Friday, March 30, 2012

Goldman bets on housing recovery

Welcome to the morning roundup. Here's a look at this morning's banking and finance news:

Betting on housing. Goldman Sachs Group Inc., which stayed afloat during the financial crisis by betting on a housing decline, is raising money for a new fund that will buy home-loan bonds to benefit from an improving real estate market, Bloomberg reports. The U.S. Housing Recovery Fund is expected to open April 1, according to a marketing document Bloomberg obtained.

Buffett's investments. Warren Buffett says distressed single-family homes are one of the best investment opportunities out there - but that the cost and logistics of making such an investment in a large enough size to matter for Berkshire Hathaway is prohibitive, Forbes writes.

Prepaid debt cards. Reuters' Felix Salmon discusses the evolution of prepaid debit cards. The cards are "huge right now," he writes - maybe because the Durbin act excluded prepaid debit cards from the caps on debit interchange fees imposed on other debit cards.

Credit downgrades. Ratings agency Moody's Investors Service said it will decide in mid-May whether to lower its ratings for 17 global financial companies, the New York Times reports. Morgan Stanley appears most vulnerable, and Citigroup and Charlotte-based Bank of America might also fall, but those two are helped by having higher-rated subsidiaries, the Times writes.