A “good time for consumers to be especially wary”

From the New York Times:

No Lull in Mortgage Pitches

The mortgage market may be in a historic upheaval, but mortgage companies continue to pump out upbeat advertisements.

brags in its ads that “No one can do what Countrywide can” and that “Countrywide can show you the way home.” Wachovia ads feature an “Approved” stamp prominently at the top, and Bank of America says, “Homeownership is the best medicine.”

Also, the National Association of Realtors is running national television ads saying there has never been a better time to buy a home. Home values nearly double every 10 years, the commercial claims, showing a young couple walk up to their white colonial-style home.

Despite rising foreclosures, defaults, lawsuits and investigations by state and federal regulators, the mortgage industry has not reduced its ad spending.

Mortgage experts say spending will be strong into the spring, a prime buying time for the housing market. But consumer advocates say the ads continue to be misleading.

“There’s been huge scrutiny on these companies, but they are continuing to advertise,” said Sally Greenberg, executive director of the National Consumers League, a nonprofit organization in Washington. “Many of these companies are bleeding, and these ads are a way to get more money into the door.”

Indeed, the Mortgage Bankers Association is predicting this will be a down year for the industry, and on Friday it said that the total value of mortgages produced would be down 16 percent from its level last year.

Mortgage companies spent nearly $409 million on ads in the third quarter of last year, the most recent period with available data, higher than the industry’s ad spending during the peak of the housing boom, according to TNS Media Intelligence. Mortgage ads can easily be found in all types of media outlets, and the ads cited in this article were found by Competitrack, a company in New York that tracks advertising.

“There may be some good, legitimate offers,” said Frank Dorman, a spokesman for the Federal Trade Commission, which monitors advertising for deception. “But it’s a good time for consumers to be especially wary.”

This entry was posted in Housing Bubble, National Real Estate, Risky Lending. Bookmark the permalink.

177 Responses to A “good time for consumers to be especially wary”

  1. grim says:

    From the AP:

    Foreclosed Homes Occupied by Homeless

    The nation’s foreclosure crisis has led to a painful irony for homeless people: On any given night they are outnumbered in some cities by vacant houses, and some street people are taking advantage of the opportunity by becoming squatters.

    Foreclosed homes often have an advantage over boarded-up and dilapidated houses abandoned because of rundown conditions: Sometimes the heat, lights and water are still working.

    “That’s what you call convenient,” said James Bertan, 41, an ex-convict and self-described “bando,” or someone who lives in abandoned houses.

    While no one keeps numbers of below-the-radar homeless finding shelter in properties left vacant by foreclosure, homeless advocates agree the locations — even with utilities cut off — would be inviting to some. There are risks for squatters, including fires from using candles and confrontations with drug dealers, prostitutes, copper thieves or police.

    “Many homeless people see the foreclosure crisis as an opportunity to find low-cost housing (FREE!) with some privacy,” Brian Davis, director of the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless, said in the summary of the latest census of homeless sleeping outside in downtown Cleveland.

  2. grim says:

    From Reuters:

    Aioi Insurance Subprime Losses to Top $743 Mln-Paper

    Subprime-related losses at Japan’s Aioi Insurance Co are expected to more than triple to more than 80 billion yen ($743 million) in the year to March, the Yomiuri newspaper reported on Sunday.

    Japan’s fourth-largest non-life insurer said in November its paper losses as of the end of September stood at 25.2 billion yen and that its total exposure to subprime-related investments came to 115.4 billion yen.

  3. Sean says:

    There is always someone willing to lend money to people in the USA.


  4. grim says:

    Seems quiet today, suppose most here have the day off?

  5. Cindy says:

    Re: Countrywide

    I receive a letter at least once a week from Countrywide…complete with a reservation # for the loan they are “holding” for me. My invitation always has an expiration date – currently 3/22/08

    The lastest:
    “Wouldn’t you like to have extra cash at the end of every month? At Countrywide Home Loans, we know how hard you work for your money and that’s why we’re inviting you to apply for a 40-year loan that offers one of the lowest monthly payments available.”

    “With a 40-year loan, you could possibly have a lower, more affordable monthly mortgage payment than traditional 15- or 30- year loans. etc. etc. Let me think…

    (40-year loan…@ $5.50 per thousand @6%
    30-year loan…@ $6.00 per thousand @6%
    So for a $300,000 home I can pay $1,800.
    a month for the 30-year or $1,650 for a 40-year. Oh yeah, that $150.00 less a month for 10 more years on my mortgage makes so much sense.)

    “We’re always working to provide you with the best financial solutions to meet your unique needs. Millions of homeowners have trusted the Countrywide family. America’s #1 Home Loan Lender. with financing for one of their most valuable assets-their home. You can count on us to provide real stability in uncertain times.”

    “Cindy, the bottom line is Countrywide is here to help you. And we specialize in fast funding so call Countrywide now at…..to begin your application and start enjoying your lower monthly payments, and extra cash, right away!”

  6. crossroads says:

    I’ll bet the house people go for it. Oh wait I’m renting for x. but if I bought the same house it would cost x+700. I should look @ the 40

  7. Cindy says:

    (6) crossroads

    They have been sending me these letters for a good year now….once a week! That’s some kinda mass marketing.

  8. Clotpoll says:

    Cindy (7)-

    Just think; our resident village idiot, ReTard, wants to see a new class of mortgages with 50-100 year amortizations.

  9. BC Bob says:

    “Seems quiet today, suppose most here have the day off?”

    No. However, the rest of the WS is off, enjoying my B-Day.

  10. Clotpoll says:

    How would a mortgage work whose amortization period might outlast the functional usefulness of the home?

    Does anyone believe that a TOL/KHOV tract mansion built in 2005 will still be standing in 2055?

  11. BC Bob says:


    Thanks. I’ll tip one for you.

  12. Cindy says:

    Happy Birthday BC Bob!

  13. grim says:

    40 year amortization?

    Why bother?

    Ever see the cumulative interest payments on those loans? You end up paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional interest payments for the luxury of “saving” a hundred dollars a month.

    Just get an I/O, at least you wouldn’t be fooling yourself.

  14. BC Bob says:

    Cindy [13],

    Thanks. What am I doing in the office?

  15. grim says:

    $400,000 Loan
    30 Year Fixed
    6% Interest
    Monthly P&I – $2,400
    Total Payments – $863,353

    $400,000 Loan
    40 Year Fixed
    6% Interest (unlikely, will be higher than a 30)
    Monthly P&I – $2,200
    Total Payments – $1,056,410

    That $200 a month “savings” ends up costing you $200,000 in additional interest payments.

    And people say renting is “throwing money away”?

  16. BC Bob says:

    “40 year amortization?”

    Better yet, go to LOL, get a balloon mortgage. Borrow in yen and pay the balloon in Gold.

  17. Cindy says:

    Clot – What do you make of this…hot air or something real…”first-timers”

    A pretty big article in the Bee yesterday saying “first-timers” are beginning to enter the market. There are a few individual cases of purchases explained involving $180,000. to $240,000. homes. Some foreclosures.

    They state “The trend-which has yet to show up in statistics-represents a ray of hope ….”the percentage of families that can afford an entry-priced house has climbed to 44% from 19% at the peak of the housing boom in 2006, according to the California Association of Realtors.”

  18. mikeinwaiting says:

    I would like to find out what mt landlord payed & how much is owes now.Where would I search for the info?

  19. Outofstater says:

    #9 Happy Birthday, BC!

  20. BC Bob says:

    Outofstater, aka- Promised Land,


  21. Clotpoll says:

    Qatar now on the hunt for beaten-down banks:

    By Janine Zacharia and Will McSheehy

    Feb. 18 (Bloomberg) — Qatar is buying shares in Credit Suisse Group and plans to spend as much as $15 billion on European and U.S. bank stocks over the next year, the Gulf state’s prime minister said in an interview.

    “We have a relation with Credit Suisse and we bought some of the stock from the market, actually, but I cannot say what percentage because still we are in the process,” Sheikh Hamad bin Jasim bin Jaber al-Thani, who is also chief executive officer of the Qatar Investment Authority, said in an interview late yesterday in Doha.

    Persian Gulf sovereign wealth funds, whose coffers are swelling from near-record oil prices, and counterparts in Asia have been snapping up stakes in banks battered by U.S. subprime mortgage losses. Citigroup Inc. received $14.5 billion from investors including Singapore and Kuwait since mid-December.

    “Subprime losses are clearly not confined to U.S. banks and European banks are seeking funding,” Giyas Gokkent, head of research at National Bank of Abu Dhabi PJSC, said in a phone interview today. “Gulf funds have surpluses to spend and are looking for long-term appreciation. If investments help develop their domestic financial markets too, so much the better.”

    Bruno Daher, Credit Suisse’s Dubai-based co-CEO for the Middle East, declined to comment when contacted on his mobile phone today, as did Zurich-based spokesman Marc Dosch. Credit Suisse jumped 1.60 Swiss francs, or 2.9 percent, to 56.60 francs ($51.33) at 1:13 p.m. in Swiss trading.

    Buying Stakes

    Credit Suisse said on Feb. 12 that fourth-quarter profit fell 72 percent after 1.3 billion francs of writedowns on debt and leveraged loans. The stock has fallen 31 percent since Oct. 10. Brady Dougan, CEO of Switzerland’s second-biggest bank, scaled back risky investments before the debt-market slump that forced UBS AG, Switzerland’s biggest bank, to report $14 billion in writedowns.

    In the past six months, sovereign wealth funds made investments in Citigroup, Merrill Lynch & Co., Morgan Stanley and UBS, which is seeking shareholder approval to raise 13 billion Swiss francs from Singapore and an unidentified Middle Eastern investor through a sale of bonds convertible into shares.

    Qatar’s decision to buy Credit Suisse stock in the open market “makes all the difference” to investor confidence in the bank, according to Christof Reichmuth, CEO of Luzern-based Private Bank Reichmuth & Co.

    `Sign of Strength’

    “They are not selling equity or mandatory convertible bonds to boost their capital like UBS did,” he said. “Even though 2008 won’t be a great year for Credit Suisse either, this should be read as a sign of strength rather than weakness.”

    Wall Street banks have raised at least $59 billion, mostly from investors in the Middle East and Asia. Citigroup was propped up in November by a $7.5 billion investment from the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, the world’s richest sovereign fund, after losing almost half its market value.

    State-managed funds in countries including Kuwait, Abu Dhabi and South Korea have ballooned to $3.2 trillion in assets. Fueled by record oil prices and rising currency reserves, sovereign fund assets may gain fourfold to $12 trillion by 2015, equal to the capitalization of the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, according to Morgan Stanley estimates.

    First European Bank

    Credit Suisse in March 2006 became the first European bank to get a license for the Qatar Financial Centre, a self-regulated business park designed to attract lenders to the Gulf state as part of a plan to diversify the economy away from oil and gas. The Swiss bank “has had a long-standing relationship with Qatar,” Joachim Straehle, head of private banking for Asia, the Middle East and Russia, said at the time.

    When the Qatar Investment Authority sought to buy U.K. supermarket chain J Sainsbury Plc last year, Credit Suisse was among three European banks that agreed to underwrite $19 billion of loans to help pay for the buyout. Qatar in November abandoned the bid, citing “deterioration” in credit markets and demands by J Sainsbury’s pension fund.

    The Qatar Investment Authority is the largest shareholder in J Sainsbury, with a 25 percent stake, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The authority is the second-biggest investor in French publisher Lagardere SCA, and owns shares in Middle Eastern banks including Beirut-based BLC Bank SAL and Jordan’s Housing Bank for Trade & Finance. It also bought a $205 million stake in Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd. before the Beijing- based lender’s 2006 initial share sale, according to a prospectus published at the time. The authority doesn’t disclose holdings beyond regulatory requirements.

    The Kuwait Investment Authority, which manages an estimated $250 billion for the Gulf state, is keen to buy into European financial companies “if we are invited,” Managing Director Bader al-Saad said last month.

    Greater Scrutiny

    The growing reliance of U.S. banks on sovereign wealth funds has fed calls in the U.S. for greater scrutiny of the investments. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and his counterparts in Europe have expressed concern that a lack of public knowledge about how these funds invest may roil financial markets.

    The Group of Seven this month agreed that policy issues surrounding the funds must be “measured” while “remaining vigilant against protectionist sentiment,” Paulson said in a Feb. 9 press conference in Tokyo.

    Asked about these concerns, particularly those being aired in Washington, Sheikh Hamad said he was surprised by the resistance and that the idea is to help financial institutions.

    `No Political Ambitions’

    “The sovereign fund is from friendly countries, especially this region,” he said “They have no political ambitions. They are looking to invest their wealth for the people of these countries.” He was speaking in an interview with Bloomberg Television before attending the opening of the Brookings Doha Center, a project of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy based at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

    The West and the Persian Gulf have been investing in each other’s economies for many years, he said. Because of high oil prices, “I think it’s wise to invest it. So I’m surprised for the concern. I know they should have some kind of transparency, which we have,” he said.

    With a population of less than 1 million, Qatar owns the world’s third-biggest natural gas reserves and 1.3 percent of global crude oil reserves, generating surpluses for the investment authority. It manages $60 billion for the state, Citigroup analysts including Carsten Stendevad estimated in an October report.

    Sheikh Hamad also announced Qatar is creating $1 billion funds in Finland and Malaysia similar to the fund Qatar’s Investment Authority announced in December that it was starting with Indonesia.

    “We did this with some Europeans like Finland,” he said. “We are doing a billion dollar fund with them. And we will do with Malaysia.” The Malaysian fund “will be around a billion,” he said.

  22. Painhrtz says:

    I went on the Open House tour in the Morris county area and a stop in West Paterson yesterday. Besides the persistent realtor nonsense and consoling my wife that home prices would come down. Here are a few observations

    Morris Plains may be the new Brigadoon

    A 1400 sq foot, 60 year old Colonial, with no yard, uneven floors and a wet garage is worth 550,000.

    The Intervale section of Parsippany is on par with Saddle River

    A 30 year old split, with redone floors, poor yard, in need of windows, doors bathroom, etc, but has a cheaply done kitchen with stainless is worth 550,000. I think I insulted the realtor when I told him I would not give him 300,000. My wife said I was a bit mean to him, I thought I was fair.

    Finally, and JB you’ll appreciate this. We went to the recently completed condos at Garrett Heights in Paterson. Well besides there being no parking, and the stairways leading upstairs are so small you would not be able to get any furniture up them they want 300K plus for these crap shacks. Well we glad-handed the realtors and listened to their spiel, as we we were walking out they showed us an unfinished unit so we could gain a better appreciation of the space. Holy S&!t, the floors were done using pressboard, and were completely uneven. There was a one inch gap between the boards and the floor joists. Finally the quality was so poor I would not imagine purchasing these units at any price, but they had a four-foot Jacuzzi tub suitable for those of smaller stature. What a nightmare.

  23. chicagofinance says:

    Off-hand….someone blasted Corzine over the weekend for sidestepping the teacher’s union when he came to the budget machette. First off, I am happy to hear CUTS!!! Let’s applaud reduced spending for a moment.






    ok – booya as it were….

    Now then…..we all know the state is f—ed until there is structural change and the culture of graft is -at bare minimum- sheared back. As a result, Corzine goes Tarloff on the budget this year, but spares the teachers union. THIS STRATEGY IS POWERFULLY TACTICAL. NJ is still going to be tapped out, but he has in the future laid out a scenario where everyone has gotten waxed, but the union. Finally, after using every other option, he goes to the union and says “Dr. Kimbal – give it up. We know about Lenz” What is the union going to say. Everyone else has taken it in the posterior, and now Corzine has set them up to be villified if they don’t talk turkey.

    Making the best of an impossible situation.

  24. Essex says:

    Well…….as has been said before…..there are many on this board who will never buy a home. So I am sure that in the open house there are always some grumblers who think the place is overpriced….not something anyone who be too shocked to see. One good reason for a homeowner to not be present at this events.

  25. Anon says:

    Made the rounds yesterday at several open houses in Ridgewood. Lots of other people out looking.

  26. Clotpoll says:

    Cindy (18)-

    Real. Pockets of foreclosure are creating some opportunity for first-time buyers. I think we’re about six months away from seeing some of this here in NJ.

    However, for any stabilization of the market to take root, the affordability must become widespread and sustained across many price ranges.

