Thursday, July 2, 2009

Required Reading: Thursday, July 2nd 2009

Graphs: Auto Sales in June – Calculated Risk

Banks Balk at New Consumer Protection Agency – Minyanville, Andrew Jeffrey

After ignoring repeated warnings about the looming dangers of predatory subprime-mortgage lending, turning a deaf ear to consumer complaints about obscenely high credit-card fees, and generally allowing the financial industry to run amok during decades of wild profiteering and debt-fueled excess, Congress is hastily piecing together a plan to protect consumers from Wall Street.

GM Blames Bankruptcy, Trade-In Programs, Man in the Moon for Latest Miss – Mish

Any substantial increase in auto sales (if and when it comes) will probably be in clearing 2009 models at huge losses, and at the expense of 2010 sales and pricing power. Consumers want bargains, and bargains they will get.

Money Worries Kill A-List Film at Last Minute – The New York Times

In a film production office here, at least a couple of employees were still hanging around on Monday, hoping in vain to score with their troubled baseball movie “Moneyball.”

But they had swung, and missed.

Just days before shooting was to begin, Sony Pictures pulled the plug on “Moneyball,” a major film project starring Brad Pitt and being directed by Steven Soderbergh. The last-minute demise of a prestige picture is a rare spectacle in Hollywood — one that is painful, expensive and damaging to all involved. This one is estimated to have cost Sony $10 million in script development and costs like scouting locations.

Part suppliers fret over NUMMI – The Stockton Record

STOCKTON — General Motors Corp.'s decision to pull out of the New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. partnership not only endangers the employment of 4,600 assembly plant workers in Fremont, but upward of 1,200 jobs at auto parts suppliers in San Joaquin County.

S.F. has recession's 1st distressed office sale – The San Francisco Chronicle

An undisclosed U.S. private equity firm bought the $40.8 million note on 250 Montgomery St. for about half its face value, according to industry sources. The sale was about 60 percent below the previous price if improvements to the building are taken into account.

Bank of the West to move to Bishop Ranch – The San Francisco Chronicle

Bank of the West has inked easily the largest local office deal of the year, signing a lease for 240,000 square feet at Bishop Ranch that allows it to consolidate 1,600 employees now spread among seven East Bay offices.

U.S. raises home refi plan's loan-to-value ceiling to 125% – The Los Angeles Times

The new loan-to-value maximum of 125% means an eligible homeowner with a $375,000 mortgage could refi if his or her house is worth at least $300,000. But the borrower still would have to be able to afford the new loan, and income requirements are an increasing problem as unemployment soars and many workers are forced to take pay cuts.

GM Says Approval of Restructuring Is Urgent – The Washington Post

NEW YORK, July 1 -- General Motors mounted a final push for its historic restructuring plan, arguing before a federal bankruptcy judge Wednesday that the U.S. government would cut off funding -- in effect risking liquidation of the automaker -- unless it won quick approval for the turnaround proposal.

The government has "no intention to further fund this company if the sale order is not entered by July 10," said Harry Wilson, a member of the Obama administration's auto task force who oversaw the government's day-to-day dealings with GM.

California: The haves and have-nots – Felix Salmon

Deutsche Bank Sacramento Resale Market Analysis – Sacramento Real Estate Statistics

Obama sends his consumer protection plan to Congress – The Sacramento Bee

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration sent Congress a detailed plan Tuesday to create one of the most ambitious parts of the president's proposed overhaul of financial regulation, a consumer financial protection agency.

The proposal would gather consumer protection powers spread among many bank regulators and place them under a single roof.

For ordinary Americans, the most important feature is that the agency would have the sole mission of consumer protection. One lesson of the financial crisis is that the several agencies that shared that responsibility made it a lower priority than their other missions.