Archive for March, 2010

Should banks forgive mortgage principal?

Do you think other banks should adopt Bank of America’s new plan to help homeowners avoid foreclosure.

Bank of America, the largest mortgage servicer in the country, said Wednesday it will forgive up to 30 percent of some customers’ total mortgage balances, Associated Press reports. The homeowners must have missed at least two months of mortgage payments and owe at least 20 percent more than their home is currently worth.

Although the motivation for Bank of America’s announcement was to resolve legal problems, it has the potential of putting pressure on other banks to also forgive principal on loans that are in danger of failing, AP writes.

Up until now, nearly all mortgage relief programs have avoided forgiving the principal owed.

Do you think this new approach will work? Should it be expanded?

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

Continue reading Should banks forgive mortgage principal? »

Power Breakfast: March medical madness, soda sales shrink, health reform, Social Security, mortgage relief

There’s been some good news lately for Atlanta’s hotel and convention business, according to AJC reporter Leon Stafford.

While health care spending is the subject of continuing rancor in Washington, Stafford writes, Atlanta’s hospitality community has had one word for it: ka-ching!

Beginning Thursday, the city will host its third consecutive medical convention this month when Hinman Dental Society opens its annual meeting at the Georgia World Congress Center, Stafford reports.

For the metro area’s $11 billion hospitality community, Hinman and earlier March conventions for the American College of Cardiology and HIMMS [Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society] have been big business. The economic impact is pegged at $84.4 million, with 73,000 people expected to attend the three meetings.

Medical conventions are among the most sought after segments in the meetings market, said William Pate, president of the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau. Unlike …

Continue reading Power Breakfast: March medical madness, soda sales shrink, health reform, Social Security, mortgage relief »

Working at more than one job to make ends meet?

One way to get by in this economy is to work at several part-time jobs.

AJC reporter Michael Kanell writes about how some metro Atlantans are stitching together small paychecks from different jobs to fashion an income that can feed, clothe and shelter.

Are you doing this? Is it enough to keep the debt collectors at bay?

Any tips for others?

Continue reading Working at more than one job to make ends meet? »

Got a question about the new health care law?

The new health care law is anything but simple.

One example — different provisions go into effect from 2010 until 2020. Talk about phasing in changes.

Do you have a question about the new law?

If so, we’ll try to help you.

Write your question below. Or you can e-mail it to rhalicks@ajc.com.

We’ll try to answer as many questions as possible in the Sunday paper and on the Web on Sunday morning.

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

Continue reading Got a question about the new health care law? »

Power Breakfast: Metro home prices fall, jobs strategy, health care, Gatorade, Google

Spring may be here, but metro Atlanta’s housing market is still not blooming.

Home prices across metro Atlanta fell in February, although not as far as they did the month before, AJC staffer Michelle Shaw reports.

Median sale prices for existing single-family homes fell 4 percent in February to $110,100, when compared to the year before, according to a National Association of Realtors report released Tuesday.

That decline is an improvement on the 10 percent year-over-year drop in prices seen in January.

While February’s data looks better, it still doesn’t imply recovery, said Hank Miller, a Prudential Georgia Realty broker and certified appraiser.

“The jury is still out in my mind,” Miller told Shaw.

Also in the AJC:

In other news:

Continue reading Power Breakfast: Metro home prices fall, jobs strategy, health care, Gatorade, Google »

We’ll answer your health care questions

Do you have questions about the new health care law?

To say it’s very complex would be an understatement. One example — different provisions go into effect from 2010 until 2020.

We’ll try to help you through the maze by answering as many questions as possible in the Sunday paper and on the Web on Sunday morning.

Please post your questions below. Or you can send them to rhalicks@ajc.com.

Continue reading We’ll answer your health care questions »

Military vet scores with government contract

Rumor has it that small business is going to be the engine that will deliver us from this economic mess.

Rumor also has it that lots of military vets live here.

Arthur Salus

Arthur Salus

This column brings together both rumors with a story about Arthur Salus, a small businessman and disabled vet (cracked his leg during parachute training) who scored big with a government contract.

His company, Duluth Travel, is the prime contractor for the Department of Veterans Affairs. That means Salus handles the travel needs of 100,000 V.A. employees, patients and family members. It also means his company’s annual revenue skyrocketed to $80 million, from $8 million. That’s a pretty steep climb from when he started the business in 1993 by borrowing $5,000 on his credit card.

While the road to government contracts had plenty of bumps for Salus, now 60, he thinks others will find a smoother path. And he thinks more small business owners should try to tap into this pipeline, especially during these …

Continue reading Military vet scores with government contract »

Power Breakfast: Health reform, malpractice awards, property taxes, Google, Social Security

An elaborate White House signing ceremony today kicks off the next act in health reform — selling the sweeping changes to a skeptical public, Associated Press writes.

Well, if Monday’s Biz Beat blog is any indication, President Barack Obama has a lot of work to do.

There were about 1,300 comments on a blog item Monday that asked for your opinion of health reform. That was, by far, the most comments this blog has received on any topic.

The issue will not be going away.

Act II begins Thursday, AP writes, when Obama visits Iowa City, Iowa, where as a presidential candidate he announced his health care plan in May 2007, to talk about how it will help lower health care costs for small businesses and families.

Republicans, meanwhile, remain united in opposition to Obama’s redesign of the health care system, which they criticized as an unwarranted government takeover and pledged to repeal it. They plan to offer scores of amendments in the Senate to slow or change the House …

Continue reading Power Breakfast: Health reform, malpractice awards, property taxes, Google, Social Security »

Power Breakfast: Health reform passes, census, embezzlement, college aid, Fed, China

The big story of the day is health reform.

A landmark health care bill is headed to President Barack Obama for his signature as Congress takes the final steps in Democrats’ improbable and history-making push for near-universal medical coverage, Associated Press writes.

On the cusp of succeeding where numerous past congresses and administrations have failed, jubilant House Democrats voted 219-212 late Sunday to send legislation to Obama that would extend coverage to 32 million uninsured Americans, reduce deficits and ban insurance company practices such as denying coverage to people with pre-existing medical conditions, AP reports.

“This is what change looks like,” Obama said later in televised remarks that stirred memories of his 2008 campaign promise of “change we can believe in.”

A companion package making a series of changes sought by House Democrats to the larger bill, which already passed the Senate, was approved 220-211. The fix-it bill will now go to the …

Continue reading Power Breakfast: Health reform passes, census, embezzlement, college aid, Fed, China »

It’s your turn to express yourself on health reform

Like it or not, Congress passed health care reform Sunday.

Now the question is, do you like it or not?

How will the overhaul affect you? Your workplace? Will it make things better or worse? Why?

What do you think about the tortuous political process to get us to this point?

Will what happened affect your vote come November? How?

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

Continue reading It’s your turn to express yourself on health reform »