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Archive for the month “November, 2011”

Facebook Settles Deceptive Practices, Privacy Breach Claims with FTC

By Diane Bartz and Alexei Oreskovic

Facebook has settled complaints that it disregarded its users’ privacy, agreeing to establish a raft of measures to better protect its 800 million members’ data.

The settlement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission on Tuesday will require Facebook to obtain its users’ consent for certain changes to privacy settings and subject Facebook to 20 years of independent audits.

The deal comes as Facebook, the world’s No.1 Internet social networking company, is said to be gearing up for a massive $10 billion initial public offering next year, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters on Monday.

“I’m the first to admit that we’ve made a bunch of mistakes,” co-founder Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a lengthy post on the company’s official blog on Tuesday.

He said a few “high-profile” mistakes, such as changes to the service’s privacy policy two years ago, “have often overshadowed much of the good work we’ve done.”

To ensure that Facebook did a better job, Zuckerberg said the company had created two new corporate privacy officer positions to oversee Facebook products and policy.

In its complaint, the FTC said that Facebook had repeatedly violated laws against deceptive and unfair practices. For example, it said Facebook promised users that it would not share personal information with advertisers, but it did.

Also, the company had failed to warn users that it was changing its website in December 2009 so that certain information that users had designated as private, such as their “Friends List,” would be made public, the FTC said.

Chris Conley, policy attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, said the settlement “makes it clear that companies can’t simply change the rules without asking users’ permission.”

But he said that to keep pace with new technology, there was a need for new laws and tools.

“We shouldn’t have to struggle with complicated and constantly shifting privacy settings just to keep control of our own personal information,” Conley said.

Facebook, which has more than 800 million users, has often been criticized for its privacy practices since its founding in a Harvard dorm room in 2004.

Earlier this year, the company came under fire for practices related to its use of facial recognition technology to automatically identify people appearing in the photos that are shared on the service.
ABILITY TO INNOVATE

On a conference call with reporters on Tuesday, FTC officials said the settlement did not expressly cover the use of facial recognition technology.

They noted, however, that it was broadly crafted so that it would prevent Facebook from deceiving consumers going forward.

Senator Al Franken said in a statement that the absence of provisions covering Facebook’s facial recognition technology was a ”gap” in the settlement that he would be “urging the FCC to address.”

If Facebook is found to have violated any of the provisions of the settlement, the company is subject to fines of $16,000 per day for each violation, FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said.

“Nothing in this order will restrict Facebook’s ability to innovate,” said Leibowitz. But, he added, “Facebook’s innovation does not have to come at the expense of consumer privacy.”

Under the settlement, which must be approved by an FTC administrative law judge, Facebook is barred from being deceptive about how it uses personal information, and is required to get permission before changing the visibility of the personal information users have posted.

Facebook noted that it had reversed some of the privacy settings at issue in the FTC’s complaint prior to the settlement, including restoring users’ ability to limit who sees their Friends List. And it said it fixed a problem more than a year ago which had “inadvertently” allowed advertisers to obtain the user ID numbers of some Facebook members.

The settlement does not appear to directly impact Facebook’s current advertising-related business practices, in which marketers can target ads to specific segments of Facebook’s audience, based on user traits such as location and gender, said Debra Aho Williamson, an analyst at eMarketer.

“At this point we have no plans to change our forecasts over Facebook’s advertising revenue,” she said, citing eMarketer’s estimate that Facebook will generate $3.8 billion in worldwide ad revenue this year.

Still, the more stringent privacy requirements could complicate Facebook’s ability to roll out new features to its broad base of users, as it competes with a rival social networking service from Google.

In a statement, Facebook said that the settlement “strikes the right balance between innovation and regulation, and gives us the ability to introduce new sharing, connecting and control features that will continue to improve Facebook.”

The settlement follows a similar agreement in March between the FTC and Google Inc. over the Web search leader’s rollout of its own social network called Buzz.

In 2010, the FTC settled charges with Twitter, after the agency alleged that the social networking service had failed to safeguard users’ personal information.

Ray Valdes, an analyst at industry research firm Gartner, said he did not think the timing of the settlement was directly related to Facebook’s IPO plans.

“I don’t think it’s directly tied to the IPO. The IPO is still off in the distance,” he said, but added: “There’s some connection. I’d make more of a direct link if this was happening in January.”

