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Banker News

Fewer Wisconsin banks posted losses in 2011
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Wisconsin's banking industry continued to recover in 2011, with only about 1 of 8 state banks finishing in the red, new data shows. That compares to about 1 of every 5 banks that were unprofitable in 2010. The Wisconsin Bankers Association pointed out that state banks are outpacing national averages in several key areas, such as capital ratios and the percent of banks that are profitable. "We see clear signs that the industry stability is continuing," said Rose Oswald Poels, president and chief executive of the Wisconsin Bankers Association. "Improved capital ratios and consistent net interest margins show us that Wisconsin's banks remain dependable." The number of institutions on the FDIC's problem list fell for the third quarter in a row, to 813 from 844. That is the smallest number of problem banks since first quarter 2010. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Economy grew at a faster pace at end of 2011
Wisconsin State Journal
The economy grew at a slightly faster pace in the final three months of last year, and Americans earned more income than previously reported. That could set the stage for stronger growth this year. The Commerce Department said Wednesday that the economy expanded at a 3 percent annual rate in the October-December quarter, the fastest pace since the spring of 2010. The growth estimate was revised up because consumers spent more than first thought, and businesses cut spending by much less. Imports rose by a smaller amount. The report also showed that incomes rose in the second half of last year by more than previously estimated. Americans saved more, too. Income growth is crucial. Economists have worried that recent gains in consumer spending weren't sustainable without more pay. Higher incomes also make it easier for Americans to pay off their debts. Wisconsin State Journal

Lenders: Incentives make sense for both sides
Wisconsin State Journal
The national banks offering cash incentives to delinquent borrowers in short sales say the practice makes sense. "We think a short sale is a better and faster solution for the homeowner and the neighborhood and the investor, when the homeowner doesn't qualify for a modification," said Chase Bank spokeswoman Christine Holevas. "It allows everything to move forward." Holevas also confirmed her bank was doing more short sales and offering incentives of up to $35,000 per seller. Banks often refer to their seller incentives as "relocation assistance," noting sellers may use the money for expenses such as rent and moving costs. Wisconsin State Journal

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