Category Archives: Real estate

China Attacks Oz Banks for Laundering Flight Capital

Yves here. China is cracking down on flight capital, starting with Australian banks. As the most casual readers of the business press know, the international wealthy, particularly Russians and Chinese, have been using residential real estate in “world cities” as their favorite lockbox. As we’ve written, it’s stunning to see how much real estate has been hoarded in London. Mayfair was depopulated during the petrodollar recycling of the 1970s; now much of Belgravia, Chelsea near Sloan Square, and Kensington are visibly underpopulated. Vancouver has been bid to the sky by Chinese flight capital. New York is a big destination for Russian and Chinese investors, and Chinese money has been pouring into Australian real estate.

The Chinese move may be an admission of stress on the financial system.

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Maine Supreme Court Hands Major Defeat to MERS Mortgage Registry

Yesterday, we wrote about a major loss by the electronic mortgage registry, MERS, in a major Federal court case in Pennsylvania. MERS suffered an additional blow via an important adverse decision in the Maine Supreme Court, against Tom Cox, the attorney who first made robosigning a national issue.

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Wolf Richter: How Private Equity Firms Manipulate the Buy-to-Rent Housing Racket

Private equity firms are the ultimate smart money on Wall Street; they know how to wring out the last dime from their own clients, such as pension funds and rich individuals, through hidden fees, obscure expenses, elaborate expense shifting, lackadaisical disclosure, and “zombie advisers,” to the point where SEC Inspection Chief Andrew Bowden singled them out in a speech in May. Now the lawyers are circling.

And these private equity firms invented a whole new business: buying vacant homes out of foreclosure and from banks and renting them out. But how do they exit at a profit?

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Capital is Not Back: On Thomas Piketty’s ‘Capital in the 21st Century’

Yves here. This article pokes at a topic near and dear to my heart, which is the generally reverential treatment of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century. It appears to be a classic example of the cognitive bias called halo effect, in which people have a tendency to see things as all good or all bad. Because there is a lot to recommend Piketty’s work, for instance, the fact that it is exceptionally written, that it has made inequality into one of the hottest topics in economics, and that Piketty has done an admirable and exhaustive job of finding and analyzing the returns on certain types of income producing assets are all highly commendable.

But as readers may know, one of my pet peeves is that Piketty has made a very strong claim, in the form of his formula r>g, or the rate of return on capital (which he also calls “profit”) exceeds the growth rate of the economy, when his data falls short of what would be necessary to prove that assertion.

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Wells Smacked Down Over Bad Faith Arguments in Foreclosure Case

Even though foreclosures and bank servicing abuses have virtually disappeared in the eyes of the media, it’s quite a different story in the courtrooms of America. Banks continue to proceed with foreclosures, too many of which are based on bogus charges or other servicing abuses.

Fortunately, more and more judges seem to be recognizing bank bad conduct. Wells Fargo proceeded with a foreclosure on a clear bad-faith basis, and then made some eye-rolling arguments before a judge who is on to Wells’ game and is none too impressed.

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Wolf Richter: Fed’s Bullard Calls Out Ignoring Bubbles Developing “Under Our Noses,” So What About Now?

Yves here. It’s been astonishing to see members of the Fed in denial about their own handiwork, so when St. Louis Fed President James Bullard berates his fellow central bankers for their abject refusal to notice pre-crisis bubbles, it’s an all too rare departure from their usual insularity and willful blindness.

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Larry Summers’ Contradictory and Dishonest Defense of Administration’s Bank-Focused Crisis Response

Larry Summers, like Tim Geithner, wants the public to believe that rescuing banks and leaving citizens to rot was the right crisis response. But neither experts, nor people who followed the crisis, nor voters at large are buying what Team Obama is trying to sell.

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Ilargi: The Illusionary Economy Revives Helocs, the Home ATM

Yves here. Ilargi is duly skeptical of the enthusiastic financial press response to an increase in home equity liquidation, um, borrowing using home equity lines of credit, or Helocs. While the party line is that this development reflects an rise in home equity and increased consumer confidence, Ilargi stresses that prices appreciation that the Fed has created, the Fed can also take away. I have to wonder how many of these Heloc borrowers are doing so out of necessity or near-desperation.

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