Mortgage crisis | St. Louis Public Radio

Mortgage crisis

 This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 24, 2008 - The collapse of some of the nation's oldest financial institutions started on Main Street America with hundreds and thousands of homeowners such as 56-year-old Maureen McKenzie of Kirkwood who in May lost to foreclosure the small ranch house that hadbeen in her family since it was built after World War II. How could this happen? The answer is ... complicated. Over the next three days, the Beacon will unravel the story of how Maureen McKenzie of Kirkwood, Mo., lost her 900 square feet of the American Dream. Part 1

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 22, 2008 - The beleaguered banking giant Wachovia Corp. cut its dividend to near invisibility Tuesday as it posted a record second-quarter loss and said it would fire 6,350 workers. It also will eliminate 4,400 open positions and contractors. However, thanks in part to its acquisition of A.G. Edwards last year, one of the bright spots in Wachovia's financial picture was its brokerage business.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: October 2, 2008 - Rep. William Lacy Clay, D-St. Louis, told Beacon reporters before the vice presidential debate Thursday night that he will vote no Friday when the revised financial bailout plan reaches the House. 

Clay said he opposes the measure because of both its increased price, over $800 billion, and its top-down approach. Clay said it would have been better to help homeowners having trouble paying their mortgages.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 29, 2008 - Monday's deal between Wachovia Corp. and Citigroup may provide temporary relief but could also cause uncertainty for Wachovia's St. Louis-based brokerage business.

The relief comes from Citigroup's willingness to buy the albatross of bad mortgages -- as well as the coveted retail banking business -- from Wachovia, essentially leaving the brokerage and asset management units as the "new" Wachovia.

Part 3 of 3 - This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 26, 2008 - The collapse of some of the nation's oldest financial institutions started on Main Street America with hundreds and thousands of homeowners such as 56-year-old Maureen McKenzie of Kirkwood who in May lost to foreclosure the small ranch house that had been in her family since it was built after World War II. How could this happen? The answer is ... complicated. The Beacon will unravel the story of how Maureen McKenzie of Kirkwood, Mo., lost her 900 square feet of the American Dream.

Commentary: Financial bailout: Words of caution

Sep 26, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 26, 2008 - At this stage it is imprudent to speculate on the intricate details that the government’s bailout plan will include. There are, however, several broader issues to consider as the plan takes shape.

First, the rescue plan should not be used as an opportunity to extend the role of government in other areas of the economy.

A primer on the financial bailout

Sep 25, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 25, 2008 - To help make sense of the current economic crisis, the Beacon asked local experts in finance and investing for their answers to basic questions. The experts are: Stuart Greenbaum, former dean of the Washington University School of Business and now Bank of America emeritus professor of managerial leadership; Radhakrishnan Gopalan, assistant professor of finance at Washington University; Rick Hill of Hill Investment Group in Clayton; and Pamela Kuehling, a financial planner with Smith Barney. Here are their responses:

Part 2 of 3- This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 25, 2008- The collapse of some of the nation's oldest financial institutions started on Main Street America with hundreds and thousands of homeowners such as 56-year-old Maureen McKenzie of Kirkwood who in May lost to foreclosure the small ranch house that had been in her family since it was built after World War II. How could this happen? The answer is ... complicated. The Beacon will unravel the story of how Maureen McKenzie of Kirkwood, Mo., lost her 900 square feet of the American Dream. 

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 24, 2008 - Milo Minderbinder was a believer in free markets. He was the mess officer in Joseph Heller's WW II classic, Catch-22, who bought eggs at 7 cents apiece in Malta, then sold them at Air Corps bases for 5 cents each and still managed to make a profit. In fact, Milo's black-market egg business was so profitable that it metastasized into a trans-national syndicate that traded in all manner of goods and services and dealt as readily with Axis forces as it did with the Allies.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 22, 2008 - What's the prospect, or wisdom, of a giant, lumbering bank holding company merging with a giant, staggering investment banking company?

