Economic Recovery: Profits From Overseas Ops Double Fed Ex 1st Qtr Profit – 1700 American Workers To Be Laid Off

FedEx 1Q profit doubles; will cut 1,700 jobs

FedEx Corp. indicated Thursday that the global economic recovery remains uneven. It touted strength in its international shipping operations while moving to fix the weak spot in its business: its money-losing U.S. trucking business.

FedEx did raise its financial outlook for the full fiscal year after its first-quarter net income doubled. But the projections for the second quarter and full year fell shy of Wall Street expectations, and the stock dropped almost 3 percent in premarket trading.

Growth in international air shipments has been driving FedEx’s results lately. That continued in the first quarter. But the FedEx Freight segment lost money again as demand for large items like refrigerators and other appliances continues to be weak. As it competes with other trucking companies to ship a limited amount of freight, FedEx has been forced to forgo the rate increases that are helping its other segments grow.

FedEx will combine its FedEx Freight and FedEx National less-than-truckload operations on Jan. 30, closing 100 facilities and cutting 1,700 workers. FedEx says the move, along with other cost cuts, will ensure the trucking business is profitable next year.

Less-than-truckload shippers take goods from many different manufacturers and consolidate them into a single truck for delivery.

The move suggests that big companies like FedEx, which is a bellwether for broader economic health, are feeling that the global economy still has a way to go for a full recovery.

The world’s second-largest package delivery company now expects to earn between $1.15 and $1.35 per share for the quarter ending in November, below analysts’ expectations of $1.36 per share.

For the full fiscal year that ends in May, the company now expects net income of $4.80 to $5.25 per share. That’s up from its estimate of $4.60 to $5.20 per share in July but some analysts were forecasting earnings as high as $5.60 per share, according to Thomson Reuters.

The Memphis, Tenn., company earned $380 million, or $1.20 per share in the fiscal first-quarter that ended in August, compared with $181 million, or 58 cents per share a year ago. That’s slightly under the $1.21 per share that Wall Street expected.

The reinstatement of some employee compensation programs, higher pension, medical and aircraft maintenance expenses, and a loss at FedEx Freight countered improvements at its Express and Ground operations.

Revenue rose 18 percent to $9.46 billion.

FedEx shares fell 2.9 percent to $83.45 in premarket trading.

http://www.canadianbusiness.com/markets/headline_news/article.jsp?content=b4534970

McAuleys World Comments:

This article is all about what Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich would call “The Great Decoupling of Corporate Profits from Jobs”… search for Reich’s article of that name.
Reports of quarterly profits by multinational corporations and a “phantom” recovery in the DJIA is an unreliable indicator of an American economic recovery… the record profits being reported by many DJIA companies have nothing to do with American business operations … Fed Ex being the latest example … There is nothing wrong with Fed Ex or GM posting a profit from overseas operations … the problems arise when the politicos and the press try to claim an “American Recovery” based on business growth in Red China or the Far East … or to claim an American Recovery, that is not only “jobless”, but is based on policies that continue to ship American Jobs and manufacturing capacity overseas ….
Even Clinton’s Labor Secretary Reich noted that $30 billion of the GM “bailout” went to create jobs in Red China before he stated, “GM officials say no American taxpayer money is being used to expand in China. But money is fungible. Because of our generosity, GM can now use the dollars it doesn’t have to spend in the United States meeting its American payrolls and repaying its creditors, for new investments in China.”
Reich went on to say, “GM now sells more cars in China than it does in the US, but makes most of them there. The company now employs 32,000 hourly workers in China. But only 52,000 GM hourly workers remain in the United States – down from 468,000 in 1970.”
My research would indicate that GM now employees 40,000 in China and 48,000 in America. By 2012 GM will employ more people in China than in the US – what are the implications for GM’s pension and medical fund liabilities …
Since Reich’s article was published GM has transferred control of GM-China to the Chinese Government for a 1 time payment of $85 million dollars, shielding any of the GM/China profit from American Taxation …
Profits are not “evil” they are the reason a Company exists … however, quarterly profit announcements are not a reliable indication or “bell weather” of how the US economy has rebounded …
We need to re-examine Governmental policies and stewardship that allows $30 billion dollars of taxpayer money, money intended to “stimulate” the American economy and create American jobs, to be used to expand auto production in China … and then have the Government’s handpicked GM leadership team transfer control of a $30 billion dollar investment for a single $85 million dollar payment from the Chinese Government … GM will sell 2 million cars in China in 2010, GM transferred control of it’s Chinese operations, in perpetuity, for the price of $42.50 per 2010 unit …

August 2010 Employment Numbers: Economy 200,000 jobs short of breakeven point – Unemployment rises to 9.6%

McAuley’s World Comments in Blue:

Companies add 67K workers, but jobless rate rises             AP

Thousands of Job Seekers Attend Job Fair In Detroit (Aug 2010)

WASHINGTON – Private employers hired more workers over the past three months than first thought, a glimmer of hope for the weak economy ahead of the Labor Day weekend. But the unemployment rate rose because not enough jobs were created to absorb the growing number of people looking for work.

