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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

DAILY BRIEFING Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Under the Foreclosure Prevention Act, HUD is devising a formula to distribute $4 billion to help communities buy foreclosed properties and help stabilize property values. Florida is one of the states likely to be a prime recipient of the funding, according to Mike Wallace, senior legislative counsel for the National League of Cities, but communities need to "get the ball rolling now.


In a report released to Gov. Charlie Crist Tuesday, top Florida investigators found that the Office of Financial Regulation failed to alert police agencies to crooked mortgage brokerages, ignored citizen complaints and allowed hundreds of people with criminal histories to peddle loans. The report's conclusion: The state's oversight of the mortgage industry was "insufficient to protect the people of the state of Florida.


The U.S. House late Tuesday approved offshore drilling legislation that would open waters 50 miles off the Pacific and Atlantic coasts to oil and natural gas development, if the adjacent states agree to go along. The legislation now goes to the Senate, where it likely will face numerous changes.


The Commerce Department reported today that the construction of new homes and apartments in the U.S. fell 6.2 percent in August to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 895,000 units, the slowest building pace reported since January 1991. But for the first time in seven months, builder confidence in the market for newly built single-family homes rose in September.


Saying the failure of huge insurer American International Group Inc. (AIG) would further threaten the already fragile U.S. economy, the Federal Reserve agreed Tuesday to provide an $85 billion, two-year loan to rescue the company. In return, the government gets a 79.9 percent stake in AIG and the right to remove senior management. Meanwhile, at least one top congressional leader says turmoil in the financial markets may force the U.S. government to consider creating an agency to buy distressed debt and mortgages.


The U.S. Government Accountability Office's "Terrorism Insurance: The Status of Efforts by Policyholders to Obtain Coverage" report reveals that most high-value properties in at-risk, large cities have found adequate terrorism insurance coverage. A majority of these policyholders found coverage for office towers, hotels, and other large buildings located in areas that are considered high-risk targets. However, policyholders report that efforts to obtain adequate coverage were time-consuming and often involved more than one insurance carrier. Some have even opted to purchase stand-alone coverage and self-insure a portion of their exposures.

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