March 15, 2014

Bits Bucket for March 15, 2014

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

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Comment by Roy G Biv
2014-03-15 00:31:29

CAESAR Ha! who calls?
CASCA Bid every noise be still: peace yet again!
CAESAR Who is it in the press that calls on me?
I hear a tongue, shriller than all the music,
Cry ‘Caesar!’ Speak; Caesar is turn’d to hear.
SOOTHSAYER Bew are the ides of March.
CAESAR What man is that?
BRUTUS A Soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March.
CAESAR Set him before me; let me see his face.
CASSIUS Fellow, come from the throng; look upon Caesar.
CAESAR What say’st thou to me now? speak once again.
SOOTHSAYER Beware the ides of March.
CAESAR He is a dreamer; let us leave him: pass.

Comment by LolaLOL
2014-03-15 06:46:01

Beware the Mangos of Lola.
Beware the webcam of Mango.

Comment by albuquerquedan
2014-03-15 10:09:32

Never mind the Koch brothers
Beware the crouch brothers (Joe and Lola).

P.S. I know it is pronounced “coke” but that is not nearly as funny.

Comment by LolaLOL
2014-03-16 00:06:40

Crouching Mango, Hidden Brony.

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Comment by 2banana
2014-03-15 06:50:24

If you like your Shakespeare, you can keep your Shakespeare…

Comment by Muggy
2014-03-15 07:38:17

Either you are with Shakespeare, or you are the terrorists.

Comment by LolaLOL
2014-03-15 07:57:10

Shakespeare didn’t build that.

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Comment by Muggy
2014-03-15 08:13:45

True, but Shakespeare has always been misunderestimated.

Comment by albuquerquedan
2014-03-15 08:29:20

The “Taming of the Shrew” is not about Bill and Hillary?

Comment by 2banana
2014-03-15 08:33:03

What part does Monica play?

Comment by tresho
2014-03-15 09:55:46

Say some more smooth sooth, man.

Comment by that_guy
2014-03-15 01:19:17

When the 08/09 no banker left behind act was passed, I told myself, self, this is bad.

Really bad.

Banks suddenly got a new move to add to their playbooks - crash the market, get lots of $$$. Politicians love it, as they get a piece of the action to help with their future campaigns/offshore retirement accounts.

With such a successful shakedown, I figured we could expect to see it replayed - it just requires a bit of time. We know most Muricans would forget their heads if they werent attached to their necks - hell, we’re in the 3rd stock market bubble in 15 years and the 2nd housing bubble in 10. The sociopathic politicians have to be licking their chops drawing up plans with their bankster buddies on when to crash this sucker again. You can almost feel the pressure, wanting to explode. But what will be the excuse? The scum need to be able to blame someone else - political enemies, other countries - anyone but those that put the policies in place. Interesting times indeed.

Comment by LolaLOL
2014-03-15 06:49:35

“hell, we’re in the 3rd stock market bubble in 15 years and the 2nd housing bubble in 10″

Really good point.

Comment by Neuromance
2014-03-15 07:45:26

The sociopathic politicians have to be licking their chops drawing up plans with their bankster buddies on when to crash this sucker again.

They keep getting both money and votes. The politicians will not change anything if their actions keep getting them into office.

People vote for the incumbent or a challenger based on their own quality of life. If politicians can keep the big donors happy while keeping the majority of registered voters happy, they’re going to keep doing what they’re doing.

Here’s an interesting note: We’ve had inflation over the past five years in a ZIRP environment. As well as declining wages. Japan had a ZIRP environment, but in a slightly deflationary environment - basically, their buying power didn’t change. Americans have had their purchasing power eroded via inflation and reduced wages.

It is true that bubbles enrich the cronies. Look at graphs of income growth by wealth level. If the same politicians keep getting elected, Too Big To Fail eventually will become Too Big To Bail.

Comment by Pete
2014-03-15 18:16:10

“People vote for the incumbent or a challenger based on their own quality of life.”

The “Are you better off now…..” thing? If so, we are screwed.

Comment by Jingle Male
2014-03-15 02:09:48

There is a lot of discussion here about the real estate market reaching another bubble like the 2006-2007 market. I see many differences from 2007, the biggest one being the large amount of fraud and easy financing that occurred in 2004-2007 does not exist today. If you could identify one factor that created the 2006-2007 bubble, it is sub-prime financing and the driving mania for all the unqualified buyers that would pay anything for a house.

Foreclosures are down. Defaults are down. Inventory for sale today is only 30-40% of the inventory levels of 2007. I do not observe any homeowners who purchase in the last 5 years having problems making their loan payments.

The conditions I observe do indicate price increases have risen to levels where some people have decided not to buy. That is much different from deciding to walk away from a home in which you already live. It was the rampant jingle mail factor of the housing bubble that sent the market crashing in 2006-2007. I have not heard about or seen examples of jingle mail in the last few years.

Comment by 2banana
2014-03-15 06:38:01

What has changed in the last 7 years?

Unemployment up.
Wages down.
Bailouts up.
Personal debt up.
Savings down.
Government debt way, way up.

Housing prices are 5-7x income again.

We are in bubble again. Bubbles pop.

Comment by MacBeth
2014-03-15 08:55:07

This is a very significant point - in a declining wages environment, a run-up in housing prices as large as that from 2001-2008 isn’t required to reach bubble stage.

What is the affordability of housing these days? How does it compare with 7-10 years ago?

Inflation in a ZIRP environment.
Declining wages.
Increasing taxes.
Fewest people working since 1978 (%-wise).

Further, not only is the printing press making your dollars worth less, it also is reducing the value of what you already own. No? Who can afford to buy?

As others here have said, I’m not sure there ever was a housing bubble. Credit bubble, definitely. And that bubble continues on.

Comment by Lion Realtors
2014-03-15 06:52:41

You’re the $90k building permit clown.

Next week I file for a permit in Fairfield County, CT for work in the $10-15 million range.

Cost of permit? $2,700.

Comment by the Central Scrutinizer
2014-03-15 06:59:05

Wrong username bro

Comment by Ol'Bubba
2014-03-15 07:03:33

He’s got so many that it must be difficult to keep track of them.

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Comment by Housing Analyst
2014-03-15 07:18:05

Wrong again ol barbara.

Comment by albuquerquedan
2014-03-15 07:56:03

” Et tu, Brute?”

Comment by scdave
2014-03-15 08:30:53

He’s got so many that it must be difficult to keep track of them ?

No Chit….Hard to “ignore” them all when there are so many and you don’t know who is who…Although I like welcoming new bloggers I never no if its the resident problem child…Just find myself only responding with the names that I know…

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Comment by Lion Realtors
2014-03-15 08:33:55

awww… poor thing. As if weeding through your raft of misinformation and untruths everyday is a picnic.

Right Sargeant Schultz?

Comment by LolaLOL
2014-03-15 06:59:15

Jingle Fraud doing some good old REIC pimping. Look you can cherry pick data all you want but it is going down. You are just a cheerleader looking for a way to justify your cruddy past investments or your future prospects. Only a MORON would buy now. An absolute MORON. And this is EVERYWHERE right now because of the drops in FHA limits.

And this is all that matters in RE — should you buy right now. That is what makes up the market. All the rest of this blather of people trying to justify a purchase already made a couple of years ago is just stroking.

How much did the FHA limits go down in your area?

And any discussion of San Francisco real estate near Google, mountain view, Sunnyvale, all that area ought to simply be banned as off topic anyway.

Comment by Housing Analyst
2014-03-15 08:23:23

J._fraud paid what….. $200/sq ft for 20 year old shacks?

sucker! lol

Comment by MacBeth
2014-03-15 09:03:44

“And any discussion of San Francisco real estate near Google, mountain view, Sunnyvale, all that area ought to simply be banned as off topic anyway.”

I’ve long thought that talk about regional insanity (central California, Denver, Austin, Washington, New York) distorts the board’s overall view.

Much of the country does not participate in the drooling insanity of thought that marks such cities. They can’t afford to, monetarily or spiritually. Soon, they will not be able to support Austin, much less California.

Comment by scdave
2014-03-15 11:04:43

Much of the country does not participate in the drooling insanity of thought that marks such cities ??

drooling insanity of thought ?? How about just the facts Jack now matter what zip it may be from…

Ben long time ago use to post a thread called “Local market observations”…Many would input what they see in their local markets…It was enlightening to many who had no knowledge of these markets…I leaned much about Florida through Palmy and about Flagstaff through Ben…Tucson through Arizona slim……

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Comment by Whac-A-Bubble™
2014-03-15 09:11:47

“How much did the FHA limits go down in your area?”

2014 Conforming Loan Limits for California Counties
California Counties / One-Family / Two-Family / Three-Family / Four-Family
Sacramento County $474,950 $608,000 $734,950 $913,350

Comment by Whac-A-Bubble™
2014-03-15 07:07:29

“Foreclosures are down. Defaults are down. Inventory for sale today is only 30-40% of the inventory levels of 2007. I do not observe any homeowners who purchase in the last 5 years having problems making their loan payments.”

One similarity between then and now: A plethora of naysayers reciting litanies of reasons why there was no bubble.

Comment by JingleMale
2014-03-15 09:17:18

You’ve been singing that tune for 8 years now. Right thru all those years I bought houses and achieved outstanding returns.

Comment by Blue Skye
2014-03-15 09:36:26

We all underestimated the insanity of the Federal Reserve and FedGov to reflate the bubble before a real correction could occur. It is reflated and it is still the same massive manic housing bubble. If you bought the dip it can only be because you cannot perceive what would be normal, a child of the mania.

Or, the rest of us are nuts, for not picking up nickels in front of the steam roller!

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Comment by Prime_Is_Contained
2014-03-15 10:26:20

We all underestimated the insanity of the Federal Reserve and FedGov to reflate the bubble before a real correction could occur.


Comment by oxide
2014-03-15 10:36:46

In early 2012, prices dipped to touch the same trendline that prices have been on for decades, adjusted for inflation. And that was in a low-interest environment. If you take into account that people look at PITI more than price, prices could have been higher. I think the only reason that prices were not higher is because our job situation has been so hollowed out by corporate greed.

I wouldn’t be surprised if prices dropped back to those levels, but are you anticipating an even deeper correction?

Comment by Housing Analyst
2014-03-15 10:50:47

Clearly you’re not.

PS- There is no inflation.

Comment by Blue Skye
2014-03-15 11:24:59

Corporate greed…

That’s a good one, the rise of prices of houses is just like the rise of prices of, well, houses and the stuff that goes in them! It has been a massive credit expansion for longer than several decades. It is the accumulation of debt Oxy, not the greed of the big box stores. The accumulation of debt is due to the greed of people like you and me. We buy made in China to save a few pennies today and pay thousands in consequences tomorrow. We are insatiable in wanting more than we can actually pay for. We don’t consider consequences, and borrow from a thousand tomorrows to get our houses and stuff now, if not yesterday. That is mania by definition. Nothing new, happens every century. We went on the biggest binge ever this time though.

Sure, I think the debt pyramid is fragile and unsustainable.

Comment by albuquerquedan
2014-03-15 12:27:54

We all underestimated the insanity of the Federal Reserve and FedGov to reflate the bubble before a real correction could occur

Not all of us, some of us did predict that government would do exactly what they have done and would continue to do it until we had a Zimbabwe result with a total collapse of the economy.

Comment by Blue Skye
2014-03-15 13:17:09

OK Dan, I recognize that you have bet in this direction. If we must go the Zimbabwe route, we’ll need a dictator, a civil war and lots of actual human slaughter along the way. Wouldn’t it be easier for some of us to wake up early enough to vote the corrupt bums out while we still can? If not, I’d bet on violence in the streets before it costs a Zillion dollars to buy a loaf of bread. Some of us get irritable when hungry.

Comment by albuquerquedan
2014-03-15 14:06:58

Actually, I have just hedged my bets for this possibility. I still hope that we will wake up before we go over the edge.

Comment by Whac-A-Bubble™
2014-03-15 09:44:18

Right through all those years I had no desire whatsoever to become a real estate investor. I’ve never wanted anything more or less than a home to live in, and thanks to our generous landlords, I have always had one.

It still irks me that the Federal Reserve handed over the keys to the Nation’s Treasury to you and your fellow real estate investors, though.

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Comment by Blue Skye
2014-03-15 10:13:12

They have enticed him to gamble with debt, and you they have not. I think you’ll come out of what lies ahead just fine.

I wonder how many of these vest pocket “investors” still tell the banks the house(s) will be their principle residence.

Comment by Whac-A-Bubble™
2014-03-15 11:15:25

“I think you’ll come out of what lies ahead just fine.”

I’m pretty sure you are right.

And for the record, I have nothing whatever against real estate investors. I simply don’t think the Fed has a mandate to pick winners (e.g. homeowners, real estate investors, borrowers and spendthrifts) and losers (e.g. renters, people who just want a house to live in, retirees, and savers).

In case picking winners and losers is in the Fed’s mandate and I missed it, somebody please post.

Comment by Whac-A-Bubble™
2014-03-16 04:43:06


Comment by Prime_Is_Contained
2014-03-16 08:49:15

In case picking winners and losers is in the Fed’s mandate and I missed it, somebody please post.

Since it is not specifically mentioned as restricted in their mandate, presumably they can do anything that they want as long as they can argue that it helps either price stability or full employment.

Comment by Neuromance
2014-03-15 07:35:05

Good points, but some counterpoints:

1) What percent of mortgages today are bought or insured by the government? As opposed to the past 30 years. Is that level of government intervention sustainable, politically or financially?