Companies added a net total of 67,000 new jobs last month and both July and June’s private-sector job figures were upwardly revised, the Labor Department said Friday. [See my comments below]

Stocks surged after the report’s release. The Dow Jones industrial average rose more than 100 points in afternoon trading and broader indexes were all up. [Yes, after it was reported that 67,000 "net jobs' were added and not lost ... as was expected ... wait until Tuesday when the vacation has ended and people return to their offices and digest the "true story" ... please read on] ….

….. Overall, the economy lost 54,000 jobs as 114,000 temporary census positions came to an end. For the first time this year, the manufacturing sector lost jobs, down a net total of 27,000 for the month….

http://cbs5.com/wireappolitics/Companies.add.67.2.1894681.html

“Companies added a net total of 67,000 new jobs last month”…. no wait“Overall, the economy lost 54,000 jobs”… you cannot have a “net total increase” and “Overall, lose jobs” at the same time.

 Private companies “allegedly” added 67,000 jobs – there was no “net increase” as the economy, as a whole, lost a “net” of 54,000.

Remember that today, when the press and the Obama Administration claims that jobs have been “added”, the number includes the new “saved or created” concept. After all the numbers were “crunched”, including all the claims of “saved or created” … the economy lost a total of 54,000 jobs in August, there was “zero net jobs gained”. The net loss of 54,000 jobs includes the 67,000 jobs that were allegedly saved or created. But for the claim that there were 67,000 jobs “created or saved” the economy would have lost 114,000 total jobs in August. Once again, there was zero “net job increase” in July 2010.  

 The United States needs to “create” a minimum of 150,000 new jobs, “actual jobs” as opposed to imaginary or “virtual” jobs, each and  every month, to maintain an “employment equilibrium” – to have the economy keep pace with new workers entering the workforce – to have “zero change” in the unemployment rate – no increase – no decrease.  If employers eliminate jobs, the economy must create and equal number of new jobs, in addition to the 150,000 jobs needed to accomodate the new workers entering the work force, just to break even. The U.S. economy needed to create at least 1.2 million new jobs between January and the end of August 2010 to maintain an “employment equilibrium” for 2010. (8 months x 150,000 per month = 1.2 million). We are at least ½ million new jobs short of “employment equilibrium” for 2010 (even when we count all of the claimed “saved or created” nonsense jobs).

Query: With a short fall of ½ million new jobs to date in 2010, ½ million jobs short of keeping pace with new workers entering the workforce, never mind creating jobs to replace those jobs that have been lost, why hasn’t the unemployment rate changed (increased) since January 2010?  The January 2010 unemployment rate was 10%, today the Obama Administration claims our unemployment rate is 9.6%. If we haven’t created enough jobs to maintain an “”employment equilibrium” with the new workers entering the work force, how did our unemployment rate drop?

Example: In August 2010 the economy needed to create 150,000 new jobs to stay even with the number of new workers entering the work force. The economy actually lost 54,000 jobs …. so in August 2010 the economy was a total of 204,000 jobs short of breaking even ( 150,000 new workers entering the work force plus 54,000 jobs that were lost  in the month …).  

 The shortfall of ½ million new jobs means that the economy fell 40% short of creating enough jobs to maintain an “employment equilibrium”, never mind creating enough new  jobs to reduce the unemployment rate.

How has the Obama Administration kept the unemployment rate from rising? (How is the Obama Administration cooking the books?).

1). For every “new worker” who enters the economy without a job being created for them, the Obama Administration claims that 1 unemployed worker gives up their job search and leaves the work force. This is a fraud, but it manufactures  a false “employment equilibrium” for the press to report.

2). When the Obama Administration claims to “save” a job, the “save” can be a monthly event – a single individual working for a single employer can have the same job “saved” up to 12 times in a year. Not 12 jobs, 1 job 12 times. When 12 jobs are lost you cannot create a true “employment equilibrium” by saving 1 job 12 times, because that still leaves 11 unemployed people.

 Do I smell something burning… are those numbers done yet … shouldn’t someone stop cooking the numbers and look for some real solutions?

While I was reading various blogs today I noted an amazing number of wild claims about unemployment during G. W. Bush’s Presidency … these are the true facts and not some wild political claims:

Average Annual Unemployment Under G.W. Bush – all 8 years - 5.2 %

Highest Annual Unemployment Rate During G.W. Bush: 5.99 (2003)

Lowest Annual Unemployment Rate During G.W. Bush: 4.61 (2007) Just before the Democrats took over Congress …

B. OBAMA’S ANNUAL UNEMPLOYEMNT RATES:       2009   –  9.2%

                                                                                      Jan – Aug  2010   –  9.6%      

http://www.miseryindex.us/urbyyear.asp

Unemployment Numbers Hit 9 Month High – 500,000 File New Unemployment Claims

Employers appear to be laying off workers again as applications for unemployment insurance reached the half-million mark last week for the first time since November. Initial claims for jobless benefits rose by 12,000 last week to 500,000, the Labor Department said Thursday.

