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At 11:00 am, opponents of the constitutional amendment banning gay marriage will march from the N.C. State Bell Tower to the General Assembly in an event labeled the “Ides of Love.” More than 900 people,  who plan to vote No on Amendment One on May 8th, will take to the streets.

You can read more details by clicking here.

Later at 4:00 pm, Move On.org will be hosting a “We are the 99% – Save our homes rally.” Read More

A new report from the Center for Responsible Lending offers a stark view of just how far we have to go before the foreclosure crisis is behind us. Here are just a few of the findings from “Lost Ground, 2011: Disparities in Mortgage Lending and Foreclosures”:

1. We are not even halfway through the foreclosure crisis.6.4 percent of mortgages made between 2004 and 2008 have ended in foreclosure, and an additional 8.3 percent are at immediate, serious risk.

2. Loan characteristics and foreclosures are strongly linked.

3. Although the majority of affected borrowers have been white, African-American and Latino borrowers are almost twice as likely to have been impacted by the crisis.

4. Racial and ethnic differences in foreclosure rates persist even after accounting for differences in borrower incomes.

5. Loan type and race and ethnicity are strongly linked. African Americans and Latinos were much more likely to receive high interest rate (subprime) loans and loans with features that are associated with higher foreclosures,specifically prepayment penalties and hybrid or option ARMs.

6. Foreclosure rates by income groupings vary by housing markets.

7. Impacts vary by neighborhood. Low- and moderate-income neighborhoods and neighborhoods with high concentrations of minority residents have been hit especially hard by the foreclosure crisis.

You can read the full report here.

Dean Baker has an interesting post today that lists four ideas that the President ought to consider for creating jobs right away:

1. Establish a federal work sharing program;

2. Give homeowners foreclosed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac a right to rent back their homes;

3. Push the Fed more aggressively; and

4. Lower the value of the dollar.

All could be done while bypassing the do-nothing/deadlocked Congress. Read the entire post by clicking here.

 

 

In case you missed it, the New York Times ran an opinion piece by Joe Nocera last Friday that exposed the seemy underside of the foreclosure mill industry.

It turns out that employees at one of New York’s biggest foreclosure mills had a big Halloween party in which many people dressed up in costumes and created props that were designed to make fun of the “deadbeats” whose homes their firm has been doing its best to take away. Six amazingly tasteless photos of the shindig are posted in the article.

This morning, Mike Konczal at New Deal 2.0 has a good follow-up post on the matter. Here’s the excellent conclusion:

“Though the Halloween pictures are disgusting, they are a symptom of a larger view of the way the law should work that is even worse — one in which debtor’s protections are mocked, the rule of law is ignored, and shantytowns proudly display their creditor’s name over them. This is the way many elites view the rules when it comes to debt. Thankfully, there is more and more mass opposition to this perversion of the law.”

 

 

This week’s argument in the North Carolina Supreme Court over the scandalously lax practices of major banks when it comes to foreclosing on people’s houses provides a powerful reminder of this simple truth:

The “genius” of the market frequently amounts to human beings acting greedily, lazily and immorally (and getting rewarded for it). Obviously, this can occur in government and nonprofit settings too.

This is not to say that market capitalism can’t accomplish amazing things; it’s a remarkably powerful (and frequently positive) force for the creation of wealth. But, utlimately, it is just that — a tool that human society should harness and use — not, as the market fundamentalists contend,  some kind of divine creation to which we should all bow down.

Strong consumer protection laws are one important way to make market forces work for the many. Let’s hope, as the Charlotte Observer editorial board argues this morning, that this case and others like it spur Congress to act accordingly.