" /> Coruscation: March 2010 Archives

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March 31, 2010

Felix reads the news

I have my laptop running TweetDeck. I have two screens for my official Reuters PC running the Reuters terminal, e-mail and messaging services. And then I have two screens connected to my Mac Mini, which is where I do my real work. The right-hand screen is for the feeds coming in on NetNewsWire and Twhirl, and the left-hand one is for e-mail, web browsing, iChat, PDF documents and drafting blog entries.

The other thing I'm doing throughout the day is tweeting. At the office, there are a couple of twitter aggregators I use: Viewsflow and the Twitter Times. Both aggregate the stories that are most linked to from people I do or should follow. @alea_ is good, as is @moorehn, but really the whole point of Twitter is to aggregate hundreds of streams in one place. The whole is much greater than the sum of the parts.

-- Felix Salmon

March 30, 2010

Conservatives should blame the state for sprawl

We all hate suburban sprawl, right? "Wrong." So says libertarian John Stossel as he attempts to debunk the sprawl-is-bad argument in his Myths, Lies and Nasty Behavior series on ABC.

If Stossel wants to to expand Americans' lifestyle choices, he should attack the very thing he was defending," says Austin Bramwell: "For the 101st time: sprawl--an umbrella term for the pattern of development seen virtually everywhere in the United States--is not caused by the free market." Instead, government regulations, zoning laws, building codes, and street design regulations actually "mandate" it. Bramwell is perplexed: "You would think that libertarians would instinctively grasp the deeply statist nature of suburban development."

- Austin Bramwell of the American Conservative

Commenters blame environmental needs for spawl:

consult an engineer (or dab in land development if you've got the cojones.)

The reason why the impervious surface to total lot area is 35% to 50% has more to do with the need to manage storm sewers than any government malefic interference. Lateral setbacks have to do with fire protection. The 20-foot drive way rule basically allows the homeowner to drive off his (or her) own driveway without having to turn into the street and incoming traffic. It also allows for maximum visibility and safety. As for the two parking spots - same thing. Keep what's yours on your property, rather than a county or a city street. As for the "car ownership" argument - get a life.

As for density and zoning - do you have any idea how much money a city needs to spend to raise density zoning to R-8 (the ubiquitous 5000 sqft lot.) Have you even tried to figure out the amount of money cities need to install and/or upgrade utilities to create really dense neighborhoods. Do you even realize that once those upgrades are in place the city needs to be attractive enough to private developers who in theory would come in and develop the raw lots, pay the city for permits and help offset costs with additional tax base? Five years ago I bought a piece of land that has been rezoned to a higher density in 1945. They counted on forty dwellings, and the taxes they would bring, and instead had to wait for one farmer who didn't even want to stub for running water to kick the bucket. He held out to a sweet and ripe 104.

March 29, 2010

Sprint 4G comes to HTC EVO on Android

Sprint 4G comes to HTC EVO on Android, the smartphone cel phone of summe,r 2010.

March 28, 2010

data mining vs privacy

Computer scientists and policy experts say that such seemingly innocuous bits of self-revelation can increasingly be collected and reassembled by computers to help create a picture of a person's identity, sometimes down to the Social Security number.

"Technology has rendered the conventional definition of personally identifiable information obsolete," said Maneesha Mithal, associate director of the Federal Trade Commission's privacy division. "You can find out who an individual is without it."

Carter Jernigan and Behram Mistree analyzed more than 4,000 Facebook profiles of students, including links to friends who said they were gay. The pair was able to predict, with 78 percent accuracy, whether a profile belonged to a gay male.

On Friday, Netflix said that it was shelving plans for a second contest -- bowing to privacy concerns raised by the F.T.C. and a private litigant. In 2008, a pair of researchers at the University of Texas showed that the customer data released for that first contest, despite being stripped of names and other direct identifying information, could often be "de-anonymized" by statistically analyzing an individual's distinctive pattern of movie ratings and recommendations.

pair of researchers that cracked Netflix's anonymous database: Vitaly Shmatikov, an associate professor of computer science at the University of Texas, and Arvind Narayanan, now a researcher at Stanford University.

By examining correlations between various online accounts, the scientists showed that they could identify more than 30 percent of the users of both Twitter, the microblogging service, and Flickr, an online photo-sharing service, even though the accounts had been stripped of identifying information like account names and e-mail addresses.