(Reporting by Diane Bartz and Alexei Oreskovic; Editing by Tim Dobbyn, Ted Kerr and Phil Berlowitz)

Legal Education Reform

American legal education is in crisis. The economic downturn has left many recent law graduates saddled with crushing student loans and bleak job prospects. The law schools have been targets of lawsuits by students and scrutiny from the United States Senate for alleged false advertising about potential jobs. Yet, at the same time, more and more Americans find that they cannot afford any kind of legal help.

Addressing these issues requires changing legal education and how the profession sees its responsibility to serve the public interest as well as clients. Some schools are moving in promising directions. The majority are still stuck in an outdated instructional and business model.

The problems are not new. In 2007, a report by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching explained that law schools have contributed heavily to this crisis by giving “only casual attention to teaching students how to use legal thinking in the complexity of actual law practice.”

Even after the economy recovers, the outsourcing of legal work from law firms and corporate counsel offices to lower-fee operations overseas is likely to continue. Belatedly, some law schools are trying to align what and how they teach to what legal practice now entails and what individuals and institutions need — like many more lawyers who can serve as advocates for the poor and middle class.

Instead of a curriculum taught largely through professors’ grilling of students about appellate cases, some schools are offering more apprentice-style learning in legal clinics and more courses that train students for their multiple future roles as advocates and counselors, negotiators and deal-shapers, and problem-solvers.

With new legal issues arising from the use of computers in business and government to manage information, some schools are teaching students software code as well as legal code to solve systemwide problems. Some are exploring ways to reduce tuitions and make themselves more sustainable. Potential business models include legal degrees based on two years of classes, followed by third-year apprenticeship programs.

In American law schools, the choice is not between teaching legal theory or practice; the task is to teach useful legal ideas and skills in more effective ways. The case method has been the foundation of legal education for 140 years. Its premise was that students would learn legal reasoning by studying appellate rulings. That approach treated law as a form of science and as a source of truth.

That vision was dated by the 1920s. It was a relic by the 1960s. Law is now regarded as a means rather than an end, a tool for solving problems. In reforming themselves, law schools have the chance to help reinvigorate the legal profession and rebuild public confidence in what lawyers can provide.

Is the Economy Destroying Fatherhood?

By 

With the tight economy, fathers are found struggling to balance work life with personal life.

Tom Watson knows what it’s like not to have time to spend with his family.

“My wife and my sons would ask me to come and spend time with them and I would often use the line ‘We’ll see’ or ‘Maybe later’ as a way of answering them and then I would head to my office to carry on with my work. I felt that if I could just get ahead on my work, I could get out and spend time with my wife and play with my kids. The problem was that work just kept building and so did the pressure to provide for my family. I would rarely find the time to be there for them.

“Then one day my boys and I were having lunch together and my oldest son Brad asked me if I’d join them outside after lunch for a game of street hockey. I answered him as I had grown accustomed with, ‘We’ll see.’ I finished my lunch and headed to my home office to get back to work when I realized I had left my cell phone on the kitchen counter. I was on my way back to the kitchen to retrieve my phone when I ran upon a conversation between my boys that stopped me dead in my tracks. My middle son, Kelly, was talking to Brad and his words thundered in my ears. ‘Brad! Dad’s not coming out. He always says ‘we’ll see’ and he never comes and plays. He’s too busy and he’s no fun anymore.’

“As I stood there frozen in the hallway, it was like a knife had pierced my heart. There I was, working hard to build my business trying to provide for my family, thinking I was doing the right thing. What I realized in that moment was that I was losing touch with my family! I wasn’t the husband or the father I had been to my family in the past. I had become obsessed with trying to build a company to pay the bills and I was foregoing family time to make that happen. What I realized in that instance was that my sons didn’t care about my work – they just wanted their dad to be there for them like he used to be. They wanted some of my time – they needed my time and so did my wife!

“With the economy as tight as it is, I know that I’m not the only father who has or is struggling to balance work life with personal life. These days, many fathers are either unemployed and working hard to find work or they are working multiple jobs in a global workplace just to make ends meet. Because of this, family time is limited and I often believe men just aren’t in the mood for family because they are despondent or feeling helpless as a provider.”

But, it doesn’t have to be that way, according to Watson, author of the autobiographical Man Shoes: The Journey to Becoming a Better Man, Husband & Father . Watson’s tips for dads in a tough economy include:

With the tight economy, fathers are found struggling to balance work life with personal life.

