Where are home prices going in NJ?

From the Record:

Home buyers will have the upper hand

Good news for buyers, bad news for sellers: Home prices in North Jersey and nationwide are likely to continue to fall in the first half of 2009, and stay flat for several years after that, analysts say.

Prices for existing homes, which make up the bulk of the market, dropped about 7.5 percent in North Jersey in 2008 from 2007’s numbers, according to data from Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller indexes and the New Jersey Multiple Listing Service. But home values in this region are still almost double what they were in 2000, before the housing boom began.

And values in the area are holding up much better than the national averages, which were dragged down by price declines of 25 percent or more in troubled, overbuilt markets in California, Florida, Nevada and Arizona.

Predicting the future of home prices is a tricky business (after all, it was only a few years ago that some people thought house prices could never go down). Home prices reflect a complex stew of forces — including the economy’s overall health, interest rates, mortgage lending standards and workers’ incomes, among other factors.

“If you look at it from the long-term standpoint, one of the fundamental determinants of house prices is income — fundamentally, the ability of people to pay,” said LaVaughn Henry, a senior economist at the PMI Group in California.

After all, you make your monthly housing payments out of your paychecks. When housing prices rise much quicker than incomes, eventually would-be buyers can’t afford homes, and prices have to fall to more affordable levels.

That’s what we’re seeing now. From 1998 to 2006, when New Jersey incomes rose only about 10 percent, house prices in New Jersey rose 135 percent, according to James Hughes, a Rutgers economist. (Normally, over the long term, national house prices rise about 1 percentage point above the inflation rate, or about 4 to 5 percent a year.)

With the economy in recession, incomes are very unlikely to rise much this year. Employers are cutting jobs, not hiring workers or giving big raises to their employees.

“People aren’t going to be in a position to be purchasing homes if the recession continues and the already-high unemployment rate kicks even higher,” said Paul Merski, economist for the Independent Community Bankers Association.

When a lot of households are being formed — as in the mid-1980s, with baby boomers starting families — the demand for homes pushes up prices rapidly.

But what happens when the baby boomers start retiring in large numbers?

“The big question is whether the boomers are going to want to move south, as their parents’ generation did,” said O’Keefe. If baby boomers’ properties hit the market in a big wave, that could push down house prices.

“At the end of the day, a lot of what happens to northern New Jersey house prices will be driven by what’s happening in the financial markets,” said Henry.

And Wall Street has suffered a meltdown, with job losses expected to total in the tens of thousands. So financial professionals, typically the target market for luxury homes in affluent North Jersey towns, won’t be trading up to new McMansions anytime soon.

During the housing boom, many homeowners got exotic loans with artificially low teaser rates, which helped them buy houses that they couldn’t afford. The result has been a disaster for the financial industry and the economy, destroying Lehman Brothers as well as a number of mortgage lenders.

These days, lenders have tightened their standards.

“Never again in our lifetimes are we going to see no-documentation loans, zero-down loans and all those toxic formats,” Hughes said.

That’s good news for the health of the financial system, but it means a lot of people who would love to buy simply can’t get mortgages.

That tends to depress house prices, because it lowers demand.

Construction of new homes in New Jersey is likely to drop below 14,000 units in 2009, the lowest since World War II, O’Keefe said.

“I can’t imagine there are many builders who think that 2009 is the year to get ahead of the market,” O’Keefe said.

As builders sell off their inventory, the supply of new homes for sale will shrink.

“That will ultimately help to bring about stabilization in prices, because builders are not adding more units on the market,” Hughes said.

The number of distressed sales has risen dramatically in New Jersey. There were more than 46,000 foreclosure actions filed in New Jersey in the 12 months ended in September, up 46 percent from the same period a year earlier.

“When foreclosed homes go on the market, that puts downward pressure on home prices because it increases the supply, and these homes are sold for fire-sale prices,” Merski said.

Short sales are also on the rise. In short sales, the lender agrees to take less than the amount owed on the mortgage, so a financially stressed homeowner can unload the property at current market values. Like foreclosures, these sales tend to depress property values nearby, because appraisers and lenders base price comparisons on recent sales in the area.

This entry was posted in Economics, Housing Bubble, New Jersey Real Estate. Bookmark the permalink.

254 Responses to Where are home prices going in NJ?

  1. Essex says:

    Thank you Grim…a new thread…Whew.

  2. Everything's Hobroken says:


    As much as I love lurking here, the threads past 200 posts make me look more idiotic while I frantically scroll down on my IPhone.

  3. yikes says:

    to the Bucks buyers/owners

    How has it gone trying to reduce your tax bill? I feel like I’m ready to take on a challenge this April.

  4. cobbler says:

    d2b/#427 (previous thread)

    Re. China flight on Continental:
    a) Some 777s that CO flies have regular 110 V power; some have low voltage (which needs a special adapter called Empower) – and even that only on 1st 6 or 8 rows of economy. Better check with them which variety they fly on your route.

    b) Among the major credit card issuers, Capital One is the only one still not having any foreign transaction fee, unless they introduced it since November – but they would have sent me a notice. Discover also doesn’t charge, but nobody will take it in China. Amex takes 2%.

  5. BC Bob says:


    1) $9 hammer, $100 toilet seat? LMAO, like comparing a fender bender on Rt 17 to the Titanic.

    2) Trade to profit from it? Whew, I wish I received that advice over the last 1-1/2 years.

    3) Charitable work? Thanks for the suggestion. I currently work with various charities. Unfortunately, I will never be able to duplicate the work of Hank, charity and the fraternity.

  6. sas says:

    “The American Bankers Association on Friday said it was opposed to a plan created by lawmakers and Citigroup Inc. that would give bankruptcy judges the authority to eliminate some mortgage debt and help reduce foreclosures”

  7. spam spam bacon spam says:


    2) Trade to profit from it? Whew, I wish I received that advice over the last 1-1/2 years.

    I love it. Reminded me of this:


    2 of my favs:

    Wait until stocks are just about to soar in value, then buy lots of them. When they’ve gone as high as they’re going to go, sell them all.

    If at all possible, start out with $80 million. This will reduce both the pressure on you and the risks involved.

  8. sas says:

    American Bankers Association:

    “Its members – the majority of which are banks with less than $125 million in assets – represent over 95 percent of the industry’s $13.6 trillion in assets and employ over 2 million men and women”

  9. chicagofinance says:

    spam spam bacon spam says:
    January 11, 2009 at 8:32 pm
    BC… 2) Trade to profit from it? Whew, I wish I received that advice over the last 1-1/2 years. I love it. Reminded me of this:
    2 of my favs:
    ait until stocks are just about to soar in value, then buy lots of them. When they’ve gone as high as they’re going to go, sell them all. If at all possible, start out with $80 million. This will reduce both the pressure on you and the risks involved.

    Bost & Monty: maybe you don’t realize it, but you are supporting my view in my opinion…..if there is so much chaos then a tourniquet WAS needed….of course it is easy to attack my viewpoint, what happened and is happening is outrageous….were you this bent out of shape by the Iraq invasion? Were you outraged at Kellogg Brown & Root.

    I worked at AT&T and watched heads roll as Ebbers beat our pants off….

    Joel, you wanna know something? Every now and then say, “What the f-ck.” “What the f-ck” gives you freedom. Freedom brings opportunity. Opportunity makes your future.

  10. alia says:

    401 (last thread), cindy:
    omg yes… (in fact… it also helps explain what peple mean when they say “middle class values”…)

    i think i will have to read that book. thank you!

  11. chicagofinance says:

    OK…you guys are hungry lions…..

    here is raw meat….

    Realtors’ Former Top Economist Says Don’t Blame the Messenger

    Mr. Lereah Called ‘Soft Landing’ in 2006; It Didn’t Come, and Now His Portfolio Stinks
    FAIRFAX STATION, VA. — On a recent weekday, David Lereah sat in the sunroom of his five-bedroom colonial house. The only sound was the yapping of his dog Maisy.

    Once one of the world’s most-visible housing experts, Mr. Lereah is disconnected from his old life. The former chief economist for the National Association of Realtors says the group’s top executives won’t return his phone calls. He says he wasn’t invited to the association’s 100th birthday bash last May.

    Mr. Lereah, 55 years old, is one of many prognosticators who won professional accolades during the housing boom, only to see their reputations wither in the bust.

    Throughout 2005, when home prices in the U.S. hit their fifth consecutive annual record, Mr. Lereah was on television so often his wife, Wendy, would catch him by accident. He flew first-class to meetings and speeches in places like Hawaii and Aspen, Colo., staying in suites at expensive resorts.

    His bosses awarded him more responsibility. That year, he published his second book, “Are You Missing the Real Estate Boom?”

    Mr. Lereah continued to make rosy statements amid growing signs of a housing downturn — like this declaration in January 2007: “It appears we have established a bottom.”

    A few months later, NAR announced that existing-home sales fell 2.6% in April from a month earlier and 10.7% from a year earlier.

    Some critics pummeled Mr. Lereah for his optimism. Bloggers nicknamed him “Baghdad Dave,” after the Iraqi information minister Mohammed al-Sahaf, called “Baghdad Bob,” known for his pro-Iraq press briefings at the time of the U.S. invasion.

    Mr. Lereah, who says he left NAR voluntarily, says he was pressured by executives to issue optimistic forecasts — then was left to shoulder the blame when things went sour. “I was there for seven years doing everything they wanted me to,” he said, looking out his window to his tree-filled yard in this Washington suburb. Mr. Lereah now works at home, trying to rebuild his career and saddled with a sagging portfolio of real-estate investments.

    A spokesman for NAR says Mr. Lereah used the same kind of forecasts in his book, which wasn’t an NAR publication.
    NAR, which represents half the 2.6 million licensed real-estate agents in the country, has its critics. One concern is that while the organization collects and releases objective data about home sales, it also provides commentary on those statistics — and has a mission to advance its members.

    Lawrence Roberts, author of “The Great Housing Bubble,” says the Securities and Exchange Commission should regulate NAR the way it regulates financial advisers. “Realtors are currently able to make any statement they wish regarding the investment potential of real estate, no matter how ridiculous,” he says.

    “Realtors are the most trusted resource for real estate information,” says the NAR spokesman in an email, adding that the group “has gathered the most comprehensive data on real estate in the world.” The spokesman says that during his tenure Mr. Lereah was “solely responsible for the content of NAR forecasts and housing reports — both the data and the interpretation.”

    Among the who’s who of experts and policy wonks now accused of irrational sunniness is former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan and Robert Toll, chairman and CEO of Toll Brothers. But Mr. Lereah has gotten more than his share of the finger-pointing in part because he was such a public face during the housing boom.
    Raised in the suburb of Long Beach, N.Y., Mr. Lereah says he decided he wanted to be an economist in high school. His first job was as an economics professor at Rutgers, then at the University of Virginia, and later as a regulator and economist at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

    Mr. Lereah says he was recruited to NAR in 2000 with an offer in the “healthy six figures.” During the boom years, Mr. Lereah was eager to profit himself. He snapped up condos, including two in Washington in 2003 and 2004 and one each in Tampa, Richmond, Va., Alexandria, Va., and Naples, Fla. By 2006, he says, he owned six condos worth between $150,000 and $400,000 apiece.

    In late 2005, the market began to fall, and in the third quarter of 2006 existing-home sales sank 12.7% from a year earlier. Mr. Lereah remained publicly upbeat, saying the market is “likely to pick up a bit” and arguing it was experiencing a “soft landing.”

    Soon, mainstream economists and the press were calling him out. “I thought it was criminal that he kept saying we’d reached bottom,” says Ivy Zelman, former housing-market analyst at Credit Suisse and now head of her own housing-sector research firm. She says she dubbed Mr. Lereah “Mr. Liar-eah.”

    Mr. Lereah says he was starting to worry about the housing market and tried to tone down his optimistic comments with phrases like “we also may be seeing some fallout from a decline in subprime lending.” He says his critics nevertheless “became vicious.”

    Mr. Lereah admits to one mistake: believing there would be no national housing crash. “I have to take the blame for that,” he says. “I never thought it would be as bad as this.”

    In April 2007, Mr. Lereah left NAR, and after working about a year on a start-up venture, took some time off for a few months. He cruised around on his 29-foot sport-fishing boat and played golf at the country club. He eventually started consulting on the real-estate market again, this time to hedge funds and Japanese companies.

    Mr. Lereah now works in a small upstairs office that doubles as an exercise room. He has started his own company, Reecon Advisors, that puts out a weekly newsletter on the housing market and provides consulting services. “I feel I have such a refreshing view now because I’m not representing any interests,” says Mr. Lereah.

    He charges $495 annually for the newsletter, and currently has fewer than 50 paying subscribers — a number Mr. Lereah aims to increase to 1,500 by the end of this year.

    “He’s starting to make some money off it now, not much,” says Mrs. Lereah. “We have an expensive lifestyle: a big house, a housekeeper once a week, college tuitions, the country club.”

    Mrs. Lereah, a CPA who also works at home, decided the only way she and her husband could work in the same house was if they pretended they were at outside offices. They communicate during the day by email and cellphone. Every morning, Mr. Lereah drives to a Dunkin’ Donuts or McDonald’s and eats in the car, just as he would have on his commute to NAR.

    Mr. Lereah’s real-estate portfolio has taken a hit. He says his 3,068-square-foot five-bedroom, 5½-bathroom brick house has lost about 20% of its value in the past two years. (It is worth $780,000 now, according to Zillow.com.) His condos are down, too. He now says housing prices won’t recover for some time.

    His successor at NAR, Lawrence Yun, however, says things might be looking up. In his latest news release, Mr. Yun says that although the pending home-sales index based on contracts signed in November fell 5.3 from a year earlier, with a “proper real-estate focused stimulus measure,” home sales could rise more than expected, by more than 10%, to 5.5 million, in 2009.

  12. chicagofinance says:

    grim unmod

  13. Cindy says:

    (10) Alia

    Re: ” A Framework for Understanding Povety” Interesting huh…there’s lots more. I attended an inservice and purchased the book.

    Students come with “rules” at home and it is my job to have a working relationship with kids and families. I need to know where they are coming from…what matters to them. It has helped.

    Chi – Will Rogers made a good living cracking political jokes in the 1920’s. I used to think they were funny. Now that I see how corrupt the whole thing is…they take on a new meaning…what did he say? I don’t belong to any organized political party – I’m a Democrat.

  14. Cindy says:

    (6) SAS – So what do you think about the prospect of judges being able to modify loans?

  15. JBJB says:

    When the MSM starts talking market bottom, is that the sign that housing is starting to rebound?

  16. KareninCA says:

    from former thread:
    Barbara – congratulations!
    the biggest reason not to buy a newly built house (esp. in your situation) is that new construction materials can off-gas all sorts of horrible fumes, which you can’t necessarily smell, but can be bad for you anyway (and little kids are esp. vulnerable to that crud). think formaldehyde, then multiply. I wouldn’t want to buy anything that wasn’t at least 30 years old (ideally 50+ years old) for that reason.

  17. Sybarite says:


    I’ll also add that most new construction I’ve seen has been pretty shoddily constructed.

  18. alia says:

    cindy: found it on amazon, it’s in my shopping cart.

  19. alia says:

    congratulations barbara!

