Exquisite Handcuffs

From Bloomberg:

N.J.’s Christie Says Layoffs Out for Cutting Budget

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said he’s unable to lay off or furlough unionized state workers to help close an $11 billion budget gap.

Christie, speaking at a town hall meeting in Haddon Heights, said job cuts would trigger more than $300 million in contractually obligated raises for remaining state workers under a 2009 wage freeze agreement secured by former Governor Jon Corzine.

“I cannot lay off one state worker, I cannot furlough one state worker,” Christie, 47, said. “It’s an exquisite set of handcuffs.”

New Jersey’s budget was thrown off-balance as the biggest economic recession since the 1930s depressed tax collections and drove state unemployment to a 33-year high of 10.1 percent in December. The state workforce numbers more than 70,000, according to the state Treasury.

From the Star Ledger:

N.J. Gov. Chris Christie says he’s stuck with bill for state worker 7 percent pay hike

Calling it an “exquisite pair of handcuffs” as he tries to plug a huge budget gap, Gov. Chris Christie today said he must follow a controversial deal former Gov. Jon Corzine gave unionized state workers last year that calls for a 7 percent pay raise in the upcoming fiscal year and bars him from ordering layoffs before January.

Christie said he was “wrong” in previously claiming he would not be “bound by” the contract struck between unions and Corzine last June. Under the deal, a pay raise costing the state millions would kick in if Christie orders layoffs.

“My lawyers have now told me that I am bound by that deal,” the governor said after meeting local officials in Haddon Heights. “If I could stop it, I would, except the previous governor tied my hands. I cannot lay off one state worker, I cannot furlough a state worker until January of 2011. That was a great election-year deal he made for us. It is an exquisite pair of handcuffs he put on his successor, but I guess he didn’t think he was going to have a successor.”

Christie, who will unveil his proposed budget next week, has called for cuts to all levels of government — including the public employee pension system, drawing the ire of worker unions.

Soon after he was elected, Christie said he was considering invoking emergency powers to break the deal. Today, he left open the door to “the exercise of executive authority” to address the deal but did not say exactly how that could happen. “I’m going to have to come up with some other ingenious ways to try to accomplish what I need to accomplish,” he said. “We’re going to do what we need to do as best we can, but I cannot just disregard the law, either.”

This entry was posted in Economics, New Jersey Real Estate, Property Taxes. Bookmark the permalink.

515 Responses to Exquisite Handcuffs

  1. grim says:

    From CNBC:

    Economists Trim Forecasts for 2011 US Growth

    U.S. economists raised their forecast for economic growth in 2010 in March, the third straight monthly rise, while trimming their growth forecast for 2011, according to a survey released on Wednesday.

    Economists surveyed earlier this month in the Blue Chip Economic Indicators newsletter said the economy is expected to grow by 3.0 percent in 2011, which is 0.1 percentage point lower than estimates made a month ago.

    But economists raised their 2010 growth forecast for the third consecutive month to 3.1 percent, up 0.1 percentage point from February.

    Still, the economists predicted the recovery would be mild given the depth of the recession.

    The consensus also expects inventories to continue adding to GDP over the next several quarters but see the size of those contributions become increasingly smaller.

  2. grim says:

    From CNN/Money:

    43% have less than $10k for retirement

    The percentage of American workers with virtually no retirement savings grew for the third straight year, according to a survey released Tuesday.

    The percentage of workers who said they have less than $10,000 in savings grew to 43% in 2010, from 39% in 2009, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute’s annual Retirement Confidence Survey. That excludes the value of primary homes and defined-benefit pension plans.

    Workers who said they had less than $1,000 jumped to 27%, from 20% in 2009.

    While VanDerhei attributed the decline in current savings rates to job losses, mortgage problems and the suspension of corporate 401(k) matches in 2009, he said the economy isn’t entirely to blame.

    “In previous years, there were a whole lot of people who had nothing to begin with,” said VanDerhei.

  3. confused in NJ says:

    “O” will simply redistribute the savings of the 57% to the other 43% via a new surcharge on IRA’s & 401K’s. Private Sector Only, naturally.

  4. Final Doom says:

    The Glenn Beck/Massa interview is a 10+ on the unintentional comedy meter. Beck looks like he swallowed a mouse.

    What a mess it all is. The whole incident is really a symptom of our completely degenerate society.

    Oblivion beckons.

  5. freedy says:

    so what does the state do now? go into a BK, wait, we can’t do that.

    the state , muni’s, going to run it right into the ground. screw the taxpayers.

  6. Final Doom says:

    I think Christie should consult YouWalkAway.com.

  7. Nomad says:

    If NJ cannot reduce expenses enough, even if the gov is not allowed to layoff or furlough employees, once NJ runs out of money and cannot issue paychecks, what recourse will people who normally get their their paycheck directly or indirectly from the state have? Pretty aggressive trump card to throw down on the gov’s part but once the well runs dry, probably does not matter what someone’s employment agreement says – the paycheck will bounce if there is no money in the account.

    Iacocca’s position in the 80’s, I’ve got plenty of jobs at $11 and hour but none at $14, let me know which works best for you.

  8. Final Doom says:

    nomad (7)-

    NJ can issue worthless scrip and IOUs, a la CA.

    Can’t wait to see NJ IOUs trading on EBay.

  9. Nomad says:

    Doom,

    Someone has to buy the scrip though – who would do so?

  10. scribe, The Princess of Paramus says:

    John,

    Thank you for the – as always – thoughtful and colorful discourse on the good boy vs. bad question.

  11. Final Doom says:

    Ok, folks: Italy before Spain in your Summer riot deadpool of nations.

    “Columbia’s Charles Calomiris, who predicted the Argentina sovereign debt crisis (not sure which one: do people actually keep count?) was on Bloomberg TV spreading some more logic, first as pertains to those satanic monsters better known as CDS traders with the following piece of brilliance – “the CDS market always requires two parties in any transaction.” This is something that everyone tends to forget. Unlike stocks or cash bonds, where the whole concept of Zero Sum is somewhat murky (especially in naked shorting) in derivatives it is precisely that – one man’s loss is another man’s gain – no exceptions. Why is nobody scapegoating those traders who enable the speculators to exist? If you raise the CDS offer high enough nobody will buy – we could just as easily blame the CDS sellers for their stupidity and willingness to take on capital losses. But as the whole topic of CDS speculators is pretty much a dead horse at this point. Calomiris also points out another obvious feature of the Greek speculator raid: “the spreads that we saw in Greece at their worst in the CDS market were about 4%. Based on what we know from the history of sovereign crises given the current fundamentals in Greece if anything that is a very muted response in the market. I would have expected a much greater response and I think we will see a much greater response…” Second, Calomiris says that the next country to fall after Greece will be not Spain, but Italy – the reason: massive governmental corruption.”

    http://www.zerohedge.com/article/columbia-prof-who-called-argentina-crisis-corruption-reason-italy-will-be-next

  12. Final Doom says:

    nomad (9)-

    If EBay has proved nothing else, it has proved that there is a market for hair, earwax, poo in Ziplocs and other assorted detritus.

  13. Final Doom says:

    “The real concern right now should be on Italy. Italy is the country that is most like Greece in this current situation. Highest Debt to GDP ratio, not as high deficits so with smaller changes they can stop the problem. They also, however are very corrupt. They are second to Greece in the level of corruption within the Eurozone.”

    As a reminder, Italy CDS trade in the low 90s. Evil, hideous speculators – dig in.

  14. NJGator says:

    If Christie really had balls, he’d fire and furlough anyway. Tell the Union if they won’t reopen the agreement that he’ll simply have to fire double the amount of workers. Would anyone even notice the difference?

    And re whether he deliberately mislead on this issue or had really bad legal advice, isn’t he an attorney himself?

  15. Herring123 says:

    I’m sorry, isn’t there recourse for the state entering into a bad deal like this? Couldn’t Christie sue the unions for a declaratory judgment that the Corzine deal was a fraudulent transfer and get a court to deem it voidable?

  16. Herring123 says:

    That is, there’s no question NJ was “insolvent” (on a balance sheet basis) when it entered the deal and I’m pretty sure a strong argument could be made that NJ did not and is not receiving anything resembling “reasonably equivalent value” from the union and its employees.

  17. Mr Hyde says:

    Gator 14

    That was my thought exactly. Christie should trump them at their own game. Fire enough people to negate the pay increases then fire enough to get the spending cuts you need. Scorched earth baby!!!!
    Of course the unions could always agree to renegotiate instead…..

  18. Final Doom says:

    I think Christie just shunts the load onto the municipalities…and the cascading BKs of those towns begins.

  19. chicagofinance says:

    I know this was raised yesterday on these threads but GGGGGGGGGGGAAAAAAAAAAACCCKKKKK….

    The end is nigh……..La Leche League style……..
    http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/manhattan/human_cheese_ma_don_have_cow_mspd5ZGAOOcFwi48jnErwN

  20. Mr Hyde says:

    Herring,

    forget the lawsuits. Just tell the union you will fire 3 times as many people as you originally planned if they dont renegotiate the clause within 30 days. And then follow through.

    The unions will try to call Christie out on any such move. But it will only take once to prove that they are playing hardball now. of course Christie had better get a new set of body armor after that.

  21. Final Doom says:

    chi (19)-

    Apocalypse is upon us. I nearly lost my lunch on that one.

    That guy should go to jail.

  22. safeashouses says:

    #19 chifi,

    Sounds pretty cheesy.

    How soon before they move to Montklair?

  23. jamil says:

    “New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said he’s unable to lay off or furlough unionized state workers to help close an $11 billion budget gap.”

    Since when law has been obstacle for government actions?
    Lautenberg nomination was allowed by NJ Supreme Court despite being illegal, and Obama admin threw the Chrysler bond-holders under the bus and favored union-cronies instead, in defiance of the law.

  24. safeashouses says:

    #19 Chifi,

    I also thought hepatitis, hiv, and other pathogens can be passed through human milk. I remember when littlesafe was in baby icu there were strict labeling procedures and double checking to make sure any stored milk wasn’t mismatched.

  25. jamil says:

    “43% have less than $10k for retirement”

    They are the smart ones. Responsible citizen actions have been punished in this era of thugocracy, or should i say obamacracy.

  26. 3b says:

    #17 If the unions were smart they would sit down now with Mr. Christie. January 2011, is less than a year away, and then he can fire away.

  27. 3b says:

    #18 I wonder if any of these home buyers in NJ these las few motnhs have been paying attention. The POS you just bought with a 10k tax bill could be 14K by the summer.

  28. 3b says:

    #25 Give it a rest. They are both bad Democrats and Republicans.

  29. House Whine says:

    26- Yesterday my neighbor was lamenting the fact that her boyfriend, who works for the state in some supervisory capacity, is being “forced to take furlough days” and woe is me- a fate worse than death, etc, etc. I said, “really, well I have no job. Is your boyfriend missing paying bills because of the one day a month furlough?” She said that he wasn’t because he has plenty of money! For me, the discussion was over. I think these people are part of a work culture which has not experienced the pain that the rest of us have and they aren’t going to like it one bit.

  30. NJGator says:

    Clot 18 – My money is on my hometown in the death pool. While we are broke, the council authorixed almost $2M in unnecessary spending last night. $500k and an eminent domain battle for a parking lot. $1.2M for a rail road quiet zone so those who chose to buy a house on the train tracks don’t have to hear the horns.

    I love this quote from our mayor: “We cannot and will not have the highest taxes in New Jersey,” Fried said. “Taxpayers cannot afford the cost of basic services. There’s going to be pain.”

    So we can’t afford “basic services”, but we can afford to piss away $2M on this?

    Council Authorizes Eminent Domain for Parking Lot; Passes Quiet Zone

    Councilors Cary Africk and Renee Baskerville were the lone dissenters Tuesday night on a measure authorizing Montclair to use eminent domain to acquire an abandoned lot next to the Montclair Police Department for use as a police parking lot.

    Deputy mayor Roger Terry quoted the township attorney as saying that the lot’s owner had not been cooperative in responding to the town’s offers to buy the lot, saying that an eminent domain authorization was needed “to wake the owner up.”

    Councilor Rich Murnick said he hoped that the threat of eminent domain would be enough to get the owner to begin communicating. Mayor Fried said the parking lot acquisition was part of the town’s 2006 master plan, and had been requested by the police department since 1999. Councilor Nick Lewis sought to reassure the public that authorizing eminent domain involved due process, including multiple appraisals. “People think ‘Big Brother,'” he said. “We’re not talking about running out and beating people over the head.”

    But Audrey Hawley, a citizen addressing the council, admonished the council to drop the plan “during this time of economic crisis when you’re trying to round up every dollar that you can.” She added that the police department has functioned without the parking lot for years

    Council Cary Africk agreed that times had changed since the 2006 master plan was adopted. “The whole world has changed,” he said.

    Indeed the theme of how much things had changed — the fact that Montclair is millions of dollars over budget — was sounded often during the meeting, particularly when the subject of employee salaries came up.

    The council voted to postpone adoption of 2009-2011 salary ordinances, even though contracts had already been negotiated, until its next meeting, in hopes that unions will make new concessions.

    “We cannot and will not have the highest taxes in New Jersey,” Fried said. “Taxpayers cannot afford the cost of basic services. There’s going to be pain.”

    The council, however, did authorize $1.186 million ($1.126 million to be financed by bonds) to implement a quiet zone at Montclair train crossings. The history of the quiet zone and the town’s eight-year 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. whistle ban, which was set to expire in June, is explained here. The quiet zone’s cost is related to capital improvements that make train crossings safe without loud warnings. Improvements include “quad gates” at Grove St. and Bellevue Ave. From the town’s Quiet Zone FAQ’s:

    A quad gate is a set of four gates, as opposed to the two gates that are at our crossings now. In a quad gate system, two gates “interlock” on each side so that a vehicle cannot “serpentine” around the gates and cross the tracks when the gates are in the closed position. A median is an 8″ high center divider that extends up to 100 feet away from the tracks. It prevents a vehicle from going into the opposite lane to cross the tracks.

    http://www.baristanet.com/2010/03/council_authorizes_eminent_dom.php#more

  31. 3b says:

    #30 Idiots are in charge in your town, just like other towns. But one would think that in Montclair, the thought process might be developed a little further along. So much for the best and brightest.

