Today, the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission continues its fourth round of hearings on the origins of the recession, with the current and former Treasury secretaries, Timothy Geithner and Henry Paulson, speaking on the shadow banking system — comprising financial companies like Goldman Sachs that are technically not banks because they do not take deposits.
Demand for loans to buy U.S. homes raced to a seven-month high last week in the last hurrah for federal homebuyer tax credits that ended April 30, Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) data showed on Wednesday.
Home purchase loan applications jumped 13 percent in the week ended April 30 to the highest level since early October, overshadowing a 2.1 percent drop in refinancing demand. Total mortgage applications rose by a seasonally adjusted 4 percent, the trade group reported.
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The European Central Bank Wednesday declined to comment on financial market speculation that the ECB and other major central banks are preparing to intervene in the foreign-exchange markets to prop up the flagging euro.
The talk comes as traders circulate a report from a U.S. think-tank reportedly noting that the Group of Seven leading industrial nations are concerned about the speed of the euro’s decline. The report is also said to note that major central banks may be preparing verbal intervention to support the currency “if the rout continues.”
The Federal Reserve has a more optimistic outlook for the U.S. economy, according to meeting minutes released Wednesday, but the central bank is still debating how to shrink its massive balance sheet.
The Fed now expects U.S. gross domestic product, the broadest measure of economic activity, to increase at an annual rate of between 3.2% and 3.7% in 2010. That’s up from the Fed’s previous estimate of between 2.8% and 3.5% in January.