Subprime Breakdown

From the IMF Finance and Development Magazine:

Subprime: Tentacles of a Crisis

How could a modest increase in seriously delinquent subprime mortgages, which amounted to an additional $34 billion in troubled loans, so disrupt the $57 trillion U.S. financial system last summer that worldwide financial turmoil ensued? Lax, if not fraudulent, underwriting practices in subprime mortgage lending largely explain the rise in the rate of seriously delinquent loans from 6 percent to 9 percent between the second quarter of 2006 and the second quarter of 2007. But the impact on financial markets and economies far exceeds any expected losses from mortgage foreclosures.

The answer lies in the evolution of the structure of the home mortgage market. Over the past 70 years, it has changed radically from one in which local depository institutions make loans to one that is centered in the major Wall Street banks and securities firms, which employ the latest in financial engineering to repackage mortgages into securities through credit derivatives and collateralized debt obligations. Today’s mortgage market depends critically on the ability to carve the debt into various risk segments through complex financial instruments and then sell those segments separately—the riskiest segments to high-yield-seeking, and sometimes highly leveraged, buyers such as hedge funds.

To understand how the mortgage market has changed—and to identify where the market broke down, show its structural weaknesses, and explain why the rupture reached across borders to other developed and emerging economies—requires an architectural tour of the U.S. mortgage market.
(snip)

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126 Responses to Subprime Breakdown

  1. grim says:

    From Ben Stein over at the NYT:

    Tattered Standard of Duty on Wall Street

    WITHOUT trust, there can be no free-market capitalism. Capitalism took root in Europe when wealthy families had excess income to invest, and they entrusted their money to managers who would treat their funds with due care.

    Such standards of care required that those handling someone else’s money behave with extreme rigor and honesty. The standards, which came to be known as fiduciary duty, were the same duty a court required of, say, a trustee dealing with the property of a widow or a child.

    Trustees always had to behave with the interests of the trustor uppermost — there could be no conflict of interest or even the appearance of one. Every relevant fact about an investment and a trusteeship had to be disclosed. As the law came to be interpreted in the United States, the trustee had to disclose every fact or belief that might influence an intelligent, reasonable investor.

    Now, we have the collateralized mortgage obligations and their attendant losses in the subprime mortgage mess. The problem is a familiar one: basic hocus-pocus about what the securities were worth. Of course, there was boilerplate in all of the offerings saying that anything could happen. But that boilerplate is so ubiquitous, and covers so much, that it has come to mean nothing. What did mean something was the name of the underwriter selling the securities. If it was a big name, a name redolent of power and antiquity, a buyer could assume that it could be trusted.

    Of course, as we know now, that turned out to be wrong.

    The biggest of the big names were among the most aggressive in betraying their clients’ trust, as I see it. Some of the biggest names were selling securities that they — apparently — barely understood themselves. In so doing, they exposed their buyers, and their stockholders, to immense losses. (Think Merrill Lynch, Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers and many others.) Other major players, including Goldman Sachs, were aggressively shorting the very same sort of products they were underwriting.

  2. reinvestor101 says:

    I hope that this day will be one day where we don’t have negative talk here. All this negative talk has even impacted up retail sales during the Christmas season. If you love this country, you’ll get out there and help this nation’s retailers. But if you behave like you’ve done with real estate, the retailers will be sunk this Christmas season.

    I hope that you’re not the same bah humbug Scrooges with Christmas as you are with real estate.

  3. John says:

    jingle mail” – refers to the growing trend where Americans mail the keys to their homes to the lenders before vacating, entered the US lexicon.

  4. njrebear says:

    U.K. house prices fell the most in three years in December, and the threat of more declines may cause the property market to seize up in 2008, Hometrack Ltd. said.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=afMkTTCHS89o&refer=home

  5. John says:

    All I want for Christmas is a 15% drop in NJ/NY real estate in 2008!!!

    reinvestor101 Says:
    December 24th, 2007 at 9:13 am
    I hope that this day will be one day where we don’t have negative talk here. All this negative talk has even impacted up retail sales during the Christmas season. If you love this country, you’ll get out there and help this nation’s retailers. But if you behave like you’ve done with real estate, the retailers will be sunk this Christmas season.

    I hope that you’re not the same bah humbug Scrooges with Christmas as you are with real estate.

  6. grim says:

    If you love this country, you’ll get out there and help this nation’s retailers.

    You heard it here first folks, do your patriotic duty and go shop.

    The front lines of this war are the malls and retailers.

    Armed with plastic, we send our children off to battle.

    From the halls of Garden State Plaza
    To the stores of Willow – brook!

    (Apologies to the U.S. Marine Corps.)

  7. njrebear says:

    just 15%???

  8. 3b says:

    #2 reinvestor: Reaailers are sunk, becasue silly Americans have no more credit left to buy junk that they do not need.

    You want American, how about thrift, save for a rainy day, live within your means, and forge abotu keeping up with the Jones’s.

    That is American my child. everything old will be new again.

  9. reinvestor101 says:

    It didn’t take long for someone to confirm that there’s a bunch of scrooges that infest this board. You’re a scrooge of the worst variety; the kind that preys on the misery of others. I hope you see the ghost of the Christmas future with you digging your own financial grave.

    John Says:
    December 24th, 2007 at 9:17 am
    All I want for Christmas is a 15% drop in NJ/NY real estate in 2008!!!

  10. reinvestor101 says:

    No. Retailers are sunk because negative talk has made people feel cautious.

    3b Says:
    December 24th, 2007 at 9:22 am
    #2 reinvestor: Reaailers are sunk, becasue silly Americans have no more credit left to buy junk that they do not need.

    You want American, how about thrift, save for a rainy day, live within your means, and forge abotu keeping up with the Jones’s.

    That is American my child. everything old will be new again.

  11. John says:

    $500,000 a Year Means You’re Still Only Middle Class: Joe Mysak

    Dec. 21 (Bloomberg) — Wall Street does a good job selling municipal bonds to the rich, not the middle class.

    (snip -grim)

    I think we would all agree that $10 million a year, the top IRS category, qualifies as rich.

    So does between $5 million and $10 million. So does between $2 million and $5 million. In fact, I think most Americans would say that if you (singular and plural, as in married taxpayers filing jointly), have an adjusted gross income of $1 million or more, you qualify as rich.

    If $1 million a year is incontrovertibly rich, who or what is middle class? This question flummoxes pollsters and pundits alike. The category is about as flexible as an accordion file, and can expand and contract to accommodate almost any number.

    The most-populous group of taxpayers in the U.S. is that between $50,000 and $75,000, according to the IRS. In 2005, 18.4 million filers put themselves in that category. Does that qualify as middle-class, or perhaps the beginning of middle- class? If it is the beginning, where does middle-class end?

    Does an adjusted gross income of between $100,000 and $200,000 qualify as middle-class — or as rich?

    The group claiming the most tax-exempt interest is made up of people who make more than $100,000 but less than $500,000. Between the two categories ($100,000 under $200,000 and $200,000 under $500,000), there were 1.6 million filers claiming $18.6 billion in tax-exempt interest, or $11,392 each.

