Author Archives: Bone Fish

Mortgage Refinance Soar 37% To Highest Level Since Mid-2016 As Mortgage Rates Plunge: Purchase Applications Rise Only 1.9%

Ah, to be a mortgage banker doing refinancings as the global economy grinds to a halt.

According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, refinancing applications rose 37% week-over-week (WoW).

Refi applications have soared to their highest level since mid-2016 as mortgage rates plunge.

Mortgage purchase applications have not been the same since lenders tightened their lending standards and banks increased capital ratios. Not to mention the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

As the NY Fed. pointed out, housing debt is almost back to its prior housing bubble peak of $10 trillion.

Phoenix AZ leads the nation in QoQ mortgage debt growth. Why? A rebound effect in the lower tier of Phoenix home prices.

Source: Confounded Interest

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FHA Eases Condo Rules, Expanding The Purchase And Reverse Mortgage Market

Through a new rule announced Wednesday, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) is making it easier for aspiring entry level housing buyers and condo owners to get reverse mortgages with FHA insured financing. 

The FHA published a final regulation and policy implementation guidance this week establishing a new process for condominium approvals which will expand FHA financing for qualified first time home buyers as well as seniors looking to age in place, the Department of Housing and Urban Development said in a press memo. 

In a stated Trump Administration effort to “reduce regulatory barriers restricting affordable home ownership,” the new rule introduces a new single-unit approval procedure that eases the ability for individual condominium units to become eligible for FHA-insured financing. It also extends the recertification requirement for approved condominium projects from two years to three.

The rule will also allow more mixed-use projects to be eligible for FHA insurance, the department said in a press release. HUD Secretary Ben Carson touted the rule’s ability to assist both first-time home buyers, as well as seniors aiming to age in place.

“Condominiums have increasingly become a source of affordable, sustainable home ownership for many families and it’s critical that FHA be there to help them,” said Carson in a press release announcing the new rule. “Today, we take an important step to open more doors to home ownership for younger, first-time American buyers as well as seniors hoping to age-in-place.”

Acting HUD Deputy Secretary and FHA Commissioner Brian D. Montgomery added that this rule is being implemented partially in response to the demands of the housing market.

“Today we are making certain FHA responds to what the market is telling us.
Montgomery said in the release. “This new rule allows FHA to meet its core mission to support eligible borrowers who are ready for home ownership and are most likely to enter the market with the purchase of a condominium.”

The last notable action taken by FHA in terms of condominium approvals took place in the fall of 2016, when the agency proposed new rules that would allow individual condo units to become eligible for FHA financing, including Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECMs).

FHA estimated this new policy will notably increase the amount of condominium projects that can now gain FHA approval. 84 percent of FHA-insured condominium buyers have never owned a home before, according to agency data. Only 6.5 percent of the more than 150,000 condominium projects in the United States are approved to participate in FHA’s mortgage insurance programs.

“As a result of FHA’s new policy, it is estimated that 20,000 to 60,000 condominium units could become eligible for FHA-insured financing annually,” the press release said.

Read the final rule in the Federal Register.

Source: by Chris Clow | Reverse Mortgage Daily

Big Banks Outed For Enabled Jeffrey Epstein’s Sex Trafficking Crimes

Unlike the unfounded narrative that cryptocurrency enables crime, big banks are more than happy to serve unsavory clients if it is lucrative enough for them. The latest example of this is a report that Jeffrey Epstein was apparently using his bank accounts to fund sex trafficking and possibly other crimes.

Follow the Money

The reported death of the Wall Street financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein on Saturday morning in a Manhattan prison cell has left a lot of questions. Among these is how exactly he funded his criminal activities, which included sex trafficking of minors to be used by the rich and powerful. One matter that is not a mystery is how Epstein funded his perversions: he used the traditional fiat banking system, with all its extensive KYC and AML regulations.

The alleged suicide of Epstein shouldn’t stop the “Legions of lawyers, bankers and accountants” that have been digging into his financial affairs in recent weeks claims the New York Times. These include officials conducting internal reviews at the two big banks that worked with him for years, JP Morgan Chase and Deutsche Bank. The employees at both of these financial institutions have reportedly been going over their books in a long overdue attempt to understand how they got into business with the convicted criminal and what exactly he was using their banking services for. A person who was briefed on Deutsche Bank’s internal review reportedly said “it appeared that Mr. Epstein was using his accounts for sex trafficking and possibly other illegal activity.”

