December 13, 2011

An Endless Plateau Of Foreclosures

The Chicago Tribune reports from Illinois. “Congressional candidate James P. Hickey’s finances are coming under scrutiny. The Tribune has found the former mortgage broker filed for bankruptcy last year and lost six rental properties to foreclosure. Hickey pins his financial woes directly on the housing market collapse. Hickey’s family of six bought a new $600,000 Orland Park home. But by 2008, he said, the businesses started drying up and tenants stopped paying as they lost jobs. The following year, Hickey said, he shuttered his companies while foreclosure suits on his rental properties started rolling in.”

“‘I have been there in the trenches,’ Hickey said. ‘I know what it is like to have to decide between putting gas in the car and food.’”

The St Louis Dispatch. “Kirk Lewis had a heck of a time moving to St. Louis. His employer wanted him here, and he wanted to come. But how do you get rid of a house in the depression state of Michigan? So, Lewis waited as his home sat on the market for about six months before a buyer knocked. The price was ‘nowhere near what I was asking for,’ he said.”

“But Lewis figured he would make it up when he became a homebuyer in St. Louis, and he was right. He found ‘an overabundance of homes’ and ‘a lot of value.’ Sellers asking $300,000-plus for homes were willing to knock 10 percent off to get a deal. Lewis and his fiancée bought a four-bedroom, three-bath home on a golf course in Wentzville. ‘It worked out real well,’ said Lewis, who closed the deal in October. The drubbing he took in Michigan matched the bargain he found here. ‘It was a wash,’ he said.”

“Buyers certainly think they’re in the catbird’s seat. ‘Every deal is harder to get done. Buyers want the price reduced,’ said real estate agent Diana Mayfield. ‘But the market isn’t as bad as they think it is. You can’t get everything at half price.’”

The Middletown Journal in Ohio. “Ohio’s housing vacancy rate jumped 50 percent between 2000 and 2010, the 10th largest leap among the states and far above the U.S. average of 33 percent, the Government Accountability Office said last week. Across the nation, the number of vacant housing units, excluding units for seasonal migrant workers, climbed from 6.8 million in 2000 to 10.3 million in 2010, a change of 51.2 percent.”

“‘The job loss, the foreclosure crisis are compounding on each other,’ said local real estate expert Doug Harnish, principal of Market Metrics. ‘The market has declined, assuming there is a market. There are homes in many, many cities where you couldn’t sell a house at any price.’”

The Zanesville Times Recorder. “Although Perry is one of the poorest counties in Ohio, its unemployment rate has risen from 8.2 percent to just 10.5 in the past 10 years, compared to the adjoining counties of Muskingum, which has 11 percent, and Morgan, which has 11.4 percent. Kathy McMillan, of Sayre & McMillan Real Estate, admits employment is down. ‘But we have become a bedroom community,’ she said. ‘We have had a number of foreclosures, but many people are starting first homes and bringing them to life again.’”

“Her business partner, Richard Sayre, agreed that the economy is not like it was five years ago. ‘Houses were appraised so high during that period,’ McMillan said. ‘But it was easier to get a loan.’”

News Net 5 in Ohio. “It’s a foreclosure pilot project proposal, that if approved, could significantly speed up the foreclosure process in Cuyahoga County. ‘Setting a date will impress upon the parties that the court is actively engaged in the process,’ said Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Nancy Margaret Russo. ‘It increases the accountability of the parties throughout the process.’”

“In a study prepared by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, researchers found the 27,000 homes sold carried a county assessed value of $4 billion; however, the actual sale price of these houses may have totaled as little as $2.6 billion. The report concluded that Cuyahoga County residents who sold their homes in 2010, may have lost as much as $1.4 billion in value. Russo is hoping her proposal will be approved and put into action into action as early as January 2012.”

Fox 4 Kansas City. “Investigators in the small Missouri town of Wood Heights say that they may have walked into the filthiest houses they have ever seen, and now police say that the people responsible can’t be found. Authorities serving a foreclosure eviction on the home just east of Excelsior Springs say that the place was filled with abandoned pets, and nearly every inch of the floor was covered with animal feces and trash.”