Share Time – Don’t spend time with your family. Too often I would say, “I have to spend time with my family.” What that term made it sound like to them was that I was begrudgingly stopping work to spend time with them. I realized I needed to reframe what I needed to do and so I began to say instead, “I need to share time with them.” Sharing indicates that everyone is going to get something out of that time. It’s a more positive way of thinking about being with your family. It’s important for your wife and your kids to know that you aren’t paying attention to them out of obligation, but rather, because you need to be with them as much as they need to be with you.

Make a Schedule – Stability and security are important. So set up a time throughout the week that is meant just for your family, and do your best to make that time on your calendar immovable. It has to beHIGH PRIORITY! Give them something they can look forward to on a regular basis and it will show them how important they are to you. If you follow through on this simple action, I have found that it can help you build a trusting relationship with the people who need you most – your family.

A Little Quality Time is Better Than No Time – If you’re working long hours, forced to work multiple jobs or work out of town and commute home on weekends, your family will be much more understanding if you ensure you block out a couple of hours every week for them. As long as you keep to the schedule and don’t let them down, that time will be as valuable as if you spent the entire weekend with them. The key is to BE THERE in body and in mind during those family times. Shut off your cell phone, shut down your computer and realize that whatever is going on in your work world will be alright; it can wait to be dealt with until after you have shared time with you family. The fact is that if your family life is in order, you’re likely going to be in a better place mentally and emotionally to deal with your work life. Success at home generally leads to greater success at work and vice versa.

 

Don’t Plan Big – Husbands/fathers who work a lot sometimes feel guilty about neglecting their families and they cater to that guilt by trying to create big moments. They feel that doing something lavish and expensive will somehow be seen as a payback to their wives or kids for not sharing time with them. There are many pitfalls to this including increased financial strain and the impossibility of sustaining these types of MAKE UP moments long-term. The truth is, for the most part, your spouse and kids don’t really care about the extravagant moments. More often than not, the extravagant moments are fleeting fun. It’s the little moments that happen every week that bond the family together. Things as simple as going for a walk, flying kites at the park, playing games, eating brown bag lunches together and listening to your family members talk to you about their lives are often the things that mean the most to your family. Those are the mortar moments that hold all the major bricks of your family’s life in place. Without those moments, I have found my personal and professional worlds begin to crumble. So make sure you spend time culturing the mortar moments weekly with your wife and your children.

“Life is a choice and the person you choose to be is in your control. No matter the hand you may have been dealt, there are no excuses,” Watson added. “I grew up as an orphan and I acted out a lot, because I lacked the guidance of a family until I was finally taken in by the Watsons,” he said. “And even when I found stability with the Watsons, it took some time for me to settle down. Having shoes on my feet, clothes on my back and food on the table were all good things, but it wasn’t those things that soothed me as a child. It was the time, love and attention I received from Mr. and Mrs. Watson, their family and friends that put me back on course. That’s what I believe every child needs; that’s what I believe our spouses need, and in fact that is what we as men need to be successful. While it may seem to some men that working hard to provide for their families is their primary responsibility, that’s just not so. Children are adaptable and can do without material things more easily than they can do without the love and attention of their parents. If my experience meant anything to me, it showed me that being a dad is far more than just being able to bring home the bacon. It’s not enough to just do for your family – you have to be with them, too.”

http://www.yourtango.com/experts/galtime-com/economy-destroying-fatherhood

Mortgage Rate Outlook Little-Changed on Holiday-Shortened Friday

BY MATTHEW GRAHAM

Today’s update is more of a reminder than an amazing source of new information and analysis.  While Mortgage Rates are possibly slightly weaker than Wednesday, that isn’t universally the case.  Furthermore, Best-Execution rates arent’ affected.  The weakness, if any, should be seen in microscopically higher closing costs.  Even then, not all lenders are open today, meaning some are unable to process new lock requests, and some of the ones who are taking locks haven’t updated pricing.

Bond markets and Mortgage-Backed-Securities stop trading early today (2pm Eastern), but many market participants are simply absent today, and those that worked today are either already gone or soon will be.  Guidance below is unchanged from Wednesday.

Today’s BEST-EXECUTION Rates

  • 30YR FIXED –   4.0%, Some 4.125%, Very few 3.875%’s
  • FHA/VA – 3.75%, more balanced with 3.875% today
  • 15 YEAR FIXED –  3.375%-3.5%
  • 5 YEAR ARMS –  low 3% range, huge variations from lender to lender.

