April 8, 2016

If You Build A Financial Crisis, It Will Come

It’s Friday desk clearing time for this blogger. “Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen on Thursday touted the strength of the United States economy, rebuffing political rhetoric suggesting a bubble is ready to burst. ‘I certainly wouldn’t describe this as a bubble economy,’ Yellen said.”

“Home prices fell in dozens of suburbs across the Boston area in the lead up to the spring market in the first two months of the year, according to The Warren Group. Even as prices fluctuate, buyers are snapping up homes at a pace not seen since the real estate boom/bubble of the mid-2000s. Home prices jumped: 89 percent in Charlestown ($1.1 million); 31 percent in South Boston ($695,000); 18 percent in Roslindale ($492,750); 13 percent in Allston ($407,500). ‘If a slowing does come my guess is the suburbs will likely see it first,’ noted David Crowley, a strategic advisor at One Boston Real Estate. ‘Right now (we are) just not seeing any indicators in the city. Still seeing no let-up in multiple offers and no appreciable increase in inventory year-over-year, which would be a key driver in slowing prices.’”

“Twenty-six towns in the two counties have seen prices fall through the end of February, from posh suburbs to more middle-class communities. Needham’s median price ($1 million) has plunged 23 percent to start the year, Wellesley ($1.2 million) has seen a 4 percent decline, while Belmont ($785,000) has seen a 5 percent drop, The Warren Group reports. Nearly 30 towns on the North and South shores saw prices decline with the start of the year. In Plymouth County, Duxbury ($502,000) experienced a 14 percent price drop, Kingston ($269,000) fell 7 percent, while West Bridgewater ($342,250) took a 10 percent hit, Warren Group stats show.”

“Driving into Karnes County, it is easy to see the empty hotel parking lots, new buildings with few cars in front of them and abandoned housing developments. ‘You would think the vultures are circling, thinking you’re going to die on the vine,’ said a defiant Cotulla City Manager Larry Dovalina. ‘If you didn’t die on the vine in 2008, you’re certainly not going to die on the vine today.’”

“Houses are being sold increasingly quickly and in the Amsterdam-Leiden-Utrecht area and in Groningen city the market is performing well above average, according to the Dutch estate agents’ association NVM. In Amsterdam, house prices have risen 20% while the number of houses changing hands has fallen 2%. ‘The market here is literally boiling over,’ NVM chairman Ger Hukker said in a statement.”

“Developers in central London are offering institutional investors discounts of as much as 20 percent on bulk purchases of luxury apartments as demand from international buyers slumps amid higher taxes and low commodity prices. Many developers traveled to Asia to sell homes in advance of construction and secure cheaper development loans because the down payments made projects less risky. The imposition of higher purchase taxes has now reduced the appeal of the costliest properties, leaving developers wondering how they will secure funding, said Dominic Grace, head of London residential development at broker Savills Plc.”

“‘It is a question everyone is asking, and the truth is no one really knows,’ Grace said.”

“Used home prices in China’s major cities have shown signs of decline after local governments introduced a slew of regulations to tame their markets, the Yangcheng Evening News reported. In Shanghai, the number of prospective buyers has dropped significantly. The local government raised down-payment requirements for second home buyers, which prompted a villa owner to lower his property’s price overnight by about 1.6 million yuan (US$ 247,360) from the original 11.5 million yuan (US$ 1.18 million).”

“Shenzhen’s housing market is also cooling off. A research team with Minsheng Securities estimated that home prices in the city might decline between 20 percent and 25 percent by the end of this year. This view was echoed by local real estate brokers. ‘It has become difficult to sell houses after the Spring Festival,’ said an anonymous broker. He got a monthly bonus of nearly 100,000 yuan (US$ 15,460) last year, but couldn’t strike any deal in March.”

“Hong Kong, which for years rode a wave of cheap capital and China’s economic boom, is as vulnerable now as it was before the 1990s Asian financial crisis as those drivers reverse, according to analysis by Daiwa Capital Markets. ‘If the Asian financial crisis was preceded by a classic credit and housing bubble, we see another one now of a bigger scale,’ the Daiwa analysts led by Mr Kevin Lai, chief economist for Asia excluding Japan, wrote in a note. ‘Money inflows have been unprecedented; we expect this money to leave eventually on the back of global dollar-debt deleveraging.’”

“The head of Australia’s banking regulator says home lending practices during the latest property boom are ‘eerily similar’ to the period before the global financial crisis. Former Treasury secretary, now National Australia Bank chairman, Ken Henry agreed Australia remained exposed to a new global shock. He also revealed that, in scenario planning in the lead up to the Wall Street collapse, the potential meltdown of the global financial system was not seen as a real possibility and that being locked out of financial markets was the main concern.”

“‘We asked ourselves the question: ‘In what circumstances could that worry cause a real problem for Australia? And we came up with one and we thought it was so left field that there was no point worrying about it,’ Mr Henry told the conference. ‘And you know what it was? A meltdown of the global financial system.’”

“A recent analysis by a University of British Columbia professor David Ley says that Canada’s immigration policies purposely greased the skids for millionaires and entrepreneurs from Asia. In this way, Vancouver has become a ‘Hedge City,’ a place to park global cash, much like London, New York, Los Angeles or Sydney. Vancouverites have the median income of folks who live in Reno but a real-estate market akin to San Francisco’s. As a result, many Vancouverites grumble.”

“As you hear argued in Seattle, growth is a headache, but the alternative — recession, stagnation, bust — is much worse. And many people — especially homeowners — are undoubtedly of two minds, writes Sun columnist Pete McMartin: ‘If Metro Vancouver has a Silent Majority, I bet it’s those homeowners who tsk-tsk the insanity of the market but who, in the back of their minds, can’t deny the craven whisper of, ‘Please God, let this market stay hot until I can cash out big.’”

“‘Some large U.S. banks that are big commercial real estate lenders have become cautious to outright moratoriums in terms of construction lending for super high-end residential real estate in New York City,’ said Brian Lancaster, an adjunct professor of finance at Columbia Business School. ‘A combination of lower oil prices, which has diminished the ardor of Middle Eastern and Russian buyers, the slowdown in the Chinese economy, which has had negative effects in commodity countries such as Brazil, and stock market volatility, combined with a large amount of new construction, is causing prices to fall, making lenders more cautious.’”

“The next two years will be ‘interesting’ ones for this market, said Marcus & Millichap’s Peter Von Der Ahe. ‘It is going to be difficult if you are trying to sell a $10 million, $15 million, or $20 million apartment right now.’”

“Man’s long determined history of dabbling in the building of touted towers, surely not for his self-gratification, but rather to bring him closer to God, has rarely been met with benevolence. Consider, if you will, the first known example of such an attempt. Having heeded Noah’s warnings, a postdiluvian band of survivors just couldn’t resist taking a stab at the celestials, raising the Tower of Babel they were sure would be gloriously received.”

“The idea of vengeance being associated with sky-piercing structures seems to have stuck, especially among financial market historians. Analysts at the British bank Barclays originally voiced the idea that if you build it, it will come, as in a financial crisis. That is, every time an erected edifice unseated its predecessor to become the newest world’s tallest building, economically upsetting times tended to follow.”

“It took 80 years after the opening of the Chrysler Building to build the next 49 supertall skyscrapers, defined as 300 meters (984 feet) or more. How on earth, or in the heavens, to put it more aptly, has the hundredth supertall just opened on Park Avenue? It might have something to do with the fact that in the short five years through 2015, a subsequent 50 supertall skyscrapers have been erected.”

“All we can do is sit back and wonder what’s to come. Transaction volumes in the trillions and heights exceeding a kilometer – how do tomorrow’s architects top that? Is man’s vanity so great he will risk an even sharper blow to the glass in that celestial ceiling? If he does, what vengeance might follow? The best we can do is hope future history books don’t include records that give new meaning to that old warning, ‘Look out below!’”