It was the fourth increase in the past five weeks and evidence that the economic recovery has weakened. Homebuilders and other construction firms are laying off more workers as the housing sector slumps after the expiration of a popular homebuyers’ tax credit. State and local governments are also cutting jobs to close large budget gaps.

“This is obviously a disappointing number that shows ongoing weakness in the job market,” said Robert Dye, senior economist at the PNC Financial Services Group. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, rose by 8,000 to 482,500, the highest since December.

The increase suggests the economy is creating even fewer jobs than in the first half of this year, when private employers added an average of about 100,000 jobs per month. That’s barely enough to keep the unemployment rate from rising. The jobless rate has been stuck at 9.5 percent for two months. Stock futures fell on the prospects of more layoffs.

Dow Jones industrial average futures had risen by 50 points before the report was released. They dropped immediately afterward and were down six points shortly before the market opened.

Jobless claims declined steadily last year from a peak of 651,000 in March 2009 as the economy recovered from the worst downturn since the 1930s. After flattening out earlier this year claims have begun to grow again. Dye said that claims showed a similar pattern in the last two recoveries, but eventually began to fall again.

The current elevated level of claims is a sign employers are reluctant to hire until the rebound is well under way. That’s what happened in the recoveries following the 1991 and 2001 recessions, which were dubbed “jobless recoveries.”

The number of people continuing to receive benefits fell by 13,000 to 4.5 million, the department said. The continuing claims data lags initial claims by one week. But that doesn’t include millions of people receiving extended unemployment insurance, paid for by the federal government.

About 5.6 million unemployed workers were on the extended unemployment benefit rolls, as of the week ending July 31, the latest data available. That’s an increase of about 300,000 from the previous week.

During the recession, Congress added up to 73 extra weeks of benefits on top of the 26 weeks customarily provided by the states. The number of people on the extended rolls has increased sharply in recent weeks after Congress renewed the extended program last month.

It had expired in June.

Private employers added only 71,000 jobs in July. But that increase was offset by the loss of 202,000 government jobs, including 143,000 temporary census positions. July marked the third straight month that the private sector hired cautiously.

Economists are concerned that the unemployment rate will start rising again because overall economic growth has weakened significantly since the start of the year. In a healthy economy, jobless claims usually drop below 400,000. But the recent increases in claims provide further evidence that the economy has slowed and could slip back into a recession.

Many analysts are worried that economic growth will ebb further in the second half of this year. After growing at a 3.7 percent annual rate in the first quarter, the economy’s growth slowed to 2.4 percent in the April-to-June period.

Some economists forecast it will drop to as low as 1.5 percent in the second half of this year.

http://www.nydailynews.com/money/2010/08/19/2010-08-19_half_a_million_are_jobless_unemployment_numbers_hit_9month_high.html#ixzz0x43i6hde

Financial Reform: Mortgage Fraud Continues to Boom

Who paid $300,000 for this "structure".

Special report: Flipping, flopping and booming mortgage fraud

(Reuters) – The house on the 53rd block of South Wood Street in Chicago’s Back of the Yards doesn’t look like a $355,000 home. There is no front door and most of the windows are boarded up.

Public records show it sold in foreclosure for $25,500 in January 2009, then resold for $355,000 in October. In between, a $110,000 mortgage was taken out on the home, supposedly for renovations. This June, the property went back into foreclosure.

To Emilio Carrasquillo, head of the local office of non-profit lender Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago (NHS), the numbers don’t add up. He believes this is a case of mortgage fraud.

It may not make the blood boil like murder or rape, but mortgage fraud is a crime that cost an estimated $14 billion in 2009 and could be hampering an already fragile recovery in the housing market. The FBI has been fighting back, assembling its largest ever team to fight it. They have their work cut out for them, though, as a tsunami of foreclosures is making classic scams easier and spawning new ones to boot.

“There’s no way any property in this neighborhood should sell for that kind of money,” said Carrasquillo, standing outside the house on Wood Street in this poor, predominantly black area of Chicago’s South Side. “Even if it was in great condition.”

Carrasquillo has identified a number of properties in Back of the Yards that sold for between $5,000 and $30,000 last year and then came back on the market for up to $385,000. He said property prices are being artificially inflated, allowing fraudsters to walk away with vast profits and making it harder for honest local people to buy a home.

Mortgage fraud takes many forms, but a well-organized scam frequently involves a limited liability company (LLC) or a “straw buyer.” In

Who paid $355,000 for this structure?

 this scheme, fraudsters use a fake identity or that of someone else who allows them to use their credit status in return for a fee. The seller pockets the money the buyer borrows from a lender to pay for the home. The buyer never makes a mortgage payment and the property goes into foreclosure.

In other words, the money simply disappears, leaving the lender with a large loss. Since the U.S. government is now backing much of the mortgage market in the absence of private investors, that means “taxpayers are ultimately on the hook for fraud,” said Ann Fulmer, vice president of business relations at fraud-prevention company Interthinx.

Back of the Yards was hit by fraud during the housing boom and Carrasquillo says the glut of foreclosures is now making it easier for scammers to pick up properties for a song and flip them for phenomenal profits.

