Interesting Housing News Links (March 2, 2009)

* Harry Gross: A rare opportunity to flex the ARM (Harry Gross, Philadelphia Inquirer)

Dear Harry: I know how you hate those ARMs (adjustable-rate mortgages), but I went for one five years ago, because I didn’t think my job assignment in New Jersey would last this long. It now appears that I will have at most another three years here and then be transferred back to St. Louis. Here’s the problem: Our ARM had a fixed rate of 5 percent for the first five years. Now it is about to ad…

* Markets Fall from Tokyo to London to New York City (Bruce Crumley, Time)

It’s not hard to understand why most observers expect Wall Street to slide fast and far during trading Monday. It opened with an opening dive its first dip below the 7,000 point bar in more than a decade. And why would the Dow resist the mega-tanking that bourses elsewhere experienced today, amid a flurry of dismal financial and economic news from virtually every corner of the globe?

* Man pleads guilty in mortgage fraud scheme (Business Journal Charlotte)

An Upper Arlington man accused of involvement in a Central Ohio mortgage fraud ring has pleaded guilty to eight felony counts and is set to testify against the woman investigators have called the ringleader.

* Punishing fraud in the mortgage-lending crisis (Seattle Times)

The FBI must make its way through 66,000 reports of potential bank fraud, a daunting task aided by a new regional task force that could yield successes like the Bellevue loan officer headed to prison for one of the largest home-mortgage scams in Western Washington. A timely solution in this region comes by way of a task force made up of local, state and federal investigators.

* Congressman promises new Armenian genocide bill

Despite strong opposition from Turkey, a Southern California congressman is vowing to introduce another bill blaming the Ottoman Empire for the Armenian genocide of 1915.

* Yard-waste decision may add to pollution (Spencer Hunt, Columbus Dispatch)

The city’s decision to cut yard-waste pickups will put more cars and trucks on the road, boost fuel use and increase air pollution in central Ohio, a Dispatch analysis found.

* Freddie Mac CEO David Moffett resigns (Pacific Business News)

Freddie Mac said Monday that Chief Executive Officer David Moffett has said he will resign both his position and his seat on the board effective March 13.

* Construction activity falls far more than expected (Martin Crutsinger)

Construction spending plunged more than twice as much as expected in January, led by the largest drop in nonresidential activity in 15 years.

* AIG United Guaranty loses $485 million (Pacific Business News)

AIG United Guaranty posted an operating loss of $485 million in the fourth quarter of 2008, as part of parent company American International Group s stunning $61.7 billion total quarterly loss.

* Robert Samuelson: Politics distorts housing problem (Orange County Register)

Robert Samuelson: Politics distorts housing problem Focus should be to stimulate buying, not limit foreclosures.

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