Daily Archives: January 19, 2009

I believe Rush has something that will help that

Cheney injures back while packing.

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A plague upon your house

Yesterday the Sun reported that Algerian members of Al Qaeda were dropping like flies due to the plague. I was cheered by the news but didn’t link to it because the Sun is not necessarily my preferred choice for reliable material. But here’s a new story, this time from the Washington Times, that says the wild boys may have been setting up a biowar facility. That’s not good news, if true. These bastards tend to be persistent, if nothing else.

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NASDAQ to trade penny stocks

The NASD used to set a minimum price of $2 per share for companies traded on its exchange. Drop below that and it was off to the boiler rooms for you where you jostled for attention amidst the water purification company that had just signed a nation-wide contract with CVS, “guaranteed”, chinchilla farms and the latest, can’t-fail biotech firm that was an amazing bargain at three cents. But now 20% of NASDAQ companies – 300 and growing – fall below that threshold so – ahem – the exchange has “suspended” its rule.    We have a similar rule here on the Greenwich Multiple Listing Service barring any listing under $399,000. We’re reconsidering it.

 

No no! I’m just kidding about that last bit. But it is true that one agent listed a bank foreclosed property for $350,000 and his manager was chastised by another agency head for “degrading” our listings. Well, aren’t we snooty? I suspect that hubris will be lessened by events in the coming year.

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Blame Walter – everyone else is!

Did Walter Noel really sell $5,500 tickets to the One’s Inaugural ceremony and then stiff the buyers? 

Dr. Donna Pachorek, a Santa Rosa Valley, Calif. resident who owns a medical practice in Thousand Oaks, and Bill Dundas of Camarillo, Calif. were among those who bid on the packages through an e-Bay auction that was to benefit the children’s charity December Rain. Each of them paid $5,500.

December Rain said it purchased the packages through Fairfield Greenwich Group, a New York investment firm that is said to have direct ties to Madoff’s securities firm. The Wall Street Journal has reported that Fairfield Greenwich appears to be the biggest casualty in Madoff’s alleged $50 billion Ponzi scheme.

December Rain Executive Director Paul Saulnier was critical of Fairfield Greenwich in an interview last week, saying he never received the promised ticket packages.

Clusterstock.alleyinsider.com, which reports this story (via Scripps) is confused and a little dubious, saying,

Hmm, doesn’t something seem odd about this story? Namely, the part about Fairfield selling inauguration trip packages. Now we don’t doubt for a minute that the firm was engaged in a lot of shady stuff, but seriously, selling $5,000 trips to charities? Something doesn’t add up. We wonder if the charity is somehow confused. Any theories?

UPDATE: In fact I have two ideas – one, Walter forgot – happens to guys who are now boiling socks, thinking they’re spaghetti. Two, and I’m serious here, who is this “December Rain” charity that has now folded its tent? Is it possible, perish the thought, that it’s yet another charity scam that saw a perfect opportunity to cover its own theft by blaming everything on Madoff and Fairfield Greenwich Group? I’m betting on door number two.

Further Update: check out this Obama site – one guy paid December rain his $5500 last May and never got his tickets. That was 7 months before Madoff hit the fan. My money’s on, but not with, thank goodness, December Rain as the perpetrator of this.

By David from Merced, CA Jan 19th 2009 at 9:29 pm EST (Updated Jan 19th 2009 at 9:29 pm EST)
I think we have been scammed. Really Really bad deal I purchased my package back in May. I have reported December Rain to IC3 (FBI), and will be taking them to small claims court in IL as well as reporting them to the IL State Attorney General, among others. This has been a total scam.
Here’s who December Rain says it is. We’ll see.
Aha! The plot thickens! At the bottom of the December Rain page linked above, is a promise that “your donation is 100% guaranteed by Mission Fish. Learn about Mission Fish here”. Click on the link and you get a 404 error message. page not found. Did Bernie Madoff shut them down, too?
But wait, there’s more! Who said divine justice is no more? According to the Wall Street Journal, PETA was a victim of this fraud and now can’t go demonstrate at the inauguration!!! God is snickering – can you hear him?

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The bankers are coming, tra la, tra la, the bankers are coming

Banks beginning to foreclose on builders with spotless records. Builders, once prized customers, are now considered risky dead beats by lenders. Non-performing loans that had been being carried in the hope that the market would recover are now being called. I know builders who have never missed a payment in decades of business who can no longer get financing and bankers who had been rolling over builder’s loans who are no longer permitted to do so. The consolidation of banks isn’t going to help – I don’t know if Chase is an independent entity anymore, these days, but you sure aren’t going to find a forgiving heart there the way you might once have at Bailey Savings & Loan. Word on the street is that there are some very, very large loans coming due in two weeks on some very, very large spec houses. You should be able to hear the crash from your living room. 

