SEARCH

Tuesday
Oct262010

'Big Three' to Announce Plans to Invest in Michigan 

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(DETROIT) -- General Motors Company and Chrysler Group LLC are expected to announce Tuesday how they will spend $2 billion on their Michigan operations, according to The Detroit News.  Their announcement joins Ford Motor Company, who outlined their plans on Monday.

The big three's financial help comes from tax investments from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.  The agency will officially announce the investments on Tuesday.

Chrysler is set to unveil its intentions to invest $1 billion towards equipment and tooling needed to manufacture midsize automobiles at the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant and for the increased production of four-cylinder engines.  The company hasn't announced any new jobs yet.

General Motors is expected to announce its plans to invest $152 million in Michigan, including $112 million to the Warren Technical Center to help fund hybrid and electric vehicle programs and add up to 900 jobs.  The automaker also plans to invest $40 million at its Brownstown Township Plant, adding another 150 jobs.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct262010

Bank of America Finds Errors in Foreclosure Documents

Photo Courtesy - Bank of America(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) -- Bank of America has discovered errors in the first batch of 102,000 foreclosure cases it began reviewing last Monday.  According to The Wall Street Journal, the mortgage lender spotted mistakes in 10 to 25 out of the first several hundred files that were examined.  The errors included lack of signatures, missing files and improper paperwork.

According to Bank of America, some of the mistakes found seem relatively minor, and bank officials say they haven't seen any evidence that would point to wrongful foreclosures.

The lender spotted these errors while preparing less than one percent of the total foreclosure cases it plans to resubmit to the courts in 23 states.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct262010

Newspaper Circulation Continues Downward Slide; E-Book Sales Soar

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill.) -- Print books and newspapers are really taking it on the chin these days, according to two separate reports released Monday.

The Audit Bureau of Circulations says that daily newspaper circulation between April 1 and Sept. 30 fell nearly five percent from the same period in 2009, while Sunday circulation was down 4.46 percent over that same time span.

The report's findings are not as bad as the previous six months, when daily newspaper circulation dropped 8.74 percent and Sunday circulation fell 6.54 percent compared to the period of October 2008 through March 2009.

The Wall Street Journal and Dallas Morning News were the only two of the 25 major dailies studied that saw any increase.

Meanwhile, print books are also rapidly losing their share of the market to digital versions, according to Amazon.

Amazon Kindle senior vice president Steve Kessel says that digital versions of the top 10 best-selling books are selling more than twice as often as hardcover and paperback books.  In fact, Kindle books are outselling the top 25, 100, and 1,000 bestsellers.  Kindle sales during the first nine months of 2010 are also three times what they were in 2009.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct252010

Unresolved Tax Questions Worry Taxpayers

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(FALMOUTH, Mass.) -- Predicting your annual federal tax bill is rarely anyone's idea of a good time.  Now the process has been made all the more confounding, thanks to a host of questions over what the tax code will look like in 2011.

If Congress doesn't take action soon on an array of tax cuts and tax credits set to expire this year, "it's going to create a whole lot of confusion," said David McPherson, the founder of Four Ponds Financial Planning in Falmouth, Mass., and an ABC News columnist.  "Although we would like to see some clarity on these tax issues before end of year, there's no guarantee that there will be."

Here's rundown of some of the key tax issues that have tax planners and taxpayers wishing for a crystal ball:

Bush-Era Income Tax Cuts: It's the most high-profile tax question of the year:  What is the fate of the tax cuts passed under the Bush administration?

The cuts affected everyone from the poorest Americans to the richest, and now Congress must decide whether to renew all, some or none of the cuts.  If the cuts expire, the lowest marginal rate will rise from 10 percent to 15 percent.

If lawmakers do nothing, all Americans will see their income tax rates rise in 2011, said Melissa Labant, a technical manager in the tax division of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants

"I would expect them to do something," Labant said.  "It's such a hot topic for everyone."

Child Tax Credit:  The Bush adminstration's tax cuts of 2001 also included a gradual increase of the child tax credit from $500 to $1,000 this year.  Without lawmakers' intervention, the credit is scheduled to drop back to $500.

Making Work Pay Tax Credit: Passed under the current adminsitration and instituted in 2009 and 2010, the Making Work Pay tax credit provided up to $400 to individuals and $800 to married couples.  Touted as part of the government's efforts to fight the recession, the credit is not expected to be renewed in 2011.

Marriage Penalty: Before the Bush tax cuts, married couples filing jointly paid more in taxes than unmarried couples earning the same incomes, leading to the phrase "marriage penalty."

The Bush tax cuts, Labant said, raised the standard deduction for married couples to twice that of single filers.  It also expanded the 15 percent tax bracket for married couples so that less of their money would be subject to the next, higher tax rate (25 percent in 2010.)  The deduction and the tax bracket could both shrink in 2011.

Itemized Deductions and Personal Exemptions: The Bush tax cuts lifted limits on how much high-income taxpayers could deduct for charitable contributions, mortgage interest and state and local taxes. The cuts also allowed, in 2010, for high-income taxpayers to be eligible for the same personal exemptions as other lower-earning Americans.

In 2011, the deduction limits could be reinstated and the exemption "is set to expire in that it starts to get reduced based on your income," Labant said.

