European banks’ toxic assets may amount to $25 trillion. I really have no concept of how much 25 trillion of anything is, but it’s a whole lot.
A bail-out of the toxic assets held by European banks’ could plunge the European Union into crisis, according to a confidential Brussels document.
Quinn details the onerous hurdles to recovery under our federal laws and I don’t disagree, nor do I disagree with her conclusion that feeder fund investors (that would include Walt Noel’s former friends) might do better in arbitration. Although FGG has an office in Greenwich its main place of business is NYC and New York, surprise! has the most favorable laws towards financial institutions possible: it sends all such cases to federal court ,where investors’ remedies are limited.
But I think that the behavior of FGG and the other feeder funds was so egregious that even a federal judge could find the kind of gross negligence to support a recovery. It’ll just take awhile and, if you’re going after Walt, get a good lawyer who does nothing but these kind of claims. This is not the time to have even a bright lawyer learn on the job.
Stimulus tax break for builders will heap billions on the biggest firms, do nothing for small home builders. It has nothing to do with campaign contributions, and it means nothing that the large corporations have their own lobbyists hard at work in Washington. This is all about helping Main Street and Main Street is owned by the big guys. Why don’t you get that?
Imagine, if you can, the reaction if the Republicans rather than the Democrats had pulled this fast one in favor of “Big Business”. Politics, for a change!
Many people were on to the scam or at least harbored strong suspicions yet, with the exception of Markopolos, no one complained. I guess I can understand that, but it won’t help FGG’s defense that so many professionals saw through the fraud. And it won’t help Wall Street’s reputation that it remained silent.
Written documents submitted to Congress by Harry Markopolos, who testified last week about his efforts to alert the SEC to concerns about Mr. Madoff, named individuals in financial services that he suggested shared some of his concerns in 2005 and 2006, including people atCitigroup Inc., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and the Chicago Board Options Exchange. In an interview, Mr. Markopolos said he wasn’t singling out individuals on Wall Street and doesn’t know how much different people knew about Mr. Madoff.
Leon Gross, at the time Citigroup’s head of equity derivatives research, “can’t believe that the SEC hasn’t shut down” Mr. Madoff’s money-management operation, Mr. Markopolos wrote in a November 2005 letter to the SEC referring to a meeting that year. He added in the letter that Mr. Gross didn’t believe Mr. Madoff’s strategy could generate the double-digit-percentage returns being reported.
Mr. Gross didn’t call the SEC about his concerns and the SEC didn’t call him, said a person familiar with Citigroup’s recollection of events.
They’re moving sales but here’s a caveat – McMansions are beyond the reach of most first timers, so they’re not being helped. Most of these sales are being made through relocation and foreclosure companies but if an existing home owner can find a buyer for her house then perhaps she can move on to a bigger house because that, too, will be less expensive. Might work, anyway.
Private charities who lost money with Madoff subject to excise tax as punishment for imprudent investing.
At least 147 private foundations invested with Mr. Madoff, according to an analysis by Daniel E. Smith, the president of Benefit Technology Inc., a software company in Miami. Some of them, according the analysis, bet the farm — which some tax lawyers say could signal the lack of due diligence and fiduciary responsibility that the tax provision is meant to ensure.
Walter Noel bet the farm, but not his farm – yours. I continue to be astonished at the sympathy towards him expressed by his friends in town. Do these people really think he should be allowed to collect and keep $270 million a year for doing nothing? I was taken to task today (it’s been a rough day for comments) by a reader who accused me of posting the Noel’s Christmas cards and violating the Noel grandchildren’s privacy. I don’t believe I did post those cards, which can be found at Clusterstock, GuestofaGuest and other websites, but so what? The one I remember showed the happy family enjoying a safari in Africa, and who does the reader think paid for that safari? The Noels, grandchildren and all, were out there in the dirt with their Land Rovers courtesy of money stolen from pension funds, retirement IRAs and other people’s savings. I’m not sympathetic toward their plight in the least. Without the theft, the sons in law would still be bartending and family vacations would have been visits to Seven Flags. No one sends Christmas cards from Seven Flags.
