QA on the Iranian nuclear deal

first_img Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day Iran has long maintained that its nuclear program is peaceful and that it never sought to build a bomb. The talks were mostly considered stalemated until summer 2013, when Iran elected a new president, Hassan Rouhani, who said the country was ready to strike a deal.The final agreement with Iran was negotiated by U.S., Britain, Germany, France, China and Russia.___SO WHAT IS THE AGREEMENT?Iran agreed to reduce the number of uranium-enriching centrifuges it has in stock, as well as its stockpile of enriched uranium. It also has agreed to convert an enrichment site called Fordo — dug deep into a mountainside and thought impervious to air attack — into a research center.Another key piece is the possibility of inspections: if the U.N. nuclear agency identifies a suspicious site, it can ask to inspect it. And if Iran refuses, an arbitration panel will decide whether the Iranians have to open up the site to inspection within 24 hours.All of this is aimed at slowing down the rate at which Iran could, in theory, build a nuclear weapon.In exchange, Iran stands to receive more than $100 billion in assets overseas that had been frozen by other countries. It also will see an end to a European oil embargo and other financial restrictions on its banks. If Iran reneges on its promises, the sanctions will snap back into place. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility WASHINGTON (AP) — Here’s what you need to know about the Iran nuclear deal:___WHAT JUST HAPPENED AND WHY IS THIS SUCH A BIG DEAL?In general, Iran has agreed to limit its nuclear program if the U.S. and other world powers ease up on what have been brutal economic sanctions against the country.The 100-page deal caps off more than a decade of diplomatic wrangling aimed at keeping Iran from building a nuclear bomb. U.S. and Israeli officials say a nuclear-armed Iran would be a security disaster and potentially lead to war because of Tehran’s support for anti-Israel militant groups, such as the Palestinian Hamas and the Lebanese Hezbollah group, and frequent references by Iranian leaders to Israel’s destruction. ___WHAT DOES ISRAEL SAY? DON’T THEY HAVE THE MOST TO GAIN, OR LOSE WITH THIS?Yes, they do, and Israel isn’t happy because the deal basically leaves Iran’s nuclear infrastructure in place. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the agreement a “bad mistake of historic proportion.” President Barack Obama says he sees it differently: If a diplomatic agreement with Iran can’t be found, that puts the next U.S. and Israeli leaders in the position of having to contemplate military action to prevent Iran from building a bomb.__WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? CAN THE U.S. CONGRESS KILL THE DEAL?Congress has 60 days to review the deal. A vote of disapproval by itself won’t stop the agreement. But if Congress decides to impose new sanctions on Iran or prevent the president from suspending existing ones, that would make it hard for Obama to fulfill the American side of the deal. To do that, however, Senate and House Republican leaders would have to find enough support to override a presidential veto.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Graphic shows key points of nuclear deal with Iran; 2c x 8 inches; 96.3 mm x 203 mm; Comments   Share   New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Top Stories 4 sleep positions for men and what they mean Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Sponsored Stories How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation Mesa family survives lightning strike to home ___EVERY GOOD DEAL INVOLVES COMPROMISE. WHAT DID THE WEST GIVE UP?Among the biggest concession by the West is that Iran doesn’t have to submit to international inspections anytime, anywhere. Because the process for inspections could end up with an arbitration panel, access to the Islamic Republic’s most sensitive sites isn’t guaranteed and may be delayed.And while Iran has to reduce its stockpile of enriched uranium and its number of centrifuges, it doesn’t have to give them up entirely. It also isn’t being forced to close its mountainside Fordo facility, just use it for research purposes.Another concern is that a U.N. weapons embargo could lift in five years or sooner if certain criteria are met. U.S. officials had sought to maintain the weapons ban because they worry that once sanctions are lifted and Iran’s government becomes flush with cash again, more military aid would find its way to places like Syria and Yemen. But Iran dug in and was supported by Russia and China, which stand to profit from greater weapons exports.___WHAT DOES ALL THIS MEAN FOR OIL PRICES?Any easing of economic sanctions will likely mean that Iran can sell more oil, which in turn could bring down crude oil prices. In trading Tuesday, benchmark U.S. crude oil prices were down.last_img read more

Croatia battles wildfires at height of tourist season

first_img Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies 0 Comments   Share   Top Stories Winds on Friday reignited some of the blazes that firefighters had managed to curb after an all-night battle, authorities said. Fires also have swept through the islands of Korcula and Brac and on several other spots amid extremely high summer temperatures.Though backed by planes and helicopters, as well as the military, firefighters were stretched to the limit.“It’s all burning … if one more fire breaks out who knows what will happen,” said firefighter Romano Levanat. “We are doing our best, we have been switching, but we are very tired.”Also Friday, Croatian police said they have detained an unidentified 24-year-old woman suspected of deliberately setting several small fires on Korcula.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. 5 ways to recognize low testosterone Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Sponsored Stories Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of Croatian firefighters work to control a large forest fire in the village of Zabrdje on the Peljesec peninsula in southern Croatia, Friday, July, 24, 2015. Volunteers, military and Croatian firefighters are struggling to cope with raging forest fires on the country’s Adriatic coast. The Peljesac peninsula is facing a blaze that has forced hundreds of residents and tourists to evacuate. (AP Photo/Amel Emric) PONIKVE, Croatia (AP) — Hundreds of Croatian firefighters struggled Friday to contain raging wildfires on the Adriatic coast and islands at the height of tourist season.Two huge fires have swept through the Peljesac peninsula this week, forcing evacuation of villages and destroying large areas of olive groves, pine forests and vineyards.The blaze has occasionally cut off the main road and power supplies since it erupted early this week. Hot winds, often changing directions, have hindered efforts to contain the wildfires. 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Centerlast_img read more

