July Contracts Fall Short

From the Otteau Group

Home Purchase Contracts Losing Steam

Although home purchase contracts in July exceeded the year ago level for the 3rd consecutive month, they appear to be losing strength along with the rest of the economy. During July, the rate at which home buyers signed contracts to purchase existing and new homes was 4% higher than one year ago which follows a 12% increase in June and 13% increase in July. Considering that these recent gains follow 12 straight months of declining purchase activity should be good news for the housing market. But the declining strength of the increases coupled with slowing job growth, recent stock market losses and the debt ceiling crisis suggest that the housing stabilization may be crumbling.

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

200 Responses to July Contracts Fall Short

  1. grim says:

    From the NY Times:

    Rentals Fly Off the Shelves

    THE bidding wars are going on constantly in Summit and Short Hills, and other expensive suburbs. In Jersey City, units at two brand-new 50-story towers are being snapped up at the rate of more than 100 a month — even though prices are at the top of the scale.

    But it isn’t the home-sale market that has had a miracle recovery, during this season of credit downgrades and job anxiety. It’s the rental market — which is experiencing nearly frenzied demand.

    At Monaco Towers, the new high-rise structures in Jersey City, “we’ve been leasing at the fastest pace I’ve ever experienced in my entire career,” said Carl Goldberg, the managing partner of one of the state’s largest real estate firms, the Roseland Property Company.

    It doesn’t hurt that Roseland is offering an incentive — two free months’ rent with a 14-month lease — yet that is apparently the company’s practice with new buildings, particularly when they are as large as Monaco Towers, with a total of 540 apartments.

    “Still, the rents are as high as residential rents have ever been, up to $41 per square foot for the premium units, and people are eating it up,” Mr. Goldberg said. “We rented 370 apartments in three months,” from mid-May to mid-August, he said in a telephone interview.

    According to the Monaco Web site, monthly rates start at $2,500 for studios, and range up to $7,500 for three-bedroom penthouses.

  2. BC Bob says:

    Bidding wars for rentals? Looks like it’s time to lace up my boots.

  3. BC Bob says:

    “There are two ways to conquer and enslave a nation. One is by the sword. The other is by debt.”

    John Adams, 1826

  4. grim says:

    From CNBC:

    Friday’s Jobs Report: Markets Bracing for More Bad News

    Friday’s employment report is expected to show a gain of only 75,000 nonfarm jobs during August, with the unemployment rate steady at 9.1 percent.

    While the report is always important, Wall Street and economists will pay particular attention to whether businesses pulled back on hiring last month in response to the plunge in stock prices and the gloomy economic outlook.

    Recent employment indicators suggest “zero growth in private payrolls,” said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at Harris Private Bank in Chicago. “If that comes to pass we are going to have some big disappointments tomorrow.”

    The government reported Thursday that jobless claims dropped 12,000 to 409,000 last week, offering no sign that layoffs have picked up due to slumping business and consumer confidence. But claims are still above 400,000.

    Many economists have been slashing their forecasts for U.S. employment and economic growth in recent weeks. Economists at Goldman Sachs cut their forecast for August payrolls growth to 25,000 from 50,000, citing weakness in online job postings in recent months.

  5. Mike says:

    Good Morning New Jersey And Happy Friday

  6. yo'me says:

    Clot’s post yesterday might be the only way the world can be productive again


  7. grim says:

    Going to be a quiet day, looks like everyone is already away for Labor Day weekend.

    Landed late last night coming in from San Fran, the airports didn’t seem very busy at all, staycations maybe.

  8. grim says:

    From MarketWatch:

    U.S. said ready to sue big banks over mortgages

    A federal U.S. agency is ready to sue more than a dozen major banks, arguing that they misrepresented the quality of mortgage securities they put together and sold in the run-up to the bursting of the housing bubble, the New York Times reported Friday.

    The report said the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees mortgage firms Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, is expected to file the lawsuits in federal court Friday or Tuesday. The agency is expected to seek billions in compensation.

    The suits are aimed at Bank of America Corp., Goldman Sachs Group Inc., J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Deutsche Bank AG and others, the report said, citing three unidentified individuals briefed on the matter.

    The FHFA will argue that the banks failed to meet their due-diligence duties under securities law and failed to spot evidence that borrowers’ incomes were overstated or falsified, the report said. The securities backed by the mortgages quickly lost value when many borrowers proved unable to meet payments.

  9. BC Bob says:


    Love it; flimflam suing swindlers.

  10. BC Bob says:

    Akin to a viper biting itself in the ass.

  11. BC Bob says:

    Gotta run, have a great weekend.

    “Baby this town rips the bones from your back
    It’s a death trap, it’s a suicide rap
    We gotta get out while we’re young
    ‘Cause tramps like us, baby we were born to run”

  12. Please direct all questions to Gary. He’s the one in the Tyvek suit and gas mask, trying to avoid the stench of death.

    “But the declining strength of the increases coupled with slowing job growth, recent stock market losses and the debt ceiling crisis suggest that the housing stabilization may be crumbling.”

  13. Hoo boy. Wonder how much tungsten these dolts are holding.

    “Today, the President of the ECB, Jean- Claude Trichet did not rule out a gold backed euro bond in an interview with ‘Il Sole 24 Ore’ published on the ECB’s website. The comments were a response to former Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi who proposed – in Italian national daily business newspaper ‘Il Sole 24 Ore’ last week – the creation of a euro bond backed by member states’ gold reserves.”


  14. Comrade Nom Deplume says:


    Shout out when you land in OCMD.

  15. gary says:

    Meat [13],

    OMG, I was just going to post that very same statement!

    What’s wrong with these f*cking people? There’s nothing left but imminent death. Do I need to interpret that statement? Did the f*cking genius who wrote this even read it?

    “Despite the fact that the Bataan death march appears to be coming to end, men seem to be still dropping dead in large numbers.”

    No job growth plus huge debt equals a slow, painful blood loss. There’s nothing left to do but offer color analysis to the masses as Godzilla destroys the f*cking landscape.

  16. Confused in NJ says:

    Interesting, month of August rain here was 15.38″

  17. Mikeinwaiting says:

    “housing stabilization” Hahahahaha………………ROF

  18. Mikeinwaiting says:

    Hi all. Just was put back on the power grid Weds 4pm out since 330am Sunday. No power no water with a well, no toilet or showers, fun.

  19. Mikeinwaiting says:

    Gary 16 , BC still here , ” got demand” think that was one of yours BC.

  20. yo'me says:

    Nonfarm payroll flat in Aug, jobless rate 9.1%
    WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) – Job growth was unchanged in August, the weakest performance in almost a year, the Labor Department said Friday. The weak report was lower than the 53,000 gain expected by Wall Street economists. A strike at Verizon Communications Inc (NYSE:VZ) cut 45,000 from payrolls in the month. The unemployment rate held steady at 9.1% as expected. Average hourly earnings decreased 0.1% to $23.09. Economists had been expecting a 0.1% gain. Earnings are up only 1.9% in the past year. The average workweek fell six minutes to 34.2 hours

  21. Mikeinwaiting says:

    July revised down 32,000, good times.

  22. 3b says:

    #22 Mike: Who need jobs to have a housing recovery?? And then I look at all these 20 and 30 year olds with a minimum of 100k (some much more) in student loan debt, well they will not be buying houses any time soon.

  23. jamil says:

    21, unexpected, dare I say?

  24. yo'me says:

    2% drop on the dow today?In addition to the 1.3% drop yesterday,in anticipation of todays numbers.

  25. Mikeinwaiting says:

    Santelli going off the hook, catch the youth tube if you missed it. Naturally Liesmen on the other side of the fence.

  26. Mikeinwaiting says:

    3b 23 You have it, nowhere to go but down.

  27. 3b says:

    #27 Mike: is a correction back to late 90’s pricing really all that unbelievable??Heck even in the land of Unicorns there are listings that re asking 2002 sold prices, that have been sitting and rotting for months. Just saying.

  28. grim says:

    Zero jobs????!?!??

  29. Mikeinwaiting says:

    3b 28 I almost have it here in Vernon, tick tick tick.It’s just a matter of time.

  30. Mikeinwaiting says:

    Yes Grim the big goose egg, “O” better come out with some pretty creative stuff in his upcoming speech. Chance of that another goose egg.

  31. yo'me says:

    Heck,they might start giving them away.In exchange of a promise to maintain the property.

    3b says:
    September 2, 2011 at 9:01 am
    #27 Mike: is a correction back to late 90′s pricing really all that unbelievable??Heck even in the land of Unicorns there are listings that re asking 2002 sold prices, that have been sitting and rotting for months. Just saying.

  32. yo'me says:

    ‎409,000 new jobless claims for the week ending 8/27.This is one week.Multiply that by 4 in a month and ZERO job growth to even it out.

  33. JJ says:

    &P Futures are down 19pts with Dow Futures 150pts.

  34. chicagofinance says:

    You can thank Congress and Otrauma….

    grim says:
    September 2, 2011 at 9:05 am
    Zero jobs????!?!??

  35. chicagofinance says:

    What you heard out of companies in the last week of July as the squabbling happened set the stage for this whiff…..

