February 1, 2011

Bits Bucket for February 1, 2011

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




RSS feed | Trackback URI

311 Comments »

Comment by wmbz
2011-02-01 03:39:41

Nearly 11 Percent of US Houses Empty
By: Diana Olick CNBC Real Estate Reporter

I usually find the quarterly homeowner vacancy and home-ownership report from Census pretty lackluster, but the latest one released this morning was anything but.

America’s home ownership rate, after holding steady for a while, took a pretty big plunge in Q4, from 66.9 percent to 66.5 percent. That’s down from the 2004 peak of 69.2 percent and the lowest level since 1998.

Home-ownership is falling at an alarming pace, despite the fact that home prices have fallen, affordability is much improved and inventories of new and existing homes are still running quite high.

Bargains abound, but few are interested or eligible to take advantage.

More concerning than the home ownership rate is the vacancy rate. The Census tables don’t tell the entire story, but they tell a lot of it. Of the nearly 131 million housing units in this country, 112.5 million are occupied. 74.8 million are owned, and that’s only dropped by about 30 thousand in the past year. 38 million are rented, but that’s up by over a million year over year. That means more new households are choosing to rent.

Comment by Blue Skye
2011-02-01 07:02:16

“74.8 million are owned”

possibly “owner occupied”

 
Comment by Professor Bear
2011-02-01 07:30:57

“Bargains abound, but few are interested or eligible to take advantage.”

One man’s bargain is another man’s falling knife investment.

“That means more new households are choosing to rent.”

Renting is the new black.

Comment by oxide
2011-02-01 08:17:29

I suspect that “new households” (young newlyweds?) are not among the uninterested. They are likely among the inelegible. So they aren’t exactly “choosing” to rent. If this were 2005, they would likely choose to sign their lives away for some f’ing floating box of air (condo).

Comment by Professor Bear
2011-02-01 08:29:59

The market has run out of people with buckets of money and boxes of stupid.

(Comments wont nest below this level)
Comment by jbunniii
2011-02-01 09:02:20

They still have their boxes of stupid. Perhaps they can live in them.

 
 
Comment by polly
2011-02-01 10:08:38

Young couples bought those small condos because is was supposed to be a much easier way to save up a downpayment for a real house using gian amounts of leverage. If they aren’t guarenteed enough return to make it a “stepping stone” and they might find themselves stuck in a one bedroom they can’t sell without bringing money to the table, why would they buy it in the first place? The primary advantage over renting is being able to paint the walls.

(Comments wont nest below this level)
Comment by Jim A.
2011-02-01 10:31:01

Whereas in a normal market, because of transaction costs and the small proportion of payment going to principal reduction, it doesn’t make any economic sense to purchase a house that you’re not intending to live in for more than 7-10 years.

 
Comment by Larry
2011-02-01 11:03:46

You meant LESS than 7-10 years.

 
Comment by Jim A.
2011-02-01 12:44:23

Oops. Yeah, what Larry said ; -) I can tell somebody’s paying attention.

 
 
 
Comment by Carl Morris
2011-02-01 09:39:26

“Bargains abound, but few are interested or eligible to take advantage.”

I think among those more aware, there’s a sense that if everything else is going back to pre-bubble perhaps prices ought to as well.

 
Comment by CarrieAnn
2011-02-01 12:47:18

“Bargains abound, but few are interested or eligible to take advantage.”

Also “bargains” are in the eye of the beholder.

 
 
Comment by Professor Bear
2011-02-01 07:53:09

“America’s home ownership rate, after holding steady for a while, took a pretty big plunge in Q4, from 66.9 percent to 66.5 percent.

74.8 million are owned, and that’s only dropped by about 30 thousand in the past year.”

66.9 percent - 66.5 percent = 0.4 percent drop in ownership in Q4.

74.8m*0.4/(100-0.4) = 300,400 drop in ownership in Q4.

These numbers don’t reconcile very well!

Comment by Sammy Schadenfreude
2011-02-01 08:08:02

Allow me to point out that you don’t own the home until you’ve paid off the mortgage.

Comment by Jim A.
2011-02-01 08:13:49

Well yes and no. Of course somebody can take the house away from you if you don’t pay back the money that you borrowed. But all the appreciation or depreciation is yours, at least if you have a recourse loan.

(Comments wont nest below this level)
 
Comment by Professor Bear
2011-02-01 08:13:58

Perhaps we should adopt Islamic banking practices, where homes can be leased from the bank but it is not possible to borrow money to buy a home on a mortgage. At least this would help us sort out who actually owns homes versus just leasing them from the bank.

(Comments wont nest below this level)
Comment by Kim
2011-02-01 11:29:02

I wouldn’t put it past Wall Street to then securitize the leases. ;)

 
Comment by Dale
2011-02-01 14:01:53

“…securitize the leases”

For some reason when I read this it came out as “securitize the leashes”. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

 
Comment by Professor Bear
2011-02-01 17:18:39

Perhaps “securitize the leeches” works better?

 
 
 
 
Comment by Sammy Schadenfreude
2011-02-01 08:51:34

How many young couples (and not so young couples) don’t dare buy a house given the current uncertain economic outlook and continuing loss of decent-paying jobs? I think that’s going to be a huge factor going forward.

Comment by palmetto
2011-02-01 09:24:02

What’s even more huge is the MERS factor. Chains of title broken, etc. Even if you could buy a house, not knowing if you have clean title is a big factor. Buy a foreclosure? At your peril.

MERS is a huge fraud.

Comment by Sammy Schadenfreude
2011-02-01 11:43:35

MERS & Fraudclosure throw a huge element of uncertainty into the equation.

(Comments wont nest below this level)
 
 
 
Comment by CarrieAnn
2011-02-01 12:46:00

More concerning than the home ownership rate is the vacancy rate.

****************************
More concerning to me is the deterioration rate. : )

 
 
Comment by wmbz
2011-02-01 03:40:48

Stocks End Up; Dow’s Best January in 14 Years ~ CNBC.com

Stocks rebounded on Monday as investors returned to stocks after a sharp sell-off on Friday, but yet kept a cautious eye on events unfolding in Egypt.

Comment by Carl Morris
2011-02-01 09:41:50

I remember after Y2K everything looked great until spring.

Comment by Arizona Slim
2011-02-01 12:22:19

Yup, it was March 2000 when NASDAQ hit its big high. After that, look out below.

Comment by Carl Morris
2011-02-01 15:06:24

The reason I remember is that I screwed up and went back to all-in in January. I realize I’m probably being too conservative but I’m really trying to not make that particular mistake again…going all-in just before the bubble pops.

(Comments wont nest below this level)
 
 
 
 
Comment by wmbz
2011-02-01 05:47:03

Joblessness, rising prices may fuel unrest: IMF chief

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - The world economy is beset by problems such as high unemployment and rising prices which could fuel trade protectionism and even lead to war within nations, the head of the International Monetary Fund warned on Tuesday.

Rising food and fuel prices in recent months have already hit poorer countries and are one of the factors behind massive anti-government protests in Egypt and in Tunisia, whose president was ousted last month.

“As tensions between countries increase, we could see rising protectionism — of trade and of finance. And as tensions within countries increase, we could see rising social and political instability within nations - even war,” Dominique Strauss-Kahn said in a speech in Singapore.

Strauss-Kahn noted two “dangerous” imbalances that he said could sow the seeds of the next crisis.

The first was the unbalanced recovery across countries, as emerging nations grow much faster than developed economies and possibly overheat. The second was the social strains within countries with high unemployment and widening income gaps.

Over the next decade, 400 million young people would join the global labor force, posing a daunting challenge for governments, Strauss-Kahn added.

Comment by Blue Skye
2011-02-01 07:14:50

Nice rear view mirror prophecy Strauss & Khan!

A challenge for socialist governments indeed. No mention though of the reason we got into an unsustainable credit expansion and now into a worldwide commodities bubble.

Comment by oxide
2011-02-01 08:11:48

The challenge for governments is controlling their population, if they dare to address it. By importing food, countries have been able to allow their populations to grow far beyond what their land can support. If anything upsets the food trade balances, the population suffers greatly. Or, if the country can feed them all by trading natural resources (like oil) for food and materials, it can’t find work for their people, resulting in massive unemployment of the young and the restless. The arab world is suffering from both.

It doesn’t help that men’s *ahem* prowess is measured by how many strapping sons they have (rather than how many they successfully raise, and girls don’t seem to count), and that world religions tend to tap into that yardstick. I’m a bit sour on organizations who believe that controlling population by pulling women out of poverty through education and small business is going to work. It’s been going on for years and yet doesn’t seem to make a dent.

Comment by polly
2011-02-01 09:46:10

What it does (that is measurable) is reduce the average number of children the women have by a small but not insignificant amount. Bringing in money gives them a little bit of power in the relationship and women who are educated a little and can manage it, choose to have fewer children so they can get better lives for the ones they do have.

It is a type of progress that is very incremental. To see a lot of change could take generations of people having slightly few children on average, but a slightly higher percentage of those children get the equivalent of a 4th grade education.

(Comments wont nest below this level)
Comment by awaitng wipeout
2011-02-01 11:49:56

All you ladies, this was an interesting interview on the 1960’s book “The Feminine Mystique”‘

Stirring Up ‘The Feminine Mystique’ 47 Years Later (Listen to it this evening.)
http://www.npr.org/2011/01/26/132931581/stirring-up-the-feminine-mystique-47-years-later

Advertisers didn’t much like the book. Evidently, all this acknowledged desire for a purpose other than being a housewife in the burbs, was more important than a new washing machine.

 
Comment by Arizona Slim
2011-02-01 12:25:31

Advertisers didn’t much like the book. Evidently, all this acknowledged desire for a purpose other than being a housewife in the burbs, was more important than a new washing machine.

Speaking as the daughter of a woman who was one of those miserable suburban housewives, mothers going out into the workplace isn’t the end of the world. It sure wasn’t in my family.

 
Comment by In Montana
2011-02-01 13:37:45

I read the book several times over. Friedan used a lot of interesting ad research to show what was behind the curtain at the women’s magazines. She later tried to walk it back a little but the newer feminists savaged her and she caved.

At the time there were plenty of women who who started out as nurses or teachers, or trained as such, and later got back to it when there kids were older and in school. It doesn’t seem like such a big deal now.

 
Comment by oxide
2011-02-01 14:33:52

Polly, that change might be too incremental. It doesn’t help if you bring one woman out of poverty if there are a hundred other who are still poor. And from what I can tell, those impoverished women still have 4-5 children before they set up their successful textile stall or whatever. They need to get to the girls younger…

And none of this is happening in places with Sharia law.

 
 
Comment by Blue Skye
2011-02-01 10:08:24

It may just be the twisted thinking of an older guy who lived before, during and after the “revolution” here in the US, but I personally do not think that elimination of the homemaker from our economic/social model did anything to improve the quality of life in this country.

Banks sure got bigger.

Disclaimer: I raised my kids as a single dad, but I had my eyes on others doing the dual income model.

(Comments wont nest below this level)
Comment by Happy2bHeard
2011-02-01 11:48:11

There was a time when my children were small that I wondered if working full time was a good thing. Having to pay child support for my stepchildren contributed to my decision to continue working.

When my husband had a cardiac arrest when my youngest was 9, I was glad I did not have the added pressure of looking for an entry level job. He survived, but has not worked. I have been able to maintain a decent standard of living for us on my income.

From my individual perspective it was a very good thing that I worked. In the 19th century, widowed women would have taken in laundry.

From a societal perspective, there were some things that we lost. We lost a volunteer labor force of women who had a lot of time on their hands once their children were in school. Working women probably had an easier time walking away from bad relationships, increasing divorce rates. It is questionable whether it is a good thing for women to stay in bad relationships and how bad a relationship has to be before walking away is a good thing. We had a generation of latch key kids. Men had increased competition in the workforce. We ate out more often.

I am not certain that it is a net negative.

 
Comment by CarrieAnn
2011-02-01 13:03:14

“From a societal perspective, there were some things that we lost.”

I’d just like to remind everyone that you didn’t lose these types of women. Only women on the coasts where costs of living made the one income model prohibitive gave up this option. Out in flyover land, the model is alive and well. I’m a stay at home Mom (I only work a few hours a week now) and most women I know are full time time stay at home. Of course its true that the single remaining income is usually well above median.

What’s kind of cool about the particular women I see and interact with is most of them are well schooled and had a pretty decent career themselves before giving it up later in life to have those last minute kids. At least for a little while, what women in our low housing cost locales had was CHOICES…yes, a freedom to decide what was best for her family. And keeping one schooled and experienced worker on the sidelines means you can always find a way to generate more income in an emergency if needed.

 
Comment by Happy2bHeard
2011-02-01 18:38:21

I remember a Bill Maher rant about working women - that we should all stay home with the kids instead of looking for fulfillment in the workplace. As if the maid at the Motel 6 was really finding fulfillment in the workplace. As if the only women that could find fulfillment in the workplace should stay home. As if all employed women chose full time work.

And you are right CarrieAnn. There are many women who have been able to and who have chosen to be full time housewives. I respect their choice. If my circumstances had been different, I might have chosen it, too. Working full time and caring for a family is a grind.

Yet even in low-cost flyover country, there have been a significant percentage of women who have chosen to work. And there have been societal impacts from those choices. Children of stay at home moms may have fewer neighborhood playmates.

 
Comment by jane
2011-02-01 23:27:43

“keeping one schooled and experienced worker on the sidelines means you can always find a way to generate more income in an emergency if needed.”

CarrieAnn, methinks this was a great model for the brief interlude AFTER ‘wimmin’s rights’ gained traction and let us into the work force, but BEFORE the era of post industrial decline. IMHO, that sweet spot was the 70s and 80s.

