Do tighter lending standards make sense, or not?

From Bloomberg:

Home Ownership Gets Harder for Americans as Lenders Restrict FHA Mortgages

Home ownership may be falling out of reach for more Americans as lenders toughen their standards for Federal Housing Administration-insured loans beyond what the agency itself requires.

Mortgage lenders including Wells Fargo & Co. and Bank of America Corp., the two largest, have raised the minimum credit score on FHA-insured loans that they will buy to 640 from 620. About 6.3 million people fall within that range, according to FICO, which created the formula for the ratings.

The higher hurdles for FHA loans, used in about a fifth of U.S. home purchases, add to challenges for a housing market already struggling with record-low sales and surging foreclosures. While lax lending fueled the bust that led the U.S. into recession, the new requirements will stifle the real estate recovery needed to revive the economy, said Ron Phipps, president of the National Association of Realtors.

“We’ve gone from silly to stupid,” Phipps, principal partner of Phipps Realty Inc., said in a telephone interview from his home in Warwick, Rhode Island. “People who should be getting credit can’t get it. To have a healthy real estate market, you need activity. You need transactions.”

The FHA, which previously didn’t have minimums for FICO scores, began in October to require grades of at least 500, and more than 580 for loans with down payments of as little as 3.5 percent. Borrowers with scores between those levels must put 10 percent down. Several lenders moved minimums to about 620 at the start of 2009, the companies said then.

Mortgage companies are tightening FHA standards partly because of the higher costs they face in servicing delinquent loans, said Luke Hayden, president of the mortgage unit of Mount Laurel, New Jersey-based PHH Corp. By keeping defaults low, they can also boost the prices they ftch for bonds filled with the loans and thus offer lower rates, he said.

When FHA-backed loans go into default, the lender bears a greater share of the expenses than when the mortgage is backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Hayden said. That’s one reason why the banks impose their own, higher standards on the loans.

“When the big companies change their standards and rules, it has a huge effect on the market,” said Bob Walters, chief economist at the Detroit-based company.

FHA lending to the riskiest borrowers has declined in the past two years. Only 3.8 percent of FHA loans had scores below 620 or no score in the quarter ended Sept. 30, down from a peak of 50.4 percent in the period through Dec. 31, 2008, according to a Nov. 4 agency report to Congress. A score below 620 was typically considered subprime before the credit crisis, meaning the borrower had a bad or limited credit history.

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125 Responses to Do tighter lending standards make sense, or not?

  1. grim says:

    From HousingWire:

    More than one-third of real estate agents report market deterioration in November

    Real estate agents report home sales slowed in October and analysts blame it on the foreclosure moratoria that decreased inventory.

    Barclays Capital’s second monthly survey of the top 100 agents by sales transactions showed the moratorium lenders imposed earlier this year appears “to have significantly reduced inventory in the markets of 41% of respondents, while sales were significantly reduced for 29%” of respondents in October.

    Half of respondents said inventory was down or down significantly in October from September, when just 18% indicated inventory was lower, according to analysts.

    A mere 15% of agents surveyed expect November to be better than last month, which is down from more than one-third of respondents to the first survey that were optimistic heading into last month. Barclays Capital analysts attributed the decline somewhat “to seasonality and partially due to a lower REO transaction pace.”

    Analysts also said more real estate agents now expect a deterioration in the market next month than previously, with 35% projecting a decline vs. 24% last month.

  2. grim says:

    From BusinessWeek:

    Exclusive Suburbs Are Poised to Cost More

    Tree-lined estates, charming shops, a golf club, and exceptional schools are among the many reasons some of the wealthiest people who work in Manhattan choose to live in Scarsdale, an historic village about 20 miles northeast of New York. They pay handsomely for it. With home prices, the cost of living, and tax rates placing among the highest in the U.S., Scarsdale is also the most-expensive suburban community to inhabit in New York State.

    Just how expensive is it? The cost of living is 211 percent higher than the state’s average, according to data from real estate researcher Onboard Informatics. Even amid a national housing downturn, a home in Scarsdale sells for a median price of about $1.2 million, far above the $171,700 U.S. median, as estimated by the National Association of Realtors. Other things are expensive too: Non-retail expenditures such as mortgage and utility payments add up to an annual $106,016 per household.

    Residents of such upscale suburbs may soon find that life is getting even more expensive. Bush-era personal income tax cuts are nearing their 2011 expiration date, local governments are considering property tax increases to meet budgets, and the U.S.Energy Information Administration expects gasoline prices to rise 6.3 percent next year. Tax increases and fuel costs do not impact only suburbanites; they can have a greater affect on those with high incomes, big houses, and the practice of driving to work.

  3. grim says:

    From CNBC:

    Roche Slashes 4,800 Jobs in Cost Cutting Program

    Roche Holding set out plans to slash costs on Wednesday, joining Big Pharma rivals with a wide-ranging restructuring program as it grapples with recent product setbacks and mounting pressure on prices.

    The group will slash 4,800 jobs worldwide, or about 6 percent of its current workforce of around 82,000, over the next two years, with the largest reductions planned in sales and marketing and in manufacturing.

  4. grim says:

    Settlement! Ha ha! Banks win! Bend over suckers!

    From the WaPo:

    Fund in works for victims of foreclosure mess

    State attorneys general and the country’s biggest lenders are negotiating to create a nationwide fund to compensate borrowers who can prove they lost their home in an improper foreclosure, state and industry officials said.

    The fund would present a solution for both sides, helping banks avoid lengthy and costly court challenges from homeowners and aiding state investigators in their efforts to seek relief for homeowners who were wronged, the officials said.

    Discussions are continuing over the size of the fund, who would administer it and what kind of proof homeowners would have to present to get access to the money. But there is a consensus between the lenders and state officials that some sort of financial remedy is necessary to avoid the turmoil that could result from homeowner challenges.

    A quick settlement may be the best solution for the industry, homeowners and state and federal investigators, given the uncertainty the foreclosure mess has cast on the health of the banks and, more broadly, the housing market, officials said.

    “It is in everyone’s best interest to get this settled and behind us,” Bank of America chief executive Brian Moynihan said Tuesday at a financial services conference in New York.

  5. grim says:

    From BusinessWeek:

    New Jersey Network workers receive layoff notices

    Employees at New Jersey Network received 45-day layoff notices Tuesday as the public television and radio network prepares to move off the government payroll.

    Whether the station moves off the air on Jan. 1, when it stops receiving state funding and the layoffs take effect, remains to be seen.

    The notices said the layoffs were done “for reasons of economy,” but provided few other details about the fate of New Jersey’s only public network.

    The notices went out to 130 employees; 17 additional employees who are paid through a private foundation are also expected to receive layoff notices, said Janice Selinger, the acting executive director of NJN public television.

  6. grim says:

    From the Record:

    Paterson woman admits role in mortgage fraud scheme

    A Paterson woman, one of 28 defendants charged in various mortgage scams that aimed to bilk lenders out of $5.5 million, pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiring to commit mortgage fraud by fabricating bogus pay stubs.

    Maria Lourdes Sousa , 57, admitted to U.S. District Judge Freda L. Wolfson in Trenton that she was a document forger who conspired with others to fraudulently obtain loans to finance real estate purchases in and around Newark.

    Sousa, who worked in the health care industry, admitted that she created phony pay stubs for a prospective home buyer last year that falsely inflated his income to help him get a loan from a mortgage company.

  7. Dissident HEHEHE says:

    ““It is in everyone’s best interest to get this settled and behind us,” Bank of America chief executive Brian Moynihan said Tuesday at a financial services conference in New York.”

    Self-serving quote of the day.

    PS. Frist!!

  8. Mike says:

    Good Morning New Jersey – Grim Number 3 I remember when Roche use to have their headquaters here in NJ, wonder if anybody is left in this state?

  9. Moynihan should be surgically attached to Tangelo Mozilo. Then, both of them should be thrown into a pit of alligators.

    Nothing like a little cold rain to chill the feeling of oblivion into your bones. Just lie back and accept it. Nothing to do now but give in and let go.

  10. mike (9)-

    My office is across from Roche Molecular in Branchburg. It’s a ghost town…and they’re staffed up at a far higher ratio than their other NJ facilities.

  11. Nomad says:

    Mike,

    A lot of Nutley moved to S. San Fran when they did the genentech deal. They also have a large diagnostics business in Indianapolis that is going to get hit.

  12. Nomad says:

    Re: Home ownership gets harder article:

    Requiring a 640 credit score excludes as much as about 15 percent of FHA borrowers, David Stevens, the agency’s commissioner, said in an interview yesterday. Minorities and borrowers in communities hardest hit by the recession are most likely to lose based on FICO scores, he said.

    Finding Better Way

    “We are restricting opportunity and access for those who can least afford it,” Stevens said –

    WTF is this guy talking about – if they can’t afford the f’ing home, then they should not buy it. How the hell does he think we got into this mess in the first place.

    W 640 credit score and minimal income and assets, there is no way in hell someone should own a home.

  13. Nomad (13)-

    The sausage machine is still demanding fresh meat to be fed into its nation-killing augur. Ginnie/Phony/Fraudy must be stuffed to the bursting point with the rancid meat of fraud-tainted loans to deadbeats.

    How else can we keep doubling bankster bonuses?

  14. nomad (12)-

    The Roche facility by me will make an excellent meth lab.

  15. Nomad says:

    Lamar,

    Just make sure your office is far enough away from Roche’s meth lab so when it blows, you don’t get taken out.

    What kind of casings are they using on their sausage – intestines of taxpayers?

    The standard of living in this country is no longer sustainable. Lamar, with all due respect I think I actually believe you that it’s all going to implode. I honestly wonder now if america will be grossly different in two years and I am thinking maybe so.

    Guess I better enjoy my Thanksgiving

  16. chicagofinance says:

    grim: If you are going to quote Business Week…….then please use the correct reference…….

    BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOYA
    http://images.businessweek.com/slideshows/20101108/the-best-u-s-business-schools-2010/

  17. Fast Eddie says:

    Do tighter lending standards make sense, or not?

    No, we need to loosen the standards dramatically. We need to loan to everyone that dreams of being a homeowner. After all, it’s the compassionate thing to do. In fact, I just got my dog a Social Security card from some guy on Canal Street. Bootsy needs money for a new dog house. I’m not sure he can pay back the loan but he can smell a f*cking mor0n from three blocks away. That, alone, is worth a $500,000 loan. I’m off to work… need to pay for the Oblama voters’ entitlements.

  18. Anon E. Moose says:

    Phipps, principal partner of Phipps Realty Inc., said in a telephone interview from his home in Warwick, Rhode Island. “People who should be getting credit can’t get it. To have a healthy real estate market, you need activity. You need transactions.”

    What a shock. Used house salesman wants more sales, whether or not the marks can afford to keep to product. *YAWN*

  19. Schrodinger's Cat says:

    Fast Eddie

    Do we need looser lending standards? That depends, does the government want to make sure everyone is a debt slave? How do you keep an armed population docile? Give each and every one of them a big fat distraction in the form of a nice fat debt payment and the threat of having your personal financial situation nuked if you dont play ball.

    The 1920’s &30’s was all about how to get people to buy stuff they dont need in order to consume excess industrial capacity. The 2000’s is all about how to get people to take on debt they dont need in order to maintain effective social control.

    Who is more dangerous, the man who has a fat house note, car payment and credit card bills and implodes as soon as he loses his job, or the man who is debt free, has money ” in the bank” and the ability and will to tell the world to F off?

  20. nomad (16)-

    Two years ago, many of my friends looked at me like I was crazy when I said the whole thing’s gonna blow. Today, I believe with even more certainty that we are on the edge of complete societal collapse.

    I know thing the way I did probably cost me an agent or two…and I know that several folks I might’ve considered friends have sure kept their distance. However, I still roll around in the fraudclosure mess on a daily basis, so I get an up-close look at what happens to society when everyone begins to believe that all the rules have been tossed out the window.

    It’s a free-for-all, and those kinds of things usually don’t end until they burn themselves out.

  21. chi (17)-

    Business school will not matter when we go back to hunter/gatherer mode and the barter system, using pieces of eight, silver ingots and beef suet as legal tender.

  22. JJ says:

    Chif, wow $102K pay, isn’t that like a dog walkers salary on the upper east side?

    University of Chicago
    Booth School of Business
    2008 Rank: 1
    Tuition & Fees: $103,360
    Selectivity: 22 percent
    Pre-MBA Pay: NA
    Post-MBA Pay: $102,000
    Job Offers: 91 percent

  23. JJ says:

    Chifi saw people moaning they can’t get in on the GM IPO, what up dog? Do you know anyone who is going in on it, well besides me. I am supposed to get a min of 300 shares and a max of 800 shares. I am 100% doing 300 shares, but if I get 500 to 800 I will get nervous, it is GM afterall. But all 31 analists that sb/ms uses said it is a buy.

  24. Dissident HEHEHE says:

    Nom would agree that law school is for the true intellectuals.

  25. Dissident HEHEHE says:

    Yeah it’s a screaming buy, a screaming pump and dump buy

  26. All "H-Train" Hype says:

    October housing starts down 11.7% compared to September. The recovery is just around the corner.

    http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/2010/11/housing-starts-decline-in-october.html

  27. nj escapee says:

    Clot, 21 Foreclosures keep on flowing down here. One neighbor heloc’d his place to buy a palace in Tennessee which was foreclosed on as well.

  28. JJ says:

    Someone asked about munis yesterday, story is tax exempt munis are falling as on top of above concerns with rising rates and credit issues the bigger driver is people are fearful the taxable build america bonds subsidiary will expire at year end and there will be a flood of new tax exempt bonds issues by munis starting in Jan 2011. More supply = prices of tax exempt munis fall. From what I hear BAB program at a min will be extended one year which leaves a buying opportunity in tax exempt munis between now and year end. Smith Barney/Morgan Stanley issued research yesterday and recommended tip-toeing on dips between now and year end and focus on these type of muni bonds.

    We continue to favor general obligation, essential service revenue, school district and electric utility bonds with 6 to 14 year maturities (with an opportunistic extension to 20 years while the market remains unsettled and yields elevated for clients willing to accept the additional interest rate risk). Ratings of mid-tier “A” and higher remain our preferred credit quality.

