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Business/Economy

  • Feds clamp down on LANB

    The Los Alamos National Bank is once again under regulatory restrictions by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the federal agency that regulates the federal banking system.

    The bank had just came out of a similar regulatory agreement this spring, which was entered in 2010.

    “The Comptroller has found unsafe or unsound banking practices relating to management and board supervision, credit underwriting, credit administration and deficiencies in internal controls,” according to the agreement

    According to bank President Steve Wells, the OCC was concerned that LANB overextended itself on $5.5 million in loans that were spread out amongst seven customers. The bank extended the loans into 2012. The OCC’s opinion was that the bank should have called in the loans in 2011. Wells said the bank has about $1.2 billion in total loans.

    “They have requested us to recognize our risks in the time that it should be recognized and we don’t disagree with that,” Wells said. “We understand the intricacies of the regulations and that we weren’t in alignment.”  

    Wells also noted that the OCC “is one of the toughest regulators out there” and that part of the problem was the two entities have two different viewpoints when it comes to community banking.

  • Despite deal, taxes to rise for most Americans


    WASHINGTON (AP) — While the tax package that Congress passed New Year's Day will protect 99 percent of Americans from an income tax increase, most of them will still end up paying more federal taxes in 2013.

    That's because the legislation did nothing to prevent a temporary reduction in the Social Security payroll tax from expiring. In 2012, that 2-percentage-point cut in the payroll tax was worth about $1,000 to a worker making $50,000 a year.

    The Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan Washington research group, estimates that 77 percent of American households will face higher federal taxes in 2013 under the agreement negotiated between President Barack Obama and Senate Republicans. High-income families will feel the biggest tax increases, but many middle- and low-income families will pay higher taxes too.

  • What's Exactly in 'fiscal Cliff' Plan
  • House won't vote before midnight on 'cliff' deal

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The House will miss the midnight Monday deadline lawmakers set for voting to avoid the "fiscal cliff."

    House Republicans notified lawmakers that the chamber will vote Monday evening on other bills. They say that will be their only votes of the day.

    President Barack Obama and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said Monday they are near a deal to avoid wide-ranging tax increases and spending cuts — the fiscal cliff — that take effect with the new year.

    Both men said they were still bargaining over whether — and how — to avoid $109 billion in cuts to defense and domestic programs that take effect on Wednesday.

  • Stores look to week after Christmas for sales

    Bargain-hungry Americans will need to go on a post-Christmas spending binge to salvage this holiday shopping season.

    Despite the huge discounts and other incentives that stores offered leading up to Christmas, U.S. holiday sales so far this year have been the weakest since 2008, when the nation was in a deep recession.

    So stores now are depending on the days after Christmas to make up lost ground: The final week of December can account for about 15 percent of the month's sales, and the day after Christmas is typically one of the biggest shopping days of the year.

    Stores, which don't typically talk about their plans for sales and other promotions during the season, are known for offering discounts of up to 70 percent after the holiday. This year, they're hoping to lure more bargain hunters who held off on shopping because they wanted to get the best deals of the season.

  • Gas prices on the decline

    Just in time for the holidays, some local gas stations in Los Alamos are charging less than $3 per gallon.

  • Holsapple to step down

    Kevin Holsapple has made the decision to step down as executive director of the Los Alamos Commerce and Development Corporation/Chamber of Commerce.

    Holsapple notified chamber staff of his decision this afternoon.

    Holsapple, who has been the executive director for the past 15 years, plans to relinquish the helm in April.

    “I am looking to step back and get down to a lesser-than-full-time activity so I can get some other projects done,” Holsapple said. “I turned 55 this year and I am looking to shift gears a bit. This is the last phase of work life.

    “I am going to continue to work, but just on a part-time basis. I have not resigned or quit or anything like that. I am just drawing back on the amount of time and effort I put into this job.”

    The LACDC Executive Committee has begun preparing a search for Holsapple’s replacement.

    A memo from the executive committee to the full board last week stated, “Kevin has made the decision to pursue other career ambitions with his wife while they are still young enough to do so. While we value his service to the chamber and the community, we understand and respect his decision.”

  • Small Business Saturday

    David Jolly from Metzger’s Do It Best presents a check for $669.59 to Kristy Ortega, with the United Way. Metzger’s participated in the Small Business Saturday, which donated a percentage of sales to the United Way.

  • Credit union kicks in for Kiwanis

    Ann Hayes of the Kiwanis Club of Los Alamos accepts a large monetary donation from Del Norte Credit Union board member Roger Stutz to support the Breakfast with Santa. The event raises money for the Kiwanis Foster Kids Dinner and all food donated is distributed to LA Cares.

  • Highlights of White House, GOP budget plans

    The Obama administration and House Republicans have unveiled their opening offers in talks to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff. Details are scant but the White House estimates its plan would carve $4.4 trillion from the deficit over the coming decade, including previously enacted cuts ($1 trillion) and savings from reduced costs for overseas military operations ($800 billion), as well as interest payments on the national debt ($600 billion).

    House Republicans say their plan would cut deficits by $2.2 trillion over 10 years, but they don't claim previous cuts, war savings or interest costs toward that total. Both plans would block automatic spending cuts set to hit the economy in January and renew Bush-era tax cuts set to expire at the end of the month.

    The two plans both draw upon ideas from 2011 talks between President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, including a secret plan by top Obama aide Rob Nabors that was made public by author and Washington Post writer Bob Woodward.

    Here are the highlights of all three approaches:

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