollutant 'aerosols', particularly in Asia.
An upsurge in industrial emissions such as sulphur which are being pumped into the atmosphere reflects sunlight and could lead to a cooling effect. . . .

Labels: ,

$181,757 per hour to fly the president around

Fox News has this:

The average American could buy a house for the amount of money it takes to run Air Force One every hour.
The U.S. military has provided an updated estimate on that cost, first published by a taxpayer watchdog group and confirmed by FoxNews.com, and the number is staggering -- $181,757 per hour. That's the price tag for shuttling around President Obama, who, as it turns out, has spent more days abroad in his first two years than any other president.
Estimates over the years based on government reports and independent number-crunching have always reflected a steep cost for presidential travel, but the figure provided by the 89th Airlift Wing appears to be far higher than any previously reported. It was first published in a report this week on presidential travel by the National Taxpayers Union Foundation.
"It's astonishing. It's far higher than any other ... figure that's been reported on. It's very surprising, and of course it's just a fraction of the overall cost involved with presidential travel," said policy analyst Demian Brady, who wrote the study. . . . .

Labels: ,


Making foreclosures even more difficult

Politicians undoubtedly think that they are going to be popular by forestalling some mortgage foreclosures. The problem is that they are making new mortgages more costly, raising future interest rates, and reducing the number of mortgages that will be made.

The Justice Department and other federal agencies have intensified their review of the banking industry's foreclosure documentation problems, using their powers over bankruptcy proceedings to scrutinize the treatment of troubled mortgages.

A key part of the effort is the Justice Department Trustee Program, the federal watchdog overseeing bankruptcies, which has launched a broad review of Chapter 13 bankruptcy filings by homeowners trying to halt foreclosure proceedings.

A U.S. official said Wednesday that 17 federal Trustee offices around the nation have recently stepped up efforts to scrub Chapter 13 filing documents, looking for documentation errors or improper practices such as inflated fees. Under Chapter 13 bankruptcy, a borrower seeks to halt foreclosure and comes up with a plan to catch up with their mortgage debt within five years.

Leading the federal response is Associate Attorney General Thomas Perrelli, the Justice Department's No. 3 official, who has been tapped to coordinate the efforts of multiple federal agencies, including the Treasury Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission, and also share information with state attorneys general.

The increased federal scrutiny puts more pressure on the banking industry, which is already dealing with probes by 50 state attorneys general into allegations of the improper use of "robo-signers" to foreclose on homes. The industry is also bracing for the results of a separate probe by the Federal Housing Administration, which is scrutinizing the way banks process mortgage payments. . . .

Labels: ,

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!


Some ideas on how to cut Federal government spending

From the Cato Institute, you can see their ideas here. The NY Times has some trade-offs here (though admittedly their options on cutting spending are limited).

Congressman Barney Frank (D-Mass) predicts that because of budget cuts serving on the Appropriations Committee in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives will be a "great pain in the ass."


TSA fails to spot two 12 inch long razor blades and lots of nuts and bolts carried by one of the Mythbuster guys

So much for the improved security after the new pat down rules.
The scanners cost about $170,000 each, but a new report indicates that the scanners do not detect the types of bombs being used by terrorists these days.

Here is another failure where an ammo clip was found on a plane.

Labels: , ,


Data on China's Foreign Currency Reserve Holdings and how that has changed with increases in the US Money Supply

Click on the chart to enlarge.

The Chinese data are available here for 2008, 2009, and 2010. The M1 data are available here.
A 2008 China Securities Journal article reported that over time "The current dollar reserve assets ratio of the total reserve assets has long been stable at 65%..." On October 14, 2010, The Economist noted: "China holds by far the world’s biggest stockpile of foreign-exchange reserves, worth $2.6 trillion at the end of the third quarter. About 65% of these holdings are in dollars, according to the China Securities Journal, an official newspaper."

UPDATE (11/25): During the period from January 2006 to January 2008, PBoC went from $549 billion in US Dollar Foreign Reserves to $1.03 trillion, an 88 percent increase. The level of PBoC Treasury and Agencies as a percent of Chinese GDP growth appears to have experienced a much smaller percentage change increase in those holdings. Assuming that ALL the PBoC US Dollar Foreign Reserves were invested in Treasury and Agencies in January 2006, the second graph here implies that most of the increase in Dollar reserves isn't invested in Treasury and Agencies.

US Treasury Bond holdings by country are available here. Click on the figure to make it larger. Historical data are available here. I don't have the information on "Agencies" held by the PBoC, but I would guess that they are probably positively correlated with the US Treasury Bonds.

A related discussion with slightly different numbers is here. In August, China's holdings of US Treasuries was less than half of the $1.74 trillion in US Dollar Foreign Reserves held in August.

The cash-rich Chinese government reduced its US Treasury bond holdings to 843.7 billion dollars in June, the lowest level since at least the same month last year, the Treasury said in a report on international capital flows.
The June data was lower than the 867.7 billion dollars in Treasury bonds held by the Chinese in May and 900.2 billion dollars in April. . . .

