April 15, 2008

Bits Bucket And Craigslist Finds For April 15, 2008

Please post off-topic ideas, links and Craigslist finds here.

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Comment by wmbz
Comment by hd74man
2008-04-15 06:30:24

RE: Wave of bankruptcies

This retail bubble for the last decade and a half has all run on the evolution of the residential “ATM” HELOC loan.

“Whadda mean my new 12×12 deck addition doesn’t add $25k value to my house? I gotta do this deal to pay down my CC debt”.

And now the lending buzzard’s are salivating at the opportunites for reverse mortgages as the last remnants of the Greatest Gen
get crushed by the onslaught of inflation.

The discretionary consumption ballgame’s over, baby.

USA no more Numba #1, GI.

Comment by In Colorado
2008-04-15 07:17:56

I have a co-worker who told me yesterday that he thought that the economy is “robust” (LOL!). He is personally thrifty, and probably assumes that all those people who bouight those big SUV’s and super big plasma TV’s paid cash.

Comment by exeter
2008-04-15 07:26:06

The level of delusion out there is breathtaking. Even those you’d think would know better, don’t.

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Comment by lavi d
2008-04-15 08:35:40

The level of delusion out there is breathtaking.

What’s astounding to me is the amount of construction still going on.

Acres of brand-new, vacant houses bounded by raw desert and dozens of strip-malls in various states of construction and inhabitation.

I expect to see a lot of this retail/service property to remain vacant for a long time.

Comment by neuromance
2008-04-15 07:01:41

From the article:

“Figures released on Monday showed that spending on food and gasoline is crowding out other purchases, leaving people with less to spend on furniture, clothing and electronics. Consequently, chains specializing in those goods are proving vulnerable.”

Include housing in that too. Housing spending is crowding out spending on various other diverse goods and industries.

In order to have a diverse, resilient economy, the industries in that economy should be diverse.

Massive consumer spending in just a few industries makes the economy more homogenous and less able to resist shocks.

There should not be a national policy or movement to try and prop up housing prices. This is as ill-advised as having a national policy which tries to prop up gasoline or food prices. This leads to those industries sucking up spending that could otherwise go to other varied and diverse areas.

Having housing, food and gasoline spending crowding out other industries is not a good thing. Social policies that encourage this crowding out, by trying to keep these prices as high as possible, is bad economic policy.

Comment by In Colorado
2008-04-15 07:41:02

What’s this “industry” thing you keep referring to? ;-)

Comment by FreedomLover
2008-04-15 09:47:40

Who knows? We shipped all the manufacturing jobs out eons ago. All that’s left is McBurger.

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Comment by aqius
2008-04-15 18:21:12

news release stating Ford MoCo Explorer lawsuit settlement giving owners a choice of VOUCHERS for $500 or $300 towards ANOTHER purchase of a FORD vehicle.


Like I expounded upon in prior postings, I bet the damnLAWYERS didnt get any stupid vouchers. bet they all made out in cash.

Itshould be a law that settlement litigants get in paid in the SAME MANNER as COUNSEL. all parties get the same reward/penalties.

“vouchers” …. HA ! HA HAH !! what a crock

Comment by Blano
Comment by SDGreg
2008-04-15 04:26:10

“About 2.5 million foreclosed properties will be on the market this year and in 2009, Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. analysts led by Michelle Meyer said in an April 10 report. U.S. home price declines will probably double to a national average of 20 percent by next year, with lower values most likely in metropolitan areas in California, Florida, Arizona and Nevada, mortgage insurer PMI Group Inc. said last week in a report.”

“At least 2 million jobs will be lost because of this recession, so we’ll get a cumulative negative spiral,” Rosen said. “A normal recession is 10 months. We think this one may be twice as long.”

Both of these point toward significant downward pressure on housing prices through at least the end of 2009, probably well into 2010.

Comment by taxmeupthebooty
2008-04-15 05:13:29

this was the thing that could never EVER happen just one year ago
“U.S. home price declines will probably double to a national average of 20″
never ever

Comment by Pondering the Mess
2008-04-15 09:26:50

And that’s just the beginning and only half of what is needed to bring prices back in line with rapidly vanishing incomes.

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Comment by CA renter
2008-04-15 05:14:27

And the stock market will rise on this good news! ;)

Comment by adge
2008-04-15 06:54:16

Logically, because if home prices fall then the FED will cut interest rates, then the hedges can borrow more and buy stocks with it.

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Comment by Professor Bear
2008-04-15 05:15:56

Sounds like any used home sellers who preach “buy now or get priced out forever” will have the pleasure of dining on a steady diet of crow for at least a couple of years.

Comment by oxide
2008-04-15 08:18:02

If these classy realtors did nothing during their “salad days” except Rolexes and BMW’s, then crow is ALL they will have in their diet. I might toss them a lime to two so I don’t have to look at scurvified teeth.

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Comment by Olympiagal
2008-04-15 16:32:27

One thing I like about you is your compassion.

Comment by In Colorado
2008-04-15 07:20:00

Rosen said. “A normal recession is 10 months. We think this one may be twice as long.’’


Comment by hd74man
2008-04-15 09:47:40

RE: Depression

Took the thought right outta my mind.

80 mil boomers were at a physical age and within an early adulthood economic cycle which allowed them to weather the ‘80/’81 storm.

Not so today.

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Comment by Tom
2008-04-15 07:12:50

What’s funny is that the people buying up all the homes right now are investors! Has anyone else noticed this?

Comment by exeter
2008-04-15 07:39:57

Yes I have. I had one RE voodoo priest say to me last week, “are you planning to scoop up some bargain priced properties? They are all over the place”. My reply was, ‘there aren’t any bargain priced properties out there…. yet”…… Silence on his part.

Comment by robmypro
2008-04-15 09:29:01

“RE voodoo priest”


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Comment by SdGuY
2008-04-15 11:35:46

And then right under that article is another headline.
“Lehman’s Fuld Says `Worst Is Behind Us’ in Crisis ”

The credit crisis is over.Nevermind more foreclosures coming,loss of jobs and of course all that commercial RE sitting empty.

I know the statement is reguarding the credit crunch, not housing ,but one is connected to the other.

The lies in the msm are just getting more blatant and worse.

Comment by wmbz
2008-04-15 03:31:11


“We are looking at the worst set of macroeconomic conditions since the Great Depression. I don’t know where the bottom is… The most dangerous part in my judgment is what is going on in the housing world, where we’re now running foreclosures at the rate of two million a year, where nine million homes, according to the government, just slightly under nine million homes, have either no equity in them or negative equity. That will go up to 15 million if housing prices continue to go down this year as they’ve done last year.”

Mort Zuckerman, co-founder of Boston Properties, quoted by Bloomberg, March 12, 2008

Comment by vmlinux
2008-04-15 06:43:39

“We are looking at the worst set of macroeconomic conditions since the Great Depression.”

Don’t be silly, hell unemployment was higher during the Clinton recession than it was now, and hardly anyone even noticed we were in a recession till months after it happened. This pullback is different I agree, and I think we may have a recession but we won’t know until months after it happens, but I don’t see us at the following place. Hard times doesn’t even begin to describe the great depression. My grandmother wouldn’t use a bank, and always had a huge garden because of the great depression’s lasting impact of hunger on her. Comparing this speed bump to the great depression is like comparing the Iraq conflict to Iwo Jima.

Tax Federal GNP Unemp.
Year Receipts Spending Growth Rate
1929 — — — 3.2%
1930 4.2% 3.4% - 9.4% 8.7
1931 3.7 4.3 - 8.5 15.9
1932 2.9 7.0 -13.4 23.6
1933 3.5 8.1 - 2.1 24.9
1934 4.9 10.8 + 7.7 21.7
1935 5.3 9.3 + 8.1 20.1
1936 5.1 10.6 +14.1 16.9
1937 6.2 8.7 + 5.0 14.3
1938 7.7 7.8 - 4.5 19.0
1939 7.2 10.4 + 7.9 17.2

Comment by Tom
2008-04-15 07:15:32

Whether it was Clinton or Bush, (I’m not a fan of Clinton, but if I recall, he was cleaning up the elder Bushes mess) the unemployment numbers are about as reliable about employment as the CPI is about inflation. It’s a game of numbers and words.

Fact, CPI strips out volatile food and energy but those are 2 necessities people NEED.

Unemployment does not factor all the people out of work or even looking for work. It keeps track of those on unemployment. When their unemployment ends and if they haven’t found a job, they are removed from the unemployment figure.

Comment by pete a
2008-04-15 07:57:13

“When their unemployment ends and if they haven’t found a job, they are removed from the unemployment figure”.
Thats me, been unemployed for a year thanks to illegal aliens.
Thats ok though every know and then I get some under the table work which helps out Made so little last year above the table $3100 “THE MAN” is helping me get my nursing degree, and me and my wife get $2100 for free. Thats going to pay bills. So much for stimulating the economy.

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Comment by In Colorado
2008-04-15 07:23:19

Things looked pretty good in 1929 right until the crash.

Comment by FreedomLover
2008-04-15 09:48:54

Like I said earlier, welcome to the new Great Depression.

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Comment by Bad Chile
2008-04-15 07:35:36

Using a comparison of Iwo Jima to Iraq vs. Great Depression to 2008 Recession isn’t exactly comforting. Somehow, I don’t think creating the impression that the 2008 recession will be at least 50 times longer in duration than the Great Depression and of a greater US total killed or wounded was what you had in mind.

Battle of Iwo Jima: 37 Days
Iraq II: 1,851 Days (on-going)

US Battle Deaths:
Iwo Jima: 6,825
Iraq II: 4,036

“Enemy Combatants” Killed
Iwo Jima: Estimated 22,000
Iraq II: Counts Varied, Lowest estimate is LA Times with 50,000

Total US killed or wounded
Iwo Jima: 25,851
Iraq II: 33,664

Comment by Skip
2008-04-15 09:09:06

Was talking to my father’s neighbor last month. Didn’t know that he was in the Marine Corp. He talked a lot about his job during the end of the war at the Manhattan project. He said he got assigned there because after 3 beach landings, you had a chance to rotate out to a non-combat role. One of his 3 landings was at Iwo Jima.

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Comment by hoz
2008-04-15 08:29:55

“Macroeconomic conditions”. Not micro economic conditions. And I believe the current unemployment is a lot worse than the Clinton recession. If calculated as it was during the Clinton recession, current unemployment is 12%+.

Comment by Pondering the Mess
2008-04-15 09:38:01

But it is key to understand that the recession and real unemployment numbers will never be televised. We’ll all be in soup lines with only 6% unemployment, the stock market - consisting of one company at that point (MegaFed Bank) - will always go up, and inflation will be low as we beg for $10 loaves of bread.

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Comment by OCDan
2008-04-15 11:13:25

Pondering, this is so true. The goobermint will have us all believing that all is well, even as we scrouge garbage cans for scraps left by the Acme MegaFed Bank, Inc., LLC, Corp., etc., etc.

Do you really believe anything this goobermint or any other tells you, esp. economically speaking? Come on, people!

Comment by hd74man
2008-04-15 09:57:13

RE: hell unemployment was higher during the Clinton recession than it was now,

How can you say what the real umployment rate is, if most of real estate and related services jobs which were responsible for 40% for the jobs created over the past 5 years; are classified as “independant contractors” which don’t show up on the Feds employment stats.

Throw in millions of indpendant small businesses gone bust, the legions of independant (self-employed) truck drivers about to do so, all of whom are off the radar and I think you can pretty much flush the job numbers down the propoganda toilet.

The big thing for government now is to prevent a panic.

Comment by desertdweller
2008-04-15 10:54:03

Again as was pointed out, the “clintonrecession” was the mess from Sr Bush, recall “its about the economy, stupid”?
I think that was why he was beaten in the election.

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Comment by vmlinux
2008-04-15 12:10:32

I wasn’t bagging on Clinton, I think he did an ok job even though he should have been a bit more discreet. What I am saying is that recessions happen, it can’t be 100 percent growth 100 percent of the time. That’s part of this mess is that the fed tried to keep a nonstop stream of bubbles happening to keep us from ever having a natural correction. Keynsian economics wasn’t ever supposed to keep us in nonstop growth mode, it was just supposed to keep us from a depression/bubble cycle.

Comment by OCDan
2008-04-15 11:09:43

What I hate about employment numbers are they never show what kind of jobs are created.

Do these jobs pay 75K a year or are they Mickey D’s managers wages?

Do you have health care benes or are you on the hook for the whole enchilada?

Stop telling me unemployment is low when we know the numbers a gamed and the jobs created are not brain surgery type jobs.

Bottom line… lower unemployment means nothing if the jobs don’t pay a living wage/salary.

Comment by Shendi
2008-04-15 12:16:36

Cramer ” don’t take your money from bear stearns stock…”
“Don’t be silly”

Comment by bizarroworld
2008-04-15 03:55:25

Foreclosure Filings Against US Homeowners Soar 57 Percent in March; Bank Repossessions Surge

The number of U.S. homes receiving at least one foreclosure filing jumped 57 percent in March to 234,685, compared with 149,150 properties a year earlier. Filings include default notices, auction sale notices and bank repossessions.

The overall foreclosure rate is 5 percent higher than in February, which saw an unexpected month-to-month decline over January. March marked the 27th consecutive month of year-over-year increases in national foreclosure filings.

That meant one in every 538 households received a filing during the month. Forty-four percent were households that slipped into default for the first time and more than a fifth were homes banks took back.

Lenders took possession of homes at a sharply higher rate, up 129 percent over last year, as more homeowners relinquished their homes, said Sharga. Banks repossessed 51,393 properties nationwide, many of them without a public foreclosure auction.

In Florida, 30,254 homes reported at least one filing, down nearly 7 percent from February, but up 112 percent from the year before.

I can hear it now, FL is on the rebound and now is the time to buy!

Comment by Tom
2008-04-15 07:11:29

I’m sick of these serial bottom callers saying the worst is over. To them, the future is always rosy and bright. Then when things don’t turn out as they predicted they say, “we expected that to happen.”

Comment by desertdweller
2008-04-15 10:56:41

The worst isn’t here yet, Delta/NW are merging, then Continental and UAL will merge, and what that will entail is less seats, less needed employees ie: unemployeed, less pay, and probably more lost homes.
Add it up, there is more to come in “outlying” industries.

Comment by Eudemon
2008-04-15 09:37:18

What this really says is that we don’t have much of a crisis re: housing.

