Mortgage delinquencies are continuing to fall, hitting a new low in the second quarter, a report from TransUnion, one of the three largest credit reporting agencies in the U.S., showed, HousingWire.com reported yesterday. This confirms Tuesday’s report from S&P Dow Jones Indices and Experian, which showed that the average mortgage default rate hit its lowest level in a decade. Experian is also one of the nation’s largest credit reporting agencies, explaining the similar findings in both reports. TransUnion’s report showed that mortgage delinquency rates dropped below 2 percent for the first time in nearly 10 years as it hit 1.93 percent in the second quarter. This is down 16.5 percent from the second quarter of 2016, when it decreased to 2.3 percent.
Loan defaults in a popular program meant to finance energy-saving home upgrades have increased substantially, despite lenders’ claims that few borrowers have missed payments, the Wall Street Journal reported today. The small, high-interest-rate loans were made as part of the Property Assessed Clean Energy program (PACE), a nationwide initiative designed to help people afford solar panels, energy-efficient air-conditioners and other “green” appliances. PACE loans are among the fastest-growing types of loans in the U.S. Private lenders in the PACE program have told Wall Street investors, as well as local and federal government officials, that borrower defaults are rare and that no homeowners have gone into foreclosure as a result of the program, according to investors and public officials. But a Wall Street Journal analysis of tax data in 40 counties in California — by far the biggest market for PACE loans — shows that defaults have jumped over the last year. Roughly 1,100 borrowers have missed two consecutive payments this year through the tax year that ended June 30, compared with 245 over the previous year. That means they are in default, and could potentially have their homes auctioned off by local governments within five years.
Household debt hit a new record high in the second quarter of 2017, and credit card delinquencies are on the rise, according to a new report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York on Tuesday, the Washington Examiner reported. The report marked the first time since 2009, when the country was still reeling from the financial crisis, that the economy saw a year-over-year rise in people falling behind on credit card payments. Total household debt rose $114 billion in the second quarter to $12.84 trillion, according to the report, eclipsing the previous all-time peak set in the first quarter. Researchers at the New York Fed noted that, unlike in 2008 when the level of debt first approached $13 trillion, there isn't a lot of questionable mortgage debt this time around. The release also showed aggregate student debt flat at $1.34 billion, and that the delinquency rate for student loans rose to 11.2 percent in the quarter.
Investors are snapping up a new type of security sold by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, increasingly assuming the risks of mortgage defaults from taxpayers and powering a quiet transformation of the housing giants after almost a decade of government control, the Wall Street Journal reported today. Fannie and Freddie have sold roughly $48 billion of the securities since 2013 to a broadening group of buyers including asset managers and insurance companies. Sales are expected to reach a fresh high of $15 billion this year, up from the previous record $13 billion last year, according to JPMorgan Securities. The sales mark an early step toward reducing the government’s role in the $14.4 trillion U.S. mortgage market. The amount of mortgage debt funneled through Fannie and Freddie and other taxpayer-backed entities roughly doubled after the financial crisis, to around 70 percent.
Efforts toward financial deregulation are beginning to take concrete shape on rules governing trading desks, bank boardrooms, corporations’ financial disclosures and more, the Wall Street Journal reported today. Nearly seven months into the Trump administration, regulators are setting the stage for a wave of eased rules. Several agencies are reviewing the Volcker rule, a part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act that limits banks’ trading. Some regulators also recently dropped a plan to restrict bonuses on Wall Street that had been opposed by banks and brokerage firms. And the Labor Department on Wednesday disclosed an 18-month delay in the so-called fiduciary rule that requires brokers to act in retirement savers’ best interests rather than their own.
