Daily Archives: May 23, 2012

First three days of the week, not much activity

Just eight accepted offers for single family homes and only one (Hendrie Drive, Old Greenwich, $2.895) asking more than $2 million. There’s a black hole above that.

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Yeah well, not in Greenwich

In some parts of the country house inventory is just 6 months, close to the 5 months supply “experts” say defines a sellers’ market.In Greenwich, we have 632 single family homes for sale. At last year’s sales number of 525, that’s a 14 month inventory and I suspect that there’s a shadow inventory that will flood the market if houses start selling.

Of that 632, by the way, a little more than 25% (161) are priced at $5 million and more. 54 houses in that asking range sold last year, which would indicate a three-year supply, were they still selling at 2011’s pace. They are not: 18 have sold this year, yielding about a 3.7 year supply. And see comments re: shadow inventory, above.

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Just as he’s done for the power industry

ObamaMobile

Obama works another economic miracle and highway congestion drops 62%. If you don’t have a job, you don’t have to drive to work. Brilliant – four more years!

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Surely this is illegal

From a rental listing posted today:

AMAZING MANOR HOME NEAR TOWN. TWO STORY GREAT RM KIT, BY CHRISTIANS. LUXURIOUS & SPECIAL. MINUTES FROM TOWN YET GREAT PRIVACY. POOL. POOLHOUSE & TENNIS COURT.

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Favorite fiction

Impossible to compile.  Even counting just one book a week during my reading career, and there have been many years I’ve read 5-10 a week, that’s something like 40 years (books read before age 10 don’t count, although “Little Bear” was pretty good, as was “James and the Giant Peach”) X 50 = 2,000 and I’m sure it’s closer to 10,000.

But here are a few, in no particular order:

Captain’s Courageous

Lord of the Rings

Red Sky at Morning (coming of age in New Mexico, 1942-45 – excellent for young readers, still good)

A Winters Tale (Helprin)

Refiner’s Fire (Helprin)

Bonfire of the Vanities

Look Homeward, Angel

Penrod (Booth Tarkington)

Bernard Cornwell (anything by him)

Dirty White Boys (Stephen Hunter)

The Stand

Get Shorty

Carl Hiaasen (anything)

Pillars of the Earth

A Dream of Eagles (Jack Whyte, entire King Arthur series)

Lonesome Dove

Winds of War

Shogun

Atlas Shrugged (for DB and Fudrucker)

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Top Movies

As suggested by readers, compiled by EOS

FWIW TOP Movies

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A (slight) bit of real estate news

There’s been almost nothing of import to pass on from the GMLS the past few weeks and today is no exception, but there’s an accepted offer on 3 Wesskum Wood Road (Riverside, naturally) reported just now, asking price $1.795 million. I’ll admit that I wasn’t as enamored with this house and its price as the buyer obviously is but then, Riverside houses on good streets in this price range are getting hard to find, so there you have it.

Note to owners of 2 Marks Road – it’s a practical certainty that these buyers considered your house and rejected it in favor of this one. You might want to have your agent check on how many houses in this price range have sold since yours has been on the market, and then do some pondering.

Or not.

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An idea whose time may never come

 

Banzai!

Honda introduces the “Uni-Cub”, a motorized indoor scooter.  No back, so old folks won’t be able to slump in it while tooling around Walmart. I suppose this would be useful in the Pentagon, say, with its thousands of acres of hallways, but otherwise, huh? Someone’s got too much time on his hands over there in the Mysterious Island Kingdom.

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New link for Brown Chicken Brown Cow

Kat Fountain and friends

Daughter Kate’s string band has a new site so I’ve changed the link. It’s hard to keep track of such a peripatetic (you’ll have to look that up, Walt – sorry) girl, but she’s either in Taos now or heading there. I’d say I want her life but I had it – then I got old.  I live vicariously.

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Me cago en la leche tu pizza

 

Pizza con perro

Pizza joint offers free pies to anyone ordering in Spanish. Since pizza is “pizza” in Spanish too, this seems a low barrier.

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Will this be an improvement?

Equity firms buying up mortgage servicing portfolios as banks exit. The banks have demonstrated a complete inability to deal with short sales and foreclosures so maybe the new guys will do better. Couldn’t get worse, I hope.

