Daily Archives: September 27, 2009

Funniest video I’ve ever seen

I really must get more sophisticated and learn how to post videos directly on this blog but until then, go to the Bovina Bloviater and watch this video. It was a favorite of mine years ago but disappeared, but now it’s been resurrected on UTube. Go now – you will not regret your investment of time.

Bovina Bloviator Oops!


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Can we make it a twofer?

Roman Polanski, who has lived in France for the past 31 years after fleeing the U.S. on a child-sex conviction, has been arrested in Switzerland France. citing the man’s “film genius” wants him back. I say we give him to them on the condition that they also accept Jerry Lewis and keep him there..

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Oh, bummer!

Business Insider links to this British article that takes a look at the near-term economic future and doesn’t like what’s coming: a massive credit crunch. The auther points out that the various stimulus spending plans engaged in by European nations and the U.S. are scheduled to end whereupon their respective economies, inflated by smoke and hot air, will collapse.

It’s true, as I’ve been pointing out, that there is no real market for mortgages and that our government is propping them up by buying them with imaginary dollars. And durable goods orders, as well as housing sales, are heading below water again. And joblessness is still rising. And etc.

I’m pretty sure that our own government will not end its stimulus spending, which will postpone the day of reckoning for awhile, but sooner, not later, you either stop spending or start taxing. Or you let hyper-inflation do the job for you.


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Google alerted me to this article from ABC concerning stigmatized houses. and the financial effect bad happenstance can work of a properties value. Nothing wrong with article but I’m quoted several times in it and, if I ever spoke to this reporter it was several years ago when he (or someone writing the same story) worked for the Wall Street Journal.

I’m the first to think that my words are pearls of wisdom, suitable for preservation and repetition for thousands of years, but it is weird to see them come back to life as contemporaneous quotes.

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Another thriller plot gone in smoke

A friend gave me a copy of “Tsar”, a Clive Cussler-like novel featuring a cleft-chinned super agent and lots of brilliant, beautiful women with pneumatic chests who want to bed him. Not my cup of tea (and, note to author, a state Governor has no authority to suspend the execution of a federal prisoner – something to remember for next time) but I was struck by the notion that the book’s premise: a Russian succeeds Putin, declares himself Tsar and seeks through lots of nasty acts to reunite the Russian Empire – is obsolete. Thanks to Obama, that process of reunification/subjugation is going on now and will soon be complete.

The English press is already calling Obama “President Pantywaist” and while one can question why it is solely the United States’ responsibility to keep Eastern Europe free – what happened to Western Europe, it does seem clear that if we don’t, no one else will. Britain’s cutting its fleet of nuclear subs (from 4 to 3) and has no stomach for European excursions, France is worthless and Germany has fat, cowardly soldiers – who’d have called that one sixty years ago?

The former Russian satellites can see what’s going on more clearly than most of us and are drawing closer to their former tormentor. better subjugation than oblivion, I suppose, but it’s sad to see it happening. At increasing speed.


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Appraisals for dummies

As long as we’re cruising the Times today, here’s a second article of interest detailing the woes of home owners and buyers when the bank sends an appraiser out who doesn’t know the location. My previous discussions of this subject have been met by objections from readers who insist that appraisal is a precise science and that it shouldn’t matter that banks now use cheap appraisers at $25 a pop instead of paying more knowledgeable, experienced ones at, say $600. Wrong. As the article explains, an appraisal is a combination of art and science and two appraisers can reach different conclusions as to a home’s worth. If you don’t know that one side of 5th Avenue is more desireable than the other, for instance, you can end up too high or too low. Similarly, as I’ve discussed here before, “micro-neighborhoods” in Greenwich produce entirely different valuations. At the risk of offending that builder on 5 Dialstone again, I’ll point out that Dialstone and Club Road are two completely different markets, even if they’re just a quarter-mile apart.

And so it goes.


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Show me the money – or the deed

The New York Time’s Gretchen Morgensonn has an article today on the difficulties cropping up for lenders who want to foreclose when they no longer own or have possession of the underlying mortgage. Turns out, a recent kansas Supreme Court ruling has put a thick stick in the spokes.

Here’s some background: For centuries, when a property changed hands, the transaction was submitted to county clerks who recorded it and filed it away. These records ensured that the history of a property’s ownership was complete and that the priority of multiple liens placed on the property — a mortgage and a home equity loan, for example — was accurate.

During the mortgage lending spree, however, home loans changed hands constantly. Those that ended up packaged inside of mortgage pools, for instance, were often involved in a dizzying series of transactions.

To avoid the costs and complexity of tracking all these exchanges, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the mortgage industry set up MERS to record loan assignments electronically. This company didn’t own the mortgages it registered, but it was listed in public records either as a nominee for the actual owner of the note or as the original mortgage holder.

Cost savings to members who joined the registry were meaningful. In 2007, the organization calculated that it had saved the industry $1 billion during the previous decade. Some 60 million loans are registered in the name of MERS.

As long as real estate prices rose, this system ran smoothly. When that trajectory stopped, however, foreclosures brought against delinquent borrowers began flooding the nation’s courts. MERS filed many of them.

“MERS is basically an electronic phone book for mortgages,” said Kevin Byers, an expert on mortgage securities and a principal at Parkside Associates, a consulting firm in Atlanta. “To call this electronic registry a creditor in foreclosure and bankruptcy actions is legal pretzel logic, nothing more than an artifice constructed to save time, money and paperwork.”

The system also led to confusion. When MERS was involved, borrowers who hoped to work out their loans couldn’t identify who they should turn to.

As cases filed by MERS grew, lawyers representing troubled borrowers began questioning how an electronic registry with no ownership claims had the right to evict people. April Charney, a consumer lawyer at Jacksonville Area Legal Aid in Florida, was among the first to argue that MERS, which didn’t own the note or the mortgage, could not move against a borrower.

Initially, judges rejected those arguments and allowed MERS foreclosures to proceed. Recently, however, MERS has begun losing some cases, and the Kansas ruling is a pivotal loss, experts say.

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