Dropping like flies

July 31, 2007

Antonioni down.

Bergman down.

Bill Walsh down.

Tom Snyder down.

Why the hurry?

New Addition
Yahoo’s finance unit’s reporting has become the sorta defacto free standard, but its been kinda static for a long period of time.

That’s why it is so interesting that without any fanfare, they’ve added a link on the left sidebar for Financial Blogs.

Check it out in action on American Home Mortgage- to see if trading is still suspended.

Right now the contributions appear to be MSM (WSJ, CNN, Money etc. – the usual suspects) but there is link to a Seeking Alpha post, so that’s a promising start.

Schadenfreude Overdrive

There were 900,000 defaults in 2006 and 800,000 in 2005, making the total number of American families to lose their homes during President George W. Bush’s second term in office somewhere between 4.3 million and 5million.

Assignation Assassination
Who killed Pat Tillman with three (3) bullets to the forehead at close range, and why?

I Got Your MBA Right Here
This is hi-larious. The school this fucker attends isn’t exactly a diploma mill (USF, Johnny!), but as a representative of this august institution, it might as well be. Mazel tov!

Holy Moly
$1.04!?! That was blindingly fast. The market can be a punisher. I wished I’d shorted AHM.

Gotta Love That Name! 
Clusterfuck Nation blog makes too much sense:

This long episode of market mania, running for seven years, was based on the idea that non-performing loans could be turned into money by removing them from their point of origin and dressing them up in respectable clothes — like taking all the winos in downtown Los Angeles, putting them in Prada suits, and passing them off as the faculty of the Harvard Business School. It was a transparently ludicrous racket and the wonder is that America proved to be so utterly bereft of regulating authority — not to mention plain decency and self-restraint –at every stage.

Who were they been trying to kid?

At least out of the ashes we have the basic tenets of any future public policy:

turn a blind eye, listen with a deaf ear.


Hate to Burst your Bubble but…

July 29, 2007

The good Doctor puts a proper perspective on just why and how suspension of sound monetary fundamentals and policies made some people richer, most people poorer, and undermined an entire countries liberty, freedom, and independence. The Sophisticated taking advantage of the Less Sophisticated, I guess, is the American way. Honestly, how can you proud to be one of those? Once upon a time honesty, integrity, and intestinal fortitude in the face of hostility were traits to be treasured above money, property. We prided outselves that we were forging a nation of citizens, not a nation of suckers and con artists.

The incredible exploding ARM:

Preview of Coming Atrtactions?
Show of hands: who knew about The crumbling condos of Bangkok.

I Hear that Train a-rolling

July 28, 2007

It’s coming down the track…

Ahhhh, good times. What a great viddy.

I just gotta say, tho, with all the comparisons being made to the Great Depression, many people still point the wagging finger at Herbert Hoover (his portrait makes a brief appearance here, followed immediately by that of Franklin Roosevelt).

While it’s true he’s the man that was in office when it all went belly up in 1929, keep in mind that he had only been in office about 6 months when the shite hit the rotating blades.

The policy of his numb-nuts predecessor, Calvin Coolidge, who was little more than a stooge for corporate interests (ring a bell?) were, if one wants to place blame, far more likely responsible for the crash due to policies (deaf ear, blind eye) originated during his adminstration.

We need to make sure we give credit where credit is due.

Just as we surely will should those trying times be visited upon us again.

You can bet Bush and Cheney et al are counting on just that kind of oversight.

(Perhaps my memory is faulty, but IIRC didn’t Ronny Raygun express admiration for Coolidge sometime during his tenure? I recall being somewhat bemused- and somewhat miffed- cos surely if any man got- and continues to get- a bum rap, it was Herbert. H.)

With a tip o’ that hat to HP.

A Little Historical Perspective is Good

July 26, 2007

I don’t know about you, but, having been a renter until June 2000, doesn’t mean I didn’t make occasional forays into the homeowner wilderness.

Timing seemed to work against me. The web didn’t exist in it’s current form in 1986 or 1991, and so the kind of useful information and reasoned opinion that might help to equip one for battle in the market did not exist. Instead you had to rely on the word of a Real-a-tor, which is someone I’d learned had an inherent conflict of interest.

Susan Baretta writes a fascinating piece, after going back into the LATimes archive to read the kind of reporting being done during the last great California R.E. Boom and Bust cycle, 1988-1996, and gives US a little insight, and perhaps a preview, of what you and I have to look forward to in the next decade’s housing market.

I had been aware, since I sold my house in 2005, that something strange was happening in that housing market. I couldn’t exactly put my finger on it, but clearly, the time to sell was ripe.

When I received eight written offers for my house, each one higher than my asking price- this was clearly a feeding frenzy. But the only explanation anyone could fathom was: low inventory.

Having been on the other side of the desk, as a first-time buyer, I was feeling fortunate to be this position. But I also felt genuine compassion for the folks who were insistent on buying, because in my mind they there was no good explanation for this situation they were willingly subjecting themselves to.

And if the roles were reversed, I would have walked.

I couldn’t be certain what the dynamics were, but I knew this could not last. So I made the smartest move I could, and sold- 15% above my asking price.

Since then, when I run into people and the conversation inevitably turns to housing, I am surprised some still hold to the opinion that real estate will always appreciate / be a good investment / always go up.

Yet, my own experience tells me otherwise.

Just look at what is happening in the market today. Currently, home prices are stalled and falling in many markets- even here in California.

Defaults are at twenty year highs, as are foreclosures.

And something more, which has never happened before: bond markets are being hit really hard by defaults on mortgages resold as securities.

Plus, there is palpable fear that all this could eventually lead US into a recession- or worse.

How short memories are.

In the 1980’s, Texas crashed hard. Mansions in Houston and Dallas could be purchased for $80,000, or less- and if you could find a job there, great. California was still sprawling, even out into the high desert, and people actually were buying homes there- for awhile.

Around 1991-ish, in one of those really awful Lethal Weapon movies, an entire unfinished housing tract in Palmdale (or was it Lancaster?) was burned to the ground. This wasn’t CGI magick; the producers paid the developer of an actual failed housing development for the pleasure. Apparently unfeasible as homes, dozens of houses, most in the framing stage, some with roofing completed and some nearly finished, were torched- legally- rather than completed and sold as homes for families that might have liked an affordable place to live.

Such waste! And yet, people seem to forget that the housing market, just like the stock market, is subject to cycles of feast and famine.

And of course, a number of experts were quoted saying the market was bottoming. One realtor likened the market to a junior high school sock hop, with buyers standing against one wall and sellers standing against the other wall, and everybody was just waiting for a few brave couples to venture out on the dance floor.

That was said way-back in 1990.

It should be obvious to you where we’re heading.

Remind me

July 25, 2007

… never to move to Scottsdale.

[The typical Scottsdale neighbor] moves in, crams all his crap into the garage, parks his car against the traffic and woila closes the front door and you will never see him again, if you are lucky. If you are very lucky he will be quiet, if not (the norm) he will play drums in the garage, a bass, a booming thumping stereo, have his 500 white or Mexican trash friends over for a party every weekend. His kids will drive mini bikes with no muffler for hours on the street followed by dad in his unlicensed quad or even dune buggy, destroying your front lawn and the neighborhood. If you are smart, you call the police on them and forget about it because nothing will change, if you are stupid you ask your “neighbor” to quiet it down and your car, house or (put whatever you like here) will be damaged or you end up threatened and fear for your life and family.

But I might consider Shanghai.

But hear me when I say, should I buy a home anywhere, anytime, I won’t be utilising those rip-off artists I affectionately call those Cunts at Countrywide™.

They have only themselves, and their own sharp practice, to blame for these times. Not that Angelo is complaining, mind you. He’s a lovely shade of orange.

You know the drill: rats, sinking ship, etc. (although comparing Angelo and his hired henchmen to rats is a disservice to rats)

I Think it is Reasonable to Presume

July 24, 2007

… that anyone who gets elected to office will turn out to be a traitor.

Sleeping, erm, beauty?
Shhh! or you will wake Condi!

Poor Richy Rich or Enough Already or Why isn’t My Boat Rising (sniff)
Sounds to me like Bill Gross wants to kill the rich !

Well, maybe kill is too strong a word- but he definitely can taste blood in his mouth. Maybe maim the rich.

No? Well, definitely put them to bed without supper.

And I’m with him on that!

I say: tax the fucking gluttons until they bleeeeeeeeeeeed

Preview of Coming Attractions

July 21, 2007

To be repeated in towns and cities near you over the next two to five years: