The Lookout
  • Fund to help victims of foreclosure mess?

    foreclosures 2Relief could be on the way for borrowers who were unfairly pushed out of their homes because lenders cut corners in the foreclosure process.

    The banks are in talks with a group of state attorneys general about setting up a fund, paid for by lenders, to compensate homeowners, the Washington Post reports. The settlement would probably require that lenders do more to modify loans for struggling homeowners, rather than speeding into foreclosure, and would probably bar banks from initiating foreclosure proceedings while simultaneously negotiating a loan modification.

    Earlier this fall, serious paperwork flaws came to light in numerous foreclosures by big lenders like JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo. That prompted calls for a nationwide foreclosure freeze, and triggered a high-profile probe by states' prosecutors.

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  • Warren BuffettWarren BuffettIn an op-ed in Wednesday's New York Times, Warren Buffett offers a belated thank-you to the U.S. government for averting a financial collapse back in 2008. "In this extraordinary emergency, you came through," writes the Oracle of Omaha. "And the world would look far different now if you had not."  Buffett praises Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, current and former Treasury Secretaries Henry Paulson and Tim Geithner, and FDIC Chairwoman Sheila Bair for acting with "courage and dispatch."

    The Berkshire Hathaway founder doesn't go into detail about the costs and benefits of the government's various rescue efforts. But his piece takes another high-profile step toward bolstering the emerging consensus among experts that the bailout, despite its extreme unpopularity, was in fact remarkably successful -- saving the economy for what turned out to be a bargain price.

    That stance has some merit. But it also glosses over some of the rescue effort's less tangible -- but still enormous -- costs. So it's worth taking a more detailed look at where things stand.

    Read More »from Does the government really deserve Buffett’s thanks for financial rescue?
  • AP101109150371New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has taken a lot of heat for choosing former magazine executive Cathie Black as his new schools chancellor. Critics have seized on Black's complete lack of experience in the education field as an insult to teachers, but Black defended herself Tuesday, arguing that running the nation's largest schools system primarily needs "a strong and effective manager."

    Sound familiar?

    The New York Observer points out that Mayor Bloomberg used much the same argument when running for mayor, when people pointed to his lack of political experience. What if Bloomberg is grooming Black, a registered Republican, to run for his job when he finally relinquishes it at the end of his third term in 2013?

    "It all just makes too much sense," one "city pol close to the mayor" told the Observer. "If you only have to be a manager to run the schools, then you only have to be a manager to run the city. If she does even a reasonably good job, I think you will see them talk her up

    Read More »from Bloomberg may be grooming new schools head for mayor


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