    Always good to remember the Plankton Theory when discussing these things:


  27. Clotpoll says:

    mike (19)-

    Your county clerk’s office. Take the lot/block number, and search the mortgage books.

  28. Painhrtz says:

    A little help street address for MLS# 2488150

  29. lostinny says:

    Happy Birthday BC.

  30. Clotpoll says:

    ChiFi (24)-

    I’m skeptical. Corzine has never been able to understand the difference between spending cuts and spending freezes. He has always thought that freezing is just like cutting, and I haven’t seen enough of the details on this new initiative to understand what, exactly, is being cut.

    Corzine has also talked big before…only to find himself besieged by packs of flesh-ripping weasels (a la Carla Katz), looking to wrangle concessions for each of their narrow constituencies. And, usually, the flesh-ripping weasels prevail. Corzine is so weakened by his fealty to these interests that his ability to govern is gone.

  31. rhymingrealtor says:

    Happy Birthday, BC

    Do you have the day off?
    Enjoy either way!


  32. mikeinwaiting says:

    CLOT 28 Thanks.
    BC Many more!

  33. Rich in NNJ says:

    Up at 4AM and now in CLT airport (enroute to CHS) on Moto-Q…


    Agreed, cut spending. But did I read correctly? Are you pro additional road tolls for other highways?

    Happy B-Day Bob

  34. Clotpoll says:

    bi (30)-

    “where is U.K. housing bubble?”

    Dunno. Why don’t you call Northern Rock (er, make that Bank of England), and ask them?

  35. grim says:


    30 David

  36. Cindy says:

    (27) Clot

    “Always good to remember the Plankton Theory when discussing these things.”

    We apparently have more “inexpensive”
    housing available here than you folks so we have some “first-timers” pulling it off.
    It remains to be seen if we have enough of an initial food source to build a food chain.

    “FHA loans fell out of favor because their limits had not kept pace with soaring values. Today, it’s different because prices are lower and more houses fall within the program’s loan limits of $289,750 in Fresno County.”

    “While first-time home buyers are jumping into the marketplace, loan officer Michael Gilmore believes many others are waiting for prices to fall even more.”

    A ray of hope anyway..

  37. gary says:


    Took a quick ride through a few neighborhoods in the Wayne area and noticed the open houses looked fairly busy. Do you think this is a lot of fence sitters ready to jump in or are the masses just being nosy?

  38. grim says:

    I’m skeptical. Corzine has never been able to understand the difference between spending cuts and spending freezes.

    Leverage inflation to turn a nominal freeze into a real cut.

  39. Clotpoll says:

    gary (39)-

    “It is a tale … full of sound and fury; signifying nothing.”

    Shakespeare says it all.

  40. Clotpoll says:

    grim (40)-

    Hey Dorothy, we’re not at Goldman Sachs anymore.

  41. Clotpoll says:

    …or was that, “hey, Toto”?

  42. Clotpoll says:

    Cindy (38)-

    But…how do those first-time buyers feel about buying into such an economically-devastated area?

    It’s one thing to be able to get that first home; quite another to discover you have to drive 25 minutes to find decent shopping or that the local school is dominated by the MS-13.

  43. grim says:

    Do you think this is a lot of fence sitters ready to jump in or are the masses just being nosy?

    Bi went to an open house in Plainsboro yesterday, it was so crowded that the sellers decided to sell tickets to see the house, $25 a person. Potential buyers would be charged a 10% buyer’s premium for the luxury of bidding. Sellers said any contract would include contingencies requiring the buyer to both feed and pay for the medical treatment, of all neighborhood stray cats.

  44. BC Bob says:

    Thanks to all.


    No. I am in the office.

  45. Clotpoll says:

    grim (45)-

    bi’s moving to England to catch the boom there.

  46. Essex says:

    BC Birfday Bob…..rock on there maestro.

  47. Clotpoll says:

    That open house in Plainsboro had a line, because they were giving away free moo goo gai pan.

  48. BC Bob says:

    “where is U.K. housing bubble?”

    Good question to ask the 3,000 expected to lose their jobs at Northern Crock.


  49. Shore Guy says:

    #45 Ouch!

  50. Painhrtz says:

    Thanks JB

  51. Cindy says:

    (44) Clot
    Apparently these are working folks who have been renting and finally have a chance to buy.

    “Marlin Exell, a 29-year old hospital employee, is in escrow on his first house – a 1400 sq. ft., 3 bd., 2-bath house near California State Univ., Fresno. The sellers lowered the price from $250,000 to 199,000 after it sat unsold for 200 days. Exell offered $185,000, and the parties settled on $192,000, with the seller paying $4,000. in closing costs.”

    “Ezell said he couldn’t afford a house. He was priced out of the market until now.”

    These “first-timers” mustn’t believe their jobs are in jeopardy and just want a house to live in. We shall see…Maybe it will all just turn into another round of foreclosures – I’m sure I don’t know.

  52. grim says:

    From the AP:

    Economic Woes Reveal a Long-Felt Unease

    Even when experts were declaring the economy healthy, many Americans voiced a vague, but persistent dissatisfaction. True, jobs were relatively plentiful over the last few years. It was easy to borrow and very cheap. The sharp rise in the value of homes and plentiful credit cards encouraged a nation of consumers to get out and buy. But to many people, something didn’t feel right, even if they couldn’t quite explain why.

    undertow that was there all along is getting stronger.

    Take away the easy credit and consumers are left with paychecks that, for most, haven’t nearly kept pace with their need and propensity to spend.

    The frustration of $3 gas and $4 milk, the worries about health care costs that have risen four times the rate of pay, become much more real. The retirement security that is only as good as the increasingly volatile stock market seems much less certain.

    Americans’ declining confidence in their economy is triggered by a storm of very recent pressures, including plunging home prices, tightening credit, and heavy debt. But it is compounded by anxiety that was there all along, the result of a long, slow drip of worries and vulnerabilities.

    “The economy is currently in recession or arguably close to recession and that’s certainly weighing on the collective psyche,” says Mark Zandi, chief economist of forecaster Moody’s Economy.com. “But … I do think there is an increasing level of angst that is more fundamental and is not going to go away even when the economy improves.”

  53. Shore Guy says:

    from yesterday,

    # 233


    Although AMT may be simple, because it is tacked onto an existing and decidedly un-simple tax code, it is a #$#@$#% mess. For most people who receive most or all of their income as wages, especially from a single state, perhaps some cap gains, interest from Cds etc., may have a mortgage deduction, and run of the mill things, the existing tax code is no big deal.

    We have taxes that, quite literally, require action nearly every month of the year and, by the time we file, the tax packet we submit routinely runs over 100 pages. I am all for simplicity, but the idea of wacking us over the head with AMT in addition to this other mess is for the birds. We pay thousands more each year because of AMT, but I dont love the simplicity of it.

    I would be all for exempting from taxation the first $20-30-40k of interest/dividand/cap gain income, exempting from the “death tax” the first $10million in assets passed, and then going to a pretty flat tax with wages and cap gains taxed at similar rates. The current system is a mess (once one gets above a certain income level) and needs to be fixxed; however, the AMT needs to ne killed, and burried under the end zone in Giant’s Stadium.

  54. BC Bob says:

    “the AMT needs to ne killed, and burried under the end zone in Giant’s Stadium.”

    Shore Guy,

    Jimmy Hoffa would enjoy the company.

  55. House Hunter says:

    #23 Painhrtz…those sound like all the homes I get to see! love the idea of fixing absolutely everything in a house before moving in LOL

  56. lisoosh says:

    Happy B’day BC.

    Didn’t visit open houses but did notice a couple of new listings in my area – 2005 prices + whatever it cost to fix up. Putting a 1950’s 3 bed ranch well over the other similar houses in the area and in the same price ranch as newer 4 bed 2.5 bath colonials.


    Of course the realtor is one I have seen before as always having overpriced listings that sit for months and sometimes years until the owners give up and go elsewhere. I’m guessing she lives in the neighbourhood but for the life of me have no idea how she is still in business.

    Other houses that are coming back on the market are showing pretty healthy haircuts – in the 20% range. Seeing rough foreclosures that are priced higher than identical and pristine homes. NO idea what the banks and their realtor representatives are thinking in these areas, or potential foreclosure investors who don’t appear to be practicing any form of due diligence.

    Will be an interesting summer.

  57. HEHEHE says:

    Happy B-day BC Bob!