  32. Comrade Nom Deplume says:

    [23] jamil

    You forget that for Lautenberg, the Dems had a crony court to back them up. It is still largely the same court. Think they will back Christie? Heck no, they will suddenly rediscover the rule of law, and uphold the contracts.

    As for voiding them as fraudulent, that is a VERY hard sell.

    Christie has only two plays here, and while he can play both of them, its hard to do. The first one he did play, which was to spin the contracts as a democratic poison pill, sop to the unions, that stick the taxpayer with their vote buy.

    The second play will be to publicly say screw it, the process was tainted and we are gonna fight these contracts anyway. He may still do this because it will force the unions into court to defend their deal, and his political downside is nil (like he cares if he loses the four union votes he got?).

    I agree that the fact that he, a lawyer, didn’t consider this is still troubling. Only thing to say in his defense is that (1) he is a former prosecutor, not a contracts attorney, and should not be held to know an area of law in which he didn’t practice, and (2) I don’t know if this particular detail was in the public realm—if not, he can say he didn’t know (anyone happen to know that?)

  33. NJGator says:

    RIP Corey Haim. You were not the Corey I would have picked in my 80’s celebrity death pool.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/35794872/ns/entertainment-celebrities/

  34. Juice Box Sean says:

    re #30 – “around the gates and cross the tracks”

    Darwin award winners, I found a stat about 2500 killed or seriously injured every year crossing around the gates.

  35. jamil says:

    33 Comrade:

    Yes, it is difficult and courts packet with leftists are problematic, but I really can’t see any other way to save NJ.

    NJ Supreme Court is illegitimate (as seen in Lautenberg case) so Christie just should go ahead and stop funding for the courts. Christie should make the case publicly, ie use the Lautenberg example as an evidence of corrupt and illegal court system and then propose a way forward (getting rid of leftist court, if they disagree with voiding the contracts in similar fashion that Obama admin voided Chrysler bond contracts).

    Appointing new court (with judges willing to uphold the law) is the one way forward.

  36. Comrade Nom Deplume says:

    [grim]

    37 in mod. Relevant. Really.

  37. NJGator says:

    Sean 34 – We have a lot of grade crossings in town and a history of not so bright kids walking the tracks (resulting in fatalities). Even ignoring the $1.2M cost, this quiet zone is a really bad idea. Trains should blow their horns so stupid people have more time to get out of the way.

    BTW – Stu did some research when this first came up and found that the only other town in the state pursuing this is Brigadoon.

  38. Comrade Nom Deplume says:

    [36] jamil

    I don’t disagree with you nearly as often as others here as I see the kernels of truth in the hyperbole, but de-funding the Supreme Court for its rad-ic-alism is over the top.

    The solution to a legislative bench is the legislature. Better to propose legislation to overturn activist, legislative, and harmful decisions.

  39. Al "The Thermostat" Gore says:

    “the world economy is a patient that is already dead , there is nothing to be done to him…Marc Faber says you should stock pile food and run for the mountains .”

  40. Comrade Nom Deplume says:

    [37] gator

    “Trains should blow their horns so stupid people have more time to get out of the way.”

    Disagree. I’d rather not deprive them of their Darwin Awards.

  41. Juice Box Sean says:

    Sigh – Jamil the vote from the NJ Supreme Court in the Lautenberg case was unanimous, which means the Republicans voted for it too. An appeal to the US Supreme court was also turned down so are they illegitimate as well?

    The ballot change was in the interest of the electorate so there would not be a one sided vote. Only the commies would want one person on the ballot Jamil.

  42. Painhrtz says:

    Gator totally the Corey I would have had in My dead pool. The other one is the Michael Jackson worshipping freak but otherwise cleaned his life up.

    Yes I know way to much about 80s pop culture

    Guess the lost boys trilogy is out of the question

  43. Juice Box Sean says:

    re # 37 Gator – I worked at a supermarket in high school that was next to the train tracks and one main crossing. During my two year stint there working for $3 an hour to save money for my first car there was at least 3 fatalities.

    How people can cross the street, yet not cross train tracks safely?

  44. NJGator says:

    Pain 43 – I always root for the underdog.

  45. jamil says:

    42: “ballot change was in the interest of the electorate”

    so the interest of the electorate trumps the law? Fine. This is also the excuse Christie can use. Heck the law, think the children!

    I’m 100% with you so Christie can ignore the law if the public interest demand it.

  46. Mr Hyde says:

    Sean,

    The sudden rumbling of the earth as a freight train approaches is in no way useful in determining that a train might be approaching. neither is the approaching light or the occasional blast of a train horn.

    you seem to think that people have some sort of ESP

  47. Comrade Nom Deplume says:

    Will we see this in NJ in 4 years? I think so.

    http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2010/03/10/a-tea-party-fake/?fbid=TPIX0FWAinr#more-93887

    The idea of a “stalking horse” to siphon votes is as old as the hills. My favorite story was when someone named John Kennedy opposed Tip O’Neill in a primary. Tip @ccused the GOP and his supporters “persuaded” Mr. Kennedy to drop out.

    I am absolutely convinced that there will be a “tea party” candidate to oppose Christie in 4 years. It’s too good a strategy for the dems to ignore.

  48. Juice Box Sean says:

    re: #45 jamil – re: Laws and the courts interpretation.

    I am pretty sure if the courts did not overturn the de jure segregation laws and the anti-miscegenation laws we would not even be having this conversation.

  49. freedy says:

    Can Trenton and the rest of the State be saved or are we to far gone?

    Trenton worse than Albany

  50. xmonger says:

    Simple solution. Fire enough bloodsuckers to make the savings >$300mm net of increases to the remaining pool.

  51. jamil says:

    Great news. The efficient gov workers at the airport are about to unionize and have strict seniority rules etc, ie forcing lazy workers to be promoted and not to be ever fired.

    “The American Federation of Government Employees on Tuesday announced progress on its petition to hold a unionization election at the Transportation Security Administration. But the rival National Treasury Employees Union remains close behind AFGE in the race to represent airport screeners exclusively, according to its leader.”

    Last week I accidentally managed to bring scissors to the plane through two check-ups. Finally, in Zurich the screeners found it before getting to another plane. I felt so safe.

  52. Anon E. Moose says:

    [51];

    Why bother unionizing? They get all the benefits of gov’t employee kit gloves treatment and no union dues.

  53. Anon E. Moose says:

    Doom-Clot-Shump[8];

    “No State shall… coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts;”
    -U.S. Const., Art. I, Sec. 10

    Funny thing to me is that when CA did it, only the Maddof Division of the SEC had anything to say about it.

  54. John says:

    Chifi, ASBC is rocking, AIG is rocking, Citi is rocking even Zions is rocking, the world of TBTF is a sort of strange manifest destiny form of investing, it is true if you can make enough people believe it is true.

    Zions, Comerica are pushing their stock and Citi with new Trups, don’t people recall that is the hybrid stuff that got jammed into worthless common. They ain’t the real bonds. Quasi bonds are like defective bullet proof vests I rather wear nothing.

    Thomson Financial – Gradient upgrades ASSOCIATED BANC-CORP from HOLD to BUY.

  55. NJGator says:

    Nom 40 – Would you spend $1.2M for them to get their reward? I’m not asking you to spend $1.2M to save them. Cheaper to do nothing and have them around to laugh at a little longer.

  56. joyce says:

    [53]
    Every state does it every day with FRN’s (federal reserve notes)

  57. morpheus says:

    “my own brother, a god-damn shit sucking vampire.. . You just wait until mom finds out!”

  58. John says:

    Chifi, a little time travel today. I was looking up a cusip on google and my old recommendations came up. I should have listened to myself even more than I did.

    John says:
    April 24, 2009 at 9:04 am
    bonds of the day!

    AMERICAN GENL FIN CP MTN 5.400% 12/01/2015
    Price (Ask) 38.875
    02635PTC7

    126117AE0 CNA FINL CORP DEB 7.25000% 11/15/2023 11/15/2023
    Price (Ask) 60.000

  59. skep-tic says:

    Would appreciate hearing people’s views regarding the consecutive months that are now accumulating in which YoY stats in terms of sales and prices are substantially rising. One month could be written off as noise but i think we are beyond that now.

  60. njescapee says:

    LI ‘hit’ mom got glammed up before arrest
    She’s a coldblooded hottie.

    The Long Island mom of four charged with trying to hire a hit man to knock off her hubby looked in her mug shot like she had just walked out of a salon — and it turns out she had.

    Susan Williams, 43, of Garden City, treated herself to a lavish day at a high-end haircutter just hours before she was picked up for allegedly plotting a bargain-basement bump-off of hubby Peter.

    “She was very concerned about her looks,” said Jamie Mazzei, the owner of nuBest in upscale Manhasset.

    “I guess she felt comfortable in front of the cameras.”

    Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/beastly_beauty_UZKkdSngA0OqcA8dN71O3O#ixzz0hn5cjxfi

  61. Mr Hyde says:

    njescapee

    did you read any of the comments????? We are way overdue for some chlorine in the gene pool. welcome to Sodom&Gomorrah

  62. sas says:

    “Brought the United States into the Vietnam War…”

    we were knee deep in rice patties way before JFK. we were knee deep during Dien Bien Phu & so called “Passage to Freedom”

    SAS

  63. sas says:

    and some may remember the so called “Domino theory”

    what a crock that turned out.
    kinda like today when I hear the words “terrorism” and “war on terror”.

    another crock.

    declare war on a tactic? hugh?

    ok, I’m off my soapbox.

    like I’ve always said (and that famous author stole my line one evening at dinner in Cambridge):

    if you want to end terrorism, don’t engage in it.

    SAS over & out.

  64. sas says:

    on a better note, I just booked my summer vacation (June).

    going to Ireland.

    I’ve always enjoyed having a beer with a bunch of micks..and I don’t mean Jagger.

    What a great country, and I love the women dancing in the gillies.

    SAS

  65. skep-tic says:

    jamil– hard to believe you would seriously argue against a court enforcing a contract. that is a bedrock of capitlism and the rule of law. christie is not without leverage in this situation either. as others have pointed out, he can simply say the terms of any new deal in 2011 will be substantially harsher if the unions fail to compromise now.

  66. stu says:

    Skep:

    “Would appreciate hearing people’s views regarding the consecutive months that are now accumulating in which YoY stats in terms of sales and prices are substantially rising.”

    Show me these stats you speak of?

  67. Firestormik says:

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704784904575112430638527738.html?mod=WSJEUROPE_hps_sections_business

    Bank of America Corp. plans to announce Wednesday that it is eliminating $35 overdraft fees on debit-card purchases as the bank tries to stay ahead of a sweeping round of regulations.

    The move means that any customer who attempts a purchase with insufficient funds will be denied at the point of sale. That will affect people who currently get nicked on small, everyday transactions such as coffee, groceries or subway passes without knowing their account is temporarily running a deficit.

  68. John says:

    http://www.nypost.com/p/pagesix/stripping_UzFLTjGMUUCfmCTACE7vCL

    Demni Moore is not much better of a mother than that lady from Garden City

  69. 3b says:

    #62 One month could be written off as noise but i think we are beyond that now.

    I don’t think so. It makes absolutley no sense. I was hoping Clot/Final Doom or Mr. Hyde would comment on that yesterday. How could prices be going up in this environment?

  70. Yikes says:

    hey jam master jamil, tell me,

    how does Glenn Beck’s a$s taste? just reading some more of the garbage you were posting yesterday … you have absolutely no clue.

    about anything.

    i really fear for your kids/family – assuming you have one.

  71. Al "The Thermostat" Gore says:

    67.

    SAS,

    What part of Ireland are you visiting?

  72. Al "The Thermostat" Gore says:

    The worldwide war on baby girls
    Technology, declining fertility and ancient prejudice are combining to unbalance societies

    “XINRAN XUE, a Chinese writer, describes visiting a peasant family in the Yimeng area of Shandong province. The wife was giving birth. “We had scarcely sat down in the kitchen”, she writes (see article), “when we heard a moan of pain from the bedroom next door…The cries from the inner room grew louder—and abruptly stopped. There was a low sob, and then a man’s gruff voice said accusingly: ‘Useless thing!’

    “Suddenly, I thought I heard a slight movement in the slops pail behind me,” Miss Xinran remembers. “To my absolute horror, I saw a tiny foot poking out of the pail. The midwife must have dropped that tiny baby alive into the slops pail! I nearly threw myself at it, but the two policemen [who had accompanied me] held my shoulders in a firm grip. ‘Don’t move, you can’t save it, it’s too late.’

    “‘But that’s…murder…and you’re the police!’ The little foot was still now. The policemen held on to me for a few more minutes. ‘Doing a baby girl is not a big thing around here,’ [an] older woman said comfortingly. ‘That’s a living child,’ I said in a shaking voice, pointing at the slops pail. ‘It’s not a child,’ she corrected me. ‘It’s a girl baby, and we can’t keep it. Around these parts, you can’t get by without a son. Girl babies don’t count.’”

    http://www.economist.com/world/international/displaystory.cfm?story_id=15636231&fsrc=rss

    Any arguments in favor of 1 child policy? And you wonder why I f#cking despise the UN.

  73. sas says:

    “What part of Ireland are you visiting?”

    Cliffs of Moher, and ride a cycle tour.

    SAS

  74. sas says:

    I have to work on increase my stamina and increase how many miles I can do in a day.

    SAS

  75. sas says:

    and if I can see some pretty red haired women in gillies at the theater, I will be very happy.

    PS. I still got it.

    SAS

  76. Mr Hyde says:

    3b, skept

    saw the post briefly, but havent had time to play with numbers. Could wither of you refresh me on the numbers you are referring to and i will take a look tonight.