What will it do to prices if $7 million spec houses get marked down to $3.5? I think you know.

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Attention all quants:

Thanks to a reader, here’s a link to the new PMI risk assessments and forecast for future housing prices. I’ve just skimmed it but whoever compiled it doesn’t appear to be any more confident of higher housing prices than I am. Go figure, so to speak, and please report back.

http://docs.google.com/gview?a=v&attid=0.1&thid=11ef12746140f7f9&mt=application%2Fpdf&pli=1

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FGG shutting down?

I keep getting word that it is but who knows? Lisa Anonymous apparently does so Lisa, if you can, please send details. Thanks.

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The debate is over

Earth’s cooling down, not up.

At December’s U.N. Global Warming conference in Poznan, Poland, 650 of the world’s top climatologists stood up and said man-made global warming is a media generated myth without basis. Said climatologist Dr. David Gee, Chairman of the International Geological Congress, “For how many years must the planet cool before we begin to understand that the planet is not warming?”

I asked myself, why would such obviously smart guy say such a ridiculous thing? But it turns out he’s right. 

The earth’s temperature peaked in 1998. It’s been falling ever since; it dropped dramatically in 2007 and got worse in 2008, when temperatures touched 1980 levels.

Meanwhile, the University of Illinois’ Arctic Climate Research Center released conclusive satellite photos showing that Arctic ice is back to 1979 levels. What’s more, measurements of Antarctic ice now show that its accumulation is up 5 percent since 1980.

In other words, during what was supposed to be massive global warming, the biggest chunks of ice on earth grew larger. Just as an aside, do you remember when the hole in the ozone layer was going to melt Antarctica? But don’t worry, we’re safe now, that was the nineties.

Dr. Kunihiko, Chancellor of Japan’s Institute of Science and Technology said this: “CO2 emissions make absolutely no difference one way or the other … every scientist knows this, but it doesn’t pay to say so.” Now why would a learned man say such a crazy thing?

This is where the looney left gets lost. Their mantra is atmospheric CO2 levels are escalating and this is unquestionably causing earth’s temperature rise. But ask yourself — if global temperatures are experiencing the biggest sustained drop in decades, while CO2 levels continue to rise — how can it be true?

Ironically, in spite of being shown false, we must now pray for it. Because a massive study, just released by the Russian Government, contains overwhelming evidence that earth is on the verge of another Ice Age.

Based on core samples from Russia’s Vostok Station in Antarctica, we now know earth’s atmosphere and temperature for the last 420,000 years. This evidence suggests that the 12,000 years of warmth we call the Holocene period is over.

Apparently, we’re headed into an ice age of about 100,000 years — give or take. As for CO2 levels, core samples show conclusively they follow the earth’s temperature rise, not lead it.

It turns out CO2 fluctuations follow the change in sea temperature. As water temperatures rise, oceans release additional dissolved CO2 — like opening a warm brewsky.

To think, early last year, liberals suggested we spend 45 trillion dollars and give up five million jobs to fix global warming. But there is good news: now that we don’t have to spend any of that money, we can give it all to the banks.

As I posted earlier today, if we can hold the crazies at bay for four more years, when Global Warming Expert Jim Hensen says we’re all gonna die, we’ve got it made in the shade. 

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A Greek default?

Nothing sexy about this position. Spain’s not doing so well either. What happens to the EU if even one of these countries goes belly up (or down)? Nothing good, probably.

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Why I’m single and alone

And I thought it was my breath. Guess I can toss the Listerine.

Scientists discover that female orgasm tied to partner’s wealth

Times (UK):Scientists have found that the pleasure women get from making love is directly linked to the size of their partner’s bank balance.

…“Women’s orgasm frequency increases with the income of their partner,” said Dr Thomas Pollet, the Newcastle University psychologist behind the research.

He believes the phenomenon is an “evolutionary adaptation” that is hard-wired into women, driving them to select men on the basis of their perceived quality.

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4th Quarters, 2008, 2007

2008:

Single Family: 54   avg. price $2,169,461   median price $1,830,000

Condo:  11                avg price $952,091       median price $850,000

2007

Single family   117 avg, price $3,125,785      median price $2,100,000

Condo                  35 avg. price $1,219,694       median price $750,000

Two houses over $5 million sold last quarter, 19 sold in that price range last quarter 2007

Three houses between $4-$5 million last qtr, 11 last qtr, 2007

Five houses between $3-4 million last qtr., 9 last qtr. 2007

And so on. Things were a little rough the past three months.

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sales 2007 vs 2008

 

John Cooke Statistics

John Cooke Statistics

I’ll pull the fourth quarter statistics, which are dismal.

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Where are the Noels, you ask?

