January 20, 2011

Bits Bucket for January 20, 2011

Post off-topic ideas, links, and Craigslist finds here.

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Comment by NewZealandRenter
2011-01-20 02:29:18

It’s time to buy! (Is it ever not?) Sam Stubbs researched this!


Comment by DennisN
2011-01-20 08:38:53

People wanting to get on the property ladder …

Ohhh that’s a new term: “property ladder”. :lol:

Comment by pressboardbox
2011-01-20 08:47:31

“property tar-pit” was already taken.

Comment by The_Overdog
2011-01-20 09:21:48

I like property trampoline. There’s a chance you’ll do really well and medal in the Olympics, but it’s more likely that you’ll bump heads with someone else, bite your own tongue, and neglect the thing because you can’t stand it anymore.

Comment by pressboardbox
2011-01-20 09:35:49

landing in the springs can be hazardous to your nuts.

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Comment by Blue Skye
2011-01-20 09:46:05

Property Escalator.

As a kid, I used to like to run up the down escalator in the Department Store.

Comment by Natalie
2011-01-20 10:37:54

It was the name of a pretty decent show on TLC if you are into dark humor, although it was not intentionally funny. Unless I am getting my shows mixed up, the lead in was “Want to make more money in a few months than you did last year?” They purposely picked people that knew nothing about renovations to buy property, cheaply put lipstick on a pig, and sell it to some great fool for crazy PROFIT to be used to buy more expensive properties until they end up living large in 10 million dollar estates running their own biz. The goal was to show how easy it was so more people would do it. It was sponsored by home improvement stores and endorsed by Realtors everywhere. Fighting spouses, drunk frat boys, people that couldnt other keep jobs cause they can not show up on time, new age religion types, etc. Loved it!

Comment by Real Estate Refugee
2011-01-20 10:46:56

The hostess was the best. Kirsten I think. Her trying to keep a straight face during all the insanity was the funniest thing ever.

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Comment by pismoclam
2011-01-20 19:01:36

‘Did she have a nice heinie or what ?’ The imortal words of Al Bundy.

Comment by Max Power
2011-01-20 11:06:19

Love that show! I remember one episode in Florida (I think) where a screw up husband with a wife and kid who hadn’t had a regular job in years managed to find a silent investor to buy a house, pay for the improvements, and split the profit with him. The investor first saw the house after he had already purchased it and after concluding that it was in significantly worse shape than the screw up let on, said “did you only see this house in the dark before you bought it?” Clearly not getting the joke, the screw up replied something like “yeah, I saw it at night…” Classic!

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Comment by In Colorado
2011-01-20 11:18:25

“Ohhh that’s a new term: “property ladder”. ”

Very common outside the USA.

Comment by In Colorado
2011-01-20 15:09:34

I heard Brits using the term 20+ years ago.

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Comment by wmbz
2011-01-20 03:58:46

2010 ends as 2nd worst year for home construction
Builders broke ground in 2010 on the 2nd fewest number of homes in half a century.

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. home-builders are coming off their two worst years in more than a half-century, and the outlook for this year is only slightly better.

Economists say it could take three more years before the industry begins building homes at a healthy rate. In the mean time, the housing downturn is dragging on the broader economy, with one-quarter of the jobs lost since the recession began in the construction field.

Builders normally help lead the economy out of a recession. Construction projects fuel growth and that leads to more hiring.

But a year and a half after the recession officially ended, builders are struggling to compete in markets flooded with unsold homes — many of them foreclosures that are depressing prices.

Comment by Darrell_in_PHX
2011-01-20 05:19:46

Demographics and replacement rate say we need 1.2 million new housing units a year. For 6 years we averaged 2 million houses a year, creating a glut of 5 million too many houses.

So, now we’ve reduced construction about 75% down to 550K a year. Well, that is .7 million a year below needed…. so, at this rate, it will take 7 years to work off the extra houses. 2 years in, so 5 to go.

Of course, that assumes we do not see slower migration and household formation despite 18% underemployment rate and falling workforce participation.

And, 5 more years from now the first of the baby boomers will be 70 and starting their reat die off. Well be approacing the true peak of the baby boom years turning 65 and we will have to do something about massive Social Security deficits,.

Comment by WT Economist
2011-01-20 07:42:43

Moreover, how many housing units will be created within existing buildings?

Younger generations are poorer. McMansions are too big for one family to heat and cool.

The production of housing units though subdivision may not show up in statistics. It may be done by handymen with materials purchased at Home Depot without permits, to avoid property tax increases and zoning enforcement.

Comment by whyoung
2011-01-20 09:02:38

I grew up in an area where a lot of old Victorian houses had been divided up into apartments, but at least they were solidly built. Not so sure about the McMansions.

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Comment by oxide
2011-01-20 08:44:19

How many of those 2 million housing units were condos or condo conversions? The fate of condos will be interesting.

Perhaps those condo buildings will be converted into cheap assisted living for foreclosed and BK’d baby boomers. Or they will be converted to immigrant tenements, complete with laundry and kids hanging off the fire escapes.

Comment by darrell_in_phoenix
2011-01-20 09:25:47

When I lived in Colorado Springs a decade ago, one of the tallest buildings in town was the “Satellite Hotel”. Despite still carrying the name hotel, it was far more apartment than hotel as it had an unadvertised rent-by-the-month option with weekly house cleaning and not much more than other apartments.

It became know as “geriatric towers” as most of the people living there were one step from a nursing home.

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Comment by Steve J
2011-01-20 09:48:26

Several in Dallas are going back to being apartments.

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Comment by Blue Skye
2011-01-20 09:48:50

Add to your calculations the end of the second homes for everyone era.

Comment by darrell_in_phoenix
2011-01-20 09:54:35

The 5 million extra houses were the 2nd homes.

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Comment by CarrieAnn
2011-01-20 12:40:42

“the first of the baby boomers will be 70 and starting their reat die off”

A few will go that early but I’m thinking the peak age for that is 85. My in laws are both in their 80s and doing real well, my grandmother lived till 90, her mother 97.

Note Betty White still working on a sitcom at 89.

Comment by DennisN
2011-01-20 20:24:19

The boomers were the first generation to avoid tobacco. In my parents’ generation - the so-called greatest generation - EVERYONE smoked like chimneys afire all day long. It was common for those folks to smoke 2 or 3 packs a day of UNFILTERED cigarettes.

When I was in college, NOBODY smoked tobacco. This was 1971 to 1975.

Nowadays dementia care homes are full of greatest generation people who smoked. Smoking is the #1 predictor of dementia in old age, both for Alzheimer’s disease and multi-infarct dementia.

The boomers may live much longer and not end up in the dementia care homes. Time will tell. The boomers’ problem will be heart disease caused by obesity.

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Comment by Al
2011-01-20 10:20:42

I read through the entire article (fairly short). Nowhere does it lament the folly of pulling demand forward or building too much supply for speculators.

Comment by wmbz
2011-01-20 04:00:36

America’s Debt Crisis
U.S. for sale - Uncle Sam’s real estate play

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — As Washington deficit hawks scour the federal budget for ways to trim the size of government, they are arriving at one idea with increasing frequency: Put government property on the auction block.

It’s an opportunity rooted in the scale of federal holdings. The government owns somewhere in the neighborhood of 650 million acres of land peppered with 429,000 buildings.

That has lawmakers on both sides of the aisle salivating as they look for ways to make a dent in the budget deficit. And not just because the federal government has a lot of property it could unload, but because more than 10% of the buildings are of only marginal use.

Comment by combotechie
2011-01-20 04:41:43

1. Worthless fiats aren’t so worthless after all: In this case they can be exchanged for real honest-to-god assets. (BTW, does anyone here care that China has trillions of these worthless fiats stashed away?)

2. Lawmakers want to make a dent in the budget deficit. Their solution is to sell off assets. This will work fine for a while, until they run out of assets to sell. Then what?

Comment by Professor Bear
2011-01-20 05:06:29

“Then what?”

Pay lots of rent to our Chinese landlords.

Comment by pressboardbox
2011-01-20 08:26:52

Howmuchamonth fo da big White House?

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Comment by polly
2011-01-20 10:24:38

You don’t want it. There aren’t any grocery stores in the area. Plus for some odd reason people like to protest in front of it. And take their pictures.

Comment by Arizona Slim
2011-01-20 10:46:17

You don’t want it. There aren’t any grocery stores in the area.

Isn’t the nearest grocery store a Safeway that’s all the way over in Georgetown? And ISTR reading that this place is quite the meeting place. To the point that it’s called the Social Safeway.

BTW, I’ve heard that there are some pretty hopping bars and nightclubs a block or two away from the White House. If I ever make it to DC, I propose that we HBB-ers have a meetup in one of them.

Comment by polly
2011-01-20 11:16:49

I’m guessing there is a Safeway or Whole Foods in Dupont Circle that is closer than the Social Safeway in Georgetown. Not positive - there isn’t any Metro in Georgetown and taking the bus can make distances seem longer than they actually are. And there is a Trader Joes in Foggy Bottom that is also fairly close. Plus a Farmer’s market at the Department of Agriculture once a week during the season - that is right across the Mall and down the street a bit.

I don’t know if I would call the bars around here exactly “hopping.” However, you can find the kickballers drinking at The Exchange on Thursday nights in the summer.

Comment by Arizona Slim
2011-01-20 11:25:37

I don’t know if I would call the bars around here exactly “hopping.” However, you can find the kickballers drinking at The Exchange on Thursday nights in the summer.

Oh, well, maybe the bars in the White House nabe just hum, rather than hop. Perhaps that might be more conducive to our erudite discussions of housing, the economy, and other matters.

OTOH, I’m working on getting a design client within the District. A dean at one of the universities, in fact. Wish me luck, people!

Comment by michael f
2011-01-20 12:30:30

there is a safeway in the watergate.

Comment by oxide
2011-01-20 12:51:32

There’s a Whole Foods on 14th and P near DuPont, probably the closet, which is a long way. There’s a new Farmer’s market right next to the White House in season. I guess the best bet is to call up Peapod by Giant. Heck, I’d probably just eat at the Borders on the other side of Treasury.

Comment by Arizona Slim
2011-01-20 13:02:22

Heck, I’d probably just eat at the Borders on the other side of Treasury.

All of this talk about White House area eateries and drinkeries reminds me of a childhood field trip to Washington, DC. I think I was in the fifth grade.

Our class’ daylong trip to DC included a tour of the White House — woo-hoo! That seemed to be the reaction of all the kids. Except for young Slim.

It wasn’t because I grew up in a Republican household and LBJ was President of the United States. Not at all.

The reason was much more personal: I had to go. I mean, I really had to go. And did you know that the White House has no public bathrooms?

Fortunately, I was able to hold it until the class arrived at the next stop on our itinerary, the National Archives. I’m here to tell you that you can indeed relieve yourself in the restrooms before checking on the condition of our nation’s sacred documents.

So, moral of the story: If, after all your DC eating and drinking, you take a public tour of the White House, be sure to heed the call of nature before going to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Comment by DennisN
2011-01-20 14:21:01

there is a safeway in the watergate.

I hear their produce has bugs in it though.

Comment by oxide
2011-01-20 14:31:20

Quick tip Slim: the Renwick Gallery is right across the street, free and open to the public.

Comment by Arizona Slim
2011-01-20 15:09:40

Quick tip Slim: the Renwick Gallery is right across the street, free and open to the public.

Ooo! I love free galleries!

Now, all I have to do is land that client and, ahem, lean on her a bit for DC referrals so I can justify the cost of a trip.

Comment by polly
2011-01-20 15:37:42

I actually used the bathroom at the Renwick one day when the water went out in our building. They sent everyone home, but I had a meeting with a big shot and he wasn’t leaving so I didn’t either. Anyway, I needed to stay and I needed to “go” so over to the Renwick. Closest public restroom that you can access without being (or pretending to be) a customer. You do have to get your bags examined and the person who does it is completely nuts. She made me open my wallet once, when that was the only item in my bag.

There are two really great exhibits at the Renwick right now. Crafts made by Japanese Americans in the internment camps during WWII and some extraordinary wood art. They are having turning demos (on a lathe) in connection with the second exhibit. Very cool. Tuesdays at noon, I think.

Comment by Arizona Slim
2011-01-20 16:36:49

There are two really great exhibits at the Renwick right now. Crafts made by Japanese Americans in the internment camps during WWII and some extraordinary wood art. They are having turning demos (on a lathe) in connection with the second exhibit. Very cool. Tuesdays at noon, I think.

Now I *really* want to land that client!

Would anyone care to recommend DC lodging that’s close to cool stuff like the Renwick? And doesn’t cost a fortune? Or am I just dreaming?

Comment by Professor Bear
2011-01-20 20:47:47

“Howmuchamonth fo da big White House?”

One Year Into Obama Presidency, What is the White House Worth Now?
By: Katie Curnutte, Zillow PR Manager | January 20, 2010

With experts across the globe spending January analyzing Obama’s performance during his first year in office, we thought we’d join in and analyze what we here at Zillow know best: His current home.

We first gave the White House a Zestimate in January 2009 as the Obama family was preparing to take residence. At that time, we estimated it was worth $308 million, based on the home’s physical attributes (132 rooms! 55,000 square feet!), historical value and housing performance in the local Washington, DC market.

Today, as President Obama prepares to mark his first anniversary in office, our estimates put White House at a bit less: $292.5 million, a drop of $15.6 million, or 5.1 percent from last January.