How Privacy Vanishes Online
Published: March 16, 2010
Using bits of data from social network sites, researchers gleaned names, ages and even Social Security numbers.

March 27, 2010

Brooks' centralized ambition

The free-market revolution didn't create the pluralistic decentralized economy. It created a centralized financial monoculture, which requires a gigantic government to audit its activities. The effort to liberate individuals from repressive social constraints didn't produce a flowering of freedom; it weakened families, increased out-of-wedlock births and turned neighbors into strangers. In Britain, you get a country with rising crime, and, as a result, four million security cameras.

In a much-discussed essay in Prospect magazine in February 2009, Blond wrote, "Look at the society we have become: We are a bi-polar nation, a bureaucratic, centralised state that presides dysfunctionally over an increasingly fragmented, disempowered and isolated citizenry." In a separate essay, he added, "The welfare state and the market state are now two defunct and mutually supporting failures."

The Broken Society
Published: March 19, 2010
A British Conservative explores the roots of crisis in the cultural and market revolutions, and how to rebuild trust from ground up.

renrou sousuo yinqing (Human-flesh search engines)

Human-flesh search engines -- renrou sousuo yinqing -- have become a Chinese phenomenon: they are a form of online vigilante justice in which Internet users hunt down and punish people who have attracted their wrath.

The popular meaning is now not just a search by humans but also a search for humans, initially performed online but intended to cause real-world consequences. Searches have been directed against all kinds of people, including cheating spouses, corrupt government officials, amateur pornography makers, Chinese citizens who are perceived as unpatriotic, journalists who urge a moderate stance on Tibet and rich people who try to game the Chinese system. Human-flesh searches highlight what people are willing to fight for: the political issues, polarizing events and contested moral standards that are the fault lines of contemporary China.

Posted to Asia, search, words.

China's Cyberposse
Published: March 7, 2010
Internet users are hunting down and punishing people who have attracted their wrath.

March 25, 2010

Ideal customer according to Oliver Wyman

A theory of Aaron Fine, a partner and consumer banking specialist with the consulting firm Oliver Wyman. He argues that more affluent customers have suddenly become a lot more valuable to the banks.

Why? Well, a big chunk of the fee income from the more stretched classes of bank customers stands to go away because many of those people will opt out of paying fees to overspend.

"I expect you'll see another wave of innovation coming from the banks," he said. "And perhaps the first segment they'll address is the higher balance accounts."

Overdraft Protection: Why Bother ?
Published: March 12, 2010
Many bank customers are having to decide whether to ask for overdraft protection. Most should say no.

March 24, 2010

Plagiarism Software Spared The Times an Embarrassment ?

Could Plagiarism Software Have Spared The Times an Embarrassment?
Craig Silverman, the editor of Regret the Error, a Web site that reports on accuracy and honesty in the press, says most plagiarism by journalists is caught only when someone complains. That's what happened last month at The Times, which had to endure the mortifying experience of having a bitter cross-town rival, The Wall Street Journal, point out the theft of half a dozen passages from one of its news articles.

Silverman thinks The Times could have avoided the embarrassment with computer software designed to ferret out plagiarism by comparing news articles about to be published with millions of published works on the Web and in various databases. Such software is in wide use in the academic world, but has few takers in the news industry. Silverman said it makes many journalists uncomfortable because it seems to assume guilt.

Most journalists who commit plagiarism, like Zachery Kouwe at The Times, say they did not intend to take the words of others. "If it really is an accident," Silverman argues, "let's catch the accident before it gets into print." You can read more of Silverman's case.

March 23, 2010

Federal Reserve as bank regulator -- James Hamilton

Econbrowser take a break from shrill polemics and returns to economics,
with James Hamilton's look at the Federal Reserve as bank regulator.

The Fed employs hundreds of extremely bright and very well-informed economists. On my visits to the Federal Reserve, I've been amazed at how well the staff work together to assimilate information and perspectives. In my experience, you can ask any one of them a question about pretty much anything, and although the person you're talking with may not know the answer, he or she will know the name of the person within the Fed who does know. I've interacted with lots of different institutions over the years, and have never seen another one that functions so effectively as a single, cohesive neural processor. Certainly the objective record of Federal Reserve forecasts is pretty impressive; see for example the assessments by Christina and David Romer and Faust and Wright.