This reader seems to have the skinny:

To answer your question, call 212-737-5960 or visit 812 park avenue, new york 10021, the noels are busy emptying the ny office of FGG and will close by end of month.”

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Maybe RBS got what was coming to it

Just came across this news story from January 10; Royal bank of Scotland selling its 1,000 pubs. I don’t doubt that the pub business could be a profitable one, but what is a bank doing running one? A hobby of the Chairman, perhaps? Weird.

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(The real) Monica Noel found in Switzerland!

Walt's going to the bank and then coming to get me!

Walt's going to the bank and then coming to get me!

Woman found living in tent in Swiss woods. Imposter took her place in Greenwich for 12 years! “We had to put her away, unfortunately,” said Penelope Strong, Noel family publicist. “Monica got old, fat and frumpy and just didn’t fit the image we were developing for the Fabulous Five. Still,” she sniffed, “I don’t suppose it matters now.”

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Anyone seen Walt and Monica recently?

That genius Bernie Madoff may have been too dumb to git while the gittin’ was good but Little Bernie, Art Nadel, apparently learned from the master’s example. His Subaru has been found at a Florida international airport and authorities think that Art, and his stolen money, may have left the jurisdiction. Hey, it’s only $350 million, barely enough to hire a bimbo to accompany you on a fly fishing trip to the Seychelles but it beats being cooped up in a New York penthouse all winter.

I’m just wondering why no one’s at the Noel’s Round Hill cottage. gee, I hope everything’s all right up there.

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State Street Corpse?

State Street Corp announced today that more layoffs were coming, all within this quarter. The bank fired 1,800 mid-to-upper-level managers (the type of folks who could afford houses in Greenwich) last December, but that was before it admitted today that it was sitting on $9 billion in worthless paper. Question: since much of this worthless junk was tied to Lehman, how long did State Street know that it had this little problem, and what finally forced it to fess up today?

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Tire Kickers

Just to follow up on the last post, here’s what I’ve learned from the buyers I’m working with – and I suspect mine are typical: they have absolutely no intention of offering full asking price, especially for new listings that haven’t had time to mellow. They (and I) shy away from listings with ridiculous prices; they don’t even use them for comparison purposes because they are comparable only to other over-priced houses, which is useless knowledge. But even you, wise seller that you are, who have knocked your price down by hundreds of thousands (or even millions) of dollars should not expect an offer that comes close to your desired price. It’s not happening.

Okay, that was the broad brush approach, and there have certainly been a few exceptions, but I hate to give you that out because, invariably, any seller reading this will say, “well I’m the exception!”. Chances are, you’re not – we just aren’t as special as we’d like to think we are.

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What, me worry?

Spain’s debt downgraded.

Stocks in Europe, Canada and Brazil decline

EU drops economic outlook for 2009

Fiat threatens to return to U.S.

These four headlines were just collected from today’s news (alright, the last one about Fiat is, although true and undoubtedly frightening confirmation of our impending status as a Third World country,, mostly included as a joke). Just as gloomy news was around last week, for those who bothered to look, but you’d never know it from current real estate prices. I was working this morning on finding some reasonably priced properties and was struck, yet again, with how many sellers are still convinced that their houses and land have increased dramatically in value since 2006. What are they drinking?

I would guess that these people are just holding on, part of the mass-hysteria that believes that the Obama will pull the country from its economic malaise and return us right quick to prosperity. Last through the spring, the reasoning goes, and we’ll be back where we were when times were good. Even the EU itself seems to believe this – its depressed forecast for 2009 is followed by a stated belief in a come-back in 2010. This might be more encouraging if today’s communication hadn’t been  issued to correct its more optimistic forecast made just two months ago. If they can’t get it right over 60 days, do you trust them to predict accurately what conditions will be like in 450?

I don’t wish to add to another hysteria, the one that fears the sky is falling, but if I were trying to sell my house now I would price it based on an assumption that property will be worth less a year from now, rather than more. Certainly, that’s what buyers are figuring. If you and the buyer aren’t on the same page of that expectation, there will be no meeting of the minds and no sale. So either reduce your price and sell, or pull your place from the market and wait for the rebound that will prove buyers wrong.

Or just keep your house in showroom condition and let tire-kickers disrupt your schedule. Some would-be sellers are happy with seeing that kind of activity because it lets them pretend that something’s happening. It doesn’t work for me, but we’re all different.

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Good bye, Royal Bank of Scotland

Or farewell, shareholders. The stock price is disappearing into a rat hole as British nationalization becomes inevitable.Even if I didn’t have friends who have their wealth tied into those shares (and their jobs tied to the company), I’d find this sad and alarming. It’s just amazing that such large institutions that seemed to have real substance just a year ago can be revealed to be hollow -cored rotten trunks. Remember Dagny Taggart’s shock when the huge oak tree on her father’s land split and fell? Something like that.

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