  58. House Hunter says:

    #24 Chicago, #32 Clot and Grim will love this one. Your tax dollars at work: Went to dinner Friday with a person who works at the state house (NJ). The talk of “comp” time came up…a particular individual who just retired was able to get a pay out for all those years of saved comp time…got a $37,000 check for it! I was thought they would have to pick me up off the floor..1st of all, comp time should be used or lost. You can also carry over a tremendous amount of vacation time with the state. At my place of employment you do not get comp time and can at most carry over 2 weeks vacation…no personal time can be taken to the next year as well.

  59. BC Bob says:

    HEHE, Lisoosh, Essex,


  60. BC Bob says:


    You own DBA, right?

  61. schabadoo says:

    Any info on mls #2485164?

    Thanks in advance.

  62. BC Bob says:


    I never realized that DBA was a K-1 partnership.

  63. grim says:


    51 Leatherstocking
    OLP/LP: $299.9k
    DOM: 16

    No prior MLS listings

  64. Shore Guy says:

    # 66 “51 Leatherstocking”

    Is this an address or a continuation of last week’s discussion of dodgy clubs where people pay to be beaten?

  65. HEHEHE says:

    Yeah, just got the tax docs last week. They might want to advertise that a bit more.

  66. scribe says:

    Happy Birthday, BC Bob!

  67. kettle1 says:

    happy B day Bob, not all of us have the day off

  68. RentinginNJ says:


    I think I’m the one who brought up the teachers union. While cuts to educational spending were specifically off the table, it looks like anything that would materially impact organized labor in general is off the table.

    Secondly, the spending cuts aren’t really cuts; they are decreases in the business as usually spending increases. In other words, “we were going to increase spending by 10%, but now must cut spending to only increase by 5%”

    I do agree with you though. It is good to finally see the concept of spending cuts on the table, even if the first round is more about optics than meaningful structural changes.

    I’m skeptical, however, that there will ever be a second round that impacts union labor in NJ. Even if Corzine were to push it, the legislature would shut him down. The legislators feel almost invincible in their gerrymandered districts back by lots of union money. The NJEA will launch the “it’s all about the children” campaign and the electorate will give in as always.

  69. 3b says:

    #46 BC BOB Happy Birthday!!! Why in the office on a 3 day weekend; the market is closed.

  70. BC Bob says:

    Thanks to all.


    Currency markets are open. The nerve of foreign markets, not to recognize GW and AL.

  71. 3b says:

    #73 BC Bob: Oh that is right forgot about that.Well enjoy your day any how.

  72. Stu says:

    I’m working and have been in DBA since last March. I actually have 4 K-1s. My wife and I are in the same investment club, I’m in another investment club, plus DBA.

    It’s really not that big of a deal if you do your taxes yourself. Of course, if you are paying someone by the hour to do them for you, you are going to pay.

    I could never come out ahead as my state and fed returns are now over 150 pages long. I e-file, just to save on postage :P

  73. BC Bob says:

    “Auction-Rate Bonds Lure Investors With 20% Interest”


  74. grim says:

    From the AP:

    Sweeney vows to target N.J. businesses hiring illegal immigrants

    A New Jersey Senate leader said he will push legislation to punish businesses who knowingly hiring illegal immigrants.

    Senate Majority Leader Stephen Sweeney said his decision comes after a federal judge upheld an Arizona law that prohibits businesses from knowingly hiring illegal immigrants and yanks the business licenses of those that do.

    “Companies that knowingly hire illegals are destroying job opportunities for the working men and women of New Jersey,” said Sweeney, D-Gloucester. “The practice has to be stopped.”

    Under Sweeney’s measure, which he said he will introduce next week, first-time offenders would have their business licenses suspended for 10 days.

    Second offenses would bring permanent revocations, Sweeney said.

    In approved, the law would take effect at the end of the year and require employers to verify the legal status of their work forces.

    “New Jersey should welcome legal immigrants with open arms, but we need to put up a stop sign for illegals who undermine family, educational and health care support systems,” Sweeney said.

    The proposal worries businesses, said Jim Leonard, a vice president with the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce.

    “We feel immigration is an issue best handled on the federal level,” Leonard said. “Creating a patchwork of laws on this issue throughout the nation makes it even more difficult to run a business.”

  75. Stu says:

    You guys must check this out! Subprime explained in a way that everyone can understand.


  76. BC Bob says:

    Stu [78],

    Great stuff!!

  77. Stu says:

    One more interesting one.


    “Bush Administration Hides More Data, Shuts Down Website Tracking U.S. Economic Indicators”

    Personally, I feel that discontinuing the publishing of the M3 data in 2006 was a ploy to hide inflation numbers, but this is like not letting the driver see the cliff just around the bend.

  78. RentinginNJ says:

    Watching “Millionaire Next Door on CNBC”. They are talking with people in debt and coming up with plans to get them out. Most of the people they are talking with got in over their head with housing. In most cases, their advice is to sell the house.

    One couple from Massachusetts with $90k in credit card debt said, “we tried, but the house is worth $300k less than what we paid for it 2 years ago”.

  79. lostinny says:

    78 Stu
    That was awesome!

  80. Stu says:

    I wish I could take credit for it, but found the link on the SRS yahoo finance message board.

  81. 3b says:

    #76 BC Bob: The muni auction market is destroyed, it will never recover from this.

    Speaking for myeself, kind of sad, as I was deeply involved in beringing th efirst one to market all the way abck in 1990.

    It is ironic sometimes how things turn out. I never would have saw this coming,and I was deeply involved in that market every day for many years. Not to boast, but made a great living at it too.

  82. Bubble Disciple says:

    re: 77
    states are taking action because fed govt has dropped the ball; this challenge to fed jurisdiction is what will finally force the fed govt to act

  83. 3b says:

    #78 StU: Great stuff, added it to my favorites. now when people ask my opinion on the real esate market and sub-prime (as I am no longer the idiiot who sold his house and cashed out), I can just send them this.

  84. Clotpoll says:

    BC (76)-

    See? There’s no problem in that market.

    Just pay 20% vig, and things move along just fine.

  85. syncmaster says:

    In Carteret, downtown is looking up

    The grim Carteret commercial strip has gone through a transformation during the past four years.

    New street signs and lampposts have been erected, brick paved sidewalks laid, and more than a half-dozen businesses occupy once-empty storefronts that now sport new awnings.

    “This area is up and coming,” said business owner Jimmy Suarez, who praised the borough officials for their ambitious effort to revitalize the business district.

    Coupled with the improvements, the borough has offered enticing incentives for new businesses that include generous grants and low-interest loans.

  86. PattiMak says:

    Regarding Corzine’s cuts, he’s going to leave the public schools alone but he is going to cut higher education drastically resulting in tuition and fees going up 10 percent & they will be lucky if they’ll have air condtioning and heating in the buildings. My husband’s university where he works has already been cut 30 percent over the last three years. Do you really want your kids to be taught by mostly part-time instructors? Corzine isn’t playing games here.

  87. Clotpoll says:

    Patti (90)-

    Way too many people go to college, anyway. The number of people who attend needs to be thinned greatly.

  88. grim says:

    Fitting, our descendancy into Third World status is almost complete.

    Bangladesh Brings Grameen Bank Concept To U.S., Extends Micro Loans To New York Poor

    Grameen Banking, a Nobel Prize winning concept developed in Bangladesh to help the poorest of the poor gain access to credit, is now in the United States. Grameen America will offer micro loans to Americans who do not have bank accounts, which is estimated to reach 28 million in the world’s richest nation.

    The offer of micro loans comes at a time when the U.S. economy either is entering an economic recession or already has, while thousands of Americans have lost or will lose their homes because of the subprime mortgage crisis.

    Mohammad Yunus, founder of Grameen banking, told the Financial Times, “Now is a good time because of… the subprime crisis and that highlights the issue that the financial system is not perfect.’

    One of the first loans extended by Grameen was $50,000 lent to immigrant women from Jackson Heights in Queens, New York. Within the next 5 years, Grameen American plans to lend up to $176 million micro loans to New York’s poor, then it will move the micro loan program to other U.S. cities.