Doubtless others will be skeptical, trotting out the Fed's spectacular underestimation of financial problems during 2005-2007. That criticism is of course well taken, and both the Fed and the economics profession as a whole have much more work to do in terms of recognizing exactly what should have been done differently. But let's be practical. What other institution did a better job? Where in Washington today do you see an agency with the intellectual resources to get this right? Simply squawking that we need a change is not constructive leadership; it's political finger-pointing and CYA.

Indeed, it's striking that many of those who were instrumental in relaxing the oversight on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac now believe that a regulatory body more directly under their political control could do a better job than the Fed. In the mean time, the FHA continues even today to dig us into a deeper hole.

March 22, 2010

Edward Chancellor: A History of Financial Speculation

If that's the case, speculators are far from being a plague on the markets. Instead, they help reduce risk by taking on the other side of popular trades, resisting the herd mentality that creates bubbles in the first place.

The speculator "loves freedom, detests cant and abhors restrictions," Edward Chancellor wrote in his 1999 book, "Devil Take the Hindmost: A History of Financial Speculation."

According to Mr. Chancellor, a financial strategist in Boston, speculators aren't motivated by greed, after all. Instead, idealism fuels their trades.

"The essence of speculation remains a utopian yearning for freedom and equality which counterbalances the drab rationalistic materialism of the modern economic system with its inevitable inequalities of wealth," he argued in his book.

Those Wall Street Gamblers Might Not Be Bad After All
Published: March 19, 2010
When bubbles burst, speculators often get the blame. But maybe they were telling us something we didn't want to hear.

March 21, 2010

California coast over inland

What is Southern California holding its breath for? To see whether this is all because the economics of housing are simply pushing problems further inland from the coast. From San Diego to El Centro; Orange County to Riverside and San Bernadino; LA to the Antelope Valley and Bakersfield; Santa Barbara to Santa Maria.

-- Evan Rodriguez

March 20, 2010

Phantom cost savings of Obamacare -- Douglas Holtz-Eakin

A vivid example of how the legislation manipulates revenues is the provision to have corporations deposit $8 billion in higher estimated tax payments in 2014, thereby meeting fiscal targets for the first five years. But since the corporations' actual taxes would be unchanged, the money would need to be refunded the next year. The net effect is simply to shift dollars from 2015 to 2014.

In addition to this accounting sleight of hand, the legislation would blithely rob Peter to pay Paul. For example, it would use $53 billion in anticipated higher Social Security taxes to offset health care spending. Social Security revenues are expected to rise as employers shift from paying for health insurance to paying higher wages. But if workers have higher wages, they will also qualify for increased Social Security benefits when they retire. So the extra money raised from payroll taxes is already spoken for. (Indeed, it is unlikely to be enough to keep Social Security solvent.) It cannot be used for lowering the deficit.

A government takeover of all federally financed student loans -- which obviously has nothing to do with health care -- is rolled into the bill because it is expected to generate $19 billion in deficit reduction.

The Real Arithmetic of Health Care Reform
Published: March 21, 2010
Take away the budgetary gimmicks and games, and it's clear that health care reform raises, not lowers, federal deficits.

March 19, 2010

Kettle Bell Gym of Long Island, NY

American Kettlebell Club brand 'Coast Coast Kettlebell Club' Kettlebell Gym on Long Island (Seaford, NY ) offers team 'squad' training.



Over time I have found that kettlebell workouts strengthen muscles that provide stability and support, essential to everyday life. Lifting kettlebells for as little as 20 minutes per day will burn body fat while at the same time add muscle definition. You don't need to dedicate separate time to weight lifting and cardio!


  1. Promotes Fat Loss: Studies show that sustained exercise in the aerobic or fat-burning zone, where heart rate is about 60 to 85 percent of its maximum, is the best way the train for fat loss. The idea is to train as hard as possible, but at a pace that's sustainable. Kettlebell lifting is all about staying in the set, and the fitness program allows for brief pauses that make overall long duration training practical.

  2. Improves Cardiovascular Health: The heart becomes a more efficient pump with exercise that places a large demand on oxygen uptake. Stroke volume, or the amount of blood that is pumped with each heartbeat increases, thus reducing blood pressure and resting heart rate.

  3. Tones and Tightens Muscle: From extensive personal experience with dozens of students, I've seen people physically transform before my eyes. While kettlebell lifting won't hypertrophate muscles to an extreme level, muscle mass and definition are a definite immediate benefit of lifting kettlebells.

