Friday, November 28, 2008

This Thanksgiving I Give Thanks to All of You Who Made this All Possible

This post over at the Mess That Greenspan Made blog is down right scary -- by some estimates the potential cost of the bailouts will reach $8.5 trillion. Can we survive that? No way that is going to get paid back. Or this at Calculated Risk showing that the current bear market is the worst ever (on a percentage basis).

It seems to me that the genesis of this "crisis" was in the 1980s, the rise of yuppiedom, and has gotten progressively worse by an ever growing populous that more and more chose to finance their lifestyle with debt vs. wealth earned until it reached the point where people willingly paid ludicrous prices for houses, a college education, etc. For kids who came of age during this 28-year span, living on debt has been the norm. I feel the most sorry for them, the unwinding will be the hardest on them as they don't know any better. But for the rest of us boomers who have witnessed, and in far too many cases gleefully participated in, the entire life-cycle of this debt-investment craze, I have little sympathy. Blame Wall St., bankers, financiers, etc. all you want but in the final analysis no one held a gun to your head, no one made you agree to pay a stupid price for your house.

Really, is cheaper housing such a bad thing? Maybe it is for you who listened to the self-interested persuasion of a realtor/agent, you who bought in to the ludicrous pricing and was hoping to retire on the sale of a house. But think past yourself (if you're able). Think about your kids and your grandkids. Do we really want a future where so few can afford something as simple and as basic as a house? Do we really want to live in a nation so impoverished by desperate attempts to prop up prices that we know in our heart of hearts are insane, even still? Besides, we have truly important things to worry about, like a world wracked by global warming, the solutions to which will require personal sacrifice on a scale we of the post-war generations can hardly imagine, and an ability to think beyond our own selfish wants and desires.

But at the very least let's not ever forget the people who got it right, early, when action could have made a difference:



I hope you all enjoyed your Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

It's Official

I'm sure you all remember that classic April 10, 2007 Leslie Appleton-Young quote in the Marin IJ that went "When is the 30 percent decline in Marin County's [real estate] market going to happen? Not in my lifetime"? I promised you then in a post that I would be "keeping this link for future use so we can rub it in her face when the time comes". Well, that time has come:

Leslie Appleton-Young: Consider your face officially rubbed in it.

From DataQuick:


When will people finally stop giving credibility to realtors and RE agents (and all others paid to have a particular point of view) by asking for their opinion on real estate? When will the mainstream media stop quoting them?

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Two Ways to Say the Same Thing

Here are two ways of saying the same thing. The first in 2007 and the second in a letter written 1802.



“I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around [the banks] will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs.”

Thomas Jefferson, Letter to the Secretary of the Treasury Albert Gallatin (1802), 3rd president of US (1743 - 1826)
The reason why we are in this mess is credit -- too much of it, too cheap. That's why housing, tuition, etc. went through the roof. Now our country is desperately dependent upon it and doing everything it can to prop up these phoney prices.

Withdrawal's a bitch, ain't it? Price things based on what people actually earn for themselves and it would all be reasonably affordable and "the economy" would still be humming along nicely. Stop meddling in the market Mr. and Mrs. Congressperson, Mr. Bernanke, Mr. Paulson. Let the free markets work; let them discover the correct prices of assets. Yes, it would be painful in the short term but we'd all be better off for it in the end.

As credit tightens and the credit pendulum swings the other way, those of you who bought with borrowed dollars thinking the sky's the limit and those of you who are planning to do so now had better watch out.
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