November 26, 2008

Holiday Topic Suggestions

About this time of the year in 2005, we discussed the possibility of a housing bubble related holiday bust. A bit premature, but what about 2008? And what of the various local housing markets in light of the unprecedented economic events that are unfolding? Anecdotal insights from your holiday gatherings are appreciated. I’ll forward these threads through the weekend.

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Comment by Captain Credit Crunch
2008-11-26 07:49:10

My wife and I decided to speed the bust along by not participating in the consumer aspect of Christmas this year. Beyond a couple bottles of wine for our folks, we’re instead making a donation to our two favorite non-profits (American Lung Association / Boy Scouts). Poof! There goes $1000 from retailers’ claws.

My parents are definitely going “lite,” or so they say. But I think it’ll take a couple more Christmas years before we see the real pain–all those rich people ARMs are just starting to reset, so they probably still have access to credit.

2009 or 2010 for total bust.

Comment by Asparagus
2008-11-26 08:19:07

Wife and I have done the same. We have 7 nieces/nephews. We give the gift of time and experience, Pizza and either a movie/bowling/play/sporting event (minor league/college).

Pizza = $50
Tickets = probably $80
for a total of $130

Last time we bought all gifts, we spent $240. No more sh(t from overseas to clutter their houses and landfills.

Comment by JackRussell
2008-11-26 08:41:24

I have been fed up with the consumerism related to Christmas for years. In our family we mainly just give gifts to kids anyways, so aside from having a nice dinner we don’t spend all that much.

But I get the sense that lots of people are doing the same thing. The housing bubble led to a credit and debt bubble, and this in turn led to a retail bubble. One by one they pop, and as each one goes, it sows the seeds for the popping of the next one.

Some of the marginal malls may well close completely - there is a sort of mall death spiral that I have seen a couple of times. As there are fewer and fewer stores in a mall, fewer people are drawn there as there isn’t much to pick from, which makes it more and more difficult for the stores. Eventually the stores that are left are the types of things that just couldn’t make it in a big and healthy mall (due to the excessive rents). At some point the owners either have to completely redevelop it in order to try and breathe new life into the thing, or rip it all down completely and use it for some other purpose.

Comment by Château d'If
2008-11-26 10:31:32

For what it’s worth…

“Consumption” was the old-fashioned slang term for Tuberculosis.

Comment by rms
2008-11-26 13:05:50

“”Consumption” was the old-fashioned slang term for Tuberculosis.”

+1 Great observation! :)

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Comment by Leighsong
2008-11-26 20:00:33

I had three pieces of limestone on my desk,
but I was terrified to find that they required to be dusted daily,
when the furniture of my mind was all undusted still,

and threw them out the window in disgust.

Henry David Thoreau

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Comment by Rancher
2008-11-26 08:41:34

Our local animal shelter is financially better off after we left yesterday. The place is bursting at
the seams and they need help in the worst way.

Comment by Lane from s.c.
2008-11-26 09:02:17

Good for you! We are doing the same here In fort mill s.c.


Comment by NYCityBoy
2008-11-26 11:57:08

You’re in Fort Mill? I don’t think I knew that. How is real estate fairing there? Talk about overbuilding. That’s the place. It was a good thing they closed all of the textile mills. That really freed up the locals to focus on developing every square inch of land.

Is the Firehouse Restaurant still open? They had the best oysters Rockefeller.

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Comment by SawItComing
2008-11-26 12:04:17

Me too! I volunteer my time at the local animal control. Due to budget cuts, we just started euthanizing cats again, because of my medical background I was asked to ensure the guidelines were being followed. It’s not fun, but sure seems worthwhile when I see rows of empty cages that were once packed with 2 or 3 cats eating through our operating budget.

Happy Thanksgiving all!

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Comment by Leighsong
2008-11-26 17:44:52


Responsible animal owner.

Thanks for not giving me a warm and furry.

I realise the enormity of it all –

Stomache hurts.


P.S. Not a personal affront.

Comment by Michael Fink
2008-11-26 11:21:38

I’m going to do the same thing this year. If I can talk the girlfriend into it, I’d like to put all the money we spend on each other for gifts into a local shelter (it burned down a year ago, they are still trying to rebuild, and we got one of our cats there).

We will see how that works out. But they could use the money MUCH worse than we need it. I’d be the best present I could possibly give, finally doing something good with our income, rather then just showering ourselves in more s**t that we don’t need.

Comment by Eudemon
2008-11-26 14:00:30

Why not voluntarily give a cash gift to the co-worker who clearly worked his or her ass off this year - more so than anyone else - and yet didn’t get a raise or bonus this year due to the lack of productivity/intelligence of management or other employees?

Toss ‘em $100 and say thanks for giving a shit.

Seems a better use of extra cash than to hand it over to the animal shelter industry…which incidentally has done a horrific job at curbing the problem of dog and cat over-population. Clue to the animal shelter folks: If you get rid of critters NOW, you’ll save millions of other critters from having to be put down LATER.

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Comment by Carlos Cisco
2008-11-26 17:20:12

Well, same method could be used to solve the 2 legged critter housing and unemployment problem. The your unappreciated worker wouldnt be around to make management feel guilty about their christmas bonus. Over-population by humans is the worst kept secret by both liberals and conservatives; just think of the billions that wont have to be put down later.

Comment by Eudemon
2008-11-26 17:56:40

No argument there, Carlos. In fact, I largely agree as sad as that is.

Comment by Eudemon
2008-11-26 18:02:02

Incidentally…there is a solution. Let China take over the world.

Both pet and human population control in one fell swoop! No more starving people, a drastic reduction in dog and cat numbers, and low birth rates.

Comment by Carlos Cisco
2008-11-26 17:10:19

Thats where my holiday money is headed. Cant accommodate any more animals at home so, what I spent last year on stuff for people will go this year to help the little critters at the shelter. Also, will put up a bird feeder and watering hole on my patio. Theyre a pain to keep stocked in our deep snow winters but the feathered dinosaurs deserve a little help in our climate.

Comment by wmbz
2008-11-26 08:57:41

“2009 or 2010 for total bust”.

I agree… This Christmas is bound to be slower for retailers, but the big pull backs are yet to come.

Comment by Arizona Slim
2008-11-26 09:46:54

I have a couple of eighty-something parents in a paid-for house. However, the place needs a fixup here and a repair there. So, Slim’s going to spend the upcoming Christmas visit on the honey-do list.

Comment by Eudemon
2008-11-26 10:24:52

I’m spending this Christmas, as I always do. I enjoy doing so.

However, here’s what I don’t enjoy blowing money on:

1. Dinners out. (I ate out a whopping 4 times from January of this year to yesterday. Talk about a wasteful expenditure of cash. Do you guys think about how much crap restaurants throw out on a daily basis?)
2. Large quantities of DVDs/CDs/childhood collectibles crap off of amazon or equivalent.
3. Liquor and cigarettes. I spent MAYBE $200 on booze since last Christmas and not a cent on cigarettes.
4. Golf.
5. Needless gadgetry. No I-Pods, Blackberries, video games, wide screens, etc., etc., in this household.
6. Pet food, boarding pets, vetting pets, etc. Talk about a waste of money!

So, for those of you who essentially condemn people who spend at Christmas, perhaps the spending habits of others are vastly different than yours. Maybe some people spend very little the rest of the year.

Comment by MidnightSunshine
2008-11-26 11:17:58

You’ve vetted pets? Wow–you’re harsh!

Comment by Eudemon
2008-11-26 12:20:55

Want harsh?

1/3 or more of all cats and dogs in this country ought to be gassed immediately. This includes ALL non-spayed and non-neutered critters.

And guess what? I LIKE both dogs and cats, and they like me.

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Comment by exeter
2008-11-26 14:55:14

Likewise with conservatives.

Comment by San Diego RE Bear
2008-11-26 14:56:41

I would argue that 1/3 of all pet owners need to be gassed immediately.

As for wasting money on pets, to each their own. But the amount I spend each month is paid back to me tenfold in having wonderful companions in my life. Not for everyone but there are a few of us out there that simply could not exist without our four-legged friends.

Since this is a holiday thread - well shopping for the canine set is easy - a few hours at dog beach! :D

Comment by Michael Fink
2008-11-26 11:28:08

“So, for those of you who essentially condemn people who spend at Christmas, perhaps the spending habits of others are vastly different than yours. Maybe some people spend very little the rest of the year.”