    That $11,000 and change sounds almost pathetic, certainly un-municipal-bondy, more like the returns from mutual funds.

    What would you call this group? There are 13.5 million of them altogether, meaning that Wall Street only manages to get about 11 percent of this group interested in the municipal market. Is a couple making just under $500,000 still in some part of the middle class?
    (snip -grim)
    Is that where “rich” begins — a $1 million bonus? Or is it right below that category, in the $500,000 to $1 million ranks?

    The taxpayer category that grew the most between 2004 and 2005 was the “$100,000 under $200,000” bunch. More than a million taxpayers graduated into this group, which grew from 9.7 million to 10.8 million. Surely that group doesn’t yet qualify as “the rich.”

    The group right above it — $200,000 under $500,000 — grew by almost 400,000, to 2.7 million. Only 20 percent of them claimed tax-exempt interest, averaging about $16,000 apiece. Again, those are mutual fund-style earnings, which suggests Wall Street isn’t targeting that group for municipal bonds.

    They aren’t “the rich.” Maybe that’s the top of the middle class. Can you imagine? $500,000 a year, and you’re still just middle class?

  12. 3b says:

    #6 From the halls of Garden State Plaza
    To the stores of Willow – brook!

    We will shop till we drop in Paramus Park,and in downtown Englewood.

  13. reinvestor101 says:

    Grim,

    You’re supposed to be a dispassionate blog master and just providing us a forum to discuss. You’re being mean to me by making a joke at my expense.

    From the halls of Garden State Plaza
    To the stores of Willow – brook!

    (Apologies to the U.S. Marine Corps.)

  14. 3b says:

    #10 reinvestor: People should feel cautious,as credit card delinquiencies are growing dramatically.

  15. grim says:

    re101,

    How does buying foreign crap help our country?

    I could understand if you came here with a message like, “buy American this Christmas!”

    I could both understand and support a message like that.

    Buy buy for the sake buying? How does that help our country? You seem to have mistaken the illness for the cure.

  16. reinvestor101 says:

    First all, you help American companies when you buy. Sure, there’s a lot of stuff made in China and other places, but it’s American companies that are buying these items for distribution here. Also, some American companies own manufacturing facilities in China and other places. As a result, even though something may say it’s made in China, it doesn’t mean that they’re profiting. American companies are profiting. In a way, when you buy Chinese, you’re actually buying American!

  17. reinvestor101 says:

    That’s a bunch of crap. More negativity overstating the issue. Credit card delinquencies have nothing to do with supporting Christmas.

    I’ll be going out this morning and completing my duty to my country!

    3b Says:
    December 24th, 2007 at 9:28 am
    #10 reinvestor: People should feel cautious,as credit card delinquiencies are growing dramatically

  18. 3b says:

    #18 reinvestor:”In a way, when you buy Chinese, you’re actually buying American!

    Yes,and the world is flat.

  19. 3b says:

    #20 reinvestor: Where is the over stating? Did you actually read the article? It is over stating based on what?

    So your duty to your country is to shop?

    If that is your attitude, we have surely become a sad pathetic country.

    I have to go, I think I hear the Visigoths at the gates.

  20. SS says:

    Re – what don’t you understand about the current state of affairs this and other countries (see post # 4) are in? Tell me, when does the buying end? How much credit do you think we can float? In your proposal, I make X amount and you’re saying I should spend X amount? Therefore don’t save a dollar? Are you for real?

  21. SS says:

    Grim:
    Are you still planning to sit for “episode” I of the CFA this June? I remember reading a post of yours regarding this. I only remembered b/c I’m planning to do the same.

  22. dreamtheaterr says:

    ReInvestor, I want to buy a flat-screen TV this season to support the cratering Circuit City stock. But quite a few of my credit cards are maxed out. Can you be a good samaritan and help me out with some provisional credit? I’m a bit down on my luck this season, but I want to feel good since I deserve it for all the hard work I did this year. I think it was my birthright, right?

    I promise to make you the minimum payment over the next 8 years.

  23. Clotpoll says:

    grim (6)-

    “If you love this country, you’ll get out there and help this nation’s retailers.

    You heard it here first folks, do your patriotic duty and go shop.”

    Wasn’t this what Dubya said right after 9/11?

    Methinks ReTard is about to snap. Hopefully, it won’t be at a family function.

  24. grim says:

    SS,

    I was initially thinking about the June date, but due to time constraints I didn’t feel I’d have sufficient prep time.

    At this point I’m planning on sitting for the December exam. The December exam works better for me, since I’m planning on taking additional portfolio and derivatives classes just before that date. I’ll be finishing my MBA in Fall of ’08, so it dovetails perfectly with the December date.

  25. Clotpoll says:

    ReTard (18)-

    “As a result, even though something may say it’s made in China, it doesn’t mean that they’re profiting. American companies are profiting. In a way, when you buy Chinese, you’re actually buying American!”

    ReTard, is a new brain on your Christmas wish list?

    Let’s see:

    -China holds billions of dollars of our debt.

    -China floods our market with lead-paint coated toys.

    -China is in the process of turning itself into a toxic waste dump…and now, approx. 700 million of their citizens are now planning to buy their first car. I’m gonna guess that pollution control will not be a big feature in these vehicles.

    -China floods our market with poison food.

    -China does not recognize intellectual property rights and does nothing to stop piracy of entertainment, manufactured goods and software.

    -China is quietly ramping up its military at an alarming pace.

    But hey, all the “benefits” of the above are really ours, right?

    You really are the stupidest person ever.

  26. John says:

    2008 will be Old Testament bad in Real Estate!!!

  27. Ann says:

    How did Christmas, the celebration of the birth of Christ, turn into a patriotic duty to buy as much mostly-imported stuff from China and other countries as our big greedy bellies can afford?

  28. grim says:

    Savers make baby Jesus cry.

  29. dreamtheaterr says:

    Some China facts: (courtesy the Daily Reckoning)