“‘There’s no clean spot in this house. There’s nothing, there’s nothing that’s liveable,’ said Kristina Baxter of the Excelsior Springs Animal Control. ‘There’s no place to sit, there’s no place to sleep, and these people just moved out last night and that’s what really floors me.’”

The Journal Sentinel in Wisconsin. “Mortgage foreclosure filings in November jumped 16.9% from the same month last year in southeastern Wisconsin, but filings this year still remain behind 2010’s pace. Economist Brian Jacobsen said jobs and new household formation - young adults going out on their own - are crucial to a housing recovery. ‘With over 6.4 million mortgages delinquent and over 2 million homes being repossessed nationwide, it looks like we’ve reached an endless plateau in terms of foreclosures,’ said Jacobsen, senior portfolio strategist at Wells Fargo Advantage Funds and associate professor at Wisconsin Lutheran College.”

“‘Job creation would help, but so would household formation. A lot of kids moved back in with their parents and families have combined households. With only 600,000 households being formed this year, that is well below the 1.5 million pace in 2006.’”

The Fond du Lac Reporter in Wisconsin. “Comparing October 2011 vs. October 2010, home sales increased 20.8 percent in Fond du Lac County, 11.3 percent in the Northeast part of the state, and 13.5 percent in Wisconsin. Home values continued to sink in most markets, including Fond du Lac. Statewide, the median home price dropped 5.7 percent compared to last year. Northeast Wisconsin sank 4.9 percent, and our county fell off 6.7 percent. Sellers have to continue to take into account that foreclosures continue to weigh on the market, affecting even their own home.”

“Take out your favorite pair of sneakers and you might see the Nike swoosh logo. Tracing it with your finger, you’ll see that it goes down sharply but then rises slowly to the right in a gradual but strong fashion. This is how I see the housing recovery. Buyers will have to take heed. Prices will start to rise this coming year, mortgage rates are still incredibly low, and there are ample homes from which to choose.”

“Sellers will still have to price their homes aggressively to get noticed. There is well over a year’s worth of homes on the market, and a balanced market has only six month’s supply. So take a hint from that famous shoe swoosh: Just do it.”

The Des Moines Register in Iowa. “Kyle Golay saved for nearly two years to come up with the down payment for the $224,000 home he wanted to buy in West Des Moines. The 25-year-old didn’t need to go far for financing, though. His father, Doug Golay, banked the purchase, with a below-market interest rate, no credit check or closing costs. ‘The money could sit in the bank, where it wasn’t earning much, or we could invest it in our son,’ said Doug Golay. ‘He is repaying us with a better interest rate than we could get from a CD.’”

“Doug Golay said he’s confident his son is a good risk and said he would offer the same deal to his other son once he graduates from college and has a good job. ‘You can rent and waste money, or you can buy and wake up in 20 years and find your home is mostly paid for,’ said Golay.”

The Globe Gazette in Iowa. “The owner of several rental properties in Mason City apparently skipped town without paying his bills, leaving more than 60 tenants in limbo and a bank holding mortgages totaling more than half a million dollars. Cathy Burtness, director of the Mason City Housing Authority, said she was able to find housing for all of her tenants except one who wanted to remain where he was and who had a different landlord who was fixing up the property.”

“‘The others are vacant unless there are vagrants,’ she said.”

The Star Press on Indiana. “One of the Muncie Action Plan’s biggest successes to date has been getting community members who are working individually on the city’s problems to work with each other on solutions. For example, Ball State University architecture instructor Cindy Brubaker’s graduate students in historic preservation were assessing vacant houses in the 500-700 blocks of West Main. The students then proposed to the group three ways to make a short-term impact on the abandoned houses on West Main: a lawn cleanup, boarding up windows and doors, and cleaning out the interior.”

“Not only does boarding up houses protect them from scavengers and the elements, ‘it also keeps them from looking so bombed out,’ said Bill Morgan, the city’s historic preservation officer.”

News and Tribune in Indiana. “During the Southern Indiana Realtor Association luncheon last week, the year’s events were discussed with optimism. Part of the optimism is a growth in SIRA membership, more than $2 million in real estate sales and more than 3,400 active listings. For even more encouragement, SIRA welcomed guest speaker Dan Breault, EVP, regional director, RE/Max of Indiana. ‘You are qualified and you make a difference in the lives of the people you serve even in a lousy time,’ said Breault.”




