Daily Archives: May 22, 2010


Alu akbar, baby!

Key Al Qaeda leader accidently blows himself up.

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Demmerkrats change their mind and return to convention hall, nominate Dannel Malloy for Governor

Ned Lamont discusses his primary chances

Notwithstanding their earlier decision to quit and go home, state Demmerkrats, upon learning that the final episode of Lost will be broadcast Sunday night, not Saturday, decided to stick around  beautiful, exciting Hartford and, as alternative entertainment, named Stamford’s former mayor as their party’s candidate for governor. A bitter Ned Lamont vowed to fight on.

“That asshole doesn’t even know how to spell his own name,” Lamont sputtered. “Dannel? Dannel? Give me a fucking break! Besides, I have millions of my own money to spend – Malloy’s on welfare. And I’ve got endorsements! Whatshisface – the mayor of Hartford, that PR, Perez?  He’s going to campaign for me; or he will if his bribery trial ends okay.  And, and, I deserve it! Everybody else in this goddamned election is a rich fuck from Greenwich, why not me?”


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The NYT’s editors must be away

Some realistic articles are suddenly appearing. Here’s one on chickens coming home to roost in Europe.

Europeans have boasted about their social model, with its generous vacations and early retirements, its national health care systems and extensive welfare benefits, contrasting it with the comparative harshness of American capitalism.

Europeans have benefited from low military spending, protected by NATO and the American nuclear umbrella. They have also translated higher taxes into a cradle-to-grave safety net. “The Europe that protects” is a slogan of the European Union.

But all over Europe governments with big budgets, falling tax revenues and aging populations are experiencing rising deficits, with more bad news ahead.

With low growth, low birthrates and longer life expectancies, Europe can no longer afford its comfortable lifestyle, at least not without a period of austerity and significant changes. The countries are trying to reassure investors by cutting salaries, raising legal retirement ages, increasing work hours and reducing health benefits and pensions.

“We’re now in rescue mode,” said Carl Bildt, Sweden’s foreign minister. “But we need to transition to the reform mode very soon. The ‘reform deficit’ is the real problem,” he said, pointing to the need for structural change.

The reaction so far to government efforts to cut spending has been pessimism and anger, with an understanding that the current system is unsustainable.

UPDATE: Walt brings up to this second article, this one on New York’s bloated pension funds, that had originally stirred my notion that the Time’s editors must be away. Retire at 44, collect $101,000 per year when your base salary was less than 3/4 of that.


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The trouble with foreclosure auctions

My friend Jonathan Wilcox has had the listing for 24 Mahr Avenue for a long time but no one wanted it. Today there was a foreclosure auction and I hear that all sorts of buyers appeared, all with certified checks, but the lender, faced with direct evidence of what the market was willing and able to pay, rejected all bids and bought it back for itself at the amount it was owed. So now it’s a bank-owned property and will eventually sell for far less than the loan, but that’s probably a year away.

Maybe there’s a legal reason for paying in the amount owed, although I am unaware of it. My suspicion is that lenders are still operating under old rules of procedure, where houses were worth more, not less than the amount owed. Either way, what a waste of time for everyone involved. Short sales are maybe, sometimes worth the effort, and bank-owned properties (REOs) are worth pursuing, but foreclosure auctions? Forget it.


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(See post below for the rest of the punch line)

So three women apply for a job as executive VP. One graduated magna cum laude from Harvard, the second holds an MBA from that same institution and successfully started her own high-tech business, growing it to 3,000 employees before selling it to Google for a billion gazillion dollars, the third, a Naval Academy grad, was the first woman astronaut to walk on the moon. Who get’s the job?

The one with the biggest tits.

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Shocker: Connecticut Republicans nominate the two wealthiest candidates

Lord and Lady Bountiful

Greenwich’s Tom Foley wins nomination for Governor, joins Senate nominee Greenwich’s Linda McMahon. Asked what he has in common with McMahon, Foley said, “We’re both obscenely  rich, obviously, which should play very well in the rest of Connecticut. They love Greenwich out there, so having two candidates from the nicest, best town in the state should really be a huge strength. Up in Derby, say, they’re gonna really appreciate two such important people taking time from their busy lives to straighten out the mess in Hartford. Lord and Lady Bountiful – that’s the (winning) ticket!”


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Connecticut Demmerkrats: “we were wrong all along”

Terminate convention early, throw support to Republican candidates, revoke endorsement of Blumenthal. “My office mate, Chris Fountain was so right,” Greenwich Democrat Chairman Frankie Fudrucker moaned. “We’ve been wasting our time up here pursuing harmful, wasteful policies. So we’re going home, and wish Ms. McMahon all continued success. Dick can sink or swim all by his lonesome, so far as we’re concerned – what a loser.”

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Well it sure hasn’t worked so far, Mr. President

Obummer lays out his strategery: security through negotiation, not strength.

RUSSIA will sell an advanced missile system to Iran despite sanctions.

Charles Krauthammer: the fruits of weakness.

Mothers fail to secure release of their children jailed in Iran.


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Yesterday’s news

Hey, this is supposed to be a real estate blog so it seems only fair that I report on rel estate, even if nothing is going on.

46 quail Lane

This extremely dated house finally sold yesterday for $3.850 million. It last sold in 2005 for $4.875  and has been back up for sale since at least 2008, when it started at $$5.2 million. Assessment is just $3.065, so at least the owner cut a tax break.

161 Riverside Avenue has been on and off the market since at least 2005 when it asked $1.495, upped to $1.650 in 2007 and sold yesterday for $1.150. There’s been rental income coming in all during that period, so loose no sleep for the owners. Assessment is $971.000.

41 Owenoke

41 Owenoke, also in Riverside, sold very quickly – 39 days, at $1.675, just a touch lower than its price of $1.735. Assessment is $1.312. I thought it was priced fairly and obviously someone agreed.

26 Mohawk

26 Mohawk (off Stanwich, off Stag Lane) on the other hand, is going nowhere, yet. Its price has been cut again, this time to $6.450 from it’s original price of $7.870. It’s a huge house in the wrong section of town for prices at that level. The builder asked $8 million for it in 2007 and found this buyer in 2008 at $7.5 million but more fool he.

It’s a perfectly nice house, but some locations don’t garner huge prices, and this is one of them. At the right price there’s a lot of house here, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with its location – time is on someone’s side – probably the ultimate buyer, though.


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More on the Pakistani arrests

Interesting details here in the NYT

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Two men detained in Pakistan admitted with pride that they helped the suspect in the attempted Times Square bombing, and one of the men angrily accused his interrogators of ”siding with the infidels,” a senior intelligence official said Saturday.

The pair are among six men officials say have been detained in Pakistan for alleged ties to Faisal Shahzad, a Pakistani-American arrested in the United States two days after the failed May 1 attack in New York. Like Shahzad, the detainees are all from their country’s urban elite, including several who were educated in the United States.

The other four suspects have also expressed their hatred for the West and the U.S., but have not admitted any links with Shahzad, the official said.

None of the men has been charged, though in Pakistan that sometimes does not happen for months, if not years, particularly if detainees are held by an intelligence agency.

Or by the Obama administration.

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Good God

There’s a budding teacher on CarTalk right now from Waterloo, Iowa, who has, so far, announced that the original battle of Waterloo was fought somewhere out west (I do believe the poor dear is thinking that Custer lost his life to Napoleon) and that the Spanish-American War was fought because the US wanted to annex Texas. This woman is about to be unleashed on the students of America and, under union rules, she’ll be guaranteed lifetime employment and a guaranteed pension in just three years.

Fear for our country.


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New York City real estate market

It’s conducted differently than here in Greenwich, but there are some common themes. Interesting article here in the NYT with tips for buyers. One plug: the article stresses the importance of information – that’s hard to get in NYC, apparently, but a competent buyer’s agent here in Greenwich will provide you boatloads of it.


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Too good to be buried in the comment section

From reader Inagua:

Rand Paul is simply not ready for prime time.

The correct response to Rachel Maddow’s baiting was, “I am in agreement with the goals of the public accommodation section, but I have reservations about its constitutionality, just as Elena Kagan has reservations about the constitutionality of the Solomon Amendment. I am no more anti-civil rights that Elena Kagan is anti-military.”


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Greenwich high end real estate’s best hope: the lawlessness of communist countries

Once the richest man in Russia, Mikhail Khodorkovsky has been held in prison since 2003 on the orders of Putin and is now back on trial for another twenty-two year sentence. He’s never getting out. In China, Huang Guangyu has just had all his wealth confiscated and has himself been sentenced to fourteen years as his communist masters seize what he built.

What does this have to do with Greenwich real estate? Plenty. 605 North Street, a huge, if garish mansion, was under contract back in 2005 to a Russian billionaire until he flew home to Moscow to check up on his investments and ended up in Siberia. End of that deal. It is presently being rented to another Russian, a (very) wealthy real estate developer,  who fled his country and is assessing how much, if any, of his wealth he can retrieve from Putin and his cronies.

America has its problems – surprise! – but we still operate under a system of law, not thuggery and theft. That may change but for now, this country still offers a safe haven, and Greenwich has homes that the world’s rich can feel comfortable in.

There’s a fabulous article in today’s WSJ by Matt Ridley on human evolution – it’s trade that distinguished us from the Neanderthals, he maintains.

Once human beings started swapping things and thoughts, they stumbled upon divisions of labor, in which specialization led to mutually beneficial collective knowledge. Specialization is the means by which exchange encourages innovation: In getting better at making your product or delivering your service, you come up with new tools. The story of the human race has been a gradual spread of specialization and exchange ever since: Prosperity consists of getting more and more narrow in what you make and more and more diverse in what you buy. Self-sufficiency—subsistence—is poverty.


As with traders ever since, increasingly it came to look like tribute as Uruk merchants’ dwellings were plonked amid the rural settlements of the trading partners in the hills. A cooperative trade network seems to have turned into something more like colonialism. Tax and even slavery began to rear their ugly heads. Thus was set the pattern that would endure for the next 6,000 years—merchants make wealth; chiefs nationalize it.

My only disagreement with Mr. Ridley is that, under communism, the chiefs steal the wealth for themselves. Still, for now, we remain the world’s best hope for the industrious. Let’s welcome them.


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