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

Searching for the next Bear Stearns

The financial press hasn't yet let go of the Bear Stearns meme, and most of what we read in this area tends to make our eyes roll into the back of our heads -- but this piece over at Minyanville does a good job making a case for why the i-banks aren't out of the woods yet over this mortgage thing. Let's play name the bank: Without naming names quite yet, what would you think of a company that accomplished the following in 2007?
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RMBS warning labels, and your Friday funnies

Apparently, these days, anyone can think that they understand the complex world of structured finance. The latest? An academic and a consumer investment adviser, who are set to call for Federal authorities to assume responsibility for rating RMBS and related structured securities, according to a press statement released Friday.
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Mortgage REITs are so hot right now

Patrick Harden at mREITs notes that there are a number of mortgage REITs looking to jump into agency-backed waters in the next few months, and asks: How many more agency mREITs can the market absorb? ... While falling interest rates have created a juicy environment for agency mREITs, which only have interest rate risk to manage, too many competitors may cause pass-through certificates and CMOs to become overpriced.
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Viewpoint: IndyMac to Cease Reporting Raw Delinquency Statistics, but Why?

Calling so-called raw delinquency statistics "meaningless and misleading," IndyMac chairman and CEO Mike Perry said late last week that the thrift -- which lost $509 million in the fourth quarter and suspended its dividend amid increasing borrower delinquencies -- would cease reporting them, as it looked to shift its reporting to so-called static-pool data.
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MBS may be frozen, but it's more popular than portfolio lending

What does it say about this crazy market market that (a) securitization all but froze towards the back half of last year and (b) that securitizing loans was still more popular than traditional portfolio lending? Inside Mortgage Finance reported Wednesday that securitization as a share of origination activity in 2007 reached a new record high, with portfolio lending accounting for just 25.9 percent of $2.43 trillion in total mortgage production last year.
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Viewpoint: Did the Fannie and Freddie Appraisal Agreement Go Far Enough?

Over the last few weeks, I’ve had some time to go back and read the landmark agreement NY Attorney General Andrew Cuomo struck with Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and OFHEO a few weeks ago. Designed to prevent brokers from ordering appraisals and lenders from having an ownership interest in an appraisal company, I’ll readily admit that I was one of the first to hail the move.
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Fires! Foreclosures! Court battles!

Earlier today we published a contributed piece from an attorney on the front lines of the foreclosure mess -- and he wrote about a Tennessee Supreme Court case pitting an insurer against a lender. The reason? The insured property went into foreclosure, and then burned to the ground. When the lender went back to the insurer for restitution, the insurer balked and said the lender had a duty to disclose the foreclosure to it.
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And the clue is A LOT

How about "what is the size of price declines from the top so far?" We obtained a report from Tradition Financial Services, Inc. that definitely deserves some attention. The firm located high points in each major market and then calculated just how far prices have fallen since then.
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