    • China produces half of the world’s cameras, 1/3 of its television sets, and 1/3 of all the planet’s garbage.
    • China uses half of the world’s steel and concrete and will probably construct half of the world’s new buildings over the next decade.
    • China used 2.5 billion tons of coal in 2006, more than the next three highest-consuming nations-Russia, India, and the United States-combined.
    • It has more than 2,000 coal-fired power plants and puts a new one into operation every 4 to 7 days.
    • Between 2003 and 2006, worldwide coal consumption increased as much as it did in the 23 years before that. China was responsible for 90% of the increase.
    • China became the world’s top carbon dioxide emitter in 2006, overtaking the United States.
    • Russia is China’s largest timber supplier; half of all logging there is illegal. In Indonesia, another timber supplier to China, up to 80% of all logging takes place illegally.
    • The value of China’s timber-product exports exceeds $17 billion. About 40 percent go to the United States.
    • More than 3/4 of China’s forests have disappeared; 1/4 of the country’s land mass is now desert.
    • Until recently, China was losing a Rhode Island-sized parcel of land to desertification each year.
    • 80% of the Himalayan glaciers that feed Chinese rivers could melt by 2035.
    • In 2005, China’s sulfur-dioxide emissions were nearly twice those of the United States.
    • Acid rain caused by air pollution now affects 1/3 of China’s land.
    • Each year, at least 400,000 Chinese die prematurely of air-pollution-linked respiratory illnesses or diseases.
    • A quarter of a million people die because of motor-vehicle traffic each year-6 times as many as in the United States, even though Americans have 18 times as many cars.
    • Of the world’s 20 most polluted cities, 16 are in China.
    • Half of China’s population-600 to 700 million people-drinks water contaminated with human and animal waste. A billion tons of untreated sewage is dumped into the Yangtze each year.
    • 4/5 of China’s rivers are too polluted to support fish.
    • The Mi Yun reservoir, Beijing’s last remaining reliable source of drinking water, has dropped more than 50 feet since 1993.
    • Overuse of groundwater has caused land subsidence that cost Shanghai alone $12.9 billion in economic losses.
    • Dust storms used to occur once a year. Now, they happen at least 20 times a year.
    • Chinese dust storms can cause haziness and boost particulate matter in the United States, all the way over to Maine.
    • In 2001, a huge Chinese storm dumped 50,000 metric tons of dust on the United States. That’s 2.5 times as much as what U.S. sources produce in a typical day.
    • Currently, up to 36 percent of man-made mercury emissions settling on America originated in Asia.
    • Particulate matter from Asia accounts for nearly half of California’s annual pollution limit.
    • Environmental damage reportedly costs China 10 percent of its GDP. Pollution-related death and disability heath care costs alone are estimated at up to 4 percent of GDP.
    • In 2005, there were 50,000 pollution-related disputes and protests in China.
    • China’s middle class is expected to jump from 100 million people today to 700 million people by 2020.

  30. Clotpoll says:

    Since the predictions have started, I’ll hazard mine:

    -Gold to $1,000/oz by June.

    -Gold Coast RE market begins to collapse. Sale prices in ’08 will reflect a 10% YOY decline.

    -NJ areas that are not “NYC commutable” will be hit hard: prices will decline another 15-20% in 2008. Most of the decline will occur in Q1 and Q2, as pressured sellers capitulate.

    -“NYC commutable” areas, such as Brigadoon and prestigious BC, will experience a 5-10% drop in sale prices and sales volume will dwindle to a trickle.

    -Manhattan commercial RE will begin to decline. The news of this will begin to deflate the Manhattan residential market.

    -As annual pension funding activity begins to slow down at the end of January, all major stock indices will take a 10% haircut…and stay at their new levels for the rest of the year.

    -By April, Dubya will admit that the economy is in recession.

    -Another 25% of all active licensed Realtors in NJ will leave the business.

    -As the economy falters, John Edwards’ campaign will gain momentum.

  31. 3b says:

    #33 clot:NYC commutable” areas, such as Brigadoon and prestigious BC, will experience a 5-10% drop in sale prices and sales volume will dwindle to a trickle.

    Thats all?

  32. Frank says:

    Santa, when will i be able to buy a 2+ bedroom apartment in NYC or Hoboken for 200K?

  33. cynicalgirl says:

    Hey grim, stop being so MEAN!! No more reality, ok?

    :)

  34. stuw6 says:

    REinvestor,

    The negativity of this board (as you see it), will be nothing compared to what will unfold this Spring. The FED is now powerless to help the solvency of the credit markets. Credit card defaults are next and then finally joblessness. Though, I am not surprised that Wall Street hasn’t yet been impacted much by the impending disaster. I suppose there are more investors who think the way you do, as opposed to the way the rest of us here think. That is, you believe ignorance is bliss.

    The best holiday gift you could ever receive is the information revealed right here on this blog. Choose to follow it and you may be justly rewarded. Continue to ignore the fantastic and free advice from the experienced participants on this board and you will end up with a lump of coal in your Christmas stocking. Of course, you could always sell that coal to your masters over there in China.

    One other piece of advice. The majority is not always correct. Once you learn to comprehend this fact, then you might actually learn something. Until then, you are just another sheep.

  35. syncmaster says:

    reinvestor,

    I don’t have money to shop, so it’s your patriotic duty to pay me so I can.

  36. stuw6 says:

    The more I think about it, reInvestor’s MO is quite simple…

    Patriotism is ignorance. Don’t think, just follow. Don’t question, just obey.

  37. syncmaster says:

    -NJ areas that are not “NYC commutable” will be hit hard: prices will decline another 15-20% in 2008. Most of the decline will occur in Q1 and Q2, as pressured sellers capitulate.

    What about towns which no sane person would consider NYC-commutable but still have lots of residents who commute to NYC? I’m thinking the Lehigh Valley as an example.

  38. syncmaster says:

    stuw6,

    I disagree. His MO is the following:

    “…someone who intentionally posts … controversial messages in an on-line community such as an on-line discussion forum with the intention of baiting other users into an emotional and argumentative response.”

    Taken from the Wikipedia page for Internet Troll.

  39. grim says:

    What about towns which no sane person would consider NYC-commutable but still have lots of residents who commute to NYC?

    Sync,

    The Crystal Springs development in Hardyston (Sussex) might give us some insight.

    Here are a handful of listings from a single street in that development..

    39 Briar Court, Hardyston NJ
    Purchased: 3/25/2005
    Purchase Price: $452,611

    MLS# 2446411
    Sold: 12/14/2007
    Sale Price: $400,000
    (12% Loss)

    55 Briar Ct, Hardyston NJ
    Purchased: 5/25/2005
    Purchase Price: $460,148

    MLS# 2446223
    Sold: 11/1/2007
    Sold Price: $420,000
    (9% Loss)

    82 Briar Court, Hardyston NJ
    Purchased: 10/18/2004
    Purchase Price: $524,486

    MLS# 2427383
    Sold: 12/17/2007
    Sale Price: $395,000
    (25% Loss)

    28 Briar Court, Hardyston NJ
    Purchased: 01/23/07
    Purchase Price: $556,015

    MLS# 2465060
    Currently Active
    Asking Price: $495,000
    (Potential Loss 11%)

    37 Briar Court, Hardyston NJ
    Purchased: 12/8/2005
    Purchase Price: $456,725

    MLS # 2433854
    Currently Active
    Asking Price: $418,999
    (Potential Loss 8%)

    68 Briar Court, Hardyston NJ
    Purchased: 1/27/2005
    Purchase Price: $551,206

    MLS# 2451979
    Currently Active
    Asking Price: $529,000
    (Potential Loss 4% – Won’t ever sell at this price)

    61 Briar Court, Hardyston NJ
    Purchased: 1/24/2006
    Purchase Price: $472,838

    MLS# 2436271
    Withdrawn – was also for rent
    Asking Price: $449,000
    (Potential Loss 5%)

  40. SS says:

    Grim – how much time would you suggest is required to study for part 1? I was thinking a full 6 months would be sufficient, as it was for two parts of the CPA exam (7 years ago).