Once the early 90s recession hit, it was turtles all the way down. (I know this is not the correct use of that metaphor, but I really like it and rarely have a chance to use it).

 
 
Comment by measton
2011-02-01 11:03:22

Religion loves poverty

Poverty leads to group think in order to protect yourself. Poverty leads to poor education. Poverty leads to a need to believe that somewhere in the future there will be justice.

(Comments wont nest below this level)
Comment by Carl Morris
2011-02-01 11:12:42

Put the group think and the need for justice together and poverty leads to making your own group justice.

 
Comment by michael
2011-02-01 12:21:18

“Poverty leads to group think in order to protect yourself. Poverty leads to poor education. Poverty leads to a need to believe that somewhere in the future there will be justice.”

some politicians have perfected this as well.

 
 
 
 
Comment by Sammy Schadenfreude
2011-02-01 08:16:29

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/egypt/8288167/Egypt-protests-live.html

Fascinating to watch this popular uprising play out. Thank God that both sides seem to be exercising restraint, for now. The UK press coverage has been vastly superior, as usual, to the trite and shallow MSM reports (although MSNBC has done a relatively decent job, I must say). Rachael Maddow was brilliant last night (and this is coming from a guy who is not a lefty by any stretch of the imagination).

Comment by varelse
2011-02-01 10:57:15

Did she blame Sarah Palin?

Comment by exeter
2011-02-01 18:01:12

Are you apologizing for StupidWoman again?

(Comments wont nest below this level)
 
 
Comment by Arizona Slim
2011-02-01 12:27:52

If you can get on the InterWeb, go to Democracy Now’s website. They’re getting on-the-ground reports from the Middle East. And, I’ll have to say that I find them inspiring.

 
Comment by Doug in Boone, NC
2011-02-01 13:29:09

Looks like the “blessed one” (”Mubarak” means “blessed one”) hasn’t been feeling very blessed lately!

 
 
Comment by Martin
2011-02-01 09:01:51

It is happening now in Jordan also. The King has dissolved the Govt.

Comment by warlock
2011-02-01 12:28:42

He does that every year…

 
 
 
Comment by Overtaxed
2011-02-01 05:51:21

I have a non-housing related question for the stock/trading/business experts out there (this is the bits bucket, so hopefully I won’t annoy anyone too much).

The company that I work for has just accepted a buyout offer. It’s a publicly traded company, and I own quite a bit of stock in the company. The buyout offer is all cash. My questions is; what happens to the shares that I own when the buyout offer is completed? Are they immediately liquidated? Or does the bid go to buyout price (and stay there) and they (the buyer of the company) just has to purchase all the shares as they become available (but they are the only bidder)? I’m asking because I still have a short term basis in some of my shares; I’d rather not have them sold until they become long term gains.

Thanks for the help!

Comment by Blue Skye
2011-02-01 07:16:02

Is the company so large that a vested employee cannot ask the CFO such a question?

 
Comment by michael
2011-02-01 07:22:33

don’t worry about he mule…just load the wagon.

 
Comment by polly
2011-02-01 10:03:46

These things can be structured in all sorts of ways. You haven’t really given me enough information to say anything useful. If this is all you know right now, the one thing that you can count on is that more information will be on its way.

 
Comment by FB wants a do over
2011-02-01 10:50:23

You’ll never make it in today’s environment. The question you should have asked yourself is - was I privy to some inside information that I could have leveraged through margin to buy a large number of shares of the companies stock through an offshore account. Then, when the stock price soared, sell said shares making a killing with enough $$$ to last 100 lifetimes.

 
Comment by potential buyer
2011-02-01 13:50:38

Your finance dept. should be sending out answers to your questions. If you have a good CEO and Board, they will have hammered out something that works for all employees.

 
 
Comment by Sammy Schadenfreude
2011-02-01 06:22:26

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-02-01/ivory-coast-bondholder-calls-default-on-2-3-billion-of-debt-by-gbagbo.html

Ivory Coast PresidentLaurent Gbagbo’s government pledged to pay holders of its $2.3 billion of Eurobonds after becoming the first nation to default in a year.

“We will be making the payment,” Alcide Djedje, foreign affairs minister in Gbagbo’s administration, said in an interview in Addis Ababa, where he’s attending an African Union meeting. “We do have the money of course. We have been paying civil servants. I don’t have a date yet but we will definitely pay.”

Comment by Spook
2011-02-01 08:38:52

who will be the Gbag holder?

Comment by Sammy Schadenfreude
2011-02-01 08:43:29

“This coupon is a small payment, it shouldn’t be any trouble to Ivory Coast’s cash flow in a normal situation,” said Felix Dornaus, who owns the debt among about 1.4 billion euros ($1.9 billion) of developing-nation assets he helps manage at Erste Sparinvest KAG in Vienna. Erste hasn’t received payment, he said in a phone interview today. “Investors will give Ivory Coast the benefit of the doubt, professional Ivory Coast investors are used to the necessity of being patient with this country,” he said.

I bet this guy is puking his guts out despite the sunny assessment.

Comment by timmy
2011-02-02 00:06:29

.. or.. while giving this interview.. is having his plane loaded (w/ bags of gold, diamonds & cash) & fueled on the tarmack..

bon voyage!!

(Comments wont nest below this level)
 
 
 
 
Comment by 2banana
2011-02-01 06:41:49

Usually falling prices would take car of this - except our government does not want housing prices to fall and will spend trillions to make it so…

—————————-

Nearly 11 Percent of US Houses Empty
CNBC | Jan 31, 2011 | Diana Olick

I usually find the quarterly homeowner vacancy and homeownership report from Census pretty lackluster, but the latest one released this morning was anything but.

America’s home ownership rate, after holding steady for a while, took a pretty big plunge in Q4, from 66.9 percent to 66.5 percent. That’s down from the 2004 peak of 69.2 percent and the lowest level since 1998.

Homeownership is falling at an alarming pace, despite the fact that home prices have fallen, affordability is much improved and inventories of new and existing homes are still running quite high.

Bargains abound, but few are interested or eligible to take advantage.

More concerning than the home ownership rate is the vacancy rate. The Census tables don’t tell the entire story, but they tell a lot of it. Of the nearly 131 million housing units in this country, 112.5 million are occupied. 74.8 million are owned, and that’s only dropped by about 30 thousand in the past year. 38 million are rented, but that’s up by over a million year over year. That means more new households are choosing to rent.

Comment by Professor Bear
2011-02-01 07:42:03

Post-bubble collapse housing market conundrum: You can either have occupied units or above-market-clearing price levels, but not both.

 
Comment by Sammy Schadenfreude
2011-02-01 08:09:43

China is now requiring purchasers of second homes (for speculative purposes) to put down 50% in cash. The housing bubble over there is unreal.

Comment by sfbubblebuyer
2011-02-01 11:32:27

It’s no problem as they just borrow against their 4th home to buy the 5th!

 
 
 
Comment by 2banana
2011-02-01 06:44:00

Matt Schifrin
Buffetts Next Door
http://blogs.forbes.com/schifrin/2011/02/01/be-careful-what-you-wish-for-in-egypt/?partner=yahootix

Ready for radical Islam in Egypt?

The world seems to be rallying around Egyptian protesters against Mubarak and his dictatorship. But Westerners should be careful of what they wish for in Egypt. Check out this excerpt from a recent article in the Jerusalem Post.

According to a Pew opinion survey of Egyptians from June 2010, 59 percent said they back Islamists. Only 27% said they back modernizers. Half of Egyptians support Hamas. Thirty percent support Hizbullah and 20% support al Qaida. Moreover, 95% of them would welcome Islamic influence over their politics. When this preference is translated into actual government policy, it is clear that the Islam they support is the al Qaida Salafist version.

Eighty two percent of Egyptians support executing adulterers by stoning, 77% support whipping and cutting the hands off thieves. 84% support executing any Muslim who changes his religion.

Comment by oxide
2011-02-01 08:25:01

No wonder Obama is waffling…can you blame him?

What do you when democracy (good) chooses radical Islam (bad)? Will the US cut off the aid to Egypt? They could certainly survive with less Pennsylvanian tear gas. My understanding is that the uprising is largely a food riot. Can a radical Muslim government feed the people any better than Mubarak?

Comment by measton
2011-02-01 11:10:00

Nope

But they could pit one religioius group against another. Say they decide to kill off the 20% that aren’t muslim. In the name of god of course. Suddenly there is more food. They could kill off those that aren’t good muslims. That might take care of another 20%. Then they could start a war with Israel. Suddenly the population is 60% less. Europe had to suffer through a theocracy before the dark ages ended. Will the middle east have to do the same. Israel is becoming more and more fundamentalist as well.

Comment by oxide
2011-02-01 11:52:27

Or they could attack other countries and take food imports as ransom, with a skim for the leaders, of course. Isn’t that what North Korea is doing now?

(Comments wont nest below this level)
 
 
 
 
Comment by Sammy Schadenfreude
2011-02-01 08:32:23

http://yro.slashdot.org/story/11/01/31/2340230/Egypt-Goes-Dark-As-Last-ISP-Pulls-Plug

Egypt completely off the grid as the last Internet provider in the country is shut down. One wonders the impact this is having on commerce and finances as well as communication, and how long this can be sustained without wreaking real havoc on the economy.

 
Comment by Elanor
2011-02-01 08:45:35

One of my colleagues is Egyptian. This is exactly what he is worried about. “Another Iran” as he puts it. He has been calling his father in Alexandria by landline, the only way to keep in touch with internet and cell services down. He blames Mubarek for overstaying his welcome and for not planning to transfer power about 10 years ago.

Comment by Sammy Schadenfreude
2011-02-01 08:59:08

Elanor,

The Obama Administration is pushing hard for an Internet “kill switch” to be used, supposedly, in the event of a cyber-attack on the US. Of course, this would never be used to shut down the free flow of information and ideas.

http://www.fastcompany.com/1721753/egypt-internet-kill-switch

 
Comment by Arizona Slim
2011-02-01 08:59:20

Say what you will about the American system of government, but we do have orderly transitions of power. Even during such times as the sudden deaths of presidents or contested elections like back in 2000.

Comment by Jim A.
2011-02-01 10:34:06

And sometimes we don’t appreciate how great and unusual this is.

(Comments wont nest below this level)
 
Comment by DennisN
2011-02-01 11:07:51

I was in college back during the Watergate era. First Spiro Agnew got the boot. Then Gerald Ford got nominated and confirmed as VP. Then Richard Nixon got the boot. Then Ford got sworn in as President. Then Nelson Rockefeller got nominated and confirmed as VP.

All perfectly orderly and in accordance with the 25th Amendment.

(Comments wont nest below this level)
 
Comment by measton
2011-02-01 11:13:27

This is because we’ve largely had a content well fed middle class. Trust me poverty will do away with all sorts of things we attribute to just being American. STable politics, race and religious tolerance. Nepotism will increase. War for resources.

A strong middle class creates a lot of stability. The elites have reached the tipping point.

(Comments wont nest below this level)
Comment by Sammy Schadenfreude
2011-02-01 11:49:30

+1. The middle class is being bled dry from above and below. The social cohesiveness we once had is badly frayed.

 
 
 
 
Comment by In Colorado
2011-02-01 10:50:34

“Eighty two percent of Egyptians support executing adulterers by stoning, 77% support whipping and cutting the hands off thieves. 84% support executing any Muslim who changes his religion.”

I wonder if they’re tear down the “pagan pyramids”?

Comment by oxide
2011-02-01 11:54:56

Not as long as they’re a sounce of tourists dollars. However, the army did have to specifically guard the Museum in Cairo, where Tutahnkammen (sp?) resides.

 
Comment by Arizona Slim
2011-02-01 12:37:19

The poll results make me wonder how the questions were worded. I’ll betcha money that the respondents were push-polled.

Comment by oxide
2011-02-01 13:07:19

Same here, Slim. It’s also no accident that the poll was published in the Jerusalem Post.

(Comments wont nest below this level)
 
 
 
Comment by potential buyer
2011-02-01 13:59:22

This from the Jerusalem Post? No conflict there.

 
 
Comment by wmbz
2011-02-01 06:56:13

“The tax code consisted of 400 pages in 1913 and tax rates ranged from 1% to 7%. In less than a century politicians of both parties have carved out 70,000 pages of payoffs, entitlements, and bribes for their contributors and constituents. Tax rates now range from 10% to 35%. Those 70,000 pages of rules, regulations and tax breaks do not benefit the average middle class American. They benefit those who had the money and power to buy off a Congressman.”

~ Clipped from The Burning Platform

Comment by 2banana
2011-02-01 07:36:23

Hehe

And in 1913 - the new income tax was promised as a tax on the rich.

Some things never change…

Comment by Happy2bHeard
2011-02-01 18:53:31

Which is why a state income tax initiative failed in Washington State last fall. Proposed as a small percentage on the rich, but we have all seen where that leads.

Sales tax increases were also defeated.

The consequence is painful budget cuts, including to some programs that have been very effective in reducing overall costs to society.

 
 
Comment by measton
2011-02-01 11:15:51

BINGO just more wealth concentration

CEO’s and Hedge Fund CEO’s pay effective tax rates as low as 15% while earning 100’s of millions per year. upper middle class America pay over 20-25%.

 
 
Comment by Professor Bear
2011-02-01 07:27:14

Fed’s Lacker backs floating value for money funds
NEW YORK | Wed Jan 12, 2011 11:20am EST

NEW YORK Jan 12 (Reuters) - Richmond Federal Reserve President Jeffrey Lacker said in a letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission he supports a proposal to let money market funds’ share prices float and abandon the current practice of keeping their share price at $1.