Guidance: In a fundamental sense, we’re well aware of the fact that European drama continues to help domestic bond markets.  Technically, we’re impressed that mortgage rates have been this flat for this long.  The “batting cage” metaphor or the chart below it if you prefer, continue to be the best guidance we can offer in this uncertain environment.  With the ongoing sideways movement of Best-Execution around 4%, the chances increase that the next move will carry a bit of momentum with it (as if the current calm is akin to “storing energy”).  If it goes in a mortgage rate-friendly direction, there’s limited benefit (an eighth to a quarter of a point of improvement) versus the damage that could result from it going the other way.  Fortunately, neither of those eventualities appear to be happening at the moment, so it’s hard to go wrong.  We’ll let you know the day that changes.

Ongoing Batting Cage Metaphor: (this can be applied to any endeavor where you’re trying to “go out on a high note”).   Rate offerings from lenders over the past month have been like a temperamental pitching machine in a batting cage-generally getting the ball across the plate, but with no really juicy pitches.  But recently, we’ve seen some more consistently good pitches (best-ex around 4.0% instead of 4.25%).  Sure… you’ve seen better, but not by much (3.875% and RARELY 3.75%).  How many more will you count on before calling it a day? Personally, I’d like to end my batting cage session with a nice hit.  The more “pitches” you wait for with rates already at a 4.0%, the greater the risk that the next pitch will be a curve-ball.  To drop the metaphor, although rates this low CAN go slightly lower, the improvements are fairly minimal compared to how much higher they could go.  Still, if you’re not in any particular need to refinance and are operating on a longer-term perspective, we continue to feel good about that “wall” at a 4.25% best-execution level as a good stop-loss point for inclined floaters.  Ask us to explain more about that if it doesn’t make sense.

Another way of looking at the lock/float spectrum based on the lowest MBS coupon actively trading and being produced in the secondary mortgage market:

Dashboard | Chime.in

Dashboard | Chime.in.

Juicy Jincey’s Guide to Online Dating: Finding Love or Just a One-Night Stand

Founder and Chief Sexy Officer, Juicy Pink Box
 
 

Before I got married I was a big old slut.
I dated and slept with lots of different women, and I conquered with every slick move possible. I tried every possible combination of dating strategies known to humankind. Therefore, I can tell you tricks that work, and which maneuvers will keep you dateless or create awkward moments.
Whether you want to fall in love and get married — which I did — or simply acquire some nice booty action, this guide is for you. It’s tailored to lesbians, but we can think of it as a guide for “the lesbian inside all of us.” This guide covers only online dating. Some other time I will cover the topics of meeting people elsewhere. Until then, read on and discover the magic of online dating.
Internet Dating:
Dating sites offer limitless potential for relationships and casual sex. Don’t be an idiot and say, “Oh, Internet dating is just not for me.” In an increasingly digital world, meeting lovers online is becoming commonplace. Here are some tips for success:
    • Do not use a dorky screen name. Sure, you may love Harry Potter, but your potential dates do not need to know that upfront. Also, don’t use a name that is geographically specific like “NYCplayer12.” In addition to making you look like a douche, it limits anyone who is not from the area from contacting you.
 
    • Take your time to fill out your profile and answer honestly. Don’t say you are skinny if you are fat. Try to give people a feel for your true personality.
 
 
    • If you absolutely cannot write yourself a good profile, ask a friend to do it for you. My wife asked her friend, a shallow gay male, to write her profile. I loved what she said. Obviously I must be shallow. Oh, well.
 
 
    • Don’t get upset if some hottie that you “wink” at doesn’t write you back. Internet dating is a numbers game, so don’t fixate on one person. Contact lots of people. Keep the interactions going.
 
 
    • Unless you live far, far away from each other, don’t carry on endless conversations over email. Some websites make you communicate in their system for a certain number of exchanges until you can give out your phone number… that’s fine, and it’s a safety measure. However, try to talk to people on the phone as soon as possible. I can’t tell you how many hours I wasted emailing girls back only to find that the dates never materialized.
 
 
  • Once you talk to people on the phone, you can pretty much tell if you will get along when you meet face-to-face. If the person has nothing to say on the phone and has a totally flat personality, just move on.
 