  41. John says:

    Actually, Christmas was originally a Pagan holiday. The Catholic Church just picked the year end date to overide the current hedonic holiday. They were unsure of the day of Christ’s birth anyhow. Easter on the other hand is the real date. Since Christ’s last supper was passover and when he died it conincided with a solar eclispe, we actually know the exact day and hour Christ died. Of course scientists can’t tell us if he was really the savior but at least they can prove the actual events leading to his death.

    Interesting enough Santa is not that old a story and a few years after the night before christmas story became popular and described how santa looked without mentioning the color of his clothes, Coca Cola jumped on the bandwagon and made his coat Coca Cola Red and that has been the color of Santa since.

    The secular part of Christmas is now the smaller event. When we say Celebrate Christmas we now talk about lights, trees, presents, santa and stockings. Which is why most of my Jewish and Hindu friends celebrate Christmas as 90% of it has nothing to do with being Christian so why be left out. A big HO HO HO and Shalom to everyone.
    Ann Says:
    December 24th, 2007 at 10:15 am
    How did Christmas, the celebration of the birth of Christ, turn into a patriotic duty to buy as much mostly-imported stuff from China and other countries as our big greedy bellies can afford?

  42. reinvestor101 says:

    Sync,

    I believe you have that backwards. You’re supposed to work and invest so you have the money to support the Christmas season. As a matter of fact, had you invested in real estate when you were supposed to, there’d be no need to beg me for money. You’d have your money. You probably chose to rent expecting that the market will drop. You’re mistaken. As for this troll definition, I don’t fit it. I believe in this country and the resilency of its markets. I’m not afraid to express my opinion. If you guys want to get emotional about a stiff dose of the truth, so be it. I’m not going to stop and I will not be silenced! I will not equivocate and I will be heard!

  43. grim says:

    Here are a few more recent sales, for good measure. Pay close attention to the purchase dates on these.

    1 Rock Oak, Hardyston NJ
    (Crystal Springs)
    Purchased: 6/28/2004
    Purchase Price: $625,000

    MLS# 2323293
    Sale Price: $508,000
    (19% loss)

    8 Cypress Lane, Hardyston NJ
    (Crystal Springs)
    Purchased: 10/7/2004
    Purchase Price: $667,000

    MLS# 2415147
    Sale Price: $625,000
    (6% loss)

  44. Confused In NJ says:

    Dominoes

    AP
    Unpaid Credit Cards Bedevil Americans
    Monday December 24, 8:22 am ET
    By Rachel Konrad and Bob Porterfield, Associated Press Writers
    AP Impact: Americans’ See Their Debt Woes Expand As Unpaid Credit Card Bills Are on Rise

    (snip -grim)

  45. reinvestor101 says:

    Loving and supporting your country is not ignorant. It’s the height of intelligence.

    When was the last time you won a bet against America? I bet you’re batting zero on that one.

  46. syncmaster says:

    reinvestor,

    You probably chose to rent expecting that the market will drop. You’re mistaken.

    Actually, the market has dropped. You’re the one who is mistaken.

  47. 3b says:

    #45 reinvestor: The first step in the healing process, is the ability to admit to reality.

    The amrekt IS already dropping!!

    And will cntinue to drop, all of your raging and appeal to some perverted sense of patriotism cannot stop it.

    It is how free markets work, in the land you claim to love so much.

  48. reinvestor101 says:

    Now don’t get me wrong, China is a communist country and they must be watched like a hawk. So let me be clear, that
    I detest communism and China. That does have to be balanced against profitable trade and other economic relationships. It’s my hope that we can prod them along on the path of democracy.

    China does not have the equivalent of an EPA, so manufacturing operations don’t have the cost overhang of compliance that we have here. It’s one reason why manufacturing stuff there is so cheap.

    There’s something to be said about the absence of tree huggers in that country.

  49. syncmaster says:

    grim,

    Any idea why so many recent buyers in that development are selling?

    There are four townhouse/condo complexes all adjacent to one another in northern Pway, all built in the last 10 years or so. Must be well over a thousand units total, many of them identical to one another. It could be another good source of data for you, although I don’t know if there’s been nearly the same level of sales volume. If you’re interested in mining the data for a M’sex county community, I could post the street names for you.

  50. stuw6 says:

    MindlessInvestor says: “When was the last time you won a bet against America? I bet you’re batting zero on that one.”
    ———————————————-
    See, you just reiterated my theory on your ignorance.

    I am not betting against America my lobotomized friend. I am helping this country find a more solid footing. The sooner housing prices drop and people learn to save, the quicker we will be back to prosperous times. If having the Far and Middle East own us is your idea of supporting this country, then you are a truly helpless case.

    If there is anything that I am happy about, it is that the FEDs easing of the lending rate has not had much of an impact on the financial markets. Had it reinflated the housing bubble, then we could simply look forward to more foreign ownership of our financial systems. This is what you want for your flock…no?

    Can’t wait for your next, empty, factless rebuttal.

    Wait…I’ll make it for you.

    Why don’t you just leave this country since it is obvious that you want it to fail?

    Was I right?

  51. ithink_ithink says:

    sounds like everything got overinflated.

    SHANGHAI, China – The World Bank said the economies of China and India are about 40 percent smaller than earlier estimates after it revised calcuations using consumers’ relative purchasing power to measure economic might.

    Associated Press
    World Bank: China, India Economies Smaller
    http://www.forbes.com/feeds/ap/2007/12/18/ap4450874.html

  52. syncmaster says:

    There’s something to be said about the absence of tree huggers in that country.

    Yeah. Lead. Yum. *salivates*

  53. 3b says:

    #54 That same study also revised down the U.S economy. The economies of China and India have grown immensely if comapred to where they were 20 years, or even 10 years ago.

    The fact that they are in the top 10, says it all.

  54. John says:

    RE is a drain on GDP, investing you money in a dead non productive asset hoping that it’s price increases will bring you profits while the rising prices cause your tennants to remain your indentured servents in a rental hell is not good for the econmy as a whole. Be partriotic and buy stocks and bonds!!! Stocks outperform RE anyhow over the long term, increased selling of RE will bring down prices and let your tennants own their own home one day. God Bless America and SELL SELL SELL RE.

  55. ithink_ithink says:

    #57
    Here’s a good top ten list
    http://www.cnet.com/4520-11136_1-6278387-1.html

  56. dreamtheaterr says:

    I wonder if Forbes took into consideration what percentage of India and China’s economy is the black market, and is not officially included in the statistics.

    I don’t know the facts for China but in India, a fairly large part of the personal and corporate earnings go unreported, especially mom-and-pop shops. What I mean is just as the W2’s might be slightly understated here, my WAG is that tax reporting is hugely under-reported in India. I don’t have the evidence, but I recollect reading that only 5-7% of India’s population pays income tax about 7-8 years ago. Agricultural incomes (70% of the Indian economy) are exempt from tax.

