Saturday, August 02, 2008 / In depth - Wells Fargo cheer lifts banks / In depth - Wells Fargo cheer lifts banks: "Shares in Wells Fargo, the fifth-largest US bank, leapt by more than 32 per cent on Wednesday after it reported better-than-expected second-quarter results and lifted its dividend, leading other financial stocks and broader equity markets higher."
Here is some good news for a change. Wells Fargo is one of the top banks in housing loans, so at least somebody is surviving this meltdown. They had declining earnings for three quarters, but stayed in the black. / In depth - FDIC warns four US banks over liquidity / In depth - FDIC warns four US banks over liquidity: "Losses on mortages and other loans have helped bring down eight US banks this year, including one small Florida institution on Friday. Last month, Indymac, a California lender with $32bn in assets, became one of the largest banks to go under in US history. It filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection on Friday.

The banks receiving cease-and-desist orders in June were MetroPacific Bank in Irvine, California; Bank Haven in Haven, Kansas; Clarkston State Bank in Clarkston, Michigan; and Hastings State Bank in Hastings, Nebraska."

Eight failures so far this year. The big Indymac failure last year. Four more just warned for lack of liquidity, i.e., not enough cash. As I understand it, when the FDIC decides to close a bank they just show up on Friday afternoon without notice and take over. That way the depositors can't rush to the bank to get their money out. So who knows what nasty surprises are on the horizon?

Friday, August 01, 2008

Federal judge says Mount Soledad cross can stay - San Jose Mercury News
The federal judge is Larry Burns, a friend of mine from the DA's office in San Diego and our paperboy for the Pasadena Star-News when I was a kid. What a great decision.

Urban America: The New Solid South | "Today, America’s urban areas have evolved into a political monoculture that increasingly resembles the “solid South” that provided a base for Democrats from the late 19th century to the 1960s. Since 1972, the year of the Nixon landslide, the Democratic share has grown 20 percent or more in most of the largest urban counties."
Chicago is a great example. There is no functional Republican party opposition to the Democrat machine. No matter how bad the corruption and incompetence, the people vote for the Democrats. And that culture spread to the state government, which, thanks to corrupt Republican Governor Ryan, is now all Democrat-controlled and coincidentally corrupt and incompetent and dysfunctional. And if the coronation of Lord Obama proceeds as planned by He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Criticized and the media, a huge herd of Chicago/Illinois corrupticrats will descend on Washington and enjoy a feast at the public trough the likes of which this country has never seen. So this urban political monoculture will have disastrous consequences. Boss Tweed would have loved it.

Lake Bluff seeks records that led to tax exemption --

Lake Bluff seeks records that led to tax exemption -- "Lake Bluff requested financial records Thursday from a resident who got an $80,000 property tax break from the Illinois Department of Revenue after he converted his lakefront mansion into a church."
Nice idea, but the city won't go along with it. Thanks to Dennis James, founder of Quantum Pork, for the link.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

About The Lawsuit

Involuntary HOA?The Sand Lake Hills Homeowners Association, hereinafter SLH, and a group of property owners who own 57 lots in Section 3, have taken it upon themselves to attempt to remake Sand Lake Hills into something it was never intended to be: a development controlled by a homeowner association which can levy mandatory assessments against all of the owners, even those who don’t want a homeowner association and who don’t want to pay assessments. SLH has stated that membership in the association is not mandatory for current owners. However, they say that even those members who didn’t join will still have to pay. Taxation without representation was bad enough. Taxation without affiliation is even worse.
This reminds me of those episodes of Star Trek when the Borg cube shows up and you hear, "Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated." Thanks to Beth Young for the link.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Mutual of Omaha Bank to Acquire Deposits of Failed First National Bank -

BANK FAILURE: Mutual of Omaha Bank to Acquire Deposits of Failed First National Bank--including Community Association Banc: "OMAHA, Neb., Jul 25, 2008 (BUSINESS WIRE) ----Mutual of Omaha Bank has agreed to acquire from the FDIC the deposits of the failed Reno, Nev.,-based First National Bank of Nevada and its affiliate, First Heritage Bank of Newport Beach, Calif., the company announced...Federal regulators on Friday declared First National Bank of Nevada and its affiliates insolvent and the FDIC was named receiver...The acquisition also includes two First National operations: the Wealth Management Division and Community Association Banc, which serves neighborhood and condominium homeowners associations.
Thanks to an alert correspondent who sent this along. Community Association Banc's website has already been changed to reflect the takeover. AHRC noted that the bank was making loans to condo and homeowner associations, was active with CAI, and was a supporter of aggressive foreclosure practices and laws in order to collect on those loans from debtors. Well, now it seems that it has gone into the "debtor" class itself. Worldwide Worldwide: "The S&P/Case-Shiller home-price index dropped 15.8 percent from a year earlier, the biggest decline since records began in 2001, after decreasing 15.2 percent in April. The gauge has fallen every month since January 2007.

Stricter loan rules, rising mortgage rates and an increase in foreclosures are making it more difficult for prospective buyers to get financing, hurting home sales. The prolonged real-estate slump, along with higher fuel prices a shrinking job market, is weighing on consumers and the economy."

This is report I referred to below that showed LA and Miami dropping by 28%.

The Unraveling of the Suburban Fringe

The Unraveling of the Suburban Fringe: "Annual price changes in most of the largest metro areas, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, San Francisco, Seattle, Baltimore, Washington D.C., and Philadelphia, followed a similar pattern: Values were most stable within a 10-mile radius of the center of the city, but generally worsened with each successive radius ring as far as 50 miles from the center of the city."
This article is an overheated analysis of the situation, but with gas prices and overbuilding on the fringe, there is more of a decline in value out there. Or actually out here, considering that I live 50 miles from Chicago.

HOA Watch - Home

HOA Watch - Home
This link was sent to me by somebody who I will keep anonymous for the moment. What we have here is a firm that offers to drive around your HOA finding violations. Check this out:

"We will do a house by house drive-through of your entire property anytime of the day or night you require. Digital photos are taken of the violations reported. This service can be done weekly, biweekly, monthly or a one-time basis. We report based on what your specific violations are for your community."

This outfit claims "over 18 years in the Homeowner Association Management field," and they even capitalize every word of it for some reason. Worldwide

Housing slump fuels bear Worldwide
U.S. stocks fell and the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost more than 200 points for the second time in three days after the International Monetary Fund said there is no end in sight to the housing slump.
There was also a report today saying that housing prices fell 16% over the last year. Las Vegas and Miami lost 25%.

On a lighter note, I will be on WBEZ today at 9:00 and you can check out the podcast. This is Chicago's NPR affiliate. The topic is condo associations banning the mezuzah, something I have blogged about here. Check it out by going to the program "Eight Forty Eight", or find the program at this location: