Daily Archives: November 27, 2012

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas …

Nothing shouts “Merry Christmas” louder than guns & ammo

Black Friday gun sales reach new record 

Fueled by fears that the Obama administration will go after gun rights during a lame duck term, the FBI reported 154,873 background check requests on Friday – a 20 per cent increase on last year’s record total of 129,166 checks.

The number of guns sold could actually be double or more that figure because only one background check is recorded per sale even if buyers purchase multiple firearms.

“With the recent election, some people are making buying decisions just in case something (new law) happens,” Don Gallardo, manager of Shooter’s World in Phoenix, told USA Today.

Gun stores noted that first time gun owners and women represented a significant number of those purchasing firearms on Black Friday.

President Obama indicated during the presidential debates that he would pursue an assault weapons ban, which second amendment activists see as merely the first step towards wider gun control regulation.

Obama also indicated that he would attempt to eviscerate the right to keep and bear arms during a White House meeting with gun control advocate Sarah Brady last year. During the meeting, Obama told Brady he was working “under the radar” on new gun control policy. Brady added that Obama assured her gun control was “very much on his agenda.”

But it’s not just Obama’s conduct on the domestic front that has second amendment activists concerned. The Obama administration’s willingness to sign up to a United Nations global arms treaty which threatens to outlaw guns in the U.S. is also driving firearms sales.

Final discussions on the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) are set to take place in March next year. The New American notes that, “Section III, Paragraphs 7 and 8 of the Programme of Action mandate that if a member state cannot get rid of privately owned small arms legislatively, then the control of “customs, police, intelligence, and arms control” will be placed under the power of a board of UN bureaucrats operating out of the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs,” opening the door to UN peacekeeping forces to disarm American citizens.


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It’s racist! Greenwich Democrat howls


We are not amused, ever

Dallas Cowboy football fans have petitioned the President to fire owner Jerry Jones and Bill Gastric, Co-chairman of the Greenwich Democrats, is outraged. “This is not the least bit funny”, Gastric fumed to FWIW. “150 years after fighting the Civil War, God has sent his only beloved son to serve as our first colored president in the nation’s history and these people – these southern people – are trying to distract him from his task of saving the planet and making everyone rich beyond their wildest dreams. Only southerners would attempt such a despicable act, and even they would never do it to a white president. If you think this is amusing, you must be a racist too.”

(Mr. Gastric then terminated the interview and left our office, murmuring quotations from Federalist author and noted footballer James Brown as he exited.)


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Malloy begs Republicans: help me hide this mess

We owe THAT much? Time for a little bipartisanship here!

After ignoring them while ramming through his tax hikes/sweetheart union deal last budget, Governor Malloy now wants the Republicans to provide him the political cover he’ll need to pass more taxes. Good luck with that, Dannel – something has to give here, either in this budget ($375 million in the red) or next ($1 billion deficit already predicted, and growing). Those union contracts that were supposed to be reopened after 2010’s tax hike and never were? That sounds like a good place to start, if a Democrat governor is permitted to do so by his union bosses.

How about cutting spending? Well we have a $20 billion budget now, thanks to Democrat largess, half of which is spent by just three social services agencies: the Department of Social Services itself ($5.8 billion), Department of Education ($2.9 billion), and the Department of Developmental Services ($1 billion) which, by the way, provides services for the retarded and does not, as one might expect from its eponymous name, have anything to do with developing our state’s economy. Look for increases, not spending cuts in this half of the budget.

So what’s left? Plenty, to my eye, nothing but essential services to Democrats. They run the show and always will until Bill Gaston gives Fairfield County permission to secede.


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More fun with numbers

When there are no interior photos posted, there’s usually a reason beyond mere forgetfulness

651 Steamboat Road, an old two-family last renovated in 1995 and asking $3.695 million, reports an accepted offer. The current listing shows an original asking price of $3.695 million and a DOM of 141. In fact, the place has been for sale since 2008, 1,516 days ago, and once asked $6.4 million.

Just sayin’.


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Good news for Greenwich real estate?

Obama at the NYSE: “The business of America is BIG business!”

Huge difference in bonus pool grows between London and New York banks.

Investment bankers and traders at European banks should expect at least a 15 percent cut in pay this year, while U.S. lenders may leave compensation unchanged, three consultants surveyed by Bloomberg said. That’s because bonus pools atEuropean banks may be reduced by as much as half, while those at U.S. firms, which can cushion the impact of falling fees in the region with earnings from home, may fall 20 percent, they said.

“The real split is coming, and we will see the quantum divide this year,” said Tom Gosling, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP in London, referring to the difference in pay between the two financial centers. “U.S. regulators don’t have the same obsession with pay structures that European regulators have.”

While lower pay for all bankers reflects what may be a temporary drop in business, cuts at European lenders probably will be structural rather than cyclical, cementing a two-tier system, saidJohn Purcell, chief executive officer of Purcell & Co., a London search firm. They also could spur some employees to relocate, according to recruitment company Astbury Marsden.