But it’s not all bad news for the country’s most famous home. Just like most homes across the U.S., the White House’s decline in value over the past year was not as dramatic as it was the previous year. From January 2008 to January 2009, we estimate the White House lost almost $24 million in value, or 7.2 percent.

Comment by Doug in Boone, NC
2011-01-20 11:13:08

“Howmuchamonth fo da big White House?”

Before you buy it, you should figure in the cost of heating it in the winter and cooling it in the summer. And then there are those outrageous property taxes. Of course, you could always turn it into a tourist attraction by honestly claiming that “Lincoln slept here!”

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Comment by Jim A.
2011-01-20 11:25:23

Yeah, but DC has a $5,000 tax credit for first time homebuyers. Sweet! That should cover your downpayment!

Comment by Arizona Slim
2011-01-20 11:27:07

Before you buy it, you should figure in the cost of heating it in the winter and cooling it in the summer.

In his book, The Audacity of Hope, Barack Obama described his first visit to the White House. It was shortly after he became a U.S. Senator.

His impression of the place: It seemed to be a bit worn. And likely to be drafty at night.

Comment by DennisN
2011-01-20 14:40:58

The present day White House is a replica. The old one - which the Brits burned in the War of 1812 - was torn down and rebuilt from scratch during the Truman administration. Only the thin skin of the original remains. It’s now a steel girder framed building with modern plumbling and HVAC.

Comment by Jim A
2011-01-20 20:33:46

As somebody who lives in a house from the Eisenhower administration, I wouldn’t exactly call that MODERN.

Comment by pismoclam
2011-01-20 19:08:35

I wonder what we could get if we sold Yosemite to the ChiComs for condos ?

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Comment by measton
2011-01-20 08:18:46


Comment by edgewaterjohn
2011-01-20 08:33:25

No, they’re already doing that!

Human organ harvesting is more like it.

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Comment by pressboardbox
2011-01-20 09:21:30

You mean I can short-sell my spleen?

Comment by Jim A.
2011-01-20 11:28:36

So long as I don’t find out that Goldman has been shorting my liver….

Comment by mikey
2011-01-20 11:48:32

“No, they’re already doing that!

Human organ harvesting is more like it.”

Yeah…there are serious rumors on the street that Cheney is looking for a new heart.

Don’t look like a lawyer, travel in groups and a grumpy old voice says “Duck”, dodge and weave.


Comment by 2banana
2011-01-20 09:08:40

Then what?

Nationalize the assets and call it even?

Comment by Darrell_in_PHX
2011-01-20 05:35:37

Short-term solution to long-term problem that mearly kicks the can down the road a couple years.

To get through last year’s budget crisis, AZ sold off the state buildings and them leased them back (a “creative” way to borrow money in a state that has a balanced budget clause in its constitution). That was a 1 time deal, and failed to deal with our long-term problem.

And what is our long-term probem? $2.5 billion in personal income taxes on $217 billion in total incomes =1.15% effective state personal income tax rate. Total corp taxes are about $0.5 billion. Sales tax (the most regressive tax) and other usage fees collect $3.5 billion. (including about $.8 billion from a 3-year sales tax increase that went into effect last year.) Other collections (mostly state employee insurance premiums) = $.4 billion. So, $7 billion total collections. Baseline expendatures = $10 billion. Cuts made so far (some real, some gimic) = $2 billion. More cuts needed? Oh, about $1 billion.

Comment by SV guy
2011-01-20 05:44:31

Selling Federal property sets a dangerous precedent.

We were formed as a collective of sovereign states. Selling sovereign buildings and soil to satisfy a bankers debt shows us who is pulling the strings. It makes even less sense when you realize the Fed’s can create as much monopoly money as necessary, with certain side effects, to satisfy said debts.

What is the end game?

Ask yourself this. Would you rather have a railroad car full of presidential portraits or hard tangible assets such as land, buildings, gold, etc?

Comment by Blue Skye
2011-01-20 06:26:42

There is a difference between selling sovereign rights, as in the Alaska Purchase, and “selling” as in bringing in a new FB. If the Feds sell property to persons, they give taxing authority to the states, who can regulate land use and levy taxes until the buyer is exhausted. Then the state gets the property to “sell” again.

Comment by Steve J
2011-01-20 09:55:12

The government can and will take property away from the owners.

Often at the behest of sports team owners.

The new terrorism laws make it very easy and patriotic to take assets away from people who are on the outs with the government.

Comment by ecofeco
2011-01-20 10:22:03

RICO, and especially drug laws, bypassed due process of property confiscation decades ago.

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Comment by alpha-sloth
2011-01-20 05:50:55

Is real estate bust the best time to sell off buildings and property?

Comment by combotechie
2011-01-20 06:17:09

Just because something is for sale doesn’t mean it will be sold. It will only be sold if there is a money-laden buyer interested in doing the buying. The more desperate the seller the more power the buyer has in dictating terms of the sale - if there is to be a sale.

There was a town just the other day that sold off it’s parking meters to a private company. This was a cash cow the town sold; The town traded in a whole lot of future income because they need the cash now - as in today (something J.G. Wentworth would understand).

The point is: Only the cream will be sold off, the less lucrative junk will remain.

Comment by DennisN
2011-01-20 08:41:51

It wasn’t a “town”: it was Chicago.

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Comment by Doug in Boone, NC
2011-01-20 11:02:17

Stay tuned. Chicago will soon be downgraded from a city to a town.

Comment by edgewaterjohn
2011-01-20 06:31:02

It is when you want to hook up your campaign financing patrons with some sweet deals.

This sort of stuff happened throughout Windy City history. Pols sell disused parcels to friends/donors at fire sale prices. Pols then announce development for said parcels and city buys them back at outrageous markups. There’s too many stories to relate here, but this practice is more Chicago than Wrigley Field, deep dish pizza, and Michigan Ave. combined.

Two notable exceptions would be the third airport at Peotone and the 2016 Olympics fiasco. In the latter case it was state pols/donors that bought up farmland for an airport that was never built, and in the latter it was city pols/donors buying up south side plots for games now to be held (thankfully) in Rio.

Comment by ecofeco
2011-01-20 10:23:51

This is SOP just about everywhere, not just Chicago.

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Comment by edgewaterjohn
2011-01-20 10:57:05

Here it is an art form, though.

Comment by Happy2bHeard
2011-01-20 17:08:01

It’s a great time to buy. ;)

Comment by In Colorado
2011-01-20 06:18:54

I seem to recall that the Japanese heavily overpaid for a lot of purchases back when they had all the fiats.

One thing to remember about dollar based assets, if the dollar depreciates, so will the asset, which of course is why the whole world is in an uproar over our serial QEs. Not only does it create inflation for them, it wipes out the value of their dollar based investments.

Comment by jeff saturday
2011-01-20 06:38:14

Maybe this will be my backyard for next Fourth of July.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWrklFuYnb0 - 129k -

Comment by Jim A.
2011-01-20 07:32:06

Why do people seem to think that the political process will be any better at figuring out what to sell to whom and at what price than it was in figuring out what to buy in the first place? Look at how convoluted the BRAC process was.

Comment by WT Economist
2011-01-20 07:44:28

Speaking of BRAC, there are those who think that one option is to sell off a lot of U.S. bases overseas and bring the troops home.

Comment by Jim A.
2011-01-20 07:58:52

ISTM that these days the main reason for bases in Europe is the fact that it’s half way to the Middle East.

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Comment by In Colorado
2011-01-20 13:24:46

“there are those who think that one option is to sell off a lot of U.S. bases overseas and bring the troops home”

I like it in principle, except that there are no jobs for the returning soldiers, and they’re used to being paid well.

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Comment by Al
2011-01-20 10:25:28

Another way to save. Cut down on heating bills by burning the furniture.

Comment by SDGreg
2011-01-20 11:56:42

How much is likely to be raised when selling into a glut?

Selling public real estate should really be targeted at reducing long term operating costs, not generating funds in the short term. Selling of properties should be limited to properties that are truly surplus (no lease-back arrangements that may be costlier long term).

Properties that are more efficient to operate, especially with regard to energy, should be favored, as should properties that are closer to workers or located near mass transit (lower energy impact).

There should also be incentives to strongly encourage telecommuting where/when appropriate. Why occupy costly real estate when there may be less expensive ways to operate with a smaller energy impact.

Comment by Arizona Slim
2011-01-20 12:47:27

There should also be incentives to strongly encourage telecommuting where/when appropriate. Why occupy costly real estate when there may be less expensive ways to operate with a smaller energy impact.

Back when I worked in academia, I had a job that would have been perfect for telecommuting. I was in an editorial office at one university, and an editorial/PR office at another university. At the latter job, I used to joke about being able to do my writing and editing from the top of Mount Lemmon, which is just north of Tucson.

I left that latter job in 1994.

Guess what, I do a lot of the same things now at home on my own computer. No need to commute to an office for this camper.

Comment by cactus
2011-01-20 13:25:10

some proposed cuts

Exchange Programs for Alaska, Natives Native Hawaiians, and Their Historical Trading Partners in Massachusetts. $9 million annual savings.

International Fund for Ireland. $17 million annual savings.

Woodrow Wilson Center Subsidy. $20 million annual savings.

Heritage Area Grants and Statutory Aid. $24 million annual savings

Appalachian Regional Commission. $76 million annual savings.

Require collection of unpaid taxes by federal employees. $1 billion total savings.

Comment by Professor Bear
2011-01-20 05:18:23

* The Wall Street Journal
* JANUARY 19, 2011

Home Construction Declines

New-home construction dropped in December to its lowest level in more than a year as the feeble housing sector ended 2010 on a weak note.

Private building of new homes dropped 4.3% in December from a month earlier to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 529,000—the lowest level of housing starts since October 2009, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. The construction industry continued to stumble last year even as economic growth picked up and private-sector job creation returned. Housing starts ended the year 8.2% below December 2009 and there’s little sign building will pick up early this year.

From what we’ve heard from builders, they’re not very hopeful for recovery in 2011,” said Mark Vitner, a Wells Fargo Securities economist. “The first half of the year, it looks like housing’s going to be dead in the water.”

Comment by exeter
2011-01-20 05:33:32

All this nibbling on the margins with puff peices like “builder forecasts”, “builder optimism”.

Look….. the inventory is massive in the way an iceberg is massive. Look at the WMBZ’s article above about govt inventory then you got the bank inventory, then you got MLS inventory, etc etc etc. They’ve parsed the inventory to death, RAISED prices all to avoid what?????

LOWER PRICES to protect _______.

This is a price protection racket for whoever or whatever but lower prices reflecting local wages and salaries (even unemployment income) IS the recovery.

The entire market is seized up in order to protect profits and I got a bulletin for the REIC. I ain’t gonna blink.

Comment by Professor Bear
2011-01-20 08:23:50

“This is a price protection racket for whoever or whatever…”

I have to wonder about former Treasury Secretary / Goldenman Sachs CEO Henry Paulson’s many visits to China. What kind of deals did they strike, and why wasn’t the American public informed of their content? Could this have something to do with the price protection racket run by the bankster men of Wall Street and K Street?

Comment by In Colorado
2011-01-20 06:23:21

I think I saw at most 1 or 2 ‘under contract” signs on the dogwalk route this year.

I meantioned yesterday that some huckster corporation is trying to get corporate welfare from our little burg. Apparently a lot of locals want to do it, especially the Real Estate crowd which hopes it will jump start used house sales (and comissions).

Comment by exeter
2011-01-20 08:35:40

Yeah I read the corporate welfare/relo thread closely. SO MANY in the northeast are duped by that BS. The promise big and deliver nothing every single time. And the natives take the bait every single time and then get stuck with the bill.

Comment by oxide
2011-01-20 12:56:11

The worst is that these towns demand the cash up front in return for those magical jobs. Every other business venture I know asks for a receipt before dispensing funds, or at least sets an upper limit on an expense account. The town should demand three years of W-2s and THEN hand out retroactive tax breaks. Of course, the company will just respond by taking their jobs to another town.

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Comment by Professor Bear
2011-01-20 05:21:33

Whoops — wrong year!

October housing starts fall by half; San Diego, Riverside counties drive statewide construction slump

By: DAVE DOWNEY - Staff Writer North County Times - The Californian | Posted: Thursday, November 30, 2006 12:00 am

Hoping to avoid flooding the market with a glut of new homes, builders in San Diego and Riverside counties started construction on half as many single-family houses in October as they did in the same month a year earlier, a new California Building Industry Association report shows.

Builders initiated construction on 52 percent fewer houses in Riverside County, or 944 this October, compared with 1,972 a year ago, according to the report compiled by the Construction Industry Research Board for the association. At the same time, builders began erecting just 258 single-family houses in San Diego County, 47 percent less than the 482 in October 2005.

Housing production of all types was down throughout the state in October, but the drop was sharpest for single-family houses, industry sources said. Those single-family declines were concentrated in the San Diego, Riverside and Sacramento metropolitan areas, places where California’s recent housing boom was hottest.

Builders are concentrating on selling inventory of housing that is already built or near completion,” said Borre Winckel, executive director of the Riverside County chapter of the Building Industry Association of Southern California. “It is very much driven by their need to try to clean up their balance sheets by year’s end.”

Comment by jane
2011-01-20 05:22:56

From UK Guardian - http://tinyurl.com/4l5erur

“Fears of ‘lost generation’ as youth unemployment hits recordNumber of young people looking for work nears 1 million

The number of young people searching for a job almost reached the 1 million mark in November as officials figures showed Britain’s worsening economic situation was in danger of creating a “lost generation”.

