Market crash may reduce local metal theft
The severe market crash that began the week of Oct. 6-10 and continues to this day affected more than just people’s 401(k), savings and household stability. Due to integrated instruments and commodities investments, markets of all kinds have been affected by what will forever be known as the Crash of 2008.
Local and regional businesses large and small have been affected by a drastic scrap metal price decline that has been unprecedented in recent years after the highs in scrap copper and aluminum prices that Portland recyclers and small metals peddlers saw in the years 2003 through 2007.
On Oct. 7, many commodities suffered their most severe drops in decades resulting in a crash in scrap metal prices around the world triggered by the huge selloffs in the financial markets and excess inventory. Copper alone dropped one-third its trading value in one day as traders panicked over the instability in the financial markets. Steel prices have dropped by about half since late June 2008.
Oversupply and stockpiling in Asia — particularly China — one of Oregon’s largest trading partners — caused a virtual halt to Pacific Rim trading and shipping that has left U.S. businesses with an inventory that many are finding hard to sell overseas.
Many Chinese consumers and industrial plants cancelled or refused to pay on contracts. Others attempted to renegotiate contract discounts for shipments in process. For the most part other Asian countries such as Japan, South Korea and Taiwan slowed down shipment schedules but did not cancel or attempt renegotiation.
At the same time, due to low prices, national and local industrial dealers and sellers are holding on to inventory in the hope that prices will hit bottom soon. Many large U.S. recyclers have completely stopped buying inventory for days at a time. Portland alone has about a dozen local metal scrap dealers and many other industrial metal producers that are affected by these market conditions.
Some local metal recyclers report that they suspect the market in stolen metals has been effectively halted by the low prices. Local scrap dealers had come under scrutiny in the last two years as state and local police authorities reported that scrap metal sales were a common mechanism for drug users to make quick cash. Calls to the Portland Police Bureau Public Information Office and the Northeast Precinct, which has an officer dedicated to the regional task force looking at scrap metal thefts, were unproductive in verifying that metal thefts have declined in the last month.
Drive Less challenge rewards campaigners for fewer cars
A new competition, the Drive Less Video Challenge, has launched that gives Oregon and SW Washington residents a shot in the director’s chair to produce a 25-second video that motivates people to drive less.
The Drive Less/Save More Campaign is a unique public awareness initiative launched in February 2006 by the Oregon Department of Transportation, Metro and many other public and private partners. It seeks to reduce individual car trips as an integral part of a larger solution to addressing traffic congestion through the promotion of smarter driving and the use of transportation options such as transit and biking.
The top video will run as a TV commercial, plus the grand prize winner will receive an Apple iMac and Final Cut Pro Studio 2 or $3,000 cash. Prizes will also be awarded for the top three videos in the competition’s General and Youth Categories.
Challenge participants can compete in one of two categories: a General Category (for ages 18 and up) and a Youth Category (for ages 17 and younger). The competition is open to legal residents of Oregon and SW Washington. Both individuals and groups can enter. The deadline for video submissions is Jan. 30, 2009.
A judging panel, including film, advertising, social marketing and transportation experts, will pick the top five videos in the General and Youth Categories. The selected videos will be scored on a scale of one to 10 for message effectiveness, representation of the Drive Less/Save More Campaign, creativity and innovation and video quality. The general public will then get to weigh in as part of the People’s Choice Award in March 2009 by voting online for the video in each category that motivates them to drive less.
Learn more about the Drive Less Video Challenge at www.DriveLessSaveMore.com/video_challenge.
ACORN suspends foreclosures, urge new tactic
Washington DC — ACORN members are celebrating the long-awaited announcement from the Federal Housing Finance Agency today that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are suspending foreclosures through January 9, 2009. ACORN has been specifically calling on the companies to institute a moratorium since they were placed into conservatorship by the federal government in September.
“Finally, we see some real progress that will help everyday Americans struggling to pay the mortgage,” said ACORN President Maude Hurd. “ACORN has long been the nation’s leading voice calling for a foreclosure moratorium, and so we are celebrating tonight. Still, this is only the first step toward actually solving the foreclosure crisis. It is imperative that we take the time presented to us to implement a serious strategy for automatically modifying all delinquent loans to affordable terms. This should include pulling delinquent loans out of securities when necessary.”
Currently, the FHFA is only offering streamlined modifications to those homeowners who are already 90 days delinquent on their mortgage. ACORN has called for automated modifications for all delinquent mortgagors, as well as proactive outreach to those borrowers whose loans have characteristics that make them likely to sour in the near future.
“The announcement, while welcome, is only a respite for a month-and-a-half,” said Hurd. “First, FHFA should be prepared to extend this moratorium by another month and a half or more come January 9, which would be in keeping with President-elect Barack Obama’s call for a 90-day moratorium on foreclosures. Second, we have to get real serious and real fast about loan modifications. Only offering modifications to those borrowers who are three months behind is like taking a squirt gun to a forest fire. All homeowners with a demonstrated interest and ability in making monthly payments should have their mortgages modified to affordable terms so that we can prevent the unnecessary glut of foreclosures that is predicted to continue for several years.”