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Editorial Results (free)

1. Roth Conversion, Should You Do It? -

Ray’s Take There’s been a lot of discussion in recent years about Roth accounts, specifically the Roth IRA and the Roth 401(k). Maybe you’re wondering if you should convert your own accounts but aren’t sure.

2. Wealth Gap Widens Between Whites and Minorities -

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – The economic recovery has not been equal among the races, according to a Pew Research Center study released Friday.

The study found that the wealth gap between white households and minorities has widened in recent years.

3. BankTennessee Celebrates 80 Years in Business -

The bank got its start in 1934 as First Federal Savings and Loan Association, founded by a group of local Memphis bankers and businessmen.

In 1997, its name was changed to BankTennessee. And this year, it’s celebrating its 80th anniversary – a milestone that finds the institution as a more expansive organization, coming off one of its most successful years in 2013, with a larger geographic footprint and a much more robust suite of products and services than it started with.

4. US New-Home Sales Close to Flat in September -

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. sales of new homes were nearly flat in September, after the government sharply revised downward what was initially an August surge in buying.

New-home sales edged up 0.2 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 467,000, the Commerce Department reported Friday. The report also revised down the August sales rate to 466,000 from 504,000.

5. Pentagon Wants Tighter Soldier Loan Protections -

WASHINGTON (AP) – Aiming to restrict lenders who prey on members of the military, the Obama administration on Friday moved to close legal loopholes that have placed hundreds of thousands of service members at risk of excessive payday and other short-term loan fees.

6. Council Could Close Door on Alternative Health Plans -

Memphis City Council members could put to rest alternatives to the health care insurance benefits cuts they approved in June when they meet Tuesday, Sept. 16.

The question is whether they would do that with some kind of vote or indication through discussion or whether they will simply let the June decision stand and take no further votes.

7. Coverage Gap Leaves Rural Tennessee Hospitals on Life Support -

Four rural hospitals have closed and dozens are at risk of shuttering: That’s the fallout, some say, from Gov. Bill Haslam’s decision not to join the Affordable Care Act in 2013 and tap into millions in promised federal funds for Tennessee’s financially-strapped health care institutions.

8. Seniors and Student Loan Co-Signatures – Should You? -

Ray’s take: Your grandchild has been accepted to his or her college of choice. Great news! But now that the celebration of acceptance is over, it’s time to do a realistic budget and figure out where the money will come from to pay for tuition and all the other expenses associated with attending college.

9. US Savings Bond – A Golden Oldie -

Ray’s take: U.S. savings bonds are debt instruments issued and fully backed by the federal government and were once touted as a great way to be patriotic. Their attraction historically has been safety (yes), deferred taxes (yes) and convenience (maybe). Traditionally, they were a staple gift for graduates, newlyweds and newborns.

10. Sentencing Changes Sought for Business Crimes -

WASHINGTON (AP) – The federal panel that sets sentencing policy eased penalties this year for potentially tens of thousands of drug dealers. Now, defense lawyers and prisoner advocates are pushing for similar treatment for an arguably less-sympathetic category of defendants: swindlers, embezzlers, insider traders and other white-collar criminals.

11. GM Finance Subpoenaed Over Subprime Auto Loans -

NEW YORK (AP) – GM Finance says it has received a subpoena from the U.S. Department of Justice for documents related to subprime auto loans.

The affiliate of General Motors Co. said in a filing Monday with the government that the Justice Department requested documents related to the origination and securitization of subprime auto loan contracts since 2007.

12. Council Moves Toward Pension Changes -

Two weeks after approving changes in health insurance plans for city employees and retirees, the Memphis City Council meets Tuesday, July 1, to talk over a companion set of changes to the city’s pension plan for employees.

13. Long Council Day Comes With Change, Emotions -

It was apparent early in the long council day Tuesday, June 17, at City Hall that there wouldn’t be many amendments to the $600 million operating budget and $84 million capital budget the council would approve later that evening.

14. US Bank Earnings Decline 7.7 Percent in First Quarter -

WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. banks' earnings declined 7.7 percent in the January-March quarter from a year earlier, as higher interest rates dampened demand for mortgage refinancing and reduced banks' revenue from the mortgage business.

15. Wal-Mart Jumps Into the Money Transfer Biz, Loudly -

NEW YORK (AP) – Wal-Mart is delving deeper into financial services at its stores and shaking up the money transfer business.