    Tax rates will eventually go up, always good to have a stable tax exempt interest stream even for aggresive accounts even if it is only 10% of portfolio.

  29. yo'me says:

    GM pump and dump

    Will it hold like Tesla Motors? IPO @ 14.98 now at 29.71 I am really surprise at this.When is the dump happening?

    Before the Bell

    TSLA

    Nov 17, 2010, 8:12 a.m.

    Real time quotes

    Previous close
    $ 30.80

    $ 29.67

    Change
    -1.13 -3.67%

    Day low
    Day high

    $28.42
    $31.40

    Open: 31.00 52 week low
    52 week high

    $14.98

  30. yo'me says:

    Ireland: A Textbook Example of the Dangers of Balanced Budgets and Fiscal Responsibility
    Wednesday, 17 November 2010 05:53
    Ireland is in the headlines these days as its government struggles with insolvency. Remarkably, none of the news stories remember to point out that Ireland was a model of fiscal responsibility in the years leading up to its current disaster. Not only did it balance its budget, Ireland ran large budget surpluses in the 5 years preceding its collapse in 2008. Its peak surplus in 2006 was 2.9 percent of GDP, the equivalent of a surplus of roughly $420 billion in the United States.

    Like the deficit hawks in the United States, Ireland’s political leaders ignored the country’s massive housing bubble, the collapse of which sank its economy. It is interesting to note that, while Ireland’s background to the deficit crisis is generally ignored, news reports on Greece’s financial difficulties routinely referred to its large budget deficits in the years leading up to the crisis.

    Dean Baker

  31. JJ says:

    Tesla motors is a joke, I have no clue why the stock is so high, they are selling an electric car for 100K that has no power back up like the volt. Plus they don’t have the capacity to build in volume. Look at GE they want a fleet of electric cars, they placed a huge Volt order, the main buyers of electric cars are utilities, post office, GE etc. A post office vehicle drives less than 40 a day. A volt would never use electricity Plus rear seats fold down and it is a hatch, can handle lots of mail. Plus GM does fleet sales. Tesla is a green stock in favor with momentum players.

    In reality the Volt is nothing more than something for most people to get them in showroom, I am going to go to my dealer to see it. I bet a lot of people see it get turned off at the 45K and buy a 16K chevy cruz, looks like Volt gets 45 mpg and is only 16k.

    The full size 2012 Buick Hybrid car will be a showstopper when it comes out.

  32. JJ says:

    http://www.detnews.com/article/20101117/AUTO01/11170376/1148/GM+confirms+plans+to+boost+IPO

    Detroit news good GM article, love it mentions Chrysler and GMAC are still wards of state and old GM shareholders got shaft and mentions unfunded pensions. Still pretty postive.

  33. ricky_nu says:

    anyone have any idea why no car company ever came out with a Hybrid minivan? seems like the ultimate application (stop and go soccer mom traffic, which is where hybrid performance shines).

  34. Comrade Nom Deplume says:

    [25] dissident

    While there is a great degree of intellectual stimulations, I’ve seen abject morons graduate from law school. Anyone can get through via regurgitation. And if they can remember and relate fast enough, they can pass the bar exam.

    Not that we don’t have lots of intellectually-gifted people who are attorneys (and I don’t profess to be in this group), there are plenty of morons in this profession as well.

    IMHO, bar exams aren’t hard enough.

  35. Comrade Nom Deplume says:

    stimulation, even. Damn fat fingers.

  36. young buck says:

    The secret sauce behind bloated state pensions
    Posted: Tuesday, November 16 2010 at 06:00 am CT by Bob Sullivan

    Debate about bloated government pensions benefits can get testy. In New Jersey, a political science professor’s discussion of the topic led to a surprise classroom visit from a local sheriff, who demanded – and received – an apology in front of the class.

    As reported by the Trentonian newspaper, Professor Michael Glass of Mercer County Community College was discussing pension “double dipping” with students in February and brought up “retired” Mercer County Sherriff Kevin Larkin’s dual-income status as an example. Larkin filed the paperwork to officially retire in 2009 and began collecting his $85,000 pension. But he never stopped working, instead using a well-known loophole to keep earning his full-time salary of $129,000 on top of his pension.

    A student who knew Larkin texted the sheriff, who drove to the campus, knocked on the classroom door and asked to speak with Glass in the hallway. A few minutes later, with Larkin at his side, Glass returned to the class and apologized.

    Government pensions seem to bring out the worst in people, and they are bringing out the worst in state budgets.

    Last week, we looked at super-sized pensions as the tip of a debt iceberg that might cause dozens of U.S. states to face default or bankruptcy in the decade ahead.

    The abuses are striking. In Illinois, disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich managed to hand out an amazing pension gift in the short time between his indictment and his removal from office. He appointed Rep. Kurt Granberg, who was pulling down an $86,000-a-year salary as a legislator, to head the Department of Natural Resource, a post that paid $133,000 a year. Granberg held the job for just 19 days, but because Illinois law bases pension payments on final salary, the appointment resulted in quite a bounty. In the end, Granberg walked away with a $112,000-annual pension — $40,000 more than he would have received — thanks to the brief job bump.

    But no state does pension abuse like New Jersey, and no state is facing financial ruin from that abuse sooner than the Garden State. The state’s unfunded pension debt per capita is the largest in the nation, and its pension fund is on target to be the first in the nation to run dry, in 2018.

    A few more amazing statistics about the state’s gloomy future:

    *In 2008-09, New Jersey paid 240,000 retirees about $7 billion in pensions; when free health care and other perks are added in, the cost rose to nearly $11 billion.

    *Because pension reform is in the air, state workers are rushing to retire. More than 16,000 have given notice in the first three quarters of this year. New Jersey owes them about $638 million. Included in that group are 233 retirees who will earn more than $100,000 each year in pension payments, including a former community college president who will earn $195,000.

    *New Jersey hasn’t paid anything into its pension fund in three budget cycles, essentially raiding retirees’ money to plug tax revenue holes instead — and shrinking the time before default. Currently, New Jersey owes its pension funds $45 billion, far more than its annual tax receipts. That’s about $5,000 for every man, woman and child in the state. Meanwhile, when promised pension payments for the future are calculated, New Jersey is short $130 billion, or about $44,000 for every state household.

    With red ink like that, you might wonder how the state could afford to grant this year’s top pension-getter, Dr. A. Zachary Yamba, $195,000 per year for life. Yamba, 72, just retired from a 30-year run as head of Essex County College in Newark, the state’s largest city.

    At least Yamba seems destined to actually retire. Another member of the six-figure club, Keansburg, N.J., Police Chief Raymond O’Hare, had barely clipped on his retirement watch when he accepted a job as the Jersey shore town’s borough manager. He’ll be collecting a pension of $121,000 while simultaneously taking home a salary of $120,000.

    In some states, that’s called double-dipping. In New Jersey, it’s par for the course. One former county official managed to string together eight part-time jobs to earn himself a $150,000 pension.

    The tale of former Newark Mayor Sharpe James, who this year completed a 27-month prison sentence for federal corruption charges, strings together many of these themes. According to the Newark Star-Ledger, he stockpiled a $124,000 annual pension from the city of Newark as well as a nearly $1 million 401(k) account during his prior career as a teacher at the aforementioned Essex County College. Before he was convicted, he was also earning a $150,000 annual salary as head of an urban studies institute at the college and a $50,000 annual salary as a state senator. That legislative job earned him credits for an additional $12,000 annual state pension.