2) How much of this is Fed asset price push-up via liquidity injections?

3) How much of this is engineered via the government — hedge fund agreements (i.e. only allowing hedge funds to buy foreclosures).

4) How much of this is foreign investor interest, like Japan in the 80s?

5) How much of the foreclosure market is intentionally hidden? Will those ever come on the market? Or will they meet the bulldozer? Or again only be accessible to government-approved corporate partners?


1) My bottom line is: I don’t see this as a sustainable market. It might take another 10 to 20 years to play out. Or five years. But at the base, the market is massively manipulated by the central bank and the government.

2) Secondly, the reason the government is heavily involved is because it perceives it gets money and votes from those who benefit from high house prices. However, manipulated high house prices are a wealth transfer from the younger and poorer to the older and wealthier. And eventually, as in Britain, fewer people will support high house prices and the government will pull back support.

Comment by JingleMale
2014-03-15 09:09:57

“… might take 10 to 20 years….”

That works for me. Great cash flow and almost all the debt retired during that time. I understand there is a large amount of government support for housing. What I don’t understand is why that somehow makes it unreal or even a “bad” investment. The reality is real estate investment has been a great vehicle for me. Many on this blog cast disparagement when I bought in ‘08, 09, & ‘10. In the meantime it has provided solid cash flow for 5 years.

Comment by Blue Skye
2014-03-15 09:40:55

“Many on this blog cast disparagement when I bought in ‘08…”

Really? What screen name were you using then?

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Comment by Whac-A-Bubble™
2014-03-15 09:45:18


Comment by Blue Skye
2014-03-15 10:15:23

Do you remember Palladin” posting that he was turned into a house “investor”?

Comment by Skroodle
2014-03-15 10:16:16

Did you run out of gold?

Comment by JingleMale
2014-03-15 11:11:08

I used Jingle Male in 2008. I only used Palladin when exposing mortgage fraud and my work with the FBI.

Comment by JingleMale
2014-03-15 11:30:44

2007-05-09 22:11:42
Good luck Jingle.
Signs of bottom. Check

Go back and look…it is all there Blue

Comment by Housing Analyst
2014-03-15 11:40:53

And you still paid a 250% premium for a depreciating asset.

Comment by Neuromance
2014-03-15 14:23:00

I said 10 to 20 years. Or 5 years. I don’t know the actual timeframe. It is picking up nickels in front of a steam roller in my opinion. Political winds can change quickly.

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Comment by tresho
2014-03-15 10:30:32

I don’t see this as a sustainable market. It might take another 10 to 20 years to play out. Or five years. But at the base, the market is massively manipulated by the central bank and the government.
Would you believe 30 or 40 years? — Maxwell Smart

Comment by rms
2014-03-15 07:49:05

“I see many differences from 2007, the biggest one being the large amount of fraud and easy financing that occurred in 2004-2007 does not exist today. If you could identify one factor that created the 2006-2007 bubble, it is sub-prime financing and the driving mania for all the unqualified buyers that would pay anything for a house.”

I see the same guarantor; little has changed.

Comment by JingleMale
2014-03-15 09:12:36

What guarantor do you see? The sub prime borrower has been washed out. The borrower of the five years is making their payments. That is a huge change and a fundamental difference.

Comment by Ben Jones
2014-03-15 09:28:57

‘The sub prime borrower has been washed out.’

Maybe you’ve not heard the HAMP loans are resetting?

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Comment by Whac-A-Bubble™
2014-03-15 09:33:27

Treasury Prepares for HAMP Rate Resets, More Defaults
By Brian Collins
MAR 13, 2014 4:04pm ET

The Treasury Department has directed mortgage servicers to notify borrowers 120 days in advance of upcoming increases in monthly payments on loans previously reworked through the Home Affordable Modification Program.

Some borrowers’ monthly bills could rise by as much as $1,700, although the increases will be gradual and the national median increase will total around $200, the department says. Treasury officials want to ensure borrowers have plenty of advance notice of a reset and counseling will be available if necessary.

“Treasury will maintain its oversight of participating servicers,” Mark McArdle, the chief of Treasury’s Homeownership Preservation Office, said in a March 12 note to servicers. “We will monitor the interest rate resets to ensure that if signs of homeowner distress arise, servicers are ready and able to help by providing loss mitigation options and alternatives to foreclosures.”

Many distressed homeowners saw their interest rates reduced to 2% and the median monthly payment cut to $773 under the HAMP program, which was launched in 2009.

There are currently 782,748 HAMP active mods that are slated to complete a multiyear reset process by 2021.

Comment by Whac-A-Bubble™
2014-03-15 09:40:46

“Some borrowers’ monthly bills could rise by as much as $1,700,…”

Fat chance on avoiding defaults in those cases…

Comment by JingleMale
2014-03-15 11:19:15

Yes, I have heard about the HAMP loans and there sets. There are not that many in play. My point is that all this activity certainly is affecting the market, but it is not like 2006-2007. That pig has already gone thru the python.

Comment by Housing Analyst
2014-03-15 11:39:49

If that were the case, there wouldn’t be 25 million excess, empty and defaulted houses in legal limbo.

Comment by JingleMale
2014-03-15 16:40:25

There aren’t. You just say there are. HA…..what a laugh.

Comment by Housing Analyst
2014-03-15 19:13:50

Oh indeed there are. You just don’t like that reality. Worse yet for you, an additional 35 million houses are just beginning to trickle onto the market as boomers die off.

Comment by Ella58
2014-03-15 13:20:47

You make some good points, and I agree that this bubble is different in many ways than Bubble 1.0 (if only for the massive investor presence). But I disagree with a couple of things –

This is true. But another key factor in the 06-07 residential bubble was the parabolic rise of HELOCs. When I look at a graph of the number and dollar amount of HELOCs taken out in California during the bubble years, it literally takes my breath away.

Recent stories posted here about significant increases in the amount of HELOC loans taken out as prices have risen show this is very much part of Bubble 2.0 as well. (Remember the story about the SF couple who took out a HELOC last year on their apartment to use as a down payment for a house in the suburbs?) And not only are people taking out new HELOCs to use for living expenses or to buy more real estate, but all those Bubble 1.0 HELOCs are only now coming due for a reset – 2004 HELOCs are resetting to repayment loans right now, 2005 reset next year, and the biggest group in 2006 reset in 2016. Will all of these cash-strapped owners be able to pay an extra $200, $500 or $1000 per month to service a loan they have already spent on consumer goods that cannot be resold? This is like a whole new subprime crisis left over from the last bubble and it is only hitting the market now.

I think the payment that recent buyers can afford (or are willing to sacrifice in order to “afford”) will change pretty quickly as soon as prices start going noticeably down instead of going up. For the family that bought in 2013, scrimping and saving to make payments on their $1.4 million starter home will look a lot less appealing once they think that home is losing value rather than gaining it. And if rents start going down too? And the neighbors sell for half what the family paid? There were plenty of people during Bubble 1.0 who could “afford” their monthly payment too, but when they realized they were paying more than the house was worth, they were happy to walk away.

And what if the family’s tech firm stock options start going down instead of up? And their 401k? Unlike the last bubble, I don’t know if housing will simply collapse under its own weight without outside pressure. But any kind of macro shock to the stock or bond market will unquestionably affect overpriced housing.

Comment by Ella58
2014-03-15 13:29:31

Oops, it deleted the quotes I was responding to for some reason. Sorry! The points I was responding to were -

1) “If you could identify one factor that created the 2006-2007 bubble, it is sub-prime financing”

2) “I do not observe any homeowners who purchase in the last 5 years having problems making their loan payments.”

Comment by JingleMale
2014-03-17 03:49:07

I understand your post and you have good points. However, the HELOC loan volume and LTV advance are both way below the 2006 levels.

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Comment by Housing Analyst
2014-03-17 08:41:47

Current HELOC volume isn’t the issue.

All of the HELOC’s issued up to 2007 are just beginning to reset and there are millions of them.


Comment by Jingle Male
2014-03-15 02:43:39

Hey Rio, it appears the Brazilian housing market is having some trouble. 24% sales cancellation of new orders.

MRV Engenharia e Participacoes SA, Brazil’s second-biggest homebuilder by market value, declined the most since May 2012 after posting a smaller-than-forecast profit in the fourth quarter.

The stock tumbled 13 percent to 7.35 reais at the close of trading in Sao Paulo. It was the worst performer on the Ibovespa (IBOV) stock benchmark, which decreased 1.1 percent.

The Belo Horizonte, Brazil-based company posted adjusted net income of 72.2 million reais ($30.7 million), less than the average estimate of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg, which called for 131 million reais. Clients canceled purchases of 296 million reais in the fourth quarter, equivalent to 24 percent of gross sales, the highest last year, according to a regulatory filing.

“This result leads us to question our own forecast for the coming year, now implying a 20.6 percent expansion in the bottom line,” Luiz Mauricio Garcia, an analyst at Banco Bradesco SA’s brokerage firm, wrote in a note to clients. “We expect a round of downward revisions to take place.”

The average forecast of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg is for MRV to post adjusted net income of 561.3 million reais this year, which would be an increase of 33 percent from 2013.

Comment by In Colorado
2014-03-15 07:05:29

When China sneezes raw materials producers get pneumonia.

Comment by scdave
2014-03-15 08:35:32


Comment by Whac-A-Bubble™
2014-03-15 09:14:35

When China sneezes, industrial metal sales go into panic mode.

Report: Chinese Banks Cut Lending to Certain Sectors by 20%
Published March 13, 2014

Growing jitters about the financial health of bloated industries in China have prompted many banks to cut lending in these sectors by as much as 20 percent, banking and industry sources with knowledge of the matter said.

At the same time, the China Banking and Regulatory Commission (CBRC) has called on banks to submit their regular report of outstanding loans owed by various sectors, but has asked them to include loans linked to derivative products and debt financing, the sources said.

The inclusion of these two areas is a “new development”, said one banking source.

The move, which comes in the wake of a landmark corporate bond default by Chaori Solar as well as the default of a coal-related high-yield trust product, underscores the regulator’s concerns about financial risks posed by heavily indebted sectors, such as steel makers and shipbuilders.

The specific sectors to be audited are steel, cement, aluminium smelting, flat-glass and shipbuilding,” said another bank source, who received a CBRC document outlining the requirements.

Comment by Whac-A-Bubble™
2014-03-15 04:26:05

Risk off?

Comment by Whac-A-Bubble™
2014-03-15 04:28:18

ft dot com
Discerning different kinds of risk-off
By Jamie Chisholm

The key lesson from the last day or two is that geopolitical risk-off is not the same as economic or financial market risk-off.”

They share some similarities, he notes, because both lead to buying of US Treasuries, the Swiss franc and Japanese yen.

“However, the Russia/Ukraine crisis is putting upward pressure on soft commodities, whereas standard risk-off would unambiguously put downward pressure on all commodity groups.”

But given the greater focus in coming days is more likely to be on Ukraine, here is a trader checklist should the crisis intensify.

It could be euro negative, haven currency positive; positive for grain prices but uncertain for energy because it will depend on the supply response; that means also uncertain for commodity currencies.

Good for Treasuries, gold; bad for “high beta” assets.

Comment by Whac-A-Bubble™
2014-03-15 04:30:28

GLOBAL MARKETS-Ukraine worries intensify flight to safety
Fri Mar 14, 2014 9:09am EDT

* DAX set for biggest weekly fall since peak of euro crisis

* Yen builds on sharp overnight gains against dollar, euro

* Russian shares plummet before Sunday’s Crimea referendum

* U.S. data reinforces taper views; China data fuels fears

* Wall Street set for subdued start

By Marc Jones

LONDON, March 14 (Reuters) - Heightened tensions between the West and Russia ahead of Ukraine’s weekend referendum in Crimea pushed world stocks to their lowest in more than a month on Friday and left investors scurrying into safe-haven gold and bonds.

With the West ramping up talks of sanctions and Russia hitting back with promises of retaliatory measures and displays of military prowess, financial markets were left to watch nervously.

Wall Street was set to add to this week’s losses, while a third straight day of declines on European stock markets left them down almost one percent and potentially facing their biggest weekly drop since June when the Federal Reserve hinted it would taper economic stimulus.

Hardest hit was Moscow’s MICEX index. It fell more than 5 percent before clawing back some of its losses to be down 2.5 percent. There was no let up for the rouble either as it rumbled along at an all-time low.

“The Ukraine is one of the most serious geopolitical situations at the moment and how it plays out is difficult to forecast,” Salman Ahmed, a global fixed-income strategist at the investment arm of Swiss private bank Lombard Odier, said.

“The main risk factor is that it morphs into an unintended clash and there is bloodshed.”

Comment by oxide
2014-03-15 07:31:53

Dumb questions:

How did the focus of the unrest in Ukraine shift from Europe onto Crimea so suddenly? Ukrainian citizens wanted to align with Europe, Yanukovich wanted to align with Russia, citizens threw him out. Putin sez, “No problem, I really just wanted Crimea anyway (for now).” And the whole EU thing is forgotten. Huh?

And if Ukraine’s goal was to align with Europe, wouldn’t it be better to just let Crimea go, and then they can talk to Europe like they wanted to? Merckel’s in a rough spot. If she tries to keep Ukraine united she p’s off Putin. If she lets Crimea go, then the rest of Ukraine will try to join the EU mainly for access to Germany’s bailout money like Greece and Turkey did.

Comment by albuquerquedan
2014-03-15 08:03:33

Merckel’s in a rough spot. If she tries to keep Ukraine united she p’s off Putin. If she lets Crimea go, then the rest of Ukraine will try to join the EU mainly for access to Germany’s bailout money like Greece and Turkey did.