The number of adults under 25 out of work jumped by 32,000 to 951,000, pushing the youth unemployment rate up to 20.3% – the highest level since records began in 1992. A slowdown in growth since last summer and uncertainty about the future were blamed for the refusal of many employers to recruit younger workers. The figures revealed a particularly sharp rise in the number of 16- and 17-year-olds classed as unemployed, rather than in employment or education, rising to 204,000 from 177,000 in the previous quarter.

Chris Grayling, the employment minister, blamed the previous Labour administration for allowing youth unemployment to become a major feature of the unemployment statistics. He said 600,000 of the 16- to 24-year-olds on the unemployment register had failed to find sustained work since leaving education. His claim that the coalition inherited the problem was dismissed by Labour, which said the new government made the situation worse when it ditched plans to support young people through the New Deal programme.

The broader unemployment figure also passed a milestone after a 49,000 jump in the number of people out of work to 2.5 million. However, the claimant count dropped by 4,100 to 1.46 million.

Ian Brinkley, of The Work Foundation, said better than expected claimant count data could not mask an “abrupt halt” in the labour market recovery as accelerating job losses in the public sector and lack of overall growth in jobs in the private sector started to bite. He said women were victims along with young people.

– in the January 6th UK Independent, an article appeared about declining school achievement in the UK and Western nations in general:

“Its the melancholy nature of our decline, and the energy with which other countries are implementing the lessons of the most successful education nations, that is behind the Coalition Government’s drive to modernise our own schools system. Every child in England risks being left behind unless we catch up with the world’s top performers. Our schools White Paper – The Importance of Teaching was deliberately designed to bring together policies that have worked in other, high-performing nations. It was accompanied by a detailed evidence paper, The Case for Change, and drew on insights generated by successive Pisa results tables. The White Paper’s policies are our priorities for 2011.”


Re housing bubble: I submit that these matters - debasement in educational achievement coupled with youth unemployment - manifest here in the US as well. You can’t expect the youngsters to earn the scratch to buy the crapshacks foisted eagerly upon them by the retiring boomers. They can’t compete in economies where the entry level rungs can be done anywhere in the world. Without that first rung - the first job or two where you become acculturated to working reality - the second and third rungs are unattainable.

And we boomers are thinking that these youngsters will buy our bloated and overpriced crapshacks, impoverishing themselves up front WHILE expecting them to pay for our SS etc without earning a living?

We are fooked until - as CarrieAnn said - oil gets sufficiently expensive to bring back the jobz. Or jobbes, as the case may be. To answer In Montana - a “jobbe” is what you do for scratch once you are jaded enough to understand that you will never, ever be amongst the elect.

A “jobbe” doesn’t take you seriously. You are there to serve it until you can be dispensed with in favor of the cheaper alternative. So you rent your behaviour to your “jobbe” whilst on the clock. But you never, ever give it your soul.

A real job needs YOU and DOES take you seriously. I had one of those once. I was in a position where, if the oversight wasn’t done, things blew up. Many of us on HBB had one of those once, before manufacturing became location-agnostic. Regrettably, my next stop was a slot in Dhahran. Not doable with two young children at the time. Eyes open, I traded it for a series of subsequent “jobbes”.

I now have another jobbe. One to which I assign intellectual capital and energy in exchange for a paycheck. Period. I expect Chindia to become part of some treaty that sez cleared work can be done over there. Until then, I’m glad I have my clearance.

Comment by whyoung
2011-01-20 08:06:44

“So you rent your behaviour to your “jobbe” whilst on the clock. But you never, ever give it your soul.”

This seems to me a bit like the difference from white collar to blue collar…

White collar “professionals” can be exploited in a number of interesting ways that can make them sacrifice many important personal things in life because they think it’s good for their “career”.

While I know a number of blue collar types who have great pride in their work and find some real satisfaction in a job well done, it seems there are some real differences in the attitudes separating work from home/personal life.

Comment by oxide
2011-01-20 09:22:35

We are fooked until - as CarrieAnn said - oil gets sufficiently expensive to bring back the jobz.

Not if your job can be done over the Internet — and the Millenial Generation is finding that out the hard way. No, we’re fooked no matter what.

Comment by CarrieAnn
2011-01-20 16:23:04

CarrieAnn was referring to manufacturing which, Simms world aside, I think still requires being hands on.

Comment by Steve J
2011-01-20 10:01:18

I hope some good music comes out of this.

Comment by palmetto
2011-01-20 10:17:36

Yes! I get some over the air station (refuse to pay for cable or satellite) that has ongoing music programming called “The Cool TV”. I enjoy it to a great degree because it reminds me of the early days of MTV and VH-1, before they went stupid. Some great vids from back in the day. Anyhoo, they have this segment called “The 80s at 8″, where they do an hour of 1980s music starting at 8:00pm. I’ve been really enjoying it.

Say what you want about the 1980s, but looking at those vids and listening to the music, it looks and sounds like the last time we had any real fun here in the USofA. Sure, the fashions were funky, with the padded shoulders and pleated pants and the big hair, but to me, it’s a helluva lot more attractive than what you see today. The music was a lot more fun, too. Seems like folks were just enjoying themselves, and at least they took a shower before they went out for a night of dancing. They weren’t so fat, (impossible to look decent with all those pleats and shoulder pads if you were overweight) with fewer or no tatoos and piercings and less of the bald penis head look. And there’s something to be said about the fusion of aerobics and music. OK, so the spandex was a bit much, but at least people could actually wear it.

Lot of good music got made back in the 1980s. Most of the stuff I hear today sounds like corporate crap. And the folks who make it sure don’t look like they’re having much fun.

Turn up that Def Leppard, boyz’n'girlz.

Comment by In Montana
2011-01-20 10:19:35

I’m a boomer but I loved 80s music. My favorite decade in rock, actually.

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Comment by palmetto
2011-01-20 13:28:10

Mine, too, Montana. My point was that it seems like the last decade in the US that people were actually having a good time and enjoying themselves and had the music to go along with it.

Bryan Adams, Tina Turner (part 2), Talking Heads, Genesis, Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins, Don Henley, Van Halen (I liked them better with Sammy Hagar than David Lee Roth), Go-Gos, Joan Jett, Stevie Nicks, Prince, The Cars, Journey, Tom Petty, Simple Minds, The Clash, etc., etc.

I hate rap, hip-hop. Except for Vanilla Ice.

Comment by Arizona Slim
2011-01-20 14:23:35

I hate rap, hip-hop. Except for Vanilla Ice.

I agree.

And, speaking as one who auditions music for a radio station, I find it very difficult to recommend rap and hip-hop albums for airplay.

Why? Because of the language. If they’re not saying #$&*, they’re saying @#%! Or worse.

Comment by oxide
2011-01-20 14:37:00

Stevie Nicks sings like a dying cow. But DAMN I want to dress like her. I’m surprised she didn’t start her own fashion line, even if it was just a few interchangeable pieces: skirt, a couple poofy shirts, a couple scarves, pair of boots. I guarantee you the stuff would have flown off the racks.

Comment by bill in Tampa
2011-01-20 17:48:47

I agree with you folks. But I preferred Van Halen with David Lee Roth much more than with Sammy Hagar. But good points, particularly about shaved heads. It should be called the Jared Loughner look. That may entice guys not to go that route. I grew my hair longer where it touches the ears. Had a crew cut for years up to a few months ago. Just wanted to see what I still had at age 51. Turns out only a touch of gray on the neckline and sideburns. No pattern baldness. My hair color is the same as at eighteen and my hair is soft. If you got it, flaunt it!

Comment by edgewaterjohn
2011-01-20 10:55:21

We watched Purple Rain over the holidays, one of my favorites growing up. It was amazing how “uncorporate” the movie looked when viewed with contemporary eyes.

Ex: the billboards in the Mpls street scenes were for real world SRO (flop houses) - remake the movie today and they’d be AAPL billboards, or ATT, or whatever.

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Comment by pressboardbox
2011-01-20 12:51:51

None of the 80s movies had any of that sell-out, product-pimping crap. Progress sucks.

Comment by MrBubble
2011-01-20 11:39:13

Couldn’t agree less. Coming of (musical age) in the 80s was so depressing. Not because it was maudlin, but because it was just so bad. I always felt jealous for the people who got to hear stuff like CSN’ “Carry On” the first time it was played on radio.

Bon Jovi? A-ha? Simple Minds? Journey? P.U.!!

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Comment by palmetto
2011-01-20 15:20:36

OK, so I don’t believe I said EVERY musical act during eighties was good. Not a fan of Bon Jovi or A-ha. But we’ll have to disagree regarding Simple Minds and Journey. Steve Perry’s voice is awesome. He could have been a great opera singer had he decided to take that path.

Now, don’t get me wrong here, I’m a huge CSN and CSNY fan as well. That was the 70s, for the most part. Didn’t care for a lot of the 70s disco, but I did have a Huk-A-Poo shirt, I’m embarrassed to admit.

Comment by Bub Diddley
2011-01-20 14:09:09

Don’t count on it. Music doesn’t drive the culture anymore. If you were young, ambitious, creative, talented, and looking to make your mark on the world today, would music really be your first choice? A young James Brown today looking to make his fortune would probably end up developing iphone apps or something. And even if a young James Brown today DID decide to go into music, could he find the caliber of musicians to work with that the original James Brown had that made his work so compelling?

The ability to sell recorded music was a fleeting phenomenon, and it resulted in a brief flowering of great music. There will always be music, but I think it isn’t going to be as big a deal from here on out. Just like the Renaissance. There were still painters after the Renaissance, but there wasn’t another Michelangelo.

Comment by Steve J
2011-01-20 14:25:42

I tend to think that the bad times of the 70s contributed a lot to the punk movement.

Unemployed kids have plenty of time to make music.

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Comment by Arizona Slim
2011-01-20 14:30:16

I tend to think that the bad times of the 70s contributed a lot to the punk movement.

It did. High unemployment in the UK was a motivator for many of the early punkers.

Comment by Bub Diddley
2011-01-20 14:45:20

True, but that was a different time. Kids whole lives revolved around music, it was cool, and you had a handful of bands that “made it big” that could serve as inspiration to up and comers.

Now, arguably, the newest Apple product release is way cooler than any band. When is the last time you saw news stories about people camping out to buy a new album or tickets to a show?

I’m not saying that I LIKE things being this way, I am a huge music fan. But you have to admit that things aren’t like they used to be, and I don’t think we’ll see a repeat of the kind of energy and expertise devoted to music previously. I’m hoping that energy will surface somewhere, but I don’t think it’ll necessarily be in music this time…

Comment by alpha-sloth
2011-01-20 14:52:28

Yep, and the dole in the UK was a great music subsidy. Neverending unemployment benefits, with rent and necessities covered separately, so the check was just drinking money.

That funded the start-up of many a band.

Comment by Arizona Slim
2011-01-20 15:11:43

When is the last time you saw news stories about people camping out to buy a new album or tickets to a show?

Here in Tucson, we just had thousands of people lining up to see the President speak at McKale Center.

Comment by CarrieAnn
2011-01-20 17:06:45

While waiting to pick up my kids I was listening to the radio. After a Doors song, they said they sold out the Hollywood Bowl in 1969. Tickets were $6.

Well aside from how controlled music now is this is what I realized the other day. When I was reading that book that said 1/3 of us Americans were boomers I realized that boomers really did drive everything. They’ve always been the catered to group by those that wish to make money. So when the boomer bulge peak was at the teen years that was the energized consumer sector, now that the boomer bulge is entering the senior years the tv airwaves have been taken over by ads for Ciallis and Depends. Teen/20s music gets limited airplay as too many stations are still playing 70s/80s and 30 year old bands demand $150 -$200 /ticket concerts.

Comment by In Montana
2011-01-20 10:17:59

Ah, thanks for explaining that.

Comment by Housing Wizard
2011-01-20 23:33:52

What I remember is that ‘Music’ was a reflection of what was going on in the culture until Music becomes a reflection of what a Corporation machine wanted to create . There is a huge difference .

During the 60’s for instance the lyrics were a reflection of
what people were actually experiencing . Course than for a time
a lot of it was just “Peace ,Love and Rock and Roll .

The artist were so unique . Bob Dylan for instance was a song writer
for those times but he was reflecting the undercurrent rebellion
of the younger people against the WAR WAR II mentality .

So many of those 60’s songs were war rebellion songs . Most of the Motown stuff was more like love songs . I use to like the 50’s stuff also because it was a reflection of a happy times in a lot of ways ,until the conflicts starting showing up in the 60’s.

Now everything just seems to be marketing for consumption .

Comment by Professor Bear
2011-01-20 05:26:04

Lower oil prices, and by extension, gasoline prices, would certainly be a welcome relief from the inflation I have recently experienced in my personal consumption bundle, which includes driving and eating expenses.

Crude oil declined after fall in US housing starts, rising inventories
Thursday, January 20, 2011, 11:14

Crude oil future prices closed with a negative note in the domestic market on Wednesday tracking weak cues from the global market. January contract drifted as much as 1.39% to Rs. 4,107.00 per barrel on Multi Commodity Exchange (MCX).

Crude March future dropped as much as 0.56% to $91.81 in New York after US Census Bureau showed that Housing Starts in the US fell 4.3% to 0.529 million units in December from 0.555 million units in November, indicating the economic recovery may be slowing in the world’s largest oil consuming country.

