Archive for September, 2009

Power Breakfast: Mounting foreclosures, DOT, Delta, Beltline

Can the recession be ending if foreclosures keep rising?

Many readers of this blog have raised that contradiction in their comments over the past few days.

Now, new figures give even more support to the notion that the economic pain is far from over.

With three months left in 2009, the number of metro Atlanta foreclosure notices has already surpassed last year’s record, a sign of how deep the recession has been, as well as a portent of further trouble, AJC reporter Michael Kanell writes.

At the current pace, 116,905 area properties will have been listed for foreclosure by year’s end, up 47 percent from 2008, according to a report released Wednesday by Alpharetta-based Equity Depot.

Also in the AJC:

In …

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Foreclosures hit new record in metro Atlanta

Home foreclosures hit another monthly record in metro Atlanta.

There were 12,207 foreclosure notices in September covering a 13-county region, according to Equity Depot data. That’s up from 9,930 in August. The notices published this month are for public auctions scheduled for October.

“It hasn’t leveled off yet,” said Barry Bramlett, president of Equity Depot. “We’re seeing older loans that typically tell you it’s related to the economy and joblessness.”

The previous record was 11,925 in June, according to Alpharetta-based Equity Depot. (

With three months remaining in the year, a new annual record already has been reached.

So far, there have been 87,679 foreclosure notices, Equity Depot said. For all of last year, the previous high, there were 79,484.

In September, Fulton led the pack with 2,666 notices, followed by Gwinnett with 2,304. DeKalb posted 1,770, followed by Cobb with 1,474 and Clayton with 994.

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Should tax credit for first-time home buyers be extended?

Health care is front and center today in Washington, but expect a key housing issue to get attention soon.

The $8,000 tax-credit for first-time home buyers expires in late November and there is talk about extending it.

As many as 40 percent of all home buyers this year will qualify for the credit, the New York Times reports. It is on track to cost the government $15 billion, more than twice the amount that was projected when Congress passed the stimulus bill in February.

Many say the credit is directly responsible for several hundred thousand sales, helping a moribund industry return to life.

Others disagree, saying most of the money is going to people who would have bought a home anyway. And they add that unless it is allowed to expire, the tax credit is likely to become another expensive government program that refuses to die, the Times reports.

What do you say? Up or down for an extension?

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Power Breakfast: Health care, Wieland, Beverly Hall, Coke

Bipartisan support for a specific health care reform bill remains elusive — and likely impossible to achieve.

Sen. Max Baucus has decided to release his long-awaited health care overhaul bill today with no Republicans on board, the Associated Press reports.

Despite numerous attempts, Baucus has fallen short in his quest to assemble a coalition of senators from both parties behind his proposal.

The next few weeks are likely to determine the shape of health care for years to come in this country. With details of all the bills now out in public, the sausage making in Washington will really get going.

In the AJC:

In other media:

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Do you think the recession is over like Fed chairman does?

Do you think the recession has ended?

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said today that he thinks the ” recession is very ikely over at this point,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

But Bernanke added that it’s still going to feel like a very weak economy because credit conditions remain tight and a decline in the unemployment rate will probably only happen gradually, the WSJ wrote.

If that’s the case, is the recession really over?

Technically, economists expect the gross domestic product to expand by about 3 percent this quarter, which would halt the slide. But if unemployment continues to rise, as it is likely to do, should we be defining the recession in such narrow terms?

What do you think?

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Local bank thrives as newcomer

Atlantic Capital Bank was created just before the recession and credit crunch. It still only has one branch. And its leaders thought they would be financing many more corporate expansions than they have been.

That’s three strikes, according to my math.

But the 2-year-old, Buckhead-based bank has become one of the fastest-growing financial institutions in the state, at a time when Georgia has led the nation in bank failures.


Credit an aggressive game plan that shunned residential real estate and relied heavily on hiring veteran bankers to steal business from competitors.

Of course, the bank also is bringing in new customers of its own, but Chairman Sonny Deriso and CEO Doug Williams make no apologies for poaching.

“Our bankers had a ready Rolodex,” Williams, 51, said. “We’re gaining new business by stealing market share.”

Atlantic Capital Bank opened in May 2007, after raising $125 million – the largest amount for a new, independent bank in the nation’s …

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Power Breakfast: Martha Stewart goes Orange, poultry, MARTA, Delta, Coke

Big Orange is teaming up with marketing powerhouse Martha Stewart.

Home Depot has signed a deal with Stewart, who will design a new line of products to be sold exclusively at its stores, AJC reporter Rachel Tobin Ramos writes.

Stewart plans to promote the products through her media empire. She has 1.4 million followers on Twitter, where she announced the news Monday. She also has a magazine, TV show and Web portal, Ramos writes.

Stewart will design outdoor sets, closet organizers and other décor goods for the chain.

One, a patio set called “Pacifica” that will sell for under $400 next year, will get a high-profile debut emblematic of Stewart’s reach: Her 2 p.m. show on NBC will feature it  today, along with CEO Frank Blake and merchandising chief Craig Menear, Ramos reports.

Also in the AJC:

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Coke Chairman describes ‘the new normal’

Coke Chairman Muhtar Kent looked into his crystal ball today and told Atlanta business leaders about several important trends his company sees over the next decade.

In a speech to the Rotary Club of Atlanta, Kent predicted that by 2020 “the new normal” will mean:

– One billion new people around the globe will enter the middle-class.

– Many nations, including Indonesia, Thailand, Chile and Poland, will become major economic powers, joining the U.S., Russia, China, Brazil, India and others.

– There will be greater government intervention throughout the world in economic and social affairs.

– The world’s beverage industry, now $650 billion, will grow by over $1 trillion by 2020.

– People will live an average of 5 years longer by 2020.

– A major move to the cities is taking place around the world. An estimated 65 million people per year are moving to urban areas.

That means, the “great cities of the world,” Kent said, need to step up to the challenge to deal with such …

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Family hit by male-dominated recession?

This recession has gotten personal, changing the fabric of American families.

The share of families being supported primarily by women has risen sharply as the downturn has hit male-dominated industries particularly hard, such as construction and manufacturing, AJC reporter Tammy Joyner writes.

In the last two years, the percentage of U.S. households with working women who have unemployed husbands has increased from 12.1 percent to 15.6 percent.

What’s more, households with female breadwinners are having to make do on significantly less income and are often going without health care and other necessities, Joyner writes.

Has your family been affected like this? How have you coped?

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Power Breakfast: Obama to Wall St., NCR, China trade

President Obama travels to Wall Street today, marking the anniversary of the Lehman Brothers collapse by pushing for an increased government role in overseeing the financial system.

But much of the American public is already leery of more government intervention than already has occurred.

The New York Times writes that the government is the nation’s biggest lender, insurer, automaker and guarantor against risk for investors.

Between financial rescue missions and the economic stimulus program, government spending accounts for a bigger share of the nation’s economy — 26 percent — than at any time since World War II, the Times writes. The government is financing 9 out of 10 new mortgages in the United States.

The Obama administration and its supporters argue that it has taken these actions as a temporary measure to prop up an economy that was headed for disaster. Things would have gotten a lot worse without such direct government intervention, they say.

For months, this …

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