Last October, in the aftermath of the global credit crisis, the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets recommended reforms to the money fund industry including a switch to floating net asset value (NAV).

The $2.8 trillion money market fund industry has opposed such a move due to the likelihood many investors would abandon money funds.

Comment by In Montana
2011-02-01 07:32:43

oy vey…

 
Comment by Professor Bear
2011-02-01 07:33:46

We abandoned our money market funds when the returns got stuck near zero.

Comment by Carl Morris
2011-02-01 09:48:44

I put some money in them when I figured out the government wasn’t going to let them fail. Just looking for return of capital the last couple of years.

Comment by In Montana
2011-02-01 10:55:31

Is that guarantee still in effect?

(Comments wont nest below this level)
Comment by Carl Morris
2011-02-01 11:14:54

I don’t know, was it ever? All I know is that I avoided money markets leading up to the crash assuming there would be “issues”. Thanks to TPTB there were none. I guess there’s no way to be sure in the future…and I only have a fraction of my money in one. More than the zero I used to have, though.

 
Comment by In Montana
2011-02-01 13:56:25

There was govt backing in 2008 but it was for only a year I guess.

 
 
 
 
Comment by AbsoluteBeginner
2011-02-01 09:38:48

“The $2.8 trillion money market fund industry has opposed such a move due to the likelihood many investors would abandon money funds.”

Men of genius unite.

 
 
Comment by combotechie
2011-02-01 07:30:39

Understanding the Rise of China

Here a 21 minute talk that may add a bit to one’s understanding.

http://www.ted.com/talks/martin_jacques_understanding_the_rise_of_china.html

Comment by ecofeco
2011-02-01 18:27:07

Here’s the open minute version:

American jobs offshored to them.
Corporate technology begged, borrowed or stolen.
Protected home markets.
Internal infrastructure projects help Wong6P move up.

Wait, that was only 30 seconds.

 
 
Comment by Professor Bear
2011-02-01 07:35:28

More and more commentators are challenging the conventional wisdom that the housing market will bottom out by “later this year” (whatever year it happens to be at the moment, that is).

Housing’s low row to hoe

The U.S. housing market may take five or six more years to recover, TrimTabs warned recently. Madeline Schnapp, director of macroeconomic research at TrimTabs, talks about what that means for the world’s largest economy.

Comment by Professor Bear
2011-02-01 07:39:27

Ms. Schnapp, from the interview:

“Housing was 20% of GDP and 40% of new jobs created between 2002-2007 were housing related.”

Ouch!

Comment by oxide
2011-02-01 09:41:15

Thank you…I can use this on the next conservative who snaps at me that “unemployment was 4.5% under Bush, therefore it’s all Obama’s fault.”

 
 
Comment by Doghouse RIley
2011-02-01 07:40:26

Doghouse Riley suggests it will be only 3-4 years. Dog years, that is.

Comment by Professor Bear
2011-02-01 08:00:08

A dog year is 1/7 of a human year. So you are suggesting a housing market bottom will be in by later this year, then?

 
 
Comment by oxide
2011-02-01 08:28:43

If they mean “recover” as in “recover to 2005 prices,” I have a Bridge to Nowhere to sell them. I would agree, however, that within 6-7 years, house prices will recover to match the standard income ratio and rent ratio. And that’s where house prices will stay.

Comment by sfbubblebuyer
2011-02-01 11:38:04

Indeed. 6-7 years to hit equilibrium (with possible overshoots on the say down) seems reasonable. I hope we never see housing bubble high enough again that we’ll see 2007 inflation adjusted prices again.

 
 
 
Comment by wmbz
2011-02-01 07:36:06

I am sure the current winter storm will get the next blame for any disappointing “unexpected” economic numbers. Hard for consumers to consume in a blizzard.

Comment by oxide
2011-02-01 10:38:53

But they will take credit for the stock-up/replenish bumps before and after the storms.

Comment by Kim
2011-02-01 11:49:47

Yep. DD’s school secretary told me that one supermarket in my area has reportedly run out of meat due to the pre-blizzard “hibernation supplies” procurement frenzy.

 
 
 
Comment by WT Economist
2011-02-01 07:37:20

Here’s a little theory.

In QE1, the Fed printed money and the federal government borrowed money to prop up the housing market, directly allocating money to that sector to push up prices (or prevent them from falling to the level younger, poorer generations could afford). The Fed was purchasing mortgage bonds, and the Treasury was funding the first time homebuyer tax credit and poor underwriting by Fannie, Freddie and the FHA.

With QE2, the Fed is still printing money and the federal government is still borrowing money, but it isn’t being directed specifically to housing. As a result housing prices have resumed falling, commodity prices are rising, there is another stock market bubble, and inflation is rising in developing countries as the money flows elsewhere.

Comment by Professor Bear
2011-02-01 08:37:17

“…but it isn’t being directed specifically to housing.”

I have yet to grasp the rationale for earmarking helicopter drops of money to one special asset class. Can anyone suggest one?

Comment by measton
2011-02-01 11:19:23

Many of the elite didn’t get a chair when the music stopped.

 
Comment by Happy2bHeard
2011-02-01 22:09:44

It slows the decline of property tax revenue to states and municipalities. Instead of one huge Oh S#!t moment, there will be a series of smaller ones. Akin to the difference between a wily coyote moment and a head over teakettle slide down a steep slope. One is painful, but survivable.

Comment by Happy2bHeard
2011-02-01 22:14:06

Of course, I could be giving them too much credit. More likely, they think homeowners vote and renters don’t.

(Comments wont nest below this level)
 
 
 
 
Comment by rusty
2011-02-01 07:40:45

I want my phosphates back! I almost bought a new dishwasher when ours seemed to go on the blink and started leaving crud on the silverware and plates and black plastics.

By chance we discovered that Florida went ‘phosphate free’ on detergent, and man does that leave a nasty film on the dishes!

Some folks are now buying phosphate at Lowes, or buying detergent from outside the border. Soap smugglers!

Comment by hobo in mass
2011-02-01 07:53:34

The country went phosphate free. There is an article in the recent Chem&Engineering News. Recap: Gels are bad. The expensive tablets are good, enzymes and bleach help. There is also a rating guide in Consumer Reports. I think it was Finish Quantum tablets that rated the highest.

 
Comment by awaiting wipeout
2011-02-01 07:56:16

rusty
Good information, thank you. Reminds me that incandescent light bulbs will be phased out by 2014. IIRC, it’s a Federal Law.

Comment by Doug in Boone, NC
2011-02-01 11:09:01

Those newfangled light bulbs don’t give out any heat. I use an incandescent bulb in my pump house, not for the light, but for the heat it generates–just enough to keep my water pump from freezing during the winter. I guess it’s going to be back to the ol’ kerosene heater, even though it emits zillions more pollutants into the air than my single incandescent bulb even thinks of emitting.

Comment by measton
2011-02-01 11:20:41

why not get a $10 electric heater??? They have stuff to wrap pipes with as well.

(Comments wont nest below this level)
 
Comment by potential buyer
2011-02-01 14:06:12

Why not just stock up on light bulbs then?

(Comments wont nest below this level)
 
 
Comment by oxide
2011-02-01 12:00:19

I think they are still going to make specialized incandescent bulbs for heat lamps and grow lights and such, but the price will be much higher.

What worries me is that all these reports base the average CFL lifespan of 3-5 years on the first bulbs, which were Made in the USA and pretty expensive. Now that the manufacture has been shipped to China, there’s a higher rate of lemon bulbs. I’ve had 2 or 3 bulbs fizzle on me in their first month. Very annoying when they are $4.99 each.

 
 
Comment by oxide
2011-02-01 08:33:01

That’s really too bad..phosphates cleaned my stainless steel pots really well. I guess I need to go back the Comet and elbow grease for those.

I found that Seventh Generation powder works better than gel, but it’s pretty expensive.

Comment by awaiting wipeout
2011-02-01 11:55:56

oxide
Get some BarKeeper’s Friend for your stainless steel pots. I use it for mine, and it works like a charm. Even the copper bottoms looks brand new 8 years later. I get mine at Wal-Mart. It’s a white powder in a Comet type container. $1.69+ for 6 months worth.

Comment by awaiting wipeout
2011-02-01 12:09:45

oxide
W*lliam S*n*m* carries it too, but I refuse to overpay, so I hunted it down and found it at Wal-Mart. I get much more bang for the buck.

(Comments wont nest below this level)
 
Comment by Arizona Slim
2011-02-01 12:41:08

Here in Tucson, I get my copper cleaner for free. Or close to it.

How I do it:

1. I glean the ornamental oranges that fall from trees along residential streets. If they’re out in the street and in good condition, bam! they’re mine.

2. When it comes time to clean a copper bottom pot, I sprinkle salt on it, then rub half of one of those gleaned oranges. With a bit of scrubbing with one of those green scrubbie pads, I get nice, clean copper.

(Comments wont nest below this level)
Comment by awaiting wipeout
2011-02-01 13:52:05

Az Slim-
Thanks for the green alternative to my suggestion. Although, I like the path of minimal scrubbing.

You are a Renaissance Woman.

 
 
 
 
Comment by RioAmericanInBrasil
2011-02-01 10:00:47

buying detergent from outside the border. Soap smugglers!

I still have 2 of the big boxes of American made, pre-phosphate ban Cascade left that I brought down here.

When those run out I have no idea where to buy Brazilian dishwasher detergent or if it will contain phosphates or not.

In Brazil, a dishwasher is usually you or your maid. Mine is an American made Bosch that does a fantastic job.

 
Comment by Kim
2011-02-01 11:55:40

Something similar happened to laundry detergents a few years back. It took the manufacturers a while, but they eventually came up with more effective substitute ingredients. So hopefully your cloudy dishes will only be so temporarily.

Comment by rusty
2011-02-01 12:32:58

I hope so. Folks are trying crazy stuff like waiting for the rinse cycle and throwing lemon kool-aid or tang into the machine. We ourselves went through a couple of bottles of jet-dri really quickly. We even tried vinegar. Our water bill was about 50% higher that first month, haha.

The upside, we finally threw away that ugly set of plates we have had FOREVER and were able to pull the gift set out of the closet and use it.

I tried looking on Amazon. Apparently if you are lucky enough to find a box of detergent with a P in the used by date/stamp, it is the OLD stuff and worth its weight in gold these days. I tore our supermarket apart, but alas I only found the dreaded Z version (z= phosphate free).

 
 
Comment by rms
2011-02-01 13:17:17

Our last dishwasher became clogged with white debris and scale from using “eco-friendly” detergent from Costco. I replaced the dishwaher, and we have been using Cascade Complete All-in-1 ActionPacs, which are little blue packages that dissolve, and we alway use the rinsing agent too. Works great–spotless!

 
 
Comment by WT Economist
2011-02-01 07:45:31

Census Bureau data, 4Q 09 to 4Q10.

Over that period, the total number housing units increased by 656,000.

The number of vacant housing units fell by 427,000.

The number of owner-occupied units was basically unchanged.

The number of renter occupied housing units rose by 1.1 million.

In total, the number of units “held off the market” rose by 471,000, but the number of seasonally vacant homes fell by 318,000, for a net gain of rented not on the market of 153,000.

My view: low construction volumes and the shift of former owner-occupied units to rental is allowing excess units to be recycled. Lots of that inventory growth in bank-owned homes may be second homes, which were “seasonal” but are now “held off market.”

Comment by Professor Bear
2011-02-01 07:58:48

My view: Though the number of housing units may stay relatively stable over the next two decades, the demographic tsunami of aging baby boomers will have a massive effect on the quality distribution of housing needed to house America. McMansion demand will be supplanted by empty-nest housing demand at the rough rate of 10,000 a day once the wave of retiring baby boomers morphs into a wave of downsizing family homesteads.

Comment by WT Economist
2011-02-01 08:15:20

Who says they will be able to sell and leave?

The Fall of the House of Usher comes to mind.

Comment by Professor Bear
2011-02-01 08:28:18


Last thing I remember, I was
Running for the door
I had to find the passage back
To the place I was before
’relax,’ said the night man,
We are programmed to receive.
You can checkout any time you like,
But you can never leave!

Welcome to the Hotel California
Such a lovely place
Such a lovely face
Plenty of room at the Hotel California
Any time of year, you can find it here

– The Eagles –

(Comments wont nest below this level)
Comment by Happy2bHeard
2011-02-01 22:15:23

I stayed at the Hotel California when I visited Costa Rica. :)

 
 
 
Comment by oxide
2011-02-01 08:45:46

Maybe the senior citizens can move in with each other?

Because the McMansions were designed to bloat the cheap type of square footage (ie. non kit/bath), it would be pretty easy to retrofit the entire place to hold 3-4 empty nest couples. There are bathrooms in every big bedroom, there is plenty of room in the “grand foyer” for an elevator, and you could remove the island in the kitchen to make it wheechair accessible. There’s not much yard, but enough for a community garden. Or residents could sit in the sun in the outdoor rooms. If it’s a development, they could retrofit the Clubhouse into a mini medical facility and put a nurse and a couple caregivers in one of the houses too. And since none of the residents would work, they could all live in the outer burbs without commuting.

I think HBB could make a “Golden Girls” type TV show out of this.

Comment by Arizona Slim
2011-02-01 09:05:04

Many years ago, I worked for an organization that had an annual conference. During my year in their employ, the conference had Ralph Nader as the keynote speaker and Maggie Kuhn as his lead-in.

Well, here’s Slim’s dish on Nader: A heckuva guy to shoot. With a camera, that is. It was darn near impossible to get a bad shot of that guy. He wasn’t super-photogenic, but, oh, what expression in that face.

And he was used to being photographed to the point that Slim, the organization’s photographer, was just some blob sitting on the floor with a camera. As a photographer, I like not being noticed when I’m working.

Then there was the Lebanese dinner. We had to provide that for him as part of his speaking contract. And, darn, that was a good meal. Yum!

Anyway, Nader’s not a chatty fellow, but Maggie Kuhn? Man, that Gray Panther would talk your ear off.

She invited me to come visit her in Philadelphia. A couple months later, I did.

She had a marvelous old home in West Philadelphia, and it was too big for just her. So, she made it into a multi-generational household and rented her empty rooms to a group of very cool people. I truly enjoyed meeting all of them.

(Comments wont nest below this level)
Comment by Elanor
2011-02-01 09:36:38

Slim, have you ever considered writing a book about your many interesting jobs/experiences/chance meetings with cool people?

 
Comment by DennisN
2011-02-01 10:09:18

She already did about 20 years ago. It’s an interesting read.

 
Comment by Kim
2011-02-01 12:16:48

“She already did about 20 years ago. It’s an interesting read.”

Well, don’t keep us in suspense. How do we get our hands on a copy?

 
Comment by Arizona Slim
2011-02-01 12:43:34

“She already did about 20 years ago. It’s an interesting read.”

Well, don’t keep us in suspense. How do we get our hands on a copy?

I’m about to post it (as a PDF) on one of my websites. Link to PDF file coming shortly!

 
Comment by DennisN
2011-02-01 12:55:27

Contact Slim offline as she prefers to post under a pseudonym, although an article she once posted led me to her true identity.

 
Comment by DennisN
2011-02-01 13:05:47

The only thing I didn’t like about Slim’s book is that her main experience in Idaho was getting sick in Glenn’s Ferry. :(

 
 
Comment by Carl Morris
2011-02-01 09:54:13

If it’s a development, they could retrofit the Clubhouse into a mini medical facility

Oddly enough I just went to a Dr. appointment recently in what had been a new development office/clubhouse building. A friend of mine bought new in that subdivision just as the bubble was popping.

(Comments wont nest below this level)
 
Comment by jane
2011-02-01 23:59:01

oxide, that is a great idea if they don’t melt down. Exeter I’m sure would have some wisdom on whether or not the crapshacks framing and structural members can actually accommodate an elevator. I’d be afraid that it would crash through the floor or otherwise distort the shape of said crapshack.

(Comments wont nest below this level)
 
 
 
 
Comment by krazy bill
2011-02-01 07:52:07

“PHOENIX — A federally funded program to help Arizona’s foreclosure crisis has helped only one homeowner after more than six months.

The program Save My Home AZ is funded by a $125 million grant from the U.S. Treasury Department.

Since the Arizona Department of Housing received the money last July, 243 people have applied for the program, with only one having been approved for a principal reduction modification.”

http://www.kpho.com/news/26685151/detail.html

Comment by 2banana
2011-02-01 08:12:28

$125 million to help on FB to stay in their house?

just wow

hope and change

 
Comment by Professor Bear
2011-02-01 08:16:18

“243 people have applied for the program, with only one having been approved for a principal reduction modification.”

Makes the HAMP look like a roaring success by comparison…

 
Comment by Ben Jones
2011-02-01 08:16:22

‘CBS 5 News asked the Department of Housing if the program has been a waste of taxpayer money. “I wouldn’t say it’s a waste of money, but what we’re going to use this $125 million to do is show that principle reduction is the correct and successful route to fix our foreclosure problem,” said spokesman Shaun Rieve”

Two things here; one - a typical govt boondoggle. But more important is this; out of many thousands of foreclosures in AZ, they only had 243 borrowers apply! Almost no one wants these houses, even if you potentially could shave $40-80k off the principle.

The govt wouldn’t know ‘the correct and successful route to fix our foreclosure problem’ if it bit them on the ass.

Comment by Jim A.
2011-02-01 08:20:17

Again, they’re piling sandbags at the low tide line by trying to keep people in their homes, rather than provide assistance for those who have lost ‘em.

 
Comment by wmbz
2011-02-01 08:30:17

“But more important is this; out of many thousands of foreclosures in AZ, they only had 243 borrowers apply”!

Exactly! That’s what caught my eye, they don’t want to be tied to a sinking asset. The parties long over.

Comment by oxide
2011-02-01 08:53:52

Have to agree. Sounds like the sheeple aren’t going to be fooled into “staying in their homes” anymore. They are going to stay there rent-free, spend at the mall, and quietly plan to move in with mom when the Sherriff comes knocking.

(Comments wont nest below this level)
 
 
Comment by palmetto
2011-02-01 10:42:17

“The govt wouldn’t know ‘the correct and successful route to fix our foreclosure problem’ if it bit them on the ass.”

They’d know it if palmetto bit them on the ass.

 
Comment by Sammy Schadenfreude
2011-02-01 11:52:39

Ben, you’re missing the point. This $125 million program kept a lot of bureaucrats gainfully employed. You have to start using Uncle Sam’s metrics for measuring the “success” of these programs.

/sarc off.

 
 
Comment by aNYCdj
2011-02-01 09:03:07

It really should be called The save my AZZ bailout bill.

Comment by Ben Jones
2011-02-01 11:42:30

It gets better:

http://money.cnn.com/2011/02/01/real_estate/hamp_modifications/index.htm?source=cnn_bin&hpt=Sbin

‘More than half a million Americans have received permanent mortgage modifications from the Obama administration’s flagship foreclosure prevention program, the Home Affordable Modification Program. So who are these homeowners? To begin with, the reason they are falling behind on their mortgages isn’t because their loans are unaffordable, according to a report released Monday by the Treasury Department. Instead, defaults are stemming from the weak economy and unemployment’

‘Median household income for them was just $46,000, well short of affluent…Their mortgage balances — after modification — averaged $232,000. That is about five times median household income, about double what they’d usually be allowed to borrow on income of $46,000.’

So after the ‘modification’, the loans are 5 times income and double what they should borrow, and this isn’t unaffordable?

Then:

‘The help these borrowers receive is substantial, with the typical HAMP modification slashing about 40% off mortgage payments…Still, receiving a permanent HAMP mod does not guarantee that the borrowers will keep their homes…Of those who received a modification during the third quarter of 2009, more than 46% have already fallen at least two payments behind.’

Notice it says payments, not balances. The lesson here is nothing new; these people borrowed way too much, and they tend to walk away when they’re underwater.

Comment by Professor Bear
2011-02-01 13:08:31

“The lesson here is nothing new; these people borrowed way too much, and they tend to walk away when they’re underwater.”

They tend to walk away before the loan is paid off, leaving someone else holding the bag (probably the U.S. taxpayer in many cases, given how federal guarantees were summarily slapped onto so many new mortgages since the Fall 2008 financial crisis).

(Comments wont nest below this level)
 
 
 
 
Comment by Jim A.
2011-02-01 08:18:03

I had to give the verbal smackdown to one of my co-workers yesterday when she referred to people who lived in her parents’ neighborhood as having “lost” 100k since they sold recently, rather than at peak. NO NO NO. Since they still sold the house for significantly more than they paid for it, they still made, rather than lost money*.
*although their inflation adjusted rate of return was probably near zero.

Comment by In Colorado
2011-02-01 10:58:01

Well, they did leave money on the table by not selling at the peak. But I agree that if they sold for more than waht they paid, there was no “loss”.

FWIW, in Corporate America I a have also heard of falling (but still positive) profits referred to as “losses”.

Comment by oxide
2011-02-01 12:05:12

Yup, and I will still never forgive them for using the term “earnings” instead of “revenue.” Instead, they use “earnings” when they really mean “profits.”

 
 
Comment by ecofeco
2011-02-01 18:42:21

Our entire economy is based on counting chickens before they are hatched.

We all know how that ends.

Comment by RioAmericanInBrasil
2011-02-01 19:15:33

Eating a lot of eggs.

 
 
 
Comment by wmbz
2011-02-01 08:20:04

Builders began work on fewer projects in 2010 as construction spending hits decade low

WASHINGTON (AP) — Builders began work on fewer homes, shopping centers and other types of construction projects in 2010, as total building activity fell to the lowest point in a decade.

The Commerce Department says construction spending dropped 10.3 percent last year, marking the fifth annual decline. The slide began when the housing bubble burst after 2006.

Construction spending fell to $814.18 billion for the year, the lowest level since 2000.

And the year ended on a weak note. Builders started fewer homes and other projects in December, pushing activity down 2.5 percent for the month.

 
Comment by Sammy Schadenfreude
2011-02-01 08:40:11

China’s version of the NAR wants you to invest in underground tomb-like rooms! They’re not building air raid shelters anymore.

I can imagine the seething frustration building up among these underground dwellers as China’s New Rich speculators push housing costs to stratospheric levels.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/china-business/8291626/Underground-world-hints-at-Chinas-coming-crisis.html

To understand how far ordinary Chinese have been priced out of their country’s property market, you need to look not upwards at the Beijing’s shimmering high-rise skyline, but down, far below the bustling streets where nearly 20m people live and work.

There, in the city’s vast network of unused air defence bunkers, as many as a million people live in small, windowless rooms that rent for £30 to £50 a month, which is as much as many of the city’s army of migrant labourers can afford.

In a Beijing suburb, beneath one of the thousands of faceless residential tower blocks that have carpeted the city’s peripheries in a decade-long building frenzy, one of Beijing’s “bomb shelter hoteliers”, as they are known, agrees to show us his wares.

Beijing is estimated to have 30 square miles of tunnels and basements, some constructed after the Sino-Soviet split of 1969, when Mao’s China feared a Soviet missile strike, and many more constructed since to act as more modern emergency refuges.

Comment by Ben Jones
2011-02-01 09:00:35

This is a lot like the gee-whiz articles we saw in the US years ago. I don’t think most in the media are connecting the dots on what a collapsing mania in the worlds largest economy will mean to global money markets, etc. Does any of this sound familiar?

‘To buy a small flat (860 sq ft) in the tower block above – a typically grim, grey concrete affair – currently costs more than £200,000. In a city where the average monthly salary is 4,000 yuan, the average person would take 50 years to buy such an apartment, assuming they saved every penny they earned. ..Michael Pettis, professor of finance at Beijing’s Peking University, question(s) whether China’s leaders will dare hit the brakes hard enough when so much of China’s economy relies on property investment to hit its politically sacrosanct annual growth targets.’

‘Even last year’s soaring retail figures – sales of furniture rose by 37.2pc, household appliances by 27.7pc – appear to flatter the strength of China’s real economy, he argues in a note, since they are “as much an indication of soaring real estate investment as of rising consumption”.

‘Others point to the low level of mortgages on Chinese property and the underlying demand for property in a country that will urbanise 200m people in the next 20 years and argue that the bull market has a long way to run yet. ‘

Comment by Sammy Schadenfreude
2011-02-01 09:41:17

Yep. This is going to end badly.

Comment by Professor Bear
2011-02-01 11:42:33

Also gonna end with an even more spectacular collapse than the U.S. bubble, with contagion effects across global financial markets…

(Comments wont nest below this level)
 
Comment by oxide
2011-02-01 13:17:28

I don’t believe China is on par with American yet. China isn’t outsourcing their good jobs yet, and it appears that people who buy these homes can afford them without the nonsense that they pulled in the US: I/O neg-am low-FICO refi-later no doc liar loans, backed up by the likes of AIG. Sure, they’ll spend high % of income on housing, but if the payment never changes and they never lose the job, the system will run, mostly smoothly.

Now, when they “urbanize 200 million people in the next 20 years,” that’s going to be a different story. I’m not forgetting that one little post from a few days ago that “China is running out of water.”

(Comments wont nest below this level)
Comment by mikey
2011-02-01 14:45:03

“I’m not forgetting that one little post from a few days ago that “China is running out of water.”

That’s only if they all don’t choke and die on their bad air 1st.

:)

 
Comment by neuromance
2011-02-01 20:33:21

What they seem to forget is that if they alllow people to borrow outlandish sums, many certainly will. And that will suck up much of their income leaving little for other sectors.

A lending bubble is a great way to funnel wealth from the population to the financial sector and politicians.

 
 
 
Comment by Jim A.
2011-02-01 10:42:11

And if you think that this government stoop to nearly anything to prevent the powerful and politically connected from realizing losses they have NOTHING compared to the Chicoms.

 
 
 
Comment by wmbz
2011-02-01 08:49:01

(Guardian)- Nearly a million people will see their tax rates soar as the government’s austerity package kicks in this spring, potentially to as high as 83%.

Analysis from the Institute for Fiscal Studies today reveals that changes in April will drag 750,000 people into the 40% tax bracket. Meanwhile, little-publicised tax credit cuts will push the marginal rates of 175,000 working parents up above 70%. In theory, effective tax rates in Middle Britain could reach 83%, the rate that Labour levied on Britain’s top earners before 1979.

A few days after the governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King, warned that wages were set for their longest continuous squeeze since the 1920s, the IFS exposes how the tax changes will compound the misery.

Moderately high earners with children to support will suffer particularly. For example, a worker on £45,000 with a non-working spouse and two children will be worse off by about £1,000 per year after 6 April. This is on top of the extra VAT which families at all income levels have been paying since the start of the year.

Comment by edgewaterjohn
2011-02-01 09:16:19

“Moderately high earners with children to support will suffer particularly.”

Somehow this doesn’t sound very much like “taxing the rich”.