The world's largest retailer introduced a new money transfer service Thursday that it says will cut fees for its low-income customers by up to 50 percent compared with similar services elsewhere. The Walmart-2-Walmart service is being rolled out in partnership with Ria Money Transfer, a subsidiary of Euronet Worldwide Inc.

16. First-Quarter Bankruptcies Remain Flat -

Bankruptcies in Shelby County were almost the same in number for the first three months of 2014 as they were for the first quarter of 2013.

There were 3,036 bankruptcies filed in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Tennessee in the first quarter, a slight increase from the 3,031 filed during the first quarter of 2013, according to The Daily News Online, www.memphisdailynews.com.

17. Council Questions Five-Year Wharton Plan -

It’s usually a quick bottom line for any local government budget proposal – does it mean a property tax hike?

The $596 million operating budget submitted to the Memphis City Council Tuesday, April 15, by Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. does not include a property tax hike.

18. Wharton Takes Budget to City Council -

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. takes a budget proposal to the Memphis City Council Tuesday, April 15, that is supposed to be a departure for an administration that, since 2010, has come to the council with options instead of a total budget plan.

19. Council Displeased With Budget Ideas -

This isn’t going to be pretty. Two weeks before Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. takes a budget proposal to the Memphis City Council, council members reacted angrily to how Wharton’s administration set the stage for its definitive recommendations.

20. Council Unhappy With Budget Plans So Far -

The administration of Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. got a rough reception at the Tuesday, April 1, Memphis City Council session as it set the stage for Wharton’s budget proposal to come in two weeks.

21. Obama 2015 Budget Focuses on Boosting Economy -

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Barack Obama sent Congress a $3.9 trillion budget Tuesday that would funnel money into road building, education and other economy-bolstering programs, handing Democrats a playbook for their election-year themes of creating jobs and narrowing the income gap between rich and poor.

22. Kids' College Versus Your Retirement -

Ray’s Take: Most parents want to give their kids the best college education possible. At the same time, they know they must finance their own retirement. It’s hard to objectively prioritize, especially when your precious children are involved.

23. Older Americans Are Early Winners Under Health Law -

CHICAGO (AP) — For many older Americans who lost jobs during the recession, the quest for health care has been one obstacle after another. They're unwanted by employers, rejected by insurers, struggling to cover rising medical costs and praying to reach Medicare age before a health crisis.

24. House Approves Government-Wide $1.1 Trillion Budget -

WASHINGTON (AP) – Party leaders pushed a massive $1.1 trillion spending bill for this year through the House on Wednesday, shunning the turmoil of recent budget clashes with a compromise financing everything from airports to war costs and brimming with victories and concessions for both parties.

25. Bipartisan Fix Advancing for Medicare Doctors' Pay -

WASHINGTON (AP) – It's that time of year again: doctors caring for Medicare patients once more face a steep pay cut. But this time Congress is pursuing a permanent fix to the annual drama that has undermined the medical profession's confidence in the nation's premier health program.

26. JPMorgan Chase Reaches $4.5 Billion Deal With Investors -

JPMorgan Chase & Co. has reached a $4.5 billion settlement with investors who said the bank deceived them about bad mortgage investments.

27. Banks Tweak Checking, Online Options -

As the two banks with the biggest customer deposit shares in Memphis, First Tennessee Bank and Regions Bank must stay closely in touch with their clients’ checking and online banking needs.

28. Affordable Care Act’s Time has Come -

The Affordable Care Act is here! Knowing that nonprofits play a key role in connecting people to services, we asked a few questions of Dr. Clarence Davis, medical director, Government Business with BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee.

29. Closing Fannie, Freddie Could Boost Mortgage Rates -

WASHINGTON (AP) – Homebuyers could feel the pinch if Congress follows through on plans to shut down Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-controlled mortgage guarantee giants that were rescued by a $187 billion taxpayer bailout during the financial crisis.

30. Report: Economic Concerns Drive College Choices -

WASHINGTON (AP) – College costs are driving decisions about which schools to attend, what to study and even where to live, according to a report from loan giant Sallie Mae.

Parents no longer foot the largest portion of the bill, according to the lender's annual survey. That role goes to grants and scholarships, with student loans coming in third.