Travel Counsellors appoint new GM

first_imgHome-based travel company, Travel Counsellors has appointed Deb Duncan as general manager for the Group’s Australia-based branch.With over 30 years of industry knowledge, Ms Duncan has owned her own award winning travel agency, worked as a business development manager with Travelscene American Express as well as run her own business consultancy and assisted travel agencies position themselves in the market. In addition she also taught Tourism Management at University, trained consultants and managers in people skills and specialised in business development in Australia and Chicago.“We are thrilled that Deb is joining us,” Travel Counsellors managing director Steve Byrne said.  “Her knowledge and professionalism within the Australian travel industry is important and we are confident that we have found someone who shares the same vision and values that we have and the drive to recruit the very best in the industry.” Ms Duncan said through her various roles she has been able to bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table and add to what is already a great support network. “I am privileged to be chosen for the post of General Manager for Travel Counsellors in Australia, it really is a very special travel company and its ethos and values are so unique and refreshing,” Ms Duncan said. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: S.Plast_img read more

New Zealands Best Lodge

first_imgBlanket Bay’s reputation as Australasia’s ultimate alpine escape and New Zealand’s finest luxury lodge continues to be upheld with its win last Friday night, 2 September 2011, at the hotel industry’s prestigious HM Awards. Spanning Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands the HM Awards are this region’s only independent benchmark for excellence in hospitality management, voted on by a panel of judges consisting of leading travel writers, hoteliers and travel industry professionals.Philip Jenkins, Blanket Bay’s General Manager, was delighted with this further accolade: “This HM Award again illustrates our staff’s consistently high service standards and the resultant guest satisfaction that comes from Blanket Bay’s unique blend of luxury and location”. “New Zealand is widely acknowledged as having a collection of outstanding lodges, a concept which has also been adopted in Australia and Southern Africa. It is gratifying to see the recognition that luxury lodge accommodation is now achieving worldwide. The success of Blanket Bay is based upon this significant growth in demand for small luxury hotels that offer truly intimate hospitality and local flavour in stunning destinations”, states Philip.Blanket Bay regularly features amongst the world’s best. Along with last Friday night’s HM Award win, Conde Naste Traveler’s 2010 Gold List ranked Blanket Bay as the second-highest scoring property in the world and the top-scoring hotel in Asia, Australia and Pacific nations. Also last year the discerning readers of the prestigious Andrew Harpers Hideaway Report voted Blanket Bay 6th in the Top 20 Hideaways in the world, and the best in New Zealand. In 2009 Blanket Bay also won the HM Award for “New Zealand’s Best Regional Property”.“Even in these turbulent economic times there is a strong short breaks market. Blanket Bay is just over three hours flying time from the major centres of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Auckland and attracts more and more discerning Australian and New Zealand travellers seeking the ultimate alpine escape”, he said.Those wanting to check in to New Zealand’s most exclusive address sample New Zealand’s best lodge can do so at low winter season rates (from $1000 per couple including pre dinner drinks, dinner, bed, breakfast and use of all facilities) right through until the end of the Rugby World Championship. Source = Blanket Baylast_img read more

Qantas cuts wound staff in maintenance dispute

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: K.W Qantas could cut more jobs as 30 engineers are expected to be shown the door after recent disputes with recent changes in maintenance procedures. Even though the airline announced last week that it no longer required safety checks on all aircraft before every domestic flight, the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association (ALAEA) told members to carry on checking under the old system. Qantas and the ALAEA again found themselves in front of the industrial umpire, with a Qantas spokesperson confirming the changes would lead to 30 voluntary redundancies, AAP reported. This comes after the flag carrier’s recent announcement to shed 500 jobs from the Victorian and Queensland heavy maintenance facility, Despite the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) giving approval for the changes to maintenance procedure, ALAEA federal secretary Steve Purvinas said they would battle these concerns with CASA.”If CASA doesn’t listen, we will go to the Transport Minister (Anthony Albanese),” Mr Purvinas said. Mr Purvinas expressed concern that Qantas’ new procedures of pilot-only checks would lead to errors being missed, accusing the airline of turning a blind eye to safety concerns while trying to turn it into a low-cost carrier. Qantas responded to what they call scaremongering by the union by confirming there was “absolutely no safety risk”.The airline states the new system is endorsed by the regulator, recommended by the aircraft manufacturers themselves and is used by other airlines around the world do, including Virgin Australia and Jetstar.last_img read more

FAA demands 737 inspections

first_imgMore than 100 Boeing 737s to be checked for fuselage cracks. Image: Associated Press The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has called for more than 100 Boeing 737s to be inspected for fuselage cracks.Boeing 737 aircraft are considered high-cycle planes, meaning they fly a lot of takeoffs and landings; therefore the fuselage is constantly pressurised and depressurised, CBS News travel editor Peter Greenberg reported.“That can lead, if you’re not careful, to fatigue cracks and a rupture in the skin,” Mr Greenberg said. “So what the new FAA directive is calling for are more inspections – not just visual inspections, but electromagnetic inspections – because if you don’t get these fatigue cracks early enough, they can lead to cracking… and next thing you know, a fracture of the fuselage.”This is not the first directive of this kind the FAA has issued.“It’s the cycle versus the inspection regime and that’s what the FAA is asking for now – more repetitive inspections… and I think they’re right.” Source = e-Travel Blackboard: P.Tlast_img read more

Emirates SkyCargo Recognized for Achieving Air Cargo Excellence

first_img2013 Diamond Award Presented by Air Cargo World at the World Cargo Symposium Emirates SkyCargo was presented with Air Cargo World’s Air Cargo Excellence Award this past week, as the World Cargo Symposium drew to a close in Doha, Qatar. The top Diamond award presented to Emirates SkyCargo, recognized it’s achievements in the Air Carrier 800,000 or more tonnes category.  Receiving the award, Ram Menen, Emirates Divisional Senior Vice President Cargo said, “This award draws attention, not only to the excellence of our operations, but the excellence of our team throughout the network.” In paying tribute to his team, Mr. Menen invited colleagues attending the final day of the World Cargo Symposium onto the stage to jointly receive the award.  Known for providing the latest aviation news and special reports about the air cargo industry, Air Cargo World’s readers gave Emirates SkyCargo the highest overall ratings in excellence. These ratings were garnered from the findings of its ninth annual Air Cargo Excellence Survey, which measured carriers and airports on specific criteria, raking and identifying top performers. Freight forwarders rated airline carriers on customer service, performance, value for money and information technology.  In the closing plenary session of the World Cargo Symposium, Des Vertannes, IATA Head of Cargo, reiterated the success that Emirates SkyCargo has had since its inception in 1985 with Ram Menen at the helm of the Division.  “It has been a pleasure to see Emirates SkyCargo not only take to the skies, but become one of the world’s leading air cargo carriers. In growing rapidly, we have worked hard to ensure that our reputation is second to none. As a team, we remain resolute to continue to grow with our customers’ needs as a primary focus,” said Mr. Menen. …… Source = Emirates SkyCargolast_img read more

Lights go out tonight on seventh Vivid Sydney

first_imgLights go out tonight on seventh Vivid SydneyTonight is the last chance for visitors to take in the world’s largest festival of light, music and ideas with just a few hours to go before the lights will go out on Vivid Sydney 2015.NSW Minister for Trade, Tourism and Major Events Stuart Ayres said for 18 days, Vivid Sydney has captivated the imagination of visitors of all ages from across Australia and the world.“This year Vivid Sydney has shone brighter than ever with spectacular light installations and projections enthralling audiences across the festival from Circular Quay to Martin Place, Darling Harbour to Pyrmont & The Star, the University of Sydney and new precincts Chatswood and Central Park,” Mr Ayres said.“Almost 280,000 people visited Vivid Sydney in the opening weekend alone and the visitors have kept coming. I’d like to say a huge thank you to the hundreds of dedicated Vivid Sydney volunteers who have been the face of the festival, helping visitors to make the most of their experience. We truly appreciate you taking the time to help enhance people’s visit to this great city and incredible event.“Vivid Sydney showcases our creative industries to the world while also providing a platform for international artists and performers to demonstrate their creative talents here in Sydney. This year more than 80 light installations were created by 225 artists from 21 different countries, with their art lighting up Sydney’s winter nights and delighting local and international visitors,” he said.“The Vivid Ideas program has once again sparked discussion and debate around creativity, with over 500 speakers participating in more than 150 Vivid Ideas events held throughout the festival. On the music front, more than 70 bands performed as part of the Vivid Music program with 382 musicians, 232 DJs and 1,502 hours of programmed music entertaining festivalgoers.“Sydney really is the events capital of Australia and it’s been a huge 18 days for our city. We’ve had fantastic sporting events including Tottenham Hotspurs and Chelsea playing Sydney FC to massive crowds with both teams taking time out to experience our wonderful harbour city,” Mr Ayres said.Destination NSW Chief Executive Officer Sandra Chipchase said, “Vivid Sydney has been another brilliant celebration of our city, transforming our beloved icons and the city itself into a colourful canvas of light, music and ideas. I encourage everyone to get their family and friends together and to visit our world-renowned festival before the lights go off at midnight this evening.”“Finally, I want to say a big thank you to all our festivalgoers including international and interstate visitors who have made this year’s Vivid Sydney a very successful event. We look forward to welcoming everyone back in 2016,” Ms Chipchase said. SydneyVisit NSWSource = Destination NSWlast_img read more

