Daily Archives: May 13, 2010

Euro’s going to bust a buck twenty-five

In which case, why not dollar parity? Skip my last advice about booking St. Bart’s, and wait a bit. Things are getting interesting.

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Does this make any sense?

Greenwich is to receive $1 million from the feds in the form of a “Community Block Grant”. Look: that’s fine; it’s merely the recovery of stolen property, but what the hell is going on where we send millions to Washington and then get a trickle back? There must be other towns with greater needs than ours. If this taxation scheme has any validity, we should get nothing back.

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Here it comes

Rule by bureaucracy . Yesterday, I mentioned that our state’s DEP was eliminating docks. Today, it’s the federal government shutting down industry. And we don’t care?

In the first two years, the E.P.A. expects the rule to affect about 15,550 sources, including coal-fired plants, refineries, cement manufacturers, solid waste landfills and other large polluters, said Gina McCarthy, the agency’s assistant administrator.

She said the rule would apply to sites accounting for about 70 percent of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions. “We think this is smart rule-making, and we think it’s good government,” she said.

Last fall the E.P.A. had indicated that the bar would be set at 25,000 tons a year, which would have imposed the permit requirement on smaller entities like family farms and large apartment buildings. “What we realized at the 25,000 level was that we were going to be actually reaching sources that we did not intend to reach,” Ms. McCarthy said.

Not yet, anyway, but large or small, the regulators are determined to rule our country; docks, farms, whatever. Time to overthrow the government.

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Hey, we didn’t read the ObamaCare bill either

Did I say we could read?

 

Holder confesses that he hasn’t actually, you know, read the Arizona immigration bill. “But I’m against it!” 

From InstaPundit: 

UPDATE: “The Most Transparently Irresponsible Administration in American History.” “How could the Attorney General of the United States malign a state law as raising profound constitutional questions, imply that the lawmakers who drafted it are racists, and direct a Justice Department review of the law without having read the law?

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Connie Jones

I am in receipt of an email from Ms. Jones but it’s very poorly written (hey, she’s a tennis coach, not an English teacher)  and I’m not going to post it here. It does seem clear that she never shoved or even touched the cop, and those charges are going to be dropped. But it’s also obvious that she’s been chaperoning a little band of thugs. If that’s what comprises the Greenwich High School tennis team, I’d think the school should fire the kids and start over, with Connie Jones as coach.

Is it mean to mention that the bagel tosser was Bernie Madoff’s grandson?

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Bomb Syria

Just the Presidential palace. Send a message that we’re still the ruling power, or watch as Syria arms Hamas, and the rest of the Middle East shifts its allegiance to Russia. Even Jimmy Carter could understand this, I think.

The world is getting into the habit of making Obama look inept.

The U.S. sends a delegation to Damascus to wean Syria from Iran, and Syria promptly responds by inviting Iran’s president to the country and tightening the relationship. The U.S. praises Pakistan and sends billions in aid, and Pakistan responds by being less than cooperative in dealing with the Times Square bomber.

Now it’s Russia’s turn. Just hours after the Obama administration praised Russia for allegedly cooperating on sanctions against Iran — to justify pushing forward a bilateral nuclear weapons limitation agreement with Moscow — Russia eagerly responded by subverting U.S. Middle East policy.

Russian President Dimitry Medvedev visited Syria and Turkey, taking a very large entourage with him to work on trade and military cooperation agreements. In effect, these meetings marked another step in the creation of an anti-American alliance in the region with Russian backing.

How do we know about this alliance? Because Turkey, Syria, and Iran are openly declaring its existence. How do we know Russia is backing it? Because Medvedev is openly claiming this.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to be a “friend,” and that Iran is using its nuclear program “for civilian purposes only.” He also said that Israel, not Iran, threatens regional stability.

Syrian government newspaper al-Baa’th declared, in so many words, that the Middle East is coming together in an alliance to reject Westernization, artificial borders, America, and Israel, while embracing various anti-Western conspiracies. What countries are in this new alliance?

Syria, Iran, and Turkey, with their great peoples and their lively peoples and their rejectionist [the Syrian term for radical, anti-Israel, and anti-American] policies are moving toward brotherhood.

The comments from Iran? President Ahmadinejad declared:

[The Americans] are forced to leave the region. … [The U.S.] government has no influence [to stop] … the expansion of Iran-Syria ties, Syria-Turkey ties, and Iran-Turkey ties. God willing, Iraq too will join the circle.

In its own way, Russia is joining the circle as well. Medvedev signed deals suggesting that Russia might help Turkey and Syria build nuclear reactors. Mikhail Margelov, chairman of the Russian parliamentary foreign liaison committee, called Syria “a strategic partner” with Russia.

In Turkey, Medvedev and his hosts agreed to support Hamas merging with the Palestinian Authority, and insisted that the radical terrorist Islamist group be a full participant in any negotiations on Israel-Palestinian issues.

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Couldn’t say it better myself

Judge enjoins NY State from furloughing workers.

Mish Shedlock responds:

I commend the idiocy of the unions. That idiocy is sure to rile the majority of taxpayers who have had enough of union parasites.

The only way to solve the problem now is to privatize every union job in the state at every contract renewal. Give them their raises today, fire every *ing one of them at contract renewal.

The only thing unions thugs, union mobs, and union termites understand is extermination. So exterminate them. The faster the nation gets rid of union pestilence, the faster the recovery.

I cheer the union termite protest and their short-term victory. Now bring out the Raid.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

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South Korea can’t afford a war

I don’t blame them. But really, retaliating against the NoKos by banning the import of sand? It gives new meaning to the term of futility, “go pound sand”.

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More Pakistani connections to the Times Square bomber

Three arrested in Massachusetts and Maine. The shame of this is that I have a number of Pakistani friends, some from college, some whom I have met in business. And they’re great people. I’m certainly not going to rethink my friendships, but I feel bad for them – the notion of a Pakistani plot stretching throughout New England is bound to make their lives uncomfortable. That’s both regrettable and understandable. We’re living in tough times.

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A couple of contracts

51 N. Stanwich

 

A sweet little house, but on 0.9 of an acre in the 4 acre zone, so it’s a bit restricted in what you can do with it (nothing, in fact). The current owners paid $1.5 for it in 2004, completely renovated it and tried pricing it at $2. 275 in 2008. Two years on, they dropped the price to $1.575 and now have a contract. Funny how that works.  

2 Deer Lane, priced at $2.995, has gone to contract in a matter of weeks. I really liked this place. Great shape,nice yard. The upstairs was kind of dodgy, but it looked like a few walls could be moved without too much effort or expense. Someone is getting a nice home here.  

2 Deer Lane

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Open house Thursday

If Tuesday’s tour (houses west of North Street) was a disappointment, filled with grossly unappealing, overpriced homes, today’s gave me encouragement, because there were lots of good values. Is that a phenomenon that eastern Greenwich gets it while the west doesn’t? Probably not – I think it’s no coincidence that the houses I saw and liked today were all listed by experienced, professional agents whose advice must have been heeded. And why not? All agents are not alike, and if you won’t listen to yours or don’t trust what you’re hearing, go find someone else.

Anyway, here are some of the best from today’s tour.

3 Byfield

There’s nothing spectacular about this builder’s special, but it’s convenient to town, has a very nice yard and is huge – 7,000 sq. ft., if you include the walk-out basement. But it’s in very nice shape, tons of room, has a pool, and a sauna in that basement (plus a bar/entertainment area) and all in all, I liked it very much. It’s assessed for $1.999 and priced at $2.050. I’d be happy to show this to my $2 million customers and not be the least bit embarrassed Maria Rugerberger (oh hell, you try spelling Maria’s last name) listing. Maria knows how to price a house.

55 LondonderryUp the road and a bit higher in the price scale is this house, listed by Pat Berry, at 55 Londonderry and asking $2.750. When I pulled in I thought, "oh please, don't be asking $3.5". They're not, and I think their price is excellent. Pool, great space, and quiet. I'm not wild about the kitchen: it's a bit cramped for modern tastes, but I think that's just something you have to live with to get a house this nice for this price.

It was a good day for waterfront homes too. This one at 35 Cove Road in my favorite of all neighborhoods, Lucas Point, was purchased for $8.2 million a few years ago, had $800,000 put into it and is asking $7.5 million. Absolutely top quality, beautiful views, and a pool. You’d be a chump not to buy it, if you have kids and the money. I love this house.

Around the corner, and almost as nice, is 15 Northway, asking $6.9 million. Frankly, I think I’d pay the extra $600,000 for Cove (especially if you can negotiate the difference between the two) but this is a wonderfully built house, with great waterviews and it also, of course, is in Lucas Point. That’s worth a big premium, in my book.

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Going to Europe or England this summer? Trade your dollars now.

Or so says this WSJ article. It’s probably also a good time to book, and pay for, a St. Bart’s villa, if you’re lucky enough to have that in your budget. I alas, do not.

In 2007 some very clever people, who foresaw the coming economic crisis, assured me the dollar was bound to collapse as a result. Instead, when the crisis hit, it boomed.

So why do I feel differently right now?

It’s not because I pretend to know what Germany’s Angela Merkel or Great Britain’s Mr. Cameron is going to do next. It’s because currency market data show the speculators are already heavily net short of both the euro and the pound. They’ve been betting more and more heavily against both currencies all the way down.

According to an analysis by Danske Bank, those net short positions are now at extreme levels.

And in the markets that tends to be bullish news. After all, if everyone is short, who is left to sell more?

Both currencies have already fallen a long way.

Since the start of the year the pound has slumped from $1.61. As recently as late 2007 it was above $2, meaning to a U.S. visitor British prices have come down since then by nearly 30%.

The euro has fallen to just $1.27 from $1.44. Two years ago it was nearly $1.60.

These moves should come as no surprise if you follow how financial markets work. Big money investors fear uncertainty. And Europe has given them plenty of it.

Britain had a nail-biter of a general election, followed by a political vacuum. The eurozone faced sovereign debt crises in Greece and elsewhere–combined with grave doubts over whether it had the political will, or structures, to deal with them.

Of course anything can happen, and currencies can move in any direction from here. Furthermore, if the exchange rate reflected purchasing power, the euro would probably fall all the way to about $1.10.

But if you had to pick a good time to buy euros or pounds, you’d probably look for a moment when they had already been driven down a long way by uncertainty and speculative bets. Like now.

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Juarez on the Hudson

N.Y. Times

300-man force  of police and FBI raid the gangs of Newburgh. Good for them.

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ObamaCare=3.8% tax on your home sale

Remember when Nancy Pelosi told us we had to pass ObamCare before we could find out what was in it? Well here’s another fun fact that’s just come out: There’s a 3.8% tax coming when you sell you house. This Snope’s report debunks the idea that it applies to all real estate sales but if you read it, you’ll see that it will certainly hit a huge number of sellers in Greenwich. Ain’t it grand being the golden goose?

(Hat tip, Glenn G)

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Eating one’s words

New Zealand PM in hot water over cannibalism joke. Of course, the sensitivity here is that the Maori were cannibals. Guess that can’t be mentioned, although I don’t see why.

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Second prize is two days with the bloviator

Bill Clinton raffles off a day with the great Him to pay off Hillary’s unpaid campaign debts. Interesting – they’ve made $110 million recently, yet have left small businesses wait for the $771,000 owed to them. Only the little people pay their bills, I suppose.

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White House: Obama never pledged no new taxes

He merely expressed a preference that taxes not be increased, is the new party line. He also preferred that Gitmo be closed, some day, maybe, I suppose.

Here he is expressing that “preference”

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Ouch!

Dicks bent on appropriations panel

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A bellwether for Old Greenwich waterfront, perhaps?

7 Little Cove Place

This is a beautiful house, built new in 2004 and sold (contract date) in November, 2005 for $6.5 million. The buyers have now re-listed it for $7.7, and I’ll be curious to see how it fares. Up? Down? Stay tuned.

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Attention builders, recent home builders

From a reader: 

My question is rather simple.  I am interested in the cost to build a new hi-quality (not over the top) home in the Darien/New Canaan/Stamford area. I have done a lot of research and am getting a variety of opinions/estimates along the way.
I understand that a per/square foot number can be difficult, but assuming nice finishes and quality work by a seasoned builder, it is possible. That said, it’s probably the best way to elicit a relevant response from you based on what you know and have experienced.  Also, on average, how much on a percentage basis do you think the cost to build has come down since 2007-08?
I look forward to your response as I continue to educate myself on  the process and appreciate any insight you wish to provide, right down to reasonable builder recommendations.

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