HR2161 saves First-Time homebuyers approx. $5,000.  Will McConnell highjack?


Above image courtesy of Photographer: Matthew Staver/Bloomberg

[Washington, D.C.]  Today First-Time homebuyers received more welcomed news at Nancy Pelosi’s (Speaker of the House/D-CA/12th) House of Representatives passed HR2161.  Labeled as the “obstruction party” by leaders of the Trump administration the bill was passed and headed to the Senate where members are hoping majority leader Mitch McConnell doesn’t try and high jack the bill.  Lately he has proudly accepted the moniker to be known as ‘the grim-reaper.”

WASHINGTON, DC – JUNE 04: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks to the media after attending the Republican weekly policy luncheon on Capitol Hill June 4, 2019 in Washington, DC. McConnell took questions on various subjects including President Trumps proposed tariffs with Mexico. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

The bill essentially can result in borrowers using FHA mortgages saving $5,375 and is based on an average loan of $211,000.  Current FHA borrower must pay three percent which is known as the standard rate for mortgage insurance or the program which allows the agency operate.   Unlike conventional mortgages where insurance is normally mandated if the mortgage exceeds 80% of the value of the home, FHA mortgage through their mortgage insurance premium (MIP) is mandated regardless of loan to value.

HR2161 would allow borrowers who successfully complete authorized counseling to have their premiums reduced to 2.75%.  If passed and Donald Trump signs it into law you could see millions of buyers enter the marketplace.

 

Many borrowers use FHA insured mortgages as their entry into home ownership.  Contrary to popular belief, especially political leaders who have attempted to vilify the program, historically it helped the United States of America define a middle-class standard.

Aruba:  International Roaming


It is not uncommon that even though on vacation most are tethered to their smartphone.  It is nothing wrong with this practice as unlike years ago, a smartphone allows you to do so much more than just talk!  Aruba is a very tourist-friendly country, however for those who do not pay attention or manage their visit as once you return back home and get your bill, it can result in a big frown or a big smile.  Years ago, a big frown was my reality as I forgot to turn off roaming and the result was a bill nearly $2,000.  Back then, it was not uncommon to rent/purchase a device from the local carrier (Digicel) or of course you could use your own.

 

Fast-forward as technology has improved and pricing has become much more competitive and lower.  Most carriers offer a specific “international plan” which ranges from $8– $12 per day.  I’ve had T-Mobile, Sprint and Verizon and for my weekly stay to Aruba I was paying approximately $70.  Not cheap…. but way better than my $2,000 bonehead?


My most recent trip consisted of 8 days.  Another reality:  Many consumers think Consumer Cellular is designated for seniors due to the reduced cost?  That is kind of correct, although not totally 100% correct.  A couple of years ago I had Verizon and gladly paid $70.  I heard about Consumer Cellular but had doubts, however since I was officially retiring, I was exploring how to reduce my monthly cost.  I contacted Verizon and inquired if they offered a “senior” plan or “reduced’ option?  I was told no, although they did offer some reductions but no where near the less than $50 per month that Consumer Cellular was offering. So….adios to Verizon!

 

The bottom-line is I just reviewed my most recent bill which including the roaming charges for my Aruba trip.  The cost was $48 which was far less than the $70 I had been paying or even the $60 my wife paid from her AT&T account.

 

Word to the wise – pay attention to your cost and do not pay more that what you have to.  By the way, while I am not endorsing a product or service, Consumer Cellular has exceeded my expectations by offering the same service I had been using, which includes using lots of data at far less than what I had been paying.

2019 All Star Game will feature 3 players who are Cuban National


Above photo: ‘Ted Williams, Minnie Minoso’ Boston Red So, baseball player Ted Williams and Cleveland Indians player Minnie Minoso, posed in dugout for 1959 All Star Game, Forbes Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, July 1959. (Photo by Charles ‘Teenie’ Harris/Carnegie Museum of Art/Getty Images)


[Havana]     The 2019 All Star Game (ASG) will feature 15 players that were born outside of the United States.  Behind the Dominican Republic, Cuba is number two and will feature three players who will be part of the July 9th festivities.