Germany is in a tough spot much more to energy. Alternative energy prices are way too high and businesses and consumers are getting squeezed. To please the Greens she also agreed to shutdown nuclear. Right now there has been a massive shift back to coal which is not pleasing the greens, Germany cannot afford to lose natural gas from Russia and actually wants more due to its need to produce electricity with something else than coal. As far as money to Ukraine that is going to happen whether Ukraine joins or doesn’t join the EU due to the recent events.

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Comment by albuquerquedan
Comment by albuquerquedan
2014-03-15 08:33:54

Excerpt for article that is about to post:

In a worsening economic situation, Germany’s new environment minister, Peter Altmaier, who is as politically close to Chancellor Angela Merkel as it is possible to get, is emphasising the importance of not weakening the economy by increasing the cost of energy.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and environment minister Peter Altmaier Chancellor Angela Merkel and environment minister Peter Altmaier are close political allies
He is also concerned that Germany should not become dependent on imports of electricity.

To that end, he is allowing the building of more coal-fired power stations.

Mr Altmaier told Die Zeit that the government was committed to fulfilling its policy of generating 35% of the country’s electricity from renewable sources in the next eight years - but that still left 65%, which would have to be generated in a different way.

Comment by Skroodle
2014-03-15 10:20:35

The good guys in Ukraine are oligarchs just like in Russia.

Comment by tresho
2014-03-15 10:32:22

The good guys in Ukraine are oligarchs just like in Russia.
Oligarchy is all they all ever known.

Comment by Whac-A-Bubble™
2014-03-15 11:16:44

Oligarchs rule today much as monarchs ruled yesteryear.

Comment by scdave
2014-03-16 07:36:11

Oligarchs rule today much as monarchs ruled yesteryear ??

Not only over there they rule here also…They have bought the political process…Politicians make the rules….

Comment by Whac-A-Bubble™
2014-03-15 04:32:17

Gold hits six-month high as investors seek refuge from stocks
By Reuters | 14 Mar, 2014, 11.13PM IST

LONDON: Gold prices reached their highest level in six months on Friday, benefiting from stumbling share prices hit by tensions between Russia and the West over Ukraine and growth concerns in China.

The metal has gained more than 2 percent this week so far, in what would mark its sixth straight weekly rise, as investors’ appetite for risk diminished due to increasing political tensions and economic troubles, which benefit gold.

Comment by Whac-A-Bubble™
2014-03-15 04:34:03

A slowing China the US’s biggest threat
The Wall Street Journal
March 15, 2014 12:00AM

FORGET the Crimea annexation or a US-Russia stand-off. The biggest international threat to US economic growth is the slowdown in China, say economists polled by The Wall Street Journal.

When asked what overseas force had the greatest potential to slow US growth, 27 of the 49 economists cited China’s weakening economy. Only eight pointed to the Ukraine stand-off, and six thought the biggest risk could be a new crisis in the Middle East. The survey was conducted from last Friday to Tuesday, as the crisis in Crimea unfolded.

The majority perceive a risk from China’s economy because the slowdown is already under way. On Thursday, China reported weakness in January-February industrial production and retail sales. Plus, as the world’s second-biggest economy, China has an outsized impact on trade flows, emerging-market currencies and the global financial system.

“There are real financial instabilities in China that pose the biggest downside risk to the global outlook,” said Julia Coronado of BNP Paribas.

As for the Ukraine crisis, and the possibility of Russia annexing Crimea, most economists expect the impact mainly to hit Russia and Ukraine stock prices and currencies, with some spillover impact on energy markets.

The risk to global and US growth from the stand-off would come from an escalation in tensions between the US and Russia, said Allen Sinai of Decision Economics. “We’d see a new, cold, economic and financial war,” he said, especially if Russia responded to possible sanctions by disrupting the flow of crude oil and natural gas. The US is considering sanctions involving visas, bank accounts and business activity.

“Europe and China would be most vulnerable,” Mr Sinai said of Russia’s potential response. But the US economy would be hurt by reduced demand for American exports, financial-market volatility and higher energy prices.

Comment by scdave
2014-03-16 07:39:24

The biggest international threat to US economic growth is the slowdown in China, say economists polled by The Wall Street Journal ??

Michael Spence said this four months ago…

Comment by Whac-A-Bubble™
2014-03-15 04:38:32

Kerry: Crimean Referendum a “Backdoor Annexation”
US Concerned by Russian Troops Along Ukrainian Border
March 14, 2014

LONDON — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says Russian acceptance of a Crimean referendum to break off from Ukraine and possibly join Russia would be an illegal “backdoor annexation.”

Kerry met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov for six hours in London Friday in another effort to defuse the tensions in Crimea.

Kerry called talks Friday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov “constructive and frank” but said that Russia is not prepared to make any decisions on Ukraine until after a referendum in Crimea set for Sunday.

Kerry said the U.S. continues to favor a direct dialogue with Russia and Ukraine. He added that the U.S. does not recognize the legality of a referendum that could see Crimea break away from Ukraine and join Russia.

Kerry said Lavrov made clear that Russian President Vladimir Putin is not prepared to act regarding Ukraine until after the referendum.

Lavrov said in a separate news conference that the talks with Kerry were useful, but the two have “no common vision” on Crimea. He said Russia will “respect the will of the Crimean people,” and he criticized the threat of U.S. and EU sanctions on Russia as “counterproductive.”

Comment by Whac-A-Bubble™
2014-03-15 04:54:41

Crimean independence vote and Russian annexation: A primer
By Kathy Lally, Saturday, March 15, 3:30 AM

MOSCOW — Ukraine’s southern peninsula of Crimea has set a referendum for Sunday on whether it should secede and join Russia. Easy passage is expected. But the vote has been declared illegal by the government in Kiev, which was formed after months of demonstrations led to the overthrow of President Viktor Yanukovych in February. The United States and Europe have said they will not recognize it either.

Passions have run at a fever pitch in Russia and Ukraine. A poll taken from March 7 to 10 by the independent Levada Center found 79 percent of Russians were positive about incorporating parts of Ukraine into Russia.

Comment by Whac-A-Bubble™
2014-03-15 09:00:31

Europe News
Kerry-Lavrov Talks on Crimea Crisis Break Down
Obama Warns of ‘Consequences’ if Russia Continues to Violate Sovereignty
By Jay Solomon and Geoffrey T. Smith
Updated March 14, 2014 8:01 p.m. ET
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, left, and Secretary of State John Kerry before starting their talks. Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

LONDON—A last-minute U.S. diplomatic effort aimed at halting Sunday’s referendum in Crimea on joining Russia collapsed after six hours, pushing the West to the verge of imposing punishing sanctions on Moscow that would raise East-West tensions to new heights.

The rupture Friday of negotiations shifted pressing new importance onto what happens over the next few days: Sunday’s vote in Crimea, the Kremlin’s reaction to the results, the response by the West and the ominous military movements along the Ukrainian border by Russia.

President Barack Obama and European leaders vowed after the diplomatic failure to begin imposing sanctions on Russia quickly if the Crimean region votes to secede from Ukraine.

Comment by albuquerquedan
2014-03-15 09:41:26

The rupture Friday of negotiations shifted pressing new importance onto what happens over the next few days: Sunday’s vote in Crimea, the Kremlin’s reaction to the results, the response by the West and the ominous military movements along the Ukrainian border by Russia.

There was the rapture Friday and I am still here. Does anyone know anyone who was taken? I did think anyone on this board was saintly enough to go.

Comment by Whac-A-Bubble™
2014-03-15 04:49:37

Has your local housing market recently improved?

Comment by Whac-A-Bubble™
2014-03-15 04:52:54

As equity in housing rises, millions of owners escape the perils of the real estate bust
By Kenneth R. Harney, Published: March 12 | Updated: Thursday, March 13, 8:00 AM

The economy may be growing at a frustratingly slow pace, but one piece of it is booming: American homeowners’ equity holdings — the market value of their houses minus their mortgage debts — soared by nearly $2.1 trillion last year to $10 trillion.

Two statistical studies released last week offered a glimpse of where the country is in terms of homeowner equity seven years after real estate began to tumble and crash.

The first was the Federal Reserve’s quarterly “flow of funds” report. Among many other segments of the economy it toted up, the Fed found that homeowner equity has rebounded to its highest level in eight years, though it’s still not quite back to the $12 trillion it was during the hyperinflationary high point of the housing boom in 2005.

The second study, from the real estate analytics firm CoreLogic, focused on the flip side: the impressive shrinkage of negative equity. According to researchers, nearly 43 million owners with mortgage debt have positive equity. Roughly 6.5 million owners are still in negative-equity positions, but that’s down from more than 10 million a year ago and 12 million in 2009.

Who are they and where are they? Not surprisingly, they are heavily concentrated in areas that saw the wildest price run-ups, the heaviest use of toxic loan products and the steepest plunges during the crash. In Nevada, 30.4 percent of all owners with mortgages are underwater. In Florida, it’s 28.1 percent. Arizona, 21.5 percent. Still, all three areas have improved sharply over the past two years.

Comment by JingleMale
2014-03-15 06:03:47

Prices stopped rising, but rents are up. Sacramento foothills.

Comment by LolaLOL
2014-03-15 07:06:00

What happens after prices stop rising?

A). They keep on climbing after a brief pause
B). They stay on a permanently high plateau

Comment by JingleMale
2014-03-15 07:58:48

All of the above. I’ll let you know in a few months which way they go this time.

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Comment by Housing Analyst
2014-03-15 08:21:40

We already know. They’re sinking J._Fraud.

Comment by albuquerquedan
2014-03-15 08:06:44

Substitute temperatures for prices and you have the same debate in climate. We are on the high plateau and do we move to c soon.

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Comment by Whac-A-Bubble™
2014-03-15 04:55:45

Don’t forget to say a prayer when you get on board a jet liner.

Comment by Whac-A-Bubble™
2014-03-15 04:58:26

Hidden message in the story’s URL: “jet-was-hijacked-malaysian-official-tells-ap”

Missing airliner may have flown on for 7 hours
By Chico Harlan, Ashley Halsey III and Annie Gowen, Published: March 14 | Updated: Saturday, March 15, 2:02 AM

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said Saturday that a missing passenger jet was steered off course after its communications systems were intentionally dismantled and could have potentially flown on for seven additional hours.

In the most comprehensive account to date of the plane’s fate, Najib drew an ominous picture of what happened aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, saying investigators had determined there was “deliberate action by someone on the plane.”

The search for the missing Malaysian jetliner expanded after U.S. officials said it emitted signals to satellites for hours after its last contact with air traffic control nearly a week ago.

Najib said the investigation had “refocused” to look at the crew and passengers. A Malaysia Airlines representative, speaking to relatives of passengers in Beijing, said the Malaysian government had opened a criminal investigation into the plane’s disappearance.

Comment by aNYCdj
2014-03-15 06:46:12

Begs to ask the question how can the communication system be so easily dismantled?

What is there a red switch that says communications and if I throw it I can hijack a plane?

Comment by Skroodle
2014-03-15 10:31:19

Transponders turn off with a switch.

Radio/ACARS would require circuits pulled. The correct ones, make a mistake, you might crash the plane. It was not done by someone with a few hours of flight training like the Saudi hijackers on 9/11.

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Comment by Prime_Is_Contained
2014-03-15 11:02:00

Easy answer: all of the electrically-powered systems in an aircraft have circuit-breakers readily accessible in the cockpit, so that power can be withdrawn from the system in the event that it is the source of an electrical fire.

Would you really want it to be impossible to remove power from any of the aircraft’s electrical systems? That would be kinda insane.

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Comment by phony scandals
2014-03-15 07:32:22

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 is all over the propoganda, I mean news.

In other evidently less important news.

Red Army masses on Ukraine border: 80,000 troops and missile launchers spark invasion fear

By Will Stewart and Tim Shipman
PUBLISHED: 09:14 EST, 12 March 2014

Ukraine warned last night that 80,000 Russian troops were massing on its borders and could invade – as world leaders told Vladimir Putin to back off.

A senior security chief in Kiev said Moscow could launch a full-scale invasion and Russian troops would be in the Ukrainian capital within ‘two or three hours’ of the order to advance.

Photographs of Russian tanks and armoured personnel carriers close to Ukraine’s borders added to tensions.

Last night senior British officials told the Mail they had received reports about Russian troops massing on the border since Tuesday and were concerned by the show of force.

British intelligence is unsure whether the movements are intended to back up the annexation of Crimea, preparation for an invasion or simply defensive.

Moscow’s show of force came as Ukraine’s new prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, met Barack Obama in the Oval Office and Nato continued military exercises in Poland.

Their statement warns the Russian president ‘to cease all efforts to change the status of Crimea contrary to Ukrainian law and in violation of international law’ and threatens ‘further action’ if Moscow seizes Crimea.

Foreign Secretary William Hague said Russian MPs who voted to use force in Ukraine and Kremlin officials behind the invasion would be hit with asset freezes and a travel ban to the European Union – most likely at a Brussels summit on Monday.

But the main concern of Western leaders is to deter Russia from seizing the rest of Eastern Ukraine.

Andriy Parubiy, secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defence Council, yesterday said that even Kiev may not be safe from Putin’s troops, who were regrouping in ‘an offensive manner’.

Mr Parubiy claimed the forces massing included ‘over 80,000 personnel, up to 270 tanks, 180 armoured vehicles, 380 artillery systems, 18 multiple-launch missile systems, 140 combat aircraft, 90 combat helicopters and 19 warships and cutters’.