  89. Confused In NJ says:

    The interesting thing about College, since the advent of Open Enrollment in the 60’s, is that so many people graduate from College, that it’s lost it’s Prestige and a lot of it’s Value. When High School was the Common Denominator, College automatically placed you in a position to excel. The BA/BS, which became the new Common Denominator, is rapidly being replaced by the MA/MS as the Common Denominator. Once most people have an MA/MS, it becomes the non special Common Denominator, and one should not expect extra for obtaining the new lowest standard. I was fascinated to see so many Secretaries in the late 80’s with Masters Degrees. In many cases the Secretary had higher credentials then a Teacher.

  90. prestigious gary says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t the blue ribbon designation go away years ago?


  91. Confused In NJ says:

    Hillary Clinton will solve the Financial Crisis. She is planning on selecting Bill Clinton for Vice President, and he will be put in charge of Economics and Healthcare.

  92. afe says:

    confused (93)-

    Unfortunately trying to achieve higher levels of “The Common Denominator” are fruitless unless students start learning how to think. Unfortunately, credentials are only one part of the equation. Attending university has become less of a destination for those with high aspirations in life and more of a business model for bringing in insane amounts of government-sponsored research monies.

  93. Clotpoll says:

    gary (94)-

    Correct. The program and designation no longer exist.

  94. kettle1 says:

    afe, confused

    The thing about college is it depends on what you 9 the society) want from it. IF you want it to be a rigorous academic environment that teaches both information and teches one how tot ink at a higher level then such a school would always maintain is prestige, as there is only a certain% of any given population that can perform at the higher level.
    if you want your colleges to be simple training schools so that people can performed more advanced routine tasks then the majority can attend as their are no innate barriers (aside from the potential cost).

    It should be possible to have both types of schooling but they need a way to be differentiated. we currently have a system where both sets of schools exist but their is no readily apparent way to differentiate. is everyone has a BS in engineering then the degree itself tells you nothing about the person. our system is broken

  95. prestigious gary says:


    Thank you. I’ll email the (ahem..) seller and tell them that false advertising is unethical.

  96. kettle1 says:

    perhaps i should learn to type someday…. sorry about the horrible typing in #98

  97. BC Bob says:

    “Regulators’ plans to break up bond insurers into “good” businesses covering municipal debt and “bad” businesses liable to subprime-related losses may trigger “years of litigation,” Bank of America Corp. analysts said.”

    “It is the equivalent of going to a casino and trying to keep only the winning bets,” said Tim Mercer, chief investment officer at Hong Kong-based hedge fund Musashi Capital Ltd. “This would be a straightforward case of fraudulent conveyance and everyone involved would be liable for damages from deprived creditors.”


  98. Clotpoll says:

    afe (96)-

    By my guess (and confirmed by a good friend who teaches at Muhlenberg Univ.), over 50% of all college attendees do not have the requisite IQ to handle true college-level work. Most colleges have just dumbed-down their coursework to accomodate them.

    The real purpose of most four-year universities is to promulgate a marketing campaign of exclusivity and exclusion to high-aspiration parents. The more unattainable admission seems to be, the more applicants these schools receive. Accordingly, these universities can charge even more outrageous tuitions and fees.

    My friend at Muhlenberg (considered a pretty good academic school) teaches upper-level psych courses and tells me that most of her students cannot follow simple instructions, have attenuated attention spans, cannot work through a sequence of requirements and generally fall apart if testing asks any more of them than simple factual regurgitation.

    More interesting, her office hours are consumed with fielding calls from “concerned” parents, who either micromanage their kids’ affairs or badger her for inflated grades for their little darlings.

    My stomach churns when I hear this stuff, because it leads me to believe that the brain-kill of America is just about complete.

    We’re creating a whole generation of adults who can barely sell you a pair of jeans at Abercrombie and correctly ring up the purchase; yet behind many of these kids is a six-figure educational “investment”.

    Talk about economic collapse; any other investment that delivered this little bang for the buck wouldn’t last half as long.

    The best thing that could happen would be for the ranks of people attending college to be cut in half; not only would educational standards rise, but the allocation of capital to people who squander the investment would end.

  99. Clotpoll says:

    vodka (98)-

    “…if you want your colleges to be simple training schools so that people can performed more advanced routine tasks then the majority can attend as their are no innate barriers (aside from the potential cost).”

    The irony is, there are scores of fine “training schools” that already exist. Vocational and technical training (in NJ especially) are readily-available and of high quality.

    Unfortunately, most of these schools don’t carry the moniker “university” or “college”, so Muffy and Buffy’s parents see them as unfit for their little darlings.

    What the parents don’t know is that many Muffy and Buffys clamor for vocational training once they get into college.

  100. Clotpoll says:

    The guy who did the cabinetry and finish carpentry in my office makes more money than I could ever hope to make.

  101. lisoosh says:

    The US and the obsession with college:

    From an outsiders perspective a lot of it stems from the lack of formal, standardised programs in high school. And the current No Child thing is a disaster.

    In the UK you don’t “graduate” after 12 years and use that as a standard.

    The UK has regular social promotion, kids can leave school after 10 years if they choose. The EXAMS are graduated. There are different levels depending on the kids academics. Less academic kids may leave with a few “O” levels, the university bound with a number of “A” levels. The advantage is that kids can get a sense of achievement out of what they can do (and short term goals) and employers know what potential employees can do. Many UK employers will offer positions based on high school exams – they will ask for specific grades in English, Math etc so that they know that their potential employee is functionally literate and can count. The US system, exept for AP courses, doesn’t offer this at all, high schools vary wildly and so college is the only way to differentiate. It forces the less academic kids to go to college when they’re not really qualified for college level careers.

    I was stunned sitting in a class with a friend at Baruch to see the dismal level in a Math class there. Their coursework mirrored the basic UK “O” level work – generally done by 15/16 year olds.
    Another advantage is that universities don’t have to run the remedial classes they seem to need here in order to get everyone on the same page – they just request specific grades in “A” levels and they have students ready to start.

    The system here is a huge waste of time and money.

  102. lisoosh says:

    And I should add that UK examinations don’t focus on multiple choice. They use regular and essay questions. Especially at university level.

    No passing by guesswork and blind luck. You actually need to know the material.

  103. grim says:


    I know a guy who owns car washes, I’d tell you more, but I’m sure it would bring you to tears.

  104. lisoosh says:

    And in UK high school exams marking is blind. Teachers mark from another anonymous school.

    So no teacher inflated grades either. Or puffery to keep a school district looking good.

  105. Stu says:

    I would gladly push my child into a vocational school. After seeing what contractors, plumbers, electricians make? Forget about it.
    And if they have a personality and a mind for marketing…they’d have it made. I sometimes consider entering the trade.

  106. 3b says:

    #102 clot: Amen to that Brother Clot> I hav been preaching this for years, and yet most parents look at me as if I have 2 heads.

    And yet year after year the casualities mount, so and so’s kid is home after 1 or 2 years at such and such a school at a cost of 35K to 45k a year, and they have just failed out.

    I have said it before and will say it again. Unless money is no object, spending 35 to 45k or more a year for a basic BA/BBA is a waste of money.

    If your kid is smart enough spend the big bucks on Grad/Law school.

  107. 3b says:

    #94 prestigious gary: yes it did, and yet many homeowners and or Realtors still spout off about it.

    I learned this a good few years back one night when I was at oa BOE meeting, and of course I was the only one there.

    In fact any time I go I am usually the one there.

  108. lostinny says:

    NCLB is and will continue to be our current downfall unless it is dismantled and removed from all school systems. This forces testing testing and more testing. When teachers teach to the test, they are not teaching children to become independant thinkers. They are teaching children one way of thinking, get the answer. That is it.
    The fact that all of society “must” go to college now is absolutely ridiculous. It forces people to go to college that should not attend (as Clot stated previously). It encourages a caste system where anyone who doesn’t go to college is looked at as inferior, nevermind the fact that many of those looking down don’t belong in college themselves. Society is breeding more and more ignorance. It’s nauseating.
    And btw, for those of you who think Bloomberg would make a wonderful president and think vocational training is important, he and Klein are destroying the NYC Public School system. They have all but wiped out the vocational training programs in high schools. They refused to fund many of the programs. Recently, he flip-flopped and decided the city needs more vocational training programs in high schools. If he has raised the graduation rates and all the kiddies are doing so well, why bring back programs we don’t need? Why? Because they are needed. Desperately. And because he regularly fudges the numbers when it comes to how he’s improved the NYC system. Microsoft’s blue screen of death has nothing on Bloomberg. Just drop whatever you’re doing and re-start.
    End rant.