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Comment by Ben Jones
2016-04-08 02:30:35

‘Senior housing oversupply is a concern in every acquisition market, but in reality, it is specific to local markets, according to SLIB Managing Director Ryan Saul. “The activity’s still there, the competition’s still there, the valuation’s still there, it’s just the universe is a little bit smaller,” Saul said.’

‘In other regions, new construction is being watched with a critical eye. In certain markets in North Carolina and Tennessee, senior housing providers are watching from the sidelines as their competitors build, according to SLIB Senior Vice President Patrick Burke. Their plan? Let the dust settle, and pick up the property when it’s non-performing. “They’d rather be the second person in,” Burke said.’

Comment by Ben Jones
2016-04-08 06:07:42

‘Multifamily fundamentals are beginning to soften, after several strong years, with apartment completions expected to peak in 2016. This peak should result in an increasing vacancy rate over the next two years. In 2015, apartment completions surpassed net absorption of units for the first time since 2009, signaling the beginning of an oversupply of apartments.’

‘This year, we anticipate completions to exceed absorption by more than 100,000 units, which will likely cause the vacancy rate to increase by about one percentage point. Markets such as Las Vegas, Miami, Nashville and the suburbs of Washington, D.C., will see a more pronounced change in apartment completions versus absorption.’

Comment by Ben Jones
2016-04-08 06:12:16

‘Construction started on 386,000 new apartments last year, according to census data, the highest number since 1987. Apartments, defined as housing units in buildings with five or more units, made up 35 percent of all home construction last year, the highest share since 1973.’

‘Forty-seven states saw construction shift from houses toward apartments, as measured by approval of permits, between 2005 and 2014, the most recent complete year of census data. The shift was especially dramatic in western states such as Colorado, where multifamily units made up 38 percent of new construction permits in 2014, up from just 10 percent in 2005.’

‘Other states where the share rose more than 25 percentage points were California, Oregon, Arizona, New Jersey, Washington, North Dakota and Nebraska.’

Comment by steadykat
2016-04-08 15:17:11


Anyone else live thru the trend of converting 1 bedroom hamster ball apartments to condos that was so prevalent in SoCal during the early to mid eighties?

By the late 80’s housing/economic bust you couldn’t give them away.

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Comment by The Selfish Hoarder
2016-04-08 20:41:08

I hope so! A renters market is the second shoe to fall besides low gas prices. Great for us mobile types!

Comment by oxide
2016-04-08 08:37:00

“Their plan? Let the dust settle, and pick up the property when it’s non-performing. ”

The demographics say that this is a bad idea. These properties are not going to non-perform when the population of downsizing retirees is increasing. Especially in the half-backer states. The dust will settle only after the Boomers are gone and communities have to chase a tiny number of GenXers. Companies need to build NOW, and fast or prepare to wait for 20 years.

Comment by Jake
2016-04-08 09:17:09


Given the fact there are already 25 million excess empty and defaulted housing units in the US today, it doesn’t make sense to build more.

Comment by Cynical Cynosure
2016-04-08 12:37:51

Second law of thermodynamics will disappear, will it?

(AKA depreciation.)

Comment by Jake
2016-04-09 04:04:18

Whether empty or occupied, houses are depreciating assets that bleed you to death every day you own them.

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Comment by Ben Jones
2016-04-08 02:34:23


‘A recent report by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, a federal agency that regulates the nation’s banks, warns that declines in mortgage underwriting standards are mirroring pre-crisis trends.

‘Underwriting standards eased at a significant number of banks for the three-year period from 2013 through 2015,’ the report said. ‘This trend reflects broad trends similar to those experienced from 2005 through 2007, before the most recent financial crisis.’ Not since 2006, it noted, have lenders taken on so much credit risk, and it says the hazard will continue to grow this year: ‘Examiners expect the level of credit risk to increase over the next 12 months.’

‘A large chunk of the risk is coming from first-time home buyers with shaky credit and so-called ‘rebound’ buyers who previously defaulted on home loans. The demand from otherwise ­uncreditworthy home buyers ‘is driving home prices up faster than incomes and inflation,’ noted ­Edward Pinto, co-director of AEI’s International Center on Housing Risk in Washington.’

‘This is especially true in hot spots like California, where subprime-mortgage lenders offering interest-only loans with no FICO-score requirements are cropping up from the ashes of Countrywide Financial, the bankrupt subprime giant.’

‘In another sign housing is overheating, home ‘flipping’ is red hot again and hitting levels not seen since just prior to the mortgage meltdown. Nationwide, almost 180,000 homes were sold and then resold last year — the highest level since 2007. In fact, according to RealtyTrac, flipping in a dozen metro areas — including New York, Los Angeles, San Diego, Miami and Jacksonville, Fla. — exceeded peaks set in 2005.’

‘Like the last bubble, this one is fueled by artificial demand from government-induced lax lending standards and accommodative interest rates set by the Federal Reserve. Today’s relaxation in mortgage-underwriting standards is largely a function of government housing-policy changes at FHA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which dominate the nation’s mortgage activity. As in the last easy-credit cycle, we are seeing ‘the promotion of policy to push firms to seek riskier products to promote growth,’ Wells Fargo Chief Economist John Silvia said.’

‘All three agencies have slashed down-payment and other requirements under pressure from Obama regulators, who include, most significantly, former Congressional Black Caucus leader and Obama appointee Mel Watt, head of the new Federal Housing Finance Agency, which now controls Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.’

‘Last year, Fannie Mae launched a new subprime-mortgage product called HomeReady that caters to recent immigrants with weak credit and limited income. The new loan program, which offers ‘income flexibility,’ allows borrowers for the first time to bundle income from roommates and relatives to meet qualifications for income. They only have to put 3% down, and can use gifts from nonprofit groups to subsidize their down payments.’

‘There is no limit on the number of non-borrower household members who can be present on a single transaction,’ Fannie advises originators. And even then there is ’documentation flexibility,’ a frightening echo of last decade’s ‘no-doc loans.’

‘You don’t have to show personal financial independence. You can be maxed out on credit cards and even live in government-subsidized housing. Just as long as you round up enough income-earners and pool ­finances to help meet a debt-to-income ratio of up to 50%. And you don’t need good credit. ‘If the borrower’s credit score is less than the minimum credit score required,’ Fannie tells loan underwriters, ‘the lender may develop an acceptable nontraditional credit profile’ that takes into consideration timely payments on electricity bills and car insurance — and even gym dues — in lieu of payments on credit cards and loans.’

‘Under HomeReady, you can even qualify for a ‘cash-out refinance’ of your mortgage, a type of loan that led to over-leveraging and a wave of defaults during the mortgage crisis.’

‘Why would Fannie offer the same kinds of poorly underwritten loans that forced it into bankruptcy? Because HomeReady aligns ‘with our housing goals’ set by Watt, it says in its Home­Ready literature. It’s all part of a government campaign to ease access to home loans for recent Hispanic immigrants — including those living here illegally. In fact, HomeReady caters to illegal immigrants by allowing borrowers to waive Social Security documentation.’

‘Watt, who as a congressman once demanded Freddie Mac back loans for welfare recipients in his North Carolina district, has instructed Fannie and Freddie to come up with ‘alternative credit-scoring models’ to FICO and approve more home buyers. ‘We have the pedal to the metal’ on adopting a new model, Watt said.’

Comment by taxpayers
2016-04-08 08:07:05

u be warnin me ,yo” Smelly MEl WATTS

Comment by Blue Skye
2016-04-08 09:12:45

“…allowing borrowers to waive Social Security documentation.”

It is ironic that I could not even open a bank account to deposit $100 cash without positive ID.

