It may still be premature to pop that post-recessionchampagne, however. The following is a look at some bad news in various categories and a tally of “the worst” so far in 2012.
The housing market may be showing some signs of life, but defaults and foreclosures still run rampant.
According to statistics culled by RealtyTrac, an online marketplace of foreclosure properties, Nevada, Arizona, and California had the top state foreclosure rates through last year and heading into this one.
Roughly one out of every 16 Nevada housing units had at least one foreclosure filing last year, giving it the nation’s highest state foreclosure rate for the fifth consecutive year, despite a 31 percent decrease in foreclosure activity from 2010. Nevada foreclosure activity also dropped 35 percent from the third quarter to the fourth last year, “driven primarily by a 70 percent decrease in default notices, the result of a new law that took effect in October requiring lenders to file an additional affidavit before starting the foreclosure process,” RealtyTrac explains in a report.
Arizona registered the nation’s second-highest state foreclosure rate for the third year in a row, with 4.14 percent of its housing units (one in 24) with at least one foreclosure filing in 2011.
California, although seeing a similar late-year drop in foreclosure auctions, had the third-highest foreclosure rate for all of 2011 (one in every 31 housing units). Other states with 2011 foreclosure rates among the highest in the nation were Georgia, Utah, Michigan, Colorado, and Idaho.
On a more local, metro-area level, Las Vegas (with 7.4 percent of its housing stock) had held down the top foreclosure rate for the year among metropolitan statistical areas with a population of 200,000 or more.
RealtyTrac found that 10 out of the top 20 metro foreclosure rates were in California cities — Stockton, Modesto, Riverside-San Bernardino, Merced, Bakersfield, Visalia, and Ventura.
According to the Washington research group Center on Budget & Policy Priorities, the list of states facing the largest potential budget gaps (for fiscal year 2012) included California ($930 million), Illinois ($507 million), New York ($350 million), New Jersey ($325 million), and Louisiana ($198 million).
It is hard to get a bead on which money manager is off to the worst start in 2012, in part because of the secrecy that surrounds hedge funds.
One name immediately prevails on the worst of 2011, however.
John Paulson, founder and president of Paulson & Co., a New York-based hedge fund that made billions short-selling subprime mortgages, had a staggeringly bad year. Among his misfortunes were dumping all shares of Bank of America and Citigroup before a fourth-quarter jump. In all, he lost $9.6 billion.
Put in perspective, the previous poster child for a hedge fund disasters was Long-Term Capital Management, which in 1998 lost $4.6 billion in the Russian financial crisis, needed a bailout by the U.S. Federal Reserve and was gone by 2000.
Although the Dow Jones Industrial Average has been bouncing above and below the 13,000 mark, not all of the stocks in the index have shared in that success.
In a Feb. 28 article on Dow industrial stocks that have been the most sluggish this year, we found: VerizonCommunications, Wal-Mart Stores, Coca-Cola, Pfizer,and Johnson & Johnson.
In a Thursday story we looked at disappointing stocks in the S&P 500 index .
That list included Allegheny Technologies, Entergy, Constellation Energy, Goodyear Tire & Rubber,Frontier Communications, International Game Technology, Apollo Group,Electronic Arts, and Supervalu.