Thursday, October 7, 2010

Obama Defies Banks with Pocket Veto

You know it's a slow news day when all there is to report on is what didn't happen, and that would be President Obama not signing HR 3808, the Recognition of Notarizations Act, which would have forced federal and state courts to recognize notary signatures - including digital signatures - from other states, and was widely seen as an attempt by the banking lobby to do an end run around the "robo-signing" foreclosure mess they've created by having bank and processing firms' employees sign off on enormous rafts of affidavits without reading them.

In the midst of a foreclosure moratorium by Ally Bank, JP Morgan Chase and Bank of America, the timing of the passage of the bill raised eyebrows and brought forth derision from homeowner advocates.

The bill was passed by the House and Senate and presented to Obama on September 30. The bill had failed to pass the senate on two previous occasions, but spurred on by last-minute wrangling by senators Pat Leahey (D-VT) and Jeff Sessions (R-AL) the measure passed the senate without debate on a voice vote by unanimous consent. No record of the vote in either house was recorded, so the criminal congress, which gets much of its funding from the criminal enterprise known as the Too Big To Fail Banks, gets a free pass on this one with plenty of plausible deniability.

Though the bill was unlikely to ease the pain of the banks as they wade through hundreds of thousands of foreclosures, many of which will now be contested since their paperwork has been exposed as faulty at best and outright fraudulent at worst, the President opted to send the bill back to the congress, citing, in Press Secretary Robert Gibbs' words, "unintended consequences," obviously referring to the foreclosure scandal that's been accelerating over the past two to three weeks.

That was big news for homeowners in foreclosure in the 23 states that are defined as "judicial" foreclosure states, who will likely be allowed to remain in their homes without having to pay their mortgage nor be hounded by the servicing banks for up to a year or longer, according to sources such as Business Week.

Originally downplayed by the banks, the extent of the fraud - with much of the underlying paperwork in the affidavits referring to title and ownership, and thus, standing in foreclosure at fault, attorneys general from a handful of states have already called on the banks to halt foreclosures. Ohio AG, Richard Cordray, has already started a lawsuit against Ally Bank (formerly GMAC) and is close to suing Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase.

Late Wednesday, US Attorney General Eric Holder, after being prompted by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other prominent Democrats, has ordered an investigation into foreclosure practices under the auspices of the financial fraud enforcement task force, formed last year in the aftermath of the market meltdown, TARP and the associated issues stemming from the original subprime crisis in 2008.

All of this didn't move markets much at all, though both JP Morgan Chase (JPM) and Bank of America (BAC) were lower at session's end.

For the most part, traders were patiently awaiting the release of the September Non-Farm Payroll report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, due out Friday morning at 8:30 am ET. Consensus estimates are for a gain of 60,000 jobs between the private and public sectors. On Wednesday, ADP reported a September loss of 39,000 private sector jobs in their monthly survey.

Dow 10,948.58, -19.07 (0.17%)
NASDAQ 2,383.67, +3.01 (0.13%)
S&P 500 1,158.06, -1.91 (0.16%)
NYSE Composite 7,425.01, -23.32 (0.31%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,856,212,625
NYSE Volume 4,056,364,500

Declining issues held a small edge over advancers, 3114-2568. New highs led new lows, 423-37. Volume was anemic, the worst in two weeks, and the past two weeks haven't been particularly strong. Equities have been hovering around their highs for most of the week, so the jobs report Friday may provide some direction to this listless market, though it would be no surprise to see it just languish within a tight range until after the midterm elections on November 2nd, which also coincides with a FOMC meeting at which the Fed is widely assumed to announce some new QE plan, thrusting billions of dollars into the moribund credit system.

After weeks of rallying higher, commodities performed an abrupt change of direction on Thursday, with crude oil futures hammered $1.56 lower, to $81.67 at the close on the NYMEX. The latest print for gold was at $1333.60, down $15.50, though it traded as high as $1365 on the day. Silver also took a header, losing 69 cents, to $22.50.

Chartists and fundamental analysis predicted some kind of easing in the precious metals especially, as they have been on an historic tear since the middle of August without so much as a 3% pullback. Oil also had escaped its longtime range between $70 and $80, though the move above the high end might be nothing more than naked speculation as supply-demand dynamics do not support higher prices. Mostly, the move up in oil was tied to the decline of the US dollar, which has fallen 14% in the past three months against other major currencies.

Not bad for a slow news day.

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