Monthly Archives: March 2012

Europe Moving Beyond the LTRO

By Delusional Economics, who is horrified at the state of economic commentary in Australia and is determined to cleanse the daily flow of vested interests propaganda to produce a balanced counterpoint. Cross posted from MacroBusiness.

So it appears, at least in the short term, that the ECB’s LTRO effect is starting to wear off as markets finally catch up on the story of the underlying economy’s of periphery Europe:

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Michael Olenick: Housing Pundit Thomas Lawler and the Genesis of Lawlessness

By Michael Olenick, creator of FindtheFraud, a crowd sourced foreclosure document review system (still in alpha). You can follow him on Twitter at @michael_olenick or read his blog, Seeing Through Data

While researching a HUD database for clues on Thomas Lawler, the frequently-cited foreclosure and heavy-metal loving “housing economist” often cited by the business media, and a favorite of Calculated Risk, I came across background information that raises more questions than it answers.

Starting in 1998 Thomas Lawler held the job of SVP Portfolio Management, SVP Financial Strategy, and SVP of Risk Strategy at Fannie Mae until he unceremoniously left in January, 2006, following an $8 billion financial fraud that occurred under his watch.

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Wolf Richter: Taking Bosses Hostage – A Labor Negotiating Tactic In France

At 2 p.m on Thursday, the final day of the annually required wage negotiations that were going nowhere, Bruno Ferrec, the man in charge of the nine Fnac stores in Paris, and his HR Director were “retained” by 120 of his employees at a conference room at the Hotel Ibis in Paris. “For now, we do not know when we will let him go,” said the representative of the CGT, one of the unions involved in the negotiations. And the police did nothing.

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Abigail Field: Mortgage Settlement Institutionalizes Foreclosure Fraud

Yves here. I hope you’ll take the time to read this important post. There has been a great deal of discussion of the many deficiencies of the mortgage settlement, but its biggest has gone pretty much unnoticed. It isn’t just that the settlement gives the banks a close to free pass for past predatory, illegal conduct, but it also has such lax servicing standards and weak enforcement provisions so as to give the banks license to carry on with servicing abuses.

By Abigail Caplovitz Field, a freelance writer and attorney who blogs at Reality Check

The mortgage settlement signed by 49 states and every Federal law enforcer allows the rampant foreclosure fraud currently choking our courts to continue unabated. Yes, I realize the pretty servicing standards language of Exhibit A promises the banks will completely overhaul their standard operating procedures and totally clean up their acts. But promises are empty if they’re not honored, and worthless if not enforceable.

We know Bailed-Out Bankers’ promises are empty, so what matters is if the agreement is enforceable. And when it comes to all things foreclosure fraud, the enforcement provisions are laughable. But before I detail why, let’s be clear: I’m not being hyperbolic.

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Dying for Satisfaction: Being Happy with Your Doctor is Bad for Your Health

There is an important study in the Archives for Internal Medicine last month, which escalates an ongoing row as to whether patient satisfaction is in any way correlated with positive medical outcomes. The answer is yes, and the correlation is negative.

This finding is of critical importance, not just in understanding why American medicine is a hopeless, costly mess, but also as a window into how easy it is for buyers of complex services to be hoodwinked by their servicer provider, whether via the provider being incorrectly confident about his ability to do a good job or having nefarious intent.

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Michael Hudson on the Federal Reserve System

By Michael Hudson, a research professor of Economics at University of Missouri, Kansas City and a research associate at the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College

An interview with Michael Hudson published on the Russian website Terra America (TA).

What is the place of the Federal Reserve System in the American financial and economic structure?

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Philip Pilkington: MMT to the Rescue in the the Eurozone?

By Philip Pilkington, a writer and journalist based in Dublin, Ireland. You can follow him on Twitter at @pilkingtonphil

We’ve already seen how, paraphrasing Archimedes, that financial instruments can move the world in a bad way. We have an opportunity to reverse that. Warren Mosler and I have just published a policy note at the Levy Institute that would, if implemented, bring an end to the Eurozone sovereign debt crisis.

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Housing Bubbles, House Prices, and Interest Rates

It might surprise readers to learn that economists are still debating whether low interest rates in countries like Ireland and Spain were responsible for their housing bubbles. A new paper by Christian Hott and Terhi Jokipii at VoxEU looked at housing prices in 14 OECD countries from 1985 onward to assess the impact of protracted periods of low short term interest rates. Their conclusion was that they explained up to 50% of housing overvaluation in bubble-afflicted markets.

The interesting part of the paper is that they created a model for fundamental housing market values:

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Latest Award of Frederic Mishkin Iceland Prize for Intellectual Integrity: Promontory Financial Whitewash of MF Global’s Risk Control

We normally limit our awards of the of Frederic Mishkin Iceland Prize for Intellectual Integrity to academic work, since the economics discipline seems increasingly to hew to the James Carville theory of motivation: “Drag a hundred-dollar bill through a trailer park, you never know what you’ll find.” However, we’ve been unduly narrow in considering who might be deserving of this recognition, so we are bestowing the award to Promontory Financial for its work on MF Global.

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Spain Follows Greece

By Delusional Economics, who is horrified at the state of economic commentary in Australia and is determined to cleanse the daily flow of vested interests propaganda to produce a balanced counterpoint. Cross posted from MacroBusiness.

Back in November last year I posted on my confusion over the jubilation shown by the citizens of Spain as they elected Mariano Rajoy as their new political leader. Mr Rajoy’s strategy during the election campaign was to say very little about what he was actually intending to do to address his country’s financial problems, preferring to simply let the incumbent party fall on its own sword so that he could take the reins. It became obvious soon after the election that, despite his party’s best efforts to dodge questions, the intention was simply to continue with even more austerity.

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