Bank of America Stops Reverse Mortgage Service

Image Courtesy - PRNewsFoto/Bank of America(CALABASAS, Calif.) -- Bank of America on Friday announced that it will no longer be involved in the reverse mortgage origination business.

The bank issued a release saying that it has decided to move away from reverse mortgages, and said that its resources will be focused elsewhere.

"We made the strategic decision to exit the reverse business due to competing demands and priorities that require investments and resources be focused on other key areas of our business," said Bank of America consumer sales and institutional mortgage services executive Doug Jones.

Bank of America says it will continue to provide service to its existing reverse mortgage customers, and to those who have reverse mortgages being processed.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


White House to BP: Shell Out More Cash

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Obama administration is urging the manager of the $20 billion BP claims fund to shell out more money to victims of last year's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

In a letter, Associate Attorney General Thomas Perrelli told claims czar Kenneth Feinberg that he needs to loosen the purse strings, reminding him that his job is not to preserve the money, but to spend it.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Federal Regulators: Commercial Real Estate Market Still Distressed

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Though the commercial real estate market has seen signs of stability, financial regulators acknowledged Friday the market remains strained and will need time to fully recover.

Financial regulators and industry experts went before the TARP Congressional Oversight Panel in a hearing to examine the commercial real estate market and its implications on bank stability.

“The term of a commercial loan creates a lag between the moment the market collapses and the moment that the economic impact is felt,” Chairman Ted Kaufman said. “The fuse has been lit, but no one knows how much damage will occur when it finally burns down.”

In prepared testimony, a Fed official said that losses in the commercial real estate market do not pose a threat to large banks.

“Notably, CRE concentrations are not a significant issue at the largest banks,” said Patrick Parkinson, director of the division of banking supervision and regulation at the Federal Reserve.  “While problems in the CRE market will be an ongoing concern for a number of banking organizations and a negative factor for economic growth and lending, we do not see CRE losses as a threat to systemically important financial institutions.”

Despite this little impact on big banks, panel members said uncertainty still remains on the course to recovery for the commercial real estate market, particularly concerning small banks.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Did Mets Owners Turn a Blind Eye to Madoff Suspicions?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The owners of the New York Mets "willfully turned a blind eye" to indications their millions of dollars in investments with their long-time friend Bernard Madoff were part of what turned out to be the biggest fraud scheme in Wall Street history, court documents released Friday allege.

The documents, a 370-plus page complaint filed by the trustee representing the victims of Madoff's now-infamous Ponzi scheme, allege that Sterling Equities, an investment firm run in part by Mets owners Fred and Jeff Wilpon, were told by an investment partner that Madoff's numbers were "too good to be true" but the company was "in too deep... to do anything but ignore the gathering clouds."

The complaint alleges that after Madoff's arrest in 2008, an employee for a Sterling Equities hedge fund, Sterling Stamos, sent an email in which the employee wrote, "I guess our CIO [Chief Investment Officer] always said it was a scam," the filing says. The complaint also claims Sterling Equities "was aware of and even enabled" Madoff's attempts to avoid regulatory scrutiny by insulating the firm from contact by other clients and their own employees.

"Attempts to negotiate with the Sterling Defendants have not resulted in a resolution of the amount owed to the Madoff Customer Fund," David Sheehan, attorney for trustee Irving Picard said in a statement today. "We believe that the Sterling Defendants received substantial funds in the hundreds of millions of dollars -- illegally through their [Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities] accounts and we seek these recoveries for ultimate distribution to BLMIS customers with valid claims."

Sterling Equities released a statement Friday calling the suit against the company "an outrageous 'strong-arm' effort."

"The conclusions in the complaint are not supported by the facts," the statement said. "The plain truth is that not one of the Sterling partners ever knew or suspected that Madoff ran a Ponzi scheme. Because the Trustee has no evidence to support his claims even after a year-and-a-half review of over 700,000 pages of documents and many, many hours of depositions, he has created a claim that we 'knew or should have known' that Madoff was a fraud.

"The Trustee also alleges that we were blinded to Madoff's crimes because our businesses 'depended' on the returns. That is complete nonsense," the statement said.