235,000 homes in foreclosure is chicken feed in a country of 300,000,000….about 40-50% of whom own a home.

Of course, the media will play the hell out of this, this being an election year and all.

Comment by OCDan
2008-04-15 11:14:56

I assume you are being sarcastic? Come on, you don’t really believe your own post, do you?

Comment by Eudemon
2008-04-15 14:05:26

I am quite serious.

Are you someone who yells *The Sky Is Falling* often? Well, guess what? The sky ISN’T falling but for a million or so idiots with get-quick-rich real estate housing schemes.

235,000 houses in foreclosure nationwide is squat. Now, maybe if it were 235,000 houses on average in each and every state, then I might agree.

Quit listening to figureheads on television and look at the numbers.

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Comment by implosion
2008-04-15 12:24:25

It is interesting that a 1/538 = 0.186% nationwide household foreclosure rate is considered a crisis. Those numbers give about 126.3M hh in the US, which I assume includes renters.

Comment by aNYCdj
2008-04-15 14:07:33

If the price of a house was $20-50,000 this blog would not be necessary

but at $200-300-500K-$1 million+ that .186% adds up to hundreds of BILLIONS of dollars which is not chump change.

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Comment by Eudemon
2008-04-15 19:00:51

No one said it was chump change.

All people have said here is that even that astronomical amount equates to very little in light of the value of the entire housing market. Chicken feed is chicken feed.

Our real estate market is a big place.

Comment by Houston_Bug
2008-04-15 03:57:50

Does anyone have any accurate info on NoVa price drops in zip code 20171?

Comment by joe
2008-04-15 04:12:28

Try this blog, it tracks a lot of the price drops in the NoVa area. Good luck Joe


Comment by Jason
2008-04-15 05:54:58

I track 20171 pretty closely, since I live (rent) there. I like using the Mcenearney site to search by zip code. I’ve also noticed that the number of Trustee Sale notices for 20171 has really gone up in the last month or so - not as high as 20170, which has been slaughtered in the last few months, but it’s noticeable. Some of the foreclosed houses are in nice areas too. http://mypublicnotices.com/washingtonpost/PublicNotice.asp

Comment by VirginiaTechDan
2008-04-15 08:34:29

The neighborhood I use to live in has had prices fall from 460K to 299K asking price since 2005.

I am trying to convince my parents to sell their house (they own it outright). THey plan on retiring in 5 years and I would hate to see them lose 300K when prices drop from 600K today down to under 300K (the price they paid in 1997) A penny saved is $1.33 earned and all, I keep telling them they they would be better off to retire today and take the cash than to work another 5 years to put away another $300K which would require them to earn $450K above regular expenses (not gonna happen). Better yet they could rent for 5 years and be $600K ahead!

Comment by jinwnc
2008-04-15 03:59:14

“I’ve had people sitting in my office in tears because there are no loans available,” said Goldman. “There are no loans for someone who’s upside down on their house.”

Comment by In Colorado
2008-04-15 07:26:25

I’m wondering if the Feds will come up with a program to insure the negative equity prortion of a refi?

Of course we all know that far too many FB’s can’t afford their homes mortgages without a teaser rate, so its mostly academic anyway.

Comment by auger-inn
2008-04-15 08:15:50

Speaking of the inability of FB’s to afford the interest rates charged by banks on money they create out of thin air. I won’t be surprised that a class action suit along these lines is brought forth in due time.


Further food for thought.


Comment by bizarroworld
2008-04-15 04:01:39

Retailing Chains Caught in a Wave of Bankruptcies

“You have the makings of a wave of significant bankruptcies,” said Al Koch, who helped bring Kmart out of bankruptcy in 2003 as the company’s interim chief financial officer and works at a corporate turnaround firm called AlixPartners.

“For years, no deal was too ugly to finance,” he said. “But now, nobody will throw money at these companies.”

The throwing money at losers days seem to be quickly coming to a halt.

Comment by Matt_in_TX
2008-04-15 06:20:33

Rats. K-Mart is the only one I’m rooting for re-bankruptcy.

Comment by combotechie
2008-04-15 06:23:11

There is little money left to throw.

Comment by hoz
2008-04-15 08:38:20

There is no money left to lend.

Comment by Faster Pussycat, Sell Sell
2008-04-15 10:58:34

Well, there is money to lend but there are no expected positive returns on that money.

Technical distinction, possibly even hair-splitting, but important.

Why do we need more of retail? Go just about anywhere. There are more retail stores and nail salons than you can possibly shake a stick at. What are they there for? The vast majority of this complete sh*t you can just buy off the Internet.

Even the few things that you can’t, go look at their websites, and search for how many stores they have within 10-20 miles of any person.

Just completely overbuilt = negative expected returns.

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Comment by spike66
2008-04-15 04:12:28

April 15 (Bloomberg) — U.S. foreclosure filings jumped 57 percent and bank repossessions more than doubled in March from a year earlier as adjustable mortgages increased and more owners gave up their homes to lenders.
More than 234,000 properties were in some stage of foreclosure, or one in every 538 U.S. households, Irvine, California-based RealtyTrac Inc., a seller of default data, said today in a statement. Nevada, California and Florida had the highest foreclosure rates. Filings rose 5 percent from February.
About $460 billion of adjustable-rate loans are scheduled to reset this year, according to New York-based analysts at Citigroup Inc. Auction notices rose 32 percent from a year ago, a sign that more defaulting homeowners are “simply walking away and deeding their properties back to the foreclosing lender” rather than letting the home be auctioned, RealtyTrac Chief Executive Officer James Saccacio said in the statement.”

Comment by spike66
2008-04-15 04:18:06

Retailing Chains in Wave of Bankruptcy…
Preparing for a long recession.

Comment by mrktMaven FL
2008-04-15 04:45:59

In addition to credit crunching debt deflation, retailers have to contend with another monster:

The surging cost of necessities has led to a national belt-tightening among consumers. Figures released on Monday showed that spending on food and gasoline is crowding out other purchases, leaving people with less to spend on furniture, clothing and electronics. Consequently, chains specializing in those goods are proving vulnerable.

Comment by Bug
2008-04-15 06:48:41

And yet, as I’ve been shopping for furniture for the last 2 months, trying to get the chain retailers to cut me a break (I’m looking for 15% off retail) is nearly impossible. Sure, they’re running specials that will give any J6P 10% off. The furniture stores are empty, but retail chains don’t give their sales staff any kind of leeway to deal…

So, I finally asked one of the salesmen what was going on, and then stated I’d just wait until a good deal came around again. He hinted that his particular chain was going to be raising prices 10-15% over the next couple of months. I asked, “So, you’re going to raise prices and sell even less?” He shrugged and answered, “Sales are lousy now.”

It’s strange, but I’ve been watching a couple chains since about January, and their discounts and promotions are actually getting worse.

Comment by iftheshoefits
2008-04-15 07:32:59

Prices continue to be raised by suppliers, everywhere. Retailers/dealers have no option but to pass them along. Blame it on the dollar, energy costs, commodity costs, monetary policies… whatever.

My gut feel as both a retailer and a consumer is that effective inflation has been somewhere in the range of 10-20% since last summer. I don’t understand why this isn’t showing up in the inflation statistics, but I don’t care any more. Inflation (except for the price of housing, of course) is real and it is substantial.

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Comment by desertdweller
2008-04-15 10:59:27

Prices to ship from China are getting higher, since nothing is made here but China…expect prices to continue to escalate.

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Comment by mgnyc99
2008-04-15 04:58:37

hey spike i am shocked at these developments

who is shopping these days besides the rich and clueless?

besides food and other necessities

i mean i could if i wanted to i just need for nothing these days

Comment by txchick57
2008-04-15 05:28:36

1990 all over again. Remember the Macy’s bankruptcy with it’s $1M in professional fees incurred every day? In those days, Weil Gotshal partners billed a shocking $400 per hour in the NY bankruptcy courts. Today, I’ll bet their second year associates are billing at that rate. This too shall pass, but not right away.

Comment by goirishgohoosiers
2008-04-15 08:04:11

Some BK partner, possibly at Weil, is now getting $1K hourly. Maybe I saw that in the ABA Journal sometime last summer. I should try to track that article down.

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Comment by combotechie
2008-04-15 05:33:36

“i mean i could if i wanted to i just need for nothing these days”

This is true for most of us, for most of Americans that support an economy that is 70% based on their spending.

Not a good sign short term; but maybe good long-term.

Comment by spike66
2008-04-15 07:24:17

Hey mgnyc,
I know you’re a dog lover. About 6 weeks ago, I ordered 10 cases of canned dog food, and 3 20lb bags of dry food, which I’m storing in the original bags in tightly-lidded storage containers. Supplier told me prices of high-quality food are heading up. If you can find some room, not a bad idea to stock up.
Me, I’m killing the cell phone at the end of the contract in May, and trying to give up coffee…there’s a world glut, but prices are crazy high.
Just doing my part to add to the pull-back…all cash, all the time.

Comment by Jean S
2008-04-15 08:10:13

most dry dog food contains wheat or rice…

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Comment by Gadfly
2008-04-15 10:06:01

Do most dogs really need carbohydrates?
Waltham Book of Dog and Cat Nutrition (2nd edition, 1988) says:
“There is no known minimum dietary carbohydrate requirement for either the dog or the cat. Based on investigations in the dog and with other species it is likely that dogs and cats can be maintained without carbohydrates if the diet supplies enough fat or protein from which the metabolic requirement for glucose is derived.”

Comment by Lost In Utah
2008-04-15 08:52:43

I supplement my dry dog food (high quality and too expensive) with homemade. Cheaper and better for the dogs (rice, steamed veggies, etc. - can buy them damaged stuff I don’t want to eat but is still as nutritional). It’s easy to make dog biscits out of rice flour and a little butter, etc. They love it.

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Comment by Jean S
2008-04-15 10:07:16

yeah, I’m thinking about making my own dog biscuits again…

Comment by Jwhite
2008-04-15 06:03:29

If we had any national chains here besides Wally World I might even kinda care….

Comment by CarrieAnn
2008-04-15 12:30:51

Where are you that there is nothing but Wally World?

Comment by Bub Diddley
2008-04-15 08:24:02

I’ve never chimed in with one of those “I went to the mall and…” reports before, because I NEVER go to the mall. But alas I did this weekend (had to look for a birthday gift for someone, dammit) so here’s my anecdotal retail report.

It was indeed dead. Very few people, and the people who were walking around had NO bags. Clearly nobody was buying anything. I parked by Dillards and so entered through there, and noticed they were having a sale in menswear - 50% off of stuff that was already marked 75% off. I haven’t been in a Dillards for awhile, I admit, but I always thought they positioned themselves as an UPPER-middle-class retailer. This one was looking more like the Mexican flea market. I did my part to help the economy by buying a shirt that was originally 65 bucks marked down to 8 dollars. I also overheard some sales people in another store (JC Penny, I think?) hunched over their counter talking about how things were S-L-O-W and nobody was buying.

Comment by Pondering the Mess
2008-04-15 09:55:52

Even here in Maryland, land of “everyone is rich because we live near DC and our housing is overpriced,” the pain is starting to become more apparent. Lots of sales on everything, as if they are begging for people to buy something - anything. Malls are still crowded, though some less so than before, but I have no idea how many people are actually buying vs. wandering around and wishing they still had money (or should I say credit!) to use to buy things.

Comment by Professor Bear
2008-04-15 04:22:47

Thorniest issues remain for markets, regulators
Analysis: Valuing assets, getting incentives right essential to recovery
By Rex Nutting, MarketWatch
Last update: 1:22 p.m. EDT April 14, 2008

AMMAN, Jordan (MarketWatch) — Global financial regulators seem to be gaining an understanding of how the global banking system got into the mess it’s in, but they have only begun to sketch out their prescriptions for ending this crisis — and preventing the next one.

The Financial Stability Forum — a grouping of all the major international banking and financial supervisors — called for sweeping changes in bank regulation in a report last week to the Group of Seven nations.

Once the recommendations are adopted, banks will face stricter capital requirements under renewed government vigilance. Many other financial firms will be forced to change the way they do business. The changes are designed to help firms and authorities dig themselves out of the rubble and to prevent a recurrence of the credit boom and bust that threatens to sidetrack global economic growth.

Comment by exeter
2008-04-15 04:26:39

Interesting clip on BloombergTV tape last nite.

“Credit crunch will last for decade or more stated JPMChase”.

Comment by mgnyc99
2008-04-15 05:32:08

sounds pretty acurate

what will be the next big growth movemnet in this country?

what will replace all the housing related jobs?

Comment by denquiry
2008-04-15 06:06:10

what will replace all the housing related jobs?
don’t worry. the service economy will provide. these days, a wal-mart greeter job is starting to look better and better?

Comment by desertdweller
2008-04-15 11:04:44

Practice in the mirror ” Hello, Welcome to Walmart” BIG SMILE and done…next..
“Hello, Welcome to Walmart” BIG SMILE and next
“Hello, Welcome to …
over and over and over and over and over again.
yep. the good ol usa, as another poster stated “we’re numba 1″.

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Comment by exeter
2008-04-15 11:36:07

DD, don’t forget the moronic flag pin or you’ll be labeled a turrrrrrrrist.

Comment by Eudemon
2008-04-15 14:22:58

I bet those morons with flagins are more productive than you, exeter.

You still haven’t told me which government payroll you’re on. Perhaps you’re on Obama’s staff? It’d be appropro - since you scoff at retail workers and companies, and at your own employer as well.

Comment by exeter
2008-04-15 15:18:46

Phony interpretation of ones motives is a fools game. I often wonder about those nattering fools who conflate nasty, angry nationalism with patriotism. You know…. empty platitudes, silly symbology like flagpins, etc. They aren’t of sound mind or logic. I often think that running their brain along the edge of a razor blade is much like tossing a pingpong ball down an eight lane highway.

Comment by Eudemon
2008-04-15 19:18:04

So, in other words, you have feint appreciation for immigrants who come here legally. Why does it not surprise me that you have little regard for those who work hard and wait in line for years to become U.S. citizens?

Well, you don’t work for the INS, that’s for sure.

My guess is that you’re in Affirmative Action or some other domestic welfare agency. You’re fairly elitist. I suspect that you are amidst agency people who use the word *utilize* a lot, thinking it indicative of heightened thought processes and mental dexterity. Hmmm…

Comment by exeter
2008-04-16 04:19:33

Like I said…. amateur interpretation of ones motives is a fools game.

