Daily Archives: February 27, 2009

U.S. Virgin Islands on sale

Well, sort of. Prices down maybe 20%, according to the WSJ. I’d suggest waiting for prices to fall 75%. I spent a fair amount of time on all three islands working on a guidebook about a decade ago and, while I liked St. John, I wouldn’t live on St. Thomas on a dare and St. Croix brought to mind Phil Sheridan’s quote, “If I owned Texas and Hell, I’d rent out Texas and live in Hell.”

I wonder, by the way, if our colony down south doesn’t provide a look at our own future here on the mainland, where only the government offers jobs and there is no work for those who aren’t friends of the ruling power:

Moreover, unemployment, while historically high, hasn’t changed over the past year, since a large proportion of the population works for the government rather than the more volatile private sector.

Better start working on joining the Teamsters or the NEA.

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Nice to know that schnooks come from both sides of the pond

“Sir Fred” Goodwin, the man whose ego and greed drove him to try to expand the Royal Bank of Scotland into one of the big boys and instead brought it to ruin, is getting a $million pension per year, for life. He’s only 50, so unless an angry former employee or shareholder prevents it, he should live to collect a tidy sum. Asked to return at least part of that money, Sir Fred told the Brits to pound sand. He can’t say he earned it but I suppose possession being 9/10 of the law and all that ….

“There is a sense of fury that the government seems impotent, unable to act when the man chiefly responsible for the bank’s collapse is able to walk away with a pension that others can only dream of — and at the ripe old age of 50!” said Dave Pickering, a spokesman for the Edinburgh Association of Community Councils, in an email. “And what makes it worse is that we, the British taxpayers, are actually paying for it!”

A friend of mine who spent 40 years with RBS lost his job Sunday as the direct result of Freddie G’s deluded schemes. I imagine he’d appreciate receiving just a small portion of the man’s pension.

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Have girls gotten awful since 1978 or was I just lucky enough to date nice ones?

Out of work? Down on your luck? Stay away from women, you loser, but feel free to call when you get a job.

(Thanks to Krazy Kat, who I believe is happily married and no doubt plans to stay that way)

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Hoist by his own Guitard?

U2 and its leader, Bono, are under fire in Ireland for moving operations to the Netherlands to avoid a new tax on their earnings. Ho hum, another liberal who knows how he wants to spend my money and how he wants to hang on to his own. I’d say he’s ready for a cabinet post in the new administration but his fellow countrymen are accusing him of -gasp!-hypocrisy – say it ain’t so, Bono.

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Where’s Walto?

Hanging out in Palm Beach, according to my source down there, who called today with a Walt and Monica sighting. 

Just in case you were wondering.

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Breaking News – “Carbon fees” are actually a new tax!

Well who ever would have suspected that? Okay, I mean besides just about everyone with an IQ higher than 12 who didn’t attend an Ivy League college. Still, just in case you “still buy your clothes in New Haven”, as that John Updike character liked to say, here’s the Wall Street Journal pointing out the obvious:

That didn’t take long. The same week that President Obama promised (again) that “95% of working families” would not see their taxes rise by “a single dime,” his own budget reveals that taxes will rise for 100% of everyone for the sake of global warming. Ahem.

You don’t even have to burrow into yesterday’s budget fine print to discover the “climate revenues” section, where the White House discloses that it expects $78.7 billion in new tax revenue in 2012 from its cap-and-trade program. The pot of cash grows to $237 billion through 2014, and at least $646 billion through 2019. If this isn’t tax revenue, what is it? Manna from heaven? The offset from Al Gore’s carbon footprint?

If it brings in revenue that the government then spends, it’s a tax, and politicians should start referring to it as such. The Administration in fact projects that these “climate revenues” will become the sixth largest source of federal receipts by 2019, outpaced only by individual and corporate income taxes, payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare and (barely) excise taxes. We’re supposed to be living in a new era of fiscal honesty, so let’s start with cap and trade.