Deutsche Bank headquarters on Wall Street in Lower Manhattan, New York

Further, according to the report, compliance officers and other employees at both JP Morgan Chase and Deutsche Bank had strongly advised their higher-ups to stop doing business with Epstein years before his accounts were finally closed. This was suggested not due to the unpalatable nature of his businesses, but due to the risks associated with him such as hurting the bank’s brand and upsetting regulators. However, former employees at both banks said that “managers and executives rejected that advice and kept doing business with the lucrative client.”

Deutsche Bank Only Recently Closed Epstein’s Accounts

Jeffrey Epstein pleaded guilty and was convicted in court of law of both soliciting a prostitute and of procuring a minor for prostitution back in 2008. He served 13 months in custody with work release, as part of a plea deal, where federal prosecutes had identified 36 girls as young as 14 years old who had been victimized. His case was very hard to miss due to the fact that his name was tied to some of the most famous and powerful people in the world such as Donald Trump, former U.S. President Bill Clinton, the U.K.’s Prince Andrew, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, and disgraced Hollywood star Kevin Spacey.

Despite all of this, it isn’t too hard to see why the higher-ups at the big banks didn’t want to let go of his business. While not much is known about the source of his money, Epstein definitely had a lot of it moving around. Among his confirmed assets is a private island in the U.S. Virgin Islands, a Manhattan mansion worth over $77 million, a Palm Beach estate worth over $12 million, additional real-estate properties in New Mexico and Paris, a private jet airplane and no less than 15 cars. Considering this, it isn’t that surprising that Deutsche Bank only cut its ties to Epstein when prosecutors were set to charge him again with operating a sex-trafficking ring of underage girls in June of this year.

A Chase Bank branch in Manhattan, New York

JP Morgan Chase worked with Epstein from the late 1990s until 2013 and Deutsche Bank served him from 2013 until June 2019. The latter bank has reportedly already started giving his complete transaction history to investigators while the former awaits receiving similar demands for his financial data from U.S. authorities.

In a statement on Saturday after the alleged suicide, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman expressed his commitment to the victims to keep the investigation ongoing, despite the demise of the defendant. This means that the public will hopefully get a detailed examination into the criminal banking activities of Epstein in due course.

Big Banks Have a Long History of Enabling Crime

Governments, central banks and international financial institutions have all been pushing a largely unfounded narrative in recent years that cryptocurrencies enable illicit activity. Parroted by the mainstream media, it was used as justification to crack down on exchanges and other crypto service providers with demands for less user privacy or outright bans. In contrast, the established banking system has a long and proven track record of enabling all sorts of crimes, despite its burdensome compliance requirements, and yet erring institutions receive nothing more than a fine equal to a slap on the wrist.

The recent seizure of a cargo ship owned by JP Morgan, which was loaded with 20 tons of cocaine, highlight the involvement of the big banks, albeit unwittingly in this instance, in such activities. Money laundering for drug cartels as well as moving funds for terrorists, arms dealers and dictatorial regimes are among the many misdeeds the banks have been caught red-handed abetting over the years.

What do you think about the big banks that reportedly enabled Jeffrey Epstein to fund his sex trafficking crimes? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Source: by Avi Mizrahi | Bitcoin.com

Negative Rate Home Mortgages Rolled Out In Denmark

A bank in Denmark is offering borrowers mortgages at a negative interest rate, effectively paying its customers to borrow money for a house purchase.

denmark little mermaid

Copenhagen’s famed Little Mermaid statue, one of Denmark’s best-known attractions – News Oresund/Flickr

Jyske Bank, Denmark’s third-largest bank, said this week that customers would now be able to take out a 10-year fixed-rate mortgage with an interest rate of -0.5%, meaning customers will pay back less than the amount they borrowed.

To put the -0.5% rate in simple terms: If you bought a house for $1 million and paid off your mortgage in full in 10 years, you would pay the bank back only $995,000.

It should be noted that even with a negative interest rate, banks often charge fees linked to the borrowing, which means homeowners could still pay back more.

“It’s another chapter in the history of the mortgage,” the Jyske Bank housing economist Mikkel Høegh told Danish TV, according to the news website Copenhagen Post. “A few months ago, we would have said that this would not be possible, but we have been surprised time and time again, and this opens up a new opportunity for homeowners.”