If I were a rich criminal I could buy a $million condo in NYC and If I were a poor criminal the government would lend me the money.

Comment by Ben Jones
2016-04-08 02:37:50

Danielle DiMartino Booth makes an interesting point in the last link:

‘The movement between regions will be catalyzed by demographics, according to the JLL study, which notes there will be more people over the age of 55 by 2050 than there were inhabitants on earth in 1950.’

“This demographic impact will have a profound effect on real estate investment strategies with the amount of private equity capital targeting direct real estate set to increase by over 500 percent, much of it driven by increasing institutional allocations looking at higher yielding opportunities.”

‘Did you notice something implicit in JLL’s argument? It would seem lower for longer will remain the mantra for the foreseeable future, which suggests frothier markets and subpar growth will continue. The most interesting tidbit comes down to who will be doing the investing, that is private equity.’

‘As it were, private equity “dry powder” directed specifically to real estate investments rang in the New Year at record levels. There is now $231 billion in dry powder available just for properties in the United States after $107 billion was raised in 2015.’

‘For being six years into a recovery in commercial real estate, investors certainly remain enthusiastic, especially public pensions. Pensions have allocated some $207 billion to private equity funds since late 2012. Increasingly, allocations have targeted real estate funds with March of this year providing a perfect example of the merriment surrounding this asset class. Here’s a wee sampling with special notations if the real estate fund is of a particular bent:

Texas Teachers: $500 million
State of Oregon’s Pension: $300 million
Pennsylvania Public School Employers: $307 million
Ohio Workers Compensation Bureau: $125 million
State of Minnesota’s Pension: $100 million (distressed); $100 million (opportunistic)
State of Maine Pension: $50 million
State of New Jersey: $200 million (commercial)
State of Kansas: $50 million
Texas Municipal: $375 million

“Pensions’ chronic underfunding has prompted them to stretch to achieve unrealistic return targets,” New Albion Partners’ Brian Reynolds explained. Reynolds has been keeping a running tally of these allocations and is quick to point out that leverage is often needed to hit the bogeys, which are 7.5 percent or more. Bear that in mind when you consider the money being shoveled into these funds.’

‘It really comes down to size, that is, of the pension system. In the early 1980s, pension liabilities amounted to about 50 percent of gross domestic product (GDP); today they are 100 percent of GDP. “Because of their growth, their investment flows have led to asset bubbles that have generated permanent losses,” Reynolds added.’

‘Pensions flocked to hedge funds but that strategy blew up after Long Term Asset Management nearly took down the financial system. This strategy was followed by wholesale herding into commodities, which we all know ended is disaster.’

‘The catch is the rate-of-return bogeys have barely budged despite Baby Boomers moving increasingly closer to retirement suggesting some risk should be taken off the table. (Rather than keeping you in suspense, it’s nearly an impossible feat to lower return targets. Less in assumed returns means states and municipalities have to pony up more money they don’t happen to have on hand. The State of Connecticut has reached the point where it is now taking a stab at taxing Yale’s endowment in a desperate attempt to top off its underfunded pensions.)’

‘No matter how you slice it, most public pensions face a dire set of circumstances, which begs the question: Just what are they to do?’

‘Reynolds’ reply: “They have turned to the last remaining asset class with high expected rates of return – commercial real estate. It’s as simple as that.”

‘Perhaps pensioners should begin praying the JLL report pans out. With commercial real estate prices declining in January for the first time since 2010, the latest data available, and investors balking at rich valuations, it just might take a miracle to keep profitable prospects alive.’

Comment by Ben Jones
2016-04-08 07:01:07

‘In the early 1980s, pension liabilities amounted to about 50 percent of gross domestic product (GDP); today they are 100 percent of GDP. “Because of their growth, their investment flows have led to asset bubbles that have generated permanent losses,” Reynolds added.’

“They have turned to the last remaining asset class with high expected rates of return – commercial real estate. It’s as simple as that.”

Wow, who would have thought hammering interest rates down for 30+ years might have an adverse effect? And even more unpossible, that herds of Yellen bucks looking for returns could create bubbles. Yes, that’s right, over-production leads to shortages, or something like that.

‘Please God, let this market stay hot until I can cash out big.’

Comment by taxpayers
2016-04-08 07:32:05

state/local pensions - no problem, they just raise taxes.
They r doing now !
r u petitioning the gov / reps on that issue?

Comment by brother_jimmy
2016-04-08 08:51:39

I’m embarrassed for this country right now. We never learn.

Once again the savers and planners will be destroyed, while those who binged, partied hard, and lived life at the maximum debt will be bailed out and rewarded. It wasn’t all that long ago that someone who had their home foreclosed would be embarrassed, now it’s just another fact of the matter, obligations are meant to be breached when ones’ personal situation dictates.

Comment by Professor Bear
2016-04-09 00:19:13

Pension liability is in a bubble, fueled by the same low rates that sustain the present stock, bond and housing bubbles.

Comment by Prime_Is_Contained
2016-04-09 08:32:08

Oh, interesting, PB.

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Comment by palmetto
2016-04-08 04:28:59

Globalism is the philosophy. Globalization is the enactment of globalism, and it has been a miserable failure, even for those who think they have benefited.

Comment by Oddfellow
2016-04-08 05:58:42

and it has been a miserable failure, even for those who think they have benefited.

It’s working awfully well for the super-rich.

Comment by Jake
2016-04-08 06:00:20

Your envy of the rich is showing again Lola.

Comment by Shekels
2016-04-08 06:06:07
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Comment by Oddfellow
2016-04-08 06:14:15

As is your defense of them.

They can be quite generous to their enablers and puppets, I hear.

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Comment by Jake
2016-04-08 06:29:48

Lola…. Pull yourself up out of that gutter and get yourself together and earn your own fortune. Demanding someone give it to you isn’t going to happen so get over it.

Comment by palmetto
2016-04-08 06:51:23

Here’s an interesting piece from ZH naming the richest people in every state. One thing that stands out is that most of these people seem to have derived their wealth from something other than banking or financial services. In other words, most seem to have derived their wealth from enterprise of some sort, providing a product or service.


Comment by oxide
2016-04-08 09:17:55

I find this quite instructive!

Compare your state list to the national list:

A better list is the Forbes 400: http://www.forbes.com/forbes-400/list/#version:static

A few points:

1. Many of those rich people are older men who started their enterprise of some sort 30-50 years ago, back when there was a better environment and market for actual goods and services, and fewer multinationals.

[Nowadays, new inventors of things are pretty stuck. If the inventor sells to a multinational, he gets a gets a few million and never makes it on the billion list. If he tries to make the billion list by starting his own company, the multinational will crush him, or worse, China will steal his product and undercut him. Either way, the inventor makes it only onto the welfare list.]

2. The data is broken down by one person per state, which can deceiving. Even a middling entrepreneur — say, Whitney McMillian in Minnesota at $4.7B from Cargill — is beaten by about 30 hedge funds, investors, or money managers on the national Forbes list.

3. It seems that it takes 30-50 years for goods and services to amass that wealth, while the bankers can do it in 1/3 the time.

4. Many of products and services are high-tech phantomware fueled by banker slush money: Facebook, What’s App, Uber. How did Travis Kalanik of Uber made $6B in less than 5(?) years? Was it by skimming $2-3 off black-market taxi rides?

5. The trending is difficult because some of the fortunes are divided among spouses (Cargill), kids (Wal-Mart), or siblings (Koch).

This would be a great research project for a journalist: compare the historical Forbes 400 lists to trend how well the different types of business do over time. I think Forbes already tracks this indirectly.

Comment by MightyMike
2016-04-08 09:52:59

It can also be pointed out that those Waltons and few others on the list got their money the old-fashioned way: inheritance. Many of the others are in industries supported by the federal government in one way or another - health care, software, financial services, agriculture.