    There are nearly as many ways to game the system as there are retired workers in New Jersey; far too many to digest in one sitting. So as a guide, msnbc.com enlisted the help of New Jersey benefits expert Peter Tom, who has been consulting with municipalities for 30 years. He identified five typical pension padding practices. We’ll explore each one through examples, as a way of explaining the larger pension picture.

    “(Pension abusers) prey on the lack of knowledge of the system that the average person has, in understanding how the pension system blows its money,” Tom said. “Government officials pretty much rely on the fact that you don’t know how it’s done.”

    1. Back-ending or “padding”
    It’s easy to abuse the formula for calculating the lifetime annual payout. Workers and political friends simply make sure that an employee’s final-year salary is a doozy – like Blago’s buddy. As you might expect, New Jersey is rife with back-ending.

    A government-appointed panel studying state pensions in 2005 found this egregious example: An unidentified employee spent 24 year working in public service earning less than $10,000, then one year as a prosecutor earning $141,000 — enhancing his pension from $3,600 to $70,000 annually.

    Back-ending rules have been tightened slightly since then, but they are still vulnerable to gamesmanship. In fact, it’s common, Tom said, for elected officials to reward a losing candidate with a highly compensated public job. That’s one reason local politicos are so eager to keep those $8,000-a-year city council jobs; they both pad future benefits calculations and often lead to lucrative post-politics jobs.

    The key is to grab a well-paid city job right before retirement. Tom knows a case of a city councilman who earned $8,000 annually for 12 years, then jumped into a city job earning $91,000. As long as he stays in the new position for three years, his pension will now be based on the higher salary — and he will earn roughly 10 times the pension he would have received as a retired councilman.

    Ron Dobies served as mayor of charming, picturesque Middlesex Borough for 26 years, earning a token salary. Upon retirement, he was appointed borough administrator at a salary of $85,000. After three years, he was removed from office in 2009, and he’s now entitled to a $46,000 pension.

    One typical technique for back-ending is common for uniformed officers; they pad their end-of-career salaries with overtime work.

    Apart from the outrage factor, Tom said, back-ending causes major problems for the pension system from an actuarial standpoint.

    “People aren’t paying into the system at the rate they are getting money out in those early years,” he said. “Pensioners are never asked to make up the difference.”

    2. Tacking, as in “tacking on more money.”
    “Tacking” is the process of stringing together multiple part-time government jobs to earn a full-time salary. In New Jersey’s small towns, it’s common for local governments to hire part-time administrative workers, such as city attorneys — and it’s common for them to work for several municipalities.

    But eight jobs at once?

    That’s what former Ocean County official Damian Murray pulled off. In 2009, he presided over court in eight towns, earning more than $300,000. Having also previously served as a member of the library commission and an elected freeholder, he has built a pension credit of more than $150,000 per year.

    Of course, in a state where the majority of state legislators tack on additional government work – and one quarter hold dual elected offices, despite a law forbidding that – tacking stories shouldn’t be surprising. State Sen. Nicholas Sacco is among the state’s highest-paid multiple-job holders, simultaneously serving in the legislature, as mayor of North Bergen and as assistant schools superintendent in the town. His pension will one day reflect credits earned at all three jobs.

    A 2005 study by New Jersey’s Division of Pensions and Benefits found that 5,000 state workers were collecting multiple paychecks. Eclipsing Murray, the agency found that Judge Jere Powell held 11 positions and earned $171,000 that year.

    This is one pension loophole that apparently has been closed, Tom said, by a law signed earlier this year by Gov. Chris Christie. Now, most employees must work 35 hours per week to get credits in the pension system.

    “I do want to give credit to the present administration for addressing some of these things,” Tom said. “But even though this loophole has been addressed, the damage has been done for people already in the system.” The new rule only applies to new government workers, meaning it won’t really impact the solvency of the pension system for 20 years or so.

    3. Double-dipping
    Strictly speaking, double-dipping involves collecting both a government salary and a pension simultaneously. In general, New Jersey prohibits workers from retiring and collecting a pension while also collecting a salary for continuing to do their old job – but there are endless loopholes.

    Double-dipping is a common practice for government workers around the country. Defenders of the practice argue that the workers have earned their pension and are entitled to work during retirement if they choose.

    The elected county sheriffs in New Jersey provide an obvious example of double-dipping. In 2009, nine of the 63 office holders had retired and then remained in their posts, allowing them to collect six-figure salaries and pensions for the exact same job. Among them was Larkin, the sheriff who demanded an apology from the political science professor. Larkin, who resigned in October, did not return requests for comment.

    Twelve-term Union County Sheriff Ralph Froelick retired in 1999. But he’s held the sheriff’s job ever since, earning $140,000 last year — along with an $85,000 pension.

    Tom said he thinks that’s an unintended loophole.

    “I don’t care if people retire and get a new job. They are entitled to do that,” he said. “But the key thing here is you are coming back to same job. If’s the case, then they shouldn’t be able to retire.”

    4. An officer and a civilian
    Most uniformed jobs do not allow the blatant pension double-dipping that occurs in sheriff’s offices. But there’s a simple workaround — retire and be rehired as a civilian serving essentially the same function. That’s what Phoenix police chief/public safety manager Jack Harris did three years ago, attracting nationwide attention after a lawsuit was filed by conservative interest group Judicial Watch. The lawsuit claims the public safety manager’s job is manufactured expressly to circumvent pension rules.

    That happens in New Jersey, too.

    On May 31, 1998, Dennis Keenan retired from his job as fire chief of Trenton, the state’s capital. The next day, as he began collecting his six-figure pension, he was appointed to the job of Trenton public safety director. That job was soon abolished by referendum, on July 12, 1999, but Keenan wasn’t done. Instead, he was appointed “fire director.” By 2002, Keenan found himself as a lightning rod for such thinly veiled officer-civilian transitions, and the state’s pension board began efforts to cut his benefits and force him to return already-paid pension funds. After a five-year battle, an appeals court forced Keenan to retire in 2007. But it also decided Keenan didn’t have to repay the $450,000 he had already collected.

    5. “Bridge jobs” and other part-time gigs
    Many factors go into calculating the value of a retiree’s pension, from past military service to the number of unused sick days and holidays. But the most critical component is years of service. That’s where “bridge jobs” come in. A state worker with 12 years of service who loses his job risks a critical break in years of service unless he finds one quickly — but even a part-time $7,500-per-year job can keep the streak alive. That’s why state legislative offices are crawling with nearly $7,500-per-year consultants. And that’s why former political office holders and appointees swarm around New Jersey’s hundreds of part-time commission and advisory panel jobs, despite their often paltry salaries.

    Here’s one example: Jamie Fox, chief of staff for disgraced former Gov. James McGreevey, earned $11,000 as a member of the state’s Local Finance Board – McGreevey appointed him to the slot just before he resigned in 2004. That allowed Fox to continue his valuable health care benefits and to earn credits for a pension that will be based on his $141,000 salary as McGreevey’s top aide. Fox now works as a lobbyist and earned $513,000 last year, according to the New Jersey Record newspaper.

