Monthly Archives: March 2012

Adam Davidson Presents the Trophy Nanny as 1% Status Symbol

In his role as the Lord Haw-Haw of yawning income disparity, Adam Davidson reports on the world of elite nannies in his latest New York Times piece, “The Best Nanny Money Can Buy.” Child caregivers perceived to be good enough for the superrich (which means they might need to possess other skills, like speaking Mandarin, cooking restaurnt-level meals, being able to ride and groom horses or sailing) make big bucks!

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Victory in Oakland County Transfer Tax Case Paves Way for Other Michigan Suits Against Fannie and Freddie

A few counties have filed litigation against various securitization players (originators, servicers, MERS) for the underpayment of recording fees. Similarly, New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman filed a wide ranging suit against MERS and three banks that used it and settled it for $25 million (it included a mention of $2 billion in unpaid recording fees but we were skeptical of viability of his argument).

However, counties in Michigan have scored an important victory.

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China’s Real Choices for Growth

Yves here. I particularly like this post because Michael Pettis takes some boundary conditions about China and works through their implications. One quibble I have is that he talks of “debt capacity limits.” That depends who the issuer is. The national government could in theory “print,” it has no need to issue debt to fund its activities. But the constraint on that sort of approach is inflation, and China is trying to cool off inflation without crimping growth too much. So China is pretty much in the conundrum Pettis describes, but for slightly more complicated reasons.

Cross posted from MacroBusiness

An exclusive excerpt from Michael Pettis’ most recent newsletter:

Last week’s news was dominated by the sudden but not wholly unexpected removal of Bo Xilai as mayor of Chongqing.

After the initial shock wore off, much of the speculation within China has moved on to what his ousting says about the evolution of power and, for economists, how it will affect the reform and rebalancing of the Chinese economy. More importantly, it seems to me that too many analysts over emphasize the intentions of the Chinese leadership when projecting China’s future.

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Memo Show Corzine Ordered Raiding MF Global Customer Account of $200 Million

We know America is a hopeless kleptocracy, but if Corzine does not go to jail, given the revelation that he approved the raiding of a customer account of $200 million, it means that no one in the officialdom is interested in keeping up the pretense that we have a functioning regulatory and judicial system.

The revelation per Bloomberg:

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Europe’s Counterproductive Economic Policies Proceeding as Expected

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.

Anyone who has been following my European commentary for any length of time will know that I have been running a number of risk themes on Europe due to what I consider to be misguided and one-sided policy which will ultimately be counterproductive.

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Bank of America Launches Test “Mortgage to Lease” Program – Should We Be Impressed?

The Wall Street Journal and New York Times have reports on a pilot program at Bank of America to allow homeowners who are likely to default a graceful exit. The Charlotte bank will allow 1000 borrowers in New York, Arizona, and Nevada to turn in the deeds to their houses in return for a one year lease with a two one year renewal options at or below market rates. The program will be only with borrowers invited by the bank, which will target homeowners who are at least two months behind on payments but can demonstrate that they can pay the rent. The Journal cites an example of a Phoenix home with a $250,000 mortgage with payments of $1600 a month. It estimates the rent as $900.

This is clearly a preferable alternative for homeowners to foreclosure. They escape the credit score damage, stress and indignity of the foreclosure process and save moving costs. They are also spared the difficulty of finding a landlord who will accept a tenant with a tarnished payment record. It isn’t clear how the program will handle the usual rental deposit. So what’s not to like?

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Mark Ames: The One Percent’s Plan for the Rest of Us – Livestock to be Milked for “Rent”

Yves here. Mark Ames’ post discusses the institutionalization of a regressive policy, that of trying to eke more corporate growth out of extracting more and more out of workers rather than sharing the benefits of productivity gains with them.

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The Right v. the EPA

This Real News Network story describes how the EPA is under attack from a very specific group of right wing interests are suing to try to prevent the EPA from acting to implement anti-carbon measures as stipulated in a Supreme Court decision. The intriguing bit is the group one might assume would be most opposed to new standards, the auto industry, is actually supportive.

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Yes, Virginia, Heads of Nonprofits Get Egregious Salaries Too

One of the side effects of increased income disparity is the assumption in some circles that anyone who has a “big” job deserves a lot of money, whether or not the circumstances or their performance warrants it. It wasn’t all that long ago that the prevailing assumptions were radically different: CEOs (except maybe in the auto industry) did not see themselves as near royalty, and most well run businesses recognized that firing staff in downturns and rehiring was costly (search time and training are bigger costs than most top brass admit to themselves).

A great piece at the Village Voice, “The Nonprofit 1 Percent” describes how this logic plays out in the not-for-profit sector.

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