Comment by Oddfellow
2016-04-08 10:29:53

industries supported by the federal government in one way or another - health care, software, financial services, agriculture.

Industries that also profit from globalism.

Comment by redmondjp
2016-04-08 14:52:06

Not mentioned above: the biggest elephant in the room: defense contractors.

Listened to NPR this morning about how we are advising Saudi Arabia as they drop US-made bombs under our guidance.

Perpetual war is very profitable.

Comment by rms
2016-04-08 07:50:02

“The difference between successful people and others is how long they spend time feeling sorry for themselves.” —Barbara Corcoran

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Comment by Oddfellow
2016-04-08 10:47:09

“The difference between successful people and others is how long they spend time feeling sorry for themselves.”

Sp get to work you sheep, and stop worrying your little heads about your glorious job creators. Their actions are not yours to understand.

Comment by MightyMike
2016-04-08 11:48:47

Isn’t she a realtor?

Comment by The Central Scrutinizer
2016-04-08 14:42:30

FAOM alert

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Comment by oxide
2016-04-08 19:19:35

OK, google and urban dictionary aren’t helping. is that a fat-a$$ old man?

Comment by The Central Scrutinizer
2016-04-08 20:05:09


Comment by snake charmer
2016-04-08 06:46:49

Our elite don’t care what country they’re from. Nor do other countries’ elites. There might be a big American flag on the façade of the NYSE (is it still there?), but it’s a lie.

Comment by Shekels
2016-04-08 06:53:42

To the Davos/Aspen set, national sovereignty is little more than a nuisance.

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Comment by rms
2016-04-08 07:59:52
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Comment by Shekels
2016-04-08 15:58:35

“Securing the Realm”


Yes, like it’s a Game Of Thrones episode.

Comment by brother_jimmy
2016-04-08 08:53:28

They want to sell to American consumers at American prices, using southeastern Asia third-world labor prices, and pocket the difference. Something has to give.

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Comment by MightyMike
2016-04-08 09:54:53

A certain someone says that, if you drive around northeastern Ohio, you’ll be able to see with your own eyes what has had to give.

Comment by rj chicago
2016-04-08 13:11:04

Head south of Dayton - say Middletown - that place is just waiting to blow.
Toledo sadly is a neighbor to Detroit and we know where Detroit’s at right?

Comment by brother_jimmy
2016-04-08 13:23:19

Business Week has a good article on it this weekend. Alan Blinder was in the WSJ last week saying, and I paraphrase, that since consumers can buy cheap junk at Walmart (that they don’t really need), we are better off. Instead of having 10 pairs of good American made pants that last 10 years, I have 20 pairs of cheap Asian pants that wear out in 2 years.

Our landfill operators thank us.

One other thing - BW says that 82% of consumers will pay ” a little” more for American made goods. In my non-empirical experiences, it’s more like .82%. Too many people don’t care, think it doesn’t matter to them, or just plain are ignorant of the situation.

Comment by redmondjp
2016-04-08 15:00:19

But for the 0.82% that do care, often it is not even an option any longer. Back in the 1990s and into the 2000s, this was still the case.

I think that a lot of people in this country are starting to wake up and see how damaging globalism is, as they sit in their slowly-dying towns and cities, with the condos and shopping centers now occupying the former industrial sites.

Comment by MightyMike
2016-04-08 15:12:38

If it were really the case that American products cost 10 times as much because the quality is 10 times higher, many Americans would be willing to pay extra.

Comment by Raymond K Hessel
2016-04-08 06:48:18

Palmy, you must learn to embrace your Soros-sponsored “fundamental transformation.”


Comment by palmetto
2016-04-08 07:14:13

heh, and isn’t it interesting that 1) The EU facilitated this. Which shows why the NAU would be a disaster, and 2) NATO essentially deprived many countries of national defense forces.

Globalization has been a disaster. If those who have engineered it think they’ll escape the effects, they’re sadly mistaken.

Comment by palmetto
2016-04-08 07:25:41

Lol, I remember predicting on this blog that at some point, Europe would welcome Putin with open arms as their savior. Sure enough, the Swedes on one of the other forums I follow (not ZH) have begun to post desperate prayers that he intervenes, at least in their own country.

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Comment by Uncle House
2016-04-08 08:52:54

The Russians on some of the forums I follow are starting to realize their supposedly-elected president has become a dictator-for-life. What worries them even more is how happy some of their compatriots are about it. They say they know realize a lot of people desire a strongman/father figure for a leader, and find the vagaries of democracy frightening.

Comment by Jake
2016-04-08 09:09:40

Post a link.

Comment by palmetto
2016-04-08 09:11:22

At this point, I’d hardly call much of Europe “democracies”.

I take great amusement in the whole “strongman” theme. I suppose it’s a propaganda twist to make certain people undesirable by positioning them with whatever boogeyman floats their boat.

OTOH, it also pre-supposes that a “weakman” is more desirable. Hollande, anyone?

Comment by palmetto
2016-04-08 11:43:03

“Lots of Russians look back on the Stalin days with nostalgia.”

You’re friggin’ kidding me, right? I really hope so. Who are these “lots of Russians”? Have you been communing with spirits, attending seances and such?

I’ve read some idiot statements on this blog (including a couple of my own) but this one takes the cake.

Comment by Oddfellow
2016-04-08 11:56:00

You’re friggin’ kidding me, right?

You should probably google the phrase and see the many articles on it before making such a sweeping statement.

Comment by palmetto
2016-04-08 12:19:01

Because google is all knowing?

# of articles does not a truth make.

Comment by Oddfellow
2016-04-08 12:59:32

# of articles does not a truth make.

We have all seen that an article is truthful to you when you agree with it, and part of a sinister worldwide conspiracy when you don’t.

Ever noticed that?

Comment by palmetto
2016-04-08 13:53:37

Lots and lots of articles over the years about no bubbles. Many, many, many, including today.

Everything’s fine, all is well, Oddie.

Comment by Senior Housing Analyst
2016-04-08 04:44:55

Arcadia, CA Housing Market Implodes; Prices Plunge 12% YoY As Housing Bubble Deflates


Comment by Jake
2016-04-08 04:54:53

‘I certainly wouldn’t describe this as a bubble economy,’ Yellen said.”

Ok. It’s a moribund, inefficient, bottlenecked economy founded on fixed and rigged prices at grossly inflated levels resulting in collapsing demand and record high joblessness.

You call it what you want Chairman Dingbat.

Comment by phony scandals
2016-04-08 05:58:30

‘I certainly wouldn’t describe this as a bubble economy,’ Yellen said.”

When I was in high school I was at a party this kid threw when his parents were away for the weekend. Way more people showed up than he had counted on and it started to get a little out of control. The dude turns off the stereo and stands up on a coffee table and shouts…

Alright let’s call it a night!

Some wise@ss from the back of the room yells…

What else would you call it!?

Comment by steadykat
2016-04-08 15:32:34

IMHO: One has to be willing to lie BIG to get, and keep, the job that Yellen has.

So was Bernanke “wrong” or simply just lying to keep the Ponzi going just a bit longer?

“Ben Bernanke was wrong”.

Comment by Jake
2016-04-08 05:01:57

California: “Residents Flee, Home Sales Collapse 44% Following Biggest Gas Leak In History”


Comment by redmondjp
2016-04-08 15:02:22

Now there’s a marketing opportunity for the used-home sales specialists: “Free natural gas!”

Comment by Oddfellow
2016-04-08 19:23:46

Lay some lava rocks down and your entire backyard is a grill!

Comment by taxpayers
2016-04-08 05:33:35

tower tout”

todays new phrase

inventory tight here in 22151 as hitlery and an army of new gov gs-11-14s get ready to invade

Comment by Jake
2016-04-08 05:56:43

Are you sure?

