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Editorial Results (free)

1. Lenox Park Buildings Sell for $5.3 Million -

This week's Real Estate Recap features the sale of two Class A office buildings totaling more than 200,000 square feet; a residential development being planned near a proposed new elementary school in Germantown; and more.

2. Events -

The 2018-Model Memphis International Auto Show takes place Friday through Sunday, Oct. 27-29, at Memphis Cook Convention Center, 255 N. Main St. Experience the latest in-car technology, research your next vehicle and test drive more than a dozen vehicles on site. Buy discount e-tickets at memphisautoshow.com.

3. Site of Amazon's HQ2 Has Much to Learn From Seattle -

SEATTLE (AP) – Memo to the many places vying for Amazon's second headquarters: It ain't all food trucks and free bananas.

For years, much of downtown Seattle has been a maze of broken streets and caution-taped sidewalks. Dozens of enormous cranes tower overhead as double-length dump trucks hauling excavated dirt rumble past pedestrians and bicyclists. The crashing and clanging of construction is the city's soundtrack on a perpetual loop.

4. Second Slider Inn Location Gets First Approval -

A popular Midtown restaurant may soon have a second location in South Main.

Initial plans for a second Slider Inn were approved by the Memphis Landmarks Commission at its Thursday, Sept. 28 meeting, clearing the way for the project to move forward.

5. Still No Charity Money From Leftover Trump Inaugural Funds -

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Donald Trump's inaugural committee raised an unprecedented $107 million for a ceremony that officials promised would be "workmanlike," and the committee pledged to give leftover funds to charity. Nearly eight months later, the group has helped pay for redecorating at the White House and the vice president's residence in Washington.

6. Trump Prepares to Travel to Texas as State Copes With Harvey -

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Donald Trump on Monday prepared to visit Texas to view the federal government's response to Harvey's devastating flooding as his administration vowed to help the millions of residents dealing with the catastrophic storm.

7. Events -

The 2017 Film Prize: Memphis Festival takes place Friday through Sunday, Aug. 4-6. All top 10 films will screen as one block lasting about two hours multiple times throughout the weekend Malco Studio on the Square, 2105 Court Ave. After the screening, festival passholders will vote on their favorite, and the winners will be announced at an awards brunch Sunday. Visit memphisfilmprize.com for a schedule of screening times, filmmaker Q&As and panel discussions.

8. Events -

The 2017 Film Prize: Memphis Festival takes place Friday through Sunday, Aug. 4-6. All top 10 films will screen as one block lasting about two hours multiple times throughout the weekend Malco Studio on the Square, 2105 Court Ave. After the screening, festival passholders will vote on their favorite, and the winners will be announced at an awards brunch Sunday. Visit memphisfilmprize.com for a schedule of screening times, filmmaker Q&As and panel discussions.

9. Fed Leaves Rates Alone but Moves Closer to Selling Off Bonds -

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Federal Reserve is keeping its key interest rate unchanged at a time when inflation remains persistently low. But it signaled Wednesday that it's edging closer to gradually shrinking its bond holdings, a step that would likely boost long-term borrowing rates including mortgages.

10. Medicaid Cuts Could Hit Rural Children Hardest -

As Congress fiddles with an Obamacare replacement, one likely to cut billions in Medicaid spending, health care experts warn a decrease in funding could be hard on Tennessee.

During a recent forum in Jackson, Andy Schneider of the Georgetown Center on Children and Families reported that 50 percent of Tennessee’s children in small towns and rural areas are covered by Medicaid, a higher percentage than the rest of the nation, and more than in Tennessee’s urban areas where 39 percent have Medicaid.

11. Amazon Offers Prime Discount to Those on Government Benefits -

NEW YORK (AP) – Amazon is making a play for low-income shoppers. The online leader is offering a discount on its pay-by-month Prime membership for people who receive government assistance.

12. Will Mortgage Rates Rise? What to Know About Fed Rate Hike -

WASHINGTON (AP) – Are mortgage rates headed up? How about car loans? Credit cards?

How about those nearly invisible rates on bank CDs – any chance of getting a few dollars more?

13. How to Raise Prices and Keep Customers -

When planning your price increase, you probably thought about it all: The appropriate increase amount based on competitive standards, which products or services will be affected, and the amount of business your company can afford to lose as a result of the change. But too often companies forget their customers when they outline a price increase strategy. A communication plan is a key part of implementation and should never be an afterthought. 