  57. Paul says:

    Grim

    I was following this website for more than 18 months on a daily basis. I really appreciated your information.

    I want an advice. I live in rental but it is very hard for me and my family to live there in terms of space. I am planning to buy now in North Edison for about 360k for a townhouse.

    I see a 10-30k decrease of the price on that complex in the last 2 years. How far it can go down in case I buy now. Now the interest rate is low I want to jump in.

    Thanks
    Paul

  58. reinvestor101 says:

    Stu,

    You’re starting to bother me. I’ve promised that I would remain polite towards all posters here, but you keep pushing me.

    How in the hell is a bunch of people losing money, being foreclosed on and etc going to help the economy? It will hurt the economy and that’s precisely what people like you want. You think that being a 3rd world country and a 2nd rate power is an acceptable state for America. I do not.

    Your last comment is somewhat interesting. If you hate America so much, why do you want to live here? We live in a big world and perhaps you should leave.

  59. grim says:

    From the AP:

    Pennsylvania housing slowdown to continue in 2008

    There was no shortage of pain in the 2007 housing market.

    While Pennsylvania weathered the slump better than the nation, where it has become a full-fledged crisis, the Commonwealth still got hit by declining home sales, high foreclosure rates, subprime mortgage busts and tougher access to credit. Builders reported flagging sales, mortgage insurers posted losses and mortgage lenders closed branches.

    More hurt is on the way in 2008 — especially as the economy cools.

    “It’s going to be another tough year,” said Kevin Gillen, vice president at Econsult, an economics consulting firm in Philadelphia. “We haven’t hit bottom yet.”

  60. reinvestor101 says:

    You’re beginning to bother me. You can leave the country along with Stu.

  61. stuw6 says:

    reInvestor = Poster boy for denial

  62. grim says:

    New policy.

    Reference replies using the message number only, don’t quote more than a single line from a prior comment.

    Thanks,
    The Management

    In other news, mobile readers rejoice.

  63. reinvestor101 says:

    Well, I’m going to take a break and do my duty to my country and complete my Christmas shopping. Remember, each of you has a duty to do!

  64. 3b says:

    #61 reinvestor: Because they are (financially) weak,and most never should have owned in the first place.

    And the weak have to be replaced by the strong (financially),it is how it works in a capitalist system, you know the system you claim to admire so much in the coutnry that you love.

  65. John says:

    What?

    grim Says:
    December 24th, 2007 at 11:53 am
    New policy.

    Reference replies using the message number only, don’t quote more than a single line from a prior comment.

    Thanks,
    The Management

    In other news, mobile readers rejoice.

  66. stuw6 says:

    reinvestor101,
    Make sure you get some Q-Tips to clean out your ears and some Visine to open your eyes.

  67. SS says:

    I find this quote to be felicitous to the glare of all reinvestor’s posts:

    There are two kinds of light–the glow that illuminates, and the glare that obscures.
    – James Thurber

  68. Clotpoll says:

    3b (34)-

    I believe Brigadoon and prestigious BC will end up taking the same hits the rest of the state will take. They will just get it last.

  69. scribe says:

    Hey, Reinvestor

    While you’re doing your patriotic duty and supporting American commerce, why don’t you tool on over to amazon.com and buy a little something for grim from his wish list?

    Grim, you have such an intellectual list.

    Personally, I prefer James Patterson potboilers :)

  70. gl says:

    Not sure who exactly he is planning to sue, but this is a new take on how to get out of a mess that you created yourself…

    Elderly sue over setbacks, they seek recompense for losses, saying age absolves them.

    From Wire Reports Charles Duhigg, The New York Times

    Eight years ago, when Robert J. Pyle was 73, he had about $500,000 in the bank and owned a house in Northern California worth about $650,000.

    Today, at 81, he has lost everything. A retired aerospace engineer, he lives in his stepdaughter’s tiny home.

    By his own admission, he willingly made every decision that led to his financial problems. He gave away large sums to people he thought were friends, and he then sold his house at a deep discount.

    He claims in a lawsuit that he should be compensated for his losses for a simple reason: He is old and should not bear responsibility for his choices.

    “I still make pretty good decisions about most things,” Mr. Pyle said. “But for others, I guess I’m not as sharp as I was before, and people take advantage of that.”

    In the last few years, thousands of older Americans have filed suits against companies and salespeople who have promoted questionable offers. These suits are unusual because the victims typically do not say they were intimidated or lied to, and they concede they freely made what turned out to be unwise decisions.

    But because the plaintiffs are older, they argue, they should be less accountable for their mistakes. “Figuring out how to protect senior citizens from victimization, even when it’s caused by their own mistakes, is one of the most important issues facing us right now,” said Sharon Merriman-Nai of the National Center on Elder Abuse.

    Many of the legal theories at the core of these suits draw on recently passed laws. These laws, argues Mr. Pyle’s lawyer, Kathryn A. Stebner, create special protections for the elderly, even if they are not spelled out.

  71. Clotpoll says:

    stuw (69)-

    …and a coat hanger for his lobotomy.

  72. 3b says:

    #71 clot: I was at a couple of Christmas parties over the weekend,and there was not a mention of real estate, at, all, absolutely nothing. Looks like the denial, or perhaps the fear stage?

    In addition a couple fo people who had been previously hostile, and contempteous of my beliefs regarding the real state market, were actually quite friendly this year.

    I think that perhaps I am no longer dity and a loser, just a renter.

    I though for a moment it was payback time on my part, but elected to take the high road in the spirit of the Christmas season.

  73. spam spam bacon spam says:

    Re101 is a troll.

    or off his meds…

    or a troll that’s off his meds.

    or a publicist for the NJ malls.

    or a trolling publicist whose off his meds.

    Except you pretty much gotta be ON meds to be a publicist for NJ malls right now.

    “Come one! Come all! Step right up! 10% off today’s purchase when you open a credit account! Do it right at the register, people! Annual fees? Interest rate? Default rate? Late payment fee? Don’t know nothin’ about those! Sign right here! Add extra zeros to the income box! That’s right! Hell, don’t even fill it out completely! Just scratch in some doodles! Step right up people! Free credit! Keeeeeeeeeep shopping! We’ll take your bags to security and hold them while you SHOP FOR MORE!!!”

  74. scribe says:

    From the WSJ:

    Debt Poets Society:
    Credit Crisis Goes
    From Bad to Verse
    Financiers Pen Cheeky Odes
    On the Market’s Mayhem;
    ‘I Pass Through Peon’s Gate’

    By DANA CIMILLUCA
    December 24, 2007; Page A1

    The squalid factories of England’s Industrial Revolution inspired Charles Dickens to write “Hard Times.” The Great Depression spawned John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath.” This winter, the global credit crisis has unleashed its own burst of creativity.

    If only subprime art were sublime. Most of it is low-grade spoof, such as a “Green Eggs and Ham” knockoff called “Broker Joe.”

    “Joe” is the brainchild of Cameron Crise, a 36-year-old American currency investor working in London for Dutch-Belgian financial conglomerate Fortis. The narrator of his poem chides pesky bankers who try to sell clients collateralized debt obligations and other foul-looking securities, much like the character in the Dr. Seuss classic who is hounded by Sam-I-Am into eating green eggs.

    I would not like it here or there
    I would not like it anywhere
    I do not like your CDO
    I do not like it, Broker Joe

    [snip]

    The subprime meltdown has also inspired a skit by The Long Johns, the British satirists John Bird and John Fortune. In it, the fictional investment banker George Parr is asked in a video circulating via YouTube about the inflated U.S. home prices underlying the credit crunch.

    “Surely the reality is that the people that have lent all this money have been incredibly stupid?”

    “Oh, no,” Mr. Parr replies. “The reality is that what is stupid is that at some point somebody asked how much these houses were actually worth.”

    Michael Silverstein, a self-styled “Wall Street Poet,” is using verse to warn of another pending subprime crisis. Mr. Silverstein, a former editor at Bloomberg News, writes in “Debt Rictus (A Heroic Debtor’s Last Hurrah)” of the dangers of predatory lending to credit-card borrowers. Rendered in the style of 19th-century British poet William Ernest Henley’s “Invictus,” his poem ends:

    No longer master of my fate,
    No more the captain of my cash,
    Soon I’ll pass through the peon’s gate,
    But until then — a plastic bash!

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119846198807948191.html?mod=hps_us_pageone

  75. still_looking says:

    jb,

    thanks!

    Happy Holidays everyone!

    sl, et.al

  76. syncmaster says:

    Foreign Buyers Snap Up 2nd Homes in US

    Panden Rota, a Nepalese producer of fine rugs, is about to become a Manhattanite, the owner of a sumptuous apartment in the luxurious downtown neighborhood of Battery Park City.

    His primary residence will remain Katmandu, but his new home will allow him to spend more time at U.S. showrooms that display his rugs and with a brother and sister in New York. “I looked at many places and I decided that a Manhattan apartment will always hold its value,” he said.

    Rota is part of a growing wave of foreigners who buy second homes in the U.S. for work and play and as an investment.

    Cosmopolitan cities like New York and Miami have long served as second homes for affluent and accomplished foreigners. But the trend is growing. One in five American realtors has sold a home to a foreign investor in the past year, according to the National Association of Realtors.

    The events of 2007 have made the U.S. much more affordable for international home buyers. Severe dollar declines against the euro and pound have made U.S. homes much cheaper for Europeans. But even foreign buyers without that sort of currency advantage are benefiting from sharp drops in housing prices at a time when problems in mortgage lending are keeping many Americans out of the market.

  77. ithink_ithink says:

    OT…
    but if you’re bored over the holidays or just interested, I love reading about NJ back in the day.
    http://oralhistory.rutgers.edu/
    http://oralhistory.rutgers.edu/Interviews/

    some of the most memorable ones are about kids sledding down watchung mtn. (washington rock road). rt22 wasn’t there then so you could & I can’t imagine!

  78. 3b says:

    Merry Christmas to all!!!

  79. Frank says:

    #80,
    I want to hold on to this story so when Panden Rota forecloses on his Battery Park condo I can have a good laugh.

  80. Everything's 'boken says:

    re 80

    I wonder how happy they’ll be when the dollar has dropped another 50%?

  81. BC Bob says:

    “When was the last time you won a bet against America? I bet you’re batting zero on that one.”

    50.5,

    2003- mid 2007.

  82. All Hype says:

    Happy holidays to all, especially to still_looking. Keep smiling my friend!!!

  83. BC Bob says:

    “Mortgage rates rose slightly this week, with economic and housing data keeping mortgages nearly flat, Freddie Mac’s chief economist said on Thursday.”

    “The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 6.14% during the week ending Dec. 20, up from last week’s 6.11% average, according to Freddie Mac’s weekly survey. The mortgage averaged 6.13% a year ago.”

    http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/us-mortgage-rates-rise-slightly/story.aspx?guid=%7B5097DBB4%2DBDD3%2D456D%2D99CC%2D17F828FFE60A%7D

    The ffr drops from 5.25 to 4.25, yet the 30 year fixed rate mortgage is slightly higher during this period. What was all that cheering regarding the fed saving housing? Don’t listen to what the fed says/does. Watch LIBOR and the 10 year.

  84. BC Bob says:

    Stores are running 50% off promotions. 50.5, formerly known as 101, is X-mas shopping today. How appropriate.

  85. stuw6 says:

    “A total of 201,950 foreclosure filings… were reported nationally during November… One foreclosure filing for every 617 households.”

    Happy Shopping.

    Happy holidays JB and the rest.

  86. BC Bob says:

    “When was the last time you won a bet against America? I bet you’re batting zero on that one.”

    50.5,

    I guess it depends if you are calculating spring training batting averages or regular season?

    “The chink in the dollar’s armor has dealt a blow to American pride — at least to the kind of pride that comes with buying power.”

    “The dollar was the dominant force in world economics for 100 years — we had no competition,” said C. Fred Bergsten, an American economist and director of the Washington-based Peterson Institute for International Economics. “There was no other economy close to the size of the United States. But all that is now changing.”

    “But now, some in China are turning their noses up at the dollar. Lin Jing, a sales manager at Shanghai Shuangyuan Import & Export Co., which exports garlic oil, said the company has begun to demand euros from its overseas customers instead of dollars. “The use of euros enables us to shy away from losses caused by the conversion between the [Chinese currency] and the weakened dollar,” he said.”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/12/23/AR2007122302441.html

  87. still_looking says:

    #85

    :-) Happy Holidays and a Great New Year to you, the ma’am, and the “cat clan”

    sl

  88. Frank says:

    Things got so bad at Merrill that they are selling their stock 17% below where it was trading earlier this morning. Ouchhhhhhh, I can’t wait to see their layoffs.

    http://seekingalpha.com/article/58297-is-merrill-lynch-practically-giving-it-away?source=feed

  89. Pat says:

    #78 “If only subprime art were sublime.”

    What was wrong with my “13 Dimes?” Sublime? Is that Asian immigrant for Subrime, “Ahh, you will buy sublime loan, yes?”

    Ode on a Mailbox

    The nude legs swing mercilessly.
    Again, and again;
    Sleek and opaque.
    Flipping through my new magazine.

    I need to tell my little girl today-
    She’s not getting Fur Real Pony.
    Santa has a special list
    For good children who live in small places.

    If only we won the bid on that house in ’04.
    The damn pony would be out in back.
    Now I’m stubborn and mad
    and next year she’ll be too old.

    For the pony that wags its tail.

  90. anonymous says:

    Do foreigners take out sub-prime mortgages http://biz.yahoo.com/ap/071224/real_estate_foreign_buyers.html?

  91. Frank says:

    #93,
    Subrime or not I read those stories in 2005 about British and German investors in Miami,FL. “You can not loose money on Miami, it’s sunny down there.” Now that the dollar dropped and the bubble popped they are running away. Manhattan is next.

