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WASHINGTON – The government introduced a pair of new programs Tuesday that will provide $800 billion to help unfreeze the market for consumer debt and to make mortgage loans cheaper and more available.

The new programs from the Federal Reserve and Treasury Department are the latest effort to provides billions in government support to get the U.S. financial system back to more normal operations and keep the country from sliding into a deep and prolonged recession.

The Fed program for consumer debt will lend up to $200 billion to the holders of securities backed by various types of consumer loans such as credit cards, auto and student loans. The goal is to provide greater demand for these securities as a way of lowering interest rates consumers are paying and to make these loans more available.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson had signaled that the government was working on this new program. It will be supported by $20 billion of credit protection provided by the $700 billion government rescue fund.

The Fed also said Tuesday it will buy up to $600 billion in mortgage-backed assets in a separate attempt to deal with the financial crisis.

The Fed said it will purchase up to $100 billion in direct obligations from mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as well as the Federal Home Loan Banks. It also will purchase another $500 billion in mortgage-backed securities, pools of mortgages that are bundled together and sold to investors.

The severe financial crisis rocking global markets began more than a year ago with rising defaults on subprime mortgages, loans provided to borrowers with weak credit histories.

The billions of dollars of losses financial institutions have suffered on their mortgage loans have caused banks to stop making new loans of various types. The huge loan losses have also caused multiple failures and takeovers, resulting in the biggest upheavals in the financial system since the Great Depression.

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WASHINGTON — The number of homeowners ensnared in the foreclosure crisis grew by more than 70 percent in the third quarter of this year compared with the same period in 2007, according to data released Thursday.

Nationwide, nearly 766,000 homes received at least one foreclosure-related notice from July through September, up 71 percent from a year earlier, said foreclosure listing service RealtyTrac Inc.

By the end of the year, RealtyTrac expects more than a million bank-owned properties to have piled up on the market, representing around a third of all properties for sale in the U.S.

That’s bad news for anyone who lives nearby and wants to sell their home. While foreclosure sales are booming in many areas, those properties are commanding deep discounts and pulling down neighboring property values. “It has a pretty significant impact in terms of pricing,” said Rick Sharga, RealtyTrac’s vice president for marketing.

RealtyTrac monitors default notices, auction sale notices and bank repossessions. More than 250,000 properties were repossessed by lenders nationwide in the third quarter, 81,000 of which were taken back last month.

Six states _ California, Florida, Arizona, Ohio, Michigan and Nevada _ accounted for more than 60 percent of all foreclosure activity in the quarter, with California alone making up more than a quarter of all U.S. foreclosure filings.

Detroit and Atlanta were the only cities outside California, Florida, Nevada and Arizona to make RealtyTrac’s list of the 20 hardest-hit metropolitan areas.

The combination of sinking home values, tighter mortgage lending criteria and an economy that many economists think has already slipped into recession has left hundreds of thousands of homeowners with few options. Many can’t find buyers or owe more than their home is worth and can’t refinance into an affordable loan, with the global credit crisis making loans far less available.

Source: AP

How to rack up debt seems to be the first lesson many American college kids learn these days. In Bloomington, the staff at the famed Mother Bear Pizzeria consists of mostly Indiana University students working their way through school. Catching the rare free moment between orders, workers explained the stress they are feeling in these rocky economic times. The recent credit crunch at the banks and the chaos on Wall Street has already added to their worries – undercutting family credit records, draining stock funds, and causing some students to question what their future will hold.

ANP

People all across the country are suffering the fallout from Wall Street’s financial H-Bomb. ANP producer David Murdock and McClatchy Newspaper journalist Tony Pugh have set out on a journey across America to see how economic shock waves from last week’s DC drama are being felt across the land. Their road trip begins in the well-heeled town of Greenwich, Connecticut, where mountains of Wall Street money have created a community seemingly isolated from the tribulations of the common man, but even here, some cracks are beginning to show and those who depend on the rich are beginning to feel the pain.

Source: ANP