  4. Strengthens Joints and Connective Tissue: Although a slower process than muscle building, the strengthening of tendons and ligaments happens over time, and is vital to the kettlebell lifters general progress. Strong joints that don't lag behind muscle development helps maintain a healthy, good feeling body, promoting overall functionality and longevity.

  5. Builds a High Level of Practical Strength: The core movements of kettlebell fitness build strength for real life situations. My experience with firefighters, and firefighter testing has allowed me to witness this repeatedly, first hand. I've also seen an extreme increase in one rep max strength, even though no heavy weight is ever lifted. After three months of training with a 35 pound bell, I personally was able to increase my one rep max in press from 70 to 88 pounds with relative ease.

  6. Builds Extreme Endurance: Anyone who's witnessed a high rep timed set would never doubt the level of endurance necessary to achieve this. What makes kettlebell lifting so different is the quantifiable logical progression that's part of this ingenious system, allowing people from at all levels to rise to new heights.

  7. Intense, But Safe, While Preventing Injury: Exercise can be intense, sometimes even hard on the body. Routinely, weight lifters and runners will, over time, develop overuse injuries. It's actually an accepted part of the process. Not so with the WKC Fitness Program. The gradual rise in intensity, with high repetitions, enables the kettlebell lifter to fine tune every training session, so as to never overshoot, but still train at high levels.

  8. Promotes Overall Flexibility: Tight hips and hamstrings, stiff shoulders and backs, sore knees, are all accepted parts of weight training. Again, not so with kettlebells. With AKC / WKC methodology, range of motion, and movement patterns, flexibility of the hips, back, and shoulders, is substantially increased.

  9. Improves Sport and Work Performance: Whether training for a continuous 10-minute firefighter physical or to improve your ability to run up and down the basketball court, timed high-rep kettlebell sets can be a viable way to reach your goal. I've had much success in both work and sport performance enhancement for all of my students that train using the WKC fitness protocol.

  10. Quick Routines Fit Into Your Busy Schedule: At it's highest levels (level 20), the WKC Fitness Protocol is a 22 minute routine. Even with an additional five minute warm up and cool down, the kettlebell lifter is in and out of the gym in just over 30 minutes.

  11. Low Cost of Equipment: A professional grade kettlebell (TM) costs about one hundred dollars when just starting out, and with the fitness program, all you need is one!

  12. Ease of Execution at Home: A 4x6 matted clear area, with an 8 foot ceiling is all that's required for most people to train with kettlebells. A corner of your living room, basement, or garage can serve as your gym, with very little clean up or inconvenience.

  13. Logical Progression That's Simple to Follow: The WKC Fitness Program takes the guesswork out of workout progression. This ingenious protocol developed by Valery Fedorenko brings the lifter through 20 levels, manipulating length of sets, rest, and reps per minute in a zigzag line from level 1 through level 20.

  14. Challenging Program Promotes Long Term Adherence: American's get bored easily. We start a program with over-the-top enthusiasm, and usually lose interest in a month or two. The step-by-step challenges and variety that are built into the WKC Fitness Program keep the lifter engaged, coming back for more.

  15. Develops Mental Fortitude and Discipline: While this is not a conscious goal of everyone starting a fitness plan, it's something many of us need. For firefighters and athletes the connection is obvious, staying with the set that lasts minutes instead of seconds creates a disciplined athlete or rescue worker. After kettlebells, everything else is just easy.

  16. Builds Practical Work Capacity: In a country where fitness is defined by fab abs, this may be another hard sell, but true work capacity, the ability to shovel out your driveway, fight fires, last 10 rounds, is really what matter most when defining a fit individual.

  17. Program Adapts to Your Goals: When first approaching kettlebell lifting, your goals, or what you expect from a fitness program, will define your progression and / or exercise selection. The kettlebell lifter is always in control of what direction he or she is going in relation to results.

  18. Can Train Alone Or In a Group: Some of us love the social aspect of training in a small or large group, and some love to fly solo. I routinely train group classes with a big emphasis on camaraderie and the students bonding, while others like the privacy and quiet of training on their own. Both work well.

  19. Appropriate for All Age Groups: I've had students from ages 12 to 75, and with some modifications the WKC Fitness Program can be utilized by just about any healthy individual, and produce remarkable results.

