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Daily Archives: June 10, 2013

Using Eminent Domain to Address Underwater Mortgage Debt

“With more than 11 million homes still “underwater,” the mortgage debt overhang caused by the housing bubble remains an impediment to economic growth and a burden on communities across the country.  One possible solution to this problem is for state and municipal governments to use their eminent domain authority to purchase and restructure underwater mortgages.  This novel solution is proposed in a new report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.  Many analysts agree that principal reductions are the best way to assist underwater homeowners—those who owe more on their mortgages than their houses are worth.  Such write-downs can be difficult to achieve, however, when the underlying mortgages are securitized and held by private-label securitization trusts.  Specifically, such loans are subject to pooling and servicing agreements that require collective action by a large majority of security holders before a loan can be modified.  As a result, carrying out write-downs is challenging and sometimes impossible. In Paying Paul and Robbing No One: An Eminent Domain Solution for Underwater Mortgage Debt, author Robert Hockett argues that one possible way to sidestep this problem is by having governments buy and restructure underwater mortgages.  By utilizing their eminent domain authority, state and municipal governments could bypass the coordination problems posed by the pooling and servicing agreements.  They could then reduce the principal on underwater loans, lowering the amount owed by borrowers and thereby reducing the risk of default.  The report includes details about the mechanics of such a program, including suggestions on how to finance the purchases and a discussion of the legal basis for invoking the eminent domain power.  The author also addresses how to handle potential challenges, such as the existence of a second lien. “

Pew Study on Nonprofit Journalism

Nonprofit Journalism — A Growing but Fragile Part of the U.S. News System, By Amy Mitchell, Mark Jurkowitz, Jesse Holcomb, Jodi Enda and Monica Anderson  “The growing nonprofit news sector is showing some signs of economic health, and most leaders of those outlets express optimism about the future, according to a new study by the… Continue Reading

Pew – Tablet Ownership

“For the first time, a third (34%) of American adults ages 18 and older own a tablet computer like an iPad, Samsung Galaxy Tab, Google Nexus, or Kindle Fire—almost twice as many as the 18% who owned a tablet a year ago. Demographic groups most likely to own tablets include: Those living in households earning… Continue Reading

Four energy policies can keep the 2 °C climate goal alive

“Warning that the world is not on track to limit the global temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius, the International Energy Agency (IEA) today urged governments to swiftly enact four energy policies that would keep climate goals alive without harming economic growth. “Climate change has quite frankly slipped to the back burner of policy priorities.… Continue Reading

Census Bureau Report Details Rising Internet Use and Shows Impact of Smartphones on Digital Divide

“While disparities in Internet use persist among racial and ethnic groups, smartphones appear to be helping to bridge the digital divide, according to a report issued today by the U.S. Census Bureau. The findings are part of the latest Census Bureau report, Computer and Internet Use in the United States: 2011, which provides analysis of… Continue Reading

EIA – Shale oil and shale gas resources are globally abundant

News release: “Estimated shale oil and shale gas resources in the United States and in 137 shale formations in 41 other countries represent 10% of the world’s crude oil and 32% of the world’s natural gas technically recoverable resources, or those that can be produced using current technology without reference to economic profitability, according to… Continue Reading

Moving Beyond Passwords: Consumer Attitudes on Online Authentication

Moving Beyond Passwords: Consumer Attitudes on Online Authentication A Study of US, UK and German Consumers, Ponemon Institute, April 2013: “In this study we investigate consumers’ perceptions about how organizations are confirming their identity and determine what they would consider to be the ideal steps and technologies used to ensure their identity is protected.” Continue Reading

UN Syria Regional Refugee Response

UN Refugee Agency – Syria Regional Refugee Response Inter-agency Information Sharing Portal – “Emergency Information Sharing Web Portal – A unique access point for population displacement emergency operational data. The relevance of the web portal depends entirely on its maintenance. The administration of the portal requires the constant attention of all stakeholders as well as… Continue Reading