Daily Archives: October 3, 2014

Congress Considers Federal Assistance For Laid-Off Coal Miners

But not the recent unemployed workers who are still waiting for a federal extension…

Submitted by Nick Cunningham via OilPrice.com,

A major coal mining company has announced another round of layoffs as declining demand for coal continues to depress the industry.

Alpha Natural Resources, the world’s third largest supplier of metallurgical coal, said Sept. 26 that it would be shuttering three mines in West Virginia due to “sustained weak market conditions and government regulations challenging the Central Appalachian mining industry.”

The closures will put 261 people out of work. The news has a familiar refrain; more than 20,000 coal miners have lost their jobs since 2011.

But coal mining jobs have been disappearing for more than 30 years. As of March 2014, there were around79,000 jobs in coal mining in the United States, 8.3 percent fewer than a year earlier.

Compare that to the solar industry, which employs around 143,000 people, according the Solar Energy Industries Association.

The fortunes of the two energy industries will only diverge further in coming years. Sadly, many political leaders in coal producing states have not planned for a future without coal. Instead of recognizing that the coal industry is facing inexorable decline, politicians in coal states like West Virginia and Kentucky mislead residents of their state into thinking that the situation could turn around if certain Environmental Protection Agency regulations are repealed.

There is a bit of hope, though. Rep. David McKinley (R-WV) and Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) have introduced a bill in Congress to help out-of-work coal miners find employment in other industries.

The bill calls for the formation of a federal program similar to the Trade Adjustment Assistance, which provides job training, income support, and subsidies for U.S. workers affected by foreign trade. Coal miners who lose their jobs as a result of the industry downturn would be eligible for federal assistance.

The U.S. Department of Labor has already provided a bit of relief for struggling coal communities. For example, in June 2014, the agency announced a $7.5 million grant to workers in eastern Kentucky who were laid off when mines were closed. The money is important, but is a drop in the bucket for what is needed.

The bill proposed by McKinley and Welch would provide a year’s worth of benefits, including training and support for relocation. “Across West Virginia communities are being decimated by what’s happening to the coal industry,” McKinley said in a statement. “Coal miners and other workers are being hurt by factors beyond their control, whether it’s regulations or market forces. It’s only fair we do something to help these struggling families. This legislation represents a bipartisan effort to move beyond our differences and offer help to the proud men and women of the coal industry who are out of work.”

For a state that will experience a sustained period of economic hardship from an increasing rate of coal mine closures, it is welcome news that one of West Virginia’s elected officials is making a push to help displaced workers.

The legislation also offers a potential blueprint for a broader effort aimed at accelerating a long-term transition to cleaner energy. Much of the resistance in Congress to legislation calling for a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions comes from politicians in states that produce fossil fuels.

Bernanke may have tried to save $300 a month in failed refi

Interesting enough, Bernanke cannot use his speaking fees as income as the loan officer stated in the article. Because his speaking fees would be self-employment income or producing a 1099, he doesn’t have 2 years worth of speaking fees or freelance income to use for a loan.

According to Bloomberg News, former Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke this week told a conference of economists in Chicago that he had trouble refinancing his mortgage. “I’m not making that up,” he is reported to have told Mark Zandi of Moody’s Analytics.

Bernanke’s financial disclosure form in 2011 lists one 30-year fixed 4.25% mortgage with George Mason Mortgage as his only liability, worth $671,200 for a Capitol Hill townhome. That works out to a payment of about $3,300 a month. Given that the current fixed rate for a 30 year mortgage at 4.19%, according to Freddie Mac, it makes likely that he may have been looking to adjust into a shorter-term mortgage, like a 10/1 jumbo ARM, which would save him about $300 a month, according to Bankrate.com.

So why is it so tough for perhaps for the man who was once the nation’s most powerful financial guru to get a refinance?

It could just come down to income.

While Bernanke had a verifiable salary of $199,700 while as Fed chairman in 2013, his new income might be much more difficult to qualify, even if it is much higher. Even with a reported $1 million book deal and a speaking appearance fee of $250,000, it’s the actual income on the books currently that is what counts. And the salary of a fellow at the Brookings Institute, where Bernanke actually is employed, is quite modest, just $35,000 to $50,000 a year, according to one well-placed source.

“A bank would see his speaking fee as that of a regular guy who gets a commission or a bonus that would have to be averaged over the past two years,” said Darren Ferlisi, a mortgage loan officer with Integrity Home Mortgage in Frederick, Maryland. “Unless it’s in the books with a minimum number of engagements, that number can’t be used,” Ferlisi said. In addition, Bernanke only left the Fed job at the end of January after an eight-year stint, so he doesn’t have two years-worth of freelance income to show to a bank, Ferlisi said.