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42 Comments »

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower©
2011-12-13 07:23:48

“Ohio’s housing vacancy rate jumped 50 percent between 2000 and 2010, the 10th largest leap among the states and far above the U.S. average of 33 percent, the Government Accountability Office said last week. Across the nation, the number of vacant housing units, excluding units for seasonal migrant workers, climbed from 6.8 million in 2000 to 10.3 million in 2010, a change of 51.2 percent.

That passage left me scratching my head. It’s always best to just check the arithmetic in a situation like this:

(10.3/6.8-1)*100 = 51.5 percent increase.

I have no clue where the 33 percent figure came from, UNLESS…
(10.3-6.8)/10.3*100 = 33.98 percent. Evidently, some journalist has been practicing math without a license.

Comment by CincyDad
2011-12-13 10:52:18

Gotta jump in here about the Middletown journal article since I was born and raised there (family still there) and I live not very far from it at the moment.

Yes, the numbers above are confussing. Poor reporting. The Middletown Journal is owned by the Dayton Daily Newspaper these days, and their journalists (who actually wrote this article) can be detailed-challenged, to say the least.

Anyway, Middletown Ohio (pop = 50k, located between Cincinnati and Dayton) is a company town, a steel town (Armco Steel, now AK Steel). The plant occupies about 20 sq miles and most of the city economy is tied to it. The Steel Mill peaked in 1977 (11k employees) and began declining since then (4k employees today). Anyone with 3 brain cells left town so all that remains are retirees and the un-employable. Most of the company employees live 10 miles away in better communities.

The transition of the city from a decent middle-clase city to grow up in to what it is today is absolutely amazing, and should be furtile ground for many PhD disstertations. The school district is absolutely terrible today. The city streets haven’t been re-paved in decades. The town is constantly broke. You get the picture.

The real estate market is in much worse in Middletown than any where else in SW Ohio. The neighboring communities have experienced some of the strongest growth in the nation over the past 15 years, but it’s all by-passing the city. The neighboring county (where I live) has been one of the fastest growing counties in the country the past 10 years. And income levels are much higher than in Middletown.

And as to a general note about the Ohio economy, it went into a recession in 2001 and never really came out of it. There was some
small glimps of economic activity over the decade, but the state as a whole never improved much. There were pockets that did very well in the past decade (Cincinnati, especially north of the city where I live, and Columbus, again in the northern communities) but the state as a whole is still in the 2001 recession. Apart from Cincy/Columbus, the remaining cities are mostly tied to heavy industry and that’s what caused the state to remain in the recession. Cincy and Columbus are not heavy industry, and did much better than the rest of the state.

Comment by Arizona Slim
2011-12-13 12:12:37

Anyone with 3 brain cells left town so all that remains are retirees and the un-employable. Most of the company employees live 10 miles away in better communities.

I can remember bicycling through towns like that. And that was back in the early 1980s. It was clearly obvious that anyone with any get up and go had gotten up and left.

 
Comment by BetterRenter
2011-12-13 13:46:08

“And as to a general note about the Ohio economy, it went into a recession in 2001 and never really came out of it.”

Boy, you have that right. People who don’t live here don’t really know what it’s like. The national news keep talking around the Second Great Depression that really started in the Midwest around 2000/1, as if it just doesn’t exist. It just took time to spread like a lymphomatic cancer to the rest of the country.

The heartland is pretty much dead. The balance sheet is assuredly negative and will never recover. The Midwest needs tens of billions of dollars just to remain afloat, and I hope the coasts know they will be footing the bill. And they’d better, if they want to stop us from boiling out of here looking to loot their cities directly. In fact, a direct coastal tax to keep Midwesterners fed, heated and housed, just to keep us here and away from competing for jobs on the coasts, would make the most long-term sense. There’s really no choice in the matter, since it’s not like we’re actually going to let ourselves starve and freeze to death while the coasts roll in wealth. (And we’re armed.)

Comment by 2banana
2011-12-13 14:35:44

Considering nearly all our food and energy comes from the mid-west - I’d say you have the situation reversed…

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Comment by jbunniii
2011-12-13 15:00:30

Sounds like maybe we’re building a fence along the wrong border.

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Comment by BetterRenter
2011-12-14 11:34:08

You already built a fence. You coasters call us the “flyover”. You already built a fence of distance and contempt and capital reduction. You already built a barrier of inert rust and crumbling concrete where before there stood prosperous cities.

The only reason the coasters tolerate the organized crime in Washington, LA and NYC is because they are the beneficiaries. The Midwest doesn’t see the benefit to world trade; the ports do. And the Great Lakes ports are a joke.

By the time enough millions of coasters are cast into poverty so that they will finally stop supporting this system of imperial rapacity, we in the Midwest will be be long dead. We won’t just lay around waiting to die.

 
 
Comment by Barnaby33
2011-12-13 17:48:08

Seems a good reason to keep the meth labs running at full tilt and let nature, or addiction sort out the rest. What like nobody in California owns a gun, or is a refugee from somewhere else with problems.

Gimme or else, I think that’s what you said.

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Comment by BetterRenter
2011-12-14 11:27:56

Yes, that’s what I said. We are being abandoned by the rest of the nation, literally starved and frozen out of our own homes. This is what we get for feeding you? This what we get for having been the iron heart of the nation, having built the nation with steel?

So: If you refuse to employ us, then gimme, or else. When survival looms, civility has no place in society. You forced this. You wanted US to spend OUR time surviving instead of prospering. It all has to do with capital, and you’re removing it all. What other response did you expect? That we’d just lay down and die, to suit your spreadsheets?

Employ us or there will be violence– looting and murder. Quote me on that one.

 
Comment by Carl Morris
2011-12-14 14:20:59

They won’t care as long as it’s flyover people looting and murdering each other. And how many will travel 1000 miles to do it to them?

On the plus side the midwest has everything it needs to take care of itself…at least to an Amish standard of living. If they can just keep the land from being taken to satisfy unpaid taxes and that sort of thing.

 
 
 
 
Comment by CincyDad
2011-12-13 10:57:11

Thanks Ben, for keeping an eye on some of these po-dunk smaller cities in Ohio. The second-tier Ohio cities, with a population of 50k - 150k, are disappering in population and jobs as well as in news coverage.

 
Comment by Ian
2011-12-13 21:55:21

Turns out all the stats about housing sales in the last 5 years were BS:

http://money.cnn.com/2011/12/13/real_estate/home_sales_revision/index.htm?hpt=hp_c2

 
 
Comment by 2banana
2011-12-13 07:28:23

“‘I have been there in the trenches,’ Hickey said. ‘I know what it is like to have to decide between putting gas in the car and food.’”

Plus I am a democrat - and I only fight for the little people and to take on those evil republicans who want to starve our kids and throw grandma in the street…

Comment by BetterRenter
2011-12-13 13:48:36

Oho! A Democrat, eh? Why not take back control of your own party, which by borrowing $1.4 trillion each year is doing the same thing as starving kids and evicting grandma?

 
Comment by Diogenes (Tampa, Fl)
2011-12-13 21:13:54

As I recall, Ohio and Wisconsin, both voted OBAMA in 2008.
Congratulations. How’s that hope and change working fer ya?

Comment by BetterRenter
2011-12-14 11:43:28

Most states are solidly purple, staying in the range of 60/40 and 40/60. At least 47 of the 50 states practice “winner take all” with the electoral votes. Can you be any more ignorant about that topic?

I’m going to vote for Ron Paul again in the primary, but we know what will happen to him in the last 9 months before the election, don’t we? He will be made an “uncandidate” by the corporate media. So he’s likely to never even show up on the final ballot. How’s THAT anti-democracy system working for you, chum?

 
 
 
Comment by 2banana
2011-12-13 07:29:49

I just hope Lewis does not need to move in the next ten years because he is going to learn this lesson AGAIN…

“But Lewis figured he would make it up when he became a homebuyer in St. Louis, and he was right. He found ‘an overabundance of homes’ and ‘a lot of value.’ Sellers asking $300,000-plus for homes were willing to knock 10 percent off to get a deal. Lewis and his fiancée bought a four-bedroom, three-bath home on a golf course in Wentzville. ‘It worked out real well,’ said Lewis, who closed the deal in October. The drubbing he took in Michigan matched the bargain he found here. ‘It was a wash,’ he said.”

