As I was catching up on the comments, I was rather intrigued by the direction that you all took Monday’s open thread. Here’s a recap for those of you that do not closely follow the comments. When it comes to the blatant cheerleading nature of the real estate section of the newspapers, they probably feel that they have no choice, since a very large percentage of the papers’ advertising budgets come from real estate interests. However, that gave Mikhail an idea…
It’s not as if the bubble bloggers are going to pick up the slack with full page ads sticking their thumbs at the real-estate industry, and encouraging to general public to stop buying.
Hey, the quickest way for the bubble bloggers (like us) to influence the editorial policy of our local papers is to start taking out negative advertisements about our housing markets.
As soon as anti-bubble content becomes the biggest financial contributor to the paper, we will see a complete about face in article bias.
Maybe Tim should start holding out a tin cup for donations to place anti-bubble ads in the Times?
The conversation just took off from there:
Nolaguy: If we paid for it, I wonder if the Times or PI would run a full page add that was “anti real estate”?
Mikhail: …for a 6 inch by 6 inch ad we would need to raise $17,438.4… Seriously, if we really could pull something like that off (i.e. getting enough people to donate to a Puget Sound housing boycott advertisement) that would likely generate a lot of publicity, beyond publishing the ad itself. And if the papers really were silly enough to decline the ad, we would have an early Christmas, and be able to take our story to the national media and get a LOT of coverage.
synthetik: $17K is a lot of scratch. I think it might be possible if a website was created around this endeavor and then posted on all the national blogs (HB, HP, etc). Might be fun to try… If they wouldn’t run the ad we could donate the funds to charity.
However, not everyone has warm fuzzies about throwing around that kind of money. Plymster suggested some other possible activities:
$17K? You guys are saving waaaayyyy too much money renting.
I disagree with handing $17K to one of the key creators of the bubble. Why not just hand WaMu a giant novelty check for $1 trillion dollars to cover next year’s ARM resets?
If you really want to raise awareness, build up a fund that donates money to debt education, and then send a press release to the appropriate news rags. Then you’d be doing some good and not contributing to the problem.
Or you could buy me a ladder so I can get off my high horse. ;-)
A few people suggested some cheaper methods of advertising:
msrelo: Maybe I don’t have a full understanding of how the ad sales work but it seems like a single page insert is cost effective.
Wanderer: Alternative to the PI: I just called Seattle Weekly and got the following quotes: 1/2 page = $1471, 1/4 page = $732, 1/8 page = $389. Those rates are for a single week and there is ~10% drop for 4 weeks consecutive.
Wanderer takes it a step further and starts proposing fundraising methods and ad print subjects:
Wanderer: I personally would put in $200 toward a 1/4 page add the first week to get some attention and then follow it up with a 1/2 page add the next. I am relatively new to the scene, but I would trust synthetik and Tim to put together a well thought out and RATIONAL explanation of:
real estate fundamentals where the current market stands relative to them current trends locally what the REI wants you to believe
Many, many, people will dismiss it as paranoid anyway, so it really needs to be conservative and not over the top.
There are of course still questions of whether this would even be a valuable exercise:
synthetik: If you were firmly plugged into the matrix like most people, wouldn’t you simply dismiss the ad? Wouldn’t people wonder what we all had to gain?
Wanderer: It would be hard to convey motives in a 1/2 page article, so it probably isn’t worth trying anyway. Anyone that is going to ask, “What do you have to gain from this?” probably can’t answer the same question about the writers of the RE section. For me, there is value in just putting out good information where very little currently exists.
Which brings me back to ad print and to Eleua‘s comment:
If all of you are serious about this…
It would probably be best to collect all the turbo-Bull quotes from late ’05 early ’06, and string them all together. Show just what REIC shills all these bulls have been.
Then you ask if you would spend $500K on the wisdom of those Carnacks. If not, why not?
Perhaps you can also include quotes from all the Wall Streeters back in the late 90s. Let the inquisitive reader draw his own conclusions.
I think before anyone gets too serious bandying about large sums of money, we would need to come up with a simple way of getting people’s attention. Printing a half-page essay about “fundamentals,” “unprecedented run-ups,” and “ARM resets” would be a waste of money. Very few people would read it, and of those that did, you would probably convince about 0.1%. I think Dilbert creator Scott Adams neatly sums up what is necessary in a situation like this:
The challenge was that the bad ideas sounded terrific to the uninformed person. You couldn’t kill these particular bad ideas with logic because the arguments against them would be too complicated. You had to go in through the back door.
I suggested a few cleverly designed, hypnosis-inspired phrases that were the linguistic equivalent of Kung Fu. They were simple (that’s my specialty), and once you heard these phrases, they made any competing ideas seem frankly stupid.
I think that Shiller’s home price graph is a good example of the kind of thing that Scott is talking about. So that’s the challenge. Come up with a simple phrase, image, or series of phrases that make buying a home at the peak of the bubble “seem frankly stupid.” If we can do that, then I think we can consider buying some ad-space.