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

Quantifying the Home ATM

Over at Calculated Risk, the blog's eponymous author takes a hard look at just how much the housing price slump is likely to drag on personal spending during 2008. His figure? $180 billion. So-called "personal consumption expenditures" -- that's econo-speak for discretionary spending by consumers, which is often the lifeblood of much of the retail industry -- rose by $508 billion between 2006 and 2007 alone.
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Viewpoint: To Broker, or Not to Broker

As I recently listened to Neil Young proclaim in his classic song that "Rock-n-roll will never die," I couldn’t help but wonder about wholesale lending. Although there’s a good chance Neil doesn’t know the difference between a yield spread premium and a prepayment penalty, in the same way his career was at a critical point when the song was originally released, wholesale lending now finds itself at a similar crossroads.
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Discrimination by any other name ...

Here at HW, we're shocked -- but not suprised -- to find out that former mortgage industry employees are fighting a stigma among employers in other industries. The OC Register's Mortgage Insider blog last week covered a job posting from Apple One, a staffing company:
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Fitch warns it might downgrade Standard & Poor's

A little satire for the weekend: Fitch Ratings today said it might lower its 'AAA' rating on Standard & Poor's, as the financial ratings business continues to reel from a complete lack of anything to actually rate in residential mortgage-backed securities. Fitch said that S&P would likely face a three-notch downgrade unless the agency could somehow drum up some RMBS or CDO business in the next few weeks.
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Viewpoint: FICO - The Late, Great Credit Score?

Is FICO still relevant to the mortgage industry? I can see it now: no matter how this question gets answered, it’s certain to elicit some response, which in fact, is the reason for the article. As an industry that migrated with some reservation but eventually went "all-in" with the belief that FICO was a true indicator of performance, it’s a question that deserves discussion, particularly given the issues we’re facing.
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Zillow looking to get into mortgage origination

The always-zesty folks over at Zillow, who provide the well-known Zestimates of housing values, are making a move into mortgage origination. Or, perhaps, into lead generation for originators. We can't really tell which. But we do know that, so far, they're playing coy with both realtors and broker bloggers on the subject, building some momentum for an announcement company spokesperson Sarah Mann confirmed to us will be coming soon.
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Ben Bernanke twitters

Hey, we're not kidding -- check Ben Bernanke out over on Twitter. The latest from the Fed chief*: If someone doesn't muzzle The Hammer soon I'm going to take this to GWB. This is absurd. *you do know this isn't the real thing, right?
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