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Personal Finance News 09/2011



Mortgage rates for the past 52 weeks, at a glance (AP)
AP - Mortgage rates for the past 52 weeks, at a glance

Discover buying $2.5B in student loans from Citi (AP)
AP - Discover Financial Services on Thursday said it is buying another $2.5 billion in private student loans from Citigroup.

Fed orders Goldman to review foreclosures (Reuters)
Reuters - The Federal Reserve ordered Goldman Sachs to hire an outside consultant to review mortgage loans serviced by a subsidiary in order to identify and compensate borrowers who were wrongly foreclosed upon, the central bank announced on Thursday.

Fixed mortgage rates stay flat, just above lows (AP)
AP - Fixed mortgages were mostly flat this week after hitting their lowest levels in decades. But few Americans are capitalizing on them.

Goldman to stop controversial mortgage practices (AP)
AP - Goldman Sachs' mortgage subsidiary agreed Thursday to stop many of its controversial mortgage-related practices in a settlement with a New York state banking regulator.

Goldman reaches mortgage pacts with regulators (Reuters)
Reuters - Goldman Sachs Group Inc completed the long-awaited sale of its mortgage servicing unit on Thursday after having reached agreements with the Federal Reserve and New York state's banking regulator over wrongful foreclosures.

JPMorgan, BofA take heat for foreclosure program (AP)
AP - Two of the nation's largest mortgage lenders are not doing enough to help Americans avoid foreclosure, the Obama administration said Thursday.

Summary Box: Firms failing in foreclosure program (AP)
AP - NOT DOING ENOUGH: Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase & Co. haven't done enough to help people permanently lower their mortgage payments and avoid foreclosure, the Treasury Department said Thursday.

Banks stocks lead market lower, ending 4-day rally (AP)
AP - Stocks fell Thursday, ending a four-day rally, after regulators took action against a former Goldman Sachs subsidiary over its mortgage and foreclosure practices. Traders were also nervous that a jobs report due out Friday could revive worries of another recession in the U.S.

Summary Box: Banks stocks lead market lower (AP)
AP - RALLY OVER: Stocks fell, ending a four-day rally, after regulators took action against a former Goldman Sachs subsidiary over its mortgage and foreclosure practices. Investors were also worried that a jobs report due out Friday could revive fears of a new recession.

How the major stock indexes fared Thursday (AP)
AP - Stocks fell Thursday, ending a four-day rally, after regulators took action against a former Goldman Sachs subsidiary over its mortgage and foreclosure practices. Traders were also nervous that a jobs report due out Friday could revive worries of another recession in the U.S.

Robo-signed mortgage docs date back to late 1990s (AP)
AP - Counties across the United States are discovering that illegal or questionable mortgage paperwork is far more widespread than thought, tainting the deeds of tens of thousands of homes dating to the late 1990s.

U.S. to sue big banks over mortgage securities: report (Reuters)
Reuters - The agency that oversees mortgage markets is preparing to file suit against "more than a dozen" big U.S. banks, accusing them of misrepresenting the quality of mortgages they packaged and sold during the housing bubble, the New York Times reported on Thursday.

U.S. to sue big banks over mortgage securities: report (Reuters)
Reuters - The agency that oversees mortgage markets is preparing to file suit against more than a dozen big banks, accusing them of misrepresenting the quality of mortgages they packaged and sold during the housing bubble, The New York Times reported on Thursday.

Reports: US to sue big banks over risky mortgages (AP)
AP - Published reports say the U.S. government is planning to sue some of the country's largest banks over mortgage-backed securities they sold that lost value in the housing market collapse, alleging they misclassified their quality.

U.S. regulator sues major banks over subprime bonds (Reuters)
Reuters - A U.S. regulator sued 17 large banks and financial institutions on Friday over losses on about $200 billion of subprime bonds, which may hamper a broader government settlement of the mortgage mess left over from the housing crisis.

Feds sue big banks over sales of risky investments (AP)
AP - The government on Friday sued 17 financial firms, including the largest U.S. banks, for selling Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac billions of dollars worth of mortgage-backed securities that turned toxic when the housing market collapsed.

Regulator sues major banks over subprime bonds (Reuters)
Reuters - A regulator sued 17 large banks and financial institutions on Friday over losses on about $200 billion of subprime bonds, which may hamper a broader government settlement of the mortgage mess left over from the housing crisis.

U.S. banks offered deal over lawsuits: report (Reuters)
Reuters - Big U.S. banks in talks with state prosecutors to settle claims of improper mortgage practices have been offered a deal that may limit their legal liabilities in return for a multibillion-dollar payment, the Financial Times reported on Tuesday.

Bank stocks slide on mortgage lawsuit and worries (Reuters)
Reuters - JPMorgan Chase & Co, the second largest U.S. bank by assets, led a broader decline in bank share prices, as investors feared lenders face a growing list of lawsuits due to problem mortgages.

MBIA settles lawsuit over mortgages for $68 million (Reuters)
Reuters - MBIA Inc and two top executives agreed to pay $68 million in cash to settle lawsuits accusing the bond insurer of misleading investors about its exposure to risky residential mortgage debt.

New York prosecutors widen Goldman probe: report (Reuters)
Reuters - New York prosecutors are widening their investigation into the manner in which Goldman Sachs marketed certain mortgage-linked securities before the financial crisis, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Mortgage demand slides despite low loan rates (Reuters)
Reuters - Demand for U.S. home loans fell for a third straight week last week although mortgage rates fell to or near record lows, an industry group said on Wednesday.

GE to "vigorously contest" mortgage lawsuit (Reuters)
Reuters - General Electric Co said it would "vigorously contest" a lawsuit by the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which said the conglomerate's former WMC unit made inaccurate statements about the sale of two residential mortgage-backed securities.

Who's Right in the Battle Over Harbin Electric? (The Motley Fool)
The Motley Fool - Perhaps even more entertaining than a mid-afternoon soap opera is the "anything you can do, I can do better" match still brewing between electric motor manufacturer Harbin Electric (Nasdaq: HRBN - News) and investment research firm Citron Research.

Is It Time to Cement a Golden Opportunity With This Stock? (The Motley Fool)
The Motley Fool - It's not uncommon for stocks to find a bottom before actual economic figures underlying those stocks completely hit rock bottom. Simply seeing things as "less bad" than before is enough to trick most investors into thinking that things are getting better, which can send stocks rallying. Buying into companies with weakening fundamentals is not something I often encourage because many could just as easily pull a Circuit City and never be seen again. ...

GE vows vigorous defense against federal lawsuit (AP)
AP - General Electric Co. said Wednesday that it will vigorously defend itself against a lawsuit filed by the Federal Housing Finance Agency over $549 million in mortgage-backed securities the company sold to Freddie Mac in 2005.

Appeals court rejects mortgage database suit (Reuters)
Reuters - A lawsuit accusing several mortgage lenders of fraud over home loans maintained within the industry's private electronic database cannot proceed, according to a U.S. appeals court ruling.

Campbell's in Hot Water (The Motley Fool)
The Motley Fool - The world's top soup maker Campbell Soup's (NYSE: CPB - News) fourth-quarter profits fell 12% as its U.S. soup, sauce, and beverage segment recorded weaker sales. In spite of the weak results, the company managed to beat Street expectations as it spent less on discounting activities in its long-struggling U.S. soup business this quarter. Let's take a closer look at Campbell's final quarter of the year.

Here's What Seth Klarman Is Buying (The Motley Fool)
The Motley Fool - At The Motley Fool, we understand that it often pays to zig when Wall Street zags, but that doesn't mean that we don't pay attention to what leading fund managers are buying and selling. And hedge funds that aren't always in lockstep with the broader market can be a particularly valuable source of insight.

30-year mortgage falls to 4.12 pct., record low (AP)
AP - Fixed mortgage rates fell this week to the lowest levels in six decades. But few Americans can take advantage of the rates to refinance or buy a home.

3 Stocks Near 52-Week Highs Worth Selling (The Motley Fool)
The Motley Fool - Not even Greek one-year bond yields eclipsing 95% are enough to drag the bull out of this market, as dozens of companies are quickly nearing new 52-week highs. For optimists, these rallies may seem like a dream come true. For skeptics like me, they're opportunities to see whether companies trading near their 52-week highs have actually earned their current valuations.

The Situation With Abercrombie & Fitch (The Motley Fool)
The Motley Fool - Abercrombie & Fitch recently offered to pay a certain hard-partying reality-show star to stop wearing its clothes, claiming his patronage sends the wrong message. News outlets quickly and correctly vilified the company for its public relations stunt. But look beyond the flash and gimmicks, and you'll see a company continuing to perform well, despite -- or perhaps because -- it's not afraid to play fast and loose with its image.