    #2 is sleeping on my lap as i type.

    a second one changes your life as much as the first one does.

    i hear the fourth is easier. ;>

  20. JBJB says:

    Let me re-phrase. Speaking in terms of contrary indicators. When the MSM finally goes all in with the housing free fall (i.e. no caveats about 2H 2009 recovery, or “prices will stabilize” nonsense) is that mean the rebound is on? I can remember when I knew for sure the top was in – a cousin of mine (who knows zip about real estate, investing, or renovation) called to tell me he wanted to buy a run down house on his street and flip it.

  21. Cindy says:

    Will Rogers….

    There’s no trick to being a humorist when you have the whole government working for you.

    I don’t make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.

    Be thankful we’re not getting all the government we’re paying for.

    Ancient Rome declined because it had a Senate; now what’s going to happen to us with both a Senate and a House.

  22. lisoosh says:

    JBJB – IMHO, no.

    The MSM has been calling bottom every month for the past 2 years.

    Right now people are looking for the bottom and salivating over the chance to profit from it.

    The bottom will be when absolutely everybody you ever meet tells you that you are mad to buy a house unless you plan on dying in it, and even then they’re not sure.

  23. Barbara says:

    Thanks for everyone’s input. I just KNEW I hated new construction for good reason :) Its been a 5 yr long house hunt and I’m sharing a loft bedroom with husband, 5 yr old son and soon to be daughter (this march). Its a huge loft room but still.

  24. Stu says:


    You sound like my wife. She constantly laments our lack of overhead lighting. Being that we planned to live in what will soon be a rental for the past 5 years, it just didn’t seem to make financial sense. Of course, it did prompt me to spend an extra $50 on my latest laptop for the backlit keyboard option. ;) Hang in there, your ray of sunlight is near.

  25. lisoosh says:

    Cindy – One thing jumped out at me about the Poverty book you mentioned, and maybe it was just the synopsis.

    There wasn’t any mention of working class.

    It went from dumpster diving poverty, to status obsessed middle class to wealthy. Is that in the book or is the concept of working class just something that no longer either exists or seems like a reasonable thing to be?

  26. Barbara says:

    ours will become a rental too. My son sees kids on TV ans says “will I have a room someday?” Oh brother. BTW I’m still hoping to live in Montclair if prices come down but the taxes have got me all kinds of worried.

  27. d2b says:

    I don’t understand. Why not just get a different rental? If you own the loft place, why not put up a couple of walls?

    Even if you did own the loft space, why not rent a house that fits your needs and rent out you own place? They are two different transactions and really should be looked at as such.

  28. still_looking says:



    omigod, so funny!


  29. still_looking says:

    lisoosh 21

    he bottom will be when absolutely everybody you ever meet tells you that you are mad to buy a house unless you plan on dying in it, and even then they’re not sure.

    People today still tell me (at parties, work, social events) “Now is a great! time to buy….

    I have been hearing this for almost 3 yrs.

    It’s laughable.


  30. still_looking says:

    spam, wow! now I am officially “farm jealous.”

    Even “outhouse jealous.”

    A note on outhouses. If yours is a really really old one and it has not been dug out already.

    There are folks (I know cuz my god-father does this) who dig them out. Years gone by folks used to throw just about everything in them: old bottles, worn kitchen stuff, old utensils, you name it.

    They would find all kinds of crazy things in them, some of them were real treasures – I have to call him later today -not at 0400 :) –and ask him specifically what he found.

    Since he deals in antique glass, crystal, redware, etc. I think that’s the stuff they were mining for.

    If you ever move the thing, consider digging the site.


  31. still_looking says:

    When is our next GTG? I need some notice to request to get the day/night off.


  32. bairen says:

    “If you look at it from the long-term standpoint, one of the fundamental determinants of house prices is income — fundamentally, the ability of people to pay,”

    How come Greenie couldn’t figure that one out?

  33. bairen says:

    #28 still

    I hear you. I think prices have to fall about 40% off the peak for us to be able to afford even a cape/ranch/ small colonial in decent shape.

  34. bairen says:

    Saw a nice house in Westfield on the web for “only” 450k. Saw it has 10k a year in taxes. Laughed and scratched Brigadoon off the list, unless prices fall 30% to 40% off today’s list.

  35. DL says:

    Burlington Township, facing $1.6 million shortfall, plans layoffs.

    Burlington leaders blame the layoffs on the state-imposed cap that became effective in 2008, saying scrapped real estate deals, the declining addition of tax ratables, less revenue from fees and permits, and a smaller surplus have created a budget hole that is difficult to fill without hiking taxes above the limit.


  36. kettle1 says:


    that 450K house in montclair would need to be about 250K to hit long term trends with taxes like that…… yep we are bottoming out.

  37. still_looking says:

    New Jersey offers programs to forestall foreclosure

    By Adrienne Lu

    Inquirer Trenton Bureau
    New Jersey residents worried about losing their homes to foreclosure soon will have three state programs to turn to for help.

    “The magnitude of the foreclosure crisis has made many New Jersyans feel that maintaining their dream of home ownership is beyond their control,” said Gov. Corzine, who signed legislation yesterday creating two of the programs. “It shouldn’t be.”

    State officials announced the start of the third program, which allows homeowners facing foreclosure to undergo mediation.

    That program encourages borrowers and lenders to reach an agreement, with the help of a neutral mediator, allowing residents to keep their homes. It was created through a joint effort of the judiciary, the Office of the Attorney General, the Housing Mortgage Finance Agency, the Public Advocate, the Department of Banking and Insurance, and the nonprofit Legal Services of New Jersey.

    “The difference between calling or not calling our hotline could be the difference between keeping a home or losing a home,” said Attorney General Anne Milgram.

    The state anticipates that as many as 16,600 homeowners may participate in the mediation program.

    The guidelines for the two programs created by the legislation signed yesterday are being drafted. The state anticipates starting the programs this spring.

    The Mortgage Stabilization Program will allow homeowners to apply for loans of up to $25,000 to reduce mortgage payments to affordable levels. The program is limited to homeowners below income limits that vary according to county.

    The Housing Assistance and Recovery Program will help homeowners facing imminent foreclosure to stay in their homes while paying rent until they are able to buy back their homes.

    The state has allocated $25 million for the mortgage program and $15 million for the recovery program, drawing the money from a fund intended to reduce long-term debt.

    Overall, the state hopes to stave off at least half of the 60,000 foreclosures anticipated for 2009; there were an estimated 48,000 in 2008.


    Does this sound like a situation that is stabilizing or getting progressively worse despite intervention after intervention?

    ..remember, the newly unemployed may not even be included in the current round of foreclosures… theirs is still coming down the pike. Plus, if they remain unemployed or even under-employed, they are in deep shit regardless…


  38. bairen says:

    #36 kettle1

    I don’t see how young families can afford to buy even a starter house in a town with good schools. No plankton, no trade ups.

    At least the folks on the Hindenburg had a nice view.

  39. still_looking says:

    and… yet more anectdata.

    seeing more and more uninsured, underinsured (read medicaid) and charity care than ever.

    I go into a patient’s room and on the bedside stand are the stack of “how to apply for charity care” paperwork.

    I asked one patient, “What medical problems do you have?”

    He answered, “I have Medicaid.”

    Puzzled, I told him, “No, what medical problems do you have, like high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma?”

    He responds, “Oh, I thought you were asking what medical coverage do I have.”

    The nurse and I just looked at each other.


  40. grim says:

    From the Record:

    FDA orders Actavis to close

    Up to 100 local pharmaceutical jobs are in jeopardy after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration shut down a township generic drug manufacturer for not meeting federal quality control standards.

  41. grim says:

    From NJBIZ:

    New Jersey’s Unemployed to Automatically Qualify for Additional Benefits

    The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development announced today that it will automatically file a claim for 13 additional weeks of federal Extended Unemployment Compensation Tier II benefits on behalf of approximately 60,000 unemployed workers who currently are collecting federal Extended Unemployment Compensation Tier I benefits.

    Federal legislation enacted in November provided for a second tier of Extended Unemployment Compensation benefits, which will extend the benefits in states where the average unemployment rate is at least 6.0 percent for three consecutive months. New Jersey reached the 6.0 percent average unemployment rate for the three-month period ending November 2008; as of the week ending January 10, 2009, workers in the state will now be qualified for Tier II EUC benefits, according to the state Department of Labor.

  42. grim says:

    From the Day (CT):

    Mohegan Sun Cuts Employee Salaries

    Faced with another year of the recession that has taken an unprecedented toll on the gaming industry, Mohegan Sun officials announced a series of cost-cutting measures Sunday after unveiling them at a quarterly meeting of the Mohegan Tribe’s membership.

    The casino, intent on maintaining its 13-year record of avoiding layoffs, will instead reduce the salaries of its work force of about 9,800 employees, as of Feb. 1.

    Senior managers at the level of vice president and above will have their pay cut by 10 percent while middle managers’ pay will be reduced by 7.5 percent. Line and hourly workers will have their pay cut by 4 percent.

    In addition, the casino will suspend all annual and merit-based raises and employer-matched 401(k) contributions.

  43. kettle1 says:

    grim 40

    you should have seen what the previous owners of that facility were doing……. might have preferred Chinese meds

  44. Cindy says:

    (25) Lisoosh

    “There wasn’t any mention of working class.” You are right. I certainly didn’t find myself in the lists provided.

    I believe the purpose was to inform us that poverty is not just a monetary problem. There were times when I found her comments close to bigotry.

    If you have worked with the public for any length of time you already know this disparity exists. Her point is that in schools, if you are not aware of the “rules” many need to follow at home, you may not be connecting with the students and that can hinder their progress.

    Her worry was more that too many school teachers may come from middle class upbringings and not be aware of the “rules” of poverty. Having lived without a car and not had a checking account etc., I felt like I could relate to the entire gamut of class “rules”
    at one point in my life or another.

    It’s pretty much common sense…but I found it interesting.

  45. SG says:

    Maria Bartiromo Interview

    Columbia’s Amar Bhidé and NYU’s Nouriel Roubini

    Do you see any positives coming out of this crisis?
    The U.S. has been living in a situation of excesses for too long. Consumers were out spending more than their income and the country was spending more than its income, running up large current-account deficits. Now we have to tighten our belts and save more. The trouble is that higher savings in the medium term are positive, but in the short run a consumer cutback on consumption makes the economic contraction more severe. That’s the paradox of thrift. But we need to save more as a country, and we have to channel more resources to parts of the economy that are more productive. And when you have too many financial engineers and not as many computer engineers, you have a problem.

  46. DL says:

    I take Clot’s warning seriously. Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s much I can do about it. At first I thought that even though things would get bad, by being in cash and $ we would dodge the bullet. Now I’m beginning to have doubts about the future of the entire financial system. Do I retire by the end of this year as planned (looking like a foolish idea with each passing day?) Do I buy a house in NJ with cash as planned (PA certainly more attractive from prop tax perspective; NJ’s situation getting worse by the hour.) Buy euros, gold? My default at the moment is to do nothing. Grapes of Wrath indeed!

  47. Cindy says:

    (45) SG

    Great interview – found it a day or so ago, too.

    “You have talked about past recessions being real opportunities for business. But in past recessions, weren’t businesses able to get lending? And doesn’t the tightness of the credit market today inhibit some opportunities?

    Bhide – Typically not. Most new innovations are started without access to credit in good times and bad. Microsoft was started without any access to credit.

  48. kettle1 says:


    if this plays out anything like 1875, then “doing nothing” in terms of not buying a house, not retiring is probably a good idea. during a deflationary period, cash is king. And remember no government has ever stopped a deflation. Its much more likely that government action to prop up the market only exacerbates deflationary trends and lengthens the pain as opposed to helping.

    look into the crash of 1875 to get an idea of how things will likely play out. 1875 was a crash based on overspeculatuon in RE and excessive railroad expansion. In many ways very similar to today’s situation

  49. kettle1 says:

    2009 the year of the Riot in china?

    China Imports, Exports Tumble

    China’s exports and imports both fell for the second consecutive month in December, with an accelerated contraction in trade offering a bleak outlook for the world’s third-largest economy and highlighting the need for Beijing to rely more on potent fiscal stimuli. The weak trade data, especially that of imports, showed China isn’t just suffering from a global economic slowdown but also from a deterioration in local demand, an engine that the authorities have hoped would keep the economy going and unemployment in check. China’s exports in December fell 2.8% from a year earlier to $111.16 billion, while imports in the month fell 21.3% to $72.18 billion, a person familiar with the data said.


  50. yikes says:

    Dodd on GMA saying that Congress won’t give any money to the President unless they are ‘assurances’ that the $ will go to homeowners (which didn’t happen under TARP).

    it’s so funny how there is zero accountability for $350 bazillion vanished and is unaccounted for.

    how is paulson not taking more heat for this from the mainstream media?

  51. kettle1 says:

    yikes 50

    then they would have to come clean on how bad the financial situation really is. they would also have to shine a light on the robber barons (paulson’s buddies)lining their pockets with tax payer money. Not going to happen!

  52. DL says:

    Seeds of the tax revolt?

    “We’re currently running out of money to operate because we have been unable to adopt our full fiscal-year budget,” said Cherry Hill spokesman Dan Keashen. He called the estimated tax bills a stopgap measure necessary to maintain operations.

    The municipal property-tax rate in the township has climbed about 17 percent for the 2009 fiscal year, which began in 2008. Estimated tax bills will be calculated under the assumption that the state will deliver no extraordinary aid, so any aid that may be delivered later will go toward tax relief, Keashen said.


  53. HEHEHE says:

    I forgot to mention best story I got from my bro in Detroit over the holidays. He is a quality control engineer for a parts maker and has to go down to Chihuahua Mexico to check out a Ford plant several times a year. He said Chihuahua is now a warzone with all the drug gangs basically having taken over the town. Nobody goes outside at night anymore. He said there was a drive by in the lobby of the hotel he normally stays at down there a few months ago followed by a shootout and chase through the streets. All the drug lords have former cops and military officers on their payroll.

    I wouldn’t be surprised once the Oil money dissapears for there to be a complete collapse in Mexico.

  54. grim says:

    From the WSJ:

    Wave of Bankruptcy Filings Expected From Retailers in Wake of Holidays

    Drained by the worst consumer-spending slump in decades and burdened by debt, U.S. retailers are expected to begin a wave of post-holiday bankruptcy filings, altering the landscape at malls and on main streets across the country.

    Retailers are particularly vulnerable in the current downturn after a decade of buoyant consumer spending, which encouraged them to overexpand and overborrow. Now, the banks and private investors who financed the boom are pulling back.

  55. grim says:

    From Reuters:

    Cheap is chic in recession, NRF chief says

    Price has become the most important factor in U.S. consumer purchase decisions and retailers must adapt to that new reality if they are to be successful, the head of a key retail group said on Sunday.

    “What’s so intriguing these days, whether you work on Wall Street or in Wal-Mart, is that it has absolutely become chic to be cheap,” National Retail Federation President and CEO Tracy Mullin said during a session at the group’s annual trade show in New York, which runs through Wednesday.

    “It’s all about price. Factors like quality, selection, store location and customer service are taking a back seat,” said Mullin. “We believe this will continue for the foreseeable future.”

    Citing a survey from BIGresearch, Mullin said half of Americans believe they are now worse off. Consumers are deferring purchases, paying more with cash and reducing their reliance on credit in the U.S. recession, she added.

    Programs such as layaway, expanded last year by retailers such as Sears Holdings, have gained a following, she said.

    When consumers do shop, they are seeking information about products beforehand by doing “aggressive” online research.

  56. HEHEHE says:

    What Hath Big Government Wrought?

