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Banker News
  

Gov. Scott Walker: Labor market on right path
Sheboygan Press
Gov. Scott Walker said Friday the state's labor market is on the right path and he's expecting to see a dramatic swing in hiring later this year, though new data shows that state is lagging behind the rest of the nation in private sector job growth. At a recent business summit, Walker said political uncertainty stemming from the recall effort against him and Wisconsin's skilled-labor shortage have hampered the state's unemployment picture, though he's confident things are turning around. Summit attendee Wendy Sellen, an agricultural and business banker with Cleveland State Bank, said many of her clients are holding off on planned expansions and investments as they're awaiting the outcome of upcoming state and national elections, which will determine the future of the federal health care law and other regulations. Sheyboygan Press

Northwestern Mutual to swap Oak Creek land
Business Journal of Milwaukee
Northwestern Mutual will boost its real estate portfolio with about 50 acres of prime land along Interstate 94 near the planned Drexel Avenue interchange in Oak Creek as part of a land swap with the Milwaukee County Parks Department. The company has no specific plans for the property, which now is undeveloped park land. No commercial real estate project seems imminent as a result of the planned transaction. The swap calls for Northwestern Mutual to give about 75 acres it owns, or has agreements to buy, to the county for use as park land south of Drexel Avenue and west of I-94. The company, in turn, will get 53 acres of unused land that was to be part of Falk Park. The transaction is subject to approvals by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the National Park Service. Business Journal of Milwaukee

Bank of American begins pilot program offering those facing foreclosure a chance rent
Fox News
Bank of America says it has begun a pilot program offering some of its mortgage customers who are facing foreclosure a chance to stay in their homes by becoming renters instead of owners. The "Mortgage to Lease" program, which was launched this week, will be available to fewer than 1,000 BofA customers selected by the bank in test markets in Arizona, Nevada and New York. Participants will transfer their home's title to the bank, which will then forgive the outstanding mortgage debt. In exchange, they will be able to lease their home for up to three years at or below the rental market rate. The rent will be less than the participants' current mortgage payments and customers will not have to pay property taxes or homeowners insurance. To qualify for the program, homeowners must have a BofA loan, be behind at least 60 days on payments and be "underwater," owing more on their mortgages than their homes are worth. Fox News

Banks lend again, but their customers are wary
Wall Street Journal
Since the credit crisis of 2008, everyone has been waiting for the banks to start lending money again. It's finally happening, but there's a catch: Businesses are afraid to spend it. Bank loans to businesses grew 10 percent last year after dropping 19 percent in 2009 and 9 percent in 2010, according to the Federal Reserve. But much of the loan growth comes from lines of credit, not traditional loans. And instead of tapping available credit to power up plants, open factories and hire people, businesses are waiting. Even successful business owners have found it difficult to adopt the easy confidence of the years before the deep and bruising recession. They want to see more improvement in the economy before they take great risks again. For many business owners, it has been an arduous climb back just to survive, and that's made many of them averse to risk. For their part, banks say regulations passed since the financial crisis have made it difficult for them to lend because they have to set more cash aside to cushion themselves against future losses. Wall Street Journal

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