  36. yo'me says:

    Who bets for a QE3?

  37. gary says:

    0 jobs.

    Yes… We… Can…

  38. JJ - AKA Two Hands says:

    Yields on 10-year Treasuries slipped eight basis points to 2.05 percent.

  39. yo'me says:

    bac down 7%.big banks being battered

  40. 30 year realtor says:

    About a month and a half ago I posted about a home I am marketing in Bergenfield. To refresh, terrible location with off site impact from businesses in area, built new in 2005, 2800 square feet, sold for $645,000 in 2006.

    Listed 6 weeks ago for $479,000. After 3 reductions now listed at $429,000. One showing so far.

    Original advice to investor/seller: list for $399,000 and accept anything over $375,000. Tick, tick, tick…

  41. Al Mossberg says:

    Hi Ho Silva!

    Giddie Up there boy! See you at mile marker 60 in February.

  42. Al Mossberg says:

    I think the best thing for the Barry Soetoro at this point is to grab a one way ticket to Mombasa Kenya.

  43. gary says:

    30 year,

    A voice of reason, sanity and honesty always. :) And no, folks, it’s not because of some twisted ideology I need to adhere to, it’s because you’re hearing reality and not fluff bullsh1t from a group with an agenda.

  44. Anon E. Moose says:

    Grim [8];

    the airports didn’t seem very busy at all, staycations maybe.

    And TSA. I know I won’t fly commercial unless absolutely necessary and no viable alternative travel mode exists; and won’t subject my spouse and children to it.

  45. JJ says:

    As soon as the TV show Pan Am hits the air Americans will fall in love with flying again!!

    Funny story, Pan Am went backrupt at 12 midnight on December 4, 1991. I got a cheap non-refundable Pan Am flight round trip to Denver to go sking. Plane took off around 10:30 pm on December 3, 1991 and midway through flight Pan Am went under. I was on a DC-1) with around 7 customers on board. Me and my old GF were two of them. At 12 midnight stewardess copped a squat and changed and said thats all folks, pilot threw door open and was chatting with hot stewardess, we landed and walked off plane all 7 of us. I was scared that plane would not even take off.

    Pan Am was the best!!!

  46. Painhrtz - Salmon of Doubt says:

    JJ you never disappoint and I knew you had a stewardess story in that head of yours somewhere

    Now for good news

    Bad economy meh just got two job offers, taking the one close to home 5 mile commute that alone is like a 3000 dollar raise

    Wife started new job last week but should only be there for 6 months as

    She is pregnant (again) with…….. twins (boy and a girl)

  47. JC says:

    Al #43: Isn’t there enough to complain about with this president without bringing up nonsense that makes you lose all credibility?

  48. SoccerDad (aka DeepThroat) says:

    Pan Am story. In the 80’s one year Pan Am was losing like 600 million a YEAR, when 600 million a year was a lot of money. Old guy at my firm whom no one respected but was hell of a salesman told me to approach them and do a barter deal. I sold them 80k of Wharton Econometric forecasts for tickets. ( Of course, I got my commission in cash.) Academics sucked down those tickets in 6 weeks. Always a warm spot for Pan Am.

  49. Juice Box says:

    Monaco Towers? Are they enforcing occupancy limits? Many of those down town jersey city buildings are full of extended families of foreign nationals with anchor babys. The more upscale ones live in Hoboken. They will be calling it the Mumbai Ghetto when they all get laid off.

  50. Anon E. Moose says:

    SoccerDad [49];

    Great deal for PanAm. The marginal cost of an airline seat is practically zero.

  51. Anon E. Moose says:

    Anyone have Betty Ford in their death pool?

  52. 30 year realtor says:

    #44 Gary – Thanks for the kind words!

    Been doing a lot of consulting work for investors lately. Due diligence on purchases of tax liens and mortgages mostly. What I am seeing makes me a bit nervous these days. Signs of capitulation from corporate sellers on liens and non-performing mortgages means a bottom or another drop in values coming. My advice is to be on the drop!

  53. JJ - AKA Two Hands says:

    Wow that is great, twins!! Now a boy and a girl, was that natural? If so great shot!!

    There is an old German saying, “the baby brings the bread”. Every Kid I ever had promotion followed shortly afterwards. God if had twins like you I would have got a double promotion!!! Heck If I was the octomom dad I would be CEO of Apple.

    I love those days pre STD. Used to be a lot of flight pads/crash pads in Kew (Crew) Gardens and Bayside near me where like 20 of them all lived together but usually only 3-4 there at a time. Only crazy story I had is we met a bunch at a bar in queens, Friend nailed one in a 1NS, but turns out she has a even hotter roomate, so he was planning to nail the next one. Anyhow hard to hook up with these girls as they are flying, a few weeks go by girl friend nailed and hotter one going for drinks at nine pm. I get asked to be wingman. Just keep the one he did busy so he can do the other. So I am thinking, average girl wingman, this does not sound promising, my college GF lived nearby and I went to her place first and as usual nailed her twice. So have a few drinks back to their place friend heads upstairs to do the room mate. Amazed he pulled it off. So here is good part.

    Stewardess goes since they won’t be back for like an hour we might as well do it. I go great, but I already did it twice with my GF tonight with no rubber so it might be a little juicy down there and I just had like ten beers. Even for me this might be tough. She goes don’t worry just lay on your back, I can raise the dead. She cleans me off with her tongue, best ever oral and we do. Afterwards she thanks me, told me as part of her job she is very very good at this. She was by the way. By the 1990s stwardesses, were old or men, but back in the day, omg. I would loved to have been a Pan Am pilot in the 1960s. Must have been best job ever.

    Painhrtz – Salmon of Doubt says:
    September 2, 2011 at 10:33 am

    JJ you never disappoint and I knew you had a stewardess story in that head of yours somewhere

    Now for good news

    Bad economy meh just got two job offers, taking the one close to home 5 mile commute that alone is like a 3000 dollar raise

    Wife started new job last week but should only be there for 6 months as

    She is pregnant (again) with…….. twins (boy and a girl)

  54. mikey (19)-

    Now, imagine you’re paying 13K in taxes for the feeling of “owning” some vinyl-clad shitbox out there, your kids go to a skool where reading is optional and all your neighbors are going FK/BK.

  55. homeboken says:

    Thanks for that story JJ, I just threw up in my mouth

  56. still_looking says:

    A West, 21 last thread

    We are okay – 221 sandbags and 4 ft plastic sheeting around the foundation and the house didn’t take on a drop of water –

    I consider us to be very lucky – we fared better than many of our friends.


  57. Is there a tsunami heading our way?

  58. chicagofinance says:

    JJ: My unlce lives in Kew Gardens. There were a lot of crash pads on or near Lefferts Blvd, because they would take the Q10 bus right to JFK, and the also LIRR/A-train right into NYC. First neighborhood down there that wasn’t entirely sketchy, but had 24 hour diners etc….back then it was a big deal….

  59. gary says:

    Meat [59],

    It arrived a long time ago; it’s called the Oblama administration.

  60. Bystander says:


    “I love those days pre-STD”..

    I’m sure alot of your partners feel the same way. Did you ever turn anyone down?

  61. POS Cape says:

    #41 30 year

    Yes, some of these homes in Bergenfield seem a tad overpriced:


    I guess “5 years young” says it all. Built at the height, gotta get some of it back.

  62. ricky_nu says:

    #63 POS Cape – $880k in bergenfield for that?!

    (shaking head)

  63. homeboken says:

    64 ricky – Current owners paid 879,900 in 2006. They are willing to accept only $100 in appreciation, how sweet of them.

  64. Anon E. Moose says:

    Meat [57];

    No jobs for you!

    I can only imagine how bad the numbers must really have been if zero is what they’ll admit to.

  65. Prof. McDullard says:

    Seems like the great compromiser has compromised his soul.

  66. JJ says:

    Actually at least ten times, one in a wing man divide and conquer move where I threw myself on the sword for a friend. I got her back to my place and even with a good tailwind could not do it. Another time I was cheap and very drunk so took subway back to my place that got delayed, by time we got there I sobered up a bit, had a massive headache, it was hot as I had no AC and somehow she looked much worse. I loved when she yelled I took the train for this!!!! Honey, I should have said you should always pay for cab, too much risk guys sobering up. Third was strange as can be, best friend was seriously dating an engaged girl, guy had no clue. Anyhow even went to a bbq at guys house, I actually felt bad for him. Anyhow she knew my friend was going to break it up, so I had a shot at this perfect ten girl but somehow her being engaged, dating my friend and a wedding coming up for some reason could not do it. Fourth and Fifth, girls 99% passed out, Sixth girl with smelly bush, Seventh, fourth cousin!!, Eight, hot girl but real real gold digger, I somehow felt once I start I could not stop and soon would be bk, Ninth, girl in next cube, too weird to go to work next day. Tenth was the weirdest, dating a nurse dating a fireman, I was guy on side. She liked me way too much to make me primary boyfriend. She liked arrangement she had with Fireman. Anyhow I casually dated once or twice this “nice” girl around same time. Sweet inocent marrying catholic type. Turns out nurse wanted to see me on Saturdays when she goes out with BF, she wanted me to tell that girl I was her long time friend, she would tell firefighter I was her long time friend and then we could double date. She pretty much said it would be win win, we each have a guranteed hookup on Sat night and if either of us does not feel like being with out temp BF/GF we could just call each other for a later night hook up. Nice girl I dumped and kinda ended it with nurse too. Just could not draw her into this mess. Also my buddies drunk caught the nurse with the firefighter and assumed she was cheating on me and almost jumped him. If it was today, I would have created a reality tv show. That nice girl has no clue what I gave up and how much emotional scarring I saved her. However, double dating with both of my girl friends would have been cool. One worry was the firefighter would have gone ballistic if he every found out.