  92. thunderbolt says:

    I don’t get all the talk about being un-American or betting against America. Real estate is simply an asset class that is bought and sold and will be underpriced or overpriced at any given time. If you can’t read the tea leaves by now, then you may as well just go shopping to make yourself feel better.

  93. reinvestor101 says:

    89-BC Bob

    I read that. China had better watch their step with turning their nose up at the dollar. We don’t have to buy their stuff and we could retailiate by turning our nose up at buying stuff from them!

    Look, I don’t care if they have a bunch of US Treasuries. We can have the tail wagging the dog. We can make them toe the line.

  94. reinvestor101 says:

    Please. Surely you don’t take this seriously. This is chicken little type stuff. The sky is not going to fall because of a few defaults on subprime mortgages. If we were going to have these types of problems, this would have been reported on widely. The telegraph has a bunch of crackpots on their staff.

    Pebbles Says:
    December 24th, 2007 at 4:36 pm
    Have you guys read this one?

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/main.jhtml;jsessionid=0TJVN4FFKH4T1QFIQMGSFGGAVCBQWIV0?xml=/money/2007/12/23/cccrisis123.xml&page=1

  95. 3b says:

    #99 reinvestor: You are so young, so silly, so gullible my child, but in this case you are right. The sub-prime was just the appetizer, the Alt-A is going to be the main course.

  96. AntiTrump says:

    re50.5

    So spending less on buying stuff you don’t need and saving more money is un-patriotic?

  97. reinvestor101 says:

    #101 3b: You are like a bad cold one is trying get rid of by taking Robitussin. You just won’t go away. You just won’t stop attacking every post I make.

    Let me tell you something, Alt-A is not a problem, so stop with the chicken little routine. Sure, there were a few people who didn’t deserve to get mortgages, but the subprime portion of the market is only a bit more that 10% of the market. I’m not sure about how much Alt-A constitutes, but the percentage has got to be minimal.

    Funny how you guys like to take the miniscule and blow it up way the hell out of proportion. But just like the securities markets, there’s only a certain portion of the real estate market that’s “trading” at any given point. Anyone who’s either planning on holding his position or who has held his position prior to the runup is just fine and is largely unaffected by your chicken little scenario of apocalypse.

    Put a sock in it.

  98. nna says:

    Here it comes, the US is free falling behind and the 3rd world countries are going to eat us alive. India now owns Land rover, saudis have chunks of Citigroup .. its over people.

    NEW YORK – Panden Rota, a Nepalese producer of fine rugs, is about to become a Manhattanite, the owner of a sumptuous apartment in the luxurious downtown neighborhood of Battery Park City.
    ADVERTISEMENT

    His primary residence will remain Katmandu, but his new home will allow him to spend more time at U.S. showrooms that display his rugs and with a brother and sister in New York. “I looked at many places and I decided that a Manhattan apartment will always hold its value,” he said.

    Rota is part of a growing wave of foreigners who buy second homes in the U.S. for work and play and as an investment.

    Cosmopolitan cities like New York and Miami have long served as second homes for affluent and accomplished foreigners. But the trend is growing. One in five American realtors has sold a home to a foreign investor in the past year, according to the National Association of Realtors.

    The events of 2007 have made the U.S. much more affordable for international home buyers. Severe dollar declines against the euro and pound have made U.S. homes much cheaper for Europeans. But even foreign buyers without that sort of currency advantage are benefiting from sharp drops in housing prices at a time when problems in mortgage lending are keeping many Americans out of the market.

    At the same time, many foreign real estate markets, especially in Europe, have experienced sharp increases in home prices.

    “There are markets like Paris and London and the South of France where some home values have gone up 100 percent,” said Christian Voelkers of the Hamburg realtor Engel & Volkers Group. “At the same time, U.S. prices have either stayed put or come down.”

    Volkers’ firm is eager to take advantage of this opportunity. Engel & Volkers, which caters to wealthy clients, plans to open 300 residential sales offices across the U.S. in the next few years. So far, it has offices in Florida, Connecticut and two in New York. The company said it is on track to open 30 more locations on the East Coast by the end of 2008.

    The currency advantage is greatest for British citizens, given that each pound is worth well over $2. By contrast, the euro currently is worth about $1.45 while the Canadian dollar in recent weeks is hovering near parity with its U.S. counterpart.

    “At this point the English are more actively looking in Manhattan than American buyers,” said Ivan Hakimian of New York’s Itzhaki Properties.

    Mia Wilkinson, a transplanted Englishwoman who works for Rubloff Residential Properties in Chicago, deals often with British and other foreign executives transferred to the U.S. for a few years. “Before, people would stay in corporate rentals,” she said. “But now these same people are turning around and buying properties.”

    Wilkinson, who has been in the U.S. six years, has bought property in Chicago herself.

    The expansion of foreign real estate investment in the U.S. also means that areas that once were not popular with international buyers are now receiving interest. Doug Aitkin, who works for North Carolina’s World Trade Center, said the Research Triangle area — comprising the cities of Durham, Raleigh and Chapel Hill — is now getting inquiries from French and Scandinavian home buyers, a new phenomenon.

    Constantine Valhouli, a principal with Boston’s Hammersmith Group, which advises real estate developers, said foreign home buying appears to have varied drivers in different cities. In Boston, property purchases by foreigners are strongly linked to the city’s booming biotechnology and life sciences industries. In addition, Boston venture funds are drawing large numbers of German, Swiss and Irish workers, some of whom take advantage of favorable dollar rates against the euro to help buy some real estate.

    Even some foreign students at Boston’s large collection of colleges and universities are able to join the ranks of home buyers. “There are some Boston neighborhood where it makes sense for students to buy and some where it does not,” Valhouli said. For instance, many one-bedroom apartments in attractive neighborhoods near the colleges rent for $1,300 to $1,800 a month, which equals the mortgage payment on a condo worth $200,000 to $300,000.

    Similarly, Charlie Jefferson, a Philadelphia developer, was surprised when two units in a new development in the University City area, home to the University of Pennsylvania, were purchased by foreign students. “We had never seen that before,” he said. “In the past we didn’t see foreign students with that kind of money.”

    In Los Angeles, demand from wealthy South Koreans for attractive condo towers and mid-level rise buildings has helped revitalize the once forlorn downtown neighborhood, according to Johanna Gunther, a senior vice president with the Ryness Co. there. “Downtown has not been an attractive urban residential market until recently, but Korean demand has been a big factor in the change,” she said. In recent years, the South Korean government has loosened restrictions on foreign exchange transactions, facilitating a large rise in Korean purchases of U.S. properties.

    And Scottsdale’s phlegmatic residential real estate market reportedly is getting a boost from Canadian buyers eager to enjoy Arizona’s dry warm climate.

    The National Association of Realtors found that 7.3 percent of the houses sold last year in Florida were sold to foreign buyers. Miami in particular is a magnet for buyers from throughout Latin America and Europe, helping to mitigate the fallout from the area’s housing slump.

