* Worry Grows Over Insurers (M.P. Mcqueen, Wall Street Journal)

While consumers have been fretting about the safety of their policies at large, publicly traded insurers, some smaller, less-watched companies have been running into trouble too.

* Munich-based Focus Magazine looking for foreclosure interviews (Jim Wasserman, Sacramento Bee)

In an email from Germany this week, reporter Stefan Wagner says he is coming to Northern California in about 10 days to do a magazine story “on the effects of the financial crisis on Californians.” He has done some preliminary research and found that Merced has the state’s highest foreclosure rate – and would like to interview people in the foreclosure belt (my description) who are in process …

* Chase opens its Sacramento center for loan modifications (Jim Wasserman, Sacramento Bee)

JPMorgan Chase opened its walk-in Sacramento foreclosure prevention center this morning with a 9 a.m. briefing for nonprofit loan counselors who have helping some of the bank’s troubled clients.

* How to pair high- and low-priced items at home (Olivia Stren, National Post)

At the Academy Awards in 1996, provocateuse Sharon Stone out-performed the be-sequinned and be-gowned when she sported a basic black Gap mock-neck T. She paired it with a floor-sweeping Valentino couture skirt and kicked off the voguish po-mo trend toward wedding the high and low. (Flip through any tabloid and behold pics of Hollywood glamourati shopping at, say, Whole Foods, dressed in food-st…

* Fannie, Freddie broaden refinance help (Kenneth Harney, San Francisco Chronicle)

Although initial reports suggested that the refis would be for owner-occupied primary residences, the guidelines sent to lenders March 4 by Fannie and Freddie say second homes and small rental properties are eligible, provided their mortgages already are in the companies’ portfolios or securitizations and have been paid on time.

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* Mortgage-fraud defendant sentenced to seven years in prison (Sanjay Bhatt, Seattle Times)

A federal judge sentenced a former Bellevue loan officer today to seven years in prison for perpetrating what prosecutors say is one of the largest home-mortgage fraud cases brought so far in Western Washington.

* House prices fall to lowest level on record says Land Registry (Myra Butterworth, Telegraph)

The Land Registry said house prices dropped by a record 15.1 per cent in January compared with a year ago. It is the largest drop since the Land Registry began its records in January 1995.

* ‘ALZHEIMER’ SCAMMER GETS 2 YRS. (William J. Gorta, New York Post)

A former Long Islander was sentenced on hate-crime charges yesterday for pulling a brazen, $800,000 mortgage scam on a 94-year-old Alzheimer’s victim, officials said.

* JPMorgan Chase to cut 14,000 jobs as it braces for losses (Sacramento Business Journal)

JPMorgan Chase told investors Thursday that it will cut 14,000 jobs, up from a previously announced 9,200 in December.

* Economy shrinks at fastest pace in 26 years (Jeannine Aversa-)

The economy contracted at a staggering 6.2 percent pace at the end of 2008, the worst showing in a quarter-century, as consumers and businesses ratcheted back spending, plunging the country deeper into recession.The Commerce Department report released Friday showed the economy sinking much faster than the 3.8 percent annualized drop for the October-December quarter first estimated last m…

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* Complaints pile up along with illegal Ike debris-dumping (Harvey Rice, Houston Chronicle)

GALVESTON The pile of trash dumped in front of Jeff Chasalows storm-damaged home added another headache to his already long list of irritations since Hurricane Ike struck more than five months ago.

* New-Home Sales Tumble to Record Low Pace (Jeannine Aversa-)

New-home sales tumbled to a record-low annual pace in January and there’s no relief in sight as mounting damage from the collapsed housing market pushes the country deeper into recession.

* Chase to cut 14,000 jobs as it braces for losses (Boston Business Journal)

JPMorgan Chase & Co. told investors Thursday that it will cut 14,000 jobs, up from a previously announced 9,200 in December.

* Economy likely suffered deeper contraction (Jeannine Aversa-)

WASHINGTON — The economy’s downhill slide at the end of last year was likely much steeper than the government initially thought and it is probably doing just as poorly now – if not worse – as a relentless slew of negative forces feed on each other, pushing the country deeper into recession.

* Regulators Missed IndyMac Woes (Michael R. Crittenden, Dow Jones Newswires)

WASHINGTON — Federal regulators failed to catch warning signs that presaged the collapse of mega-thrift IndyMac Bank last July, a U.S. government watchdog said Thursday.

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* Banks delay foreclosures

* Peering into our economic future (David Brooks, San Diego Union-Tribune)

* Late rise in stocks on news of homeowner aid (Reuters America)

* Triad foreclosure filings fall 62 percent (Sacramento Business Journal)

* Charlotte in same predicament as Wall Street (Ieva M. Augstums)

* Nissan forecasts loss, cuts 20,000 jobs (Reuters America)

* Wall Street seeks action before commiting to stocks (Asbury Park Press)

* JPMorgan, Citigroup to freeze foreclosures

* Big lenders halt foreclosures

* Defense rests in Wright trial (Jeff Shields, Philadelphia Inquirer)