October 2013

President Obama on Obamacare Glitches: “Nobody’s Madder than Me.”

As he spoke to reporters on Monday, President Obama made something of a mea culpa about the floundering online exchanges that are a key part of his healthcare law. The president acknowledged that the exchange rollout has been a seriously botched effort, but defended the overall effectiveness of the program.

Cashless Society? We’re Getting There, Says MasterCard

With four out of five dollars spent without using cash, the U.S. is approaching a cashless “tipping point” where paper dollars are supplanted almost entirely by credit cards, cheques and e-transfers. That’s according to a report from MasterCard Advisors, a research firm associated with the well-known credit card company. 

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Weekly Round-Up: October 19

Key stories from the week that was.

Markets roared higher this week on news of a debt ceiling compromise in Washington. 

• A last-minute budget deal was reached on Capitol Hill Wednesday night. With only hours remaining before a possible U.S. debt default, Senate leaders reached a compromise that quickly passed both houses of Congress.

• The deal, which extends the debt ceiling until February 7, sent markets soaring, with the S&P 500 index making a fresh all-time high.

Strategic Defaulters in Fannie and Freddie Crosshairs

Borrowers who walk away from their mortgages despite being able to make payments, or so-called “strategic defaulters,” are being put on notice by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac this week. The government-sponsored mortgage entities announced they are rigorously pursuing mortgage holders who walk away from their obligations.

Strategic defaulting has surged in recent years, as many borrowers decide to stop making payments because they owe more on their mortgage than their home is worth. 

Life Returns to Normal as Debt Deal Reached In Washington

U.S. lawmakers reached a last-minute deal last night to raise the debt ceiling and reopen the government, ending a 16-day legislative standoff. The bill provides funding for federal agencies until January 15 and temporarily increases the debt ceiling to February 7. It also grants back-pay to hundreds of thousands of workers who were furloughed.

SoCal Home Prices Dip

Southern California home prices edged lower in September, confirming that the once white-hot housing recovery in the region is cooling off as inventories surge and buyers hold back on offers.

According to research firm DataQuick, median prices fell from $385,000 in August to $382,000 in September, and sales volumes declined substantially.

Stalemate in Washington Continues

Budget negotiations in Washington faltered on Tuesday, as House Republicans ignored talks in the Senate and offered a new proposal to end the government shutdown. Democrats declared the partisan plan “dead on arrival.”

The Republican proposal would re-open the government through mid-January and extend the debt ceiling until February 7. The plan is conditional on the elimination of a medical devices tax that is part of Obamacare, and would also eliminate healthcare subsidies for government officials. 

Florida Set to Jettison No-fault Auto Insurance

Legislation is afoot to scrap Florida’s no-fault auto insurance system, according to Senate Banking and Insurance chairman Davis Simmons. In 2012, Florida passed a package of auto insurance reforms aimed at reducing fraud, but with those changes still tied up in court, many legislators want to do away with the system entirely.

Consumer Sentiment Dives on Washington Gridlock

The fiscal impasse in Washington is putting a dent in consumer confidence, according to the latest Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan survey. Consumer sentiment fell to 75.2, down from 77.5 in September. The reading, at its lowest level in nine months, was well short of the 76.0 consensus estimate of economists.

Weekly Round-Up: October 12

Key stories from the week that was.

Markets moved higher this week on hopes of a debt ceiling deal and the nomination of Janet Yellen for Federal Reserve chairman. Meanwhile, new figures on credit card spending suggest Americans remain cautious about the economy.