February 18, 2014 |
Families boosted their borrowing late last year at the fastest pace since the global financial crisis, a sign that Americans are gradually reopening their wallets as they feel more secure in their jobs. Household debt jumped $241 billion to $11.5 trillion in the fourth quarter, the biggest increase since the third quarter of 2007, according to data released Tuesday by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. "This quarter is the first time since before the Great Recession that household debt has increased over its year-ago levels, suggesting that after a long period of de-leveraging, households are borrowing again," said Wilbert van der Klaauw, an economist at the New York Fed. The pickup in debt was a welcome development after a string of disappointing economic reports in the last few weeks.
January 18, 2014 |
Most of the risky mortgages that triggered the financial crisis have disappeared from the marketplace, and lenders will have even more reason to avoid them because of a new federal crackdown on loose lending. But one housing-bubble favorite -- the interest-only loan -- will remain a common offering to well-heeled home buyers, despite new rules from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The rules, which took effect last week, exclude interest-only loans from "qualified mortgage" status, which protects lenders from liability over defaults.
January 16, 2014 |
The wind-down of the bailout continues. The Obama administration has decided to sell about $3 billion of the government's common stock holdings in Ally Financial Inc., a former General Motors Corp. lending arm propped up with taxpayer assistance during the financial crisis. That would bring the recovery from Ally to $15.3 billion, or 89%, of the $17.2 billion bailout provided by the Troubled Asset Relief Program, the Treasury Department said Thursday in announcing its plan. QUIZ: big business news of 2014 The deal would involve unloading 410,000 shares of Ally common stock at $7,375 apiece in a private offering, the department said.
January 2, 2014
Re "Another use for literature," Opinion, Dec. 29 Robert Sapolsky's fine essay on the value of literature pinpoints the tragedy of our time: the demise of the attention span. As long as one reads simply to find out what happens, then one barrels through the pages and skips the "boring" descriptions and commentary. It takes energy, patience and focus to read good literature, but as the old adage says, "You get out what you put in. " Taking time to enjoy reading means that the "how" is as important as the "what": character development, time and place, meaning and a depth of feeling missing from "easy" fiction.
November 19, 2013 |
NEW YORK - JPMorgan Chase has agreed to a $13-billion settlement with the government over selling shoddy mortgage investments, ending a legal battle that signals a tougher stance against Wall Street wrongdoing. The nation's largest bank admitted to knowingly peddling the toxic securities that helped lead to the housing bubble and the worst financial meltdown since the Great Depression. The settlement is the largest made by any single American company in history. California, slammed by 1 million foreclosures during the mortgage meltdown, will be a major beneficiary of the deal.
November 12, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - President Obama tapped a senior Treasury official to take over as one of Wall Street's top regulators, leading the agency charged with overseeing complex financial derivatives. Obama said Tuesday he would nominate Timothy Massad to succeed Gary Gensler as chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Gensler's term expires at the end of the year. Massad has spent more than two years in charge of winding down the $700-billion financial crisis bailout fund, which has turned into a gain for taxpayers so far, though a small projected loss on paper.