Drug dealers and gang members have taken over abandoned houses, many adorned with spray-painted gang signs. Prior to touring the area, Carrasquillo attached two magnetic signs touting the NHS logos on his minivan’s doors to show he is not a police officer. He said he also prefers touring in the morning, as drug dealers and “gangbangers” tend not to be early risers.

“These properties are just going to sit there, boarded up, broken into and a magnet for crime,” he said. “And that makes our job of trying to stabilize this neighborhood so much harder.”

CRACKDOWN NETS MORE REPORTS OF FRAUD

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation said in a report released on June 17 that suspicious activity reports (SARs) related to mortgage fraud rose 5 percent in 2009 to around 67,200, up from 63,700 the year before. The number had tripled from 22,000 in 2005 and the number of SARs for the first three months of 2010 hit nearly 38,000.

“We don’t see the number declining while foreclosures remain so high,” said Sharon Ormsby, section chief of the FBI’s financial crimes section.

Robb Adkins, executive director of the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, is known as U.S. President Barack Obama’s financial fraud czar. He describes mortgage fraud as “pervasive” and fears it is exacerbating the nation’s real estate woes. “That, in turn, could act as an anchor on the economic recovery,” he said.

For the housing market to recover, potential homeowners need confidence in home prices and investors need confidence to get back into the secondary mortgage market, Adkins explained.

Since the subprime meltdown, a wide variety of scams have come to the fore. They include big cases like that of Lee Farkas, the former head of now bankrupt mortgage lender Taylor, Bean & Whitaker Mortgage Corp, charged in June with fraud that led to billions of dollars of losses. The scheme involved the misappropriation of funds from multiple sources, including a lending facility that had received funding from Deutsche Bank and BNP Paribas.

That appears to be the scam of choice. On July 22, for instance, seven defendants were indicted in Chicago in a $35 million mortgage fraud scheme involving 120 properties from 2004 to 2008 using straw buyers. Of the half dozen properties listed in the indictment, two were in Back of the Yards.

In the mid-2000s, the availability of easy money, poor due diligence by lenders and low- or no-documentation loans, acted as a magnet for fraudsters, who used identity theft and other scams to bag large sums of cash.

“During the boom it was almost like people in the real estate market could do no wrong,” said Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray. “As ever more money rushed in, it attracted a lot of people who engaged in shady behavior.”

Instead of leaving them without a market, the crash has instead provided fraudsters with a glut of foreclosures, stricken borrowers and desperate lenders to take advantage of.

“There were plenty of opportunities for fraud on the way up and there are plenty on the way down,” said Clifford Rossi, a former chief credit officer at Citigroup and now a teaching fellow at the University of Maryland in College Park.

Alongside familiar scams like property flipping, the crash has added new terms to the lexicon: short sale fraud, builder bailouts and flopping. Rescue scams targeting struggling homeowners with false promises of help are also on the rise.

If some of the mechanisms are new, a lot of the fraudsters are not: in many cases, they turn out to be mortgage brokers, appraisers, real estate agents or loan officers. “Because they’re insiders, they see exactly what’s happening and they’re able to stay one step ahead of the game,” said Todd Lackner, a fraud investigator in San Diego. “They’re the same people who were committing fraud during the boom and they were never caught or prosecuted.”

BACK TO THE YARDS

Just a stone’s throw from downtown Chicago, Back of the Yards is the setting for Upton Sinclair’s classic 1906 novel “The Jungle,” a tale of grueling hardship and worker exploitation at the city’s stockyards. The book includes an act of mortgage fraud against an unsuspecting Lithuanian family.

“Mortgage fraud is nothing new,” said Christopher Wagner, co-managing attorney of the Ohio Attorney General’s Cincinnati office. “It’s been around for a long time.”

Saul Alinsky, considered the founder of modern community organizing, started out in Back of the Yards in the 1930s. Decades later, a young community organizer named Obama got his start near here.

The neighborhood has always been poor, but south of the old railway tracks at W 49th St, the housing crisis’ legacy of empty lots and boarded-up homes is evident on every block. There are few stores and services available — in four separate visits for this story, no police vehicles were sighted.

“This is what we refer to as a ‘resource desert,'” Carrasquillo said. “When no one pays attention to an area like this, it makes it easier to get away with fraud.”

Marni Scott, executive vice president for credit at Troy, Michigan-based lender Flagstar Bancorp, says there are virtually no untainted sales in the area. “There are no cases of Mr and Mr Jones selling to Mr and Mrs Smith.”

“We see cases of mortgage fraud around the country,” she added. “But there’s nothing out there that could match the mass-production, assembly-line fraud that’s going on here.”

In 2008 Flagstar instituted a rule whereby any loan applications here and in parts of Atlanta — another fraud hot spot — must be approved by Scott and the lender’s chief appraiser. In a Webex presentation, Scott rattles through a number of properties snapped up for pennies on the dollar in 2009 and then sold for around $360,000.

She provides an underwriter’s-eye-view of one property, on the 51st block of South Marshfield Avenue, sold in foreclosure in July 2009 for $33,000. In January of this year Flagstar received a loan application to buy the house for $355,000.

