Daily Archives: October 5, 2008

Auf Wiedersehen?

Or “so long, it’s been good to know you”. A couple of real estate firms in town have been pushing their “international connections”, hinting (or promising) that they had a steady flow of European and other foreign buyers eager and willing to buy Greenwich properties. I was always dubious about those claims because, year after year, the average buyer in town was already in town and just moving up or down the food chain. But customers loved to believe it: “sure, my house may be a little over-priced for a Greenwich buyer, but what’s that to someone paying in Euros or pounds? One of them will come by and pull my fat from the fire – just wait.” Well, they waited and they lost. I don’t have any statistics yet but it seems to me that, with European banks in a free fall, Russia’s stock exchange shut down and the Middle East suffering from a huge decline in oil prices and the usual corruption that the merry-go-round may soon stop if it hasn’t stopped already. Who will these firms promote as the next batch of unsophisticated buyers willing to pay more than a house is worth?

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Ramussen: Poll of voters on what to do with the House and Senate

59% of American voters would throw the bums out and start anew.

So what’s the matter with the other 41% ?

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Rats!

Well gosh darn it, every time I want to respect the political and environmental opinions of our Hollywood stars, I keep coming across stories like this: Sharon Stone overreacted to son’s foot odor. And mom?

sharon stone barefoot
No stinky feet here, thanks to their exposure to lots of clean, California air.

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Time for contrarian thinking?
I try to be as objective as I can when it comes to real estate and business and I don’t think much of current market conditions nor the chances of those conditions improving in the immediate future. But I keep reading articles like this one in today’s New York Times that proclaim that our doom has arrived and nothing will ever be the same again. In my limited experience, the more our media espouse common wisdom, the more we hear, “everybody knows”, the less likely it is to be true. So if “everyone knows” that Wall Street’s goose is cooked, that real estate is falling off a cliff and that we’re in for a spiritual revival where the greedy, ambitious folks who brought the region such great wealth are going to retire to monasteries and contemplate their sins, the more a suspicion grows in me that perhaps the contrary will happen: greed won’t disappear, the appetite for showy ostentatious houses won’t diminish and Greenwich will continue on, unslowed. I don’t believe this, mind you, but I’m beginning to wonder.

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Ain’t it a shame? Dubai feels our pain. Things are getting rocky for our Arab friends and Dubai, with $500 billion of real estate development cooking is headed for shoaling waters. Tough, says I.

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Boy Scout Statue, Washington, D.C.
Hmmm.
The Boy Scout looks chipper enough, but why is the Scout Master on the left coming out of the woods with his clothes under his arm? Just wondering.

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Sleeping in

Greenwich Time today exposes the dirty little secret of Connecticut’s judicial system there’s no penalty for ignoring a jury duty summons. Those summons include a harsh warning that a fine will be imposed for failure to comply but don’t believe it. Years ago, one guy (a Greenwich resident, surely) simply sent a check to the court, explaining that he didn’t have time to serve. The check was passed around the court, then up to Hartford and eventually returned to its maker – there is no one in the state authorized to receive or process such penalties.

Don’t get me wrong: the day may come, and I hope it doesn’t, that you’ll be involved in a law suit and you will almost certainly then wish for a jury capable of intelligently evaluating your lawyer’s arguments (of course, there are matters where we attorneys pray for a fat, dumb jury that can be swayed by emotion, not facts, but generally ….) so civic duty and self-interest should persuade you to show up with your college degree and apply your brains. But you don’t have to.

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“Cold Cash Jefferson”finishes first in Louisiana primary. Well why not; doesn’t New Orleans deserve the very best? Worked for Washington, D.C. and Marion Barry.

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Banks are considering refusing to participate in the bailout and continuing instead to try to muddle through. I’d be hugely impressed by their dedication to the principles of free enterprise were it not for this:

But Wall Street analysts, believe the addition of so many terms to the bill might deter potential participants.

One of the least attractive elements is a section designed to curb executive pay at banks that participate in the bail-out package. These include limiting stock-related pay and banning ‘golden parachutes’ for executives.

‘I think this hodge-podge of regulations and rules will be enough to put many [chief executives] off participating,’ Caldwell said.

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