I doubt it. Those who spend are wired to spend. Those who save are the opposite. Those who spend like idiots around the holidays are probably also spending like idiots the rest of the year. And now, we all get to pay for it through the multi-trillion dollar bailout package.

However, I would have to say, I don’t so much hate the spending as I hate the holidays themselves. It’s special to spend money on someone; to get them something that they really want/need. If you did it for someone in your life, they would be very grateful, and remember the generosity that you showed towards them.

If you do it on Dec 25th, it’s just expected; nobody really appreciates it. That’s my biggest problem with the holidays; it’s takes what should be a good/selfless act and perverts it into something that just an extension of our disgusting consumerism culture.

Don’t take this to mean that I don’t like to spend money and have nice things. I most certainly do. And I spend money on lots of things that you consider a waste (electronics, pets, and plenty of dinners out). But the difference (in my eyes) is that I don’t expect YOU to pay for it. And I appreciate the money that I have, and the work required to get it.

Comment by Eudemon
2008-11-26 12:17:36

Michael -

I don’t care what you spend your money on, nor should I. You’re not in debt and I’m not in debt. All well and good.

What irks me is that this time of year, many people deride the holidays, insisting that they’ve become nothing more than symbols of crass consumerism.

To that, I say perhaps it is time for the holiday bashers to make different friends, spend time with other family members or move to a different part of the country.

Tens of millions of people around the country aren’t into crass consumerism at holiday time. Or, if they are, it’s because they’ve done without for most of the year. This runs counter to many of those who bitch about the consumerism of the holidays. What irritates these people is the very idea that they are compelled to think about buying something for somebody else and taking time to make that happen.

These folks instead are PISSED - that rather than being free to be waited on in restaurants, hair salons, golf/country clubs, etc., at their leisure, they instead have to consider somebody else. The “Here I Am, Entertain Me!” crowd hates the holidays.

It seems such folks have plenty of time to bitch and moan about crass consumerism from the comfort of their restaurant/pub pews or living room leather recliners — all the while quaffing a fancy $10 import and watching the latest on big screen televisions.

Worse yet are the people who decide that the best gift is to give money to give money to their favored charitable organization money on behalf of someone else, under the guise that it’s some sort of “gift.” It isn’t. It’s crass do-gooderism that makes the gift giver feel good, but rarely the “donee” gift recipient.

Meanwhile, in January, these same individuals will resume eating out 3 or more times a week, and scoffing at people who buy hard goods.

Talk about a pantload of b.s.

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Comment by Michael Fink
2008-11-26 14:16:25

I don’t intend to give “on the behalf of someone else”.. I’m plenty happy to have them know who gave them the money, and to get my reward (in my case, a few hours with all the homeless pets during the holidays). Trust me, I’m not the least bit altruistic about this, I know that giving to charities is to make me feel good about myself. But, at least (in my eyes), I’m actually doing some good with the money that I make. Giving another Fendi bag to my girlfriend? Or more crap to my parents? Ugh…

And I do understand that there are people like you out there who enjoy giving, and who take a great deal of time to select gifts that have “meaning”. However, there are many (most) of us who are not like that. My holiday shopping is a trip to the mall, and a walk into the Gucci/LV store. I then sit down, tell them I would like to spend 3K, and need gifts for 2 people. I also tell them the ages and their interests. I come back in an hour, and it’s all done (except for the crying as my CC slides through the register). I won’t shop anywhere that won’t do the “personal shopping” for me (for other people anyway, I rarely shop in high end stores for myself).

I guess my argument would be that there is no thought what-so-ever that go in my XMas gifts. However, I’m more then happy to put together elaborate (and very personal) gifts for people during the year. The difference is, when you give someone something unexpectedly, it’s TOTALLY different then giving someone when it’s expected.

“These folks instead are PISSED - that rather than being free to be waited on in restaurants, hair salons, golf/country clubs, etc., at their leisure, they instead have to consider somebody else.”

I am one of these people who is pissed, but not because it takes any effort at all. Just because it makes me examine the nature of my relationship with other people, and makes me a hyper-consumer, something that I am most certainly NOT. You have to understand that many people you know don’t have a “great” idea for a gift for you. They are going to store and browsing aimlessly looking for something, anything, to get you to satisfy the “need” to give.

If I had a great idea of a gift, I would just buy it for you and give it to you.

Also, I find it rather odious to buy my GF yet another expensive handbag/jacket/etc, etc when there are so many others in her family who could use the gifts more. I have tried the “Let’s not get each other anything, just take all the money and buy presents for other people” line as well. Again, to no success. :(

Comment by Eudemon
2008-11-26 17:13:12

Michael -

A solution to your woes, perhaps? Limit your gift giving to $20 per person.

I’m always amazed by the need for people to spend $500 or more on gifts at Christmas or any other time of year. $1000? $3000? No wonder the holidays are such a drag. Pardon my French, but what the hell?

I’ve purchased/made gifts for 11 people during each of the past six years. I’ve never spent more than $300 total for everyone combined.

Maybe next year, think of severely limiting what you spend so that which you DO spend has some actual significance. Or better yet, learn how to paint, draw, carve, sculpt, build, plant, etc. People that like and love you want something from YOU, not the crap your credit card can deliver.

Years ago, after I finally figured this out, I purchased and planted a row of lilac bushes as a gift. Those 1-1/2 piles of twigs are now about 10 feet high, look great, smell wonderful and remind the recipient every year of our friendship, and the great time we had drinking, digging and cursing as they went in the ground. We got smarter as we went along - we grabbed a bunch of neighbors, a pony keg…and there you go.

Do/buy something that not only requires your grit and skill, but also something that lasts. You’ll gain knowledge and pride; your recipient likely will get something wonderful.

Got sons, daughters, nieces, nephews, grandsons, granddaughters? Piece of cake. Buy a half-dozen or so fire extinguishers. Arrange a time and place to bring the kiddies and extinguishers to the local fire department; have the firemen show the kids how to use the extinguishers and then let the KIDS use them. They’ll never forget it. Follow that up with a Christmas Day trip to the zoo (most zoos are open on Christmas).

Screw the malls and the Insta-Gift mentality (at $250 or more a crack - still hard to believe) that accompanies Christmas. That’s the Scrooge approach and it sucks.

Start preparing for next year’s Christmas in January 2009, take your time, and you’ll have a lot more appreciation for it and those you love when the day does arrive. It’s not about bthe money you spend - it’s about the thought process and care you put into it.

BTW, thanks for you candor in recent threads. We essentially agree.

Comment by Eudemon
2008-11-26 13:46:06

So then crass consumerism (and ensuing debt) is solely a function of buying tangible/visible goods from WalMart, Toys’R Us, Lowes and Furniture World?

I guess no one who owns a dog or feline, eats out 3-6 times a week, drinks imported beer or gets their hair cut at $25-$100 a pop uses revolving credit card advances to *pay* the costs of supporting such a thoroughly hedonistic lifestyle.

Nor do they expect others to pay for this type of crass consumerism. Interesting.

Are the Feds not going to use my money to bailout buyers of entertainment and pet goods? If so, cool.

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Comment by drumminj
2008-11-26 17:06:19

While I certainly can’t claim to know Michael’s position, I’ll try to clarify at least what I dislike about the “crass consumerism” of the holidays, something Michael mentioned in passing.

Coming across a trinket that someone close to you would really appreciate is great. These are the type of gifts one buys throughout the year..they don’t need an occasion, just “hey, this made me think of you” type thing.

This time of year, there’s the *expectation* of giving and receiving presents. So instead, the masses go out and try to FIND something like that…they’re not buying on a whim because they saw something they thought the other person would like. Instead, simply because of how the Christmas holiday is marketed, people go out to buy gifts simply because it’s custom.

Personally, that’s what bothers me about this holiday. I don’t like the pressure of feeling I *have* to get something for someone. If I happen upon something that would be a good gift for someone in my life, awesome. But I absolutely detest the expectation and the judgement that somehow I don’t care about my family or friends because I don’t force myself to go buy something - anything - for them this time of year. And yes, I agree…if the people around me really do judge me like that, I should probably find other people to hang out with.

You’re right that not everyone is doing that. But I’d argue that a large number do…and that’s what’s wrong with this holiday in our society.

