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Five Things to Know Today in the World of Finance & Business

1. Fannie and Freddie Suspend Foreclosures

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have issued statements concerning delinquent and defaulted mortgages they own or guarantee.

Freddie Mac has authorized its loan servicers to suspend foreclosure proceedings for up to one year in states affected by the storm. In addition, it will permit some non-delinquent borrowers to defer payments for a similar time period, will waive late fees against borrowers with storm-damaged homes, and will refrain from reporting delinquencies caused by the weather to the credit bureaus.

Fannie Mae urged its servicers to grant borrowers affected by the disaster a 90- day period of deferred or reduced mortgage payments under its existing disaster-relief guidelines.

Both Fannie and Freddie are now part of the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

2. New York Stock Exchange Reopens

The New York Stock Exchange is set to open today after shutting down for two days because of Hurricane Sandy. The last time that the exchange was closed for two days because of bad weather was due to the Great Blizzard of 1888, and the last one-day, weather-related closing was in 1985, in the wake of Hurricane Gloria.

Although the building that houses the exchange escaped major damage and is running on back-up power, trading is expected to be light as New York’s transportation systems are not fully functional and millions in the Northeast corridor are still without electricity.

3.     Microsoft’s Ballmer Bets on ‘Surface’

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is betting the farm on his introduction of Windows 8, spending an estimated $1 billion in advertising for the new product. It’s the company’s biggest change to its flagship operating system in 17 years.

And the risk is big. On June 30, 2012, the end of its most recent fiscal year, Microsoft posted an operating loss of $8.1 billion. Since Ballmer took the helm in January 2000, the company’s stock has lost nearly half its value.

Ballmer’s strategy will only pay off if millions of traditional Windows users world-wide are ready to make the shift from former versions of the software that use a mouse and a keyboard, to a brand new interface called Surface. It revolves around the interactive tiles common on today’s new generation of tablet computers like Apple’s iPad.

4. France Taking on Google

France’s new President, Francois Hollande, said recently that the country will consider legislation that would force Google, the world’s premiere search engine, to have to pay for the right to cite news articles online, if it fails to settle its dispute with French newspapers over how to share advertising revenue.

Google warned that it would exclude French newspapers from its search engine if the new law is implemented. The company has steadfastly resisted calls that it share a portion of its ad revenues with content providers.

5. Disney: New Star Wars Film Coming Every 2 or 3 Years

The Walt Disney Co. is buying Lucasfilm Ltd., George Lucas’s company that produced and owns the Star Wars film empire. Price: $4 billion in cash and stock.

In addition to acquiring Lucasfilms’s vault of the original Star Wars movie, as well as its various sequels and prequels, Disney is planning to release a new Star Wars film every two or three years beginning in 2015. Three new features are already in development.

Disney President and CEO Robert Iger insists that the entertainment giant will earn a return beyond Lucasfilm’s purchase price. Between 1977 and 2008, the six Star Wars films made $4.4 billion in theatres world-wide.

Bill “No Pay” Fay has lived a meager financial existence his entire life. He started writing/bragging about it in 2012, helping birth into existence as the site’s original “Frugal Man.” Prior to that, he spent more than 30 years covering the high finance world of college and professional sports for major publications, including the Associated Press, New York Times and Sports Illustrated. His interest in sports has waned some, but he is as passionate as ever about not reaching for his wallet. Bill can be reached at [email protected].

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