  109. Clotpoll says:

    lost (112)-

    No child left behind’s secret agenda is that no child will ever excel, either.

    Regurgitate the answer. The single answer. The only answer. Pass the test. Take the order. Fill the order. Want fries with that?

  110. Clotpoll says:

    Thinking people are dangerous people.

  111. kettle1 says:

    Part of the school/college issue is the US comes from the idea that we have stuck in our heads that everyone is equally capable at any given task. We all deserve equal rights and equal opportunity but you do not deserve equal success.

    Until people can come to terms with the fact that little johnny or sue may not be able to cut it in subject X or subject Y then there is no solution.

  112. lostinny says:

    Amen Clot.

  113. Confused In NJ says:

    The standard Business Degree is one of the biggest Boondoggles ever foisted on people. Regardless of where you attain a Business Degree, the day you graduate you are not qualified to do any actual real work. Your entry level position, at any company, starts by teaching you how that company operates and how to do your job. There is no generic company out there, that operates off your text books. Which is why prior to the Boondoggle, people learned Business on the job as apprentices, because each business is different. The two very successful people at Goldman’s, that hedged sub-prime, got their knowledge from Street Smarts, not Wharton.

  114. Painhrtz says:

    “Religion is the opiate of the masses” replace religion with TV and you have the current level of critical think in this country. Thinking is hard, that is why many don’t bother. See housing bubble. I had friends who were insulted when I insinuated that little Johnny was not fit for college. Funny thing is the father, my closest friend, has been raking it in performing commercial construction since the mid nineties. He is a heavy machine operator. When I told him I was finally on par with his take home 10 years after college he looked perplexed.

  115. Jim says:

    Bloodbath in Winter 2007 Says:
    February 17th, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    “Our guess is that by the fall, when those who haven’t sold realize the summer window has closed … that’s when steals can be had.”

    I thought you said that this winter was when there would be good deals? Aren’t you buying in PA since you got priced out of Bergen County? What happened to that brilliant strategy of yours of buying a foreclosure when all those ARMs reset?

  116. Sean says:

    re: college.

    Today more than 45% of recent high school graduates enroll in four-year colleges.

    The lastest census numbers from 2005 put the undergrad population at 14 million as compared to 1970 when it was 6 million. Granted there are 100 million more people in the country now as compared to 1970, but the percentages are way up.

    Grad school numbers are similar. 3.3 million in 2005 and 1.1 million in 1970.

    Two-Year College students also show a similar trend.


  117. prestigious gary says:

    If I had to do it all over again, I would’ve obtained an electrician’s license. Period.

  118. lisoosh says:

    #115 kettle –

    Agree. I see it now even with the pre-K set. Everyone thinks their kid is gifted. Potty trains early, gifted. Recognized the Wiggles by name, gifted. If the kid isn’t put up a grade or placed in the gifted class there is something wrong with the teachers.

    Maybe because so many people only have one or two kids, and late. When people had 6 kids and a couple died of consumption before their first birthday I very much doubt there was quite this emphasis on little nit picky details.

    Plus blue collar professions, while lucrative, don’t get the same social respect as white collar.

  119. kettle1 says:

    113 clott

    one thing i loved about engineering in college was that there was rarely ONE answer. the answer depended on your assumptions boundary conditions and the ability to to process information in a logical manner. In short you had to know how to think.

    And you got extra points for coming up with a valid solution that the professor had not come up with, or with proving him wrong

  120. lisoosh says:

    Clot #113 –

    The trouble with No Child Left Behind is that they try to force every one into the same mold (mould?) instead of guiding kids according to their abilites.
    They test fresh off the boat immigrants the same way they test citizens. They force kids to stay in grades with younger kids until they past a test, rather than giving them options more suited to their capabilities. It is very common in countries with rigorous educational systems.

    Standardized testing has a role to play, it provides kids with recognizable goals and allows the outside world a fair guage of their educational background. There is also a place for teaching kids to think independantly and creatively.
    From what I have seen, the US hasn’t done a good job of balancing the two.

  121. kettle1 says:

    lisoosh, clott

    They had an economist on NPR ( yes i know everyone hates NPR) the other night that said the biggest problem with NCLB is essentially economics. How can you expect a child living in “da hood” where they are concerned about safety, statistically have 1 parent and that parent has to work 18hrs/day to put food on the table with the kid from the cleaver family. No amount of money going to the school or punishing the teachers/administration can fix this. It is a social problem, not a school problem

  122. afe says:

    Clot (102),

    You are absolutely right. For the undergraduate, tuition plays the same role as research monies do for the graduate student. Whether it is placating overly eager parents or grad students who want to placate their egos with a piece of paper that says “Masters” or “Doctorate” on it – higher education is designed to take your money in the form of tuition or get government subsidized labor from grad students. Hopefully the student takes something away from the process. If not, oh well…Congratulations on your graduation! Now there’s the door.

    Bottom line, if you can think, you get ahead no matter what your qualifications. If you haven’t learned to, do not pass go. Go directly to a job where you push paper all day, proceed to get an i/o mortgage and all the bells and whistles that mortgage affords you, promptly foreclose, get bailed out, do it all over again. THE END.

  123. kettle1 says:


    the other issue with NCLB is that if they didnt do this program they might actually have to solve some very real social issues. For most children, if the parents do not value education there is very little chance the child will as well. its a complex issue that will not be solved by a government feel good program

  124. Painhrtz says:

    Kettle, exactly that is why I loved experimental design. Creativity and critical thinking something that is lacking in today’s education.

  125. Painhrtz says:

    kettle, by the way the microwave plasma ball was a success. Quite fun but I don’t think the wife will appreciate a repeat experiment.

  126. kettle1 says:

    congrats pain,

    did your wife admire your blue balls of plasma?

  127. Painhrtz says:

    A little, but that is her chemistry background resurfacing. I think she was wondering where I got the idea, I don’t think a real estate blog would have sounded like a pluasible explanation. Especially afterwards when I explained my desire to perform some buttered cat assays. A scientist and no lab to play in can be a bad combination at times. The nieces and nephews think I’m cool though.

  128. kettle1 says:

    i have always wanted to try the CAT perpetual motion machine. all you need is a cat and a buttered piece of toast. tie toast to cats back buttered side up. drop cat. Since cats always land on their feet and the buttered side always lands down then the cat must spin perpetually

  129. Sybarite says:


    Sounds like my saturday night.

  130. lisoosh says:

    kettle –
    NCLB always struck me as being about money allocation and busywork than actually teaching kids. And I don’t get holding back struggling kids, they are just disruptive and it makes them give up and disrupt more.

    Funny thing about parents from “da hood”. My kids school is very very diverse, both ethnically and economically. The disparity in test scores is amazing, and obviously along socio-economic lines.
    The school scored badly on it’s disadvantaged kids (no surprise there) and talking about it with a neighbour, who is a social worker, I mentioned a program I had read about at one “hood” school where they focused on teaching the parents as much as the kids – essentially realizing that non-academic and disadvantaged parents would have trouble helping their kids. The school trained the parents to help and the results were amazing.
    This social worker neighbour then proceded to get all worked up about “insulting the poor” and “discrimination” which was codswallop. It took me a full half hour to convince here that there was nothing discriminatory about helping someone who had failed at school themselves to help their own kids. That it wasn’t about putting them down but helping them to pull themselves up and give their kids the chance they may not have had.

    Some social problems are on the inside unfortunately.

  131. Clotpoll says:

    vodka (127)-

    “For most children, if the parents do not value education there is very little chance the child will as well.”

    Of course, the gubmint wants to ensure that as few people as possible value true education. What the gubmint now calls “education” is really no more than teaching people how to follow simple instructions without resisting.

    How else could you sell the possibility of spending two years in Iraq in 120-degree heat with 75 lbs tied to your back as an “opportunity”?

  132. grim says:

    Perpetual spin?

    I think we’ve just discovered what powers the NAR propaganda machine.

  133. Clotpoll says:

    Pain (131)-

    “A scientist and no lab to play in can be a bad combination at times.”

    I have a few “projects” in my garage I could put you to work on…

    That plasma ball thing may come in handy some day.