    It was big government that brought us Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
    It was big government that sponsored the war in Vietnam and the war in Iraq.
    It was big government that gave us nightmare problems we face with Medicaid and Medicare.
    It was big government that gave us overlapping hundred billion dollar systems in the Army, Navy, and Air Force.
    It is big government that sponsored 10’s of thousands of pork barrel projects and bridges to nowhere.
    It is big government that gave us the Davis Bacon Act and the insanity pf prevailing wages.
    It was big government sponsorship of the rating agencies that created the “AAA” rated securities that went to zero.
    It was big government that took us off the gold standard and illegally confiscated citizen’s money.
    It was big government that allowed fractional reserve lending and theft by inflation this is the root cause of a shrinking middle class today.
    It was big government that created the Fed, and it was the Greenspan Fed that blew serial bubble after bubble culminating in the housing crash we are in today.

    Big government either created or made worse every problem we have today. Yet Time Magazine and free lunch proponents like Krugman propose an even bigger government is necessary to fix the enormous problems of an already too big government.

    Obama for his part, is listening to this madness. If that does not scare you, nothing will.


  57. HEHEHE says:

    Grim unmod 56

  58. grim says:

    From the NY Post:


    THE Federal Deposit In surance Corp. may not have fully washed its hands of IndyMac Bank.

    Despite the agreement to sell of the once-troubled bank last week to a group of private-equity investors for $1.6 billion, the FDIC may be facing up to $10 billion in previously-unknown liabilities linked to mortgages IndyMac has sold to Fannie Mae, The Post has learned.

    Such a haircut to the FDIC’s $34.6 billion insurance fund would leave Sheila Bair’s agency less able to deal with the number of bank failures expected this year.

    Fannie Mae and the FDIC have been battling over the questionable mortgages for months. Fannie wanted IndyMac, while it was being run by the FDIC, to repurchase the loans because they violated their so-called representation and warranty agreements in that they had early payment defaults or were made under fraudulent conditions.

    Fannie even threatened to hold up the sale of the bank until the issue was resolved. Nonetheless, the sale went through last week but the liability for the Fannie mortgages was not transferred to the buyers.

  59. DL says:

    “Waterford Wedgwood cuts jobs; sales talks ongoing.”

    Bad times if you’re trying to sell crystal/porcelain. Rosenthal also announced bankruptcy over the weekend.

  60. Frank says:

    Mortgage Originator Weekly Supply Update

    -By the end of the week lock volume was down as a result of
    rates that reflected volume control and not economics.
    -Originators are closing a record low amount of the
    applications submit (50%ish). Not sure if it is due to
    underwriting, appraisals, or aps walking for lower rates.
    Coupon Last Wk 2 Wks Ago
    4% 50% 24%
    4½% 36% 71%
    5% 5% 2%

    Gn’s only 15% of total-give rus a hug

  61. John says:

    wow nice weekend thread, racism, class warfare, fights all heck is breaking out. My favorite is the muni bond bubble popping!! An asset class that never had a bubble that is still trading at spreads double the last double years is going to pop? That is like saying there is a bubble in used minivan prices. BTW the guy looking for a minivan should buy a left over 2008 brand new town and country. My brotherinlaw just got one for 20K with a MSRP of 36K with a 7 year bumper to bumper warranty. The 7 year warranty is backed by an insurance company so if Chrysler goes bankrupt you are covered.

  62. Barbara says:

    27. d2B
    I’m self employed and the specifics make renting a space to live impossible with regards to my income. No, I won’t get specific, its just how it is. Loft space upstairs isn’t suitable for walls.
    I know renting is the magic bullet on this blog but it won’t work for everyone.

  63. John says:

    A Compelling Muni
    Market Rally with Broadbased
     The municipal bond market charged into the New Year with dramatically lower
    yields and an overall better market tone.
     In our view, there are a wide range of reasons for the improvement, including a
    generally stronger non-Treasury bond market, renewed dealer support, price
    discovery from new deals, renewed institutional buying, and the ongoing collapse
    in short-term rates.
     Above all, in our view, two factors generated support. First, it has become clear
    that state and local governments would participate heavily in the ultimate stimulus
    package enacted by Congress.
     And second, as investors took a more nuanced view, it became clear that the sense
    of panic which pervaded the muni market in early to mid-December included
    overstated fears regarding the likelihood of payment defaults on state and local
     In our view, two recent reports–one by Moody’s, and one from Citi’s Muni Trading
    Desk Strategy team, help provide a context for assessing state and local credit risk.
    Our conclusion is that the risks of downgrades on state and local debt is
    significant, but that the ultimate number of payment defaults stemming from this
    downturn will be modest–assuming that the stimulus package incorporates state
    and local support as we envision.

  64. grim says:

    From DealBreaker:

    Layoffs Watch ’09: BarcLehs

    uts are said to be scheduled to go down today at BarcLehs. Few details at this point, but apparently they are going to be “big” and that “a lot of people that came from the Barclays side of the integration are worried, [since] the Lehman side went through 4-5 rounds of layoffs even before the integration, so any that are left are best-of-the-best.”

  65. Cindy says:


    These guys have a positive outlook…

  66. PGC says:

    Coming to a bank near you.

    From the FT

    State to own 43% of merged Lloyds-HBOS
    Jan 12 2009 09:15
    Dearth of interest from institutional shareholders in the two banks’ secondary placings leaves the Treasury to take up 99% of the unsuscribed new shares


  67. Sean says:

    re: #61 John “An asset class that never had a bubble”

    Ever drive down your street and notice the lousy roads and sidewalks but the fine new school buildings, and fire and police stations? Ever wonder why? Road construction comes straight out of tax revenue, but those buildings just might be paid for using bonds floated in insider deals where tax revenue can be leveraged, leaving yet another economic liability that will climb onto the backs of tax payers in 2009 and 2010 as local property and income tax revenues plunge and waves of municipal bond defaults mark the next stage of decline.

    Don’t even get me started on lease back deals that the towns have used to finance construction that circumvent the rights of the voters because they don’t get the chance to vote on it like they do bonds and let’s not forget what is fast becoming an Armageddon in some towns Credit Default Swaps.

    But don’t take my word for it, let GS and JPM do the talking. Here is their presentation from earlier this year. Cities and towns are levered up with exposure
    and are going to default. If you are buying muni bonds make sure you find out what the underlying CDS exposure is, since it will not all be wine and roses.


  68. Cindy says:


    This guy wants to:
    “Jump Start Spending with a National Housing Lottery”

    He proposes we “gamble” the housing recession away.

  69. grim says:

    From MarketWatch:

    Tarragon announces Chapter 11 filing

    Tarragon Corp. said Monday that it and certain of its subsidiaries have filed for Chapter 11 in New Jersey. The residential real estate developer said it intends to reorganize and seek new financing. It is not expected that there will be any distribution to Tarragon equity holders in conjunction with the bankruptcy cases. Tarragon’s operations are concentrated in the Northeast, Florida, Texas and Tennessee.

  70. grim says:

    Can’t be, can’t possibly be, Tarragon builds on the Gold Coast.

  71. Pat calling 911-HVACHELP says:

    Can anyone recommend a good ceramic or other space heater, or alternate solutions?

    We’re in a short term rental with an extremely open and drafty downstairs. Big French doors and windows in the back, no storm doors, open 2/3 story staircase to the 2nd floor, etc. Dear Landlord put in a new gas heater in the Fall. Problem is that it’s one-zone heat with the thermostat downstairs. The unit won’t stop running. Then the upstairs is like a sauna, and we’re dying up there by 1 am. We turned off the vents in two of the bedrooms, got an insulating thing for the front of the fireplace… but nada.


  72. Rich In NNJ says:

    Jill says:
    January 11, 2009 at 3:07 pm
    OK, all you real estate types…who knows anything about this house in Westwood:

    MLS #2846242

    SOLD: $279,000 12/1/2000
    Mortgage $310,000 9/27/2006


    ACTIVE: $439,000 2/8/2008
    WITHDRAWN: 3/13/2008

    ACTIVE: $387,950 10/16/2008

    Taxes: $7,754.57

  73. grim says:

    Can anyone recommend a good ceramic or other space heater, or alternate solutions?

    Ask the landlord to put in a programmable thermostat. Set the unit to cut back heat at midnight.

  74. Stu says:

    I’ve got that crazy Honeywell Thermostat with the blue and red pins. It works like a charm. Now if only heat would get to our bedroom!

  75. Hard Place says:

    Nice little article from WSJ. NYC housing prices may fall anywhere from 19% to 58% based on GS analysis with expected between 35%-44%. Pretty good analysis.

    Goldman Research Note on Valuation of the New York Apartment Market

    Below is the complete text of a report from Goldman Sachs says that condos in New York would have to shed 35% to 44% of their value to return to levels seen in the last half of the 1990s.

    We use the recently introduced S&P/Case-Shiller index for condominium prices to assess the valuation of the New York apartment market. Although housing market valuation typically has little predictive value for the near term, it is useful for anticipating longer-term moves, especially when prices are far away from equilibrium.

    Indeed, New York apartment prices are very high relative to the observable fundamentals. Using three alternative yardsticks—price/rent, price/income, and affordability —we find that prices would need to decline by 35%-44% to return to the valuation levels seen in the 1995-1999 period, before the start of the recent boom.

    The uncertainty is substantial. On the one hand, the picture would worsen further if per-capita incomes in Manhattan returned from their current level of 3 times the national norm toward the pre-1990s average of 2 times the national norm. On the other hand, it would brighten somewhat if jumbo mortgage rates converged toward conforming rates, perhaps because of a broadening of the Fed’s support measures. In addition, societal and demographic changes could also help, though these types of arguments are difficult to quantify and are often heard just prior to a real estate market downturn.

    Following a decade-long boom, activity in the New York City apartment market is now slowing sharply. The sales reports for the fourth quarter of 2008 released on Monday by two of the largest New York real estate brokers—the Corcoran Group and Prudential Douglas Elliman—suggest that sales dropped by 25%-30% from the fourth quarter of 2007 (see “Striking Declines Seen in Manhattan Real Estate Market,” New York Times, January 6, 2009, page A20). Although the prices of closed sales were little changed from a year earlier, one analyst estimated that the prices of apartments that were under contract but had not yet closed fell by 20% from August to December. Moreover, it is well known that prices lag sales activity in the housing market, so most observers agree that both contract and closing prices are likely to decline in the near term.

    Information on sales and price momentum is very helpful for predicting near-term moves in the real estate market. But in order to gauge the longer-term outlook, it is better to look at fundamental valuation indicators, such as the level of prices relative to rents or incomes, either directly or adjusted by mortgage interest rates. These types of variables don’t have much predictive power over the near term, but they start to become much more powerful at horizons longer than 1-2 years.

    Until recently a fundamental analysis of the New York apartment market was hampered by the lack of high-quality price data. The various brokerage firms publish mean and median prices for both co-ops and condos on a quarterly basis, but these are difficult to interpret due to significant changes over time in the size and quality of apartments being sold. In addition, research firm Radar Logic, Inc., publishes a “price per square foot” series for the New York condo market. However, there is only a year’s worth of history, and changes in the average quality of homes sold can still distort the data even though the Radar Logic approach does control for variations in size.

    But the data situation has improved dramatically with the recent broadening of the S&P/Case-Shiller (CS) repeat sales home price index to cover five of the nation’s largest condominium markets, including New York. These indexes stretch back to 1995—not as far as we would like but much better than what is available currently—and they adjust for changes in both size and quality of the condos by using only matched price observations involving successive transactions in the same condominium for estimating the overall change in prices.

    Admittedly, a repeat sales index does not perfectly adjust for quality changes. In theory, the bias could work in either direction. On the one hand, wear and tear will reduce the value of a given condominium over time if the owner does not look after the property well. On the other hand, upgrades such as new flooring or a nicer kitchen may raise the value. While the CS index seeks to eliminate the influence of these factors by downweighting price change observations that are far out of line with local comparables, this is unlikely to eliminate all sources of bias. Still, we believe that a repeat sales index is far superior to the available alternatives for the purpose of measures changes in underlying real estate prices.

    In analyzing the data, it is useful to look first at the raw numbers for New York condo prices. As shown in the table below, nominal prices tripled from 1995 to 2006, went essentially sideways in 2007, and have declined by about 3% in 2008. The stability since 2005 is somewhat at odds with reports from the New York real estate brokers that still show meaningful gains in mean and median prices over this period. However, we suspect that the apparent contrast is resolved by a shift in transactions toward larger and higher-quality apartments over this period, which would increase the mean and median price figures but leave the CS index unaffected.


    (Jan 2000=100)

    Oct-95 75.3

    Oct-96 75.4

    Oct-97 80.6

    Oct-98 89.2

    Oct-99 97.5

    Oct-00 111.3

    Oct-01 126.7

    Oct-02 144.3

    Oct-03 161.2

    Oct-04 188.8

    Oct-05 222.6

    Oct-06 227.4

    Oct-07 226.7

    Oct-08 221.1

    Source: Standard and Poor’s.

    But are the price gains sustainable? To assess this, we focus on three primary valuation measures:

    1. Price/rent ratio. We divide the CS index by the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ index of owners’ equivalent rent for the New York metropolitan area, and index the resulting ratio to 100 for the average of the 1995-1999 period. We choose this base period because it mostly precedes the recent boom but covers a period when the quality of life in Manhattan had already improved significantly from the 1980s and early 1990s. Hence, a return to the average 1995-1999 valuation level might seem like a fairly neutral assumption.

    2. Price/income ratio. We divide the CS index by the Bureau of Economic Analysis’ measure of personal income per capita, and again index the resulting ratio to 100 for 1995-1999. Although the condo price index covers the entire New York metro area, we use an income series for the County of New York (i.e., Manhattan) rather than the entire metro area. The New York condo market is quite concentrated in Manhattan; this concentration is particularly pronounced in the CS index because it is weighted by value rather than units and therefore typically assigns a much greater weight to condo sales on Fifth Avenue than in Queens. (Note that New York County income is only available through 2006; we somewhat optimistically assume that it has grown at the average national rate since then.)

    3. Affordability. Using a standard mortgage calculator and assuming both a jumbo mortgage and a 30-year maturity, we calculate (an index of) the share of Manhattan per-capita income spent on condo mortgage payments at the current level of the CS index and the current level of jumbo mortgage rates. We again index the resulting ratio to 100 for 1995-1999.

    The table below shows what all three of our indicators say about the current valuation level, as of October 2008. We focus on the percentage decline in nominal condo prices that would be required to bring our three valuation measures back to the 1995-1999 average, assuming no changes in other inputs such as rents, incomes, and mortgage rates.

    Price/Rent Price/Income Affordability

    Required Decline* -44% -37% -35%

    * In order to return to 1995-1999 valuation levels.

    Source: Our calculations. See text for additional explanations.

    Our indicators suggest that New York condo prices would need to fall by between 35% and 44% to return to a neutral valuation level, depending on the valuation measure we choose. Under the (admittedly unrealistic) assumption that prices decline by the same percentage in each market segment, this type of drop would imply that a 1-bedroom condo whose price currently averages roughly $800,000 would decline to $480,000; a 2-bedroom condo would decline from $1.7 million to $1 million; and a 3-bedroom condo would decline from $3 million to $1.8 million. (All these figures are approximate and are loosely based on the brokerage firms’ fourth-quarter reports.)