 
Comment by measton
2011-02-01 09:17:07

I”m sure the Hedge fund managers are paying 15% just like in the US. We can’t tax the job creators??? It’s time to walk like and Egyption!

 
 
Comment by wmbz
2011-02-01 08:54:47

Looks like the DOW is loving all the good news out there! If Israel is attacked and the Suez canal is shut down then the DOW will most likely blast off to 13,000.

Comment by cobaltblue
2011-02-01 09:05:47

Hey, and maybe if a 60 megaton thermonuclear device somehow went off a half mile above Tehran, the resulting EMF surge would propel the Dow to 20,000!

Load up on Netflix, Amazon, and Google - they’ll be like a rocket in your pocket during the coming Armageddon

Comment by robin
2011-02-01 20:59:19

WOGSX - :)

 
 
Comment by measton
2011-02-01 09:15:11

I’d hate to see how high it goes if Israel drops a bomb on Iran. To the moon Alice!!

Comment by El Cabezon
2011-02-01 10:10:47

I wonder if you get better gas mileage using radioactive gas??

 
Comment by Liz Pendens
2011-02-01 12:00:49

A dirty-bomb on the trading floor would be just what the bulls have been looking for to take the dow to 20k.

 
 
 
Comment by 2banana
2011-02-01 09:05:57

Guess which of the 57 states in the union is going to turn around first…

———————

Puerto Rico cuts income taxes to spur growth
Business Week | 1/31/2011

Puerto Rico’s governor has signed a broad package of tax cuts aimed at spurring economic growth.

Gov. Luis Fortuno says the $1.2 billion in annual tax cuts translate into an average savings of 50 percent for individuals and 30 percent for businesses.

Comment by In Colorado
2011-02-01 11:01:50

Its easy for them to do as they receive all sorts of Federal $$$ while keeping their own tax monies raised (Puerto Ricans do not pay Federal Income Tax).

 
 
Comment by 2banana
2011-02-01 09:08:19

And which states will be one of the last to turn around…

————————————-

California Gov. Jerry Brown pushes tax hikes
CNN Money | 02/01/2011 | Tami Luhby

Californians should decide whether they want to pay $12 billion more in taxes to help plug the state’s massive budget shortfall, Gov. Jerry Brown said on Monday.

In his State of the State address, Brown urged legislators to put his plan to extend income and sales tax hikes on the ballot in a special election in June. If they don’t, the governor said the state will see even harsher spending cuts than the $12.5 billion he is proposing.

The tax proposals include renewing a quarter-percentage point increase in personal income tax rates, which expired at the end of 2010, and maintaining a 1 percentage point bump in the sales tax, which lapses at the end of June. The higher rates would remain in effect for five years.

For Brown’s plan to work, two-thirds of lawmakers would have to agree to put the tax measure on the ballot. And they would have to act by March.

The governor said it would be “unconscionable” to deny voters the choice between raising taxes or chopping “another $12 billion out of schools, public safety, our universities and our system of caring for the most vulnerable.”

Comment by In Colorado
2011-02-01 11:03:25

FWIW, low tax Texas has a bigger deficit than California.

Comment by The_Overdog
2011-02-01 14:40:15

No it doesn’t, although it is relatively large, and most proposals keep the rainy day fund (3/4 of the total debt) off limits.

That said, I wish Jerry Brown was Texas’ governor instead of Rick Perry. The cuts to balance the budget being suggested are to young children’s education, scholarships to needy students, highway repairs, higher sales tax and fees of all kinds, and basically everything that the middle and lower classes use on a daily basis to make life slightly more bearable.

Let us pick what we want to cut please - or if we want higher taxes.

Comment by In Colorado
2011-02-01 18:40:47

That’s not what I read: 31B deficit. Last I heard Cali’s was in the 20’s.

Either way, its huge, and shows that being business (rich people) “friendly” doesn’t always work as promised.

(Comments wont nest below this level)
Comment by ecofeco
2011-02-01 18:52:27

The Texas deficit numbers keeps jumping around for news and political purposes, but it’s been pretty steady at hovering around $25 BILLION.

A number not worth quibbling over.

 
Comment by The_Overdog
2011-02-01 19:43:18

That’s a 2 year budget, as TX is required to have a balanced budget yearly, but the legislature only meets every 2 years.

 
 
 
 
Comment by Arizona Slim
2011-02-01 12:46:17

I know this may not be a popular thing to say here, but I wouldn’t bet against California. It has one of the largest and most diversified economies in the world. To the point where, if it were an independent country, it would have the world’s 6th largest GDP.

Comment by awaiting wipeout
2011-02-01 14:53:05

Az Slim
I think that was true at one time, but I am not so sure of that these days. Having lived here all my life, I am seeing the job market and multiple sectors shrink, up front and personal.

Our biggest exports are entertainment and ag. The tech, manufacturing, R&D, and a few other sectors have been leaving.

Comment by Rancher
2011-02-01 15:50:03

At the city council workshop yesterday, a friend
who owns a High Vac/heating company told me that in the last two weeks he’s had five guys come in looking for work who were from CA.

(Comments wont nest below this level)
 
Comment by DennisN
2011-02-01 17:33:26

A lot of ag is looking at leaving too. California passed a bill mandating “luxury chicken resorts” for chicken farmers - and already most large commercial chicken producers have been up in Idaho scouting around for a place to move their production.

As I recall Heinrich Himmler was a one-time chicken farmer. :lol:

(Comments wont nest below this level)
 
 
Comment by ecofeco
2011-02-01 18:54:48

I really hate the “largest and most diverse economy in the world” spin.

That economy does not exist in a vacuum and the BIGGEST reason for it’s success is that it’s attached to THE biggest economy in the world…. the US.

 
 
 
Comment by measton
2011-02-01 09:13:49

Go Packers

Simple: They’re the only major team left that’s not owned by an oligarch. The only one that’s not just a business run by some tycoon with his eyes on the bottom line.

They’re still, effectively, owned by the town of Green Bay, population 102,000.

The local stadium fits three-quarters of the entire town, and there’s still a waiting list for season tickets as long as your arm.

This is what America should still look like.

Call the Pack “the People’s Team.”

The “New York” Jets? Don’t kid yourself. They’re no such thing.

They’re the “Woody Johnson” Jets. Quit dreaming.

Johnson, the owner, isn’t cheering for your business. Why are you cheering for his?

I have nothing against Woody Johnson personally. I don’t even care that he was dinged a few years back by Congress for taking part in a tax dodge.

But the simple truth is that he is a billionaire running a business, and there is no reason why you or I should somehow get passionately involved in “cheering” for it.

None.

Next time you’re asking your boss for a raise, do you think Woody’s going to turn up and cheer you on? Maybe stand there and chant “De-fense! De-fense”?

The way sports fans are such suckers never ceases to amaze me.

Look, I like a good game. I really honor dedication, excellence and achievement on the field as in any area of life. So I have great respect for what the players do.

But as for the franchises themselves, they’re just businesses. Never forget it.

Just ask the people of Cleveland. For decades they really believed the Browns were the “Cleveland” Browns. They stood in the cold and the rain and the snow, and cheered and cried and yelled for “their” team.

Then in the mid-1990s owner Art Modell got a better offer from Baltimore and it was sayonara, suckers. (A new team was later formed in Cleveland.)

The same thing happened to all those fans of the Baltimore Colts … now in Indianapolis.

And how are those Brooklyn Dodgers doing?

People in Boston cheer rabidly for “their” Patriots. So much for that.

They’re the “Bob Kraft” Patriots. When Kraft wanted a better deal on a stadium, he threatened to move too.

finance.yahoo.com/banking-budgeting/article/111995/support-green-bay-annoy-the-rich?mod=bb-budgeting&sec=topStories&pos=8&asset=&ccode=

Comment by WT Economist
2011-02-01 09:36:46

Come to think of it, aren’t the Steelers still run by the Rooney’s, whose whole fortune is the team owned for decades rather than having it be a toy they bought?

It’s like the Old School Bowl.

Comment by Arizona Slim
2011-02-01 12:48:08

Come to think of it, aren’t the Steelers still run by the Rooney’s, whose whole fortune is the team owned for decades rather than having it be a toy they bought?

Yes, the Rooneys still own the Steelers. And even expatriate Pittsburghers like me love them for that.

 
 
Comment by oxide
2011-02-01 09:39:03

Don’t get me started on the owner of the Redskins…

+ Snyder made his millions in “communications.” That is, data-mining and junk mail.

+ Snyder thinks he knows football, and that he can buy intangibles with money. Result: 6 (? lost count) coaches over 10 years, one or two “name” stars who go through the revolving door just for signing bonuses (Deion Sanders), and a series of high-pay high-profile players who fizzle fast.

+ Team names like the Braves and the Chiefs took flack from Native Americans, and yet the overtly racist “Redskins” is allowed to stand. Really, would you name a team the “Blackskins?”

+ Snyder lured Bruce Smith from Buffalo for the sole purpose that Smith would break the all-time sack record as a Redskin. Why? So that Snyder could sell Redskin merchandise to that effect.*

+ Skyboxes are now political favors.

+ A public road and sidewalk goes by FedEx Field. Snyder successfully “privitized” the sidewalk, so that you would have to pay the $20 parking fee (local revenue) just to drop someone off at the game.

This was the last straw for me. I wouldn’t mind rooting for the Redskins, but not with this owner.

——————
* I read that the NFL is actually a socialist organization. Total TV revenues are divided nearly equally among teams, no matter how big the TV market. They realize that if TV revenue is weighted by # viewers, then 5-6 big-city teams would get most of the money, buy the best players, and put smaller markets — like Green Bay — into permanent loser status and eventually out of business. There goes most of your competition, and the NFL can’t survive without the competition that provides exciting games. So, TV revenue is distributed equally. However, local revenue like merchandise and stadium-related revenue (concession, parking) belongs solely to the team. Snyder is trying to maximize local revenue.

Comment by michael
2011-02-01 10:28:59

and there is a chance they may get cam newton…please no!

say what you will about cam…but i would rather have my heisman stripped away than go play for that oranization.

 
Comment by In Colorado
2011-02-01 11:10:25

“I read that the NFL is actually a socialist organization.”

And they get rewarded for sucking (1st round draft picks).

In “socialist” Europe (and most other countries) basement dwellers in the soccer leagues are DEMOTED to minor leagues at the end of the season and have to earn their way back in the premier/major league y winning their minor league championship (or a second place, depending on the league) next season.

Comment by michael
2011-02-01 11:58:26

a group of billionaires getting together to split the profits of their monopoly is a “socialist organization”?

social organization maybe.

(Comments wont nest below this level)
Comment by In Colorado
2011-02-01 14:08:33

Socialist in the sense that there is no “Darwinism” that punishes and weeds out the mediocre teams. If anything their system rewards mediocrity by levelling the playing field.

Of course the whole concept of competitiveness within the NFL is an illusion created for J6Ps consumption. Its designed to prevent the formation of long term dynasties (think Manchester United, Read Madrid or FC Barcelona). This year’s superbowl champ could be a basement dweller in just a few short seasons. and vice versa.

This of course is done for marketing purposes. Unlike in the English Premier League where clubs like Wigan, Wolverhapmton amd Westham United will never have a prayer of winning a championship, in the NFL everyone at some time is a contender.

Of course this is because the NFL is a single business, and the teams are just franchises. They really aren’t “clubs” in the traditional sense of the word (a real “club” would never move to a new town in the dead of the night).

 
Comment by michael
2011-02-01 14:20:41

“Its designed to prevent the formation of long term dynasties…”

New York Yankees

 
Comment by ecofeco
2011-02-01 18:58:46

That’s not socialist, that’s communist.

 
 
 
 
 
Comment by oxide
2011-02-01 09:16:15

Yesterday someone said that Bill Gates allowed some folks to become millionaires along with him. Here’s what one of them is doing: (M S N B C . C O M ) excerpts.

—–
“I was eating with Dr. Nathan Myhrvold, in the rather amazing kitchen at the heart of his 20,000-square-foot laboratory. …the brightest-green butter I’ve ever seen. It was not true butter, but rather an extract of pure green peas. Fresh peas are blended to a puree, then spun in a centrifuge at 13 times the force of gravity. The force separates the puree into three discrete layers: on the bottom, a bland puck of starch; on the top, vibrant-colored, seductively sweet pea juice; and separating the two, a thin layer of the pea’s natural fat, pea-green and unctuous…

…lush pistachio gelato. Unlike gelati I’ve known and loved, which are creamy because they’re made with abundant amounts of cream and egg yolks, this one is dairy-free. The creamy texture is the product of pushing pistachios through an ultra-high-pressure homogenizer,

He holds Ph.D.s in mathematical economics and theoretical physics, studied with Stephen Hawking and worked for years as CTO of Microsoft (which left him with a healthy amount of spare change)…

In addition to the kitchen where we sit, the building, which belongs to Myhrvold’s company Intellectual Ventures, houses a working biology lab and mosquito hatchery, a chemistry lab, a serious machine shop, a “small things lab” and a photography studio…”
—–

I was afraid to read about the drinkable bagel.

Comment by palmetto
2011-02-01 09:31:42

There are reverse osmosis water filtration systems that can take raw sewage and turn it into potable water. Personally, I wouldn’t want to drink it, but if there’s no other choice…

Comment by cobaltblue
2011-02-01 11:03:45

“There are reverse osmosis water filtration systems that can take raw sewage and turn it into potable water”

Is there a similar process for Realtors?

There are some who should be put into an ultra-high-pressure homogenizer, if there’s anything to that “karma” stuff

 
 
Comment by Elanor
2011-02-01 09:42:09

He lost me at the mosquito hatchery.