  20. Can Be Integrated Into Other Workouts: My students have a variety of backgrounds and goals within their individual training -- Olympic lifters, runners, wrestlers, firefighters, hockey players and golfers to name a few. While training with kettlebells only is a viable option, kettlebell workouts can be part of a bigger picture that incorporates other resistance, flexibility, and endurance training.

March 18, 2010

Financial and business spys ?

The result is "Broker, Trader, Lawyer, Spy: The Secret World of Corporate Espionage" (Harper Business, 306 pages), Mr. Javers's account of how he doggedly tracked down rent-a-spies in United States and Europe and tried to get them to divulge their mysteries.


Germany's Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told the Bundestag on March 16 that the country may have to consider ordering "intelligence agencies to set up surveillance of who is getting together with whom for which kinds of speculative processes, and where" to protect the euro

March 17, 2010

Modern Love: earnest young banker builds home

Extended real estate personal ?

Except for the sometimes heartbreaking images of a vanished past, the apartment looks like many an i-banker's bachelor pad. The drum kit for an Xbox Rock Band is stationed next to a 47-inch television set, which is surrounded by a bouquet of remotes. "I know," Mr. Yomtobian said. "It's really terrible there are so many."

The kitchen is bare bones; Mr. Yomtobian hopes that one day this will not be the case. "I'd like to find someone to help me renovate," he said. "And it would be an added plus if we cooked dinner together, too."

The theme of being able to share this space with another person is one he returns to again and again; banker's hours -- typically 12-hour days -- don't leave much time for socializing.

There is, however, a dog in residence, a rescue animal that Mr. Yomtobian named Lehman, a gift from friends to cheer him up after the bankruptcy. Mr. Yomtobian thought that Lehman had some cairn terrier in him until a person he met at the nearby Madison Square Park dog run suggested that he was part Glen of Imaal terrier.

Published as

Home and Album
Published: March 3, 2010
Little more than a week after buying an apartment Arash Yomtobian's employer, Lehman Brothers, announced plans to declare bankruptcy.

March 16, 2010

Termination fees makes up 15 percent of an operator's sales and profit

Operators, which generate about 80 percent of their revenue from voice services, want to hinder a new downward price spiral. Revenue from termination fees makes up 15 percent of an operator's sales and profit, said Jacques de Greling, an analyst at Natixis, a Paris bank.

In January, the Belgian telecommunications regulator proposed lowering mobile termination rates to 1.07 cents by January 2013 from almost 9 cents now.

Mobile Fees Under Pressure With Network Rollout
Published: March 15, 2010
The introduction of faster Long-Term Evolution networks could lower costs for operators and potentially unleash a new price war in the industry in Europe.

March 15, 2010

New FCC Puts Performance Before Prudishness

The blueprint reflects the government's view that broadband Internet is becoming the common medium of the United States, gradually displacing the telephone and broadcast television industries. It also signals a shift at the F.C.C., which under the administration of President George W. Bush gained more attention for policing indecency on the television airwaves than for promoting Internet access.

In a move that could affect policy decisions years from now, the F.C.C. will begin assessing the speeds and costs of consumer broadband service. Until then, consumers can take matters into their own hands with a new suite of online and mobile phone applications released by the F.C.C. that will allow them to test the speed of their home Internet and see if they're paying for data speeds as advertised.

"Once again, the F.C.C. is putting service providers on the spot," said Julien Blin, a telecommunications consultant at JBB Research.

Effort to Widen U.S. Internet Access Sets Up Battle
Published: March 12, 2010
The 10-year plan would reimagine the nation's media and technology priorities by establishing high-speed Internet as the country's dominant communication network.

March 14, 2010

Now is a good time to buy a house

many real estate agents said it was time to buy as prices began to drop -- and continued to say it over the past several years as prices fell by an average of 33 percent in America's 20 largest cities.

Mr. Lereah would acknowledge that he had gotten it wrong. But from the perspective of many real estate agents, it is always a good time to buy.

"What they are really saying is that it is a good time to be involved in a transaction that generates a commission," says Barry Ritholtz, C.E.O. and director of equity research at FusionIQ, a quantitative research firm. He's also author of "The Big Picture," an irreverent blog on markets.

If agents are always motivated to make a deal, buyers are often asking an impossible question: "Will the price of this house go up?"

