2012 December FIRE Policy News

Issue Date: 
December, 2012
Newspaper PDF: 

The December issue of FIRE Policy News reports residential home construction in September 2011 hit its highest level in four years, and in some markets, existing home sales also have been surging. The Reason Foundation’s Anthony Randazzo isn’t entirely sure it’s real: There are about 14 million empty homes in the U.S.,” he said. “They aren’t on the market because people are expecting prices will go up, based on the faulty assumption we’re in a housing recovery.”

Also in this issue:

  • People who save money or live on fixed incomes are not the only ones being hurt by record-low interest rates. Banks themselves are also feeling the pain of the Federal Reserve’s interest rate manipulations.
  • Florida’s Office of Insurance Regulation has granted the state-run Citizens Insurance Property Corp. a 10.8 percent statewide average rate increase, upsetting many policyholders. But it’s a small step toward improving the shaky state-run Florida property insurer.
  • The Mortgage Bankers Association expects to see $1.3 trillion in mortgage originations during 2013, largely driven by a spillover of refinances into the first half of the year. The Federal Reserve could end up buying half of all mortgage originations during 2013, according to the MBA.
  • Home lending volume in the United States has dropped to levels not seen since 1995, according to the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council. The FFIEC released data showing the volume of home lending dropped 10 percent in 2011, with 7.1 million home loans made. Approximately 7.9 million home loans were made in 2010.
  • The states of Michigan, Oklahoma, and South Carolina have joined a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The plaintiffs want the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to review the constitutionality of the Orderly Liquidation Authority established under Title II of Dodd-Frank.
  • After the 2008 financial crisis a sharp increase in raw-materials trading led to record-high prices in some markets and successful calls in Congress to limit the number of options or futures contracts an investor may hold on any one underlying security. A court ruling has temporarily brought the rulemaking on position limits to a halt.
  • The Census Bureau report on metropolitan area growth between 2000 and 2010 highlights population growth in downtown areas. Predictably, media sources referred to people “flocking” back to the “city.” It’s mostly media hype--cities are still emptying out even as downtown populations rise.

Newspaper Articles in this Issue