Of course it’s easy to see why Democrats don’t want the public to think of cap and trade as a tax. Tax increases aren’t popular, as Mr. Gore learned when he and Bill Clinton tried to impose a BTU tax in 1993. The complex cap-and-trade tax would ripple throughout the energy chain and ultimately the entire economy. All consumers, not just “the rich,” would pay more for goods and services that use carbon energy — though some would pay more than others. A majority of those “95% of working families” probably lives in the middle of the country that relies far more on manufacturing and coal-fired power than do the better-off coastal regions.

Mr. Obama’s Energy Secretary Steven Chu was refreshingly candid on this point with the New York Times earlier this month. Given that higher prices are supposed to motivate the changes necessary to reduce carbon energy use, Mr. Chu said he was worried that climate taxes may drive jobs to countries where costs are cheaper. “The concern about cap and trade in today’s economic climate,” he said, “is that a lot of money might flow to developing countries in a way that might not be completely politically sellable.” You are correct, sir.

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A condo sale

340 Valley Road, one of those free-standing houses in a planned unit development, has sold for $2.360, a very good price (for the seller) notwithstanding that he was asking $2.7 million for it since 2007. The buyer obviously liked the price too.

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We all knew this was coming

But still, it’s a shocker when GE cuts its dividend, from 31 cents to a dime. Gee, this was the ultimate widows and orphans (and Warren Buffet) stock. I thought GE was a bargain back when it was at $16. Baby, look at it now. Ouch.

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Contracts this year

The market is not entirely dead. Twenty-four single famly homes have gone to contract so far this year, almost all of them at the lower end of our price range. One of note is 30 Owenoke in Riverside, purchased for $2.950 million in June, 2006 and relisted last summer. It finally dropped to $2.6 million and went to contract Monday. Owned by Nokia, I assume they can afford to take the hit. Nice house.

215 Orchard Street, in Cos Cob, was new in 2006 and has been looking for a buyer pretty much ever since. Originally listed at $3.8 million in ’06, it dropped to $3.2 million and went to contract February 9th.

The actual selling prices aren’t reported until the closing of title, but its safe to say nothing that went to contract this year went for above asking price. How far below asking price? We’ll see.

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Will the Euro go up in smoke?

This guy thinks so.He’s got a track record to back up his prescience on the subprime debacle but whether that says he’s right about the Euro I’ll leave to you readers who know something about all this. If he’s right, maybe St. Barts will be affordable again. Of course, if he’s right, not many people will be in any condition to go anywhere, “cheap” or not.

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Just sayin’, II

52 Round Hill Rd

52 Round Hill Rd

Nice house, this.

Sold: $3.00 Million      7/00

List: $4.4     Million     2/08

New Price: $2.6  Million 2/27/09

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Funniest headline of the day

From the New York Times, of course.

Usually leery of their tax-and-spend label, many Congressional Democrats are open to President Obama’s spending plan.
What’s so amazing is that, judging from some of my liberal acquaintances who work at the paper, no one at the Times – except John Tierney – would think this headline was funny or the slightest bit ironic.

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Dodd Shocker – he might be a crook!

That’s what this collection of articles on the man’s financial dealings seems to indicate. Who knew?

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Rents falling – sale prices follow?

They usually do, so news that, at least in Britain, rents are dropping is worrisome to those who have hoped to see a bottoming – out of home prices – that would be all of us property owners.

The rent/sales price ratio here in Greenwich have always defied national norms, presumably because most people prefer to buy, rather than rent here. But we are certainly witnessing a substantial drop in rental prices, if not rental activity. I know of no landlords who are looking for a rent increase these days – at best, they’re hoping they can get a tenant to renew at the current rent, and many tenants are balking.

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Just Sayin’

17 Marks Rd, RVSD

17 Marks Rd, RVSD

Sold: $2.250 5/04

Sold: $2.495  7/06

Ask: $2.695  4/08

Ask: $2.095 2/27/09

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