31. Lower Costs Help Lift Wells Fargo's Second-Quarter Profit -

Lower expenses and fewer bad loans helped lift Wells Fargo's second-quarter profit by 20 percent, the company reported Friday.

The cost-cutting and improved loan quality helped the nation's biggest U.S. mortgage lender overcome meager revenue growth.

32. US Consumer Borrowing Up as Credit Card Use Rises -

WASHINGTON (AP) – Americans increased their borrowing in May at the fastest pace in a year. Borrowing in the category that includes credit cards reached its highest point since the fall of 2010.

33. Council Approves Tax Hike in $3.40 Property Tax Rate -

Memphis City Council members raised the city property tax rate Tuesday, June 26, by four cents above the recertified tax rate and put the rest of a turbulent budget season to rest.

The approval of the $3.40 property tax rate and city operating and capital budgets came in a council session that ended at 12:30 a.m. Wednesday morning.

34. US Consumer Borrowing Up $11.1 Billion in April -

WASHINGTON (AP) – Americans borrowed more in April to attend college and buy cars and were a little less cautious with their credit cards than the previous month.

The Federal Reserve said Friday that consumer borrowing rose $11.1 billion in April from March to a seasonally adjusted $2.82 trillion. That's the 20th straight monthly gain and another record level.

35. AP Survey: Economists See No Stock Market Bubble -

WASHINGTON (AP) – A debate is raging among investors and analysts: Has the Federal Reserve inflated a stock market bubble by driving interest rates to record lows?

The answer, according to economists surveyed by The Associated Press: No.

36. Editorial: Financial Climate Complex as Ever -

Invest and hold has become invest and monitor in the world of personal finance, which means the days of forgetting about where a substantial part of your money is parked is probably over.

As our cover story points out, U.S. Treasury bonds – once a worry-free harbor for reliable returns at low to no risk – haven’t been that in the post-recession recovery. Before we address the issue of complexity, let’s talk about the need now more than ever for financial literacy. Building wealth is still a necessary goal that has been made more complex by changes in even the most basic forms of investing.

37. US Banks Report Record Earnings for First Quarter -

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. banks earned more from January through March than during any quarter on record, buoyed by greater income from fees and fewer losses from bad loans.

The banking industry earned $40.3 billion in the first quarter, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said Wednesday. That's the highest ever for a single quarter and up 15.8 percent from the first quarter of 2012, when the industry's profits were $34.8 billion.

38. National, Local Leaders Discuss Nonprofit Challenges -

Nonprofits need multifaceted ways to inform their stakeholders in a world that has grown more volatile, uncertain and complex, Jacob Herold, the president and CEO of GuideStar, told a sold-out audience at the annual Alliance for Nonprofit Excellence conference Wednesday, May 1.

39. School Board Approached by Suburbs -

A new round of talks about the schools merger and municipal school districts is about to begin.

And this time, the countywide school board may be at the table.

Countywide school board attorney Valerie Speakman told school board members Tuesday, April 30, that attorneys for the leaders of Shelby County’s six suburban municipalities have sent her a letter about possible talks on issues that go beyond the consent decree governing the merger.

40. School Board Delays Supt. Search, Approves Merger Outsourcing Contracts -

Countywide school board members voted Tuesday, April 30, to move their search for a merger superintendent beyond the August start of the merger.

But the board voted down a resolution asking Memphis Federal Court Judge Samuel “Hardy” Mays to consider delaying the merger itself.

41. Fed Stands by Stimulus, Sees Stronger US Economy -

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Federal Reserve said Wednesday that the U.S. economy has strengthened after pausing late last year but still needs the Fed's extraordinary support to help lower high unemployment.

42. Explore Alternatives to Banks -

Ray’s Take In decades past you built a relationship with your bank and, more importantly, your banker. After so many mergers, that’s become harder to do. Generation low interest rates have banks piling up fees on their customers as well as limiting services It might be worthwhile to at least consider options other than the neighborhood brick-and-mortar bank.

43. Reconsider Your W-4 Withholding -

Ray’s Take It’s that time of year again. Your mailbox is receiving the annual tax form allotment. In addition to filing your income tax, take time to evaluate your withholding. It might be that you should adjust the deductions on your W-4 form to change the amount withheld from your paychecks.

44. Mayor, Banks Revive Program Targeting City’s Unbanked -

It started with a letter. More than two dozen of them, actually. Bankers from around Memphis got a missive from Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. in 2010 that solicited help from bankers like Joe DiNicolantonio, West Tennessee area president for Regions Bank.

