Daily Archives: January 20, 2009
Bob Jaffe, Bernie Madoff’s bag man in Palm Beach, is missing or at least, isn’t in the public eye. I’m not saying that Mark and Andy took him on a half-way flight over the Gulf, only theta they show up in Dad’s jet, take off, and Jaffe can’t be found. Splash?
The honeymoon’s over. Stocks drop in worst inaugural slide in Dow history. The sun will come out tomorrow, maybe.
Well perhaps I don’t, but someone does. Curious.
By deliberate duplicity from our Governor and sabotage of fiscal responsibility by municipal and state bureaucracies determined to protect their young. Case in point: Governor Rell pretends to order a hiring freeze, garnering accolades for her stern budgetary discipline. Result; 824 new employees hired since May.
The new hirings have come at a variety of state agencies at a cost of more than $14 million. And they don’t include hundreds of employees hired by the University of Connecticut, the UConn Health Center and the Judicial Branch, whose hiring and payroll are not overseen by Comptroller Nancy Wyman.
A spokesman for the governor notes that she doesn’t control judicial, legislative and higher education jobs. And Rell has allowed exceptions for jobs affecting public health and safety, and positions that save money in overtime and contracting costs.
Our former Governor Lowell foisted an income state on us by arguing that we could actually save money by having a reliable source of income to calculate our budget on. Proving that if you give a politician a dollar he’ll spend two our state payroll has more than doubled since that tax was enacted, while our population dropped. Now we’re returning to the estate tax which was abolished when the income tax came in, to fill some of the shortfall in our projected multi-billion dollar deficit.
What is so damn discouraging about this is that, just as is the case nationally, it makes no difference which political party is in charge. Republicans will spend a taxpayer’s money with the same gleeful disdain and contempt that a Democrat displays – the only difference is that a Republican, like Rell, will claim she is being careful while a Democrat just says you owe it to his friends. I’m beginning to feel an affectionate respect for the Democratic plunderers – at least, like the politicians of Boss Tweed’s day, they make no pretense at being what they aren’t.
We now have more people working for the government than in manufacturing. Graphic here. Obama’s vowed to put 600,000 more people on the federal payroll, which is discouraging to some of us. And now that we’ve also passed the milestone where more people don’t pay income tax than those that do, we can expect this growth to continue unabated until we all fall off the cliff. Sooooeee!
Not always. Wealthy types with homes in Florida and Greenwich are telling their agents that they’ve calculated what it costs them to carry an empty Greenwich residence and figure they’ll wait out the market a few years and get their price when the market recovers. Good luck with that but if spending a few hundred thousand brings a million down the road, good for them. It’s entirely likely, however, that they’ll spend that money only to discover that it’s been wasted because the market has not recovered, but that’s why it’s fun to be rich – what do you care?
It does go back to my point of a few days ago, however, about how many houses currently shown as inventory aren’t really for sale. These houses are going nowhere, because no buyer will pay the seller’s price and the owner is determined to stick. Guess what houses we don’t waste our time showing?
So if you’re looking to buy and see 126 listings in your price range, review them with your agent so that you can narrow them down to the handful that are seriously for sale and skip the rest. You’ll save time and irritation.
When the market pummeled State Street Bank’s shares last fall, the experts said the market was off its rocker. That was before the bank admitted to $9 billion in losses on worthless paper, as posted here yesterday.
State Street (STT) remains down about 50% today after warning on earnings and raising concerns about serious damage to its balance sheet. But today aside, let’s go back to last November when, seemingly out of nowhere, the stock fell below $30, beforre quickly rebounding to the mid-$40s. At the time, everyone thought the market was crazy. That there was no way there could be anything wrong with State Street — a boring old investment services company.
Well, turns out, only the talking heads were wrong. The stock market nailed it, only it didn’t punish the companyt hard enough, since now State Street is at about $19.
This is important to remember everytime you hear anyone complaining about how market prices are temporarily irrational and that they know better. This isn’t to say that sometimes the herd can push too far in a given direction. That happens all the time. But on balance, you should be inclined to trust the market more than an individual who swears the market is wrong.
What Weisenthal doesn’t ask, but I will, is who knew about State’s bad assets back in November, and how did they know?
Irish real estate king kills self – lost fortune in bank failure. I guess there’s a difference: this Irishman and that German fellow lost their own money and chose not to continue living without it. The Frenchman lost his own and other investors’ money and chose not to live without honor or money. Bernie has no honor, no shame, and probably hid his money, so he’s content to stay in his penthouse.
200 Overlook Drive was listed for $2.750 last August and suffered its second price cut today, down to $2.1 million. That’s 24% off, or thereabouts. Smart move by the seller, but discouraging for the neighbors, I’d think.
And 114 Overlook * must be a source of outright depression. This house sold for $1.625 in September ’04, again for $1.869 in May, ’07 and was priced at what must have seemed the realistic price of $1.990 just this past December. Today it was marked down to $1.749, less than the owners paid for it and dangerously close to what it sold for back in 2004. Will it drop still further? Considering that 2004 prices are “no longer operative”, I’d say it will.
* prices reflected on these links often lag a day behind the MLS and don’t always reflect a price change. Trust me on these.
You laughed when I posted a picture of a Brinks Document Destruction truck parked at 175 Round Hill Road
Walter has been told (again) not to destroy any Fairfield Greenwich Group documents. The bad boy ignored a previous directive. The poor old guy may not remember what he did but he’s determined that that memory hole is shared by everyone else.
And with it, the clouds will dissipate, the economy will heal itself and Greenwich real estate properties will return to where they were two years ago and resume their meteoric rise. Or so some sellers seem to think.
Here’s a new price reduction today, from 54 Doubling Road. Purchased for $1.5 million in 2003 and untouched since then, the owners listed it for $2.295 million this November. Not a crazy price, were this 2006, but not one that will move it today. But the owners must feel that, if The One is coming in to heal our wounds, why give away the store? So they’ve dropped the price a whopping $46,000. Yeah, that should do it!
122 Cat Rock road may have the same problem. These owners paid $2,125,000 in 2000 and again have done nothing but live in the house since. They’ve been trying to sell it for $3.595 since June and now have reduced it to $2.950. That’s a substantial reduction, but if we’re really approaching 1999 or 2000 price levels, and I think we are, then this one still has a ways to go. Unless, of course, we really do see a miracle on Pennsylvania Avenue this afternoon. I have my doubts; many others do not.
The mad Monk, Valey Kogan, is back before the P&Z tonight for approval of his new, more modest proposal for a house on Simmon’s Lane. This time he only wants to build 21,000 sf, a huge reduction from the 27,000 originally proposed. No word yet whether he still needs 26 toilets but perhaps he can make do with 26 and an outhouse – bringing a small touch of Russia to Greenwich.
Bernie’s got his new, $40 million jet up for charter but you’ll have to be selective about when you want to use it – although Bernard himself is unlikely to be flying in it anywhere soon, much to his regret, I’m sure, the boys have been using it to scoot around in. Digging up cash? No, that would be illegal! I’m sure they’re just off fly fishing.