It is very interesting how the gap between BPoC's US $ Reserves and the BPoC's US Treasury holdings have increased substantially over time. If this difference in holdings is made up by the BPoC holding US dollars, it could help explain some of the drop in velocity that offset the increases in the money supply.

Labels: ,


Is the writing on the wall for taxpayer funds going to government radio?

Will government radio explain what service that it provides to inform voters that isn't already provide elsewhere? There is a big issue of whether the government should even be involved in providing the news. From the WSJ:

House Republicans voted unanimously on Thursday to deny federal funds for the radio broadcaster. The measure, however, was defeated, 239-171 as Democrats opposed it.

But when Republicans reclaim the majority next year, NPR won’t have such support. . . .

“News organizations are free to do, say and operate on their own terms, but that doesn’t mean that taxpayers should be forced to fund them,” Mr. Cantor said in a release after the vote. “If the Democrat Majority wants to continue to ignore the will of the people that’s their prerogative, but the new Republican Majority will not follow suit next year.”

In a statement, NPR said, “In an increasingly fractious media environment, public radio’s value in fostering an informed society has never been more critical… It is imperative for federal funding to continue to ensure that this essential tool of democracy remains available to all Americans and thrives well into the future.” . . .

Labels: ,

"Skipping Cell Phones Skews Polls to GOP"

I think that I already assumed that this was the case, but it is useful to have in confirmed. Still a five percentage point adjustment factor is a useful rough number to have (it will obviously vary some race to race).

Republicans received a boost over Democrats in landline-only telephone polls, according to a new study by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center.

Polls this fall that reached only landline phone numbers ended up giving Republicans an extra five percentage points compared with polls that dialed both landline and mobile phones, the study concluded. Pew said that’s because almost a quarter of U.S. homes don’t have a landline telephone number, and cell phone users tend to be younger and more Democratic. . . .

For instance, Pew’s final generic ballot survey of the fall had Republicans up 51% to 39% among voters reached by landline, double the 48% to 42% lead in a sample that included cell phone respondents.

Labels: ,

On second thought, Al Gore confesses that he shouldn't have supported Ethanol

Thanks, Al, it would have been nice if you had admitted this when you were in a position to do something about it.

Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore reportedly has had a change of heart on ethanol, telling a conference on green energy in Europe that he only supported tax breaks for the alternative fuel to pander to farmers in his home state of Tennessee and the first-in-the-nation caucuses state of Iowa.
Speaking at a green energy business conference in Athens sponsored by Marfin Popular Bank, Gore said the lobbyists have wrongly kept alive the program he once touted.
"It is not a good policy to have these massive subsidies for first-generation ethanol," Reuters quoted Gore saying of the U.S. policy that is about to come up for congressional review. "First-generation ethanol I think was a mistake. The energy conversion ratios are at best very small.
"One of the reasons I made that mistake is that I paid particular attention to the farmers in my home state of Tennessee, and I had a certain fondness for the farmers in the state of Iowa because I was about to run for president," the wire service reported Gore saying.
Credits for corn ethanol subsidies expire at the end of the year unless Congress moves to renew the $7.7 billion annual program. Opponents of the corn subsidies say that it removes valuable food products from the table because the U.S. ethanol industry drives up the price of corn. . . .

Labels: , ,

Examples of TSA pat downs going too far

TSA may have made a big mistake with this ABC News employee. Going too far with a member of the media is something that they are likely to regret. TSA is explaining that this should never have happened, but there are more than a few searches that have been described this way. The piece has multiple troubling cases from just the last week.

An ABC News employee said she was subject to a "demeaning" search at Newark Liberty International Airport Sunday morning.

"The woman who checked me reached her hands inside my underwear and felt her way around," she said. "It was basically worse than going to the gynecologist. It was embarrassing. It was demeaning. It was inappropriate."

That search was against protocols and "never" should have happened, TSA Administrator John Pistole told "Good Morning America" today. . . .

Labels: , ,

PR experts picked by Politico weigh in on Sarah Palin is building her image

I would take Politico's PR picks with a grain of salt when Sarah Palin is being discussed, but still these PR experts have some interesting comments here.

“It’s absolutely huge,” says Brian Kirwin, a political consultant for Rourk PR in Virginia Beach, Va. “It’s Bristol, but it keeps the Palin name out there. It bypasses the traditional media that gives [Sarah Palin] such a hard time. If I was advising her, not only would I recommend this, I would say this is the yellow brick road to Emerald City.”

Kirwin says as much of Sarah Palin’s new reality show, “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” on TLC. He compares the Palin women’s reality TV forays to Bill Clinton’s saxophone-playing appearance on “The Arsenio Hall Show” during the 1992 presidential election. “People said that was beneath a candidate,” he said, “but he was trying to reach outside the traditional political media and reach someone a different way.” . . .


Taking advantage of the fact that there are lots of good people and relatively few bad ones

Some owners of a pizza parlor in Peoria, Illinois proved this point recently.

A man attempted to hold up a local restaurant Saturday night but failed after the owners drew their own weapons and chased the suspect away.

Demario Scott, 25, of 1107 W. Wilcox Ave. entered Agatucci's, 2607 N. University St., about 10:15 p.m. with a gun and demanded the owners empty their safe, police said.