    I have a few thoughts but would prefer to attempt an at least half way intelligent comment

  77. Mr Hyde says:

    Al,

    From a coldly logical and practical perspective, yes 1 child policies make sense. Alas, the human species only dabbles in logic and practicality as though we might lose a finger if we get caught with our hand in the logic jar.

  78. Final Doom says:

    gator (30)-

    Yeah, but if you stay there, you just become part of the problem.

    Gotta vote with your feet.

  79. stu says:

    I have created a Jamil argument generator.

    The ills of the world are 100% attributable to ______________ (may choose more than one)

    A. Acorn
    B. Lefties
    C. Obama
    D. Radicals
    E. Obama
    F. Communists
    G. Obama
    H. Socialists

    You won’t find the truth in the ______________ (may choose more than one)

    A. MSM
    B. Wikipedia
    C. Spoken Word
    D. Anywhere but at the local tea bagger rally.
    E. Anything except what comes out of Glenn Beck’s mouth.
    F. MSM

    In the rankings of the world’s greatest leaders, one would be hard pressed not place ______________ (may choose more than one) just behind Jesus.

    A. Bush (either)
    B. Reagan
    C. Glenn Beck
    D. Reagan
    E. Palin
    F. Reagan
    G. Reagan

  80. randyj5 says:

    is it just me or am i the only one that could care less about the Montclair Board of Ed and the minutes of the meeting? Also, if Stu and Gator have such a huge problem with it they should go rent or buy in another town and rent out their existing digs. MOVE ON GUYS, WE KNOW IT’S BAD THERE? For two people that seem so well-read, it’s amazing how little research you did into Montclair before deciding to make that your bread and butter.

    i know we wonder off of real estate and into economics and many other topics, but really the mismanagement and diapered-wusses of Montclair are the furthest thing from my mind and probably 95% of the rest of the board.

  81. Final Doom says:

    skep (61)-

    YoY is the wrong metric. Means nothing. Housing is dead, and the corpse is rotting.

    Wake me up when the real UE rate dips below 20%. I’m guessing that will be at least ten years, so I’m going to enjoy my nap.

    “Would appreciate hearing people’s views regarding the consecutive months that are now accumulating in which YoY stats in terms of sales and prices are substantially rising. One month could be written off as noise but i think we are beyond that now.”

  82. Al "The Thermostat" Gore says:

    The next city Mayor to propose bulldozing his own city is _________.

    A. Camden NJ
    B. Toledo OH
    C. Flint MI
    D. The Inland Empire Los Angeles CA
    E. Las Vegas NV

  83. Final Doom says:

    escapee (62)-

    Do we know for sure that this isn’t John’s wife?

    “The couple was embroiled in a bitter divorce after 21 years of marriage, with Williams claiming her husband @bused their children and forced her into devi@te sex acts.”

  84. sas says:

    “Reagan”

    can you say Jim Crow laws?

    SAS

  85. Final Doom says:

    yikes (73)-

    Of all the trolls here, I think jamil- by far- unites us in our hatred more than anyone else (including Duck and Reechard).

    His stupidity is excruciating.

  86. Final Doom says:

    I get this feeling that jamil has been told he’s an a-hole by more people than Sean Hannity.

    And, just like Hannity, he seems to wear it as a badge of honor.

  87. Comrade Nom Deplume says:

    [59] gator

    I propose not spending 1.2MM at all, and dispensing with the whistle requirement.

    I can’t respond to that without sounding cruel, so I won’t. I do think that the voters of MontKlair, and not the state, should have the final say.

  88. Final Doom says:

    sas (78)-

    You wouldn’t be looking up Gerry Adams and some of his old rowdy pals, now, would you?

  89. Comrade Nom Deplume says:

    [86] doom

    John would tell us that she wasn’t forced, it was all consensual.

  90. Al "The Thermostat" Gore says:

    Wow,

    Precious metals getting clobbered.

  91. Comrade Nom Deplume says:

    [75] Al,

    Chilling as that was, it isn’t a world-wide thing, but a long-standing ideal in chinese society. I think it even predates the communists.

    I remember one anecdote about toddlers on sampans in HK. It was said that you could tell the girls from the boys because the boys had tethers to keep them from falling in the water. The girls didn’t.

  92. Al "The Thermostat" Gore says:

    This is interesting. Freedy might want to think again about his default or perhaps apply for dual citizenship.

    Defaulted Loans May Haunt Seniors

    “A little–noticed law could soon result in smaller Social Security checks for hundreds of thousands of the elderly and disabled who owe the U.S. money from defaulted loans and other debts more than a decade old.

    Social Security benefits are off–limits to creditors, such as credit–card companies and banks. But the U.S. can collect debts to federal agencies by “offsetting,” or withholding Social Security and disability payments.

    The Treasury currently withholds benefits of 3.1 million Social Security recipients to recover defaulted student–, farm– and small–business loans, unpaid income taxes, amounts veterans owe for health care, and other debts to the government.

    Previously, the U.S. hasn’t been able to withhold Social Security payments to recover most debts delinquent for more than ten years.

    But a provision in the 2008 Farm Bill lifted the ten–year statute of limitations on the government’s ability to withhold Social Security benefits in collecting debts other than student loans—for which the statute of limitations was lifted in 1997—and income taxes, where the limit remains 10 years.

    This means that a person who defaulted on a small–business loan in 1995, for example, and who is receiving Social Security could be notified that his benefits may be reduced each month until the debt, with interest, fees, and penalties, is paid. The Treasury can withhold 15% of the benefit, though it can’t be reduced to below $750. Tax debts have no floor.”
    http://finance.yahoo.com/retirement/article/109011/defaulted-loans-may-haunt-seniors?mod=retire-planning

  93. Comrade Nom Deplume says:

    [95] Al

    That doesn’t apply (yet) to Freedy or defaults to banks in general, but I would endorse the extension of that idea to anyone who defaulted on a loan for which the taxpayer was ultimately responsible.

    I also don’t think it is much of a deterrent, and in fact could encourage some folks to scams or collusion to get gov. money, default on the obligation, and say “take it out of my social security as I won’t see it anyway.” Or they go to the underground economy and stay there since it is pointless to build up SS benefits or pay taxes.

    Think of it as a way to equity-strip your future social security benefits. And given what SS is in for, it may actually be a positive investment strategy.

  94. Final Doom says:

    al (93)-

    Just another GS-JPM-Eraserhead joint action.

    Every day is another circle jerk of crackhead gamer-traders bouncing between risk on/risk off trades. Every few weeks, TPTB have to check gold, just to keep the bullion banks from falling into a failure-to-deliver scenario.

    There WILL be a failure-to-deliver event, though. And the fallout will make a normal bank run seem like a church social.

  95. Comrade Nom Deplume says:

    I love this. The view from under the bus in the Central Falls mass teacher firing, and Obama’s implicit endorsement of the firings:

    “Marcia Reback, president of the Rhode Island Federation of Teachers, was less hospitable toward the president.

    “We’re all taking our bumper stickers for Obama off our cars,” Reback said earlier in the day.”

  96. Final Doom says:

    plume (96)-

    That’s a great reason to build of as much of this type of debt as possible, then default.

    Screw the gubmint. Let them eat sh*t and die.

  97. Mr Hyde says:

    Doom,

    I suspect we have a 1-2 years before we see a failure to deliver by a bullion bank. The first failure may well be papered over by TPTB. They have exerted herculean efforts to date.

  98. skep-tic says:

    #69

    January sales data for NY (up 11% YoY for state as a whole; 108% YoY for Westchester County):

    http://www.nysar.com/content/upload/AssetMgmt/pdfs/monthsales.pdf

  99. Final Doom says:

    plume (98)-

    And Ms. Reback can eat shi*t and die, too.

    Screw these lazy leeches.

  100. skep-tic says:

    #69

    January price data for NY (up 30% YoY for state as a whole; 12.7% for westchester county).

    http://www.nysar.com/content/upload/AssetMgmt/pdfs/monthmedian.pdf

    This trend has apparently continued through the month of February and likely will in March as well.

  101. Final Doom says:

    Just to be clear, there will be no future Social Security benefits.

    I am 100% convinced the system will- at some point in my lifetime- be declared insolvent and dismantled with no payouts to any contributors.

  102. Final Doom says:

    Ms. Reback better get used to slinging Happy Meals. Bet her job is next on the block.

  103. Al "The Thermostat" Gore says:

    100.

    Hyde,

    One would think that tungsten will be issued en masse before failure to deliver.

  104. Final Doom says:

    Does this mean all these leeches are going to go ahead and simply admit they are communists?

    “We’re all taking our bumper stickers for Obama off our cars,” Reback said earlier in the day.”

  105. skep-tic says:

    I frankly don’t understand the argument that YoY stats are now irrelevant. On the way down I thought we all agreed that they were the only relevant metric. Something is happening

  106. skep-tic says:

    with half of the population having zero in retirement savings there is no way soc security is ended. it just will become another wealth redistribution scheme going forward

  107. Mr Hyde says:

    Skeptic,

    Thanks, will take a look

  108. Final Doom says:

    al (106)-

    In an economy ruled by the fiat paper paradigm, you can count on it. Debasement- via counterfeiting- will eventually stretch to everything of value.

    That’s why I made my back to the 17th century call. By the time we manage to hit the “reset” button, most of the planet will be in a complete de-evolutionary death spiral.

  109. stu says:

    randyj5: About Montclair…we have been actively looking to move for over a year now and I’m fairly certain once we do move, the Montclair-centric posts will cease. When we made our decision to purchase in the town, I had rented there for a combined ten years or so over two decades. I think sharing the issues with our local town council is appropriate on many levels here. It’s unique in that the town is a bastion of progressiveness, yet they are spending themselves into certain bankruptcy. This model is probably repeated across many other towns in Bergen, Hudson and Essex counties. I don’t think there is any appreciable difference between Repubs and Dems, yet 100 times more posts here are dedicated to pointing out the supposed differences. My advice to you is to simply skip over them.

    And for what it’s worth, I never post entire news articles as it makes this blog too difficult to read. Especially on smart-devices. Others here should do the same.

    With that said, would you like to rent our unit when we move?

  110. jcer says:

    China is a very dark messed up place, second only to Africa. The chinese govt has zero respect for life so it only makes sense. The people are so desensitized to it. That being said, there are WAY TO MANY people in China, so maybe single child makes sense?

  111. jcer says:

    Not the killing of a child mind you, that is so wrong and inhumane! If you get a female child, deal with it.

  112. stu says:

    Skep,

    I would say that the lack of number of sales in the deep winter months contributes to a lot of the variability in that report. Some counties are sucking, others are flying. Let’s see the results in June in July. These will not be driven by 1.3 trillion in stimulus to keep interest rates low. Then I would be the first to trust the trend in the numbers.

  113. Final Doom says:

    skep (108)-

    The numbers are irrelevant, because:

    1. Residential RE is now too thinly-traded and illiquid, making even YoY numbers irrelevant. It is akin to diagnosing a consumptive in comparision to someone with stage 5 liver cancer. Ultimately, the death of your neighbor does not justify a claim of your own improved health.

    2. The entire market is so completely distorted by gubmint rigging of incentives/consequences that no number can be considered clean. It’s like trying to come up with a number for the performance of Madoff’s scheme.

  114. stu says:

    Hey Clot…we essentially said the same thing. You much more eloquently than I, of course.

  115. 3b says:

    #104 Up 30%? That makes no sense to me at all.

  116. Final Doom says:

    stu (117)-

    I cannot wait for the day when my eloquence comes out the business end of a Mossberg 500.

  117. Final Doom says:

    3b (118)-

    That’s because the number is either erroneous or falsified.

  118. 3b says:

    #113 AI for one very much appreciate and enjoy you and Gator’s Montclair posts. Don’t stop!!

  119. skep-tic says:

    I couldn’t find monthly data for NJ, but the same thing that is happening in NY is happening in CT. Sales in the NYC suburbs are exploding vs a year ago.

    *************

    Connecticut Home Sales, Prices Increase In January

    Condo Sales Climb, Price Remains Flat

    BOSTON, March 1, 2010 – The median price for single-family homes in Connecticut climbed 6 percent in January compared to a year earlier, while sales increased for the fourth consecutive month, according to a report today by The Warren Group, publisher of The Commercial Record.

    The median price for single-family homes sold statewide in January rose 6.2 percent to $238,900 from $225,000 in January 2009. It was the second month in a row that median prices increased year-over-year and a sharp contrast to the start of last year when home prices were falling by 25 to 35 percent. There were 1,277 single-family home sales recorded in January, up 19.5 percent from 1,069 a year earlier.

    “Connecticut’s housing market has been steadily improving over the last several months. January was the third straight month that sales increased year-over-year by double-digit percentages,” said Timothy M. Warren Jr., CEO of The Warren Group. “Still, the big unknown is whether home sales will continue to increase when the homebuyer tax credit expires and the Federal Reserve stops purchasing mortgage-backed securities.”

    Fairfield County led the state with significant gains in sales volume and prices. The county’s home sales surged almost 60 percent in January to 352 from 222 a year earlier. The median home price shot up 30 percent to $485,000 from $373,500.

    Hartford County was the only area of the state to see prices dip in January. The median home price slipped 4.7 percent to $200,000 from $209,900 in January 2009.

    Like single-family home sales, condo sales transactions increased statewide in January. Sales jumped 12.5 percent to 395 from 351 in January 2009, marking four straight months of double-digit percentage increases in year-over-year sales. The median condo price in January, $185,000, was unchanged from a year earlier.

  120. Mr Hyde says:

    Skeptic 3b

    Without looking at more detailed stats, pne possibility is that we are seeing the low end forced out of the market and as a result those who are still capable of buying are in higher price ranges. Such a situation would raise the median price of homes sold while at the same time you actually have fewer homes being sold and values dropping.

    If you knock out a portion of the bottom 2 quintiles (5ths) of purchasers due to restriction of access to liar loans and a lack of ability to flip for a profit, then you are almost guarenteed to see the median home sales price increase increase even though homes are dropping in value.