For more information on the game click HERE

 


Currently there are 25 players who are Cuban nationals who meet the criteria.  Of the thirty MLB teams, Houston is the leader with five players.


CUBAN NATIONAL PLAYERS ON MLB 40 MAN ROSTER
Teams 2019 2018 2017 Change 2019 v 2018
TOTALS>>> 25 20 0 5
Arizona Diamondbacks 1 0 1 1
Atlanta Braves 0 0 2 0
Baltimore Orioles 0 0 0 0
Boston Red Sox 0 0 1 0
Chicago Cubs 0 0 0 0
Chicago White Sox 3 2 2 1
Cincinatti Reds 3 1 1 2
Cleveland Indians 0 2 1 -2
Colorado Rockies 0 0 0 0
Detriot Tigers 0 1 1 -1
Houston Astros 5 2 0 3
Kansas City Royals 1 0 1 1
Los Angeles Angels 0 1 1 -1
Los Angeles Dodgers 1 2 2 -1
Miami Marlins 0 1 1 -1
Milwaukee Brewers 1 0 0 1
Minnesota Twins 0 0 0 0
New York Mets 2 1 1 1
New York Yankees 3 1 1 2
Oakland Athletics 0 0 1 0
Philadelphia Phillies 0 0 0 0
Pittsburgh Pirates 0 0 0 0
San Diego Padres 0 0 0 0
San Francisco Giants 0 0 0 0
Seattle Mariners 1 2 2 -1
St. Louis Cardinals 1 0 1 1
Tampa Bay Devil Rays 2 1 1 1
Texas Rangers 0 0 0 0
Toronto Blue Jays 1 3 0 -2
Washington Nationals 0 0 0 0

Updated Travel Guidelines to CUBA


[Washington, D.C.]   Ever since the June 5th announcement I have received many calls/text and other communication regarding this matter.

 

Unfortunately, similar to the infamous Mueller report, MOST people simply refuse to read the specs for themselves!!!!  It appears they are more comfortable hearing from third-party sources such as media, friends, acquaintances, etc. rather than just taking a couple of minutes to read and comprehend for themselves.  The result is lots of misinformation.

 

Effective June 5, 2019, a regulatory amendment to the CACR removes an authorization for people-to-people educational travel that was conducted under the auspices of an organization that is subject to U.S. jurisdiction and that sponsors such exchanges to promote people-to-people contact (group people-to-people educational travel).

 

No doubt, the Trump administration continues its assault on guidelines created by the Obama administration to prevent U.S. citizens from going to Cuba.   It has been stated this move was implemented in part because the Cuba government supports the Maduro regime of Venezuela?  The assumption is any money spent from U.S. travelers would financially benefit the Cuban government.  The two largest groups impacted are those who traveled by a cruise ship or who went under the peer-to-peer license.  For a smaller minority, travel is permitted as long as it is under the licenses per the June 5th memorandum.

 

For clarity on the updated guidelines, please take 5 or 10 minutes to READ THE DIRECTIVE HERE

Carnival cruise lines is one major company that is negatively impacted by the new guideline and yesterday announced it will need to restate its corporate financial projections.

 

Watts, an update


Thanks to our remote cultural correspondent Elena Bell, LSW we are sharing a screening of the Broken Bread series titled “WATTS.”

A common misconception by most is understanding the 1965 Watts Riot DID NOT START IN WATTS.  The California Highway Patrol stopped Marquette Frye on 116th & Avalon which is in South Central.  His arrest triggered community resistance which became the flash-point of the riots.  It eventually spread to Watts as the main street, 103rd Street was home to the local business strip.

Watts, CA is a mysterious to most, while “home” to so many who have moved from the area but have an affection as the place their ancestors settled when coming to Los Angeles.  What it is not, is the community immediately south of the Santa Monica freeway (I-10).  It is approximately 11 miles southeast of downtown.   Specifically it is tucked into what is called South Central and its boundaries are:

  • North – Firestone Blvd.
  • South – Imperial Highway
  • West – Central Avenue
  • East – Alameda Blvd.