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More useful than French, anyway

 

Does this mean they’ll learn to love us?

New York elementary school to teach first graders Arabic. I’d have thought their time might better be spent learning how to read and count, but I’m not an educator. How about teaching them Urdu so they can tell the Pakis to piss off?

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Pre-Memorial day holiday jitters

DOW dropping like crazy, Europe fell off a cliff earlier today. I suppose no one wants to go into a three-day weekend holding stocks. “Sell in May and go away” has never seemed more apt.

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Our allies, the Pakis

Doctor who helped US track down Bin Laden sentenced to 33 years. They’ve also cut off all supply routes to Afghanistan and provide aid and support to the Taliban and every other terrorist group that’s out there, but heck, we can take a joke.

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On the other hand, here’s a little good news

Ford restores its credit rating, reclaims its logo. Ford had to hawk its heritage in the bad old days of 2008 but it’s clawed its way back. After a couple of bad experiences with the company’s product a few decades ago I swore off the brand forever and will not go back but I suppose they’re better now, and the company’s survival can only be good news for the economy.

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Somewhere, there’s a banker who’s going to be disappointed

 

Underwater

20 Carpenter’s Brook, 2 acres up near the airport, is back on the market after expiring unsold at $1.5 million. There’s a house on the property but after years of sitting vacant the only place it has in valuation of this property is its cost of removal. At one point, back in 2007, the house listed at $4 million but that was as ridiculous then as it is now. The problem with selling this property is that a bank was foolish enough to lend $3.3 million on it back in the boom and whoever bought that loan (for pennies, I assume) can’t believe it isn’t worth at least half of that.

It was listed at $1.350 million last year and found a buyer at that or some lower price but the owner of the debt rejected the deal and it came back on at $1.5. That’s never going to happen; I wonder how long it will take for the money guys to figure out that “Greenwich” does not invariably mean “worth a ton of dough”?

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Gloomy predictions for a gloomy morning

Peter Schiff is out with a new book, which he touts here. A little too much “I, I, I” in his article to suit my taste, but he uses some frightening data to support his dismal conclusion as to where we’re headed:

As the curtain eventually falls on the drama unfolding in Europe, the world will refocus its attention on the more spectacular events in the U.S. The sovereign debt crisis that is now playing out in Europe will cross the Atlantic, and when it opens here The Real Crash may indeed finally begin. The average American will have a front row seat but will hardly enjoy the show.

UPDATE: Cos Cobber sends along this Barron’s interview with Ray Dalio, who takes a more sanguine view of our economic future. I won’t pretend to any skill at making any money at all, let alone anything approaching mr. alio (now there’s an easy concession), but I think where he goes wrong, if he’s gone wrong at all, is assuming that people will act rationally and not destroy the world. It seems to me that the greed and stupidity of people in general and politicians in particular is unbounded by reason and history shows that.

The proposed Eurobond “solution” to the current European crisis is just the latest example. As I understand the idea, Germany will guarantee 60% or, depending on which debtor country is demanding this, all of) the debt of the PIGS – Greece, Italy, Spain, Austria, France, just to name the most prominent, and this is turn will bail out those countries while giving them time to get their financial affairs in order.

I simply don’t believe that giving a new credit card to a profligate with no personal liability for repayment will do anything but encourage more irresponsible spending. That’s not even an example of greed, just human nature and self-interest. Will German taxpayers agree to this crazy scheme? They’re certainly putting up a stiff resistance now but with all of Europe against them and that paragon of financial responsibility and restrained spending, the United States of America piling on, I’m not sure they can avoid it. We may find out after today’s meeting of European leaders, we’ll certainly find out in the next six months.

If Germany bows to pressure it won’t solve the crisis, it will only ensure that Germany follows its neighbors down the drain. And I don’t think that bodes well for the world.

So I hope Dalio’s faith in rationality proves well-founded. I have my doubts.

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Wish I’d said this

But the professor did.

Ignorance on display

CHRIS MATTHEWS’ HUMILIATING FAILURE ON JEOPARDY! isn’t stopping him from mocking Sarah Palin’s intelligence. As I said before, Palin-mockery tends to come from people with a deep — and, in Matthews’ case, well-founded — sense of intellectual insecurity.

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