Pension Benefit Costs Cut by Record 43 States, Study Says - (www.bloomberg.com) Pension benefits for U.S. public workers were reduced by a record 43 states over three years to cut costs following the longest recession since the 1930s, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Two recessions since 1999 have made it difficult for states to keep up with funding 126 pensions, reducing estimated assets held by the plans to 77 percent of projected liabilities in 2010 from 103 percent, the report said, citing data from the Boston College Center for Retirement Research in Newton, Massachusetts. “By the end of the first decade of this century, state retirement plans had suffered an enormous reversal from their financial status in 1999,” said the report by Ron Snell, a director with the group in Denver.
Foreclosures fall, but there's a 'rising tide' ahead - (money.cnn.com) The number of homes entering foreclosure dropped in February, but a new up-turn may soon be on its way. The reason? The $26 billion settlement between 5 major banks and state attorneys general over past foreclosure practices. The agreement clarifies how foreclosures must be handled, and that is expected to enable banks to speed up their processing, putting many new delinquent homeowners into the foreclosure process. Cases could go forward after sitting in limbo for months -- even years -- with their delinquent owners squatting on the properties. The banks involved are Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Citibank, Wells Fargo and Ally Financial. "The pig is starting to move through the python," said Daren Blomquist, director of marketing for RealtyTrac, which released its foreclosure report for February on Thursday.
Banks foreclosing on churches in record numbers - (www.reuters.com) Banks are foreclosing on America's churches in record numbers as lenders increasingly lose patience with religious facilities that have defaulted on their mortgages, according to new data. The surge in church foreclosures represents a new wave of distressed property seizures triggered by the 2008 financial crash, analysts say, with many banks no longer willing to grant struggling religious organizations forbearance. Since 2010, 270 churches have been sold after defaulting on their loans, with 90 percent of those sales coming after a lender-triggered foreclosure, according to the real estate information company CoStar Group. In 2011, 138 churches were sold by banks, an annual record, with no sign that these religious foreclosures are abating, according to CoStar. That compares to just 24 sales in 2008 and only a handful in the decade before.
Twitter lost nearly $100 million in 2010 and early 2011, leaked finances show - (www.contracostatimes.com) Twitter lost nearly $100 million from the beginning of 2010 through early 2011 according to leaked financial information, the website Gawker reported Friday. A "source with close knowledge of Twitter's financials" provided Gawker with information from 2010 and the first four months of 2011, the website said Friday. The popular San Francisco microblogging platform lost $67.8 million in the 2010 calendar year and $25.8 million from January through the end of April in 2011, according to figures provided to Gawker. Twitter is a private company and thus does not have to publicly report financial information. A company spokesman said in an email Friday morning that there would be no comment on the report from Twitter.