Australias first Capsule Hotel selects GuestCentrix HostelWeb

first_imgAustralia’s first Capsule Hotel selects GuestCentrix Hostel.WebAustralia’s first Capsule Hotel selects GuestCentrix Hostel.WebAustralia’s first Capsule Hotel located at the site of Sydney’s Bar Century has selected GuestCentrix Hostel.Web to power its operations when it opens in January next year.  The Capsule Hotel, spanning 3 floors will be located above Hungry Jacks on the corner of George Street & Liverpool Street, Sydney.  The main target of the hotel will be single travellers rather than backpackers and students, that made the previous venue location famous.  “We will be targeting solo travellers who have outgrown the backpacker accommodation options available and also guests who will be happy to pay for the extra privacy, peace and quiet the capsules will provide” Director Walter Yao said.  “We wanted a modern, best in class hotel software to manage our new cutting edge hotel product. GuestCentrix’s cloud based solution will allow us to train staff quickly so we can provide excellent customer service to our guests that we look forward to welcoming in the New Year.”  Duncan Waterman, Director of Sales at CMS Hospitality said, “The Capsule Hotel will be an outstanding addition to the already great the budget accommodation scene here in Sydney.   We are proud that they have chosen GuestCentrix to optimise their booking mix, drive their marketing and streamline their operations”  “We know that the best Sydney and Australian & NZ hostels have extremely high occupancy rates almost the full 12 months of the year. The Capsule Hotel as a new product in the market will be in high demand when it opens so they will be able to use GuestCentrix to get the maximum revenue per capsule bed available when they do open for business.    We are looking forward to working closely in partnership with Walter and his team helping them to use the cloud based GuestCentrix property management system to initially to distribute their availability online and then welcome their guests.” Duncan said.The Capsule Hotel joins a number leading Australian and NZ hostels who have implemented GuestCentrix Hostel.Web in recent months including; Bondi’s Noah’s Backpackers, Home Backpackers (also in Sydney), Aussitel Backpackers Coffs Harbour, Discovery Melbourne, Byron Bay Beach Hostel and Sir Cedrics Accommodation Based in NZ. Source = CMS Hospitalitylast_img read more

Howzat MTAs Kyara Newport bowls over Kevin Pietersen

first_imgHowzat! MTA’s Kyara Newport bowls over Kevin PietersenPictured MTA – Mobile Travel Agents Member, Kyara Newport and a slightly-stumped looking international cricket superstar, Kevin Pietersen.The MTA member met the former England captain at a function the cricketer organised recently at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Sydney to raise awareness for his other passion in life, helping to save South Africa’s threatened Rhino population.Source = Mike Parker-Brown – MTA – Mobile Travel Agents PRlast_img

Red letter day for MTA

first_imgRed letter day for MTA as pop-up post office agency gets stamp of approvalRed letter day for MTA as pop-up post office agency gets stamp of approvalMTA-Mobile Travel Agents Member, Cei Creighton obviously thinks outside the envelope when she’s looking to achieve a first class result.Cei is well known in her North Brisbane community and particularly with many of the local shop owners, one being the local post office where staff would often engage her in conversation about her business.An opportunity arose for Cei to establish a pop-up shop within the post office to help service her clients along with a further offer to set up a travel desk for prospective clients frequenting the bulding and she’s never looked back.Cei is pictured (left) with MTA BDM Queensland, northern NSW and NT, Sally Gorringe at the North Brisbane post office pop-up agency.Source = MTA – Mobile Travel Agents’ PR – Mike Parker-Brownlast_img read more

Cambodia Travel Mart gears up to highlight ASEANs tourism potential

first_imgMinistry of Tourism Cambodia in-collaboration Slickbooth Holding – Events & Public Relations, officially launched the first Cambodia Travel Mart “CTM” 2017 which will be held from 17 to 19 November 2017 in a wonder cultural land Angkor Wat in Siem Reap – Angkor Province.The event is initiated by His Excellency Dr Thong Khon, Minister of Tourism Cambodia. High-ranking officers and experts from Ministry of Tourism Cambodia, industry leaders and subordinates of private companies involved in tourism attended the event.The Ministry of Tourism Cambodia has a duty to organize and cooperate with state institutes and private sectors to enhance the potential of tourism.Slickbooth Holding, Event & Public Relations is an important partner with the Ministry of Tourism to organise the international tourism expo in Cambodia.The Cambodia Travel Mart (CTM) 2017 is a tourism business forum which sees a wide array of participation from tourism companies, tourism operators, tourism experts, national and international media, total of approximately 500 companies and agencies. The forum is supported by tourism organizations of ASEAN state member countries to improve local and regional tourism.This event is the key factor to develop tourism in Cambodia and to revive tourism in ASEAN nations.This special event is a golden opportunity to promote tourism destinations, trade service packages, exchange experience and make business partners.To ensure a hassle-free business, an online business appointment is pre-scheduled, cordial golf tournaments, workshops related to tourism, travelling and showcasing tourism products and services is organised. CTM will have approximately 200+ national and international sellers and 200+ national and international buyers. Besides sellers and buyers, the event will host about 50 national and international media agencies.His Excellency Dr Thong Khon, Minister of Tourism Cambodia, praised Prime Minister Samdach Ahka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, citing that it was under his leadership that Cambodia could progress in tourism and enhance their tourism potential.Along with highlighting Cambodia’s stance in promoting tourism in the country, the event also draws attention to the “VISIT ASEAN@50: GOLDEN CELEBRATION.” ASEAN completes 50 years in 2017 and to mark the prominence and success of the association.ASEAN’s best 50 festivals and 50 most unforgettable travel experiences will also be showcased. Visitors will have the opportunity to experience ASEAN’s diverse destinations, from culinary experiences and events to engage with local communities and also they will witness the richness of ASEAN’s culture, heritage and nature and ASEAN’s hospitality.In 2016, an estimate of 5 million tourists visited Cambodia, an increase of 5 percent in 2015.By the end of 2017, Cambodia expects to have 5.5 million tourists and is eying to reach 7 million in 2020.Event Details and Pre-registration:Date: 17th – 19th November 2017Venue: Sokha Siem Reap Resort & Convention Center,Siem Reap, CambodiaFor more information please visit: read more

Radian Rewards Timely Mortgage Payments

first_img Some homeowners who have recently modified their home loans through the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) may begin receiving cash rewards for making timely mortgage payments.[IMAGE] “”Radian Guaranty, Inc.””:, a private mortgage insurer and subsidiary of the Radian Group, announced it will reward current insured borrowers through the “”Responsible Homeowner Reward””: program, which is administered by “”Loan Value Group LLC””:, a company founded in 2008 to provide borrower incentives to protect investors and servicers. The program “”is designed to target and reduce negative equity for nearly 12 million underwater borrowers,”” stated Frank Pallotta, one of the managing partners at Loan Value Group. [COLUMN_BREAK]According to Pallotta, the program has been a success since its initiation in 2010 and has lowered default rates by 50 percent for participating borrowers. Radian will select eligible homeowners for enrollment in the Responsible Homeowner Reward program, and the homeowner incurs no financial obligation to participate. Eligible homeowners must have recently received a HAMP modification and must remain current on their new loan to acquire cash rewards. Rewards are deposited into an account in the homeowner’s name, and he or she will continue to receive cash rewards up to a maximum amount. The homeowner then receives the entire cash reward when his or her mortgage loan is either refinanced or paid in full. “”We believe it’s important to support responsible borrowers who modified their mortgages to try to keep their homes, by recognizing their efforts to remain current on their payments in these difficult economic times,”” said Scott Theobald, chief risk officer at Radian. “”Radian is committed to sustainable homeownership, and we are pleased to offer the RH Reward program to our insured homeowners,”” Theobald added. Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Company News Investors Lenders & Servicers Loan Modification Processing Radian Guaranty Inc. Service Providers 2012-10-03 Krista Franks Brock in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing, Technology Radian Rewards Timely Mortgage Paymentscenter_img Share October 3, 2012 544 Views last_img read more

SEC Chairman to Step Down in December

first_imgSEC Chairman to Step Down in December Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Investors Lenders & Servicers Movers & Shakers Processing Service Providers U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission 2012-11-26 Tory Barringer in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing After serving as chairman of the “”Securities and Exchange Commission””: (SEC) for nearly four years, Mary L. Schapiro announced Monday she will step down on December 14.[IMAGE]Schapiro was appointed as chairman by President Obama in January 2009 and was sworn in by the end of the month after receiving unanimous confirmation from the Senate. She is one of the longest-serving SEC chairmen and holds the distinction of being the first woman to serve as a permanent chairman.She has a long history with the SEC, having served as a commissioner from 1988 to 1994. She left the agency when President Clinton appointed her as chairman of the “”Commodity Futures Trading Commission””:, where she served until 1996. During Schapiro’s tenure, the SEC has worked to bolster its examination and enforcement programs, engaging in one of the busiest rulemaking periods in decades as the agency forms new regulations for Wall Street. In each of the past [COLUMN_BREAK]two years, the SEC has brought more enforcement actions than ever before, including 735 actions in fiscal year 2011 and 734 in 2012.””It has been an incredibly rewarding experience to work with so many dedicated SEC staff who strive every day to protect investors and ensure our markets operate with integrity,”” Schapiro said. “”Over the past four years we have brought a record number of enforcement actions, engaged in one of the busiest rulemaking periods, and gained greater authority from Congress to better fulfill our mission.””I’ve been so amazed by how hard the men and women of the agency work each and every day and by the sacrifices they make to get the job done,”” she added. “”So often they stay late or come in on weekends to polish a legal brief, review a corporate filing, write new rules, or reconstruct trading events. And despite the complexity and the intense scrutiny, they always excel at what they do.””In a release from the White House, President Obama expressed gratitude for Schapiro’s service and announced his intent to appoint Commissioner Elisse Walter to take over the role. Walter was appointed to the SEC by President Bush in 2008 and served as acting chair in January 2009. Before her appointment, she served as senior EVP of regulatory policy and programs for the “”Financial Industry Regulatory Authority””: (FINRA).””I am also pleased to designate Elisse Walter as SEC Chairman after Mary’s departure,”” Obama said. “”I’m confident that Elisse’s years of experience will serve her well in her new position, and I’m grateful she has agreed to help lead the agency.””center_img November 26, 2012 399 Views Sharelast_img read more

