Obama pitches overhaul of mortgage system
PHOENIX — Buoyed by an improving housing market, President Barack Obama on Tuesday proposed a broad overhaul of the nation’s mortgage finance system, including winding down government-backed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. He declared that taxpayers should never again be left “holding the bag” for the mortgage giants’ bad bets.
Obama outlined his proposals in Phoenix, the once foreclosure-riddled city at the epicenter of the nation’s housing crisis. The housing market in Phoenix, as well as in many other parts of the country, has rebounded robustly, with prices in the southwestern city up 66 percent from the low point in 2011.
The president wants to replace Fannie and Freddie with a system that would put the private sector, not the government, primarily at risk for loans. The government would still be involved, both in oversight and as a last-resort loan guarantor.
Obama is also seeking guarantees that a private sector-led mortgage finance system would still ensure wide homeowner access to popular 30-year mortgages at fixed rates.
Once flourishing, Fannie and Freddie were bailed out in 2008 by a $187 billion taxpayer-backed bailout. The two enterprises don’t make loans directly, but buy mortgages from lenders, package them as bonds, guarantee them against default and sell them to investors. The enterprises currently own or guarantee half of all U.S. mortgages and back nearly 90 percent of new ones.
Quality helps Americans keep old vehicles longer
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — Americans are keeping their cars and trucks longer than ever, and even with new car sales increasing, the average age will continue to rise, an industry research firm says.
The average age of the 247 million cars and trucks on U.S. roads hit a record of 11.4 years in January, the latest figures available from state registration data gathered by the Polk research firm.
That’s up from 11.2 years in 2012, and nearly two full years older than in 2007, before the start of the Great Recession, Polk said Tuesday.
People are keeping their cars because the quality is so much better and they are trying to avoid the monthly payments, said Mark Seng, a Polk vice president. The annual percentage of cars and trucks sent to the scrap yard has dropped 50 percent since the recession, he said.
“Cars are just lasting longer,” he said.
Ashland Alliance gives free seminar Aug .15
ASHLAND — A one-hour session with business and life coach Dave Beam is being offered free of charge by the Ashland Alliance.
It will be from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 15, at Highlands Museum and Discovery Center in Ashland.
RSVP to the Alliance at 606-324-5111 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve seats.
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