He added: ‘Critical is the situation not only in Crimea, but along the entire north-eastern frontier. In fact, Russian troop units are two or three hours of travel from Kiev.’

Former Putin adviser Andrey Illarionov predicted this week that in addition to Crimea, his ex-boss intends to annex other major cities in Ukraine, including Kharkiv, Donetsk, Dnepropetrovsk, Lugansk, Zaporozhye, Kherson and Odessa.

The US and Poland began war games on Tuesday that are expected to involve at least 12 American F-16 fighter jets. A joint naval exercise of US, Bulgarian and Romanian naval forces in the Black Sea started on yesterday.

Events are building to a crunch point on Sunday when Crimea votes on whether to join Russia. If Putin recognises the province as Russian, sanctions will follow. - -

Comment by Bill, just south of Irvine
2014-03-15 05:37:16

2013 was the safest year in aviation in several decades. I am more likely to die commuting to work than by being in an airplane.

Comment by jose canusi
2014-03-15 05:37:26

lol. They now think the plane landed somewhere. I believe that. The question is, are the passengers still alive?

Comment by Blackhawk
2014-03-15 07:53:51

Going to 45,000 ft might kill the passengers due to lack of oxygen.

Comment by Bill, just South of Irvine
2014-03-15 08:53:52

1) was this plane flying at 45,000 feet?
2) Did they lose cabin air pressure?
3) I am not sure of other airlines, but Southwest Airlines’ 737s are typically flown at 40,000 feet.

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Comment by tresho
2014-03-15 10:40:18

1) was this plane flying at 45,000 feet?
Some news accounts state the object being tracked on radar suddenly rose to 45,000 feet, stayed there a while & then descended rapidly to a lower altitude, still fairly high.
2) Did they lose cabin air pressure? If anyone knows, they ain’t telling. The dribbling out of highly relevant facts makes me think even more is known about the missing flight, but is being withheld. Call it “shadow information”. Envision a struggle in the cockpit for control of the plane, a blown-out window, depressurization, ascending very high to make everyone else on board unconscious, then continuing to fly at a level high enough to kill them.
3) I am not sure of other airlines, but Southwest Airlines’ 737s are typically flown at 40,000 feet. 777 “service ceiling” is 43100 feet, whatever that means.

Comment by oxide
2014-03-15 15:56:25

Service, I guess, is regular flying. After all, the airlines always say, “Flight 629 service to Atlanta” or whatever.

I agree with the dribbling out of facts being the most disturbing. A couple of experts on PBS said that the Malaysian military was being “irresponsible” in how they are handling their information, and you could tell that the experts thought it was much worse than “irresponsible.” If it really turns out that the military is holding things back and/or sending rescuers on wild goose chases, and hundreds of Chinese citizens died as a result… it’s not going to look good for Malaysia.

Comment by albuquerquedan
2014-03-15 08:08:48

Yes say one privately for what you believe and say one loudly to Allah, for any Islamic terrorist to hear.

Comment by In Colorado
2014-03-15 08:18:35

Aren’t Malaysians mostly Muslim?

Comment by albuquerquedan
2014-03-15 08:36:14

Yes, I think around 90%.

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Comment by albuquerquedan
2014-03-15 09:11:10

From a Drudge link: Speaking of that, he was a virgin suicide bomber so premature detonation can be forgiven:

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — A Somali police officer says a suicide car bomber accidentally detonated his explosives near a popular hotel in the Somali capital.

Capt. Mohamed Hussein said the bomber appeared to have prematurely detonated his explosives-laden car Saturday as he tried to park near a hotel. No others were hurt or killed in the blast.

Comment by 2banana
2014-03-15 05:58:30


Blackstone’s Home Buying Binge Drops 70% From Its Peak Last Year

The whole story about how private equity firms and hedge funds have steamrolled into the residential home market to become this decade’s slumlords is a story we covered long before mainstream media even knew it was happening.

We first identified the trend in January of last year in one of my most popular posts of 2013: America Meet Your New Slumlord: Wall Street. Since then, we’ve done my best to cover the various twists and turns in this fascinating and disturbing saga.

With all that in mind, let’s now take a look at the latest article from Bloomberg, which points out that Blackstone’s home purchases have plunged 70% from their peak last year. Perhaps they overestimated the rental cash flow potential of indebted youth living in their parents’ basements?

Comment by phony scandals
2014-03-15 07:00:13

Blackstone’s Schwarzman Thanks Bernanke for Stellar 2013

BY Antoine Gara | 12/11/13 - 02:16 PM EST

NEW YORK (TheStreet) - Stephen A. Schwarzman, the billionaire co-founder of The Blackstone Group (BX_) personally thanked Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke for the private equity giant’s stellar year.

Schwarzman said at the Goldman Sachs Financial Services Conference on Wednesday that about a week ago he thanked the outgoing Fed chair for helping Blackstone to a banner year.

“We are tipped more towards the realization side,” Schwarzman said. Those comments echo similar comments from competitors in the buyout business. Earlier in 2013, Apollo Global Management co-founder Leon Black said the PE firm was selling everything in its portfolio not nailed down to the walls.

Subprime Auto Loans

Blackstone Group expects to become an increasingly large player in the auto finance market, Schwarzman said on Wednesday. Blackstone is an investor in Exeter Finance, a large player in the fast-growing subprime auto loan market.

“The returns are excellent… But now there is just a vacuum,” Schwarzman said of the industry, in the wake of a post-crisis retreat from traditional lenders. Some ratings firms such as Fitch have raised alarms about the growth of the subprime auto loans and securitization pools.

However, Fitch, like Schwarzman, recognized that even though borrowers in the market have low credit scores, loss rates in the sector were relatively benign during the financial crisis. - 135k -

Comment by Whac-A-Bubble™
2014-03-15 07:08:58

“Blackstone’s Home Buying Binge Drops 70% From Its Peak Last Year”

I.e. the real estate investor slice of demand is toast.

Comment by oxide
2014-03-15 07:09:07

I’m pretty sure that HBB and Jack McCabe were talking about the land grab slightly before zerohedge was on the case. Actually, major props to measton on HBB were predicted it years and years ago: crash the market, buy up the assets, make the hoi polloi rent for life.

Comment by Ben Jones
2014-03-15 07:22:09

‘crash the market, buy up the assets, make the hoi polloi rent for life’

Wow, who would have thought they could pull this off with a few billion dollars and fewer houses than greater Flagstaff? World domination is next! They’ll buy a couple hundred houses in Atlanta and drive the Russians into the sea!

Comment by oxide
2014-03-15 16:00:03

But why not, Ben? It only takes a few houses to set the comps for dozens more. Especially in newly built cookie cutter neighborhoods.

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Comment by Housing Analyst
2014-03-15 07:22:21

More “there is no ceiling to shelter costs” eh Mz.Craterton?

Silly one.

Comment by 2banana
2014-03-15 05:59:41

Those dang facts…


‘Evil’ Koch Brothers Rank #59 in Political Donations Behind 18 Different Unions
Gateway Pundit | February 13, 2014 | Jim Hoft

Democrats hate the Koch Brothers.

They believe the Koch Brothers are the root of all evil because they donate to Republicans and conservative causes.

This week Senate Democrats once again asked the IRS to crack down on conservative groups including Americans for Prosperity, funded by the billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch.

Democrats want to silence the opposition.

So how big of a threat are the Koch Brothers?

Over the past twenty five years, from 1989 to 2014, Koch Industries has donated $18,083,948 in political contributions to Republicans. While that seems like a large sum, it only ranks them as number 59 on the list of top all-time political donors – behind 18 different unions.

Here is the list of unions that top the Koch Brothers in political donations.

Via Open Secrets:

2.) American Fedn of State, County & Municipal Employees $60,667,379

4.) National Education Assn $53,594,488

7.) Intl Brotherhood of Electrical Workers $44,478,789

8.) United Auto Workers $41,667,858

9.) Carpenters & Joiners Union $39,260,371

10.) Service Employees International Union $38,395,690

11.) Laborers Union $37,494,010

12.) American Federation of Teachers $36,713,325

13.) Communications Workers of America $36,188,135

14.) Teamsters Union $36,123,209

16.) United Food & Commercial Workers Union $33,756,550

20.) Machinists & Aerospace Workers Union $31,313,097

23.) AFL-CIO $30,938,977

32.) National Assn of Letter Carriers $26,106,359

39.) Plumbers & Pipefitters Union $23,886,248

42.) Operating Engineers Union $23,036,848

43.) International Assn of Fire Fighters $22,963,260

46.) Sheet Metal Workers Union $22,372,978

59.) Koch Industries $18,083,948

Remember this the next time you read an article by some leftist demonizing the Koch Brothers.

Comment by Whac-A-Bubble™
2014-03-15 07:10:16

How much do the Koch brothers pay you to propagate their irrelevant drivel here?

Comment by the Central Scrutinizer
2014-03-15 07:41:53

As I posted yesterday, labor union participation is now 11% of the U.S. workforce, down from 30% sixty years ago.

They’re gonna take over the country any day now.

Comment by Housing Analyst
2014-03-15 08:08:16

Yet the public service unions have local and regional taxpaying wage earners by the throat.

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Comment by LolaLOL
2014-03-15 08:11:37

Well if that’s so, then the Koch Brother drivel is even less likely, right?

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Comment by Hi-Z
2014-03-15 10:11:36

The threat is from public sector unions.

From BLS website:
“In 2013, 7.2 million employees in the public sector belonged to a union, compared with 7.3 million workers in the private sector. The union membership rate for public-sector workers (35.3 percent) was substantially higher than the rate for private-sector workers (6.7 percent).”

So how have public sector unions achieved these amazing results? The answer is hundreds of millions of dollars, the approximate amount that unions have contributed to federal campaigns since 1990. Almost every dollar went to Democrats or Democrat causes. In the 2008 election alone, some estimates put public sector union contributions to Democrats at $60 million.

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Comment by Skroodle
2014-03-15 10:33:23

It’s all the police and fire fighters. Time to fire them all.

Comment by Anon In DC
2014-03-15 10:18:54

They may takeover or not. The issue is whether people can spend their money to voice their opinion and influence government. They can and should. And the Kochs are depicted unfavorably because they have opinions contrary to the DNC. And the big talking point is the amount of money the Kochs spend which is much less than that of the unions. The issue is not union membership. If the unions wanted to spend ten times what they do well its their money and their right to spend it. (But public unions out to be outlawed.)

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Comment by Ben Jones
2014-03-15 18:38:11

Speaking of Unions.

‘Obama Factor Adds to Fears of Democrats’

From the comments:

‘at our last monthly union meeting, our local officials told us to vote however we wanted. There is always a list of preferred candidates given at the gate but this time our officials have decided not to recommend anyone. one of the primary reasons was because of obamacare. When our current contract ends in “15, we have been advised that our fortune 500 employer will not continue our health plan but will provide information on obamacare. No thank you. I haven’t paid a health premium in over thirty five years and I really don’t want to start now. Thank you Obama and our wonderful friends at the DNC.’

Comment by Anon In DC
2014-03-15 10:11:05

Presenting the facts is hardly drivel.

Comment by oxide
2014-03-15 07:21:24

The Koch brothers did things smartly. Instead of funding candidates directly, they funded think tanks and media networks and college clubs and school boards. Why support candidates when you can convince voters directly.

Comment by albuquerquedan
2014-03-15 08:11:26

Instead of funding candidates directly, they funded think tanks and media networks and college clubs and school boards.

How un-American to encourage people to participate in their government.

Comment by Whac-A-Bubble™
2014-03-15 09:18:32

How un-American to bamboozle idiots with a propaganda barrage in order to enlist a religious flock of know-nothing sheep to support your positions.

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Comment by albuquerquedan
2014-03-15 09:43:54

He doesn’t support the religious belief of global warming that is George Soros and the MSM.

Comment by Whac-A-Bubble™
2014-03-15 09:46:53

I am no fonder of Democrat Party religion than I am of Republican Party religion. Generally speaking, political religion sucks.

Comment by Whac-A-Bubble™
2014-03-15 10:08:54

What would most please me would be for politicians and religious leaders alike to leave science to the scientists. But as Ralph Waldo Emerson long ago noted, that is not the way of the world:

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds,
adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.

Comment by Blackhawk
2014-03-15 07:25:42

Yeah what he said. The Democrats need someone to demonize since they can’t (shouldn’t) run on their accomplishments..

1. Healthcare.
2. Economy.
3. Government spending.
4. Jobs .

They could run on the fact that global warming has subsided but then what?

Comment by Ben Jones
2014-03-15 07:34:31

Here’s a typical technocrat way of improving the economy. Pay is low; raise the minimum wage!

Comment by oxide
2014-03-15 08:36:41

To be honest, I’m afraid of raising the minimum wage. It’s a band-aid. All that will do is encourage retailers to raise their prices to what the (new) market can bear. That said, the purchasing power of the minimum wage has been falling for years.

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Comment by Whac-A-Bubble™
2014-03-15 09:20:06

It will be good for low-income workers who can hang on to their jobs, but bad for those who won’t be able to get jobs due to employers who are forced to pay more than the market value of worker credentials.

Comment by Whac-A-Bubble™
2014-03-15 09:21:13

Should increase opportunities for illegal immigrants who are willing to work on the black labor market for tax-free wages below the statutory minimum.

Comment by Whac-A-Bubble™
2014-03-15 09:23:30

“All that will do is encourage retailers to raise their prices to what the (new) market can bear.”

Good point: Producers will have to either lay off workers and/or raise prices to cover higher labor costs, resulting in less production and sales.

Retailers will also have to raise prices and reduce sales unless illegal immigrant labor or cheap foreign imports come to the rescue, that is.

Comment by albuquerquedan
2014-03-15 09:56:57

Rising wages due to a scarcity of labor is a good thing. Rising wages by government fiat always creates market distortions which are bad for the overall economy. Cap legal and illegal immigration and we will see the former. Try the latter and still have open borders and a teenager will have a better chance of winning the Megabucks than finding employment.

Comment by Prime_Is_Contained
2014-03-15 11:31:38

but bad for those who won’t be able to get jobs due to employers who are forced to pay more than the market value of worker credentials.

Isn’t it good for those ex-workers too, as they will then qualify for free gov’t cheeze that they would not have previously qualified for due to their previous income?

Comment by Anon In DC
2014-03-15 10:20:49

You mean you can’t create wealth by government edict? Someone better tell Obummer.

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Comment by Muggy
2014-03-15 07:44:41

“Remember this the next time you read an article by some leftist demonizing the Koch Brothers.”

I remember it every time I think about how “Koch Industries” is two dudes. They should be outspent by every organization on your list, every day.

AFSME 1.4 million members
NEA 3.2 million members
Koch Industries, 2 dudes

The Koch Bros. are greed freaks. They have the world, and they want more.

Comment by LolaLOL
2014-03-15 08:14:17

They are a big business conglomerate. The NEA is a big government conglomerate. Same difference, except one pays for its cronies with tax dollars (heck both probably due because of tax breaks).

Comment by Muggy
2014-03-15 16:17:59

Yes, all of my right winger relatives like to harp on about how awesome private business is.

Nearly all are employed by the Salvation Army or an extension of it.

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Comment by Bill, just South of Irvine
2014-03-15 08:55:32

HBBers hate the Koch brothers because of peer pressure. No other reason.

Comment by Anon In DC
2014-03-15 10:26:48

Bill we should hate EVIL rich people. After all they are only interested in MONEY. Why they are almost as interested in it as the left who love to tax and spend it.

Comment by Lion Realtors
2014-03-15 06:15:43

See your local Lion Realtor for all your home buying needs!

Comment by the Central Scrutinizer
2014-03-15 06:22:20

Lengthy piece on Putin, excerpt of which says it’s all about the banksters:

Vladimir Putin repeats incessantly: “We were humiliated. We the Russian have been humiliated at the hands of the West.” This is complete rubbish. The Russian elite are in living a life of luxury in Western Europe. The city the Kremlin know best is London, where Russia’s rulers own houses in London’s most expensive districts and hire out Britain’s most prestigious bankers and lawyers. And the Kremlin clique has come to love Her Majesty’s treasure islands: They launder their fortunes in Britain’s empire of overseas sovereign territories—tax havens—from the Caribbean to the Channel Islands.

Putin has made a bet: that these new British elite (not to mention the other ruling classes of Western Europe) will put their banks ahead of stopping his tanks. He has made a bet that the members of the British ruling class are merely valets to Arab and Russian oligarchs—estate agents, investment bankers, lawyers, management consultants, art dealers—who now live primarily off the presence of foreign oligarchs. Putin has listened to David Cameron’s crude new slogan for the UK—“Britain is open for business” —and so fears no sanctions from this man.

Comment by 2banana
2014-03-15 06:40:43

Putin is correct.

And not only the UK. America was well.

will put their banks ahead of stopping his tanks.

Comment by Skroodle
2014-03-15 10:35:59

Confiscating Russian money in US banks would cause not any issues.

In London, it would tank the real estate markets London.

Comment by phony scandals
2014-03-15 07:35:32

All wars are Banker wars.

Comment by phony scandals
2014-03-15 07:44:56

All Wars Are Bankers’ Wars - YouTube - 141k - Cached - Similar pages
Feb 4, 2013 … Written and spoken by Michael Rivero.

Comment by scdave
2014-03-15 08:49:10

All wars are Banker wars ??

Is it the bankers or the depositors in the banks that really drive the bus ?? Its perfect for them, they can drive the policy in the direction they want both politically & strategically but the CEO takes the heat…

Comment by Whac-A-Bubble™
Comment by oxide
2014-03-15 10:47:48

“will put their banks ahead of stopping his tanks.”

At first I read that as “will put their bankers in front of his tanks in order to stop them.”

If only… :roll:

Comment by phony scandals
2014-03-15 06:29:44

Posted: 4:42 p.m. Friday, March 14, 2014

Homeowner fraud investigation results misleading, audit says

Kimberly Miller

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

An audit of the U.S. Department of Justice’s efforts to address crimes against struggling homeowners says the success of one program was vastly overstated during a high-profile 2012 news conference and wasn’t corrected until nearly a year later.

A 30-page report released this week by the department’s inspector general found the accomplishments of the yearlong Distressed Homeowner Initiative were touted even after officials learned the results they reported were wrong.

Comment by phony scandals
2014-03-15 06:32:19

Posted: 12:01 a.m. Thursday, March 13, 2014

Abandoned homes haunt Florida’s housing market

By Kimberly Miller

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Florida’s real estate market remains haunted by decaying and abandoned properties even as new foreclosures slow and home values rise.

These so-called “zombie” foreclosures — properties forsaken by both the bank and borrower — number 54,900 statewide, including 14,600 in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties, according to a new report from RealtyTrac.

The concentration in Florida makes it tops in the nation for zombie foreclosures, with South Florida ranking first among large metro areas.

Illinois has the second highest number of vacant foreclosures by state at 15,510, followed by New York with 10,880. Among metro areas, Tampa-St. Petersburg ranks second nationally, with Chicago coming in third.

“The reality is that new foreclosure activity is no longer the biggest threat to the housing market,” said Daren Blomquist, RealtyTrac vice president. “The biggest threat from foreclosures going forward is properties that have been lingering in the process for years, many of them vacant with neither the homeowner nor the lender taking responsibility for maintenance and upkeep.”

Many of the homes are stuck in limbo because banks filed to foreclose on them years ago, but then walked away from the case after realizing it didn’t make financial sense to take the home back, said Nicole Clowers, director of the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

Clowers and Blomquist spoke Tuesdayduring a housing conference sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.

New foreclosure filings nationwide were at their lowest level in February since December 2005, according to RealtyTrac. In Florida, new foreclosures were down 53 percent from the same time last year, while Palm Beach County’s clerk’s office recorded just 518 new cases in February_ a 49 percent drop from 2013.

It’s still unclear, however, whether the drop in Florida foreclosures is a permanent change or a temporary trend while banks catch up to a new law that went into effect in July.

U.S. Postal Service information on vacancies was used to study the issue of abandoned foreclosures. But the Government Accountability Office also had access to bank records, leading it to the conclusion that lenders will walk away from a foreclosure if it’s too costly to repossess.

“In some cases they initiate the foreclosure and then realize it’s going to be a money-losing venture and stop,” Clowers said.

Suburban Lake Worth resident Mike Herndon doesn’t know if that’s what happened to a moldering house in his neighborhood on Burlington Court, but he’s frustrated the home isn’t being maintained by the bank or owner.

JPMorgan Chase filed to foreclose on the home in 2010, according to Palm Beach County court records. Herndon said the owner left soon after. The most recent court action taken was in July 2013, but there is still no final judgment. A message to Chase was not returned by deadline.

The Burlington Court home has slowly deteriorated. A leak in the roof turned into a large hole that different property maintenance firms have repeatedly tried to cover with a tarp. Last Thursday’s heavy winds pulled the tarp off again, taking roof tiles with it.

Palm Beach County put a $50-a-day lien against the home in July.

“I have been writing letters and emails for the better part of three years trying to get this property taken care of,” Herndon said.

Comment by aNYCdj
2014-03-15 07:01:31

JOBS JOBS JOBS 50,0000 houses need to be demolished and any assets sold on ebay…who hoo…

Comment by tresho
2014-03-15 10:48:40

These so-called “zombie” foreclosures — properties forsaken by both the bank and borrower — number 54,900 statewide
Why is 54,900 considered so high or significant? Estimates for vacant homes in OH are 100,000, but that includes all types, not just the zombies. Detroit alone has 79,000, all types.

Comment by Captain Credit Crunch
2014-03-15 06:36:31

Anyone consider buying housing market derivatives from the CME to short their own purchase or simply to speculate? My preference is to buy, but rationally it’s hard knowing my down payment could be wiped out easily in the coming year or two. A fat 5-year put, if it’s available at the riverside/San Bernardino metro level (and since they are based on the case Shiller index I think hey might be) would go a long way to making it a less stressful proposition.

Comment by Captain Credit Crunch
2014-03-15 06:40:42

One guy has taken up being the market maker, so you could at least deal with him. There are a few brokers.

Comment by Captain Credit Crunch
2014-03-15 06:42:33

I believe this was the original intent behind the case Shiller index. It certainly makes a lot of sense, yet I don’t suspect individuals use it at all.

Comment by 2banana
2014-03-15 06:42:50

I think you would have better odds in a casino.

Comment by Captain Credit Crunch
2014-03-15 07:02:34

Is your skepticism due to the reporting methodology of the Case-Shiller Index? Or that the Market Maker is not pricing the options fairly? Because as far as the options paying off, the CME is a major trading group and the contracts are legal. I think that one hedge fund in Santa Monica made a fortune buying puts on the housing market in 2007.

Comment by 2banana
2014-03-15 08:14:45

My skepticism is due to the fact that the government controls the housing market and, at a political whim, can pump it up or crash it.

Now try to invest on the fundamentals…

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Comment by Whac-A-Bubble™
2014-03-15 09:26:53

Their attempt to prop up housing is likely to ultimately fail, as it temporarily did with the collapse of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in September 2008. The Fed stepped in to prop up housing with QE3, but at some future point, they may have bigger concerns on their plate than handing over riches to homeowners in open discrimination against those who rent out of choice or necessity.

Comment by Housing Analyst
2014-03-15 06:57:49

Given the rampant housing fraud in CA, in particular as it relates to realtors and mortgage salesmen, I wouldn’t risk a penny on that one.

Comment by Captain Credit Crunch
2014-03-15 07:15:05

Here you are the one person who I thought would be most keen to put their money where their mouth was. If you are absolutely certain that housing is headed downward, why not extract maximum profit from everyone’s combined stupidity? Similarly, why not hedge my own net worth? It seems a reasonable premium to pay to get on with life and enjoy my own place with hedged downside risks.

The CSI only looks at a carefully selected subset of paired sales, excluding flips, family transactions, longer than 6-mo holding in order to capture arms length sales. The 10-city index has risen and fallen much like every picture of the market I’ve seen elsewhere, as can be seen in the graph linked.

A market-maker stands ready to trade with a publicly offered bid/ask.

Comment by Housing Analyst
2014-03-15 07:27:41

I have marketable skills that earn a substantial sum with zero risk and besides I have no stake in the direction of housing prices and it’s going to stay that way. It’s not about me my friend…. Therefore;

How about speaking to the rampant housing fraud and the mortgage sales and realtor fraud involvement in it in riverside county?

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Comment by Captain Credit Crunch
2014-03-15 07:51:58

I’m ignorant about those issues. I don’t particularly want a stake in housing prices, either, but would prefer not to be moving around every 2 years. People seem very unwilling to sign more than a 2 year lease.

Comment by Housing Analyst
2014-03-15 07:56:53

No you’re not. You know exactly what I’m talking about. ;)

Comment by Housing Analyst
2014-03-15 08:16:23

What does that have to do with buying options?

Comment by Prime_Is_Contained
2014-03-15 11:43:49

I think his point, if I understood it correctly, is that by going “long” housing (e.g. buying a house), and also shorting by an equivalent amount, you end up with a combined portfolio that is net-neutral on housing, but also has the characteristic that you do not have a LL who can tell you to move.

Interesting idea—though I would point out that the cost of your “portfolio insurance” in this case is also unknown in the future, and could rise in a manner similar to rent…

And yes, to answer a question posed early on this thread: I have traded CME futures on housing in the past (06-08, IIRC).

Comment by Captain Credit Crunch
2014-03-15 12:11:19

That is my point, Prime. I think Short term insurance is all that’s needed, so perhaps one giant leap put to Nov 18. I suppose I could also sell covered calls.

Comment by Prime_Is_Contained
2014-03-15 14:14:21

I think Short term insurance is all that’s needed, so perhaps one giant leap put to Nov 18.

Let me first try to persuade you of one of my biggest lessons learned from the last time around: getting the timing right is FAR FAR more difficult than getting the direction right. Expect to be wrong on the timing.

My guess would be that your one giant leap would expire worthless long before the market cracks and tanks.

I lost BIG on those CME puts initially, as I was way too early, and entered the complete position too quickly—and the market was moving against me for the first 9mo even though I was correct on the eventual direction.

If I had paced my entry better, then I would not have been in to the limit of the exposure that I intended to allow, and would have still been entering the position at much more advantageous pricing—which would have led to me doing quite well. As it was, when the market swung in the obvious direction, I was already too leveraged to increase my stake (I had the funds, but stuck with my discipline on the limits that I set), and ended up coming out only about even.

Lessons learned…

I suppose I could also sell covered calls.

And by doing so, you would be taking far more risk; writing covered calls, you would pocket a small premium, while taking on a potentially large liability. Would you really want to have to sell the house that you went “long” on in order to pay that liability?