    The state’s new pension law requiring minimum weekly hours also aims to beat back the bridge job problem, Tom said.

    But here’s a variation on the bridge job concept involving school districts. Superintendents are not allowed to retire, collect a pension and take a new job as a superintendent somewhere else. But there is a glaring exception: Pension rules allow retired schools chiefs to take temporary jobs as “Interim superintendents,” for up to 18 months, earning up to $800 per day. After a year and a half, they have to find another temporary home, but lately that’s been easy, said Tom – districts seem to like hiring temporary replacements. There’s now a small army of interim superintendents.

    Logjam unfair to state workers
    This form of double-dipping inspires the usual ire, but Tom said cities and government workers should appreciate that there’s even a deeper cost to these bad pension habits: They create logjams that hurt younger workers.

    “It stifles people trying to move up the ladder,” he said. “These practices don’t allow others to move up because it keeps these people around, lets them hang on and hang on.” From school districts to local police and fire departments, to municipal offices, lingering executives have a chain reaction on promotions – police chiefs don’t leave, so assistant police chiefs don’t get promoted, so there are never any open detective or lieutenant slots, and so on.

    While pension abuse discussions often inspire vitriol from government workers, who fear attacks on their benefits, Tom said they should be outraged, too. “The rank and file workers are not the issue,” he said. “They are the ones who are paying for all this abuse.”

    Sadly, cutting pension abuses won’t fix the problems. Despite the seeming endless stories of oversized pensions, the average pension paid to a New Jersey worker who retired this year is a modest $39,000. When considering all current retired workers, the average pension is $26,000. So cutting all six-figure pensions in the state wouldn’t make a noticeable dent in New Jersey’s whopping pension debt. Still, Tom said, it’s important to attack the misbehavior.

    “The issue with abuses is really a matter of unfairness,” he said. “We want the pension system to be fair. But if you want to make it the system solvent, you will have to make other changes.”

    http://redtape.msnbc.com/2010/11/the-secret-sauce-behind-bloated-state-pensions.html

  37. JJ says:

    Don’t know, guess hybrid is cool, mini van is not. Buick has a full size Lucerne hybrid for 2012 coming out. That is actually a really nice car. GM also has hybrid Yukons etc. I see lot of soccer moms driving.

    However, I wonder why. The japs really own the minivan market as gm and ford pretty much gave up on it and the chrysler mini van is sold based on pricing and warranty, value shoppers. I am suprised Toyota or Honda does not have a hybrid minivan.

    ricky_nu says:
    November 17, 2010 at 9:47 am

    anyone have any idea why no car company ever came out with a Hybrid minivan? seems like the ultimate application (stop and go soccer mom traffic, which is where hybrid performance shines).

  38. Unexpected HEHEHE says:

    Nom,

    I was being facetious

  39. Unexpected HEHEHE says:

    Why’d the professor apologize?

  40. yo'me says:

    First Thoughts: Is this what change looks like?
    After a change election, the same four people (Boehner, Pelosi, McConnell and Reid) who were running Congress still are running Congress.

    http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2010/11/17/5481407-first-thoughts-is-this-what-change-looks-like-

  41. Schrodinger's Cat says:

    Ricky

    One challenge for the Hybrid minivan may be space. You have to put all of those batteries and associated electronics somewhere. This is purely a guess, but the manufacturers may have decided the space cost (while not huge) of adding hybrid wouldnt pay

  42. Comrade Nom Deplume says:

    [40] hehehe

    I thought as much.

  43. Comrade Nom Deplume says:

    Tighter lending standards””

    Everyone and their cousin saw this coming. The question then becomes what about the folks who got credit in 2007 who won’t get credit now?

    The community activists will be screaming about banks disregarding CRA, and will demand more lending to LMI populations, even though they have demonstrated their lack of creditworthiness. Their solution? Force banks to make loans to less creditworthy borrowers at the same rates as the best borrowers.

    Somehow, I cannot see the taxpayers (the ones that are awake anyway) going for that because we all know how that will end.

  44. Schrodinger's Cat says:

    Nom,

    From the studies i have seen, that doesnt help int he long run

    The community activists will be screaming about banks disregarding CRA, and will demand more lending to LMI populations,

    On top of that basic logic would seem to suggest that pushing loans on those who have problems covering basic expenses, and there fore adding additional interest expense isnt going to help. The whole “micro loan” scheme is a different animal then traditional lending and may show some benefit from what little i have read onit.

  45. Schrodinger's Cat says:

    It’s lovely that these wonderful community activists are push for low income people to take loans that they are more likely to default on then repay.

  46. Dan says:

    The article in #38 runs right up Clot’s alley except with a different result. State employees vs. Wards of the State but nevertheless a huge shift in the future of NJ as those that can afford to leave will and hopefully lucky enough to sell their house to a state employee at something significantly less than what it’s worth now unless Christie can come up with massive changes now (which then would lead to Clot’s daily predictions)

  47. Dan says:

    Cat,

    Like these activists, Barney Frank or Maxine Waters care whether their advocates pay back the loan or not…..It’s all about taking from others.

  48. Schrodinger's Cat says:

    Dan,

    It’s not just NJ. The pensions for most states are unsustainable at best and more likely suicidal. The only way to pay out any significant portion of the existing pensions is to use the majority of the tax receipts to pay pensioners. The taxpayers aren’t going to be very happy that they are stuck paying huge tax bills and get virtually nothing in return.

  49. Schrodinger's Cat says:

    Dan,

    The money changers should have been strung up a century ago. Instead we get this mess.

  50. Al Gore says:

    Just chased some Jehovah witnesses from my front door. What is this world coming to?

  51. JJ says:

    Well according to the Jehovah witnesses the world is coming to an end.

    Al Gore says:
    November 17, 2010 at 10:52 am

    Just chased some Jehovah witnesses from my front door. What is this world coming to?

  52. Al Gore says:

    Regarding last weeks missle launch.

    “I am a retired U.S. Navy Fire Control Technician, who is platform certified in the gun and missile systems on board Adams class guided missile destroyers, I have also worked with the Navy’s Harpoon, Tomahawk and ASROC missile systems. (FireControl Techs operate, maintain and repair the computer, radar and peripheral systems used to launch and guide the various naval weapon systems; we are the guys who “PUSH THE BUTTON”)

    Anyway, what I saw in the recent video concerning the object 30 miles off the coast of CA. Is blatantly a foreign made, Large Cruise or ICBM missile, being launched by a sub-surface aquatic platform. First I know it’s a large missile because it did not exhibit the typical “corkscrewing” trajectory of a beam-riding missile as it tries to acquire the targeting beam. This tells me its a Big Boy with a complete guidance system installed in it, what is nicknamed a “fire and forget” missile, as once its launched its internal guidance system takes over and there is no real need for external guidance. “

  53. Juice Box says:

    re #55 – Al it took 15 minutes to film the video of this way too slow for a missile, it’s a contrail and there is plenty of proof.

    http://contrailscience.com/los-angeles-missile-contrail-explained-in-pictures/

  54. JJ says:

    Big deal I lived in the Bronx for 12 years.