14. What 2017 May Mean for Your Personal Finances -

It's been a tumultuous 2016 – both financially and politically. The year may have left some people wondering, what's next? And, how will it affect me?

Lacking a crystal ball, we asked a few economic experts what they think 2017 may hold in store for Americans' personal finances. Here's their take on what to expect in the year ahead:

15. Wal-Mart Plans to Slow New Store Openings, Invest in Online -

NEW YORK (AP) – Wal-Mart Stores Inc. plans to slow its new store openings and pour more money into its online efforts, technology and store remodels, the company said Thursday.

16. While There is Work to Do, Norvell Era Opens With Win -

It was one of those grind-through-it practices before the first game of the college football season. Except that on this morning – 11 days before the University of Memphis would open the season at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium – the Tigers had taken a pass on the grinding.

17. Mike Norvell Wins Coaching Debut -

It was one of those grind-through-it practices before the first game of the college football season. Except that on this morning – 11 days before the University of Memphis would open the season at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium – the Tigers had taken a pass on the grinding.

18. Mike Norvell Wins Coaching Debut -

It was one of those grind-through-it practices before the first game of the college football season. Except that on this morning – 11 days before the University of Memphis would open the season at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium – the Tigers had taken a pass on the grinding.

19. AAA Auto Club Says Not All Gasoline Is The Same -

Many motorists are clogging their car's engine by not using gasoline with enough added detergents.

That's the conclusion of a study released Thursday by the AAA auto club.

Federal rules in place since 1996 require all gasoline to have some engine-cleaning additives, but many major brands have extra detergents. AAA said tests it commissioned from an independent lab found that lesser gasolines left 19 times more deposits on engine intake valves than so-called top-tier fuels after the equivalent of 4,000 miles of driving.

20. Target Names Nordstrom Exec As Chief Merchandising Officer -

NEW YORK (AP) – Target has poached Nordstrom for its new chief merchandising officer, a crucial position and the one who determines what appears on store shelves.

Mark Tritton was president of Nordstrom Product Group where he oversaw the merchandising, design, manufacturing, marketing and omnichannel distribution of more than 50 private-label brands across Nordstrom's full-price and off-price portfolio.

21. Bipartisan Skeptics Doubt Haslam’s Outsourcing Plan -

Poor timing and questionable numbers: That’s how legislators are viewing a business justification plan for outsourcing facilities management across Tennessee.

The Office of Customer Focused Government tells state senators, if all departments opt in, the state could save $35.8 million by the second year of a contract under study for building operations and services – without laying off state workers or cutting pay and benefits.

22. KFC to Deliver Buckets of Fried Chicken on Demand -

NEW YORK (AP) — Colonel Sanders wants to come to your home: KFC said it will start delivering its buckets of fried chicken to customers in two U.S. cities.

It will be the first time the chicken chain has delivered in the United States. Starting Thursday, people in Los Angeles and San Francisco will be able to have food delivered. KFC said it expects to expand the delivery service into Houston by the end of this year. More cities may come later.

23. Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? John Calipari! -

[UPDATE: University of Memphis president David Rudd issued a statement on Twitter late Thursday afternoon stating the university "will not be recognizing Coach Calipari." Read his statement here.]

24. Greatest Restaurants in Nashville? Too Many Choices -

Country music isn’t the only big draw in Nashville these days. The city is at the top of its food game and has become a popular destination for food lovers across the country.

But where do you go when you want to experience the best of the best?

25. Greatest Restaurants in Nashville? Too Many Choices -

Country music isn’t the only big draw in Nashville these days. The city is at the top of its food game and has become a popular destination for food lovers across the country.

But where do you go when you want to experience the best of the best?

26. Greatest Restaurants in Nashville? Too Many Choices -

Country music isn’t the only big draw in Nashville these days. The city is at the top of its food game and has become a popular destination for food lovers across the country.

But where do you go when you want to experience the best of the best?

27. Apple's Updates iPod Touch Amid Declining Sales -

NEW YORK (AP) – Although the iPod's popularity has waned, Apple is updating its music player for the first time in nearly three years by giving the flagship Touch model a faster processor and better cameras.

28. Wal-Mart Opens Counter Offensive Against Amazon This Week -

NEW YORK (AP) – The online price fight as well as the bickering is heating up between Wal-Mart and Amazon.com, and it's not even the holiday shopping season.

29. Tennessee Lawmaker Calls for Maker of New State Logo to Give Refund -

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – A state lawmaker is calling for a refund of all but $10,000 of the $46,000 paid for development of a new Tennessee state logo, saying the company that developed it was "substantially over-compensated."

30. Tigers Alumni Game a Chance for Fans to Relive Fond Memories -

It’s not the Final Four. In fact, it’s not even a November nonconference game against some directional school.

It’s an alumni game being played at the little campus gym at the University of Memphis. And it’s sold out.

31. Target Beating Wal-Mart in Race for Turnaround -

NEW YORK (AP) – Target is beating Wal-Mart in the race to beef up sales.

Target Corp. on Wednesday reported a nearly 52 percent surge in its first-quarter profit on strong sales of more profitable items like fashion and baby products, evidence that its efforts to turn around its business are paying off.

32. Wal-Mart Seeks Assist From Its Suppliers to Lower Prices -

NEW YORK (AP) – Wal-Mart is asking suppliers to cut back on advertising spending in its stores as it seeks lower prices on goods that it sells to its own customers.

The request comes as the world's largest retailer, based in Bentonville, Arkansas, looks to reclaim its position as the low-price leader amid stiff competition and perk up sluggish sales in the U.S.

33. Home Appraisal Comes in Below Your Sales Price, Now What? -

Housing market trends bode well for sellers this spring, but some may encounter hurdles even after they land a buyer.

Rising home values and a lack of inventory in many markets could set them up to receive competing offers, but that dynamic could also increase the likelihood that the appraised value of the home could fall short of the agreed upon sale price, potentially scuttling the deal.

34. Multiple Factors Create Strong Fourth-Quarter Home Sales -

Shelby County recorded a jump in homes sales in the fourth quarter when compared to the same period in 2013.

Shelby County recorded 3,944 home sales in the three-month period, up 9.6 percent from 3,600 sales in the fourth quarter of 2013, according to real estate information company Chandler Reports, www.chandlerreports.com.

35. Foreclosure Sales Drop 26 Percent in Shelby County -

Fueled by a steep drop in foreclosure sales, fewer homes were sold in Shelby County in 2014 when compared to 2013.

There were 15,702 homes sold in Shelby County in 2014, down 1.2 percent from 15,896 homes sold in 2013, when Shelby County hit a five-year high in sales, according to real estate information company Chandler Reports, www.chandlerreports.com.

36. A Better Sports Village Than We Knew -

When the historic 2014 University of Memphis football season was just getting started, hope and doubt were still equally matched opponents.

The athletic department, as we all know now, had gone with a risky slogan: “Wait Til This Year.”

37. Appraisals, Inspections Getting More Complex -

As if things were not crazy enough in Nashville real estate – with inspectors now writing 50-page reports with scores of photographs, underwriters overwriting and overriding, new disclosures and disclaimers proliferating the transaction – appraisers are requiring more and more documentation.

38. Silver Lining -

Fueled by a steep drop in bank sales, Shelby County home sales slowed slightly in the third quarter compared to the same three-month period in 2013.

There were a total of 486 bank sales in the quarter, as opposed to 752 in the same period last year, a decrease of 35 percent, according to real estate information company Chandler Reports, www.chandlerreports.com.

39. Home Sales Spike Surprises Realtors -

In welcome – if not slightly surprising – news for the local housing market, home sales jumped in September as housing values continued to rise, providing a measure of relief for a market that has endured slower-than-expected activity.

40. Shelby County Home Sales Down 28 Percent in August -

Shelby County home sales plummeted in August when compared to the same month last year. Realtors sold 1,235 homes in Shelby County in August, down a staggering 28 percent from 1,705 home sales in August 2013, according to real estate information company Chandler Reports, chandlerreports.com.

41. Some Fear Auto Industry Returning to Bad Habits -

DETROIT (AP) – Big discounts. Six- or seven-year loans, in some cases to buyers who would have been turned down in the past.

As the auto industry strives to sustain its post-recession comeback, car companies are resorting to tactics that some experts warn will lead to trouble down the road.

42. Shelby County Home Sales, Prices Dip in July -

From 2008 to 2012, bank sales – or foreclosure sales – propped up what was an otherwise crumbling real estate market.

After several years of historically high bank sales, that inventory has finally thinned out and their months-long decline is impacting overall sales figures, according to several Memphis-area Realtors.

43. Walgreen Turns Down Inversion to Cut Tax Bill -

Walgreen plans to keep its roots firmly planted in the United States, saying it will no longer pursue an overseas reorganization that would have trimmed its U.S. taxes but drew political scorn.

The nation's largest drugstore chain – which bills itself as "America's premier pharmacy" – said Wednesday that it will buy the remaining stake in Swiss health and beauty retailer Alliance Boots that it does not already own.

44. Shelby County Home Sales Dip 1 Percent in Quarter -

Shelby County home sales slowed slightly in the second quarter compared to the same three-month period in 2013, but rising prices have real estate professionals hopeful for a strong end to the year.

45. Landing Zone -

Beale Street Landing was supposed to cost far less than $43 million and be completed much sooner than the decade it took from the design competition.

But the head of the Riverfront Development Corp. overseeing the 6-acre landing and its construction says with the formal two-day opening of the landing starting Friday, June 27, the riverfront project at the foot of Beale Street and on the northern edge of Tom Lee Park should begin to counter critics of how the project has been managed.

46. Shelby County Home Sales Down, Prices Up in May -

Shelby County experienced a drop in home sales in May compared to the same month last year and also from April.

However, prices continued their upward surge last month as the supply of available homes continued to dwindle.

47. Shelby County Home Sales on the Rise -

Shelby County experienced a modest increase in home sales in April compared to the same month last year, but sales rose sharply from March and prices continued their upward surge.

Shelby County recorded 1,356 home sales in April, up 2 percent from the 1,335 homes sold in April 2013, according to real estate information company Chandler Reports, www.chandlerreports.com. However, the 1,356 homes sold in April is up 14 percent from the 1,192 homes sold in March, giving Realtors hope that the market is heating up along with the weather.

48. A Fading Middle-Class Perk: Lower Mortgage Rates -

WASHINGTON (AP) – For three decades, the U.S. middle class enjoyed a rare financial advantage over the wealthy: lower mortgage rates.

Now, even that perk is fading away.

Most ordinary homebuyers are paying the same or higher rates than the fortunate few who can afford much more.

49. Housing Market Stumbles in First Quarter -

Shelby County home sales slowed in the first quarter when compared to the same three-month period in 2013.

Shelby County recorded 3,270 home sales in the quarter that ended March 31, down 3 percent from the 3,383 homes sold in the first quarter of 2013, according to real estate information company Chandler Reports, www.chandlerreports.com.

50. 2014 Home Sales Off to Slow Start -

Shelby County home sales were up in February when compared to the same month last year but not enough to overcome January’s sluggish start, according to real estate information company Chandler Reports.

51. January Home Sales Mirror Temperature -

Shelby County home sales plummeted with the temperatures in January, as sales declined 18 percent compared to January 2013, according to real estate information company Chandler Reports, www.chandlerreports.com.

52. Shelby County Posts Most Home Sales in 5 Years -

Shelby County posted a five-year high in home sales and average sales prices in 2013, according to real estate information company Chandler Reports.

The uptick in sales activity and strong pricing increases point to a slow, steady rebound for the industry, which slogged through a five-year slump following the onset of the recession, real estate agents said.

53. WinterArts Fosters Appreciation of Craft Artists -

Often when Memphis weaver Felicitas Sloves shows her work, she has to explain to people exactly what goes into each intricately designed bag, scarf, wrap and bracelet.

“I’ll be at a crafts show and people will ask, ‘Wow, where did you get that fabric?’ I have to explain to them that I make the fabric – on a loom,” she said.

54. Events -

Graceland will host the Elvis Week candlelight vigil Thursday, Aug. 15, at 8:30 p.m. at the gates of Graceland, 3717 Elvis Presley Blvd. Admission is free. Visit elvis.com/elvisweek for more information. More Elvis Week events are listed below.

55. Improving Real Estate Metrics Offer Hope -

The 2013 countywide reappraisal resulted in a historic drop in property values, but improving real estate metrics are providing a glimmer of hope for the local economy.

That was the message industry professionals heard Thursday, July 25, at real estate information company Chandler Reports’ 2013 Mid-Year Master Your Market seminar at the Memphis Marriott East.

56. Exterior Plans for Bass Pro Approved -

Bass Pro Shops’ exterior building and site improvements for repurposing the city-owned Pyramid as a destination retailer were approved by the Design Review Board Wednesday, March 6, but the board asked for more time to digest the company’s controversial signage requests.

