CNN Financial News Producer
In the wake of the Obama Administration’s program to rescue troubled homeowners, a number of federal agencies are teaming up to fight mortgage and foreclosure scams.
The administration's $75 billion effort to help as many as 9 million mortgage holders get new or refinanced loans is drawing a lot of interest from homeowners, Treasury Department officials said.
"Those who would seek to prey on the most vulnerable also seek to intensify their efforts as well," Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said today. "We will aggressively pursue those involved in mortgage rescue scams."
The Treasury, the Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Housing and Urban Development will lead the efforts from Washington. State attorneys general will also participate.
More people in the U.S. have fallen behind on loan payments than ever before.
According to a new study from the American Bankers Association, the percentage of consumer loans at least 30 days late rose to a seasonally adjusted rate of 3.22% in fourth quarter of 2008 - a record high.
Delinquencies rose in nearly every category, including home equity, auto and personal loans. The study also said these credit trends are unlikely to improve before 2010.
According to the ABA, the late payment rate on auto loans made through dealers rose to a record 3.53 percent in the fourth quarter from the third quarter’s 3.25 percent, while late payments on home equity lines of credit rose to a record 1.46 percent from 1.15 percent.
The delinquency rate on credit cards rose to 4.52 percent from 4.20 percent, but remained only slightly above the average over the last four years.
Consequently, one banking analyst is saying that the amount in loans that banks will need to write off will exceed levels seen during the Great Depression.
In a report on the banking sector, Mike Mayo of Calyon Securities says, “The seven deadly sins of banking include greedy loan growth, gluttony of real estate, lust for high yields, sloth-like risk management, pride of low capital, envy of exotic fees, and anger of regulators.”
He says the nation’s banks face a three-fold problem: higher structural risk, cyclical pressures, and “catch-22 government actions.”
Stocks opened to the downside today, despite the wave of economic optimism that boosted markets around the world.
Wall Street is coming off its best four-week run since the 1930s, but could hit some resistance in this holiday-shortened week. Financial markets are closed April 10 for Good Friday.
With the number of jobless in the United States topping 13 million, Sallie Mae - the largest student lender in the country - says it plans to move 2,000 jobs to the U.S. from Mexico and Philippines within the next 18 months as it shifts call center and other operations from overseas.
Six-hundred of the jobs will be relocated to Wilkes-Barre, PA. The locations for the remaining jobs have not yet been determined.
Sallie Mae runs facilities in 20 locations in states ranging from Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia.
Gas prices declined by 1-tenth of a cent overnight to $2.039 a gallon.
Twenty-four states and the District of Columbia have regular unleaded gas prices of $2 and higher. The highest gas prices are in Alaska ($2.498).
Twenty-six states have regular unleaded gas prices below $2. The cheapest gas prices are in New Jersey ($1.869).
And finally… as the economy melted down last year, so did CEO paychecks.
The average compensation for 200 chief executives at America's largest public companies fell 5.1% last year to $10.8 million, according to a survey published Sunday by the New York Times and research firm Equilar.
The decline marked the first time in five years that top executives' pay packages shrank compared to the year before.
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