FROM Paul Leonard
Is the California Housing Market Bouncing Back? It looks like the housing market is back -- or at least well on its way. Standard and Poor's Case-Shiller Index this week revealed that March housing prices were nearly 11% higher than last year's. Several cities, including Los Angeles, had their highest gains in more than seven years. There are bidding wars and all-cash offers. Who are these buyers? What's driving this? Are we at risk for another bubble?
Is California Giving Troubled Homeowners a Break? The housing crisis hit California harder than any state except Florida. In addition, California's considered "bank friendly," because lenders don't have to go to court to foreclose on home mortgages. So, when the Assembly and Senate took up the so-called " Homeowners' Bill of Rights " yesterday, the Wall Street Journal called it the nation's " biggest showdown between lenders and lawmakers ." Attorney General Kamala Harris pushed hard to get the measure passed in both houses, and she's claiming a big win.
Latinos Hit by Foreclosure Crisis Between 2004 and 2008, Latinos received 30% of all California's home mortgages, but were subject to 48% of foreclosures. That's according to a report by a national consumer-advocate group, the Center for Responsible Lending. We hear from the director of CRL's California office and from the co-founder of NAHREP , the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals.
Fed Plans New Rules to Crack Down on Shady Lending Practices Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke plans a clamp down on so-called "exotic mortgages" and high-cost loans to people with weak credit. He also wants to extend the kind of low-cost overnight loans that prevented the Wall Street banker Bear Stearns from collapsing before it was sold in March. Paul Leonard is director of the California Office of the Center for Responsible Lending.
Home Loans and Easy Money, until Times Get Hard No less an authority than Alan Greenspan, former Chair of the Federal Reserve , called sub-prime mortgages a tool for democratizing credit. Sub-prime mortgages with no down payments are advertised as the road to home ownership for families who can't afford regular loans. They often gamble that they'll be able to re-finance after the house goes up in value, but before new interest rates and higher payments kick in. Now, with the housing market is cooling off, the formula is failing to work for more and more people. Foreclosures are up and they're likely to increase even more. Did stock analysts paint an overly rosy picture of the sub-prime mortgage market to generate investment? Do risky loans to millions of vulnerable borrowers threaten the whole economy? We hear from economists, consumer advocates, a state official who's going after shady lending practices, and John and Delia, two homeowners caught in the sub-prime squeeze.
Trump fires FBI Director James Comey Vice President Mike Pence took the Administration's lead today in explaining why the President fired the Head of the FBI, saying, "The president made the right decision at the right time." Trump's action is being compared to the so-called "Saturday Night Massacre" that led to President Richard Nixon's resignation in 1973.
Trump, the GOP and the rule of law Conservatives — and some Republicans — are criticizing the President for "the mess he made" in firing FBI Director James Comey. We hear about a potential successor, the possibility of "obstruction of justice" and the constitutional separation of powers.