Comment by oxide
2011-02-01 10:51:59

You lasted longer than I did. I see no reason for centrifuged pea butter. :roll:

 
 
 
Comment by Sammy Schadenfreude
2011-02-01 09:49:36

MSM Cheerleading on Illusury “Growth”

http://market-ticker.org/akcs-www?post=178873

The report was issued today by Norbert J. Ore, CPSM, C.P.M., chair of the Institute for Supply Management™ Manufacturing Business Survey Committee. “The manufacturing sector grew at a faster rate in January as the PMI registered 60.8 percent, which is its highest level since May 2004 when the index registered 61.4 percent. The continuing strong performance is highlighted as January is also the sixth consecutive month of month-over-month growth in the sector. New orders and production continue to be strong, and employment rose above 60 percent for the first time since May 2004. Global demand is driving commodity prices higher, particularly for energy, metals and chemicals.”

Uh huh. Global demand eh? What about profits?

Input prices recorded at 81.5%, up nine full points since last month.
Growth? Ok. But growth in what?

Input prices can only go two places: final prices to consumers or they get eaten by the manufacturer.

Unless you can show me actual private wage growth (not government teat spending) then you’re headed for either a demand collapse, profit collapse or both.

This is mathematics. I know everyone wants to “make hay while the sun shines” but the fact remains that what’s happening here is not sustainable and the media is still cranking out BS about “small business borrowing surges” and similar lines of crap.

With what will they collateralize their borrowing when the asset base for that borrowing, their homes, contracted by $7 trillion yet outstanding mortgage credit only shrunk by $500 billion during the same period?

Comment by sfbubblebuyer
2011-02-01 13:01:41

People don’t want to make hay while the sun shines, they want to make hay, then borrow more hay against their future hay, but with leverage!

Then when it rains, they owe a whole lot of hay and have a field of soggy grass.

 
 
Comment by cobaltblue
2011-02-01 09:53:27

Drive a Green Shoot for Zero Down and 0% Financing!

One more month, one more chance for GM to stuff its dealers with cars. Sure enough, in the just release January sales PR, the company announced that “General Motors dealers in the United States reported 178,896 total sales in January, a 23-percent increase from a year ago for the company’s four brands. The gain was driven by solid retail sales which were 36 percent higher than a strong January a year ago.” And behind the scenes, GM has continued to shove a whopping 510,000 cars with dealers: In January 2011, the firm had 510k cars at its dealers, compared to just 390,000 in January 2010, a 30% increase. Furthermore, as the only component of consumer credit that is surging, non-revolving loans, indicates that virtually all car purchases are made based on the old formula of “no money down.” And with the government backstopping both the car maker and the lender banks, we would be very interested in discovering just how bad the delinquency rate in non-revolving car debt is over the past year, especially as it relates to GM.

Comment by exeter
2011-02-01 10:57:11

…… meanwhile down the block Toyota Kamikaze’s are flying of the lot. And it’s new entry in to the upscale segment, Toyota DaBomb’s are experiencing explosive sales.

 
Comment by In Colorado
2011-02-01 11:18:59

My gut tells me that combined 2011 sales will still be between 11-12 million, and if the the double dip hist hard maybe even less, “pent up demand” be damned. People will chose to fix up their old cars.

For example, one car we have has:

A sticky ignition (key) chamber.
The rear wiper doesn’t work right.
The rear shocks/struts squeak when its cold.

Otherwise the vehicle (6 years old, 55K miles and paid for) is perfect. I can take care of those 3 issues for about the cost of 2 monthly payments on a new car (maybe even less).

I think that a lot of people are coming to the same conclusion.

Comment by michael
2011-02-01 12:11:09

almost had to abandon my car in the DC metro area last week. finally got my car unstuck and hung out in the mall for 6 hours. i had my 17 month old son with me.

i’m in the market for something better in the snow. thinking maybe a subaru outback.

Comment by bink
2011-02-01 13:56:58

That’s one way to make sure it never snows in DC again. I’m all for it!

(Comments wont nest below this level)
 
 
Comment by measton
2011-02-01 12:12:51

A lot of people will start to ride the bus and ride their bike is my guess.

Comment by MrBubble
2011-02-01 12:58:55

Perhaps then we can tell some of the unpopular regimes that we prop and from which we purchase oil to go pound sand, literally? Yes, I know that oil is fungible and whatever we don’t buy Chindia will and that we don’t get the majority of our oil from the Middle East, by it might at least help our trade balance.

Ah, never mind. Brent Crude futures just topped $100/bbl. Pain at the pump, the dollar’s in a slump, but fiddle on, Nero!

(Comments wont nest below this level)
 
Comment by oxide
2011-02-01 13:26:30

Not in DC. Unless you work downtown, or unless you have to pay to park at home (apartments) it’s cheaper to park than to take Metro. Parking in my building is $3 a day with a monthly pass. Depending on where you come in from, Metro could cost upwards of $5 total.

The only way to really save is to not have a car at all. I did that for 7 years and the savings piles up. But hauling groceries on a bike is tiresome. And you really do feel trapped in the city.

(Comments wont nest below this level)
Comment by Arizona Slim
2011-02-01 13:48:00

The only way to really save is to not have a car at all. I did that for 7 years and the savings piles up. But hauling groceries on a bike is tiresome. And you really do feel trapped in the city.

I find all of the above to be true. However, that’s me when I’m in a bad mood. Here are some solutions:

Hauling groceries can be done with a trailer that you pull with your bike. I have a trailer and have used it to haul everything from landscaping rocks to a toilet. And, yes, it does just fine if I’m stocking up on groceries.

As for getting outta town, there’s this really nifty thing called the city bus. Which has a bike rack on the front. In Tucson, you can take the #6 line south to this place with lovely Southwestern landscaping. Be sure to allow extra time to enjoy a walk through the plant life. You’ll enjoy it.

Then, when you’re ready, walk your bike inside the airport, pack it up, and fly away to another city.

 
Comment by jane
2011-02-02 01:09:57

Slim, anymore, biking anywhere in DC metro is taking your life in your hands. The illegals have discovered that drinking in their cars is cheaper than going to a bar. Who cares if they crash, the car is most likely stolen. Likely the reason why they DO buy the mucho macho trucks. They know how they themselves drive, and they don’t want to get killed by somebody who drives like them.

Don’t get me started on the driving skills displayed by the Indians in our multicultural community.

Man, I wish the government cuts would just get enacted so this area would clear out some. Course I’d likely be caught up in that backwash, but hey, my younger son would then likely qualify for financial aid in one of the VA state schools.

I would not go gently into that good night, of course. With my clearance, I am one of the other 3,000,000 elect. And I’m female, short and wear glasses. That ougtta count fer something.

But seriously, I do believe that if I, or any of my cohort in the area, gets canned (like so many others in the nation have, over the past ?3 years), there will be no next jobbe. And there is noplace else in the country to go to if you are over fifty and have managed to keep under the radar. The strategy is wonderful if you value privacy and off time. Not so much when you want that gleam of avarice in some guy’s eye at the thought that he’s about to snatch a name brand away from the competition.

Then again, an EMT certification can be had in four months, it’s kind of an interesting thing to do anyways, the Virginia cert is tough enough that it travels well, and I suspect it’ll be an expanding field if the natives get restless. Given that lugging heavy masses is not my strong suit, I think I’d load on the extra credentials fast to get more specialized. Come to think of it, this is a great fit. I’m nocturnal anyhow.

Also a great fit for the forty acres and mule scenario, especially if moonshine is once again going to emerge as a cash crop.

 
 
 
 
 
Comment by Ben Jones
2011-02-01 10:23:36

I’ve been looking at the ‘big’ govt report on the ‘crisis’. The NY Times has a writer with a sense of humor:

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/A-Bank-Crisis-Whodunit-With-nytimes-4271688885.html?x=0

‘The report shows how the Fed refused to exert its authority on predatory lending. On Page 94, we learn that from 2000 to 2006, it referred a grand total of three institutions to prosecutors for possible fair-lending violations in mortgages.’

‘The Fed “succumbed to the climate of the times,” its general counsel, Scott G. Alvarez, told commission investigators. It is hard for a supervisor to challenge banks when they are highly profitable, other officials said.’

‘The report’s most important public service comes in its recitation of how top Fed officials, both in Washington and in New York, fiddled while the financial system smoldered and then burned. It is disturbing indeed that this institution, defiantly inert and uninterested in reining in the mortgage mania, received even greater regulatory powers under the Dodd-Frank law that was supposed to reform our system.’

Yes, ‘disturbing indeed’! And how did that come about? Why doesn’t the Times use its considerable resources to dig into that turn of events?

The article says the Fed is a ‘regulator’. But how can we have a regulator that refuses to be audited? And who actually owns the Fed? Gosh, it’s Wall Street firms Gretchen!

So let me get this straight; this unregulated, ‘quasi-governmental’ entity completely screws up the economy, and is promptly given even more power (by the DC clowns who also screwed up), so that it may more effectively regulate…

!the giant corporations that own it!

How can this possibly go wrong?

Comment by palmetto
2011-02-01 10:46:04

“How can this possibly go wrong?’

Film at 11.

 
Comment by Professor Bear
2011-02-01 11:44:39

‘The report shows how the Fed refused to exert its authority on predatory lending. On Page 94, we learn that from 2000 to 2006, it referred a grand total of three institutions to prosecutors for possible fair-lending violations in mortgages.’

And in response, the Obama administration increased the Fed’s fox-in-the-chicken-coop regulatory authority.

Comment by Ben Jones
2011-02-01 12:00:41

And by 2006, the subprime fiasco had been exposed.

This blindness to what happened is tiresome. Was it not in every corner of the media that stated income, no-doc loans had exploded in numbers, along with prices? These weren’t ‘possible fair-lending violations’. This was all common knowledge in 2006.

‘The Fed “succumbed to the climate of the times,” its general counsel, Scott G. Alvarez, told commission investigators. It is hard for a supervisor to challenge banks when they are highly profitable, other officials said.’

Ponzi schemes are highly profitable at certain points too. The issue is risk. And there was no shortage of risky behavior in evidence.

Comment by Professor Bear
2011-02-01 17:21:31

‘It is hard for a supervisor to challenge banks when they are highly profitable, other officials said.’

Grand larceny and drug smuggling are highly profitable, yet the authorities manage to challenge such activities. What is it about banking that makes is so special?

(Comments wont nest below this level)
 
 
 
Comment by Arizona Slim
2011-02-01 12:52:01

‘The Fed “succumbed to the climate of the times,” its general counsel, Scott G. Alvarez, told commission investigators. It is hard for a supervisor to challenge banks when they are highly profitable, other officials said.’

The late Ed Gramlich did try to warn Greenspan about the dangers of subprime lending. And Greenspan blew him off.

 
Comment by ecofeco
2011-02-01 19:04:49

You have problem with Corporate Communist Capitalism©®™, comrade?

 
 
Comment by cobaltblue
2011-02-01 10:48:50

The Associated Press Buys a Vowel; Solves the Puzzle:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Builders began work on fewer homes, shopping centers and other projects in 2010, pushing total building activity down to the lowest point in a decade.

Construction spending dropped 10.3 percent last year, marking the fifth annual decline, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. It fell to $814.18 billion in 2010, the lowest level since 2000.

And the year ended on a weak note. Builders started fewer homes and other projects in December, pushing activity down 2.5 percent for the month.

Builders have struggled with falling demand since the housing bubble burst, triggering a deep recession. The downturn sharply lowered overall economic activity and that cut into demand for office buildings, hotels and shopping centers.

Analysts said harsh winter weather had some impact on the weak December numbers. But other factors are likely to keep the industry from seeing significant gains in the early months of this year.

Homebuilders are having a hard time competing with the record number of foreclosures and declining home prices. The budget crises at the state and local level, along with fading federal stimulus money, have governments pulling back on projects. Rising vacancy rates and declining rents are dragging on commercial real estate construction.

 
Comment by 2banana
2011-02-01 10:56:35

Foreclosure - the excuse for everything…

———–

Police: Mailman took 7,000+ coupons
upi | Feb. 1, 2011

NEW YORK, Police said a postal worker stole coupons from his New York route and sold them at steep discounts on eBay to help pay his mortgage.

Investigators said Thomas Tang, 38, took more than 7,000 coupons from stacks dispersed on his route and those stored at the Corona branch where he worked, the New York Post reported Monday.

Tang told police he made $35,000 from JC Penny coupons alone selling them on eBay. Investigators said they were working to determine how much money Tang received from similar schemes involving coupons from Kohl’s and Lowe’s.

“I have two small children, and my wife is pregnant,” court documents quote Tang as telling police. “I also have a mortgage, and I have to pay cash for my children’s baby sitter. I did not want this to happen, but it was the only way I could avoid having my house foreclosed on.”

Tang is charged with felony grand larceny.

Comment by exeter
2011-02-01 11:05:30

Jeeeez….. People know no bounds when it comes to holding onto a rapidly depreciating asset.

 
Comment by sleepless_near_seattle
2011-02-01 13:46:43

Is he his babysitter’s employer? Shouldn’t he be paying tax on that too? :-)

 
 
Comment by Hard Rain
2011-02-01 11:10:39

Friend of mine received his mortgage statement from Wells Fargo the other day and noticed a new 15.00 dollar fee attached. The Rep explained it was “inspection fee”, apparently they hired a company to drive by homes to insure they are not abandoned. He countered if they needed to know if his house was occupied they could give him a call, and oh yeah reverse the fee…..

Comment by Arizona Slim
2011-02-01 12:55:40

He countered if they needed to know if his house was occupied they could give him a call, and oh yeah reverse the fee…..

Did they reverse the fee?