When it comes to Wachovia Corp. and Morgan Stanley, the answer is "no one knows," because the economic landscape continues to shift dramatically and often.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 18, 2008 - It is the surprising incident that gets you. The unseen car that nearly hits you when crossing the street. The bolt of lighting out of the blue. But while the surprising magnitude of the mortgage market collapse exacerbated problems for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mess wasn't completely unexpected.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 16, 2008 - Bailouts for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and American International Group. Bankruptcy for Lehman Brothers. The buyout of Merrill Lynch. The busted IndyMac Bancorp.

Given the continuing assault on the financial services industry, could Wachovia Corp. be the next domino to fall?

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 9, 2008 - How will Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac shareholders be impacted?

Existing shareholders of Fannie and Freddie would lose out as the Treasury is unlikely to support the two firms to benefit the existing shareholders. The current proposal does not wipe out existing equity, but government will get paid before the shareholders see any money. So for these shareholders to make money on their investment, the housing market has to recover drastically.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 8, 2008 -  The slow St. Louis area housing market won't immediately get better -- or worse -- with the federal government's takeover of troubled mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, but more loan money could eventually become available, say local analysts.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 22, 2008 - What a difference a river can make for homeowners facing foreclosure.

For residents of Illinois, a judicial foreclosure state, the legal process can take nearly a year because it is administered through the courts. In Missouri, the process can take as few as 60 days because the majority of foreclosures are nonjudicial, completed without going to court but in accordance with state law and the terms of the mortgage.

This post first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 31, 2008 - A marathon foreclosure counseling session this weekend hosted by Better Family Life, a St. Louis nonprofit, is expected to serve several hundred distressed homeowners in 24 hours, said Maurice Washington, director of the agency's housing program.

And in a sad sign of the times, Washington noted that the event might qualify for a Guinness World Record as the first marathon counseling session of its type.

There's a scammer born every minute

Jul 25, 2008
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This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 29, 2008 - For American homeowners drowning in mortgage and consumer credit debt, here is a grim warning from law-enforcement agencies: There are sharks in the water.

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This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 22, 2008 - When all else fails and foreclosure looms, bankruptcy attorneys say give them a chance

Which is worse: Foreclosure or bankruptcy?

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 8, 2008 - She is a 34-year-old married mother of two who is whittling away at $20,000 of debt – a saga she shares on her Web site www.paidtwice.com.

Jaimie of somewhere in Northeastern Indiana asked that we limit her identification – not because she is embarrassed to share her financial woes but because she wants to feel secure on the Internet. More than 1,500 people visit her site daily to read about her attempts to pay off the credit card debt and college student loans she and her husband accumulated after graduation.

Sen. Claire McCaskill talks to the media at a foreclosure clinic Saturday. 300 pixels. 2008
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Beacon archive

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 7, 2008 - Congress will approve a housing bill that includes foreclosure relief for troubled American homeowners promptly after the Fourth of July recess, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo) said Saturday.

Got a problem with your mortgage? There's hope and help

Jun 27, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 27, 2008 - The foreclosure numbers are staggering, acknowledges Colleen Hernandez, president and executive director of the Homeownership Preservation Foundation that manages 888-995-HOPE, a national hotline for Americans seeking counseling assistance.

"I've been with the foundation for two years, and when I joined we were getting about 40 calls a day. Now we're getting between 3,000 and 4,000 calls a day, which is sort of a barometer of how serious the problem is,'' Hernandez said in during a phone interview with the St. Louis Beacon.

Foreclosures: The problem is growing; seek help early

Jun 19, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Over the coming weeks, the Beacon, in partnership with KETC Channel 9, will be reporting on the sticky web of issues surrounding foreclosure - a crisis for nearly 2 million Americans, including thousands in the St. Louis region who have lost their stake in the American Dream.

Understanding the language of foreclosure

Jun 17, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 17, 2008 - If you -- or someone you know -- are worried about making house payments, it's time to take action. Trouble is, mortgage talk is a language many homeowners do not understand. ARMs, resets, balloons ... and the dreaded F word: Foreclosure.

Avoiding foreclosure: The options

Jun 17, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 17, 2008 - Get help now. Open your mail. Answer the phone. Don't avoid those calls from your lender; deal with your mortgage problems while you still can.

Ready to make the call? Here's your checklist

Jun 17, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 17, 2008 - When you call the hotline, you will be asked for some basic information before being referred to a HUD-approved nonprofit housing counselor. The counseling is free and private.