Seizing underwater mortgages
In San Bernardino, California, the county has hatched a plan that could use current eminent domain laws to seize mortgages from investors that are bigger than the current value of the homes they’re lent against, according to Reuters opinion columnist Daniel Indiviglio who says the new plan may be “the most dangerous housing market intervention yet.”
“If it catches on,” Indiviglio adds, “bondholders could face billions in losses – and taxpayers, too, if local authorities start targeting loans backed by the federal government. That would whack up mortgage costs and may leave Washington as the only lender.”
Typically eminent domain is used in more extreme cases, like reclaiming land through compensation for public use for roads, or economic development projects for the greater good in the area. Under the proposal under consideration, the county would seize underwater mortgages and sell the loans to a fund called “Mortgage Resolution partners,” which makes a profit on the safer new mortgages, for which mortgage borrowers must qualify and be current on their payments.
The new mortgage holder also benefits as they receive a loan now worth less than their home, building instant equity. Indiviglio says that under the plan, “the local politicians look smart and may win some extra votes. But that doesn’t allow for the true cost of the program.”
Quite a risky program
Indiviglio asserts that if this was implemented across the nation and includes not just private-label mortgages (such as being considered in San Bernardino), “That opens up the scheme to a large chunk of the $1.2 trillion-worth Americans owe on their mortgages above the current value of their homes, according to Zillow’s first-quarter Negative Equity Report. That would cause enormous losses for bondholders and taxpayers alike. At the extreme, private investors would probably abandon any intentions of financing a private mortgage market in the future, leaving the U.S. government as the only entity willing to shoulder the risk.”
Use of eminent domain in this case, even if on a small scale, would make bondholders charge far more for the risk, which Indiviglio says will push up the price of home ownership – which could hit demand for loans and send house prices down again, perpetuating the cycle of bubbles and bailouts.
Although the plan could be a stunt to motivate banks to modify mortgages rather than undergo seizure of underwater mortgages, but if implemented, the benefits would be nowhere near the cost.
Boomers retirement may be the true reason behind the labor shortage
(ECONOMY) Millennials and Gen Z were quick to be blamed for the labor shortage, citing lazy work ethic- the cause could actually be Boomers retirement.
In July, we reported on the Great Resignation. With record numbers of resignations, there’s a huge labor shortage in the United States. Although there were many speculations about the reasons why, from “lazy” millennials to the number of deaths from Covid. Just recently, CNN reported that in November another 3.6 million Americans left the labor force. It’s been suggested that the younger generations don’t want to work but retiring Boomers might be the bigger culprit.
Why Boomers are leaving the labor force
CNN Business reports that 90% of the Americans who left the workplace were over 55 years old. It’s now being suggested that many of the people who have left the labor force since the beginning of the pandemic were older Americans, not Millennials or Gen Z, as we originally thought. Here are the reasons why:
- Boomers are more concerned about catching COVID-19 than their younger counterparts, so they aren’t returning to work. Boomers are less willing to risk their health.
- The robust real estate market has benefitted Boomers, who have more equity in their homes. Boomers have more options on the table than just returning to work.
- Employers aren’t creating or posting jobs that lure people out of retirement or those near retirement age.
As Boomers retire, how does this impact the overall labor economy?
According to CNN Business, there are signs that the labor shortage is abating. Employers are starting to see record number of applicants to most posted jobs. FedEx, for example, just got 111,000 applications in one week, the highest it has ever recorded. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the pandemic-induced increase in retirement is only temporary. People who retired due to the risk of the pandemic will return to work as new strategies emerge to reduce the risk to their health. With new varients popping up, we will have to keep an eye on how the trend ultimately plays out.
Is the real estate industry endorsing Carson’s nomination to HUD?
(BUSINESS NEWS) Ben Carson’s initial appointment to HUD was controversial given his lack of experience in housing, but what is the pulse now?
NAR strongly backs Dr. Carson’s nomination
When President-Elect Donald Trump put forth Dr. Ben Carson’s name as the nominee for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, NAR President William E. Brown said, “While we’ve made great strides in recent years, far more can be done to put the dream of homeownership in reach for more Americans.”
At the time of nomination, the National Association of Realtors (the largest trade organization in the nation) offered a positive tone regarding Dr. Carson and said the industry looks forward to working with him. But does that hold true today?
The confirmation hearings yesterday were far less controversial than one would expect, especially in light of how many initially reacted to his nomination. Given his lack of experience in housing, questions seemed to often center around protecting the LGBT community and veterans, both of which he pledged to support.
In fact, Dr. Carson said the Fair Housing Act is “one of the best pieces of legislation we’ve ever had in this country,” promising to issue a “world-class plan” for housing upon his confirmation…
Job openings hit 14-year high, signaling economic improvement
The volume of job openings is improving, but not across all industries. The overall economy is improving, but not evenly across all career paths.
Job openings hit a high point
To understand the overall business climate, the U.S. Labor Department studies employment, today releasing data specific to job vacancies. According to the department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLT) for April, job openings rose to 5.38 million, the highest seen since December 2000, and a significant jump from March’s 5.11 million vacancies. Although a lagging indicator, it shows strength in the labor market.
The Labor Department reports that the number of hires in April fell to 5 million, which indicates a weak point in the strong report, and although the volume remains near recent highs, this indicates a talent gap and highlights the number of people who have left the labor market and given up on looking for a job.
Good news, bad news, depending on your profession
That said, another recent Department report notes that employers added 221,000 jobs in April and 280,000 in May, but the additions are not evenly spread across industries. Construction jobs rose in April, but dipped in professional and business services, hospitality, trade, and transportation utilities. In other words, white collar jobs are down, blue collar jobs are up, which is good or bad news depending on your profession.
Additionally, the volume of people quitting their jobs was 2.7 million in April compared to the seven-year high of 2.8 million in March. Economists follow this number as a metric for gauging employee confidence in finding their next job.
If you’re in the market for a job, there are an increasing number of openings, so your chance of getting hired is improving, but there is a caveat – not all industries are enjoying improvement.
If you’re hiring talent, you’ll still get endless resumes, but there appears to be a growing talent gap for non-labor jobs, so you’re not alone in struggling to find the right candidate.
Economists suspect the jobs market will continue to improve as a whole, but this data does not pertain to every industry.
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