Trulias Kolko Vacancy Rate to Blame for Weak Construction Growth

first_img While builders and industry analysts say lot shortages, labor issues, and supply constraints are holding housing construction back, “”Trulia””: chief economist Jed Kolko posits his own theory for why new construction is moving so slowly: Perhaps the “”housing shortage”” isn’t one at all.[IMAGE]In a company “”blog””:, Kolko analogizes housing stock as a bathtub that drains as vacant homes are occupied and fills up as new homes are built.””There’s no magical level of bathwater that’s perfect, but too little water in the tub means a housing shortage, and when the bathtub overfills, that glut of vacant homes might cause a price crash,”” Kolko explained. “”In the long run, to keep the bathwater from being too high or too low, the “”right”” level of new construction depends on BOTH the vacancy rate (how full the bathtub is) AND on household formation (how fast the tub is draining).””With that in mind, he says it is important to draw a line between “”inventory shortage””–from which the housing industry is currently suffering–and “”housing shortage””–which, as vacancy data from the Census Bureau suggests, is not currently an issue. (While listed inventory is low, there are still plenty of vacant homes not listed that are waiting to be unleashed into the market.)Meanwhile, household formation is lagging. According to the Census, annual household formation was 746,000 as of the end of the second quarter, and formation since 2007 has averaged 560,000 annually–about half the normal rate–as young adults struggle to find their own homes. In total, Trulia estimates there are 2.4 million “”missing households,”” defined as “”people of all ages who should be heading up their own households but are instead living with parents, roommates, or others.””””In short,”” Kolko says, “”household formation is low, so the bath is draining slowly.””His theory does have one upside: Most unemployed young adults won’t stay that way forever, and their opportunity to strike out will eventually come, pushing household formation up to (and then above) its normal long-term rate and signaling builders to “”turn up the faucet.””””And only when that happens might we need to start worrying about a future housing shortage,”” he concluded. “”Until then, let’s be more concerned about missing households than about missing homes.”” Trulia’s Kolko: Vacancy Rate to Blame for Weak Construction Growth September 19, 2013 394 Views in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicingcenter_img Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Census Bureau Homebuilders Housing Starts Investors Lenders & Servicers Processing Service Providers Trulia 2013-09-19 Tory Barringer Sharelast_img read more

FHFAOIG Urges Legal Action on ForcePlaced Insurance

first_imgFHFAOIG Urges Legal Action on Force-Placed Insurance In 2012, lender-placed insurance (LPI) issues cost Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac a combined $360 million, and now the federal government may take legal action against servicers for charging excessive LPI rates, according to a report released Wednesday by the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s Office of the Inspector General.The report comes on the heels of several lawsuits—most of which have been settled out of court and for substantial amounts of money—that borrowers have filed against the nation’s top lenders in the past few years. Wells Fargo and QBE, for example, settled a class action suit in Florida last spring for $19 million and agreed to reimburse or credit affected borrowers 25 percent of any LPI premiums they assessed.Last September, JPMorgan Chase and Assurant settled with a nationwide class of borrowers for $300 million and agreed to reimburse or credit affected borrowers 12.5 percent of any LPI premiums they assessed. And  in February, Citibank and a class of borrowers agreed to a $95 million settlement in which the lender also agreed to reimburse or credit affected borrowers 12.5 percent.The trouble itself stems from GSE-serviced mortgage holders defaulting on Fannie/Freddie-required coverage. Fannie and Freddie’s servicers are required to ensure that their client homeowners maintain hazard insurance for the life of the mortgage. These servicers often outsource the tracking of this insurance and the payments to specialty insurers.When an insurer identifies a payment lapse it initiates LPI coverage, which homeowners are expected to keep up with. However, not all do, and in the event of a foreclosure Fannie and Freddie get stuck with the bill.In 2012 and 2013, insurance regulators in several states determined that LPI rates in their respective states were excessive and may have been driven up by profit-sharing arrangements under which servicers were paid to steer business toward LPI providers in the form of commission structures and reinsurance deals.This, of course, led to the class-action suits that have so far amounted to $674 million in settlement payments. Last November, FHFA sought to mitigate financial harm to Fannie and Freddie by directing them to prohibit their servicers from receiving LPI-related commissions and entering into reinsurance arrangements with LPI providers. But those new rules did not take effect until June 1 and the grand total for how much the GSEs are out due to LPI-related issues is not yet clear.FHFA is still considering whether Fannie and Freddie should pursue litigation against servicers and LPI providers to recover potential damages that the enterprises have lost cleaning up LPI-related messes. June 26, 2014 442 Views in Daily Dose, Government, Headlines, Newscenter_img Fannie Mae FHFA Force-Placed Insurance Freddie Mac OIG 2014-06-26 Scott_Morgan Sharelast_img read more

