A look at the stories on HousingWire’s weekend desk… with more coverage to come on bigger issues. Hundreds of struggling homeowners met up in Dallas at the National Urban League's annual Economic Empowerment Tour. There, borrowers visited refinancing work stations manned by big lenders like Bank of America, Chase, National City Mortgage and Wells Fargo. Employers were on-hand to recruit homeowners in need of jobs, and a health fair offered vitality screenings. The Group of Eight finance ministers in a discussion this weekend agreed on the objectives of a strategy, "the Lecce Framework," to build on existing initiatives and facilitate the regulation of international finance. The ministers issued a statement highlighting their discussion:
"We reaffirm our commitment to address liquidity and capital needs of banks, as necessary, and to take all necessary actions to ensure the soundness of systemically important institutions. "We discussed the need to prepare appropriate strategies for unwinding the extraordinary policy measures taken to respond to the crisis once the recovery is assured. These "exit strategies", which may vary from country to country, are essential to promote a sustainable recovery over the long term."
At the same meeting, US Treasury secretary Tim Geithner issued comments to the ministers on the importance of encouraging growth before unwinding policy:
"We need to reinforce the improvement in global demand and continue to lay a foundation for a durable recovery.  It is too early to shift toward policy restraint. Economic and financial recovery, however, will be stronger and more sustainable if we make clear today how we get back to fiscal sustainability when the storm has fully passed."
Fitch Ratings upgraded LoanCare Servicing Center's residential primary specialty subservicer rating to "RPS3" from "RPS4." Fitch rates servicers from one to five with one ranking highest. The ratings agency also withdrew LoanCare's residential primary prime servicer rating at "RPS4." The upgraded subservicer rating came as a response to LoanCare's recent acquisition by Fidelity National Financial, while the withdrawal of the primary servicer rating is based on LoanCare's volume of loans serviced not sufficient to support the primary prime servicer rating. National Health Investors (NHI) announced the purchase of a discounted first mortgage for $3.9m. The mortgage, collateralized by a 70-bed assisted living facility in Minnesota, matures in February 2018 and boasts an average annual yield if held to maturity in excess of 12%. NHI is a health care real estate investment trust that specializes in the financing of health care real estate by first mortgage and by purchase and leaseback transactions. The former president and director of now-bankrupt US Mortgage Corp., Michael McGrath Jr., pleaded guilty to mail and wire fraud and money laundering charges in connection with a $139m fraud scheme that eventually bankrupted US Mortgage and its subsidiary, CU National Mortgage. Acting US attorney Ralph  Marra Jr. announced McGrath's plea agreement, under which he faces from 150 to 240 months in federal prison:
"This was truly a massive fraud, a giant shell game by McGrath. McGrath deftly and fraudulently moved these mortgage assets around and sold them while the institutional owners had no idea they no longer held the assets. The goal was to prop up his own company, which instead sunk deeper into trouble as his scheme grew larger and ultimately collapsed."
Write to Diana Golobay.