    IBystander says:
    September 2, 2011 at 11:54 am

    “I love those days pre-STD”..

    I’m sure alot of your partners feel the same way. Did you ever turn anyone down?

  67. SoccerDad (aka DeepThroat) says:

    Moose, 51. Great deal for Wharton as well, marginal cost of economic forecast is the paper it was printed on.

  68. freedy says:

    who in their right mind would pay 900k for a home in bergenfield?

    Better off in Passaic,Lodi, Garfield, or perhaps Paterson to get a real feel for the
    homeland. Oh, I know
    its the schools

  69. jamil says:

    “Zero jobs????!?!??”

    No panic. President Zero, after vacationing 9 days in Martha’s vineyard and after picking Bali for the next vacation spot, will give a another vague speech about jobs, and blaming earthquake in Japan/Europe/GOP/moon for this.

  70. Ben says:

    I grew up in Bergenfield. I remember when the town was somewhat nice. It’s gone way downhill since the 1980s. It’s best days are long gone and Washington Avenue resembles a district in decay.

  71. Al Mossberg says:


    “Al #43: Isn’t there enough to complain about with this president without bringing up nonsense that makes you lose all credibility?”

    Wheres the birth certificate b_tchez? This guy is a fraud and the whole world knows it.

  72. Al Mossberg says:


    Can we get another community organizer in 2012 or are the American idiots going to pick a fing Mormon?

  73. A.West says:

    Mormons are “in” now.
    That broadway show says it’s okay to have an insane religion, because they all are.

  74. jamil says:

    74,75 Harry reid hater. Bigotry rules here!

  75. freedy says:

    Some of the stores on Washington Ave. in Bergenfield look like refugee centers

  76. Anon E. Moose says:

    Jamil [76];

    Apparently anti-religious bigotry is the only remaining acceptable form, and its rampant on the left.

  77. evildoc says:

    —-“I love those days pre-STD”..—

    Which “days”– specifically– were pre-STD???

  78. Painhrtz - Salmon of Doubt says:

    ED – Pre Cambrian

  79. JJ says:

    StonyBrook in the 1970s pre HIV/Herpes I heard was a magic place. The only STDs that existed was harmless and the free campus clinic took care of that and most girls wer on the pill, and if she wasn’t the free clinic would take care of that too all with no charge and no parental consent. When I started at StonyBrook a super senior, fifth year on hall and a grad student sixth year had some stories that were amazing. 1980 was the begining of the death fo fun. They even had LSD/Lude parties with Jungle Juice paid for by the school!!!! Fun times. I visited the Stony Brook Campus when my older sister did the tour of school of 1976. Walking done that hall way, where the RA explained the co-ed showers really speeds things up in the morning as twice as many showers get done and the jumbo sized bongs everywhere and half naked girls sold me on the school. Sadly my Dad forced my sister into Catholic School, I think he lost what was left of his hair that day. Anyone who is 55-65 who was single from 1969-1979 will tell you how much better it was

    evildoc says:
    September 2, 2011 at 2:43 pm
    —-“I love those days pre-STD”..—

    Which “days”– specifically– were pre-STD???

  80. scottie says:

    Hey all. I’m new to the board here. Looking for opinions on JC/Hoboken/NYC. I’m 27, working in NJ. Intrigued by NYC, but the city tax puts the damper on that. Is JC a better option than Hoboken for mid to late 20s?

  81. Al Mossberg says:


    Keep an eye on this little guy. Some news coming out in September and the insiders are buying.

    Volume: 273,356
    Avg Vol (3m): 83,806

  82. JJ says:

    LT’s house for sale here in San Diego. A lot of house for $5mn…



    I like the car in his TV room

  83. JJ says:

    No, young single girls in Manhattan barely tolerate going to Brooklyn, you would be geographically undesirable.

    scottie says:
    September 2, 2011 at 3:27 pm
    Hey all. I’m new to the board here. Looking for opinions on JC/Hoboken/NYC. I’m 27, working in NJ. Intrigued by NYC, but the city tax puts the damper on that. Is JC a better option than Hoboken for mid to late 20s?

  84. Neanderthal Economist says:

    “$880k in bergenfield for that?! (shaking head)”

    Ricky, its a five bdrm, you can get 6 families in there easily!

  85. jamil says:

    82, jc/hbk is similar to manhattan and path commuting is convenient. Nightlife limited, some bars in hoboken, path connection to manhattan sucks late evening and weekends.

  86. JJ says:

    Here is a good Case Schiller type home. Lets take number one neighborhood in NJ and watch same home sell again and again, wonder what it is worth now.

    503 Hollywood Ave, HoHoKus NJ

    06/02/2009 Sold $492,500
    05/07/2005 Sold $525,000
    03/01/2002 Sold $375,000
    03/02/1993 Sold $198,000

  87. President Zero says:

    “In what could be a way of lowering expectations for next Thursday’s big economic speech, aides to President Obama are privately spreading word that he will not present his entire jobs plan in his address to a Joint Session of Congress. Aides say Thursday’s speech will be part of a bigger plan the White House will roll out throughout the fall ”

    I have a plan to save the economy, but I’m not telling it to you.

  88. Seneca says:

    Pain, 47
    Congrats! I know a little something about boy girl twins.

    Question for the folks with lots of kids: I have three but feel like having a 529 for each of them is a bit presumptuous. Should I invest only for two since you can really use the 529 in one childs name for another sibling? Anyone think 529s are just part of the overall ponzi scheme?

  89. Essex says:

    Ex-BMW owner here….traded her today for an American v-8.

  90. Al Mossberg says:


    My kids grandparents set up 529’s against my advice. Yes they are part of the great ponzi. I begged them to buy a few gold oz’s instead. Thankfully they compromised and did both.

    401k’s, IRA’s, 529’s are obsolete. When the SHTF and the treasury debt cant be funded they will come for the 6 trillion sitting in private retirement accounts. The bill is already written. We just need the right crisis to get it introduced.

    Those stuck in 401ks are just about out of luck but those in IRA’s can take the pain now and lose some or lose all of it later.

  91. 30 year realtor says:

    #88 JJ – Hollywood Ave is a busy street that crosses a major highway. That number is in the bottom third of the price structure for Ho-Ho-Kus.

  92. Anon E. Moose says:

    Robo-signed mortgage docs date back to late 1990s

    These j@acka$$es are going to make it impossible for anyone to buy a deadbeat’s home off of them at any price as a means to keep them in houses they colossally overpaid for. Clear 1980’s title is going to be the new PerGraniTeel and command a premium – everything else is trash and buy at your own risk – no mortgage, no title insurance available at any price.

  93. Al Mossberg says:



    Might want to buy a horse instead.

  94. Al Mossberg says:



    Nationalization of housing. Let everyone get a 4% refi courtesy of Fannie and Freddie.

    I’m from the Federal G_v and I’m here to help.

  95. Anon E. Moose says:

    Al [96];

    The ability to clear title is essential in land transfers. Politicians are going to ‘salt the earth’ as a way to ensure that deadbeats will have the right to continue squatting in houses they can’t pay for, instead of letting them face foreclosure.

    Not even the deadbeat borrowers are disputing that they themselves signed for the loans on historically overpriced houses they can’t afford. The signatures in question are among and between the banks that bought and sold the mortgages after the deadbeats moved in, and have no effect on the deadbeats’ obligation to pay — or their failure to do so — only to whom they should pay.

  96. Al Mossberg says:


    Yes I know all too well. I have one of those MERS mortgages. I contacted my attorney on the matter over a year ago. Nothing we can do until they try to place a lien on the property.

    I could pay off my mortgage tomorrow in cash but wont due to the aforementioned reasons.

  97. yo'me says:

    How do you find out if your mortgage is owned by fannie or freddie?Mine did not go through MERS

  98. Essex says:

    95. I did! A Mustang.

  99. Juice Box says:

    Line in front of D’JAIS. Beach looks pretty good shape considering, boardwalk in SSpring lake needs a good bit of work. I am going to miss the summer.

  100. Anon E. Moose says:

    Al [98];

    Slander of Title! I love it old school.

  101. Al Mossberg says:

    “Slander of Title! I love it old school.”

    You love it? Not sure about that. Its criminality at its finest. If you are looking for a sure way to open warfare then that is a step in the right direction. That might be their goal as well though.

    Nothing is safe unless its mobile. Folks dont understand how evil their g_v really is.

