Pico plan moves forward: Mayor Antonio has ordered transportation officials to implement a controversial plan to make Pico mostly one-way eastbound, and Olympic mostly one-way westbound. As part of the plan, parking would be forbidden on all but a few stretches of Pico and Olympic during rush hour. Pico-area businesses and residents have been up in arms about the one-way idea, but the mayor probably figures there are far more voters who want to see shorter commute times. If you tried driving on the Westside last night, well, you know what I mean. (LAT)
Good debt, bad debt: Splitting them up is the latest idea being discussed by the major bond insurers, and that could be bad news for banks. One of those insurers, Financial Guaranty Insurance, has notified the NY State Insurance Department that it will request to be broken up into two companies. One would keep the structured finance business - meaning all those crummy mortgage-backed securities - and the other would keep the municipal bond insurance business, which is in much better shape. Other insurers are considering the same thing. But wait a second - where does that leave the holders of all those suspect bonds? From Bloomberg:
``A forced breakup along the good business, bad business lines wouldn't be good for banks,'' said Nigel Myer, a research analyst at Dresdner Kleinwort in London. ``Removing the solid cash flows from the municipal bonds would leave the rump rather naked and potentially much less able to meet its obligations.''
Countrywide delinquencies rise: The month-to-month increase from December to January was much less than the increase from November to December. Still, it's not great - the mortgage company's rate of delinquencies rose last month to 7.47 percent of unpaid principal balances from 4.32 percent a year earlier. Average daily applications fell 6.4 percent year-over-year. (WSJ)
"90 days of hope": Well, it's a catchy slogan anyway. State officials are launching what's basically an educational program for homeowners on the verge foreclosing. (The name comes from the amount of time homeowners have to act once they're notified their interest rate will be reset upward.) From the Daily News:
Rosario Marin, secretary of the State and Consumer Services Agency, said homeowners should be proactive. "We want them to check their paperwork. Some of them don't even know what kind of agreement they got into. They don't even know that their rates will be resetting," said Marin, who is also a member of the governor's task force on nontraditional mortgages. "We are encouraging people to take action. The most important action they can take is talk to their lender," she said.
Subpoenas flying in Pellicano case: Talk about a cast - Michael Ovitz, Sly Stallone, Garry Shandling, Paramount chief Brad Grey and lawyer Bert Fields are among the hotshots that the government has subpoenaed, according Nikki Finke. Not all these folks will necessarily testify in the Pellicano trial, which is scheduled to start Feb. 27. The former private eye is defending himself, so this should be interesting.
Regulators drop American Funds case: The L.A.-based mutual fund group had been accused of cheating or misleading investors by not telling them about special marketing-related payments. American Funds said it did nothing wrong and refused to make a settlement offer. In dropping the case, AG Jerry Brown said voluntary measures that American Funds had taken to improve its disclosures to investors had "resolved the state's concerns." (LAT)
MySpace ruling: A Staten Island, NY judge said that a teenage girl could be charged with violating a restraining order by using the social network site to reach people she was told not to contact. The girl was charged with three counts of criminal contempt in September after she sent a MySpace "friend request" to several people she had earlier threatened. The Staten Island judge turned down her request to dismiss the contempt charges, ruling that MySpace was a form of contact just like speaking in person or by telephone. (NY Law Journal)
Gas prices up a touch: The Auto Club's latest survey shows that the average price of self-serve regular in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area is $3.087, which is 0.7 cents higher than last week and 45 cents above last year.