Bernanke urges more action to stem home foreclosure crisis

WASHINGTON (AP) — A rising tide of late mortgage payments and home foreclosures poses considerable dangers to the national economy, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke warned anew as he urged Congress to take additional steps to alleviate the problems.

“High rates of delinquency and foreclosure can have substantial spillover effects on the housing market, the financial markets and the broader economy,” Bernanke said Monday in a dinner speech to Columbia Business School in New York. “Therefore, doing what we can to avoid preventable foreclosures is not just in the interest of lenders and borrowers. It’s in everybody’s interest,” he said.

Some 1.5 million U.S. homes entered into the foreclosure process last year, up 53 percent from 2006, Bernanke said. The rate of new foreclosures looks likely to be even higher this year, he said.

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Fed `Rogue Operation’ Spurs Further Bailout Calls


Ben Bernanke, chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, arrives at the Federal Reserve building for a Federal Reserve Open Market Committee meeting in Washington, April 29, 2008. Photographer: Brendan Smialowski/Bloomberg News

May 2 (Bloomberg) — A month after the Federal Reserve rescued Bear Stearns Cos. from bankruptcy, Chairman Ben S. Bernanke got an S.O.S. from Congress.

There is “a potential crisis in the student-loan market” requiring “similar bold action,” Chairman Christopher Dodd of Connecticut and six other Democrats wrote Bernanke. They want the Fed to swap Treasury notes for bonds backed by student loans. In a separate letter, Pennsylvania Democratic Representative Paul Kanjorski and 31 House members said they want Bernanke to channel money directly to education-finance firms.

Student loans are just the start. Former Fed officials and other Fed-watchers say that Bernanke’s actions in saving Bear Stearns will expose the central bank to continuing pressure to use its $889 billion balance sheet to prop up companies or entire industries deemed important by politicians. The Fed satisfied Dodd’s request today, expanding the swaps to include securities backed by student debt.

“It is appalling where we are right now,” former St. Louis Fed President William Poole, who retired in March, said in an interview. The Fed has introduced “a backstop for the entire financial system.”

Critics argue that the result will be to foster greater risk-taking among investors emboldened by the belief that the government will bail them out of bad decisions.

The Fed’s loans to Bear Stearns were “a rogue operation,” said Anna Schwartz, who co-wrote “A Monetary History of the United States” with the late Nobel laureate Milton Friedman.

`No Business’

“To me, it is an open and shut case,” she said in an interview from her office in New York. “The Fed had no business intervening there.”

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A Trillion Dollar Rescue for Wall Street Gamblers

Nothing for Families and Retirees

If the move to a Unitary Executive of unfettered presidential power frightens you, America’s radical right turn to Unitary Finance should compound your fears–and your debts as well. The financial events of the last two weeks of March 2008 demonstrate that the “economic royalists” and “money changers” whom Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) drove from the temple of finance have returned to mismanage our economy into dire straights of unprecedented risk–debt creation, euphemized as “leveraging” and “wealth creation.”

The few checks and balances that remain in the way of the financial sector’s increasingly centralized planning, especially at the state level, are being swept aside under the guise of “saving the system.” Few Wall Street beneficiaries who use this phrase explain just what the system is. For starters, its political managers are industry lobbies appointed to high managerial and planning positions in the public agencies that are supposed to regulate these industries. Their idea of financial planning is to put a trillion dollars in government agency funds and credit guarantees at risk. This agency funding was supposed to be used to help average American families obtain housing and health care, and to protect their savings and provide for their retirement. Instead, it is being mobilized to support the economy’s bankers and financial managers. Indeed, the past few weeks have seen seemingly trillions of dollars committed for war making and bank support.

The banking system’s free creation of credit, doubling each five years or so for the economy at large, threatens to culminate in debt peonage for many American families and also for industry and for state and local governments. The economic surplus is being quickly absorbed by a combination of debt service and government bailouts for creditors whose Ponzi schemes are collapsing right and left, from residential to commercial real estate and corporate takeover loans to foreign bubble-economy credit.

This is the context in which to view the past few weeks’ financial turmoil surrounding Bear Stearns, JPMorgan/Chase and the rapidly changing debt landscape. “The system” that the Treasury, Federal Reserve and the New Deal agencies captured by the Bush Administration is trying to save is an economy-wide Ponzi scheme. By that I mean that the business plan is for creditors to lend debtors enough money for them to pay the interest costs so as to keep current on their loans.

Super Imperialism – New Edition: The Origin and Fundamentals of U.S. World Dominance

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Foreign investors veto Fed rescue

As feared, foreign bond holders have begun to exercise a collective vote of no confidence in the devaluation policies of the US government. The Federal Reserve faces a potential veto of its rescue measures.

Asian, Mid East and European investors stood aside at last week’s auction of 10-year US Treasury notes. “It was a disaster,” said Ray Attrill from 4castweb. “We may be close to the point where the uglier consequences of benign neglect towards the currency are revealed.”

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Fed takes boldest action since the Depression to rescue US mortgage industry

The US Federal Reserve has taken the boldest action since the 1930s, accepting $200bn of housing debt as collateral to prevent an implosion of the mortgage finance industry and head off a full-blown economic crisis.

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Emergency action was co-ordinated by Ben Bernanke [right], Donald Kohn [top], and Mark Carney after problems emerged

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