57. Exterior Plans for Bass Pro Approved -

Bass Pro Shops’ exterior building and site improvements for repurposing the city-owned Pyramid as a destination retailer were approved by the Design Review Board Wednesday, March 6, but the board asked for more time to digest the company’s controversial signage requests.

58. Midtown Momentum -

The Midtown real estate market has long been an anomaly compared to its Bluff City counterparts, with fundamentals as diverse as its demographics.

“The types of real estate that you’ll find in Midtown can be some of the most expensive or some of the most modest when it comes to prices and facility,” said Gary Myers of Gary Myers Co. “Retail in particular.”

59. Mueller Net Income Up $5.5 Million -

Memphis-based Mueller Industries Inc. reported third quarter 2012 net income of $15.5 million Tuesday, Oct. 23, on net sales of $514.2 million.

60. Homes Sales Jump 17 Percent -

Shelby County home sales in the third quarter increased 17 percent compared to the third quarter last year, and local professionals say there’s a feeling of optimism among buyers and those in the business.

61. New Mileage Standards Would Double Fuel Efficiency -

WASHINGTON (AP) – The average gas mileage of new cars and trucks will have to nearly double by 2025 under regulations that were finalized Tuesday by the Obama administration.

The new rules will require the fleet of new cars and trucks to average 54.5 miles per gallon in 13 years, up from 28.6 mpg at the end of last year.

62. Mueller Q2 Net Income Drops on Slow Commercial Construction -

Memphis-based Mueller Industries Inc. posted second quarter net income of $17.9 million, or 47 cents per diluted share.

63. Walgreen to Spend $6.7B on Alliance Boots Stake -

Walgreen Co. will pay $6.7 billion in cash and stock to buy a stake in European health and beauty retailer Alliance Boots, a deal that would give global clout to a U.S. drugstore chain struggling with slipping sales in its home market.

64. AIRfair? -

Two frequent-flyer businessmen booked side-by-side seats on Delta Air Lines flights from Minneapolis to St. Louis last month, with one of them getting charged a higher price than the other each time they tried booking it.

65. Mueller Reports Lower Net Income in Q1 -

Mueller Industries Inc. reported $32.6 million in net income for the first three months of 2012.

The earnings for the 13-week quarter compared to $40.6 million in the 14-week first quarter of 2011.

66. ‘Washington Courtyard’ Sells For $900K -

A trio of office buildings at Washington Avenue and Danny Thomas Boulevard has traded hands for $900,000.

Investment group 301 WA LTD LLC of Arizona purchased the assets from Gregory Realty GP. Brian Califf of NAI Saig Co. represented the seller.

67. Touch and Go -

In the aviation industry, Memphis International Airport is considered a fortress hub, an airport where a single airline – in Memphis’ case, Delta Air Lines Inc. – handles 70 percent or more of the passenger flights.

68. Bayer Extends GM RIce Settlement Deadline to Nov. -

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Rice farmers have nearly a month to file for part of a $750 million settlement to claims they lost money because Bayer CropScience mistakenly sold genetically modified seed in the United States.

69. Former C’ville Fitness Center Sells For $2.7M -

Memphis-based Hackmeyer Properties has bought the former Prairie Life Fitness Center at 3690 S. Houston Levee Road in Collierville from Prairie Life Fitness LLC for $2.7 million and is leasing the 57,264-square-foot facility to a new fitness company.

70. Fed's Low Rates are No Fix for Economy or Retirees -

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Federal Reserve's plan to keep interest rates super-low for at least two more years is great news for mortgage refinancers and other borrowers.

For retirees and others who need interest income, it's a threat.

71. Liberty Media Execs Discuss Barnes & Noble Offer -

NEW YORK (AP) – Executives with online company Liberty Media say the "interesting interplay" between Barnes & Noble's Nook e-reader and its retail stores is one reason they have bid for the book seller, but Barnes & Noble executives launching the device's latest version Tuesday were mum on the $1 billion offer.

72. Deal Sites Appeal to Shoppers and Businesses Alike -

Groupon is adding 150 employees a month at its U.S. headquarters and trains them in a church because the conference rooms at its headquarters aren't big enough. Ideeli has crammed so much electronic equipment into its New York office that the power goes out every day.