Just a year ago Congress had to rush through mandatory ethanol requirements to save the nation. No time for debate and besides, the debate was over. It was actually over before this boondoggle ever got started. Anyone who wasn’t a politician or didn’t have a federal subsidy knew the truth of the matter but then it didn’t matter. Now it does. I haven’t checked – who could? – but I’m sure the stimulus bill has more billions in store for this fiasco. I’ve railed about this fraud for years. Today, the New York Times discovered the same thing. Since federal programs only expand and never disappear, it’s surely too late to stop this nonsense.
“Why it’s, it’s …. as though George Bush were still President!” The New York Times is suffering. Send them a card.
Nothing good happens. Two big (1200 lb) satellites, one a US Iridium bird (I thought Iridium went bankrupt years ago – I was apparently misinformed) and a non-functioning Russian object collided Tuesday and have spewed debris all over space. NASA doesn’t seem too concerned but then, they weren’t concerned about freezing temperatures and O rings, either.
“Nothing to this extent” has ever happened before, Mr. Johnson said. “We’ve had three other accidental collisions between what we call catalog objects, but they were all much smaller than this,” the objects always very small and moderate in size.
The communication satellites, he added, “are two relatively big objects.”
The American satellite was an Iridium, one of a constellation of 66 spacecraft. Liz DeCastro, corporate communications director of Iridium Satellite, based in Bethesda, Md., said that the satellite weighed about 1,200 pounds and that its body was more than 12 feet long, not including large solar arrays.
10 Ridge Street
Both units A and B of this two-unit condo off Milbank sold for $2.850 million in May, 2007. A’s buyer never moved in, I think, because it was immediately put back on for sale that June for $3.2 million. Even in 2007, $350,000 appreciation in three weeks must have seemed steep to potential buyers so the unit remained with its owners, despite several price drops. Today it’s back on the market, asking a chastened $2.7 million. Well, maybe.
136 Cat Rock
This disaster was built on land purchased for around $1.5 million back in the glory days and was first listed for sale at $3.750 million, after its builder had spent a fortune trying to build a suitable septic system (he ended up with the same three-bedroom capacity he’d started with). The FAR regs forced the sacrifice of a garage (thank you, Franklin Bloomer) and not surprisingly, a three bedroom house with a carport did not appeal to the $4 million set. Nor did it appeal to buyers in any other price range as it dropped, dropped dropped down to a final ask of $1.850. I figured that it had to be a bargain at that price and took a client to see it. It wasn’t.
So now the foreclosure is complete and Webster Bank is going to try its luck. There has to be some price, I hope, that will move this house but so far, no one’s hit it.
424 Taconic Road, 12 acres, came on as land today listed for $950,000.Yes, it’s over the line in Stamford and yes, that far up Taconic Road has never been a huge favorite of buyers, but twelve acres for under a million dollars? It seems to me that this can’t but have an effect on Greenwich land prices. Perhaps not, but sheesh.
The seller is a spec builder named Eric Lenhart who has also listed today a new house at 156 Valley Road for $1.995 million, which doesn’t seem like a fire-sale price to me, so I guess his finances are okay. Maybe he’s just tired of owning Stamford land.
Ruth Madoff made off with $10 million just before her beloved husband was handcuffed. I’ve assumed all along that the lady was in this up to her neck and this doesn’t change my opinion. But where’s the money now and did any of it end up in a fly fishing camp somewhere in Patagonia? I suggested before that one of the Madoff boys purchase Leona’s place on Round Hill for its proximity to Mom Madoff’s next living space in Bedford Hills Women’s prison, and now they may have the down payment for doing just that. Happy news for everyone, especially Trouble and her guardian. Seems that Trouble has been upset by the lengthy delay in selling the place and getting her paws on that cash and she’s resumed biting people, poor thing.
Update: A careful reading shows that Ruth grabbed $15.5 million before the balloon went up. The Helmsley place gets ever closer!
Trouble (left) with mistress. "Waiting for David to produce?"
