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Personal Finance News 11/2009

Goldman in talks to buy Fannie tax credits: report (Reuters)
Reuters - Goldman Sachs Group Inc is in talks to buy millions of dollars of tax credits from Fannie Mae, but the U.S. Treasury could block the deal, The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday.

Report: Goldman Sachs looks to buy tax credits (AP)
AP - Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is reportedly in talks to buy tax credits from Fannie Mae, a government-controlled mortgage financier.

Calif. boosts income tax collection by 10 percent (AP)
AP - California wage earners will soon notice a little less money in their paychecks.

Buffett joins Goldman bid for Fannie Mae tax credits (Reuters)
Reuters - Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc (BRKa.N) has joined Goldman Sachs Group Inc in a bid to buy $3 billion in tax credits from mortgage giant Fannie Mae, the Wall Street Journal's website reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Pulte raises Centex savings forecast, shares surge (Reuters)
Reuters - Pulte Homes Inc raised its forecast for efficiencies and savings from its acquisition of rival Centex Corp, overshadowing a quarterly loss and sending its shares up 7.5 percent.

Review: 'SuperFreakonomics' as fun as predecessor (AP)
AP - "SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance" (William Morrow, 320 pages. $29.99) by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner: In their 2005 book "Freakonomics," economist Steven D. Levitt and journalist Stephen J. Dubner used dozens of interesting anecdotes to prove a simple point: "People respond to incentives."

GMAC posts Q3 loss, hurt by mortgage unit (Reuters)
Reuters - GMAC Financial Services, a lender that has received $12.5 billion in government bailouts, posted a third straight quarterly loss on Wednesday, hurt by red ink in its mortgage business.

GMAC Financial Services 3Q loss narrows (AP)
AP - GMAC Financial Services, the main lender for General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC, said Wednesday its loss narrowed to $767 million in the third quarter, as its auto lending unit made money while its home mortgage unit reported another loss.

No more duck house: Britain cuts lawmaker expenses (AP)
AP - Drain the moat, tear down the duck house, fire the housekeeper. British lawmakers face strict new allowance rules following a scandal over their outrageous expense claims.

Study: Alabama income tax on working poor harshest (AP)
AP - A national study released Wednesday showed Alabama makes families living in poverty pay higher income taxes than any other state.

Fla. justices consider mediation for foreclosures (AP)
AP - Mediation would be a good way to expedite a flood of mortgage foreclosures, members of a foreclosure task force said Wednesday, but some disagreed on the details in oral arguments before the state Supreme Court.

Fannie Mae to rent out homes instead foreclosing (AP)
AP - Thousands of borrowers on the verge of foreclosure will soon have the option of renting their homes from Fannie Mae, under a policy announced Thursday.

Mortgage rates drop below 5 percent: Freddie Mac (Reuters)
Reuters - U.S. mortgage rates fell below 5 percent for the first time in three weeks, a key level that may boost home loan demand and help the hard-hit housing market recover, a closely watched mortgage survey showed Thursday.

Omnicare 3Q profit rises 13 percent (AP)
AP - Omnicare Inc., which dispenses drugs to nursing homes and long-term care facilities, said Thursday its third-quarter profit rose 13 percent as lower costs and an income tax adjustment offset a dip in revenue.

Rates on 30-year loans fall below 5 percent (AP)
AP - Rates for 30-year home loans dipped below 5 percent this week after rising for three straight weeks.

Supreme Court wades into mutual fund fee disparity (AP)
AP - The U.S. Supreme Court is taking a close look at a question individual investors have long asked about their mutual funds, but the courts have largely ignored: Why am I getting charged twice as much as big institutional clients?

Fed's balance sheet expands in latest week (Reuters)
Reuters - The U.S. Federal Reserve's balance sheet grew slightly in the latest week on increased holdings of government and mortgage agency debt, Fed data showed on Thursday.

Earnings roundup: Fannie Mae, Cornell (AP)
AP - Among the earnings stories for Thursday, Nov. 5, from AP Financial News:

Citi files plans to spin off Primerica in IPO (AP)
AP - Citigroup Inc. filed plans for an initial public offering of its Primerica Inc. life insurance unit late Thursday, and said it will sell the rest of the unit after it goes public.