    “I am a retired U.S. Navy Fire Control Technician, who is platform certified in the gun and missile systems on board Adams class guided missile destroyers, I have also worked with the Navy’s Harpoon, Tomahawk and ASROC missile systems. (FireControl Techs operate, maintain and repair the computer, radar and peripheral systems used to launch and guide the various naval weapon systems; we are the guys who “PUSH THE BUTTON”)

  55. Al Gore says:

    VAT tax, Mortgage interest deduction abolition, SS restructuring and more, and of course amnesty.

    “In an ambitious plan to slash the deficit and the fast-mounting national debt, the group also called for a new 6.5 percent national sales tax, as well as lower and simpler individual income and corporate tax rates.

    Former Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Alice Rivlin and former Republican Senator Pete Domenici — both veterans of Washington’s long-running deficit wars — headed the 19-member group organized by the Bipartisan Policy Center, a think tank.

    One of their proposals is “an excise tax on the manufacture and importation of beverages sweetened with sugar or high-fructose corn syrup.” Others are cutting farm payments and tinkering with the Social Security retirement program.

    Their plan would kill the mortgage interest and charitable contribution tax deductions and replace them with 15 percent refundable tax credits anyone could claim. The group said the plan would boost the economy, create jobs and balance the budget — excluding debt interest — by 2014.”

    http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6AG31U20101117

  56. Al Gore says:

    56.

    Juice,

    You are joking right?

  57. Mike says:

    Al Number 53 – If I’m in a good mood I’ll answer the door and tease them. That reminds me I need new batteries for my fart machine remote, work great on telemarketers

  58. Shore Guy says:

    So, anyone who has been listening to the debate over he body scanners TSA is using to give their employees a bit of a thrill would hear TSA emphasize that the machine’s images blurr faces, etc, and are deleted as soon as officals verify that the person beng scanned does not pose a threat. Well, so much for truth from government:

    http://gizmodo.com/5690749/these-are-the-first-100-leaked-body-scans?skyline=true&s=i

    Well, I guess they were telling the truth about the scanned image bluring, they just left out the part about the visible-light photo that gets taken at the same time and displays right next to the naked image.

  59. yo'me says:

    A Budget Proposal From A Commission Without a Single Member That Saw the $8 Trillion Housing Bubble That Wrecked the Economy

    Yes, that would be the Rivlin-Domenici commission. In elite Washington circles ignorance is a credential.

    Dean Baker

  60. Shore Guy says:

    from above:

    “It turns out the the US Marshals Service has surreptitiously saved tens of thousands of body scan images from a checkpoint at a Florida courthouse. And they’re probably not the only ones.

    The TSA recently disclosed that they require all airport body scanners to be able to store and transmit images for “testing, training, and evaluation purposes.” Evaluation of your balls, that is. Heyo!”

    What? It can’t interface with Facebook or Google Images?

  61. Anon E. Moose says:

    Grim [4];

    State attorneys general and the country’s biggest lenders are negotiating to create a nationwide fund to compensate borrowers who can prove they lost their home in an improper foreclosure

    “improper foreclosure” – meaning all people who paid as agreed, or brought delinquent mortgages current including penalties and interest, but were still forclosed upon, will be compensated.

    All five of them must be thrilled at the news.

    Of course the fund will go far beyond that, with deadbeats lining up to suck at the teat once more, from the comfort of my home. Example:

    “We want to be more creative and figure out a way to make the system better,” Miller said in an interview. “For instance, rather than having them pay a huge amount of fines, much of that money [could instead] go to adequate resources to make this work.”

    So instead of paying fines to the court for offenses against the court, spend that money on the deadbeats.

    Stop throwing lifelines. There is no savior, there is no cavalry, superman is not flying in to rescue deadbeats with their house strapped to their backs. Sink or swim on your your own – you pay, you stay. And, like the mouse said, “Heck with the cheese, I just want out of the trap.”

    [Dodd] called all parties involved to work together to “finally put an end to the housing crisis.”

    The “crisis” was the bubble. Foreclosures are the solution.

    One senator after another recounted tales of homeowners expressing their frustration with the mortgage-modification process. Many have been confused by the fact that even as they try to negotiate modifications with servicers, the foreclosure cases pending against them continue unabated.

    Continuing the foreclosure process while negotiations are ongoing only makes sense, unless the deadbeat is just stringing out the loan mod negotiation for some additional free rent. Otherwise, when the deadbeat drops their second modified payment, the bank is back at the tail of the line in court.

    No one has any right to a loan mod. Banks that agree to them do so because they believe it is in their financial best interest. It may in fact be in their best interest to do a mod. Banks are also entitled to be wrong about that, and enforce the contract regardless (i.e., foreclose, when a mod might have been better).

  62. safe as houses says:

    #64 Shore Guy

    Only guys with hung like hamsters have something to worry about. Guy like JJ volunteer to be screened.

  63. Libtard and the City says:

    Next time I’m in the airport, I’m gonna shove a giant d1lldo down my pants prior to going through security. We’ll see if I get stopped for a further check.

    BTW, I was subjected to the new extreme pat-down check. It was performed by a 6’6 TSA agent who had the brains of a Jamil. Even though I was in a wheelchair and it was obvious my left leg was fukced since I had on my aircast boot which makes me look like an imperial stormtrooper. The dumb@ss bumped into my bad leg (after I took the boot off so it could be scanned) about 5 times, even though I told him to be careful. They checked the wheelchair, my boot, my belt and my crutches for explosive dust. What a royal PITA. I can think of about 12 ways to get a device past security. Instead, they end up hassling my crippled @ss since some moron was too stupid to figure out how to ignite his briefs. I will say this, them terrorists are du-uh-umb!

  64. Al Gore says:

    64.

    Shore,

    Re: TSA

    I would expect the scanners to start in airports then expand to trains, court houses, and eventually schools. The storage of the imaging data, if true, could eventually be used to prevent false passports etc. You can fake a document but you cant fake a bone scan. Just more control while guys like Chertoff (dual citizen and treasonous bastard) walk away with tons of profits. Then again you have fear mongering neocon pieces of garbage like Joe Leiberman and John McCain giving political cover to this BS.

    If you dont yet think the g_v is at war with you, you will. It will only get worse. The outrage over the TSA and scanners is refreshing. Unfortunately most people wont wake up until the Jack Boot is half way up their _ss. If you are willing to let your wife and kids get sexually assaulted by a loser, pedophile, tax payer dependent piece of scum then IMO you deserve what you get. As for me I wont fly anymore.

    This KGB defector tells it all.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zeMZGGQ0ERk&feature=related

  65. Libtard and the City says:

    True story,

    I was with my best man on the way back from a hockey tournament a few years back. There was a sexy TSA in the Buffalo airport who I decided would be worth getting a body search from. Best part was that we had about 5 minutes to catch the plane (puddle jumper to Newark, that I new they would hold up as we were like 2 of the only three people booked on it) as we left Toronto really late and got held up driving across the border. My buddy, who gets nervous about being late, gets all pissed off at me as I left a lighter in my pocket purposely. I checked us both in so only I saw the empty seating chart for the plane. Good times.

  66. Shore Guy says:

    Safe,

    Most guys spend their teenage years trying to get someone to grope them. Years ago, if one had asked some government official to “come over get on your knees, rub the inside of my thighs, grab my @ss then feel my groin” one would have gotten into hot water. Now? It is required. What a country.

    Horses and barn doors. Horses and barn doors. Next thing you know, people will not be allowed on aircraft with any device that contains capacitors, or wires.

  67. Shore Guy says:

    Stu,

    Gator must be thrilled.

  68. Shore Guy says:

    “bone scan”

    If we ever get to the point of irradiating passengers to view inside their skin, being instantly killed at 35,000 feet in a disintergrating aircraft will seem a good alternative to slowly dying from assorted cancers.

  69. Libtard and the City says:

    Shore Guy,

    I probably told her about it. This friend of mine is the biggest joker I know. To get one over on him is very, very difficult. Gator knows I’m faithful. I’ve got nothing to hide.

  70. wtf says:

    (35) –

    There’s a Prius minivan due out next year.

  71. ricky_nu says:

    re: TSA scanners etc

    I thought it would be funny to go through the scanner with a potato stuffed in my pants (check out the bulge!). Then my wife yelled at me and said that I should have put it in the front……

  72. Shore Guy says:

    With the increased popularity of piercings in places other than one’s ears, i bet the TSA folks are going to get an education.

  73. Libtard and the City says:

    Crazy thing about all of these new hybrids. My 95 Civic got 41 mpg and cost $12K. You can bet that a lot less pollution was caused by my simple 1.5 liter 97 HP engine than the krap that those batteries require to manufacture and dispose. But I suppose it’s hard to sell it as being ‘green’ to the Whole Paycheck crowd.

  74. Shore Guy says:

    Hey, Joe. That guy who just went through the scanner, he was kinda cute. Tell me, should I ask him for a date?

    http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/dangerroom/2010/11/scr_100914-D-9880W-070-3.jpg

    Uh, Tammy. Here is the raw data, you decide.

  75. Shore Guy says:

    Before heading down into the mine, here is the “If you touch my junj, I’ll have you arrested” guy”s firsthand account:

    http://johnnyedge.blogspot.com/2010/11/these-events-took-place-roughly-between.html?loc=interstitialskip

  76. JJ says:

    My brother sold his old 82 rabbit diesel not that long ago for $500 bucks and it got 52 miles per gallon. But it is no about the money.

    My favorite hyprociasy is Wild by Nature had hybrid parking for the spots in front and I saw a full sized GMC Yukon SUV Hybrid in the spot while camrys and accords were further back.

    Libtard and the City says:
    November 17, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    Crazy thing about all of these new hybrids. My 95 Civic got 41 mpg and cost $12K. You can bet that a lot less pollution was caused by my simple 1.5 liter 97 HP engine than the krap that those batteries require to manufacture and dispose. But I suppose it’s hard to sell it as being ‘green’ to the Whole Paycheck crowd.

  77. d2b says:

    I really do not feel any safer with all of the TSA scanning. I am certain that terrorists can still get anything that they want onto planes with no effort.

    Given this, I think that we give them too much credit. That or our govt is better at prevetion. Eve the near misses are extreemly low tech.

    Go back to OKC bombing. With all of our advances a smart terrorist can take our thousands of people on any given Sunday.

  78. JJ says:

    well I am the proud owner of 300 shares of GM stock. now to convince my wife that buying a 2011 camaro covertible is a good idea since I own the company.

    for orders above 10k they did DVP/RVP only so lots of flippers who usually margin would have been cut out.

    I could of got 800 shares but when they raised price I cut back on the stock.

  79. Al Gore says:

    NJ Legislature fights TSA based on Constitutional rights.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7KGRVRCACDs&feature=sub

  80. Shore want that for lunch Guy says:

    Beginning at about 1 minute might well be the best response to TSA groping:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5nNhOH4Y0bI

  81. Mike says:

    JJ Number 85 If they reproduce the 1956 through 1967 Corvette or the 1955 to 1957 Belair the stock will be good as gold

  82. JJ says:

    Funny I was just saying that, Chrysler should do a 1969 Roadrunner, I love that car, maybe 426 Hemi Hybrid engine.

    Mike says:
    November 17, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    JJ Number 85 If they reproduce the 1956 through 1967 Corvette or the 1955 to 1957 Belair the stock will be good as gold

  83. chicagofinance says:

    Here is a list of some of our newly appointed bosses…..
    http://www.efinancialnews.com/story/2010-11-17/golman-sachs-partners-2010

  84. relo says:

    Moose,

    Take a seat and have a paper bag to breathe into prior to clicking.

    http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2010/nov/17/florida-chief-justice-says-foreclosures-must-be-op/

  85. Shore need a break Guy says:

    I hate myself for buying land
    Giving in to the invisible hand
    They taxed me to to foreclosure
    And then they sold it again
    I hate myself for buying land

    I wanted a place I could call my own
    Then it hung around my neck
    Like a big millstone
    My payment and downpayment
    Are now long gone
    And now I’m liv’n on a couch like a rollin’ stone

    I hate myself for buying land
    Giving in to the invisible hand
    They taxed me to to foreclosure
    And then they sold it again
    I hate myself for buying land

  86. Schrodinger's Cat says:

    And here comes the USPS bailout

    http://www.zerohedge.com/article/next-big-bailout-us-postal-service

    After guiding toward a loss of $6 to $7 billion for fiscal 2010, the Postal Service disappointed on Friday, November 12th announcing an $8.5 billion loss (they apparently didn’t attend the Jack Welch University of ‘guide-down-and-beat-by-a-penny’) for the year ending September 30th. This is on top of a loss of $3.8 billion in 2009 and $2.8 billion in 2008….

    So, $12 billion in current debt + $6.7 billion in obligations + another year of guaranteed losses (as foretold in the report’s Outlook on pp. 58-59) – $1.2 billion in cash = welcome to the taxpayer funded USPS bailout of 2011. The “self-sufficient” monopoly run by the federal government that doesn’t “rely on the taxpayer” will request that Congress increase its debt limits so that it can borrow another $10 billion from the taxpayer-funded U.S. Treasury (at what appears to be, based on current debt outstanding, a taxpayer-subsidized weighted interest cost of 1.4%).

  87. Anon E. Moose says:

    Relo [92];

    I’m down with that. In fact, in that RS piece, unless there was more to it that Taibbi left out in his quest to slam anyone associated with removing the right upstanding deadbeats from the homes they haven’t paid for, the open intimidation engaged in by the judge against the lawyer who brought Taibbi into the courtroom should have been actionable. On the other hand, Taibbi got all huffy when the judge told Taibbi’s annointed ‘victim’ that she could talk to him or not as she wished. She obviously talked to him anyway, so I’m not sure what precisely his gripe was, but gripe he did anyway.

    Its too bad that no one wants to write a story about all the ‘dog ate my mortgage check’ stories trotted out by the few who bother showing up to court. Add a honkey tonk slide guitar and the court room could write a whole country album in a day.

  88. Shore need a break Guy says:

    One last RE omage to Joan Jett:

    I saw a vacant house at the end of the block
    And I knew realtor’s spiel was a load of crock
    But it had a whirlpool bath
    And I was flush with cash
    And it was a train town
    A one-train ride to work
    A train town, oh yea
    And now

    I am deep in debt
    My wife lost her job and we’re over our heads now
    I am deep in debt
    And we had to sell the Hummer just to
    Pay for some food

  89. Shore need a break Guy says:

    Ket,

    The USPS is an interesting workplace.In some ways, its retirement rules make most public employers look harsh.

  90. Shore need a break Guy says:

    Ket,

    What is the retirement age for USPS? We should all be so blessed.

  91. Shore need a break Guy says:

    BC,

    A little treat on an uninspired day:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQGxC7nP3NM

  92. Schrodinger's Cat says:

    Shore,

    Jokes on me apparently. If i were really smart i would have sadi F the college education, got a USPS job and a plumbers/electricians license on the side.

  93. Confused In NJ says:

    Interesting, this drug in trials extended life 4 months.

    Medicare panel voices confidence in cancer drug
    Medicare advisers give vote of confidence to $93,000 drug Provenge for prostate cancer

    WASHINGTON (AP) — A panel of Medicare advisers says there is adequate evidence that a high-priced cancer drug from Dendreon increases survival in men with late-stage prostate cancer.

    The vote by the 14-member panel of outside experts amounts to a recommendation that Medicare pay for Provenge, an innovative drug with a $93,000 price tag that has prompted controversy over health care costs.

    A majority of panelists said they have “intermediate confidence” in Provenge’s benefit. Panelists expressed their confidence on a 1 to 5 scale.

    Medicare officials will make a final decision on Provenge in March, and a positive ruling would make the drug available to tens of thousands of men diagnosed with prostate cancer each year.

    Some cancer patients have petitioned against the agency’s review, saying the government should automatically pay for Provenge.

  94. Juice Box says:

    Dear old mom called me today about Ireland, took a while for the news to trickle down to the media she follows that ireland is close to be insolvent. The government will run oout of money by the summer according to the rosiest of predicitons. She has a small pot of gold stored there for a rainy day, earns low interest etc. I told her to call her banker over there and pull 1/2 out. This way if the USD collapses I am 50% covered and if the Euro collapses I am also 50% covered and will remain mostly blameless at family gatherings.

    Actually I told her to take the 50% out and go and buy a new car and enjoy herself, the old car she has been driving around in for the last 15 years is still low mileage and is a solid Honda but the interior is getting a little weathered. She has a paid off house with 9k in taxes and rising, but no worries with a boat load of cash, investments, pension and SS coming in she is sitting pretty.

  95. Schrodinger's Cat says:

    Confused

    $93K for an extra 4 months? Thats a heck of a scam.

  96. Comrade Nom Deplume says:

    [68] ricky

    “Low-tax states will gain seats, high-tax states will lose them”

    And on other news, scientists now say that Earth is round.

  97. Anon E. Moose says:

    Nom [105];

    Nice test for the new Schools’ Chancellor. Like Mayor Nanny said, “Don’t screw this up.”

  98. Dan says:

    You want to see scams played out take a look at Dendreon stock price charts over the last five years. Ticker DNDN

  99. relo says:

    107: Yeah, shorts go BOOM on that one.

  100. Al Gore says:

    Read an article from the Mayor. They wanted to privatize the garbage men and hire 15 cops. Both issues were overwhelmingly shot down by 70% of the referendum. Due to the 2% state cap on property taxes cuts will have to be made unless 60% of the voters support raising the cap on the next referendum.

    Muhahaha. Time to axe more municipal budget. Its a municipal sport down here in red neck land. Those g_vernment dependent losers can move to Canada if they cant hack it in America.

  101. Experienced another three things today that convinced me that we are solidly in the endtimes.

    Drink up, boys.

  102. “Cascading municipal defaults”. Has a catchy ring to it.

    “First Philadelphia, now San Francisco, and all in the same day. Fasten your seatbelts ladies, the muni maul is going mainstream. Per Moody’s: “The downgrade primarily reflects the city’s very narrow financial position and the minimal prospect of material improvement in the near term. The city ended fiscal 2009 with a balance sheet that was weaker than at any time in the prior ten years and extremely weak by comparison with other similarly rated local governments. Its fiscal 2010 and 2011 budgets both relied heavily on one-time solutions, including draws on reserves, to close sizable projected budget gaps, suggesting that final audited results will show little balance sheet improvement. The lackluster economy cannot be expected to provide substantial relief in the near term. Recent reports from the state confirm that its fiscal challenges continue to loom large, which in turn injects revenue risk into the city’s current and next year budgets. The defeat in the election earlier this month of a local pension and health care cost control measure suggests that little near-term fiscal improvement is likely to result from external political pressure.”

    http://www.zerohedge.com/article/moodys-downgrades-san-francisco-aa2-aa1-muni-maul-goes-mainstream

  103. You never give me your money
    You only give me your funny paper
    and in the middle of negotiations
    you break down

  104. Life now imitates Abbey Road…or I’m fully in the middle of a complete nervous breakdown.

  105. swiftly says:

    Doing research about properties in NY,
    Using zillow but transactions list only back 2-3 years, does registering improve.
    Any place to find mortgage liens on particular properties?
    Any other useful websites to help complete the picture of what is occurring in the neighbourhood?
    Yours,

    Swiftly

  106. grim says:

    Had more than one person today tell me about a friend or colleague who got the axe at Roche.

  107. Schrodinger's Cat says:

    Lamar
    buy your ticket for DIA in 2012 yet ;)?

  108. Schrodinger's Cat says:

    Roche was a disaster internally if you weren’t in the right camp. I know of 2 different law suits going on over management practices and saw some of it first hand. Upper management was letting the site managers run their own little fiefdom as they saw fit. Certain groups in that place had quite the reputation.

  109. grim says:

    From the Star Ledger:

    Charlie Brown’s Steakhouse closes 5 more restaurants in N.J.

    The company that owns Charlie Brown’s Steakhouses quietly closed at least nine more restaurants in the tri-state area today, adding to the 20 eateries it abruptly shuttered earlier this week and stirring anger among workers and customers who say they received little or no warning.

    In the second wave of closings to hit the 40-year-old chain this week, five New Jersey restaurants were closed today in East Windsor, Eatontown, Fairfield, Forked River and Woodbridge, in addition to four locations in New York and Pennsylvania.

  110. Outofstater says:

    #109 We have “private” garbage pickup and it costs us 15 bucks a month. They provide a nice plastic dumpster on wheels and we set it out by the street once a week. They also take pretty much anything else we want to get rid of.

  111. Confused In NJ says:

    118. It’s interesting that the Monday Charlie Brown’s closing announcement showed the locations closed in the Wednesday announcement as remaining open. What is occuring for them to be so wrong by three days in their announcements?

  112. nj escapee says:

    Used to have really good burgers at the Hillsborough CB. Not much left in that town.

  113. Essex says:

    115. Too bad about the cuts, but usually the severance is pretty decent.

  114. Essex says:

    From “cafe Pharma” Roche jumped the gun on Avastin and paid way to much for a company that hasn’t done anything exciting for years. Now they play games with Lucentis, etc. and are blowing away a lot of good will. Nutley will likely fall, just like Roche Palo Alto…and then the chipping away will start at SSF. It’s sad how such an overrated drug such as Avastin could cause such a massive chain reaction. It’s too bad but Roche senior management haven’t delivered in 15 years.

  115. All drug companies will fail when we begin living in caves again and the average life span drops to about 44 years.

    Biggest cause of death in the future will be getting killed by marauding gangs of criminals.

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