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Keeping Track: Mortgage foreclosures

A sagging economy is hitting homeowners hard.

The segment of American mortgage-holders with foreclosures "in process" hit 1.23 percent last week, a 30-year high, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association of America (MBAA).

The number of foreclosures "started" (chart, below) may offer a more accurate read, says the MBAA's Phil Colling, because the process can drag on for months in some states. Foreclosure "starts" now stand at 0.4 percent. The area with the most foreclosures under way: the Northeast.

Top risk to global business: governments

Firms looking to extend their operations abroad usually weigh the threats of terrorism, armed confict, and violent crime in countries where they hope to set up shop. Most also try to gauge the effectiveness of the governments under whose laws they will be doing business.

Even amid current global turmoil, security issues appear to be a less troubling factor overall than official bureaucracy and corruption.

That's according to an analysis this month by RiskWire, a service of the Economist Intelligence Unit, based in London. RiskWire studied 60 countries, including the US, looking at 10 categories of "operation risk" – ranging from regulatory and tax policies to political stability and security.

RiskWire assigned a rating of 0 to 100 points to each category (with 100 representing the greatest risk to profitablilty). On average, government-related risk scored 59; security risks scored 35.

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