    Since economies typically grow over time, one would normally hesitate to predict that “mean reversion” in a price/income or price/rent ratio should occur entirely via a decline in prices rather than an increase in incomes or rents. In our case, however, the assumption of flat nominal incomes and rents does not seem excessively pessimistic. In fact, it is quite possible that nominal Manhattan incomes will decline for a while. Such a nominal decline would be extremely unusual at the national level but did occur in Manhattan following the 2001 recession, which was much less severe than the downturn we are currently seeing.

    In fact, it is instructive to consider the potential implications of a return of relative Manhattan incomes toward the national norm prevailing before the Wall Street boom of the past two decades, either because of pay cuts in the financial industry or because of a possible out-migration of affluent individuals. From 1969 to 1986, Manhattan per-capita income averaged 2 times the national average, with no clear trend. Over the next two decades, however, it grew to 3 times the national average. If incomes fell back to the pre-1986 level of 2 times the national average—and if national per capita income remained unchanged—prices would need to fall as much as 58% to return to the 1995-1999 price/income ratio. (The 58% drop is calculated as the 37% drop shown in the table assuming constant income, plus the 33% drop in per capita incomes, minus a term for negative compounding.)

    So is there any hope for the New York apartment market? Apart from a dramatic turnaround in the city’s economic fortunes, the most plausible story is a drop in jumbo mortgage rates. So far, jumbo rates have not benefited much from the recent decline in mortgage rates, but this could change if the Fed (presumably in conjunction with the Treasury) decided in the course of 2009 to broaden its support from the conforming market to the private-label mortgage market. To make an extreme assumption, if the jumbo mortgage rate fell from the current 7% to 5%, this would reduce the “required” price decline from 35% to 19%. Of course, this assumes that affordability is the only measure that matters for home prices and there is no role for the “raw” price/rent or price/income ratio, and that Manhattan incomes stay at 3 times the national average.

    In addition, it could be that societal and demographic changes will keep New York apartment valuations above the levels that prevailed in earlier periods. For example, one might argue that the memory of high crime rates was still fresh enough in 1995-1999 to make this period an excessively pessimistic benchmark. If crime stays low during the current economic downturn, perhaps Manhattan real estate will retain its higher valuation in coming years. Alternatively, one might argue that the aging of the baby boomers will continue to support the New York market as “empty nesters” want to live closer to the city’s attractions. These types of arguments are difficult to quantify and are often heard just prior to the start of a real estate downturn, but they do underscore that our analysis of the observable data on prices, rents, incomes, and interest rates only provides a very partial view of the New York apartment market.

    Source: Goldman Sachs

  76. John says:

    I have a large risk appitite. BTW Housing is the most risky asset in the world. Detroit for instance pretty much is about bottomed out, bottom meaning there are several thousand single family homes in Michagan for sale for one dollar. One thousand homes can be bought for One Thousand dollars. Also a lot of people feel bonds are the new stocks, I don’t want to be a silent owner of stocks anymore where I have no rights to tell you how to run the business yet when you go under I lose it all. I want to be a creditor in a bond, I want you to pay me sky high interest and if you go under I want to sieze your assets. Take for example Cablevision, the idiot Dolan family runs amok over there and with there hairbrain schemes have taking the stock from 30 to 18. I have senior cablevision bonds at 14%, if they don’t pay me I am selling them off piecemeal. Until bonds fall under 8% there will be little people buying stocks. Stocks return 10% historically, but on the stock side you have the risk of losing it all in bankruptcy, having your dividiend cut or havin the stock trade at a non dividend paying zombie price for years to come. I rather loan you 10K at 14% for ten years. They are working hard now to force money markets, mortgages, cds, corporates and muni yields way down so folks like me can’t hide in fixed income. The good news is my downpayment money is piling up, the bad news is I may not pull the trigger to buy in 2010 as it will be hard to lose the interest income as homes are even worse than zero interest bond bond as you can’t cash out to you sell yet you have to make monthly interest payments. Housing will only come back, if they drive bond yields down, then drive people back to stocks and finally after people’s risk appeitite goes full vegas buffet hungry will housing come back. The trend is your friend, don’t jump to the last asset to recover first.

  77. comrade nom deplume says:

    [19] alia,

    A second one changes your life also????

    I really did not want to hear that.

  78. Pat calling 911-HVACHELP says:

    I think this one is programmable. I was, unfortunately, distracted when the installer was telling me about it. His Southern accent made it impossible for me to concentrate on what he was saying. When I press the program button, I get days and flashing time…

    We just set it for 68 and hit the hold button.

    We’ve been manually turning it down to 65 before bed, but it’s still prolly hitting 75 up there.

  79. PGC says:

    #78 Nom

    Three can be described as, going from Man to Man Coverage to Zone Defense.

  80. comrade nom deplume says:

    [72] hvac

    If the drafts are coming from windows, including the cold condensation downdraft just from heat loss, try the shrinkwrap for windows. I used it at my old rowhouse in Philly and it worked great. I just put some in my enclosed sunroom, which I use as an office—it has three exposed walls but with the shrinkwrap and solar passive heat, it stays tolerable during the day.

    I know it sounds redneck but once its up, it is pretty invisible, and for what you pay in heat, I am convinced it pays for itself in a month. Well worth the effort it for the comfort too.

  81. Stu says:


    The shrinkwrap does work quite well. My tenants do all of their windows since they are heat freaks and their unit averages about 5 degrees warmer than ours.

    At about noon yesterday, we were at 72 and they were at 78.

  82. PGC says:

    On the subject of heat. Anyone any ideas. I have some steam base board heaters in rooms that are stone cold. They do hiss from time to time so I have to assume the values are working, but they never get warm. I have tried elevating them as much as I can, but no joy. They are furthest from the boiler.

    I will continue my Google investigations.

  83. comrade nom deplume says:

    [80] PGC

    I feel like I am playing defense now. Literally. All weekend, I was blocking little nom from getting near the dog, who she’d been torturing with affection all weekend.

    One bright spot of her antics: Nom de chien was so tired, he did not wake us up in the middle of the night for the first time in a monty.

  84. comrade nom deplume says:


    that’s month, not monty.

  85. Pat calling 911-HVACHELP says:

    nom, that might help. There are large triple casement windows in each room.

    The gas bill was $300 for December. I don’t know if that’s bad or good. My major issue is that we are not sleeping…and I’m the sleepless type already.

  86. comrade nom deplume says:

    [83] PGC

    Is there a control valve? On older radiators, these were on the outflow pipe and became so encrusted that water wouldn’t flow through. If the vent was on the inflow side, it would make some noise, but for all purposes, there was no flow.

    I have that situation now, which isn’t a problem, as I want to put french doors in my dining room so that radiator is going anyway. But that would be my bet.

    Also, make sure there is no air in the lines and that you have an adequate water level. Could be that there is insufficient water to get to that unit.

    Not really an HVAC guy or plumber—just lived with a lot of old stuff in my years.

  87. grim says:

    BusinessWire, no link:

    Courier Will Close Book-mart Press

    Courier Corporation (Nasdaq: CRRC), one of America?s leading book manufacturers and specialty publishers, today announced its decision to close Book-mart Press, Inc., a short-run manufacturing subsidiary in North Bergen, New Jersey, and consolidate its one-color printing operations into other Courier facilities. Acquired by Courier in 1997, Book-mart Press has 72 employees and approximately $7 million in annual sales. Between a weak economy and a changing competitive environment, Book-mart?s capabilities had become increasingly redundant with those of other Courier plants. The company estimates that the plant closing will be completed within the next 60 days, and that severance expenses and other related costs will total approximately $2 million ($0.10 per diluted share) over the next two quarters.

    ?We deeply regret having to make this announcement at such a troubled time in our national economy,? said Courier Chairman and Chief Executive Officer James F. Conway III. ?Yet it is that very circumstance that has made this action imperative. We appreciate the loyalty and professionalism of Book-mart?s employees through the years, and we are determined to make every effort to help them through this inevitably painful transition. At the same time, I want to reassure Book-mart?s customers that their work will remain in good hands at our other manufacturing plants, and our commitment to outstanding service is undiminished.?

  88. comrade nom deplume says:

    [86] Pat

    $300 may be average, depending on space. I have an older 9 room house and my bill was over $300. I also spent nearly that much in Philly, in a rowhouse half the size.

    If you have large casement windows, the regular shrink kits may not be large enough and you will have to get the patio door size. That’s a bit more money, but casements should be good candidates for shrinkwrapping. Just be sure to pop off the handles (for obvious reasons).

  89. John says:

    RE 87, sandblast the thing, they unbolt, I did it at my brother-in-laws house, we unbolted them took them to a commecial place that sandblast the years of paint off them and replaced the values, when we put them back in they worked ten times better and looked like works of art.

  90. John says:

    WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — President Bush said Monday he’d be willing to ask Congress for the remaining $350 billion in U.S. financial bailout funds if President-elect Obama requests it. Obama’s team has reportedly been talking with the White House about having Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson ask Congress for access to the fund as early as this week. At his final press conference, Bush also said he is satisfied with steps taken by his administration to get credit markets working again.

  91. grim says:

    10am on a Monday and the state has already lost 150+ jobs.

  92. PGC says:


    The are baseboard so they have a control valve on one side and the steam valve on the other. They drain back down the same pipe. I may have to struggle on this year and then take them apart in the spring and then try and clean the lines. We replaced the worst pipes in the basement with Copper. I would love to pull it all out and put in Hot water, but that would involve ripping into walls that I am not that keen to do.

  93. comrade nom deplume says:

    I have been preaching this for awhile. Just thought it bore restating:

    “D.C. Bar Speaker Says IRAs in 2010 May Offer
    Special Opportunities for Retirement Savings

    Several recent tax changes affecting individual retirement accounts could be helpful to high-income earners who have substantial amounts of money invested in IRAs, a financial adviser said Jan. 8 at a meeting of the District of Columbia Bar.

    Congress abolished income limitations on conversions to Roth IRAs, beginning in 2010, under the Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005 (TIPRA). “This is a big deal and something we have been talking to a lot of our clients about,” said Irene Estrada, a vice president and senior wealth planner at PNC Wealth Management in Washington, D.C.

    Unlike contributions to traditional IRAs, contributions to Roth IRAs are subject to income tax but withdrawals are tax-free, with few limitations.

    TIPRA abolished the income limitations on Roth conversions that had applied to joint-taxpayer modified adjusted gross incomes of $156,000 and higher and to single-taxpayer modified adjusted gross incomes of $105,000 and higher, Estrada said. However, the income limitation might be restored, which could justify a hurry-and-act-now mentality, she said.

    “A lot of people think Congress will probably put the limit back in place after 2010, so if this is something your clients want to take advantage of, they should probably do it in 2010,” Estrada said.

    TIPRA also included a special rule that gives high-income earners another reason to consider converting traditional IRAs to Roth IRAs in 2010, Estrada said. The special rule pertaining to taxes on the amount converted applies only for the year 2010.

    “In 2010, you’re allowed to take half of the income from the conversion and put it on your 2011 tax return,” Estrada said. The special rule allows taxpayers to put the remaining half of the income from those conversions on their 2012 tax returns. “So for 2010, you get a free pass,” she said.

    Timely Conversions.
    The recent stock market meltdown is yet another reason high-income clients might want to take advantage of TIPRA to convert a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA, Estrada said. By converting now, taxpayers would pay lower taxes on those qualified retirement accounts because they have lost substantial value, she said. Furthermore, taxpayers would benefit by having their money in a Roth IRA account, where they generally could take advantage of tax-free appreciation of their investment, she said.”

    One thing I have done for the past few years is to make full, nondeductible IRA contributions for me and Mrs. Deplume. This money is post-tax (you have to file a notice with IRS for each year’s nondeductible contributions) so it isn’t taxed again when rolled into a Roth.

    One caveat is that you cannot cherry-pick from your IRAs; if you have three IRAs, and want to fund the Roth with 50%, you have to move 50% from each IRA. Since I don’t want to take a huge tax hit, this is also why I did not roll one of my old 401(k)s to an IRA yet (meaning it doesn’t count toward the percentage rule). If I decide to do that later in 2010, I still can however.

    This also works well if the Messiah decides to hold off on raising taxes early and just lets the Bush cuts expire. That lessens the tax hit on the previously-untaxed monies being rolled over.

  94. Stu says:


    The water level thing is useful, but only to a certain extent. It brought heat up to my tenants bedrooms, but still no dice in getting it to reach mine. If you do discover a solution, PLEASE let me know what it is. I doubt you will though, as we had a plumber look at our system and he said that this kind of thing happens after 80 years and outside of replacing the air bleed valves, there’s not much one can do. Though, we can be hopeful!

  95. John says:

    Speaking of jobs, let me tell you a tale from the front lines, a single very pretty 35 year old girl I know was laid off from an IB where she was a VP. Anyhow, she goes to meet with a headhunter who is friends with her friend. Guy is shoot the breeze and finds out she has a pretty rich boyfriend she has been dating for around a year. Headhunters says job market is very very slow and if I was you the best thing you could do is get engaged and married and have some kids. You have a rich boyfriend so why not. She then responds Look I am looking for a job and btw I am not interested in marrying my current boyfriend. Headhunter throws back look I am almost 40 and I am interested in getting married one day and I am looking for a nice girl, if you are not interested in your current guy how about you and me going out? She then responds that is rude and unprofessional and I am not looking for a new boyfriend just a job, he then responds look if you are not going to work with me then you might as well leave. Funny, but I can see both sides of story, what difference does it make if she is a single women with a rich boyfriend, but on the other hands with jobs so tight if you know someone supporting a whole family on one income do you want to pass that person up for this girl who might quit in a few months anyhow when she decides to throw in the towel, either way she is in trouble.

  96. comrade nom deplume says:


    That makes no sense. They cannot drain to the same pipe unless you mean a merged return pipe. And there can be no issue in the main returns as you would not have any heat in the house.

    If you do open walls and replace pipe, be sure to insulate it then. I am insulating pipe now and it is a hassle since I have to remove ceiling panels to get at a lot of it.

  97. grim says:

    Tarragon down 50% this morning, down 98% from the 52 week high, and down 99.8% from the high, 26.90 in July of 2005.

  98. make money says:


    Tarragon chapetr 11. Another bites the dust.

  99. comrade nom deplume says:

    Anyone out there in a business that must collect sales taxes? This tax news is for you (once you get through the SSUTA gook, which you can ignore).

    New Jersey Law Updates State’s Conformity
    To SSUTA on Fur Items, Telecommunications

    New Jersey Dec. 19 enacted legislation (A.B. 3111) updating the state’s conformity to the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement, including replacing the 6 percent gross receipts tax imposed on fur with a 7 percent sales tax.
    Most of the changes under A.B. 3111 are related to telecommunications. Since 2005, the Streamlined Governing Board has modified the tax treatment of telecommunications and required member states to implement corresponding tax code changes by Jan. 1, 2009, a statement accompanying A.B. 3111 explained.
    To achieve conformity, the legislation:
    • replaces the statutorily defined term “telecommunications” for sales and use tax purposes with a more specific, narrowly focused definition of “telecommunications services”;
    • redefines “intrastate” and “interstate” telecommunications;
    • revises the definitions of “pre-paid calling” and “mobile telecommunications” services; and
    • defines terms such as “international telecommunications,” “ancillary service,” “directory assistance,” and “voice mail service.”
    Other changes to telecommunications provisions under A.B. 3111 include adopting the SSUTA’s administrative rule for unbundling taxable and nontaxable components of a sale of mixed telecommunications services.
    Tax on Fur Clothing.
    In addition, the legislation replaces the 6 percent gross receipts tax on retail sales of fur clothing with a 7 percent sales and use tax on sales of “fur clothing” as that term is defined by the SSUTA.
    The transition from a 6 percent gross receipts tax to a 7 percent sales and use tax on retail sales of fur clothing is intended to mitigate concerns that the gross receipts tax may violate the spirit of the SSUTA, the statement explains.
    The Streamlined Sales Tax Governing Board Inc. has set a Feb. 13 public hearing on a petition for reconsideration of a previous finding that New Jersey is in compliance on the issue of a fur tax. The issue was raised by the Business Advisory Council, which asserted that the state was noncompliant because its use tax on the purchase of fur clothing was at a different rate than its general use tax rate (238 DTR H-2, 12/11/08).
    Other Changes.
    The legislation also modified provisions addressing areas other than telecommunications. Specifically, A.B. 3111:
    • amends the direct mail definitions to allow for the continuation of taxation on mail processing services;
    • provides for the uniform tax treatment of sales of food, food ingredients, and dietary supplements sold in liquid or solid form;
    • narrows a broad limitation affecting all medical equipment to affect only certain medical supplies, while limiting the exemption for mobility enhancing equipment to that sold by prescription;
    • modifies the definition of “sales price” to specify the New Jersey policy on the effect of coupons and rebates;
    • specifies that the research and development exemption applies to receipts from sales of digital property;
    • eliminates from the prewritten software exemption contradictory language concerning prewritten computer software delivered electronically;
    • lengthens, from three to four years, the period of time during which tax records must be maintained;
    • relieves from liability vendors who rely on tax rates, boundaries, or the taxability matrix provided by the state; and
    • specifies the process of collecting and providing returns for tax imposed on charges in the nature of initiation and membership fees and dues as well as charges for parking, storing, or garaging motor vehicles.
    The legislation took effect upon enactment and became operable on Jan. 1, 2009

  100. Rich In NNJ says:

    Nom (97),

    I’m sure PGC is talking about a single-pipe steam system which is very common.
    Steam runs along the top, the condensate along the bottom.

    Pat / PGC,

    FYI: I have Vari-Valves on my steam radiators, fully open upstairs and practically closed downstairs.
    Plastic on windows, programmable thermostat, heat down to 63 at night and space heaters in the bedrooms.
    Still large gas bills…

  101. d2b says:

    I feel for some of you in NNJ. I’m outside of Philly and our RE prices never skyrocketed. Even if you bought at the peak of the market, a nice POS cape (oxymoron?) could be had in my neighborhood in the 3’s.

    get one of those rolling fireplaces that are handcrafted by the Amish. Are there Amish in China?

  102. hughesrep says:


    Steam systems are not my particular forte, but at first guess I would say maybe an issue with the steam trap?

    Poke around this site for some more possibilities.


    The forums on the site are usually pretty informative too.

  103. comrade nom deplume says:

    [102] rich

    Not familiar with those. I have a HW loop system with radiators (old and baseboard), and was not aware of a unit such as the one you describe.

    As for bills, I am pretty sure that my exterior walls in the older part of the house are not insulated. That is my next big heating project. Not very enthused about using the products of the past, either expanding foam or blown-in cellulose (which is shredded newspaper—I remember helping someone do that once, and could actually read parts of his insulation). The idea of filling my walls with stuff that will (a) outgas, (b) burn, or (c) both is not very appealing.

  104. comrade nom deplume says:

    Later heating project would be wood stoves in the family room and master bedroom.

    One vent stack, two stoves, much heat. Yum.

  105. PGC says:

    #102 Rich

    Thats what I’m looking at. I might have to cut the output downstairs to force pressure upstairs.

    The gas bill this year is bad at around $450. I am running electric blowers in the bedrooms that have base board to keep the kids warm. Bedrooms with radiators are fine.

  106. Nicholas says:

    Among the major credit card issuers, Capital One is the only one still not having any foreign transaction fee, unless they introduced it since November – but they would have sent me a notice. Discover also doesn’t charge, but nobody will take it in China. Amex takes 2%.

    I got charged a foreign transaction fee by Citibank when I went to Berlin. I called them up and asked them what the deal was. Teir I said they couldn’t change it so I asked him to put me in contact with someone “who could or perhaps someone to help cancel my account”. I got in contact right away with Tier II who I talked with for a while and they eventually removed all foreign transaction fees for my week long trip overseas.

    Its your money, defend it.

  107. Sean says:

    Talking Virtual Bets here. Who thinks
    Bernie Madoff will get his bail revolked and end up in Federal Jail in Manhattan?

    Ruling is due by noon today.

  108. Stu says:


    With all due respect, who here really cares? Bread and circuses for the sheeple. Meanwhile, the federal government is behaving much worse (TARP I-350 Billion wasted) but all people care about is whether Madoff waits for sentencing in jail vs. in his apartment.

  109. d2b says:

    I’m not sure if its just my PC, but I get a delay on your site when I’m in IE. For whatever reason, I have no problems in Firefox. Is that because of your server problem?

  110. Rich In NNJ says:


    I’ve never seen steam baseboard units. I’ve seen hot water baseboard heat added to a steam system for additions, kitchens or basements. Is it possible you have a busted circulator pump on your heater that runs hot water to these baseboards?
    Or did a previous owner remove the cast iron radiators and install some type of steam baseboard model? They may be undersized for the room.

  111. Pat calling 911-HVACHELP says:

    Our place is smaller (4 bedrooms/2.5/1400 sqft) and the temp is a bit warmer here than NJ, so $300 is probably average. But there is a constant (and often high) wind. Windfarms are being installed soon very near here. I think the wind is worse than having lower temps.

  112. Stu says:

    Nicholas. You are so right. I plan to stiff arm Comcast into lowering my cable charges. 4 years ago, it ran about $70 for HBO, Sportschannel and the basic. They then added the new set top boxes that had like 1,000 channels so I needed to rent the boxes to get bloomberg on two of my old crappy TVs. Got rid of SportsChannel to offset the fee. Rates slowly creeped up to where I am now paying $120 for just HBO. Of course, we have about 200 foreign language channels as part of basic now. I plan to threaten to disconnect and I’ll just get satellite for the last year that I’ll stay in my place if they won’t lower it to close to the satellite price. I’ll report back here how it goes. Comcast = crooks.

  113. Rich In NNJ says:

    hughesrep (104),

    Great site.
    Dan Holohan is an old house heating system genius. He refers to the “dead men” who used to install and maintain these systems.
    It’s VERY hard to find someone who truly knows steam heat systems.

  114. grim says:

    Digital OTA has a nice channel selection right now, and Netflix etc will have streaming rentals available shortly. Why even bother with cable or sat?

    Disclaimer, I probably watch less than 2 hours of TV a week, most all of it news.

  115. hughesrep says:


    Holohan is the guru. I’ve seen him speak a few times, he’s also pretty entertaining. Though the competition for “most exciting HVAC speaker” is pretty slim.

  116. still_looking says:

    grim 116

    what is digital ota?

    sl (i don’t get out much…)

  117. chicagofinance says:

    C: Gottschalks on the ropes

  118. grim says:

    Digital TV, broadcast Over-The-Air (OTA). You need a fancy antenna and a set top box (or newer TV) to pick up the new channels.

    All of the existing channels are there 02,04,05,07,09,11, and 13. However, most of these channels have 2 or 3 subchannels, with different programming running.

  119. Victorian says:

    Stu (114) –

    RE: Comcast.

    Just chat online with the Comcast rep and you will get HBO free for a year and STRZ free for 6 months.
    I have the digital package and pay $50 for both cable and Internet.

  120. Stu says:


    I’m about to try it now.

  121. #116 – Netflix already has the streaming rentals available with either the Rocku box or as a plugin for the XBox 360. It looks pretty cool, but I haven’t really used it.
    I believe a PC version of the software is available. No idea on the Mac side though.
    I’m partial to thepiratebay. They get releases very early.

  122. Hmm… I’m in mod. Most likely for referencing a rather notorious Scandinavian web site.

  123. Nicholas says:


    I installed DTV for my mother-in-law this weekend. She got a 40$ coupon for the box from FED and it cost her 58$ (includes sales tax). I was absolutely surprised at the number of HD channels transmitted over the air analog. In total about 25 stations, two were spanish only, two were full time weather, the rest were network stations that came in perfect picture.

    She had a previous antenna that had been unused for a while on top of her house that I connected to the box, let the box search for new stations, and then used a remote like it was any ordinary cable box. It took about 10 minutes for me to figure it out and set it up.

    The cable company will charge you 6$ in box rental fees and 10.99$ a month for the first 40 channels which consist of network channels, two spanish speaking channels, and two weather channels, the only thing you get above and beyond stuff that is already free is public access channels.

    As a Telecommunications Engineer this had been the first time I was surprised by my own industry at providing something that was of super quality for free. All I have to say is “its about time…”

  124. leftwing says:

    Looking for input from our resident gold bugs…

    I would like to gain exposure but don’t want physical.

    Anyone have any input on the various ETFs or producers out there? Looking in particular to see if anyone analyzed the holdings of the ETFs with a view toward their solvency or any data on which producer may track the gold price most closely.

    I like the producers since they have the physical reserves but don’t like the company/operation specific exposure.

    All disclaimers granted….

  125. Nicholas says:

    I should add that when I say perfect picture, I mean perfect HD picture.

  126. Nicholas says:

    Total cost was 18$ to my mother-in-law.

  127. Stu says:


    Trust me…You are paying for DTV as well as for the TARPs and any other stimulus.

  128. chicagofinance says:

    Stu says:
    January 12, 2009 at 11:03 am
    Nicholas. You are so right. I plan to stiff arm Comcast into lowering my cable charges. 4 years ago, it ran about $70 for HBO, Sportschannel and the basic. They then added the new set top boxes that had like 1,000 channels so I needed to rent the boxes to get bloomberg on two of my old crappy TVs. Got rid of SportsChannel to offset the fee. Rates slowly creeped up to where I am now paying $120 for just HBO. Of course, we have about 200 foreign language channels as part of basic now. I plan to threaten to disconnect and I’ll just get satellite for the last year that I’ll stay in my place if they won’t lower it to close to the satellite price. I’ll report back here how it goes. Comcast = crooks.

    Stu: When I moved I received the triple package for $99, which is really $107 when you add everything into the bill. Verizon FiOS came into my neighborhood. When the 12 months were over, the Comcast bill jumped to $154. I called up and said no. They dropped the bill to $128. I waited 45 days. I called again and said that I thought their service was horrid and all my neighbors loved FiOS. She said they would remove $20 from my bill for 6 consecutive bills. In my book, few TV channels = MORE…all I need is SNY, MSG, Bloomberg, CNBC and access to sports. Linda needs Food Network.

  129. PeaceNow says:

    re: heat and insulation

    The best space heaters are ceramic. Friends have one called (I think) Eden Pure. It’s a cube, about 2 ft. high, wide and deep. Really throws a lot of heat, yet unit itself remains cool. The oil-filled space heaters are also quite good, and they now come with switches so that you can use fewer watts of electricity.

    Cellulose insulation is treated to be both bug and fire resistant. I had it blown into my walls and ceilings a couple of years ago. House is now less drafty in winter. Biggest difference in temps are in the summer, cause the house stays very cool.

  130. Hard Place says:

    Vic Just chat online with the Comcast rep and you will get HBO free for a year and STRZ free for 6 months.
    I have the digital package and pay $50 for both cable and Internet.

    $50 bucks is cheap for both combined. You negotiated yourself? Currently I get free basic through my building and I piggyback on someone’s wifi, though at $50 I would consider signing up.

  131. Stu says:

    I need the kids stuff, Bravo (top Chef) Showtime (Weeds), Bloomberg and local channels for the news.

    Don’t need HD nor DVR. I get my internet via Verizon DSL for $30 per month. WOuld do FIOS but won’t be in the house long enough to make it worthwhile nor do I want to make a commitment. I’m doing the negotiating in online chat and I told him $57 or I’m gone.

  132. Stu says:

    I’m down to $69 with 2 digital boxes so far and he is throwing in tmc, show and Hbo. I just told him $57 for Show and I don’t need the other crapola.

  133. Hard Place says:

    grim – as for digital OTA, i borrowed a friend’s antenna and it didn’t work any better than my own TV’s internal tuner. any websites that give good tips on OTA setup? I currently get about 40+ digital channels just through a cable connection and my new Panny plasma tuner.

  134. Stu says:

    This is too funny. He says he understands. We’ll see what the scripts says next.

  135. John says:

    Gold for February delivery was last down $30, or 3.5%, at $825 an ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. It dropped to $821 earlier, the lowest since Dec. 15. The metal ended last week’s trading down for the first week in five, falling 2.8%.

  136. sas says:

    “I would like to gain exposure but don’t want physical”

    i prefer physical.
    if you go with an ETF, get the certificate.
    (if you laugh at the thought of the certificate, you must not of been in Houston in the 80s, brokers went bust, courts had to litigate, meanwhile stock matket went down, and nobody could sell).


  137. Seneca says:

    Thanks to those of you who offered guidance on the good faith deposit item from the weekend thread.

    In-laws have made an offer and it looks like they will do a deal that will get them the place for LESS than the current (and original) owner paid in 1987. That would be March 1987. Frightening. The SAME EXACT model that they want sold for 65% over the original 1987 price in mid November 2005. I told them if they get the place, they best not try to make friends with the folks down the road. Even if they put 50k into the place (which they would be hard-pressed to do, its a 2BR retirement complex townhome) the price for this model looks to be down about 30% since 2005.

  138. Stu says:

    Certificate is the schiznit. Get it! Or do bullionvault.

  139. Hard Place says:

    chifi – In my book, few TV channels = MORE…all I need is SNY, MSG, Bloomberg, CNBC and access to sports. Linda needs Food Network.

    Cable’s stranglehold on the industry. Ala carte viewing would decimate the industry. Imagine how much crap we could get off the air if people actually had to pay for it. Instead the media companies create programming because cable companies “bundle it into basic plan”. Talk about restraint of trade.

    That is primary reason why I do not order cable. I pay for a monthly netflix, download from websites like hulu.com & bit torrent anything else. I could care less if I don’t get Housewives of Orange County.

  140. John says:

    Jan. 12 (Bloomberg) — President-elect Barack Obama asked the Bush administration to notify Congress he plans to seek the remaining $350 billion in financial-rescue funds, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said.

    The request came in a telephone call from Obama to President George W. Bush this morning after Bush held his final White House news conference, Perino said today.

  141. Stu says:

    $52.95 for 6 month (retention special he called it) plus tax. Two digital boxes, Showtime, HBO and TMC. I’m happy. Was $117 before. Should be about $60 in savings per month.

  142. John says:

    SAS likes to pull out his 1980’s Betamax tapes and play Oliva Newton John’s Lets Get Physical while rolling in his money like Mr. Crab does after a busy day at the Crusty Crab.

    sas says:
    January 12, 2009 at 11:50 am
    “I would like to gain exposure but don’t want physical”

    i prefer physical.
    if you go with an ETF, get the certificate.
    (if you laugh at the thought of the certificate, you must not of been in Houston in the 80s, brokers went bust, courts had to litigate, meanwhile stock matket went down, and nobody could sell).


  143. Stu says:

    Take that back. Only Showtime, but that is all that I really needed of the premium channels.

    For laughs, my transcript is below.

    Problem : Comcast is way too expensive compared to Direct TV. Can we work something out or I will cancel.

    Stuart > Comcast is way too expensive compared to Direct TV. Can we work something out or I will cancel.

    Jerico.27860 > Hello Stuart_, Thank you for contacting Comcast Live Chat Support. My name is Jerico.27860. Please give me one moment to review your information.

    Jerico.27860 > I am more than willing to help you this concern.

    Stuart_ > Hey Jerico,

    Jerico.27860 > Hi Mr. Weissman.

    Jerico.27860 > I do understand that this will be for bill concern, is that correct?

    Stuart_ > I can get the services I need (don’t beed HD or DVR) from Direct TV with 6 receivers and HBO for $57 per month. I am being charged $117

    Stuart_ > For only 2 cable boxes

    Stuart_ > Yes it is a billing concern

    Jerico.27860 > Thank you for the information, Mr. Weissman.

    Jerico.27860 > Let me pull up your account so I may be able to check what I can do to lower the bill.

    Jerico.27860 > For security purposes may I know the last four digit of your Social Security Number, please?

    Stuart_ > HIDDEN

    Jerico.27860 > Thank you very much.

    Jerico.27860 > Please give me a minute or two to pull up your account.

    Stuart_ > OK

    Jerico.27860 > Thank you for patiently waiting.

    Stuart_ > No problem

    Jerico.27860 > Mr. Weissman, can you please confirm the Premium channels that you received on the current cable package?

    Stuart_ > Right now I get Show and HBO and TMC for free on a 12-month promotion, but I don’t need HBO anymore.

    Stuart_ > Direct TV Choice extra Charges $12/ month for Showtime and gives me 3 free months of HBO/Starz and Showtime with signup.

    Jerico.27860 > Thank you so much.

    Stuart_ > If you desire, I can breakdown the offer from Direct TV for you. Let me knowA!

    Jerico.27860 > Mr. Weissman, what if the bill will become $68.94 and that will be the same cable package. Your cable package is Digital Prefered with HBO, Showtime, TMC and I added Starz which will be for a year promotion.

    Jerico.27860 > Will that work for you?

    Jerico.27860 > Mr. Weissman, did you receive my last message?

    Stuart_ > How about getting rid of HBO and TMC and doing it for $57 like Direct TV?

    Stuart_ > All I need is Showtime and the same basic cable package. Nothing more.

    Jerico.27860 > I understand.

    Jerico.27860 > Mr. Weissman, the cable service charge that I quoted cost $59.99per month.

    Jerico.27860 > The reason why it went to $68.94 is because of the outlet charge for the 2nd TV.

    Stuart_ > Well the problem is that my TV won’t get any channel above 99 without the cable box

    Stuart_ > Direct TVs cable service is $57.99 with 6 receivers

    Stuart_ > Showtime is $12

    Jerico.27860 > I have found here a 6 months retention program which your cable service will cost $43.99 plus the $8.95 outlet so your monthly rate will become $52.94.

    Stuart_ > That would work

    Jerico.27860 > Alright.

    Stuart_ > Will it revise upwards back to $117 after 6 months?

    Jerico.27860 > Please allow me a couple of minutes to update the account.

    Jerico.27860 > Yes, Mr. Weissman.

    Jerico.27860 > Again, the request will be for the monthly rate of $52.94 before taxes for 6 months.

    Stuart_ > OK that will work. I’ll chat again in 6 months then.

    Jerico.27860 > And the Premium channels that will be included are Showtime.

    Jerico.27860 > Yes, Mr. Weissman.

    Jerico.27860 > Please keep a good credit standing so we can apply all the discount that will be eligible for you.

    Jerico.27860 > I successfully processed the update on the monthly bill.

    Jerico.27860 > Is there anything else that I can help you today?

    Stuart_ > My credit is perfect wink

    Stuart_ > Thanks for the assistance

    Jerico.27860 > You are most welcome.

    Jerico.27860 > I am glad I have solved your issue. I hope you find time to answer the survey after this chat session. Please click “End Session” and survey questions will pop-out.

    Jerico.27860 > If you need assistance in the future, please do not hesitate to contact us through Live Chat or E-Mail (available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week). Comcast also offers excellent FAQ and Help forums located at http://www.comcast.net to help you reach a resolution independently.

    Jerico.27860 > Thank you for your time and take care

    Jerico.27860 > Goodbye

    Jerico.27860 > Please find time to answer our survey by clicking the end session of this chat. Thank you in advance.

    Stuart_ > Will do.

  144. Victorian says:

    Hard Place(131)-

    No Negotiations. Searched Online for Comcast Packages. Found one which offered $175 cash back (this translates to free wi-fi box, cable modem etc. + $50). However, this rate is for a year. I figured, after a year, I would call them up and threaten to cancel.

    For the Free HBO and Starz, was feeling bored one night and just asked the online rep if he had any deals for my area and he promptly served up these channels.

  145. House Hunter says:

    Stu I did the same last year as Chicago last year…I called up comcast and told them verizon is now on my street and they came to my door with an offer (which they did) I got free HBO and 20$ off the bill as well.

  146. Doubter says:

    “Home prices in North Jersey and nationwide are likely to continue to fall in the first half of 2009, and stay flat for several years after that, analysts say.”

    Yeah sure, these are the same analysts that said prices would keep going up forever. Six more months of declines is nothing more than wishful thinking. A better guess would be a continued decline for the next 2 or 3 years, but what do I know as I’m not an “analyst”.

  147. John says:

    Out new Pres loves to spend spend spend, heck 350 billion just this month alone. Another trillion as soon as he hits office, he and frank never met a bailout they did not like. I guess Bill Gross and myself are on to something, buy anything depressed, cry for a bail out and wait to be bailed out. But wait, something that was 10,000,000 lets say that some investor in a panic sold that Mr. Gross picked up at 5,000,000 when we bail it out investor number one is still out 5 million and investor number two made 5 million. So we are bailing out the speculators. Eventually the new RTC will be formed to “bail out” housing but the only thing that will happen is someone like me will be buying places 75% off just like I did in 1992 when I bought my first place from RTC. The sad part is until the vulture has picked the carcas clean prices won’t stablize.

  148. Stu says:

    Thanks for telling me about the online chat Victorian. Made life much easier. Last week I shaved $10 off my Voicewing (VOIP) and it is now $20. So I’ve got my homemade triple play down to $112 with Showtime and 2 digital cable boxes. I’m satisfied.

  149. Stu says:


    Just wait until you see what Tarp II goes towards before you count your chickens.

  150. Nicholas says:

    Went to the local mall this weekend and noticed some very disturbing trends. I think that the trends were reported by news papers but wanted to give you guys some street feedback so that you know that the reports are not just smoke.

    About 5 stores in a mall of about 100 stores are having bankrupcy/closing sales. Almost all of the stores have 70% off sales signs in the windows. Although some of the stores are truely having storewide sales and liquidations due to distress, many are just putting their clearance racks out front instead of putting them in the back.

    A sweatshirt that is usually 99$ is now on sale for 50$, big woop…still way overpriced.

    The stores that are going out of buisness are having real sales. KB Toys was liquidating the entire store and closing, the back half of the store was cordoned off full of cardboard boxes and relatively empty. The front half had toys that were marked down 40%. Saw some matchbox cars, normally 1.99 being sold for 1.19$. There was a 50% sale sign above the toys. I asked if the 50% was on top of the already discounted toys. Sales person said yes. So I bought a bunch of matchbox cars for 60 cents each. Two boxed sets, Daredevil Canyon, and Twister Alley for 6.00$ each. In total about 60$ worth of toys for 20$.

    My thinking is that years from now I will auction off depression era toys for some charity event or something. I selected the 2008 series of cars from Dodge, Chrysler, and Ford just for kicks incase they go out of buisness.

    Went to an outlet mall and saw signs of 60%-70% off retail in fall closeout sales. I didn’t go into the stores to note if they were real distress sales or not.

    Talked with a friend of the family who owns an antique store that deals with real antiques, i.e. circa 1700 French Stone Fireplaces, and he says that clients have been comming in and offering him 50% off the listed price. He noted that at first he was offended and rejected the offers right away. Now he says that he is seriously considering any offers and politely lets them know that although he will not sell it today he will consider the offer over the next few weeks and get back to them.

    To sum up the experience, there are true distress sales around 75% for entire stock for stores that are closing. There are some stores that use fake sales that stores are using to generate foot traffic. All stores will respond to haggling and negotiation regardless if they didn’t respond to haggling in the past.

  151. Stu says:

    Market seems not too happy about the messiah’s request. If was we were going to rescue munis, then I would think the market would have reacted more positively like it did when TARP I was announced. Hey, where is Bi? It seems anytime SRS gets moving he disappears.

  152. schlivo says:

    Hard Place says:
    January 12, 2009 at 11:48 am
    “grim – as for digital OTA, i borrowed a friend’s antenna and it didn’t work any better than my own TV’s internal tuner. any websites that give good tips on OTA setup? I currently get about 40+ digital channels just through a cable connection and my new Panny plasma tuner.”

    Hard Place, go to

  153. John says:

    Bernard Madoff to remain free on bail: reports

  154. John says:

    Who the heck goes to malls? White trash, old people and juvies make for an ugly scene.

    Nicholas says:
    January 12, 2009 at 12:08 pm
    Went to the local mall this weekend and noticed some very disturbing trends. I think that the trends were reported by news papers but wanted to give you guys some street feedback so that you know that the reports are not just smoke.

  155. John says:

    The stock market does not like it as TARP is anti stock, it seems bent on fixing the credit markets, banks, insurers, mortgages, car market etc. TARP could care less that citi is down to six bucks a share, TARP is all about protecting bond holders, blue collar workers and dead beat home owners. TARP is anti stock.

  156. Seneca says:

    Speaking of space heaters, current living quarters include 14 ft ceilings in the living room/den area. Windows here face East / Southeast so massive sunlight most of the day through the regular windows and the decorative circle tops above. We have to open the windows when its a sunny day even when its below freezing to keep the room cool. We have frequently had to turn the air conditioning on to cool the room when it was 40 degrees outside. The only rooms that keep cool are the bathrooms. Our heating bills are tiny in the winter. In the summer, the landlord brings in a supplemental A/C unit and we make up for all the winter time savings.

    Based on this experience we have decided to never buy a home that has open entry ways up to the second floor or useless 14 ft+ ceilings. This eliminates just about every new construction home out there.

  157. Hobokenite says:

    Shocker: GM may need more money


  158. sas says:

    “NYC judge allows Madoff to remain free on bail”

  159. sas says:

    what did i say?
    top down & bottom up corruption.

    the whole system is a fraud.
    and you think you are safe?

    ha ha ha!!

  160. Stu says:

    “All stores will respond to haggling and negotiation regardless if they didn’t respond to haggling in the past.”

    My gosh, we are turning into India!

  161. Stu says:

    Stolen from the FXP message board:

    The LAST EVER Dubya Press conference coming up! 12-Jan-09 10:32 am

    He will go down in history as one of the greatest Presidents.

    1-Interest rates have never, ever, ever, been lower in history.
    2-Never had more people owned homes in history.
    3-Never have more people had access to loans and credit cards in history.
    4-Auto companies have never, ever had so much opportunity to increase sales.
    5-Never, in any cold war or peace have so many of our enemy been killed or rendered ineffective.
    6-Our country has never been so safe.
    7-Never has there been such an opportunity to become bi-lingual and learn spanish.
    8-Never has this or any other country had so many different types of coffee to choose from.
    9-I never thought Saturday Night Live would ever reinvent itself and elevate to (almost) prior years.
    10-Never has there been such an opportunity for stem cell research to move forward.

  162. sas says:

    “Cherry Hill faces tax bill dilemma”

    “We’re currently running out of money to operate because we have been unable to adopt our full fiscal-year budget,” said Cherry Hill spokesman Dan Keashen.

  163. Nicholas says:

    Who the heck goes to malls? White trash, old people and juvies make for an ugly scene.


    I’m not sure about where you live but the malls around here are fairly nice. Annapolis Mall is near the U.S. Naval academy so you have hundreds of Midshipmen walking around in uniform on the weekends. Mix with that urban whites and you have quite a nice mix of people.

    There has only been one shooting :)

    An undercover Alphabet Agent drew his weapon and shot a teen in self defense. Witnesses say that the teen got into an argument with another teen and pulled out a gun. The Agent then responded by drawing his own weapon and ordered the kid to drop his weapon. Kid shot the Agent in the leg which prompted him to return fire killing the boy.

    Sounds to me like your turf wars don’t hold much water with so many trained military and heat-packing federal agents at the mall.

  164. Nicholas says:

    Wife just phoned in from the outlet stores. Sales were false, she noted that everyone had sale signs up though.

    I guess like sardines the stores are thinking to distract you from the wounded ailing stores they will all put up “Sale” signs. I’m not sure if it is a protectionist or preservationist maneuver though.

    If you search hard enough though you can still spot the one in distress. I would hate to be the red fish.


  165. chicagofinance says:

    Readers’ Corner“As an Illinois resident, I feel fortunate compared to the people of Minnesota or New York. Roland Burris is far more qualified to be a U.S. senator than either Al Franken or Caroline Kennedy.”Stan Welli, responding to “Potomac Watch: A Tale of Two Would-Be Senators.”

  166. chicagofinance says:

    Who was critiquing the WSJ stating that it had a conservative bias? Bias in the Editorials..yes…however, you still have to respect the Editorial when they land a few good punches…..

    REVIEW & OUTLOOK JANUARY 12, 2009 Bank of the United States
    Citigroup cuts a deal with its new bosses on Capitol Hill

    At first glance, Citigroup’s endorsement last week of a Senate plan to allow bankruptcy judges to break mortgage contracts looks like a scene from “Goodfellas.”

    Since October, the government has invested $52 billion in Citi, while agreeing to eat up to $249 billion in losses on the bank’s toxic real estate portfolio. And so it’s really hard to say no when those Washington “investors” call for a favor. In the 1990 Martin Scorsese movie, a restaurant owner realizes too late that a partner big enough to protect him is big enough to take everything he has. As Ray Liotta narrates, “Now he’s got Paulie as a partner. Any problems, he goes to Paulie. Trouble with a bill, to Paulie . . . But now he has to pay Paulie.”

    The problem with Citi’s capitulation is that it means that not just Citi will have to pay the Beltway outfit if the bill passes. Other banks, borrowers and taxpayers will also suffer. In fact, this deal is looking more and more like a case of Citi colluding with its new political owners in order to force competing banks to break contracts and take more losses. This kind of politicized banking is precisely why the Bank of the United States was shut down in the 19th century.

    After years of resisting, Citi has suddenly signed off on Senator Dick Durbin’s plan to allow judges to rewrite mortgage contracts for borrowers in Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Under the Illinois Democrat’s plan, which is earmarked for inclusion in the pending stimulus bill, judges could reduce the amount of principal, lower the interest rate, and change the length of the mortgage term.

    Until Washington embraced the politics of housing panic, even sensible Democrats recognized that allowing such mortgage “cramdowns” was a terrible idea, sure to punish future borrowers with higher rates as lenders calculate the increased risk. The Congressional Budget Office warned in January 2008 that such a change could result in higher interest rates for homeowners and bigger caseloads in bankruptcy courts. In 2007, 16 House Democrats signed a letter opposing similar legislation.

    They realized that the consequences would fall hardest on those hoping to buy a home, if markets logically respond by setting mortgage interest rates closer to those on, for example, auto loans or credit cards. A bankruptcy judge is now free to reduce amounts owed on many types of consumer debt. For mortgages, the iron-clad requirement to pay off the loan or lose the house is precisely to encourage lower rates on a less risky investment.

    Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens described the importance of this principle in 1993 in Nobelman v. American Savings Bank: “At first blush it seems somewhat strange that the Bankruptcy Code should provide less protection to an individual’s interest in retaining possession of his or her home than of other assets. The anomaly is, however, explained by the legislative history indicating that favorable treatment of residential mortgages was intended to encourage the flow of capital into the home lending market.”

    Mr. Durbin argues that borrowers won’t be able to enjoy the benefits of a cramdown until they first make an effort to negotiate new terms with their lenders before declaring bankruptcy. Also, to counter the perception that they are harming the mortgage market, Mr. Durbin and Senate colleagues Chris Dodd and Chuck Schumer are proposing that cramdowns only be available for mortgage contracts signed before their bill becomes law. But of course lenders will have every reason to assume that, whenever the going gets tough, Washington will let future borrowers break contracts too.

    Mr. Durbin and his allies have tried and failed several times to break the cramdown opposition, and they believe Citi finally gives them the club to prevail. As Mr. Schumer noted in a press release, “Citigroup’s support means that the dam has broken across the banking industry. We now have a real chance to pass this legislation quickly.” Talking point number one for Democrats is that if giant Citigroup is for this plan, why would anyone oppose it?

    In fact, Citigroup may support this plan precisely because it isn’t a big player in the mortgage market. Sure, it has some dodgy mortgage-backed securities on its books, but they’ve been written down and the feds cover 90% of losses beyond $29 billion in any case. When it comes to making loans, however, Citi originates less than 10% of American mortgages.
    Citi is falling further behind J.P. Morgan Chase, which acquired Washington Mutual; Wells Fargo, which acquired Wachovia; and Bank of America, which bought Countrywide. J.P. Morgan’s mortgage business is now twice the size of Citi’s, while Wells and BofA each originate almost three times as much dollar volume as Citi. So in agreeing to Mr. Durbin’s offer, Citi is also volunteering its competitors to write down more mortgages, giving Citi a comparative advantage.

    But the unintended consequences could make even Citi rue the day it got in bed with the goodfellas on Capitol Hill. If the possibility of this refinancing-via-bankruptcy encourages more people to declare bankruptcy, that would mean additional losses on Citi’s credit cards and auto loans.

    Having spent the past year committing taxpayer trillions to support American banks, Washington now seems not to mind at all if its latest bailout drives up bank losses on mortgages, credit cards and other loans. The Senate could soon make Paulie look like a reasonable business partner.

  167. james says:

    Heres my Comcast bill:

    Comcast bundled services:
    *1 digital converter
    *1 remote control
    *HBO and Starz
    *High speed Internet
    *Digital voice


    Comcast Cble TV

    High speed internet


  168. John says:

    Nicholas, malls are something in the NY area that only people of certain social economic backgounds would ever visit. The mall closest to me is where the guard was crushed to death in the walmart Black Friday Sale, that mall is no fun. One year back in the early 1990’s that mall set a record by having one thousand cars stolen in one year from their parking lot. They stopped showing horror movies in that mall due to gun fights, years ago some bozo started a gun fight in the movie, since everyone has a gun lots of shots everywhere. Last time I went to a mall a few weeks ago to buy sheetrock from Home depot it was a joy, parking in a filthy lot, looking through store with no one to help me, going through the evil eye with security guard to check my receipt and finally I get to my truck to put the sheet rock up top and I am swarmed by the mexicans who insist on “helping” you tie it up for a tip, well they have their own box cutters for the string so usually when someone is only looking for a buck or two and is holding a box cutter I give in.

  169. chicagofinance says:

    More to consider relative to new construction……

    Chinese Drywall Cited in Building Woes Article


    Some home builders already struggling in Florida’s dismal housing market are facing another headache: The Chinese-made drywall they used is causing unpleasant odors and possibly leading to electric problems in dozens of homes constructed during the housing boom.

    In some developments in south Florida, odors from Chinese-made drywall are drawing complaints and health concerns from homeowners.

    A handful of builders and environmental consultants are investigating whether the drywall, a wide flat board used to create interior walls, is emitting sulfur-based gases that may be corroding air-conditioner coils, computer wiring and metal picture frames.
    Some homeowners are concerned about possible respiratory problems, but the Florida Department of Health says tests show that the levels of emissions from the drywall pose no “immediate health threat.” The affected homeowners also worry that the drywall problems will reduce their already decimated property values and hamper their ability to resell, even when the market recovers.

    “My biggest fear is we’ll be stuck with a house we can’t sell,” said Marty Smith, whose air conditioner in his home near Tampa has had repeated problems. His builder, Lennar Corp., recently tested the air and drywall in his house and expects the results in a few weeks. Lennar’s previous tests in other developments have found no health threats.
    Although officials are still investigating the drywall from China, the complaints about drywall follow a rash of safety problems with other Chinese exports, ranging from toys to pet food.

    Lennar, the nation’s second-largest builder by volume, has tested air quality in at least 50 houses and has relocated several homeowners in order to rip out and replace the drywall, a costly process. It is trying to find less-intrusive ways to fix the problem. Lennar is continuing tests in a dozen of its Florida developments and has shared results with the state health department.

    “Our first concern is our homeowners,” said Darin McMurray, the builder’s southwest Florida division president. “Lennar will continue to stand by our homes and work closely with homeowners to resolve their concerns.”

    Typically, builders use domestically produced drywall, which is made mainly from the mineral gypsum. But in 2006 — amid the housing boom and the scramble for construction material along the Gulf Coast for reconstruction after Hurricane Katrina — suppliers began importing drywall from China.

    Much of the problematic drywall, which is also known as wallboard or plasterboard, was manufactured in China. One manufacturer that is dealing with the fallout is Knauf Plasterboard, Tianjin Co., a subsidiary of the German construction-material company Knauf International GmbH.

    In a statement, Knauf Tianjin said it hired experts in 2006 to investigate complaints about an odor and found “no health concerns related to the odor or any emissions in the residences.”

    The drywall problems, which appear to be confined to south Florida, are sparking dozens of homeowner complaints at a time when home builders can little afford the expense and negative publicity. “The building industry is in a situation where it doesn’t need one more issue of negativity out there,” said Gary Aubuchon, president of Aubuchon Homes, a small Cape Coral, Fla., builder that recently relocated one homeowner while the company tests his house’s air and drywall, some of which was made in China.

    Knauf Tianjin said the drywall is made of naturally mined gypsum. After investigating drywall odors, the company said it switched mines and installed a monitoring device to detect gases. In some Florida developments, the drywall issue emerged after months of failures in heating and cooling systems.

    Mr. Smith said his air-conditioning unit has had multiple problems since he moved into his Lennar townhouse in March 2007. He said repair workers were perplexed by the frequency of the units’ failures. Tests done at other developments by Environ, an environmental consulting firm hired by Lennar, found that in some cases they drywall was emitting sulfur-based gases, which can be corrosive to electrical equipment, such as copper air-conditioning coils. Florida health officials say they still are investigating whether the Chinese drywall is causing the odors and other problems. “We have to nail down whether it’s a causal or coincidental association,” said David Krause, a toxicologist in the Florida Health Department.

  170. Stu says:


    I would chat with them online. You should be paying at least $50 less per month easy!

  171. John says:

    TARP II/Stimulus – Medicare/Educational block grants, infrastucture, elmination of AMT on all muni bonds, increasing bank qualified munis issued for cap purposes, auto loans, foreclosure help. Section 402 of Barney’s Bill rocks. Bring is on Barney, Bring it on.

  172. Stu says:

    TARP II- Electric Bugaloo?

  173. skep-tic says:


    headhunter is totally unprofessional, but have to wonder why that women continues to date the guy at 35 if she doesn’t want to marry him

  174. Sean says:

    re#174 I perused the TARP legislation, Barney has some stiff requirements on exec compensation, golden parachutes, use of private aircraft and using the money for megers, also seems retroactive.

    This won’t pass in it’s current form.


  175. Sean says:

    re: #176 after meeting John can you blame her? LOL!

  176. Hobocondo says:

    John, where do you shop, out of curiosity?

    Isn’t Roosevelt Field within driving distance? That mall isn’t too bad…

  177. John says:

    Because she is not sure if she wants to do all the work!! Last boyfriend dumped her after she refused to quit work and be a hous frau. Basically, guys with money want someone home to cook, clean and procreate. Her little 250K job is chump change to her boyfriends two million dollar salary. Trouble is the pre-nup. As long as she is cooking and cleaning she can have what ever she wants except a career. Hey I don’t blame the guy in a weird way, right now the milk is free so why buy the cow but if he is going to pay all her bills for the rest of her life the least she can do is be home to make him a hot meal after the end of a long day. The other reason I can see it is for some reason women like to talk about their day, a guy could lose a client and fire half his staff and when his wife says how is his day he says fine. But if I came home after a day like that and my wife went on and on and on about her day I would shoot myself, why don’t you think first ladies work, who can run a country when you have to listen to you wife complain about copier machine jams and misfiled paper.

    skep-tic says:
    January 12, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    headhunter is totally unprofessional, but have to wonder why that women continues to date the guy at 35 if she doesn’t want to marry him

  178. John says:

    Green Acres!!! It is not the place to be, but it does have a Sears, Kmart, Walmart, Red Lobster and a Bronx BBQ!!!

  179. skep-tic says:


    sounds like the guy needs to get together with a younger eastern european / south american woman who will cook, clean, procreate w/o question and maybe she won’t even speak english so they will never have to have a conversation. the 35 year old lady maybe can find an artist/poet who will let her work to her heart’s content

  180. Stu says:

    Green Acres is a horrible place. My grandmother lived in Lynbrook her entire life so we passed it on Sunrise Highway at least once every few months since 1975. That dump used to be a great place to shop. Remember Alexander’s? You couldn’t pay me to go there these days. Not without a bullet-proof vest. You should hear my racist grandmother (she doesn’t even realize it) go on about how Valley Stream has changed over the years.

  181. skep-tic says:

    well, clot’s warning rang true to me and between that and what I have seen looking around at houses over the past 2 months (total delusion on part of sellers, amazingly), I decided to renew my lease for another year today. kind of disappointing in a way since I thought prices would have corrected more by now, but waiting is really the right decision

  182. Hobocondo says:

    John I can see why a guy making a ton of money would want a wife who would stay home and cook and clean.

    But the wife who marries for money – isn’t part of that because she wants someone else to cook and clean for her? I have a friend who wants to marry rich for that very reason, so that she doesn’t have to do anything – work IN or OUT of the home.

    Of course, she’s the only one of us still single…

  183. chicagofinance says:

    Stu says:
    January 12, 2009 at 2:13 pm
    Green Acres is a horrible place. My grandmother lived in Lynbrook her entire life so we passed it on Sunrise Highway at least once every few months since 1975. That dump used to be a great place to shop. Remember Alexander’s? You couldn’t pay me to go there these days. Not without a bullet-proof vest. You should hear my racist grandmother (she doesn’t even realize it) go on about how Valley Stream has changed over the years.


  184. chicagofinance says:

    To the Board:
    I am going to need your advice over the next few months. Kind of nutty situation happened relative to my rental. Based on the death of my landlord’s husband, our lease will not be renewed. Our lease is up in mid-July……our due date is mid-July….anyway….we are in no rush to do anything, but we have a lot of sifting to do. More details later in the week when I have more time……

  185. Stu says:

    Yes, it was ChiFi. It’s a scary, scary place. I was involve in a bit of a stampede in the Chennai airport. At the next GTG, ask me about it. It was completely outrageous and third world.

  186. Stu says:

    FDIC asks banks to monitor use of bailout money
    FDIC asks banks to put in process for monitoring use of government bailout money


    “I hope the House will pass a bill this week that sets forth the conditions we believe are necessary to assure that the public gets the full benefit of these funds,” Frank said in a statement Monday. “It seems clear the Obama administration agrees with what we are setting forward, and I believe this creates a framework so that the release of these funds can go forward.”

    New leader, same sh*t.

  187. make money says:

    Could the 2010 WINTER OLYMPICS BE cancelled?


    Vancouver taxpayers are on the hook for the entire billion-dollar Olympic Athletes’ Village project after the lender cut off funding to the troubled development, Mayor Gregor Robertson said Friday.

    Hat tip to implodometer:

  188. House Hunter says:


    …There is another region where the worst may be to come: New York City-area metros. Housing values in Newark, N.J., could fall 26%.

    Likewise, Edison, N.J., is also among the mid-sized metro areas expected to see the steepest drops this year. But the worst could be over by the end of 2009 for New York’s satellite cities.

  189. Hard Place says:

    This is the NJ Telecom & Media Report. My building is wired for basic cable, I pay nothing. I order Netflix at $9.99. I use hulu.com and other services to download streamed television. I sometimes use bit torrent as well. I pay nothing for internet – I use whatever free wi-fi I can find through the city and I get several strong signals or I use a work issued black berry with a data connection. I’ve had minimal problems w/ streamed media using this setup. I used to have a Windows Media Center giving me DVR like capabilities, but it recently crapped out on me. Hulu is good enough to do that. I have two cellphones each with 500 minutes and full data service (Sprint Employee Plan – they no longer issue to non-employees) for $70 total. I used to have no landline, but got one to get emergency calling and access to our nanny who watches the little one – $25 a month. So for all phones and my media, I pay about $110 a month. Add in a little cost for extra effort to get the media running now that the Media center is out.

    Sometimes I think I don’t even need a cellphone, but I’ll pay for the convenience.

  190. Stu says:

    Another good one from the finance message boards:

    CNBC is like going to the bathroom.You know whats in the toilet is disgusting, but you still have to look at it.

  191. james says:

    Hey guys, a little advice please.

    Here is what I need/want.

    Basic home phone. For 911 and fax.
    Cell Phone. I want to get a blackberry with web access. Just for email and news mainly.
    Home Internet. I want 20mbs download speed.
    HD TV, wife wants HBO all I want is the military channel and SNY.

    Current cell phone bill is Verizon and $88 a month
    Current Comcast bill is $172 a month. That gets me BLAST internet speed, HD TV, and basic phone.

    FIOS is unavailable in Brick. Which is killing me. Comcast sucks.

    Any thoughts?

  192. comrade nom deplume says:

    FWIW, if Madoff skates while on bail, magistrate judge Ellis will suddenly have some new, semi-permanent friends from the US Marshal Service that will drive him around and x-ray his mail. Not wishing, just saying.

    Not only did the USAs get jobbed here, I feel sorry for Ellis’ law clerks (at least the one whose fingerprints are NOT on this). Not only does he/she NOT get USMS protection, this sort of thing can ding him or her when trying to get jobs.

    If I were that law clerk, I would be claiming that I was on vacation during the hearing.

  193. RentinginNJ says:


    Is the death a “triggering event” that permits them to get out of a lease they didn’t want anyway? Or, now that husband is gone, the wife simply doesn’t want to be a landlord?

  194. Mike NJ says:

    Other than sports addicts (NCAA football and NFL for me) there is absolutely no reason to have cable TV. My home media center allows me to stream anything I download off the net via torrents rather easily and view on the big TV through my Xbox360. As mentioned before, hulu (NBC and Fox) and CBS stream their shows directly and ABC also has an online streaming site. If it was not for football I would cancel everything. Cable is cheap as long as you work the system though. I am paying $95 total for phone, cable with DVR, 2 cablecards, no channel extras and internet with boost (38Mbs down and 5 up). This is not a bad deal through Cablevision. I threaten to cancel every year and every year the deal gets better and better.