Comment by Eudemon
2008-04-16 06:08:12

So, in other words, no one should take you at your word?

Obfuscation is the game of those with ulterior motives, exeter. Thanks for the heads up regarding your character and intent. I can’t say that I’m surprised. Those who desire to take advantage of others behave as you do.

Comment by exeter
2008-04-16 08:49:26

In reality, your interpretation of ones motives is less than amateur based on your continued but failing effort to do so.

Comment by exeter
2008-04-15 06:35:55

I think the blurb implies so many things if it is in fact accurate and it begets your very question mgnyc. Also, it ought to be a huge wake up call for the RE pukes who continue to insist that there will be some magical reversal of the housing cycle. So many folks still plain don’t get it. RE pukes are still in deep denial if their fantasy asking prices are any indication.

Comment by In Colorado
2008-04-15 07:38:48

So many folks still plain don’t get it.

They don’t want to get it. They (realtors, mortgage brokers, etc.) were making easy money, especially in the bubbly markets. They don’t want to face the fact that the gravy train is gone and now they are going to have to actually work for a living (if they can find a real job), and that it will pay much, much less.

I recall a guy I knew in SoCal in the early 90’s. Mortgage broker who could see that gravy train running its course. He was scrambling to find the next easy scam. He was planning on setting up a biz selling vitamins and other nutritional suplements. Never heard how it panned out, but that is the nature of these people. Every time I see those commercials for the snake oil “male enhancement” supplements (the Smilin’ Bob commercials) I am reminded that there is no reforming these people. They will always try to find a way to make easy money, even if it means selling placebos at Viagra prices.

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Comment by lavi d
2008-04-15 08:55:01

They don’t want to get it. They (realtors, mortgage brokers, etc.) were making easy money…

In a way, it reminds me of the recording industry. Now that the cost of making identical copies of music has essentially dropped to zero, we have all these recording execs scrambling to bring back the “gravy train”.

They are doing all kinds of desperate things, like suing their customers, digitally crippling the music that honest people buy and trying to get legislation passed to hobble the internet.

Makes heroin withdrawal look simple.

Comment by Tom
2008-04-15 07:19:31

Well with commodities being inflated, they could get jobs in the energy sector, the NEW alternative energy sector, or just move back to Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Indiana, Ohio, Alabama etc and just start planting tons of wheat, soybeans, and corn.

Then they can get screwed over by Monsanto when some of their genetically modified seeds get dropped on their farms by migrating birds and told they must pay up or else.

Gotta love cronyism in America.

Comment by Gadfly
2008-04-15 09:55:19

“Growth movement”? Are we talking the same old quick buck, next bubble paradigm, or real world? It’s been opined here before, but I’d say such things as: scrap metal dealers, bicycle sales/repair shops, seeds & gardening equipment, pawnshops, gun & ammo sales, beer and wine-making supplies, used auto parts, RV/trailer repair, wood & pellet stoves, firewood, security guard/mercenary/prison guard jobs, farmer’s markets, vintage clothing shops, hobby farm supplies, used books, camping and army surplus shops.

Folks will need to put on their thinking caps and ask themselves: “What service can I provide that people really need? What can I produce that people really need? What business can I engage in that will cater to people’s essential needs?” That’s a growth movement I can see.

Comment by OCDan
2008-04-15 11:23:32

Food. And no, I am not talking about another fast food or restaurant or restaurant chain. Farming. Heck, everyone needs food and this would be a great place for people to start. relearn the old ways. Provide food for you and your family. Have a surplus, sell cheap to make a little extra or giveaway to those in need.

No way I am advocating going back to the 1800s, but living smaller and more efficiently, and def. less expensive lifestyles is a start. Buy that farm for cheap, esp. with the market continuing down at warp speed.

Sure, it will be tough, but the benes are great. Produce your own food, live off the land, more, not entirely, self-sufficient, work as exercise, outdoors more, etc., etc.

I know I sound like a madman, but when haven’t I on this blog?

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Comment by Professor Bear
2008-04-15 04:28:09

This should be good news for Wall Street bulls, as U.S. stocks (aka companies) are going on sale to foreigners, which should help keep share prices propped up on a slightly below record high plateau.

Dollar Brushes Off G-7’s Words of Support
April 15, 2008; Page C2

The dollar strengthened against its rivals in small tides Monday — advancing on robust retail-sales data and suggestions of German frustration with the euro, but ebbing with financial-sector weakness.

By the end of the day, the dollar was very close to its late-session levels from Friday, as currency traders brushed off any lasting impact from the beefed-up communique on foreign-exchange markets from the meeting of central bankers and finance ministers from the Group of Seven leading economies in Washington.

“In my view, nothing has changed. We’re right back to where we started Friday,” said Mark Frey, head foreign-exchange trader at Custom House in Victoria, British Columbia.

Comment by aladinsane
2008-04-15 06:24:46

“This should be good news for Wall Street bulls, as U.S. stocks (aka companies) are going on sale to foreigners, which should help keep share prices propped up on a slightly below record high plateau.”

Why would foreigners want to buy U.S. stocks tied to a plunging Dollar?

Comment by hoz
2008-04-15 06:59:56

ICBC said they had no interest in any American companies at this time. There are better investments elsewhere.
Crunch-Wary ICBC
To Avoid U.S. Assets
WSJ Apr 15

Comment by hoz
2008-04-15 08:16:32

from the WSJ article:

“…Mr. Jiang, without identifying any companies, said some U.S. financial institutions approached ICBC about half a year ago to discuss possible investment by ICBC, but the Chinese bank declined. Looking at the situation today, “it appears the risk is still great,” he said.

“In China’s capital market, people always say we should buy at the bottom of the market. But we don’t know whether we are already at the foot level. We may be only at the waist level,” the 54-year-old Mr. Jiang said.

Chinese lenders have largely avoided the problems with subprime mortgage-backed securities and other assets that have battered Western banks. ICBC had subprime investments valued at just $1.2 billion as of its last financial report….”

I agree with Mr. Jiang, “the risk is still great.”

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Comment by Professor Bear
2008-04-15 07:54:28

1) The stock market appears to have plateaued.

2) The dollar cannot go down forever (can it???).

Comment by aladinsane
2008-04-15 08:05:34

2) Foreigners are getting rid of Dollars with extreme prejudice, and not looking to buy any other instrument tied to them…

(it can fall as low as the floor, yes)

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Comment by SF Mechanist
2008-04-15 09:13:17

If the government starts printing…

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Comment by OCDan
2008-04-15 11:26:15


Comment by Professor Bear
2008-04-15 04:30:40

G7 says protracted market turmoil saps outlook
Published: April 14, 2008

WASHINGTON: The global economic outlook has deteriorated because financial market turmoil has proven more protracted than expected, the Group of Seven finance chiefs said in a communique after meeting on Friday.

“We remain positive about the long-term resilience of our economies, but near-term global economic prospects have weakened,” the finance ministers and central bankers from the seven rich nations said. “The turmoil in global financial markets remains challenging and more protracted than we had anticipated.”

The finance leaders from the G7 — the United States, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan — expressed concern in the statement about the sharp moves in currency values seen since they last met in February.

Comment by mrktMaven FL
2008-04-15 04:31:33

Haiti’s government fell over the weekend following rice and bean riots.


Comment by Skip
2008-04-15 09:15:13

The funny thing is that there is just as much rice and beans as there was last year…

Comment by tresho
2008-04-15 09:19:14

Haiti has a government?

Comment by NovaWatcher
2008-04-15 09:43:44

I keep hearing “biofuel, biofuel, biofuel”. But, who is actually filling up with ethanol? Is this all just a red-hearing? Is anyone actually using this stuff*?

* other than the 15% or so they’ve been mixing wis gasoline for decades.

Comment by Jwhite
Comment by Professor Bear
2008-04-15 04:40:42

‘“The predominant market view is that the emerging economies will overcompensate for any possible demand slump in OECD countries,” said Eugen Weinberg, an analyst at Commerzbank AG in Frankfurt.’


Comment by In Colorado
2008-04-15 07:46:46

Last I heard those poor devils can’t even afford to buy rice and beans to feed their familes.

Comment by Asparagus
2008-04-15 04:45:11

A new record would be a week where there is no record.

Comment by Jwhite
2008-04-15 05:15:08

I guess my question for someone who tracks this type of thing would be: “What per barrel price would translate into $6.50 a gallon gas?” I researched a paper a few years ago where I found that the United States could reach oil independence for about 7 years by tapping all known reserves and the magic price for it to be profitable to re-open old wells and drill for oil in difficult to get to areas was about $6.50 a gallon gas. It would also lop something like 20% off our GDP as well if I recall. I’m guessing oil per barrel would have to be in the neighborhood of $180-190 per barrel? Has inflation and increased global consumption altered these 2002 stats significantly?

Comment by aNYCdj
2008-04-15 06:49:57

Well there is 42 gallons to a barrel of oil…..so $126 a barrel is $3 a gallon for raw crude.

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Comment by stanislaw
2008-04-15 08:00:26

You can’t get 42 gallons of gas from 42 gallons of crude. It is roughly 20 gallons of gas from crude. So $100 per barrel should be $5 gas. Just wait for existing inventories to reflect that price and thats where we are headed this summer.

Comment by In Colorado
2008-04-15 08:20:20

But they do extract other stuff from that barrel.

Comment by Jwhite
2008-04-15 08:40:52

I also recall from my research that historically, fuel consumption worldwide rose at a rate of 1 million barrels a day, per year. This went on for decades, Then in 2002, it suddenly rose to 2.7 million barrels a day, per year. That’s a sudden increase of over 150% per day. These were U.S. government statistics.

Comment by lavi d
2008-04-15 09:07:23

$6.50 a gallon will mean that all these industries that have been ignored or supressed by cheap oil since the ’70’s will suddenly get very busy.

biodeisel from algae, switchgrass, genetically modified corn shuckings, cat poop, etc.

Not to mention solar energy cells, solar heating, windmills and our good old buddy, nuclear power.

And how about plain old conservation? No more dune buggy, dirt-biking, snowmobiling idiots tearing up what’s left of the wilderness and polluting every lake big enough for a two-stroke motor.

I’m really hoping for an energy intervention to relieve a lot of the tension, pain and stupidity in the world.

Comment by lavi d
2008-04-15 09:09:06

/rant off :)

Comment by VirginiaTechDan
2008-04-15 09:40:28

With inflation, the cost to profitably extract oil rises as well.

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Comment by auger-inn
2008-04-15 10:53:29

I think the key metric to track with regard to oil extraction is how much energy it takes to extract. When it approaches 1 barrel to find/extract 1 barrel then the oil stays in the ground and it’s game over for that process.
I think we can all agree that unless earth is an oil filled nuget we will eventually have to find an alternative source of energy that is dense enough to power heavy trucks and jets or we are f*cked.

Comment by OCDan
2008-04-15 11:29:25

Excellent post, Auger.

It is called EROEI. Energy return on energy invested, I think. When this reaches a near 1:1 ratio, then all bets are off.

Comment by Mary
2008-04-15 11:37:53

A Washington Post artictle references experts who say that the fundamentals (supply of oil, end user demand for oil) are the same as at the $60/barrel level right now. This and other articles mention a lot higher investments in oil by investors including pension funds as a hedge against the ill-effects of the lower value of the dollar. So, it seems some amount of the $114/barrel price can be attributed to commodity trading/investing.

So first we had the tech bubble, then the housing bubble, now the Oil Bubble? Please, erudite readers, what is the effect on oil prices of speculative or market activity versus low dollar value or supply/demand issues?

Comment by Professor Bear
2008-04-15 04:36:01

From The Times
April 15, 2008
Banks are told to cut rates and ease pressure on borrowers
Gary Duncan, Economics Editor and Francis Elliott, Deputy Political Editor

Gordon Brown will hold talks today with mortgage lenders amid growing evidence that the downturn in the housing market could be worse than that of the early 1990s.

The Prime Minister is expected to urge banks to help to shore up the housing market by easing loan costs, passing on cuts in base rates by the Bank of England to borrowers and being less tough on buyers in distress.

The talks will be given fresh urgency by today’s housing market data from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, which suggests that a vicious downturn in the property market is gathering pace.

Comment by NoSingleOne
2008-04-15 07:13:23

The Prime Minister is expected to urge banks to help to shore up the housing market by easing loan costs, passing on cuts in base rates by the Bank of England to borrowers and being less tough on buyers in distress.

So to fix the problem, they are going to do more of the same that got them in that mess in the first place, as well as print free money?

Sounds like a physician saying that the best way to treat a heart attack is to eat more cholesterol and not force people to exercise.

Comment by Tom
2008-04-15 07:36:37

Yeah, or cut back on their eating.

Don’t cut back. Lower food prices so people can eat more!

Comment by Professor Bear
2008-04-15 04:38:50

From The Times
April 15, 2008
Jean Claude Trichet spells out G7 policy on falling dollar
Gerard Baker: American view

“The words are like a poem. They speak for themselves.”

Comment by Professor Bear
2008-04-15 04:44:45

Monday, April 14, 2008
Financial world’s bigwigs come up short
G-7 finance ministers pose at U.S. Treasury

The International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the G-7 wrapped up three long days of top-level meetings this past weekend. But they couldn’t devise a coordinated plan to unstick the troubled financial markets. Nancy Marshall Genzer reports.

Comment by Asparagus
2008-04-15 04:51:14

“They decided they would each just look after their own economies”
Protectionists! How dare they!

Comment by spike66
2008-04-15 07:32:33

So much for the free trade mantra. Overnight, India, Indonesia, Phillipines, Thailand, and Argentina, are putting on export controls on ag products. So why aren’t the neo-con free trade fanatics screaming about emerging markets scrapping free trade when it suits them.
Bill Clinton and Mark Penn both took big bucks to push the Colombia free-trade agreement, and Bush took 40 Congressmen on a tax-payer funded junket to Colombia to push the deal…seriously though, who needs it…there are no tariffs on cocaine or heroin.

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Comment by Paul in Jax
2008-04-15 10:29:48

Spike, you keep coming on here dissing Colombia and showing your ignorance. Since you ask “seriously though”:

Colombia has the sixth biggest economy in the Western Hemisphere. It is twice as big as Texas area-wise and has more people than California. It has the strongest history of democracy - by far - in South America. It is a huge producer of agricultural and manufactured products and oil. Colombia is the most misunderstood and underappreciated country in our hemisphere.

Comment by spike66
2008-04-15 10:58:40

Hey Paul,
Last week you were pushing Mexico as a great investment. Did you catch the new travel advisory…narco murders at all time highs.
You want these trade deals…then they should be discussed frankly so the electorate knows what industries/ag products will be affected in this country. If the Colombians have to buy politicians to push this through, then it ain’t a deal I want to see happen.

Comment by Paul in Jax
2008-04-15 11:37:42

So, you’re telling me that investing in Mexico is losing money for people since I brought it up? Get real.

You know nothing about Colombia.The only reason this trade deal isn’t going through is because the protectionists have decided to draw a line in the sand. It has nothing to do with Colombia, per se. It has to do with political power. I’m not interested in debating free trade on this blog. I’m interested in correcting gratuitous insults about countries people know nothing about.

Comment by wmbz
Comment by Jwhite
2008-04-15 06:10:28

Potato bread is big in Minnesota, it’s pretty tasty. I just bought red potatoes at 50 cents a pound yesterday at the local produce market. It was 75% cheaper than Wally World. 2 Cucumbers @ 50 cents each, 2 pds Bananas @ 50 cents/pd, 5 valencia oranges @ 20 cents ea, plum tomatoes @ $1.00 - not bad! I’m probably going to go back and stock up on the taters today.

Comment by Professor Bear
2008-04-15 04:49:14

I note that a 35 pct loss is sufficient to unwind a gain of (1/(1-.35)-1)*100 = 53.8 pct. That’s quite a haircut over 3 1/2 months.

Monday, April 14, 2008
Chinese learning market’s ups, downs
A worried investor views stock indexes

Those who think American stock markets are shaky should check out the Shanghai Composite index. It’s off almost 35% so far this year. Marketplace’s Scott Tong in Shanghai discusses the ways of Chinese investors with Kai Ryssdal.

Comment by Maria
2008-04-15 04:50:07

The US sub-prime crisis in graphics

The US sub-prime mortgage crisis has lead to plunging property prices, a slowdown in the US economy, and billions in losses by banks. It stems from a fundamental change in the way mortgages are funded.


Comment by Vermontergal
2008-04-15 05:05:41

Phew! I’m sure glad that the UK doesn’t have those kind of housing problems. ;)

Comment by SDGreg
2008-04-15 05:06:13

Interesting interactive graphic for the Cleveland area. There’s a pretty striking overlap between sub-prime lending and minority neighborhoods.

Comment by hoz
2008-04-15 06:15:52

The US subprime crisis as explained by the Federal Reserve

Interview with Eugene Fama

November 2, 2007

Comment by Professor Bear
2008-04-15 08:08:35


I have certainly seen this trend in the San Diego housing market. Against my own best advice, fools we know have moved far out of San Diego’s urban environs to cheaper areas like Murietta and Temecula in order to purchase ‘affordable’ housing, only to later discovery that these areas fall harder in a bust.

Comment by SD_suntaxed
2008-04-15 09:11:50

Those I know who chose to buy in Temecuetta stated that it was merely a temporary move. Their brilliant idea was to gain some equity by purchasing an ‘affordable’ house. After a year or two of a less than fun commute to SD, they would sell before their ARM adjusted and move back with some cash for buying in San Diego.


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Comment by Professor Bear
2008-04-15 11:57:51

Could have done much better by renting and saving (albeit in a foreign currency account)…

Comment by Professor Bear
2008-04-15 08:18:02


Region: Your efficient market hypothesis applies to stocks, of course. Recent events have led to scrutiny of housing markets. Are housing markets efficient? Is there greater potential for irrationality to crop up there, either because housing investors are less sophisticated than stock market investors or because housing markets are less liquid?

Fama: I don’t know. Housing markets are less liquid, but people are very careful when they buy houses.”


Comment by hllnwlz
2008-04-15 12:09:13

Ah, prof, it’s so good to hear you laugh.

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Comment by cheezbubbler
2008-04-15 04:52:29

some updated numbers from the land of cheese:

In the quarter, 284 building permits were issued for single-family homes and duplexes, down 20% from the 357 issued in the first quarter of 2007, MTD said. The average value of the projects fell 9% to $247,089, while the average size was down 5% to 2,660 square feet.


Comment by CA renter
2008-04-15 05:08:44

Regarding the food riots going on around the world…

how much of this is due to global inflationary forces, as so many countries seem hell-bent on devaluing their currencies?

Could we end the food “shortage” by raising interest rates?

Maybe we could also solve the “savings crisis” (give people a reason to save), the “housing crisis” (as homes become more affordable, more quickly), and the “credit crisis” as lenders would have a better reason to lend (with higher/more appropriate rates).

Comment by Professor Bear
2008-04-15 05:19:24

‘Could we end the food “shortage” by raising interest rates?’

What’s your pleasure? Commodities shortage or jobs shortage?

Comment by CA renter
2008-04-15 05:26:39

Job shortage, actually, because food is a primary need.

I’m not so sure we’d see such a horrible job market if interest rates were raised. Some weakness, to be sure, but I’d combine higher rates with an infrastructure work program (capitalists can flame away). Also, I’d use public money to help advance energy and healthcare technologies, with the agreement that future revenues would be shared with the government (over standard taxes).

Sometimes, deficit spending can be a good thing. Personally, I believe neither capitalists nor socialists are right 100% of the time. What makes an economy healthy is its ability to be flexible and dynamic — shifting from one type of economic model to another, as the economy shrinks and grows through different cycles.

Just MHO.

Comment by Professor Bear
2008-04-15 05:52:16

With a negative savings rate over a protracted period of time, job loss exacerbated by high energy costs, falling housing prices and exploding ARM payments could instantly translate for many households into an inability to purchase food. I suppose soup kitchens and food pantries are always an option…

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Comment by aladinsane
2008-04-15 06:14:23

I suspect when food rioting comes to our country, ’ssshrubery & co. will call it “extreme dieting”

Comment by Professor Bear
2008-04-15 06:07:01

“I’m not so sure we’d see such a horrible job market if interest rates were raised.”

Take a look at what happened to unemployment and interest rates between 1966-1982. Do you see any hints of a relationship?

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Comment by jfp
2008-04-15 09:24:23

I can imagine them being mutually reinforcing: high interest rates will cut business lending, but the weaker market makes all lending more risky, thus the interest rate raises further.

Comment by Faster Pussycat, Sell Sell
2008-04-15 05:25:34

Most countries are effectively coupled to the dollar. They can easily solve the “food problem” by just unlinking the dollar peg, and letting the currency float freely.

These problems are largely of their own making.

Everyone wants a “weak currency”. This is naturally not possible.

Comment by Jwhite
2008-04-15 06:13:33

But then their exports to the biggest, fattest, juiciest market of last resort would drop. Can’t have that you know. “Let them eat cake (or whatever passes for cake in their countries)”.

Comment by hoz
2008-04-15 07:30:22

Many countries are getting out of the dollar. It takes time when 2 years ago these countries foreign reserves were greater than 90% USD.

“…China is seeking to diversify its foreign exchange reserves,” Zhou said yesterday, without elaborating.

Aggressive Strategy

Currency holdings have grown a record $153.9 billion from the end of December, after a $94.6 billion increase in the fourth quarter…”

and from Korea Times

Assets in Dollars Take 65% of Reserves

By Park Hyong-ki
Staff Reporter

“Assets in dollars account for about 65 percent of the country’s foreign reserves, said the Bank of Korea (BOK).

This is the first time the central bank has disclosed its assets in dollars, but did not reveal its assets in other currencies such as the euro, yen and pound….”

This is a dollar crisis. As the US GDP shrinks to 20% of world GDP the dollar becomes less significant and a far greater risk to hold.

Comment by SF Mechanist
2008-04-15 09:29:04

They can easily solve the “food problem” by just unlinking the dollar peg, and letting the currency float freely.

Happened in Argentina around 2001. Their currency spiraled downward once de-pegged because it was overvalued, being pegged to the dollar, and also most Argentinians probably figured the government was about to hyperinflate its way out of foreign debt, which they’d experienced around 10 years before. So it depends whether the pegged currency is otherwise strong against the dollar, as with China, or weak.

Comment by spike66
2008-04-15 07:42:24

Skyrocketing prices of food is related more to oil costs. Oil is used to produce food, process it and transport it.
In addition, there has been a drought in Australia, and problems with wheat rust fungus, carried on the wind from Africa, which is now impacting wheat in Iran and the middle east.

Comment by kckid
2008-04-15 05:14:27


Economic Pain Of Carbon Cuts Will Be Global

In a recent study assessing the economic impact of the Lieberman-Warner bill, commissioned by the American Council for Capital Formation and the National Association of Manufacturers, findings highlighted the profound economic impact the legislation would have on businesses, consumers and governments nationally and in all 50 states. A sampling includes:

• GDP losses of $151 billion to $210 billion in 2020 and $631 billion to $669 billion in 2030.

• Employment losses of 1.2 million to 1.8 million jobs in 2020 and 3 million to 4 million jobs in 2030.

• Household income losses of $739 to $2,927 per year in 2020 and $4,022 to $6,752 per year in 2030.

• Electricity price increases of 28% to 33% by 2020 and 101% to 129% by 2030.

• Gasoline price increases (per gallon) of 20% to 69% by 2020 and 77% to 145% by 2030.

• Low-income families (average incomes less than $18,500) and those on fixed incomes, including many seniors, would spend 19% to 22% of their total income on energy costs by 2020 as a result of the proposed legislation.

Comment by Mike in Miami
2008-04-15 05:55:08

Electricity up by 28% to 33% and gas up by 20% to 69% in 2020? That a very optimistic forecast with or without Carbon cuts. Personally I expect increases in the order of 200 - 400% by 2020 with possible rationing.
Did the geniuses from the National Association of Manufacturers also calculate how much it is going to cost if we don’t try to save the environment? Having to relocate to a near by planet can be pretty costly as well…just a thought.

Comment by kckid
2008-04-15 06:11:27

Energy: America’s energy crunch is sadly self-inflicted. While others around the world engage in a mad dash to find more oil reserves, the U.S. seems to think $111-a-barrel oil won’t be affected by more supply.

Conventional wisdom is that the U.S. has just 30 billion barrels of oil left, enough for just 10 years of pumping at current rates. Sounds pretty bleak, but that figure is ludicrously low. Just last week, a new report concluded that the Bakken oil basin, stretching from North Dakota and Montana into Canada, contains an estimated 4 billion-plus barrels of oil.

Colorado and Utah are estimated to contain as much as 1.2 trillion barrels of oil trapped in shale below ground. They’re not counted as “recoverable” reserves because until recently they weren’t economical. Today they are.

The 2006 discovery in the Gulf of Mexico by Chevron, Devon Energy and Norway’s Statoil of an oil field containing as much as 15 billion barrels of crude is still another example.

Offshore U.S. sources hold as much as 10 billion barrels of untapped oil, while the 2,000 acres of the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge have as much as 16 billion — enough to replace 30 years of Middle East imports.

Many estimate that just under 1 trillion barrels of oil remain to be pumped. But a U.S. Geological Survey four years ago put the amount worldwide at 3 trillion.

We need oil. It’s the lifeblood of our economy. And fortunately we have lots of it. But because of Congress’ unwillingness to go after it, we’re leaving billions of barrels untapped, driving up prices and causing untold economic hardship. This madness must end.


Comment by Vermontergal
2008-04-15 07:21:24

So - how easy and economical is it to get at all this oil that we’re supposedly ignoring?

Getting the oil from oil shales, IIRC, requires strip mining and heating up the rock to significant temperatures to extract the oil. It is expensive, energy intensive and environmental damaging process. If you think oil rigs are a disaster

Peak oil is not about not having oil - it’s about have the cheap oil gone. Unless some miracle technology comes about (I hope it does actually), I think these articles about how much theoretical oil is left in the ground a complete distraction. Anyway you slice it, as of pretty much right now, oil will become increasingly more expensive to get out of the ground.

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Comment by Vermontergal
2008-04-15 07:27:20

Oh man - I hit the submit button way too early. Sorry about that last post - please ignore it.

I’ll summarize: Peak oil is not about ground reserves - it’s about how easy/difficult it is to get oil out of the ground. If it costs $120 a barrel to get it out of the ground, prices will have to stay at $120 or keep heading up to make the extraction possible from less than ideal sources.

At this point, the cheap oil is gone and barring some miracle technology (which I hope happens) energy prices are going to continue their upward climb, regardless of how many billions of barrels we supposedly have.

Comment by Arwen_U
2008-04-15 08:40:18

Not oil, but Natural Gas looks hopeful.

Comment by Vermontergal
2008-04-15 08:51:42

Not oil, but Natural Gas looks hopeful.

Did you catch how much more it cost to drill horizontally vs. vertically? It’s only a little over 3x the cost ($3M vs $800K).

Yup. Peak oil - all myth. I can’t wait to buy my next SUV and McMansion. ;)

Comment by James
2008-04-15 12:02:17

I think with better technology like super caps and better hybrid technolgy we will be able to stretch oil supplies way way longer than you’d think.

Nuclear power, wind and coal are also dirt cheap. As the silly phantasm of global warming fades away (baring some actual evidence its occuring) a switch over to hybrids should cause a price collapse in oil.

Some of the above is arguing pricing phenomena and some is arguing technology. Not sure if we are actually seeing a peak oil phenomena. Not sure what the econmic effort associated is that much more. Some of the oil exploration would seem to get cheaper with new technology even if the extraction is more difficult.

Still I figure we will see decreasing use.

Comment by NoSingleOne
2008-04-15 07:26:04

Good argument…but not a word on if pursuing alternative energy sources and reducing waste will help the economy?

I don’t believe that more oil will solve all of our problems. Just like the mortgage crisis, throwing more money at FBs will do less good than having them cut back and live within their means.

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Comment by Vermontergal
2008-04-15 08:43:14

Actually, I don’t think the article has any good arguments. I agree with Sleeper below - the author shows an (almost) willful ignorance about what it takes to extract oil from oil shales and what’s left in the the ground.

If the author had ever stood out in the oil fields or in front of oil shale and actually listened an elementary lecture on what it takes to get oil in the ground to gas in your car, I don’t think he’d be so free and easy with assuming that peak oil is bunk. (I was a geology major in college - I had more than 1 one of those stand in the field lectures..)

It drives me batty that there are even “two sides” to this issue. The obvious solutions to Peak Oil/Carbon foot print (which I think is a way to cover for Peak Oil) include conservation, developing alternative energies, and looking for and developing native oil based resources (oil shales, abandoned oil fields, etc). The idea that somehow the government can snap it’s fingers and make the problem go away is just plain old silly.

Comment by ET-Chicago
2008-04-15 09:43:03

… include conservation, developing alternative energies, and looking for and developing native oil based resources (oil shales, abandoned oil fields, etc). The idea that somehow the government can snap it’s fingers and make the problem go away is just plain old silly.

Well said, Vermontergal.

The old “let’s suck the ground dry” strategies have outlived their usefulness and validity. It’s time to dial back consumption, develop alternatives, and innovate.

Comment by MEaston
2008-04-15 09:53:02

They can snap there fingers and make it much better
Carbon tax is a great idea. Cost of energy goes up and people look for the most cost effective way to save energy which is conservation. Taxing energy and cutting income tax , corporate tax and or payroll tax is the best way to fix the problem. No incentives for oil production or conservation. All should be scratched. Just increase the cost of oil via taxes and return the money to the consumer and let them make the decision. Anything that conserves energy will look more and more economical.

Comment by Arwen_U
2008-04-15 15:03:24

If the underlying cost of the energy is going up anyway, why is a tax necessary?

Comment by Sleeper
2008-04-15 07:50:40

“Bakken oil basin, stretching from North Dakota and Montana into Canada, contains an estimated 4 billion-plus barrels of oil.

Colorado and Utah are estimated to contain as much as 1.2 trillion barrels of oil trapped in shale below ground. They’re not counted as “recoverable” reserves because until recently they weren’t economical. Today they are”

Do you have ANY idea of what it takes to ‘recover’ usable oil from shale? Do you care? I suspect not because it is SO much easier to spout figures like that as if they mean something. Do some REAL homework and get back to us.

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Comment by Jwhite
2008-04-15 08:44:21

My company in Minneapolis made the Plasma torches that provided the heat to extract oil from Canada’s oil sands. Rated at 250KW each, and operating in banks of 8-12, the amount of electricity needed was staggering. Far more than what was being extracted from the sands. However, Canuck government subsidies made up the shortfall and the project went forward.

Comment by Skip
2008-04-15 09:19:14

They’ve been trying to get that shale oil out of Canada since the 1950’s…

Comment by Kirisdad
2008-04-15 13:40:55

I may be wrong, but I don’t believe the Bakken oil basin is shale. It requires horizontal drilling and $60/barrel minimum to be profitable.

Comment by Otis Wildflower
2008-04-16 10:17:04

Nuclear batteries and in-ground heating (as opposed to strip-mining and heating the ‘ore’) ftw!

Or, even better, leave it in the ground and power plugin hybrids with nuclear-generated electricity (until nanotech ultracapacitors have the same or better energy density as gas or diesel)..

Comment by CrackerJim
2008-04-15 08:41:38

How about something like this?


“Nuclear power may be making a comeback in the U.S., as Westinghouse Electric Co., a unit of Japanese Toshiba Corp. (6502.TO), said Tuesday it has signed a deal with Southern Co.’s (SO) Georgia Power unit to build the first nuclear power plants in the U.S. since 1978.”

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Comment by hoz
2008-04-15 10:43:08

Where and when are they going to be able to get the reactor vessels? 2030? Mitsubishi is sold out for the next 20 years.

Comment by CrackerJim
2008-04-15 11:18:10

It will be a matter of “build it and they shall come”.
When it becomes clear that there is a will to accept and build nuclear plants, entrepreneurs will move the technology back in to wider production at more faacilities than the sole Japanese plant (this plant is leftover from the days when Japan built the 18″ guns for the Yamamoto).

Comment by Faster Pussycat, Sell Sell
2008-04-15 11:26:53

And there is absolutely no chance of actually building more assuming they got a signed contract for 1,000 more tomorrow morning?

It’ll take till 2030? Really? No chance at all of actually, I don’t know, hiring more, and constructing plants to make them over the next 5 years, let’s say.

C’mon Hoz, you know more economics than I do.

Comment by Sleeper
2008-04-15 12:33:48

Ironically, as ‘green’ as I like to say I am I also think that nuclear power has a genuine place in the range of options to solve our energy issues. Google ‘Thorium’. Its a large atom a few ticks down the periodic table from Uranium. It’s relatively plentiful (relative to U236) and it can be induced to fission. I wont go into the technical details. Read them for yourself. http://www.energyfromthorium.com/forum/

As for the reactor vessles. I may go into welding when my career in Architecture craps out ;) I think it will be a growth industry

Comment by Faster Pussycat, Sell Sell
2008-04-15 13:52:27

India’s betting on it. They have huge thorium reserves.

Problem is nothing much ever happens in India. They’ve been betting on it for 20+ years. Lots of talk: speeches in parliament; that kinda thing.

We shall see. :-D

Comment by implosion
2008-04-15 14:30:16

Aren’t there still a few partially completed nuke plants in Hanford, WA? WUPPS - bond default - IIRC?

The nuke plants are still waiting for spent fuel disposal. Been working on Yucca Mountain in NV for ~30 years. Let me know when you think it will be opened. Nuclear power dirt cheap?


Comment by Arwen_U
2008-04-15 07:56:14

I don’t like seeing people starving so we can supposedly “save the environment.”

Comment by exeter
2008-04-15 08:07:19

So people have to starve in order to implement good stewardship of the environment? lmao.

Sounds like a Jerry Boylover/Cocaine Kudlow strawman.

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Comment by Arwen_U
2008-04-15 10:44:41

Wow - I’m that good? Maybe they’d hire me. (I don’t watch TV, btw).

What I’m talking about is the “law of unintended consequences”. I was suspicious of Ethanol a few years ago — I’m cynical about most things, but it seemed like burning up all that corn would cause food problems.

BTW I’m all for reduced consumption and stewardship; I like saving money.

Comment by exeter
2008-04-15 11:34:15

No you’re not that good. I wouldn’t have picked up on the sillyness if you were.

Comment by Kirisdad
2008-04-15 14:20:40

Exeter, you are one arrogant, nasty liberal. It makes compassionate conservatism look much more attractive.

Comment by exeter
2008-04-15 15:10:53

If telling the truth equates to the librull boogeyman, then I guess I am…… your favorite boogeyman.

Comment by BP
2008-04-15 06:02:45

Yes but the good news is that it will be 1/2 of one degree cooler in 100 years!

Comment by Professor Bear
2008-04-15 06:09:47

Dirty little secret of global warming prediction: The temperature forecast error swamps out the signal for a 100 year forecast.

Comment by Jwhite
2008-04-15 06:22:31

Interesting counterpoint to the frequent discussions on the board.


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Comment by BP
2008-04-15 06:30:42

Yea I know, it always kills me that my local weather office is wrong about the weather 70% of the time on forcasts just 12 HOURS from now but we are supposed to buy into the same models predicting 10, 20, 50 to 100 years out? I am all for the enviroment but screwing over the working man to do save a “effing” half a degree in 100 years not so much.

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Comment by aladinsane
2008-04-15 07:00:04

The real problem isn’t temps, it’s most of the world is either getting too little or too much rain, which is manifesting itself vis a vis food shortages…

End of story.

Comment by Professor Bear
2008-04-15 07:23:24

A couple of large volcanic eruptions or maybe a large meteor hitting the earth could easily send global warming into reverse over a 100 year time span.

Comment by Al
2008-04-15 09:09:57

Less people = less food and energy requirements = less damage to the environment

Got Bird Flu?

Comment by speedingpullet
2008-04-15 09:18:12

BP - you’re making the common assumption that weather=climate.

Comment by SF Mechanist
2008-04-15 09:33:18

If the ice sheets and glaciers are melting, there is cause for concern. If you have a glass of ice tea in the sun, it stays pretty cool until all the ice is melted, then it starts to warm up. Same with the planet. Global warming will manifest as more rainfall once the ice sheets are melted, which will mitigate actual temperature changes as well.

Comment by SpacecoastFLrenter
2008-04-15 09:36:13

Its not about averages as much as extremes. When you add energy to a system the first thing that increases is entropy or randomness. That means with “global warming” first we get colder winters hotter summers longer doughts greater floods etc. with only minimal change in average temp. Scary stuff.

not my opinion…its the 2nd law of thermodynamics/

Comment by CrackerJim
2008-04-15 12:03:47

The only statement that relates to 2nd Law of Thermodynamics is the second sentence.
The rest is opinion.

Comment by Anthony
2008-04-15 18:12:12

“it always kills me that my local weather office is wrong about the weather 70% of the time on forcasts just 12 HOURS”

BP, aren’t we over-exaggerating a bit? Then again, ATTORNEYS and DOCTORS are wrong 70% of the time, too.

Comment by sevenofnine
2008-04-15 05:19:30

A slide show of the top 10 foreclosure areas:


Comment by lavi d
2008-04-15 12:17:56

Yay, Nevada!

We’re Number One!

Comment by Englishman in NJ
Comment by Professor Bear
2008-04-15 05:37:23

It is a humbling realization to discovery that your house has more earnings capacity than do your labor market credentials.

‘The rate of increase was such that it had distorted the value of everything; another householder, I met, who didn’t want to be named, pointed out that in the last year, his house had earned approximately five times as much as he had. He earned £35,000 by working from 8.30am-6pm five days a week; he’d have still “earned” £150,000 if he’d just sat on his sofa.’

Comment by Englishman in NJ
2008-04-15 05:51:02

Yep. The UK market was every bit as crazy as over here. Reading the comments is quite interesting too, just like over here there is much resistance to prices falling back to normal levels vis-a-vis incomes.

I think the UK is due for an even more calamitous fall than the US. Major recessions for both appear inevitable.

Cash will be king as major “assets” deflate briging down the price of all goods and services and making my savings worth more.

At last, I’m going to be on the right side of the equation. If you have $250K in cash, you are going to be able to make some amazing purchases in the next 5 years.

Patience chaps, patience.

Comment by combotechie
2008-04-15 06:17:27

Totally agree.

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Comment by jim A
2008-04-15 07:05:19

And how many “doubled down,” by buying vacation/retirement homes in Spain? My first inkling as to how common this has become was the 49 up film.

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Comment by aladinsane
2008-04-15 07:41:02

How much longer before despondent Brits start calling their Iberian investments, de-Fawlty Towers?

Comment by Jwhite
2008-04-15 08:32:44

I loved that show…

Comment by jim A
2008-04-15 09:41:37

Now I’m picturing a sequel where Basil is working for Manuel.

Comment by aladinsane
2008-04-15 09:49:58
Comment by speedingpullet
2008-04-15 10:06:01

The thing that gets me is that all of this has happened before in the UK, only 20 years ago….

I was in London when the housing market dumped in ‘89 - ‘91. Lots of areas ‘lost’ up to 50% of their ‘value’.
Its not as if it was back in the dim distant past or anything.

OK, the causes were different back in the late 80’s - ‘privatizing’ Council property and allowing ex-renters to ‘own’ their places, caused a huge amount of speculation - plus reduced the amount of rental stock for those who couldn’t buy.

But its not new.

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Comment by Left LA Behind
2008-04-15 07:39:57

Wow - that article is rich in comments. There is a good hour’s worth of reading there.

Comment by Professor Bear
2008-04-15 05:46:27

S&P is staring into the bailout abyss. Why is there a standing presumption to begin with that U.S. taxpayers will have to bail out Wall Street and the GSEs? Wouldn’t it make more sense to allow firms which took foolish gambles to fail?

S&P gauges bailout of Wall Street firms
By Patrice Hill
April 15, 2008

The potential cost to U.S. taxpayers of bailing out Wall Street firms stricken by the credit crisis could grow to as much as $400 billion in a deep and prolonged recession, Standard & Poor’s estimated yesterday.

That bill would soar by another $1.4 trillion if it included the cost of bailing out Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and other government credit agencies, whose losses could be so massive that the U.S. government could lose its AAA rating in what would be a calamity for the U.S. Treasury and the dollar.

Comment by Jwhite
2008-04-15 06:01:16

Wouldn’t want the top 3% to have to drive themselves, open their own doors, put their wives on a budget, and have to go all the way to the kitchen themselves for a midnight snack. Also, the very thought of downgrading from a Maybach to a plebian Benz - *Shudder*

Comment by jbunniii
2008-04-15 08:55:01

U.S. government could lose its AAA rating

And this from S&P, who happily branded subprime mortgage-backed securities with its AAA rating.

Comment by Blano
2008-04-15 06:17:27

Near my hometown….city of Muskegon getting back into the rental business:


Comment by FB wants a do over
2008-04-15 06:24:00

Core Inflation Retreats

WASHINGTON — U.S. wholesale prices surged on higher food and energy prices during March, but core inflation retreated to a mild rate after two months of big increases.


Comment by In Colorado
2008-04-15 08:13:12

My wife tells me that inflation is getting so bad that the price increases between stock up shopping (once a month) are now very noticeable.

Comment by Jwhite
2008-04-15 08:29:44

I do most of our shopping and I have definitely noticed prices going up. Since I cook pretty much from scratch I’m able to keep our expenditures for a family of three to around $600 a month. I don’t even bother ordering pizza for example when I can make 2 14″ pies for about $5.00, make sausage and egg biscuits for about $2 for 6 (baking my own and cooking roll sausage), french bread - 2 big loafs @ $1 vs $1.89 ea - fried chicken - (last night) $4 for 6 pieces (includes oil, flour, elcetricity, etc) It’s time intensive but it really cuts several hundred dollars a month off the grocery bill. With minimal effort, most families could cut a good chunk of the preprepared, take-out, and frozen foods they buy IMHO.

Comment by In Colorado
2008-04-15 09:27:19

I hear you. We definitely try to avoid frozen prepared stuff. Thing is, some items are more labor intensive than others. Like making pizza from scratch (no dough mix or canned sauces). Maybe its time to dust off the old breadmaker.

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Comment by Jean S
2008-04-15 10:04:10

go for it! you can make enough dough for several pizzas and freeze the extras.

Today’s food section of the Oregonian featured 4 families that learned how to cut their weekly food bills…lots of basic tips.

Comment by Lost In Utah
2008-04-15 10:17:03

“dust off the old breadmaker”

Hope you’re not referring to your grandmom…

this guy just started a site along the lines of saving money…


Comment by Lost In Utah
2008-04-15 10:19:30

Don’t forget the crockpot - I put potatoes and carrots and whatever with spices in it in the morning and have a cheap hearty lunch (takes longer if you eat meat).

