Power And Dollar

Senate Banking Cmt: Mortgage Bill on Thursday

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) yesterday said that his panel on Thursday will consider a draft housing bill that would allow the Federal Housing Administration to insure up to $300 billion in refinanced mortgages, and create a new regulator for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Home Loan Banks. Under the legislation, lenders would, among other things, volunteer to substantially reduce the amount of the original mortgage note. In exchange, the FHA would insure a new loan at a 30-year fixed rate that the borrower could afford. The House last week passed a housing package with some similar measures.

This is not the version of Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. 

This plan is more consumer-centric than that of Henry Paulson, although improvements can still be made.  For instance, the mortgage write-down has to be initiated by the lender in this version.  For that reason, the lenders have the strongest incentive to unload the riskiest mortgages first.  However, the riskiest mortgages may not be the neediest. 

This riskiness may be perceived as loan by asset.  The lender may also see that as mortgage payment by burrower’s income.  However, the most desperate burrowers usually would see the need as payment by income.

Burrower’s consent is not needed.  The house has to be owner occupied.  The gov’t will also own part of the house’s equity (proceed upon sale).

Bush has threatened veto this legislation.


The text can be found in the Banking panel of the Senate website.


May 13, 2008 Posted by | banking, business, Current Events, economics, Investment, law, legislation, market, Money, politics, Regulation, wordpress-political-blogs | 1 Comment

The common interests of Microsoft, Pharmaceuticals and Rumsfeld

Forbes published a few articles related to patent laws that are English friendly in the last 10 weeks.  The patent universe is likely to change very soon.  And Rumsfeld probably would not like this idea. 


The legislature has been considering patent laws reforms for the past few years.  The pressure of this reform comes from major corporations, which hold a lot of patents, have been getting sued by patent trolls, or patent speculators, for royalty fees.  Additional royalty fees of course cuts into the profit margin.  However, intellectual property suits are costly to fight simply they are so difficult to understand (and thus higher legal fees).  


For some industries, intellectual property (IP) lawsuits affect the legal fees and royalty fees.  However, for some industries, these lawsuits affect their capitalization the suit hits the news.  These are the IP-centric industries, such as IT and medical industries.  


When RIM, the maker of blackberry, got sued for patent infringement, its stock price dropped to its knees.  After all, RIM has nothing but blackberry.  And even if RIM’s patent is not void, a heavy royalty fees will seriously affect its profit.  


A key element of the reform is revolved around unique concept of American patent system: first to invent versus first to file.  The congress will remove the first to invent rule and make US to be in sync with the rest of world: first to file.  In the first to file rule, one needs not be an inventor, but just to be the first to walk into the patent office to own all rights of the invention.  


The first one to be disadvantaged is obviously the legal industry.  However, not many people will feel sorry for that.  And we will skip.


A loss to one may be a gain to another.  Here are some of those:


The second to be affected (not necessarily disadvantaged) are the medical and IT industries.  A lot of drug patents are expiring, just like the copy rights of a lot of Disney characters.  For these US giant pharmaceuticals to stay afloat, they need new patents.  They either have to invent or find other people’s invention to file before the inventor does.  So, the firms that are better industrial espionage will do better.  


Some items are affecting directly the rights of the inventor: 1) Damages will be restricted as well, a classic republican cause; 2) Challenges will be for the entire life span of the patent rather than a probation period; 3) Disclosure of invention will be required prior to granting the patent. 


Who gets the benefit out of this?  Infringers.  Infringers will be able to have a cap on the compensation to the patent owners, able to challenge the patent until the patent runs out (yes, they can), able to learn the invention before it is patented and therefore free from paying royalties fees, and no injections from the inventor to stop the infringements. 


Alright, how does it relate to Rumsfeld? 


As a defense hawk, Rumesfeld is interested at slowing the China’s economic growth.  Making it cheaper for patent violation is a big favour for the medium enterprises in China.  Inventors lobby groups probably would want to get more funding from pharmaceuticals and hire Rumsfeld to be the lobbyist for a cause that its core constituents probably does not have the funding nor the votes for.

May 2, 2008 Posted by | business, China, Current Events, economics, Investment, law, legislation, Money, politics, Regulation, wordpress-political-blogs, 中國 | Leave a comment