And, for the record, I’m have pets and spends money on them (to feed them, toys, etc), and eats out 3 times a week. And I drink imported beer! But no tax dollars go towards my lifestyle…I spend within my means (and save), I just happen to like going out with friends for dinner and enjoy the companionship of my animals.

Comment by Eudemon
2008-11-26 17:29:35

Don’t get me wrong - I have absolutely no problem with people spending their money the way they see fit. In fact, I’m totally for it!

Which is precisely why hearing people bitch and moan about crass consumerism gets my goat. Why should you care how people shop (unless, of course, they are indebted up to their eyeballs)? What business is it of yours? How is ostentatuious hedonism any different than “Entertain Me!” hedonism? Either way, it’s all about you.

If the holidays irritate you, then YOU need to do something differently. Don’t blame other people. It’s YOUR fault. Like you, drumminj, I buy gifts all year ’round, but I put several aside so that when the holidays come around, I don’t have to deal with all the b.s. Rather than deal with mindless automatons in malls, I go see choral events or similar from Thanksgiving through December 25.

Wanna give gifts throughout the year? Whatever happened to gooey love letters, foot massages, unexpected weekend getaways? Guys, surprise your women folk by having the rooms painted (hire somebody if need be, but surprise her just the same). Get new curtains. Ladies, show up at home unexpected in jeans and a flannel shirt and present your man with fishing poles and tell him you’re both getting the hell out of town for a few days. Cabin in the woods kind of thing.

What’s so difficult about all of this anyway? If you actually spend some time thinking about somebody else and not about all the crap you need to get done, actual living gets unbelievably easy and cheap to do.

You only live once. Better get moving.

Geez. Maybe I should write a book.

Comment by Michael Fink
2008-11-26 18:45:16


I’m right there with you; I agree completely with your view.

The only thing that I would add is that; even if I were to go out and spend a bunch of time looking for that “perfect” gift for someone; giving it on XMas is kind of like throwing it away. That same person will be swamped with gifts (like the ones that I typically buy) that have no thought at all behind them; the gift you spent hours/days making or finding would be lost in the barrage of BS gifts that were selected by the personal shopper at Nordys or Gucci.

Xmas has becoming exactly what you said “Buying for the sake of buying”. Give a 15 year old kid a PS3 tomorrow. Watch their heads explode! :) Give that same kid a PS3 on Dec 25th. They will be “happy”. But happy more in the way that I am happy when the UPS man finally gets here with someone I have ordered from a catalog. That’s nothing like the joy that comes from getting (and giving) a totally unexpected gift (that is something that person really wants).

And yes, I realize that perhaps giving to charity isn’t the best option either. However, I really think it’s better then crap from the mall for me and my gf (who frankly, already have FAR more then any 2 people could EVER need). I just feel so “dirty” after the entire thing is over. I don’t want gifts from others, and I don’t want to give other people gifts. I guess that makes me a real scrooge about the whole thing; but it has nothing to do with the money. It’s totally about the overwhelming obnoxious nature of the whole thing; how it’s become totally about the giver and the amount spent, and nothing at all about the gift itself.

Also, as a discolsure, I do live in Palm Beach, which has absolutely colored my opinion of this entire holiday. You’ve never seen something more distasteful then all these rich (or wannabe rich) in the mall powershopping their lives into oblivian buying thousands of dollars worth of crap that nobody wants and nobody needs. The world would be much, much better off if all that money was given to some charity (any charity). I’m not normally a charitable person; but when faced with the amount of money I spend each holiday (for things that nobody really wants) and the change that money could make in others lives (be it children in a 3rd world, pets at home, or just people in need) I just feel a bit sick.

Comment by drumminj
2008-11-26 19:32:00

Eudemon - At least for me, it’s not that I have any issues with how others spend their money (assuming I’m not on the hook in the end with some sort of bailout/tax break/etc)…it’s the spirit and the expectation that bother me. Ultimately, the way society/our culture looks at this holiday does affect me, and if 95% of the population does something, most will expect that you’ll do it too. As I said above, what gets me is ultimately the expectation of gift-giving takes root in most everyone’s mind, and thus if I choose not to give a gift to someone on Christmas, I’m judged as a result.

Michael - You make a good point regarding how the expectation diminishes the value of the gift in the eyes of the receiver. I agree. Rather than a random act of kindness, it’s seen as custom instead.

Comment by CA renter
2008-11-27 03:45:35

Agree with Michael and drumminj. It’s the **expectation** that you are supposed to buy junk for people who probably don’t need it…filling up their overstuffed closets and wasting money that could have been much better spent.

We only buy gifts for the kids. It took many long years, but I’ve finally convinced my husband to drop the gift-giving for ourselves.

This is why my favorite holiday is Thanksgiving. Family, friends and good food is what really matters!

Comment by aNYCdj
2008-11-26 11:41:55

Just think people in Zimbabwe would love the left over scraps from McD or KFC…BK… wendys

But i guess it would be really politically incorrect if we had an organized nightly food recycling system food breads scraps coupled to a food drop overseas.

The zimbaweans would be fed with a lot cleaner safer food then they could get from their dumps, plus our food would NOT give them cholera……mass outbreak this week

(I ate out a whopping 4 times from January of this year to yesterday. Talk about a wasteful expenditure of cash. Do you guys think about how much crap restaurants throw out on a daily basis?

Comment by Carlos Cisco
2008-11-26 17:32:08

Mugabi would let you make all the food drops you wanted to, just so long as he and his husky buddies get fed first. Colonial guilt he calls it. He, being a true African dictator, has no qualms about starving half his population; he has stated so. No one cares.

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Comment by Leighsong
2008-11-26 18:03:10

Some care.



P.S. Sigh, an aweful one, yes, he is.

Comment by incredulous
2008-11-26 16:24:33

Mumbai’s under seige while HBB’ers discuss gift-giving. LMFAO

Comment by Eudemon
2008-11-26 17:38:18

Well, since this is the first I’ve heard about it, I have an excuse (my television is usually OFF and I can’t be bothered surfing the web for news since most of the time you have to be a member to read anything).

Your comment begs a question, however. Since you already know Mumbai is under seige, why are you bothering to read all our posts on gift giving?

Comment by incredulous
2008-11-27 08:45:15


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Comment by ex-nnvmtgbrkr
2008-11-26 08:01:54

No Trabajo, senor! 2009 muy malo.

Comment by colomountains
2008-11-26 11:51:18

LOL and so very to the point!!!

Comment by Neil
2008-11-26 13:50:09

Yo Quiero “bailout”

Comment by mrktMaven
2008-11-26 16:03:26

It’s all gonna crash! again and again!

pollo pequeno

Comment by aladinsane
2008-11-26 08:02:27

It all boils down to plastic, as only combo and a few select others have do re mi…

Do the credit card companies extend credit to known debtbeats?

Comment by jeff saturday
2008-11-26 08:22:47

Isn`t that where all this printed money is supposed to go.
Car loan , credit cards and mortgages to known deadbeats.
Student loans to future deadbeats.

Comment by Muir
2008-11-26 10:33:55

“I want to say one word to you. Just one word…

Comment by SanFranciscoBayAreaGal
2008-11-26 13:45:11


Comment by Jim A.
2008-11-26 10:59:56

Well they DID. Hey, penalties and fees are their major source of revenue. Once you fall down they will kick you in the ribs until you stop moving. They they got the bankruptcy rules changed to put you on intravenus IVs so that they could CONTINUE kicking you while you were down.

Comment by dude
2008-11-26 08:06:52

Three months ago everyone in my extended family up north was talking about coming down to LA for some warmth and sunshine, disneyland, and broadway show.

About two weeks ago their plans all fell apart and now we’ll only have local family at our dinner.

Only one brother was willing to admit his cancellation was due to financial duress, but I know that my mother has lost big bucks in her stock accounts and my older brother has said his practice barely cashflows.

I predict light traffic at the airports and on the freeways over the holiday season and that warm tourist destinations worldwide will go unvisited by those north of the 40th parallel.

My other prediction is for a mini baby boom for late next summer as all those seek lower heating bills and still needing to stay warm do so in the most ancient fashion.

Comment by hd74man
2008-11-26 10:37:32

RE: I predict light traffic at the airports and on the freeways over the holiday season and that warm tourist destinations worldwide will go unvisited by those north of the 40th parallel.