Tony, Dan and Jim Aggatucci all pulled out their own guns and Dan yelled at the suspect to freeze, said Dan Aggatucci on Sunday night.

Scott panicked and ran out of the restaurant.

The Aggatuccis chased Scott west on West Gift Avenue and fired several shots, according to police.

Police are investigating whether any of the Aggatuccis fired at the suspect or just into the air.

Scott was arrested near his home in the 1100 block of West Wilcox Avenue . . .

Thanks to Tony Troglio for the link.



Why Obamacare is unconstitutional

Ted Cruz & Mario Loyola have this for the Texas Public Policy Foundation:

Obamacare is an unconstitutional federal overreach and violation of Tenth Amendment rights, in at least two ways:

Individual Mandate. The mandate that indi- viduals purchase health insurance would be the first time that the federal government has re- quired citizens to purchase a good or service as an exercise of the commerce power. Under Lo- pez, health insurance is neither a channel nor an instrumentality of interstate commerce, so the mandate would have to rest on the argument that health insurance is an activity that substan- tially affects interstate commerce. The mandate, tied to a penalty, may also violate the Due Pro- cess Clause of the Constitution.

Mandatory State Medicaid Expansion/Health Insurance Exchange. Obamacare requires that States dramatically expand their Medicaid pro- grams, and establish new health insurance mar- kets to be regulated as utilities for the socializa- tion of health care costs. As such, under Printz, Obamacare may well constitute a “comman- deering” of state agencies and budgets because it turns them into instrumentalities of the federal government. . . .

Labels: ,

Fed slashes growth forecasts

According to the Financial Times, the Fed seems to believe that despite its quantitative easing" growth will remain slow and unemployment high for the next couple of years.

When the FOMC published its last forecasts in June most members thought that 2011 growth would be between 3.5 and 4.2 per cent, but many now think growth will be between 3 and 3.5 per cent, and some expect less than that.
FOMC members have made particularly aggressive upward revisions to their unemployment forecasts, with a large number now predicting that it will still be 8 per cent or above at the end of 2012, compared to the 7.1 to 7.5 per cent that they forecast in June.
“Because I expect hiring to strengthen only gradually, the unemployment rate is likely to remain elevated for quite some time. In fact, I do not expect it to fall below 8 per cent before 2013,” Sandra Pianalto, president of the Cleveland Fed, said in a speech last week.
Some Fed officials have become concerned that workers have the wrong skills, or are trapped in the wrong places because they cannot sell their home, and will struggle to find jobs even once the economy fully recovers.
These officials may raise their forecasts of long-term unemployment by a full percentage point to more than 6 per cent – although the rules for forecasting mean they must disregard any rise that they think is due to the extension of unemployment benefits that will expire. . . .

Labels: ,

Who would you support of these Republicans for President in 2012?

My own guess is that Palin would make the strongest candidate. You can vote here.


"Obama joked he'd have AF-1 fly home via South America so he could see Hugo Chavez. Some joke."

Mark Knoller of CBS news White House Correspondent reports: "Obama joked he'd have AF-1 fly home via South America so he could see Hugo Chavez. Some joke."

Compare this to the type of jokes that Reagan would make about bombing the USSR out of existence.


Former Clinton Advisor calls Sarah Palin "an extraordinary ass" and then lies about Palin's ability to answer question

Now you can see for yourself her answer. First she says that she admired all of them and then she says George Washington. You might disagree with her reason for naming Washington (that he served reluctantly, that he didn't cling to power, that he went home to Mount Vernon when he was done), but that seems like a reasonable set of reasons to me and the point was that the Clinton person simply lied about happened.


Did the Obama administration bribe Sestak, Romanoff, and now possibly Torsella to drop out of Senate Primaries?

First there were claims about Sestak and Romanoff. Now there is Joe Torsella:

President Obama's nominee for a high-level United Nations reform position dropped out of the U.S. Senate race in Pennsylvania last year shortly after Sen. Arlen Specter switched parties and won an endorsement from the White House.
Joe Torsella, chairman of the Pennsylvania State Board of Education, was nominated this week for U.S. ambassador for the U.N. Management and Reform, a post that has been vacant since Obama took office.
A spokesman for Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, who appointed Torsella to the chairmanship, told the Philadelphia Daily News that he was not aware of the U.N. job but has "recommended Joe to the White House for a number of positions."
Rendell was among the Democratic leaders who embraced Specter in the race, which drew national publicity after his primary opponent, Rep. Joe Sestak, revealed that the White House tried to lure him out of the contest with a high-level job.
The White House later disclosed that it had former President Bill Clinton offer Sestak an unpaid position on an intelligence advisory board if he would stay in the House. But Sestak went on to defeat Specter in the primary and lose to Republican Pat Toomey this month in the general election. . . .
The White House did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment. Torsella did not return messages requesting an interview.
John Bolton, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. during the Bush administration, told FoxNews.com that Torsella's nomination raises a number of questions about his background, including his experience working to eliminate waste, fraud and abuse from government programs. . . .

Labels: ,