    Despite the news waves of foreign buyers in many U.S. markets, few suggest international investors by themselves can entirely offset the nation’s housing crisis, brought on by the failure of many subprime mortgage loans made to home buyers with weak credit histories. Hammersmith Group’s Valhouli stressed that the fact that international investors are helping to prop up some troubled housing markets only emphasizes the level of stress in residential real estate.

    “Relying on foreign real estate investors is fundamentally as risky as relying on subprime mortgages,” he said, noting that both phenomena distort demand and can conceal the depths of the problem U.S. home buyers and sellers face. “Foreign buyers aren’t going to save the U.S. housing market. They’re just a temporary fix like a finger in the dike. Fundamentals matter.”

  99. Confused In NJ says:

    Retail Sales Fell for Fourth Week, ShopperTrak Says (Update2)

    By Joseph Galante

    Dec. 24 (Bloomberg) — Sales at U.S. stores fell for the fourth straight week as rising fuel and food prices threatened to hand retailers their worst holiday shopping season in five years.

    Spending fell 2.2 percent for the week through Dec. 22 from a year earlier, Chicago-based ShopperTrak RCT Corp. said in a statement today. Discounter Target Corp. said separately that sales at stores open at least a year may decline in December after customer visits slowed following the Thanksgiving holiday.

    A 7.6 percent increase on the Saturday before Christmas wasn’t enough to lift retailers’ revenue last week as shoppers grapple with $3-a-gallon gasoline and a deepening housing slump. This year’s holiday shopping season may grow at the slowest pace since 2002 as stores struggle to recapture the gains they saw on the Friday after Thanksgiving

    “After a huge start of Black Friday, the consumers have never been excited since then to shop,” Britt Beemer, chairman of America’s Research Group, said in a Bloomberg Radio interview. “The deals haven’t gotten any better.”

    Sales rose 19 percent over the weekend from Dec. 21 to Dec. 23, ShopperTrak said.

    “Last-minute shoppers swamped the stores on the weekend,” Bill Martin, co-founder of ShopperTrak, said in a statement.

    Internet Sales

    U.S. Internet sales have risen at the slowest pace on record as discounts cut revenue in the final days of the holiday shopping season.

    Online spending from Nov. 1 through Dec. 21 increased 19 percent from the same period a year earlier to $26.3 billion, Reston, Virginia-based ComScore Inc. said Dec. 23. Sales trailed last year’s 26 percent growth and the research firm’s forecast for a 20 percent gain during this year’s holidays.

    The National Retail Federation in Washington has said that sales may rise 4 percent this November and December, the smallest gain in five years. ShopperTrak has predicted a 3.6 percent increase.

    Although customer visits increased for the week ended Dec. 22, “this increase was not sufficient to compensate for the unfavorable traffic trends that carried over into December from the week following Thanksgiving,” Target said on a recorded call.

  100. 3b says:

    #103 reinvestor:You poor,poor fool, I truly feel sorry for you to live in your world of denial. But enough I am of to a party!!

  101. reinvestor101 says:

    #106 3b

    Yeah, you’ve got a pity party to go to. Don’t forget your hanky

  102. Essex says:

    #2……………….reinvestor………..we bought a new car today from the Swedish Subsidiary of FORD………..how’s dat for feedin’ the beast…(I also copped a sweet vintage Fender Pro Reverb from a nice guy in Bethlehem….)

    HAPPY CHRISTMAS

  103. rhymingrealtor says:

    Merry Christmas James,

    This one sounded the most interesting.

    Beyond Greed and Fear: Understanding Behavioral Finance and the Psychology of Investing – Hersh Shefrin

    With sincere Thanks and Wishes for a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

    KL

  104. reinvestor101 says:

    108-Essex

    You did good to buy another car. I like that. Now all you have to do is get a house to go along with the car. Yes, you can do this!

    Merry Christmas!

  105. Essex says:

    #110—–Re…..homeowner here….since 2002. And each year we have done improvements….damn glad I like the place. Cause it aint cheap livin the dream.

  106. reinvestor101 says:

    What? Then why are U in here with these gloom and doomers? If you bought in 2002, you should be in good shape!

    Essex Says:
    December 24th, 2007 at 10:20 pm
    #110—–Re…..homeowner here….since 2002. And each year we have done improvements….damn glad I like the place. Cause it aint cheap livin the dream

  107. reinvestor101 says:

    What kind of volvo did you get? I used to own a 740 Turbo. It was a great car

  108. Essex says:

    Good shape…..yes….relatively speaking….I’m blessed as they say. Here’s hoping the rest of us their own bliss. Happy Christmas. By the grace of God go we.

  109. Essex says:

    #113 — We are on Volvo #3 first was a v70 and this one is…..an 07 xc70….to replace the xc70 from 03….and so it goes.

    ***Dreamtheater…if you are out there….I watched NAMESAKE one of your recommended list…I think….Very fine film….enjoyed.

  110. njrebear says:

    Happy x-mas/holidays to you all.

  111. njrebear says:

    Weekend Surge May Not Rescue U.S. Retailers From Holiday Slump

    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aG4Er3qLHtTg&refer=home

    Even with the late increase, spending during the week through Dec. 22 fell 2.2 percent, the fourth straight week of declines.

  112. Clotpoll says:

    3b (76)-

    Was at Xmas Eve last night with my cousin, who trades commercial paper at C.

    His mantra for ’08?

    “We’re going to zero.”

  113. 3b says:

    #110 reinvestor: And You can start saving, so you will not have to eat cat food when you retire.

  114. 3b says:

    #118 clot:We’re going to zero.”

    Perhaps you can talk some sense into reinvestor.

    Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  115. Essex says:

    Catfood is delicious if prepared properly…..or so I have been told….it is all is the spices and presentation.

  116. Shore Guy says:

    #2

    I prefer to think of myself as a curmudgeon.

  117. Shore Guy says:

    29 “John Says:
    December 24th, 2007 at 10:13 am
    2008 will be Old Testament bad in Real Estate!!!”

    THAT explains the locusts I saw swarming all over Asbury Park!

  118. Shore Guy says:

    # 39

    That is all Big Brother asks. It is about time people started catching on ;)

  119. Shore Guy says:

    “John Says:
    December 24th, 2007 at 11:19 am
    Actually, Christmas was originally a Pagan holiday.”

    AND, through the early 1800s was largely a drunken feast of debauchery and threats. The words of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” are drawn from this early era and reflect a band of drunken workers descending on a landowner or wealthy merchant’s home demanding to be fed and provided alcohol otherwise the house will be ransacked. The temperance movement latched onto the consumer-driven view of Christmas as a way of turning it away from the hedonistic ways of the past. In a way, consumerism saved Christmas, before again doing it harm.

  120. Outofstater says:

    “when you buy Chinese, you’re actually buying American.” Yeah and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce, they taste a lot more like prunes than rhubarb does. (Thank-you, Groucho Marx). I knew I should have stayed away from the laptop on Christmas. What was I thinking? Gotta get more eggnog.

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