AIG Posts Biggest Corporate Loss Ever, Obama Budget Excludes Fannie/Freddie Costs, Rates & Stocks Down

The good thing about driving all night to get back home after watching a NASCAR race in Las Vegas is… well, I can’t think of one. (It was for my son’s birthday.) But there is certainly a better picture of how the day is shaping up.

Bank of America Ups FICO Requirements
Countrywide, who is taking the BofA name on April 1, will adopt the 620 minimum FICO score effective March 6th regardless of AUS. FHA Streamline refinance loans are split into two groups with separate requirements: Streamline refinance of loans currently serviced by Countrywide/Bank of America (Standard HUD requirements apply; there are no additional guideline overlays) and Streamline refinance of loans not currently serviced by Countrywide/Bank of America (a minimum credit score of 620 is required.) “The credit report is only used to validate the credit score on FHA non-credit qualifying streamline transactions. A mortgage payment history reflecting 0 x 30 for last 12 months is required. A mortgage history less than 12 months is acceptable with 0 x 30 payment performance.”

Rates Down As Stocks Drop
Rates are heading down today. That is good, right? Well, unfortunately it is at the expense of the stock market, which has the DOW below 7,000. (And no, don’t look for looser underwriting guidelines to go along with the lower rates – they are what helped add to this mess in the first place.) Friday we had a drop in the GDP, but a slight increase in the Chicago Purchasing Manager’s Survey. We also saw yet another drop in the Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index. This morning we had Personal Income +.4%, the largest increase since last May, after being -.2% for December, and Personal Consumption/Spending +.6% after also being -1.0% in December. (Both were above expectations.) Construction Spending and the ISM survey round out the releases.

Obama Budget Excludes Fannie/Freddie Costs
The other news out this morning is not so wonderful either. President Barack Obama’s budget didn’t incorporate Fannie or Freddie’s costs, since “economists haven’t had enough time to analyze the implications.” The budget may also include an increase in revenue from lowering the value of itemized tax deductions for the wealthy, which includes interest paid on home mortgages. Expect a fight on that one.

AIG Posts Biggest Loss Ever, HSBC Cutting 6100 Jobs
HSBC is cutting 6,100 jobs by closing HFC and Beneficial consumer lending units in the United States. AIG can now claim losing more money than any other US corporation: $61.7 billion in the 4th quarter. (And the US Government is injecting another $30 billion in capital – didn’t they learn the concept of “sunk cost” in accounting?) PNC Financial Services Group Inc., the fifth-largest US bank by deposits, slashed its dividend 85 percent. Freddie Mac CEO David Moffett has said he will resign both his position and his seat on the board effective March 13.

Other News This Week
And that is not all – we still have much ahead of this week. Tomorrow we have Pending Home Sales, on the 4th we’ll see the Beige Book, on Thursday the usual Jobless Claims but also Factory Orders. And then on Friday we have the slate of unemployment data, with Nonfarm Payrolls expected -600k and the Unemployment Rates expected to hit 7.6%. With all of this, we find the 10-yr at 2.94%, and mortgage prices better by .125-.250.

Daily Humor
PG-rated statements from doctors –

“At the beginning of my shift I placed a stethoscope on an elderly and slightly deaf female patient’s anterior chest wall.

‘Big breaths,’ I instructed.

‘Yes, they used to be,’ replied the patient.”

Submitted by Dr. Richard Byrnes, Seattle, WA

“While acquainting myself with a new elderly patient, I asked, ‘How long have you been bedridden?’

With a look of complete confusion, she answered, ‘Why, not for about twenty years – when my husband was alive.’”