Way to go Twin Cities!


Notable MN

Minneapolis-St.Paul ranked second cleanest city in America

 
By Hart Van Denburg, Tue., Jun. 14 2011 at 12:33 PM
Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for minneapolis skyline.jpg
Minneapolis is so much cleaner than most places. St. Paul is too.

​What’s Salt Lake City got that we don’t in the Twin Cities? Less trash, evidently. 

Travel and Leisure magazine’s readers named us the second cleanest city in the country, right behind the city that gave us Donny and Marie. And let’s face it, you can’t get much cleaner than an Osmond. (Prince? Don’t even go there.)

So thanks, T&L readers. That’s some tough competition.

Still, a little grittiness might be OK, no? Check out the city in last place, the city with which we share proximity to the mighty Mississippi, and damned little else: New Orleans. Trade-offs for being America’s trashiest city: Mardi Gras, gumbo and a football team that can actually win a Super Bowl.

Then again, there’s that whole pesky hurricane issue. So maybe we’re better off upriver.

Here’s T&L’s Top 5 cleanest American cities.

1. Salt Lake City, UT
2. Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN
3. Portland, OR
4. Denver, CO
5. Charleston, SC

And here are the filthiest:

1. New Orleans, LA
2. Philadelphia, PA
3. Los Angeles, CA
4. Memphis, TN
5. New York City, NY

 

Will America’s Business’ Heed This Call to Action?


 

President Barack Obama talks about Egypt at a news conference in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington February 4, 2011. REUTERS/Larry Downing

President Barack Obama talks about Egypt at a news conference in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington February 4, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Larry Downing

By Patricia Zengerle

WASHINGTON | Sat Feb 5, 2011 6:03am EST

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama called on U.S. businesses on Saturday to do more to boost the economy by hiring more workers and making investments.

The government has an obligation to make the United States the best place to do business, by providing the best schools, incentives to innovate and the best infrastructure, he said, but added that businesses also have to do their part.

“If we make America the best place to do business, businesses should make their mark in America,” Obama said in his weekly radio address. “They should set up shop here, and hire our workers, and pay decent wages and invest in the future of this nation. That’s their obligation.”

Obama had difficult relations with the U.S. corporate community during much of his first two years as president, as some businesses — and the powerful U.S. Chamber of Commerce lobbying group — balked at his initiatives to revamp Wall Street regulation and overhaul the healthcare industry and took umbrage at some of his sharp rhetoric on executive pay.

But the White House sought to mend relations of late, by toning down the presidential rhetoric and making staffing choices that appeal to the corporate community, such as making Bill Daley, formerly of JPMorgan Chase, the new White House chief of staff.

Obama heads into the lion’s den on Monday by making his first address to the members of the Chamber.

In the weekly address, Obama said he would tell the Chamber that government and business have mutual responsibilities.

“If we fulfill these obligations together, it benefits us all. Our workers will succeed. Our nation will prosper,” he said.

With the economy the central concern of U.S. voters, the White House has been promoting its push to support businesses, and generate more jobs, despite having its attention distracted by the crisis in Egypt.

Obama has been traveling around the country to tout initiatives including a program to increase the energy efficiency of commercial buildings and another to expand access to high-speed wireless.

“All we did for these companies was provide some tax credits and financing opportunities. And that’s what we want to do going forward,” Obama said.

His address aired the day after the Labor Department said U.S. employment rose by only 36,000 jobs in January, far fewer than economists had expected. But the jobless rate plummeted to 9.0 percent from 9.4 percent in December.

“This week, we received a report on jobs and unemployment that told us we’re continuing to move in the right direction,” Obama said. “But we need to get there faster.”

THE SPIRITS TO MOVE hopes you found this article interesteing.

Are the banks finally owning their responcibility in the housing crash?


 Here is a great article I saw on Reuters written by Joe Rauch about Bank of America agreeing to pay Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac BILLIONS to settle claims that they sold bad home loans.  Will other banks finally own up to their responcibility in this crisis we are in also and will this acknowledgement & payback help any of the people about to loose their homes find any help in this move?  I guess time will tell…

(Reuters) – Bank of America Corp agreed to pay Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac $2.8 billion to settle claims that it sold the mortgage finance companies bad home loans, signaling that the bank may be closer to containing its outsized housing losses.