  102. Pat says:

    chi, dude. last thread. Hasn’t your PA bred wife ever told you that Intercourse is right up the road from Bird-In-Hand?

  103. Neanderthal Economist says:

    West, just saw Ayn Rand documentary, ‘in her own words’, did you see? what’d you think?

  104. evildoc says:

    —pre HIV/Herpes —-

    Treponemal and Gonococcal infections still took significant toll, particularly on female fertility (for gonococcus), often due to subclinical infection. A snippet…

    Gonorrhea Screening Program. This program began in 1972. 80% of women infected with gonorrhea were without symptoms. In 1970, 74% of the gonorrhea cases reported were among men. It was estimated that there were 3 women not being treated for every male gonorrhea case reported. This screening program was highly successful in detecting asymptomatic women with gonorrhea infections

  105. seneca (90)-

    529s blow. Crap returns, about a million ways that you or your kid can get hosed in the end.

    When the gubmint enters its death spiral, they’ll take it away from you, and toss it into some bottomless pit of a pension or entitlement scheme.

  106. Shiny. The only currency. The true currency.

    All else is anti-money.

  107. moose (97)-

    Your dream house-on-the-cheap pipedream is never going to happen. The gubmint will subsidize or delay recognition and write-down of loss until Western civilization collapses. Then, both gubmints and governed will perish together.

    You are hosed. You will never buy a house. Please die.

  108. chicagofinance says:

    The Case Against Summer

    P.J. O’Rourke on why Americans vacation their pants off—literally, in the case of middle-age men—but stink at relaxing

    By P.J. O’ROURKE

    The logical argument contra summertime should be four words long: middle-age men in shorts. Q.E.D.

    Alas, shorts are being worn year-round by us graying porkers with legs as ugly as stump fences—if stump fences had hairy varicose veins. But there are plenty of other things wrong with summer, starting with the fact that it comes at the wrong time of year.

    In the contiguous 48 states, the best weather isn’t in June, July and August. Spring is glorious in the South. Fall is splendid in the North. And winter is swell in Florida and the part of California where the four seasons are Smog, Mudslide, Brush Fire and Oscar.

    Our summer weather in 2011 consisted of tornados, heat waves, an earthquake and a hurricane. For everyone this side of Nome, summer vacation in the summer is like having a coffee break at 2 a.m.

    Supposedly, summer vacation happens because that’s when the kids are home from school, although having the kids home from school is no vacation. And supposedly the kids are home from school because of some vestigial throwback to our agricultural past.

    This is nonsense. The little helping hands of farm children were needed during spring planting and fall harvest. (And they must have been more helpful than the little hands of today’s children, or our grandparents would have died of starvation.) Farm kids, if they went to school at all, went in midsummer and midwinter, when nothing much was doing around the barn.

    Summer vacation is, in fact, based on horse crap. American urbanization predated the automobile. Horses and what they leave behind them clogged cities that were already insalubrious from coal smoke, industry and notional sewage systems. Come summer, it was vacation time because—if you had any sense, common or olfactory—you vacated.

    Men who could afford it sent their wives, children and, if possible, themselves off to the mountains or the shore. I live in New Hampshire, several hours from Boston, which has been full of prosperous urbanites for longer than anyplace in America. Every summer, people who use “summer” as a verb dutifully peregrinate here to the middle of nowhere and take up residence in crumbling ancestral 30-room shingle cottages, although they can’t quite remember why.

    And what are Americans doing taking summer vacations anyway? Our economy is a shambles. U.S. debt has been downgraded. GDP has flat-lined. The unemployment rate—with everyone on vacation—is nearing 100%. We should be in the office right now, trying to get the price of small-cap stocks up, developing new techniques of program trading, maintaining confidence in dot-com start-ups, building a fire under the housing market and generally working our tails off the way we were in the summers of 1929, 1987, 2000 and 2008.

    At the very least, our elected officials should be back on the job. They left some unfinished business—such as the survival of America into the second quarter of the 21st century, etc.

    Swarms of politicians running for president were crawling around every place I went this summer in the Granite State. They ought to be in Washington, where I’m sure they’d be doing good things. They can’t spend more money, because there isn’t any left. And they can’t pass new legislation that’s worse than what we’ve got, right? Or is my mind in a haze from a relaxing summer vacation?

    Not that it’s been a relaxing summer vacation. Americans are good at vacationing. We can vacation our pants off. (It literally happens with us middle-age men.) But we stink at relaxing.

    A tense and busy futility is the best Americans can do by way of down time. How else to explain golf? And how else to explain all those politicians running for president when they should be kicking back and cooling it while the current president manages their campaigns for them by destroying his political base, his poll ratings, the economy and the nation’s standing in the international community. And that’s what he did just while relaxing on Martha’s Vineyard.

    Is it nature or nurture that makes Americans unable to relax? It’s some mutant gene at our house—nothing to do with the family environment. Mrs. O. is too European, only one generation removed from a continent that shuts down completely in the summer. (And what a relief to international investors when it does. Note how the euro fell when the Europeans went back to work at the end of August.) And me, I drink.

    American children are said to be overscheduled. We have three, ages 7, 11 and 13, and they are. But neither my wife nor I remember scheduling anything for them. What we had planned for the summer was a little light gardening followed by mimosas on the patio while the younger kids disported themselves on the swing set and the 13-year-old moped in the hammock.

    Instead, we spent June through August less as parents than as common carriers, driving a Suburban full of children to places like Math Camp. If my parents had taken me to Math Camp, I would have soaked their martini olives in ant poison.

    Buster, our 7-year-old, is obsessed with organized sports. I was the spectator—sometimes the only spectator—at summer baseball games, soccer matches and flag football scrimmages of infinite number and interminable length. To judge by the confusions about time, place and personnel, with the rules of play made up on the spot and many players whose role was apparently to stand around looking like they had to go to the bathroom, Buster himself did the organizing of these organized sports.

    Poppet, our 11-year-old, loves horseback riding. She arranged for the “half-lease” of a pony at a local stable. I never fully grasped the concept. But, since Kibbles-‘N-Bits didn’t inform her of his candidacy for president, I gather she was leasing the front half.

    We have no idea what our 13-year-old is interested in. Muffin spent the summer with her face plunged into her laptop, her ears plugged into her iPod and her fingers thrust into the buttons of her smart phone. Mrs. O. is afraid that Muffin is being sucked down the trash chute of popular culture. I’m afraid she’s trading derivatives. She’s going to wake up one morning (afternoon, actually) and inform me that her venture-capital fund has effected a hostile takeover, new senior management is being brought in, and I’m fired.

    Muffin did not, as far as I could tell, leave her bedroom this summer. And yet somehow I was still always driving to pick her up, usually at Abercrombie & Fitch. Alarming photographs appear on their shopping bags. It’s a good thing for Abercrombie that no one trademarked the male nipple.

    We might have had, nonetheless, some relaxation this summer if we hadn’t ruined travel and leisure by deciding to combine the two. It started well. We took the kids to south Texas, where we have friends with a place on a lake. The ferocious June heat was ideal. Our New England-bred children—for whom summer at home is the season when they wear just one layer of fleece—were forced to immerse themselves every waking moment. They couldn’t argue with each other, or water got up their noses.

    Keep children wet at all times. When combined with frequent slathering of sunscreen, what you’re doing is marinating them. The tough, stringy gristle of the child psyche is tenderized, and, after prolonged broiling, at the maw of bedtime, child flesh goes down easy.

    We could not, however, impose ourselves on our friends for three months. We have our local lake with its charming collapsing boathouse-style New Englandy lake club, complete with peppy, preppy lifeguards to whom the task of yelling at the children can be delegated.

    But no heat wave since the Mayflower landed has been sufficient to bring our lake water up to the recommended temperature for serving iced tea. We stick the children in, but they jump right back out no matter how long we hold them under.

    Then NASA invited me to the Kennedy Space Center for an up-close, journalist’s-eye view of the last shuttle launch. I finagled an invitation for Buster, too. What he likes, besides organized sports, is terrific noises. The space shuttle makes a terrific noise he’ll never forget. Its rockets are so clamorous that the sound alone will kill you if you’re closer than 800 feet. (As a father of three, I can testify to the murderous effects of decibels.) The usually voluble Buster gaped in silent awe at the blast-off. I found out why when I sat down to write a shuttle launch piece. It’s very hard to describe the experience of a rocket launch when you don’t have access to a full repertory of four-letter words.

    To get to the shuttle launch, however, meant hours and hours of travel with protracted airport layovers. Thank goodness for junk food and health nut Mrs. O., whose strictures against anything unwhole-grain or inorganic make junk food so alluring. Eating Whoppers and fries for breakfast together was a bonding experience. Every boy treasures that moment when his father first says to him, “I don’t think Mom needs to know about this.”

    Mrs. O. decided that she should have her own bonding experience with Muffin and took her to London. They were cagey about what they did there. “London is so beautiful,” said Mrs. O., “we spent most of our time just walking through the streets.” I think I know what streets—Sloane Street and Brompton Road, between which is Harrods. There was much more luggage when they returned than when they left.

    Poppet is our most obliging and good-natured child. As usual with the obliging and good-natured, she’d been forgotten. Some sort of trip had to be cobbled together for her on short notice. Poppet loves horses but is also fascinated with ancient Egypt, particularly mummies. A “Mummies of the World” exhibit was at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. Mrs. O. whisked her there.

    Poppet returned aglow with enthusiasm about old dead people. Since that’s a 66.6% description of her father, I was flattered. But if Poppet gets fascinated with probate, I’m hiding the martini olives and ant poison.

    There was one last chance for relaxation this summer. Hurricane Irene prevented anyone from doing anything. Or should have. As roofs leaked, oak limbs crashed in the yard and I was trying to remember how to start the generator, it was announced that the school our children attend has something called summer homework. This knowledge had been kept from dad and repressed by the rest of the family.

    Here is what went on at our house, between temporary power outages, on the last day before school:

    Buster completed the printed forms for 10 book reports.


    baseball things


    it was long


    I liked this book because it was good

    Poppet learned to type.

    Muffin designed a science project (“Psychology of Taste Bud Perceptions— Do people think food tastes better if it’s colored red or if it’s colored yucky gray-green?”). She created a historical display showing how daily life has changed since the 19th century (an empty canning jar). And she filled in her PE exercise log for the summer (going upstairs to find her phone charger counts).

    Of all the American educational system’s problems, none is more severe than the academic year beginning before Labor Day. There we were, the next morning, Mrs. O. still wearing white linen pants, me with my madras jacket not yet in mothballs, facing the last and worst thing of all about summer—it’s over.

    —Mr. O’Rourke’s many books include “Don’t Vote—It Just Encourages the B-stards.”

  109. Dissident HEHEHE says:

    Hmmm Warren Buffet invests $5B in Bank of America.

    Hmmm Warren Buffet is the largest holder of Wells Fargo shares.

    Hmmm FHFA sues 17 banks for billions re stinky MBS deals.

    Hmmm Wells Fargo isn’t one of the 17 banks – despite fact Wells owns Wachovia who issued some of the stinkiest MBS deals that were dealt.

  110. Dissident HEHEHE says:

    Hmmm Warren Buffet invests $5B in Bank of America.

    Hmmm Warren Buffet is the largest holder of Wells Fargo shares.

    Hmmm FHFA sues 17 banks for billions re stinky MBS deals.

    Hmmm Wells Fargo isn’t one of the 17 banks despite fact Wells owns Wachovia who issued some of the stinkiest MBS deals that were dealt.

    Obama “Warren ol’ buddy I need you to put some $5B into BAC because what the world needs is some confidence in our good ol’ confidence scheme.”

    Warren “What do I get other than some preferred with a fat dividend?”

    Obama “Well I hear the FHFA is going to be suing the banks next week. how about we have them hold off on suing Wells until you reduce your exposure a bit?”

    Buffet “Deal!”

  111. I look forward to the day when we can start shooting these criminals with impunity.

  112. Shoot first, ask questions later.

    They’re all guilty to some extent or another. Hanging a few of them upside down, a la Mussolini, should warn off the next wave of those thinking of entering the business of robbing Amerika.

  113. gary says:

    Did we enter the summer of recovery yet?

  114. gary says:

    WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is calling on Congress to pass a transportation bill to ensure funding for roads and construction jobs, arguing that failure to do so would spell economic disaster.

    Shovel ready? Is this the 15th or 16th version of his empty, clueless threats? Perhaps he needs to be an even more submissive president and “hope” that the rest of the world shows compassion on poor, poor America?

  115. Comrade Nom Deplume says:

    [116] gary

    What I find amusing is that the president is trying to score political points by lashing the republicans for not doing something that they never said they weren’t going to do. The budget debate pushed off everything else, and there was never an indication that the FAA reauthorization was in serious trouble (none that I heard of anyway).

    Kind of reminds me of Darius (or was it Xerxes?) ordering the ocean whipped after a storm destroyed his pontoon bridge.

  116. Comrade Nom Deplume says:

    The EEOC has sued Old Dominion trucking because they suspended a driver with a drinking problem. EEOC says that drunks are protected under the ADA.

    I’m not making this up.


    Years from now, the full effect of this legislation will be known, when everyone is disabled and entitled to protection from the government. At least this will be a really fun disability to obtain.

  117. gary says:


    Oblammy, Pelosi and Reid did a plunger job on the economy, the taxpayer and anything else in their path to placate their constituents. As things move from one disaster to the next, they found a new victim to point a finger. It was Bush’s fault, then I think Sarah Palin caused the end of civilization then on to the Tea Party. Who will be next in line to blame for their stupidity and incompetence?

  118. A.West says:

    NE (105)
    I haven’t seen that documentary, but imagine that I’d be familiar with most of what Rand had said in lectures/interviews. I have “Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life”, nominated for an Academy Award, and think that documentary was very well done.

  119. Kelle says:

    Book marked, I really like your blog! :)

  120. Essex says:

    The systemic problems with the economy are bigger than government and began long before most of us were born. Current leadership is way over their head and there is no one in the wings who can sort this out. Good luck. It’s gonna be a bumpy ride down folks.

  121. cobbler says:

    In a free trade economy, one could keep the wages different for a similar work (if it can be moved around) only for a while. Within the U.S., we could sustain 2.5x or so wage differential between say MA and MS thanks to the lower cost of living in the South. No matter what we do, unless the global free trade stuff is brought to an end, the wages here will converge with the wages in China and India, and the middle class (in the way we think about it today) will go extinct long before that. Upper middle class in India today is someone saving for 5 years to buy a subcompact car, and turning the a/c on at home only in the bedroom at night, and only if it is warmer than 90F… Lower middle class is someone saving for 3 years to buy a moped, and not having an a/c at all… I don’t see anyone among the current crop of politicos of either party who is willing to openly state that trade as per WTO prescriptions is killing the country, and the time for change is now.

  122. Comrade Nom Deplume says:

    (123) cobbler,

    Say it with me.

    Obama cannot succeed without protectionism.

    The dislocation will be painful and will hit the middle class hard, but they will be hit hard regardless.

  123. Nothing to do but sip a beer and wait for the ultra-violence.

  124. I’d love to hear the line of crap rictus-face Pelosi is selling these days.

  125. cobbler says:

    Say it with me.

    Obama cannot succeed without protectionism.

    Say it with me: America as we know it cannot survive without protectionism, Obama or Nobama – and everyone here except top 1-2% (by wealth, connections, smarts or just luck) will be worse off without protectionism. By the time anti-tariff indoctrination wears out though, it will be too late.

  126. Neanderthal Economist says:

    Im all for an infrastructure plan, they should also implement some solar/wind infrastructure while they’re printing the money.

  127. Neanderthal Economist says:

    Yea west I really liked the documentary and will probably read fountainhead as a result. It was not easy to digest all of the underlying messages in atlas, mostly because the cheesy love scenes and 20 character small talk was distracting, but its much clearer now that I heard the author speak. She is literally wants separation of economics and state, no welfare, no taxes, no rent control, no regulation, no govt unemployment checks, nothing. Her pursuit of self fulfillment seems horribly selfish, but after seeing her tell her side of the story, contrasting the extremes of communist altruism, I have a clearer understanding, and she makes important points, whether you agree or disagree with her view.

  128. Essex says:

    Who is Ayn Rand?
    A review of Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right, by Jennifer Burns
    and Ayn Rand and the World She Made, by Anne C. Heller

    By Charles Murray
    Posted June 1, 2010
    This article appeared in the Spring 2010 issue of the Claremont Review of Books. Click here to send a comment.
    Print This
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    In 1991, the book-of-the-month club conducted a survey asking people what book had most influenced their lives. The Bible ranked number one and Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged was number two. In 1998, the Modern Library released two lists of the top 100 books of the 20th century. One was compiled from the votes of the Modern Library’s Board, consisting of luminaries such as Joyce Carol Oates, Maya Angelou, Edmund Morris, and Salman Rushdie. The two top-ranked books on the Board’s list were Ulysses and The Great Gatsby. The other list was based on more than 200,000 votes cast online by anyone who wanted to vote. The top two on that list were Atlas Shrugged (1957) and The Fountainhead (1943). The two novels have had six-figure annual sales for decades, running at a combined 300,000 copies annually during the past ten years. In 2009, Atlas Shrugged alone sold a record 500,000 copies and Rand’s four novels combined (the lesser two are We the Living [1936] and Anthem [1938]) sold more than 1,000,000 copies.

    And yet for 27 years after her death in 1982, we haven’t had a single scholarly biography of Ayn Rand. Who was this woman? How did she come to write such phenomenally influential novels? What are we to make of her legacy? These are the questions that finally have been asked and answered splendidly, with somewhat different emphases, in two new biographies published within weeks of each other: Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right by Jennifer Burns, an assistant professor of history at the University of Virginia, and Ayn Rand and the World She Made by Anne C. Heller, a former executive editor at Condé Nast Publications.