Comment by Captain Credit Crunch
2014-03-15 21:39:12

All good perspectives, thanks a ton for your personal story. That’s right about the covered calls, always has unlimited exposure. You’re the only person I know who has used these. What broker did you use? I think there are 3.

Comment by Prime_Is_Contained
2014-03-16 09:00:55

What broker did you use? I think there are 3.

I traded via an eFutures account…

Comment by Housing Analyst
2014-03-15 06:56:11

Sacramento CA Rental Rates Dive 5% YoY

Given the massive growing excess empty and defaulted inventory, this is no surprise.

Comment by the Central Scrutinizer
2014-03-15 06:57:23

Hope and Change

“An army of 15 million voters under 30 swept Obama past Hillary Clinton and John McCain and to the presidency in 2008. More than 12 million helped him return in 2012. But now his presidency is on the line — and the Obama youth are abandoning him in his hour of need.

The administration announced last week that only 1.08 million people ages 18 to 34 had signed up for Obamacare by the end of February, or about 25 percent of total enrollees. If the proportion doesn’t improve significantly, the result likely will be fatal for the Affordable Care Act.

Comment by In Colorado
2014-03-15 07:12:13

FWIW, those under 26 can stay on Mom and Dad’s employer provided plan, often at zero cost, so they don’t need to sign up. If they were counting on them to sign up, that was a big mistake.

Comment by jose canusi
2014-03-15 07:31:58

LOL, you just pointed out a gaping strategic flaw in Obamacare. LMAO, I didn’t even thing about that one.


Comment by In Colorado
2014-03-15 08:22:15

Having my adult children still on my plan made this more than obvious. One of them is eligible for coverage at her job, but my plan is much better and since we already have her siblings on the plan it costs nothing extra (for me) to keep her on the plan.

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Comment by albuquerquedan
2014-03-15 08:22:40

There is another interesting problem with Obamacare that the eggheads should have seen given human nature but failed to address. The deadline to sign up for Obamacare is set for March 31st. However, April 15th is the deadline for income tax. Many people wait for April 15th to file their taxes and many of those will not find out there is a fine or at least the sign of the fine until they file. If you think Obamacare is unpopular among the young now wait until they find that on a $25,000 income they have a $250 fine. Many stories have gotten it wrong and make it sound like they are only facing a $95 fine, which is only the minimum fine. Also, I believe to enroll period after March 31st you have to have some life changing event to occur. This is to prevent buying insurance after you have been diagnosed with cancer. However, this means unlike the old system you cannot buy insurance when you feel like you can afford it, since you just paid off a vehicle, student loans etc. In many ways this is a worse system then a system where you could purchase insurance anytime but pre-existing conditions would not be covered. Can’t wait for the after March 31st complaints.

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Comment by albuquerquedan
2014-03-15 08:39:06


Comment by scdave
2014-03-15 08:54:32

Can’t wait for the after March 31st complaints ??

Well, after that you can submit your own plan now can’t you…You likely won’t because you don’t have one other then “fend for yourself” if you don’t have or cannot afford health insurance….

Comment by the Central Scrutinizer
2014-03-15 08:55:42

The Obamascare penalty (it’s a tax, not a penalty) applies to 2014 taxable income, not 2013.

Comment by albuquerquedan
2014-03-15 09:28:59

True, but when they file their 2013 tax returns they will probably be informed that they will have a “tax” to pay in 2014 and they are too late to change it. BTW, Obama called it a penalty prior to John Roberts making it a tax to save to Obamacare.

Comment by albuquerquedan
2014-03-15 09:31:45

Well, after that you can submit your own plan now can’t you…You likely won’t because you don’t have one other then “fend for yourself” if you don’t have or cannot afford health insurance….

I have explained many proposals numerous times on this board and do not have time to repeat and you were posting when I do post them. So just repeat the Democratic meme that Republicans do not have a plan. The first rule of medicine is do no harm and Obamacare violates this rule since it is worse than do nothing.

Comment by Skroodle
2014-03-15 10:37:57

They can always become Amish.

I think all you need is a beard and black clothing.

Comment by scdave
2014-03-15 11:12:25

Is health care a right or a privilege Adan ??…Easy question…Simple answer for you…Its one or the other…

Comment by albuquerquedan
2014-03-15 12:14:47

Is health care a right or a privilege Adan ??…Easy question…Simple answer for you…Its one or the other…

It is not a “right”, there is no right to health care in the constitution. If you want it to be a right there is a proper constitutional process to amend the constitution to make it a right. It is no more a privilege than housing. With few exceptions most people have some form of housing. However, there is no need to mandate that all people have the same type of housing. Hard work and yes innate abilities do justify differences in results.

It is not one or the other. I have no problem with some assistance to deserving people and even in colonial times there was help for deserving people but not sturdy beggars. So despite the Democratic meme it is not one or the other. The Federal Government under our constitution should never have been involved in the delivery of health care, that is the providence of state and local governments. Charitable and poor hospitals have always been part of the American landscape. Destroying the health care system to achieve a few percent more people covered by health care insurance was not necessary and not even logical. The cure is worse than the disease. Most of the increase in uninsured is directly related to open borders and globalization. End those policies and employers will once again provide health insurance.

Comment by albuquerquedan
2014-03-15 14:14:21

Back from the gym. My point above is precisely why many progressives like Obama hate the U.S. Constitution. It does not grant a right to housing, medical care, education etc. It give us rights to protect us from government and is the enemy of big government. The Soviet Union’s constitution was beloved by progressives because it did grant those rights as does the South African constitution. The paradox is the economy that the constitution created when it was followed gave the vast majority of American access to all of them in a manner that the average person in the Soviet Union could not even imagine, despite having those rights in their constitution.

Comment by jose canusi
2014-03-15 07:09:42

Honey, do you smell gas?

“They were sitting on a powder keg.

The ground on which two East Harlem buildings once stood was saturated with natural gas, in some cases at a 20% concentration — suggesting the 125-year-old line to the structures was leaking, the feds said Friday”

But, but, natural gas is where it’s at!

Nope, not in a country with an aging infrastructure and a dumbed down population.

Comment by Blackhawk
2014-03-15 07:39:14


There’s nothing wrong with natural gas. It will be the fuel of choice in the future as it’s abundant and cheap.

Who ever owned those buildings has a duty to have these things inspected and repaired. 125 yr old pipes corrode and need to be replaced.

How many people smelled NG but didn’t leave the premises? I bet it was leaking for a long time.


Comment by jose canusi
2014-03-15 07:48:08

Like I said:

Natural Gas:

“not in a country with an aging infrastructure and a dumbed down population.”

Like you said:

“How many people smelled NG but didn’t leave the premises? I bet it was leaking for a long time.”

You are looking at a country (the US) that is circling the drain into Third World status. It can’t handle natural gas as an energy source, let alone nookyewlar.

Comment by Blackhawk
2014-03-15 08:06:43


We’re not going down the drain.

Look to areas where we’re developing our carbon based fuels and I see a resurgence.

Example. Towns like Hobbs, NM were depressed, loosing population and “going down the drain”. Now there are so many jobs that the truck drivers are making $100,000 per year. Buildings are being renovated, new homes and apts are being built, and the town is bustling.

Just try to get a hotel room under $100 per night.

So anyway there’s a new era coming and it’ll happen as soon as the US Government gets out of the way.

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Comment by jose canusi
2014-03-15 09:29:14

“So anyway there’s a new era coming and it’ll happen as soon as the US Government gets out of the way.”

I agree there’s a new era coming. But I don’t think it’ll be pretty. In fact it’s getting uglier and more vicious by the minute.

As far at the US as a country, it’s over. Hopefully something better springs from the ashes, but from where I sit, what we’ve got now isn’t worth preserving. I’m sure there are many who disagree with me, but the downward trajectory is well under way and you can see the results all around.

It’s kind of like a house that has rotted away to the point that the only thing to do is knock it down, plow it under and build something new and hopefully a lot better.

Comment by (Still) Waiting for the Fall
2014-03-15 14:00:45

“Are you optimistic ’bout the way things are going?
No, I never ever think of it at all
Don’t you ever worry
When you see what’s going down?
No, I try to mind my business, that is, no business at all
When it’s time to function as a feeling human being
Will your bachelor of arts help you get by?
I hope to study further, a few more years or so
I also hope to keep a steady high
Will you try to change things
Use the power that you have, the power of a million new ideas?
What is this power you speak of and this need for things to change?
I always thought that everything was fine
Don’t you feel repression just closing in around?
No, the campus here is very, very free
Don’t it make you angry the way war is dragging on?
Well, I hope the president knows what he’s into, I don’t know
Don’t you ever see the starvation in the city where you live
All the needless hunger all the needless pain?
I haven’t been there lately, the country is so fine
But my neighbors don’t seem hungry ’cause they haven’t got the time

Thank you for the talk, you know you really eased my mind
I was troubled by the shapes of things to come
Well, if you had my outlook your feelings would be numb
You’d always think that everything was fine.”

Courtesy: Chicago V, Robert Lamm, 1972
Powerful then, moreso now.

Comment by (Still) Waiting for the Fall
2014-03-15 14:05:51

I was talking ’bout the state of the union
How there’s no one now in power thinking of me
I was saying how we ought to try to fix it
Find a leader who is not afraid to be

Then a voice came out of the darkness
Saying “Tear the system down”
Tear it down

I was thinking ’bout how that was very crazy
And I tried to find a way to tell him so
But when I did I used a word that was quite nasty
How the policeman heard me man I’ll never know

Then a voice came out of the darkness
Saying “Tear the system down”
Tear it down, down to the ground

I was wrestled of to one side of the theater
And they said I’d have to go right to jail
They don’t permit coarse language in their city
But they did accept a large amount of bail

Then a voice came out of the darkness
Saying “Tear the system down”
Tear it down, down to the ground

Same Album, Robert Lamm, again.
Strange Days, indeed.

Comment by jose canusi
2014-03-15 07:58:13

“There’s nothing wrong with natural gas.”

Good Lord. I guess eight dead and two buildings blown to bits is not a problem. Not to mention the two exploding subdivisions (that I know of), the one near us that was evacuated and the condo bldg in NJ that blew up. And I’d like to know more about the guy who worked for the subcontractor who struck the gas line. I’d like to know his IQ. Chances are, he was a cheap labor moron.

“It will be the fuel of choice in the future as it’s abundant and cheap.”

Oh, hell, YEAH! But not for long. As soon as natural gas becomes the “fuel of choice”, it will suddenly become scarce and expensive. Funny how that works.

Y’know, from reading your posts, I respect you. But clearly, you’re living in another era of the US, where things were done right with the occasional mishap. You need to adjust to the new reality of the country. Look at the sidebar stories in that NY Daily News article. That oughta give you pause.

Comment by In Colorado
2014-03-15 08:13:59

Oh, hell, YEAH! But not for long. As soon as natural gas becomes the “fuel of choice”, it will suddenly become scarce and expensive.

FWIW, out west it has been the fuel of choice for decades. NatGas fired furnaces are standard out here. I’ve never seen a house out here that uses heating oil. If you have forced air heating out here, it’s NatGas.

And explosions are very rare. About 17 years ago in Denver a house had a leak and exploded. I can’t recall another incident since then. You’re far more likely to trip, fall down the stairs and break your neck than have your house blow up.

If you smell a leak you call the gas company, and they show up FAST and find the problem.

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Comment by jose canusi
2014-03-15 08:34:18

“And explosions are very rare.”

I figure they’ll become more common as people become increasingly stupid. We’ll have to wait and see.

Comment by albuquerquedan
2014-03-15 08:42:41

I think there may have been an illegal alien angle to this. Many in the apartment appear to be illegals. They wanted to stay below the radar and probably had a slumlord that liked them for that very reason. They are less likely to report problems to authorities including problems with the heating system.

Comment by jose canusi
2014-03-15 09:03:52

Well, there ya go. More Third World mishaps due to Third World operating basis. Whaddya wanna bet the slumlords escape any penalty?

Comment by Blackhawk
2014-03-15 08:16:55


If you live in the northeast there are a lot more buildings to inspect and repair. I get that. But installing new piping is a lot cheaper than razing the building and rebuilding a new one.

What happens after something like this, all kinds of inspectors start doing their jobs with more zeal, because people lost their lives. City inspectors, county inspectors, and insurance inspectors will all come down on these building owners. It takes time but it’ll happen.

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Comment by Prime_Is_Contained
2014-03-15 12:20:45

What happens after something like this, all kinds of inspectors start doing their jobs with more zeal, because people lost their lives.

What I don’t understand is why the gas-providing utilities can’t simply meter the total amount of gas they send into their local lines, and compare that against the metered amount that consumers are buying from them.

If they had per-region/per-neighborhood sub-meters, they could detect that a particular area had a significant leak, and use that to direct efforts to track these leaks down.

Comment by scdave
Comment by tresho
2014-03-15 10:54:30

State law in California requiring carbon monoxide detectors…
Nothing to do with the leaking of natural gas leading to building explosions. You would have to buy & install a different kind of detector. Oh yes, and maintain it.
By the way, in 2012, 34,080 Americans died in MVAs. Nobody gets their knickers in such a twist over that, and few want to ban motor vehicle transport.

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Comment by scdave
2014-03-15 11:18:40

Nothing to do with the leaking of natural gas leading to building explosions ??

Much of the Carbon Monoxide in a home is produced through the heat exchangers that have failed and along with it NG..