On the money…

Comment by aNYCdj
2008-11-26 08:27:32

Volcker will head new Obama board

Mike Allen Mike Allen – Wed Nov 26, 4:31 am ET
Featured Topics:

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker answers a question from a member of Reuters – Former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker answers a question from a member of the audience after a …

President-elect Barack Obama on Wednesday will announce the creation of a president’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board, chaired by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, to provide outside advice from heavyweight thinkers, officials said.

Obama, who will be the sixth president Volcker has served, plans to make the announcement in Chicago at his third news conference on the economy in three days, allowing him to dominate news coverage during Thanksgiving week.

Comment by ann gogh
2008-11-26 08:58:05

I really want a new or used high end camera, I could afford it with my savings but it’s too scary right now. I did buy a shiatsu massager though.

Comment by 2banana
2008-11-26 08:43:53

I am buying with three small kids (so flame away)

However, it is either cash or credit card that will be paid in full when the January bill comes in.

I can not understand people who go into debt for Christmas and take 5-6 months to pay it off (and I do know people like that).

Also - something we all do as a family is “buy” gifts from the Samaritans Purse (like a well or medical supplies for a village). It is very interesting what the kids “buy” with their own money. Sometimes it is very surprising (like they use all their money they saved for other things for this).

Maybe that is the best present of all.

Comment by Kim
2008-11-26 08:56:39

My credit card (paid in full every month), gives me points. I save them up for this time of the year, and turn them in for gift cards which I give to my neices and nephews.

Other than a little extra special holiday food, Christmas is not a spendfest for me.

Comment by awaiting wipeout
2008-11-26 09:02:02

Being a former Girl Scout, some of my best memories of my formative years during the holidays, is the singing, plays performed, and visits to Convalescent Homes.

Even as a small fry, I knew it was a good deed and felt good.

Comment by Olympiagal
2008-11-26 10:38:13

‘I can not understand people who go into debt for Christmas and take 5-6 months to pay it off (and I do know people like that).’

I know people like that, too. Crazy, innit? But HERE’S even a worser and crazier thing: a few years ago I worked with a girl who was getting a divorce after 3 years of marriage and, get this, part of the terms they were arguing over was who had to keep paying off the bills for their…wedding. Huh? Huh?

Comment by Arizona Slim
2008-11-26 10:47:56

And I seem to recall my parents saying that they paid for their own wedding. As in, in full. With cash. At least that’s my recollection.

Comment by B. Durbin
2008-11-30 20:17:48

Wedding cost: less than $1000. Including the dress. And venue. And food. Etc.

In 2001.

And yes, we might have pulled it off for less than half of that were it not for the dress.

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Comment by edgewaterjohn
2008-11-26 10:49:14

Arguing over three year old wedding bills with costly divorce attorneys?

Ha - I can’t think of a worse fate to wish on someone.

Comment by what-me-worry?
2008-11-26 12:59:33

Remember, guys: She was dreaming about the wedding twenty years before she met you!

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Comment by edgewaterjohn
2008-11-26 13:45:01

So was DeBeers.

Comment by Not Mssing It
2008-11-26 10:49:58

Guessing he did not get it at “Jared”

Comment by Olympiagal
2008-11-26 11:34:37

Man, those ‘Jared’ commercials make me crazy with displeasure.

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Comment by eastcoaster
2008-11-26 12:58:55

I am no one to speak on this subject, being that I have been married and divorced twice - both very brief marriages. But I also agree that that’s crazy. Both divorces, I pretty much walked away with nothing. I even let my 2nd husband (my son’s father) negotiate his own child support - whatever he felt he could pay (which was substantially lower than the courts would have assigned). I was always sad that my marriages failed (guess it’s just not meant for me), but never let it turn into a financial war.

Comment by CA renter
2008-11-27 03:54:46

You’re very wise, eastcoaster. I watched my parents divorce proceedings drag on for over five years, and they still would take each other to court for years after the divorce whenever they thought the other one came into money or had some financial changes. They spent well over a hundred grand on lawyers alone (might have been closer to two) and this was back in the 80s.

Sorry to hear about your divorces, but I’m sure you will find the right one someday!

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Comment by Eudemon
2008-11-26 17:51:28

This is a neat idea. Thanks, 2banana.

I’ve never heard of Samaritans Purse.

Comment by Leighsong
2008-11-26 18:22:11

Cookies, cookies, cookies!

And a few chocolates!



One and only son, year 1999.

Baked baklava, M&M homemade cookies, Snickerdoodles; about 120 dozen varieties.

Best. Christmas. Ever.

Back then, we bought cookie tins for ? .99c.

Package them up and took them to all our friends (hubby was in the field ie: Air Force).

We moved to WI in er…two years ago and bam!

We have cookie parties!

Life is simply good — cookies are OMG yummy!

I may not eat them much, but giving them away puts a smile on many faces.

Funny how such a simple thing can bring such joy.

I remember when Gram’s would bake cookies for weeks — just to give them away to neighboors.

The smells, the flour bourd, the ah—–

Best. Gift. Ever.

In properly sealed tins, that is!

Brush and floss the teeth, and don’t eat as diatery suppliment.

Happy Thanksgiving to all…remember to bake!

Leigh ;)

Comment by aladinsane
2008-11-26 08:52:21

It’s shaping up to be…

“The Pinch that stole christmas”

Comment by Pinch-a-penny
2008-11-26 09:16:36

Hey, I resent that… I stole nothing…

Comment by Al
2008-11-26 09:20:57

Don’t count the spenders out completely yet. I’m guessing we’ll see one half hearted dying gasp this season.

Comment by Château d'If
2008-11-26 10:51:33

Shoppers are on the floor and the referee is administering a standing 8 count…

Comment by Frank Giovinazzi
2008-11-26 09:20:08

– Circuit City’s financial troubles will probably be good for a Long Island based electronics chain, P.C. Richards, which had previously been in a death cage match with CC and Best Buy. PCR and BB will have to compete for smaller market, but I am glad to see one of the national chains go.

– I have been car shopping, been in 3 dealers [VW, Hyundai, Lincoln-Mercury] and all three looked fairly prosperous. VW is doing well with no-money down leases, Hyundai has good product and the Lincoln dealer has tremendous local loyalty.

– Our real estate office has seen many lookers, a few qualified buyers, but only those willing to pay circa-1999-2001 prices. These folks don’t articulate their position in this manner, it’s about reality — if someone makes $72K, they can afford a $210K house. And many of these folks are not budging; it is a classic stand-off, aka “the pain of price discovery.”

– Our local Kohl’s remodeled, and the store is benefiting from the sheer brute force of the company’s carpet marketing approach — newspaper, circulars, internet, TV — and people are always in that store.

– I have been using the many 20-30% off coupons available from places like Sports Authority, Modell’s, Kohl’s, Vitamin Shoppe, and get zero attitude from cashiers. They’re just happy to see me. Also, I got 10% off a book at Barnes and Noble because I mentioned it was damaged and asked for another copy [this was on a $45 computer tome].

– This is unscientific … but, I am starting to feel a sense of pent-up demand in several areas, notably real estate. And I am talking about natural demand, as in “people like to live indoors.” People are getting married, reproducing, dying, moving in and migrating, just like coconuts. But I am not suggesting coconuts like to live indoors. Point is, housing is an ongoing need, transactions are still occurring and more people are sniffing around.

In other areas, such as clothing, cars, washing machines and so on, there is a natural rate of consumption that can’t be ignored for long. As an illustration, we are seeing a yard sale on every corner, every week. If 50-80% of the stuff gets traded, with the rest thrown out, that may offset the need for buying new for some time, but eventually, even poor white trash will run out of collectibles to put on rickety folding tables in the front yard.

As for post-T-day shopping, I think consumers are going to hold off until retailers scream for mercy.

Comment by Neil
2008-11-26 13:54:10

it is a classic stand-off, aka “the pain of price discovery.”

Funny how easy it is for the renters to maintain the ’stand-off.’
Move: Sellers. (Raps nuckle on table, sweating and shaking)

Move: Buyers (Yawns, looks at prices, and mumbles “pass, I’m going out to have fun, see you in a few quarters.”)

Move: Sellers (Looking around for potential buyer…)

(Sound of crickets chirping)


Got Popcorn?

