Early Briefing: Financial Crisis Hits Junk Mail...

...and apparently that's not a good thing for the U.S. Postal Service.

In his Federal Diary column, Joe Davidson reports that U.S. postal officials expect the service to lose $2.3 billion in fiscal 2008. One reason: Fewer credit card companies and mortgage firms are sending out mailings.

"A lot of advertising mail volume is from financial institutions and the housing industry," USPS spokesman Gerald McKiernan told Davidson.

The dire financial situation prompted William Burrus, president of the American Postal Workers Union, to warn that the Postal Service itself is in danger of dying.

In an open letter to Postmaster General John Potter, Burrus wrote that a "half-century of service qualifies me as a knowledgeable observer of our revered institution. Throughout these many years, I have never seen the level of uncertainty now confronting us. Without significant adjustment to its business strategies, the Postal Service will not survive as a government institution and a public service."

In other news:

* Standard & Poor's credit-rating agency reaffirmed the A+ long-term debt rating of The Washington Post Co. Monday but lowered its ratings outlook from "stable" to "negative," citing concerns over continued declines in circulation and advertising revenue at the company's newspaper and magazine divisions.

Moody's rated The Post Co.'s long-term debt as A1 but also downgraded the company's ratings outlook from stable to negative.

* Staff writer Nick Miroff takes at look at the evolving free-for-all coursing through the Washington region's foreclosure-racked suburbs. His conclusion: Selling a house is far easier than taking it back.

Defaulting homeowners are taking advantage of banking chaos to live mortgage-free for six months or longer, dragging out the eviction process, according to lenders and real estate agents. Unscrupulous landlords are collecting rent but withholding mortgage payments, leaving a rude surprise for their tenants when repossession comes. And banks are so eager to avoid the hassle of eviction that they are paying occupants $5,000 or more simply to hand over the keys and move out without a fight.

Then there are the illegal squatters, appliance thieves and miscellaneous animals -- wild and domestic -- that abound amid the disorder.

See his complete take here.


By Dan Beyers  |  October 28, 2008; 9:18 AM ET
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