Comment by Montana
2011-12-13 09:38:30

10 percent! woohoo!

 
Comment by skroodle
2011-12-13 18:06:55

Lewis, who sells tractor-trailers for a living, and his fiancée bought a four-bedroom, three-bath home on a golf course in Wentzville.

I think I see a small flaw in his plan.

 
 
Comment by 2banana
2011-12-13 07:38:54

WOW - Even a dad expects from his OWN son:

A down payment
A good paying job that covers the mortgage
An internal credit check and character check

Before he lends him a mortgage…

Funny how our banks can’t figure that out. Or course, the dad can’t resell his mortgage to the taxpayers…

“Doug Golay said he’s confident his son is a good risk and said he would offer the same deal to his other son once he graduates from college and has a good job. ‘You can rent and waste money, or you can buy and wake up in 20 years and find your home is mostly paid for,’ said Golay.”

 
Comment by 2banana
2011-12-13 07:41:00

And only $200,000 in college loans to be able to enter this field…

For example, Ball State University architecture instructor Cindy Brubaker’s graduate students in historic preservation were assessing vacant houses in the 500-700 blocks of West Main. The students then proposed to the group three ways to make a short-term impact on the abandoned houses on West Main: a lawn cleanup, boarding up windows and doors, and cleaning out the interior.”

“Not only does boarding up houses protect them from scavengers and the elements, ‘it also keeps them from looking so bombed out,’ said Bill Morgan, the city’s historic preservation officer.”

Comment by The_Overdog
2011-12-13 08:37:35

Am I the only one who thinks boarded up doors and windows makes a bombed out house look equally bombed out, and a non-bombed out house look bombed out?

If you are walking past, you are thinking “man, it must be tough to enter and exit the door everyday for the people who live there, with those nailed on boards in the way.”

Comment by skroodle
2011-12-13 18:09:43

Boarded up windows and doors look horrible on a house and really, do nothing to keep people out (people that have a hammer that is).

 
 
Comment by oxide
2011-12-13 11:59:08

‘Not only does boarding up houses protect them from scavengers and the elements, it also keeps them from looking so bombed out.”

Well now that’s some graduate level research right there.

 
 
Comment by 2banana
2011-12-13 07:43:04

A whole $2 million in sales???

What is that - like 10 homes? Compared to 3,400 listing???

“During the Southern Indiana Realtor Association luncheon last week, the year’s events were discussed with optimism. Part of the optimism is a growth in SIRA membership, more than $2 million in real estate sales and more than 3,400 active listings. For even more encouragement,

 
Comment by Carl Morris
2011-12-13 09:04:57

“Her business partner, Richard Sayre, agreed that the economy is not like it was five years ago. ‘Houses were appraised so high during that period,’ McMillan said. ‘But it was easier to get a loan.’”

That’s an odd coincidence.

Comment by skroodle
2011-12-13 18:10:49

Its like they just can’t connect the dots.

Comment by Diogenes (Tampa, Fl)
2011-12-13 21:18:56

Well, actually, they did connect the dots. As long as the prices are continually rising, then there is no problem with a potential default.
That’s what they saw…………they just haven’t figured the reverse trend thingy.

 
 
 
Comment by WT Economist
2011-12-13 10:05:19

“‘It worked out real well,’ said Lewis, who closed the deal in October. The drubbing he took in Michigan matched the bargain he found here. ‘It was a wash,’ he said.”

That’s what happened in the 1980s housing bubble on the coasts. Those who bought and sold at the peak, and those who did neither, were unaffected. Only members of my generation who bought for the first time (particularly condos) and older generations who cashed out and left were affected, the former was lowers and the latter as winners.

The difference this time is that not only did the bubble happen in most of the country, but cash-out refis and HELOCs spread the devastation to those who simply stayed in the same house throughout the bubble and bust.

