The Mid-Atlantic, home to NACM-National's headquarters office, experienced a record amount of snowfall over the last two weeks, during which some notable news stories may have fallen through the cracks. Below are just a few selections of the things we may have missed while we were digging out our cars.

 

MBA: Commercial Loan Originations Spike to End 2009

 

Approved commercial and multifamily real estate loan applications grew by double-digits in 2009's final quarter, according to a Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) survey unveiled earlier this month. Still, MBA cautioned that the news fell short of being worthy of celebration.

 

MBA's Quarterly Survey of Commercial/Multifamily Originations for Q4 2009 increased by 12% from the same quarter in 2008. The largest categorical gains were for loans on hotel (up 105%), retail (101%) and industrial (59%) properties.

 

Still, MBA Vice President of Commercial Real Estate Research Jamie Woodwell warned that commercial mortgage lending remains anemic even with the large quarterly gain. "The trend shows stability coming back to the market, but the pick-up in volumes really indicates just how low origination levels have fallen," said Woodwell.

 

Brian Shappell, NACM staff writer

 

Study: Maturing of Non-Bank Commercial Debt Not Widespread in 2010

 

Another MBA survey, in an apparent attempt to quell fear of widespread maturing of commercial real estate debt, intimated that levels were lower than many in the industry originally feared.

 

The volume of commercial and multifamily mortgage debt maturing in 2010 ($183.9 billion) accounts for just 13% of the total outstanding and drops to 7% ($99.8 billion) in 2011, according to the commercial and multifamily mortgage study. Moreover, with most of the feared commercial mortgages going on the books between 2005 and 2007, a large portion of the debt balance will not come due for several years, said Woodwell.

 

Brian Shappell, NACM staff writer

 

Debt Limit Increased, "Paygo" Rules Reinstituted

 

Under cover of snow, President Barack Obama signed into law yet another increase in the statutory debt limit, this time by $1.9 trillion, bringing the legal limit on congressional debt to a whopping $14.3 trillion. Unlike previous stop-gap increases, this increase is expected to fund government operations for the remainder of the year.

 

In addition to increasing the debt ceiling, the bill Obama signed also reinstituted Congressional "pay-as-you-go" or "Paygo" rules which require any new spending to be offset by spending cuts or additional revenue generated elsewhere in the budget.

 

Jacob Barron, NACM staff writer

 

Philadelphia Fed Boosts Market Optimism

 

A recent wave of positive comments from officials at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia have helped boost confidence among investors and business owners, albeit it from near historically low levels.

 

Philadelphia's branch of the Fed noted this week that regional manufacturing increased for the sixth consecutive month and now sits at its highest level since 2005. Additionally, the branch unveiled forecasts predicting gross domestic product (GDP) growth of at least 2.7% in each quarter of 2010 as well as significant gains in employment levels. Both helped spur surges in trading on Wall Street.

 

Brian Shappell, NACM staff writer

 

Exports Creep Up In December '09, Down for the Year

 

The U.S. Department of Commerce released its December 2009 report on exports, which showed yet another increase in U.S. global trade in goods and services, this time by 3.3% over November's numbers to a total of $142.7 billion. From 2008 to 2009, however, total exports decreased by 15% to $1.55 trillion over the entire year.

 

"We can be encouraged by U.S. exports of goods and services increasing in December for an eighth consecutive month," said Commerce Secretary Gary Locke. "However, it is critical we redouble our efforts to increase our competitiveness and meet President Obama's goal of doubling U.S. exports over the next five years to spur economic growth and support jobs at home."

 

Locke also recently revealed his agency's National Export Initiative (NEI), which outlines the way in which the government will support increased exporting by enhancing trade advocacy for small- and mid-sized businesses, improving access to credit to potential exporters and continuing to enforce global trade laws and agreements.

 

Jacob Barron, NACM staff writer