This 30 minute clip gives you a snapshot of what is going on in Watts today.

As African-Americans fled oppression in the South, the early 1940’s saw a migration of basic working-class folk looking for a safe place to raise their families.   Watts and spots in South Central became home to thousands.  In the late 80’s the ethnic composition took another change as a new migration took place and Latinos moved in, however today a small cadre of African-Americans remain.

https://www.kcet.org/shows/broken-bread/episodes/watts

 

Mortgage News: Discount Rate, Weekly Survey & D & I


The Feds led by Jerome Powell announced yesterday, discount rates would remain unchanged.  Although Donald Trump has been up to his usual antics of butting in to agencies which demand independence, Powell has been clear and intimated to Trump to stop harassing him or threatening to fire him.


Here is his remarks about why there was no need to change rates.


This week’s mortgage rate survey

June 20, 2019

30-Yr FRM 15-Yr FRM 5/1-Yr ARM
Average Rates 3.84 % 3.25 % 3.48 %
Fees & Points 0.5 0.4 0.4
Margin N/A N/A 2.76

Diversity & Inclusion

While some will swear congress, specifically the House of Representative is doing nothing for the people was they are mired down in whether to impeach Donald Trump or not, in fact there is lots going on.

One such group, the Financial Services Committee has been busy (in addition to coordinating impeachment discussion) hold critical hearings about financial issues affecting the American people.  Today, they held a very important hearing on Corporate Diversity & Inclusion.

Here is the full hearing

Contrary to belief – HR40 does not give every Black person a check


Despite what is regularly reported the House of Representative have been busy creating legislation, holding hearings and seeking solutions to benefit the lives of all Americans.

Today, was a hearing on HR 40.  It was not a day where all black people where given checks.  What is was as the nation celebrates Juneteenth was a hearing to determine if a commission is warranted to study the issue of Reparations.

WASHINGTON, DC – JUNE 19: Writer Ta-Nehisi Coates testifies during a hearing on slavery reparations held by the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties on June 19, 2019 in Washington, DC. The subcommittee debated the H.R. 40 bill, which proposes a commission be formed to study and develop reparation proposals for African-Americans. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – JUNE 18: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks to the media after attending the Republican weekly policy luncheon on Capitol Hill June 18, 2019 in Washington, DC. McConnell spoke on several topics including Iran and compensation for 911 responders. Additionally he displayed his sheer ignorance regarding the issue of Reparations by claiming he had nothing to do with slavery. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

For more information please read HERE

 

 

Fed Chair Jerome Powell on the skids……again


Some baby-boomers like myself or those who are music aficionados remember the rock group Blood, Sweat & Tears.  In 1968 they produced a hit called “spinning wheels.”  It was a melodic tune that caught your attention.


“What goes up must come down
What must rise must fall
And what goes on in your life
Is writing on the wall!


In the world of Donald Trump those lyrics are a no-no especially when it comes to communicating about the economy as well as regulators who are charged to keep our system running smoothly.  The economy is cyclical.  Some metrics which guide it are up, meaning others must be down in order to maintain fluidity.

Photographer: Aaron P. Bernstein/Bloomberg via Getty Images

As the economy improves regulators such as Jerome Powell who is chair of the Federal Reserve must guide against inflation or pumping too much money into it.  At the same time, when the economy is struggling as was the case with our financial meltdown of 2008, the Feds were charged with lowering the discount rate to make funds more affordable for commercial banks.  Now that the economy is doing well there is very little justification it needs a boost or having the rate lowered.

 

Unfortunately, that is not the case in Trump world.  He likes to tout everything is the best, the greatness on and on, so in his mind Powell needs to lower the discount rate immediately.  It is no surprise that president’s in the past understand the protocol of the Fed and make it a point to allow them to operate from a non-political position.