Meeting People from the Internet in Real Life:
The goal of Internet dating is dating — not chatting or emailing, but dating, which means physically meeting someone.
    • For your first date with someone in real life, keep it simple. Do not plan some elaborate date like rock climbing or playing skeet ball or whatever. Tell the person you want to go for a drink. Not dinner. Never dinner, for god’s sake — not until you know if you like them! No lunches, either! No meals, period. I have made the mistake of having to sit through horrible dinners with awful bitches. I don’t want to make you suffer the same way. If you like the person, you can always stay for more drinks or go for dinner after you finish your drink.
 
    • However, if you’re just out for a one-night stand, then, by all means, make dinner plans. Romance the shit out of that girl. Listen to her talk; ask her about herself. Share commonalities. Nothing makes a girl hornier than “clicking” with someone. See the section below for more tips.
 
 
    • Don’t go for coffee unless you don’t drink alcohol. Coffee dates are boring, and they end up being more like interviews than actual dates, where the female juices start flowing.
 
 
    • If you like each other, you can always plan a sexier, cooler experience for your second date.
 
 
    • The “don’t sleep together on the first date” rule doesn’t really apply for lesbians, but that said, don’t have crazy, kinky sex unless you met on some website specifically catering to that desire. Save some surprises for later.
 
 
    • Assume that everyone you are dating is dating other people at the same time. Don’t get your panties in a wad if you find out that they have a date the night after yours. You could be scheduling multiple dates yourself — in fact, you should be.
 
 
    • If you are not attracted to someone after the first date, then don’t go on a second date. It probably won’t get better, so don’t waste your time.
 
 
    • To break it off, just don’t return phone calls. No need to email the person with reasons why it didn’t work out. The only exception to this is if you make a second date and then decide you don’t like them. In that case, just tell them you started dating someone else more seriously. People do not need to know why you don’t like them.
 
 
  • I will cover more about how to date in another column, but this info should get you off to a good start with looking for a relationship online.
 
How to Get Laid from Internet Dating:
    • If the goal of your dating experience is tapping ass, let the person know that you’re not up for anything serious. It’s rude and wrong to lead someone on. However, if the person does not believe you when you say you are not emotionally available, it’s not your fault. You warned them!
 
    • If you sense that you have a Fatal Attraction situation on your hands, end the date. Listen to your instincts. If the person is super clingy, it is not worth it to sleep with them. You will have a hot mess to clean up afterward, and it can be really difficult to get rid of stalker types.
 
 
    • A good way to end a date is by asking for the check. And paying it. Don’t make the other person pay if you decide you want to cut out early.
 
 
    • Before you bring anyone home to close the deal, make sure your house is clean. If you have roommates, clean all common areas yourself. Vacuum, spray some odor eliminator. Clean the hair out of the shower! I am 1,000-percent nosy, and I always snoop around in the bathroom. If there is a bunch of hair in your drain, it’s gross, and it really decreases your chances of getting nookie.
 
 
    • Have some wine and sparkling water available at home for your date. It makes you seem like a smooth player even if you are not. I know this to be true, because it’s a move my wife used on our first date. When girls think that you have mad game, it will make them suspicious — but in a good way.
 
 
    • Make out. Make out. Make out. Don’t go straight for the boobs.
 
 
    • Also, don’t kick her out at the end of the night unless she wants to go. However, sleeping over does not mean that you have to go to breakfast together. Tell her you have a meeting, get dressed and leave the house together.
 
 
    • Don’t plan on going out again with your one-night stand unless the two of you decide together that you will be each other’s booty call. Even then, that shit’s messy. Dating is dating, and sex is sex. I recommend keeping it that way.
 
 
  • However, if after the first date you discover that you actually really like the person, then change your strategy and your mindset over, and think of the person as someone you would like to date.
 
Dating can be rough on your self-esteem, but keep an open mind and an open heart. After all, sometimes fairy tales come true. Mine did.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jincey-lumpkin/juicy-jinceys-guide-to-on_b_1108681.html

Wells Fargo FICO Pricing Changes Roil Rate Sheets; BofA Challenges Fannie on Buybacks; A Lesson in Cajun Economics

http://newton-realestateservices.blogspot.com/

BY ROB CHRISMAN

Nov 22 2011, 8:21AM

The inability of the Super Committee (maybe not so super) brought forth a flurry of political jokes. (For example, a driver is stuck in a traffic jam in Washington D.C. Nothing is moving! Suddenly, a man knocks on the car window. The driver rolls down his window and asks “What’s going on?” ”Terrorists have kidnapped all the members of our Congress – they’re asking for $10 million in ransom. Otherwise, they’re going to douse them with gasoline and set them on fire! We’re going from car to car taking up a collection.” The driver asks, “How much is everyone giving, on average?” and the man replies, ”Most people are giving about two gallons!”)