73. Habitat Preps New Headquarters, ReStore -

Habitat for Humanity of Memphis is in the process of relocating to a much larger facility to accommodate its growing base of clients, programs and services.

The local affiliate of the organization – an international ecumenical Christian housing ministry working to provide affordable, quality shelter for all people – makes home ownership affordable for Mid-South families for whom it might otherwise be out-of-reach, by not charging interest or profit on the mortgage and keeping the cost of construction low through the use of volunteer labor.

74. Why Inflation Hurts More Than It Did 30 Years Ago -

WASHINGTON (AP) – Inflation spooked the nation in the early 1980s. It surged and kept rising until it topped 13 percent.

These days, inflation is much lower. Yet to many Americans, it feels worse now. And for a good reason: Their income has been even flatter than inflation.

75. Average Rate on 30-Year Mortgage Hits 5.05 Pct. -

NEW YORK (AP) – The average rate on the 30-year mortgage topped 5 percent this week for the first time since April. Higher rates could further hamper the struggling housing market ahead of the spring's prime home-buying season

76. Biz Travel Professionals Look to Rebound -

Despite earlier predictions that business travel growth would decline in the latter half of 2010, it instead saw a slow rise – and that rise is expected to continue.

A report issued in the fourth quarter by the National Business Travel Association predicted a 3.8 percent increase in U.S.-originated business travel spending in 2010 over 2009. According to the group’s Business Travel Quarterly Outlook, business travel is expected to grow at a rate of 6.7 percent in 2011 and 6.9 percent in 2012.

77. Shadows of Doubt -

As the housing market continues to improve, a significant backlog of foreclosed and distressed properties that have not been put on the market could bring the recovery to a screeching halt.

Many lenders across the nation – mostly banks – are struggling to keep up with the overwhelming number of borrowers who have stopped making their mortgage payments. And with the fledgling recovery in housing still weak, banks, institutional investors and even some homeowners who want to sell their homes are waiting until the market shows marked improvement.

78. Drake, masterIT Recognized for Innovation -

Michael Drake is founder, chairman and chief executive officer of masterIT. masterIT has been named one of North America’s Most Innovative MSPs by Everything Channel’s CRN Magazine. The list recognizes the IT industry’s top 40 managed service providers for their ingenuity, leadership and success.

79. Wolfchase Files New Appraisal Challenge -

The owner of the most expensive piece of real estate in Shelby County isn’t finished challenging its 2009 appraisal.

Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group, the owner of Wolfchase Galleria, is filing another appeal of the mall’s price tag, which the Shelby County Board of Equalization in March pegged at $150 million.

80. The Biggest Spenders -

David Simon, chairman and CEO of the nation’s largest public real estate firm, told analysts a few weeks ago during Simon Property Group’s fourth quarter earnings conference call that 2009 was a challenging year. And he doesn’t think 2010 will be much better for the company, which owns two malls in Memphis.

81. Justin's Empire: Timberlake drives business interests where it all began -

Justin Timberlake might be best known for hit records, dance moves and sold-out concerts, but the 28-year-old entertainer extraordinaire is much more than a singer/dancer/performer. The award-winning, chart-topping Timberlake – or, simply, JT – has become an institution, a brand name that transcends his showbiz persona and carries as much cachet as any living celebrity.

82. Events -

LunaWeb will host Social Media Expedition Breakfast today from 7 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. at the Crescent Club, 6075 Poplar Ave. The breakfast is for anyone interested in social media. For more information, call 888-5862.

83. Financial Industry Weighs Impact of New Budget - What’s around the next corner for the banking industry is about to come into view.

The budget plan unveiled by President Barack Obama’s administration Thursday sheds some light on the future of the government’s controversial and seemingly opaque rescue effort for the financial system. To get an idea of the scope of the price tag thus far, the U.S. Treasury Department through the end of last week has spent more than $1.1 billion buying stock in 11 Tennessee banks from one corner of the state to the other.

That money was doled out as part of a $700 billion rescue effort that’s straddled two presidential administrations and which the Obama administration has signaled may have to be enlarged. The budget blueprint Obama officials released last week calls for setting aside a reserve of $250 billion on top of the $700 billion already allocated by Congress to the financial rescue.

“The existence of this reserve in the budget does not represent a specific request,” the budget plan said. “Rather as events warrant, the administration will work with the Congress to determine the appropriate size and shape of such efforts, and as more information becomes available the administration will define an estimate of potential costs.”