45. You Can Still Save for Retirement -

Ray’s Take It may feel as if those gray hairs are multiplying faster than your 401(k). Or maybe your career or other life experience has thrown you curve balls that ate through your savings. Either way, it’s not too late to save for a more comfortable future!

46. Wal-Mart to Join Arkansas Health Care Program -

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) – Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said Thursday it will add its Arkansas employees' insurance plan to a state effort aimed at lowering health care costs by changing the way private insurers and Medicaid pay for services, and it committed $670,000 to create a tracking system that would measure the initiative's success.

47. Fewer US Banks Fail as Industry Strengthens -

WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. banks ended 2012 with their best profits since 2006 and fewer failures than at any time since the financial crisis struck in 2008. They're helping support an economy slowed by high unemployment, flat pay, sluggish manufacturing and anxious consumers.

48. US Bank Earnings Rise 6.6 Percent, Most in 6 Years -

WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. banks earned more from July through September than in any other quarter over the past six years. The increase is further evidence that the industry is strengthening four years after the 2008 financial crisis.

49. Congress Looks at Doing Away With the $1 Bill -

WASHINGTON (AP) – American consumers have shown about as much appetite for the $1 coin as kids do their spinach. They may not know what's best for them either. Congressional auditors say doing away with dollar bills entirely and replacing them with dollar coins could save taxpayers some $4.4 billion over the next 30 years.

50. Labor Heads Say Obama Backs Them on 'Fiscal Cliff' -

WASHINGTON (AP) – Labor leaders said Tuesday that President Barack Obama remains committed to preserving tax cuts for middle class families and ensuring the wealthy pay more in taxes, outlining plans for a public campaign to pressure Republican lawmakers.

51. Obama: Americans Agree With My Approach on Deficit -

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Barack Obama, laying down his marker for grueling "fiscal cliff" negotiations, said Friday he won't accept any approach to federal deficit reduction that doesn't ask the wealthy to pay more in taxes.

52. Treating Customers Well Top Priority for First South Financial -

Nice guys may finish last, but nice financial institutions grow steadily over time. First South Financial Credit Union stays competitive by reacting quickly and treating members well.

“I think for us there’s plenty of room for us to grow,” said Delynn Byars, senior vice president of marketing for First South. “When you look at surveys by the American Bankers Association, by Gallup, by other organizations, unfortunately there are a lot of financial institutions, but not a lot of them are doing a very good job taking care of their customers.”

53. Tayloe Brings Banking Knowledge, Energy to Financial Federal Board -

At the age of 34, William Tayloe became the youngest president in the 27-year history of Financial Federal Savings Bank. Now, at 39, he has been named to the bank’s board of directors.

54. Optimism Finds Way Into Local Banks, Financial Institutions -

Here’s a look at what’s going on in the world of finance, and the ways it’s all affecting Memphis.

First up, to quote the Bard, “But soft: what light through yonder window breaks?”

55. Corporate Avenue Building Sells for $1.2 Million -

1721 Corporate Ave. Memphis, TN 38132

Sale Amount: $1.2 million

Sale Date: Oct. 26, 2012

56. Woodlake Apartments Owner Files $1.5 Million Loan -

Woodlake LP, the owner of the Woodlake Apartments at 3590 New Tchulahoma Road in Oakhaven, has filed a $1.5 million loan on the property.

57. J.D. Byrider Brings First Franchise To Memphis -

The nation’s largest used car franchise company has entered the Memphis market. Carmel, Ind.-based J.D. Byrider has inked 30,900 square feet at 2580 Mount Moriah Road, marking the company’s second Tennessee dealership.

58. Freedom Awards Winners Talk Important Decisions -

An audience of several thousand children from several local schools got a glimpse Tuesday, Oct. 16, of just how tentative the decisions that make history and change can be.

Each of the four winners of the National Civil Rights Museum Freedom Awards talked of different courses they might have taken during the annual forum at Temple of Deliverance Church of God in Christ.

59. Owner of East Memphis Office Building Files Loan -

An entity called 1717 West Massey LLC has filed a $3 million loan through Financial Federal Savings Bank on the 18,722-square-foot office building at 1717 W. Massey Road.

