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Political Economy: September 26, 2010 - October 2, 2010

Bank of America joins J.P. Morgan Chase, Ally in halting foreclosures in 23 states

Bank of America, the nation's largest bank, has joined J.P. Morgan Chase and Ally Financial in putting foreclosures on hold to review whether the foreclosure documents submitted to courts were properly prepared. "To be certain affidavits have followed the correct...

By Ariana Eunjung Cha  | October 1, 2010; 5:41 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
Categories:  Housing  
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Fannie, Freddie join forces with regulators to remedy foreclosure paperwork problem

Mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on Friday said they are taking steps to make sure the companies that service their loans are complying with state law in foreclosures. Ally Financial and J.P. Morgan Chase, which both Fannie and...

By Ariana Eunjung Cha  | October 1, 2010; 4:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
Categories:  Housing  
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Parsing statements by Citigroup and Wells Fargo on the foreclosure issue

While some of the big lenders have declined to comment how or if they are affected by the paperwork problems that forced Ally Financial and J.P. Morgan Chase to freeze foreclosures, Citi and Wells Fargo have issued statements on the matter.

By Ariana Eunjung Cha  | October 1, 2010; 4:17 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Financial regulation, Housing, U.S. Economy  
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Connecticut halts all foreclosures for all banks

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal on Friday ordered a moratorium on all foreclosures by all banks for 60 days--the most radical action taken by a state on issue of document irregularities. Both J.P. Morgan Chase and Ally Financial have frozen foreclosures in 32 states because some employees had signed off on foreclosure paperwork without properly reviewing the files.

By Ariana Eunjung Cha  | October 1, 2010; 2:41 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (48)
Categories:  Housing  
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N.Y. Fed chief Dudley: 'Further action likely to be warranted'

(Photo Credit: Kevin Clark/The Washington Post) By Neil Irwin Bill Dudley, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, gave a speech Friday morning that is a blockbuster, an important read for anyone looking to understand the direction...

By Neil Irwin  | October 1, 2010; 12:24 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Federal Reserve  
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Morning briefing: Japan hikes cigarette tax dramatically

Cigarettes stacked on a shelf at a tobacco store in Tokyo. (Photo Credit: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg) 1. Japan hiked taxes on cigarettes to a record 40 percent to try to discourage smoking. 2. Ecuador declared a state of emergency as...

By Ariana Eunjung Cha  | October 1, 2010; 8:16 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  *Morning briefing  
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Economic agenda: Friday, Oct. 1, 2010

At 8:30 a.m. -- The Commerce Department releases data on personal incomes and personal spending for August. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg expect both incomes and spending will have risen by 0.3 percent from July. At 9:55 a.m. -- The...

By Mike Shepard  | October 1, 2010; 6:16 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  *Economic agenda  
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OneWest Bank employee: 'Not more than 30 seconds' to sign each foreclosure document

The recent announcements by J.P. Morgan Chase and Ally Financial that they were freezing some foreclosures due to paperwork irregularities raises a key question: How many more mortgage companies employed "robo-signers?" In a sworn deposition in July, Erica Johnson-Seck, an Austin, Tex.-based vice president for bankruptcy and foreclosure for OneWest Bank said she and her team of seven others sign 6000 documents a week or about 24,000 a month without reading all of them.

By Ariana Eunjung Cha  | September 30, 2010; 12:21 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (26)
Categories:  Housing  
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Ohio official calls for DOJ probe of Chase mortgages

An Ohio state official called on the Justice Department to open an investigation into J.P. Morgan Chase's residential mortgage unit. "Mortgage foreclosure documents must be notarized according to the law. Requiring this is not an afterthought or an exercise of form over substance--the law must be followed when taking away someone's home, regardless of the circumstances," Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner said in a statement on Thursday.

By Ariana Eunjung Cha  | September 30, 2010; 11:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
Categories:  Housing  
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IMF argues no pain no gain in fiscal fitness

The widespread budget cutting pushed through by developed countries in recent months will sap economic growth for years and keep unemployment high, the International Monetary Fund said today in a study likely to stir debate about whether it was a good idea for the world's major economies to try to reduce their government deficits at the same time.