    They are both big books, well written, exhaustively researched, and—remarkably, given their subject—judicious and disinterested. Both authors strike just the right tone in describing Rand’s complicated life and personality, betraying neither animus nor infatuation. Choosing between them is a matter of tastes and interests. Burns’s book offers more analysis of Rand’s political activities and influence and less detail about Rand’s personal life than Heller’s. As someone who has known some of the principals in the drama and has been curious to learn the details from a detached perspective, I was drawn to Heller’s lavishly detailed portrait of Rand the person, but that’s a matter of my own tastes and interests.

    In both Burns’s and Heller’s accounts, the vibrant, brilliant woman of ideas shines through. Hour after hour the talk would continue in her New York apartment during the 1950s, sometimes all night, with Rand surrounded by her acolytes. Everyone seems to agree that this was Rand at her best. They also agree that she was spectacularly good at making her case. This was the Ayn Rand I once saw at Boston’s Ford Hall Forum in the early 1960s: confident, incisive, fielding all questions, taking no prisoners. Charismatic is an overused word, but with Rand, it fits.

    * * *

    Charm was part of that charisma. Heller describes the pleasure that Bennett Cerf, Atlas Shrugged’s publisher, took in introducing Rand to his liberal friends. Writer and critic Clifton Fadiman had been one of the models for the detestable Ellsworth Toohey in The Fountainhead, but when Cerf brought them together Rand entranced Fadiman, and they talked until three in the morning. Playwright George Axelrod, another liberal friend of Cerf’s, pronounced after a dinner at Rand’s apartment that “[s]he knows me better after five hours than my analyst does after five years.”

    Both biographers also describe a kinder, gentler Rand who was just as real as the fierce intellectual combatant. To Martin Anderson, Ronald Reagan’s long-time advisor, she was a “pussycat,” who alone among a crowd at a café noticed that Anderson couldn’t get his package of cream open (he had a broken arm) and helped him prepare his coffee. Joan Kennedy Taylor, for whose wedding Rand was matron of honor, once told me about Rand shushing Joan’s objections when a recently widowed friend talked about rejoining her husband in heaven. If it gave her comfort, Rand said, Joan had no business trying to convince her she was wrong. There are repeated examples in both biographies of the ways in which Rand could be a sensitive, loyal, and affectionate friend.

    But there’s no getting around it: taken as a whole, there is a dismaying discrepancy between the Ayn Rand of real life and Ayn Rand as she presented herself to the world. The discrepancy is important because Rand herself made such a big deal about living a life that was the embodiment of her philosophy. “My personal life is a postscript to my novels,” she wrote in the afterword to Atlas Shrugged. “It consists of the sentence: ‘And I mean it.’ I have always lived by the philosophy I present in my books—and it has worked for me, as it works for my characters.” As both books document, that statement was self-delusion on a grand scale.

    After Atlas Shrugged was published in 1957, Rand and her chief disciple Nathaniel Branden converted the themes of her novels into a philosophy that they labeled “Objectivism.” Objectivism takes as its metaphysical foundation the existence of reality that is unchanged by anything that an observer might think about it—”A is A,” as Aristotle put it, and as Rand often repeated in her own work. Objectivism’s epistemology is based on the capacity of the human mind to perceive reality through reason, and the adamant assertion that reason is the only way to perceive reality. In Rand’s view, notions of intuition or spiritual insight were hokum.

    One of the extensions of these premises to daily life is that “[o]ne must never attempt to fake reality in any manner,” in words from The Virtue of Selfishness (1964) that appear in variations throughout Rand’s work. To fake reality despoils that which makes human beings human. Wishful thinking, unrealistic hopes, duplicity, refusal to take responsibility for the consequences of one’s actions—all these amount to faking reality and, to Rand, were despicable. But Rand herself faked reality throughout her life, beginning in small ways and ending with the construction of a delusional alternative reality that took over her life.

    * * *

    It began innocently in Russia, where Rand, born Alissa Rosenbaum in 1905, spent her childhood as the daughter of a prosperous Jewish pharmacist in pre-Revolutionary St. Petersburg, experienced the Bolshevik Revolution as a teenager, and graduated from university in Lenin’s new USSR. One of the signal contributions of both biographies is to open up this previously ignored but crucial period in Rand’s life. Little Alissa, nicknamed Ayinotchka and sometimes called Ayin by her father (a delicious tidbit from Heller’s research that calls into question all the other theories about the origin of “Ayn”), was a brilliant but socially awkward child who found her escape in books and, later, films. Nothing wrong with that—it would be odd if a novelist did not have an active fantasy life as a child. But you cannot understand Rand the adult until you understand how central those fictional worlds were to her interior life.

    Her predilection for faking reality as an adult first emerged in the conflict between the reality of her husband, Frank O’Connor, and her image of him. O’Connor was a handsome bit-part actor Rand met soon after moving to Hollywood in 1927—in Heller’s words, a “sweet, gallant, stoic, funny, emotionally inexpressive, easily led, and profoundly passive” man who drank too much, was never the one who initiated sex, never brought in much income, and in his own eyes was always “Mr. Ayn Rand.” And yet Rand herself always insisted that O’Connor was a Randian hero in the mold of The Fountainhead’s Howard Roark. It never made any sense to friends who knew them both.

    Her idealization of O’Connor had an endearing aspect—Rand genuinely loved him and remained devoted to him through his long, sad decline in old age. But her self-delusion could be hurtful. O’Connor was happiest and most productive on their 13-acre ranch in the San Fernando Valley where they lived in the last half of the 1940s, and was miserable when Rand unilaterally decided they would move to New York in 1951. She always pretended that Frank had hated California too (“You feel the same way, don’t you, Frank?” she would say insistently whenever the subject came up), even though everybody knew—surely including Rand, her friends thought—that the move had caused him lasting pain. That’s called faking reality to protect yourself from acknowledging the consequences of your own actions—a mortal sin in Randian ethics.

    There was her 30-year use of amphetamines, beginning with Benzedrine in 1942, as she was rushing to complete The Fountainhead, and continuing with Dexedrine and Dexamyl into the 1970s. Until now it has been described as a two-pill-a-day prescription for weight control, but evidence in Heller’s book indicates that it wasn’t seen that way by everyone. As early as 1945, her then-close friend, journalist Isabel Paterson, was berating her in letters with passages such as, “Stop taking that benzedrine, you idiot. I don’t care what excuse you have—stop it.” Heller presents other evidence that Rand had periods of heavy use in the 1950s and ’60s. But the exact extent of her dependence on amphetamines is peripheral here to the broader self-delusion. As anyone who has had the experience knows, a good way to get a really, really distorted sense of reality is to swallow a couple of Dexedrines. If you want to take them anyway, don’t go around bragging that you never “fake reality in any manner.”

    There was her repeated claim that she owed no philosophical debt to anyone except Aristotle. It would be more accurate to say that everything in Objectivism is derivative of ideas that thinkers from John Locke to Adam Smith to Friedrich Nietzsche had expressed before. That’s the way advances come about—in Isaac Newton’s famous words, by standing on the shoulders of giants. But Newton, like other important thinkers, knew it and acknowledged it. By insisting that Objectivism had sprung full blown from her own mind, with just a little help from Aristotle, Rand was being childish, as well as out of touch with reality.

    There was her affair with Nathaniel Branden. It began in 1955 with an open declaration to her husband and Branden’s wife that the affair would take place—no faking of reality in that instance—but ended in 1968 with Rand demonstrating beyond doubt that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. She expelled Branden from the Objectivist movement, tried to get a publisher to block publication of one of his books, and falsely alleged financial shenanigans by him, all accompanied by a 53-paragraph statement to her followers about the reasons for repudiating Branden (including the sentence, “I do not fake reality and never have”) that was a deception from beginning to end. That’s called maliciously faking reality to get vengeance and to protect one’s image.

    Finally, there was the cult surrounding Rand that developed during the 1960s. Reasoned discourse with Rand became impossible unless you began by accepting her pronouncements about everything—then you could argue the logic of your position. What had been lively back-and-forth explorations of ideas in the early 1950s became sessions at which the students sat at the feet of the master, “shivering, scared children who dared not say the wrong thing lest they incur her wrath,” in the words of John Hospers. The lifelong aspect of Rand’s personality that had fueled the brilliance of her novels, the capacity to imagine the world as she wanted it to be rather than the world as it is, had taken over real life. She had constructed a reality in which, if she so decreed, A was Z, and she lived within it for the rest of her life.

    * * *

    Why then has reading these biographies of a deeply flawed woman—putting it gently—made me want to go back and reread her novels yet again? The answer is that Rand was a hedgehog who got a few huge truths right, and expressed those truths in her fiction so powerfully that they continue to inspire each new generation. They have only a loose relationship with Objectivism as a philosophy (which was formally developed only after the novels were written). Are selfishness and greed cardinal virtues in Objectivism? Who cares? Does Objectivist aesthetics denigrate Bach and Mozart? Who cares? Objectivism has nothing to do with what mesmerizes people about The Fountainhead or Atlas Shrugged. What does mesmerize us? Fans of Ayn Rand will answer differently. Part of the popularity of the books derives from the many ways their themes can be refracted. Here is what I saw in Rand’s fictional world that shaped my views as an adolescent and still shapes them 50 years later.

