Archive for the ‘home’ Category

Meltdown far from over, new mortgage crisis looms

November 27, 2008

The full scope of the housing meltdown isn’t clear and already there are ominous signs of a new crisis — one that could turn out the lights on malls, hotels and storefronts nationwide.

By MATT APUZZO, Associated Press Writer

Even as the holiday shopping season begins in full swing, the same events poisoning the housing market are now at work on commercial properties, and the bad news is trickling in. Malls from Michigan to Georgia are entering foreclosure.

Hotels in Tucson, Ariz., and Hilton Head, S.C., also are about to default on their mortgages.

That pace is expected to quicken. The number of late payments and defaults will double, if not triple, by the end of next year, according to analysts from Fitch Ratings Ltd., which evaluates companies’ credit.

“We’re probably in the first inning of the commercial mortgage problem,” said Scott Tross, a real estate lawyer with Herrick Feinstein in New Jersey.

That’s bad news for more than just property owners. When businesses go dark, employees lose jobs. Towns lose tax revenue. School budgets and social services feel the pinch.

Companies have survived plenty of downturns, but economists see this one playing out like never before. In the past, when businesses hit rough patches, owners negotiated with banks or refinanced their loans.

But many banks no longer hold the loans they made. Over the past decade, banks have increasingly bundled mortgages and sold them to investors. Pension funds, insurance companies, and hedge funds bought the seemingly safe securities and are now bracing for losses that could ripple through the financial system.

“It’s a toxic drug and nobody knows how bad it’s going to be,” said Paul Miller, an analyst with Friedman, Billings, Ramsey, who was among the first to sound alarm bells in the residential market.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081127/ap_on_bi_ge/melt
down_coming_soon;_ylt=Ao5Sg.24hesMbnCpBUd_uzes0NUE

Advertisements

WWII pilot makes his last journey home

November 11, 2008
“I take comfort in knowing that he’s finally home.”

Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. Ray Packard was listed as missing in action after being shot down in France in 1944. Last month, he was interred at Arizona’s Prescott National Cemetery.

By Mike Anton
The Los Angeles Times
November 11, 2008
Two weeks after he left Orange County for World War II, Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. Ray Packard took off in his P-38 Lightning fighter on a bombing mission over German-occupied France. It took him 64 years to return home.

Packard’s plane was among 11 shot down Aug. 25, 1944, when their squadron was overwhelmed in a dogfight with 80 German fighters over Beauvais, a rural area north of Paris. Five of the pilots survived and eluded capture. Two were taken prisoner. The remains of three pilots listed as missing in action were eventually recovered.

Airman

Les Stukenberg / The Daily Courier
Army National Guard Chaplain John Lockhart hands the ceremonial flag to Ron and Esperanza Packard after the ceremony for Ray Packard, Ron’s uncle.

Read the rest:
http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-
me-airman11-2008nov11,0,3161750.story

All that money you’ve lost — where did it go?

October 11, 2008

By ERIC CARVIN, Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK – Trillions in stock market value — gone. Trillions in retirement savings — gone. A huge chunk of the money you paid for your house, the money you’re saving for college, the money your boss needs to make payroll — gone, gone, gone.

Whether you’re a stock broker or Joe Six-pack, if you have a 401(k), a mutual fund or a college savings plan, tumbling stock markets and sagging home prices mean you’ve lost a whole lot of the money that was right there on your account statements just a few months ago.

A money changer counts out US dollars at a currency exchange ... 

But if you no longer have that money, who does? The fat cats on Wall Street? Some oil baron in Saudi Arabia? The government of China?

Or is it just — gone?

If you’re looking to track down your missing money — figure out who has it now, maybe ask to have it back — you might be disappointed to learn that is was never really money in the first place.

Robert Shiller, an economist at Yale, puts it bluntly: The notion that you lose a pile of money whenever the stock market tanks is a “fallacy.” He says the price of a stock has never been the same thing as money — it’s simply the “best guess” of what the stock is worth.

“It’s in people’s minds,” Shiller explains. “We’re just recording a measure of what people think the stock market is worth. What the people who are willing to trade today — who are very, very few people — are actually trading at. So we’re just extrapolating that and thinking, well, maybe that’s what everyone thinks it’s worth.”

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081011/ap_on_bi_ge/where_s_
the_money;_ylt=AkKucZ8sq3OvinoJZ3KzHyms0NUE

Passers-by stop to view a screen displaying markets news, with ...
Passers-by stop to view a screen displaying markets news, with Moscow’s Micex index displayed, Friday, Oct. 10, 2008, Paris. Regulators in Russia ordered Moscow’s MICEX not to open for regular trading at the usual time, and the opening of the RTS was also postponed until further notice, the state-run RIA-Novosti news agency said.(AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Pakistan: Troubled Yet Still Home

January 6, 2008

 By Hohsin Hamid
The Washington post
January 6, 2008; Page B01

LAHORE, Pakistan

During the winter holidays, much of the Pakistani diaspora makes its way back to the homeland. It is wedding season and — for those with the means and of a secular persuasion — party season as well. Flights are fully booked, airfares are astronomically high, and even circuitous itineraries via places such as Istanbul and Muscat are in great demand.

Middle-class families in Pakistan often tell a similar tale of numbers. Of my parents and their siblings, 13 people in total, 11 live in Pakistan. But of their 26 children — my generation — 15 of us reside abroad. Pakistan has become an increasingly unsettled place, and many of my peers have voted with their feet.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/01/04/AR2008010404309.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

Shoppers ‘too little, too late’ to save season

December 22, 2007

The Associated Press & Peace and Freedom

At the outset of this holiday shopping season, we wrote about the perils retailers faced between “Black Friday” and Christmas even in the best of times.  With fuel prices on the rise and the housing crisis still putting the brakes on house and home construction and sales; this year seemed to offer even more risks.  Now, despite the upbead proclimations of President Bush, it is appearing that this will be a black year for retailers across the nation.

With less than three days left until Christmas, the nation’s retailers are in a lather to attract last-minute shoppers to salvage what has been a mediocre December.

Department-store operator Macy’s Inc. has slashed prices on everything from clothing to jewelry, while Toys “R” Us is offering price cuts of up to 75 percent this weekend. At stake are retailers’ profits for the year and perhaps even the strength of the economy.

While consumers jammed stores at the start of the season for big discounts and shopped early for Nintendo Co.’s hard-to-find Wii game console, popular video games like “Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock” and Australian sheepskin UGG boots, they waited until the end for most everything else, to take advantage of the best deals amid a challenging economy.

The biggest disappointment comes from women’s apparel, extending a downturn that’s grown deeper in recent months and serving as an ominous sign for the health of retailing in general. Women do the primary shopping for the family, so analysts say it’s troubling that they are spending less time in the stores.

“I have no money or time to shop,” said Tina Morabito, who just started her holiday shopping on Friday morning at the Providence Mall, in Providence, R.I. She was buying some greeting cards and mint chocolates, but didn’t plan to buy clothing.

“There’s been a malaise” among women’s clothing sales and “it has spread to other areas,” said Dan Hess, chief executive of Merchant Forecast, a New York-based research firm. “The panic button has been pushed, particularly in department stores.”

And even with an expected sales surge this weekend, which traditionally accounts for about 10 percent of holiday sales, Lazard Capital Markets analyst Todd Slater expects that the last-minute spending will be “too little, too late” to save Christmas.

Related:
U.S. Economy: Storm Warning

Wall Street is betting on a recession

Economy: More people sign up for jobless benefits