Daily Archives: July 20, 2009

Chris Dodd cozies up to lobbyists on Martha’s Vineyard

How much you wana bet his campaign won’t be delivering video of this soiree? In Connecticut, our fighting Senator is the champion of the little guy and sworn enemy of “special interests”, unless those interests include submarines, labor unions or have bundles of cash. Up on the Vineyard, away from voters, it’s time to kiss and make up. What a guy.

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Someone still has money

16 Hurlingham Drive in Conyers Farm (ML# 71487) is reported under contract. Asking price, $13.750 million. I’m curious to see what this moved at. Once owned by Yankee perfect game pitcher David Cone, it’s a very dated house although just 20 years old. Nice ten acre lot, on the pond, but I’d place the house itself in the tear-down category. It sold for $12 million in April 2007, relisted a week later for $12.999 million and sold within a few months for $12.4. But that was 2007. What’s a pondfront lot in Conyers worth today? I’d guess $8.5. We’ll see.

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A sale and a price cut

27 Ford Lane

27 Ford Lane

27 Ford Lane, new construction in Old Greenwich, asked $4.550 million, just sold for $3.576. The builder paid $2.085 for the land in ’07, so I wouldn’t call this a home run, but it’s a nice house and I think the buyer got a fair value. ML# 72676

3 Roger Rd (Lane? Off of Baldwin Farms) was renovated and sold for $4.595 million in 2002 and sold again for $5 million in August, 2005. That buyer has now dropped it to $4.195. ML # 73134

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Smart sellers

No one’s going to steal theirhouse! Just heard of yet another story of seller idiocy where a seller who priced his house at almost $4 million a year ago and dropped it to $2.8 with great reluctance, rejected and refused to counter an offer of $2.5. Now just consider: the assessed value is $1.7 million, the house needs at least a milion dollars in renovations because it seems not to have been touched in the 120 years since it was built and the pool of buyers willing to do that kind of renovation is increasingly shallow. So after a year and a half, one finally shows up and you turn up your nose? The only encouraging thing about this tale is that it is common, and sellers daunted by the huge inventory presently afflicting our market can find some solace in knowing that much of it isn’t really for sale.

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Selling to suckers?

123 sucker fishZeroHedge points out that Goldman’s begun offloading its positions to marginal buyers. Goldman says it’s because of their rosy predictions of the future, ZeroHedge thinks otherwise.

As Q1 and Q2 earnings “beats” have demonstrated, all bottom line upside surprises have come from companies trimming the fat and mass firing employees left and right: alas for the most part revenues have been flat if not materially lower to expectations – just look at GE’s recent results for a good recap of what is happening wth the economy theme. Arguably, there is no more SG&A extraction available to the vast majority of US corporations, meaning Goldman is expecting an unprecedented pick up in revenues. And with the US consumer completely tapped out and unable or unwilling to borrow, this implies that foreign countries will have to pick up the pace in bailing out our top line: so look for much more weakness in the dollar to even remotely justify Goldman’s prediction. This will put Bernanke’s claim of pursuing a strong dollar policy to the biggest test, as well as Europe’s resolve to continue playing in this highly rigged version of F/X “game theory.”

But back to Goldman – up until this point the firm has been at least slightly sensitive about catching marginal end buyers. Now the guns are blazing, and as all Wall Street professionals tongue-in-cheekly know all too well, a forceful upgrade is when any firm (Goldman most definitely included) starts to sell into a call (in this case its own). So buyers please beware: you are now implicitly buying the shares that Goldman and other brokers have been accumulating over the past 4 months.

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Advice from a wise, Caucasian woman

Hillary Clinton: North Korea’s acting like an unruly child.

“And maybe it’s the mother in me or the experience that I’ve had with small children and unruly teenagers and people who are demanding attention — don’t give it to them, they don’t deserve it, they are acting out,” she said.

