“Standard & Poor’s accidentally released a message to some of its subscribers on Thursday saying that it had downgraded French debt from its top AAA rating. S&P said it was investigating what had gone wrong and stressed that France still had an AAA rating.” [BBC]
Several weeks back, bond manager Bill Gross wrote a very personal letter to investors about feeling fat. In it, he spoke of hating his “spare tire,” feeling self-conscious about wearing a bathing suit, and preferring to be shot dead than getting a glimpse of what his ass has become. Today, Bill sent out another letter, entitled “Mea Culpa,” in which he apologized to PIMCO investors for the poor performance of the firm’s Total Return Fund (which through Wednesday was up a mere 1.1 percent versus the 5.7 percent benchmark). And yet perhaps it is the investors who should be apologizing to Mr. Bill? Read more »
Mr. Paulson, the money manager who made billions during the financial downturn betting against the subprime mortgage market, admitted in his quarterly conference call that he had made a bad bet on a recovery in the domestic economy, the linchpin of the firm’s investment thesis this year. Now, Mr. Paulson is moving to cut leverage in one troubled portfolio, the Advantage Plus fund, which is down 47 percent this year. He also plans to reduce the firm’s exposure to the stock market more broadly, according to several people who listened to the roughly hourlong call. [Dealbook]
Bank Of America Outdoes Itself When It Comes To Wrongfully Breaking Into People’s Homes, Stealing Items Of Sentimental ValueBy Bess Levin
Earlier last year, Bank of America made headlines for one of its more notable foreclosure cases, wherein an employee of the firm “erroneously believed” Angela Iannelli’s house was vacant and dispatched a contractor to change the locks and “secure” the property. The fact that the home was neither vacant nor in default is not where BAC wins applause, however– any bank worth its salt has accidentally foreclosed on a few houses it wasn’t supposed to. What set this story apart was that in addition to being locked out of her house, Iannelli’s beloved parrot, with whom she had cohabitated for 11 years, was seized, a separation that caused her “so much emotional distress that she needed a prescription medication for anxiety.” Bank of America initially denied having taken the pet-friend, told Iannelli they were “tired” of hearing from her, and hung up on several times. Finally, someone copped to having the bird, and they made her drive 80 miles to retrieve it.
A worthy entry for the foreclosure excellence awards distributed by an independent panel each year to be sure. But was this simply a one-off deal? It’s something to be proud of, yes, but some wondered if Bank of America could make magic happen twice. Turns out the answer yes a resounding hell yes. Read more »
Just one, not all. Start small. Read more »
JPMorgan Chase last night alerted attorneys that employees in its foreclosure operations unit may have signed affidavits without personally reviewing the documents, the same issue that has recently plagued GMAC Mortgage, according to a memo obtained by HousingWire…Chase is requesting that the courts not enter judgments on pending foreclosure cases until it completes the review in the next few weeks. [HW via BI]
Alan Greenspan has written a book report that he will present at the Brookings Institution tomorrow. Some are calling it his “most detailed examination of the causes of the financial crisis.” Does he lay out his patented 3-Step Guide For Being Fed Chair (1. Talk like you know your shit, even when you don’t. 2. Cut rates like a Thai hooker with the clap 3. When in doubt, print it out), which may have helped get us into the financial shit-storm du-jour? Not explicitly, no. (Does Coke just up and give out its secret recipe for free? That’s what I thought.) Seven Piña coladas into happy hour in the Maldives, however, he did decide to say this:
We never had a sufficiently strong conviction about the risks that could lie ahead. As I noted earlier, we had been lulled into a state of complacency by the only modestly negative economic aftermaths of the stock market crash of 1987 and the dot-com boom. Given history, we believed that any declines in home prices would be gradual. Destabilizing debt problems were not perceived to arise under those conditions.
Threw this in there too:
For years the Federal Reserve had been concerned about the ever larger size of our financial institutions. Federal Reserve research had been unable to find economies of scale in banking beyond a modest-sized institution. A decade ago, citing such evidence, I noted that “megabanks being formed by growth and consolidation are increasingly complex entities that create the potential for unusually large systemic risks in the national and international economy should they fail.” Regrettably, we did little to address the problem.
The believers of Fed “easy money” policy as the root of the housing bubble correctly note that a low fed fund rate (at only 1% between mid-2003 and mid-2004) lowered interest rates for adjustable rate mortgages (ARM). That in turn, they claim, increased demand for homes financed by ARMs and hence were an important contributor to the emergence of the bubble.
Having said all that? Lest any of you pipsqueaks (Benji) even think about daring to pin one iota of blame for all this shit on him? THINK AGAIN. There was nothing that could’ve been do done. Read more »