60. Arkansas Governor Supporting Expansion of Medicaid -

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) – Gov. Mike Beebe said Tuesday he supports expanding Medicaid eligibility in Arkansas under the federal health care law after officials assured him the state could later opt out, setting up a potentially heated fight with Republican lawmakers as they try to win control of the state Legislature.

61. Tennessee Starting to Benefit From Foreclosure Settlement -

Tennessee homeowners have received more than $36 million in relief from March 1 through June 30 as part of a nationwide settlement reached with the country’s five big mortgage servicers.

That’s according to the office of Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper. The relief is in the form of loan modifications, refinances and facilitated short sales.

62. US Bank Earnings Rose 21 Percent in 2nd Quarter -

WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. bank earnings rose 21 percent in the April-June quarter and lending to consumers increased, adding to evidence that the industry is strengthening four years after the financial crisis.

63. US Economic Recovery is Weakest Since World War II -

WASHINGTON (AP) – The recession that ended three years ago this summer has been followed by the feeblest economic recovery since the Great Depression.

Since World War II, 10 U.S. recessions have been followed by a recovery that lasted at least three years. An Associated Press analysis shows that by just about any measure, the one that began in June 2009 is the weakest.

64. Sign Up for Your Co.’s 401(k) Plan -

Ray’s Take The most important thing to know about 401(k) retirement savings accounts is pretty simple: Do it, and participate to the maximum you possibly can. Don’t wait and don’t quit.

65. US Consumer Spending Flat, Income Up 0.5 Pct. -

WASHINGTON (AP) – Americans spent no more in June than they did in May, even though their income grew at the fastest pace in three months.

The lack of growth in spending follows a decline in the previous month, suggesting consumers are staying cautious with their money as they economy weakens.

66. Unemployment Could Stay High as US Economy Slows -

WASHINGTON (AP) – High unemployment isn't going away – not as long as the economy grows as slowly as it did in the April-June quarter.

Weak consumer spending held growth to an annual rate of just 1.5 percent, even less than the 2 percent rate in the first quarter. And few expect the economy to accelerate in the second half of the year as Europe's financial woes and a U.S. budget crisis restrain businesses and consumers.

67. Future Looking Bright At Bartlett’s ECE Solar -

Most people who install solar panels to their home understand that it’s an investment that takes awhile to pay off.

Being in the business of installing solar panels is much the same. Still, Bill Turberville of Electrical Contracting Enterprises LLC, 3080 Stage Post Road in Bartlett, said he’d rather be the first in that market than the last.

68. Ark. Gov.: Lawmakers' OK Needed to Grow Medicaid -

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe said Wednesday he's still inclined to go forward with an expansion of Medicaid under the federal health care law, but that the decision will ultimately come down to a super-majority vote in the Legislature next year.

69. Praxair Files $2M Permit App for Pidgeon Park Site Work -

3587 Paul R. Lowry Road
Memphis, TN 38109
Permit Cost: $2 million

Permit Date: Applied June 2012
Owner: Praxair Inc.
Tenant: Praxair Inc.
Contractor: W.G. Yates & Sons Construction Co.
Details: Praxair Inc., an industrial gases company that operates an air separation complex in Frank C. Pidgeon Industrial Park, has filed a $2 million building permit application to lay a foundation at its facility, 3587 Paul. R. Lowry Road.

70. As US Economy Steadies, Bank Closings Become Rarer -

WASHINGTON (AP) – Fewer U.S. banks are failing than at any time since the financial crisis erupted in 2008. The healthier banking industry is helping sustain an economy slowed by lackluster hiring, weak manufacturing and Europe's debt crisis.

71. Poplar Ave. Properties Financed for $2.5M -

Poplar Yates Associates, an entity affiliated with Memphis-based Lichterman Properties LLC, has financed several buildings on Poplar Avenue and South Yates Road through Financial Federal Savings Bank for $2.5 million.

72. Land in G'town's Enclave Sells for $2 Million -

Memphis-based entity Enclave 5 & 6 Joint Venture has bought land in Enclave Planned Development in Germantown from Magna Bank for $2 million. The land, which is on the north side of Wolf River Boulevard west of where Forest Hill-Irene Road would run if extended, is proposed as Enclave phases five and six, according to documents filed with the Shelby County Register of Deeds.