 
Comment by sleepless_near_seattle
2011-02-01 13:52:22

“These f@cking guys…”

 
Comment by In Colorado
2011-02-01 14:13:03

If he’s making the payments why would they care if it’s occupied. They should be sending him a thank you note.

 
 
Comment by measton
2011-02-01 11:42:27

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Egypt’s US-backed army will prevent Islamists from ever controlling that country’s government, a US Senator said Tuesday, stressing Americans must not be “ashamed” of backing that military.

“Every American should be very appreciative of the fact that for years we’ve been providing aid to the Egyptian army in terms of equipment and training, because that army is our ace in the hole, as a world, to make sure Egypt doesn’t go into a radical state,” said Republican Senator Lindsey Graham.

Asked whether he meant the army would step in should Egyptian voters pick an Islamist government, Graham replied: “It is my belief that the Egyptian army will protect the Egyptian people from becoming a radical Islamic state.”

That last sentence has to make you laugh. The Egyptian army will protect the people from themselves. Really. I’ve read some of the military have joined the protesters.

Comment by Sammy Schadenfreude
2011-02-01 12:00:13

Right now it looks like a huge number of Egyptians across the spectrum of class, age, sex, and secular and Muslim Brotherhood types alike, just want Mubarak and his cronies to fly off into the sunset. Once that unifying factor is gone (assuming he agrees to step down), though, then a lot of fundamental differences of opinion are going to emerge.

Comment by measton
2011-02-01 12:08:00

I agree 100% that there are no good solutions. The double speak is what made me laugh. When Mubarek is gone either the military will prop up another dictator or the most organized ie the Muslim brotherhood will win the day. You can bet that the US will punch this tar baby.

Comment by measton
2011-02-01 12:56:13

By that I mean when all is said and done we will be in it up to our necks.

(Comments wont nest below this level)
 
 
Comment by Spook
2011-02-01 13:34:44

Mubarak is done.

Once the white people head for the airport, any dictator is done.

*just sayin*

 
 
Comment by wmbz
2011-02-01 12:51:53

“Republican Senator Lindsey Graham”.

My skin crawls whenever I hear this little weasel speak, of course the savvy voters keep re-electing him.

Comment by exeter
2011-02-01 13:13:32

WMBZ is had an epiphany?

 
Comment by sleepless_near_seattle
2011-02-01 13:54:25

+1. I keep waiting for his bathroom-stall-toe-tap moment, but he keeps holding his own (so to speak).

 
 
Comment by sfbubblebuyer
2011-02-01 13:09:48

Should I feel reassured that all that equipment and training will mean that we could very well have another well armed and trained islamic fundamentalist government in the Middle East?

Honestly, the U.S. has zero business telling people what or who should be their government. If a congress person said they felt the army would keep the U.S. from electing a leftist or rightist or whatever government, they’d be lambasted. But mention totalitarian and dictatorial abuses in another country and it’s all good.

 
Comment by brahma30
2011-02-01 14:01:54

Which way Egypt will go is dicey. No one knows.

But at least so far the protesters have shown no escalation of violence, have amiable relations with the military, are able to turnout out by the millions and show no signs of exhaustion.

Whatever occurs, at least the Egyptians participate more in their country’s destiny, its makeup and demand a new deal. Even though a large percentage of its people live on about $2 per day, they are remarkable in the sense that they do not bend over like people here.

Comment by measton
2011-02-01 14:11:21

they do not bend over like people here

1. Mubarick has been in power for 30 years.
2. People are willing to loose everything when everything they have doesn’t put food on the table.

when things get bad here the riots will start.
Food stamps and unemployment have put a cap on it for now.

Comment by brahma30
2011-02-01 14:29:28

+10. Still, I thought people would have shown some fatigue for all these failed policies by now. I am now beginning to think, they just do not trust the system here to protest too loudly. One could get tagged for the rest of his life even if he made legitimate demands, peacefully and be hounded for it. It’s easier for that kind of profiling here than at other places in the world.

All the ingredients are there, years of a failing economy, rising prices, a gradual erosion of civil rights, profiling, bailouts, the big O who promised change but did zero, the same rich keep it all while the poor keep getting the shaft, socializing of risks, 150 weeks of welfare checks, 100:1 opposition for TARP.

One would think a relatively, better educated population than anywhere else on a percentage basis given the size of the country, would demand. Yet, nothing happens, they lie on the couch eating nachos watching television. IMHO there is a deep fear of the system here and less collective freedom than at other places.

(Comments wont nest below this level)
Comment by In Colorado
2011-02-01 18:45:47

“IMHO there is a deep fear of the system here and less collective freedom than at other places.”

More like apathy and brainwashing. Witness how many Americans believe that our wars of aggression are in the name of defending freedom and liberty around the world.

 
Comment by rms
2011-02-01 19:09:05

“More like apathy and brainwashing. Witness how many Americans believe that our wars of aggression are in the name of defending freedom and liberty around the world.”

+1 As long as the savior has a place to return it’s all good.

 
Comment by brahma30
2011-02-01 22:15:15

@ { Colorado, rms }

Its all good baby. Never mind the millions of people who died for the greed of some here. Its a way of life for the rich, powerful and the joeys. They all love Cheney’s line “the american way of life is non negotiable”, come hell or high water; its always about fist f**king the rest of the world for its resources and licking the fingers clean.

 
 
 
 
 
Comment by measton
2011-02-01 11:44:05

Security officials are warning the leaders of major Wall Street banks that al Qaeda terrorists in Yemen may be trying to plan attacks against those financial institutions or their leading executives, NBCNewYork has learned.

Wow it looks like Al Qaeda is going to try a charm offensive with the America People.

Comment by Liz Pendens
2011-02-01 11:54:48

Do you think Al Qaeda is planning to give Lloyd Blankfein a wedgie?

 
Comment by wmbz
2011-02-01 12:37:58

I don’t want to see anyone get blown up!

However if they are determined and are able to succeed then that’s who the hell needs to be on the receiving end. Those ruinous bastards have been raping and pillaging the system for far to long.

Comment by Blue Skye
2011-02-01 13:20:18

“You can’t cheat an honest man.”

Larsen E. Whipsnade

 
 
Comment by sfbubblebuyer
2011-02-01 13:13:06

At least they’re going after the people causing the most damage to their corner of the world.

 
 
Comment by wmbz
2011-02-01 12:05:15

REUTERS: Mubarak to Announce He Won’t Seek New Term in September…

 
Comment by measton
2011-02-01 12:05:53

Housing problem solved.

If the middle east goes up in flames all of their elite and those with an education and means will be helicoptered directly to their own McMansion in the states.

 
Comment by GrizzlyBear
2011-02-01 12:07:43

Gee, what a shocking revelation- illegal alien workers contribute to higher unemployment figures.

http://www.examiner.com/immigration-reform-in-national/the-state-with-the-most-illegal-alien-workers-also-has-the-highest-unemployment

 
Comment by wmbz
2011-02-01 12:08:17

Construction Spending in U.S. Unexpectedly Fell to Decade Low

Non-residential projects also will slow as budget-constrained state and local governments restrict funding for public works such as highways.

Construction spending in the U.S. unexpectedly fell in December to the lowest level in a decade, signaling the industry will continue to lag behind the economic recovery.

The 2.5 percent drop was the biggest since July and brought the value of all projects down to a $787.9 billion annual rate, the lowest since July 2000, Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington. The median estimate of economists in a Bloomberg survey called for a 0.1 percent gain.

Comment by Sammy Schadenfreude
2011-02-01 12:33:17

December construction drop due to inclement weather. Yeah, that’s it, that’s the ticket. So sayeth the MSM.

 
 
Comment by wmbz
2011-02-01 12:12:21

State Budget: Cuomo’s budget proposes up to 9,800 layoffs; revenue raisers proposed include racing surcharge.

ALBANY(AP) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday did what no New York governor has tried in 15 years: He unveiled a budget plan that calls for an overall reduction in spending and up to 9,800 layoffs as the state tries to get out from under crippling deficits.

Cuomo’s $132.9 billion budget - about $2 billion less than last year’s plan - cuts education and health care spending and recommends layoffs through attrition. New York faces a $10 billion deficit, the same kind of historic shortfalls that states nationwide face when their executive budget proposals are due in the coming months.

Cuomo’s budget, which includes no new or increased taxes, calls for a 7.3 percent cut in state aid to schools, or $1.5 billion from the state’s more than $20 billion in annual school aid. Cuomo said that means local school budgets will get 2.9 percent less state aid.

Operating aid to the State University of New York, City University of New York and community colleges would fall 10 percent. State aid to private colleges also would be cut 10 percent.

 
Comment by measton
2011-02-01 12:16:25

My guess is the Egypt thing didn’t fit into the financial masters of the universe plan, get ready for TARP 2

 
Comment by Sammy Schadenfreude
2011-02-01 12:30:05
 
Comment by Sammy Schadenfreude
2011-02-01 12:44:02

http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2011/02/01/january-inflation-surpasses-7-soaring-rice-chili-prices.html

Cost of basic foodstuffs like rice and pepper soaring in Indonesia - the world’s most populous Muslim country. This is hitting the lower classes especially hard. Food riots preceeded the 2008 crash; I wonder how much higher prices can rise without triggering unrest.

Meanwhile, in the US, the number of people on food stamps increased by 400,000 in November, hitting an all-time high of over 43 million. But the stock market is hitting new highs, so it’s all good.

Comment by Professor Bear
2011-02-01 13:03:49

“…hitting an all-time high of over 43 million.”

It’s a change you can believe in; don’t know about the hope part, though…

 
Comment by In Colorado
2011-02-01 14:18:03

“Meanwhile, in the US, the number of people on food stamps increased by 400,000 in November, hitting an all-time high of over 43 million.”

It kind of goes hand in hand with the link I posted the other day about how the only jobs being created are minimum wage, P/T jobs. Paul Craig Roberts predicted this years ago, in the middle of the housing bubble. He was shouted down as a crank back then.

Comment by measton
2011-02-01 17:52:35

Think of this as an option OPEC might take to reduce supply. Same with ethanol, and food aid.

 
 
 
Comment by wmbz
2011-02-01 12:47:46

Bernanke’s Poverty Effect: Foodstamp Recipients Jump by 400K In November, Hit New Record Of 43.6 Million
Submitted by Tyler Durden on 02/01/2011

Much has been said about Bernanke’s wealth effect and how it impacts a whopping 1% of the US population (traditionally, those very same bail out recipients who would be insolvent had Gen Ben not rescued the entire financial system at the expense of the DXY, which at last check was below 77 again). Unfortunately, a little less time has been spent discussing the equal and opposite effect: that of the poverty effect. Luckily, every month we get an update on this just as useful metric. And as of November, the SNAP program had 43.6 million participants, an increase of 400k from October, and a 14% increase, or 5.3 million from a year prior. We are confident that this 15% of the US population will be delighted to know that their rapidly diminishing dollars will end up acquiring increasingly less and less stuff.

 
Comment by wmbz
2011-02-01 12:57:55

Preckwinkle proposes more than 1,000 layoffs in county
Sun-Times Media

In her first-ever budget address, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle introduced a spending plan aimed at overhauling a government that has long made headlines for patronage hiring and waste.

“We’re making government leaner and meaner,’’ Preckwinkle vowed as she laid out her $3.1 billion budget proposal on Tuesday to Cook County Commissioners.

To close a $487 million deficit, her plan calls for at least 1,075 layoffs on a county payroll that counts 23,700 employees, refinancing the county’s debt and more aggressively going after unpaid taxes, including from businesses that are not paying county cigarette taxes.

Whether county residents will see a drop in services was unclear.

Comment by Arizona Slim
2011-02-01 13:26:29

I know I shouldn’t say things like this, as my own last name is a bit unusual, but Toni’s last name sounds like teasing bait. Much like that of the new governor of Colorado, John Hickenlooper.

Just imagine if both of them ran for President of the United States. On the same ticket.

At least Obama had Biden to offset his unusual last name.

Comment by In Colorado
2011-02-01 14:19:09

They would say that Hickenlooper is the “Hick from Colorado”

 
 
Comment by The_Overdog
2011-02-01 14:43:39

“We’re making government leaner and meaner”

Making government meaner is funny right? Here’s your water bill residents of 1193 Elm Street - EFF YOU!!! YOU LOOK LIKE A MONKEY’S UNCLE!!

 
 
Comment by Professor Bear
2011-02-01 13:19:21

I doubt Moneybags Meg, with her likely presidential aspirations, could have afforded to do this. By contrast, Brown really has nothing to lose, and everything to gain for his legacy if he can fix the budget mess.

CALIFORNIA — February 1, 2011 at 2:11 PM EDT
Brown Looks to Spend Political Capital on Fixing California’s Budget Mess
By: Spencer Michels

 
Comment by wmbz
2011-02-01 13:21:14

“My impression of Egypt,” writes Byron King, “is a land of a few very wealthy, well-connected people and a whole lot of poor and very poor folk.”

Thus, if 1 million people are demonstrating today in Cairo, guess where most of them fall on the income scale.

“I spent some memorable time in Egypt, back in my days in the Navy, particularly in the mid-1990s as a Navy Reservist. During one military exercise called Bright Star, I saw a lot of Egypt up close. In the company of an Egyptian military driver-translator-minder-handler, I travelled all over the place: Cairo, Alexandria, El Alamein, Suez and more.

“All in all, I spent quite a bit of time with members of the Egyptian military. I got into both the slums and the rural outback — as well as into the upper (and I mean upper) echelons of power and privilege. As to that power and privilege thing, hey… it’s nice work if you can get it, and that’s one part of the problem.