Oilfield service creditors have been hit harder this year by bankruptcy court filings than during all of 2016, according to law firm Haynes and Boone, a sign of the oil industry's uneven recovery, Reuters reported. Through the first seven months, U.S. oilfield service companies filed for bankruptcy owing $16.4 billion, compared with $13.5 billion in total debt for all of last year. There were 33 oilfield service bankruptcies through July, compared with 46 filings in the same period last year, according to the law firm. While drilling activity has sharply gained among U.S. onshore producers and oil prices [CLc1] at about $48.50 are above last year's low, they are still not high enough to lift offshore drilling activity and pricier international projects. "Many of the larger companies were able to do some out-of-court restructurings to weather the storm, but as depressed commodity prices continued, the market drove them into bankruptcy," said Stephen Pezanosky, a restructuring partner with Haynes and Boone in Dallas.
Losses at Hertz Global Holdings Inc. are piling up and Avis Budget Group Inc. just dialed back its profit forecast, prompting analysts to question if the U.S. car-rental business can thrive in the era of Uber Technologies Inc., Lyft Inc. and, one day, autonomous vehicles, Bloomberg News reported yesterday. In recent years, Hertz bought more cars than it needs, and it’s been struggling to unload them at decent prices. Perhaps more troubling, however, is that car-rental companies face the kind of threat that felled Blockbuster, which was undone by new technology in the form of digital video and Netflix Inc. There will always be a market for rental cars, but for a growing number of business customers, and even some casual consumers, they seem like a throwback. To be sure, the industry’s tough times may have more to do with mismanagement than Uber, Lyft or new mobility companies delivering a glancing blow. Hertz in particular built up a bloated fleet of too many cars to rent. To keep those vehicles generating revenue, the company had to drop rental rates. The companies have had to slim down their fleets at the worst possible time. Millions of vehicles are coming back off leases from when the U.S. auto industry was on its years-long growth spurt.
U.S. consumer credit card debt just passed an ominous milestone, beating a record set just before the global financial system almost collapsed in 2008, Bloomberg News reported. Outstanding card loans reached $1.02 trillion in June, data from the Federal Reserve show, as lenders including Citigroup Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. compete to sign up cardholders who may carry balances — a relatively lucrative business in a prolonged period of low interest rates. Investors have been skittish over the potential for defaults to rise ever since card balances eclipsed $1 trillion in February. Credit card issuers Capital One Financial Corp., Synchrony Financial and Discover Financial Services said write-off rates ticked up in the second quarter from the previous three months.
U.S. Justice Department lawyer Kent Kawakami was once the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s point man on the ground in Los Angeles, the National Law Journal reported today. An assistant U.S. attorney in the Central District of California, Kawakami would vouch for CFPB attorneys looking to jump into the federal courts there. Ever since the bureau’s first lawsuit in Los Angeles in 2012 — accusing a law firm of scamming struggling homeowners — his name has been a fixture on the roster of attorneys assigned to CFPB enforcement cases in the region. However, Kawakami withdrew from each of the four open CFPB enforcement cases between June and July in which he was designated as the local counsel. When the bureau recently brought a case to force a law firm to comply with a subpoena, it did so without Kawakami. Instead, an attorney in the CFPB’s San Francisco office helped a Washington-based colleague make an appearance. Kawakami is not the only assistant U.S. attorney who’s dropped off a CFPB case recently. In June, Mitzi Dease Paige, a prosecutor with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Mississippi, withdrew from the CFPB’s case against All American Check Cashing Inc. The move away from CFPB cases comes months after the Justice Department, under U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, said that it would no longer defend the lawfulness of the CFPB’s independent, single-director design. That issue is under review in a Washington appeals court, where Main Justice took a position against the CFPB — an Obama-era agency long assailed by Republican leaders in Congress and attacked by companies in court.
The Federal Reserve moved yesterday to lighten the regulatory load it places on bank boards of directors, saying that it wants directors to refocus on their core responsibilities of overseeing risks, the Washington Examiner reported. The central bank announced that it was soliciting feedback on proposals to eliminate or scale back some of the responsibilities it places on directors, ranging from oversight of energy loans to securitization. After reviewing its oversight of banks, the Fed said in its request for comments, it learned that its expectations "for boards of directors and senior management have become increasingly difficult to distinguish."