Comment by Jwhite
2008-04-15 11:26:32

I use the crock all the time - makes wonderful corned beef (that I brine myself). The pizza is actually easier than most - dough prep time 5 min, rise time- 1 hour, sauce - 1 big can San Marzano’s, 2 cloves garlic, little kosher salt n fresh ground pepper, 2 tablespoon EVOO, little basil n oregano. Whirl till blended, let sit while dough rises. It’s things like the Briam (veggie casserole)that take a little time. Bread making takes time too, but also mostly the rise.

Comment by hoz
2008-04-15 06:27:02

Time for my morning Testosterone shot.
“Little is known about the role of the endocrine system in financial risk taking. Here, we report the findings of a study in which we sampled, under real working conditions, endogenous steroids from a group of male traders in the City of London. We found that a trader’s morning testosterone level predicts his day’s profitability. We also found that a trader’s cortisol rises with both the variance of his trading results and the volatility of the market. Our results suggest that higher testosterone may contribute to economic return, whereas cortisol is increased by risk. Our results point to a further possibility: testosterone and cortisol are known to have cognitive and behavioral effects, so if the acutely elevated steroids we observed were to persist or increase as volatility rises, they may shift risk preferences and even affect a trader’s ability to engage in rational choice.”
tee hee
Published online on April 14, 2008

Comment by txchick57
2008-04-15 06:31:31

I saw that. LOL. Here it is in plain English. Nothing I didn’t already know ;)


Comment by hoz
2008-04-15 07:03:55

“If people want to get practical, it would be good for both banks and the financial system as a whole if we had more women and older men in the markets…”

Practical, never. Let’s go for the rogue traders that can make a profit.

Comment by jbunniii
2008-04-15 08:57:14

tee hee, it’s on a web site called “pnas”

Comment by Jean S
2008-04-15 10:00:11

that’s the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Heavy-duty publication, chockablock with basic research.

Comment by SF Mechanist
2008-04-15 09:40:52

Yeah, nothing new… testosterone increases aggressive risk taking, and cortisol is a marker of stress. That’s been known for decades. Funny, though, to peg it to financial trading.

Comment by Jwhite
Comment by Darrell in PHX
2008-04-15 06:33:21

I just got my 3% raise…. Thank goodness I don’t have to buy food or energy.

Comment by Jwhite
2008-04-15 06:34:19

Just dust ya off and change your oil every 5000 miles? :)

Comment by Roger H
2008-04-15 06:37:07

“The 1.1 percent gain followed a 0.3 percent increase in the prior month, the Labor Department said today in Washington. So- called core producer prices that exclude fuel and food increased 0.2 percent, as forecast.”

I agre - you just need to start eating something other than food and bike to work everyday. Then - you won’t have to worry about all the inflation nonsense.

Comment by In Colorado
2008-04-15 08:14:47

Tens of thousands of us here where I work envy your 3% raise.

Comment by Professor Bear
2008-04-15 07:20:00

How about we all ride bicycles to work, now that gasoline is so expensive. Oops — bicycle fuel (aka food) prices also seem to be quite volatile.

Comment by NoSingleOne
2008-04-15 07:33:06

Oops — bicycle fuel (aka food) prices also seem to be quite volatile.

Bicycle fuel prices are going up, but from what I’ve seen in the last 10-20 years, most Americans are carrying a lot of excess bicycle fuel in the tanks on their bellies and thighs.

Comment by Professor Bear
2008-04-15 07:47:47

“…carrying a lot of excess bicycle fuel in the tanks on their bellies and thighs…”

Smart investment. That stored energy may reduce future food consumption needs when prices become prohibitively high.

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Comment by speedingpullet
2008-04-15 10:36:48

LOL - testify, NoSingleOne!

I went from a svelte, fit, walking-2-miles-plus-a-day-every-day Londoner to a fat slob in the space of 6 months after moving to Los Angeles.

The lack of exercise and the gargantuan food portions did me in.

Then again, I could probably cycle to the East Coast, fuelled entirely on my own lard…. ;-)

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Comment by Otis Wildflower
2008-04-16 10:23:55

LOL.. When my company’s new site opens up, i’m fixin to ride the bike (3mi away from home) and start working off the ol’ quarter-keg.. Save even more $$$..

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Comment by sevenofnine
2008-04-15 07:53:23

That plan is apparently in the works —
Self-service bike rental system coming to U.S.

Go to Fox News and look at the video on ‘Smartbike”. I tried to get a link, but it didn’t work.

Comment by jbunniii
2008-04-15 09:02:22

Fortunately, as renters, we have the option to move close enough to work that our mode of transportation doesn’t matter that much. I did precisely that a few months ago when my office relocated. My FB co-workers get to suck it up and commute.

Comment by Pondering the Mess
2008-04-15 10:14:18

Has anyone actually tried biking to work in anything other than nice weather on the insane, SUV-filled streets of modern America? After some dolt in an SUV with a cellphone glued to his or her ear runs you over, you won’t have to worry about inflation anymore!

It would be nice to see biking become practical, but America was built upon the assumption of endless cheap oil and endless resources. Oops.

Comment by Schmendrick
2008-04-15 11:06:38

Yes. That would be me — if Minneapolis in January counts as something other than nice weather. Fortunately as an angry renter I had some flexibility in shoosing to live within 5 miles of my job there. And to choose to live close enough to bike to my current job in Albuquerque. Unfortunately, my new workplace is on top of a hill, but at least it is not uphill both ways (like walking to school used to be!) I am not saying it is easy, but it can be done.

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Comment by lavi d
2008-04-15 12:24:42

Has anyone actually tried biking to work in anything other than nice weather on the insane, SUV-filled streets of modern America?

I gladly share the sidewalk with the very few pedestrians out there and inordinately cautious when crossing intersections.

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Comment by Otis Wildflower
2008-04-16 10:26:02

Actually, at least in my neck of Northern DE, there are plenty of wide bike lanes available along most major roads. It may not save me from cellphone wielding small women in large SUVs, but it’s a far sight better than, say, dodging cabs in NYC..

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Comment by Professor Bear
2008-04-15 07:41:56

Enough With the Interest Rate Cuts
April 15, 2008

It’s time for the Federal Reserve to stop reducing the federal funds rate, because the likely benefit is small compared to the potential damage.

Lower interest rates induce investors to add commodities to their portfolios. When rates are low, portfolio investors will bid up the prices of oil and other commodities to levels at which the expected future returns are in line with the lower rates.

An interest rate-induced rise in the price of oil also contributes indirectly to higher prices of food grains. It does so by making it profitable for farmers to devote more farm land to growing corn for ethanol. The resulting reduction in acreage devoted to producing food crops causes the supply of those commodities to decline and their prices to rise.

Comment by exeter
2008-04-15 06:49:57

Lots of good news today. Well… good for some. Where’s Larry (fun)Yun? :)

Comment by aladinsane
2008-04-15 06:55:19

“LAS VEGAS - MGM Mirage Inc., the largest casino operator on the Las Vegas Strip, told more than 400 middle management employees Monday they would be terminated immediately in a cost-saving move, the company said.”

This was from an article posted here yesterday, and I haven’t seen the word ‘terminated’ used in an awful long time, in the press.

Pavlovegas doesn’t do negative reinforcement very well and is going to the dogs…

Comment by In Colorado
2008-04-15 08:16:55

You mean they weren’t “right-sized”?

Comment by hwy50ina49dodge
2008-04-15 08:54:05

Vegas is going to dread the day they departed from the $5.00 breakfast buffet and $25.00 rooms. ;-) Kids eat free!

Comment by In Colorado
2008-04-15 09:32:20

I have to admit that the transformation of vegas into a luxury destination always puzzled me. Still tacky, but now very expensive.

I think that Disney (in FL) will suffer a similar fate. With the HELOC ATM gone how many families will still be able to afford a $5000 Disney vacation? I love their commercial plugging how affordable a Disneyworld vacation can be, starting at $1600 for a family with two small kids. Of course that price doesn’t include airfare, ground transportation, meals (very expensive), trinkets, etc.

Comment by speedingpullet
2008-04-15 10:39:48

Don’t worry - the English will continue coming in droves to Disney World - especially as now its soooooo cheap. ;-)

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Comment by CrackerJim
2008-04-15 10:51:59

I was at Disney parks in Orlando over spring break with my daughter and friends.
The parks we visited were packed. I heard a lot of foreign language conversations including many British accent ones.

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Comment by SdGuY
2008-04-15 13:46:54

Thats really big considering they also own,the Bellagio, MGM Grand, and Mandalay Bay.
Certainly more to come as I bet they are all seeing the same losses.
Keep in mind that summer is coming and the most busy time of the year.Well , at least it used to be…..
These are not low end jobs either.

I bet those working at the Bellagio, MGM Grand and Mandalay Bay are a little nervous.

Comment by FB wants a do over
2008-04-15 07:07:19

Crocs shoe maker in rough shape


Comment by In Colorado
2008-04-15 09:34:04

I guess people are realizing that those $30 rubber slippers might be overpriced.

Comment by michael
2008-04-15 09:58:47

i’ll sell you my pet rock for 100K.

Comment by Bad Chile
2008-04-15 11:38:36

Just a shame most haven’t figured out they make you look like a clown.

Comment by hoz
2008-04-15 07:07:34

Greenspan’s Follies
By Stephen S. Roach

“…Of course, squabbling over Alan Greenspan’s place in history is not going to get us out of this crisis. But vigorous debate about the past is absolutely essential if we are to avoid such a quagmire in the future. As always, the search for scapegoats is on. Rating agencies, regulators, Wall Street, loan sharks, property speculators, and subprime homeowners will all pay a steep price. Some, of course, already have. In the end, I suspect the Federal Reserve will also pay a steep price, losing some autonomy when Congress adds financial stability to the Fed’s mandated charge of maintaining full employment and price stability. As well it should. The central bank’s stewardship of the U.S. economy is far too important to be left to politics and ideology.

Over the years, a few of us warned this was all unsustainable. The longer it went on, the more discredited we became. There is some satisfaction in knowing that the time-honored laws of economics have not been repealed—that the “new paradigm” rationales that typically get invoked at the end of bubbles have again been repudiated. But there is no satisfaction in peering into the abyss. The legacy of Alan Greenspan will be forever tarnished by this dangerous and painful reality check. ”
Foreign Policy

Comment by Professor Bear
2008-04-15 07:44:26

“But there is no satisfaction in peering into the abyss.”

Does Roach claim to be a dismal scientist?

Comment by hoz
2008-04-15 08:04:41

Yes. That is also why he got shuffled to Asia.

Comment by Professor Bear
2008-04-15 08:13:24

His tone belies his claim that there is no pleasure in staring.

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Comment by Faster Pussycat, Sell Sell
2008-04-15 11:45:35

Dude, there’s a f*ckload of pleasure in schadenfreude.

So much so that it’s best to do it, metaphorically speaking, while rubbing their m*therfucking noses in the ground, and screaming “Told you so, you freakin’ bee-yatch!”

Of course, the way to implement that is to just drop by their houses dressed in your finest clothes decked to the nines with a few bottles of wine (or beers) saying, “Just thought I’d drop by to say hello.” :-D

Comment by lavi d
2008-04-15 12:46:16

So much so that it’s best to do it, metaphorically speaking, while rubbing their *** noses…

So much for the fabled HBB profanity filters.


Comment by Faster Pussycat, Sell Sell
2008-04-15 13:54:48

There are no systems designed by humans that can’t be broken or sidestepped by other sufficiently motivated humans.

Something that someone should explain to the RIAA and MPAA but I digress … :-D

Comment by Tom
2008-04-15 07:07:58


Does tax code send U.S. jobs offshore?

“The U.S. tax system does provide an incentive to locate production offshore,” says Martin Sullivan, a contributing editor to Tax Notes, a non-profit publication that tracks tax issues.

At issue is the U.S. tax code’s treatment of profits earned by foreign subsidiaries of American corporations. Profits earned in the United States are subject to the 35% corporate tax. But multinational corporations can defer paying U.S. taxes on their overseas profits until they return them to the USA — transfers that often don’t happen for years. General Electric, for example, has $62 billion in “undistributed earnings” parked offshore, according to recent Securities and Exchange Commission filings. Drug giant Pfizer boasts $60 billion. ExxonMobil has $56 billion.

“If you had two companies in Pittsburgh that both were going to expand capacity and create 100 jobs, our tax code puts the company who chooses to put the plant in Pittsburgh at a competitive disadvantage over the company that chooses to move to a tax haven.”

Comment by NoSingleOne
2008-04-15 07:49:22

“The U.S. tax system does provide an incentive to locate production offshore,” says Martin Sullivan, a contributing editor to Tax Notes, a non-profit publication that tracks tax issues.

I hate arguments like these parroted by Republican shills…that the US has to gut corporate taxes in order to remain competitive with labor markets in 3rd world countries? Our competition is for low wage manufacturing jobs in emerging markets and not for skilled employment in Europe?

Give me a break.

If we had a decent educational system, a health care system that was somewhat efficient, and better regulation instead of self-policing to improve quality and compliance with fair wage practices, we wouldn’t need to worry about off-shoring unskilled labor as much as we do.

European wages AND taxes are higher than ours, and they aren’t in perpetual danger of losing their jobs base.

Name one 3rd world country/tax haven that produces highly skilled labor to create technology, aerospace, and automobiles…

(1)Giving tax breaks instead of fixing inefficiency and (2)encouraging egregious redistribution of wealth (ie corporate fat cats with leviathan bonus packages vs. underpaid workers) is what is REALLY hurting our economy vis-a-vis European high tax economies with a better standard of living.

Comment by VirginiaTechDan
2008-04-15 09:52:33

Who regulates the regulators? Oh yeah, they are self policing. Maybe in some ideal world you would get honest regulators, but giving a monopoly on regulation to any one group of individuals invites corruption.

Corporate taxes ALWAYS get passed on to consumers because the taxes are just factored into the “cost of doing business”. Lower the taxes and companies will be forced to lower their prices to compete. So our tax code DOES send jobs over seas.

Our tax code taxes productivity and subsidizes the lazy. You will get less of one and more of the other.

Comment by NovaWatcher
2008-04-15 10:11:33

Yeah, like the lazy have any money to tax.

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Comment by MEaston
2008-04-15 10:31:01

Regulators are appointed and directed by elected officials. Thus with every election regulators can be removed or redirected. Bushco has rolled back regulation and I suspect that when he leaves office all of his appointees will go as well. If you rely on free markets for regulation, there is effectively no regulation.