Comment by Professor Bear
2011-01-20 05:30:52

State Problems Risk Renewed Rise In Unemployment
Posted: January 20, 2011 at 6:16 am

Economists believe that the US recovery is well enough underway so that the private sector will begin to add jobs. It happened to a limited extent in the fourth quarter of last year. Some experts believe that American businesses will add an average of 200,000 jobs in 2011. A new problem that could offset private sector gains is emerging more rapidly than expected.

New York State is likely to layoff 10,000 public service workers as part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to cut the New York’s deficit. The state’s budget problems may be worse than many others. But, there are a dozen or so states which are just as bad off as New York . California certainly sits in that group as does Illinois and Michigan. Among them, they could fire tens of thousands of people. Those figures do not include municipal or federal workers.

Camden, New Jersey has a very high crime rate and is deeply in debt. The city laid off 163 policeman this week. That leaves it with 202 officers. If any city needs a large police presence, it is Camden. The firings are hard luck for those who were let go and those they were meant to protect.

Comment by WT Economist
2011-01-20 07:54:25

States, like the federal government, employ relatively few workers as a share of the economy.

The real issue is state funding for health care via Medicaid, and state funding for local governments — where all the government workers actually work.

Comment by Professor Bear
2011-01-20 08:25:05

“States, like the federal government, employ relatively few workers as a share of the economy.”

Nonetheless, public servants provide a punching bag of convenience for politicians trying to score points with the electorate.

Comment by WT Economist
2011-01-20 08:28:43

Thanks to all the retroactive pension enhancements of the past 15 years for those who already had the richest pensions, some punching is well deserved.

But most of those government workers are in local government, and private sector jobs funded by government, not non-defense federal and state. That’s why federal and state employment cutbacks save so little money.

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Comment by polly
2011-01-20 10:11:41

One of the new Congresscritters is proposing a two week unpaid furlough for all federal workers. I wonder how much he thinks it would acutally save, since I’m sure that military, homeland security, “essential” and a few other types of personnel would be exempt. No chance it would pass as a stand alone bill, but the House could certainly try to put it in the next budget.

Comment by Professor Bear
2011-01-20 20:51:31

‘I wonder how much he thinks it would acutally save, since I’m sure that military, homeland security, “essential” and a few other types of personnel would be exempt.’

It might be a good test of whether the government can run without any employees.

Comment by Mike in Miami
2011-01-20 08:41:24

States and municipalities employ about 14% of the total workforce. The remaining 86% have to pay those 14% via taxes. How dare they complain about lavish pension and salaries.

Comment by cobaltblue
2011-01-20 09:07:08

“Economists believe that the US recovery is well enough underway so that the private sector will begin to add jobs.”


Some koolaid swilling clueless eggheads have chimed in, as if nodding all their fatuous groupthink noggins together actually solved anything.

Comment by ecofeco
2011-01-20 10:29:44

An attitude like that is why you’ll never be invited to Bushwood Country Club.

Comment by MrBubble
2011-01-20 12:16:56

B-B-B-Bushwood a D-D-D-Dump?? There’s a brown Audi in my parking space. Have it towed immediately.

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Comment by polly
2011-01-20 10:03:40

Well, I guess that answers my question of a week or two back. Do all these happy, sunny employment forecasts for 2011 take into account the lay offs that are coming in state and local government? The answer seems to be no. Oops.

Oh, and the weekly local paper’s head line yesterday was that planned upgrades to several local libraries and parks are going on hold. So there is some private employment that is “expected” but won’t happen.

No idea what they were planning to do to the Bethesda library branch. It isn’t exciting, but it has books (and other media) and computers and some chairs and a check out desk and a place for reserves to be held. The outside has a parking lot that only charges $0.75 an hour and a slot for after hours drop offs. I think they even have a separate room for story time and community group meetings. What else does a library need?

Comment by Arizona Slim
2011-01-20 10:10:46

No idea what they were planning to do to the Bethesda library branch. It isn’t exciting, but it has books (and other media) and computers and some chairs and a check out desk and a place for reserves to be held. The outside has a parking lot that only charges $0.75 an hour and a slot for after hours drop offs. I think they even have a separate room for story time and community group meetings. What else does a library need?

Sounds like what the Pima County Library offers. And, to polly’s list, I’d like to add this:


As mentioned earlier, we’ve been in the news here in Tucson. And, shortly after I heard about the shootings, I headed over to my favorite library branch. I felt the need to be there, rather than cocooning at home with The Media.

The library was just like it always was, congenial and helpful. And, at the time, that was just what I and a library full of Tucsonans needed.

Comment by Professor Bear
2011-01-20 05:39:41

The lousy weather has roiled housing starts for a half decade or so now!

MarketWatch First Take
Jan. 19, 2011, 10:10 a.m. EST
Home building remains very depressed
Commentary: Weather, new permit rules cloud December data
By MarketWatch

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — The market for new homes remains deeply depressed, burdened by weak job growth, a lack of qualified buyers and a glut of foreclosed homes on the market.

Data released by the Commerce Department on Wednesday were as confusing as they get. If you look at the housing-starts data, you’d think housing was collapsing anew. But if you looked at the building-permits data, you’d think a strong recovery had kicked off.

The truth is likely someplace in the middle. Once you get past the noisy data and the seasonal distortions, it looks as if home building is improving ever so slightly.

The bad news came in the housing-starts data, which showed a 4% decline in December in new construction to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 529,000. That’s the lowest since October 2009. However, severe weather in the Midwest and Northeast undoubtedly reduced housing starts even more than usual in December.

Comment by arizonadude
2011-01-20 08:10:57

Why do local officials continue to extort citizens for building permits?Do you have to be rich to put a roof over your head in CA?

Comment by DennisN
2011-01-20 08:51:12

Sure enough, we note that California instituted tough green building regulations on new construction on Jan. 1. Builders rushed to file permits before the deadline.

Somebody posted the other day that CA now requires a full-up fire-supression sprinkler system in all new single-family houses, at some rediculous cost.

Comment by Steve J
2011-01-20 10:04:19

They have been putting them into houses in Texas for many years. I don’t think it costs 1/10 as much as granite counters.

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Comment by Rancher
2011-01-20 10:27:24

Average cost $3k per house.

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Comment by cobaltblue
2011-01-20 10:01:28

No one could have seen that coming.

Comment by Rancher
2011-01-20 10:25:12

Southern Oregon. In our area, per the local
rag, which is finally telling the truth, median home price went from $179k in June to $125k
in December. Actually stated that this was due
to the high number of short sales and foreclosures. Also stated that the higher end
homes were also being affected and that we could expect to see further declines during 2011.

Comment by In Montana
2011-01-20 15:20:53

Whoa. This around Deschutes Co or in your area too?

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Comment by Neuromance
2011-01-20 05:49:34

This speaks to the point of my curiosity of just how it is that manipulating the currency can overcome a deleveraging event and lead to a prosperous and sustainable economy.

“Bear Investor Says ‘I Have Been Too Bullish’”
On Tuesday January 18, 2011, 11:07 am EST

Bernanke’s idea was that higher stock prices will boost wealth and confidence, spurring spending, which in turn would lead to higher incomes and profits that would further support economic growth, according to Edwards.

“And so it came to pass. From the end of August stocks rallied. Leading indicators recovered. Spending increased. Jobs picked up. A virtuous circle indeed,” he wrote.

“Unfortunately, though, policy makers have yet to learn the lessons of the Great Recession. Basing economic growth on loose monetary policy driving up asset prices is simply doomed to failure,” he added.


Comment by arizonadude
2011-01-20 08:13:28

But AAPL always goes up.Just throw money at your problems and they will go away.Have any of you ever tried that?I mean rob peter to pay paul? How did that work out for you? I imagine it bought you some time.

This killing time, is killing me………..

Comment by jeff saturday
2011-01-20 05:59:46

10 Worst Jobs for 2011

The Jobs website CareerCast.com has evaluated 200 professions using five core criteria (pay, outlook, work environment, stress and physical demands) to identify the best and worst jobs for 2011. Each of the 10 worst positions suffer from at least one “fatal flaw,” such as high stress, unpleasant working conditions, low pay, high risk for injury or a combination of the above. The higher the overall score, the less desirable the job; hiring outlook is based mainly on the percentage employment is expected to increase or decrease between now and 2018. Forbes reveals the 10 worst jobs for 2011.

10. Construction Worker
Assists construction trade workers by performing a wide variety of tasks requiring physical labor.

Overall score: 798
Work environment: 1,555.85
Physical demands: 36.41
Stress: 30.11
Median income: $29,211
Hiring outlook: 7.11

6. Emergency Medical Technician
Attends to situations that demand immediate medical attention, such as automobile accidents, heart attacks, and gunshot wounds.

Overall score: 814
Work environment: 1,610
Physical demands: 21.26
Stress: 39.68
Median income: $30,168
Hiring outlook: 4.68

http://www.comcast.net/slideshow/finance-worstjobs2011/ - -

A couple of interesting things here. What a paramedic makes in the private sector as compared to a Martin County Fl. paramedic and what construction workers make. It seems like the biggest boosters of the UAW and union workers here are always saying “you can build it for $50 a sq. ft”. If it were the UAW or Martin County Employees doing the building with their pay and benefit package it would cost $300 a sq. ft. bare bones.

Martin County local governments add to list of those making $100,000 or more

January 16th, 2011 by TCPalm.com

$124,404: Keith Colodny, fire rescue firefighter paramedic

$115,778: Robert Udzinski, fire rescue firefighter paramedic

$112,675: Kathleen Voneslinger, fire rescue firefighter paramedic

$106,643: Bryce Currie, fire rescue firefighter paramedic

A list of Martin County $100k club can be found near the bottom of Bits Bucket for January 16, 2011

Comment by In Colorado
2011-01-20 09:32:32

Most EMTs are not firefighters. I know a few and they do get paid peanuts, especially when compared to unionized firefighters.

That said, a lot of people still think that cops and firefighters are low paid.

Comment by edgewaterjohn
2011-01-20 10:49:16

Certainly this is well beyond being merely a matter of job-related risk and instead one of asserting state control.

These groups are part of the state appartus, they are the very real everyday means by which the state gently (sometimes not so gently) reminds citizens of its existence.

Big payrolls mean more power, more power at city hall, the statehouse, the Whitehouse. Administrators can’t make $300k unless their charges make ~$100k.

Comment by Professor Bear
2011-01-20 06:18:23

American Austerity: the Budget Crisis of State and Local Governments
By Hao Li | January 14, 2011 11:49 AM EST

Austerity has come to America.

California faces a $25.4 billion budget deficit. Its newly-elected governor Jerry Brown recently proposed an austerity plan — a combination of spending cuts and tax hike extensions — that will seek to close that gap over the next 18 months.

Illinois, which faces a $15 billion deficit, passed their own austerity measures by raising the state personal tax rate to 5 percent from 3 percent and the corporate tax rate to 7 percent from 4.8 percent. The tax hikes are expected to generate tax revenues of $6.8 billion per year.

Other U.S. state governments are also contemplating similarly measures. The Pew Center released a report titled Beyond California: States in Peril that identified nine states beside California that may need to brace for budget pains.

Illinois is one of them. The other eight are Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island and Wisconsin.

The fiscal situation of certain local governments may actually be worse. Last year, the municipality of Colorado Springs shocked the nation with its drastic austerity measures. These included selling the police department’s helicopters, removing trash cans from public parks, and cutting back on street lights and bus services.

Moreover, from December 2008 to December 2010, local government payrolls went from 14.6 million to 14.2 million, state payrolls roughly stayed constant, while the Federal government’s payroll increased from 2.77 million to 2.85 million.

State and local government payrolls, of course, may further decline as new austerity measures are announced. The first draft of Texas’ (a relatively healthy state financially) budget already includes an estimated 8,000 public job cuts.

State and local governments and the federal government are headed in opposite directions.

While the federal government pushed through what’s essentially a fiscal stimulus package for 2011 and 2012, certain state and local governments are going the austerity route.

One reason is that the municipal bond market isn’t as friendly as the Treasuries market.

Many Treasury buyers have few alternatives. The Federal Reserve is required to buy them because of quantitative easing. Foreign governments who have accumulated U.S. dollars in their foreign exchange reserves have little choice but to put a large chunk of it in Treasuries.

The story of municipal bonds is entirely different.

Comment by edgewaterjohn
2011-01-20 08:16:49

“Illinois…the tax hikes are expected to generate tax revenues of $6.8 billion per year.”

And the MSM just parrots these revenue forecasts as if they’re “in the bag.” One would have to follow the local IL scene to get the particulars, but please be assured these forecasts are working off a totally outdated paradigm - you know the one - the one where trees grow to the sky and real estate always goes up.

Comment by darrell_in_phoenix
2011-01-20 09:40:29

Our 1% sales tax increase in AZ was going to raise an extra $1 billion. Soon after it passed… oh, maybe $950 million. Now… hmmm… maybe only $850 million.

Sales are falling as the economy continues to slow in places that don’t end in D.C. or contain a place called Wall Street.

Comment by Arizona Slim
2011-01-20 09:56:05

You’ve got that right, Darrell. Down here in Tucson, the number of vacant storefronts boggles the mind.

And our local fishwrap has taken notice:

Commercial space painfully plentiful

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Comment by edgewaterjohn
2011-01-20 10:43:46

Amazing, they can lament vacancy rates and pine away for more building - all in the same article.

Gee, we can’t fill two storefronts, what do we do? Let’s make it four storefronts - that’ll do the trick!

Comment by In Montana
2011-01-20 15:24:00

“The good news is it looks like the market has bottomed out and prices have stopped sliding,” said Hank Amos, Tucson Realty & Trust Co.’s chairman.