Mortgage rates for the past 52 weeks, at a glance (AP)
AP - Mortgage rates for the past 52 weeks, at a glance

Summary Box: Mortgage rates hit record lows (AP)
AP - NEW LOWS: Fixed mortgage rates fell this week to the lowest levels in six decades. The average rate for a 30-year loan hit 4.12 percent; the 15-year loan fell to 3.33 percent.

Obama seeks to broaden mortgage refinancings (Reuters)
Reuters - President Barack Obama said on Thursday he is seeking to broaden U.S. homeowners' access to mortgage refinancing in a plan to help the ailing housing market and put money back in the pockets of borrowers needing help locking into record low rates.

SEC close to deal in Fannie, Freddie case: report (Reuters)
Reuters - Regulators are close to an agreement with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to settle a case over disclosing their exposure to risky subprime loans, The New York Times reported on Thursday.

Winners and Losers in Cloud Gaming (The Motley Fool)
The Motley Fool - I've always been a console gamer, with my weapon of choice being the Sony (NYSE: SNE - News) PlayStation 3. The landscape for gaming is changing rapidly though, and consoles' dominant role in the industry is being threatened.

Take My 3-D, Please (The Motley Fool)
The Motley Fool - For a long time, 3-D was just a goofy distraction from bad movies. Then 3-D started to look like a profitably goofy distraction from bad movies, and suddenly everyone wanted a piece. Everyone, that is, except home consumers.

Gov't mulls expanding mortgage refinance program (AP)
AP - The federal government is looking at how it could help a greater number of homeowners who owe more than their house is worth refinance at today's historically low rates.

HSBC launches sale of non-life insurance business: sources (Reuters)
Reuters - HSBC Holdings Plc (0005.HK) has launched the sale of its non-life insurance business, sources told Reuters on Monday, a global division worth about $1 billion and now part of the bank's plan to strip away non-core units.

5 Articles to Help You Understand What's Happening in Europe (The Motley Fool)
The Motley Fool - Europe is in trouble. Big trouble. That's likely what's been causing fireworks in our stock market lately. If Greece and a few others default, a slew of European banks that hold those countries' bonds will be thrown into woe. Once a country's banking system is in distress, the rest of its economy suffers, exacerbating its sovereign debt problems. It's a vicious cycle that America is painfully aware of after our own -- albeit very different -- financial crisis in 2008.

Student loan default rates jump (AP)
AP - The number of borrowers defaulting on federal student loans has jumped sharply, the latest indication that rising college tuition costs, low graduation rates and poor job prospects are getting more and more students over their heads in debt.

Social Security, Ponzi Schemes, and a Little Optimism (The Motley Fool)
The Motley Fool - Fool contributor Morgan Housel doesn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of General Motors. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Summary Box: Bank of America cuts 30,000 jobs (AP)
AP - THE NEWS: Bank of America is slashing 30,000 jobs, part of an effort to reverse a crisis of confidence among investors that has erased half of the bank's value this year. The bank is facing huge liabilities over soured mortgage investments and concerns over whether it has enough capital.

The 3 Biggest Predictions About the Economy That Never Came True (The Motley Fool)
The Motley Fool - Last week, I wrote that "most of what was expected to shape the past 30 years never happened, and what did shape the past 30 years was never expected." We live in an unpredictable world, but this doesn't stop experts from making divine forecasts. Predictably, their collective track records stink. As Philip Tetlock, a U.C. Berkeley professor who studies expert predictions, put it, most experts could be beaten by a "dart-throwing chimp." Yet we listen to them. Intently. With confidence.

Government: 401k fee disclosures may be electronic (AP)
AP - Workers with 401(k) retirement accounts are due to receive improved disclosures about the fees they're paying. The Department of Labor has mandated such disclosure beginning next year and on Tuesday said the information may be delivered electronically by email or through a secure website.

Mortgage applications rose last week: MBA (Reuters)
Reuters - Applications for U.S. home mortgages rose last week for the first time in a month as interest rates tumbled even further, an industry group said on Wednesday.

This Coffee Stock Is No Starbucks (The Motley Fool)
The Motley Fool - Warning! Consuming too many shares of coffee bean purveyor Coffee Holding (Nasdaq: JVA - News) has been shown in Motley Fool labs to stunt your portfolio's growth.

Summary Box: Foreclosure activity rises in August (AP)
AP - DEFAULTS RISE: The number of U.S. homes receiving an initial mortgage default notice jumped 33 percent last month from July, as banks stepped up their actions against homeowners who have fallen behind on mortgage payments.



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