  134. chicagofinance says:

    Confused In NJ Says:
    February 18th, 2008 at 2:42 pm
    The standard Business Degree is one of the biggest Boondoggles ever foisted on people. Regardless of where you attain a Business Degree, the day you graduate you are not qualified to do any actual real work. Your entry level position, at any company, starts by teaching you how that company operates and how to do your job. There is no generic company out there, that operates off your text books. Which is why prior to the Boondoggle, people learned Business on the job as apprentices, because each business is different. The two very successful people at Goldman’s, that hedged sub-prime, got their knowledge from Street Smarts, not Wharton.

    Confuse: I think your ignorance is only outdistanced by your ball$…..

  135. JCSidelines says:

    Problem in the U.S. = economic inequality.

    One answer (political) = economic redistribution (higher marginal rates, corporate taxes, capital gains–probably the right approach. But bad for the rich/corporations who run Washington.

    U.S. answer = (individualism) the education myth; that is, that there is no diminishing returns from educational investment; however, while manpower policies can increase productivity, there are limits. We also have a 18th century higher ed model that needs to overhauled. Clotpoll complains about how dumb everyone is, but IQ’s are rising. People have not changed; the economy has.

  136. Confused In NJ says:

    138.chicagofinance Says

    Confuse: I think your ignorance is only outdistanced by your ball$…..

    Ignorance is bliss, isn’t it.

  137. Clotpoll says:

    JC (139)-

    We need to go back to 18th century higher education.

    At least back then, there was an accepted foundation of great books upon which a curriculum could be devised.

  138. chicagofinance says:

    JCSidelines Says:
    February 18th, 2008 at 5:58 pm
    Clotpoll complains about how dumb everyone is, but IQ’s are rising. People have not changed; the economy has.

    JC: Not exactly sure of the direction of this cryptic post, but if you mean that the general intelligence required to function as a productive and creative member of American society has increased…then I agree with you.

    To clot’s point, the RELATIVE IQ of people compared to what is required of them is slipping.

    We are creating a bunch of psuedo-intellects and PowerPoint jockeys that are great at rehashing a bunch of derivative crap on connect-the-dots tasks and color-in-the-numbers canvases.

  139. Clotpoll says:

    ChiFi (142)-

    Exactly. Dubya always talks about being prepared for the jobs of the 21st century. Unfortunately, we have an educational system that’s probably the equivalent of Italy’s under Mussolini.

  140. bi says:

    they are not friends any more?
    Clinton aide accuses Obama of plagiarism


  141. mikeinwaiting says:

    CLOT KET Would those plasma balls disrupt enemy com.?Is it like an EMP weapon?Effective range of the plasma ball if so?
    Clot are you thinking what I’m thinking?Ok don’t answer that one.

  142. chicagofinance says:

    bi Says:
    February 18th, 2008 at 7:05 pm
    they are not friends any more?
    Clinton aide accuses Obama of plagiarism

    I accuse you of bipolarism…

  143. Clotpoll says:

    mike (145)-

    EMPs generated by private citizens are illegal. What the heck are you talking about? :)

    On the other hand, cookng some sort of high-powered laser device in a commercial microwave could produce a helluva lot of energy…

  144. mikeinwaiting says:

    47 foreclosures in Sussex county per bargin foreclosures .com 2 monthes ago there were 7-8 you could view them all soon I will need to go to the next page.

  145. mikeinwaiting says:

    Clot 147 Enough said.ERR Kettle how do you do that again, science project for the kid don’t you know.Never mind I’ll look it up.

  146. Confused In NJ says:

    143.Clotpoll Says:
    February 18th, 2008 at 7:04 pm
    ChiFi (142)-

    Exactly. Dubya always talks about being prepared for the jobs of the 21st century. Unfortunately, we have an educational system that’s probably the equivalent of Italy’s under Mussolini.

    Not quite, he got the railroads to run on time.

  147. Clotpoll says:

    ..although cooking a laser in a microwave would probably release enough gamma radiation to turn me into a bag of goo.

  148. lisoosh says:

    On real estate –

    Perusing rentals came across the owner of a McMansion in an uppity neighbourhood trying to rent out the basement for $2300 a month.

    Of course, you can rent an entire house up the road for the same amount. And have windows.

  149. Frank says:

    WSJ.com Corporate Debt Looms as Next Bank Debacle

    Can someone post this?

  150. Clotpoll says:

    soosh (152)-

    Jeepers. Is that guy’s basement a meth lab?

  151. Cindy says:

    (#134) lisoosh
    “I had read about one “hood” school where they focused on teaching the parents as much as the kids-”

    That approach actually works. I taught an “Evening Academy” in the 80’s funded by a grant through a local service club in Oregon. We met in the school library 2 nights a week. These were below-grade-level students referred by their classroom teacher. The rules required a family member over the age of 18 attend with the student. The concept was more focused on modeling intervention strategies. The idea being, if Mom learned how to teach “Johnny” she could also work at home with “Susie” and “Sally.” Today, you might have a different focus. But parents were willing to come in evenings and work with their students.

    (141) Clot “At least back then, there was an accepted foundation of great books upon which a curriculum could be devised.”

    There actually is a curriculum called Junior Great Books (it’s been around since the 60’s) that uses authenic literature and an inquiry-based approach with a focus on critical thinking. (The kids ask all of the questions and the teacher is more of a moderator.) I saw that used in the same Oregon school in the 90’s with the “Talented and Gifted” program.

    Unfortunately……….Schools today are way focused on assessments. Adopted curriculum must meet state standards…
    and there are skills to be taught.

    The good news…in the 25 years I have been in elementary education, everything old is new again…

  152. Bloodbath in Winter 2007 says:

    # Jim Says:
    February 18th, 2008 at 2:43 pm

    Bloodbath in Winter 2007 Says:
    February 17th, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    “Our guess is that by the fall, when those who haven’t sold realize the summer window has closed … that’s when steals can be had.”

    I thought you said that this winter was when there would be good deals? Aren’t you buying in PA since you got priced out of Bergen County? What happened to that brilliant strategy of yours of buying a foreclosure when all those ARMs reset?

    winter – nope. We underestimated just how bad things were.

    buying in Bucks Cty, PA – yup. But not priced out of Bergen. Just not feeling a) the BS tax situation in NJ, b) can get more home and yard in PA for the price of a POS cape in Bergen

    foreclosure – even buying a foreclosure doesn’t solve the tax riddle. And after reading articles like this,
    we don’t like what the future holds for NJ.

    but hey, what do we know, it’s all speculation.

  153. Galgon says:

    Off Topic but enraging.
    Lawmakers Move to Grant Banks Immunity Against Patent Lawsuit:


    Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) has sponsored an unusual provision at the urging of the nation’s banks granting them immunity against an active patent lawsuit, potentially saving them billions of dollars.

    Adopted with little fanfare, the amendment would prevent a small Texas company called DataTreasury from collecting damages from banks for infringing on its patented method for digitally scanning, sending and archiving checks. The patents were upheld last summer by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office after they were challenged.
    The federal government would have to pay $1 billion to DataTreasury over 10 years as compensation for taking its property under the amendment, according to estimates by the Congressional Budget Office.

    Your Tax Dollars at work.

    How can the government possibly justify bailing out the banks for a Patent Lawsuit?

    How about they try and reform the patent system instead.

  154. kettle1 says:


    the interference from a plasma ball compared to a true emp is like comparing a taser to the eletric chair.

    the plasma does not generate and EMP (ElectoMagnetic Pulse) only a large amount of RF noise. an EMP actually destroys electronics by causing and induced electric surge strong enough to destroy them.

    you can build an EMP device at home with stuff you have in your house, but i will leave that as an exercise for the reader. If you really want to cause EMP type damage read about (google) HERF.

    by the way dont play with emp or HERF unless you really know what you are doing. it would be very easy to cause serious injury to yourself or others. these both deal with very high energy.

    hey mike, the microwave plasma


  155. Confused In NJ says:


    Exactly why most Teachers & Police retire to a different state.

  156. kettle1 says:

    me and the wife hit a few open houses in morris count on sunday. the raindow and kitten propaganda was so thick i found it amusing. waste of time for me, but the wife seemed to find it amusing, in a sick way…… hey maybe clott knows her from that club of his in the meat packing district……

  157. mikeinwaiting says:

    Kettle Just thought it might be good to know,I’ll check it out.Will not try unless necessary you never know when it might come in handy.