She’s so right – what a shame she’s not leading our country! Nancy and I used exactly this approach when our unruly youngest child Sarah came home with a nuke: straight off to her room for a time out, which worked well until the little rascal triggered the damn thing and blew down the door. Kids – God love ’em!

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Obama/Himes Carbon Tax Bill goodies

BusinessInsider has some highlights of last minute boondoggles slipped into the Carbon Tax Bill. My favorite?

  • East Coast Reps that were nervous about losing jobs to the midwest made it more difficult for power transmission lines to be installed anywhere but west of the Rockies.
  • Remember, Himes’s staff insists that he read every word of the 1300 page document before voting for it, so next time he shows up in town to discuss his job performance, it would nice to hear him explain this.

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    Scott Frantz

    My mention of a rumor that Scott Frantz might run against Jim Himes unleashed a torrent of comments from readers, almost all complimentary of Frantz. I don’t know the man, and have met him just once, but I’ve always been impressed by him. Back in the day, when Pal Nancy was President of the Riverside School PTA and was seeking funds to install computers in the school, Frantz was by far the largest contributor and that was, I believe, before he had children of his own. He’s always been known as a soft touch for local charities, doesn’t blow his horn about his generosity and, by all accounts from friends of mine who do know him, he’s a sincere, honest, genuinely nice guy. Why he’d want to pursue a political career with those characteristics beats me but I’d certainly be grateful if he did.

    Which is not to say that Jim Himes, another person I don’t know, isn’t also a nice guy, but I see Himes votes and positions and I disagree with all of them while Frantz and I are closer to being on the same page. That may seem likea good reason for you not to vote for Frantz, if he runs, but just becaue I agree with someone doesn’t (automatically) make his position wrong. A stopped clock and all that ….

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    News? What news?

    The release of the Obambudget update, due in mid- July, has been postponed until late August, when Congress is away and voters are on vacation. White House spokesman say the delay has nothing to do with the fact that the update will reflect much larger deficits and unemployment rates than predicted in May and say instead that the new White House dog ate the first copy. “Like all things,” the spokesman said, “this too shall pass and when it does we’ll clean it off and post it, you betcha.”

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    How politicians and lobbyists get rich

    FedEx and UPS fight over proposed legislation designed to assist UPS. FedEx employees are classified under federal law as one type of labor, UPS as another. FedEx is better able to fight off unionization under its current classification so naturally, UPS wants that changed to level the playing field. You might think the solution is to move UPS workers into the FedEx class and thus cut costs – Congress would refer to raise FedEx’s expenses.

    It’s a battle royale and here’s the best bit: The American Conservative Union is supporting UPS, an astonishing development that lost its mystery when FedEx released correspondence from the president of the ACU, offering to support FedEx’s side in return for millions of dollars in contributions. When FedEx refused to pay this blackmail, the ACU discovered the merits of UPS’s position.

    I realy, really don’t like politicians.

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    Theft at its boldest

    Here’s a new Connecticut law that doesn’t even pretend to be anything but what it is: a taking from one group to benefit an entirely unrelated group with friends in Hartford.

    Gov. Rell signs bill increasing land record recording fees from $40 to $70, proceeds to go to dairy farmers. Everyone loves Elsi – she gives us milk in the morning and when she gets too old to do that she’s ground into tasty hamburgers. She’s great! But why should a home buyer pay $30 extra to record a deed in town hall so that Elsie’s owner can profit (you might ask why he should pay $40 to support unemployed artists, but that bus left a long time ago)? There is no reason: if we, as a state, want to give money to cowherders we should all do it via an increased tax rate. To sneak in the money by singling out one discrete group that has no more interest in milk than anyone else is both typical politics and bad practice.

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    Funny how the people being stuck with the bill hate ObamaCare

    Governors to Obama: “Drop Dead!”

    NYT:

    But the sentiment among those who were could not have been more consistent, regardless of political party. The governors said in interviews and public sessions that the bills being drafted in Congress would not do enough to curb the growth in health spending. And they said they were convinced that a major expansion of Medicaid would leave them with heavy costs.

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