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Open commentary on everything impacting the U.S. housing economy. The opinions expressed here represent the author's alone.

Lehman and the short seller wars

Yves Smith over at the Naked Capitalism blog asks a poignant -- and pertinent -- question: did Lehman, or someone connected to Lehman, violate SEC disclosure laws by leaking an internal memo covering details of alleged deleveraging at this week's favorite short-sale target, Lehman Bros?
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Primed for Trouble: Pace of Mortgage Distress Shifts to Prime Borrowers

While foreclosure activity hit an all-time record in the first quarter, according to statistics released Thursday morning by the Mortgage Bankers Association, a shift of the mortgage mess towards prime borrowers appears to be taking place as well -- signaling that the credit crunch that began among those with less-than-perfect credit may now be marching onward towards borrowers usually deemed better credit risks.
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Stop the insanity

Inman News' Matt Carter digs into the housing price index debate today, suggesting that those attempting to back indexes published by the NAR and OFHEO (and disparage indexes like the Case-Shiller) lack a basic understanding of what the indexes really capture.
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Ed McMahon could use some of that Publisher's Clearinghouse money right about now

We're not trying to make light of what is likely a tough situation -- facing injury and long-term disability, leading to the imperilment of mortgage and home -- but it's a little bit easier when we're talking about a multi-million dollar property in Beverly Hills. Via the WSJ comes news that Ed McMahon is the latest known celeb to face housing difficulties, but his are reasons more typical than most:
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Investors, seeking mortgage healing

Reuters' Al Yoon penned a story Tuesday that does a great job of bringing together the idea of "high touch" servicing that we've been covering here at Housing Wire. (In fact, I'm beginning to wonder if HW invented the term -- we were the very first to coin it, and now it's being used everywhere. Which, of course, gives us at least something in common with the inimitable Stephen Colbert and his now-infamous coining of "truthiness.")
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Announcing Housing Wire Magazine

I’m very excited to let HW readers know that today we’re unveiling the next step for Housing Wire as a publication -- Housing Wire Magazine, the first independent monthly to cover all of mortgage finance. You can subscribe today for less than $10 an issue -- $149 gets you a subscription through the end of next year (regular subscription price is $180 per year).
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If it's not Lone Star, it's TPG.

HW broke the story last Friday that an affiliate of Lone Star Funds had snapped up Bear Stearns' residential origination platform -- the former ECC Capital wholesale/correspondent paltform, for those of you with an industry memory -- which is adding to the groups already large mortgage holdings. Lone Star alraedy owns former subprime giant Accredited Home Lenders, Inc.
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Countrywide wants up-front payments to discuss some loan mods? So what?

Last week's Investor's Business Daily painted a pretty rough picture of everyone's favorite industry whipping post Countrywide Financial Corp., after getting wind of a servicing policy that requires some delinquent borrowers to pay 30 percent of arrearages before the lender will begin discussing loan modification options -- fees that the reporter, Kathleen Doler, called "a steep entrance fee." From the story, an indictment:
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Investors and Insurers, Finding Fraud

Here in the BuzzPost, we've been sounding the horn over the prevalence of mortgage fraud in recent weeks -- witness an earlier discussion of Ambac's education on the matter -- and yesterday's Wall Street Journal picked up a strong, smelly scent. (You know, the same one that's already got insurers and investors up in arms?) From the WSJ, a mention of the obvious:
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