Delia*s Final Chapter;New Mortgage Nirvana Thanks to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; Frech Toast Crunch Epic-y Comeback

Down and out…

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Delia*s is joining the ranks of the bankruptcy protected now that it has officially filed for Chapter 11. While several of Delia*s teen apparel cohorts, including Abercrombie & Fitch and Urban Outfitters, are merely posting very unfashionable earnings, Delia*s will be getting $20 million just to help liquidate and close down its stores. The retailer, to which bright-eyed teenagers once flocked, can no longer compete with the H&M’s and Forever 21’s of the world. And don’t even get me started on competing with the behemoth that is Amazon. The New York-based chain has 92 stores scattered in malls across the country. With $74 million in assets and over $32 million in debt, its no wonder that Delia*s CEO Tracy Gardner and COO Brian Lex Austin-Gemas resigned. It’s probably safe to say that no one is mourning their departure – well, except maybe for them.

It’s baaaaaaaack…

Image courtesy of foto76/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of foto76/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Justin Timberlake brought sexy back so its only fair that General Mills is bringing back French Toast Crunch. Yes, my fellow cereal aficionados, the dark days are behind us as the maker of Cheerios, Yoplait and Progresso Soups has finally found the wherewithal to bring us back our French Toast Crunch. The sister cereal to the ubiquitous and oft-loved Cinnamon Toast Crunch has been absent from grocery shelves in the United States for almost a decade – I shutter to think. With the invasion of Greek yogurt and fast-food wars breaking out, the cereal was unceremoniously discontinued as other alternatives shoved their way onto the breakfast scene. But consumer demand brought General Mills to its corporate knees, together with an online petition and a Facebook page dedicated to resurrecting the sweet, breakfast sesnation. Besides, General Mills figures those kids who group in the nineties downing French Toast Crunch are now at that age where they are paying for their own cereal now (at least they should be) and can buy it themselves (at least they should be).

3% down with that?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

There are some very lucky soon-to-be first-time homeowners milling about thanks to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. New terms established by the companies are allowing applicants to put up just 3% down payment to get them into a new home. That’s down from 5%, fyi. Fannie Mae is starting to offer that deal December 13. Looking to refinance? How does reducing your equity to 3% sound? If you haven’t owned a home in three years, guess what? You still qualify.  Starting in March, Freddie Mac will let lower-income first-time home-buyers hand over a 3% down payment provided they agree to housing counseling. Melvin Watt, head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency and the dude who oversees Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, wants to spur lending to minorities and young adults because the lenders have made more stringent standards following the crash, and the tens of billion of dollars they had to pay towards lawsuits for underwriting less than ideal loans. Republicans, however, are not digging the idea, finding the whole thing too risky and eerily reminiscent of the policies that led up to that awful crash – from which the country is still not fully recovered.

 

 

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Facebook Would Like to Like China, Coca Cola Getting Buzzed Over Keurig and Extra Credit Mortgages

Facebook headed in new directions?

Image courtesy of Master isolated images/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Master isolated images/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Facebook is headed east. At least it wants to head east. Far east. The social media giant is looking to set up shop in Beijing but there is one slight hitch – Facebook is currently censored in China and has been for the past several years (as are Google and Twitter). Minor details, I suppose. Interestingly enough, though, Facebook still managed to make more than a few bucks in China by selling ads. The country currently has the largest amount of web users, coming in at a mind-numbing 600 million, yet it remains one of the last big markets that doesn’t enjoy all those FB perks. And while Facebook would be all too eager to tap in to that population, it did diplomatically say there are “substantial legal and regulatory complexities.” But tons of companies in China also want Facebook for the opportunities it provides to reach international users. Despite China’s Facebook ban, the company still managed to make $354 million in Asia which translated to roughly 19% of its first quarter revenue.

The buzz at Coca Cola…

Image courtesy of Paul/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Paul/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

As more and more people are looking to kick sodas from their diets, Coca Cola (KO) figured now is the time to up its stake in Keurig Green Mountain (GMCR) from 10% to 16%. Because the soda company recognized “substantial growth potential” it went ahead and scooped up close to 26 million shares. Now the beverage company best known for its tasty assortment of soft drinks has now became the largest shareholder in a company best known for its coffee and single cup brewing system. Coca Cola has used this play in the past when it ultimately bought out entire companies, including Zico Coconut Water and Honest Tea. In keeping with the spirit of icy cold Coca Cola, Keurig is planning to introduce a frosty single cup drink.

To your credit…

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Government-owned Freddie Mac (FMCC) and Fannie Mae (FNMA) once upon a time received a $187 billion bailout courtesy of taxpayers. Freddie and Fannie are actually now cranking out record profits for the US treasury, having paid back all that taxpayer money (not that I saw any of it in my bank account). Now the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) overseeing the two companies (who guarantee about half of all mortgages) want potential homeowners/borrowers to get more credit. A far cry from last year when FHFA wanted to instead reduce the credit Freddie and Fannie (as those in the know call them) were offering. A move like that could drastically harm the housing finance market so the plans were scrapped. Now even if a borrower skips two payments in the first three years of the loan, Freddie and Fannie will still back those loans. There is now also a foreclosure relief project in the wings. However, the Senate Banking Committee is voting on a bill – with bi-partisan support – that would phase out Freddie and Fannie and let private lenders assume the risk instead.