The interesting thing is that the markets expected them to fail. Sure, by the end of Monday the DOW was down about 250 points, and rates dropped, but the markets started off in a bad way due to continued problems in Europe – but who the heck expects them to solve the European debt issue any time soon?

In a headline worth reading twice, Bank of America told Fannie Mae it won’t cooperate with Fannie’s new stance on loan buybacks, setting up the lender for a potential surge in claims and penalties. “The bank is disputing Fannie Mae’s demand that lenders repurchase mortgages or cover any losses themselves if an insurer drops coverage, Bank of America said this month in a regulatory filing. BofA said it ‘does not intend to repurchase loans’ under what it deems to be new rules, and the refusal may trigger penalties or other sanctions, according to Fannie Mae. At stake is Bank of America’s ability to contain costs from faulty mortgages, which have reached about $40 billion for refunds, lawsuits and foreclosures…Fannie Mae didn’t enforce this policy before because “it was a different economic time,” said David Felt, a former deputy general counsel at the FHFA. Defaults were fewer and the firm didn’t want to harm relations with lenders by being too picky, he said. “They’d overlook the small things. Well, they’re no longer small things, and they’re no longer the old Fannie Mae.” Read all about it.

And in other Bank of America news, The Financial Times reports that the states of New York and Delaware “won the right to intervene in a proposed $8.5bn settlement agreement over soured mortgage bonds between Bank of America and a group of aggrieved investors. New York attorney-general Eric Schneiderman and Delaware’s Beau Biden say the deal is inadequate to investors and that the trustee for the investors, Bank of New York Mellon, broke state laws. Mr. Schneiderman asked the judge overseeing the agreement to reject it. Bank of America struck the June accord with 22 institutional investors, including the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and bond group Pimco, to settle claims that the bank repurchase home loans bundled into 530 securities with an original loan balance of $424bn. BNY Mellon agreed to the deal on behalf of all investors in the securities.” “This could complicate efforts by BofA to limit its exposure to allegedly faulty mortgage practices. The company’s shares have plunged 59 per cent this year in part on concern the bank faces unresolved and unknown mortgage liabilities. Its shares closed at $5.49 on Monday, the lowest since March 2009.”

Yesterday I noted one bank that was closed on Friday, but missed another: in Iowa Polk County Bank was closed and all deposit accounts, including brokered deposits, have been transferred to Grinnell State Bank, also of Iowa.

How you gonna keep them down on the farm? The Kansas City Fed report that cropland values jumped 25% in its district over the past year to a record high and ranchland values surged 14%. Meanwhile, the Fed Chicago reported that farmland values in its district soared to a record, up 25% in the 3Q as the value of agricultural land increased 7%.

Not only do SunTrust employees have to remind folks that the middle “t” is capitalized in its name, but now has had the company announce it would no longer offer pension benefits to employees after 12/31 of this year, as it seeks to reduce employee benefits costs. The Bank said it will continue to offer 401(k) plans, increase its matching contribution from 5% to 6% and make discretionary contributions starting in 2013.

Wells Fargo Funding sent word out to its clients about several topics: Wells Fargo Funding’s Response to Extension of HARP Program, VA Funding Fees Change Nov. 18, 2011 and Nov. 19, 2011 (As a result of the president signing the bill, effective Saturday, November 19, 2011, the funding fee schedule set forth in the VA Lender’s Handbook, Chapter 8, Topic 8 is again law through Fiscal Year 2016.), Hours of Operation During the Thanksgiving Holiday, New Loss Payee Clause Address – Effective Jan. 12, New Conventional Conforming Price Adjusters – Effective Dec. 12, Changes to Government Price Adjusters – Effective Dec. 12.

The first item of interest is, “Fannie Mae’s DU Refi Plus continues to be the HARP program eligible for purchase by Wells Fargo Funding. While we are committed to extending the expiration date according to Agency requirements for DU Refi Plus Loans, any enhancements made by Fannie Mae to the DU Refi Plus program will not be available until we have had an opportunity to assess the impact and offering of the enhancements, and DU  has been updated to support the changes.”

