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December 13, 2013 | By The Times editorial board
Top Assembly Democrats have revealed what they'd like to do with billions of dollars in extra tax revenue that the state is projected to receive, and their top priorities were reassuring: expanding the reserve fund and paying down the debts that Sacramento accumulated over the last decade. Their budget blueprint also calls for a lot of new spending on education and anti-poverty programs, however. If state government really has entered a sustained period of large surpluses, lawmakers can afford to make more long-term investments in California's infrastructure and its people.
December 4, 2013 | By Mike Boehm
The bad news for the Detroit Institute of Arts today is that a bankruptcy judge has authorized the city that owns the museum to declare bankruptcy, giving its creditors a legal forum for insisting that the most valuable masterpieces from the DIA's admired collection be sold to help pay the city's debts. The good news is that, in clearing the way Tuesday for a Chapter 9 bankruptcy filing, the judge made a point of questioning whether it makes any sense to sell the art. Noting the proposal that the DIA's walls be stripped of their most admired paintings to help pay off $18 billion in municipal debt, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes suggested that the point of a bankruptcy proceeding is not to liquidate assets needed to sustain a city or organization that's trying to reorganize its finances, but to give it a new lease on economic life.
December 1, 2013 | By Scott Klinger
Many of the nation's top CEOs have joined forces to "fix the debt. " They want to achieve this goal, in part, by reducing Social Security benefits and raising the retirement age to 70. One of the chief executive officers, David Cote, runs Honeywell. "As an American, I couldn't know about this problem and not try to do something about it," Cote told Wall Street Journal TV. Cote has $134 million in his Honeywell retirement account, according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, and he has worked there only 11 years.
November 24, 2013 | Liz Weston, Money Talk
Dear Liz: I'm a single mom with three kids. My mortgage is $1,700. My other monthly bills include $355 for a car loan, $755 for school tuition, $350 for utilities, $790 for credit cards, $200 for gas, $208 for braces and $235 for a 401(k) contribution. This leaves no money for food. I get no child support. How can I pay down my credit card debt? I don't have any money for a baby sitter or I could get a second job. Answer: The way you pay down credit card debt is by reducing expenses and increasing income to free up extra cash.
November 20, 2013 | By Ricardo Lopez
The delinquency rate on credit cards and the average debt owed by consumers dropped in the third quarter from a year earlier, according to a report released Wednesday by TransUnion. The credit reporting firm found that credit-card debt per borrower fell to $5,235 in the third quarter, down 1.3% from the same period last year.  Fewer Americans also fell behind on payments, TransUnion reported. The delinquency rate dropped to 1.36% in the third quarter, down from 1.5% last year.  "Our data show that consumers continue to deleverage, with balances dropping in the past year and remaining near historical lows," said Ezra Becker, vice president of research and consulting in TransUnion's financial services business unit.  TransUnion's report found that the declines were recorded in every state.  In California, average credit-card debt declined 2.6% to $5,332.  Overall, the number of open credit-card accounts rose to 334.2 million in the third quarter, up from 327.4 million a year earlier, TransUnion said.  But the figure is down sharply from 408.4 million in the third quarter of 2008.  The percentage of non-prime borrowers -- those with credit scores lower than 700 -- fell to 29% last quarter, down almost one percentage point from a year earlier.
November 15, 2013 | By Marc Lifsher
SACRAMENTO - Late payments, glitch-prone computers and swamped call centers aren't the only problems bedeviling California's unemployment insurance program. The insurance fund that pays state jobless benefits - run by the Employment Development Department - owes nearly $10 billion to the federal government. That's because the state has been paying far more in jobless benefits than it receives in employer-paid taxes, and the feds make up the difference. "The whole system is really whacked out right now and needs a fix," said Assemblyman Curt Hagman (R-Chino Hills)
November 5, 2013 | By Jim Puzzanghera
WASHINGTON - The federal government's consumer financial watchdog plans to crack down on the nation's 4,500 debt collectors with new regulations to ensure that collectors are going after the right people for the right amounts and aren't badgering the debtors. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said Tuesday that it was seeking public comment on new rules because the 1977 law regulating debt collection practices hasn't kept up with advances in technology. As millions of Americans have fallen behind on their bills because of the Great Recession, debt collectors have employed text messages and social media to bombard debtors.
October 23, 2013 | By Michael Muskal
Detroit went into federal bankruptcy court on Monday hoping to prove what most people already know: It is poor and $18 billion in debt, its residents aren't getting adequate municipal services and there is no real way to rebound without some sort of judicial protection. But the question facing Judge Steven Rhodes, who is presiding over the nation's largest municipal bankruptcy case, is deeper than just the facts of financial peril. The jurist will be asked to decide whether city and state officials acted in good faith and did all that they could to avoid filing for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection.
October 17, 2013 | By Michael Hiltzik
To the chronicles of misbegotten corporate adventures with social media, we can add a new, sterling event. The anti-deficit lobbying organization Fix the Debt staged a question-and-answer chat on Twitter Thursday. Its goal presumably was to reach America's smartphone-savvy youth with its message that Social Security and Medicare payments to their grandparents are going to land them in the poorhouse a few decades from now.  It's fair to say that Fix the Debt got more than it bargained for. Twitterers from all over responded to the invitation with pointed, tactless and downright impolite questions.
October 16, 2013
NEW YORK -- Stocks surged more than 1% in early trading Wednesday on hopes for a last-minute deal to end Washington's fiscal impasse. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 200 points on a report that U.S. House Speaker John Boehner would allow a vote on a Senate agreement to be announced later in the day. The Dow was up 201.38 points, or 1.3%, to 15,369.39 more than 90 minutes after the opening bell. The broader Standard & Poor's 500 was up 1.4%, while the Nasdaq composite index gained 1.2%.
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