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Pieces Together

OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND

"From the steam grates of Pennsylvania Avenue to the porticoes of the city's grand buildings, homeless Washingtonians who live inside the nation's tightest security zone are being encouraged to decamp during the inauguration for shelters in the city's outer neighborhoods. The security sweeps will probably begin Monday. Buses will make one-way trips to two of the District's largest shelters, which will remain open round-the-clock, said D.C. Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6)."Everyone has to be out of the perimeter by then," Wells said." (Washington Post, 15 January)

GROWING OLD DISGRACEFULLY

"Miriam Gorman wanted to retire more than a year ago, but steep financial losses in her retirement savings mean the 71-year-old bookkeeper now plans to work on indefinitely. ‘I would have preferred to retire at the end of 2007, and then I was thinking at the end of this year, and now maybe it's next year. I really don't know,’ said Gorman, who's been with an advertising company in Bethesda, Maryland, for 15 years. Across America, older workers are postponing retirement plans, dismayed by huge losses in the value of the investments they had depended on to fund their retirement. The U.S. recession has compounded the problem, with home values too low to provide the nest egg many seniors need and interest rates on safer assets close to zero." (Yahoo News, 17 January)

HARD TIMES

"Think pawnshops, and you probably conjure up old jewelry, desperate customers, and seedy storefronts. Hardly, it would seem, the ingredients for innovation. Yet amid recession, the country's largest chain, Cash America International (NYSE:CSH - News), is using the credit-crunch boom time to lure new customers and expand. To woo the growing number of consumers facing a credit squeeze, Cash America is boosting the amount of short-term loans it offers online, and is adding a cash-advance feature to electronic payroll cards. Such cards are gaining popularity among employees with poor credit, or those without traditional bank accounts." (Yahoo News, 5 February)

MORTGAGE MISERY

"One house was repossessed every ten minutes in the third quarter of last year as the rate of seizures almost doubled, the Financial Services Auithority said yesterday. The City regulator said that 13,616 homes were repossessed in the three months to September last year, a 92 per cent rise on the third quarter of 2007. There was also a rise in the number of homeowners in arrears, indicating that hundreds of thousands of borrowers could lose their homes. The FSA said that 340,000 borrowers were behind on mortgage repayments, a 10 per cent rise compared with the previous quarter of last year and a 24 per cent rise on the same period in 2007." (Times, 23 January)