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Personal Finance News 08/2011



Consumers get scant relief from debt deal (AP)
AP - Just like their government, consumers and individual investors will avert immediate disaster if the debt ceiling agreement wins congressional approval by Tuesday. The stock market shouldn't crash and interest rates won't start skyrocketing.

What to Infer From Synovus' Narrowed Losses? (The Motley Fool)
The Motley Fool - Synovus Financial (NYSE: SNV - News) has reported yet another quarterly loss. But even with dark clouds on the horizon, there are certain silver linings worth noting. For instance, the Columbus, Ga.-based bank experienced a sharp decline in its net loss as it narrowed its provision for loan losses (PLL) significantly.

First Person: Financial Reform Worries Mortgage Consultant (ContributorNetwork)
ContributorNetwork - Recent Capitol Hill rhetoric about greedy lenders and a Wall Street run amok implies all mortgage lenders are thieves and scoundrels.

First Person: On Foreclosures, Who's at Fault, Banks or Homeowners? (ContributorNetwork)
ContributorNetwork - The Associated Press reported recently that nearly half of all enrollees in the Obama administration's flagship mortgage-relief program have dropped out. A CNN Money report on Monday lauds the nation's banks, suggesting that while the government Home Affordable Modification Program is failing, banks are stepping up with their own modification terms to rescue financially strapped homeowners from foreclosure.

First Person: Economic picture in Florida still murky (ContributorNetwork)
ContributorNetwork - TAMPA Fla. -- As economists around the United States herald the official end of the recession, many people around the country aren't sure if the economy has really recovered. According to MSNBC, most states have seen economic indicators such as employment, industrial production, housing starts and housing prices climb out of recession mode. Statistics aside, though, many are left to wonder where the jobs are, when housing prices will recover, and if the growth will start turning brown patches of abandoned land green with vitality.

How Your FICO Score is Calculated (ContributorNetwork)
ContributorNetwork - Unfortunately, how your credit score is calculated is similar to asking for the secret recipe for the Colonel's fried chicken. In short, the people behind your credit score, The Fair Issac Corporation, aren't going to let you in on their little secret. They guard this information to keep competitors at bay, knowing that if they reveal the exact credit score formula and how it works, they will lose their edge and jeopardize their dominant position in the marketplace.

Voters' voices: Seattle-area residents detail votes on governor's race and I-1098 (ContributorNetwork)
ContributorNetwork - The midterms in Washington state on Tuesday saw the election of a U.S. senator and the vote on an income tax initiative (I-1098) as the hot-button stories. With sitting Democratic Sen. Patty Murray going against Republican Dino Rossi for one of Washington's U.S. Senate seats, the state has been divided on who to support. The issue of an income tax was also broached in this election cycle, with the intent for the state to begin by taxing just individuals that make over $200,000 per year initially.

Quote Roundup: Looking Forward in 2011 on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula (ContributorNetwork)
ContributorNetwork - 2010 left Americans with a divided Congress, mixed economic signals and questions about personal finances. So what happens in 2011 -- more of the same or real progress? To get an idea of which road Americans think -- and hope -- the new year will take, Yahoo! Contributors asked them for answers.

Quote Roundup: South Carolinians Not Confident for Politics in 2011 (ContributorNetwork)
ContributorNetwork - 2010 left Americans with a divided Congress, mixed economic signals and questions about personal finances. So what happens in 2011 -- more of the same or real progress? To get an idea of which road Americans think -- and hope -- the new year will take, Yahoo! Contributors asked them for answers.

Quote Roundup: In Tampa, Fla., Hope for 2011 Gives Way to Pessimism (ContributorNetwork)
ContributorNetwork - 2010 left Americans with a divided Congress, mixed economic signals and questions about personal finances. So what happens in 2011 -- more of the same or real progress? To get an idea of which road Americans think -- and hope -- the new year will take, Yahoo! Contributors asked them for answers.

Quote Roundup: 2011 Brings Uncertainty for Ala. Residents (ContributorNetwork)
ContributorNetwork - 2010 left Americans with a divided Congress, mixed economic signals and questions about personal finances. So what happens in 2011 -- more of the same or real progress? To get an idea of which road Americans think -- and hope -- the new year will take, Yahoo! Contributors asked them for answers.

Quote Roundup: 'Little Hope for the Economy' in Palm Springs, Calif. (ContributorNetwork)
ContributorNetwork - 2010 left Americans with a divided Congress, mixed economic signals and questions about personal finances. So what happens in 2011 -- more of the same or real progress? To get an idea of which road Americans think -- and hope -- the new year will take, Yahoo! Contributors asked them for answers.

Quote Roundup: Harrisonburg, Va., Residents Pessimistic About 2011 (ContributorNetwork)
ContributorNetwork - 2010 left Americans with a divided Congress, mixed economic signals and questions about personal finances. So what happens in 2011 -- more of the same or real progress? To get an idea of which road Americans think -- and hope -- the new year will take, Yahoo! Contributors asked them for answers.

Quote Roundup: 'God Willing, 2011 Is Going to Be a Better Year' (ContributorNetwork)
ContributorNetwork - 2010 left Americans with a divided Congress, mixed economic signals and questions about personal finances. So what happens in 2011 -- more of the same or real progress? To get an idea of which road Americans think -- and hope -- the new year will take, Yahoo! Contributors asked them for answers.

Quote Roundup: Ore. High-School Seniors Have 'Little Faith in Either Party' (ContributorNetwork)
ContributorNetwork - 2010 left Americans with a divided Congress, mixed economic signals and questions about personal finances. So what happens in 2011 -- more of the same or real progress? To get an idea of which road Americans think -- and hope -- the new year will take, Yahoo! Contributors asked them for answers.

Quote Roundup: Arizona Residents Look Ahead to 2011 in Politics, Economics (ContributorNetwork)
ContributorNetwork - 2010 left Americans with a divided Congress, mixed economic signals and questions about personal finances. So what happens in 2011 -- more of the same or real progress? To get an idea of which road Americans think -- and hope -- the new year will take, Yahoo! Contributors asked them for answers.

Quote Roundup: Unemployment, Broken Promises Weigh down Indianapolis Residents (ContributorNetwork)
ContributorNetwork - 2010 left Americans with a divided Congress, mixed economic signals and questions about personal finances. So what happens in 2011 -- more of the same or real progress? To get an idea of which road Americans think -- and hope -- the new year will take, Yahoo! Contributors asked them for answers.

Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission Places Blame on American Households (ContributorNetwork)
ContributorNetwork - American households got blasted by the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission because they borrowed too much and saved too little. American households had created an environment of taking on too much risk by over-extending themselves. They did this by placing record debt on themselves and by overstating their income on mortgage applications.

Facts, Figures About Federal Income Tax and the 16th Amendment (ContributorNetwork)
ContributorNetwork - On Feb. 3, 1913, Congress ratified the 16th Amendment to the Constitution, allowing the government to tax individual incomes. Delaware, Wyoming and New Mexico were the last three states to approve the amendment.

Say 'No' to Tax Refund Anticipation Loans, Consumer Groups Advise (ContributorNetwork)
ContributorNetwork - Illinois ' Attorney General Lisa Madigan is the latest consumer advocate to warn the public that refund anticipation loans are a bad deal. Madigan told Illinoisans Tuesday that consumers should not mistake these loans for advances on tax refunds. The high-cost short-term loans typically come packaged with attached fees for tax preparation, tax filing, electronic filing, and even check cashing. RALs previously have been identified as predatory by numerous consumer advocates including the National Consumer Law Center and the Consumer Federation of America.

Bachmann's Anti-Breastfeeding Tax Break Stance Lacks Compassion, Common Sense (ContributorNetwork)
ContributorNetwork - Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), a mother of five children, has come out against the IRS allowing breastfeeding mothers a federal income tax break on breastfeeding pumps and supplies.