    An additional effect is that both banks and home debtors are refusing to put homes up for sale if they are going to take a loss ( there is a small and growing % of this but its still small). As a result you are squeezing the market and distorting it. The high end buyers can move down a notch or two and regain their ability to buy even with restricted credit. Mean while home prices have been sticky on the downside buy to banks and owners reluctance to take a loss. The end result is that you compress purchases into the middle of the spread. I effect of such an action would be an increase in median home sales

    This is my personal thought on the matter. its purely anecdotal, as i do not have enough data to actually support this with facts or trends.

    One way to get a better idea of this hypothesis’ accuracy would be to look at the sales data broken into quintiles, data i do not have.

  121. Final Doom says:

    I just enjoy bashing Montklair.

    Just found out today my team plays the 11 from this communist den of vipers this Spring. There’s a couple of kids on that team who are owed a two-footed, studs-up challenge.

  122. skep-tic says:

    #117

    “1. Residential RE is now too thinly-traded and illiquid, making even YoY numbers irrelevant. It is akin to diagnosing a consumptive in comparision to someone with stage 5 liver cancer. Ultimately, the death of your neighbor does not justify a claim of your own improved health.

    2. The entire market is so completely distorted by gubmint rigging of incentives/consequences that no number can be considered clean. It’s like trying to come up with a number for the performance of Madoff’s scheme.”

    OK, on #1, how are we supposed to make any judgments on the market? Gut instinct? How do you interpret the fact that the same phenomenon is reflected in the stats from several northeastern states right now? Coordinated conspiracy?

    On #2, I agree, but when will the market not be juiced by gov’t intervention? Ever? This is the environment we are living in today. Assuming it away is like assuming away oxygen.

  123. relo says:

    96: Nom, wonder what if GSE is involved?

    That doesn’t apply (yet) to Freedy or defaults to banks in general

  124. House Whine says:

    109 – Do you mean that you think that social security will be means tested in the future? This is something that really troubles me and my spouse. We don’t want to get penalized for being savers, but I fear we might be!

  125. safeashouses says:

    #112 stu,

    The quotes from your local council are also great comedy.

  126. skep-tic says:

    change in mix of properties sold is an interesting explanation, but the problem is that the number of sales is increasing as well. So if you assume that the bottom quintile is squeezed out and sales are still increasing, that means sales are massively increasing in the mid to upper portion of the market. Not sure how comforting this line of thought is to prospective buyers on this board.

  127. newbie says:

    When talking about teachers & other unions.
    What i dont understand is we always seem to be talking about layoffs?

    With teachers especially, we seem to say for the sake of children lets increase taxes or face loss of teachers.

    How about a third alternative, reduce wages for teachers? reduce pension benefits? There are some people who seem to be getting 2 or 3 pension from govt for doing jobs in different department. How about limiting it to 1, let them chose which one they want but it is going to be just 1?

  128. chicagofinance says:

    JJ: You are so hopeless behind the times……corporate bond investing Hughes-style…..

    John says:
    March 10, 2010 at 10:37 am
    Chifi, ASBC is rocking, AIG is rocking, Citi is rocking even Zions is rocking, the world of TBTF is a sort of strange manifest destiny form of investing, it is true if you can make enough people believe it is true.

    WSJ
    MARCH 10, 2010
    Investors Tap Into Deathbed Bond Deal

    By MARK MAREMONT And APARAJITA SAHA-BUBNA

    Billions of dollars in corporate bonds sold to retail investors come with an unusual provision that could be used to generate a fast profit. There’s just one catch: Investors must team up to buy the bonds with someone who is about to die

    American International Group Inc., Bank of America Corp., Caterpillar Inc., General Electric Co.’s GE Capital unit and other major U.S. companies often issue bonds with what is known as a survivor’s option.

    In a little-known practice, investors can recruit a terminally ill person and together they can scoop up these bonds on the open market at a discount. When the ailing bondholder dies, the surviving co-owner can then redeem them at face value and potentially turn a quick profit.

    Companies have typically included the macabre provision as a way to allay fears among ordinary individual investors—elderly couples who might worry that one spouse could die before the bonds mature, possibly exposing the survivor to a loss.

    But the market’s turmoil has made this arrangement more attractive for professional investors, since some bonds are trading at a steep discount. Legal and financial experts say there is nothing to prevent investors from buying the bonds with a dying relative or even a stranger who is terminally ill.

    It isn’t clear how many investors have piled into such bonds since the financial crisis hit, which initially pushed some below 50 cents on the dollar.

    Prices have rebounded from their lows. But some so-called survivor’s-option corporate bonds issued by auto lender GMAC Financial Services, AIG unit American General Financial Services and student-loan provider SLM Corp. are still being offered at discounts of more than 20%, according to Knight BondPoint, a unit of Knight Capital Group Inc.

    Companies typically issue the bonds because they want to tap into a regular, stable funding source through retail investors. Such companies often sell a small amount of bonds each week, say $25 million, through retail brokers.

    Usually, there are two ways an investor can cash in a bond: by selling it to another investor on the open market, or by waiting until the issuer redeems the bond upon its maturity.

    One investor who scored big on the money-back guarantee is Joseph A. Caramadre, an estate-planning lawyer in Cranston, R.I. From 2006 to 2009, Mr. Caramadre recruited several dozen terminally ill people to serve as joint brokerage-account holders. He then bought survivor’s-option bonds trading below face value for each account, according to Mr. Caramadre’s lawyer and federal court records filed in Providence, R.I., over how to pay out proceeds from the investments.

    Robert G. Flanders Jr., Mr. Caramadre’s lawyer, said that his client specializes in finding obscure but legal loopholes in financial products. Mr. Caramadre, his family and investors, he said, have put about $10 million into corporate bonds with a survivor’s option—successfully collecting on many of the guarantees. In one instance, Mr. Caramadre’s wife paid $421,000 for bonds with a face value of $605,000, including from two AIG units. She then asked for them to be redeemed for the full amount after her co-owner died less than a year later.

    There’s nothing in a typical prospectus that would prohibit such deals, said Edward Best, an attorney at Mayer Brown LLP in Chicago who has worked on bond offerings with survivor’s-option provisions. While issuers didn’t intend for them to be used to make a quick buck, he said, “there are people out there who will figure out how to game almost anything in the world.”

    An AIG spokesman said the company wasn’t aware of the practice until it learned of Mr. Caramadre’s activities. The bonds’ fine print doesn’t prohibit such activity, the spokesman added.

    According to underwriter Incapital LLC, there are $83 billion in retail-oriented bonds outstanding, most with a survivor’s option. “Over the years, the survivor’s option has proven to be a welcome benefit for individual investors that helps to mitigate market risk,” said a spokesman for the Chicago company. The situation with Mr. Caramadre is “an isolated incident,” he said.

    Many of the bonds come with minimum holding periods, and issuers have the right to limit redemptions. That means an investor rush to redeem the bonds could delay payment. Investors also can lose if the issuer defaults, though that is rare.

    The corporate-bond strategy used by Mr. Caramadre, who was the subject of a Page One article in The Wall Street Journal last month about variable annuities, has resulted in two civil suits related to the survivor’s option in U.S. District Court in Rhode Island. In both cases, Kane Reid Securities Group Inc., the Boca Raton, Fla., parent of discount broker TradeKing, asked a judge to decide who should be paid the proceeds of a bond redemption triggered by a survivor’s option: the dead owner’s heirs or a living co-owner (the latter being an associate or client of Mr. Caramadre).

    According to court filings, Raymour Radhakrishnan, an employee of Mr. Caramadre, opened a joint brokerage account in February 2009 with a 77-year-old Naples, Fla., resident named Caterina Nero-Franco, buying at least 13 different retail bonds.

    Mr. Radhakrishnan snapped up bonds of American General with a face value of $100,000 for about 50 cents on the dollar, according to court documents and data from BondDesk Group LLC, a Mill Valley, Calif., firm that runs an electronic bond-trading marketplace. He paid $47,000 for GMAC bonds with a face value of $116,000.

    Ms. Nero-Franco died 10 days after the account was opened. A month later, Mr. Radhakrishnan filed to redeem all the bonds for face value. In September, a federal judge told TradeKing to turn over the proceeds to Mr. Radhakrishnan, concluding the case.

    The $800,000 invested in the joint brokerage account produced a gross profit of $350,000, according to Mr. Flanders, the lawyer representing Mr. Caramadre. The heirs of Ms. Nero-Franco, a friend of the Caramadre family, received $88,000 of the proceeds, Mr. Flanders said.

    A lawyer for Ms. Nero-Franco’s estate confirmed the arrangement. A lawyer for Mr. Radhakrishnan didn’t respond to messages seeking comment.

    The second lawsuit, which was filed last month over a similar redemption claim and names Mr. Caramadre’s wife as a defendant, hasn’t been decided. Mr. Flanders, who represents her in that suit, asked a judge last week to dismiss the case.

    Neither Mrs. Caramadre or the bond issuers also listed as defendants are accused of wrongdoing, but the brokerage firm again wants help from the judge on who should get money triggered by a survivor’s option.

    Mr. Caramadre hasn’t always come out ahead with the survivor’s-option strategy. He suffered losses after buying Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. bonds before the firm’s collapse in 2008, his lawyer said. And some issuers—which he declined to name—have delayed payouts.

  129. Al "The Thermostat" Gore says:

    Doom,

    This is for you.

    “The Destruction of Empire, the fourth stage in Ferguson’s grand drama about the life-cycle of all empires. In “Destruction” “the city is ablaze, its citizens fleeing an invading horde that rapes and pillages beneath a brooding evening sky.

    How can I prepare for the destruction and collapse of the American Empire? There is no solution in the Cole-Ferguson scenario, only an acceptance of fate, of destiny, of history’s inevitable cycles.”

  130. Comrade Nom Deplume says:

    [127] house whine

    “Do you mean that you think that social security will be means tested in the future?”

    Yes. This is not a new idea.

    “This is something that really troubles me and my spouse. We don’t want to get penalized for being savers, but I fear we might be!”

    Well, either accept it, or plan accordingly.

    nomdeplumenj@gmail.com

  131. Final Doom says:

    skep (129)-

    To your previous question at #125:

    1. Yes, you should use your gut. I do, and it’s the only reason I’m surviving in this industry and not wearing a blue smock. I can show you any number of people who have relied on “the numbers” and gotten their heads handed to them in the past few years. Anyone relying on gubmint and/or industry-promulgated housing numbers deserves what they will get…which is a good, old-fashioned butt stretching.

    2. One should always consider the scenario of the eventual removal of gubmint support/rigging of the market. Because, it’s going to happen (either the market support will fail entirely, or the gubmint will collapse)…and, the oxygen-starved fire you refer to will in fact be a thermobaric, planetary holocaust when this occurs.

  132. Final Doom says:

    al (132)-

    That’s what I’m talking about.

    Although I think we’re such fat, lazy pussies, Amerikan society will actually die with a whimper in a x@nax-induced haze.

  133. Final Doom says:

    In the end, we’ll all be stoned out of our gourds and pretending that tungsten chips are money.

  134. Outofstater says:

    Just received our school superintendent’s 2011 budget report to the board. FY2010’s deficit was $59 million and the district made cuts to close that. FY2011’s shortfall is expected to be $60-$100 million. More cuts to come.
    http://www.cobbk12.org/centraloffice/finance/2011Budget/BudgetReportToBoard_20100210.pdf

  135. Final Doom says:

    Which places will be the first to decide that schools are not necessary?

  136. 3b says:

    #130 Not to beat a dead horse, but again it makes no sense at all. If prices are increasing by 30% a year, then that means we are firmly back in bubble land again.. Are we going to go through this whole debacle yet again? I am not an expert on the numbers, but common sense tells me this is big time B.S.

  137. Al "The Thermostat" Gore says:

    130.

    Newbie,

    There will be no pensions for those fools. They will be hugging their UN textbooks turned to Chapter 3 of male Moms and female Dads, construction paper, and toy unicorns while the towns are ablaze and warlords loot and pillage the countryside.

    Their utopia will be shattered by the unforgiving reality that there is no money left. They will yell, “What about my pension! Its for the children!” but there will be no one to listen.

    The powers that be will long have left with their bullion. Muahahahaha.

  138. Comrade Nom Deplume says:

    [109] skep

    “with half of the population having zero in retirement savings there is no way soc security is ended. it just will become another wealth redistribution scheme going forward”

    That is correct. The result of “freezing” and “terminating” SS is too catastrophic for politicians and the economy. It will never happen.

    Soc. Sec. will be supplementally funded out of general tax receipts, and FICA might be hiked as well, to cover the shortfall.

    In reality, it will be both, with marginal rates, FICA, and rates for long term cap gains (and divs if still preferred) going up. FICA itself won’t be hiked by much because that penalizes wage earners disproportionately (or more so than at present).

  139. Final Doom says:

    3b (139)-

    A travesty of a mock-up. The one thing that’s been proved in the past two years is that reflation is simply not possible.

    The lack of velocity of money movement and the death of credit markets can only lead to one outcome.

  140. stu says:

    3b:

    I wouldn’t panic just yet. Go with your gut. Look around. We haven’t even started to pay for a 3-fold increase in our deficit. I made a deal with Gator about this. If June and July show price increases, post removal of tax credit and MBS purchasing, then we will immediately buy. If the next leg down occurs, and this is what I am still expecting, we will wait a while longer. Do you remember when in the middle of the tech bubble burst, there was a temporary upswing in the markets? A lot of suckers took the bait and went back in. They ended up getting hammered twice. 6 months are a trend. 2 months not so much.

    http://www.google.com/finance?chdnp=1&chdd=1&chds=1&chdv=1&chvs=maximized&chdeh=0&chdet=986587200000&chddm=156234&chls=IntervalBasedLine&q=INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC&ntsp=0

  141. yo'me says:

    Social Security

    Raising the payroll tax

    This is a simple way to raise more bucks. It’s been done more than a dozen times since the program started in 1935 with a mere 2 percent tax on wages. One of the biggest revisions came in 1983. With Social Security just months away from insolvency, a commission headed by Alan Greenspan (later the Federal Reserve chairman) pushed through a big payroll tax increase. In addition, the Greenspan group championed raising the future retirement age from 65 to 67, adding government and nonprofit employees to the system, and taxing the Social Security benefits of higher-income recipients.

    Everybody knew the baby boom retirement bubble was coming. Those fixes were supposed to take care of it, and they worked to an extent. The higher taxes and other changes helped generate today’s $2.5 trillion trust fund. But at current tax levels, that will be gone in 2037, according to projections from the Social Security trustees. Many private forecasters believe the next set of projections, due around April 1, will peg the tipping point at 2036, 2035 or even 2034.

    Raising the 12.4 percent payroll-tax rate by another 1 percentage point, to 13.4 percent, would fix almost half of the system’s projected shortfall over the next 75 years, according to the agency’s actuaries. With unemployment at close to 10 percent and wages under pressure, however, that’s unlikely to happen.

    Billing the wealthy

    This is a tempting option for politicians, because a seemingly small fix affecting relatively few people could make all the difference.

    Reducing benefits for those with retirement income exceeding $50,000 a year, an idea that some tax hawks have pushed for years, would eliminate much of the system’s projected shortfall, according to actuarial estimates. Raising the current $106,800 wage tax limit by about one-fourth would eliminate the rest of the shortfall. Alternatively, axing the cap altogether to sweep in the CEO crowd would come close to eliminating the entire shortfall.

    Such steps are alluring because they would directly affect just a fraction of the population — those with the highest earnings. They also would address the regressive nature of today’s payroll tax, where lower-income workers pay a relatively high share. Such options preserve benefits for those most in need.

    Trouble is, Social Security has maintained widespread support, in part, because it is universal. It is generally not perceived as a welfare plan that soaks the rich to support the poor. Higher taxes also tend to undermine economic growth and productivity, tax opponents say. Means testing in any expanded form would be controversial on Capitol Hill.

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-biz-0215-burns-side-qanda–20100212,0,1069270,full.story

  142. 3b says:

    I guess prices are not going up for these poor people. House closed in May of 2007 for 490K!!! I was shocked that it sold at that price, as we were well past the peak in May of 2007. But it did. Well it has n been on the market now for over 3 months, came on originally at 459K with apparently no interest. It was just reduced to 434k!! These people will be looking at a minimum 100K loss!!!

    http://www.njmls.com/listings/index.cfm?action=dsp.info&mlsnum=2947350&countysearch=false

  143. Al "The Thermostat" Gore says:

    145.

    Ill take the airconditioner in the window and the stainless steel stove. Bulldoze the rest.

  144. 3b says:

    #144 Stu: If June and July show price increases, post removal of tax credit and MBS purchasing, then we will immediately buy.

    Do you really believe that could/would happen? Are prices in Monclair going uo now?

    As far as me not panicing, in fact the opposite. If prices really were on the way up, than I would just forget it at this point, as it makes absolutely no sense, is totally bizzare, and will end badly (as in zombie land walking dead).

  145. skep-tic says:

    Look around the world. Bubbles are being blown. Look domestically—stock market– biggest one year bull market ever. High yield spreads way down. Mortgages at 50 yr lows, effectively for most buyers with zero percent down. M&A surging. It is the same story all over again– super loose monetary policy and a narrow definition of what is “inflation.”

    Yes, this could all blow up in the event of a dollar collapse or other catastrophe. But if that happens, as we saw the last time, there will be little reward for the prudent.

    Keep in mind that RE stats lag. It is possible that a recovery has been underway for at least 6 months now. We can all say it shouldn’t happen this way, but knowing what you know now don’t you wish you had bought in the 2000-2002 period when another bubble had just popped?

  146. stu says:

    “But if that happens, as we saw the last time, there will be little reward for the prudent.”

    Just as we never anticipated that the government would act in this way, we also can not predict that it will not switch to acting in a more prudent manner when faced with its demise.

  147. stu says:

    149 was heavily influenced by Final Doom.

  148. veto that says:

    oops, how did this happen?? Poor kids. How will they learn without state of the art facilities???

    Central Jersey & Mercer County News
    Robbinsville voters issue thumbs-down to $39.6m school bond

    By Carmen Cusido
    March 09, 2010, 10:20PM

    ROBBINSVILLE — Voters Tuesday soundly defeated a $39.6 million school bond to finance construction of a proposed new elementary school and improvements to Sharon Elementary and Pond Road Middle School, to the surprise and disappointment of school officials.

    According to preliminary numbers, there were 1,849 “no” votes to 1,144 “yes” votes, Superintendent Steven Mayer said Tuesday night. About 8,400 voters are registered in the township.

    http://www.nj.com/mercer/index.ssf/2010/03/robbinsville_voters_issue_thum.html

  149. confused in NJ says:

    Reducing benefits for those with retirement income exceeding $50,000 a year, an idea that some tax hawks have pushed for years, would eliminate much of the system’s projected shortfall, according to actuarial estimates.

    That would be all NJ Teachers, Policeman, Fireman & Politicians.

  150. yo'me says:

    Dean Baker on #144 article

    More Social Security Scare Stories

    The Chicago Tribune may have laid off many of their reporters but it still has a Social Security fearmonger position. Greg Burns told readers that: “As of this year, Social Security will be running in the red for the first time in a quarter-century.”

    Wow, that’s really really scary. Except Social Security was always supposed to shift from surplus to deficit. That is why the Social Security trust fund accumulated a surplus of more than $2.5 trillion over the last quarter century. Rather than being some extraordinary crisis, the shift in 2010 actually means almost nothing to the financial health of the problem.
    The fact that Social Security ran into the red this year is one more result of the failure of policymakers and economics reporters to notice an $8 trillion housing bubble.

    The article also raises the possibility that the United States might see a declining birth rate and stagnant population. While the article implies that this is bad news, in fact the opposite would be the case for the vast majority of the population. A stagnant population would likely imply a labor shortage and therefore higher real wages. It would also reduce crowding, emissions of greenhouse gases and other forms of pollution.

    A competent economist would have provided this information to readers.

    [Addendum: There is a companion piece on Social Security on the Tribune’s website that provides a more balanced picture.]

    –Dean Baker

  151. 3b says:

    #149 I am not playing the game of boom and bust something that used to be every decade or so, is now going to be every couple of years? If you belive this to eb true that prices are rising again, than we are in an even scarier palce than we have been. And then the question becomes do you really want to play that game?

    And as I go on about constantly lets not forget those delightful NJ property taxes. How many recent buyers are ready for the 10% or more tax increases that are coming this year,and next.

  152. Anon E. Moose says:

    Nom[96];

    +1

  153. veto that says:

    151 im shocked the robbinsville school referendum got voted down.
    I saw all the shiny german cars showing up in the parking lot to vote last night and it could have sworn they would be pulling the level for the teachers.

  154. House Whine says:

    After reading about means testing for social security i feel like a patsy for living frugally. My spouse has repeatedly said that if we get screwed out of our Social Security $$ he doesn’t want to live here anymore. It will be the last straw.

  155. John says:

    GMAC Inc. may sell 10-year senior unsecured notes in a benchmark offering, according to a person familiar with the transaction who declined to be identified because terms aren’t set.

    WTF, irrational baby!!!!

  156. Comrade Nom Deplume says:

    [151]

    “to the surprise and disappointment of school officials.”

    Disappointment I can see.

    But if they are surprised, I consider them to be as dumb as a box of rocks.

  157. 3b says:

    #157 Maybe the idiots are finally waking up. Those shiny German cars come with big, big lease payemnts.

  158. confused in NJ says:

    The interesting thing about “O’s” Health Care Plan is 1. it saves no money and 2. helps no one. In fairness, the opposing groups Health care Ideas 1. save no money and 2. help no one. Congress is Bi-Partisan regarding Health Care which 1. saves no money and 2. helps no one. Maybe the Tea Party will propose a Health Care Bill that actually does something constructive like negotiate lower drug costs, similar to what all the other Countries have done. They may even require Big Pharma to work on Real Illness rather than creating Fake Illnesses.

  159. veto that says:

    3b 145 – if its sells for $420k, its only 15% from peak, that wouldnt even be as bad as case shiller shows.
    Im not saying prices are up but its far from the meltdown weve all imagined.

  160. John says:

    I wish I bought deathbond.com that is a great idea. I knew about that loophole and I actually own a lot of deathbonds, but they are in my name so I don’t to use that loophole.

    GMAC and American General big time issued them. Smartnotes were hot ones. Great deal actually, old people could get high yielding 30 year bonds when they are 80 and still have no risk at death. Even better they always traded around 70-90. Big income stream and then a nice pop in price for the estate.

  161. Comrade Nom Deplume says:

    [156] veto

    speaking of shiny german cars, I noticed this yesterday.

    Brand new Beemer flies by me on 22, with black wheels. Very cop looking, and I noticed it had a “law enforcement” plate (the ones reserved for cops so they can give each other the pass). I thought it odd that he’d trick his beemer out to look something like a cruiser, but so be it.

    A few minutes later, on 21, I saw another car with black wheels and a law enforcement plate: A brand new Porsche 911 carrera. I got a cellphone picture of it.

    I hope these public servants driving around in Porsches aren’t wondering why the taxpayer is mad as hell. If they can’t figure that out, they certainly don’t have sufficient judgment to be cops.

  162. Comrade Nom Deplume says:

    [157] house whine

    Right now, the lookback period for medicaid is something like 5 years. I think that SS will adopt a lookback period, and that they will both be lengthened to 10 years.

    That means, you need to get everything out of your name by age 56 or 57. Since you can start taking distributions from retirement accounts at 55, that may be an option.

    For my part, my oldest will start looking at colleges when I am close to 60 (got a late start). By that time, I hope to have our house, nearly all of our investments, and a goodly portion of retirement assets out of our names and in asset protection/estate planning/medicaid planning trusts.

    On paper, we will look like poor renters. That way, she qualifies for financial aid, we qualify for medicaid and SS, and we avoid estate taxes in the future.

    Tax planning is the new investment. Where else can you get double digit returns?

  163. hughesrep says:

    164

    They are oblivious. My inlaws are troopers, my wife has friends whose husbands are cops. They only hang around together with other cops. They are in their own little world.

    I made a comment at a party about the state troopers getting in essence free cars and gas to drive to and from “work”. They all laughed and said it must suck to be the public.

    I gave them an upper decker.

  164. Mr Hyde says:

    Skeptic

    I have some data for NJ that does suggest a potential “mix shift” phenomenon. I will post it from home tonight.

    Its not conclusive, but does show a decrease in the higher end markets while a increase occurs at the same time in the mid to low mid level markets all while volume is decreasing.

  165. 3b says:

    Assuminin sells at 420K plus another 20K or so in selling fees (commission, realty transfer tax and so on). that brings it down to 400K 90k loss or over 18%. This was purchased in May of 07 after peak pricing.

  166. Mr Hyde says:

    Whine 157

    …. Of course they are going to means test!!!! they wont have a choice

  167. yo'me says:

    « Trade Deficit: Down for the Year, but Up for the Month | Main | More Social Security Scare Stories »
    AP Starts Running Editorials on the Deficit As News Stories

    AP broke with standard news practices by circulating what can only be considered an opinion piece on the deficit as a news story. The article exclusively presents the views of deficit hawks and misrepresents many fundamental issues about the budget.

    After noting the Greek budget crisis, the second sentence tells readers: “In the world’s largest economic and military power, there’s a far more serious debt dilemma.”

    The piece continues:

    “For the U.S., the crushing weight of its debt threatens to overwhelm everything the federal government does, even in the short-term, best-case financial scenario — a full recovery and a return to prerecession employment levels.

    The government already has made so many promises to so many expanding “mandatory” programs. Just keeping these commitments, without major changes in taxing and spending, will lead to deficits that cannot be sustained.

    Take Social Security, Medicare and other benefits. Add in interest payments on a national debt that now exceeds $12.3 trillion. It all will gobble up 80 percent of all federal revenues by 2020, government economists project.”

    Actually, if there is a full economic recovery, there is absolutely nothing in the next decade that suggests that the deficit will not be sustainable. The United States has experienced higher debt to GDP ratios in the past and other countries, like Japan and Italy, already have higher debt to GDP ratios. There is no one cited in the article who makes the assertion that the debt to GDP ratio will be unsustainable in the short-term. In other words, this strong assertion is entirely the invention of AP.

    The article implies that there is something especially troubling about Social Security, Medicare and other entitlement programs, plus interest, taking up 80 percent of tax revenue. These programs involve the vast majority of what the government does. It’s sort of like car sales taking up the bulk of Ford’s revenue. Ford is a car company. In the United States we have chosen to run a retirement program (Social Security), a retiree health program (Medicare), a low-income health program (Medicaid), along with unemployment insurance and several other items through the government. Most other areas have been left to the private sector. The article apparently disapproves of this decision, but that doesn’t make it a crisis.

    The article also includes the statement: “The Social Security system, the biggest social spending program, has begun paying out more in benefits than it collects in payroll taxes. For the past quarter-century, Social Security had produced a surplus that helped finance the rest of the government.”

    There is nothing problematic about Social Security paying out more in benefits than it collects in taxes, this was exactly the point of building up the Social Security trust fund. The tax rate was deliberately set at a level higher than necessary to pay current benefits to help defray the cost of the baby boomers retirement. This means that the program would at some point start paying out more in benefits than it collects in taxes. The alternative case would imply that we raised the dedicated Social Security tax to finance the defense budget. No public figure has claimed that this was the point of the 1983 increase in Social Security taxes.

    The article also implies that the $1.3 trillion 2010 deficit is due to profligate spending rather than an economic crisis caused by the collapse of the housing bubble:

    “The budget he submitted to Congress this month proposes record spending of $3.8 trillion for 2011. Taxes in next year’s budget will support only $2.5 trillion of that spending, leaving $1.3 trillion to be borrowed.

    The president’s budget is a best-case outlook, from the administration’s vantage point.

    It doesn’t take into account future liabilities from the growth of entitlement benefits and is based on projected economic growth that depends on a solid recovery.”