  195. Hard Place says:

    Here’s how I weaned myself from cable. I cutoff myself off from sports. If you love sports the cable companies have you by the nads. ESPN is the highest cost component of your cable bill. Found i enjoy playing more than watching, spent more time outdoors. Reading about my team and catching the news highlights was just as enjoyable. I Netflixed and used free streaming tv services to catch my favorite shows. Shows like Dexter and Californication you can order when they come out on DVD, burn them and watch when you have time. When all caught up learn to use bit torrent to get the latest episodes. Order the movies you enjoy, no need for movie channels anymore. Looking into a HD antenna, but looking at my options. The bit torrent is the only legally questionable move, everything else is just sacrifice. In the end, I discovered I wasn’t really losing anything.

  196. PGC says:

    Social Skills for IT geeks. What will they think of next!


  197. lisoosh says:

    Chi – I gave birth to my second 3 days before we moved. It was a pain but doable, husband got some friends over to help, made the new place habitable, and then took care of everything else – cleaning the old place etc.

    While number 2 is still a huge adjustment, the whole panicked newness of parenthood isn’t there, so actually it is a lot less overwhelming (your life is already dictated by a small person) and you tend to roll with the punches more.

  198. John says:

    Your Grandma is just keeping it real, yea that is where the trampling took place. Valley Stream used to be a working class first generation italian neighborhood where everyone was your friend. Mint condition capes with ironed lace white curtains. Retired guy who works for my local cab company summed it up, I lived there my whole life and now people from brooklyn project move in left and right on subprime loans, set up a hoop in the street has granparents, kids and illigimate grankids in and out with several fathers coming and going, every weekend all summer boomboxes blaring, BBQs going and everyone still in hood out to visit, 40-60 people in little cape next door to him 12 hours a day every weekend from May through September partying. He said I got nothing against them but I can’t sleep, I can’t enjoy my house, I can’t even back out of my driveway, even worse I can’t sell as town has lost its value. You grandma’s tensions has a lot to do with how the place changed so much.

    chicagofinance says:
    January 12, 2009 at 2:32 pm
    Stu says:
    January 12, 2009 at 2:13 pm
    Green Acres is a horrible place. My grandmother lived in Lynbrook her entire life so we passed it on Sunrise Highway at least once every few months since 1975. That dump used to be a great place to shop. Remember Alexander’s? You couldn’t pay me to go there these days. Not without a bullet-proof vest. You should hear my racist grandmother (she doesn’t even realize it) go on about how Valley Stream has changed over the years.


  199. John says:

    When is Harley going to ask for a piece of the TARP? Harley-Davidson, Inc HOG

  200. jamil says:

    re mortgage “cramdowns” by judges. How is this different from Hugo Chavez rewriting oil contracts when he feels so?

    I should have taken $2M mortgage, cash it out and hide it or transfer it out of country and then “leave” the country – and re-emerge as my evil twin brother “hans” with fake SSN and wait for the amnesty, which is expected early in O era).

  201. Stu says:


    You are annoying.

  202. make money says:


    BAC and Merrill is not fun according to Gasparino.

  203. John says:

    Cities urge US govt to create muni bond insurer
    Mon, Jan 12 2009, 20:37 GMT

    WASHINGTON, Jan 12 (Reuters) – The U.S. government should help create an insurance-like organization to guarantee municipal bonds, possibly using some of its financial bailout funds, a commission of city officials, insurers, academics and interest group leaders said in a report released on Monday.

    “A voluntary, national mutual credit enhancement company owned and operated by local governments would have many advantages,” wrote the commission organized by the National League of Cities.

    “The company would be operated with the objective of minimizing borrowing costs paid by its members. Any profits would be shared by the participants,” the group wrote.

    The new insurer could raise capital by selling debt or equity or it could receive a federal contribution, the 21-member commission determined after it met in late October.

    Bond insurers have struggled for over a year as more and more have lost their top ratings after backing shaky assets based on subprime mortgages. Lower-rated bond issuers used top-rated insurance to drive down interest costs and by the end of 2006 about $1.2 trillion of outstanding U.S. municipal bonds were insured, the commission reported.

    Now, without those top insured ratings, bonds with lower ratings are having to pay higher rates to attract investors and compete for the few credit enhancements available.

    The commission was especially critical of the lone so-called monoline insurer that has maintained triple-A ratings, Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Assurance .

    “One new entrant, Berkshire Hathaway, is considered by some to be an opportunistic short-term player that was able to use its existing pool of assets to meet new higher capital requirements,” the report said. “The firm has very limited staffing, is interested in doing a small number of large deals, and is not representative of where the industry can go in the future.”

  204. Sean says:

    re: #207 – “and is not representative of where the industry can go in the future”

    How about straight down the toilet?

  205. John says:

    Someone is buying munis, Mr. Fed, are you also buying corporates? Good news is the hens are out of the hens house, girl I worked with just booked a vacation as what is point of savings at 1% and she is too scared to buy bonds or stocks. God Bless her and lets hope others follow. The Feds can’t buy houses but as soon as they close the door on every other asset class like they did in 2002 home prices won’t move up.

    YIELD 28% EQ
    2-Year 1.61% 1.65% -0.04% 2.24% 1.74% 2.10% 2.49%
    5-Year 2.28% 2.33% -0.05% 3.17% 2.49% 3.06% 3.23%
    7-Year 2.72% 2.76% -0.04% 3.78% 2.93% 3.55% 3.43%
    10-Year 3.65% 3.67% -0.02% 5.07% 3.82% 4.43% 3.79%
    15-Year 4.39% 4.44% -0.05% 6.10% 4.65% 5.23% 4.29%
    20-Year 4.82% 4.87% 0.00% 6.69% 5.05% 5.65% 4.54%
    30-Year 4.91% 4.96% -0.05% 6.82% 5.17% 5.77% 4.65%

  206. livinginpa says:

    Yikes, re: fighting your tax bill. depends a lot on which township you’re talking about. some are better than others. actually, $7,000 on an acre with a 3k sq ft house sounds low to me..good luck with that ;o)

  207. bklynhawk says:

    Maybe this is related to Clot’s anecdata from this weekend regarding people needing to sell right away:

    Adding to Recession’s Pain, Thousands to Lose Jobless Benefits

    Just as the recession is throwing people out of work at an alarming rate, the unemployment insurance system in New York and many other states will start cutting off benefits this week for thousands of people who have been unable to find jobs since early last year.

    About 50,000 New Yorkers who had been collecting unemployment checks for 11 months — the longest stretch that benefits have been available since the last recession eight years ago — will stop receiving weekly payments this week, according to the State Labor Department.


  208. bklynhawk says:

    BTW, hat tip to Curbed

  209. Hobokenite says:


    Just got back from getting running some errands in town. Along the way, someone offered to sell me steaks on the street. Almost every bar and restaurant I saw was almost completely empty (some of them actually were empty).

    I think we’ve reached the Wiley Coyote moment.

  210. victorian says:

    John (209)-

    “God Bless her and lets hope others follow”

    – This is assuming that people have jobs to buy stocks and bonds. The 401K bubble is popping.

  211. d2b says:

    I think that you should present this same scenario to the land lady and see if there’s any flexibility. Maybe she will give you an extension. Offer to give it to her up front.

  212. sas says:

    “New York’s Westchester Medical Center says it will close a nursing home and cut 400 jobs to deal with reductions in Medicaid and other funding”

  213. comrade nom deplume says:

    Any news on how 78 is looking in the Union area after today’s double fatal?

    Also, NJT alert that the NE corrider is experiencing delays due to a “trespasser fatality.”

  214. comrade nom deplume says:

    [211] hawk,

    After 1/20, there will be new federal benefit extensions. Trust me on that.

  215. lostinny says:

    217 Nom
    DH works in the area. Last time I spoke to him he said he was still avoiding it. That was about 6ish.

  216. lostinny says:


    check www dot traffic dot com- you can see the alerts for yourself.

  217. Stu says:


    Or do what we did. Offer to buy the place for 20% off current value, private sale.

  218. Shore Guy says:

    “a ‘trespasser fatality'”

    Anothe hedge fund manager?

  219. comrade nom deplume says:

    [222] shoreguy

    With luck, Bernie Madoff. Seriously, Mrs. Deplume decided to move up her Acela to DC by one hour. Good thing as she avoided this mess (but was caught up on 78 so she almost got caught up in two today).


    I will check that. I have to get out of dodge shortly to play Mr. Mom, and the Road to Brigadoon can’t be long.

  220. firestormik says:

    Shore Guy says:
    January 12, 2009 at 6:56 pm
    “a ‘trespasser fatality’”

    Anothe hedge fund manager?

    Too dark to tell. Stuck on the train somewere in between Elizabeth and Linden as I type :(

  221. Stu says:

    78 Westbound express is where the problem was. I saw the 5-mile backup. They were routing the express onto the local lanes at the time.

  222. bklynhawk says:

    Have seen three restaurants and one deli near my office in Midtown close within the last three months.

    A bar near my apartment has been closed for renovations since before new year’s. Open less than a year.

  223. james says:

    For the refinance crowd. This is my public service announcement. And if anyone here tries to steal my 4.5% 30 year I am going to E-kick your ass.


  224. Outofstater says:

    ChiFi: My gut instinct is this: Move early and get settled. Do NOT mess with the nesting instinct.

  225. spam spam bacon spam says:

    jamil says:

    “I should (SNIP) re-emerge as my evil twin brother “hans” ”

    Your twin is evil, too? A lot of times twins are mirror opposite, but I guess not you two…

  226. spam spam bacon spam says:

    We Americans are downright sissies when it comes to being crushed….


    With some practice like this, we could blow 7,000 people thru 4 Walmart doors in 18.3 seconds.

  227. spam spam bacon spam says:

    To the person who sent JB an email…

    I just wanted to say thank you for your kind thoughts…it’s greatly appreciated that you took the time to do that.

  228. lostinny says:

    Spam, I am never taking a train in Japan, ever.

  229. d2b says:

    Does your landlady live in Lodi? I know this guy….

  230. Barbara says:

    My Mall experience over the weekend. Interesting, they are putting the cheesy kiosks IN the vacant out of business holes. Its so obvious because, like, one store just had a wall of candybars from Switzerland. Not exactly going to pay the rent with those. My guess is that they charge them the same rent as the kiosks with the understand that as soon as a new retailer comes in to take over, they are back out in their carts.
    Another giveaway, a “puzzle” store. Yep.

  231. grim says:

    Add another 25 to the 150-170 NJ layoffs announced today…

    From the Ellsworth American (Maine):

    Hinckley Announces Layoffs at Trenton Facility

    The Hinckley Co. announced Monday that it will be laying off approximately 25 workers at its Trenton facility.

    The company stated in a press release that the layoffs are due to “the continued and deepening slowdown in the U.S. economy in general and the marine industry in particular.”

    Hinckley, which manufactures waterjet powerboats and sailing yachts, said it hopes the layoffs will be temporary.

  232. grim says:

    Yacht market is poised to rebound next year. Lots of pent up demand for yachts.

    With rates so low, never been a better time to buy or sell a yacht.

    If you want a yacht, you better buy now. Once that wave of buyers hits the yacht market, you’ll be left behind.


    You’ll be lucky to get your hands on a pair of blow-up swimmies.

  233. HEHEHE says:

    If they were smart they’d open a yacht store next to that Best Buy Frank is always frequenting. People would be walking out with two or three yachts at a time.

  234. Stu says:

    New CyclePro out…

    Many here will REALLY enjoy this one.


    “A negative M1 Multiplier means that Bernanke’s financial alchemy was a failure and the whole experiment blew up in everyones face.

    It also means that The Messiah’s planned individual tax rebate and stimulus package will probably fail because those dollars are more likely to be used to pay down existing personal debt or for personal savings.

    If I am correct, then I should not be surprised if the Fed stops reporting the M1 Multiplier.”

  235. Hard Place says:

    Someone is buying munis, Mr. Fed, are you also buying corporates?

    John – not the fed, but the fed is creating relative values. Fed buys MBS & agencies. Everything else looks like a bargain in comparison.

  236. Sean says:

    re: #238 Stu – “will probably fail because those dollars are more likely to be used to pay down existing personal debt”

    Check the Japan playbook, they issued debit cards not cash, expiring debt cards.

    Bernake san read the manual he knows the game already.

  237. Jill says:

    Rich #73: Thanks for the info. Get this: My friend called the listing agent to try to see the house. The agent was very rude, said the house is off the market and they are “trying to get it off the MLS”. Meanwhile, the house is still on the agent’s web site. WTF does that mean?

  238. Hobokenite says:

    “Check the Japan playbook, they issued debit cards not cash, expiring debt cards.”

    Isn’t that what FEMA did after Katrina?

  239. Sean says:

    The boat business is no joke to me, and a relative who inspects and builds sail boats in Conecticut. If I can find a 40ft sail boat for a reasonal price, I will buy it and stock it up with my gold bullion and fly the Jolly Rodger.

  240. d2b says:

    Not that I’m for bailouts. Why not issue food stamps as a stimulus? Block of cheese?

  241. Stu says:

    Here’s a novel idea. Why not have the banks raise their rates on savings vehicles. Then the banks can turn around and make loans to businesses and individuals who want to grow the economy. Oh wait, that won’t put the smallest dent in how much leveraged crap the bank holds that would be reduced much quicker through the devaluation of the dollar. Best of all, everyone pays, not just those willing to give the bank money to lend. I love free market capitalism.

    Good night folks.

  242. yikes says:

    i usually don’t think much of your stories, john, but this one i laughed at:

    The other reason I can see it is for some reason women like to talk about their day, a guy could lose a client and fire half his staff and when his wife says how is his day he says fine. But if I came home after a day like that and my wife went on and on and on about her day I would shoot myself, why don’t you think first ladies work, who can run a country when you have to listen to you wife complain about copier machine jams and misfiled paper.

  243. yikes says:

    i love these cable plans. i will definitely be on top of this when we install cable at the new place.

    i dont think i’d leave Verizon FIOS because the net is really fast. we only have five cable boxes (2 hi-def), but with internet and fax line and HBO package … it might be $200 a month.

    fortunately, a lot of that can be written off as a business expense.

  244. PGC says:

    I just noticed that the NY Motorbike show is not tied to the boat show. It used to be that both would run at the Javits center on the same weekedn. It seems that the boat show ran in December and the bike show is on its own. It might make parking a bit easier this weekend.

    Any word on a GTG. Can I throw out Jan 24th as a date?

  245. chicagofinance says:

    big hitter…..into a ten-thousand foot crevasse, right at the base of this glacier…… so we finish the eighteenth and he’s gonna stiff me….


  246. Shore Guy says:

    “pent up demand for yachts”

    And there is pleanty of pent-up demand for Elizabeth Hurley too, but not everyone who wants her will qualify.

  247. Shore Guy says:

    “pent up demand for yachts”

    And there is pleanty of pent-up demand for Elizabeth Hurley too, but not everyone who wants her will qualify.

  248. Jersey Jim says:

    Pent up demand for yachts?

    Maybe Frank is right, where is the recession? Anyone want to go 50/50 on a nice model with me? We don’t want to be left behind once yachts rebound do we?

  249. bairen says:

    Anyone want to get paid 100k a year to sit on the beach in Australia?


  250. Enlargement says:

    I am amazed with it. It is a good thing for my research. Thanks

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