Daily Archives: June 13, 2009

So what’s happening with the market?

Frankie Futter’s been prowling through the numbers this morning and came up with an interesting fact: of the 42 single family house sold this year (it’s up to 60 if you include contracts) all but a handful – 3 or 4 – were either houses that had had nothing done  to them in decades (so they’re cheap) or were completed in 2008. 1950s houses renovated in, say, 1995 aren’t moving and neither are old empty spec homes. That must make the builders of 2007 spec homes worried and the builders of those old dogs – 2002 (Close Road), 2005 (Desiree, 20 Clapboard)  and all the way up through 2006 positively despondent.

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Blowing in the wind

California, despite having the highest taxes in the nation, is bankrupt (I use the word “despite” in the same sense headline writers use the line, “number of prisoners incarcerated at record rate despite low crime “. We don’t docause and effect).  Now, to add to the taxpayers’ $24 billion deficit woe, the state’s Public Utility Commission has completed a study of how much the state mandate that 33% of its energy be produced from renewable resources by 2010. The answer: %119 billion. So California can have the highest taxes, the most expensive energy and the most stringent regulations. The sate might actually become an attractive place to live in by, say, 2025, if the gangs sty in LA and the rest of the state is deserted. I smell an “end of the world” novel in here.

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A message for Monica

The Times reports that Ruth Madoff is a pariah in New York society now.

Ever since prosecutors accused Mr. Madoff, 71, in December of orchestrating a scheme that fleeced thousands of investors and foundations — including beloved charities, universities and the Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel— Mrs. Madoff has been taking it on the chin. The reaction has been so negative compared with other wives in the same position partly, it seems, because her husband’s crimes grievously harmed individuals rather than a bank or faceless institution.

Her unusual closeness to her husband, too, in a world where wives are often on the sidelines is among the things working against her. Mrs. Madoff had been a director at her husband’s firm and had stood inseparably beside him through 49 years of marriage.

Then there is the lack of public contrition by Mrs. Madoff, and her move days before the scandal to shift $15.5 million out of an investment account and to transfer watches, cuff links and other jewelry to her children. One day after she left the Manhattan jail where her husband has been held, an ABC camera crew asked her what her message was to the victims. She said, “I have no response to you.”

Monica, clearly, you don’t want to be a Ruthie Ruth. Or the cheese that stands alone. When Walt gets put up in the Mews, expand your life – volunteer for something “Friends of Greenwich Point” has probably never heard of the Fairfield Greenwich Group, for instance. Those charities that have a “pay to play” policy, like the Boys and Girls Club or Bruce Museum won’t want you, but perhaps the Riverside Association can put you to work licking stamps. Don’t commit now, just think about it. After Walt’s tucked away in his Depends and bib will be time enough.

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Guess who’s coming for your paycheck?

The Demmerkrats are whipping up a $600 billion tax increase to pay for universal medical care but I wonder why they are demanding so little? The Bloomberg article linked to here says that cost to provide federal health insurance for a family of four is $13,000. It sounds like Congress wants to make that level of coverage  mandatory (and will tax current health benefits if they exceed that). Just for a rough and tumble figure, I take our population: 300,000,000, divide it by 4 and get a cost of $975,000,000. But half the population doesn’t pay income tax, so I assume that will force actual taxpayers to provide coverage to the unproductive  half: That’s $26,000 per year for my family and theirs or an additional $13,000 tax over and above what I’m already paying for my own hypothetical family of four.

That extra $13,000 is added on to the existing tax bill, and since most (75%) taxpayers earn less than $92,000 per year, let’s give them a 20% federal tax rate with no deductions – so a $60,000 -a-year earner has a current tax obligation of $12,000 and, under this plan, would have to pony up another $13,000 for his neighbor’s family’s medical care. That ought to get his attention.

These figures are all pretty much bogus – there’s medicare for people over 65 (also paid for by taxpayers, of course), and my assumptions are too coarse to be of use but somehow, someone has to pay that $13,000 for every family of four and I know who it will be. There is no pixie dust here, no magical “cost savings” that will erase that burden, so my advice is, brace yourself, Bridget.

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And my ancestors came over on the Mayflower

Well no, they didn’t actually, they arrived later, with the Dutch; either way, an irrelevant factoid so far as it tells you anything about me.  But I was struck by yesterday’s press release from Soethby’s, stating that “Sotheby’s was formed in 1976 to serve the real estate needs of the discerning clients of Soethy’s Auction House”.

I assume that’s accurate, but  what was accurate 33 years ago is no longer true today. Soetheby’s has run through a number of corporate parents, including Cendant (officers in jail), and Realogy (bonds trading below junk grade). I respect the local Sotheby’s operation and it has several of the best agents in town under its roof, I just find it amusing that the firm still plays up it’s long-since-severed relationship with the auction house while ignoring its little brother, Century 21. Are there no discerning customers who admire mustard-yellow blazers?

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Real estate value soars – Dodd astonished at his good fortune

The Irish cottage that Christopher Dodd bought for a song from his campaign donor has been appraised at $660,000, 6.6X more than the Senator had thought. This appraisal come after the colapse of real estate values on the Emerald Isle so the new found wealth astonished and delighted Connecticut’s most corrupt (federal) politician.

“Who knew?” crowed Dodd. “Boy, do I have the luck of the Irish or what. – I just keep receivig God’s blessings, from special mortgage rates from CountryWide, 98% of my campaign funds from banker friends I’ve never met and now this. I’m a blessed man and I owe it all to my good character.”

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