Comment by Leighsong
2008-11-26 18:38:33

Oh My Neil — naided me (not so much hubby, he’s losing patience).

What’s a girl to do, for I love him so.

Hey, it’s only money right?

We are at that age where it just doesn’t matter (says my loving hubby).

Note to self: marshmellow.

Popping the kernals!

Leigh ;)

Comment by aNYCdj
2008-11-26 14:01:13

I think there is a Large pent up demand in RE, but i also think people are finally realizing they shouldn’t be paying double for the Privilege of being a homeowner.

This is unscientific … but, I am starting to feel a sense of pent-up demand in several areas, notably real estate.

Comment by oxide
2008-11-26 14:04:39

+1 for the migrating coconuts.

Are you seeing pent-up demand for housing, or pent-up demand for good housing? Are people getting picky for the type of house, or just for a better-priced abode of any stripe?

Comment by Frank Giovinazzi
2008-11-26 16:10:07

On LI, what I am seeing is that you have true first-time home buyers, making 50-100K, trying for houses that are [currently] priced out of their range, and they are low-balling. I have three such clients. Humorously, all three are considering offer that meet both the three-times income test and the 1998 prices-plus-50% cost measurement. IOW, the basis for a healthy market.

In the last month I have met one person willing and able to spend $225K CASH on a house; another person is able and willing to take on a $500K mortgage.

Comment by Muggy
2008-11-26 09:25:04


My wife and I were just discussing the downturn and how in the last 12 months months we’ve purchased: a new laptop, a used car, all kinds of baby stuff, furniture (couch + dining table), took a cruise…. blah blah blah.

Anyway, the point is, we’re very, very frugal, and this was an aberrant year, so we’re thinking that this is way worse than we imagined (as in, two working adults with a newborn blow their wad and we’re still in the crapper economically).

We didn’t buy a house though!

Comment by Arizona Slim
2008-11-26 09:50:49

This past summer, I had to buy a new fridge. (The old one had been sending out death signals since the summer of ‘07.)

I shopped in several un-busy stores before I got a smokin’ good deal at Lowes. And, for a price, they delivered my new fridge and hauled the Dearly Departed away.

Comment by Olympiagal
2008-11-26 10:41:51

Tell us about your newborn, Muggy. Is it cute? Are you training it to be a good future HBBer? Can it say ‘Mama, dadda, loan-to-value ratio’, and stuff like that?

Comment by Muggy
2008-11-26 16:56:17

My littleman is amazing; my wife and I are very lucky. He eats well, sleeps through the night and smiles a lot. I love being a dad and I am stoked to be a SAHD starting next week.

What’s amazing is that he doesn’t like BS toys. He doesn’t want the fake-kids-toy-whatever (drum, telephone, piano), he wants the real thing. I went out and bought him a small MIDI controller so he can plug into real synths and drum machines. It’s pretty cool.

He’s less of a kinesthetic learner and more of a smashesthetic learner.

I was going to link to a photo, but I get all paranoid with the net and whatnot.

Comment by ahansen
2008-11-26 23:08:38

Oh, dang, Muggydaddy. But you’re probably right not to link directly until he wins his first cage fight.

You guys are gonna have SO much fun staying home alone!

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Comment by CA renter
2008-11-27 04:02:24

Congratulations on your new baby, Muggy! Also, for being a SAHD. You’ll have so much fun! :)

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Comment by hd74man
2008-11-26 10:48:34

RE: We didn’t buy a house though!

Well, with no home purchase closing costs and that big commission due a mortgage broker you certainly had the dough in your pocket for all the other stuff.

And just think about all your friends with mortgage notes who are gonna get their yearly notices for payment of higher property tax escrows for the coming year due to the collapse of commercial assessments.

Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry XMAS!

Comment by Muggy
2008-11-26 11:14:11

“And just think about all your friends with mortgage notes who are gonna get their yearly notices for payment of higher property tax escrows for the coming year due to the collapse of commercial assessments.”

My favorite is the long-time FL owners who are “protected” by SOH. I always like when they ask, “but why did my taxes go up if my house value went down?!”

Comment by Michael Fink
2008-11-26 11:36:02

Yeah, well wait until the cry goes up when the mill rates start to climb skyward. Tax revenues are up 2-3X in FL over the past decade. Almost NONE of that (increase) is paid by the SOH crowd. Just wait until the assessments start to come in at 50% for those who bought at the peak and the mill rate goes up 50% to make up for the shortfall. The “protection” of SOH won’t seem to great then.

It will be sweet justice though; and I will be very happy to see it happen. Perhaps then we can institute a system that encourages fiscal responsibility through spending caps. Without the SOH crowd, it’s impossible to get anything passed; we have an entire lost decade in FL because of the out of control taxation and spending. Perhaps this will be the catlyist to change (and if not, at least I can enjoy the pain of those who have inflicted so much (SOHers) misery on their children).

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Comment by Muggy
2008-11-26 16:46:27

Hey Michael, it’s late, so I don’t know if you’re still around, but practically speaking, if home prices fall enough wouldn’t that allow SOH caps to catch up “full market value” and achieve parity and therefore make SOH useless?

Comment by Michael Fink
2008-11-26 18:30:22


Yes, it would absolutely have that effect. And I fully anticipate that this will happen in the near future. SOH caps assessment increases at 3% per year; which is right around where houses actually appreciate. No matter how long the owner has had SOH, the assessed value and the SOH value should compress to become very near equal (that is, assuming that we allow homes to go back to historic/intrinsic values).

And that would be a good thing. However, what will happen is the mill rates will skyrocket to make up for the shortfall. And then the whole SOH mess will take off again in 15 years when homes start appreciating significantly again. The thing that we NEED is caps on revenues! That would fix this problem forever. As long as SOH creates the protected class of FL citizen, we will continue to see incredibly high tax levels in our state. :(

Comment by Carlos Cisco
2008-11-26 17:46:04

Our tax assessor refuses to send out new valuations; he’s just using the ones from 2 years ago. Also, if you want to know what it is, you have to send him enough postage to cover it. A real public drone.

Comment by Steam970
2008-11-27 01:11:13

In better days, people like him
were tarred and feathered. Then
run outta town.

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Comment by nhz
2008-11-26 09:53:28

Netherlands: housing market still holding at the highest prices ever (400-year high even adjusted for inflation), and pricegrowth still +2.5% yoy. More and more stories in newspapers and magazines about homeowners who have been trying for years to get their home sold. These poor people cannot find any reason why the home isn’t selling, and the realtors cannot explain either. As homes are no longer selling like hotcakes, political parties from left to right are lobbying for more money for homeowners (including the most wealthy ones), homebuilders and the rest of the RE mob.

Today our Parliament is investigating the cause of the financial crisis, by asking the banksters. Surprisingly, they cannot find any cause. Our politicians are just as clueless as those in the US (two-party or multi-party system does not make any difference). It is inflate-or-die, for the banksters and for politics.

Consumers are pessimistic but still spending. We don’t have Thanksgiving of course, but people are expected to spend extra money this year for ‘Sinterklaas’ (in a week from now) and Christmas, just to ‘feel good’ in these bad times. Most shops reports that a certain category of customers (those with less money) has disappeared, but the people who are visiting the shops spend just as much as ever.

Shops for luxury items are still doing extremely well. The local wharf that builds yachts in the 20-100M euro pricerange is fully booked for the next five years or so; their customers are mostly foreign, but it is clear that the upper 0.1% of Dutch society is doing extremely well lately. If I remember correctly, the richest 500 people in the country have seen their wealth appreciate by about 30% this year. Crisis, what crisis?

Comment by Insurance Guy
2008-11-26 10:05:57

I had two get towed off Interstate 26 going into Columbia because of a car issue. (car is 8 years old). The tow truck driver strikes up a conversation that he was retired for two years but went back to work part time. He indicated he had lost $150,000 in the stock market and was very disappointed. I wanted to cheer him up so I said, “Well at least you did not get into real estate.” He replied that he had bought a condo in Daytona a few years ago.

It will be a difficult holiday season for conversation.