Although the National Association of Realtors said for many years that home prices historically don't fall, actually they do, and sometimes quite sharply. The housing market is complicated, and the future unknowable. Still, for clues to the overall direction of prices, Mr. Ritholtz advises buyers to look at three metrics: the ratio of median income to median home prices, which suggests whether people can afford a house; the cost of ownership versus renting; and the value of the national housing stock as a percentage of gross domestic product.

All those measures were aberrationally inflated during the housing bubble. And they still aren't back to historical norms. We can get back to the norm in either of two ways, Mr. Ritholtz says: home prices can either drop an additional 50 percent or go sideways for seven years or so, while G.D.P. and income presumably grow.

To complicate matters, even if home prices rise or fall nationally, they may not follow that pattern in Las Vegas or South Florida or Maine, to say nothing of the neighborhood where you want to buy.

There may be a better way, however, for potential buyers to approach the problem. "Predicting interest rates is a whole lot easier than predicting home prices," says Glenn Kelman, chief executive of Redfin, a multistate discount online real estate brokerage company based in Seattle. "Before you buy the house, you buy the money," he says.

It's a little like walking into a dealership to buy a car, and finding the saleswoman immediately jotting down what your monthly payments will be and starting the negotiations there. That's absolutely the wrong way to buy a car. But for a prospective homeowner, it's a good place to start the analysis to determine how much house you can buy.

Instead of betting on home prices, you make a bet on whether money will become cheaper or more expensive, allowing you to buy more or less house.

March 12, 2010

Banks reject Condo, Co-op properties

But even the best-qualified buyer can be denied a loan if the building he or she wishes to buy into is deemed a risk.

Melissa Cohn, the president of Manhattan Mortgage, said, "The biggest issue that we have is that a large number of buildings in the city don't meet Fannie Mae guidelines."

Over the last two years, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have tightened the regulations that govern the loans they buy from lenders.

Fannie now requires that some condominiums carry more insurance, for example, and a new I.R.S. requirement keeps the agency from acquiring mortgages made in buildings where more than 20 percent of the square footage is commercial -- space that is used for, say, a hotel or a doctor's office.

But many of the guidelines that New York City apartment buildings don't meet have been in place for years. Fannie and Freddie guidelines have long held, for example, that no single person or entity can own more than 10 percent of the units in an established condo or co-op building. During the boom, that didn't matter much. Investors were hungry to buy bundled residential mortgages, and banks could bypass Fannie and Freddie and sell the loans elsewhere. Now, Fannie and Freddie are by far the biggest game in town, so on conforming loans, their rules are gospel.

Andrea Mottola ran into the problem of a building cold-shouldered by banks last year, when she was trying to sell her daughter's two-bedroom apartment in a condo on West 58th Street.

The Going Gets Tougher
Published: March 11, 2010
It doesn't take much to trip up these days and the problem may be a more demanding Fannie Mae.

March 7, 2010

Sonyma will help if income under $146,420, home less than $637,640.

In sharp contrast to all the mortgages out there with stiff underwriting guidelines, New York's Low Interest Rate mortgages have no minimum credit score. Borrowers can also qualify for a Sonyma mortgage if their total monthly debt payments reach 45 percent of their monthly income -- and sometimes more. That's about 5 percent higher than the amount allowed by conventional lenders, and higher than the threshold recommended by many financial counselors.

Still, Mr. Leocata maintains that borrowers default on these loans less frequently than those with conventional mortgages. Borrowers must pay monthly mortgage insurance premiums. For a 3 percent down payment, the monthly premium is 0.8 percent of the loan amount; for 5 percent, it's 0.67 percent; and for 10 percent, 0.42 percent.

Borrowers must also fall within the household income limits -- $107,520 in Manhattan, $142,520 in Long Island and $146,420 in Westchester -- and the purchase price cannot exceed $637,640.

George Leocata, a senior vice president at Sonyma, says demand for the Low Interest Rate Program has been the highest in 12 years, which is hardly surprising given the difficulty in qualifying for conventional loans in recent months.

Thanks to an infusion of federal support late last year through the economic stimulus package, the State of New York Mortgage Agency, or Sonyma, is now offering 30-year affordable-housing loans at 4.75 percent, down from an average rate of 5.25 to 5.75 percent last year and well below the 5 percent or so being offered by mainstream lenders to their best customers.

Help for First-Time Buyers
Published: March 3, 2010
The State of New York Mortgage Agency, or Sonyma, is offering 30-year affordable-housing loans at 4.75 percent.