Politics & Money

Monday Morning Cup of Coffee: MBIA trial just around the corner

A look at stories across HousingWire’s weekend desk, with more coverage to come on bigger issues:

The New York State Supreme Court Judge Barbara Kapnick held that a trial should begin on May 14 in the action brought against the New York Department of Insurance by policyholders who had insurance on structured finance products through MBIA. 

Sources familiar with the case said Kapnick set aside four weeks for the trial and the witness list could include former New York Insurance Department Superintendent Eric Dinallo.

The conflict arose after MBIA restructured its insurance firm in February 2009. Not long after, policyholders filed suit claiming the state insurance department wrongfully allowed the insurer to establish a separate insurance company using $5 billion to create a second entity, thereby shielding itself from claims on insured finance products. 

MBIA has pushed back against the claims since the filing. The policyholders want the court to disapprove the insurance department’s decision to allow the transformation.

Policymakers in advanced economies need to make progress on containing their debt situations while simultaneously addressing financial stability for the global economies, said Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund.

Lagarde made that warning after wrapping up days of international IMF meetings this past weekend. She noted that advanced economies need an average adjustment of about 8% of GDP to bring global economies’ debt levels back to 60% of GDP by 2030. 

“Here, I’m afraid that countries need to do better than they have so far,” Lagarde said. “Among these countries, Japan and the United States have the largest distance to travel, and so need the greatest effort. Both need a stronger push to fix their public finances, including by curbing the growth of entitlement spending and raising more revenue.”

There are 54 rental units available for every 100 households earning below $20,000 a year in Colorado, according to the state’s Division of Housing.

The agency released a report on affordable housing, warning that low-income families in Colorado have trouble finding housing units in the range of $500 per month and below, which amounts to roughly 30% of a $20,000 income. 

According to Census data pulled by the division of housing, there are 109 affordable rental units for every 100 households. When looking at the $15,000 a year income level, there are only 57 units for every 100 households bringing home that kind of pay.

“The greatest challenges in affordable housing are at the lowest income levels where there are few units available at affordable rent levels,” said Pat Coyle, director of the Colorado Division of Housing. “However, even when units are available, they may be inappropriate for many families if they are dilapidated or far from public transit or too small, and this further adds to the number of rent burdened households in Colorado.”

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. took over the Fort Lee Federal Savings Bank in Fort Lee, N.J. this past week as receiver. To protect the bank’s depositors, the FDIC had Alma Bank of Astoria, N.Y., assume all of Fort Lee Federal Savings’ deposits.

The single branch of Fort Lee Federal Savings Bank opened as a branch of Alma Bank on Saturday. The bank had $51.9 million in total assets and $50.7 million in deposits as of Dec. 31, 2011.

The FDIC believes the closing will cost the Deposit Insurance Fund $14 million. 


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