S&P Said to Be Probed by N.Y. Attorney General on CMBS

It’s about time someone is investigating CMBS (Commercial Mortgage-Backed Securities)…

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is investigating Standard & Poor’s to determine whether it failed to follow its own methodology in rating commercial-mortgage bonds in order to win business from banks, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.

The unit of McGraw Hill Financial Inc. (MHFI) is facing scrutiny on six such deals it graded in 2011, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the probe hasn’t been made public. Ed Sweeney, a spokesman for S&P in New York, declined to comment, as did Matt Mittenthal, a spokesman for Schneiderman.

New York’s Attorney General’s office is at least the third government agency investigating S&P’s business of grading commercial mortgage-backed securities, where banks pool together loans on properties such as shopping malls, hotels and skyscrapers to create securities that are sold to investors.

Read on.

Secret Service SNAFU Deja Vu: Fake Congressman Gets Backstage At Obama Dinner

What in the hell is going on here with the Secret Service???

As Bloomberg reports,

An unidentified man posing as a member of Congress made it into a secure area backstage at President Barack Obama’s appearance at a Congressional Black Caucus Foundation awards dinner in Washington Sept. 27, according to a White House official.

The man entered the backstage area during or just after Obama’s speech at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center as members of Congress gathered there to have their pictures taken with the president, said the official, who asked for anonymity to discuss the incident, which has not previously been made public.

The unidentified man said he was Representative Donald Payne Jr., a Democrat from New Jersey, the official said. One member of the White House staff determined that the man wasn’t Payne, and another asked him to leave, the official said. He did so without incident and wasn’t detained.

“This guy went through security, fully screened,” he said.

Neither the White House official, nor another administration official aware of the incident, could say how close the man got to the president or First Lady Michelle Obama, who was also in the vicinity. Payne’s chief of staff, LaVerne Alexander, said yesterday that she had not been informed of the incident.

Connecticut attorney general probing JPMorgan breach: source

Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen is investigating the massive data breach at JPMorgan Chase & Co, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The office has been in contact with JPMorgan Chase about the incident since it first surfaced in August, the person said.

Read on.

MERS hot streak continues

For the second day in a row, MERSCORP is celebrating a legal victory in a case brought by disgruntled mortgagors who claim that MERS doesn’t have the authority to assign a mortgage.

On Thursday, the company announced a series of victoriesin Rhode Island, including a ruling by the Supreme Court of Rhode Island. In that case, the Supreme Court dismissed a series of appeals, in which borrowers had challenged MERS’ authority to hold or assign mortgage interests and promissory notes under Rhode Island state law.

And Friday, the company announced that it had secured another favorable verdict, this time in Texas.

According to a release from MERS, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed a District Court judgment on the pleadings, dismissing the borrower-plaintiffs’ complaint in Van Duzer v. U.S. Bank, N.A., MERSCORP Holdings, MERS, et al.

Read on.

“Real Housewives” stars get prison time for mortgage fraud

Teresa and Joe Giudice, stars of the Bravo series “Real Housewives of New Jersey” have been sentenced to federal prison for a bankruptcy and mortgage fraud scheme.

Teresa Giudice was sentenced on Thursday to 15 months in prison for her part in the scheme. When she is released from prison, Giudice will be subject to two years of supervised probation.

Earlier Thursday, Joe Giudice received a sentence of 41 months, with an additional 12-month sentence to be served concurrently.

In March, the couple pleaded guilty to charges alleging that they falsified loan applications to fraudulently obtain $5 million in mortgages and construction loans over an eight-year period.

U.S. District Court Judge Esther Salas ruled that Teresa Giudice serve her sentence before Joe, so that one parent would be home with the couple’s four children during the duration of their parents’ time in prison.

Teresa was ordered to surrender Jan. 5, so she could spend the holidays with her family before reporting to prison.

According to a report from NorthJersey.com, the couple left the courthouse hand-in-hand after Teresa’s sentence was handed down late Thursday.

From the NorthJersey.com report:

Outside the courthouse, Paul Fishman, the U.S. Attorney for New Jersey, said the sentencing was “fair, appropriate and reasonable and our office is satisfied.” The sentencing, he said, “sends a message to everyone watching and hopefully people will think twice.”

Additionally, the couple must pay $414,588 in restitution for their crimes.

According to other media reports, it is thought that Joe Giudice, who came to the U.S. from Italy as an infant and is still an Italian citizen, could be deported to Italy at the conclusion of his sentence.

Giudice’s attorney previously claimed that Joe did not know he wasn’t an American citizen.

Source: NorthJersey.com