Springfield, VA Real Estate and Homes for Sale-352 properties found


Springfield, VA Price Reduced Homes for Sale-91 properties found


26% of Springfield, VA sellers slashed their price at least once

Comment by taxpayers
2016-04-08 07:33:41

my zip inventory at 22, par is 50
prices flat ,but turnover swift

Hitlery is coming

Comment by MightyMike
2016-04-08 07:56:58

So you must going to be planning to flee to save your self and your family.

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Comment by Jake
2016-04-08 09:07:18

“turnover swift”

Are you sure? Demand is down 8% in 2215.


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Comment by taxpayers
2016-04-08 07:36:52

26% seems to be one of the lowest you’ve offered for that metric
when is it ever positive?

Comment by scdave
2016-04-08 07:52:43

when is it ever positive ??

It will never be positive for HA…The biggest “gas leak” around here comes from his keyboard daily…

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Comment by Combotechie
2016-04-08 06:02:45

Q. How much money does it really take to increase wealth, equity wealth? Lets play with some numbers in an effort to find out. I do not have all the numbers available at hand so some of them I’ll simply make up. My goal is to demonstrate a point.

Assume that a three percent down payment will allow a person to make a commitment to buy a house. This means that a five-hundred thousand dollar house will cost him a down payment of fifteen-thousand dollars. So how much more money would he need as a down payment if the price of the house jumps up ten percent, jumps up to five-hundred and fifty thousand dollars? The answer: He would need three percent more, he would need an extra one-thousand and five-hundred dollars.

So one-thousand-five-hundred dollars of extra commitment by the buyer will allow the price of one house to jump up by fifty-thousand dollars. This will happen if the buyer, the appraiser, and the lender allows it to happen.

So, what if this house is a comp? What happens to the values, as measured by prices, of all the comps? Do they not go up as well, not only go up but go up by an amount that equals ten percent?

Oh, you say, one house does not make a comp. Okay, so lets go with four houses and have each of the prices of these four houses rise by ten percent.

If the prices of four, say, five-hundred thousand dollars houses were to suddenly rise by ten percent then two-hundred thousand dollars of a price increase suddenly happened, and this sudden happening took a down payment increase of only six-thousand dollars.

A six-thousand dollar down payment increase translates to a two-hundred thousand dollar price increase for four houses. And if these four houses that were sold were comparable to four hundred houses that were not sold then the amount of equity increase, the amount of wealth produced in these four-hundred houses that were not sold is twenty-million dollars.

In this case, twenty-million dollars of wealth was created out of thin air by the actions of four home buyers who collectively used a total sum of six-thousand dollars as a commitment to a price increase in order to buy four houses.

Six-thousand dollars of an increased down payment commitment made by four strangers (who may or may not be crazy) produced twenty-million dollars of equity wealth spread out over four hundred people.


Comment by Combotechie
2016-04-08 06:26:03

Let’s say the four people who made their down payment commitments did not go any further, did not make any monthly payments.

Q. What then happens to the price that they committed to paying? Does it revert back to what it was before the sale or does stay on the books for the same price that the house was sold for?

A. It stays on the books at the same price for what the house was sold for and any equity wealth that was produced by this price also stays intact, which means the financial miracle that produced all that wealth also remains intact.

Comment by Shekels
2016-04-08 06:09:09

Colorado House of Representatives passes bill dropping use of ‘illegal alien’


Comment by taxpayers
2016-04-08 07:38:12

now called pre paid non citizens?

Comment by redmondjp
2016-04-08 15:03:47

No, they call them ‘voters’ now.

Comment by oxide
2016-04-08 09:37:10

striking “illegal alien” from federal law and replacing it with “undocumented foreign national,”

The objection was to the word “alien,” so why did they take out “illegal” too? They could have called the “illegal foreigners.” But no, they had to make it a 10-syllable word to make it hard to remember and hard to say.

Comment by Raymond K Hessel
2016-04-08 06:11:54

Yellen and her flying monkeys are holding an emergency meeting on Monday to “discuss rates.” Hmm. Wonder if the Fed’s market-manipulation ploys are finally breaking down.


Comment by Raymond K Hessel
2016-04-08 06:13:06

Buy your overpriced stucco crapshack now before the bottom drops out.


Comment by Raymond K Hessel
2016-04-08 06:17:51

Yellen’s flying monkeys are back at it with their currency manipulation. The only question is when NIRP/QE4 will be announced.


Comment by Raymond K Hessel
2016-04-08 06:20:43

Bilking the 99% out of interest income while debasing their currency and further enriching the already super-wealthy is oh such fun….


Comment by steadykat
2016-04-08 15:58:06

“Bilking the 99% out of interest income while debasing their currency and further enriching the already super-wealthy is oh such fun….”

Until it isn”t…fun:

If history has taught us anything it is that at some point the Central Bank Oligarch’s policies begins to kill the host. That’s usually when seriously pissed off groups of people who feel that they have nothing left to lose decide the time has come for them “to start having fun”.

Comment by Raymond K Hessel
2016-04-08 06:25:38

Will the ECB be the first central bank to lose control?


Comment by Shekels
2016-04-08 06:34:45

Linked from Google News, Face to face conversation can change attitudes toward transgender people, study finds:


Comment by Young Deezy
2016-04-08 08:01:59

Totally housing related.

Comment by Shekels
2016-04-08 08:35:32

Considering businesses’ decisions on whether to do business in states based on how legislation treats trans, and the indirect effect of that on housing via the broader economy, yes it is.

The narrative is that it’s the next frontier in civil rights.

I don’t create narratives, I just identify them.

Comment by Muggy
2016-04-08 19:02:26

You support transgender rights, yes? It’s a form of freedom, and you like freedom.

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Comment by Senior Housing Analyst
2016-04-08 06:36:59

Alexandria, VA Housing Market Implodes; Prices Crater 13% YoY As Housing Bubble Begins Deflating


Comment by Ben Jones
2016-04-08 06:47:38

‘Struggle To Eliminate Blight In Kansas City Raises Questions About Investors, Investments’

‘The large amount of blighted homes in Kansas City has a lot to do with the housing crisis, and a lingering question is whether outside investors have been part of the problem or part of the solution.’

‘Murphy said I happened to select the few of his rentals that needed work. “I think I’m a good landlord. Of course there are a few, for whatever reason, personality conflicts or whatever, where we don’t see eye to eye.”

‘He says landlords get vilified when problems are not always their fault. But city records indicate Murphy has had a number of code violations.’

‘And the name of his company seems to say something.’

‘It’s Slum King of Kansas Shitty.’

Comment by Steve in Flyover
2016-04-08 11:44:23

If anyone is interested in a source that actually does some investigative reporting, check out the local KC “alternative” newspaper


One of the stories they have been following is that of Scott Tucker, Payday Loan King. Also some stories on rehabilitating homes in old KC neighborhoods.

(But as noted in the story above, many properties that might be candidates for rehabilitation won’t make the cut, because of all of the liens against them.).

Back in the days before banks wrote the rules, or was able to ignore them legally, everyone would be required to take write downs/writeoffs on these properties. Now, liens can live forever, making these properties worth less than zero.

Comment by Shekels
2016-04-08 06:49:09

Florida HBBers, it’s Warmist Warming Friday:


Recommend you stop at Billy’s Crab Shack in Tierra Verde if you like cheap and strong margaritas.

Comment by snake charmer
2016-04-08 07:05:00

Can’t speak to that place, but there is a Crab Shack on Gandy Boulevard in St. Pete with excellent oyster shooters. Better go there while you can before condos go up. The pre-crash bubble saw some erected across the street, right behind a RaceTrac. I’m sure noise and fumes weren’t mentioned in the sales brochure.

