Daily Archives: November 1, 2013

Rube Awakening, part XVII

Democrat and former Obama supporter Jamie Dimon (JP Morgan) repudiated his president’s economic program just before the 2012 elections and is now the target of a tens of billions of dollars retaliation campaign.

But although JPMorgan has been relentlessly targeted by federal investigators, its behavior isn’t much different from other American megabanks — including Goldman Sachs, which was largely spared by regulators.

According to critics, JPMorgan is being deliberately targeted due to CEO Jamie Dimon’s critique of the Obama administration’s economic policies before the 2012 election.

In the most recent probe, investigators claim that JPMorgan routinely hires young, well-connected Chinese people in order to grease the wheels of important business deals in the country. The bank hired the son of the chairman of China Everbright Group, a massive state-owned financial conglomerate, earning a series of lucrative contracts soon afterward.

But the practice of foreign companies hiring Chinese “princelings” in return for business deals is not unusual. “For those familiar with the financial industry in China or Hong Kong, there really is no revelation here,” James Parker, a former Beijing-based financial analyst, told the Global Post. “The hiring of well-connected people is extremely common, and indeed considered necessary, and not just in the financial industry.”

Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley both put the children of high-ranking Communist Party officials on their payroll, while Goldman Sachs hired Hong Ning, the son-in-law of China’s anti-corruption chief.

Goldman Sachs was President Obama’s top donor in his 2008 campaign, and many of the bank’s executives enjoy close relations with the Obama White House. Last month the president nominated Goldman Sachs banker Bruce Heyman, an important contributor to his 2012 campaign, to be ambassador to Canada.

Some think this cozy relationship explains the disparity between Goldman and JPMorgan’s treatment by the government. The Wall Street Journal wrote that the Obama administration “prefers dependent banks that quietly accept their role as money pots to be raided when politics demands. Mr. Dimon keeps deviating from the Obama script.”

“This is about vindictiveness,” said financial analyst Charlie Gasparino on Fox News last week, “and it’s really bad for the American political system.”

Also this week, it was revealed that the insurance companies expecting to provide Obamacare services were subjected to “massive pressure” from the White House not to disclose problems with the program. Like JPMorgan’s plight, my heart doesn’t go out to corporations who supported Obama in the expectation of getting richer from it, but we’re witnessing a consolidation of power unlike anything seen before. In this country.


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Since we can’t go the chimp route*, this will have to do

ChrisR sends along this new tome from Zerohedge

* A tactic used by the Dollar Billses against Bush.



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Makes sense to me

The Clampetts abandon Tod's Point

The Clampetts abandon Tod’s Point

Michael Barone: Why are people fleeing the northeast? Taxes, restrictive zoning and the high cost of housing. I’d say “duh”, but this logical truth seems to evade the liberals responsible for imposing those costs.

It’s not puzzling at all. The movement from high-tax, high-housing-cost states to low-tax, low-housing-cost states has been going on for more than 40 years, as I note in my new book “Shaping Our Nation: How Surges of Migration Transformed America and Its Politics.”

From 1970 to 2010, the population of New York state rose from 18 million to 19 million. In that same period, the population of Texas grew from 11 million to 25 million.

The picture is even starker if you look at major metro areas. The New York metropolitan area, including counties in New Jersey and Connecticut, rose from 17.8 million in 1970 to 19.2 million in 2010 — up 8 percent. In that time, the nation grew 52 percent.

In the same period, the four big metro areas in Texas — Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Austin — grew from 6 million to 15.6 million, up 160 percent.

Opportunity does exist in the Northeastern states and in California — for people with very high skill levels and for low-skill immigrants, without whom those metro areas would have lost, rather than gained, population over the last three decades.

But there’s not much opportunity there for people with midlevel skills who want to raise families. Housing costs are exceedingly high, partly, as Noah notes, because of restrictive land-use and zoning regulations. Central city public schools, with a few exceptions, repel most middle-class parents.

High taxes produce revenues to finance handsome benefits and pensions for public employee union members in the high-cost states. It’s hard to see how this benefits middle-class people making their livings in the private sector.