There are two big Wells news items there, driven by the performance on its servicing portfolio and not some government directive. Wells Fargo Funding is implementing FICO adjusters for conventional Conforming Loans, including DU Refi Plus, Home Opportunities, Home Possible, MyCommunityMortgage, and the High Balance Conforming Loan programs. The changes are a reflection of higher defaults and higher costs to service lower-Loan Score production. A comparison of the old and new adjusters shows a 1 point hit for FICO scores below 620, .250 hit for 620-679, and a .125 ding for 680-739.

But wait – there’s more! WF Funding is changing the FICO adjusters for government loans, including the High Balance FHA and VA programs. The changes are a reflection of higher defaults and higher costs to service lower-Loan Score production. Refer to the tables below for comparisons of old and new adjusters by program. Note: The FICO ranges have changed slightly. And the improvement for anyone with a FICO above 720 improved to +.250.

Wells Fargo’s wholesale channel told brokers that the VA Funding Fees will remain at the higher rates (“On Saturday, Nov. 19 the president signed a bill into law to extend the expiration date of the higher Funding Fee”). In addition, it mentioned enhancements to the Certificate of Eligibility for VA loans (A Certificate of Eligibility (COE) is a form issued by the VA that states the maximum entitlement available to a veteran for a VA home loan program.), Wells Fargo is working to implement HARP changes (Quit calling us – “Wells Fargo is committed to updating our policies as quickly as possible; however, until you receive official notification of the effective date, please do not submit applications with the changed parameters.”), changes to VA appraisal data effective Jan. 1 (The VA has announced that it will require Uniform Appraisal Dataset (UAD)-compliant appraisals effective on Jan. 1; however, Wells Fargo will accept VA UAD-compliant appraisals prior to Jan. 1.), and an asset documentation change for Freddie’s  Relief Refinance Mortgage program.

On the good news side of things, Existing Home Sales came in above expectations driven by an increase in single-family sales. It takes down the inventory to 8 months, although the distressed sales amounted to 28% of the activity (vs. 13% In Sep), and that first time home buyers made up a greater share of activity. Year over year existing home sales and are 13.5% higher than the 4.38 million unit level in October 2010. Analysts point out that this month’s report is a bit more positive but do not expect the trend to persist. And loan agents can tell you that contract failures reported by NAR members jumped to 33% in October from 18% in September, and were only 8 percent a year ago.

Yesterday’s 2-yr T-note auction was well bid, coming in around .28%, while the 10-yr stayed below 2.00% and mortgage prices improved slightly. Today we’ve had Real GDP for the 3rd quarter: it was revised from +2.5% to +2.0%, worse than expected. It has pushed stocks down, along with rates: the 10-yr is down to 1.95% and MBS prices are better by .125. Later we’ll have the release of the November FOMC minutes and a $35 billion auction. – MBS Prices

Cajun Economics:

It’s a slow day in Mamou, Louisiana. The sun is beating down, and the streets are deserted. Times are tough, everybody is in debt, and everybody lives on credit.
On this particular day a traveling Shreveport salesman is driving through town. He stops at the Hotel Cazan and lays a $100 bill on the desk saying he wants to inspect the rooms upstairs in order to pick one in which to spend the night.
As soon as the man walks upstairs, Bosco, the owner, grabs the bill and runs next door to pay his debt to Boudreaux the butcher. Boudreaux takes the $100 and runs down the street to retire his debt to Trosclair the pig farmer.
Trosclair takes the $100 and heads off to pay his bill at T-Boy’s Farmers Co-op, the local supplier of feed and fuel.
T-Boy, at the Farmer’s Co-op, takes the $100 and runs to pay his debt to the local “lady of the night,” Clarise, who has also been facing hard times and has had to offer her “services” on credit.
Clarise rushes to the hotel and pays off her room bill with Bosco, the hotel owner. Bosco then places the $100 back on the counter so the travelling salesman will not suspect anything.
At that moment the salesman comes down the stairs, picks up the $100 bill, states that the rooms are not satisfactory, pockets the money, and leaves town. No one produced anything. No one earned anything. However, the whole town is now out of debt and now looks to the future with a lot more optimism.
And that, my friend, is how the United States Government is conducting business today.

