Morning Business Memo …

Nov 8, 2011 8:21am

Mortgage late payments are rising for the first time since the depths of the economic downturn. The latest quarterly survey by the credit reporting firm Transunion shows many Americans are still struggling to keep up with home loan debt. The results come as average incomes fail to keep up with inflation. The rate that mortgage holders were late with their payments by 60 days or more rose in the June-to-September period for the first time since the last three months of 2009 — 6.44 percent of homeowners missed two or more payments, an early sign of possible foreclosure, up from 5.82 percent in the 2011 second quarter.

If bond market investors have any say, Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi will be forced out of power — 6.7 per cent is the latest interest rate for a 10-year Italian government bond. His government faces a budget vote today. If Berlusconi loses, he’s likely to resign. Borrowing rates have spiked as worry grows over Italy’s massive debt and annual deficits.

Picture this. A scandal at Olympus. The Japanese camera and medical equipment maker is in deep trouble. Olympus shares plunged 29 percent overnight. The company admits it used a series of buyouts to hide massive losses dating back to the 1990s. Olympus reversed earlier denials of wrongdoing and has fired its executive vice president. The company’s chairman resigned last month. The Japanese government is investigating the scandal.

Bonus pay for Wall Street traders and investors is likely to drop sharply in 2011. Projections by the consulting firm Johnson Associates Inc. show bonuses may shrink by as much as 30 percent from last year with sharper drops for bond traders. The Wall Street Journal reports the bonus projections reflect tough times at many banks and securities firms since the spring.

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