Estate Tax:  Thanks to a Congressional deadlock last year, 2010 is a year free of estate taxes. However, they're scheduled to return in 2011, with all estates valued above $1 million to be subject to a maximum tax rate of 55 percent. In 2009, the estate tax exemption was $3.5 million. The Obama administration is pushing for a return to that exemption instead of the $1 million threshold.

Labant said that people are often surprised to learn that their assets might be worth more than $1 million, making their estates vulnerable to the tax after death.

"Maybe you don't have liquid assets or investments worth one million dollars, but how much is your house worth? How much is your jewelry worth? Your weekend place? Your insurance?" she said. "Sometimes people are worth more dead than alive and when you add up all those assets you may be worth more than $1 million."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct252010

AIG CEO Diagnosed with Cancer; Still Committed to 'Repaying Taxpayers'

Photo Courtesy - American International Group, Inc.(NEW YORK) -- American taxpayer-owned insurance giant AIG disclosed Monday that its president and CEO, Robert Benmosche, has been diagnosed with cancer and is undergoing "aggressive chemotherapy."

"The good new is that I feel fine, and I continue to work according to my normal schedule," said Benmosche in a written statement.  "As for my long-term prognosis -- I will have a better idea over the next couple of month of what that will look like as I continue to under go treatment and my doctors refine their diagnosis.  All that said, I remain absolutely committed to my job, to AIG, and to all of our stakeholders."

Benmosche also highlighted his commitment to AIG's three core priorities: repaying taxpayers, meeting the company's stakeholder obligations and "restructuring the company so that it emerges as a smaller, more focused enterprise worthy of investor confidence."

AIG built a management team that would work to execute a "repayment roadmap" after the government invested nearly $140 billion in the company's bailout.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct252010

Ford to Invest $850 Million in Michigan Before Announcing Profitable 3rd Quarter

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(DETROIT) -- Ford Motor Company Monday announced its plans to invest $850 million in Michigan between 2011 and 2013.  Ford Motor said the sizable investment is intended to create up to 1,200 new full-time jobs by 2013, and to make improvements to its vehicle fuel economy.

"We are pleased to work with state and local government leaders to find new ways to work together, invest in our people as well as Ford facilities, further improve our competitiveness and secure jobs in Michigan," said Mark Fields, Ford's president of the Americas.

This announcement comes just after Ford's recent $950 million investment to repurpose the Michigan Assembly Plant from a large SUV factory to a "state-of-the-art car plant."

Ford will also release its third-quarter financial earnings Tuesday, and the results are expected to be impressive.  In spite of the slowest auto market since 1982, Ford is expected a $1.37 billion profit for the three months ending in September.

Under the leadership of Alan Mulally, Ford has sold off unprofitable brands like Volvo, cut loose slow selling name plates such as Mercury and concentrated its attention on its core brands -- Ford and Lincoln.

Foot traffic in dealerships is up and the company, founded 107 years ago by Henry Ford, is on target for a profitable 2010.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct252010

How Much Will Americans Spend This Christmas?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(PRINCETON, N.J.) -- Consumers plan to spend slightly less on Christmas gifts this holiday season compared to last, according to an initial forecast by Gallup.

Americans predict to shell out an average of $715 this year, down from the $740 they planned to spend in Oct. 2009. The decrease is small compared to the $61 year-over-year reduction from the year before and the $108 difference the year prior.

The poll found that 27 percent of Americans plan to spend less on Christmas gifts, while 11 percent said they will spend more.

While the results are not particularly encouraging for retailers, the poll says this year’s predicted decline may point to a “fairly flat” holiday season.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct252010

Barnes & Noble to Announce Color eReader?

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Is Barnes & Noble bringing color to its Nook eReader?

The company over the weekend posted a product page that featured a screen protector for a "Nook Color," according to PC World.

The page has since been removed.

A press event is scheduled for Tuesday, at which the bookseller is widely expected to announce a full color reader.

A spokesperson for Barnes & Noble declined ABC's request for comment.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct252010

Existing Home Sales Up, Fueling Hope of Housing Recovery

Image Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Hope of a housing recovery was fueled Monday by release of the September existing home sales numbers.  The National Association of Realtors reports sales climbed for the second month in a row in September. The 10% increase to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.53 million homes last month is an improvement on the 4.12 million figure from August. 

It’s better than expected and some economists believe a housing recovery is building, but the October foreclosure moratorium may put a damper on the next report.  In addition, the September numbers remain well below the sales figures from last year, when a tax incentive sent buyers out shopping for homes. 

Meantime, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says regulators are reviewing mortgage companies’ actions.  Many lenders allegedly used rubber stamp approvals on foreclosure paperwork and in some cases improperly approved foreclosures on paid-up mortgages.  Bernanke said “We are looking intensively at the firms' policies, procedures and internal controls related to foreclosures and seeking to determine whether systematic weaknesses are leading to improper foreclosures. We take violations of proper procedures seriously.”

 The findings of the review will be released next month. 

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct252010

End of an Era: Sony Ceases Production of Walkman

Photo Courtesy - Sony/Amazon(TOKYO) -- Sony has halted production of the Walkman, citing lackluster sales as the reason behind the decision.  According to the electronics manufacturer, once the final batch of the portable cassette player sells out, the company will no longer produce the Walkman.

As PC Magazine reports, the last set of players was manufactured in Japan in April.  Once they sell out, a Chinese company will take over production.

The Walkman has been on the market for over 30 years, being first produced in 1979, and has been sold to 220 million worldwide.  Sony will continue to use its name for other devices like MP3 players and cell phones.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio