Daily Archives: April 23, 2010

Your $6 billion tax dollars at work

National Science Foundation employees, including top executives, spent most of their time viewing porn. $6 billion a year for these people.

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This probably explains the original price of Leona’s

Candy Spelling's house in LA

Free publicity for “The Most Expensive House in America” Today, it’s Candy Spelling (widow of Aaron) who’s on top at $150 million. Some years ago, it was David Ogilvy’s listing of the Helmsley place for $125,000,000. That price is now down to $55 million and doubtless headed lower, but there’s nothing wrong with grabbing the attention of the main stream media.

But all that attention hasn’t sold Helmsley’s place and I doubt it will work for Spelling. Good press for the listing brokers, though.

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Where are we?

I’ve long considered the Hamptons a bellwether of Greenwich real estate because it’s the same Wall Street types buying second homes out there who buy primary residences here, and sales there are skyrocketing. A former colleague of mine, writing in today’s Greenwich Citizen (no link available) swears that, if you don’t buy now, you’ll regret it.

But there’s no sales activity to support that theory. From what I see, if you’re looking in the under $2 million category, there is indeed an active market, and if you hesitate, you  may lose a house you like. Above that range, I don’t see the rush. I think that’s because of the difficulties of obtaining big mortgages, but I’m not sure. All I do know is that a few high-end houses are selling to buyers who don’t need financing (which may explain the Hamptons sales) and lots of lower-range houses are selling to people who can get mortgages. Everything in the middle is just sitting.

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I don’t see this as good news

21% of working Americans fear they’ll lose their job this year.

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Barry Ritholtz says Goldman’s in deep pudding

I don’t know the man, but he presents a compelling argument that Goldman Sach’s difficulties are worse than most commentators (including this mousey little one) have suggested.

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Just saying

Riverdale condo (Port Chester line). Original ask, $899,000. Sold, $708,000.

10 West End Avenue, Old Greenwich. Original ask, $2.3, sold, $1.275.

Manero’s condo – original price, $8.750. New price today, $6.950

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I’m telling you, the market’s still dead

I know all my colleagues are abuzz with tales of incipient activity, but we’re not selling squat. Here’s a new listing though, from a buyer who seems to get it.

33 S. Baldwin

Nice house, 7,000 + square feet, right on the pond. Sold for $4.625 in 2004, appraised at $4.075, listed today for $$3.995. Smart seller, smart agent.

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Arizona’s attempt to stop illegal immigration

Obummer is against it, but I like that other Constitutional law scholar (and  a professor, not a mere assistant lecturer) InstaPundit’s Glenn Reynolds’ take on it.

I think that Krauthammer is right that it’s a response to the federal government’s failures, and I also agree with people who say it’s likely trumped by the Supremacy Clause — Congress has plenary authority over immigration, and though it’s not entirely settled — is there a “dormant immigration clause?” — that’s the way to bet. But it occurs to me in light of Krauthammer’s comments that there’s another clause in the Constitution that may be relevant: Article IV Section 4:

The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence.

Were I representing Arizona, I’d argue that the federal government is in default on its “protection against invasion” responsibility, and that this empowers the state to resort to self-help. Not sure how that would play out, but it would make an interesting law review article. And a fun oral argument.


Posted at 8:38 am by Glenn Reynolds

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Well here’s a sale

44 Grahampton Rd

 

Sold for $5,125 million in 2004, a bunch of money spent redoing it afterwards, placed back up for sale at $6.995 in ’07.  Sold yesterday for $4.498 $4.980

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Greenwich’s Eddie Lampert: one smart cookie

With no local Sears outlet around to check things out, it’s been hard to personally keep up with how Lampert’s investment has been going but my goodness: I should have made the effort. Good for you, Mr. Lampert.

Meanwhile, Sears Holdings projected fiscal first-quarter earnings of as much as 31 cents a share, and said same-store sales for the period through Wednesday rose 1.7%. That includes a 3.2% jump at Kmart, which has seen recent strength, and a 0.3% increase at the Sears brand’s domestic stores.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had expected earnings of 4 cents a share.

Sears Holdings has been putting money into efforts such as buybacks, leading to some criticism that it’s not spending enough to improve stores. But share buybacks have been scant this quarter at just $1 million. Sears expects to end the current quarter with about $1.8 billion of cash.

In February, Sears said its fiscal fourth-quarter earnings more than doubled following big year-earlier write-downs. Sears Canada for that period had higher earnings even as revenue declined.

Shares of Sears Holdings have doubled in the past year.

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Well of course

Deadly fungus coming our way – global warming blamed.

The new strain appears to be unusually deadly, with a mortality rate of about 25 percent among the 21 U.S. cases analyzed, they said.

“From 1999 through 2003, the cases were largely restricted to Vancouver Island,” the report reads.

“Between 2003 and 2006, the outbreak expanded into neighboring mainland British Columbia and then into Washington and Oregon from 2005 to 2009. Based on this historical trajectory of expansion, the outbreak may continue to expand into the neighboring region of Northern California, and possibly further.”

The spore-forming fungus can cause symptoms in people and animals two weeks or more after exposure. They include a cough that lasts for weeks, sharp chest pain, shortness of breath, headache, fever, nighttime sweats and weight loss.

It has also turned up in cats, dogs, an alpaca and a sheep.

Freezing can kill the fungus and climate change may be helping it spread, the researchers said.

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Much as I admire him, I think Michael Lewis is wrong on this one.

Great discussion of Goldman Sachs, but I think he’s wildly optimistic.

Just as there was a time when people could smoke on airplanes, or drive drunk without guilt, there was a time when a Wall Street bond trader could work with a short seller to create a bond to fail, trick and bribe the ratings agencies into blessing the bond, then sell the bond to a slow-witted German without having to worry if anyone would ever know, or care, what he’d just done. That just changed.

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In the old days, he’d have just pulled her over to get her address

L.A. cop arrested for placing gps tracking device in woman’s car.

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SEC investigators trolled porn sites rather than focus on, say Stanford or Madoff

I posted on this a month ago, but apparently the media has picked it up today. Fine with me – it’s a  great story about government incompetence and deserves to be repeated.

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