Daily Archives: June 10, 2010

Mortgage deduction on Obama’s chopping block?

As a policy matter, I’ve never quite understood why homeowners should be so favored over renters, but I don’t see this “reform” happening anytime soon and certainly not before Obummer’s re-election bid in 2012.


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Get real

ESPN will try using real soccer commentators to lure American viewers.

Look: we all know how to play soccer in the US. I played it, badly but enthusiastically, in the late 60s. It’s a great game to engage in, but watch it on TV? Fuggedaboutit. We don’t watch cricket, the rest of the world doesn’t watch baseball. Fair enough. There are some sports that can’t break through cultural barriers and soccer is one of them.

It’s only the New World Order types who seem to think we Americans should go with the flow and join up with soccer fans. The hell with that. I wish the World Cup fans all enjoyment, but I’ll be waiting for the real football season to begin, in September.


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I want this house

I’m not wild about the structure itself, and I don’t really want a private zoo, but kitchen walls stuffed with $18 million in C notes? That I like.


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When is a sale a sale?

4 Buxton Lane


This spec house was reported as sold last August for $2.4 million, a price that surprised me, all things considered. Now it’s listed for sale by the original builder on Craig’s List. Interesting.


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Rulers don’t like Office of Congressional Ethics

Discontent started with the Black Congressional Caucus but it turns out no one in Washington is happy having their little schemes revealed. The OCE will be gone after November and before the end of the year.

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Well this is hardly encouraging

Grand Central, here we come!

Metro North : New Haven line schedule will remain the same, but with fewer cars. Roof racks on top for overflow passengers?


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Antisemitism wins out over self-preservation

Gay teenagers hanged in Iran

Spanish homosexuals ban Israelis from participating in Gay Pride parade.

A delegation of gay residents of Tel Aviv has been banned from joining a gay pride march in Madrid because authorities in the Israeli city have not condemned the recent attack on the Gaza flotilla.

“After what has happened, and as human rights campaigners, it seemed barbaric to us to have them taking part,” explained Antonio Poveda, ofSpain‘s Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Transexuals and Bisexuals. “We don’t just defend out own little patch.”


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Drove my Chevrolet to the levee but the levrolet was dry

Bye, bye Miss American Pie

GM instructs employees to stop using the word, “Chevy”. Dopes.


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Housing still in a death spiral

So says this economist for Zillow – I agree.

In a presentation to the National Association of Real Estate Editors in Austin, Texas, last week, Stan Humphries, Zillow.com’s chief economist, pointed to four myths he said consumers are latching on to as they try to make sense of recent housing statistics.

The four myths:

1. The housing recession is over. It’s not, Humphries said. He estimates the bottom in home prices won’t come until the third quarter, at least from a national perspective. Doug Duncan, chief economist at Fannie Mae and also a speaker at the conference, agreed with that estimation.

2. After markets hit bottom, prices will rebound to boom levels. Not going to happen, at least for a while, Humphries said. “Once we hit bottom, the bottom is going to be a long and flat affair across the markets,” he said. “What we’re going to see once we hit bottom is the second phase of the housing recession… that second phase is one of being flat.”

3. The worst of the foreclosure mess is behind us. More wishful thinking, according to Humphries. He estimates foreclosures will peak later this year, then remain elevated for a while. Rick Sharga, senior vice president of RealtyTrac, an online marketplace for foreclosure properties, said he doesn’t envision foreclosure activity stabilizing until late 2011.

4. The tax credits saved the housing market.With or without a tax credit, those who bought would have done so anyway, Humphries said. “The biggest impact [in home sales] we believe were low prices… low interest rates and the unsung factor here is the ramped up lending by the Federal Housing Administration.”

Still, it’s easy to understand why many homeowners want look on the bright side.

“They went from what everyone thought was a lucrative asset to something worth a lot less than they owed on it,” said Douglas Culkin, president of the National Apartment Association, in a phone interview. “We all want it to get better,” he said.

Some want to finally sell their homes and move on with their plans. And homeowners are tired of thinking their houses are bleeding equity, losing value like a new car driving off the dealership lot.

As for prospective home buyers, even if consumers are feeling confident enough to take an extra trip to Wal-Mart these days, many are not going to jump in and spend on a large-ticket item like a house, said Gail Cunningham, spokeswoman for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.

“The reality of the situation in which we find ourselves today has sunk in with people,” she said in a phone interview. “If a foreclosure hasn’t been a part of their life, it has been a part of someone else’s life… and they’ve seen the pain that inflicts on the family.”

That perception isn’t going to fade quickly.

It makes sense to be gloomy


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It is good to be King

Business Insider: Bailed out Wall Street set to make $350 million on bailed out GM IPO:

Bailed-out General Motors will soon go public again, raising up to $12 billion.  Bailed out Wall Street will sell the stock–and rake in the fees.

The normal fee for huge deals like this (which don’t involve much more work than the little deals) is 3% ($360 million).  Treasury is preparing to stand tall and limit the fees to 2% ($240 million).

It just doesn’t get any better than working on Wall Street…

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Ripping off the old folks back home

FBI busts a Manhattan boiler room operation that fleeced elderly Florida residents. That’s good, and I’m glad the FBI is active in this area, but living with my own mother, who is sharp as a tack, I’m amazed at the number of scams sent to people her age, every day.

The worst – or the most recent – was a scam insurance policy sent by the Retired Officers Organization, or some such respected group. It contained lots of alarmist misinformation about the possible loss of her health insurance, a proposal to protect her from all that for fifty dollars a month and it was signed by a nice-looking retired Colonel. What could be better?

Reviewing the proposed policy, I saw that it offered no benefits to people over 80 – which rules out my mom, and really offered diddly-squat to those under 80. Just a pure rip off.

Anyway, Ma didn’t bite, so no harm, no foul, but if you have an older parent, you might want to warn them that they are being targeted by every crook in the world. No need for paranoia, but a skeptical eye kept on the mail and a policy of never, ever agreeing to buy anything over the telephone would probably be wise.


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When politicians fail

New York State is facing a governmental shutdown Monday. As a limited government type of guy I’m all for less government, but not no government. It’s interesting that this shutdown, if it occurs, will be the result of conventional politicians, Republicans and Democrats alike, being too busy worrying about their reelection than to actually govern, Can the Tea Party candidates do worse?

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And not a very smart crook

Dumb, dumb, dumb – it’s what keeps lawyers in business!

VERNON, Conn. (AP) — Police say a Connecticut man who appeared at a courthouse to answer a larceny charge broke into several cars in front of the building, took a GPS unit and inadvertently tried to sell it to its owner.

Police say the arrest of 50-year-old Thomas Peno on Wednesday was his 40th.

When he tried to sell the GPS to its owner, an argument ensued, and a bystander called police. He has been taken into custody by judicial marshals.

Peno was being held on $25,000 bail and is to be arraigned Thursday on charge of burglary, larceny and breach of peace.

I don’t think the “Three strikes you’re out” laws are an efficient use of taxpayer dollars nor are they fair, but after forty arrests, maybe this guy should be given a lengthy time out.

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Not a very brave cop

Man shoots gun as detective watches, flees scene. Panda eats, shoots and leaves.

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Short sale frauds

A pair of Connecticut real estate agents  has been convicted of bank fraud for providing banks with fraudulently low price opinions so they could buy houses cheaply and flip them to another buyer. It seems likely that fear of fraud will further delay short sale approvals, already a long, tedious process.

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