Economy Briefs: Citigroup initiates program to let troubled homeowners pay rent

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BANKING

Citigroup Inc. will try something new to keep struggling homeowners out of foreclosure: turn them into renters.

CitiMortgage announced the program Wednesday and painted it as a way to help homeowners stuck in houses they can’t afford.

The New York-based bank, however, won’t manage the program. Instead, it just sold a $158 million mortgage portfolio to investment firms that will manage the program.

It will work like this: Carrington Capital Management and its sister mortgage company will comb the portfolio for eligible homeowners — though they are homeowners in name only because they are still paying for their houses. Carrington is looking for people who owe more on their houses than they are worth, but also seem to have the means to keep making monthly payments.

They also must live in the house, meaning it can’t be a vacation home or investment property. They also have to be at least four months late on payments.

Carrington said the pilot program will help about 500 homeowners in six markets that have been hit especially hard by the plunge in housing prices: Arizona, California, Texas, Florida, Nevada and Georgia. It says it will begin contacting eligible homeowners this month.

FAST FOOD

McDonald's is left hungry for revenue with strong rivals, weak economy

NEW YORK — The Golden Arches are starting to lose some of their shine.

McDonald's Corp. says a key revenue figure came in flat in July as diners pulled back amid a rough economy. After years of outperforming rivals with a string of popular new items, the snag also suggests competition is intensifying for the world’s biggest hamburger chain.

The last time the global sales figure dipped for McDonald's was in April 2003. The figure has grown every month since then, even through the recession.

McDonald's may be underperforming the industry, which is not typical for them,” said Sara Senatore, a Bernstein analyst. She noted that Taco Bell is showing strength as a result of its popular new Doritos-flavored tacos, with revenue at restaurants open at least a year registering double-digit growth in the second quarter.

EARNINGS

HP to take a record quarterly loss after write-down of services business

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