Comment by snake charmer
2016-04-08 06:51:52

That Yellen quote will define her tenure as Chair. “Rebuffing political rhetoric”? That’s right, there’s no fact, only opinion. It is unusual for her to depart from Fed newspeak, though. An uncensored moment.

Comment by Ben Jones
2016-04-08 06:51:59

‘The overall median price of sold residential properties in Flathead County over the last 12 months was $242,500. As we move up into the $1 million to $2 million range, we find that this price range only accounts for 2 percent of the sales, but 10 percent of the current listings are in this price range. With only 27 sales in the last year and 117 current listings, this tells us that there is currently around 38 months of inventory of homes in the $1 million to $2 million range. This segment of the market is very much a buyer’s market.’

‘As you can see in the graph, the existing housing inventory goes from four months for home priced under $100,000, up to 52 months for home priced over $2 million. Currently, there are 56-plus homes priced at $2 million on the market, but there were only 13 sales in the last year.’

‘On a broader scale, there is currently around five months of inventory for homes priced under $400,000, making this price range a seller’s market. For homes priced over $400,000, there is currently 24 months of inventory, putting these higher priced homes in a buyer’s market.’

‘The market is generally pretty smart and pricing is key to getting homes sold. This is especially true in the higher price ranges because there are a lot of sellers competing for a relatively few number of buyers.’

Comment by Raymond K Hessel
2016-04-08 06:53:24

The Oligopoly-owned media has stepped up its shilling for stawks. I smell a pump & dump as Da Boyz unload their insanely overpriced stocks onto retail investor bagholders, then tip-toe out of Wall Street’s rigged casino smirking all the way.


Comment by Shekels
2016-04-08 07:03:54

Iskra Lawrence

Comment by Ben Jones
2016-04-08 07:13:52

adjective: indecisive

not settling an issue.
“these experimental results are indecisive”
synonyms: inconclusive, proving nothing, settling nothing, open, indeterminate, undecided, unsettled, borderline, indefinite, unclear, ambiguous, vague; informal up in the air
“an indecisive result”
(of a person) not having or showing the ability to make decisions quickly and effectively.
synonyms: irresolute, hesitant, tentative, weak


Comment by palmetto
2016-04-08 07:18:02

Stop posting porn shots, Ben. It’s most unbecoming of you.

Comment by Shekels
2016-04-08 07:19:45

I used to get 5.25% interest on a savings account with a regional bank until 2008.

Comment by redmondjp
2016-04-08 15:06:12

That’s nothing! Back in the mid-1980s I had all of my money in a credit union money market account ($3K minimum, with free checking) that was giving me an easy 8% return.

Comment by Jake
2016-04-08 07:34:14

Stumbling over dust particles.

Comment by Raymond K Hessel
2016-04-08 16:53:07

Yellen looks uncertain of when her marching orders from Goldman Sachs are going to be faxed over.

Comment by Shekels
2016-04-08 07:15:38

And yet another heroin article (it’s almost as if this is becoming a problem?)

Cuyahoga County heroin, fentanyl overdoses kill 12 in six days:


Comment by snake charmer
2016-04-08 07:17:56

“All we can do is sit back and wonder what’s to come. Transaction volumes in the trillions and heights exceeding a kilometer – how do tomorrow’s architects top that? Is man’s vanity so great he will risk an even sharper blow to the glass in that celestial ceiling? If he does, what vengeance might follow? The best we can do is hope future history books don’t include records that give new meaning to that old warning, ‘Look out below!’”

These super-talls are going to be unoccupied monuments to our own hubris and gross idiocy. And while I’ve been inside offices high up in tall skyscrapers in other cities, like the Sears Tower and Standard Oil buildings in Chicago, I still don’t know anyone who lives more than 25 floors above the ground. When I was a boy, the scariest movie I ever saw, way worse that “Nightmare on Elm Street” or “Friday the 13th,” was “The Towering Inferno.”

At Tikal, my first impression was that the people who built the great temples had no idea what was coming. Who among the Maya would have predicted that their civilization would vanish, their descendants would be enslaved, and that the structures would be abandoned and swallowed by jungle? Or maybe someone did predict that, and was ritually sacrificed, much like contrarians are sacrificed rhetorically today.

Comment by palmetto
2016-04-08 08:36:55

snake, have you ever read the Gary Jennings book Aztec? If not, I highly recommend it, although some of it is rather uncomfortable to read.

Comment by palmetto
2016-04-08 08:48:07

And, along the lines of the Colonnade Restaurant sale in Tampa,
I’ve commented on this before, but when we first moved here in 2000 and up until about 5 years ago, every spring there would be the scent of orange blossoms in the air down here in South Hillsborough.

Almost all the orange groves were sold off to developers, and in their stead are housing developments. I miss the scent of the orange blossoms in the spring, it was one of the nice things about living here, although sometimes if the crop was especially abundant, the scent could become a tad thick and cloying.

Comment by snake charmer
2016-04-08 11:18:16

Shoot, I remember cattle pasture on Dale Mabry Highway once you passed Van Dyke Road. And there were some groves in northern Hillsborough too — one Carrollwood road is named Orange Grove Drive. I miss those days too, but in fairness, once citrus canker got a foothold it was pretty much game over.

Comment by Shekels
2016-04-08 07:26:40

Article about sprawl, cars, jobs, poors in Northeast Ohio:


Just looked up the walkscore of where I grew up, it gets a 9/100.

The kind of place where if you’re a pedestrian too young to drive and you walk along the road without sidewalks, white trash will yell at you as they drive by.

Comment by rj chicago
2016-04-08 07:34:42

Ben Jones:
I have been watching the Netflix that last couple of nights - two nights ago a documentary on the bank mess and then last night an interview of Hank Paulson called Five years on. To hear the stuff that was going on now almost a decade ago - seems like yesterday to me still - it was just scary. BUT the thing that got me was toward the end of the interview it was asked if crises are essentially now the norm and Paulson squirming in his seat finally admitted that yes it is. So it is not if but when the SHTF.
If you have not watched these docs on the Netflix - I would encourage you to do so - mostly for the entertainment of witnessing the big bad bankers and the resulting sheep shearing going on.

Comment by The Central Scrutinizer
2016-04-08 12:55:25

Looking back, I think crises were always the norm.

Comment by Senior Housing Analyst
2016-04-08 07:38:54

Tampa, FL Housing Market Caves; Prices Dive 5% YoY As Price Declines Ramp Up Nationally


Comment by Ben Jones
2016-04-08 07:52:25

From the Commercial Observer link:

‘Speaking to Bloomberg News, Mr. Barnett (who declined to comment for this story) professed himself unconcerned, noting the broad range of properties backing the bonds in question and the solid fundamentals underpinning Extell’s high-end projects. Nonetheless, the episode served to crystallize the growing caution with which investors and lenders are viewing New York’s super high-end condo market.’

‘Indeed, according to an analysis published in May of last year by The Real Deal, a significant portion of the city’s current ultra-luxury projects, including the aforementioned 432 Park Avenue and 220 Central Park South as well as Hines’ 53W53 tower and Silverstein Properties’ 30 Park Place, had at that time not received any senior construction loans from a domestic bank.’

‘Foreign banks have in some cases stepped in to fill the gaps…This move from a reliance on domestic to foreign banks is “a sure sign of a top” in the market, said Mr. Lancaster.’

‘Lenders’ skittishness is “a function of the perceived risk of there being too much inventory and very high historical price points per foot, where you can’t really look backwards and substantiate the pace of absorption needed at the current price points,” said Peter D’Arcy, the New York City regional president of M&T Bank.’

‘Ultra-luxury sales, in other words, can’t necessarily be projected using conventional models of condo sales.’

