Originally published on Thu February 16, 2012 6:55 am
We have a slew of economic data out today and the big picture is that the economy is on the rebound. So, let's get to the numbers:
-- The Labor Department said the number of people seeking jobless benefits dropped by 13,000 to a seasonally adjusted 348,000. The AP reports "it was the fourth drop in five weeks and the fewest number of claims since March 2008."
-- Led by a surge in apartments, housing starts were up 1.5 percent.
There was one little-noticed part of this week's announcement about the $25 billion national mortgage settlement. North Carolina's banking commissioner, Joseph Smith Jr., will take over a new role and serve as independent monitor. He'll oversee the five banks which agreed to new mortgage loan servicing and foreclosure standards.
Well, every single state in the country will get a piece of that $26 billion to help troubled homeowners keep their homes, every single state except Oklahoma. The attorney general in Oklahoma decided to opt out of the multistate settlement to hold banks accountable for questionable lending and foreclosure practices.
Scott Pruitt is Oklahoma's attorney general, and he joins me now on the line. Attorney General, welcome.
"After negotiating through the night," NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports, states attorneys general, federal officials and five major banks have agreed on a plan that will provide about $26 billion in mortgage relief and aid to homeowners who got crushed when the housing bubble burst.