Carbon monoxide is a product of incomplete combustion of organic matter due to insufficient oxygen supply to enable complete oxidation to carbon dioxide (CO2). It is often produced in domestic or industrial settings by older motor vehicles and other gasoline-powered tools, heaters, and cooking equipment

Comment by Housing Analyst
2014-03-15 08:14:02

It’s events like these that keep me and mine in the cha-ching. I could tolerate a 10 year gig replacing every 80 year old rotted galvanized steel main with fused HDPE in the 5 boroughs.

Got cash?

Comment by tresho
2014-03-15 10:56:51

I could tolerate a 10 year gig replacing every 80 year old rotted galvanized steel main with fused HDPE in the 5 boroughs.

Got cash?

They did exactly that in my neighborhood about 4 years ago. I carefully supervised from the sidewalk. I don’t know how much $ that project cost, it had to be ALOT.

Comment by Housing Analyst
2014-03-15 11:45:42

heh… I’m sure they enjoyed that. Did you invite him into the operating room to supervise your work?

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Comment by tresho
2014-03-15 13:04:28

heh… I’m sure they enjoyed that. Did you invite him into the operating room to supervise your work?
Whenever my patients had only local anesthesia, they ALWAYS got to watch what I was doing. I was able to see most of my own knee surgery. I did learn my water supply line was 6.5 feet deep, could be useful in the future.

Comment by the Central Scrutinizer
Comment by the Central Scrutinizer
2014-03-15 07:39:24

2360 Champlain St NW #2.1 - $579 per square foot
901 D St NE #104 - $592 per square foot
4301 Military Rd NW #306 - $672 per square foot

Because it’s different in D.C.

Comment by Blackhawk
2014-03-15 07:51:21

Science Question.

If water expands when it freezes (9%), what happens to the level of the sea water when the polar ice caps melt?

Think about it. All that polar ice weighs a lot, squeezing out the water underneath it, raising the level of the sea water.

As it melts, it weighs less so it squeezes out less water, counter acting the fact that more water is being added to the sea water.

I wouldn’t be surprised if nature had it’s own equilibrium so that the levels hardly fluctuate at all.

Comment by 2banana
2014-03-15 07:58:38

Put some ice in a glass.

Fill it with water to the brim.

Come back in a few hours.

No spillage - the water will be at the same level.

But we need obama to have the oceans receded and heal the planet though bigger and bigger government and higher and higher taxes…

Comment by Muggy
2014-03-15 08:25:26

Wow. Just… wow.

Comment by Muggy
2014-03-15 08:29:59

2ban’s cup runneth over.

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Comment by jose canusi
2014-03-15 08:35:55

sheesh, I’m tellin’ ya.

Couldn’t believe that one.

Comment by Whac-A-Bubble™
2014-03-15 09:29:04

Don’t forget that Republicans are Flat Earth Society / Biblical Creation Story true believers who hate science.

Comment by 2banana
2014-03-15 09:51:27

you forgot

“and want to starve kids, throw grandma in the streets and have all of us drink polluted water”

Comment by Whac-A-Bubble™
2014-03-15 10:13:36

Thanks for completing the thought!

Comment by In Colorado
2014-03-15 08:06:26

The arctic ice cap is already floating in the ocean and displaces its weight. No change in sea level if that melts.

The Antarctic ice cap is on land, so if it were to melt and flow into the ocean it could theoretically raise the sea’s level.

Comment by jose canusi
2014-03-15 08:28:13

Exactly! Not to put too fine a point on 2ban’s analogy, if you’ve got a full glass of water and drop an ice cube in it, what happens?

Comment by albuquerquedan
2014-03-15 08:59:29

but data shows a growing south pole cap.

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Comment by Muggy
2014-03-15 08:39:41

Blackhawk, check this:

“I wouldn’t be surprised if nature had it’s own equilibrium so that the levels hardly fluctuate at all.”

This is similar to the Gaia hypothesis (not considered science, but more of a concept that may be helpful in investigations). Check it out:

Comment by Fang Nu
2014-03-15 07:53:27

One inflated value $550k house, when averaged with four $550k houses 20%underwater, equals no one on that block is underwater.

The formula works with
Zombie houses with no mortgages.
Unsold new homes with CoH but no buyer.

No one is less upside down than before except for a few sporadic zip codes.

Comment by Fang Nu
2014-03-15 07:57:00

That’s “one over inflated free and clear house”

Add blackstone to who skews the underwater number.

Comment by Housing Analyst
2014-03-15 08:03:50

Whenever the energy of the dead cat bounce dissipates and the money starts drying up, the lying realtor yakking, pimping and rationalizing goes into overdrive on the HBB. It’s fawkin’ hilarious.

The Housing Bubble Blog is the best housing barometer ever.

Comment by 2banana
2014-03-15 08:05:41

Remember - only bigger and bigger government with higher and higher taxes can save us…


Government Workers Cost 45% More Than Private Sector Workers | 03/12/14 | Economic News Release

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) announced on March 12th that the total cost of employing a state or local government worker is 45% more than an equivalent worker in the private sector.

For the month of December 2013, employers in private industry spent an average of $29.63 per employee hour worked, but the equivalent cost for a government worker averaged $42.89 per hour. Not only do government employees average 33% higher pay than those in the private sector, their pension and retirement benefit costs are now an incredible 254% higher also. Given that compensation formulas for federal, state, and local government are comparable, it should come as no surprise that this year spending by the U.S. government will exceed revenue by an all-time high of $744.2 billion, and our gross national debt is a stunning $18.5 trillion.

These differentials explain why, despite supposed efforts to rein in public spending, net federal, state, and local government spending rose from $6.1 trillion in 2013 to $6.3 trillion in 2014 and will reach $6.6 trillion in 2015. The spending rate is actually $600 billion higher, but the federal government gets “inter-governmental transfers” of $600 billion. The transfers come from U.S. government revenues, such as the $89.9 billion dividend the U.S. government received from the Federal Reserve, as shown below:

About 7% of all Americans are employed by the federal, state, and local government. But since only 56% of working-age Americans have a job, this works out to about one government worker out of eight people who are actually working. This percentage has remained about the same for the last 35 years.

Back in 1979, higher public sector pensions were considered fair compensation since the private sector paid higher wages. At the time, federal government debt was only about a third of America’s GDP. But every year since then, public sector wages and benefits have grown at about 1% faster than the private sector. As the Bureau of Labor Statistics report demonstrates, the faster compounding of total compensation for the government workers has now reached a record 45% higher than the private sector. This generous treatment of public employees at least partially explains why America’s federal debt has more than tripled to 110% of GDP.

Comment by 2banana
2014-03-15 08:27:27

Who will buy $750,000 crack shacks in LA and NYC?

Comment by the Central Scrutinizer
2014-03-15 10:24:45

It’s a good thing that federal retirements are backfilled with contractors, who charge the government for the same benefits the federal employees, in addition to overhead and profit.

Now that’s what Grover Norquist would call “shrinking the size of government to where you can drown it in the bathtub”

Comment by Skroodle
2014-03-15 10:40:10

Black water was charging $500k/year. No way that is cheaper than a Private.

Comment by 2banana
2014-03-15 13:26:04

Data? Sources?

Liberal talking points don’t count…

Comment by Skroodle
2014-03-15 18:00:45

According to data provided to the House panel, the average per-day pay to personnel Blackwater hired was $600. According to the schedule of rates, supplies and services attached to the contract, Blackwater charged Regency $1,075 a day for senior managers, $945 a day for middle managers and $815 a day for operators.

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Comment by phony scandals
2014-03-15 08:10:29

Russian companies withdraw billions from west, say Moscow bankers

Financial Times
March 15, 2014

Russian companies are pulling billions out of western banks, fearful that any US sanctions over the Crimean crisis could lead to an asset freeze, according to bankers in Moscow.

Sberbank and VTB, Russia’s giant partly state-owned banks, as well as industrial companies, such as energy group Lukoil, are among those repatriating cash from western lenders with operations in the US. VTB has also cancelled a planned US investor summit next month, according to bankers.

Comment by 2banana
2014-03-15 08:30:54

Who will buy $750,000 crack shacks in LA and NYC?

(sorry for the post above)

Comment by 2banana
2014-03-15 08:16:43

Chicago thug tactics…who’s your daddy now?


President Obama warns youth: Sign up for Obamacare or we will charge you a penalty
The Washington Examiner | 3/14/2014 | Charlie Spiering

President Obama warned young people that if they don’t sign up for Obamacare by March 31, they will face a penalty — if they can afford it.

During an interview with radio host Ryan Seacrest, Obama explained that young people might be charged a fine if they don’t get insured.

“If you can afford it — you just decide you don’t want to get it because your attitude is ‘nothing’s ever going to happen to me’ — then you’ll be charged a penalty,” Obama explained.

Obama was careful to specify that people who can’t afford Obamacare will not suffer a penalty, thanks to a “hardship exemption,” but encouraged everyone to sign up.

“You never know what kind of curveballs life throws at you,” he warned.

Comment by MacBeth
2014-03-15 09:36:06

Domestic imperialism.

Hey- I’m all against foisting American Imperialism on foreigners in foreign lands, but it’s fine and dandy to use the same tactics against your own people.

Hope and Change!

Comment by The Zima Guy
2014-03-15 09:52:09

Insurance salesman?

What a disgrace….

Comment by albuquerquedan
2014-03-15 10:23:34

He will be a Realtor when he leaves office.

Comment by phony scandals
2014-03-15 08:49:48

U.S. To Relinquish Remaining Control Of The Internet

by Eyder Peralta
March 14, 2014 6:37 PM

The United States announced its intention on Friday of relinquishing its remaining control of the Internet.

In a statement, the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration said it wants to relinquish its oversight of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.

ICAAN is a kind of cooperative that includes a wide array of companies and people, as well as more than 100 governments. One of the key functions overseen by the U.S. is the assignment of domain names. (Think of .com or .org.)

“The timing is right to start the transition process,” Lawrence E. Strickling, the assistant secretary of commerce for communications and information, said in a statement. “We look forward to ICANN convening stakeholders across the global Internet community to craft an appropriate transition plan.”

NPR’s Steve Henn tells our Newscast unit that the world community has been calling for this handover for a while. But the current revelations over spying by the National Security Agency has led to louder calls.

“The announcement by the Commerce Department Friday that it would relinquish its oversight role of ICANN was widely viewed as a response to that criticism,” Steve reports. “Administration officials have said any new governance structure for ICANN should be transparent and free from any hint of government interference.”

The Commerce Department adds that it was always the intention of the United States to hand over these responsibilities to the global community.

The Wall Street Journal adds:

“The impact of the change remains unclear, because the Commerce Department’s day-to-day role in overseeing the contract with Icann is largely clerical. However, other nations have suggested the U.S. can still use its current authority to block certain websites for reasons like copyright infringement or having links to known terrorists. One goal of transitioning Icann to nongovernmental oversight would be to provide more transparency to all nations into how the Internet’s root structure operates. -

Comment by phony scandals
2014-03-15 09:55:41

U.S. ‘Transitioning’ Domain Name Functions to ‘Global Community’; Politico Takes Eight Paragraphs to Name Likely Candidate

By Tom Blumer | March 14, 2014 | 20:12

In a late Friday afternoon release, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced its intent “to transition key Internet domain name functions to the global multistakeholder community.” The statement is full of the kind of dense bureaucratic language one tends to see when the agency is doing something really important but controversial.

Stating the situation more clearly, calls it “the Offical Statement Of The US Giving Up Control Over ICANN” (The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers). Americans for Limited Government has issued a press release “blasting the Obama Commerce Department for turning over control of the Internet to United Nations International Telecommunication Union.” The one story in the press as of 7:30 p.m. was at the Politico, whose Erin Mershon appears to have caught wind of the news ahead of NTIA’s release. Mershon takes eight paragraphs to tell readers to whom the functions are to be transitioned — and I don’t think her dallying is mere sloppiness (bolds are mine):

Internet control to shift from U.S. to global stage

The U.S. Commerce Department is relinquishing its hold over the group that manages the Internet’s architecture amid pressure to globalize its functions in the wake of reports about NSA surveillance.

The National Telecommunications & Information Administration, a Commerce Department agency, said Friday it is transitioning the function to the “global Internet community.” The decision marks a dramatic change. Since the Internet’s inception, the United States has played a leading role in the management of critical back-end Web work, including management of .com and other domain names. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has performed those functions under U.S. Commerce contract since 2000.

The United States will give up its oversight role when the current contract with ICANN expires in fall 2015, said NTIA Administrator Larry Strickling said. He set out a series of four principles required for the transition, including that ICANN maintain the openness of the Internet. Some U.S. officials and businesses have expressed fears about the United Nations, or governments like Russia and China, taking over control of the Web.

… ICANN, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit, has been pushing to transform itself into a global organization without U.S. oversight. European Union officials have strongly backed the globalization campaign, which has picked up steam in the wake of Edward Snowden’s leaks about the NSA’s sprawling surveillance programs.

… “We thank the U.S. government for its stewardship, for its guidance over the years, and we thank them today for trusting the global community to replace their stewardship with the appropriate accountability mechanisms,” said ICANN President Fadi Chehade, who joined Strickling on the call.

Some U.S. officials have warned about the dangers of ceding ICANN’s authority to the International Telecommunication Union, a United Nations agency, fearing countries like Russia and China could use it to allow online censorship. Congress unanimously passed a resolution ahead of a 2012 ITU meeting, highlighting the U.S. commitment to keeping the Internet free from government control.

Daniel Castro, a senior analyst at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation … he warned that ICANN would not be held accountable without U.S. control.

“If the Obama Administration gives away its oversight of the Internet,” he said, “it will be gone forever.”

