Is YOUR Employment Picture Brighter?

The most recent figures show that the rate of unemployment has dropped to 8.2%, down from a recession high of over ten percent.

That’s an impressive drop, but it is, after all, a statistic.

The real question might be, are the statistics real?

By “real” I mean do they accurately describe what people are actually seeing?

Is the improvement the product of government jobs programs, changes in the statistical count, or are most of the new hires part-timers at the Golden Arches?

Remember, that percentage you hear about is the OVERALL average unemployment.  Truth is, there are many areas and groups that have much higher unemployment numbers.

Below are some employment categories that I think tell more about the employment situation in America than the unemployment numbers.
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Bank of America Mortgage to Lease Pilot Program

Although the foreclosure crisis is making far less headlines than it once did, it is still a big problem in America.

In fact, underwater mortgages are back to 2011 levels, currently at 11 million homes or 22.8% of all residential mortgages.

For those 11 million homeowners, an underwater mortgage represents an impossible financial situation to rectify because homeowners can’t sell their home but also can’t afford the payments and for most, it will likely be many years, at least, before they see the value of their home return if they see it at all in their lifetime.

When a homeowner can’t meet their mortgage obligation, the bank or mortgage lender holding the loan suffers because the bank still has to make the payment to the investors holding the loan.  These toxic loans aren’t draining the balance sheets of these large banks but it does affect profitability and that’s bad for business at a time when banks have underperformed the stock market since 2009.

For four years, banks have tried to get these bad loans off their books.
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President Obama Signs STOCK Act – No Congressional Insider Trading

If you’re a retail or individual investor you may feel like the little guy can’t win in the stock market.

The individual investor is a little fish in the vast ocean we call the world’s investment market and only the biggest of the investors can actually get ahead.

Many of us have said that in the past but we were hoping that it wasn’t true.  The market is supposed to be set up so everybody has the same information and although insider trading is difficult to police, some high profile cases over the past couple of years have made big investors a little less likely to share illegal information when others aren’t looking.

How does it make you feel to know that insider trading was not only legal, but your elected officials were taking part?

Thanks to the recent signing of the STOCK Act, or Stop Trading On Congressional Knowledge Act, members of Congress can no longer profit from insider trading. Continue Reading

New Bank of America Fees – Savings and Checking Ain’t What it Used to Be

It’s was nice to feel like we won, at least for a short period of time.

Banks are once again dreaming up new fees to recoup losses that have come from tighter financial regulation as a result of the 2008 and 2009 financial collapse but until now it’s only been a dream.

What the Fees Are For

Happy March 1st to Bank of America (BAC:NYSE) customers who may have read the reports that the nation’s second largest bank is piloting a program in Arizona, Georgia and Massachusetts that would charge $6 to $9 for what they are calling the Bank Essentials program.

Taking away the marketing lingo, this means that customers will pay a monthly fee to have a checking account at Bank of America and it doesn’t stop there.

Other fees being tested by BAC include fee structures of $9, $12, $15 and $25, a price sure to turn off many customers. Continue Reading

Obama Proposed Corporate Tax Reform – Cut Tax Rate But Seal Up Loopholes

It’s yet another example of something that most lawmakers agree on yet it most likely will not get done.  Washington gridlock is alive and well even when there is no disagreement on the core issue.

That is the main problem with the corporate tax.

Currently, American corporations pay a 35% tax rate, higher than any other advanced country and most lawmakers, tax experts and, of course, corporate CEOs believe that this is too high.

Because of that, President Obama proposed lowering the tax rate to 28% in an attempt to make America a more corporate friendly place to do business.

The chances of this issue gaining enough traction to get through Congress is essentially none.

Here’s why. Continue Reading

Alternatives to Foreclosure

If you are concerned that your home might become a foreclosure risk, you are probably casting about for other options.

Foreclosure can impact your credit score, and make it difficult for you to purchase a home in the future — at least for the next two to four years.

When you are trying to avoid foreclosure, you do have some options.

However, it’s important to realize that you will have to meet certain requirements in order to qualify for some of these options.  Additionally, some of your foreclosure alternatives will impact your credit score, even if it isn’t impacted as much as it would be with a foreclosure.

Here are some of your alternatives to foreclosure:

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Mortgage Plan to Help Homeowners – $26 Billion Settlement with Big Banks

If you’re wondering when help will arrive for your underwater home, on February 9th, 2012, a giant step forward was taken on your behalf.

The Obama Administration announced a settlement with five of the largest banks, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and Ally Financial, and attorneys general in all states with the exception of Oklahoma.

The $26 billion foreclosure settlement brings to a close the litigation surrounding the use of robo-signing in the foreclosure process and may provide much needed relief for many of the nation’s underwater homeowners.

Background

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