Corporate taxes get passed on to the consumer. Taxes not paid by corporations also get passed on to the consumer. Outsourcing passes lower wages, pollution on to the consumer.

Our tax code should be designed to tax those who benefit most from the economic system to pay for the system. Productivity does not occur in a vacume. The gov creates the playing board and the rules. Without a playing board or rules you have anarchy and no game, people pull out of a corrupt gam. Look at how people in the third world handle wealth. They buy land, goats, gold, US dollars, they don’t invest in stocks. If you don’t trust the system you don’t put cash into the system you try to convert it to goods. Very inefficient use of wealth.

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Comment by Otis Wildflower
2008-04-16 10:33:49

European wages AND taxes are higher than ours, and they aren’t in perpetual danger of losing their jobs base.

Most if not all industrialized “western” nations’ corporate taxes are lower or far lower than those of the US. Corps don’t really care that employees have much higher income taxes, which is how those nations pay for stuff like health care and benefits (and the pittances they spend on their own defense).

Name one 3rd world country/tax haven that produces highly skilled labor to create technology, aerospace, and automobiles…

Well, at one point Korea was a 3rd-world nation in economic terms.. Economically, so was China until the mid 70s.. And the former communist bloc…

Comment by watcher
2008-04-15 07:09:14

Sydney, Australia (AHN)- World crude touched a new record high, reaching above $112 a barrel Tuesday as investors purchased futures contracts to hedge against the falling dollar, reports said.

Prof Bear must be siphoning gas from cars on the street.

Comment by Professor Bear
2008-04-15 07:45:44

My dollar savings are worth less than they were a few months ago, but they are not worthless to the point that we have resorted to siphoning gas.

Comment by Lost In Utah
2008-04-15 10:23:53

midgrade just jumped to $3.50 in SE Utarrr…

Comment by Anthony
2008-04-15 18:06:07

That’s cheap. $3.899 for lowest grade in Eureka, CA. $4.599 for diesel. These prices have been the same for a week, so I’m expecting they’ll be up another dime or so in the next couple of days.

Comment by Carbonator
2008-04-15 21:57:07

That’s only US$1.04 per litre. In Australia, we pay on average AUD$1.40 per litre, which is US$4.88 per gallon. No great change to usage, or number of V8’s sold.

Petrol in Australia is cheap, compared to Europe.

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Comment by Tom
2008-04-15 07:10:11


Retailing Chains Caught in a Wave of Bankruptcies

The consumer spending slump and tightening credit markets are unleashing a widening wave of bankruptcies in American retailing, prompting thousands of store closings that are expected to remake suburban malls and downtown shopping districts across the country.

The surging cost of necessities has led to a national belt-tightening among consumers. Figures released on Monday showed that spending on food and gasoline is crowding out other purchases, leaving people with less to spend on furniture, clothing and electronics. Consequently, chains specializing in those goods are proving vulnerable.

Comment by MEaston
2008-04-15 07:26:23

How to increase our addiction to foreign oil by John McCain


He really doesn’t understand econ 101

Comment by bluprint
2008-04-15 08:26:20

Isn’t the first rule of economics “handouts make friends”? A reduction in tax isn’t a direct handout but it’s pretty close. And he doesn’t actually have to provide it, just make like he wants to.

Comment by VirginiaTechDan
2008-04-15 09:47:40

A reduction in tax isn’t a handout unless there isn’t a reduction in spending. Otherwise, everything that was spent was a handout paid for via inflation.

Comment by MEaston
2008-04-15 10:35:05

A reduction in gas tax is just a shifting of tax burden from one group to another (the other group more often than not is our children and to ourselves via more gov debt and further destruction of the dollar).
The gas tax is the best tax we have, easy to collect, and makes people conserve oil, which our country is addicted too. It keeps wealth in the US and decreases wealth flowing to our good friends in the middle east, russia, venezuela ect.

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Comment by bluprint
2008-04-15 10:48:41

You can be sure there won’t be an accompanying reduction in spending.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a handout or not really, I was just commenting that this is political pandering. Politicians like to make the masses feel like they are “getting” something. Whether it’s an actual handout or the appearance of one or whatever.

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Comment by Professor Bear
2008-04-15 07:33:43

Are my eyes blurry, or is the DJIA dropping like a rock at the moment? Not to suggest that plunge protection floors will not kick in soon or anything…

April 15, 2008 10:31 A.M.ET
Profit reports fuel a pickup

Earnings reports, including one from Dow 30 member Johnson & Johnson, improve investors’ mood. Data on producer prices and New York–region manufacturing also win approval on Wall Street. Not even a crude price on the cusp of $114 can dampen the enthusiasm.

Comment by Professor Bear
2008-04-15 08:31:51

How long can stock markets act dumb and slow before rational expectations finally overtake irrational exurbance?

Stocks rise, helped by upbeat bank earnings, oil
Crude oil prices surge 1.5% to new record near $114
By Nick Godt, MarketWatch
Last update: 10:58 a.m. EDT April 15, 2008

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — U.S. stocks rose modestly Tuesday after well received earnings from State Street and other regional banks, as well as data showing improving sentiment on the economy and in-line core wholesale price growth.

Crude oil hitting new highs near $114 also lifted the energy sector, providing support to the broader market. See Futures Movers.

“We didn’t get another Wachovia today,” said Owen Fitzpatrick, head of the U.S. equity group at Deutsche Bank.

“The market is digesting the whole banking and financial issues, but the market has still to digest the recession story and how much of damage to earnings we’ll get,” Fitzpatrick said.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ($INDU 12,288.05, -14.01, -0.1%) gained 26 points to 12,328, with 19 of its 30 components rising.

Comment by hwy50ina49dodge
2008-04-15 08:58:57

“We didn’t get another Wachovia today,” said Owen Fitzpatrick, head of the U.S. equity group at Deutsche Bank.”

Hey Owen…
A - M Banks fail on odd days
N - Z banks fail on even days

Don’t tell anyone I let you in on it, O.K.? ;-)

Comment by watcher
2008-04-15 09:58:06

Never mind the stock market; what about the commuter economy when gas goes past $5? What about real estate prices in the burbs? Game over man! Game over!

Comment by Professor Bear
2008-04-15 11:55:04

“…when gas goes past $5?”

That’s when the folly of irrational exurbance will really hit home.

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Comment by Former FB
2008-04-15 07:37:55

Saw my first suspicious, possible “strip it and walk away” house here in “it’s different here” Boulder, CO. On my walk to work, there’s a nice house that was for sale, then for rent a couple of years ago. I’ve seen renters there sometimes since then. No signs this spring indicating it was back on the market, but this morning I saw the door unsecured with no knob or deadbolt hardware in it, and the house looked empty. Zillows for over 400k…

Comment by spike66
Comment by Professor Bear
2008-04-15 07:56:14

I guess these regional banks are too small to qualify for too-big-to-fail assistance from the Fed?

Comment by Faster Pussycat, Sell Sell
2008-04-15 14:04:43

Yep, Bernanke said that regional banks would, “most likely”, fail.

No, no, no, let me render that in Econospeak.

There is an increased chance that undercapitalized banks may have trouble accessing capital, and hence, increase the probability of failure.

I should write an automated Econospeak-meter. Not that hard. :-D

Comment by SdGuY
2008-04-15 14:02:01

Gotta love the way words are used on same subject.

“Regional Banks, Bucking Trend, Post Higher Results”

Comment by Jwhite
2008-04-15 07:53:23

Crude - $113.28 - here come $114 a barrel.

Comment by exeter
2008-04-15 07:59:31

Here’s what I don’t understand about RealTards—

Their business model seems to have ZERO downside. Think about it…. their profit doesn’t require an equity stake, their fixed commission is non-negotiable historically, requires little expertise/knowledge, their professional risk amounts to nothing that I know of. So what is it they don’t understand about high prices resulting in zero transactions? GREED. The quick money of their commission skim wasn’t enough. They wanted more so they injected the same drug they compelled other fools to try. And now falling prices and the resulting net losses are incomprehensible to them. Totally out of the question.

I’ve noticed a proliferation of “broker owned” signs in the last week. For shits and giggles, I checked the prices on the broker websites (not MLS). Every single one of the shacks on the web page said “price reduced”. But the prices are still 40-60% over market price.

Would it have made sense for them NOT to take an equity stake in all the shacks and play buyers and sellers all the way up and all the way down again? Just like selling anything else? How these asshats think they won’t get eviscerated by the invisible hand is really a mystery to me. I personally know dumbasses (non-realtards) who are paying on two notes and can’t sell one of them at their fantasy prices and I can see the stress on their faces and hear it in their voices. If Realtards are anything like these people, they’ve immobilized themselves by staying anchored to a fixed price. The market psychology is fascinating to me.

Comment by NotInMontana
2008-04-15 08:58:57

I am soooo glad I’m lazy, because for years I daydreamed about getting a license, not to really be an agent but buy properties myself. LOL - I could tell everyone else had the same idea so it always seemed “too late.” I mean even 15 years ago, here, it seemed too late. But I never really came close because I enjoy my free time as it is. So it stayed a day dream.

Comment by VirginiaTechDan
2008-04-15 08:26:57

Question for everyone. Most people think of inflation as a rise in the “average price level” which would correspond to an increase in the supply of money. The funny thing is that every measure of inflation ignores at least one MAJOR indicator of inflation, the stock market. Stocks are assets that are priced the same way as milk according to supply and demand. An increase in the stock market without a corresponding decrease in other areas IS an increase in the average price level and therefore inflation.

What this means is that when the stock market falls, demand for stocks will shrink and demand for other goods and services will rise. Therefore, a fall in the stock market and housing will lead to an increase in commodities and other necessities. We may be experiencing a decrease in the money supply, but we are also experiencing a realignment of relative pricing which will cause food/energy/gold to rise.

In other words, past inflation is going to come home to roost. What does this perspective imply?

Comment by watcher
2008-04-15 09:49:58

Where is there a decrease in the money supply? Shadowstats and others say money supply is increasing by 15-20% annually. There is no decrease in money supply.

Comment by hoz
2008-04-15 10:35:05

I am skeptical of Shadowstats monetary growth number.

Comment by watcher
2008-04-15 10:36:11

I am skeptical of government monetary numbers, inflation numbers, etc. etc.

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Comment by SF Mechanist
2008-04-15 09:55:19

I don’t think you can put assets and commodities in the same basket when it comes to looking at price changes.

Commodities (wheat, oil) are rising at least in part because they can be bought and sold with any currency on the world market and the dollar has been falling against other currencies.

Asset prices are falling because they were overpriced as a consequence of easy credit and now they are starting to correct.

Comment by Professor Bear
2008-04-15 11:52:17

“I don’t think you can put assets and commodities in the same basket when it comes to looking at price changes.”

Think of consumption goods and services as commodities (items or services which can be bought, sold and consumed in small quantities at a point in time) and an asset as a bundle of goods and services which can be consumed intertemporally and I think you can put assets and commodities together when looking at price changes.

For example, a home which is rented is a commodity, while a home which is purchased and owner-occupied is an asset.

Comment by VirginiaTechDan
2008-04-15 14:13:59

When calculating the value of the dollar you have to account for everything that is competing for dollars. This includes anything that is exchanged for dollars whether it be labor, stocks, housing, food, or energy. The dollars get exchanged for different things according to supply and demand. With the boomers there has been a high demand for retirement accounts which pushes the inflation into that area first. There has been a high demand for housing which pushes the inflation into that segment while other prices stay low. Once the demand is removed from housing all of that new money starts looking for other places to go.

Comment by warlock
2008-04-15 10:56:41

My personal theory is that the stock market actually acts as a regulator on the money supply at the system level. A number of myths are propagated about stock value, one of them being that they have any. (What value would Microsoft shares have for example, if Bill Gates decided to sell his entire share holding). For stocks that actually pay dividends this is far less the case, but those are a minority now. In general surplus money gets siphoned off into speculative investments, siphoned out when it’s no longer surplus, and in the process the nominal value adjusts.

I do agree with your statement about past inflation coming home to roost though. There are a lot of delays built into economic proceses. We’ve seen a huge amount of money, aka credit, printed in the last decade which has slowly leaked out into the larger economy through the housing mechanism. We’re now seeing the resultant inflation, and heaven help us if the Fed really does turn on the printing presses as some people are suggesting.

Comment by Professor Bear
2008-04-15 11:47:15

What you are saying is that it is imperative to ensure the stock market always goes up, right?

Comment by VirginiaTechDan
2008-04-15 14:10:02

I want to clarify, I do not think we are seeing a decrease in the money supply, I am only “assuming” the deflationists position for the sake of arguing that even with a falling money supply past inflation is not yet priced into necessities.

Comment by NotInMontana
2008-04-15 08:33:53

Our local paper finally fesses up. But it’s still not as bad as other places.

Comment by Jwhite
2008-04-15 08:47:34

$113.50… $114 by day’s end? Anybody?

Comment by watcher
2008-04-15 10:18:48

I hate it as a consumer, but I like it as an investor. :)

Comment by bluprint
2008-04-15 08:48:30

My wife and I met a couple this weekend and she is a realtor. They are also building a new house. One of the highlights was that the contractor had his crew working in the rain the past few days. He told her (I got the impression she is running the show with the house being built) that he has seen plenty of people go hungry from not working but never saw anyone drown from working in the rain.

One other amusing comment was about her job as a realtor. He jokingly made the comment that there would be fewer realtors soon the way things were going. She didn’t look as amused. She also said they are still seeing increasing numbers of realtors in the state.

Comment by exeter
2008-04-15 09:49:04

I have to laugh at all the foolish dopes who say “I built my house”. Come to find out, they didn’t “build” anything. The truth is they paid retail (top dollar) to someone else for a shack because they don’t have the brains to build a doghouse in two months if I bought the lumber for them.

Comment by bluprint
2008-04-15 10:28:11

I have some friends that did exactly that last summer. They paid a builder to build a house. The arrangement was (essentially) that he would build it and sell it to them. Good for the builder I guess, like a spec house with a buyer before you start. A strange relationship.

I think there used to be a time when you could pay a GC to build and actually come out with something at a price lower than you would have paid for the same thing in the market. But that could be a myth I’m on the young side of things to have experienced such a time myself.

Comment by CrackerJim
2008-04-15 10:33:17

Is this the same phenomenon as people saying
“We won the Super Bowl”?