“There seems to be a very large number of ultra-expensive units playing on a trend in globalization and money that is moving around the world trying to find a home,” Mr. D’Arcy said. “They are not necessarily relying on what you would think of as sustainable absorption trends that we can identify and know are longer lasting and count on.”

‘While, as Mr. Stolly noted, there are reasons a developer might prefer a non-bank lender even in cases where traditional loans are available, Mr. D’Arcy suggested that the large role of non-bank financing in ultra-luxury development could also be a sign of weakness in the market.’

“I don’t want to draw too strong a conclusion because there are numerous reasons why this is the case,” he said. “But when you see an asset class that is overwhelmingly getting its financing from non-banks, that could be a red flag.”

‘The takeaway, said Ayush Kapahi, partner at real estate capital advisory firm HKS Capital Partners, is that investment in ultra-luxury projects is “back where it should be, which is [looking] case by case at supply and demand of inventory in a specific area and an institution’s exposure in this market.”

“Obviously, as an institution you know what’s going on based on what you are working on and what you are financing, but you don’t necessarily know what the other institutions are doing and what the next developer is doing,” he said. “And all of a sudden if you are in position where you are entering 2016 and you find out that there are hundreds or thousands of units coming online because the 30 institutions that do construction loans out there have all given the green light, then that is something you don’t control. Nor do you have a real understanding of it until it is done, closed, financed, and the building is getting off the ground.”

Golly Ayush, I want you in charge of my money!

“How was I supposed to know there were 50 giant towers being built in Manhattan that no one lives in?”

Comment by Ben Jones
2016-04-08 07:54:29

‘when you see an asset class that is overwhelmingly getting its financing from non-banks, that could be a red flag’

Non-banks like Quicken, Lending Tree?

Comment by scdave
2016-04-08 08:04:51

“How was I supposed to know there were 50 giant towers being built in Manhattan that no one lives in?” ??

I am watching closely at a half dozen big projects close by that have been finished the entitlement process but no demo has occurred yet…If they don’t start it could be the indicator that the absorption rate has slowed considerably…

Comment by taxpayers
2016-04-08 08:01:22

when you run the reduced price scenario are there any markets w less than 20% of listings showing a price reduction?
I don’t think I’ve seen one posted.

Comment by Jake
2016-04-08 08:05:48


No areas were showing price reductions a year ago. Now most if not all are slashing slashing slashing. Price slashing is a net positive.

Comment by megamike48
Comment by Jake
2016-04-08 08:38:51

That’s generally what happens when sellers are heading for the exits and slashing prices over and over again.

Saint Louis, MO Real Estate and Homes for Sale-4,533 Homes


Saint Louis, MO Price Reduced Homes for Sale-1,573 Homes


35% of all Saint Louis sellers slashed their price at least once

Comment by Puggs
2016-04-08 14:25:35

It is a frenzy out there. Don’t be leveraged this go around and leave the bag holding to other suckers.

“Always, always pay off debt during the good times.”

Comment by Senior Housing Analyst
2016-04-08 08:10:21

Sarasota, FL Housing Market Implodes; Prices Crater 16% YoY As Housing Demand Plummets To 20 Year Low


Comment by Ben Jones
2016-04-08 08:11:57

‘Former Treasury secretary, now National Australia Bank chairman, Ken Henry…revealed that, in scenario planning in the lead up to the Wall Street collapse, the potential meltdown of the global financial system was not seen as a real possibility…‘We asked ourselves the question: ‘In what circumstances could that worry cause a real problem for Australia? And we came up with one and we thought it was so left field that there was no point worrying about it,’ Mr Henry told the conference. ‘And you know what it was? A meltdown of the global financial system.’

We were planning a fire drill at the school that burned down, but decided it was just scaring the kids.

Comment by rj chicago
2016-04-08 08:59:29

Here we go - rescripting the narrative on the Panama Papers.

The take away…..? “We’re worried because its giving a bad image to our country… it doesn’t reflect reality,” she said.

Right. Never mind the fact that prior prime ministers of Panama are now under indictment for money laundering, embezzlement etc. i.e. Ricardo Martinelli……

By Christine Murray and Enrique Pretel

PANAMA CITY, April 7 (Reuters) - Aghast at the biggest offshore scandal in memory, lawyers, businessmen and politicians flock to one of their favorite haunts, a diner opened in the 1950s nestled between Panama City’s financial and historic quarters, to swap notes.

Given the reports from the “Panama Papers” jolting colleagues at shell company specialist Mossack Fonseca, Thursday’s huddle over orange juice and sandwiches at Cafe Boulevard Balboa was a less pleasant get-together than usual.

While that firm in particular stands in the eye of a storm that has buffeted world leaders from Russia to China, Britain to Iceland, its rivals in the offshore services industry were also picking up the pieces.

“I was about to sign a contract on Monday with some Italian clients but they postponed it,” said corporate lawyer Pablo Gonzalez, 39, who said he worked for various legal firms, but declined to name them.

“They want us to check everything again 10 times, they are afraid and want to be sure it’s all legal.”

Mossack Fonseca and others set up companies in Panama that could be used to avoid taxes and commit financial crimes, but lawyers said the vast majority are for legitimate businesses for foreigners and Panamanians themselves.

The head of the Chamber of Commerce said although the offshore legal industry represented around 0.5 percent of gross domestic product, the reputational damage from the leaks could have an impact on the wider Panamanian economy.

The release of four decades of documents through the U.S.-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and other media on Sunday showed how the politically connected and rich stash their wealth, and has led to investigations around the world. Mossack Fonseca has denied any wrongdoing and said it was the victim of hacking.

A cross-sampling of the Central American country’s legal community of around 22,000 lawyers said in interviews that they are angry and worried that information taken from just one firm has unfairly tarnished Panama’s reputation and will hurt business.

The government said it is contacting all countries implicated in the scandal. On the defensive, the government also warned that it could retaliate in kind after France announced it would put Panama back on its blacklist of uncooperative tax jurisdictions.

Jima Arauz, 58, who was eating a breakfast sandwich with her lawyer husband, said she had created hundreds of companies for clients over the years, and had heard of one lawyer who has lost two client deals since Sunday.

“We’re worried because its giving a bad image to our country… it doesn’t reflect reality,” she said.

Gonzalez and most of the more than 20 lawyers interviewed by Reuters protested that the image of Panama cast by the scandal was unfair, and that a new anti-money laundering law passed last year was already very strict on his industry.

Gonzalez said one client had wanted to put some aerobatic planes into an offshore company to sell them to an investor in Ethiopia. He turned it down as the new law would have made it too risky.

On Tuesday evening at the National College of Lawyers, the center of Panamanian legal life, the mood was just as grim.

Lawyers exchanged rumors, gossip and conspiracy theories about who could be behind the leak, ranging from the CIA to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

While there were just a few cases of clients postponing or canceling business so far, many believe there could be serious consequences for the legal industry.

“There is … collective hysteria among clients,” said lawyer Maria Isabel Saravia, of Legal Engine Solutions. “We expect a gradual impact … Our clients feel like criminals.”

Panama’s dollarized economy has long been a center for international trade, thanks to its world famous canal, one of the world’s most important maritime trade routes. In turn, legal business also boomed, partly based on a 1927 law, inspired by one in the U.S. state of Delaware, which established easy rules for creating companies.

Gian Castillejo, a senior adviser to President Juan Carlos Varela’s government, said the government does not intend to protect the industry.

“If demand for the creation of companies in Panama falls, obviously the law firms that do this will have to reinvent themselves and practice other areas of law.”

(Additional reporting by Elida Moreno; Editing by Simon Gardner and Grant McCool)

Comment by palmetto
2016-04-08 09:13:28

Big red-herring distraction.

Comment by Ben Jones
2016-04-08 10:09:26

Distraction from what? Did these companies not exist? Weren’t monies funneled around?