From what I’ve observed, very few investment bankers of my acquaintance are in the business to help their fellow man; indeed, most seem to endure the rigors of late night parties and vacationing in tropical paradises with boring clients because of the money (gasp) and if the money’s here, not London, I’d expect to see a sudden influx of young City bankers flocking to our shores, eager to settle down and find homes in our toniest suburbs, God bless them.

Of course there’s always the possibility that Washington will try to emulate Europe and rein in bonuses, but Wall Street didn’t ensure Obama’s reelection to see him cut their pay and our their man in the White House knows that. I’m sure they aren’t the least bit worried, nor should they be – Obama’s as honest as the judge who, when you bribe him, stays bribed. You’ve gotta respect that in a man.


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Fun with statistics


How much is that dog in the rear window?

40 Indian Field Road reports an accepted offer and its listing shows just 22 days on the market and an original asking price of $775 . All that’s good news for the seller, and the listing agent did nothing wrong, played no games here, but because the house was off the market from late May until November its actual history won’t go into the data base when Greenwich real estate sales are complied. In fact, this property sold for $765,000 in 2008, the owners installed a new kitchen and baths, refinished the floor and painted, then placed it for sale at $975,000 in May, 2010. As noted, that listing expired last May so the clock’s been reset and we no longer will know that the actual days on market were 753 and the original price was 20% higher than the last asking price.

So be careful when viewing statistics from our GAR.


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The Chipster goes wrong

16 Doubling Road, as envisioned by Dr. Skowron

A reader sends along this link to a recent Bloomberg article on Chip Skowron, former Doubling Road resident who currently resides in federal prison. I’m not sure why Bloomberg chose to resurrect the story – Chip was bundled off to his new digs last January, but it’s an entertaining one, one that I, in my self-appointed and delusional role as wise counselor mention to all my young hedge funders whenever we pass by the house. I don’t actually say, “don’t f’ it up” but these are really smart people and they should be able to figure things out for themselves. On the other hand, Skowron was considered a sharp little monkey and he let greed and a desperate need for social status drag him down to ignominious ruin. So …

Today, Skowron, 43, is serving a five-year term for insider trading at the federal prison at Minersville, Pennsylvania. At FrontPoint, Skowron lied to his bosses and law enforcement authorities, cost more than 35 people their jobs and stooped to slipping envelopes of cash to an accomplice. FrontPoint is gone. Morgan Stanley, which once owned FrontPoint, is seeking more than $65 million from Skowron, whose net worth a year ago was $22 million. Until he’s a free man, his wife of 16 years will have to care for their four children and Rocky, their golden retriever, on her own. [Oh, the humanity! – Ed]

A friend of mine who lost his job at FrontPoint when it collapsed due to Skowron’s crimes tells me that the son of a bitch sat in partnership meetings for two years as rumors of his wrongdoing swirled around him, flat-out lying to their faces, promising them there was no truth behind those rumors whatsoever. FrontPoint was a small company, so lying to just a handful of partners was more personal, more direct, than a general denial issued to, say, the managing directors of a huge bank. That rankled.

My friend’s fine, quickly finding a new place of employment, and Skowron is not, so some justice prevailed, but really, how warped can a guy get just to accumulate a ten-car collection of speedsters and a big Greenwich house? He now has plenty of time to ponder that question. Chump. He should have watched Fargo.


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Price cut

14 Hycliff

14 Hycliff (off Riversville) was purchased new for $5.8 million in 2005 and put up for sale in October, 2011 at $7.4 million even though no improvements/additions were deemed worthy of being included in its listing sheet. That didn’t work out so well so when the listing expired the owners got rid of their first broker and hired a new one, who immediately cut the price a cool million. That’s a start, but I sense that the western side of town isn’t commanding 2005 prices these days and that there’s still more fat to be carved off this carcass. But as always, we’ll see.

It’s a good looking house inside, if you like the feel and style of 2005 (many do) but I’m not as impressed with the land it sits on. Eight acres, but like so much of Hycliff, most of it’s rocks and in some cases – I don’t remember in this home’s case – swamp. I also considered Hycliff to be one of those fringe areas that serves as a storm high-water mark showing where a particular Greenwich feeding craze ended. Spec builders went into Hycliff with gusto in the early 2000’s, built their creations and sold them, then moved on. When the cycle turns, many of the more adventurous locations are left high and dry until buying resumes.

Deer hunter’s paradise

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Holiday closings

At least as of 9:20 (still ten minutes to go) there are only a dozen open houses on the tour today and all are repeats. I’ll save the gas.

82 Glenville Road (leaves are probably no longer there this November)

I did notice two houses that offer some insight into where prices are these days, 82 Glenville Road and 43 Richmond Hill, both of which have been looking for buyers for a long time. Nothing particularly wrong with either, but their less-than-ideal locations wouldn’t support their original asking prices, so they’ve sat.

82 Glenville sold new in 2002 for $3 million and was put up for sale again in 2011 for $3.875. After 427 days on the market that price has been reduced to $2.495 which, while it may still not be the clearing price, illustrates what’s happened to prices of houses in this area.

43 Richmond Hill Road sold for $4.9 million in 2006, was put up for sale for $5.495 in 2010 and the owners will now accept $4.395 (and probably less, I would think).


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