Money Minute: What's Behind the Stagnant Housing Market?


The housing crisis ended several years ago, but millions of Americans are still stuck in homes they can't unload.

Nearly 10 million homeowners are still "underwater" -- meaning their mortgage debt is greater than the value of their homes. Online real estate company Zillow (Z) says the number is well below the peak level, but it's a major drag on the overall housing market. In addition to those who have negative equity, another 10 million or so haven't built up enough home equity to pay the costs of moving up to a new home, so they're stuck in place. As a result, the inventory of homes for sale is very low, and that's creating a stagnant housing market.

Millions of Americans have signed up for the do not call list, but we all know it's a far from perfect system for avoiding annoying phone solicitations. But the government is cracking down on one big violator. Sprint (S) has agreed to pay a record $7.5 million fine for failing to honor consumers' request to leave them alone. The company paid a $400,000 fine three years ago for a similar violation. We'll see if the stiffer penalty is a more effective enforcement tool.

Banking-giant Credit Suisse (CS) has agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges in the U.S. It's the first bank to do so in more than a decade -- as prosecutors try to show that banks aren't "too big to jail." The company will pay a $2.6 billion fine after admitting that it conspired to help wealthy Americans hide assets and evade U.S. taxes.

Here on Wall Street on Monday, the Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) gained 20 points, the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) added 7, and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) rose 35 points.

Win or lose, California Chrome is set to cash in. After winning the first two legs of horseracing's Triple Crown, the thoroughbred could collect millions of dollars in stud fees. Experts say he's likely earn $25,000 for each foal produced, and he could father as many as 120 a year. After the Belmont Stakes next month, again win or lose, California Chrome is likely to retire from racing to avoid an injury that could jeopardize his next career as a stud.

-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.

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