$25 Billion Mortgage Agreement Doesn't Let Lenders Off Hook
2/11/2012U.S. lenders including Bank of America Corp.
still face years of litigation and billions of dollars in liabilities tied to the housing collapse after agreeing to settle a probe of abusive foreclosure practices. Government officials can pursue claims related to the packaging of loans into securities, criminal-enforcement actions and fair-lending violations, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said yesterday. The $25 billion deal with the five biggest servicers ends state and federal probes into shoddy foreclosures and pays for debt forgiveness, refinancing and other efforts to keep struggling homeowners in their properties.
Eurozone finance ministers dismissed as incomplete a reputed €3.3bn package of Greek budget cuts presented to them in the hope of securing a €130bn bail-out and sent the country’s finance minister back to Athens with a fresh set of demands and an urgent deadline. In exchange for signing off on the loan, which Greece is depending on to avoid a potentially chaotic default next month, its lenders are demanding €325m in further cuts to this year’s budget, parliamentary approval of a sweeping reform package and a pledge from the country’s political leaders to ensure they will maintain their commitment after April elections.
Yes, there are a lot of tax cheats out there who aren't playing by the rules. What Obama objects to -- Warren Buffett paying a lower effective tax rate than his secretary -- is ordained by the grotesque, 72,536-page tax code. In researching a recent column, I went back to "The Flat Tax," published by economists and Hoover Institution fellows Robert Hall and Alvin Rabushka in 1985. They proposed a revenue-neutral flat tax of 19 percent. All income would be taxed once, and only once, at the same rate and as close to the source as possible. "Whenever different forms of income are taxed at different rates or different taxpayers face different rates," they write, "the public figures out how to take advantage of the differential."
It's been over for the small broker-dealer model for awhile, but a hundred-year-old industry doesn't merely go away quietly and all at once. There were companies manufacturing typewriters and word processors into the late 90's and I'm sure the toga weavers were hard at work for decades after the fall of the Roman Empire. And so it goes here in the early dawn of 2012 as two of the most well-regarded boutique broker-dealers have been extinguished against the backdrop of a raging bull market for everyone else...
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