Comment by aNYCdj
2008-11-26 10:24:49

Interstate 26 going into Columbia

I was a occasional speed demon in my youth, i was clocked at 124 mph on I-26 near some smelly pig farm going back to Columbia

In a Plymouth station wagon….the cop said he never saw anyone drive that fast in a station wagon, I said it really stunk badly and i had no ac and it was hot…and let me kidding

the road was so tempting a nice down sloping hill and then flat for a mile or two…

Comment by oxide
2008-11-26 14:14:29

Best (worst?) traffic cop story:

Two young men are pulled over for speeding near Atlanta.

Trooper: I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone go so fast through Georgia before.
Passenger: Well, Sherman did.

:-o I don’t know what the trooper did, and I’m not sure I want to know.

[true story, btw. Ben Affleck was driving, brother Casey was the passenger. Casey told the story on Leno.]

Comment by Molly
2008-11-26 12:01:27

“It will be a difficult holiday season for conversation.”

Yeah. I’ve been saying “Well, as long as you didn’t buy or HELOC real estate in the past five years, you’ll probably be fine.”

Trouble is, EVERY person I know (besides myself) has bought or HELOCed in the past five years. Seriously. Maybe I need to meet new people.

Comment by Michael Fink
2008-11-26 12:12:54

If you didn’t buy or HELOC RE in the past 5 years and at some point intend to buy, you’re getting your holiday present everyday that goes by!

And yes, it does seem like every single person I know (especially in S. FL) has some involvement with RE. So, hate to tell them, but they are all f**ked this holiday season, and for the next XXX holiday seasons until they can find a productive job!

Comment by Neil
2008-11-26 13:58:52

And yes, it does seem like every single person I know (especially in S. FL) has some involvement with RE.

Yep! And they all, matter of factly, point out how I *must* be buying soon! As if waiting a month or two is just silly.

Nope. I point out when I intend to buy in 2010 (I’ve been saying that for over a year now) and how real estate will drop even after I buy… but there other aspects will be worth watching part of my down payment disapear.

That leads into a conversation on how the government must force the banks to lend with lower down payments. Ugh… they don’t get it. When I point out that the government cannot mandate liquidity… they just have blank looks.

Got Popcorn?

If the data shows I should hold off, I will delay buying. However… its not like I’m going in blind. ;)

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Comment by rms
2008-11-26 13:17:18

“The tow truck driver strikes up a conversation that he was retired for two years but went back to work part time. He indicated he had lost $150,000 in the stock market and was very disappointed. I wanted to cheer him up so I said, “Well at least you did not get into real estate.” He replied that he had bought a condo in Daytona a few years ago.”

Might as well go for a hat trick; send his son to the middle-east Holy War to save “our friends.”

Comment by abdul tikritii
2008-11-26 10:19:02

as a lifelong miser who years ago told others (except my brother’s children) that there would be no gifts from me and there should not be any vice versa, i enjoy this year’s xmas spectacle of shut down the wallets.

the american sheeple have needed this bat in the face for a very long time, and they are still sitting on the curb wondering why their face hurts so much.

we need maybe 50% of the store space we currently have in this country.

also, a crash will drive out illegal immigrants far more effectively than the toughest law enforcement. goodbye to them all.

Comment by LongIslandLost
2008-11-26 10:33:12

My stepmother just initiated a conversation with my wife about having fewer presents.

For years my wife (and I) have been searching for a way to climb down from the massive gift-giving. And, it is difficult due to family politics. My family is probably no worse than any other. Some adults have kids, some don’t, everybody wants a different outcome, etc.

Needless to say, we are all for it. Will it reduce our ‘take’? Yes. Will it reduce our headaches YES YES YES.

I don’t know what happened. I doubt it is a shortage of money. But, the slow economy may have shifted the mood. BTW, this family member definitely does not read the HBB.

Things will be rough this Christmas for the retailers.

Comment by Michael Fink
2008-11-26 11:58:46

Go away on vacation for the holidays.

Problem solved.

Comment by rms
2008-11-26 13:19:53

“Go away on vacation for the holidays. Problem solved.”

+1 Great idea!

Comment by Rancher
2008-11-26 13:32:08

Maui in four hours direct from Portland.

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Comment by WT Economist
2008-11-26 10:44:29

We’ll do the usual just exchange presents for the kids and parents this holiday season, but far from cutting back, I might be tempted to spend more money, since it won’t just be excess on the pile.

Let’s see how low the price of those LCD TVs goes, and after a decade or so, I might buy a new suit (only used for interviews, weddings and funerals, but the old one is a little tight, and you never know when someone will buy). And my wife might actually get me to crack on those home improvment jobs she’s wanted this spring.

Do I shop before Christmas, or wait for liquidation sales?

Comment by skroodle
2008-11-27 01:10:45

Liquidation sales are a joke(I’m looking at you Circuit City). I would avoid them, they are not worth the gas money spent driving there. Something about 30% off signs that drive people into a spending trance.

Comment by Skip
2008-11-26 10:50:47

I can a lot of empty strip centers and store fronts in 2009 if you guys don’t pick up the pace on spending!!

Comment by Professor Bear
2008-11-26 11:43:15

What are the likely effects of ongoing bottomless punchbowl respiking operations currently underway?

Comment by rms
2008-11-26 13:23:30

A strong Gawd-endorsed dollar?

Comment by crazy frog
2008-11-26 14:56:09

I am really curious whether the invincible US consumer will be able to service any more of the debt that the FED is trying to push down his throat. This is THE QUESTION. The FED needs to come with some way to make it possible for the consumer to service more debt. So far they just make more credit available, but this does not mean that the banks will lend to a deadbeat that is maxed out already. It is the infamous “pushing on the string” analogy. Even if the current respiking of the punchbowl amounts to dropping of a nuke over the string, as you described it, it does not matter as long as the consumer is maxed out. I personally do not see what the FED can pull out of its sleeve to make this work the way they want it. I think we all will be Japanese for a while.

Comment by Professor Bear
2008-11-26 16:12:27

“The FED needs to come with some way to make it possible for the consumer to service more debt.”

I suggest a reversion to debaucherous lending standards which allow home buyers to borrow more than 10X their incomes.

Comment by Muggy
2008-11-26 18:17:02

“I suggest a reversion to debaucherous lending standards which allow home buyers to borrow more than 10X their incomes.”

You know what’s crazy? If you watched NBC news tonight in the Tampa Bay Region they interviewed a mortgage broker who advocated just that. She was bitching that rates were too high to refinance!!

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Comment by crazy frog
2008-11-26 19:44:43

Not that I have any personal insights into how tight the lending standards are (I personally have zero debt and am sitting on a pile of cash, warring sick how to counteract to the war on savers from the FED, the government, and the PTB), but I think the main problem is not that the lending standards are too tough, but rather the ability of the consumer to service more debt. Contrary to the conventional belief, I think that lending standards are still too lax. IMHO the problem is not that the banks do not lend, but that the consumer already took too much credit and cannot handle any more, unless the PTB do not come with some other trick to make the ball rolling. Essentially this is a confidence game, and the PTB lost it. Game over.
Just my 2 cents.

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Comment by CA renter
2008-11-27 04:13:29

You’re exactly right, crazy frog.

The problem isn’t tight credit markets. The problem is debt saturation. Everyone has been on a decade’s-long buying spree, using ever-higher and more exotic forms of credit. We’ve reached the pinnacle of the credit bubble, and there is no more **demand** for credit, at least not from people who can actually afford to pay it back.

Watching the clowns in power and on CNBC makes me want to hurl bricks at the TV. You can’t solve a problem until you correctly identify and define the problem. So far, they are (acting?) totally clueless, and their lack of understanding is evident in their “new bailout a day” attempts to revive the economy.

Comment by crazy frog
2008-11-26 15:14:59

Rubini’s answer to your question:

Roubini: Policies will lead to “much higher real interest rates on public debt”

Effectively the Fed Funds rate has been abandoned as a tool of monetary policy … the Fed is now relying on massive quantitative easing and direct purchases of private sector short term and long term debts to try to aggressively push down short term and long term market rates.

Desperate times and desperate economic news require desperate policy actions … The Treasury will be issuing in the next two years about $2 trillion of additional debt … These policies – however partially necessary – will eventually leads to much higher real interest rates on the public debt and weaken the US dollar once this tsunami of implicit and explicit public liabilities and monetary debt driven by rising twin fiscal and current account deficits will hit a world where the global supply of savings is shrinking – as most countries moves to fiscal deficits thus reducing global savings – and foreign investors start to ponder the long term sustainability of the US domestic and external liabilities.

Comment by hoz
2008-11-26 17:36:09


Nobody trusts the government guarantees on GSE debt so the government buys the GSE debt and sells US Treasuries for funding making 2% on the arb. Tell me why GS and MS bonds which have a written explicit US Government guarantee are yielding 2% (200bps) more than US Treasuries!

The more fascinating aspect of the new GS and MS debt is that the moneys are to be used to buy distressed assets under Basel II guidelines. Effectively the $10B generated could allow purchases of $400B in debt. The US Government has become a hedge fund player.

Wheeeeee! Slipped on another banana peel.

What will Sundays Banana Republic announcement be?

Comment by hoz
2008-11-26 17:56:28

Was going to post the above in a different spot. Sorry PB

However as long as fools buy US debt, the government can keep throwing moneys out. I wish they were selling 30 yr or even 50 yr debts at these prices, instead of 1 month to 5 yr debt.

Nothing to worry about.

Comment by aNYCdj
2008-11-26 11:46:12


NYC On Ticket Blitz; 200 Traffic Agents Added

NEW YORK (CBS) ― You may have begun to notice more traffic tickets being written. And you may have guessed — correctly — that it has to do with getting New York City more money. Well, brace yourselves, the city is putting 200 more ticket-writing traffic agents to work.

The city’s latest move to close the budget gap is annoying New Yorkers to no end. Soon, you may not be able to avoid the police no matter what you do. Approximately 100 of the agents will be in Manhattan; the other 100 will be spread out across the other boroughs.

“You get stuck out there in the middle; not because you’re not paying attention,” driver Rob Frangavilla said. “People walk across; you’re stuck there. I just think it’s a crazy way to raise money.”

“No more tickets, because they’re so aggressive,” driver Ephraim Kaufman said. “It’s unbelievable. Like, you go to pay the ticket — for machine — but while you put in the money to buy the ticket they give you a ticket!”

NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly laid out the plan on Tuesday.

“[We will put them] in Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens. We will not deploy them right now in Staten Island,” Kelly said.

The agents will be looking primarily for drivers who “block the box” at intersections. That ticket will cost $115.

However, Mary Jo Albanese thinks it’s a good idea.

When asked if she’d be annoyed if the traffic agents came up to her and ticketed her instead of putting the notice n her car, Albanese said, “Well if I was doing the right thing, I wouldn’t get a ticket.”

The city thinks it can raise an extra $66 million this way.

Comment by Olympiagal
2008-11-26 11:51:39

I come from a giant clan of exuberant Christmas-lovers. And I do mean ‘giant’; I’m from Mormon Land, also known as Utarr, and they take that advice from Sweet Baby Jeebus to ‘multiply and replenish the earth’ seriously. Lessee, I’ve got 67 cousins on my dad’s side. I forget how many on my mom’s side. I don’t pay attention to that side anyhow, as them’s boring. They all still have all their fingers, no scars, and few jail-house and/or homemade tattoos, for instance. And, for some reason, most of them have grown up to be dentists. Odd. I think that’s odd. Don’t you guys think that’s odd?
I mean, that’s a lot of dentists. I bothered to show up to one of their reunions and everyone was peering inside each other’s heads.
Outta there!

My point is: we love Christmas! Christmas! Christmas! *sits up straight and emits a mighty whoop from the festive Olylungs*

Comment by Olympiagal
2008-11-26 12:04:56

‘I’ve got 67 cousins on my dad’s side.’

And yes, that would be first cousins. And ’bout near every single one of us has got mighty lungs, a translucent hide, a fondness for misbehaving and for trees, and a desire to see what happens if you poke something, anything, who cares what it is, with a stick.
These would appear to be what Mendel termed ‘dominant traits’.
Hahahaha! That seems funny to me, for some reason.

Ahhhh, family… I can’t wait to see them all. And to argue with them all. Maybe I’ll argue alphabetically this year. I suspicion I missed a few arguments last year, in the hurly-burly.

Comment by hoz
2008-11-26 14:11:36

Do you go to a family reunion to get a date?

Comment by Blano
2008-11-26 17:18:42

“She’s my third cousin……TODAY!!!”

Comment by rms
2008-11-26 18:45:08

My Dentist of 20+ years was a Mormon gentleman, and his wife raised 11 kids who became professionals — every one of ‘em! After the last one was old enough, his wife returned to his side, once again, as a dental assistant. Eventually they retired, and left California for Utah. Truly an amazing couple, those two. Good health, not over-weight, quietly positive and highly focused.

Comment by jetson_boy
2008-11-26 12:07:17

My Wife’s family doesn’t do gifts. Period. My family on the other hand goes ape. But this year we’re sending mainly token gifts. I specifically told my parents NOT to get us anything.

In regards to how 2008 is different, well I’ve always been a miserly person. But the events of late have made me hunker down even more. For one, home prices in the ‘nicer’ areas in the Bay Area aren’t coming down enough for me to be interested. So it looks like my long-held plan B, which is to move away and to the now classic young adult enclaves like Austin,TX or Raleigh,NC might become the primary plan.

I stopped contributing to my mutual fund plan, kept the 401k, and have saved up quite a bit of cash on top of what I had. At this point I am THROUGH with overpriced cities like SF and Boston where I lived before. These cities are stressful places. So my focus is getting enough outright cash, then getting the hell out of here, buy my stupid little house… and be done. I promised myself to stay here around one more year. Two at the most.

Comment by SUGuy
2008-11-26 12:30:57

I have every thing I want so shopping bores me. Giving gifts or money to family members makes me very happy. Imho there is more happiness in giving than receiving.

Comment by NYCityBoy
2008-11-26 12:46:59

I’m sure I will get what I get every year from my wife. Last year she gave me a blue button-down shirt and a piece of beaver. They were both too big.

Comment by Faster Pussycat, Sell Sell
2008-11-26 16:35:19

Fell flat.

We remember this from last year.

Comment by Ol'Bubba
2008-11-26 18:01:38

Ah, but if Cityboy had a story about exchanging the gifts for ones that fit…

Comment by Muggy
2008-11-26 18:30:19

“I’m sure I will get what I get every year from my wife. Last year she gave me a blue button-down shirt and a piece of beaver.”

Strange, she’s never given me a shirt.


Comment by eastcoaster
2008-11-26 13:01:31

My son gets his usual Christmas this year (which ends up being 3 - 4 medium to larger sized toys or playsets from Santa, plus a few other smaller items). I will also spend as I always have on my parents, brother, sister-in-law and sister. But the nieces and nephews are not on my list this year. They’re all grown anyway - some are now marrying and having babies. It just seems like the right year to cut that loose.

Comment by Salinasron
2008-11-26 13:03:06

1. I love Thanksgiving because it’s family time and lots of games and good eating. This year I dug out the fake Xmas tree a week ago and decorated it with things from Beverly’s. Autumn leaves, autumn colored tree bulbs, birds, fake pumpkins, squash, etc. It never looked better. I’m calling it our ‘Thanksgiving Tree or Tree of Life.

2. For Xmas we are going to give gift certificates. Kids can buy what they want and on sale. No money spent on wrapping paper, cards, etc. For our daughters my wife is having some very expensive jeweled rings resized and giving them as presents now rather then years from now.

Comment by Château d'If
2008-11-26 13:11:27

Do the retailers harsh their previously mellow return policies?

Comment by Professor Bear
2008-11-26 13:43:38

Consumer sentiment: How low can it go, and what does it portend for Santa Claus?

latest news
December gold ends down $10 at $808.50 an ounce on Globex

Consumer sentiment worsens in November
Job losses, falling incomes, declining household wealth contribute to gloom
By Robert Schroeder, MarketWatch
Last update: 10:25 a.m. EST Nov. 26, 2008

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — U.S. consumer sentiment worsened in November, with job losses, falling incomes and the evaporation of household wealth making Americans gloomy about the economy, according to a survey by the University of Michigan and Reuters.

The UMich/Reuters consumer sentiment index fell to 55.3 in November, down from a prior reading of 57.9 earlier this month.
In October, the index was 57.6. A year ago, it was 76.1.

Richard Curtin, the survey’s director, said there have been only two surveys in the last 50 years that found consumers more pessimistic than now: in April and May of 1980.

