money.cnn.com — FBI officials disclosed complaints of mortgage fraud are piling up at record levels this year, and appear certain to shatter last year's record. Financial institutions received 33,359 "suspicious activity reports" through the first six months of the current fiscal year — compared with 46,717 for the entire previous year — and could hit 70,000 this year. The new volume of formal complaints buttresses FBI Director Robert Mueller's public warning that "as housing prices continue to fall, more financial misdeeds will no doubt come to light."
money.cnn.com — Americans are feeling a lot more economic pain than the government's official statistics would lead you to believe, according to a growing number of experts. The official numbers produce a current "Misery Index" of only 8.9 — inflation of 3.9% plus unemployment of 5%. But using the estimates on CPI and unemployment from economists skeptical of the government numbers, the "Misery Index" is actually in the teens. Some worry it could even approach the post-World War II record of 20.6 in 1980.
marketwatch.com — A growing number of consumers said in three recent surveys that they will use the stimulus checks the government is sending in coming weeks to pay down debt, fill up the family car and stock the kitchen pantry. That smacks at the government's objective to kindle economic growth with frivolous spending, and it underscores the incredibly tight financial condition many Americans are in as prices for day-to-day living expenses reach new heights.
ap.google.com — Oil prices steadied after moving back from an overnight trading record near $127 a barrel, on concerns that Iran may cut production. Iranian officials denied production cuts were imminent but acknowledged they had been discussed.
hosted.ap.org — Median home prices fell in two-thirds of the cities surveyed during the first three months of this year while sales declined in 46 states compared to a year ago, according to the latest report highlighting the depth of the nation's housing woes. Median prices for existing single-family homes dropped in 100 of 149 metropolitan areas in the January-March period. The percentage of cities reporting price declines — 67 percent — was the largest in the history of the National Association of Realtors' survey, which goes back to 1979.
nytimes.com — All through oil's five-year price surge there have been many voices declaring that it's all a bubble, unsupported by the fundamentals of supply and demand. So here are two questions: Are speculators mainly, or even largely, responsible for high oil prices? And if they aren't, why have so many commentators insisted, year after year, that there’s an oil bubble?
boston.com — Loan companies are proving ill-equipped to handle record foreclosures, particularly requests involving sales that would require lenders to accept losses on the loans, so-called short sales. The mortgage companies turn down offers — even though it may be more costly to seize the house in foreclosure — or they take so long to respond that the buyers move on, or don't respond at all. Homeowners, real estate brokers, and others who have tried to crack the system describe it as akin to a black hole.
washingtonpost.com — Hopes have dimmed that Congress would act quickly to rescue homeowners at risk of foreclosure after key Republican and Democratic negotiators in the Senate said they could not reach agreement on a plan. Talks broke down between aides to Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.) and the senior Republican on his committee, Richard C. Shelby (Ala.), aides said. The two camps had been trying for more than a month to develop a bipartisan proposal to ease the nation's housing crisis.