    In fact, given the weakness of the economy, there would be no point in trying to reduce the deficit from the levels projected for 2011. This would lead to higher unemployment. Also, contrary to the article’s assertion, the baseline growth projection for 2010 and 2011 is extremely weak, around 2.5 percent. Usually, when the economy has a severe downturn the economy grows very rapidly in the recovery — around 6 -8 percent. So, this is absolutely not a “best-case outlook.”

    Finally, the piece confuses the budget deficit and trade deficit, telling readers: “The U.S. debt crisis also raises the question of how long the world’s leading power can remain its largest borrower.” The U.S. is the world’s largest borrower because it has an over-valued dollar. The budget deficit has no direct impact on how much the government borrows internationally. Remarkably, the over-valued dollar is not mentioned once in this article.

    Given the over-valuation of the dollar, the United States must have either a large budget deficit or very-low private savings, or extremely high unemployment. This is an accounting identity. People who report on the economy for AP should know this.

    –Dean Baker

  168. veto that says:

    Nom, those porsche and beemer cruisers are part of the ‘stimulus’.

  169. 3b says:

    #167 They only hang around together with other cops. They are in their own little world.

    And all they talk about is cop krap all the time, every time. Lots of them drink and drive too, as the rules do not apply to them or so it seems. And many drink to excess chalking it up to “you don’t understand what it is like” Seems to me like just an excuse to behave badly.

  170. veto that says:

    “90k loss or over 18%.”

    3b i want to see some 30% discounts.

  171. Comrade Nom Deplume says:

    [161]confused

    “They may even require Big Pharma to work on Real Illness rather than creating Fake Illnesses.”

    Require? How, with a gun to their heads?

    Outside of involuntary servitude, which won’t produce very good lab results, you are left with (a) government takeover of pharma, or (b) tax structure that incentivizes specific research and specific commercial behavior, and disincentivizes other research and behavior.

    I will tell you this. It is possible to shut down the pipeline, and even roll it back. Look at the legislative history for the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act, an act that provided a tort reform alternative to pharma at a time when they were all exiting the vaccine business.

    Can we drive Big Pharma out? Yes We Can!

    There’s just that nasty business of who we get our drugs from in the future.

  172. skep-tic says:

    #155

    “If you belive this to eb true that prices are rising again, than we are in an even scarier palce than we have been. And then the question becomes do you really want to play that game?”

    the way I look at it, we are playing it no matter what we do. what do you do with your money? sit in cash and watch it get inflated away? or is there another asset class that is less volatile than RE right now?

    With mortgage rates being below 5% for people with good credit, the gov’t is basically paying you to buy RE. Yes, RE would be toast if not for gov’t stimulus, but look who is in the white house and look who is at the fed. the checks are not going to stop rolling.

  173. willwork4beer says:

    151 Veto

    They were surprised?

    I don’t know whether to be amused or disgusted.

  174. Shore Guy says:

    ” job cuts would trigger more than $300 million in contractually obligated raises for remaining state workers under a 2009 wage freeze agreement”

    Bull$#it he can’t layoff anyone. True, of he does raises kick in; so, just layoff enough that the cost of laying off is greater than the cost of the wage.

  175. Comrade Nom Deplume says:

    [171] veto

    They weren’t police cruisers, they were the cop’s personal cars.

    Go by the Pru Center on an event night. They block off Mulberry Street, but allow the cops to park on it. It looks like a luxury car dealer’s lot: BMWs, Escalades, Benzes, Lexi, Inifinit’s, Caddies.

    I’m no fool. I want to get into public service now, while the tap is still open and flowing freely.

  176. sas says:

    i happen to be a big fan of art and advocate of art schools.

    yes, I know one really can’t make a career of it, other than fun hobbies.

    however, the arts helps imagination, ideas, and creativity.

    you take away the arts…then you really have kids whom are trained to do one task and one task only. They become the 1 task assembly line in the outdated latter system of the “industrial” business model.

    SAS back on soapbox… again

  177. sas says:

    opps

    “latter system”

    i mean ladder system

    SAS

  178. 3b says:

    #174 Oh me too!!! Just as an aside, similar houses to the one I posted were selling at around 395K this time last year.

  179. 3b says:

    #176 the checks are not going to stop rolling.

    Perhaps, but what it given with one hand will be taken with the other in the form of higher,higher and, higher property taxes.

  180. sas says:

    “There’s just that nasty business of who we get our drugs from in the future”

    someone’s going to be your drug dealer, one way or another.

    be it the person in the white coat with their wee degree on the wall (kickbacks for more scripts they write & free lunches and office supplies),
    the govt run illegal drug cartel (keeps prices high and competition low, launder money to banks and fractional bank the profits and invest into private prisons and anything else), or the Big Pharma (create a need a fill it with advertisement or made syndromes”)

    or, even yourself…running down to the Duane Reade and buying V_i_c_ks vapor rub and shoving it up your nose every night before bed.

    SAS

  181. A.West says:

    Of course Social Security won’t end – you can be sure of you and your employer paying in 12% of your salary. It’s only people’s access to benefits that will end – for “rich” retirees of course. I’ve been hearing democrats paving the way for that transition for ten years now – that this was not meant to be a retirement substitute but just to keep poor old folks from starving.

    Ultimately, the whole program, like most government programs, boils down to taking from Peter to pay Paul.

  182. Alap says:

    Any opinions on Rod’s Steakhouse in Morristown?

  183. stan says:

    I actually love the reports from the insane asylum that is the Montclair City Council.

    Keep em coming.

  184. stu says:

    “I gave them an upper decker.”

    Shoulda made it a double decker. Just remember that many detectives carry DNA kits. Boy would THAT be embarrassing to explain to the family.

  185. A.West says:

    Looks like Christie is doing more than anyone else would have, I’ve got to admit. Best case scenario is this: Initial reaction will be local government trying to hike taxes to pay the difference, and maintaining as much buraucracy as possible while cutting as much actual public service as possible, while loudly blaming Christie for everything. Step two will be surprised local politicians getting replaced by angry voters by mini-Christies at the local level, followed by spending cuts at the local level. Step three will be the sound of the local tax gangsters leaving for Florida, taking whatever payoff/pension deal they can get.

    This only applies to NJ towns where more than half the population are sentient beings. I have no idea how majority leach towns react to being disconnected from other people’s wallets.

  186. stu says:

    A. West. (189):

    I think you are right and I have been waiting at least ten years for this. I’ve been saying that the pensions are unsustainable since I was in college. The union protests in Trenton should be very entertaining. I’ll bring the tomatoes.

  187. sas says:

    “Astorino spending cuts: Lay off up to 1,600, close Croton pool, cut NYC buses, delay Playland opening”
    http://tinyurl.com/yg3xbdn

  188. sas says:

    “Jamestown Public Schools Proposes 50 Job Cuts, 5 Percent Tax Hike”
    http://tinyurl.com/yf98nay

  189. yo'me says:

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    Home Loan Demand Nudges Higher in Latest Week
    Wednesday, 10 Mar 2010 07:44 AM Article Font Size

    U.S. mortgage applications nudged up last week, reflecting increased demand for home purchase loans even as interest rates trekked higher, data from an industry group showed on Wednesday.

    If demand for purchase loans, a tentative early indicator of home sales, continues to climb it will bode well for the hard-hit U.S. housing market, which remains highly vulnerable to setbacks and heavily reliant on government intervention.

    http://moneynews.com/Economy/MORTGAGES-HOUSING-REALESTATE-CREDIT/2010/03/10/id/352178

  190. House Whine says:

    165- Thank you for the advice. This I will certainly discuss with my husband, and soon. He still is one of the lucky ones to have a really good match on his 401k, so I don’t see us giving up our contribution to that but maybe we shouldn’t be maxing it out at this point. And now I am re-thinking my plan to pay off our mortgage soon because perhaps we’d be better off having cash on hand. It’s all a crap shoot anyway.

  191. yo'me says:

    sorry about that grim.you can please delete it

  192. willwork4beer says:

    Comrade Nom,

    You asked if Corzine’s no-layoff agreement was publicized. I posted this last night but I guess you didn’t see it. So here it is again:

    292. willwork4beer says: March 9, 2010 at 9:10 pm

    181/183 Nom

    The no-layoff provision in Corzine’s furlough agreement was publicized:

    Corzine, CWA announce agreement on furlough, wage freeze plan

    By Michael Rispoli/The Star-Ledger
    June 04, 2009, 3:08PM

    TRENTON — The Corzine administration and New Jersey’s largest state worker union today said they have finalized an agreement that calls for 10 unpaid furlough days and deferring a wage increase in exchange for a no-layoff pledge through December 2010.

    (snip)

    Under the deal, a previously negotiated 3.5 percent wage increase for CWA workers that had been scheduled for July 1 will be postponed until January 2011.

    (snip)

    The next phase of the wage increase also will not be affected and is still scheduled for July 1, 2010, according to a letter to members from CWA District One Vice President Chris Shelton.

    If the state initiates layoffs before 2011, the July 2009 raises will be reinstituted, the CWA said.

    http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2009/06/corzine_cwa_announce_agreement.html

  193. Jim says:

    Prediction-
    B.O. will declare that anyone with a ‘Cadillac’ IRA or 401K will be taxed at a higher rate. This will make everyone feel better because the rest of our money will be redistributed to the SOBs that didn’t bother to save a dime. A Cadillac plan will be any IRA or 401K that has more than $10,000 in it.

  194. skep-tic says:

    Another possibility is that 401k deductions will just phase out as you go into the higher brackets— similar to what O has proposed in both of his budgets so far with respect to the mortgage interest deduction.

    At the end of the day, this sort of change could effectively eliminate the concept of tax deferred retirement saving since very few people outside of the top brackets are able to devote any substantial amount of income to 401ks.

  195. Kecia Allton says:

    I like the layout of your blog and I’m going to do the same thing for mine. Do you have any tips? Please PM ME on yahoo @ AmandaLovesYou702 3 4 9

  196. Mr Hyde says:

    3b skep

    I just looked at data for NJ going back to 99. What we are seeing in NJ is a typical cyclic upswing.

    A fun example of the magnitude of how F’d we are.

    As of 3rd quarter 2000, 57% of single family home sales were LESS THAN $199,000

    As of 3rd quarter 2004 17% of single family home sales were less than $199,000

    As of 3rd quarter 2009 20% of single family home sales were less than $199,000

    What we have been seeing since 3q08 is a mix shift occurring at the same time that a drop in volume is occurring.

    In regards to current prices volume etc, we are currently int he middle of the historical peak of the annual cycle. On top of the data lags by almost 2 quarters. If the next 2 quarters are only slightly up or flat then expect to fall off of a cliff 4q10 and 1q11.

    I cant post charts from where i am at the moment, will do so tonight

  197. Essex says:

    179. Well put SAS. Actually you ‘can’ make a living in the arts. But you need to be a very focused and talented person!

  198. Mr Hyde says:

    As of 3rd quarter 2000, 57% of single family home sales were LESS THAN $199,000

    Note that inflation adjusted income has stayed pretty much flat in NJ for the last 10 years

  199. sas says:

    “I like the layout of your blog and I’m going to do the same thing for mine. Do you have any tips? Please PM ME on yahoo @ AmandaLovesYou702 3 4 9”

    can you say “airtight”

    go back to Greece..!

    SAS

  200. Mr Hyde says:

    NJ Median Household Income Adj 09$

    US New Jersey
    1984 $46,207 $57,259
    1985 $47,072 $61,745
    1986 $48,739 $62,085
    1987 $49,207 $64,839
    1988 $49,729 $66,281
    1989 $50,616 $68,500
    1990 $49,942 $64,605
    1991 $48,508 $64,485
    1992 $48,110 $61,243
    1993 $47,875 $62,065
    1994 $48,410 $63,439
    1995 $49,926 $64,355
    1996 $50,653 $67,744
    1997 $51,695 $67,084
    1998 $53,574 $68,648
    1999 $54,923 $67,121
    2000 $54,832 $65,820
    2001 $53,636 $65,758
    2002 $53,011 $68,210
    2003 $52,964 $68,525
    2004 $52,780 $65,805
    2005 $53,362 $72,992
    2006 $53,759 $75,908
    2007 $54,480 $65,624
    2008 $65,000

    Note that in 2000 the median household income was HIGHER then it was in 2008. Yet in 4th quarter 08, only 18% of single family homes sold for less than 199,000.

    ————————————
    Also note a CORRECTION to my post at #200.

    As of 3rd quarter 2000, 57% of single family home sales were LESS THAN $199,000

    As of 3rd quarter 2006 12% of single family home sales were less than $199,000

    As of 3rd quarter 2009 20% of single family home sales were less than $199,000

  201. Mr Hyde says:

    SAS

    ever go “aitight” skiing??? Its a blast!

  202. skep-tic says:

    Hyde– maybe you planned to discuss this in a later post, but I don’t see how there has been a drop in volume since 2008. In fact, the numbers I posted above show the direct opposite. Mix shift could explain the change in median pricing (or at least a portion of it), but there is something else at work in the volume increase.

  203. skep-tic says:

    also, incomes have been flat for years. they were also flat during the period where the bubble was inflating.

  204. Barbara says:

    179.
    Sas

    Knowing how to render well is a lot like knowing how to juggle well. Everyone LOVES to watch it and kind of wishes they could do it, but no one wants to PAY for it.

  205. 3b says:

    #207 there is something else at work in the volume increase.

    Stupidity??

  206. Mr Hyde says:

    Skep 206.

    There has been a completely out-of-trend increase in volume. The only similar occurrence int he last 10 years in NJ was 3q03.

    I have not data to support this, but i believe that it should be expected due to massive overt government intervention in the housing markets

    We wont have the data to support a strong argument either way for another 6 months, but the down trends are still strongly intact based on the currently available data

    Let me also clarify that i am talking about NJ, not NY or CaseShiller or CT data.