“There’s not much middle class. And the slums of the large cities stretch for mile after mile. It’s an urban squalor, the likes of which most North Americans cannot conceive. You have to see it to believe it. The poverty in some areas is stunning, staggering — as is the indifference of the elites.”

Hence, the following Tweet that just made it out of Egypt: “The government is spreading rumors of fear and of burglary and of violence. The only incidence of theft and burglary are done by the police themselves.”

Of course, Egypt has shut down Internet access. But Google is offering an ingenious workaround: People can dial a phone number and leave a voice message that’s automatically translated into a Twitter message using the identifying tag #egypt.

“Jobs are scarce in Egypt,” says Byron, assessing the economy. “Unemployment is easily north of 20%, and under employment is doubtless another 20% or so.

“It hasn’t helped Egypt that in the past 20 years, many of the world’s low-end factory jobs migrated to China. The Egyptian ‘working’ class has been left to toil at the truly local low-wage jobs, where they can’t be out-competed by cheap imports from China. Think about the low economic bar that sets.

“As Egyptian factories closed (or never even opened, due to the China sucking sound), much of the Egyptian working poor stopped working and became poorer. It created an opening for the Muslim Brotherhood to grow, because of its charitable work in distributing food and fuel to the urban masses — along with other messages, if you get my drift.”

As we write, the military has issued a statement ruling out attacks on civilian protesters. Meanwhile, the government has shut down all the mobile phone networks. How long can Hosni Mubarak hang on? We shall see…

~ Clipped from The 5Min. Forecast

Comment by DennisN
2011-02-01 17:40:37

People in the US simply can’t understand the level of poverty in much of the developing world. From my travels, I think the worst was the slums of Manilla. I had to drive from Manilla over to Subic once and that ride scared the willies out of me.

Comment by rms
2011-02-01 18:59:39

Colon on Panama’s Caribbean side is a tough place of modern pirate’s cove of cut throats and bawdy houses.

 
 
 
Comment by wmbz
2011-02-01 13:26:09

Well, well… we’ve reached a milestone in the housing bust: The Census Bureau’s “home-ownership rate” is now back close to pre-bubble levels.

66.5% of Americans owned a home in the last quarter of 2010 — the lowest since Q4 1998. The peak was 69.2% in 2004.

As we’ve pointed out before, this number is a farce. Once you take into account “homeowners” who have no equity… or negative equity… the number slides to roughly 43%.

Meanwhile, 11% of all U.S. homes are now vacant. Whatever happened to the housing bulls’ demographic argument that there will never be enough homes for all new home-buyers and immigrants to the U.S.? Busted.

~ 5Min. Forecast

Comment by In Colorado
2011-02-01 14:26:20

“Meanwhile, 11% of all U.S. homes are now vacant. Whatever happened to the housing bulls’ demographic argument that there will never be enough homes for all new home-buyers and immigrants to the U.S.? Busted.”

Kind of hard to buy a house when you bus tables at Applebees. These days you need to be a cubicle dweller to afford a house, and most cubicle dwellers know that their jobs hang by a thread, while Chindia licks its chops, ready to devour more American middle class jobs (note to cubicle dwellers: just because you’re not union doesn’t mean that Corporate America doesn’t think you’re over paid)

 
 
Comment by wmbz
2011-02-01 13:44:37

Not to worry, the great and powerful BB has his hands on the controls.

Are We Seeing a Whiff of Inflation? ~cnbc

Economists are pointing out that January’s super strong ISM manufacturing report could be signaling early signs of inflationary pressure.

The prices paid index jumped to 81.5 from 72.5, the highest level since 2008, when oil was spiking in the mid-$140s per barrel. In November, prices paid was at 69.5.

Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Pierpont Securities, notes that the survey also indicated 30 commodities were up in price and none were lower.

“It’s certainly pushing through the pipeline. The question is, as always, does it make it out the other end? The Fed has argued consistently that whatever input costs we get won’t feed through to the consumer because of slack in the economy,” he said.

Comment by In Colorado
2011-02-01 14:21:58

“The question is, as always, does it make it out the other end? The Fed has argued consistently that whatever input costs we get won’t feed through to the consumer because of slack in the economy”

Someone has to absorb the cost, they can’t sell at a loss.

Look at what’s happened with cars: Production has slipped while prices have shot up (in part because the supersized rebates are gone).

 
Comment by Doug in Boone, NC
2011-02-01 14:23:50

More like the lingering smell of a wet fart, instead of a whiff!

 
Comment by WT Economist
2011-02-01 16:04:08

That sounds great for stocks — higher costs, not higher revenues.

 
 
Comment by wmbz
2011-02-01 14:27:32

Borders Said to Prepare Bankruptcy Filing as Early as Next Week

Borders Group Inc. , the second- largest U.S. bookstore chain, may file for protection from creditors as soon as next week, according to three people familiar with the matter.

Comment by oxide
2011-02-01 14:51:20

Post this one tomorrow, wmbz. Quite the shock, considering that Borders are everywhere. Personally, I think they’ll be fine if they close enough stores. They are already closing Borders Express (the old Waldenbooks) in the malls.

 
Comment by Arizona Slim
2011-02-01 14:55:21

Once again, I’m reminded of the wonderful, original Borders store on State Street in Ann Arbor. One of my favorite off-campus study break venues. If Borders had stuck to that one location and focused on continuous improvement, it might have avoided this trouble.

The Borders flagship store is now around the corner on Liberty Street. Truth be told, I don’t go there unless I’m with one of my parents and they insist on going in.

Place seems a bit light on the serious, intellectual books for which Ann Arbor is quite the shopping place. Heck, it’s even hard to find a decent selection of scientific and mathematical books in there. Even the business books are pretty lightweight.

Comment by WT Economist
2011-02-01 16:07:15

Barnes & Noble expanded from one large store in New York.

I blame IT more than management for this. In my view, everyone selling information or entertainment in physical form — books, music, magazines, videos, anything — needs to merge into one great big chain and then continually downsize to the level of luddite demand.

They’ll be plenty of that for the forseeable future. But not enough for separate book stores, music stores, video stores, magazine stands, etc.

Comment by Arizona Slim
2011-02-01 16:11:48

Barnes & Noble expanded from one large store in New York.

And I remember their late 1970s radio commercials: “Barnes and Noble. Of course, of course!”

(Comments wont nest below this level)
 
Comment by DennisN
2011-02-01 17:43:04

Powells has stayed just one large store in Portland OR. Maybe their decision not to expand was the correct one. IIRC they ship all their web stuff from that one central location too.

(Comments wont nest below this level)
Comment by sleepless_near_seattle
2011-02-01 20:08:15

They have multiple sites (about 5 or 6) and a few distribution warehouses but all are in the Portland area.

 
 
 
 
Comment by Muggy
2011-02-01 16:44:53

“Borders Said to Prepare Bankruptcy Filing as Early as Next Week”

OMFG!! MC 900 Ft. Jesus is going to be unemployed. This is the canary in the coal mine, people. Game, set, match… the end times are here!!

Comment by awaiting wipeout
2011-02-01 19:13:05

One last shot as staying open in this brutal economic contraction. I read speculation (based on sources in the know) that it will be a reorganizational BK.

There goes my weekend reading. It’s people like me that caused it. That’s a lot of sq ft overhead, to have people treat it like a Library.

 
 
 
Comment by wmbz
2011-02-01 14:30:23

No surprise here, question is do the people want the old dictator billionaire to hand around until Sept.?

ITEM: Obama Asks Mubarak Not to Seek Re-Election

 
Comment by Muggy
2011-02-01 14:52:26

Today: 2nd rate increase at daycare in six months. Maybe in another 6 months there will be padlocks on the door.

Comment by Arizona Slim
2011-02-01 16:15:10

Business is tricky that way. You can discount yourself out of business. And you can price yourself out of business.

Keep us posted, Muggy.

Comment by Muggy
2011-02-01 16:37:43

“Business is tricky that way. ”

Trudat. I obviously don’t like paying more, but I am more concerned that they’re financially FUBAR’d. We were on the waiting list for this place for a year and they’re amazing.

 
 
Comment by Bill in Carolina
2011-02-01 16:22:14

How soon will it make sense for the lower-paid spouse to become a stay-at-home dad, or mom?

Comment by Muggy
2011-02-01 16:36:18

“How soon will it make sense for the lower-paid spouse to become a stay-at-home dad, or mom?”

Unfortunately not very likely.

 
Comment by rms
2011-02-01 18:48:55

“How soon will it make sense for the lower-paid spouse to become a stay-at-home dad, or mom?”

We made this choice.

It’s a difficult decision with great material sacrifice. We were able to do it because we were debt free and willing to move to fly-over country.

 
 
 
Comment by Muggy
2011-02-01 17:59:31

Another random thing:

I am too young to have truly been a part of the dot-com bust. But now, I am smack in the middle of this thing in a large entity and things are getting very ugly between people who are reacting to pressure and threats to their jobs. It is very unpleasant at times and I am very deliberate about not choosing sides and/or making comments on situations that are beyond my control and/or scope of employment.

Comment by rms
2011-02-01 18:51:10

If you are leveraged then the fear is palpable.

 
 
Comment by RioAmericanInBrasil
2011-02-01 19:13:37

I just tried to log onto channel surfing dot net to watch a college BB game.

Message: This domain has been seized by ICE-Homeland Security Investigations, Special Agent NY etc

Did Egypt teach them something?

Comment by Mike @Petco Park
2011-02-01 22:53:04

here is a much better alternative, HD too!

http://www.vipstand.net/sports/american-football.html

 
Comment by Mike @Petco Park
2011-02-01 22:56:00

vipstand dot net is way better for watching cable TV over the net anyway.

 
 
Comment by jeff saturday
2011-02-01 19:58:36

Federal anti-flipping rule waived through 2011 to keep homes selling
by Kim Miller
The Federal Housing Administration announced today it is extending its anti-flipping waiver through 2011 to encourage the resale of foreclosed homes.

The rule prohibits FHA to issue a mortgage on a home owned by a seller for less than 90 days.

From the press release:

This action will permit buyers to continue to use FHA-insured financing to purchase HUD-owned properties, bank-owned properties, or properties resold through private sales. It will allow homes to resell as quickly as possible, helping to stabilize real estate prices and to revitalize neighborhoods and communities.

“As I noted when we first announced this policy change early last year, because of the tightened credit market, FHA-insured mortgage financing is often the only means of financing available to potential homebuyers,” said FHA Administratoin Commissioner David Stevens. “Today I can report that this policy change has been effective. Since the original waiver went into effect on last February, FHA has insured more than 21,000 mortgages worth over $3.6 billion on properties resold within 90 days of acquisition.”

FHA research finds that in today’s market, acquiring, rehabilitating and reselling these properties to prospective homeowners often takes less than 90 days.

Prohibiting the use of FHA mortgage insurance for a subsequent resale within 90 days of acquisition adversely impacts the willingness of sellers to allow contracts from potential FHA buyers because they must consider holding costs and the risk of vandalism associated with allowing a property to sit vacant over a 90-day period of time.

Stevens added, “Because of past restrictions, FHA borrowers have often been shut out from buying affordable properties. This action enables our borrowers, especially first-time buyers, to take advantage of this opportunity and buy a home that has recently been rehabilitated. It will also help to move more foreclosed properties off the market and reduce the number of vacant homes in neighborhoods throughout this country.”

Comment by awiting wipeout
2011-02-01 20:27:11

Ah chit. I thought something would go our way for 2011. Thank you, Jeff. I appreciate the information.

 
Comment by awaiting wipeout
2011-02-01 20:45:26

They continue to price us cash buyers for a primary residence out of the market, and keep the comp prices up. I just want a home, and our govt loves feeding all these worthless flippers (it’s a cottage industry). Some of the flips I’ve seen are sitting on the market for 3-5 months already with no price reductions. No real issues addressed, just cosmetic done shabby.

With life’s vicissitudes and Glaucoma, owning outright would really help us. Darn.

 
Comment by Professor Bear
2011-02-01 21:55:37

“The rule prohibits FHA to issue a mortgage on a home owned by a seller for less than 90 days.”

So does this mean that the U.S. taxpayer gets to backstop the mortgages on flip homes? We can’t even afford a home of our own, so I am just thrilled to hear my tax dollars are going to help insure others’ second home infestments…

 
Comment by rms
2011-02-01 23:33:23

“This action will permit buyers to continue to use FHA-insured financing to purchase HUD-owned properties, bank-owned properties, or properties resold through private sales. It will allow homes to resell as quickly as possible, helping to stabilize real estate prices and to revitalize neighborhoods and communities.”

Sometime ago I posited that the taxpayers would be asked to finance the “approved” buyer’s block purchases of foreclosed homes on the cheap, and quickly flip them for a profit with minimal risk.

 
Comment by jeff saturday
2011-02-02 18:57:51

Kimberly Miller
Real Estate Reporter
•E-mail Kimberly Miller here
•Call Kimberly Miller at 561-820-4435
•http://blogs.palmbeachpost.com/realtime/

 
 
Comment by exeter
2011-02-01 20:18:14

ReMax CEO Margaret Kelly is a disgusting liar.

Comment by awaiting wipeout
2011-02-01 21:16:31

exeter
Shucks, don’t keep us in suspense, what did the pos say?

Comment by combotechie
2011-02-01 21:57:16

“Buy now or be priced out forever.”

 
 
Comment by rms
2011-02-01 23:39:23

Hopefully you weren’t expecting her to build a better mousetrap when lying earns more.

 
 
Name (required)
E-mail (required - never shown publicly)
URI
Your Comment (smaller size | larger size)
You may use <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong> in your comment.

Trackback responses to this post