  158. lostinny says:


    Well that article makes it sound so wonderful, I should move to NJ and most definitely work in any school system I can.

  159. mikeinwaiting says:

    Ket 160 Should have went to brunch instead.
    Told ya.

  160. kettle1 says:

    mike we did that too. but hey i am married, so if she’s happy, then i will be happy….. eventually

  161. PA->NJ says:

    lostinny Says:
    February 18th, 2008 at 8:23 pm

    Well that article makes it sound so wonderful, I should move to NJ and most definitely work in any school system I can.

    Do you know anyone? That’s how it works a lot of the time.

  162. Clotpoll says:

    vodka (158)-

    Looks like I can bust apart a microwave and harvest the rudiments of a HERF gun:


    Am I on the right track?

  163. mikeinwaiting says:

    Ket I hear ya, 20 years this May.Eventually,
    well I’m not touching that one.
    Lostinny, PA NJ is right this is NJ you need
    some juice to get on the gravy train.

  164. mikeinwaiting says:

    Clot keep an ear out for the black helicopters.The powers that be don’t like us playing with toys of this nature.

  165. Bloodbath in Winter 2007 says:

    lost – between the teachers and the cops, my unscientific prediction (which i put in the new year prediction thread) is that we’ll see an article in the ledger at some point this year about new jersey going bankrupt

    (obviously it wont go bankrupt anytime soon – but the potential is there)

  166. PGC says:


    I think he has a point. A degree of any type is good enough to get you in the door. It shows you have the a basic understanding of the topic and ability to learn the skills required for the job.

    From my own position. My employer raised the educational requirements for entry level jobs about 3 months after I joined the company in the 90’s. I am one of the few people left that were hired without a masters. Their logic was “it cut down the number of applicants”

  167. lisoosh says:

    If anybody is interested, some UK commentary about the Northern Rock nationalization.

    They claim the cost is 3,500GBP ($7000) per taxpayer.


  168. Orion says:

    Stu (78)

    I really enjoyed that one, thanks.

  169. chicagofinance says:

    Frank Says:
    February 18th, 2008 at 7:41 pm
    WSJ.com Corporate Debt Looms as Next Bank Debacle Can someone post this? Thx

    Leveraged Loans Inflict More Pain On Banks Globally Analysts Predict About $15 Billion
    In Write-Downs
    February 19, 2008

    U.S. and European banks, already reeling from persistent losses on mortgage investments, are facing a new hit as the global financial crisis spreads to deteriorating corporate debt.

    UBS AG and Credit Suisse Group last week announced the write-down of a combined $400 million in the value of leveraged loans as part of their fourth-quarter earnings reports. That signals more misery right around the corner for banks that barreled into these low-rated corporate loans, which typically are issued by banks and sold to investors like junk bonds, and are stuck holding them. Leveraged loans served as buyout-related debt that fueled a merger boom until the credit slowdown.

    Credit Suisse, Switzerland’s second-largest bank in stock-market value, valued its leveraged-finance portfolio of loans and bonds at a 6.3% discount as of Dec. 31. That suggests the loans and bonds have an average value of 93.7 cents on the dollar. Meanwhile, two corporate-loan credit-derivative indexes have fallen sharply in the past two weeks, indicating negative sentiment and falling demand.

    If the trend holds, analysts and investors are bracing for as much as $15 billion in leveraged-loan-related write-downs at commercial and investment banks in the first quarter, further depleting capital levels already sapped by the mortgage mess. Estimates of the markdowns range from 2% to 10%.

    The credit crisis that has gripped global financial markets since last year has been centered on the plunging value of securities tied to subprime mortgages extended to the riskiest borrowers in the U.S. Write-downs of more than $100 billion on subprime-mortgage holdings has forced some of the world’s largest commercial and investment banks to raise billions of dollars in capital from the Middle East and Asia.

    Now, the crisis looks to be entering a new phase as the value of corporate loans and bonds that banks hold comes into question. The extent of the damage is likely to emerge as banks file their annual reports next month and report first-quarter results in April.

    Securities giants Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Morgan Stanley and Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., each having substantial leveraged-loan exposure, finish their fiscal first quarters at the end of the month.

    “There is no reason to think that this index is going to come dramatically back” by March, said Christopher Marinac, research director at FIG Partners LLC, a bank-research firm in Atlanta. “I don’t know mechanically how that happens, given all the uncertainty.”

    Until recently, the threat of an epidemic of leveraged-loan write-downs was overshadowed by the much-larger subprime-related losses. But the plummeting value of low-rated corporate loans in the past two weeks has dimmed hopes that banks can avoid a haircut in that realm, too.

    Leveraged loans were used to finance and fuel the buyout boom. But the $200 billion leveraged-loan pipeline seized up last August, leaving the banks unable to find investors for the corporate debt.

    This month, Deutsche Bank AG reported €759 million ($1.11 billion) in net write-downs on leveraged-loan commitments totaling €36.2 billion.

    Among U.S. banks, Citigroup Inc. has the highest volume of leveraged loans, with about $43 billion in loans or loan commitments at the end of 2007. Jeffrey Rosenberg at Banc of America Securities estimates Citigroup could write down the value of those loans by about $4.3 billion. Citigroup declined to comment.

    Goldman Sachs has the second-largest U.S. portfolio, with about $36 billion in leveraged loans on its books. London research concern Atlantic Equities said Goldman may need to record a 5% write-down for the fiscal first quarter ending Feb. 29. A Goldman spokesman declined to comment.

    J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. was holding about $26.4 billion in leveraged loans at the end of the fourth quarter, after shedding about $16.5 billion of the debt during the period. James Dimon, J.P. Morgan’s chief executive, has said the New York bank prefers to hold some of the loans on its books as investments rather than sell them at deep discounts.

    In Europe, too, analysts are bracing for pain among banks that so far have sustained only modest write-downs compared with U.S. lenders.

    Credit Suisse bank analyst Jonathan Pierce said Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC likely faces more write-downs on its £12 billion ($23.53 billion) portfolio of leveraged loans. So far, RBS has marked down the value of those loans 3%, Credit Suisse estimates. An RBS spokeswoman declined to comment. RBS reports results Feb. 28.

    Meanwhile, Barclays PLC has announced just £60 million in leveraged-loan write-downs out of a total of £7.3 billion in those loans. “We are very, very proud of it,” Robert E. Diamond Jr., Barclays president, said to analysts and investors in November. A Barclays spokesman declined to comment. The bank reports 2007 results today.

    Upheaval in the market has led investors-owners of debt pools called collateralized-loan obligations, or CLOs, to unload loans at fire-sale prices. Like mortgage securities, leveraged loans were bundled and sold to CLOs and hedge funds. But a drop in loan prices in January contributed to borrowing triggers that resulted in hedge funds and CLOs having to sell loans.

    Yesterday, the Markit iTraxx LevX Senior, an index of European leveraged-loan credit-default swaps, stood at 90.75. Indexes such as LevX have come to serve as important proxies for the value of loans or bonds, especially when a secondary trading market slows. For banks and investors, the LevX is the only tradeable index measuring the performance of the European loan market. As a result, the steep fall in the LevX, and a comparable U.S. index called the LCDX, is likely to force banks to mark down their leveraged-loan books beyond the hits suffered in last year’s third quarter.

    But as banks try to establish the value of the loans they hold, the process will mirror the murky pricing used with subprime securities. “There is a lot of qualitative factors and a lot of sort of massaging that the companies can do,” Mr. Marinac says.

    Wilson Ervin, Credit Suisse’s chief risk officer, says the bank values the loans on a case-by-case basis, while also using “index instruments as key reference points when they are applicable. Our individual positions may be marked significantly above or below the overall index, depending on their characteristics.”

  170. mikeinwaiting says:

    soosh 173 Very interesting seems they have big trouble across the pond to.

  171. Everything's 'boken says:

    ‘Many baby boomers are not going to be able to maintain their standard of living in retirement, not only because they’re not saving enough but also because they face skyrocketing health care costs.’

    A study being released Tuesday by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College found that health care expenses could take a big bite out of retirees’ budgets.

    The center worries that most Americans have savings far below the level needed for health and non-health expenses. In fact, the median retirement savings balance for households approaching retirement is just $60,000, it said.


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