I’ve been saving articles and will probably look closer into it over the weekend.

Comment by palmetto
2016-04-08 11:04:07

“Distraction from what? Did these companies not exist? Weren’t monies funneled around?

I’ve been saving articles and will probably look closer into it over the weekend.”

Well, then, I await your take on it after you take a look.

In the meantime, distraction from what? From the best little tax haven on the planet, Reno, Nevada, for one thing. Distraction from the Rothschilds, for another. From the Fed, etc.

Yes, the companies existed and monies were funneled around. Gee, did we not know this sort of thing was going on, like for decades? So far, it looks like it was legal, just that folks like the PM of Iceland and David Cameron have been hypocrites. I guess that’s something we didn’t know, either.

Also be sure to note the involvement of Jabba the Hutt’s Open Societies Foundation in the project.

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Comment by palmetto
2016-04-08 11:26:08

And the Ford Foundation. That is likely the real story of the Panama Papers. These “foundations”, which sound so lofty and humanitarian, are at the root of much deliberately engineered social unrest, here and abroad, and are the drivers of the social aspects of “globalization”.

Comment by rj chicago
2016-04-08 13:25:47

The article on the Panama Papers in Golem XIV is good.

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Comment by snake charmer
2016-04-08 11:50:12

That’s my old barrio on the right in the picture. Just subtract about thirty of the condo towers.

I know those interviewed in the article didn’t intend to be funny, but they were. “There is … collective hysteria among clients,” said lawyer Maria Isabel Saravia, of Legal Engine Solutions. “We expect a gradual impact … Our clients feel like criminals.” Maria, ¿has pensado alguna vez que se sienten asi porque entre ellos existen delincuentes, aunque estan vestidos con trajes?

And, of course, the obligatory faux-injured shadiness. I’m legit, but I can’t tell you who I work for. But I do have “some Italian clients.” Oh dear.

“‘I was about to sign a contract on Monday with some Italian clients but they postponed it,’ said corporate lawyer Pablo Gonzalez, 39, who said he worked for various legal firms, but declined to name them.”

Comment by CalifoH20
2016-04-08 10:39:19

Marriott is buying Starwood Hotels for $12.4 billion. We outbid the Chinese !

I wonder what happens to my 50k Marriott points?

Comment by palmetto
2016-04-08 11:11:09

No, “we” didn’t. The Chinese dropped out because their funds couldn’t be verified. Shocker!!!!!!!!!

BTW, being in the “stuff” biz, I sometimes read articles about high end auctions and auction houses. One thing you don’t hear much about is the fact that some of these auction houses have been burned by Chinese bidders who bid up prices of artwork, objects, etc. and then don’t pay. This is sort of a new phenomenon, at least in frequency of occurrence. The penalty for this in the past has been being ostracized from the high end auction market. The bogus bidders don’t care. So now funds have to be put up and verified in an escrow account. The Starwood thing sounds very similar, just on a different scale.

Comment by CalifoH20
2016-04-08 11:56:16

“outbid” not that this is a good thing….

Comment by taxpayers
2016-04-08 11:59:39

I found an interesting high involvement SAS product to sell offered by a unicorn ranch- their site had no phone number !

how do u sell sht w/o talking ?

Comment by The Central Scrutinizer
2016-04-08 13:26:31

Unicorn poop sells itself.

Comment by Jake
2016-04-08 12:05:44

If you look at a house and you don’t see a mountain of debt and a lifetime of crushing expenses you’re not thinking.

Comment by Puggs
2016-04-08 13:25:58

But it Shur looks sexy when staged after a phlip.

Comment by rj chicago
Comment by Oddfellow
2016-04-08 13:48:00

That count is rigged.

Comment by Oddfellow
2016-04-08 13:46:59

Happy (or Unhappy, depending on your views on democracy) 17th Amendment Day!

On this date in 1913, the 17th Amendment was passed, allowing for the direct election of US Senators, instead of them being “selected” for us by our state legislatures.

A progressive move?

Comment by Puggs
2016-04-08 14:03:57

Buying frenzy alert! Listing stuff on Craigslist goes fast and close to asking prices. Not much haggling like last year.

You got stuff to sell? Now’s the time!

Comment by drumminj
2016-04-08 14:47:24

Buying frenzy alert! Listing stuff on Craigslist goes fast and close to asking prices. Not much haggling like last year.

That’s not been my experience, sadly. If you give something away for free, you get a ton of responses. Sell something in like-new condition for 25% of new price? Crickets, or folks offering 5% of new.

Comment by Puggs
2016-04-08 14:57:28

Maybe it’s an off week or our region?

Last year we gave away a Pack N Play on CL because Goodwill won’t take those and I had a ton of queries. Told ‘em it’s on the curb…. come ‘n git it.

Comment by CalifoH20
2016-04-08 14:52:53

I sold a putter on eBay last month for $190.

Comment by redmondjp
2016-04-08 15:41:32

That was a stroke of genius!

Comment by CalifoH20
2016-04-08 16:27:18

It was a fair way to get my money back on a complete Titlest set I paid $80 for.

(Comments wont nest below this level)
Comment by redmondjp
2016-04-08 22:15:08

You definitely got your greens back on that hole!

Comment by AbsoluteBeginner
2016-04-08 23:22:16

Way to go, Tiger!

Comment by Shekels
2016-04-08 16:06:58

I got a “Consolidate your med school student loans” ad before this video, how about you?

the Guess Who — No Sugar Tonight (New Mother Nature):


Comment by Raymond K Hessel
2016-04-08 20:00:19
Comment by phony scandals
2016-04-08 20:01:13

They got the poormeze.

Comment by The Central Scrutinizer
2016-04-08 20:10:49

Riding in a cab this morning, the drive is listening to “Real Estate Radio Network”.

It’s exactly what it sounds like. I listened for a while, and had to feign a coughing fit I got to laughing so hard.

Comment by AbsoluteBeginner
2016-04-08 20:30:31

I listen to the Real Estate Today show some Sundays. I don’t know why except to hear the host say that sales are up and it is a seller’s market but buyers can find GREAT deals. Then Larry Yun comes on and says that things may get a little murky but real estate is a GREAT buy for the long run. Then they have some regional NAR alpha on and they say that sellers are smart to have a realtor and buyers know what they want in this market.

Comment by The Central Scrutinizer
2016-04-08 22:21:34

Today a guy was telling us how 6% of home loans were underwater, and that 6% was practically nothing!

Comment by Sean
2016-04-12 07:32:35

Wanna be NAR Alpha. My guess is someone who fantasizes about being Alec Baldwins character in ‘Glengarry Glen Ross’.

Comment by AbsoluteBeginner
2016-04-08 20:16:42

The bubble extends down to the trip-cities of TN:


Lower property taxes I imagine, but you got a commute just like up here in NE. I am lowering my buy price if I can find something for less than $100k up here in Maine. Was looking at other states that I could picture an Oil city escape to, and the TN/VA/NC corner is one of them I thought. Does anyone know how much land is out there? Shaking my head. Everybody thinks their property is unique.

Comment by AbsoluteBeginner
2016-04-08 23:24:48

” tri-cities”

Comment by Dandroidz
2016-04-09 14:39:13

Well forget about Hampton Rds region of VA or the (7 cities), there is no land for sale. It’s all developed suburban crap shacks for $200-400k. Pretty much a good chunk of VA on the East side of 95 and Interstate 64 is off limits if you want land.

Look towards the southwest corner or mountain areas of 81.

Comment by Jake
2016-04-09 15:46:51


Comment by Sean
2016-04-12 07:28:12

It’s a good time to buy a used car. The used car salesman will tell you that.

It’s a good time to buy a watch. The jewelry salesman will tell you that.

It’s a good time to buy a house. The house salesman will tell you that.

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