    First, Rand expressed the glory of human achievement. She tapped into the delight that a human being ought to feel at watching another member of our species doing things superbly well. The scenes in The Fountainhead in which the hero, Howard Roark, realizes his visions of architectural truth are brilliant evocations of human creativity at work. But I also loved scenes like the one in Atlas Shrugged when protagonist Dagny Taggart is in the cab of the locomotive on the first run on the John Galt line, going at record speed, and glances at the engineer:

    He sat slumped forward a little, relaxed, one hand resting lightly on the throttle as if by chance; but his eyes were fixed on the track ahead. He had the ease of an expert, so confident that it seemed casual, but it was the ease of a tremendous concentration, the concentration on one’s task that has the ruthlessness of an absolute.

    That’s a heroic vision of a blue-collar worker doing his job. There are many others. Critics often accuse Rand of portraying a few geniuses as the only people worth valuing. That’s not what I took away from her. I saw her celebrating people who did their work well and condemning people who settled for less, in great endeavors or small; celebrating those who took responsibility for their lives, and condemning those who did not. That sounded right to me in 1960 and still sounds right in 2010.

    Second, Ayn Rand portrayed a world I wanted to live in, not because I would be rich or powerful in it, but because it consisted of people I wanted to be around. As conditions deteriorate in Atlas Shrugged, the first person to quit in disgust at Hank Rearden’s steel mill is Tom Colby, head of the company union:

    For ten years, he had heard himself denounced throughout the country, because his was a “company union” and because he had never engaged in a violent conflict with the management. This was true; no conflict had ever been necessary; Rearden paid a higher wage scale than any union scale in the country, for which he demanded—and got—the best labor force to be found anywhere.

    That’s not a world of selfishness or greed. It’s a world of cooperation and mutual benefit through the pursuit of self-interest, enabling satisfying lives not only for the Hank Reardens of the world but for factory workers. I still want to live there.

    That world came together in the chapters of Atlas Shrugged describing Galt’s Gulch, the chapters I most often reread when I go back to the book. The great men and women who have gone on strike are gathered there, sometimes working at their old professions, but more often being grocers and cabbage growers and plumbers, because that’s the niche in which they can make a living. In scene after scene, Rand shows what such a community would be like, and it does not consist of isolated individualists holding one another at arm’s length. Individualists, yes, but ones who have fun in one another’s company, care about one another, and care for one another—not out of obligation, but out of mutual respect and spontaneous affection.

    * * *

    Ayn Rand never dwelt on her Russian childhood, preferring to think of herself as wholly American. Rightly so. The huge truths she apprehended and expressed were as American as apple pie. I suppose hardcore Objectivists will consider what I’m about to say heresy, but hardcore Objectivists are not competent to judge. The novels are what make Ayn Rand important. Better than any other American novelist, she captured the magic of what life in America is supposed to be. The utopia of her novels is not a utopia of greed. It is not a utopia of Nietzschean supermen. It is a utopia of human beings living together in Jeffersonian freedom.
    About the Authors

    Charles Murray is the W.H. Brady Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

  129. Juice Box says:

    Picked up some fresh live lobster at Klein’s in Belmar where they cut them on the spot. Getting read to grill them and sipping some nice Chardonnay as Don Henley is playing on the stereo. Gonna have a cigar and some Jameson’s later tonight to top things off. Tomorrow night I am taking my babe out.

    `cause down the shore everything’s all right

    You and your baby on a saturday night

    You know all my dreams come true

    When i’m walking down the street with you

    Summer Fare Thee Well.

  130. cobbler says:

    NE [129]
    Randian society is only sustainable if it commits the constantly increasing share of its income to policing the population of the “have nots”. At some point, I guess, the taxes on whatever required to keep this running, will be greater than what is needed for a welfare society. From the peasant rebellions of the Middle Ages to the European revolutions of the 19th century to the rise of Communism in the 20th century – all mainly were the responses to the huge societal inequalities, and perception of life in jail or even death being no worse than what they had. America had been largely protected by its rapid growth – and btw by the laborers in 1900s being paid 5x more than for the same job in old Europe. Today we don’t have this growth; I can’t even imagine what sort of violence could happen if we attempt to move substantially towards Randian ideal – I am sure however that all the private arsenals together will be of no use.

  131. NJCoast says:

    #130 Juice
    Summer Fare Thee Well

    Our summer starts now. Everybody goes home and our cabanas are open till October 1st. The party is just getting started at our beach tonight and I’m stuck up here at the Starland Ballroom with Trace Atkins.

  132. Comrade Nom Deplume says:

    [131] cobbler,

    In case you haven’t noticed, I largely agree with your prognosis. However, I say “largely” because you seem to think that we will return to the golden age of the american worker when we seal the borders, but have little conception of what that “golden age” actually consisted of. During this “golden age”, the standard of living for the middle class was lower than today.

    BTW, the only way the private arsenals are not a threat to you and yours, is for you to control the armed forces. But if you do come to redistribute the wealth of those not wealthy enough to flee without the 10th Mountain Div. behind you, remember this: that little red dot on your chest is not a good thing.

  133. Comrade Nom Deplume says:

    [131] cobbler,

    “Randian society is only sustainable if it commits the constantly increasing share of its income to policing the population of the “have nots”.

    If there is an increasing share of income in this society, would not this be due to increased demand for goods and services, resulting in more bargaining power for the workers, and more jobs for the “have nots”?

    I never read Rand. Did she argue that these basic laws of economics were not valid?

  134. Juice Box says:

    Coast heading out of town, no.extended.summer.for.me. enjoy for.the.rest of.us

  135. cobbler says:

    nom [134]
    Thanks to the technology advances, the growth rate needs to be very high (kind of in China today) for the demand for labor to provide a meaningful increase in the workers’ bargaining power. I’d say any meaningful pay increase for the last 20 years or so was either in the high growth fields (when they were high growth) like IT, or where the bargaining power was legislated – such as unionized govt employees, or fields where labor supply is limited by the licensing requirements w/o pushback – e.g. vets but not family doctors.

  136. Essex says:

    We’re f*cked. But then again. WTF

  137. coast (132)-

    If you have any regard for humanity, you will poison that guy’s dinner.

  138. cobbler (136 )-

    The “growth” in China is all fraudulent.

  139. cobbler says:

    meat [139]

    The “growth” in China is all fraudulent.

    Whatever you say. In any case it allowed them to build a $3 trillion foreign exchange reserves, and on a much lower level, for my peer in our company’s Shanghai’s office to ask for and get his pay doubled.

  140. Fx reserves mean nothing. China got paid for crap products with worthless paper. The only “growth” they’ve been able to generate in the past five years came in the form of selling TVs to themselves and building ghost cities for millions of people who will never live in them. They are a case study in entropy and the utter failure of command/control economies. They aren’t stockpiling gold just to crush us or the USD. Perhaps the only advantage they have is that they at least they’ve used their USDs to secure strategic advantages in food, materials and oil.

    Both sides are overleveraged and insolvent. It’s all going to end in tears.

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  142. Al Mossberg says:

    It will indeed end in tears. Get on the right side of history. There are only so many time you can be warned.

  143. yo'me says:

    This is what happens when Capitalism meant to please investors.When trickle down economy has no meaning.Dog eat dog world.

  144. Essex says:

    I am afraid that the next leg down will really separate the men from the boys. In fact O has squandered the first term of his presidency and is asking for more. I really wish he’d simply be given a strong challenger in the primary or go away. The guy is way over his head. But in fact if you chose to go with door #2, you will get to see what a real Depression looks like. Cause the man in the sky won’t just let the great nation of sinners off without leveling off some real chaos. Apparently.

  145. About to go from gray to black.

  146. gary says:

    I was watching the movie Apollo13 on cable last night. I was just fixed for the whole length of the movie and amazed that these guys not only designed these manned operations with a pencil and a slide rule but actually did it on the fly in situations like Apollo13. Do you remember when this country had some brains and b@lls? Will America ever demonstrate that type of strength again?

  147. spyderjacks says:

    146: OK. Let’s say that “O” is crap. Who exactly do you think is going to do better? Who is going to be a better catch than “W”, for the republicans? (Considering the current crop of contenders).

  148. grim says:

    Obama in the house

  149. grim says:

    Massive police presence in Wayne

  150. Essex says:

    Fact is that most people are too dumb to understand the issues. The complexity of the economy and the losses that have occurred during the last 20 years. I credit Ross Perot for his bring these issues forward, but he never really got much traction. I doubt any true reformer can win. The deck is stacked.

  151. jamil says:

    149. How about anybody?
    10% permanent unemployment is not the result of bad luck.

    Every gop candidate wants to reduce the role of imperial government (and its inevitable corruption and waste). If the gov considers private job creators as the enemy, this country has no hope.

    Loaning one trillion from china and handing it to your buddies (solyndra, unions etc) is not recipe for sound economy, except in some bizarre kruglandia.

  152. JC says:

    cobbler #144: Those charts say it all, but it won’t stop this bunch from worshipping before the altar of the author of a cheesy romance novel and taking her ravings as economic gospel.

    Reich’s column today makes a compelling for a rising tide lifting all boats when that tide starts at the middle rather than the top. But why let reality get in the way of visions of Galtian utopia?