Fred Wilpon and son, Jeff Wilpon, are longtime friends of the Madoff family. Bernie Madoff's son Mark, who recently committed suicide, was close friends with Jeff Wilpon when both were growing up in Roslyn, Long Island.

Major negotiations between Sterling Equities and trustee Irving Picard over the suit ended Thursday. In a letter from the Mets owner's attorney Karen Wagner to the judge, she said both parties pushed for the release of the documents is to counter "one-sided and misleading" media reports based on apparent leaks of the original complaint against the Mets owners.

"These leaks resulted in a media storm to which we were forced to respond," Wagner wrote Thursday. "The defendants have strong objection to the heated rhetoric and unfounded conclusions in the complaint."

On Dec. 7, 2010, Picard filed suit against Sterling Equities because the company was deemed a "net winner" in Madoff's multi-billion-dollar investment scam. According to the initial filing, the Wilpons, who own a controlling stake in the team, withdrew $48 million more from their Madoff accounts than they invested.

Last week, the Wilpons announced economic "uncertainty" was forcing the team to consider selling a 25 percent interest National League Franchise, which value was estimated in 2010 at $858 million.

Bernie Madoff was arrested Dec. 11, 2008 at his Manhattan home by federal agents, charged with running the largest fraud in Wall Street history. He is now serving a 150-year sentence for his $65 billion Ponzi scheme he ran for 20 years.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Economy Adds 36,000 Jobs in January; Unemployment Falls to 9%

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. economy added 36,000 jobs in January, far less than economists had expected, but the unemployment rate fell to 9 percent from 9.4 percent.

Economists had expected at least 146,000 new jobs last month, so the numbers reported by the U.S. Labor Department on Friday painted a mixed picture of the economy, which has struggled for more than two years. Severe weather in many parts of the country likely cut employment in construction and other industries, the labor department said.

On Thursday, retail sales showed very modest gains and the Dow Jones industrial average and S&P 500 inched up slightly.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Verizon Posts Record Sales for iPhone 4 Pre-Orders

Photo Courtesy - Verizon Wireless(BASKING RIDGE, N.J.) -- Verizon Wireless announced Friday its pre-order sales of the iPhone 4 marked the "most successful first day sales in the history of the company."

Dan Mead, president and chief executive officer for Verizon Wireless, said, "In just our first two hours, we had already sold more phones than any first day launch in our history.  And, when you consider these initial orders were placed between the hours of 3 a.m. and 5 a.m., it is an incredible success story.  It is gratifying to know that our customers responded so enthusiastically to this exclusive offer -- designed to reward them for their loyalty."

The iPhone 4 was made available for pre-orders on Thursday starting at 3 a.m.  The company set aside a limited amount of the phones exclusively for its existing customers.  Verizon said that by 8:10 p.m. on Thursday, online orders were ceased.

The general public will be able to purchase the iPhone 4 from Verizon on Feb. 10.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Lawsuit: JP Morgan Chase Aided Bernie Madoff's Ponzi Scheme

Photo Courtesy - Mario Tama/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Allegations have been made that the primary Wall Street bank for disgraced financier Bernie Madoff "aided and abetted" his massive fraud.

The trustee liquidating Madoff's illegally gained fortune claims JP Morgan Chase bankers turned a blind eye to what they knew was likely a fraudulent ponzi scheme.  The court complaint, filed in December and unsealed Thursday, quotes a JP Morgan risk officer in 2007 saying there was a well-known cloud over Madoff then.

The trustee claims JP Morgan has suspected for years that Madoff was a fraud, and not only did the bank do anothing about it, but it also allowed suspicious transactions to take place.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Go Daddy Hopes Super Bowl Ads Are Risque Again

Photo Courtesy - NFL(SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.) -- While more than 100 million people are expected to watch Super Bowl XLV this Sunday evening in homes and bars across the country, employees of the domain name company Go Daddy will be working diligently at their headquarters in Scottsdale, Arizona.

As Go Daddy's seventh Super Bowl advertising campaign goes live, a large number of the company's 2,950 employees will be glued to computer monitors tracking visits to its website.