LOL. They’re all saying that. Must have been the mantra at the NAR convention. Run it up the flagpole and see if anyone salutes.

Comment by X-GSfixr
2011-01-20 09:55:52

Police Department Helicopters = Police Department Flying Club

(most of the time)

The quickest way to tell is how they fill their open pilot positions……is it a job a patrolman “bids into” (like the SWAT team), and is trained to fly helos from scratch on the taxpayer dime?

No reason whatsoever to train guys from scratch, when there are ex-US Army trained pilots available.

Comment by Arizona Slim
2011-01-20 09:57:07

Here in Tucson, ISTR, our police helo squad is made up of ex-military pilots.

Comment by Steve J
2011-01-20 10:11:57

Those UAVs will eliminate police helicopters in a very short time period. Especially they are able to use armed ones.

Comment by jeff saturday
2011-01-20 10:29:53

““bids into” (like the SWAT team)”

The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office is comprised of 4000 employees and …. an annual budget of $292 million

About 6 months ago 1 of the 4000 employees and a member of the SWAT team was on the local news down here. There was a domestic disturbance where a husband was holding his ex wife hostage at a condo. The overweight SWAT team sniper was wearing a ghillie suit and laying on a bright green condo lawn. He was about as camouflaged as a Manatee covered with bails of hey in the middle of the outfield at Yankee stadium. The man gave up to the 2 sheriffs that knocked on the door.

Comment by Arizona Slim
2011-01-20 10:48:01

The man gave up to the 2 sheriffs that knocked on the door.


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Comment by X-GSfixr
2011-01-20 12:00:11

“ghillie suit”

He had his “country” ghillie suit on. Must not have gotten the memo.

“Urban ghillie suit is a knocked-over trash can, with old newspapers spewing out.

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Comment by jeff saturday
2011-01-20 12:33:34

A ghillie suit, yowie suit, or camo tent is a type of camouflage clothing designed to resemble heavy foliage. Typically, it is a net or cloth garment covered in loose strips of cloth or twine, sometimes made to look like leaves and twigs, and optionally augmented with scraps of foliage from the area.

Snipers [1] and hunters may wear a ghillie suit to blend into their surroundings and conceal themselves from enemies or targets. The suit gives the wearer’s outline a three-dimensional breakup, rather than a linear one. When manufactured correctly, the suit will move in the wind in the same way as surrounding foliage.

“Manatee covered with bails of hey”
Manatee covered with bails of hay, although he might as well have been wearing a clown suit.

Comment by Jim A.
2011-01-20 11:51:40

Maryland is anamolous in that medivac is done by the state police. Both the pilot and the EMT are sworn officers, and they don’t charge. This has led to the accusation that the system is overused, and that despite the fact that it is one of the first in the country, and pioneering the “golden half-hour” of trauma care, that it now provides inferior care, compared to the national norm of having a trauma nurse AND an EMT in the back.

Comment by Sammy Schadenfreude
2011-01-20 07:26:19

Irish credit default swaps soaring. Something wicked this way comes.

Comment by oxide
2011-01-20 07:27:38

Today’s HBB banner ad is for Park Place Annapolis. “Only 10 units left! Ask about 0% down-payment options for veterns or 3.55 down-payment options for qualified homebuyers. Featured Residences from… $424,900.” This is for a two-bedroom flat, in a 7-story building, with neighbors on both sides and under and overhead, and windows on only one side (a pet peeve with me).

Annapolis is home to the Naval Academy, a little tourism, and not much else. The only people that would come close to the half-mil income are high-up naval officers (maybe), and there is officer housing set up for them. They walk you by those houses on the tour.

You hit farmland and countryside within 7 miles of the Academy, where you could buy a decent ranch on 1/4 acre for half that mortgage payment (not including HOA fees). They are bloody insane.

Comment by Jim A.
2011-01-20 07:40:11

Lobbiests to the state goverment? But seriously, “luxury condos,” like granite countertops have been one of the hallmarks of the bubble. Now there might be a big enough market for some rich, boaty people with good paying jobs in DC. For some, living near to their slip is worth more tha 1/4 acre.

Comment by oxide
2011-01-20 09:04:46

Maybe these condos are weekend homes?

Comment by whyoung
2011-01-20 08:11:23

“The only people that would come close to the half-mil income are high-up naval officers (maybe)”

Is that kind of pay really possible in the military?

Comment by Jim A.
2011-01-20 08:40:11

Not a half-mill OF income but the income necessary to buy a half mill home.

Comment by 2banana
2011-01-20 09:18:44

A one star general makes about $130,000 base pay.

A one star could be in charge and responsible for up to 5,000 soldiers in combat and has frequent deployments.

Any union policeman/firefighter (with OT) in any large city makes more, with better benefits and a much better pension.

I guess the military needs a better union…

Comment by Carl Morris
2011-01-20 09:52:24

But the firefighter doesn’t get the benefit of believing that one more promotion and he’ll practically be God. That’s worth a lot to some people. Yes…I had issues with some officers :-).

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Comment by Jim A.
2011-01-20 11:43:55

Well, a one star Admiral stationed in Annapolis would also receive a tax free Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) of $3057/month presuming that he or she was married. But really, it is difficult to imagine that they wouldn’t be living on post.

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Comment by howiewowie
2011-01-20 15:12:57

Of course no one in the Army has to pay for their housing as they can either live on Post or get the living allowance.

I’d venture to say we’d all be better off if we had our rent/mortgage payment tacked on to our pay…or got to live somewhere rent/mortgage free.

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Comment by 2banana
2011-01-20 15:18:03

Or in the mud in a sleeping bag in a combat zone…

Comment by Jim A
2011-01-20 20:37:58

Or a timeshare for a bunk with 18″ of headroom in an attack sub.

Comment by Housing Wizard
2011-01-20 20:39:09

In terms of what the price was of real estate the increases
in Government wages wasn’t as far fetched as it seems now for the rank and file employee . Private industry just didn’t keep up with it . Now with the big contraction salaries seem padded ,especially with the higher rank employees .

I’m not a government worker but I remember all the talk in the early 2000’s about how they couldn’t even afford to buy homes in California where they worked . I am just trying to view everything from the position of seeing how fake housing inflation of prices contorted everything . I have this feeling about Health care also ,it contorts everything when you have expense that exceeds sane ratios .

At the same time Wall Street and Corporation America beefed up the incentives for CEO’s to view objectives in short
term which was destructive ,as if a Gordon Geko was running every Corporation in American and Wall Street ,and still is .
Greed is good , debt is good , never mind the future .

Private industry is cutting wages in spite of the fact that they weren’t keeping up with inflation .

When health insurance becomes so high that even the Employers can’t pay for it anymore ,when it has always been a Employer based paid for health care system ,than what is the answer ? I think to separate Health care from Employer paid is the first step ,but Employers shouldn’t just get a get out of jail free card on this just because they don’t provide
health care for a China worker . If Employers are released from the health care obligation ,they should pay higher salaries and not just get off free on that because those were obligation they promised as part of the wage .

If a Society is going to try to change the entire structures ,it
operated under for decades ,it shouldn’t be this thing where
Corporate America just takes the gravy of the changes and
leaves the ruins for the working stiff to pick up the costs of the changes .

My point is that wages should be in sink with what the costs are to live in a Society ,not based on different Industries get to fleece and than the contortions go to Wall Street or a over paid CEO and than the worker bees get to eat it . It all about balance of power and money really . Health care cost more than rent now ,does that mean that people shouldn’t pay rent now or all the other expenses require to just get the basics
of a middle class living ,never mind the fact it would throw a lot of former middle class into poverty status .

The great raiders and fleecers of this economy who managed to contort the numbers to get the lions share ,while leaving
this Society to battle over scrapes is the great evil .

Comment by aNYCdj
2011-01-20 07:44:18

George Ure this morning:

Missing Scanners

Anyone else notice this?

I an a Peoplenomics Subscriber and read your Urban survival every day. I travel a lot for my job to fix machinery all across the county. To day I was prepared to get my junk touched again in Chicago O’Hare. I saw that all Xray scanners for passengers were all gone. WTF What happen?

Beats me…you stop at the watering hole on the way to the grope & cope stand?

Comment by Arizona Slim
2011-01-20 08:10:03

I went back to PA for the holidays. I didn’t see the X-ray scanners in Tucson or in Philadelphia. I didn’t get a good look at the security areas in Denver or Chicago (Midway), as I only passed through those airports.

And, I’m pleased to report, I wasn’t patted down in Tucson or Philadelphia.

Comment by X-GSfixr
2011-01-20 09:59:06

I’m going to wear real baggy short-shorts on my next airline trip, and insist on the “enhanced screening).

Because I’m lonely……… :)

Comment by Blue Skye
2011-01-20 10:39:42

I went through detroit last week and did not get to first base with the screeners. Saw someone else get the draft pick though.

Comment by Jess from upstate SC
2011-01-20 07:46:48

we are planning in Feb . to leave this winter mess behind and go on a Cruise . Are we nuts or what ? And oh yes , we are going on a Carnival “fun” ship out of Jacksonville to Key West and Nassua . This is our 3rd cruise , 1st time on Carnival , hope the drunks onboard don’t mug us . I insisted on Key West ,as I have always admired their Real estate , totally insanely priced , and completely dependent on tourists . Also because the cell phone works there .

Comment by Kim
2011-01-20 10:18:34

Went on a cruise in 2002 and the only parts I really enjoyed at all were the shore excursions.

Comment by In Montana
2011-01-20 10:32:30

I think I’d rather just get there. I hear that cruises are basically eat-a-thons. I have friends who ate their way to Hawaii.

Comment by DennisN
2011-01-20 10:57:32

I took a cruise back in 1987 - went from San Diego to Honolulu. Very nice cruise ship. Had a beautiful laid teak deck. Also a nuclear reactor. Plus it was positively bristling with neat guns and rockets.

Comment by Shelby
2011-01-20 13:07:42

just did a Carnival Jan 2-9 out of Baltimore

Never Carnival again - it’s the K-mart of Cruising (and that insults K-mart BTW…!) even the toilet seats were worn out!!

Only people who do Carnival for their 1st cruise think it’s good
Experianced cruisers know better

Comment by jeff saturday
2011-01-20 18:03:22

Went on a weekend cruise to the Bahamas in 83 with my first wife, a buddy of mine that worked for a bank and his wife. The cruise and the accommodations for the overnight stay were all part of a package the bank had put together for their employees, about 50 people total. My buddy didn`t want anyone at the stupid bank to know he smoked pot so he asked me to put the 8 joints he had brought along in an open cigarette pack in the bottom of a carton in my overnight bag. Guess who got searched going through customs. Yada Yada Yada I haven`t been on a cruise ship or back to the Bahamas since.

Comment by michael
2011-01-20 08:21:33

hey guys…holder arrested 100 mobsters!

great job holder!

Comment by exeter
2011-01-20 08:37:37

There’s only 100 people on Wall Street?

Comment by michael
2011-01-20 09:15:00

apparently the few million bucks those mobsters are shaking people down for is much more important than the multi trillion dollar fraud going on on wall street.

Comment by Housing Wizard
2011-01-20 21:02:13

You say the truth michael . When the meltdown started the decisions were make to put the pain on the masses while the
Marker Makers took the ill-gotten gain ,and they still intent to .

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Comment by butters
2011-01-20 08:43:31

FBI arresting 100 Bankster suspects in New York

That would be cool.

Comment by pressboardbox
2011-01-20 08:55:30

Are you crazy? Armageddon could ensue. Leave the banksters alone and let them do their thing.

Comment by pressboardbox
2011-01-20 08:45:26

Auction Dot Com SCAM/BUST

Well, I registered with Auciton dot com for a Florida property auction that ended on Sunday. I was interested in a low-value 2br house in my town as a cheap rental. Being a skeptic of anything orgainzed by any big company (worse yet, Bank of America is involved), I was not unexpectedly disappointed by the scam nature of the failed auction. For starters the registration process involves entering credit card info where it clearly states “your card will not be charged at this time” whereupon my card was immediately charged $1000 as some kind of deposit for bidding. I emailed and they said the money would be credited back to the card as soon as the auction ended. Didn’t happen, now I have to call and threaten them which I am not looking forward to. Next, and perhaps more discouraging from a wasted-time standpoint, the auction had a high “reserve” that was not met (of course) so there was really no point to call it an auction at all. Because I was a registered, legitimate bidder I was able to access all of the other auctions that were about to end in other areas where I found that they were going out with the reserve not having been met. What a Bust! Hey stupid bank, the PRICES ARE TOO HIGH!!!! Lastly, the auction results disappear from the site as soon as the “auction” ends so you can find no evidence of how nothing actually sold and how low the bidding/interest really was. Call it censorship because that’s what it is. Anyway, stay away from Auction dot com (I see they have a national tv advertising campaign) and save yourself from a case of severe disappointment.

Comment by aNYCdj
2011-01-20 09:43:17

Trust me they are NOT the only ones who erase the “sale” once its over….

That alone is sometimes worth the 10% ebay paypal combined fees…

Comment by jane
2011-01-21 00:47:35

Thanks for the information. At some point, I would probably have gone on over to check it out.

What I do NOT anticipate with pleasure is going to a real live auction. The prospect of being seen as a mark gives me the willies. Does anybody have any experience with well run auctions?

Comment by 2banana
2011-01-20 09:06:09

Wow - actual cuts. And they call it just a start.