By Howard Schneider  | September 30, 2010; 11:10 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  International Monetary Fund  
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Morning briefing: China warns of damaged economic ties

1.China warned the U.S. Thursday that measures approved by American lawmakers to penalize governments that manipulate exchange rates violate free trade rules. 2. The finance ministers of 16 countries in Europe that use the euro gathered in Brussels to discuss...

By Ariana Eunjung Cha  | September 30, 2010; 9:15 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  *Morning briefing  
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Economic agenda: Thursday, Sept. 30, 2010

At 8:30 a.m. -- The Commerce Department releases its final estimate of gross domestic product growth for the second quarter. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg expect that the estimate will remain unchanged from the previously released 1.6 percent growth on...

By Mike Shepard  | September 30, 2010; 6:05 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  *Economic agenda  
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Warren extends olive branch to bankers

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner listens to Elizabeth Warren, assistant to President Barack Obama and special adviser to Geithner on consumer protection issues, speak at a conference on mortgage disclosure last week. (Photo Credit: Jay Mallin/Bloomberg) By Brady Dennis...

By Brady Dennis  | September 29, 2010; 9:01 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
Categories:  *Economic agenda, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Financial regulation  
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Illinois becomes fourth state to suspend Ally Financial foreclosures

The Illinois department of financial regulation called on Ally Financial to stop all foreclosures in process and hold off from initiating new ones until the mortgage process can be investigated. Over the past week, Colorado, Connecticut, California have also instituted moratoriums on foreclosures. Five other states have opened civil investigations.

By Ariana Eunjung Cha  | September 29, 2010; 6:59 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Housing  
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Franken to Justice, Treasury: Investigate foreclosure irregularities

Senator Al Franken at a Senate Judiciary Committee in June. (Photo Credit: Melina Mara/The Washington Post) Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) called on the departments of Justice and Treasury and other relevant U.S. agencies to investigate foreclosure actions by Ally...

By Washington Post staff  | September 29, 2010; 6:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
Categories:  Housing, U.S. Treasury  
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J.P. Morgan Chase freezes 56,000 foreclosures

J.P. Morgan Chase issued a freeze on 56,000 foreclosures on Wednesday, acknowledging that some employees may have signed off on documents submitted in support of them without proper review. Chase spokesman Tom Kelly said the company has requested that the...

By Ariana Eunjung Cha  | September 29, 2010; 5:07 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (38)
Categories:  Housing  
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IMF preaches moderation: One shot of Moody's with an S&P chaser

"It's all about moderation," said the International Monetary Fund's global stability division chief, Laura Kodres. "The moderate use of credit rating agencies are acceptable for a healthy financial system. It is not that we think credit ratings agencies are a bad thing. They are a good thing in moderation...Just like a doctor would tell you that drinking is okay in moderation."

By Washington Post Editor  | September 29, 2010; 3:21 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  International Monetary Fund  
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House passes bill to fight organized retail crime

The House passed a bill on Tuesday that would create a new team within the Department of Justice to combat what has become known as organized retail crime -- the methodical stealing and reselling of merchandise.

By Ylan Q. Mui  | September 29, 2010; 12:56 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Congress, Retail, Small business  
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Larry Summers and America's innovation dilemma

Larry Summers, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, and OMB Director Peter Orszag look at President Barack Obama during an economic meeting in the Roosevelt Room in March. (Photo Credit: Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) By Neil Irwin Larry...

By Neil Irwin  | September 29, 2010; 12:25 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  U.S. Economy  
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How mortgage securitization affected the economy

Phillip Swagel, a former assistant secretary for economic policy at the Treasury Department, teaches a class called the "The Financial Crisis" to undergraduates as a visiting professor of finance at Georgetown University. (Photo Credit: Jeffrey MacMillan/TWP) One of the...

By Ariana Eunjung Cha  | September 29, 2010; 12:07 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Housing  
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Morning briefing: Labor protests sweep across Europe

Demonstrators march down a main boulevard in Brussels. (Geert Vanden Wijngaert/AP) 1. The European Commission is proposing budget-slashing plans that it hopes will prevent another government debt crisis like the one that forced an international bailout of Greece. Anti-austerity protests...

By Ariana Eunjung Cha  | September 29, 2010; 9:05 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  *Morning briefing  
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Economic agenda: Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2010

At 9:30 a.m. -- Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and Gov. Martin O'Malley (D-Md.) are scheduled to make an announcement at the General Motors plant in White Marsh. At 9:30 a.m. -- The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform...

