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  • Obama Cuts FHA Fees, Taxpayer Bailout Looms

    President Obama has announced that he ordered the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) to cut in half the fee paid by homeowners whose mortgages the agency guarantees. The good news is that this reduction will save those homeowners who are able to refinance their homes about $1,000 annually. The Administration says … More

    Geithner Draws Wrong Dodd-Frank Lessons and Forgets Fannie Mae

    There were plenty of lessons to learn after the financial crisis of 2008. Unfortunately, neither Congress nor the Obama Administration was willing to take the time to learn them. Instead, they acted before they understood the causes of the crash or what to do to avoid similar bailouts in the … More

    Mortgage Settlement Sounds Better for Homeowners Than It Is

    From the hype surrounding the newly announced $26 billion settlement over abusive foreclosure and mortgage servicing practices, one might think that it would single-handedly solve the housing crisis and end underwater mortgages. This is not the case. Like the many versions of President Obama’s refinancing plan, this settlement has large … More

    SEC Charges Reinforce Case for Eliminating Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac

    The misguided federal policy to concentrate the U.S. mortgage finance industry in two huge government-sponsored entities was underscored again this morning when the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charged six former Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac executives with misleading investors and Congress about the amount of poor-credit-quality mortgages each entity … More

    10 Years After Enron, Time to Throw Out Sarbanes–Oxley's Section 404

    Exactly 10 years ago today, the Enron Corporation filed for bankruptcy after it was revealed that it had blatantly falsified its earnings statements for many years. Although most of the accounting irregularities that caused its collapse were already illegal, Congress overreacted and passed Sarbanes–Oxley, a massive and deeply flawed accounting … More

    First-time Homebuyers Tax Credit Shows Government Can't Fix Housing

    Government programs cannot stop the decline in housing prices. The latest evidence of this comes from a study of first-time homebuyers who took advantage of an $8,000 tax credit available between 2009 and September 2010. According to a new study, housing prices in 110 of 157 studied cities have dropped … More

    Latest Obama Mortgage Refinance Plan Another Dud

    Undeterred by the underperformance of several previous efforts at mortgage refinancing, the Obama Administration has announced yet another plan designed to refinance the “underwater” mortgages of homeowners who owe more on their mortgage than their houses are currently worth. However, this version of the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HAMP) has … More

    Proposed Mortgage Refinance Plan Would Help Only a Few

    They are at it again. Despite numerous unsuccessful tries to develop a government-facilitated plan to refinance problem mortgages, another one appears to be on the horizon. This one, currently being considered by state and federal officials and large mortgage lenders, has a better focus than earlier versions, but would at … More

    Social Security Needs to Be Fixed, Says Senate Finance Minority, but How?

    Senate Finance Committee Republicans have some good advice for the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (sometimes known as the super committee): Fix Social Security now. As part of a 21-page comprehensive set of recommendations on issues under Finance Committee jurisdiction, the Republicans note that “Social Security reform, aimed at … More

    Look Before You Regulate: Measuring the Costs of Financial Rules

    You would think that any regulation that could affect a major part of the economy and cost industry and/or consumers millions of dollars to comply with would be based on rigorous and consistent economic analysis. After all, how else would regulators know the actual effect of their proposals and whether … More