Cue to the bashers. The ones who complain they want to shrink government spending then complain when someone actually starts doing it…


Rep. Kevin Brady: $150 billion in budget slashes a start
Yahoo News | Jan. 20, 2011 | Matthew Boyle

The federal workforce might first feel the wrath of the new GOP-run House’s budget cuts as a 10 percent reduction in the amount of government employees tops the list of $150 billion in slashes Congressman Kevin Brady, Texas Republican, is recommending. Brady’s cuts would shrink the annual budget deficit by about 12.5 percent.

In his “Cut Unsustainable and Top-Heavy Spending (CUTS) Act of 2011,” Brady pushes for a “start” to spending cuts in Washington. Recommendation for spending cuts include the 10 percent Washington workforce reduction, immediate cuts to the White House and congressional Budgets and the elimination of several “obsolete” programs, as Brady calls them. Some of the “obsolete” programs include the “Safe and Drug Free Schools” program, “Public Broadcasting funding,” and the LEAP college scholarship program.

Comment by pressboardbox
2011-01-20 09:14:11

What the hell, its a jobless-recovery anyway.

Comment by Professor Bear
2011-01-20 20:54:49

May as well make the recovery live up to its reputation…

Comment by exeter
2011-01-20 09:15:01


Why do you want a banana republic for yourself?

Comment by ecofeco
2011-01-20 10:43:33

Why does anyone want a banana republic? Usually the ones who think they are going to be the new top dogs.

Comment by exeter
2011-01-20 10:57:03

And they are usually the peons who are convinced they’re not peons.

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Comment by Housing Wizard
2011-01-20 20:50:12

It just all boils down to how the resources of a Society are going to be distributed ,and when Raiders and fleecers want
to steal more than is sane for a functioning Society ,than it become a corrupted banana republic .

While Wall Street/Bankers would like you to believe that their money making schemes of leverage and fake asset
appreciation deserves billions in compensation ,in spite of how it contorts and destroys functioning economies ,they are destroyers of economies ,not builders of sane economies .

Corporate /Wall Street /Monopoly takeover …..They are making all the decisions ,that’s why nothing is sane anymore .

Comment by polly
2011-01-20 11:37:32

Notice it is only the Washington workforce. So, cuts, but not in his district. All the federal workers in his district are needed.

Comment by In Colorado
2011-01-20 13:20:56

“Brady’s cuts would shrink the annual budget deficit by about 12.5 percent. ”

Big whoop! Why doesn’t he go after the really expensive stuff?

Comment by exeter
2011-01-20 09:13:00


NY has 10 years of shadow inventory according to this article.

Comment by aNYCdj
2011-01-20 09:45:16

I see houses coming on and off the market regularly when i walk home from the subway…so i wouldnt doubt we have a large overhang

Comment by oxide
2011-01-20 09:13:48

“Shadow Inventory” hits the MSM!

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — There is a growing glut of foreclosed homes threatening to hit the market over the next couple of years, potentially delaying any recovery.


1.7 million homes either owned by the bank or in some stage of foreclosure. It would take 44 months, at the current rate of sales, to sell them off. (S&P does not count home loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.)

More than 2 million Americans seriously delinquent on their mortgages and another 2 million bank-owned homes. A million homes were repossessed in 2010.

Banks are taking far longer to foreclose on homes than they once did: Sheer volume and/or Delays for modifications.

“The banks have gotten better at this, according to S&P, with modified loans less likely to re-default. In early 2008, 80% to 85% of these loans re-defaulted. By the third quarter of 2009, that had dropped to a 50% to 55% rate.” [I doubt the banks got "better." More likely, the rotten fruit had already fallen off the tree.]

Minneapolis: 35 months.
Vegas: 30 months.
Portland: 45 months
New York: 10 years. (?!)
Boston: 62 months.
Miami: 60 months.

Comment by darrell_in_phoenix
2011-01-20 09:47:12

50-55% had defaulted SO FAR….

They are not lowering principal. They are lowering payments with large back end principal increases. Once the lower payment periods end, I’m guessing almost all of these houses will re-default.

BUT, the banks get to count the uncollectable principal growth as income, and use it to start paying out large bonuses and dividends again, to juice the share price and make billions of the billionaires.

Comment by measton
2011-01-20 09:55:19

The banks have gotten better at this, according to S&P, with modified loans less likely to re-default. In early 2008, 80% to 85% of these loans re-defaulted. By the third quarter of 2009, that had dropped to a 50% to 55% rate.” [I doubt the banks got "better." More likely, the rotten fruit had already fallen off the tree.]

Or they sold off the rotten fruit to the FED and the GSE’s

Comment by WT Economist
2011-01-20 10:58:52

I think the idea for New York is that at the rate they are foreclosing, it will take ten years to foreclose all the shadow inventory.

That’s a surprise. Housing IS valuable here. You many not get back the value of the mortgage loan, but it least it IS possible to sell for a decent price.

Bad government policy or financial conspiracy?

Comment by Blue Skye
2011-01-20 11:23:17

“S&P does not count home loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.”

OK, so that leaves out anything bought in the last couple of years at least.

Comment by pressboardbox
2011-01-20 09:19:01

NAR: Weakest home sales since 1997:

Wasn’t it supposed to level off like a souffle or some stoopid sheet?


Comment by Professor Bear
2011-01-20 20:58:08

“NAR: Weakest home sales since 1997″

I’m sticking with my prediction for a trough in U.S. home sales volume for 2011, with the right to spin the outcome as close if I prove to be wrong, the same as Eddie spun his miss last year on DJIA = 12K.

Comment by jeff saturday
2011-01-20 09:26:41

When I first saw this headline I thought they raided Goldman Sachs.

Over 100 suspected mobsters arrested in Northeast

By TOM HAYS The Associated Press
Posted: 8:28 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011

NEW YORK — Federal agents dealt another major blow to New York’s five Mafia crime families by arresting more than 100 suspected mobsters throughout the Northeast on charges including murder, extortion and narcotics trafficking.

The FBI said most of the arrests were made Thursday morning. Many were in Brooklyn, but they also occurred throughout New York City and in New Jersey and New England.

Luigi Manocchio, the reputed head of New England’s Patriarca crime family, was arrested Wednesday in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., the U.S. attorney’s office in Providence said. A newly unsealed indictment accused him of collecting protection payments from strip club-owners. Also arrested was Thomas Iafrate, who worked as a bookkeeper for strip clubs and set aside money for Manocchio, prosecutors said.

The takedown was the result of multiple investigations. Federal probes aided by mob turncoats have decimated the families’ ranks in recent years and have resulted in lengthy prison terms for several leaders.

On Friday, a federal judge in Brooklyn sentenced John “Sonny” Franzese, 93, to eight years in prison for extorting Manhattan strip clubs and a pizzeria on Long Island.

Comment by Mike in Miami
2011-01-20 14:07:12

“When I first saw this headline I thought they raided Goldman Sachs.”
That’s what I thought. Instead they harassed some petty criminals that might have stolen a couple of million dollars while the Vampire Squid is free to conduct business as usual.
It just all depends how much protection money you send to congress. In the case of those arrested it was obviously not sufficient.

Comment by jeff saturday
2011-01-20 09:40:59

Foreclosure vs. short sale -the pros and cons

By Kimberly Miller Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Posted: 8:09 p.m. Friday, July 23, 2010

The biggest difference between Florida and many other states when it comes to losing a home is the deficiency judgment.

While some states ban lenders from collecting the remainder owed on a loan after a foreclosure or short sale is completed, Florida law allows banks to go after borrowers for up to 20 years. That can lead to a garnishment of wages long after the home is gone.

In a short sale, where the bank agrees to take a lesser amount for the home than what is owed on a loan, lenders sometimes are willing to write off the deficiency on the front end.

Greene said in 90 percent of the cases he handles, the bank has waived its right to seek a deficiency.

That was the case with Jupiter resident Kathryn Lorello, who in 2008 found herself in a home she couldn’t afford.

Following a divorce, and with three children, Lorello bought a $408,000 home that she lived in comfortably for a year. But then she lost her job as a manager of a real estate company.

She remembers the day the bank served the notice of foreclosure.

“I cried my eyes out,” Lorello said. “That’s when I panicked because I really didn’t want it to happen.”

Lorello got advice from Greene on doing a short sale.

Her bank, Wells Fargo, waived its right to seek a deficiency even though it ended up taking $200,000 less than what was owed on the loan.

Also, if a bank refuses to waive the deficiency in a short sale, it still would have to go back to court to seek a judgment.

In a foreclosure, at the end of the proceeding, a deficiency judgment is automatically awarded by the courts and the bank is free to seek a claim.

There are a few situations where some experts believe it is better for someone to go to foreclosure rather than do a short sale.

To do a short sale, a borrower must give all of his or her financial information to the bank before it will decide whether to allow the short sale. The idea is that if a person can afford to pay the mortgage, the short sale may be denied.

“Now the lender knows everything about your finances and they can better decide whether they will go after you or not,” said Jon Maddux, CEO of YouWalkAway.com, a company that advises people on strategic defaults.

If a lender doesn’t know your finances, Maddux argues, it reduces the chances it will go after you following a foreclosure.

“You might fly under the radar,” he said. “With the millions of people going through this, they are probably going to go after the low-hanging fruit.”

Comment by oxide
2011-01-20 13:06:56

NOW the lender know your finances? Shouldn’t they have known your finances before they issued the f*#@&in’ loan???

Comment by Shelby
2011-01-20 13:09:37

Flip a freakn’ coin!

Comment by measton
2011-01-20 09:49:17

Elections called early in Ireland

So far Ireland has received euro5 billion ($6.7 billion) of those funds. The two opposition parties expected to win the March 11 election and form the next coalition government, Fine Gael and Labour, have pledged to reopen negotiations with the EU and IMF

I hope they have been looking at their neighbor to the North for guidance.

Comment by Arizona Slim
2011-01-20 09:59:46

I hope they have been looking at their neighbor to the North for guidance.

As in, starting a new round of The Troubles? Only this time, the game isn’t the Prods vs. the Catholics?

Comment by 2banana
2011-01-20 10:27:07

I hope they have been looking at their neighbor to the North for guidance.

Northern ireland?

The frozen arctic ocean?

Or iceland?

Comment by darrell_in_phoenix
2011-01-20 12:56:03

I am sure he meant Iceland.

Comment by DennisN
2011-01-20 10:59:45

Are there more jobs available in Ulster than in the Republic these days?

Comment by Arizona Slim
2011-01-20 10:07:37

Here’s Slim with another update from the nabe: Yesterday, I regaled you with the tale of the rental house that’s been vacant for, oh, a shade past six months now. Yesterday, it was the scene of quite the gas line replacement job.

Well, I did a bit of snooping around that Internet thingie and found that the pipeline contractor, NPL Construction, is owned by Southwest Gas. That’s our regional gas company.

So, scratch my theory about the owner of this vacant property having to replace his line. If your gas line goes into fubar mode on your property, you’re the one who has to call the plumber to have it replaced, and, yes, Southwest Gas has to sign off on the plumbing contractor’s work. ISTR that the city inspector does too. They did for my water line replacement two years ago.

If it’s a gas main, then it’s Southwest Gas’ problem. Hence, the presence of NPL Construction in my nabe yesterday.

Comment by Hwy50ina49Dodge
2011-01-20 10:14:44

Shazam! 64 oz = 59 oz ;-)

Your orange juice might be deceiving you:
January 20th, 2011, / by Marla Jo Fisher, Staff Writer OC Register

How much would you pay for the air in your orange juice carton?

Really? Not that much?

You might be interested to know that some orange juice producers have quietly downsized the amount of juice you get in a half-gallon carton. Instead of the standard 64 ounces, you’ll get only 59 ounces.

Has the size of the carton decreased?

No, all cartons look pretty much the same whether they contain an entire half-gallon or not.

You need to read the fine print on the bottom to know how much liquid sunshine you’re actually getting in that box.

Comment by 2banana
2011-01-20 10:30:44

Luckily - our local supermarket also posts the “price per unit of measure” for just about everything along with the price of the product.

Makes it really easy to compare in the era of stealth inflation.

Comment by Hwy50ina49Dodge
2011-01-20 10:43:34

Posting “price per unit of measure” is an another fine example of Corpoorations Inc. playing hardball with supply-chain providers in order to keep their peon customers happy & accurately informed about their personal food expenditures. ;-)

Private Corpoorations Inc. = Need No stinkin’ Gov’t requirements, as they have a long history of absolute benevolence & concern towards their peon customers. They are completely trustworthy.

Comment by Blue Skye
2011-01-20 11:26:40

Nice catch. Just checked my half gallon of Tropicania in the frige. Yup, 59 ounces.

Comment by pressboardbox
2011-01-20 13:02:32

Soon a bag of potato chips will have just one or two lone chips at the bottom of the bag. Chips, talk about buying “air”.

Comment by SDGreg
2011-01-21 05:03:24

Shazam! 64 oz = 59 oz

If only they were taking out 5 oz of juice and replacing it with 5 oz of hard liquor.

Comment by wmbz
2011-01-20 11:36:40

Reid to Nevada: NO BAILOUT FOR YOU! Martin D. Weiss, Ph.D.

The most powerful man in the U.S. Senate — Majority Leader Harry Reid — has now made it clear that there’s no way Washington will come to his home state’s rescue.

In a press conference, Reid said that Nevada governor Brian Sandoval will have to solve Nevada’s massive budget crisis himself. The federal government will NOT come to the rescue.

In his own words, Reid said, “… solutions for state government will have to come from state government.”

