Visa, MasterCard, and several banks have agreed to pay $7.25 billion to settle antitrust charges that were brought by 7 million merchants, a diverse group ranging from the nation’s largest chains to mom-and-pop shops. If the deal is approved by a federal judge, it would end a long-running dispute over the “swipe fee” — 2 to 5 percent of the bill — that Visa and MasterCard charge merchants every time a customer uses plastic. [...]
WASHINGTON — They drive cars, but seldom new ones. They earn paychecks, but not big ones. Many own homes. Most pay taxes. Half are married, and nearly half live in the suburbs. None are poor, but many describe themselves as barely scraping by.
Down but not quite out, these Americans form a diverse group sometimes called “near poor” and sometimes simply overlooked — and a new count suggests they are far [...]
By Roland Jones
Five years after U.S. home prices peaked, overall expectations for the nation’s housing market are still dimming, according to a survey of economists, real estate experts and investment strategists.
Although some local real estate markets are stable or strong, more broadly, fundamentals in the U.S. housing market remain very weak, despite record-low interest rates, according to the results of the September 2011 home price expectations [...]