  207. 3b says:

    #208 They were flat when the bubble was inflating, but as the bubble inflated, flat incomes did not matter. As well all the creative financing came into play at this time,and flat incomes also did not matter. In fact no income mattered,as you could buy a home just stating an income. Now the bubble has burst,and incomes are still flat, how can the housing market become reinflated now?

  208. sas says:

    “ever go “aitight” skiing??? Its a blast!”

    nope. I’m into romance.
    especially on the beaches of southern Spain.

    SAS

  209. 3b says:

    #211 Let me also clarify that i am talking about NJ, not NY or CaseShiller or CT data.

    Would it not be the same for basically the entire NY metro area?

  210. Mr Hyde says:

    Skep 207

    Incomes were flat indeed flat, but you didnt need even need a heartbeat (literally) to get a loan. The bubble was entirely predicated on the abandonment of lending standards and the securitization of mortgages

  211. Mr Hyde says:

    SAS

    you are talking about a different meaning of “airtight” and of “airtight skiing”

    the later consists of 5 gents and 1 lady.

  212. 3b says:

    #207but there is something else at work in the volume increase.

    What do you think might be at work??

  213. Mr Hyde says:

    Skep,

    this is purely anecdotal, but from my personal experience as of late, a substantial % of people seem to buying the MSM hype that we are at the bottom of the bubble deflation and that the “recession” is over. so they had best buy quick before they miss the nest great run up, ala 2003.

    put simply, government backed market psychology

  214. sas says:

    “airtight”
    refers to first experience speaking Greek.

    “airtight skiing”
    refers to basically an all out orgie.

    neither is my cup of tea.
    I’m sticking to the beaches of southern spain, or red haired beauty in Ireland.

    SAS

  215. Mr Hyde says:

    Skep 206

    but I don’t see how there has been a drop in volume since 2008

    NJ Single Family Home Sales Volume

    1q08 23300
    2q08 33800
    3q08 29400
    4q08 26100
    1q09 18300
    2q09 30200
    3q09 32200

    volume is down QoQ and YoY

  216. Mr Hyde says:

    SAS

    from a random discussion ont his blog the other, the general meaning being used here is
    “airtight” = 1 lady 3 gents

  217. Mr Hyde says:

    SAS

    beaches of spain? Can i offer some chocolate?

  218. Mr Hyde says:

    MMMMM i love the smell of oblivion!


    50% of the federal budget right now goes to entitlements.

    This last month we posted a record $220.9 billion budget deficit. We took in $107 billion but spent $328 billion.

    Isn’t that special. We only funded 32% of expenditures?

    Remember – entitlements were half of that $328 billion.

    So let’s see if we can do the math here.

    Entitlements were about $164 billion last month in spending. The rest was, of course, the rest.

    But we only took in $107 billion.

    So even if we eliminated all entitlement spending we still did not have enough money to cover the rest.

  219. skep-tic says:

    sorry I got my years mixed up. volume is definitely down since 08 but up substantially since early 09.

    just because the people believe something doesn’t mean it isn’t true. another way of looking at it is if enough people believe something, they make it true.

    the data to me shows that the bottom was in Q1 of 2009. We are up substantially from that period both in terms of volume and price.

    I have said it many times before, but I agree that if stimulus is pulled the train will go off the rails. But everyone knows this and that is why stimulus will not be pulled (maybe it will just take a different form).

    I think the comparison to 2003 is interesting because if you are in the market now you are essentially looking at paying a 2003 equivalent price.

  220. Comrade Nom Deplume says:

    [196] beer

    No, I hadn’t seen that, thanks. Been sick as a dog lately too, so not very motivated to dig.

    But more to the point, I was curious to know if the actual contract was publicly available. No one could know, based on the media, whether the contract could be restructured. If it was not available, and esp. if Christie asked and got the heisman, then I will give him the benefit of the doubt as to being blindsided.

    Otherwise, it was bad prep on his part.

  221. freedy says:

    Atlantic City continues to lose Revenue.

    What happens now? Could be over for AC.

    But Morgan Stanley will save the day.

  222. Mr Hyde says:

    Skep 3b,

    another interesting tidbit:

    Over the last 4 years the “mix-shift” change of the 500K+ segment and the 1-199K segment have been approximately symmetrical.

    That is if the 500K segment dropped by 2% that the 1-199K segment increased by about 2%. Its not a 1-1 correlation but it is highly symmetrical. The other segments do not react to near the same degree.

    This is a strong argument to support mixshift occurring.

  223. Comrade Nom Deplume says:

    [198] skep,

    “Another possibility is that 401k deductions will just phase out as you go into the higher brackets— similar to what O has proposed in both of his budgets so far with respect to the mortgage interest deduction.”

    I doubt that. First, pensions and DC plans are structured so that the high earners cannot shelter that much wealth, so there already is a phaseout in place. Second, that income will be taxed eventually (and probably at a comparable rate), so that actually takes revenues from future years into today. Finally, the income, once taxed, is no longer in the system, therefore someone crafty like me can hide it and qualify for benefits in the future—-it would completely blow out means testing.

  224. skep-tic says:

    reasons for volume increase:

    1. stimulus (includes low interest rates and tax credit)

    2. backlog of demand that held off buying due to uncertainty re: employment and price stability. Now that we have seen job losses start to level off and price declines slow to flat or arguably increasing, the backlog of buyers has entered the market along with the usual cohort that happens each spring.

    3. persistance of bubble mindset. that is, prudence is for suckers, only way to make money/get ahead is to “invest,” lack of fear regarding leverage (walk away now accepted strategy), acceptance of asset volatility as a way of life.

  225. John says:

    401k is a meaningless tax deduction for someone who is a high earner under 50 whose wife does not work. It is a lousy 16.5k a year. If someone is making 500K a year it is less than 2% of his annual salary, hardly a big tax dodge. Plus someone with that high an income will be making good money in retirement so the SOB will get taxed big time on money even when he is 70. The 100k worker is shielding 16.5% of salary from tax man. Plus will be in 15% tax bracket when he is old. He is the robber.

  226. Al "The Thermostat" Gore says:

    Parents Angry Over CCTV In School Toilets

    “Youngsters at Grace Academy in Chelmsley Wood claim they returned from half-term to find staff had installed the cameras without notifying them or their parents.

    School principal Terry Wales told Sky News: “It’s to safeguard our youngsters, many schools are using cameras now.

    We had a parents’ forum last night, we explained the arrangements and the parents were satisfied.

    We’ve found that when it comes to health and safety, children want to feel secure.”

    http://uk.news.yahoo.com/5/20100309/tuk-parents-angry-over-cctv-in-school-to-45dbed5.html

  227. Anon E. Moose says:

    Hyde[220];

    You mentioned something in that conversation that made me think of the old Robin Williams joke:

    They should make cex an Olympic sport — just to see what the East Germans would come up with.

  228. Mr Hyde says:

    Skep,

    Due to how the trends run, you would need at least another 4 quarters of data before we could even guess at the “bottom” being in.

    In 2003 the normal cyclic drop in volume did not occur until 4q and the drop was weak. The standard pattern reasserted it self immediately after 4q03. I suspect that this will be a similar case.

    The governments hands are close to being tied at this point unless they can reignite a new mortgage bubble. they can introduce all th eincentives int he world, but if real unemployment is at 20+% and people dont have the finances to meet even basic loan qualifications, then there are no first time buyers, which are the lifeblood of the housing market.

    On top of that we are still at historically high home ownership rates due to government intervention. This alone acts to suppress first time buyers

  229. 3b says:

    #229 I will accept to a point 1 and 3. totally disagree with point 2. Just my opinion of course.

  230. Happy Daze says:

    217 Hyde

    The thread I posted on Monday kept growing with the OP trying to justify that we are at the start of another housing bubble.

    He even cited the performance of SRS as proof.

    http://www.kannekt.com/html/modules/newbb/viewtopic.php?topic_id=28295&start=0

    Sometimes I think it’s someone from here trying to yank people’s chains.

  231. Mr Hyde says:

    Happy 234

    Its really very quite comforting knowing who is on the other side of my trade

  232. thank you for sharing this one!

  233. skep-tic says:

    Hyde– what you are really saying is we won’t know we hit bottom until well afterward. I agree with that. But what will you look for as an indication? Several consecutive months of YoY price and volume increases? We already have in the metro NYC area 2-3 consecutive months of this showing up now.

  234. Mr Hyde says:

    Skep,

    I will look for debt ratio’s, lending standards, and employment as well as sales/price trends before i would make any call regari=ding the bottom.

    One sign to watch for is things going flat for 1-2 years at the same time debt ratios improve.

    But in the end i am more on the “clot” end of the spectrum in regards to housing outlook.

  235. safeashouses says:

    “Tainted ingredient sold after salmonella found”

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/35799207/ns/health-food_safety/

  236. jamil says:

    90 Doom:
    “And, just like Hannity, he seems to wear it as a badge of honor.”

    If low-IQ liberal morons are not harsh on you, there is something seriously wrong with you. Yes, it is a badge of honor.

  237. Mr Hyde says:

    Safe

    Upton Sinclair could rewrite his book “The Jungle” today. I have seen things going on in food and manufacturing environments that would make you run screaming.

    And even for those who actually follow good manufacturing principles, a large % of them source their raw materials out of china. Remember the melamine in the dogfood issue. or the melamine in the chinese baby formula?

    I have personally been part of a number of investigations upon which it was found a chinese supplier was substituting substandard or simply “different” material then what they stated they were supplying.

    There are a number of brands you could not pay me to touch

  238. Shore Guy says:

    ” I was curious to know if the actual contract was publicly available”

    Nom,

    Check the Rutgers IMLR library (for a hard copy) or the PERC Website for an electronic copy.

  239. jamil says:

    hell freezes.

    Tom “Chinese government rocks!” Friedman already conceded, State Media is crumbling all over..

    Boston Globe, Mar 10 2010:

    “RONALD REAGAN liked to say that there was no limit to what a man could accomplish if he didn’t mind who got the credit. The transformation of Iraq from a hellish tyranny into a functioning democracy will be recorded as a signal accomplishment of George W. Bush’s presidency, and he probably doesn’t mind in the least that the Obama administration would like to take the credit.”

    http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2010/03/10/mission_accomplished_indeed/

  240. jamil says:

    it’s for the children!

    “The California Teachers Association has spent more than $200 million on campaign contributions and lobbying efforts in the last decade, leading what the Fair Political Practices Commission calls a “billion-dollar club” of moneyed political interests.

    The $211.9 million spent by the CTA is nearly twice as much as the $107.5 million committed by the second-highest spender, the California State Council of Service Employees,”

    http://www.sacbee.com/static/weblogs/capitolalertlatest/2010/03/teachers-union-2.html

  241. Essex says:

    243. An unjust war costing billions and killing innocents. American lives ripped apart. Nothing worthwhile about you or your credit.

  242. yo'me says:

    I was just in this MSNBC website

    How long should unemployment workers get compensation after they are laid off?

    http://business.newsvine.com/_question/2010/03/09/3998309-how-long-should-unemployment-workers-get-compensation-after-they-are-laid-off-

    Some of this people don’t even know we pay insurance premium through payroll deduction SUI and SDI.

  243. Doyle says:

    #241

    Hyde, give ’em up, I want names…

  244. sas says:

    kettle1,

    “beaches of spain?”

    I’ve been done married 5 times.
    not all bad. alot of good memories wrapped in in there too.

    SAS

  245. sas says:

    “Upton Sinclair could rewrite his book “The Jungle” today”

    thats a good book.

    alot better than your wee Harry Potter or your 4th grade level Twilight.

    SAS

  246. relo says:

    241: Ket,

    Glad to hear you’ve moved on from your janitorial post and are more ably putting your talents to use.

  247. NJGator says:

    Nom 224 – All I have to say about that is that if the actual contract were not available to review, even a mediocre attorney should know to qualify his statements assessing it.

    Regardless I would still like to see him play chicken with the unions.

  248. gary says:

    Gov. Chris Christie today said he must follow a controversial deal former Gov. Jon Corzine gave unionized state workers last year that calls for a 7 percent pay raise in the upcoming fiscal year.

    Nothing to say.

  249. Sastry says:

    Stu/Gator:

    I was under the impression that you already had a multi in Montclair and looking to expand? Am I way off-base here?

    S

  250. yo'me says:

    World’s mega-rich adding wealth, Carlos Slim No. 1
    http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6295FM20100310

  251. Shore Guy says:

    Gator,

    Of course he has to follow the deal. On the other hand, he need not employ the same numbers of staff. He can cut away as deeply as he wants in the executive branch. He may want to replace Liberty and Prosperty ( the two women on the flag) with Lizzy Borden and Molly Hatchet.

  252. Mr Hyde says:

    Relo 250

    just moonlighting.

    Cafateria floors and floor buffers are my passion. Only an artist can buff a highschool floor to a mirror shine with liquid wax and an industrial buffer

  253. NJGator says:

    Sastry 254 – Yes we own a multi. Not going to expand it. Going to keep it and rent out our current apartment when we buy or rent another single family property.

  254. NJGator says:

    Shore 256 – If I were him I would threaten to invoke the poison pill. Say layoffs/furloughs are unavoidable unless the contract is reopened. If layoffs will trigger earlier pay increases, then he will just need to lay even more workers off to cut enough salary expenditure from the budget. If the unions come to the table and renegotiate then such “draconian” measures could be mitigated.

  255. Sastry says:

    #255… Mexico and India have 2 of the top 5 (one can stretch it to 3 if one considers Mittal Indian). Shows a glimpse of how US will be with the mega rich getting richer and a major portion of the population way below reasonable life style.

    Those poor chaps at the top need some tax cuts!

    S

  256. willwork4beer says:

    Comrade Nom/Shore Guy:

    What she said.

    (Ref: NJGator 252/259)

  257. willwork4beer says:

    Gator,

    BTW, please don’t stop giving us the word on the People’s Republik of Montklair.

    Everyone in NJ needs to understand where we are headed if we don’t stop this insanity.

    Besides, the posts you and Stu have made about your town are fcuking hilarious.

  258. Al "The Thermostat" Gore says:

    259.

    Indeed. I would bring out the kyptonite for the unions….. Privatization.