A reader has sent me a current picture of Nina Ford Richter, the girl in the photo taken ten years ago with what’s his name Toub, one of the Noel son in laws. Say what you will about the Fabulous Five, a steady diet of oats obviously has done more for them than the Twinkie diet did for Nina. (photo Credit, Fame Theme)
Update: Sheesh – everyone thinks I was picking on this poor Richter girl just because the photo I posted showed her at her – “fullest”. It didn’t seem mean to me – we all look like we look – but in doing some research I discovered the problem. It seems that “Nina Ford Richter” is actually an anagram of “Bar Rafaeli”, and Nina’s looks have changed considerably since she unscrambled her name. So here’s the updated look:
240 Palmer Hill (I’m writing this from a foreign computer that doesn’t want to load pictures so you’ll have to wait for that) is a nice little cape on just under a half acre. It sold in the $400s back in the mid-Nineties, came back up for sale, renovated, last year, at $1.395 and now has a new broker and a new price, $1.295. A few years ago, that would have seemed almost reasonable – I remember similar houses selling for $1.1 million – but who knows where we are now? Surely more than $400K, and the market has shown that $1.4 is too high. I have my hunch but I’ll just wait and see. But it will be interesting to learn what today’s market value is for a typical cape on an okay, but not prime street. I have a feeling that buyers will be pleased and sellers disappointed.
Reader Enzo just alerted me to this article on Greenwich inInstitutional Investor entiled, “Dark Days in Greenwich”. The author seems to have most of her facts right although how she came up with nine yacht clubs in town is a mystery. The Mianus River Club counts great people among its membership including, I believe, my pal Nancy Fountain, but they do kayaks, not yachts. Rocky Horror Beach Club doesn’t have yachts, nor, despite its name, does the public Old Greenwich Yacht Club, and even Jone Paul Tudor Jone’s neighbor, the Belle Haven Club, has just a spit hole of a harbor that wouldn’t accommodate a proper yacht unless it were a tri-maran and that, as all my mono-hull sailing friends assure me, is barely to be considered a boat, let alone a yacht. Their loss.
But back to the article. The author gets the solemn mood just right but I agree with her basic conclusion: Greenwich was rich before the hedge fund kids arrived and will be rich again. Who knows where the next moneyed class will arise from but assuming the current regime doesn’t manage to permanently screw the pooch, arise they will and many of them will want to live here. It’s a nice town.
So hang on – even you, Mad Monkey.
We have, as of this morning, February 11, 2009, 583 single family houses available for purchase. 121 of those were built in 2005 or later and, of those, 98 are 2007 -2008 houses. The 2007-’08 model year prices range from $1.350,000 to $25,000,000. Two houses built during or after 2005 went to contract this year, three in the past 90 days.
We have seen 15 houses of any age go to contract this year, and their asking prices ranged from $445,000 (sold for $230,000) to $6.995 million (selling for $5 million, rumor has it). 31 houses went to contract in the past 90 days, 331 did so in all of 2008. That compares to 593 in 2007 and 622 in 2006.
UPDATE: There are 32 spec houses (built 2007 and ’08 ) for sale priced at $6.5 million and above.
7 houses, $6.5 – $7
6 houses $7 – $8
19 houses $8 million and up.
This does not count those houses, still unsold, built in 2005 and 2006. We have sold nothing for more than $6.5 million in a long time, at least as time is measured by builders trying to carry construction loans, so someone is in for a rough year and some buyers are going to find some bargains. Or the auctioneers will be busy – take your pick.
268 Palmer Hill Road
This was a well constructed house that came up for sale in September for $3.195 million, which in this market was probably too aggressive for Palmer Hill. No takers, so yesterday it was rented for $9,500 per month. I can’t tell you whether that represents a sum sufficient to carry the place but certainly it’s not going to return great profits to the builder, and I assume he’s just waiting for better times.
I’ll be back in a minute with an exact count of new spec houses currently for sale but I do know that we have over 50 priced over $5 million and 22 priced at $8 million and above. In that latter class, we sold four in the pst six months and zero this year. If they all end up being rented, and many of them are also listed for sale or rent, we’re going to see a further attack on rental prices – these are very luxurious homes, compared to most of our older stock – and a rather miserable year for builders. We have too many houses for the quantity we’re selling, if you hadn’t heard.