The property appraisal — compiled by an appraiser who Scott believes never visited the area — showed four nearby comparable properties of around the same age (100 plus years) sold recently for around $360,000. The trick to this kind of scheme is engineering the sale of the first few fraudulently overvalued properties to get “comps” — comparable values — to fool appraisers and underwriters alike.

“Miraculously, all of these properties were all within a very narrow price range,” Scott said with weary sarcasm. “This is a perfect appraisal for an underwriter. If you are an underwriter sitting in Kansas or California it all looks fairly straightforward so you can just hit the button and approve it.”

Using a $5 product called LoanIQ from U.S. title insurer First American Financial Corp called LoanIQ, Flagstar determined the application itself was fraudulent and there was a foreclosure rate in the area of nearly 60 percent. What is more, property prices here spiked 84 percent last year after 44 percent and 26 percent declines in 2008 and 2007.  [How mant times have you heard the MSM report that "Housing prices recovered 1% last month"]

“No neighborhood should look like this,” said Scott, who declined the application.

Last April, however, another lender approved a loan application for $335,000 on the same property from the same people.

FORECLOSURE MAGNET

Reports this year from Interthinx, CoreLogic Inc and the Mortgage Asset Research Institute (MARI) — which all provide fraud prevention tools for lenders — show foreclosure hotspots Florida, California, Arizona and Nevada are also big mortgage fraud markets.

MARI said in its April report that reported mortgage fraud and misrepresentation rose 7 percent in 2009, adding fraud “continues to be a pervasive issue, growing and escalating in complexity.”

Denise James, director of real estate solutions at LexisNexis Risk Solutions and one of the author’s reports, said reported fraud will continue to rise throughout 2010.

In its first-quarter report, Interthinx said its Mortgage Fraud Risk Index rose 4 percent to 151, the first time it had passed 150 since 2004. A figure of 100 on the index would indicate virtually no risk of fraud.

Congressman Barney Frank

According to various estimates, the 30310 ZIP code in Atlanta is one of the worst in the country. An analysis of that ZIP prepared for Reuters by Interthinx showed a fraud index of 414, making it the eighth worst ZIP code in the country. Back of the Yards — ZIP code 60609 — had an index of 309.

“In some neighborhoods in Atlanta there hasn’t been a clean transaction in 10 years,” Interthinx’s Fulmer said.

In 2005 local residents here formed the 30310 Fraud Task Force. Members sniff out potential signs of fraud — such as repeated property flipped — and report them directly to the FBI and local authorities. Information from the task force led to the arrest of a 12-member mortgage fraud ring on September 15, 2008 — better known in the annals of the financial crisis as the day Lehman Brothers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Brent Brewer, a civil engineer and task force member, said the arrests had a noticeable impact on fraud in the area. “It made a statement that if you come here to commit fraud there’s a good chance you’ll get caught,” he said.

But Brewer harbors no illusions the fraudsters are gone. “There’s no way they can catch everyone who’s involved in fraud. But if you’re dumb, greedy or desperate, you’re going to get caught.”

FBI GETTING INTERESTED

Law enforcement has come a long way in combating mortgage fraud, though officials freely admit that’s not saying much.

Senator Chris Dodd

Ben Wagner, U.S. attorney for the eastern district of California, said as mortgages are regulated at the state and local level, for years there was little federal interference. Prior to the recent boom, he said, fraud simply “was not identified as a huge problem.”

“There has been a little bit of a learning curve,” Wagner said. “This was not something federal prosecutors had much familiarity with. Now we’re getting pretty good at it.”

Half of Wagner’s 50 or so criminal prosecutors focus on white-collar crime including fraud. Two new prosecutors will be dedicated solely to mortgage fraud.

Now mortgage fraud is a known quantity, Wagner said all U.S. prosecutors tackling it are linked by Internet groups. The May edition of the bi-monthly “United States Attorneys’ Bulletin” (published by the Executive Office for United States Attorneys) was devoted entirely to mortgage fraud.

The FBI has more than 350 out of its 13,000 agents devoted to mortgage fraud. There are also now 67 regular mortgage fraud working groups and 23 task forces at the federal, state and local level. “This is the broadest coalition of law enforcement ever brought together to fight fraud,” Adkins said. He admitted, however that limited resources to fight fraud still pose a challenge.

Attorney General Eric Holder

In June U.S. authorities said 1,215 people had been charged in a joint crackdown on mortgage fraud. Many of the charges were for crimes committed years ago.

Latour “LT” Lafferty, the head of the white-collar crimes practice at law firm Fowler White Boggs in Tampa, Florida, said fraud in the boom was so pervasive that many crimes will go undetected and unprosecuted. “Everyone had their hands in the cookie jar during the boom,” he said. “Lenders, brokers, Realtors, homeowners … everyone.”

OLD DOG, NEW TRICKS

A new mortgage scam born out of the housing crisis is short sale fraud. Short sales are a way for stricken homeowners to get out of their homes, whereby in agreement with their lender they sell their home for less than they paid for it and are forgiven the remainder.