Income tax chart shows assault on middle class (ContributorNetwork)
ContributorNetwork - COMMENTARY | Solving our national debt problem might be more of an income dilemma and less about a debt problem.

Home Affordable Modification Program on GOP's Bad List (ContributorNetwork)
ContributorNetwork - COMMENTARY | President Barack Obama instituted the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) to counteract the subprime mortgage crisis. The GOP is quick to point out that the program failed to reach its stated goal of averting the foreclosures of "3 to 4 million American homeowners." Asserting that HAMP only benefited 753,000 homeowners as of July 2010, the administration counters that approximately 1.5 million homeowners have begun the trial modification aspect of the program.

Pros and Cons of Eliminating State Income Tax (ContributorNetwork)
ContributorNetwork - What if Ohio eliminated the state income tax? Would the state go broke or would the economy flourish? Even though Gov. John Kasich has not introduced any bill, measure or initiative related to eliminating Ohio's income tax that has not stopped liberal-leaning publications from insinuating such a move is hovering behind the next corner. If Ohio's fiscally responsible governor is interested in exploring the idea, it would be more than a little out of character for him to jump in with both feet and not conduct extensive research on the economic impact. Liberals often have a difficult time understanding the difference between being a man of action and making rash decisions.

How Gas Prices Are Killing My Mortgage, Housing Industry (ContributorNetwork)
ContributorNetwork - COMMENTARY | I know that many people have written, blogged, ranted and screamed about high gas prices. Some have even tried to imply that $4.00 a gallon isn't bad, in terms of inflation and historical percent of gas compared to the household budget. Now let me lay down the cold, frightening truth of what today's gas prices are doing by exposing my own ordeal to public scrutiny. I nearly lost my home. And I won't even go into what my mortgage company was doing to hose me.

First Person: 5 Ways to Bring Your Credit Back From Bankruptcy (ContributorNetwork)
ContributorNetwork - *Note: This was written by a Yahoo! contributor. Do you have a personal finance story that you'd like to share? Sign up with the Yahoo! Contributor Network to start publishing your own finance articles.

Mortgage applications rose last week: MBA (Reuters)
Reuters - Applications for U.S. home mortgages rose last week as interest rates fell, an industry group said on Wednesday.

Correction: Mortgages-Robo-Signing Story (AP)
AP - In a July 18 story about the continued practice of using fraudulent signatures on mortgage documents, called robo-signing, The Associated Press, relying on information from the Essex County registrar of deeds in Salem, Mass., erroneously reported that since Oct. 1, 2010, the office received 1,300 documents all robo-signed with the name Linda Green.

American Capital Mortgage shares sink in debut (AP)
AP - Shares of American Capital Mortgage Investment Corp. are dropping in the real estate investment trust's trading debut.

Mortgage rates for the past 52 weeks, at a glance (AP)
AP - Mortgage rates for the past 52 weeks, at a glance

A Brief History of Income Taxes (ContributorNetwork)
ContributorNetwork - Friday marks the 150th anniversary of the law that created the U.S. income tax system. While many Americans won't be celebrating the milestone, the income tax is vitally important to running the government. Ever wonder how our income tax system came to be?

Mortgage insurer PMI Group warns it may shut down (AP)
AP - Mortgage insurer The PMI Group Inc. warned investors on Thursday that it may be unable to continue selling new policies and could shut down.

NY seeks to intervene in BoA $8.5 billion pact (Reuters)
Reuters - New York's attorney general will oppose Bank of America Corp's $8.5 billion settlement over repurchasing toxic mortgage loans, joining a growing number of unhappy mortgage bond buyers now fighting the pact reached with some of the largest institutional investors in the country.

Fannie Mae seeks $5.1 billion more from taxpayers (Reuters)
Reuters - Mortgage finance giant Fannie Mae said it would ask for an additional $5.1 billion from taxpayers as it continues to suffer losses on loans made prior to 2009.