Despite Mershon’s vague language, there’s no reason to believe that the ITU is not the likely beneficiary of the “transitioning.”

ITU describes itself at its About page as “the United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technologies (ICTs).” ITU “currently has a membership of 193 countries and over 700 private-sector entities and academic institutions.” Its exposure to pressure from undemocratic nations would appear to be significant.

Its home page (saved here), with a reference to how ICTs can enhance “smart water management” (i.e., exert control over water resources) seems to be betray the usual mission creep such organizations develop. Imagine what they can do with the Internet.

I don’t think it’s an accident that NTIA’s annoucement made no reference to the UN or ITU. It’s also isn’t mere sloppiness which caused Politico’s Mershon to wait eight paragraphs to tell us what every reader would want to know — who will be getting control of ICANN assuming the Obama administration gets its way — if it isn’t a done deal already. - 64k -

Comment by Bill, just South of Irvine
2014-03-15 09:23:45

The Chinese have seemed to put a bottom on the western CEntral Banks’ efforts to drop metals prices.

Steady Climb
By Brien Lundin

My steady stacking will pay off. And it keeps looking more interesting. My mining stocks have an average 26% gain and would skyrocket when the general stock market collapses. Precedents: 1976 and early 2009. I’ve set aside plenty of cash from my staffing company stock sales, so part of it will go to metals and part of it will stay in T-Bills.

Comment by Blue Skye
2014-03-15 10:23:21

The price of hard assets soars in a credit expansion and collapses in a debt crisis. You seem to think it is the other way around.

Look at what the little debt hiccup in China did to the price of copper. This was just a warning to PM speculators.

Comment by albuquerquedan
2014-03-15 10:26:56

Where is the cutback on debt? I am just not seeing it. Obama does not even project a balanced budget going out. Consumers continue to load up on debt, here and in Brazil and in the rest of the world.

Comment by Blue Skye
2014-03-15 11:27:58

OK, everyone will continue to run faster and faster just to keep up. That always works.

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Comment by Bill, just south of Irvine
2014-03-15 11:35:57

Exactly. “Tapering” does not mean the credit is not expanding. It is still expanding. And above all, “tapering” is only referenced with one country. Is the EU tapering? Is Japan tapering?

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Comment by Captain Credit Crunch
2014-03-15 12:17:12

I beg to differ on mining stocks doing well. In 2008 when the market continued to slide, gold prices and mining stocks suffered along with every inflated asset. It was all awash in credit leverage and correlated. I owned a number at that time and it woo, till 2010 to recover.

Comment by Bill, just South of Irvine
2014-03-15 13:54:19

Nope. At least physical took off. I know in 2008 gold spot was $800 that Fall. In 2011 it was $1900. It went up more than 100%. The S&P 500 broke 100% in January of 2013.

Gold and stocks do not correlate. Otherwise the term “rush to safety” would not be used on gold.

Comment by Captain Credit Crunch
2014-03-15 21:53:44

It may have been $800 in 2008, but it had fallen from $1000 less than a year earlier. A world awash in credit has all asset classes more and more correlated.

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Comment by Ben Jones
2014-03-15 09:26:17

‘FBI agents working alongside Utah state prosecutors in a wide-ranging corruption investigation have uncovered accusations of wrongdoing by two of the U.S. Senate’s most prominent figures — Majority Leader Harry Reid and rising Republican Sen. Mike Lee — but the Justice Department has thwarted their bid to launch a full federal investigation.’

‘The information involving Mr. Reid and Mr. Lee is not fully developed but centers on two primary issues: Whether both or either politician sought or received money or other benefits from donors and/or fundraisers in connection with doing political favors or taking official actions.’

‘Whether Mr. Lee provided accurate information when he bought, then sold a Utah home for a big loss to a campaign contributor and federal contractor, leaving his mortgage bank to absorb large losses.’

‘In a recorded conversation published last year by a Utah newspaper, Mr. Johnson is heard telling Mr. Swallow about the Las Vegas event. Mr. Johnson says Mr. Reid told the gathering: “Look, I’ve polled my constituents and they don’t like online poker, bottom line. … It’s bad for jobs here in Las Vegas. But I’m going to back what you guys are doing here. I’m going to introduce a bill for you.”

‘On the recording, Mr. Johnson tells Mr. Swallow that, after Mr. Reid departed, Mr. Johnson himself pulled aside an online gambling official to ask about his announcement. “I [Mr. Johnson] said, ‘How in the hell did you guys get him to do that?’ And he [the online gaming official] says, ‘Let’s just say he got a little something in his retirement fund.’ And I was like, ‘OK, that’s how it is.’”

‘FBI officials said it was rare but not unprecedented for their agents to assist a state-only investigation. “We’ve let agents provide expertise and assist on the ground investigations for states in the past, especially in complex cases where federal crimes weren’t clear,” a senior FBI official in Washington told The Times, speaking only on the condition of anonymity because the official wasn’t authorized to talk to reporters.’

“But in this case, DOJ risks creating the perception of a cover-up rather than let agents use the normal tools and follow the evidence wherever it leads — Republican, Democrat, Senate or not,” the senior FBI official said.’

‘Mr. Rawlings criticized the Justice Department for failing to let FBI agents examine the evidence for federal crimes and leaving the matter to state prosecutors with limited jurisdiction. “Based upon what we know today, we were surprised that the DOJ ran away,” he said.’

Comment by Whac-A-Bubble™
2014-03-15 09:39:46

‘Whether Mr. Lee provided accurate information when he bought, then sold a Utah home for a big loss to a campaign contributor and federal contractor, leaving his mortgage bank to absorb large losses.’

Shades of San Diego’s Randy “Duke” Cunningham scandal?

In June 2005, a story appeared in the San Diego Union Tribune by Marcus Stern and Jerry Kammer, who would later receive a Pulitzer Prize for their reporting. The story revealed that a defense contractor, Mitchell Wade, founder of the defense contracting firm MZM Inc. (since renamed Athena Innovative Solutions Inc.), bought Cunningham’s house in Del Mar in 2003 for $1,675,000. A month later, Wade placed it back on the market where it remained unsold for 8 months until the price was reduced to $975,000. Cunningham was a member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee; soon after the purchase, Wade’s company began to receive tens of millions of dollars worth of defense and intelligence contracts. Cunningham claimed the deal was legitimate, adding, “I feel very confident that I haven’t done anything wrong.”

Comment by 2banana
2014-03-15 09:57:55

Real Estate - almost the ultimate money laundering system for political paybacks.

The ultimate political payback system?

Being forced to join a union as a condition of employment and then have union dues taken out your paycheck by your employer as a condition of employment and then having 99.9% of those dues going to one political party.

Comment by Blue Skye
2014-03-15 13:23:12

How about that Bernanke? $250,000 for an hour of standup comedy weeks after leaving office. I am pretty sure he is not that entertaining.

Comment by Whac-A-Bubble™
2014-03-16 04:47:02

But his speaking fee was prepaid in bailout money…

Comment by Jane
2014-03-16 03:13:53

Oxy, go ahead - get the knee jerk defense in play for Holder and The One!

Take out the Nixon playbook: the Secret Information Theory ought to work!

Comment by the Central Scrutinizer
2014-03-15 13:25:54


huhuhuhuhuhuhuhuhuhuh ha!

Comment by AbsoluteBeginner
2014-03-15 15:23:22

We had an HBB member here who was out of Mammoth Lakes, CA. If still around, how was the snowfall this year?

Comment by Captain Credit Crunch
2014-03-15 21:49:04

I’m not he, but I’m certain Mammoth had a horrible ski season.

Comment by Whac-A-Bubble™
2014-03-16 04:48:01

Paging Charlie Tango…

Comment by phony scandals
2014-03-15 16:10:43

Wheel of Bubble

D _ _ d B _ _ t

I’d like to buy a vowel.

Comment by Blue Skye
2014-03-15 16:53:26

An “E” please.

Comment by phony scandals
2014-03-15 17:13:16

Wheel of Bubble

D e _ d B e _ t

Would you like to spin again or solve the puzzle?

Comment by Blue Skye
2014-03-15 18:04:06

I’d like to solve. Dead Beat.

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Comment by phony scandals
2014-03-15 18:52:31

Wheel of Fortune - Bonus Round Music 1 - YouTube - 133k -

Comment by rickperry2016
2014-03-15 16:20:38

there’s nothing funnier than seeing a bumper sticker that says ‘nope’ but instead of the letter o there’s an obama campaign logo

it’s like really really funny.

really funny.

Comment by Blue Skye
2014-03-15 16:56:06

What kind of clown do you think you would like to have next go around?

Comment by Bill, just South of Irvine
2014-03-15 16:24:10

Interesting post on Kitco forum. Says if you think you really own real estate, you are wrong. It is not about you paying rent to the government in the form of property taxes. It is about rights…

Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 566

Originally Posted by Ratzfinger
You can never own peoperty in the system we have. Simply put, ‘all property is theft’.

You can ‘think’ that you own it, you can profit from that thought, you might even bring service to others in the form of tennants while profiting from that thought, but its not real.

You cannot own property in the system we have.

[Below a reply by George West:]

This is a correct statement. I am a real estate expert and I have done expert witness work at all levels of state and federal courts, even tax and criminal cases. I have dealt with this issue from the witness stand in an IRS case.

Here in the US, real estate ownership is merely the ownership of rights. Its known as the bundle-of-rights theory of ownership. People would revolt if they only know that they buy, sell, mortgage, lease, rent, insure, pay interest upon, and pay many taxes upon rights and only rights. Stated another way, any attribute of real estate that you can touch or feel can’t be owned. So who owns the physical aspects of land and everything attached to it? The US federal government. Our government is in really big debt that, by design, can’t be paid off. So the government owns your home, and the banksters have an effective lien on governments assets for debt. This is why you can never own it. The system is designed to fool you into chasing the illusion of ownership with the fruits of your productivity. This is also why banksters inflated housing prices. Its all a form of slavery for those that get fooled by it.

One example I often used is a new front door purchased at the Depot. You buy it and you own it. You put it in the back of your truck and drive it home. You still own it. You put it in your garage and its still your physical property. But the minute you attach it to your home, you just donated it to the federal government because now you only have the rights associated with the door and no physical ownership.

In a tax case in Los Angeles, I had to speak on this subject. The IRS attorney, a foreign woman, asked the judge to silence my fraudulent testimony. The judge (an icon from the DeLorean case) told the attorney my testimony was correct.

There you have it folks. Real estate ownership in the US is a fraudulent enslavement tool for the gullible masses. If you really want to wake up, ownership of stock, absent your possession of the certificate, is just as corrupted. You only own a “securities entitlement”. This allows the broker/clearing agent to borrow against the stock resulting in a lender’s right in a default being senior to the one with the mere security entitlement. They have done a similar attack on ownership of vehicles. In many states, registration is a process where physical ownership is transferred to the state in exchange for registered ownership. True physical ownership of a vehicle is evidenced by a Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin (AKA: MSO). When you buy a new car, the dealer goes through the DMV and converts the MSO to a registration. You come out with rights of use. And just like the feds with real estate, the states have debt secured with stuff they own.
Last edited by GeorgeWest : 03-14-2014 at 03:24 PM.

Comment by Bill, just South of Irvine
2014-03-15 16:52:34

This above should be of interest to the bloggers here. It is part of why I am leery about owning a house - a gut feeling that I would really be less free in some way - and the guy with screen name George West put it into meaningful words.

Same deal with cars. The advantage of registration of said car is you get full use of it and can drive it until it no longer is worth anything to its real owner, the government.

From a philosophical perspective, you don’t really own anything in the end. You pass along the rights to your appointed heirs.

In the meantime your life is enrichened by accumulating better rights while you are alive, as they are symbols of your achievement, for one, but also provide you ways to experience more interesting events.

Even realizing this, I would still consider taking art in the charade of “ownership” as long as it is a small fraction of my net worth. This is where my own rule of thumb would apply: never buy a house that is more than one sixth of your net worth. Why I would eventually want a house - to store my stuff, including my leather sofa and chair of course. Not as an investment.

Currently $300,000 is my maximum, but it does not get me anywhere close to the neighborhood in Phoenix that I want to be in.

Comment by DanR
2014-03-15 22:46:16

This is a good example of the adage of a man being slave to his, or the state’s, possessions.

Comment by phony scandals
2014-03-15 16:28:40

Wheel of Bubble

The category is Robo signing

_ _ _ _ _ _

spin lands on $500

Comment by rickperry2016
2014-03-15 16:54:58

Bring it on, Hillary!

Comment by Whac-A-Bubble™
2014-03-16 04:49:19

If the vote gets down to either you or Hillary, I’m not voting.

Comment by Muggy
2014-03-15 18:12:55

Two of my work buds have been promoted to junior level supervisors, going from $40k to $65k.

First on the list: buy a house.

Comment by rms
2014-03-15 21:32:37

A neighbor looks like he is employed again. I’ve seen him (his car) leaving early in the morning. Whew.

Comment by phony scandals
2014-03-16 07:20:00

Posted: 4:00 p.m. Saturday, March 15, 2014

Palm Beach County home prices up, but investors still buying

By Kimberly Miller

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Double digit price gains on single-family homes last year were supposed to drive investors out of the real estate market, but Wall Street’s spending spree continues in Palm Beach County where one corporate giant has picked up 200 homes since Jan. 1.

The Blackstone Group, which buys and rents through its Dallas-based Invitation Homes, owns an estimated 1,200 Palm Beach County homes, according to property records, and is filing deeds at a rate of up to 18 a day.

Read the complete story on the all-new »

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