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Americans’ percentage of equity in their homes fell below 50 percent last year . . .

Americans’ percentage of equity in their homes fell below 50 percent last year, for the first time since 1945.Associated Press

Washington Mutual, the nation’s largest savings and loan, has altered its compensation rules so that executive bonuses won’t be reduced by soured mortgage loans and foreclosure expenses. The company says it needs to pay top dollar to retain talented managers.The Seattle Times

South Asia has the world’s highest concentration of slave labor, with more than 10 million people who are forced to work for subsistence pay or less.Foreign Policy

Microsoft’s Bill Gates fell to No. 3 on Forbes’ annual list of the world’s wealthiest people, following new No. 1 Warren Buffett and runner-up Carlos Slim Helu of Mexico. Gates gave $695 million to his foundation last November. Still, he raked in $2 billion last year, bringing his remaining fortune to $58 billion. Buffett is worth $62 billion.Bloomberg News

Five percent of senior corporate executives own a private jet, according to a survey by Ipsos Media, while 14 percent own a yacht. Almost half took a family vacation last year that cost more than $3,000 per person. The New York Times

With retailers’ bankruptcies soaring, store vacancy rates have jumped to about 8 percent, up from 5 percent late last year. Associated Press

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