If you’re interested, visit my twice-a-month blog at the STRATMOR Group web site located at http://www.stratmorgroup.com. The current blog reminds everyone about how government intervention in the housing market is nothing new. If we forget history, we are doomed to repeat it, and it is important to know the last 15 years of the history of the agencies. If you have both the time and inclination, make a comment on what I have written, or on other comments so that folks can learn what’s going on out there from the other readers.

Adult Dating Tips: Seductive Techniques Using Music to Attract Women

Online dating for teenagers and young adults seems a relatively simple pursuit requiring little more than an exchange of photographs and a passing reference to some common interests. And that’s it, the match is made, although it might not last more than a few days! But for the older and more experienced adult, dating is usually a more complex issue, in which both the man and the woman will expect more from their potential partner.

So why not give yourself a head start and make your profile that much more interesting. Being able to play a musical instrument, particularly an unusual musical instrument, will not only make your profile stand out from the herd but will also arouse much interest and curiosity. At the very least it will get you a few dates quite quickly, but in many cases you will soon find that you have become a veritable magnet to the opposite sex.

Let’s take a look at the next four unusual musical instruments you might consider adding to your online dating armory. They range from the most ancient to the most modern, so there is sure to be one to appeal to every musical taste.

LightHarp. The LightHarp uses lasers, spotlights and light sensors to trace virtual strings through space for performers to play. I believe something similar was used by Mr Spok to charm the heart of many an interstellar traveler. The instrument does not produce sound itself, rather it controls computers and synthesizers.

The current version of the LightHarp has been designed in leather by the famous leather artist, Garry Greenwood. The LightHarp is also the World’s first Indian computer music instrument and resembles a veena in shape and design. It has a total of 32 light-sensor virtual strings, each of which play either individual notes, music samples or act as frets on a string. But although designed for playing Indian music, the LightHarp is also capable of performing dense polyphonic textures with micro-tonal tunings.

Nano Guitar. Now here’s an instrument guaranteed to please the technology-minded lady, and it comes in one convenient pocket-sized package. Keep one by you at all times. You never know when it might come in handy!

The smallest guitar in the world, the Nano Guitar is only 10 micro-meters in length — about the size of a single cell — with six strings each about 50 nanometers, or 100 atoms, wide. The original Nano Guitar was made to resemble a Fender Stratocaster. The new, “playable” version, actually about five times the size of the original, is modeled on the Gibson Flying V.

The strings are actually silicon bars, 150 by 200 nanometers in cross-section and ranging from 6 to 12 micrometers in length (a nanometer is a billionth of a meter, the length of three silicon atoms in a row. For comparison, the diameter of a human hair is about 200 micrometers, or 200,000 nanometers). They vibrate at frequencies 17 octaves higher than those of a real guitar, so special listening skills will be required!

Serpent. An instrument with overt sexual overtones and in the right hands a lethal weapon in your armory to seduce your beloved. Just don’t overdo it, the effects can be earth-shattering!

The Serpent is an ancient musical wind instrument, related to the modern tuba, invented by Canon Edmé Guillaume in 1590 in France, and was first used to reinforce the sound of church choirs. It was made from wood and blown with a cup shaped mouthpiece. Played softly, it has a firm mellow tone. At medium volume, it produces a robust sound — something of a cross between the tuba, bassoon and French horn. But when played loudly, the serpent can produce seriously unpleasant noises reminiscent of large animals mating or in distress.

Theremin. The Theremin is perhaps my preferred instrument, and one of the most versatile. But as with all musical instruments worthy of the name, please consider the neighbors and try to perfect your technique before rushing out to try this. Police cells and hospitals have been known to become overcrowded with failed Theremin players.

The Theremin is one of the earliest electronic instruments, the forerunner of the electronic synthesizer. However it is unique in that it is played without ever physically touching it. Invented by the Russian inventor Leon Theremin in the 1920s, the instrument is outfitted with two antennae and when the hands of the player enter the electrostatic field around each antenna, changes in pitch and volume occur.

For years the Theremin enjoyed cult status in sci-fi movies (such as Bernard Herman’s score for the 1951 classic The Day the Earth Stood Still) and it is still used today in movies and by a number of contemporary musicians including bands such as Led Zeppelin, Radiohead and Portishead. In fact the Theremin is enjoying a veritable musical renaissance!

I hope you have enjoyed learning about these intriguing musical instruments, mention of any one of which on your adult dating site profile is bound to generate a lot of interest. But it’s for you to take it from there!

Related Tag Surfer

Related Tag Surfer.

Gregory Newton

Gregory Newton.

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