Jyske Bank’s negative rate is the latest in a series of extremely low interest offers from banks to Danish homeowners.

According to The Local, Nordea Bank, Scandinavia’s biggest lender, said it would offer a 20-year fixed-rate mortgage with 0% interest. Bloomberg reported that some Danish lenders were offering 30-year mortgages at a 0.5% rate.

It should also be noted that negative rates have been available on short-term mortgage bonds in Denmark since May, according to Bloomberg; they have only just been made directly available to consumers.

“It’s never been cheaper to borrow,” Lise Nytoft Bergmann, the chief analyst at Nordea’s home finance unit in Denmarktold Bloomberg.

It may seem counterintuitive for banks to lend out their money at such low rates — but there is a rationale behind it.

Financial markets are in a volatile, uncertain spot right now. Factors include the US-China trade warBrexit, and a generalized economic slowdown across the world — and particularly in Europe.

Many investors fear a substantial crash in the near future. As such, some banks are willing to lend money at negative rates, accepting a small loss rather than risking a bigger loss by lending money at higher rates that customers cannot meet.

“It’s an uncomfortable thought that there are investors who are willing to lend money for 30 years and get just 0.5% in return,” Bergmann said.

“It shows how scared investors are of the current situation in the financial markets, and that they expect it to take a very long time before things improve.”

Source: by Will Martin | Business Insider

Easy Money Blog Observations:

This doesn’t mean borrowers are being paid to take mortgages.

Jyske Bank appears to describe in the attached press release that they add a 1% “variable contribution rate” + fees to a -0.5 negative “bond rate”, resulting in borrowers qualifying to pay a positive amortized rate over a maximum 10 year period, plus taxes and insurance, to 80% loan to value at closing.

Most home buyers are unable to qualify for a ten year mortgage with 20% down. This means the program is being targeted to existing equity rich homeowners interested in cash out mortgages. 

https://www.jyskebank.dk/bolig/nyheder/realkredit-med-negativ-rente

 

China’s Central Bank Crypto Currency Is “Ready”, After 5 Years Development

A senior official at China’s central bank announced at the China Finance 40 Group meeting today that the country will soon roll out its central bank digital currency (CBDC.)

Mu Changchun, Deputy Chief in the Payment and Settlement Division of the People’s Bank of China (PBOC,) stated that the CBDC prototype exists and the PBOC’s Digital Money Research Group has already fully adopted the blockchain architecture for the currency. China’s CBDC will not rely entirely on a pure blockchain architecture, as this would not allow the currency to achieve the throughput required for retail usage.

According to Changchun, the currency has been in the research and development phase since 2014. At the meeting on Saturday, he said, “People’s Bank digital currency can now be said to be ready.”

The CBDC will employ a two-tier operational structure, per Changchun:

 The People’s Bank of China is the upper level and the commercial banks are the second level. This dual delivery system is suitable for our national conditions. It can use existing resources to mobilize the enthusiasm of commercial banks and smoothly improve the acceptance of digital currency.

 

A two-tier system is preferable due to China’s complex economy, vast territory and large population. “From the perspective of improving accessibility and increasing public willingness to use, a two-tier operational framework should be adopted to deal with this difficulty,” Changchun said. He also welcomed the resources, talent and innovation capabilities of commercial businesses who will partner with the PBOC to roll out the currency. Finally, this system will help avoid concentration of risk and financial disintermediation.

At the same meeting, China UnionPay Chairman Shaofu Jun said that the goals of China’s CBDC would be difficult to achieve. While a CBDC could solve issues related to cross-border transactions, long lag times and legacy inefficiencies, the lack of clear operational processes and a detailed regulatory framework across countries will be challenging to overcome.

Chase Bank Forgives “All Outstanding Credit Card Debt” For Canadian Customers

In a shocking move, Chase Bank announced on Thursday that it was going to be forgiving all outstanding credit card debt from its Canadian customers, according to Yahoo Finance. The bank closed all of its credit card accounts in Canada back in March of 2018. 

When the accounts were initially closed, customers were told to continue paying down their debt. Now, they’re being told by the company that their debt is cancelled. CBC talked to some customers who got letters from the bank this week.