The reasons for Reid’s reluctance to help his home state avoid a budget catastrophe are clear: Even as he spoke, the federal government announced that the United States has just passed a dubious milestone:

Government debt surged to an all-time high, topping $14 trillion — $45,300 for every man, woman and child in the country and $181,200 for every family of four.

It’s clear now, that America’s day of reckoning is finally here. Bills must be paid. The states don’t have the money.

And with the fiscally conservative Congress unlikely to come to the rescue, a pandemic of financial failures and defaults now seem more than just probable; they could begin at virtually any time!

The consequences could be deadly for the U.S. economy. Plunging bond prices and soaring interest rates … a collapse of confidence in dollar-denominated investments … the end of this fledgling recovery … are now speeding towards us like a run-away freight train.

Comment by edgewaterjohn
2011-01-20 15:19:37

What’s he going to tell them in NV after they bail out CA and/or IL?

Comment by Housing Wizard
2011-01-20 21:14:41

This all goes back to the choice of giving trillions to the Money Men and
throwing everybody else under the bus ,including governments . Every dollar that was spent that allowed the Culprits to stay solvent and keep their ill-gotten gain was taken from funds that could of really helped
the rest of society .Government only has so much money ,the priority should of been the Majority ,not Wall Street and the investment class .

I have said it many times Wall Street /Banker Culprits only like government from the standpoint of getting welfare from it and shifting costs to the Government that they should bear . America is there for them to fleece ,and that includes the Government .

Comment by measton
2011-01-20 11:42:33

New Delhi – Gaurav Sood is proud to work as a lawyer for some of Britain’s most prestigious companies.

But he doesn’t live anywhere near London – or Britain for that matter. Mr. Sood lives more than a few countries away in one of India’s high-rise satellite cities, Gurgaon, located on the edge of New Delhi. There he works for CPA Global, an outsourcing company.

A decade ago, it would have been unthinkable for important British firms to send their legal work overseas.

But CPA Global typically charges an eighth of what a British or American lawyer with similar experience and expertise might cost. So as law firms and in-house legal departments face growing pressure to cut costs following the global economic downturn, an increasing number are looking east to qualified professionals such as Mr. Sood.

ValueNotes, an Indian consulting group, estimates that India’s legal outsourcing revenues will grow from $440 million this year to more than $1.6 billion in 2014 – up from $146 million in 2006.

And the number of Indian firms offering legal services to overseas clients has swelled from 50 in 2005 to more than 140 today, it said.

It always makes me laugh when lawyers and doctors think they are the elite. They to are cogs that can be replaced with cheaper cogs.

Comment by oxide
2011-01-20 13:09:49

Already happening with medical tourism and outsourced office visit transcriptions.

Comment by wmbz
2011-01-20 12:03:37

House GOP Lists $2.5 Trillion in Spending Cuts- USNews

Moving aggressively to make good on election promises to slash the federal budget, the House GOP today unveiled a plan to eliminate $2.5 trillion in spending over the next 10 years.

Comment by Hwy50ina49Dodge
2011-01-20 16:37:24

“TrueAnger™” + “TrueDeceiver’s™ / TrueHypocrite™” =

“TrueNow!,…now, we have yet another “final deficit solution”, really…trust us!™” ;-)

Cheney-Shrub are outraged!: “Hey, we tried this for 8 years, they’re stealing our Legacy, hard work & original ideas! DickyBoy, grab your paddles, one for each hand!”

Comment by measton
2011-01-20 13:48:44

Note of interest
Carlos Slim and Roubine have both made big real estate purchases in NY.

Comment by wmbz
2011-01-20 13:56:19

“China is running out of water. It is not short of water. It is running out of water.” January 20th, 2011 by maxkeiser

> I am a retired airline pilot and executive that, beginning after retirement in 2002, began an 7.5 year residence in China while my wife and I taught at a university there. It was about the best eight years of my life. We traveled a great deal in the Chinese countryside (the real China) and became very familiar with an issue central to China that nearly every pundit misses where China is concerned. China is running out of water. It is not short of water. It is running out of water. I have discussed this with a very prestigious Chinese scientist, government officials in the countryside, and hundreds of students in my classes, who came from a large sample of Chinese villages, in great detail.

China is about to run completely out of water. That ruins all the forecasts that fail to recognize this fact. Far from being a Juggernaut that will take over the world, China, with her water problem and immensely overbuilt real estate is about to burn to the ground.

Researching my assertion will provide you with tools to be the only gut on TV talking sense about China.

Best, Jim

Comment by 2banana
2011-01-20 14:45:50

And growing up - it was too much water in China that killed (it seemed) millions of people a year…

Comment by measton
2011-01-20 14:51:47

There are plenty of places that have depended on glacial run off I’m not sure if China is one of them. Well that water reserve is fast coming to an end. I wonder if rain fall paterns are changing as well.

Comment by In Montana
2011-01-20 15:42:50

They must get some runoff from the Himalayas - ?

Comment by DennisN
2011-01-20 18:00:37

If you look at a map you will see much of China is a desert. The wet side of the Himalayas faces the Indian Ocean and drains into India. The dry side drains into Tibet, which appears to be mostly a land-locked sink like our Great Basin. The 3 rivers that do leave Tibet pass through Yunnan province and only the Yangtze goes across the rest of China. The Mekong drains into Vietnam and the Nu into Burma. Then there is Sinkiang/Taklamaklan Desert and Inner Mongolia/Gobi Desert.

Comment by Hwy50ina49Dodge
2011-01-20 19:45:08

Another Communist Gov’t x1.3 Billion low-demand human master plan,…gone awry. ;-)

Comment by DennisN
2011-01-20 20:37:27

This topic interested me, so I did some poking around online.

What I found was articles which stated that approx. 70% of all fresh water in China is so polluted that it can’t even be used for INDUSTRIAL use, much less drinking water.

Comment by Housing Wizard
2011-01-21 00:04:20

Whenever I see China on the map I think that it’s such a huge Country land mass wise . You would think that that much land would have a bunch of natural resources ,but apparently not .

Comment by wmbz
2011-01-20 13:59:12

AmEx will cut 1,500 jobs in Greensboro, North Carolina

In the first mass layoff announced by a major North Carolina employer this year, American Express plans to close a customer service center in Greensboro and eliminate about 1,500 jobs.

The news deals a fresh blow to an already shaky region of the state and signals that companies continue to look for ways to cut costs despite a slowly reviving economy.

“This is all too typical of this recovery,” said Mark Vitner, a senior economist with Wells Fargo Securities in Charlotte. “Job growth is severely lagging, and many businesses are still struggling to bring costs in line with slower revenue growth.”

Comment by edgewaterjohn
2011-01-20 15:15:52

Gee, if they don’t watch it they might just “recover” right into another recession.

Comment by measton
2011-01-20 15:35:00

ie they don’t believe in the future. Cutting jobs to retain the illusion of earnings growth and thus CEO compensation.

Comment by CarrieAnn
2011-01-20 14:00:16

Oh look! Four credit card offers in my mailbox today including the idjuts that lost me when they put my 6.99% up to 16.99% when I pay off our balance every month.

It’s almost like 2005 all over again.

I’m going to have to come up w/some sort of evil response for those people.

Comment by Arizona Slim
2011-01-20 14:27:12

I’m going to have to come up w/some sort of evil response for those people.

Here’s what to do:

Take the really cool form, find your favorite two-year-old, and have him/her scribble all over it. Then put it back in the postpaid envelope and fire it back at the drug, er, credit card pushers.

Then get onto OptOutPrescreen.com and stop this garbage once and for all.

Comment by CarrieAnn
2011-01-20 17:10:51

I did put my name on the opt out list before selling my last house.

Comment by butters
2011-01-20 17:46:45

Thanks to Benanke, Obama, TTT, we are back, baby!

To take on more debt that is…..

Comment by wmbz
2011-01-20 14:00:27

Cuomo Weighs More Than 10,000 Layoffs

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is weighing plans to lay off more than 10,000 government workers, rivaling the number of pink slips handed out by his father a generation ago, according to individuals familiar with budget discussions.

While Mr. Cuomo has not settled on a figure, the governor in recent days has told lawmakers and other officials that he is looking at dismissing 10,000 to 12,000 workers, or more than 5% of the state’s public work force, the individuals say.

Not since the early 1990s, when Mario Cuomo was grappling with a recession, has a New York governor threatened layoffs of that magnitude.

Comment by wmbz
2011-01-20 14:04:39

Hostess To Close Queens Wonder Bread Factory
NY1 News

After almost a century in Jamaica, Queens, the Hostess Company’s Wonder Bread factory is closing, and almost 200 employees will lose their jobs as a result.

After almost a century in Jamaica, Queens, the Hostess Company’s Wonder Bread factory is closing.

Almost 200 employees will lose their jobs as a result.

The closing was announced last year, when the company decided upgrading and modernizing the 130-year-old facility would be too costly in a tough economy.

A nearby Hostess outlet store will remain open, but the products will be brought in from around the northeast.

Comment by DennisN
2011-01-20 14:44:24

Good heavens, that was Archie Bunker’s source for Twinkies.

You know, sort of a WASP soul food. :lol:

Comment by 2banana
2011-01-20 15:12:53

the company decided upgrading and modernizing the 130-year-old facility would be too costly in a tough economy.

Why do i think there is so much more to the story???

I mean, really, they are baking bread.

Insane regulations and taxes in NYC???
Insane unions in NYC???

Comment by mikey
2011-01-20 17:59:14

“The closing was announced last year, when the company decided upgrading and modernizing the 130-year-old facility would be too costly in a tough economy.”

Boo ho — I’m not a fan of US corporate made white sliced bread anyhow. It bearly even makes decent toast when you re-cook the stupid concoctions yourself using a freakin’ toaster.

God only knows how to read the ingredients and still get that crap to rise.( That HAS to be a major US Corporate Trade Secret.)

Cardboard must taste better because staving rats have been known to EAT that before bread for the nutritional value in some glues.
(the REAL shelf life does appears to be the same for both though)

Whatever, the main brand marketed great white sliced breads are, they are NOT properly, correctly or thoroughly baked, cooked or whatever they do to save their useless businesses gas and energy bills and increase their profits. Some of the crap even tastes RAW if it has any taste at all.

“Let them eat cardboard….Ooops, the rats !!”


Comment by Bub Diddley
2011-01-20 14:57:59

Anybody know anything about Joule Unlimited? They patented a bacteria that poops oil back in the fall. I don’t know if they are for real, if it is scalable, etc. It sounds too good to be true, so you know how that usually goes. However, a former Clinton chief of staff and Obama transition team member is now on their board.

His background doesn’t lend any weight to his scientific credentials, as far as I’m concerned, but I figure somebody that well connected might very well know something that I don’t about this technology…

Obama transition vet joins Joule board

Renewable fuels developer Joule Unlimited Inc. said John Podesta, a veteran of two White House administrations, has joined its board of directors.

Podesta was previously White House chief of staff under President Clinton, and more recently served as co-chair of President Obama’s transition. He is currently president and CEO of the Center for American Progress, a think tank he founded in 2003.

“I have seen and heard many proposals by renewable energy companies, and can unequivocally say that Joule has a technology and a system unlike any other, with industrial viability and a clear path to market within the next several years,” Podesta said in a statement.

(link in sig)

Comment by Arizona Slim
2011-01-20 15:14:06

Speaking as a corporate board member, I can venture to guess that Mr. Podesta was asked to join because of his name and connections, rather than his business expertise. And, sorry to say, it’s a lot tougher to recruit the people with business expertise than it is the “names.”

Comment by 2banana
2011-01-20 15:23:23

There are plenty of start-up companies out there that use or are researching algae to make oil.

The problem is it takes ALOT of space to make it.

And lots of sunshine.

Some companies are looking at vertical production in the desert. Huge capital start-up costs.

Comment by jeff saturday
2011-01-20 15:49:50

1997 $130,200
1999 $130,500
2001 $149,600
2002 $215,100
2003 $241,300
2004 $309,900
2005 $390,100
2007 $369,400
2008 $302,800
2010 $228,900

(I still think we`re gonna party like it`s 1999)

Palm Beach County home prices back to 2002 levels
by Jeff Ostrowski

The last time Palm Beach County home prices were this low, George W. Bush was a popular president, LeBron James was in high school and Jay Fiedler was the Dolphins’ starting quarterback.

In December 2010, the median price for a single-family home in Palm Beach County was $212,900. The last December that was this meager came in 2002, when the median price was $215,100.

For the full year, Palm Beach County’s median stood at $228,900, the Florida Association of Realtors said today. That was above the 2002 median of $194,600 but below 2003’s $241,300.

http://blogs.palmbeachpost.com/realtime/2011/01/20/palm-beach-county-home-prices-back-to-2002-levels/ - -

Comment by Hwy50ina49Dodge
2011-01-20 17:38:45

Then there’s the oil extraction tax — are you kidding me? As that guy says day after day after day on the radio, it’s the biggest no-brainer in the history of mankind.

Hey, he balanced the CA budget in 15 minutes! ;-)

The 15-minute California budget solution
January 19, 2011

“…And I’m not now, and probably never will be, a high-wage earner, so in my best “pitchforks at the gates of the chateau” mood, it’s tax the rich time.”