By Mike Shepard  | September 29, 2010; 8:27 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  *Economic agenda  
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Colorado, Ohio join states ordering freeze on foreclosures by Ally

Colorado Attorney General John W. Suthers ordered Ally Financial to halt home foreclosures in the state, following similar actions by Connecticut and California. In a letter to the company dated Monday, Suthers said lawyers for the company's GMAC mortgage unit...

By Ariana Eunjung Cha  | September 28, 2010; 1:55 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Housing  
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More Fed action: How would it work?

The debate over new Federal Reserve efforts to boost the economy has rapidly migrated from "whether" to "how." Since Fed officials met last week and signaled they are open to new steps to try to strengthen the economy, chatter has flown around financial markets about the possibility of a major new infusion of cash, on the order of $1 trillion.

By Neil  | September 28, 2010; 11:33 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Federal Reserve  
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Morning briefing: ADB raises growth forecast for Asia

The ADB raised its forecast for Asia's economic growth this year -- to 8.2 percent as compared with a projection of 7.5 percent growth issued in April. The projection covers 44 developing and newly industrialized nations.

By Ariana Eunjung Cha  | September 28, 2010; 8:48 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  *Morning briefing  
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Economic agenda: Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2010

At 9 a.m. -- The S&P/Case Shiller home price index for August is released. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg are expecting prices in 20 major U.S. metropolitan areas to have slipped by 0.1 percent. At 9 a.m. -- The national...

By Mike Shepard  | September 28, 2010; 5:11 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  *Economic agenda  
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Ally disputes charges that another GMAC employee 'fabricated and changed title' in foreclosure cases

A South Carolina attorney is alleging more wrongdoing by Ally Financial's GMAC mortgage unit against homeowners facing foreclosure. Attorney Robert Rikard wrote in a motion to a court accusing Judy Faber, a woman who identified herself as a GMAC vice president, of having "fabricated and changed the title in thousands of foreclosure cases." Faber, who is not a defendant in the case, was the holder of a stamp that was used to authenticate the transfer of titles in foreclosure cases. In a deposition in Alabama, she said she was a "vice president and director of residential funding corporation" in addition a GMAC vice president.

By Ariana Eunjung Cha  | September 27, 2010; 5:01 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Housing  
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Connecticut orders Ally Financial to freeze foreclosures

Connecticut's attorney general ordered Ally Financial's GMAC unit to freeze all foreclosures in the state, joining the growing list of states probing the company's mortgage practices.

By Ariana Eunjung Cha  | September 27, 2010; 12:44 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
 
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Ally's 'bankers as cheaters' commercials pulled as document investigations continue

Ally Financial yanked its popular commercials that featured bankers as cheaters on Sept. 17--the same day the company halted evictions in 23 states after admitting that some documents it submitted in support of foreclosures were flawed. The ad campaign, for the company's Internet banking arm and aimed at distancing the former GMAC from the struggling auto maker General Motors, focused on bait-and-switch schemes. Kids were promised certain things like ponies, toys and other presents but ended up getting something else.

By Ariana Eunjung Cha  | September 27, 2010; 10:50 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Housing  
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Morning briefing: China and Russia sign energy pacts

China and Russia signed agreements to boost energy cooperation on Monday. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said the country is ready to supply all of China's its natural gas needs. No dollar value was given. Japan is considering a stimulus package. Irish Anglo bank downgraded. Hungary leaves key interest rates unchanged.

By Ariana Eunjung Cha  | September 27, 2010; 9:43 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  *Morning briefing  
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Week ahead: Two Fed bank presidents and Bernanke to speak

Two Federal Reserve Bank presidents and Fed chairman Ben S. Bernanke are scheduled to speak this week. Tuesday The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller home price index will report on the value of real estate in 20 major cities in June. Home...

By Zachary A. Goldfarb  | September 27, 2010; 6:15 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  *Economic agenda  
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Economic agenda: Monday, Sept. 27, 2010

At 10:30 a.m. -- The FDIC meets on rules to create orderly winddowns of large financial institutions....

By Ariana Eunjung Cha  | September 27, 2010; 6:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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