The Times doesn’t do a good job of explaining how most of the proposed bailouts it mentions would benefit underwater borrowers. But here’s one it does explain:
A more modest plan is being developed by John M. Reich, director of the Office of Thrift Supervision, the agency that regulates savings and loan companies. His plan, still in rough form, would create a voluntary system under which mortgage lenders would reduce debt and monthly payments to reflect the diminished sales value of a home.
It would take the remainder of the mortgage as a “negative amortization certificate,” a lien that the investor could recoup if the house were later sold for its original mortgage value or higher.
Now we’d like to see someone explain what kind of a floor these plans might put under home prices.
The Los Angeles Times reports from Iraq on a micro-finance program the U.S. has developed in Anbar province to stimulate its wrecked economy. The story isn’t exactly a rigorous examination, mostly relying on a couple of anecdotes, but it’s good to see any economic reporting from Iraq, and the micro-loan program seems to be a decent way to stimulate the middle class there.
The FT and Bloomberg report that DB Zwirn & Company is shutting its two biggest hedge funds after jittery investors tried to withdraw more than $2 billion—about half of its assets—after improprieties there. We’ve been wondering why there hasn’t been more hedge-fund wreckage in this credit crisis (though Bloomberg reports here on another fund with heavy losses this year). This one appears to have been done in by the appearance of impropriety—the firm’s owner’s private-jet travel was billed to the funds, for one thing.
The interesting thing here, though, is that its investments are so complex that it will take up to four years to sell them and cash out its investors.
On Thursday night, Zwirn sent a letter to investors outlining its plans to liquidate assets, about 60 per cent of which are not easily tradable and mostly involve illiquid loans made both in the US and abroad. People familiar with the matter stressed that there would be no fire sale and that the process could take years, given the ugliness of current market conditions.
The WSJ has a great read on its Marketplace front on how food inflation is pushing shoppers to so-called salvage grocers, where food manufacturers unload products they’re phasing out or that are near or past their expiration date. It’s a booming business.
Lots of good Quote of the Day material in here, but we’ll go with this one, which has to be set up with the context:
Shelley Hoober, a 56-year-old shopper at the Leola, Pa., SharpShopper, says she exercises caution when selecting products, noting that she bought a box of surplus cereal that turned out to be infested with bugs. “You have to really watch the dates,” she says.
This story deserved the offbeat treatment that only the page-one, middle-column “ahed” can provide