AIG plans to hold mortgage insurance unit (Reuters)
Reuters - Bailed-out insurer American International Group plans to hold on to its mortgage insurance business even as the rest of that industry struggles with rising claims, AIG's chief executive said on Friday.

Fannie Mae 2Q loss widens, will ask for $5.1B (AP)
AP - Government-controlled mortgage company Fannie Mae said Friday that its second-quarter loss widened as it continues to seek loan modifications to help reduce defaults amid the ongoing difficulties in the housing and mortgage markets.

Mortgage giant Fannie Mae seeks $5.1 bn from US (AFP)
AFP - The semi-public mortgage financing giant Fannie Mae said Friday it would seek an additional $5.1 billion from the US government, following a steep quarterly loss.

Wells Fargo mortgage buybacks could top $1.8 billion (Reuters)
Reuters - Wells Fargo & Co may have to buy back an additional $1.8 billion in toxic mortgages from outside investors on top of claims it already received, the fourth-largest U.S. bank by assets said in a securities filing on Friday.

Summary Box: Fannie Mae 2Q loss widens (AP)
AP - RESULTS: Fannie Mae reported it lost $5.18 billion, or 90 cents per share, for the quarter ended June 30. A year earlier it lost $3.13 billion, or 55 cents per share. Revenue rose 16 percent to $5.24 billion. Net interest income, or money earned from deposits and loans, increased 18 percent to $4.97 billion from $4.21 billion.

Consumer borrowing up in June by most in 4 years (AP)
AP - Americans borrowed more money in June than during any other month in nearly four years, relying on credit cards and loans to help get through a difficult economic stretch.

Consumer credit shot up in June (Reuters)
Reuters - U.S. consumer credit shot up in June by $15.53 billion, according to a Federal Reserve report on Friday that showed consumers were willing to keep borrowing robustly in a tight job market.

Delaware to intervene in BoA $8.5 billion pact (Reuters)
Reuters - A day after New York's attorney general called Bank of America Corp's $8.5 billion mortgage-backed securities settlement "unfair" and "inadequate", another state attorney general hinted he may also oppose the deal.

U.S. attorney investigating Citigroup mortgage arm (Reuters)
Reuters - Citigroup Inc said in a regulatory filing on Friday that the Justice Department is examining its mortgage business.

Federal probes of mortgage lenders fizzle: report (Reuters)
Reuters - Federal criminal investigations into failed mortgage lenders IndyMac Bancorp and New Century Financial Corp have stalled, the Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday.

BlackRock looks to buy more U.S. mortgage agency debt (Reuters)
Reuters - BlackRock, the world's largest money manager, is looking for opportunities to buy U.S. mortgage agency debt in the wake of Standard & Poor's downgrade of the U.S. sovereign rating, said Rick Rieder, the firm's chief investment officer of fixed income, fundamental portfolios.

AIG to sue BofA over mortgage bonds: report (Reuters)
Reuters - U.S. insurance giant American International Group is planning to sue Bank of America to recover more than $10 billion in losses on $28 billion of investment in mortgage-backed securities, the New York Times said citing three people with knowledge of the complaint.

AIG sues BofA for $10 billion over "massive fraud" (Reuters)
Reuters - The insurer American International Group Inc is suing Bank of America Corp to recover more than $10 billion of losses from a "massive fraud" on mortgage debt, deepening the morass of litigation faced by the largest U.S. bank.

S&P to review ratings for gov'ts linked to US debt (AP)
AP - Officials at Standard & Poor's say they plan to indicate how local and state governments, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and insurers will be affected by the rating agency's downgrade of long-term U.S. debt.

S&P Downgrade Doesn't Make Sense (The Motley Fool)
The Motley Fool - The S&P downgrade is a unique occurrence in the annals of finance: A storied institution puts its credibility at risk, unnecessarily, to make controversial statement of deep conviction.

S&P cuts Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae after U.S. downgrade (Reuters)
Reuters - Standard & Poor's cut Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae's long-term ratings one notch on Monday.



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