Study Gen Y Key to Stronger Recovery

first_imgStudy: Gen Y Key to Stronger Recovery Forecast Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies 2014-06-26 Derek Templeton In its annual “State of the Nation’s Housing” report, the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University suggested that participation in the housing market from the segment of the population age 18 to 34 is the key to a robust housing recovery. The report concluded that the United States housing recovery should regain its footing but also faces a number of substantial challenges.”The housing recovery is following the path of the broader economy,” said Chris Herbert, research director at the Joint Center for Housing Studies. “As long as the economy remains on the path of slow, but steady improvement, housing should follow suit.”The report predicts that, despite the challenges, the demographic trends will induce greater participation. At some level at least, it’s a numbers game because of the increasing volume of adults coming of age. The number of households in their 30s should increase by 2.7 million over the coming decade, which should boost demand for new housing, the report predicts.For now, tight credit, elevated unemployment, and mounting student loan debt among young Americans are curbing growth and keeping Millennials and other first-time homebuyers out of the market.  Young Americans, feeling the burden of record levels of student loan debt and falling incomes, continue to live with their parents in greater numbers.”Ultimately, the large millennial generation will make their presence felt in the owner-occupied market,” said Daniel McCue, research manager of the Joint Center, “just as they already have in the rental market, where demand is strong, rents are rising, construction is robust, and property values increased by double digits for the fourth consecutive year in 2013.”Still, looming doubts about the economic recovery remain. On Wednesday, the Bureau of Economic Analysis released its final estimate of real gross domestic product for the first quarter of 2014. The release showed output in the U.S. declining at an annual rate of 2.9 percent. The first quarter decline stands in contrast with the fourth quarter of 2013, when real GDP grew at a 2.6 percent rate. The decline represents the greatest fall in GDP since 2009.Whether the drop in GDP represents a temporary setback or a more dire economic situation remains to be seen. Preliminary second-quarter data shows that economic output has improved in the second quarter as warmer weather helped release some pent-up demand.The report also highlights the ongoing affordability challenge in the greater housing market, which is a drag on the entire population but especially tasks Millennials as they attempt to gain a foothold in new industries, often at entry level wages.  Cost burdens remain near record levels and over 35 percent of Americans spend more than 30 percent of their income for housing.The report concludes that potential GSE reform, federal subsidies, and overall economic growth will be major contributing factors to getting the generation out of their parent’s basement and give them better access to a thriving housing market. in Daily Dose, Data, Featured, Headlines, Newscenter_img June 26, 2014 447 Views Sharelast_img read more

OCC Considers New Innovation in the Banking System

first_img May 11, 2016 464 Views Banks Fintechs National Bank Charters OCC 2016-05-11 Seth Welborn OCC Considers New Innovation in the Banking System Sharecenter_img in Daily Dose, Government, Headlines, News, Technology For a couple of months, the financial industry has been talking about the possibility of a national bank charter for non-bank financial technology companies (fintechs, or companies that use technology to make financial services more efficient) even though such a charter has not been issued since the financial crisis.In March, the Wall Street Journal reported that national banks’ federal regulator, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), has been gathering information for a white paper on new companies and how they relate to banks—and where there is room for innovation in the federal banking system.The advantage of an entity having a national bank charter is that the entity would be allowed to operate under a uniform federal standard without being held back by state or local regulations. But there are many questions to consider when weighing the possibility of a national bank charter for fintechs.“I think the industry is discussing a national charter for non-bank financial technology companies because they recognize the value of having a uniform set of standards that applies across the country and a single primary regulator,” said Deputy Comptroller Kay Kowitt, head of the OCC’s Innovation Framework Development Team. “While that may make a lot of business sense, determining whether a national bank charter is right for these companies requires answering many important questions. Are these companies providing products and services that banks are authorized to offer? What are the prudential requirements for these types of institutions? Does a more limited-purpose charter make sense? If a national charter makes sense, are existing chartering authorities sufficient or does it require new authority? These are the sorts of questions that the OCC framework for responsible innovation will help answer, at least for the federal banking system.”“The OCC is taking exactly the kind of progressive approach to financial innovation that exemplifies why the United States is the best marketplace in the world.”Fundrise CEO Ben MillerThe OCC’s engagement and research on the possibility of a bank charter for fintechs has the industry buzzing in a positive way. One fintech that welcomes the possibility is Fundrise, a real estate investment company.“The OCC is taking exactly the kind of progressive approach to financial innovation that exemplifies why the United States is the best marketplace in the world,” Fundrise CEO and co-founder Ben Miller said. “An engaged regulator provides companies like Fundrise a thought partner as we use the power of the Internet to revolutionize how investing works.”Many banks are just now beginning to embrace fintechs and consider the possibilities of partnering with them instead of viewing them as competitors. In mid-March, Comptroller of the Currency Thomas Curry said in an address that even though many tech-savvy consumers prefer the conveniences a fintech offers, it would be “wrong to assume” that fintechs would replace banks. In another address at the end of March, Curry stressed the need for banks to be innovative to keep up with fintechs but at the same time he emphasized the differences between “responsible” innovation and just plain innovation.last_img read more