“Trump is not planning to demote Powell.” Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council

 

For the past year Trump has intimated his disappointment of Powell while suggesting he might fire him.  This is due to the Feds raising the rate as a protection of maintaining a strong economy.  Fortunately for Powell, his position is not a cabinet level.  However, just as Trump harassed and badgered Jeff Sessions, James Comey and other leaders within his administration until they finally departed, he appears to be using the same antics against Powell.

 

Imagine waking up everyday hearing or reading the boss is unhappy with your performance, even though there is no justification, let alone using common sense to communicate the decision.

 

Today and tomorrow the FOMC (Federal Reserve, Federal Open Market Committee) is holding their regular meeting to discuss monetary policy.  The bottom-line announcement usually follows the conclusion of the meeting.  While Trump has communicated his desire that rates must be immediately lowered, most financial experts agree that is unlikely.  They do look to the meeting in July with the assumption things stay the way they are; there may be a lowering in the discount rate.

 

In the meantime, as for economic issues Trump should hum the lyrics of Spinning Wheel to appease his desire to invoke another rash move

Mortgage news: GSIBs as a group have paid at least $163.7 billion in fines!!!


above photo - House Financial Services Committee Holds Hearing On Keeping Megabanks Accountable
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 10: (L-R) Michael Corbat, chief executive officer of Citigroup Inc., Jamie Dimon, chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase & Co., James Gorman, chief executive officer of Morgan Stanley, and Brian Moynihan, chief executive officer of Bank of America Corp., listen during a House Financial Services Committee hearing on April 10, 2019 in Washington, DC. Seven CEOs of the country’s largest banks were called to testify a decade after the global financial crisis. (Photo by Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images)

The news was initial reported in April but it is worth repeating today because at first the amount seemed like a prank but it truly is real!  Ever since the Democratic party assumed control of the House of Representatives they have moved quickly to implement more accountability as part of their oversight.  Global Systemically Important Banks known as GSIB’s make us some of the largest U.S. commercial banks.

The TARP Bailouts

During the financial crisis or mortgage meltdown of 2008, in 2009 the GSIB’s as mentioned appeared before the Financial Services Committee to discuss the bailouts they received.  On April 10th they reappeared before the committee chaired by Rep. Maxine Waters.  The purpose was to discuss “lessons learned” as well as steps they have engaged to balance the lending spectrum across the nation.

WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 10: Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) speaks during a House Financial Services Committee hearing on April 10, 2019 in Washington, DC. Seven CEOs of the country’s largest banks were called to testify a decade after the global financial crisis. (Photo by Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images)

$163.7 in FINES

As a group to date they have paid $163.7 BILLION in fines for various consumer abuses and other violations of the law.  Questions remain but one thing is clear; many banks chalked up the fines as the cost of doing business as evidenced by their current behavior and fact collectively they have made over $780 billion in profits.  Has anything changed?

The hearing shed light on why accountability is critical.  The committee has more hearings planned to address specific steps the banks plan on incorporating to benefit all consumers, particularly those that have been historically marginalized.

Here is a list of the fines some of the largest banks have paid in the last ten years:

  • Bank of America has paid $76.1 billion in fines.
  • JPMorgan Chase has paid $43.7 billion in fines.
  • Citigroup has paid $19 billion in fines.
  • Wells Fargo has paid $11.8 billion in fines.
  • Goldman Sachs has paid $7.7 billion in fines.
  • Morgan Stanley has paid $5.4 billion in fines.

Here is the full hearing on video

Emmanuel hits the screen for 2 days – June 17th & 19th


Monday, June 17th will mark the 4th year congregants were in bible study at Mother Emmanuel A.M.E. church in Charleston, SC.   After inviting a stranger by the name of Dillon Ruth to join them for study, time passed before he committed an unforgettable act.  He shot and killed nine souls!

The news shocked the nation!  shocked the world!  They became known as the “Charleston Nine!”


Stephen (Step) Curry, Viola Davis and an extraordinary team has pulled together a documentary of the event.  The one and one-half film will be shown two days only, June 17th and 19th and as of this posting many theaters have reported sell-outs (check your local theater for details).

Processed With Darkroom

My review will follow as we will be at the June 19th screening in Baldwin Hills, CA.

Here is the trailer