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Political Economy: October 24, 2010 - October 30, 2010

An opening for D.C. foreclosure challenges

D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles this week created an opening for potentially tens of thousands of homeowners to challenge their foreclosures. He issued an enforcement statement emphasizing that District law requires that the assignment of a mortgage from one party to another be recorded within 30 days of the transfer.

By Ariana Cha  | October 30, 2010; 10:55 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (15)
Categories:  Housing  
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Meet O. Max Gardner, foreclosure defense pioneer

Years before foreclosure documentation became a national issue--drawing the attention of 50 state attorneys general and the Department of Justice--a bankruptcy litigator and grandson of a former North Carolina governor was speaking out about the problem. Since 2006, attorney O. Max Gardener has been running a boot camp of sorts to teach fellow lawyers how to exploit the mistakes of mortgage companies. Attendees are only admitted after a background check to make sure they don't work for creditors.

By Ariana Eunjung Cha  | October 29, 2010; 3:02 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Housing  
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After midterms, net neutrality could take a hit

If the forecast of strong Republican gains in Congress holds true Nov. 2, the battle over net neutrality - the most contentious tech policy issue - isn't likely to be resolved anytime soon. Net neutrality - the idea that all traffic on the Internet should travel at the same speed - has been a point of contention for the Federal Communications Commission, which is proposing regulations that would ensure that broadband service providers treat all Web traffic equally.

By Cecilia Kang  | October 29, 2010; 1:14 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  2010 Elections, Technology policy  
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Can you vote if you're facing foreclosure?

Worries about voters in foreclosure being turned away at the polls came up two years ago during the 2008 presidential race when the Obama campaign accused a branch of the Michigan GOP of planning to challenge votes by those who had had their homes foreclosed. After all the partisan conflict from the allegations (which the GOP denied) died down, the result was that both the Democratic National Committee and the Republican National Committee agreed that voting eligibility cannot be challenged due to a foreclosure. So while the short answer of whether you can vote if you're in foreclosure is yes, each state sets its own rules on when and whether you need to re-register your address. The United States Election Assistance Commission has issued some general guidelines that apply nationwide.

By Ariana Eunjung Cha  | October 29, 2010; 1:06 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  2010 Elections, Housing  
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Two new polls show economic worries ahead of midterms

Two new surveys released on Friday show that the public's view of the economy remains negative despite progress made by the Obama administration-findings that could spell trouble for Democrats running in the mid-term elections. A Bloomberg National Poll found that likely voters in the Nov. 2 elections think the economy is shrinking even though the recession ended in June 2009 and the economy has grown 3 percent over the past year.

By Ariana Eunjung Cha  | October 29, 2010; 12:49 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  2010 Elections, U.S. Economy  
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Bank of America hires former Va. AG, former justice official for foreclosure defense

Former state and federal prosecutors are among the growing phalanx of lawyers being hired by Bank of America as it seeks to defend itself against accusations of wrongdoing in processing foreclosures. Richard Cullen, former attorney general of Virginia, and Brian Boyle, who served as a deputy assistant U.S. attorney general during President George W. Bush's tenure, are among those who have been helping the company deal with a multistate probe launched by all 50 states.

By Ariana Eunjung Cha  | October 28, 2010; 12:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Housing  
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No love for Bernanke in Germany or Wall Street

Lots of arrows are being flung at Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke lately. The newest group of critics are fellow international policy makers who say he's been a poor steward of the U.S. dollar--the world's premier reserve currency.Over the weekend, Germany's economy minister Rainer Bruederle said that an excessive, permanent increase in money is, in his view, an indirect manipulation" of the value of the dollar. William Gross, founder of PIMCO, which manages more than $1 trillion of fixed income securities, said in an investment note this week that the Fed's asset buying is "somewhat of a Ponzi scheme." The most recent quarterly letter for Grantham Mayo Van Otterloo & Co. featured on its cover a fake Halloween-themed movie poster featuring "Night of the Living Fed"/"something unbelievably terrifying"

By Ariana Eunjung Cha  | October 28, 2010; 11:45 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Federal Reserve  
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QE2: Answers to four big questions facing the Fed

n that piece, I did some hand-wringing about how new efforts to ease monetary policy, while appearing likely, might not happen if the economy showed improvement before the central bank's Nov. 2-3 policy meeting. Since then, the economy has continued on its sluggish growth path, and speeches from Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and Bill Dudley, New York Fed President and vice-chair of the central bank's policy committee, have given every indication that the Fed is prepared to pull the trigger. Indeed, at this point, if the Fed were to decide against taking any action next week, it would cause a major sell-off in global markets and amount to a communications failure of epic proportions.

By Neil Irwin  | October 28, 2010; 8:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Federal Reserve  
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Wells Fargo admits to foreclosure paperwork problems

Wells Fargo on Wednesday admitted to mistakes in the preparation of documents for foreclosures, after denying for weeks that it was affected by the same problems that prompted other major lenders to freeze foreclosures. The company said in a statement that in some cases foreclosure affidavits "did not strictly adhere to the required procedures" It said that it has begun the process of submitting supplemental affidavits for 55,000 foreclosures that are pending in 23 states. Wells Fargo said it expects the process to be completed by mid-November. "The issues the company has identified do not relate in any way to the quality of the customer and loan data; nor does the company believe that any of these instances led to foreclosures which should not have otherwise occurred," the company said in a statement.

By Ariana Eunjung Cha  | October 27, 2010; 6:01 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
Categories:  Housing  
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Lawyers in gold rush to defend companies caught in foreclosure crisis

The foreclosure crisis has been bad for banks and bad for the federal government (which is in the awkward position of having to explain why the companies it bailed out have found themselves in another mess). But it's been a boon to one group: attorneys. Nixon Peabody, BuckleySandler and Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps are all promoting their foreclosure defense services.

By Ariana Eunjung Cha  | October 26, 2010; 12:58 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Housing  
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Economists: U.S. should remove top bank execs over foreclosure mess

Two economists, William K. Black and L. Randall Wray of the University of Missouri-Kansas City, are proposing a solution to the foreclosure mess: they're calling on the federal government to take control of the banks and oust their top executives. "We should remove the senior leadership of the banks and replace them with experienced bankers with a reputation for integrity and competence, i.e., the honest officers that quit or were fired because they refused to engage in fraud."

By Ariana Eunjung Cha  | October 26, 2010; 10:21 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  Housing  
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Fed boss: Regulators looking into foreclosure mess

Federal banking regulators are examining whether mortgage companies cut corners on their own procedures when they moved to foreclose on people's homes, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Monday. Preliminary results of the in-depth review into the practices of the nation's largest mortgage companies are expected to be released next month, Bernanke said in remarks to a housing-finance conference in Arlington, Va.

By Associated Press  | October 25, 2010; 9:51 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
Categories:  Housing  
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