Comment by 2banana
2011-01-20 18:26:08

Be careful what you ask for…


Millionaires Go Missing

Here’s a two-minute drill in soak-the-rich economics:

Maryland couldn’t balance its budget last year, so the state tried to close the shortfall by fleecing the wealthy. Politicians in Annapolis created a millionaire tax bracket, raising the top marginal income-tax rate to 6.25%. And because cities such as Baltimore and Bethesda also impose income taxes, the state-local tax rate can go as high as 9.45%. Governor Martin O’Malley, a dedicated class warrior, declared that these richest 0.3% of filers were “willing and able to pay their fair share.” The Baltimore Sun predicted the rich would “grin and bear it.”

One year later, nobody’s grinning. One-third of the millionaires have disappeared from Maryland tax rolls. In 2008 roughly 3,000 million-dollar income tax returns were filed by the end of April. This year there were 2,000, which the state comptroller’s office concedes is a “substantial decline.” On those missing returns, the government collects 6.25% of nothing. Instead of the state coffers gaining the extra $106 million the politicians predicted, millionaires paid $100 million less in taxes than they did last year — even at higher rates.

Comment by Hwy50ina49Dodge
2011-01-20 19:29:07

One-third of the millionaires have disappeared from Maryland tax rolls

I reckon they musta left behind all those personally tended interior decorated “cottage” dwellings they call homes…took the art work and split town the State. ;-)

Comment by Hwy50ina49Dodge
2011-01-20 20:02:53

Splitbanana, yeah really ought to update your 2009 facts before raisin’ your tail-feathers & crowin’ in 2011 ;-)

Maryland has more millionaires in 2010
Baltimore Business Journal - by Ryan Sharrow
Date: Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Read more: Maryland has more millionaires in 2010 | Baltimore Business Journal

The number of millionaires in Maryland inched higher in 2010, piggybacking a national trend.

In 2010, Maryland has 144,686 households worth more than $1 million, representing 6.79 percent of all state households, according to a study by Rhinebeck, N.Y.-based Phoenix Marketing International.

For the fourth straight year, that places Maryland second among all states and Washington, D.C., for millionaire- to-households ratio.

Read more: Maryland has more millionaires in 2010 | Baltimore Business Journal

Comment by Hwy50ina49Dodge
2011-01-20 20:16:25

Hwy50 (loud whistle…): “Hey, pack the art work & kids…Welcome back Mr. Kotter!”:

By Tami Luhby, senior writerJanuary 13, 2011

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Maryland millionaires will have a little more money in their pockets come 2011.

The state’s 6.25% tax rate on income of more than $1 million will expire in the new year.

Maryland imposed the so-called millionaire’s tax in 2008 along with several other measures to help close a $1.7 billion budget gap.

And Gov. Martin O’Malley, a Democrat, does not intend to bring it back, instead promising to wipe out a projected $1.2 billion budget gap with spending cuts.
“We can balance the budget through cuts and without new taxes,” said Shaun Adamec, O’Malley’s press secretary.

Comment by Muggy
2011-01-20 18:07:50

O.k., somebody throw me a bone here…

“FAA warns of ongoing GPS issues in southeastern US due to Defense Department ‘tests’”


Comment by DennisN
2011-01-20 20:08:43

GPS originally was only designed for use to target ICBMs and SLBMs. For this reason, a predictable error called “dithering” was introduced into the signal. This would make GPS only accurate to something like 1/4 mile. If you had a military GPS with the proper decryption in it, you could then remove the dithering and get the maximum accuracy. Otherwise, it was “good enough” to navigate by until you got near your destination.

During the Gulf War 1991, many tank commanders, frustrated by the Army’s inability to issue military GPS receivers to all tanks, bought commercial GPS units and issued them to their units. The DOD understood this and on the day the ground assault was launched the dithering was turned OFF. Instantly all GPS receivers on Earth could resolve the maximum accuracy.

Some time after the fall of the USSR, the dithering was turned off permanently.

Perhaps this test is one to check on turning the dithering on in a particular geographic area.

Comment by jane
2011-01-21 00:59:56

Wow. Thanks for a larger window on the world. I would never have even thought to consider that as a possibility.

Comment by jeff saturday
2011-01-20 18:27:21

Cerabino: She’s ready to marry and means business

By Frank Cerabino Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Posted: 7:42 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2011

I don’t usually delve into other people’s marital aspirations, but this was a special case.

“I’m looking for someone that’s well endowed,” said Sarah “Echo” Steiner, a 39-year-old Lake Worth woman who is about to begin her hunt for a new husband.

Oh, wait. I forgot to mention that Steiner is looking to marry a corporation.

She’s not looking for Mr. Right. She’s looking for Mr. Right Inc.

“It would be an open marriage,” Steiner said. “I don’t think I could keep a whole corporation satisfied.”

Steiner, a former co-chair of the Green Party of Florida, said her perfect corporate husband would be environmentally conscious, socially responsible and “not evil.”

“I will be looking for how they behaved in past mergers,” she said.

Free to campaign- and love

http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/cerabino-shes-ready-to-marry-and-means-business-1194103.html - 87k -

Comment by howiewowie
2011-01-20 18:54:02

There’s trouble brewing in Texas. Even the Republicans are taken aback at some of the proposed budget cuts.


Lawmakers sobered by budget

Texas lawmakers got a first look at the state budget in the harsh glare of daylight Wednesday, and some were surprised by what they found.

State Rep. Jim Keffer, R-Eastland, fumed that Ranger College in his district was one of four community colleges that had been eliminated as part of the $156 billion bare-bones proposal released to legislators late Tuesday.

“We have shown for the first time a closure of community colleges. To me, that is the height of irresponsibility,” Keffer said. “You have put the four of us already on the defensive.”

But state Rep. Jim Pitts, the chief architect of the budget, said he was forced to make countless hard choices to close a huge two-year budget hole without raising taxes or using the $9.4 billion rainy day fund.

“This is a very painful process, and I think every member will realize that very quickly,” said Pitts, R-Waxahachie, during a two-hour question-and-answer session on the House floor. “This is just the beginning. … We will try to find a way to improve this budget.”

But there will be little that Pitts can do if lawmakers continue to object to finding new sources of state income. State leaders, including Gov. Rick Perry, have promised to cut their way out of a budget hole that ranges in size from $15 billion to $27 billion, depending on who is counting.

As many as 100,000 school district jobs could be eliminated in the face of a significant reduction of state aid for public schools, said Lynn Moak, a school finance consultant.

“This is Armageddon,” Moak said.

The proposed budget does not cover $9.8 billion owed to the school districts under the current school finance formulas.

Legislation will be needed to reduce the state’s obligations by that amount, which includes money to pay for new students in public schools and replace the federal stimulus dollars that legislators used in 2009 for basic school funding.

Democratic House members said the budget proposal pretends that the 170,000 new students expected in Texas classrooms just won’t materialize. Nor was money included to pay for new textbooks or supplemental science materials that are needed to prepare high schools for the upcoming end-of-course exams.

Comment by Hwy50ina49Dodge
2011-01-20 19:34:10

said Itsa Pitts, R-W Axataxhachie ;-)

Comment by Housing Wizard
2011-01-20 21:19:27

But never a thought to tax the Rich or get back the ill-gotten gain ,close colleges instead .

Comment by jane
2011-01-21 01:04:29

Get serious about eliminating the illegal aliens. Amazing how that leans down the demand for free services.

Comment by Darrell_in_PHX
2011-01-20 19:45:07

“House GOP Lists $2.5 Trillion in Spending Cuts- USNews

Moving aggressively to make good on election promises to slash the federal budget, the House GOP today unveiled a plan to eliminate $2.5 trillion in spending over the next 10 years.”

Still more politician lies.

The proposal is $250 billion a year. Sorry, but we need to cut $1500 billion a year. $250 billion a year isn’t even really a good start.

Comment by Professor Bear
2011-01-20 21:01:22

There seems to be a really good chance this sudden effort by R-cans to outdo one another on proposed budget cuts will not only trigger the second leg down of a double-dip recession, but will also result in the final all out crash in U.S. housing prices. Affordable prices will finally come about after a decade or so in the basement.

Comment by Housing Wizard
2011-01-20 21:24:06

So ,States going BK instead of the Culprits and the Bankers . Get the money back from the Bankers/Wall Street and let them BK .

Comment by Sammy Schadenfreude
2011-01-20 21:30:16

Not the way it works. Wall Street owns both parties and they will do its bidding. The amount of instant vituperative hate from the public sector unions once their DNC “allies” throw them under the bus is going to be horrible to behold.

Comment by Sammy Schadenfreude
2011-01-20 21:34:44


On the positive side, once all the states go broke, we’ll be able to buy houses in hood-ville for under $1000.

Comment by Professor Bear
2011-01-21 03:19:30

Hu owns Wall Street?

Comment by Carl Morris
2011-01-21 10:34:37

Who owns Hu is probably still being negotiated.

(Comments wont nest below this level)
Comment by Sammy Schadenfreude
2011-01-20 21:24:24


States looking to renege on public pension obligations. I can’t wait to see the rage of public sector unions when they realize the Dems are throwing them under the bus so they can keep Wall Street’s swindles huming along.

Comment by Housing Wizard
2011-01-21 00:12:52

I really never thought that the public sector employee was going to be throw under the bus ,but apparently this is starting to happen ,it
actually surprises me . You better believe that Congress isn’t going to get their pensions cut or their health care , and the rich has so much they can pay cash for everything ,

Comment by Professor Bear
2011-01-20 22:05:26

Banksters = 90% guilty, FB’s = 10% guilty.

Who’s to Blame for the Mortgage Mess? Banks, Not Homeowners
By ABIGAIL FIELD Posted 6:30 AM 01/20/11

As the foreclosure crisis has escalated over the past several months, one overarching debate has been about who bears the most blame: homeowners or banks?

After everything I’ve learned and written about the foreclosure mess, my verdict is: The banks are responsible for 90% of the problem, troubled homeowners 10%.

Yes, every foreclosure involves a homeowner not paying his mortgage. But every foreclosure also involves a bank that made the loan. And usually another bank, or several more, that profited from securitizing the loan. And still another bank, or several, that profited from servicing the loan. Together, those banks have done three things that created the massive glut of foreclosures choking America’s legal systems and laying waste to its real estate markets:

* They knowingly made millions of loans doomed for foreclosure as soon as the check was written.

* They deliberately and/or incompetently failed to modify many salvageable mortgages.

* They were so careless with their paperwork and processes that they’ve undermined the rule of law, clouded the title to untold numbers of properties and complicated the processing of the massive backlog of foreclosures that hurts the economically crucial real estate market.

Let’s take a closer look at each factor.

What Happened to Underwriting?

Getting a mortgage isn’t supposed to be as easy as getting cash from an ATM. Banks are supposed to make applicants prove they can repay loans before giving them. The process is called underwriting, and it’s one of the most basic in banking.

Yet during the housing bubble, banks largely stopped underwriting in any reasonable way. Indeed, if the banks had been underwriting throughout, the bubble could never have inflated so much.

If you want to get a vivid and entertaining overview of the dynamics that eliminated underwriting, listen to Planet Money’s interviews of people at every stage of the process, from making the home loan through its ultimate securitization.

The mortgages made without underwriting have lots of names: Low-doc loans (the borrower stated her income without proof, but proved the assets she claimed to own, or vice versa), no-doc loans (borrower stated both income and assets without proving either), NINJA loans (no proof of income, job or assets). They’re all known as liar’s loans. According to a recent Forbes article, in 2006 and 2007 liar’s loans accounted for 40% of new mortgages, and more than 50% of new subprime mortgages.

The Banks Knew Mortgage Applications Were Fraudulent

Now here’s the thing: No one forced the banks to make those loans, even if the applicants were lying about their ability to repay.

People shouldn’t be sympathetic to banks that effectively say: “Hey, we knew the applicants were lying and wouldn’t be able to repay the loans. We didn’t care because we didn’t hold onto the loans. We offloaded the risk to investors through the securitization process. But so what? Blame the deadbeat borrowers for the volume of foreclosures today.”

Why is it fair to say the banks knew they were being lied to? Well, beyond the obvious — everybody in the business used the term liar’s loan — the FBI warned about mortgage fraud back in 2004. And take a look at this 2006 fact sheet from the Mortgage Brokers Association for Responsible Lending that analyzed data from 2004 and 2005. By doing a quick check, the group found that 90 out of 100 stated-income loans exaggerated the applicant’s income, and 54 of those loans inflated it by more than 50%.

Or consider this Chase loan officer’s email acknowledging that he had made up an inflated income amount to make a borrower’s debt-to-income ratio “work.”

By 2007, the FBI reported that industry insiders — loan officers, mortgage brokers, real estate agents, appraisers and lawyers — not wannabe homeowners — were involved in some 80% of mortgage fraud. The FBI calls that “fraud for profit” as opposed to “fraud for housing,” which is when a homeowner lies to get a house he can’t afford. As Calculated Risk’s Tanta showed in 2007, that distinction started breaking down as the absence of underwriting by the banks enabled both types of fraudsters to join forces.

Tanta also explained that in addition to being directly complicit in mortgage fraud, lenders engaged in massive cost-cutting efforts that gutted their ability to underwrite loans:

So many of the business practices that help fraud succeed — thinning backoffice staff, hiring untrained temps to replace retiring (and pricey) veterans, speeding up review processes, cutting back on due diligence sampling, accepting more and more copies, faxes, and phone calls instead of original ink-signed documents — threw off so much money that no one wanted to believe that the eventual cost of the fraud would eat it all up, and possibly more.

Beyond the idea that the banks knew, in real time, that they were making loans that couldn’t be repaid, evidence shows that banks went a step further and tried to conceal that information from others.

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