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Tuesday, Sep 16th

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US wealth gap putting the squeeze on state revenue

income inequalityIncome inequality is taking a toll on state governments.

The widening gap between the wealthiest Americans and everyone else has been matched by a slowdown in state tax revenue, according to a report being released Monday by Standard & Poor's.

Even as income for the affluent has accelerated, it's barely kept pace with inflation for most other people. That trend can mean a double-whammy for states: The wealthy often manage to shield much of their income from taxes. And they tend to spend less of it than others do, thereby limiting sales tax revenue.

As the growth of tax revenue has slowed, states have faced tensions over whether to raise taxes or cut spending to balance their budgets as required by law.

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Seniors Forced Into Poverty As Education Department Demands Payment

student loan debtThe Education Department is demanding so much money from seniors with defaulted student loans that it's forcing tens of thousands of them into poverty, according to a government audit.

At least 22,000 Americans aged 65 and older had a part of their Social Security benefits garnished last year to the point that their monthly benefits were below federal poverty thresholds, according to the Government Accountability Office.

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Morgan Stanley to pay $95 million in U.S. mortgage-debt settlement

Morgan stanleyMorgan Stanley (MS.N) has agreed to pay $95 million to resolve a lawsuit accusing the Wall Street bank of misleading investors in mortgage-backed securities in the run up to the 2008 financial crisis.

The settlement, disclosed in court papers filed Monday in New York federal court, follows years of litigation by investors over allegedly false and misleading statements over the soured securities.

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The Cyber-Terror Bank Bailout: They're Already Talking About It, and You May Be on the Hook

Mary GalliganBankers and U.S. officials have warned that cyber-terrorists will try to wreck the financial system’s computer networks. What they aren’t saying publicly is that taxpayers will probably have to cover much of the damage.

Even if customers don’t lose money from a hacking assault on JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), the episode is a reminder that banks with the most sophisticated defenses are vulnerable. Treasury Department officials have quietly told bank insurers that in the event of a cataclysmic attack, they would activate a government backstop that doesn’t explicitly cover electronic intrusions, two people briefed on the talks said.

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Goldman Sachs agrees to $1.2bn settlement over mortgage bonds

Goldman SachsGoldman Sachs has agreed to a settlement worth $1.2bn (£723m) to resolve a US regulator's claims the bank sold Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac faulty mortgage bonds, the regulator announced on Friday.

Under the settlement with the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the conservator for the two government-controlled mortgage finance companies, Goldman Sachs said it agreed to pay $3.15bn (£1.9bn) to repurchase mortgage-backed securities from Fannie and Freddie.

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BofA in $16.5 billion deal with U.S. over mortgage bonds

Bank of AmericaBank of America Corp is expected to pay more than $16.5 billion to end investigations into mortgage securities that the bank and its units sold in the run-up to the financial crisis, in a deal that could be announced as early as Thursday, a person familiar with the matter said.

The bank has been hammering out the final details of the record-breaking accord with the U.S. Department of Justice and is expected to pay around $9 billion in cash and the rest in assistance to struggling homeowners.

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Labor sharks sink teeth into low-wage immigrant workers

Wage theftWhen Ophelia Hernández, a 53-year-old clothing store owner from El Salvador, got working papers to come to the United States, she jumped at the chance to escape the gang violence and extortionists who had forced her out of business in her native country. As she began her job search in New York, however, Hernández came up against a different kind of extortion in the form of labor sharks.

These predatory employment agencies exploit low-wage job seekers, many of whom are newly arrived or undocumented immigrants, by charging them exorbitant fees for jobs that pay less than the minimum wage – and sometimes don’t even exist.

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