But they have also proven a tempting target for fraudsters, usually involving the Realtor in the deal. Lackner, the fraud investigator in San Diego, described a typical scheme: “Let’s say you have a property up for short sale that you know as a Realtor you can get $350,000 for,” he said. “But you arrange a low-ball appraisal of $200,000 and have someone make an offer of that amount.”

Tont Rezko - Convicted Felon - Real Estate "Development"

“The Realtor says to the bank this is the best offer you’re going to get, take it or leave it,” he added. “Then they turn around and flip it immediately for $350,000. In cases like this, the lender is probably already stuck with a lot of foreclosed properties and doesn’t want more. So they go for it.”

Where the process of fraudulent appraisals overvaluing a property for sale is “flipping,” deliberately undervaluing them has become known as “flopping.”

Bob Hertzog, a designated real estate broker at Summit Home Consultants in Scottsdale, Arizona, says he gets emails from unknown firms offering to act as a “third-party negotiator” between the seller and the bank with what turns out to be a grossly undervalued bid.

Hertzog has tried tracing some of the LLCs, but describes a chain of front companies leading nowhere.

“The problem is it is so cheap and easy to set up an LLC online that sometimes they are set up for just one transaction,” Flagstar’s Scott said. “And if they’re set up using fake information or a stolen identity, it’s very hard to trace who’s behind them.”

Many web sites boast they can help you form an LLC online for under $50.

Another common target for fraud is the reverse mortgage. Designed for seniors to release equity from a property, according to financial fraud czar Adkins, they have been used to commit a “particularly egregious type of fraud.”

Fraudsters commonly forge their victims’ signatures and, without their knowledge or consent, divert funds to themselves. The scam is worst in Florida, a magnet for American retirees.

“Unfortunately it is often not until the death of the victim that their heirs realize that all of the equity has been stripped out of the property by fraudsters,” Adkins said.

But Arthur Prieston, chairman of the Prieston Group, which sells mortgage fraud insurance and has launched a patented system to rate lenders on the quality of their loans, said most mortgage fraud he comes across consists of ordinary people fudging figures to get a loan. “The vast majority of the fraud we see is where people intend to occupy a property, but can’t qualify for a loan,” he said. “They’ll do anything to get that loan approved.”

He added this is achieved with the active collusion of Realtors, brokers and lenders looking to make a sale and keep the market moving. Before his firm issues fraud insurance it reviews a lender’s loans and between 20 percent and the 30 percent of the loans reviewed so far have had “red flags.”

The problem with assessing the extent of the damage caused by mortgage fraud is that it’s not just the dollar amount of the fraud itself. It also hits property values, property taxes and often causes crime to rise.

“Most people interpret white collar crime as a victimless crime, where the bank pays the price and no one else,” said Andrew Carswell, associate professor of housing and consumer economics, University of Georgia. “This is a mistaken perception … neighborhoods and homeowners pay the price.”

UNCOVERING THE SCAMS

Companies like Interthinx, CoreLogic and DataVerify all have data-driven fraud prevention tools for lenders. Interthinx’s program, for instance, identifies some 300 “red flags” including a buyer’s identity and recent sales in a neighborhood, while CoreLogic uses pattern recognition technology. CoreLogic also aims to bring a short sale fraud product to the market soon.

Interthinx’s Fulmer said regardless of the source, on average solid fraud prevention tools can be had for as little as $10 to $15 per loan. “The tools out there enable us to see what’s going on out there right now in real time,” she said.

Apart from fraud insurance, Prieston Group’s new credit rating system for lenders should have enough data within the next year to start providing valid ratings.

Prieston said the firm’s insurance product is growing at more than 100 percent per month, while CoreLogic’s Tim Grace said the firm’s fraud prevention tool business was booming.

Many lenders are also sharing more information about bad loans, though LexisNexis’ James said it is not nearly enough. “If lenders don’t start to share more information then fraudsters will continue to go from bank to bank to bank until they’re caught,” she said.

The University of Maryland’s Rossi said what the industry needs is a “central data warehouse” to combat fraud. “There has been a failure of collective data warehousing across the industry,” he said.

Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) spokesman John Mechem said members have no plans for a central database, but added “we view our role as being to facilitate and encourage information sharing in the industry.”

The U.S. Patriot Act of 2001 allows lenders a safe harbor to share information, but does not mandate it. “We always encourage more information sharing,” said Steve Hudak, a press officer at the U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCen. “As of now, however, this is an entirely voluntary process.”

But Rossi said the government should step in. “The Federal government is probably going to have to take the initiative because I don’t see the industry doing this one on its own,” he said. “I am personally not a fan of big government, but we need more information sharing.”

Ultimately, the expectation is lenders will be forced either to improve due diligence, or face being pushed out of business as investors burned by sloppy underwriting during the boom urge them to adopt fraud prevention tools.

“Investor scrutiny is going to be higher than it ever has been,” Rossi said. “The days of a small amount of due diligence are gone.”

Many investors are also investigating their losses and forcing lenders to repurchase bad loans. This is resulting in “thousands of repurchases a month,” according to Prieston.