The news sent Bank of America shares up 5.5 percent to $14.08 in midday trading on the New York Stock Exchange. The deal triggered hopes that other banks may soon make similar settlements, and shares of Citigroup Inc and JPMorgan Chase & Co also rose.

Investors have feared for months that Bank of America would have to buy back billions of dollars of home loans it sold to investors at the height of the housing boom.

“I think 2011 will see the issue hopefully behind us,” said Alan Villalon, a senior bank analyst at Chicago-based Nuveen Investments, which owns Bank of America shares.

The agreement with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac resolves the bulk of Bank of America’s exposure to those government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs), but likely means the bank will post its second straight quarterly loss when it announces fourth-quarter earnings on January 21.

Before the settlement was announced, analysts projected the bank would post a profit of 25 cents per share for the quarter, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. The settlement had some analysts revising their estimates.

For example, Sandler O’Neill analyst Jeff Harte reduced his fourth-quarter earnings estimate from a profit of 20 cents per share to a loss of 20 cents.

Bank of America said it would set aside $3 billion in the fourth quarter to help cover the Fannie and Freddie claims. It also said it expects to take a $2 billion charge in the quarter to write down goodwill linked to its home loans and insurance business unit, amounting to an admission that the unit is not as profitable as the bank had expected.

Despite the settlement, the bank still faces potential liabilities from mortgages it sold to private investors, as well as big losses from home loans it has made and kept on its books.

“This doesn’t get the bank completely out of trouble. They’re still going to face litigation on repurchases from private-label investors,” said Chris Whalen, senior vice president and managing director of Institutional Risk Analytics.

Mortgage investors say the home loans should never have been sold to them in the first place because they did not meet investors’ underwriting requirements.

Bank of America said it made a $1.28 billion cash payment to Freddie Mac as part of an agreement to end all claims, including future claims, related to mortgages sold through 2008 by Countrywide, a mortgage company bought by the bank that same year.

The bank paid Fannie Mae $1.34 billion in cash and applied certain credits to reach an agreed $1.52 billion settlement on 12,045 Countrywide loans from 2004-2008. Fannie Mae has reserved the right to bring future claims against the bank.

BofA Chief Financial Officer Charles Noski said on a conference call with analysts that the bank does not expect to add significantly to the reserve for additional repurchase requests from Fannie or Freddie in the future, though the agreement only covers loans originated by Countrywide.

The bank estimates it will have $2.7 billion in outstanding repurchase requests from Fannie and Freddie not covered by the settlement. Noski said this includes $832 million of requests due to incomplete documentation that can be resolved without large losses to the bank.

 In October, Bank of America said it was two-thirds of the way through its GSE-owned mortgage repurchases and had bought back $11.4 billion in mortgages from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

SETTING PRECEDENTS

The agreement is similar to but much larger than a recent $462 million settlement between Ally Financial Inc and Fannie Mae.

The regulator for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, suggested other banks may be forced to follow suit.

“While these agreements are an important step, the Enterprises (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) have other outstanding claims across a range of counterparties and they are being pursued,” said Edward DeMarco, acting director of the FHFA.

As the largest mortgage servicer in the United States, Bank of America has been at the center of the multi-year foreclosure crisis. The agreement with Fannie and Freddie is not the end of the problem.

Bank of America said during its third-quarter earnings presentation that it had received $8.7 billion in repurchase requests from outside investors and monoline insurers, on $910 billion in mortgage-backed securities sold to those two groups during the housing boom.

Nuveen’s Villalon said the agreement with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac could set a precedent in the bank’s negotiations with private investors, since the GSEs had stricter underwriting standards.

The bank started negotiating with a group of mortgage investors — including the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and PIMCO — last month in an apparent shift in its stance toward such claims.

In October, Bank of America Chief Executive Brian Moynihan said the bank would fight back against investors whose attitude was: “I bought a Chevy Vega but I want it to be a Mercedes.”

(Reporting by Elinor Comlay in New York and Joe Rauch in Charlotte; additional reporting by Maria Aspan in New York; Editing by John Wallace) 

By Joe Rauch