* Moon: Look out for economic sleight-of-hand (David Moon, Knoxville News-Sentinel)

When you watch a magician, don’t look where he wants you to look. If he’s holding a black wand in his right hand, watch his left hand down by his side. If he throws a tablecloth in the air, keep your eye on the bare table on the stage.

* The US economy gets better relatively (Dante Chinni, Christian Science Monitor)

There may actually be reason to believe things are getting better at least somewhat better. That is the main news from Patchwork Nations Economic Hardship Index for April.

* Food and Beverage 2009: A Year of Change (Meg Flynn, Retail Merchandiser)

Market research and analysis firm Packaged Facts gives food and beverage retailers the consumer and product information they need to succeed in 2009.

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A short and simple article by Dave Kansas.

The Federal Reserve stress test results are due out May 7, and early reports indicate that as many as six of the 19 large financial institutions surveyed may need to raise more capital to satisfy regulators that they can deal with the current economic challenges.

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* Senate defeats anti-foreclosure proposal (Anne Flaherty, WRAL)

The Democratic-controlled Senate on Thursday defeated a plan to spare hundreds of thousands of homeowners from foreclosure through bankruptcy, a proposal that President Barack Obama embraced but did little to see through.

* BofA’s profit rise, but so do worries (Christina Rexrode, Statesville Record & Landmark)

Bank of America said Monday it made more money in the first quarter than it did in all of 2008, blowing away analysts’ predictions and the profits of every other bank so far. But even that couldn’t please investors, who believe that more bad news is on the horizon. The bank’s shares fell through the day, plunging 24 percent.

* Chancellor expected to help boost supply of mortgage funds in Budget (Myra Butterworth, The Daily Telegraph)

Alistair Darling will announce in the Budget this week that the Government will underwrite billions of pounds worth of new mortgage-backed assets.

* Looking at buying a home? ‘Get off the sidelines’ (Nancy Kimball, Daily Inter Lake)

In the first 45 days this year, a third of all home sales in the Flathead Valley tracked by Northwest Montana Association of Realtors’ Multiple Listing Service were foreclosed properties.

Here is today’s article from Urban Tulsa Weekly on Highest-paid.

When the revolution comes, the tribunal will turn to two sources to determine who should be arrested: a list of the 500 highest-paid CEOs and the Styles section of The New York Times.

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* Senate defeats Obama-backed, anti-foreclosure bill (Anne Flaherty, San Francisco Chronicle)

dozen Democrats joined Republicans in the 45-51 vote to scuttle the bill, which Obama had said was important to saving the economy and promised to push through Congress. But facing stiff opposition from banks, Obama did little to pressure lawmakers who worried it would encourage bankruptcy filings and spike interest rates.

* Don’t dismiss state help for mortgagebacked securities (George Hay, The Daily Telegraph)

Slicing and dicing huge quantities of duff mortgages into securities and selling them to investors who were oblivious to their poor quality undermined the financial system.

* ‘Cramdown ‘ Lacks Votes (Elizabeth Williamson, Wall Street Journal)

President Barack Obama’s proposal to give homeowners new relief in bankruptcy court appears headed to defeat in the Senate Thursday, barring a last-minute compromise.

* People are angry. Of course, people are always angry, because it’s one of the… (Jon Carroll, San Francisco Chronicle)

Let me tell you about my life. No, stop looking at your watch – this is just 850 words, and you can sit still for that. Without revealing too many details, let me just give you an overview of my financial situation. I’m employed, although I’m employed in the newspaper business, so how much does that really count? But still, a paycheck. Yes, I am one of those millions of Americans – a majority o…

* Small kitchen, smaller budget? 5 tips to renovate (Josh Hoffner, The Gazette)

An intriguing trend has emerged from the wreckage of the real estate market: The brave souls taking the plunge into homeownership are increasingly turning to studio apartments and smaller homes.

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Here is today’s article from Jim Wasserman on Loan-modification.

We’re going to find out now whether foreclosure moratoriums and new loan-modification programs will work.

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A short story by Clinton Manning.

Half a million homeowners will struggle to pay their mortgage next year, lenders forecast yesterday.

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* Sister Libby Fernandez leads battle for the homeless in Sacramento (Cynthia Hubert, Sacramento Bee)

Jackie Fitzgerald, who is homeless, rallies with others Tuesday at the Capitol. The recent flap over Sacramento’s tent city – which has now been dismantled – has given rise to a new push to help the area’s homeless, led in part by Sister Libby Fernandez of Loaves & Fishes. She envisions a series of smaller, legal campgrounds with sanitation services, running water, and mental health and drug co…

* Cities clicking together to fight foreclosure blight (Jean Hopfensperger, Star Tribune)

With so many new incentives for home buyers, Danetta Saul is considering taking the plunge. The Woodbury schoolteacher was excited to learn about a project being launched today by St. Paul and Minneapolis to lure more home buyers to the two cities.

* Falling prices mean we can finally buy our first homes (Karen Rockett, Mirror)

Talk to most homeowners and they will tell you they are horrified at the way their houses are plunging in value.

* USDA approved (Beth W. Orenstein, Morning Call)

Jamie and Danielle Brannon bought a $133,500 two-bedroom home in Nazareth in January and paid only $134.63 out-of-pocket.

* Buy while rates are low (Beth W. Orenstein, Morning Call)

Lenders expect that with mortgage interest rates at historic lows, with home prices declining and many first-time homebuyers eligible for up to an $8,000 tax credit, they will be kept busy with applications for home loans this spring.

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A short story by Jim Wasserman at Sacramento Bee.

Irvine-based Real Estate Disposition Corp. has auctioned 1,912 Sacramento-area foreclosed homes for $261.4 million since mid-2007:

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* Mortgage stabilization law effective (Michael Symons, Asbury Park Press)

In the growing whirl in the state capital, a couple of laws took effect last week without being noted here.