Comment by Lost In Utah
2008-04-15 10:34:13

Yeah, Ex, that one bugs me, too. I met a woman who said that and I was all impressed, started asking her some details and she finally looked exasperated and confessed she’d actually had it built. She seemed to think I was nitpicking, but the word “I” means “me” to me, and I can be a bit nickpicky about that, especially when it comes to achievements and/or accountability.

Comment by bluprint
2008-04-15 11:00:08

What would qualify someone as having actually built there house to you two? Does that mean the person has to actually swing every hammer, run all electric/plumb, etc?

I can handle someone saying “I built a house” to mean they hired a GC. It’s one of those shorthand things we use in communication. It’s a function of the fact that no one really builds their own house anymore but still allows to show they determined what house was going to be built, by whom and where and what it would look like, etc. I suppose it would be more accurate to say “I had my house built” but it’s fine.

I have a buddy, and his grandmother still lives in the house her and her husband built. And when I say they built it, I mean they were heavily involved but also had neighbors come over to help out. Not sure if that qualifies for the really hardcore, maybe they should say “I built part of my house”.

What really drives me nuts though, is the people who buy a house that is going to be built anyway. When my wife and I bought our house in ‘98 it was new. We were involved with that subdivision early enough we were able to request a certain plan (there were five or six to choose from) and choose (with limitations) flooring, paint colors, brick, etc. I NEVER say I built that house. That house was going to be built anyway as part of a large development and in approximately the same amount of time.

It so happens I was able to influence some of the decisions but that doesn’t qualify in my mind at all. Sometimes people who bought houses in developments like that say “I bult my house”. When I hear that I usually just roll my eyes. Sometimes when I’m feeling ornery I ask questions to indicate how little they had to do with it.

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Comment by Lost In Utah
2008-04-15 11:16:56

Blu, there are a lot of owner-built houses in W. Colo and E. Utah. Usually, but not always, the owner is very heavily involved, not just the GC, but also hammering and sawing and laying tile, doing the plumbing, etc. As long as it meets inspection, you don’t need a professional in most of the counties I know about. You can even do your own electrical. Quite a few people do most of the darn thing themselves, they may hire carpenters or general helpers, but “I built it” usually means just that. I’ve known people who have worked this “labor of love” for years and built finely crafted works of art. But when someone is trying to sell a house out here and it says owner built, it’s generally buyer beware, for quite often it’s substandard, even though it may meet code.

Comment by bluprint
2008-04-15 11:27:27

I hear of things like that from time to time (besides the old timers like I mention in my last post) here (arkansas), but for the most part I thought that kind of thing was gone except among people who work in construction, thanks for that. It’s nice to know there are places where people still do a lot of that type of stuff themselves.

I’ve laid tile, poured concrete, done plumbing, done electric, carpentry, etc. Personally I can’t imagine I would really build a house now (work and grad school is about all I can handle for the time). Maybe in a couple years. I have to admit if I acted as a GC I would probably say “I built this house back in…”.

Maybe now I won’t say that.

Comment by Lost In Utah
2008-04-15 11:53:00

My dad built our house and he really did build it. Every single part, all by himself. Wasn’t big, but it worked fine.

Comment by combotechie
2008-04-15 11:26:45

Did Cheops build the Great Pyramid?

I bet he never laid one stone.

Comment by hoz
2008-04-15 08:48:41

This Bloomberg article gives a good overall idea of the insolvency crisis.

“…A decade after its creation the market shows little resemblance to its beginnings as investors and traders use credit derivatives as an alternative to buying bonds. While ISDA estimates that there are contracts tied to $45 trillion of debt, Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. estimates that there is only about $43 trillion of debt outstanding….”

The start of the pain and only $2T has been unwound, roughly 5%. A long way to go.


Comment by Darrell_in _PHX
2008-04-15 09:42:31

This article reminds me of what I’ve been saying about this stuff…. Last fall everyone was screaming for visibility…

I was saying that they want visibility, and they want what they see to be good news.

Now that they have gotten a $300 billion dose of visibility with hits of more hundreds of billions to come, NO ONE wants visibility. They want to find ways to keep the truth hidden.

Comment by lavi d
2008-04-15 09:12:13

Excellent Rant on NPR this morning about the impending death of the dollar.

Comment by watcher
2008-04-15 09:54:57

Don’t tell combotechie…

Comment by combotechie
2008-04-15 11:14:56


Comment by ACH
2008-04-15 11:46:09

This guy has some points. Still, I do not think that China is going to have a “China Century”. India might. Both of them have huge problems that could very well stifle them - huge populations are the worst, they have demographic problems that cannot be denied, environmental disasters that are not being addressed. Think about it. What do you do with a 1 billion person population and a 350 million person middle class? What about the other 650 million? Do you really think they will tolerate being unable to move into the middle class? Their version of middle class at least? That they will content themselves drinking bad water, using bad sanitation systems, going to bad schools and not even finishing 3rd grade, no health care? 650 million people? In one country alone? Now we have two like that? Sounds like a revolution to me.

Comment by Darrell_in _PHX
2008-04-15 09:35:48

Bear Sterns laying off thousands today. Some reports say 7,000. Others say more.

It seems they are sending some of the layoffs across the street to JPMorgan to apply for open positions there. Thousands of people applying for dozens of jobs…

Comment by Blano
2008-04-15 10:53:31

“Thousands of people applying for dozens of jobs”.…

Welcome to reality!!!

Comment by Tom
2008-04-15 12:15:59

Reminds me of the new Wal-Mart that just opened up here.

Comment by PricedOutInUtah
2008-04-15 09:51:43

My sister got a student loan from Chase, took a couple months to do the paperwork, etc. Finally got the check last week. Her bank called her today and let her know that the check bounced. Chase doesn’t have the funds. They’ve apparently frozen assets related to loans, or something to that effect. The girl on the phone that talked to my sister assured her they weren’t going bankrupt, but she could offer no further information. She gave her a different number to call.

Comment by PricedOutInUtah
2008-04-15 09:55:47

Just head from my sister, the “other number” they gave her is a recorded message, saying if you tried to cash a loan check and there were insufficient funds, you will be mailed a new check within 3 business days; if you have a loan check you haven’t cashed yet, go ahead and try to cash it and it should go through.

My sister said (she was relaying this to my wife): it would be nice if the government could just print up a bunch of money.


Comment by Anthony
2008-04-15 18:17:54

Sounds like my experience with Bank of America. Their $27,000 cashier’s check was refused at the receiving institution because their account had been closed. I had to wait 90 days to get reimbursed the $$ from Bank of America. I stopped banking with them shortly thereafter.

Comment by Auction Heaven in '07
2008-04-15 22:48:49

That’s front page news right there, IMHO.

‘Chase Bounces Checks, But Says End of Crisis is Near’.


Comment by SF Mechanist
2008-04-15 10:00:31


Comment by PricedOutInUtah
2008-04-15 09:57:31

Chases cover-their-butt-with-a-recorded-message number, if anyone is interested: 888-563-7050

Comment by ahansen
2008-04-15 10:06:49

Major off-topic here, but CA/AZ/NV readers should be aware that a flurry of anomalous quake activity has been occurring over the last 48 hours radiating out into UT and even syncing with geothermal activity at Yellowstone. San Andreas is bubbling with activity.
You urbanites might want to check your H2O supply. (Never a bad idea anyway.)
And now, back to our regularly scheduled program.

Comment by Lost In Utah
2008-04-15 10:41:48

That map you link to says 581 earthquakes in CA and NV within the last week. Some very small… what would be the average, or do you know?

Comment by speedingpullet
2008-04-15 10:54:17

I was watching the news yesterday about the swarm of micro-quakes off the coast of Oregon - something like 600 of them in the last 72 hours…. wonder if there’s any connection?

Wierdly, the USGS Earthquake map for Los Angeles county is incredibly empty today - other than a few ‘under-1’s’ around Riverside and Pomona.

Comment by Lost In Utah
2008-04-15 11:11:03

They had a 5+ off the Oregon coast. There have been a few 1+ in central Utah lately, but I think this is quite often the case. I believe I saw something yesterday over by Capitol Reef Nat’l Park (near Caineville), saw a big rockfall come down a cliff, lots of dust, and felt something, but thought it was probably just spring melting loosening the rocks. But I was talking to a paraglider who had just landed and he said he felt something, too, but I don’t see anything on the USGS map today. Gotta stay off that strong coffee…

Comment by aladinsane
2008-04-15 11:13:29

Are you ready to rrrrrrrumble?

(Comments wont nest below this level)
Comment by Lost In Utah
2008-04-15 11:18:47

rock and roll!!

Comment by Anthony
2008-04-15 18:19:36

And a 6.9 in the Aleutians this afternoon.

Comment by Jas Jain
2008-04-15 10:10:15

CNBC: SoCal SFH resale prices for March 2008 down 24%, YoY.

I have not seen anything posted on DataQuick website yet. I am sure that it is led by interior areas that are collapsing.

Homebuilder Index stuck at 20. It has to rise to 50 and stay there for three months before the housing bottoms. That is like climbing Mt. Everest, or K2.


Comment by James
2008-04-15 10:31:14

I have an odd bubble confession to make here.

I like Ramen noodles. I don’t make them that much any more but their cheap as heck.

Hell, I love beans and rice. Its a whole meal for me. I do go luxury and get the Goya kidney beans though.

So, between Ramen, beans and hummus (made at home). I can eat on less than

Comment by watcher
2008-04-15 10:39:29

Stock up before the food riots. That stuff keeps forever.

Comment by Lost In Utah
2008-04-15 10:43:38

James just passed out from lack of nutrition, thus his unfinished post…LOL, just kidding, sounds pretty healthy to me.

Comment by Bub Diddley
2008-04-15 10:52:31

Well, rice and beans are healthy. Cheap ramen noodles have about as much nutritional value as the water you make them with…

Comment by Darrell_in _PHX
2008-04-15 10:56:41

I think I have a way to balance the federal budget. New tax that requires you pay $1 to call a market bottom….


“Buying a Foreclosed Home: What You Need to Know”

“In the current market climate, most pros agree that this is not the time to buy a house to flip because real estate prices aren’t likely to go up significantly anytime soon. Bidders instead should be seeking a place to live. Hochman does feel, though, that the steep dropoff in prices will stop by June.”

Based on what?????

Comment by vile
2008-04-15 10:58:25

Calabacitas with pinto beans, canned tomatoes and zucchini. Cheap, filling and darned tasty.

Comment by In Colorado
2008-04-15 15:01:58

In Mexico City Zucchini are called “calabacitas”

Comment by watcher
2008-04-15 11:35:39

the madness of Ben Bernanke:

The dollar is in a tailspin, the trade deficit is growing and a recession is on the horizon. The American way of life is in serious danger. But the head of the Federal Reserve keeps on pumping easy credit into the system — a crazy policy that will worsen the crisis.


Comment by aladinsane
2008-04-15 12:01:34

Beneficial Being Ben Bernanke’s Business Buddies

Comment by aladinsane
2008-04-15 12:01:34

Beneficial Being Ben Bernanke’s Business Buddies

Comment by watcher
2008-04-15 11:42:35

print more fiatscos!

April 15 (Bloomberg) — Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd backed a call by SLM Corp. for the U.S. Treasury to make more money available for student loans to avoid a looming crisis in U.S. higher education lending.


Comment by Jwhite
Comment by Ouro Verde
2008-04-15 13:18:43

Just went to Target to pick up some dog food. Two bags in march were 16 something each. Today same two bags were 19 something.
Birdseed way up too. Duh, its seeds.
I must admit, I had a choke back the tears moment for all the dogs, birds and cats who will be left out of the global food sharing plans.
People, I guess, must come first.

Hey, the Intel my mom gave me in the early 90’s is finally getting it’s day in the sun.

Comment by Ria Rhodes
2008-04-15 14:14:24

Comment by MEaston

“How to increase our addiction to foreign oil by John McCain”


“He really doesn’t understand econ 101″

Aren’t our presidents just mouthpieces for the the low profile policy wonks with all those letters and titles after their names? Whatever. The holiday gas tax thing is a gimmick. While we’re at it, let’s keep a tally how many times McCain makes references to his wartime sacrifices. OK McCain, we really do appreciate your sacrifices, but can you shut up about already? Next up for ridicule is that Nancy Polosi character. Can her motives be any more obvious? God I despise American politics. Will clothespin my nose and mail-in my early ballot.

Comment by Mary Lee
2008-04-15 18:56:30

I’m still torn - can’t decide between Mike Gravel and Ron Paul

Comment by desertdweller
2008-04-15 15:26:49

My observation today at 2 grocery stores was empty, and the clerks, mgrs, and meat guy were all around asking the few shoppers if they wanted any help etc. They had that look of total boredom.

I don’t know, maybe high season is over already and the weekenders are gone. Maybe this was just an aberration, but no one was in the gym either. And all places during are usually fairly active.
Maybe it is just Tuesday and Tax day so no one is buying.

Comment by Ria Rhodes
2008-04-15 16:12:08

Comment by desertdweller:

“Maybe this was just an aberration..”
“Maybe it is just Tuesday and Tax day so no one is buying.”

Everything will be just fine when the tax rebate checks arrive in the mail and everyone can rush out and buy a PS3(~:

What’s in your wallet?

Comment by aladinsane
2008-04-15 16:00:37

Is there enough Trillions of Dollars in the world to get the total losses up to a round Quadrillion Dollars?

Comment by northernmichigangal
2008-05-20 03:03:35

Has anyone stopped to compare what actually triggered the Great Depression along with the Dust Bowl that our country suffered at the SAME time? A falling dollar, soaring unemployment, ( yes, I know, the numbers don’t actually count ALL unemployed people, just the ones collecting benefits) loss of homes, farms, cars, credit………hhmmmm..does this sound familiar here? My grandparents lived through the depression, they had farms. We do not. Nor do we have decent wage paying jobs. The flight of our industrial base started long before NAFTA was ever enacted, just ask Allentown, PA all about that….anyone else remember when the steel mills closed? Or how about textile mills, or….shall I continue? We can’t blame one president when we as a people continue to let this kind of thing happen over and over again! I remember the 70’s recession, and the bumpy ride of the early 90’s. I’m a Gen X’r who will NEVER be able to retire. I’ll have to die on the job in order to get buried! I can’t afford my own home, barely keep food on my table for my family, and am close to losing my transportation, simply because Exxon-Mobile and others like them have the ability to post 10.6 BILLION in PROFITS for 3 months! Wish I was an heir!

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