“When it comes to small lenders with only a few million dollars of loans, ten repurchases will absolutely put some of them out of business,” he said.

The government now guarantees more than 90 percent of the mortgage market and forms almost the entire secondary mortgage market, as private investors have not returned. The FHA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are thus seen as playing an instrumental role in pushing improved due diligence to clean up the government’s multi-trillion dollar portfolio.

FHA commissioner David Stevens was appointed in July 2009. Since then the FHA has shut down 1,100 lenders, after decades in which the government closed an average of 30 lenders annually. He says most lenders he deals with are of a “very high quality,” but that “there are still lenders that either don’t have controls in place or are proactively engaging in practices that pose a risk to the FHA.”

Stevens does not expect to shut down lenders at the same rate as the past year, but added “the number will be much higher than the historical average.”

CoreLogic’s Grace said most large lenders have the tools in place to combat mortgage fraud, but admitted he was concerned about some smaller lenders. “The next shakeout of weak lenders will take place over the next 12 to 24 months,” he said.

The MBA’s Mechem said the U.S. mortgage market must be cleaned up if it is ever to return to normal. “The one thing private investors need to get back into the secondary market is confidence,” he said. “And investors won’t risk buying mortgages if they don’t have confidence in the quality of the loans. Restoring that confidence is going to play a pivotal role in restoring the markets.”

In the meantime, mortgage fraud is expected to cause more problems in areas like Back of the Yards in Chicago.

Three doors down from the boarded-up, foreclosed property that has aroused Carrasquillo’s suspicions, father-of-three Oti Cardoso says he and his neighbors try to cut the grass at the abandoned properties on his block and to keep thieves out. But he has heard most empty houses end up occupied by gang members.

“I want my children to be safe, I don’t want drug dealers here,” he said. “I have tried to find the owner of these houses so I can work with them to help keep their homes clean.”

“If they only knew what was happening here,” he added, “I’m sure they would want to do what was right.”

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE67G1S620100817

Investors Row - half million dollar houses in a row ...

Freedom, Misery & Tyranny – The Federal Deficit- Professor Milton Friedman

May 2010 Jobs Report – Econcomy Is Still Losing Ground – Job Creation Isn’t Keeping Pace With The Number Of New Workers

The following is being reported by the Associated Press:

“The government also said 431,000 jobs overall were created last month, but most of those jobs, 411,000, came from the government’s hiring of temporary census workers. The overall number also fell short of expectations. Economists polled by Thomson Reuters had forecast employers would add 513,000 jobs.” http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100604/ap_on_bi_st_ma_re/us_wall_street  http://www.heritage.org/Research/Reports/2010/06/Heritage-Employment-Report-May-Jobs-Struggle-to-Appear

The straight forward math is this, private employers added 20,000 (20 thousand) employees last month when a gain of 513,000 was expected. Over the next 60 days, the 411,000 part time census workers will rejoin the ranks of the unemployed. Last month’s (April 2010) job hires were largely due to “temporary summer hires”.

The Obama Adminiistration is claiming that the unemployment rate has dropped from 9.8% to 9.7% – a drop that isn’t being related to temporary hiring (becasue if it was related to temporary hiring – then the Obama Administration would need to report an increase in the unemployment rate after the people are “laid off” from their temporaray work)  the “lower” unemployement number is being related to the fact that “300,000 people have given up on their job searchs”.

Please note that the Government does not count an individual who has exhausted their unemployment benefits as being “unemployed”.

In our recent past the Liberal Media has reported that it takes between 150,000 and 200,000 new jobs each and every month to keep up with population growth – any “private job” creation number below that means the economy is shrinking. These statements are correct. 

With only 21,000 jobs created by private employers in May 2010, we are somewhere between 130,000 and 180,000 jobs short of breaking even for the month.

Personally, I find it surprising that no media outlet has pointed out that, over the last 6 months, the Obama Adminstration has reported that the usual “growth” in the number of individuals entering the “job market” has been off set by an equal number of people “giving up their job searches”. What a remarkable coincidence! 

Read and compare these historical statements from our liberal media: 

  •  The New York Times, 08/08/03: The economy must add about 150,000 jobs or more each month to keep up with population growth and bring down the jobless rate over a long period of time. In the 1990’s, the economy created an average of 181,000 jobs a month.  http://www.nytimes.com/2003/11/08/business/08ECON.html?pagewanted=2 
  • The San Francisco Examiner – April 3, 2004: Total jobs outside the farm sector soared by 308,000, the Labor Department reported Friday, the unemployment rate rose to 5.7 percent from 5.6 percent in February primarily because 179,000 people entered the labor force. (A net gain of 129,000 jobs and the unemployment rate went up) http://articles.sfgate.com/2004-04-03/news/17423578_1_worst-job-recovery-job-growth-labor-market
  • Washinton Post 09/04/04 : Employers added 144,000 jobs to their non-farm payrolls in August on a seasonally adjusted basis, an improvement after two months in which job growth essentially stalled, but barely enough to keep pace with population growth. http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A60680-2004Sep3?language=printer
  • The Los Angles Times 09/04/04: U.S. employers added a net 144,000 jobs to their payrolls in August and the nation’s unemployment rate dropped a notch to 5.4% (WOW – 5.4%, not 9.9%) -  Unless employment growth averages 228,250 a month from September through December, Bush will be the first post-Depression president to finish his term with fewer jobs than when he started. http://articles.latimes.com/2004/sep/04/business/fi-jobs4
  • The Boston Globe 01/08/05: US employers boosted payrolls by 157,000 jobs in December, keeping the economy on a path of moderate expansion and completing the first year of job growth since 2000. The month’s job gains were slightly less than analysts expected, and just enough to keep up with the natural growth of the labor force and prevent unemployment from rising.  Over the past year, the economy has averaged 186,000 new jobs a month, and whittled three-tenths of a point from the December 2003 unemployment rate of 5.7 percent. All told, the nation added a net 2.2 million jobs last year, the most since 1999, when the economy created 3.2 million. http://www.boston.com/business/globe/articles/2005/01/08/us_gains_157000_jobs_in_december/