73. Control Over Ex-Tycoon Stanford's Assets at Issue -

HOUSTON (AP) – As former Texas tycoon R. Allen Stanford's criminal case gets ready to wind down with his sentencing Thursday for a $7 billion Ponzi scheme, the battle for control of his remaining assets around the globe still hasn't been settled.

74. Garden View Apts. Financed for $1.4M -

WI Memphis LLC has financed the 92-unit Garden View Apartments complex at 1127 Whitaker Drive and 1137 Whitaker Drive for $1.4 million through Financial Federal Savings Bank. The loan matures in April 2017.

75. Cargill Files $1.4M Permit App For Pres. Island Storage Bldg. -

2615 Channel Ave.
Memphis, TN 38113

Permit Cost: $1.4 million

Permit Date: Applied March 2012

76. Regions Rolls Out New Product Offerings -

Regions Financial Corp., the parent of the bank that has the second largest share of customer deposits in Memphis, has now finished a companywide rollout of a new suite of products to a new set of customers.

77. Towering Questions -

It’s been slightly more than two years since the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, but when it comes to small businesses meeting its demands, confusion still abounds.

While some provisions of health care reform – such as expansion of coverage to adult children up to age 26, new coverage options for individuals with pre-existing conditions and eliminating lifetime caps on coverage – have been implemented, the government will continue to roll out provisions through 2014 and beyond.

78. Mike Murphy Builders Files Loan for 3 Lots in Enclave -

Mike Murphy Builders LLC has filed a construction loan for three lots in Germantown’s Enclave planned development, phase 3, through Financial Federal Savings Bank for $1.1 million. The sizes of the financed lots are 6,759 square feet fronting Enclave Hollow Lane East, 7,032 square feet fronting Terrene Lane and 6,760 square feet fronting Enclave Green Lane West.

79. Cypress RE Fund Buys Perkins BYB Property -

Memphis-based realty investment fund Cypress Realty Holdings has bought Back Yard Burgers’ property at 436 Perkins Road Extended for $1.2 million.

80. Good News At Tax Time? -

Ray’s Take If you haven’t started taking care of your federal income tax filing with the IRS, it’s time to get a move on: April 15th seems to come around awfully quick. But, while you’re hustling to get your paperwork in order, keep in mind that there’s actually some good news for 2012 when it comes to income taxes.

81. Privatization Thoughts Highlight Changes -

Here’s a roundup of what some of the city’s banks and bankers, investment professionals, mortgage brokers, asset management firms and other financial services shops have been up to in recent weeks.

82. Magna Bank Moves to Become Private -

Magna Bank is taking steps to become a private banking company.

The Memphis-based bank, which is currently a public company and as such makes certain quarterly and annual financial information publicly available, has scheduled a special meeting of its stockholders for March 26. On the agenda is approval that’s being sought from shareholders to reclassify certain shares of the bank’s common stock and to convert from a federal savings bank to a state banking corporation.

83. Bernanke Defends Fed Policies Against GOP Critics -

WASHINGTON (AP) – Ben Bernanke defended the Federal Reserve's decision to hold interest rates at record-low levels for the next three years, during a contentious hearing before federal lawmakers.

84. Retail Sales Weaken in Dec. But Cap Record Year -

WASHINGTON (AP) – America's retailers enjoyed a record 2011 and their first $400 billion sales months ever. But the final month of the year was a dud.

Sales eked out a 0.1 percent increase in December, to a seasonally adjusted $400.6 billion.

85. Consumer Borrowing Surges as Economy Improves -

WASHINGTON (AP) – Americans are feeling confident enough in the economy to go back to a time-honored tradition – taking on a little extra debt.

Consumer borrowing surged in November by $20.4 billion, the Federal Reserve said Monday. That's the largest monthly gain in a decade.

86. Economy Ends Tough 2011 on a Surprising Upswing -

WASHINGTON (AP) – The economy is ending 2011 on a roll.

The job market is healthier. Americans are spending lustily on holiday gifts. A long-awaited turnaround for the depressed housing industry may be under way. Gas is cheaper. Factories are busier. Stocks are higher.

87. Expect, Plan For Unexpected -

Ray’s Take Odds are you will encounter financial emergencies in your lifetime. They could range from the relatively minor – like damaging the family car – to something as devastating as complete home destruction. You simply should expect that the unexpected will happen and, at a minimum, have six months’ worth of living expenses set aside in savings or money-market accounts you can readily access.