Share of Student Loan DebtLaden Borrowers Rising

first_img in Daily Dose, Data, Foreclosure, News Share of Student Loan Debt-Laden Borrowers Rising July 11, 2016 660 Views Homeownership mortgage originations Student Loan Debt 2016-07-11 Seth Welborncenter_img The number of mortgage holders carrying student loan debt has increased by more than 40 percent over the past 10 years, bringing the count from 5.4 million in 2006 to 7.7 million in 2016, according to Black Knight Financial Services’ May 2016 Mortgage Monitor released Monday. The report displayed the correlation between borrowers with student loan debt and their mortgage performance.Approximately 15 percent of active mortgages reside with borrowers who possess student loan debt. It was shown that borrowers with mortgages tend to perform better on student loan debt obligations than those without mortgages. Additionally, it was shown that fewer than one percent of all active mortgages belong to borrowers who are 90 or more days past due on their student loan debt.The report also found the share of mortgage originations given to borrowers with student loan debt has increased to 19 percent of all originations, a new high in 2014. This information was gathered from the most recent full-year data currently available. In 2014, 23 percent of purchase originations held student loan debt compared to 14 percent of refinance originations holding student loan debt. This is noted as a direct correlation to the change from a refinance to purchase-heavy market from 2012 to 2014. According to Black Knight, is something to watch going forward if and when interest rates begin to rise again.Even with the substantial increase, this does not mean that all mortgages will be successfully fulfilled to borrowers holding student loan debt. Borrowers severely delinquent on their student loan debts are five times more likely to be delinquent on their mortgage as well compared to those who are current on student loan debt. As well, these borrowers are nearly six times more likely to be delinquent than the average borrower without any student loan debt.To add to these findings, 52 percent of borrowers with student loan debt were shown to have a credit score below 720, while only 38 percent of borrowers without debt fall in that category. Borrowers with a 760+ credit score were shown to be the least likely to carry student debt, representing only less than 10 percent of that population. This subset was shown to be even less likely to be delinquent on their student loan debt, but on the rare occasion where they are, it’s a very strong indicator of mortgage risk.To view the full report, click HERE. Sharelast_img read more

NonConventional Financing Becoming More Popular

first_img FHA-Insured mortgages Non-Conventional Financing VA-insured mortgages 2016-08-29 Seth Welborn in Daily Dose, Data, Featured, News August 29, 2016 494 Views Non-Conventional Financing Becoming More Popularcenter_img Non-conventional forms of financing have been gaining traction in the single-family housing market, accounting for more than a third of the market in 2015, according to the most recent Census Bureau Survey of Construction data.In all, 34.5 percent of new single-family homes were purchased with non-conventional financing in 2015, up by half a percentage point from 2015 (34 percent), according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).Non-conventional financing, which includes cash purchases, loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), loans insured by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Rural Housing Service, Habitat for Humanity, loans from individuals, state or local government mortgage-backed bonds were most popular in the West South Central region of the U.S. (Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana) and in the South Atlantic region (Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas, Virginia, West Virginia, Delaware), where they accounted for 40 percent of single-family home purchases in 2015. New England was right behind with 39 percent.The East South Central region (Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, and Kentucky) was the least dependent region on non-conventional financing n the single-family housing market in 2015, with only 16 percent of the market—less than half the national average for the year.According to the NAHB, while the West South Central and New England regions posted similar high shares of single-family homes purchased with non-conventional financing in 2015, the breakdowns in the types of non-conventional financing they used were different. In the South Atlantic and West South Central, VA and FHA-backed loans accounted for 26 percent and 21 percent of the market, respectively, while in New England, only 3 percent of the market was comprised of FHA-insured loans; the most popular form of non-conventional financing in New England in 2015 was cash, with more than a third of homes started in 2015.Overall in 2015, the share of FHA-insured mortgages for homes started increased from 2014, according to NAHB. The Pacific and South Atlantic divisions has the highest share of FHA-insured mortgages for new single-family homes in 2015 with 19 percent and 18 percent, respectively.“This was largely due to a reduction in FHA mortgage insurance premiums implemented at the start of 2015.,” wrote Natalia Siniavskaia, Ph.D., NAHB Assistant Vice President for Housing Policy Research. “As a result, FHA-backed loans regained their status as the most prevalent form of non-conventional financing of new home purchases—the status they temporarily lost to cash purchases a year earlier following the implemented decline in the 2014 FHA loan limits.”The share of new single-family homes financed through VA-backed loans remained relatively stable from 2014 to 2015 at 6 percent, while the cash share declined from 13 percent in 2014 down to 10 percent in 2015. The 13 percent share in 2013 marked the first time since 2007 that cash purchases were the most popular form of non-conventional financing for new single-family home purchases. Sharelast_img read more