Figuring out the landscape

Local players in the banking industry are wondering what that means for them, as well as how rules for a new round of federal capital infusions into banks will affect them. The Obama administration also announced last week that it would begin “stress tests” of the nation’s largest banks to see how a prolonged economic slump will affect them and if they’ll need more capital to survive.

“Shortly before this Report was filed, the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the Federal Reserve Board, the (Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.) and the (Office of the Comptroller of the Currency) announced the initiation of a new Capital Assistance Program (CAP),” reads a regulatory filing made by Memphis-based First Horizon National Corp. Thursday. “Under the CAP, the capital needs of the major U.S. banking institutions are to be evaluated under a more challenging economic environment.

“If that assessment indicates a need for additional capital, the affected institution will be allowed to seek additional private capital and, failing that, may be required to issue mandatory convertible preferred shares to a government agency. … At this time it is not known whether the CAP applies to the Bank or the Corporation nor, if so, whether additional capital will be required or the terms upon which such additional capital may be issued.”

Meanwhile, the first part of the $700 billion shock treatment to the economy first set in motion by the Bush administration still has not run its full course. Cobbled together late last year at a time of broader upheaval in the housing market and the collapse of giant financial firms such as Lehman Brothers, the $700 billion effort was designed in part to spur banks to keep making loans to prevent a collapse of the economy.

To shore up bank balance sheets enough to do that, the government began buying preferred shares of stock in banks to give them immediate access to fresh capital. Of the $700 billion Congress approved for that effort, $250 billion was determined to be enough to cover all the money the government would send out to banks throughout the country that needed the money or could use it.

As of earlier last month, the government has finalized almost $196 billion worth of those transactions, meaning more banks have yet to get their capital boost.

More to come?

Greg Gonzales, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Financial Institutions, told a panel of state lawmakers last month that 40 banks in Tennessee to date have applied for the federal aid, with fewer than a dozen of those applications having been accepted so far.

Tennessee’s commercial banks, which shed almost 3,000 full-time equivalent employees in 2008, collectively lost $260 million in net income last year, according to the FDIC. One Memphis-area banker said he was at a recent social function where Citigroup chief financial officer Gary Crittenden told him the economy was likely to remain in a broad slump through the end of this year, with unemployment numbers, among other things, continuing to rise.

The banking industry as a whole is thus in the process of trying to wrap its arms around new rules purportedly designed to help it regain its footing. Jackie Prester, a shareholder in the Memphis law office of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz PC, said that’s one of the biggest concerns she’s hearing right now.

“And a lot of my clients are asking me, ‘Even if we can get our arms around these new rules – and that’s tough – what assurance do we have they won’t change the rules completely next week?’” Prester said. “The biggest wildcard (I’m hearing) is, ‘What else is Congress going to legislate that makes it difficult for me as a bank to conduct business the way I normally conduct it?’”


84. Local Institutions Wait for Piece of Bailout Pie -

As part of its $700 billion effort to shore up the country’s financial system and stabilize a shaky economy, the U.S. Treasury Department had as of last week pumped more than $177 billion in new capital into 215 banks and financial institutions.

85. Latest Numbers Paint Dreary Homebuilding Picture -

The homebuilding industry suffered another period of slower sales and fewer starts in October, signaling a continued crisis in the housing market.

Shelby County saw just 61 home sales by builders last month, a staggering 61.6 percent decline from the 159 homes sold in October 2007, according to the latest data from real estate information company Chandler Reports, www.chandlerreports.com. Last month’s total even marked a 53.1 percent dropoff from the 130 homes builders sold in September.

86. Young Building Company Coasting Along, Owners Say -

In the summer of 2006, Greg Bridgers and Kevin White left their respective homebuilding companies to form Southern Serenity Homes LLC. The longtime friends – “almost like brothers,” Bridgers said – saw the partnership as a chance to forge something new: to build homes the way they wanted at the pace they wanted, about 100 to 125 homes per year.

87. Assessor Prepares For Reappraisal — And Appeals -

As Shelby County assessor of property, Cheyenne Johnson’s job is the equivalent of hitting the bull’s eye on a moving target more than 350,000 times.

Johnson, who was elected Aug. 7 to succeed three-term assessor Rita Clark, is overseeing final preparations for next year’s countywide reappraisal, during which the property values for more than 350,000 parcels of land in Shelby County will be re-evaluated. The reappraisal occurs every four years to reflect changes in the local real estate market.