Liberals like Noah often decry income inequality. But the states with the most unequal incomes and highest poverty levels these days are California and New York. That’s what happens when high taxes and housing costs squeeze out the middle class.

As Noah notes, “Few working-class people earn enough money to live anywhere near San Francisco.”

This leaves a highly visible and articulate upper class willing, in line with their liberal beliefs, to shoulder high tax burdens and a very much larger lower class — many of them immigrants — available to serve them in restaurants, landscape their gardens and valet-park their cars.


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Two land sale contracts

Both have houses on them, but that’s a matter easily resolved.

15 Cottontail

15 Cottontail

15 Cottontail, $999,000. Interesting for those who debated the sufficiency of listing solely on the state-wide Connecticut Multiple Listing Service vs the Greenwich MLS, this was on the CMLS for a couple of weeks without finding a buyer. I didn’t write about it then because I was trying to interest a couple of my own clients in the land. It hit the GMLS 15 days ago and now it’s gone.

The land itself is only so-so, because it sits quite a bit lower than the street (that’s the garage you see in the picture; the house itself is peeping out below, on the left), but it’s not bad once you’re actually on it.

424 Stanwich Rd

424 Stanwich Rd

And 424 Stanwich, which had a busted deal a month ago is back with another buyer today. $1.395, 2+ acres, albeit with Merritt noise.


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Gone to Allah, blessed be His name


Greenwich Democrat spokesman Dollar Bill visits our nation's capital

Greenwich Democrat spokesman Dollar Bill visits our nation’s capital

Drone attack kills head of Pakistan Taliban. I doubt anyone will miss the guy, but I do remember when Bush and Cheney engaged in this sort of frivolity and the Dollar Bills of our great country demanded that they be tried as war criminals. You don’t hear so much of that anymore, although I doubt DB has rethought his admiration for his friends in the Middle East.



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I blame AJ

Run, it's AJ of the North!

Run, it’s AJ of the North!

Up in New Canaan, police are mystified by a rash of cat and bird beheadings. Who could do such a thing? Well, we do have at least one Canadian reader and he’s been know to visit the area. If he was in New Canaan recently, it seems he has now returned to the frozen north:

Severed cat heads in Canadian village

GPD Folks? You may want to tip off your colleagues in the once-safe hamlet of New Canaan that we have a suspect in mind. And AJ? Cut it out – not off, out!

UPDATE: Perhaps I had the wrong country. Egypt’s Official Executioner: “I love my job!”

“When I was young – about 13 or 14 years old – the dry Ismailiya Canal in Shubra Al-Kheima still had water in it. My hobby was to catch a cat, to place a rope around its neck, to strangle it, and throw it into the water. I would get hold of any animal – even dogs. I would strangle these animals and throw them into the water – even dogs.”

Al-Nabi called strangling “a gift” he had, in addition to calling it his “hobby.”


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Finally, a scrap of real estate news reported

107 Stanwich Rd

107 Stanwich Rd

I haven’t taken the morning off, it’s just been a quiet day. But 107 Stanwich has checked in with its sale price: $903,000. That’s not a bad price, in my opinion, despite this property’s steep, awkward driveway. The sellers paid full asking price: $950,000, back in December 2006 at the top of the market, and put some serious money into improvements, so this buyer is doing okay. Not that my own clients are so unsophisticated that they need my cautionary words when bidding on a house, but results like this do strengthen my confidence in urging patience when buying.

UPDATE: A reader noticed what I had not: after that 2006 sale for $950,000, the property was taken via foreclosure and sold by the lender in 2010 for just $651,000, so these sellers did very well.


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Another study (British, this time) clears fracking

No solace for the cave dwellers here, but they don’t need any: their goal is the destruction of modern civilization, not abundant energy, so facts demonstrating the safety of fracking are irrelevant. Perhaps the rest of the country won’t share their view although, with the mainstream media controlling the discussion, that’s unlikely.

Britain, by the way, is being hammered by soaring energy rates brought about by the last administration’s “green policies” – it will be interesting to see how home owners and manufacturers react to the possibility of unleashing huge amounts of clean, inexpensive gas.


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