88. Postal Service to Delay Cutbacks Until Mid-May -

WASHINGTON (AP) – The U.S. Postal Service on Tuesday agreed to delay the closing of 252 mail processing centers and 3,700 local post offices until mid-May.

In a statement, the cash-strapped agency said it would hold off on closings by several weeks to give Congress more time to pass legislation that would give it more authority and liquidity to stave off bankruptcy. The Postal Service, which is expected to default Friday on a $5.5 billion payment to the Treasury, is forecast to lose a record $14.1 billion next year.

89. Retail Sales are Helping Economy Grow Consistently -

WASHINGTON (AP) – Economic growth is picking up in the final three months of the year, fueled by higher consumer spending, rising business stockpiles and modest increases in hiring.

The start of the holiday shopping season in November helped produce the sixth straight monthly increase in retail sales. Gift-buying Americans spent more on clothing and electronics, and sales of autos and furniture also rose.

90. US Household Wealth Takes Biggest Hit Since 2008 -

WASHINGTON (AP) – Americans' wealth last summer suffered its biggest quarterly loss in more than two years as stocks, pension funds and home values lost value.

At the same time, corporations raised their cash stockpiles to record levels.

91. Back to Black -

The Friday after Thanksgiving, often dubbed, “Black Friday,” is considered by many to be the traditional start of the holiday season shopping in the U.S.

The origin of the term varies. Some sources attribute the Philadelphia Police Department’s coinage of the phrase in 1966 to describe the hectic traffic and chaotic crowds on the busy shopping day. Others deem the expression to reflect a retailer’s shift to profitability during the holiday season, when a boost in sales moves a business out of the “red” and into the “black.”

92. FDIC: Bank Earnings Hit Highest Level in 4 Years -

Bank earnings rose over the summer to their highest level in more than four years, while the number of troubled banks fell for the second straight quarter, federal regulators reported Tuesday.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said the banking industry earned $35.3 billion in the July-September quarter. That’s up from $23.8 billion in the same period last year. More than 60 percent of banks reported improved earnings.

93. Consumer Borrowing Up, But Credit Card Use Falls -

WASHINGTON (AP) – Americans borrowed more in September to buy cars and attend college, but they charged less to their credit cards for a third straight month. The figures suggest that consumers are growing more cautious about taking on high-interest debt in a weak economy.

94. Economy Picks Up but Hiring Outlook Stays Cloudy -

WASHINGTON (AP) – Companies are more productive, fewer people are seeking unemployment benefits and service companies are adding jobs.

Ideally, those trends could signal stronger growth, followed by more hiring. Yet until consumers consistently spend more, businesses are unlikely to hire enough to drive down unemployment.

95. Senators Offer Plan to Keep Postal Service Solvent -

WASHINGTON (AP) – Senators announced a bipartisan plan Wednesday to help keep the financially ailing Postal Service solvent and continue six-day mail delivery for at least two more years.

96. 100 Lawmakers to Debt Panel: Consider All Options -

WASHINGTON (AP) – Forty House Republicans joined 60 Democrats Wednesday in pressing Congress' special debt reduction committee to consider all options, including higher revenues, and shoot for $4 trillion in savings.

97. Carr Joins Financial Federal as Biz Development Officer -

Ruth Carr has joined Financial Federal Savings Bank as business development officer. Carr will lead a business development initiative, focusing on establishing and maintaining relationships with clients and customers, and will act as a facilitator between customers and lending officers. She will also act as a liaison for Financial Federal’s community relations.

98. For Investors, Playing it 'Safe' Can be Risky -

CHICAGO (AP) – Investors remain anxious to find safety even as the stock market moves back toward positive territory for the year.

They're on pace to yank more than $20 billion out of stock funds this month, the fourth time in the last five months, scarred by the volatility over everything from the sluggish economy to Europe's debt crisis to the threat of another global recession.

99. Deficit 'Supercommittee' Struggles as Clock Ticks -

WASHINGTON (AP) – The supercommittee is struggling.

After weeks of secret meetings, the 12-member deficit-cutting panel established under last summer's budget and debt deal appears no closer to a breakthrough than when talks began last month.

100. Defense Depot Property Sells for $1.1 Million -

2085 W.E. Freeman Drive
Memphis, TN 38114
Sale Amount: $1.1 million

Sale Date: Sept. 14, 2011

Buyer: Varma Family LP