Is Bank of America Lehman's savior?
Good morning, Tampa Bay. Banking news and speculation, aplenty. Wall Street's Lehman Brothers seems rapidly headed (with or without a government-orchestrated deal) a takeover and Bank of America, so far, looks like a strong candidate to do the job. Other reports insist a consortium of firms will come to the rescue. Resolving Lehman remains one of the key fixes still needed to make everybody -- Tampa Bay banks and individual investors included -- regain some confidence in our "who's steering this ship charge?" financial system. And don't forget Lehman's deep ties to Florida.
Not that plain old commercial banking companies are out of the woods. Even as $143-billion Washington Mutual runs cutesy "WaMu" ads in the Tampa Bay market, its stock is crumbling and it faces $19-billion in bad loans. And now come suggestions that it may need to sell off deposits and branches to stay afloat. Or simply be acquired. WaMu has dozens of area branches and is advertising some aggressive CD rates these days to attract more deposits.
And what's ultimately behind all this financial pain? Troubled housing. Fresh foreclosure numbers are out from RealtyTrac this morning -- read it yourself right here -- showing August foreclosure filings nationally were up 27 percent year to year and 12 percent since July. That's slower than lately -- good news. Florida posted the second highest total in August, with foreclosure filings reported on 44,000 properties during the month — a 4 percent decrease from the previous month but still up nearly 30 percent from August 2007. One in every 194 Florida properties received a foreclosure filing in August, the nation’s fourth highest state foreclosure rate.
Up, up and away, more efficiently? The Wall Street Journal today reports the FAA may expand the new approaches to handle eventual airplane traffic growth and reduce airplane fuel requirements during landings and takeoffs at Tampa, Chicago, Miami and other cities. Glad to see TIA is still on the cutting edge even if the airlines it serves are struggling.
Speaking of tightening up on fuel, the Orlando Sentinel reports at least one chain of gas stations, Kangaroo Express, thinks Hurricane Ike's strike in the gulf might justify rationing gas at the pump here in Florida. Check it out.
And finally, good stuff from Slate with its look at the "80 most powerful octogenarians" in the country, including former Tampa Bay Lightning owner William Davidson, 84. Hey, kudos to this elite group for just making it this far!
--Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist