Finance Globe

U.S. financial and economic topics from several finance writers.

NAR: 2012 Most Affordable Year in Housing

Americans who were able to get a mortgage and bought a home last year took advantage of the low prices and great mortgage rates in the most affordable housing year on record. Housing affordability set an annual record in 2012, the National Association of Realtors reported on Wednesday.In 2012, the NAR’s National Housing Affordability Index hit its record high at 194, topping the previous record of 186 in 2011. The index is based on the relationship...
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Ten Banks Agree to $8.5 Billion Settlement

Ten U.S. banks have agreed to pay $8.5 billion to settle charges that they wrongfully foreclosed on millions of homeowners in the aftermath of the housing bust, the Federal Reserve reported on Monday. Banks involved in the settlement are Aurora, Bank of America, Citibank, JPMorgan Chase, MetLife Bank, PNC, Sovereign, SunTrust, U.S. Bank, and Wells Fargo. Four other banks - HSBC, Ally, EverBank and One West - are still in negotiations.The sum includes $3.3 billion in...
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Shared Housing and Food Stamps Rose in 2011

The number of adults living in shared housing and the number receiving food stamps increased since before the beginning of the recession through 2011, but the there was little change in the number receiving public assistance, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report released on Wednesday.The Census Bureau defines shared housing as a home with an adult resident who is neither the householder or the householder’s spouse or cohabiting partner. Adult relatives, roommates, and other unrelated...
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Avoid Falling Victim to Post-Disaster Scams

Hurricane Sandy slammed the Northeast on Tuesday and left devastation in its wake. Dozens of human lives were lost, millions more have been affected by flooding and power loss, and property has suffered billions of dollars in damage.But the losses don’t end there. After any major disaster, the climate is perfect for the lowest of the low to come out and prey on unsuspecting victims - fraudulent creeps who come up with a number of post-disaster...
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FTC Refunds Nearly $1 Million to Victims of Telemarketing Scheme

Refunds will be sent this week to consumers who were swindled by a telemarketing scam that promised “free” goods and services such as gift cards, gas cards, and resort vacations, the Federal Trade Commission reported on Thursday.Consumers who were victimized by the alleged scam were misled into thinking the caller was from the consumers’ own credit card issuer or a major retailer, and then billed for goods and services they never agreed to. When consumers didn’t...
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U.S. Median Income Falls But Fewer Are Without Health Insurance

Americans continued to feel the pinch in a sputtering economy and saw their incomes decline for the second year in a row - but fewer people are going without health insurance, according to a report released by the U.S. Census Bureau on Wednesday.The U.S. median household income fell 1.5 percentage points to $50,054 in 2011 - falling the most for blacks, who experienced a 2.7 percent decline in their incomes from 2010 to 2011, while the...
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12.5 Million Unemployed in August

The national unemployment rate fell from 8.3 percent to 8.1 percent in August, according to Labor Department statistics released on Friday. The economy added 96,000 jobs last month - mostly in food services and drinking places, in professional and technical services, and in health care.The number of long-term unemployed (jobless for 27 weeks or more), 5 million, changed little in August and account for 40 percent of the unemployed.Of the major worker groups as defined by...
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Consumer Confidence Up Slightly in July

Consumer confidence rose slightly in July after declining for four straight months - but consumers still remain cautious due to the job market, a private research group reported on Tuesday.The Conference Board reported that the consumer confidence index rose 65.9 in July from 62.7 the previous month, surprisingly higher than the 61.5 that economics had predicted. The index that measures expectations rose improved to 79.1 from 73.4, but the present situation index fell slightly to 46.2...
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FTC Supports New Protections for General Purpose Reloadable Card Users

In a comment to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Monday, the Federal Trade Commission expressed its support of new protections for users of general purpose reloadable (GPR) cards. GPR cards are a type of prepaid card that can be “reloaded” with a payment. GPR cards have been gaining in popularity in recent years - especially among consumers who are under-banked or those who don’t meet creditor standards for a traditional credit card.Many parents also believe...
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Credit Card Spending

Consumers started racking up their credit cards again in May as revolving credit increased by a whopping 11.2 percent - or $8 billion - for the largest one-month gain since 2007, according to data released by the Federal Reserve on Monday. Overall, consumer credit grew at an annualized rate of 8% as consumers added $17.1 billion of credit in May for the largest jump in five months, and is close to levels from before the recession....
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