Comment by 2banana
2011-12-13 10:29:53

Well, that and you still needed a job/20% down at the height of the 1980’s bubble and that the US Government put 1500 bankers in jail for fraud when it popped…

 
 
Comment by BetterRenter
2011-12-13 13:59:56

“The owner of several rental properties in Mason City apparently skipped town without paying his bills, leaving more than 60 tenants in limbo and a bank holding mortgages totaling more than half a million dollars.”

I’m so tired of this apathetic nonsense. It’s not possible to be a big holder of notes and just “skip town”. It’s not 1891, it’s effin’ 2011. The banks can locate this guy… if they chose to. The reporter can locate this guy; again, if she chose to. But nobody wants to dig that up. Why?

I see the same trend in my city. “Owners” (i.e. the money-renters) are constantly being let go, particularly the wealthy ones who have bank accounts that can be dinged for back taxes. The city never seems to go after these people, instead relying on its treasury to pay for cleaning up or knocking down properties. It also relies heavily on socking any future owners with the back tax bill.

Comment by In Colorado
2011-12-13 15:22:03

He might have gone back to the “home country”, took the money and ran.

 
 
Comment by maus
2011-12-13 17:40:21

It appears that NAR has made a huge mistake, they have been double counting home sales and the figures are much lower that reported.

http://money.cnn.com/2011/12/13/real_estate/home_sales_revision/index.htm?hpt=hp_c1

Comment by Arizona Slim
2011-12-13 17:45:14

Here in Tucson, the median house price recently went down to where it was in 2001. There’s been an uptick since then, but the general trend is still heading toward the cellar.

 
 
Comment by Ed Rippee
2011-12-13 19:33:51

Is there ever any good news? Sometimes, I just want to read something positive about the housing market.

Comment by Ben Jones
2011-12-13 19:59:25

Sure Ed, the news on housing gets better every day. Prices are falling, people can afford more. They don’t have to take on crazy loans to buy and they have more income left over after the payments to enjoy life.

 
Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower©
2011-12-13 20:33:01

The American people are waking up to the financial wisdom of renting. American households properly informed with the information needed to make better financial decisions is something positive about the housing market worth celebrating!

Nov. 28, 2011, 12:01 a.m. EST
How to know whether it’s time to buy a home
Six considerations for those weighing whether to rent or buy
By Amy Hoak, MarketWatch

CHICAGO (MarketWatch) — As another year of the housing downturn ends, some are wondering if it finally is more advantageous to buy instead of rent, given discounted home prices and mortgage rates near historical lows.

The answer not only depends on where you live, but also your personal finances, the stability of your job and what you expect for home prices and rental rates in the years ahead.

Historically, renting has been the better choice, according to recent research.

Renting was the better move about 75% of the time, according to “Lessons from over 30 years of buy versus rent decisions: Is the American Dream always wise?,” a paper scheduled for publication next year.

 
 
Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower©
2011-12-13 20:22:31

“Prices will start to rise this coming year, mortgage rates are still incredibly low, and there are ample homes from which to choose.”

Each year, the Great Pumpkin rises out of the pumpkin patch that he thinks is the most sincere. He’s gotta pick this one. He’s got to. I don’t see how a pumpkin patch can be more sincere than this one. You can look around and there’s not a sign of hypocrisy. Nothing but sincerity as far as the eye can see.

– Linus

“It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown”

“Sellers will still have to price their homes aggressively to get noticed. There is well over a year’s worth of homes on the market, and a balanced market has only six month’s supply. So take a hint from that famous shoe swoosh: Just do it.”

Sellers pricing their homes aggressively leads to lower, not higher, sale prices.

 
Comment by Robin
2011-12-13 22:10:20

Why is it that we now see more well-muscled, meth-addicted former construction workers being interviewed as the consummate man-on-the street?

Because they are.

Existential speed on it’s inevitable, slow decline.

Comment by Robin
2011-12-13 22:12:58

Count the missing teeth. Trust me.

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower©
2011-12-13 23:15:41

My sister, a public defender, has clients with that issue.

 
 
 
Comment by Scott Paulson
2011-12-20 21:19:09

I agree with Ed up there. I do want to say that this is a well thought out post. The paragraph from The Globe Gazette in Iowa was pretty shocking. I know a lot of professionals form Iowa and that kind of behavior is unheard of. Guess that says more about what’s happening out there than we care to think.

 
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