Fannie Mae posts $18.9 billion Q3 loss, taps Treasury (Reuters)
Reuters - Fannie Mae, the largest provider of funding for U.S. home loans, said on Thursday bad mortgages and a federal foreclosure prevention program left it with a $18.9 billion loss, forcing it to tap the Treasury again to plug a hole in its net worth.

Fannie Mae seeks $15 bln in aid after loss (AFP)
AFP - US state-controlled mortgage lender Fannie Mae posted Thursday another multibillion-dollar quarterly loss and said it needed an additional 15 billion dollars in taxpayer funds.

Fannie Mae seeks $15 bln in US aid after 3Q loss (AP)
AP - Fannie Mae is asking for an additional $15 billion in government aid after posting another big loss in the third quarter as the taxpayer bill from the housing market bust keeps rising.

Ahead of the Bell: Consumer Credit (AP)
AP - Consumers likely reduced their borrowing for an eighth straight month in September, as layoffs continue and credit remains tight. The declines in borrowing are expected to drag on the fledgling economic recovery.

Dolan more than doubles 3Q profit (AP)
AP - Dolan Media Co., a provider of legal and professional publications and services, said Friday its third-quarter profit more than doubled as revenue grew sharply in its mortgage default processing services business.

Neb. senator takes issue with student loan stance (AP)
AP - U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns said Thursday that his concern for Nebraska families is what's driving his opposition to legislation that would turn control of student loans over to the government — not lobbying from private student loan provider Nelnet Inc. of Lincoln.

THE INFLUENCE GAME: Business aided by jobless bill (AP)
AP - Emergency help for the jobless will be a huge windfall for Realtors, homebuilders, mortgage bankers and others, and that's no accident.

Best of both worlds? Combined pension/401k plan (AP)
AP - Over the last year it's become abundantly clear that the stock market can devastate even seemingly healthy retirement accounts. Even so, with the guaranteed income of traditional pensions disappearing, most investors have little choice.

Defense asks jury to clear ex-hedge fund managers (AP)
AP - Two former Bear Stearns hedge fund managers charged with lying to investors always were honest about the risks of investing in securities linked to the volatile subprime mortgage market, a defense lawyer told a jury on Friday.

Freddie Mac posts $5 billion loss (Reuters)
Reuters - Freddie Mac , the second largest provider of U.S. residential mortgage funding, on Friday posted a loss of $5 billion in the third quarter and predicted it would need more government support amid a "prolonged deterioration" in housing.

Freddie Mac loses $6.3B in 3Q (AP)
AP - Freddie Mac's losses narrowed to $6.3 billion in the third quarter, but the government-controlled mortgage finance company didn't need a federal cash infusion.

Fla. AG sues 2 companies in alleged mortgage scams (AP)
AP - The state is suing two central Florida companies for allegedly scamming homeowners trying to rescue their properties from foreclosure.

Fitch downgrades Phoenix life insurance (AP)
AP - The life insurance subsidiaries of The Phoenix Companies Inc. received a ratings downgrade on Monday by Fitch Ratings.

4 NYC homeowners sue over mortgage program (AP)
AP - Four New York City homeowners have filed a lawsuit charging they were denied access to a federal home-refinancing program.

Fannie Mae tax credit decision could cost $5.2 bln (AP)
AP - Fannie Mae said Monday it may have to ask the government for more financial assistance because the company cannot sell $5.2 billion in tax credits.

Trial of ex-Bear Stearns execs goes to jury (Reuters)
Reuters - Pay and venue were the focus of a jury's early deliberations on Monday in the trial of two former Bear Stearns hedge fund managers accused of fraud over dealings in mortgage-backed securities early in the financial crisis.

Proposed delay of Ohio tax cuts spurs e-mails (AP)
AP - After Richard Handy of Fairfield received an e-mail from a conservative group calling Gov. Ted Strickland's proposed delay of Ohio's income tax cuts a "retroactive tax increase," Handy fired off a few passionate words to some state senators.