88. Allianz to Invest $2.5B In Hartford Financial -

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. said Monday it will receive a $2.5 billion investment from Allianz SE.

The Hartford, Conn.-based insurer also predicted a steep third-quarter loss, and said it is cutting its dividend in conjunction with the investment by Allianz.

89. Fannie, Freddie Deal Helps Some Borrowers, Not All -

NEW YORK (AP) - Few outside Washington and Wall Street may understand what Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac do, but the government's bailout of the two will likely be felt in cities and suburbs across the country.

90. Macaroni Grill Owner Sells Majority Stake in Chain -

NEW YORK (AP) – Brinker International Inc., the owner of the Chili’s Grill & Bar chain, will sell a majority stake in Romano’s Macaroni Grill to a private equity firm.

Under the agreement, Brinker will sell most of its stake to Mac Acquisition LLC – a unit of San Francisco-based Golden Gate Capital – for $131.5 million in cash. Brinker will then turn over $6 million to Mac Acquisition to hold onto a 19.9 percent stake in the brand.

91. Despite Decline, 100 Percent Financing Can Be Found -

While most banks and mortgage companies have pretty much eliminated 100 percent financing for home loans, the product still exists. It just doesn't flourish like it once did.

Long gone are the days of no-documentation, no-money-down, stated-income loans that ultimately sent the housing industry reeling in 2007. In response to the subsequent subprime fallout and skyrocketing foreclosure rate, companies tightened their guidelines and removed many of the loan products that created those problems in the first place.

92. Regions Financial Upgraded by Analyst Based on Valuation -

NEW YORK (AP) - A Citi Investment Research analyst upgraded Regions Financial Corp. Thursday based on the regional bank's valuation.

Analyst Greg Ketron raise his rating on Regions Financial to "Hold," as the bank now trades below his price target of $21.

93. Spring Home-Selling Season Could Disappoint -

NEW YORK (AP) - Home prices plunged by record levels in January from a year ago, with almost no major cities immune from the spiraling market. Analysts worried that even the usually reliable spring selling season would fall flat.

94. Regions Shares FallOn Analyst Cut -      Shares of Regions Financial Corp. traded lower Wednesday morning after Citi Investment Research analyst Greg Ketron cut his rating on the bank to "Sell" from "Hold."
     In a note to clients

95. History Lesson Serves As Cautionary Tale For The Pyramid -

When Brad Fain of Prosperity International looked at the Memphis riverfront around The Pyramid recently, he saw something that wasn't there. But he also missed a key part of the mental landscape.

Fain's Orlando investment company is one of the two out-of-town financial partners in the Ericson Group's $250 million plan to turn The Pyramid into Pyramid Adventure theme park and develop Mud Island park as well as other parts of the riverfront. The other is Essex Investment Partners of New York.

96. Health Insurance Premiums Rise 6.1 Percent; More Families Choosing to Go Without -

The increasing cost of health insurance is putting coverage out of reach for many small to midsize companies and their workers, even though the rise in premiums this year was the lowest increase in eight years.

97. Southern Serenity Homes Brings Unique Floor Plans to Harvest Oaks -

21 lots in
Harvest Oaks
Sale Amount: $1.9 million

Sale Date: June 6, 2007

Buyer: Southern Serenity Homes LLC

98. How Does Our Garden Grow? -

When the Memphis City Council moved to annex the 14-square-mile suburb of Hickory Hill in 1987, it sparked what became the longest fight against annexation in Memphis history.

The fight ended in 1998 after those annexation opponents who hadn't yet moved away decided to throw in the towel and sign an agreement officially ending the dispute. In return, they were assured the newly annexed community would get $150 million in capital improvements, including four city schools and two fire stations.

99. Top Labor Department Official to Speak in Memphis -

A lot has changed in the landscape of the American workday since attorney Terry Price worked for the Office of the Solicitor at the U.S. Department of Labor in Birmingham, Ala.

Price, now a partner at the national law firm Ford & Harrison LLP, worked in the office of the top lawyer for the government agency in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

100. New machines to help avoid voting irregularities -

The Shelby County Election Commission voted 3-1 this week to recommend technology giant Diebold Inc. for the contract to purchase between 1,300 and 1,500 new voting machines in time for the August 2006 primary election.