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In the beginning

(Bloomberg) -- Federal Reserve officials in August 2007 saw the beginnings of the crisis in subprime mortgages and concluded that the U.S. economy would be able to withstand it, transcripts from their 2007 meetings show.

“Well-capitalized banks and opportunistic investors will come in and fill the gap, restoring credit flows to nonfinancial businesses and to the vast majority of households that can service their debts,” Donald Kohn, then vice chairman of the board, said in Aug. 2007 according to transcripts of the Federal Open Market Committee meetings released Friday in Washington.

The transcripts show the committee's slow grasp on the enormity of contagion that was to spread throughout global markets as a result of billions of dollars in low-quality housing assets that had been securitized into bonds and sold to banks and investors worldwide.

“The odds are that the market will stabilize,” Bernanke told the committee in Aug. 2007, according to the transcripts from that year. “This restrictive effect could come in various magnitudes. It could be moderate, or it could be more severe, and we are just going to have to monitor how it adjusts over time.”

Wind rushes to finish

(Bloomberg) -- U.S. wind power accounted for 6 percent of the nation's total electricity generation capacity after developers rushed to finish projects before expiration of a subsidy, Bloomberg New Energy Finance said.

The threat that the U.S. Production Tax Credit would lapse on Dec. 31 prompted developers to complete as many projects as they could last month, the London-based research group said.

A record 13.2 gigawatts of turbines were installed last year including 5.5 gigawatts in December, the most ever for a single month. Total wind capacity is about 60 gigawatts.

“It's clear that the economics, aided by the Production Tax Credit, drove wind growth in 2012,” said Amy Grace, lead analyst on wind in North America for New Energy Finance. “Capacity was built without any near-term state mandated demand. This means that in most areas, utilities are buying wind power because they want to, not because they have to.”

The credit has been extended for a year to cover wind farms that start construction in 2013.

Previously it only covered projects that started working by the expiration date.

Sandy tax base loss

(AP) -- Some New Jersey towns could lose at least 10 percent of their tax base because of damage from Superstorm Sandy.

The figures were reported in a local financial notice put out Wednesday by the New Jersey Division of Local Government Services.

It shows less than 15 towns could lose 10 percent or more of their tax base because of the storm, while 10 more towns could lose between 5 and 10 percent of tax collections.

Gov. Chris Christie has said that some residents in storm-battered towns could see higher property taxes to help pay for rebuilding.

The report said no towns lost so much revenue that they couldn't pay their debts.

Financing a stadium

(AP) -- Rep. Joe Atkins, a leading Democratic state lawmaker, said Wednesday he is growing more concerned about the reliability of tax revenue from electronic gambling machines that is supposed to help pay for construction of a new Minnesota Vikings stadium.

Atkins chairs the House Commerce Committee, which met to review the recent rollout of the electronic pull-tab games in bars and restaurants.

Tax revenue from those games is supposed to fund the state's $348 million share of the $975 million Vikings stadium slated for downtown Minneapolis.

But the tax revenue from the games, which started to become available in September, fell short of projections by $18 million through the end of 2012: while $35.2 million was projected to come in, the games returned only $17.2 million in tax revenue.

Backers of the new games said they need time to get more popular and expand to other bars.

Jersey Shore boardwalk

(AP) -- The boardwalk where generations of families and teens got their first taste of the Jersey Shore and where the MTV reality show of the same name was filmed is about to be rebuilt following its destruction in Superstorm Sandy.

Seaside Heights on Wednesday night was awarded a $3.6 million contract to have the boardwalk rebuilt in time for Memorial Day weekend.

The walkway, one of the most popular and heavily used at the Jersey Shore, was destroyed in the late October storm. Officials say it is the centerpiece of the borough's tourism industry, which funds 75 percent of its budget.

The work should be done by May 10.

Canadian REIT IPO

(Bloomberg) -- Agellan Commercial Real Estate Investment Trust raised C$134.6 million ($136.4 million) in the first Canadian initial public offering of the year after reducing the size of the sale, according to documents.

Agellan this past week sold 13.46 million units that yield 7.75 percent for C$10 each, according to the sale documents.

The Toronto-based REIT initially targeted C$154 million with units yielding 6.5 percent to 7 percent before postponing the transaction last month.

Agellan resumed marketing last week after cutting the IPO size and increasing the yield.

Agellan was formed to own and operate industrial, office and retail properties in the United States and Canada.

The company plans to use the proceeds to buy 23 properties comprising 47 buildings with about 4.2 million square feet of space, mostly in Ontario and Texas.

Desalination by solar

(Bloomberg) -- Masdar, the renewable energy company run by Abu Dhabi's government, will begin a pilot project to desalinate water using power from renewable sources with the aim of building a full-scale plant by 2020.

The company will join with private partners in three test plants to study new desalination technologies, Masdar Chief Executive Officer Sultan Al-Jaber said this past week.

Masdar and its partners will test different technologies at the plants through 2015, with the aim of starting construction on a commercial desalination facility in 2016, he said.

The full-scale facility may have capacity to treat 50 million to 100 million gallons of water a day.

Beijing remodeling

(AP) -- In a corner of old Beijing, the government may soon be both destroying history and remaking it.

District officials want to re-create a piece of China's glorious dynastic past by rebuilding a square near the Drum and Bell towers in 18th-century Qing Dynasty fashion.

To do it, they will demolish dozens of scuffed courtyard homes that preservationists say have themselves become a part of a cultural history that is fast disappearing as construction transforms the capital.

Because of relatively recent renovation, few of the homes can claim to be more than a few decades old.

But they are in crooked alleyways known as “hutongs,” which formed around courtyard houses and date back centuries.

Along their lanes and within their mended walls, an old way of life is still visible -- mahjong rooms, shared courtyards, clothes hanging to dry -- against a more distant backdrop of skyscrapers.

The plan to redo the neighborhood has raised the ire of those who see it as swapping a real and living piece of Beijing's history with something static and fake.

Expensive borrowing

(Bloomberg) -- Cost overruns and surging debt that plagued Brazil's homebuilders are haunting Brookfield Incorporacoes SA as it tries to sell investors on a revival with the industry’s first local bonds since May.

The builder controlled by Toronto-based Brookfield Asset Management Inc. (NYSE: BAM) is borrowing 300 million reais ($147 million), including three-year notes paying as much as 1.65 percentage points above the overnight rate, or about 8.6 percent.

Brazilian builders including Brookfield, the nation's fifth largest, were shut out of the market for debt sold to investors after a jump in labor costs and construction delays eroded margins and led to losses that wiped out 29 percent of their equity value since 2010.

While Brookfield, Gafisa SA and Even Construtora e Incorporadora SA had fourth-quarter sales that signaled a recovery in housing demand, Leme Investimentos said borrowing reais will still be more expensive for builders.

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