  153. yo'me says:

    Trade deficit with China and the emerging marketes in the last 3 decades has been growing.The dollar holdings this country is holding from payment of their exports is in dollar denomination.With all the dollars they are holding their only choice is to invest this denomination into bonds (US Debt).During the 80’s ,with the strong dollar policy they make money by the increase in value of the dollar and the yield they make on the bond.
    30 years later,strong dollar policy ,we did not create anything.We let the 3rd world economy create goods for us with low job cost.The trade deficit grew much worst that China is holding over a trillion $ of our debt.Ask how many GOP and Democratic president in the last 30 years that kept with the same policy.And to this date a democratic president is loooking for a free trade agreement with North Korea.Same policy that gave away jobs in the US and still keep on pushing for the same.

  154. Jamil says:

    I think that if you just give Sarah Palin the reigns you’ll see the complete reversal of failed liberal policies! Giddyup

  155. cobbler says:

    you’me [155]
    While I totally oppose what passes for the free trade in DC for the last 20+ years, the agreement you are talking about is with South Korea, not North… though I am sure the latter would carry yet greater profit potential for Apple or Nike… and will reduce our tax base here yet more…

  156. yo'me says:

    Cobbler,I stand corrected.It is the single malt clouding my brain

  157. jamil says:

    156 is fabius, not me.
    Does your mom know you are using the computer?

  158. sx (152)-

    Reform will only come at the business end of a shotgun. True reform efforts in Amerika have been completely squelched by TPTB since about 1960.

    Too many people benefit from our Ponzi gravy train. Only way to tip the scales in favor of reform is to kill off sufficient numbers of those beneficiaries.

  159. jamil (153)-

    Keep taking those common sense pills. You are a lot less tedious in your current incarnation.

  160. NJCoast says:

    My uncle’s house blew up in Wayne after the flood. Christie dropped in on the family for a photo op. Obama will probably do the same.

    We still don’t have Fios internet, phone or TV in Allenhurst.

  161. jamil (156)-

    Oops. I gave you credit way too soon.

    The only thing I would find interesting about Palin would be her in some sort of M!LF movie.

  162. jamil (159)-

    My apologies. Sounds like a Gluteus spoof.

    You have to excuse poor Gluteus. He’s still in shock from the hiding his Gooners took from Man U last week. His little sissy boys actually quit on the field.

  163. Watching Cesc with Barca and with his national side last week must really be gutting Gluteus, too.

  164. Dissident HEHEHE says:

    Ex-Goldman Exec Started SEC Job After Earning $57 Million


    You can’t make the sh*t up.

  165. jamil says:

    And what exactly is the issue here?
    Sec hired somebody who was working in i-bank earlier?

  166. jamil says:

    First they came for i-bankers..

  167. Fabius Maximus says:


    I suppose the locals must have already broken all the windows in the Toon Glasshouse. I’ll give you a one word response “Stevenage”

    I watched the game in a bar in Portugal with my mates missus who is a big ManU fan. I ws rocking the Algarve in a bright yellow Away strip, so I took my abuse. I still say the 5th was offside. But get Chelsea done and get a soft criuse to Christmas to bed in the new signings.

    I caught the end of the Spain Chile friendly (sic). Any Spanish fan should be hanging their head in shame. At least Cesc showed true Aresnal when he went and had a word with the goalie after that penalty.

  168. Fabius Maximus says:


    I don’t post under other peoples handles and I think in the past Grim had banned it. But I am enjoying the face that you have finally come out of the closet as a true GOP conservaqtive. You should be aplauded!

  169. Fabius Maximus says:


  170. Fabius Maximus says:

    #151 Grim

    Is he handing out FEMA checks in Hoffman Grove?

  171. He (166)-

    And people say Amerika isn’t a fascist police state.

  172. Gluteus (169)-

    If my Magpies take 4 from your bitches in the first half, we’ll get 4 back in the second.

    Take that to the bank, because my boys have already proved it.

  173. Fabius Maximus says:

    #129 NE,

    You would do better reading Steinbeck.

    “If you’re in trouble, or hurt or need – go to the poor people. They’re the only ones that’ll help – the only ones.”

  174. Gluteus (169)-

    The only people Gooners have a real word with are the owners who will sign them a bigger check than the one they get for playing for Wanker.

  175. Hear some guy named Barry was helping loot the Dollar Store in Paterson.

  176. Or, was Barry apologizing to the crowd who stood on their rooftops and cheered during 9/11?

  177. Here’s a great wealth-building exercise:

    1. Banksters pump a bubble to end all bubbles by leveraging to infinity to lend to deadbeat homeowners.

    2. Gubmint abets the crime committed in #1.

    3. Banksters- who have already co-opted Bojangles’ hapless predecessor- donate megamillions to Lawnjockey’s campaign.

    4. Bojangles bumbles through four years of making a bad situation worse…with the exception of never crossing his bankster massas.

    5. Bojangles’ insolvent GSEs file a sham lawsuit against bankster massas as both cover against the fact of their own festering insolvency, and as cover for his bankster massas to fund him to the tun of a billion or so to crush the Rethuglican dolt unlucky enough to get nominated for summary crucifixion.

    Once in a lifetime. Water flowing under ground. Same as it ever was; same as it ever was.

  178. Call me anything you want. However, does anyone on this board honestly believe that Bojangles has his best interests at heart?

    Does anyone here seriously believe that he starts his day by thinking how he can help improve the lives of middle class working people?

  179. Fabius Maximus says:


    Joey to QPR on a free, now that’s poetic justice.

    My favorite banner in the Old Trafford stand read:
    In Arsene we trust, who had heard or Fabregas or Na$ri 4 years ago!

    See you in the Champions League (not!).

  180. jamil says:

    170, wtf?
    Yeah, nobody suspected that i’m actually rooting for the conservative principles, but you cracked the case.
    All these years i fooled everybody.

  181. Fabius Maximus says:

    #180 Clot

    In all honesty, Yes!

    But I’ll throw you a bone with Camus, “good intentions, may do as much harm as malevolence if they lack understanding.”

  182. Gluteus (181)-

    Barton on a free to a team that is close to a lock for relegation is justice.

    Our guys will deal with it. 10th or 11th spot in the Prem is do-able. See you mid-table.

  183. Fabius Maximus says:

    #182 Jamil,
    Yes, you now stand loud and proud with Craig and Foley as true GOP conservatives.

  184. Gluteus (183)-

    The only thing the Chimp-in-Chief understands is what his bankster minder, Daley, tell him.

    Oh. Sorry. I think he also understands very well the paymasters who sign his checks. Too bad those paymasters aren’t US taxpayers.

  185. Funny how the “tolerant” liberals resort to ad hominem as the conversation turns to substance.

    Craig and Foley are pathetic little men. You should understand their pathology, as your party is infected with millions just like them.

  186. Commanderbobnj says:

    “…#72. Ben says:
    September 2, 2011 at 1:20 pm
    I grew up in Bergenfield. I remember when the town was somewhat nice. It’s gone way downhill since the 1980s. It’s best days are long gone and Washington Avenue resembles a district in decay…”

    CommanderBob sez:
    So did I, Ben…. If you don’t mind, Care to tell me which street did you grow up on ?

  187. Fabius Maximus says:

    #1 Clot

    Bookies have us 1/4 for top 6 finsh ad 6/4 for a Top 4,
    Toon are 14/1 and 40/1

    Do the math!

  188. Fabius Maximus says:

    #188 Commanderbobnj,

    Longtime since the Hoboken GTG, we have to have the NNNJ get together, I’m now up in your area.

    I drive to work through Bergenfield and I don’t see the bashing it gets here. Is it multicultural, yes. rundown, no.

    In fact the downtown, reminds me of Cranford. The architecture is outdated, but the shops suit the area.

  189. Fabius Maximus says:

    #187 Clot

    “Funny how the “tolerant” liberals resort to ad hominem as the conversation turns to substance”

    With Jamil, “He1l Yea!”, I wanted to string this out for longer before he picked up on the fact that he has put himself out there with the likes Foley and Craig.

  190. Comrade Nom Deplume says:

    I would have gotten in on this, but I had to google Gooners, and have no idea about magpies.

  191. Fabius Maximus says:

    #192 Nom

    To put some perspective, its like getting tauted by the Kansas City fans, you don’t wat to be mean, but ….

    I’m getting off jet lag from Europe, but I think we have a few unfinished threads we need to conclude.

  192. Essex says:

    195. Guess the folks from Illinois didn’t come to work in this paradise.

  193. Teyona says:

    “Although home purchase contracts in July exceeded the year ago level for the 3rd consecutive month, they appear to be losing strength along with the rest of the economy. ” -this is very true since the economy of America has not recovered totally yet. The housing industry is the one that has been much affected by the crisis. Even in Park City, the real estate industry is also affected.

  194. mefeseled says:

    ediLeLoMemise jufufduy Quekcealley

  195. Jamil says:

    My plan is to sell stupid liberal farmers the corn out of my poop for ethanol.

  196. I never saw so many comments like this.

Comments are closed.