Barclays, HSBC signal bad debts may have peaked (Reuters)
Reuters - Britain's top two banks, HSBC and Barclays , signaled bad debts may be past their peak, with HSBC declaring on Tuesday the first improvement for three years in losses on U.S. consumer credit.

Housing plan reaches 1 in 5 borrowers (AP)
AP - After a slow start, the Obama administration's mortgage relief program has reached one in five eligible homeowners, a government report says.

JPMorgan Chase to hire 1,200 mortgage officers (AP)
AP - JPMorgan Chase & Co. said Tuesday it will hire 1,200 mortgage loan officers by the end of next year, a 60 percent increase in its sales force.

2 ex-Bear Stearns hedge-fund managers acquitted (AP)
AP - Two Bear Stearns executives who ran hedge funds that collapsed after betting heavily on the shaky subprime mortgage market were acquitted Tuesday of lying to investors — a defeat in the government's bid to punish fraud exposed by the financial crisis.

Emdeon 3Q loss widens on costs (AP)
AP - Emdeon Corp., which provides financial and clinical services to the health care industry, said Tuesday its third-quarter loss widened on higher expenses and a boost in income tax costs.

The Great Rebalancing Debate (U.S. News & World Report)
U.S. News & World Report - When is it appropriate to rebalance a portfolio? This question, a close companion of the ever-popular "How high is too high?" dilemma, has plagued investors for years, largely because there is no right answer. But if you're open to suggestions, a relatively new Website wants to send them directly to your inbox--for a fee.

How Struggling Homeowners Can Stay in Their Homes as Renters (U.S. News & World Report)
U.S. News & World Report - With foreclosures continuing to mount, housing finance giant Fannie Mae has introduced a fresh approach to keeping struggling borrowers in their homes: turning them into tenants. Fannie Mae--which, along with Freddie Mac, owns or guarantees nearly $5.5 trillion in mortgages--announced last week its Deed for Lease initiative, in which property owners facing foreclosure can remain in their homes as renters. Under the program, a borrower who qualifies can transfer the deed for a home over to the lender and lease the home back for up to 12 months. ...

Rates on 30-year loans remain below 5 percent (AP)
AP - Rates this week for 30-year home loans stayed below 5 percent for the second week in a row.

Alabama bank halts mortgage lending (AP)
AP - The second-largest thrift in Alabama is suspending mortgage lending amid hefty third-quarter losses as real-estate values moved lower and foreclosure rates turned higher.

Pace of mortgage help rising but still slow (AP)
AP - Shontaye Edwards spends her day in a gray cubicle at a Bank of America call center in this Dallas suburb. On the other end of the phone line are homeowners — tense, exasperated and looking for help.

Former Nevada businessman faces fraud charges (AP)
AP - A federal prosecutor says the former owner of a Nevada property firm faces conspiracy and fraud charges in a mortgage fraud scheme involving so-called "straw buyers" and false loan documents.

Insurers Find China a Tough Nut to Crack (BusinessWeek)
BusinessWeek - When insurer AIA moved back into its gray stone colonial headquarters on Shanghai's waterfront Bund in 1998, it marked the return of foreign insurance companies to China after their ejection nearly five decades earlier. Since then the floodgates have opened as Cigna , AXA , Allianz (Toronto:AZ.TO - News), and dozens more have set up shop on the mainland, aiming to tap a market of 1.3 billion people with few options for life insurance.

AP sources: Probers eye census worker's insurance (AP)
AP - Investigators trying to solve the mystery of a census taker found hanging from a tree with the word "fed" scrawled on his chest are examining whether he manipulated the scene in order to conceal a suicide and make a life insurance claim possible for his son, law enforcement officials told The Associated Press.

Insurer Woodmen files $30M lawsuit against US Bank (AP)
AP - Woodmen of the World wants U.S. Bank to pay nearly $30 million for investing some of the insurer's assets in risky mortgage-backed securities that plummeted in value instead of the conservative investments the bank promised.

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