    Including the police force which would goto the Sheriffs dept.

  259. Shore Guy says:

    Gator/Will Work,

    In the end, the Gov will come out further ahead cutting the extra bodies. Why? It will reduce healthcare and pension costs. More importently, though, when the next K comes up for negotiations, he will be in a stronger position to hold out for a smaller increase (or any incrrase), or even a cut in wages.

    He needs to be in b@lls to the wall, no wishy washy, mode. To give an inch will be his ruin. Slashing staff will generate hatred towards him in the short run as everyone whose ox gets gored will cry foul, but he has no other choice and he had to have known this was necessary when he threw his hat into the ring.

  260. NJGator says:

    Shore 264 – Agreed. So let’s see him do it. Or is he going to punt and wait until Jan 2011?

  261. PGC says:

    I said a few days back that Christie will be spending a lot of time in the courts.

    The unions wil sit back and wait. It is not in their interest to come to the table to renegotiate. If Christie says rework the contract or I’ll cut harder next year, they will say you will try and cut harder next year anyway. The 2010 talks will be fun. The union will file stay put on the current contract while negotiations drag on on the new one. This will spend a long time in the courts.

    I think Christie is going to have to sit down and play nice with the unions to get anywhere. Hardball will not work and just dig him in deeper.

  262. willwork4beer says:

    Shore,

    This is his opportunity. He needs to seize this opportunity and make the most of it while the momentum is swinging his way. If he waffles, the guy is toast. He will be called out as a RINO and a fraud. That will split his base for re-election and somebody like Sweeney will be the next Gov.

  263. Shore Guy says:

    In the next set of negotiations, if the parties reach impasse and end up not coming to an agreement, he would likely unilaterally implement his last best offer. He has all of the power, and governors always have, they have just found it expedient to not exercise it.

    Public-sector employes in NJ lack the right to strike and, if they do, he can fire the strikers. Usually, final agreements take care of this sort of thing and wipe the slate clean, so to speak, but the time asre different. The same holds true for fines levied by courts on public-sector strikers, I am not persuaded that they would go uncollected this time.

    The ship is sinking and the time has come to toss a lot overboard. Well, that or go down with the ship.

  264. PGC says:

    #263 Al

    “Including the police force which would goto the Sheriffs dept.”

    Would that not make it worse. The police/firefighers and teachers are not state employees. For the most part are employed by the municipalites. The towns then pay the state to provide benfits such as pension and healthcare from the state pool.

  265. Shore Guy says:

    Oh, in 264 :”K” is contract

  266. Al "The Thermostat" Gore says:

    263.

    We dont need the State Police. Sheriffs are far more capable and Constitutional.

  267. Shore Guy says:

    Was it WV that recently stopped its State pension plan and implemented a 403 (b) ???

    Nom, do you recall?

  268. willwork4beer says:

    266 PGC

    I don’t think Christie will need to go to court.

    Please re-read NJGator’s post at 259. If Christie has a set, this is exactly where he will go. The unions will do anything to avoid layoffs. You need to account for the fact that rank and file employment in the State Gov’t is an Agency Shop, which means that the unions get 85% dues from every employee’s salary, whether the employee wants to join the union or not.

    They will clear much more taking a small wage rollback (like ten furlough days) than they would if there were mass layoffs.

  269. Shore Guy says:

    Al,

    In large parts of NY, there are NOT local cops, just a large county sheriff’s department. Perhap’s Gator’s home-schooling, baby-wearing, granola-making relatives can shed light on how it works.

  270. PGC says:

    #268 Shore

    Is there anywhere we can read up on the process. Is there a level of arbitration before final offer.

    I agree it is not in the unions best interest to try and strike. I think their best play is work to the letter of the existing contract and use the courts to stall the implementation of a new one.

    BTW, I’m not saying I support the unions or the state on this, I’m just calling it how I see it.

  271. Al "The Thermostat" Gore says:

    Heres a good website if you want to check the health of your local bank. Measures the troubled asset ratio vs the national median.

    http://banktracker.msnbc.msn.com/banks/

  272. Shore Guy says:

    “. Is there a level of arbitration before final offer”

    Police and fire have “interest arbitration” (for new contracts, e.g. an arbitrator decides how big of a wage increase they get) but most state and local employees do not (just right’s arbitration (for alleged violations of existing Ks)).

  273. Shore Guy says:

    “s there anywhere we can read up on the process.”

    You can read the annotated statutes of NJ. Got o the PERC Website to get the cite to the NJ Public Sector Bargaining Law and then head to a law library or to findlaw.com.

    In the alternative, and more entertaining, is just to buy me dinner at Aquavit and to pump alcohol into me.

  274. PGC says:

    #273 beer

    I see that. But my point is that the draconian cuts are coming anyway so why come to the table and give away your position.

    By staying away from the table and filing suits, they can stall the process and delay the cuts. I am assuming there will be some angle they can find to say that CC is going above and beyond what is nescessary.

    As for the union dues, they 85% left get a nice 7% pop that they have noi chance of getting in 2010 and will offset some of the lost revenue.

  275. njescapee says:

    Attention NJ taxpayers

    Some folks in NJ are thinking about taxing your 401k contributions.

    “Eliminate the tax exemption for 401K retirement account contributions. This would generate up to $500 million and would eliminate an inequity in the way the state treats retirement savings.
    The few deductions and exclusions allowed by New Jersey’s income tax code create a more equitable system because more income is taxed and special preferences are minimized. The state’s treatment of retirement income is one of the few exceptions. Those making contributions to 401(k) retirement plans in New Jersey can exclude the amount from their taxable wages, but no deduction from taxable wages is allowed for contributions made to SEP IRAs, Simple IRAs, ROTH IRAs, Federal 457 plans, 403(b) plans, Traditional IRAs, Keoghs and 414(h) plans.”

    “Equity in taxation requires that all taxpayers in similar circumstances be treated alike. Taxpayers would continue to get a federal deduction so there is still incentive to save for retirement.”

    “The state income tax should not be used to make payments to corporations under the Business Employment Incentive Program.”

    http://www.njpp.org/rpt_aintbroke.html

  276. PGC says:

    #278 Shore

    “In the alternative, and more entertaining, is just to buy me dinner at Aquavit and to pump alcohol into me.”

    I’ll buy you a beer at the next GTG for a yes/no answer on

    Is is in the unions best interest to go back to the table?

  277. Barbara says:

    Super Troopers is a fine film. That is all.

  278. NJGator says:

    Shore 277 – In our town (and I suspect most) the non police/firefighter’s wind up getting whatever the arbitrators gave the public safety folks. After all, it would be wrong to send the message that the other folks are not as valued or important, right?

  279. willwork4beer says:

    279 PGC

    I hear what you’re saying but my point is that the union heirarchy (eg. people like Carla Katz, although she was kicked out by the CWA) works for the union, not for the state, not for their members. This is, and always has been, an unholy alliance between the politicians and the unions, with the rank and file state employees as willing participants or stooges as the case may be.

    The unions (CWA, AFSCME, etc) are in this for themselves, not the employees they proport to represent.

    They will look to kick the can down the road, hoping to keep their base. They will probably forge a new agreement with Christie for no layoffs, wage freeze and 10 furlough days a year for the next three years. That gives Christie the moral high ground to cut municipal funding, blame the wimpy municipalities for not cutting budgets and laying employees off if they refuse to renogetiate, and accept no responsibility for property tax increases if they don’t man up.

    State employee unions get no layoffs, a little goodwill from Christie, and an improved public perception as being “reasonable”, unlike the greedy cops, teachers and municipal employees.

  280. PGC says:

    On a side note, there are benefits to living in BC. I now have a milkman! I don’t think they do Mama Cheese, but I get organic, grass fed milk in glass bottles and they collect the empties.

    http://organicmilkcorp.com/

    I wonder if they have a bumper sticker I can put on my Prius … ;*)

  281. Final Doom says:

    Can’t Christie declare a state of emergency and start firing? At some point, you’d think he can invoke something to allow him to begin issuing executive orders.

    Or, is the “plan” just to allow municipalities to begin BKing en masse?

  282. Final Doom says:

    PGC (285)-

    Those bottles are great for making Molotov c0cktails.

  283. PGC says:

    #284

    Don’t you just love politics.

    In some ways that would be his best way out, but I suspect CC may not have the finesse to pull it off. One slip and he is seen as pandering to the unions.

  284. PGC says:

    #287 Clot

    If you recall the link a posted a while back, I would have to disagree. The European pint bottle is far superior to the American Quart equivlant. Thicker glass/weight, excess volume and not to mention the price of gas need to fill it!

    Its like going to ShopRite/WaWa on a snowy day. The Hummer and the Subaru will both get you there, but the Hummer is unwildy. The Subaru is easier to handle and park and is more suited to the urban environment.

  285. willwork4beer says:

    285 Doom

    He can, but he won’t.

    This is why we need a new dictatorship, the reign of Pol Clot. :)

  286. willwork4beer says:

    288 PGC

    I think you’re understanding my point now.

    I’ll revise my prediction to 15-20 unpaid furlough days with several bankable vacation days in return as carrot to entice the union membership to vote yes (ala Corzine’s agreement).

    Christie gets to announce that he killed the pay raises and got 6-8% pay reduction via furloughs. Unions keep getting their cut of every employee’s paycheck, rank and file can delude themselves into thinking that extra vacation days makes up for lost wages.

    Yeah, I love politics.

  287. willwork4beer says:

    Disclaimers:

    Most of my family was born in Hudson County. Most of them died there as well.

    We all still vote. Early and often.

  288. sas says:

    wife wants to get some leather furniture.

    any suggestions?

    thanks,
    SAS

  289. Al "The Thermostat" Gore says:

    293.

    Anything but Raymour and Flanagan. They are like the Fed Reserve of the furniture business.

  290. Barbara says:

    293. sas
    leather:
    room and board

  291. sas says:

    “room and board”

    that a brand? or a dirty joke somewhere and I’m too tired to get it?

    SAS

  292. PGC says:

    #291 Beer

    With 20 furlough days you are looking at just under a 10% reduction in payroll, but still take it in Healthcare.

    $5 copays and you might be onto a winner.

  293. Bystander says:

    So it seems the govt. and MSM are painting a “recession over” picture. Its that darned consumer gumming everything up by not buying Prada bags and 3-D TVs. Guy over at minyanville claims that consumer always reverts back to their prior spending patterns. That is the last shoe to fall before economy is up, up an away.

    http://www.minyanville.com/businessmarkets/articles/james-kostohryz-apple-research-in-motion/3/10/2010/id/27220?page=2

    My thoughts:

    1995 – 2000 – market driven by tech stock irrationality and dreams of being an AOL janitor millionaire. The dream dies hard in 2000. Economy goes into a tail spin.

    2001 – 2007 – Fed steps in and lowers rates to unseen levels creating a massive housing bubble and fry cook McMansion dreams. The dream dies hard in 2007. Economy goes into panic mode.

    2008 – 2009 – Fed and govt. release unfathomable amounts of money to support housing zombie. Stocks rally on dreams of recovery speculation.

    2010 – where does the consumer get the money to support all these dreams?? Credit is tapped out. Unemployment is still climbing Seriously, there is nothing left. Sick of reading market m*sturbators talking about waiting on the consumer. Where is this so-called consumer??

    Only the rest of the world can help us from ourselves. Anyday we will have our next speculative pets.com or exurb McMansion in the news. Greed in this country just can’t stop itself.

  294. sas says:

    Ms. SAS says she wants “distressed leather sofa” cause we have a cat. she says a potential scratch won’t show on this leather.

    i don’t know. I just know I pay the bills.

    SAS

  295. Barbara says:

    Sas,
    a brand. roomandboard.com
    nice leather sofas and chairs :)

  296. sas says:

    Bystander,

    good post. Is it greed or stupidity? or both.

    My thoughts and nobody really has an answer, and you won’t hear this on the wee scotty CNBC:

    where did all the profits go?
    SAS

  297. PGC says:

    SAS,

    I never did get an answer if your trip in 74 was business or pleasure?

  298. Al "The Thermostat" Gore says:

    298.

    Bystander,

    Carbon Credit derivatives is the desired next bubble but they are struggling to get the legislation in place.

  299. njescapee says:

    N.J. Gov. Chris Christie plans privatization of up to 2,000 state jobs amid budget deficit

    TRENTON — Gov. Chris Christie Thursday will create a commission to privatize as many as 2,000 state jobs beginning next January, officials said tonight.

    As he grapples with an $11 billion deficit in the budget he will present on Tuesday, Christie is also considering invoking the Disaster Control Act to suspend Civil Service rules to make it easier for him to lay off higher paid workers, according to two administration officials.

    http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2010/03/nj_gov_chris_christie_to_annou.html

  300. sas says:

    “I never did get an answer if your trip in 74 was business or pleasure?”

    if anyone says to you.. “remember the 70s”
    I tell them, “remember? ha..then you never were there”

    ha ha.
    wink…wink

    SAS

  301. sas says:

    “plans privatization”

    how many times have I been saying this on this blog?
    looks like someone owes me a 6 pack.

    pony up John.

    :P
    SAS

  302. sas says:

    and..oh yeah…

    the REAL Bernie Madoff still goes about his buisness.
    this guy in prison who looks like something from a Mr. Magoo cartoon, he is just a mid level toad.

    SAS

  303. sas says:

    “the REAL Bernie Madoff ”

    here is a hint.
    its not a singular..its a pleural.

    SAS

  304. Bystander says:

    SAS,

    Both but also fear. It is a powerful element in this society. Average earners and investors are concerned that they will fall behind and not have retirement savings for their families so have to jump on the speculative bubble.

    Sh*t, I don’t post much but John makes me feel like a pauper. I am a lowly $150K worker. Not worth the gum on his Magli shoes.

  305. Bystander says:

    Al,

    I’d be surprised if carbon credits become a bubble. So many years of bad press. They would probably be DOA. It has to be fresh and exciting. I’m thinking something in biotech. Every consumer has a body. That is about all there is left to heist.

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