Until the Obama Adminstration admits we are not on course for a recovery, the proper corrective measures will not be taken.

“Spinning” the numbers doesn’t help the average Amercian or improve our economy …..

We were promised that if the “Stimulus Plan” was passed the unemployment rate would not rise above 8%, and that millions of new jobs would be created in the “private sector”. Reuters reported that the Country lost over 3 million jobs in the 1st 10 months after the “stimulus” was signed 18 months ago. http://www.forbes.com/feeds/afx/2009/10/30/afx7069921.html

The New York Times has reported that the “total number of jobs lost” through the 1st of this year is 8 million. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/04/weekinreview/04norris.html?_r=2&scp=2&sq=floyd&st=cse

Between the start of the recession and the 1st of Janauary 2010 a total of 8.1 million jobs were lost.   http://www.epi.org/publications/entry/jobs_picture_20100108/

At the end of January 2010, the U.S. Government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the number of “jobs lost” had increased to 8.4 million.  http://dailycaller.com/2010/02/08/unemployment-drops-while-total-jobs-lost-increases/ 

On that same day, the Obama Administration reported that the unemployment rate dropped from 10% to 9.7 %. This happened despite the fact that the Administration reported that they had “overestimated job creation” by over 800,000 jobs. We lost 800,000 jobs and the unemployment rate dropped from 10% to 9.7%.  http://money.cnn.com/2010/02/04/news/economy/jobs_outlook/

In March 2010 the BLS reported a loss of 20,000 jobs in February 2010. A loss of 20,000 jobs would mean that the US was between 170,000 and 220,000 jobs short of breaking even in February 2010. The “official” unemployment rate remained “unchanged”. http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2010/0303/breaking54.html

In April 2010 the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 162,000 jobs were created in March 2010. Temporary census jobs counted for 48,000 of the jobs while 114,000 were in the private sector. The 114,000 “private sector” jobs were certainly a welcome sign, but the number of new jobs were 50,000 jobs below the number needed to “break even” for the month. The “official” unemployment rate remained unchanged.  http://www.employmentmetrix.com/blog/2010/04/good-news-for-job-seekers-march-jobs-report-shows-growth.html?no_prefetch=1

The report for May 2010, which was relased today, is discussed above. (411,000 of 431,000 jobs created are temporary census jobs). The 20.000 jobs created in the private sector falls far short of the 150,000 to 200,000 needed to break even for the month, however, we are told that the unemployment rate dropped from 9.8% to 9.7% because 300,000 “unemployed” workers stopped looking for work.

Exactly where are these 300,000 unemployed workers who suddenly gave up on finding work? What a surpise! A 6th straight month where the “job creation numbers” fall short of the “break even point” without a single increase in the “unemployment rate”.  

I’m sorry, I don’t believe it for a minute. These numbers are more thoroughly cooked than my Christmas Goose!   

If an individual has “access” to unemployment benefits they must report that they are “able, available and seeking” work …… in order to collect benefits. 

It appears that the number of “lay-offs” per month may have returned to pre-recession levels, however, new job creation is not keeping pace with the natural and historical growth in the Country’s labor pool. If “job creation” isn’t keeping pace with the natural growth rate of the “labor pool” we should be seeing, as we have always seen in the past, an increase in the monthly unemployment rate.  http://www.heritage.org/Research/Reports/2010/06/Heritage-Employment-Report-May-Jobs-Struggle-to-Appear

The economy is not in recovery and if the books were not being cooked, the unemployment rate would be rising.

When President Obama says “our economic policies are working” and “we are heading in the right direction” he is either in self denial or he is, as is claimed, more interested in “spinning” the facts for his personal poltical benefit than he is interested in helping working Americans, or more imporantly, helping those Americans who wish they were working.

For a comparison of the average annual unemployment rates during the George W Bush Presidency and our 1st 18 months under Barack Obama (Chart of average annual unemployment rates from 1948 through 2009) see: http://www.miseryindex.us/URbyyear.asp?StartYear=1948&EndYear=2009

The Great Global Warming Swindle – The Video Produced By WAGTV For The BBC

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