Saturday, October 18, 2014

Pay to Prey: Report on privatization

This is a report on the way Republican governors  have allowed corporations to profit from privatization deals at the expense of the public and the people who are supposed to be receiving the services.  Some of the stories are pretty lurid.  From  the report:

"Outsourcing of public services is a big business. Some experts estimate that $1 trillion out of the $6 trillion the federal government, together with state and local governments, spend annually are handed over to private contractors. In 2010, an electoral landslide ushered in a new breed of governors. Aided and abetted by corporate-funded legislative and lobbying groups, such as the American Legislative Exchange Counsel (ALEC), these governors pushed the envelope of outsourcing and privatization, selling public services to for-profit firms with their powerful political lobbies and related campaign contributions. In this process, transparency and accountability are lost and the public loses its ability to influence decision makers through normal democratic channels. Shared prosperity also suffers when good middle class jobs are lost to low-road, low-wage employers. In states across the country, schools, health care, prisons, prison food, water services, road services, state liquor sales, state economic development authorities, legal services, and even child support services were outsourced to private, for-profit companies. While the governors spoke of tight budgets and cost savings, a pattern emerged of influential corporate lobbyists and deep-pocketed campaign contributors In this effort to shrink government and sell off the prosperous parts to private interests, the winners are large corporations with a phalanx of lobbyists and campaign coffers big enough to buy political influence. All too often, taxpayers find themselves on the losing side."

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Making of Ferguson, MO

"In August 2014, a Ferguson, Missouri, policeman shot and killed an unarmed black teenager. Michael Brown’s death and the resulting protests and racial tension brought considerable attention to that town. Observers who had not been looking closely at our evolving demographic patterns were surprised to see ghetto conditions we had come to associate with inner cities now duplicated in a formerly white suburban community: racially segregated neighborhoods with high poverty and unemployment, poor student achievement in overwhelmingly black schools, oppressive policing, abandoned homes, and community powerlessness."

This is a detailed and balanced account of how Ferguson became what it is today. Public  policies, real estate industry practices, and other institutional factors contributed to the situation.  My colleague Dennis Judd's article about segregative practices  is cited. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

SFR Investments v. US Bank

The Nevada Supreme court has ruled that:

"NRS 116.3116 gives a homeowners' association (HOA) a 
superpriority lien on an individual homeowner's property for up to nine 
months of unpaid HOA dues. With limited exceptions, this lien is "prior to 
all other liens and encumbrances" on the homeowner's property, even a 
first deed of trust recorded before the dues became delinquent. NRS 
116.3116(2). We must decide whether this is a true priority lien such that 
its foreclosure extinguishes a first deed of trust on the property and, if so, 
whether it can be foreclosed nonjudicially. We answer both questions in 
the affirmative and therefore reverse."

The result is that an investment company bought a house for peanuts at an HOA foreclosure sale, and the sale wiped out the first mortgage on a house worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.  Wow.  I have placed the full opinion on for anybody to download.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Construction company builds dream home--on the wrong lot

I've heard of banks foreclosing on the wrong house, but this  is a first.

Bad news for builders?

Thanks to Fred Pilot for this link to a financial story about an exhange traded fund (ETF) that includes the home building industry.  Bad news for builders?

'They may be called home builders,but this year their stocks are portfolio wreckers.Those who had the misfortune of buying the ETF that tracks the home builders (trading under the ticker symbol XHB) at the beginning of the year are in the red by 14 percent.The XHB is now trading at its lowest levels this year and according to the charts, it could get a lot worse."