Douglas Turner of Coe Hill, Ontario, who still owed about $4,500, said: 

“I was sort of over the moon all last night, with a smile on my face. I couldn’t believe it. It’s crazy. This stuff doesn’t happen with credit cards. Credit cards are horror stories.”

 

Paul Adamson of Dundalk, Ontario said he called his bank after seeing his account was closed because he was concerned about missing a payment. Adamson said:

 “I’m honestly still so … flabbergasted about it. It’s surprise fees, extra complications – things like that, definitely, but not loan forgiveness.”

The bank had previously offered rewards cards for both Amazon and Marriott in Canada. Maria Martinez, vice-president of communications for Chase Card Services, said that the bank could have sold the debt, but that forgiving it “was a better decision for all parties, including and most importantly our customers.”

It’ll be interesting to see if the news is as well received by diligent Chase customers in Canada who paid off their cards, as well as American customers who have undoubedtly racked up massive sums of debt with the bank. 

A 24 year old university student, Christine Langlois of Montreal, said she hadn’t paid the card in 5 years. 

“It’s kind of like I’m being rewarded for my irresponsibility,” she said. 

Source: ZeroHedge

Is The Federal Reserve Losing Control Of The Gold Price?

After years of being kept in the doldrums by orchestrated short selling described on this website by Roberts and Kranzler, gold has lately moved up sharply, reaching over $1,500 this week.  The gold price has continued to rise despite the continuing practice of dumping large volumes of naked contracts in the futures market.  The gold price is driven down but quickly recovers and moves on up.  I haven’t an explanation at this time for the new force that is more powerful than the short-selling that has been used to control the price of gold.

Various central banks have been converting their dollar reserves into gold, which reduces the demand for dollars and increases the demand for gold.  Existing stocks of gold available to fill orders are being drawn down, and new mining output is not keeping pace with the rise in demand.  Perhaps this is the explanation for the rise in the price of gold.

During the many years of Quantitative Easing the exchange value of the dollar was protected by the Japanese, British, and EU central banks also printing money to insure that their currencies did not rise in value relative to the dollar. The Federal Reserve needs to protect the dollar’s exchange value so that it continues in its role as the world’s reserve currency in which international transactions are conducted.  If the dollar loses this role, the US will lose the ability to pay its bills by printing dollars.  A dollar declining in value relative to other countries would cause flight from the dollar to the rising currencies.  Catastrophe quickly occurs from increasing the supply of a currency that central banks are unwilling to hold.

One problem remained. The dollar was depreciating relative to gold.  Rigging the currency market was necessary but not sufficient to stabilize the dollar’s value. The gold market also had to be rigged. To stop the dollar’s depreciation, naked short selling has been used to artificially increase the supply of paper gold in order to suppress the price.  Unlike equities, gold shorts don’t have to be covered. This turns the price-setting gold futures market into a paper market where contracts are settled primarily in cash and not by taking delivery of gold.  Therefore, participants can increase the supply of the paper gold traded in the futures market by printing new contracts. When large numbers of contracts are suddenly dumped in the market, the sudden increase in paper gold supply drives down the price. This has worked until now.

If flight from the dollar is beginning, it will make it difficult for the Federal Reserve to accommodate the growing US budget deficit and continue its policy of lowering interest rates. With central banks moving their reserves from dollars (US Treasury bonds and bills) to gold, the demand for US government debt is not keeping up with supply.  The supply will be increasing due to the $1.5 trillion US budget deficit.  The Federal Reserve will have to take up the gap between the amount of new debt that has to be issued and the amount that can be sold by purchasing the difference.  In other words, the Fed will print more money with which to purchase the unsold portion of the new debt.  

The creation of more dollars when the dollar is experiencing pressure puts more downward pressure on the dollar.  To protect the dollar, that is, to make it again attractive to investors and central banks, the Federal Reserve would have to raise interest rates substantially.  If the US economy is in recession or moving toward recession, the cost of rising interest rates would be high in terms of unemployment.  

With a rising price of gold, who would want to hold debt denominated in a rapidly depreciating currency when interest rates are low, zero, or negative?

The Federal Reserve might have no awareness of the pending crisis that it has set up for itself.  On the other hand, the Federal Reserve is responsive to the elite who want to rid themselves of Trump.  Collapsing the economy on Trump’s head is one way to prevent his reelection.

Source: by Paul Craig Roberts