It is hard to imagine anyone arguing with the company's founder and CEO, Bob Parsons, about the importance of its racy Super Bowl campaigns to the company's bottom line.  Its advertising strategy, which has included ads with IndyCar driver Danica Patrick and fitness coach Jillian Michaels, has put the brand squarely in the Super Bowl milieu.

This year, the company is continuing its strategy of airing previews of risque commercials to pique the interest of Super Bowl viewers enough that they continue watching them on the Go Daddy website.

"We start with an edgy TV ad and have a much edgier Internet-only version," said Parsons.  "The formula works for us.  It gets people to our website."

This Sunday, one commercial will feature Patrick and Michaels and another will be a new "Go Daddy Girl" spot.

"She's a Hollywood icon, so you will recognize her immediately," said Parsons, without revealing the identity of the celebrity.  "When the idea came up, we knew it was a good idea, and I believe she agreed pretty quickly."

The new spokeswoman will promote the Web domain extension .co, which is an abbreviation of .com and the code assigned to the country of Colombia.

Before the company began airing Super Bowl commercials, it had 16 percent market share of new domain registrations.  After the first Super Bowl commercial in 2005, which was a spoof of Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction from the previous year, the company's market share increased to 25 percent.  Now, the company manages half the websites in the country.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


$3 Million Super Bowl Bargain? Some Carmakers Think So

Chevrolet Volt. Photo Courtesy - - Three million dollars is hardly cheap, but some of the country's largest automakers think it's a small price to pay for major Super Bowl exposure.

As if the $3-million price tag for one 30-second spot isn't enough, some companies, like General Motors, bought five of them. GM will run five Chevrolet ads on Super Bowl Sunday, hoping to cash in on the over 100 million viewers expected to watch the big game.

But GM isn't the only car company touting its toys Sunday. Viewers can expect to see ads for nine different car brands from six automakers as the Green Bay Packers take on the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama Pushes for Energy-Efficient Businesses

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(STATE COLLEGE, Pa.) -- Focusing on domestic issues Thursday afternoon in Pennsylvania, even as the situation in Egypt rages on, President Obama announced the “Better Building Initiative” to make American commercial businesses more energy-efficient.

The president admitted that energy-efficient buildings “may not sound too sexy” but tried to spice it up a little for the Penn State crowd by saying that it is “one of the fastest, easiest and cheapest ways to save money, combat pollution and create jobs.”

Standing in front of a “Winning the Future” backdrop, a term coined in his State of the Union address last month, the president pushed the agenda of out-innovation, unveiling new initiatives that he said will make it easier for businesses to overcome the barriers of investing in innovation.

“If you're willing to make your buildings more energy efficient, we'll provide new tax credits and financing opportunities for you to do so,” Obama said. “So you show us the best ideas to change your game on the ground; we'll show you the money.”

The president gave what he called an “extreme example,” the Empire State Building whose owners are investing in renovations that will reduce their energy consumption. The investment will soon pay for itself and will save them $4.4 million a year in energy costs. The president issues a challenge to CEOs, to labor, to building owners, hospitals, universities and others to join in.

“So we're telling scientists and we're telling engineers all across the country that if they assemble teams of the best minds in their fields and focus on tackling the biggest obstacles to clean, abundant and affordable energy, then we're going to get behind their work. We as a country will invest in them. We'll get them all in one place, and we'll support their research. “

The goals: to achieve a 20-percent improvement in energy-efficiency by 2020, reduce energy bills for companies and business by about $40 billion annually, and save energy by creating new incentives and challenging the private sector to serve as a catalyst for progress.

One of the president’s initiatives to reach that goal is to create new and more effective tax incentives for building owners who are looking to make investments and upgrades in their buildings to save energy.

The White House says the existing tax codes incentives are “outdated and they aren’t working as effectively as they could be.” The budget will propose a new tax credit that they hope will increase by ten-fold the take of the credit over the coming years.

To pay for it, the president proposed eliminating tax breaks for oil companies to pay for tax incentives.
“They are doing just fine on their own,” Obama said of the oil companies. “So it's time to stop. That's what our project is."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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