“Few consumers expect the recession to end anytime soon,” Curtin said in a statement.

Comment by ahansen
2008-11-26 13:55:41

Wednesday. Closing bell.

Dear Ben, Dear HBB denizens all.
Dougie, the evil wild turkey gobbler is now slow smoking over apple wood, the black walnuts have been shelled, mushrooms gathered and pie crust chilling along with a couple of nice fume blancs. The veggies are blanched, the greens are crisping, and the raspberry jam I put up early this summer is simmering with the currant jelly and a healthy glug or two of pinor noir. Since there was half a bottle left I thought, oh wtf why not?
So here I sit getting sloshed as the market sucker-rallies to a close and my house fills up with holiday smells. My chest feels like it’s about to pop, you guys. I cannot tell you how much all your support and encouragement has meant to me as I attempt to piece my physical self back into what was the pre-Ursadent ahansen. The temptation to succumb to despair (or at least erect a shield of cynicism as a rampart,) has on occasion been more than pressing. But always, someone on this blog has come up with something so off-the-wall, so hysterically apropos, or so screamingly asinine, that my will to live and add my two cents to the dialectic has overcome any reluctance to pry open my eyes and await the horrors of the new day.
So, Thank You. Thank You one and all with all my heart. In its whacky, sniping, brilliantly maddening way, The HBB has taught me the true meaning of community, and I am so much the richer for it…both literally and figuratively.
I think I need another glass of pinot.
Here’s to you ALL!
Happy Thanksgiving, with love.

Comment by Professor Bear
2008-11-26 16:15:03

I’ll drink to that! Cheers to inspirationally brave people like yourself, who stay the course in the face of personal adversity to regain life and love :-)

Comment by Faster Pussycat, Sell Sell
2008-11-26 16:36:41

We’ll drink to that. :-D

Comment by SanFranciscoBayAreaGal
2008-11-26 18:40:41

Here, Here !!!

Alena gal, Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

(Comments wont nest below this level)
Comment by Michael Viking
2008-11-26 22:12:37

Here’s to you! Hang in there and don’t despair. Sounds like a heck of a nice Thanksgiving meal lined up.

Happy Thanksgiving.


Comment by CA renter
2008-11-27 04:29:06

You’re an amazingly strong and vibrant woman, ahansen! Your positive and spunky attitude will see you through these tough times, and things will get better down the road.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family! :)

Comment by SV guy
2008-11-27 06:59:09

Keep fightin’ Alena,

As I have decided to give up drinking, please hoist one for me!


Comment by ahansen
2008-11-27 11:19:13

Will do, SV. My liver being the least of my concerns of late, I’ll be honored to make the sacrifice on your behalf. (hic) Enjoy your clairity in good health, and may your veins always run clean and light!


Comment by The Housing Wizard
2008-11-26 14:11:26

The grand kids and the kids will get gifts and I will send the nephew some money to buy his kids some presents . We will fix big meals for Thanksgiving and Christmas . Don’t want to cut out a bunch of friends
that I give to at Christmas . Hell ,will most likely spend the same as usual .

Comment by Professor Bear
2008-11-26 14:23:59

Why is it that terrible news announcements are so often coupled with big increases in the share prices of the affected companies? My guess: Never-ending hints of future cargo drops from the Fed have clouded investors’ collective judgment about harsh reality.

Moody’s cuts ratings on 4 home builders, citing continued housing slump
November 26, 2008: 02:09 PM EST

NEW YORK (Associated Press) - Moody’s Investors Service on Wednesday cut credit ratings on more than $9 billion of collective debt issued by home builders D.R. Horton Inc., Pulte Homes Inc., KB Home and Ryland Group Inc., citing expectations of continued deterioration in the U.S. housing market.

Moody’s cut all of its ratings for D.R. Horton, Pulte, KB Home and Ryland _ including their corporate family ratings, probability of default ratings, and senior note ratings. Each of those ratings for the four firms fell to ‘Ba3′ from ‘Ba2,’ knocking them down a notch in speculative grade territory and remaining below investment grade. Moody’s also cut D.R. Horton’s speculative grade liquidity rating to ‘SGL-3 from ‘SGL-2′.

Moody’s also said a return to profitability will be difficult, given Moody’s expectations of “declining deliveries, revenues, and prices into 2010.”

Debt levels at most of the companies remains “uncharacteristically high,” Moody’s added.

As markets built modestly Wednesday on rallies earlier in the week, shares of the four builders posted strong gains. Shares of D.R. Horton rose 44 cents, or about 6 percent, to $7.34, while Pulte jumped 55 cents, or about 5.6 percent, to $10.37; KB Home gained $1.38, or about 13 percent, to $11.83; and Ryland rose $1.48, or nearly 9.9 percent, to $16.44.

Comment by Shizo
2008-11-26 17:41:56

And they ALL rallied today! (I’m short DHI) Got to love the coordinated efforts of the PPT… We will see next week.

Comment by crazy frog
2008-11-26 15:25:03

Will Obama continue on the path of respiking the punchbowl with more stimulus packages, trying to fix a broken dam with more water?
Looking at his pick for Treasury secretary, Geithner, one can guess that we will see more of the same. On the other side, today Obama appointed Volcker to head his economic advisory board.

This is what Volcker said back in 2005:

“Altogether, the circumstances seem as dangerous and intractable as I can remember.”

“Boomers are spending like there is no tomorrow.”

“Homeownership has become a vehicle for borrowing and leveraging as much as a source of financial security.”

“I come now to the heart of the problem, as a Nation we are consuming and investing, that is spending, about 6% more than we are producing. What holds it all together? - High consumption - high leverage - government deficits - What holds it all together is a really massive and growing flow of capital from abroad. A flow of capital that today runs to more than $2 Billion per day.”

Comment by ahansen
2008-11-26 16:52:20

Okay. It’s something of a stretch as to what this tidbit might have to do with the holiday-although some might find it cheerful–it’s just so, well, different, I had to put it out here for the weekend in case anyone finds themself at a stuffy Thanksgiving gathering and needs a good conversational opener….
It seems that in addition to his sundry financial, Clintonist, etc. doings, White House attack-CoS, Rahm Emmanuel, had a previous professional incarnation as a ballet dancer.

How that might affect economic policy scheduling remains to be seen, but there must be some good one-liners in here somewhere….

Comment by Muggy
2008-11-26 18:28:00

Maybe we could share some holiday misery? We could all bio someone we know who is getting crushed as a result of the bust. I have a BIL who is likely to lose his job and that bums me out (marrying my crazy sister should be punishment enough, really).

He is neither an FB, Dojo-owning Hummer driver, Pet Essay Writer, Gold Stroker, Squirrel Feeder, etc. and so on. Just a true J6P, about to lose it all…

Comment by drumminj
2008-11-26 19:38:46

I can share my misery, if you’ll enjoy it, Muggy. I’ve been unemployed for 2 months now and still haven’t gotten a dime in unemployment insurance (but luckily benefits have been extended!). I’ve been interviewing like crazy but haven’t had anything pan out yet. Woe is me!

Luckily, I’ve been saving for this possibility, and just sold my house. The downside is I have to be out of it in 2 weeks and don’t have another place lined up yet. I think I’m going to be busy this holiday weekend…

Oh, and I’m not a dojo-owning hummer driver - I drive a 10 year old car with 150,000 miles on it, though I’ve been known to be a gold-stroker on occasion. Does that disqualify me from receiving any sympathy? ;)

Comment by drumminj
2008-11-26 19:43:52

Oh, AND I got a cardboard cut from one of my packing boxes. That’s the cincher right there..ouch!

Comment by Muggy
2008-11-26 19:59:05

“though I’ve been known to be a gold-stroker on occasion. Does that disqualify me from receiving any sympathy?”

Only if you whisper, “oh, precious, ooooh, ahhh…” while you do it.

Comment by SanFranciscoBayAreaGal
2008-11-26 19:52:46

What will a person do for a house?

Man arrested at SFO in connection to murder-for-hire plot

Comment by aladinsane
2008-11-27 07:42:04

Does anybody really need anymore tschotskes or other assorted debtrius that clogs most of our closets and garages already?

I declare a pox on crass consumerism!

2013-12-02 00:01:25

Wow, this post is good, my younger sister is analyzing these kinds of things,
so I am going to inform her.

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