Weekend Open Thread (2011-09-30)

Here is your open thread for the weekend beginning Friday September 30th, 2011. You may post random links and off-topic discussions here. Also, if you have an idea or a topic you’d like to see covered in an article, please make it known.

Be sure to also check out the forums, and get your word in the user-driven discussions there!

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About The Tim

Tim Ellis is the founder of Seattle Bubble. His background in engineering and computer / internet technology, a fondness of data-based analysis of problems, and an addiction to spreadsheets all influence his perspective on the Seattle-area real estate market. Tim also hosts the weekly improv comedy sci-fi podcast Dispatches from the Multiverse.

47 comments:

  1. 1

    I see you mentioned in your news ticker that the Hellicksons finally gave up their fight. I haven’t quite worked my way through the whole thing, but it does uphold what I’ve been saying about short sale pricing.

  2. 2
    Blurtman says:

    American Killed by CIA

    http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/09/30/us-born-terror-boss-anwar-al-awlaki-killed/

    This guy sounds like a real dangerous ideologue. Can we start executing other folks who have greatly harmed America? What about other dangerous spokesmen?

  3. 3
    D. in Ballard says:

    Okay, I know we talked about this before but given BofA’s new fees I had to ask the following. I’d like to leave BofA but convenience keeps me there. How much do I have to have in my checking account for me to actually make money for them? Example, do they only start making money on checking accounts when they are $10,000 and above? $15,000? If I’m going to leave BofA out of protest I’d like to know if they’ll just be glad to get rid of me as I cost them money anyway. I don’t make purchases with my debit card so I’m unlikely to get charged the fee.

  4. 4

    RE: D. in Ballard @ 3 – Simply don’t have a debit card. I’ve never understood why anyone has one–unless they have poor credit. Why would you want to risk having a fraudulent entry cause all of your other transactions to bounce, or to cause you not to be able to withdraw money at the ATM machine? Too risky, IMHO.

  5. 5

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 4

    I Have a Debit Card

    But only use it at WINCO for cheap groceries and when I just havta have CASH.

    If I’m buying online I only use credit cards with internet fraud protections. Speaking of fraud, continuously [weekly or daily] check your credit card bills for identity fraud too [its all been American businesses against my credit card]….they generally steal in $10-20 chunks under phony company names, albeit the 1-800 numbers are real to credit dispute. I just nabbed the Red Star Sunglass Company in Oregon doing it to mine on the order of $19.80 [albeit I’m sure their were like 1000 victims, so its really like $20K in embesselment], and they agreed to my dispute BTW, they always do. This fraud happens about once or twice a year BTW, and I assume most of us don’t catch it.

    I turned Blizzard, CA games into the FBI, IRS and the local police for doing it a few years ago they got me so mad…..

    Another fraud the cell phone companies [are allowing???] RECENTLY cause is JAMMING….they text you phony charges and then its on your cell phone bill forever [like $10/mo]…I programmed my cell not to accept text messsages to stop it, albeit it took multiple calls to Verizon to find the instructions for this ULTIMATE fix. Don’t ever give out your cell number on the internet.

  6. 6

    RE: softwarengineer @ 5 – They’ll start cracking down on those texting scams as soon as a federal prosecutor is hit by one. ;-)

  7. 7
    Scotsman says:

    David Stockman on CNBC with a great explanation of the trap we’re in. Good discussion in the comments that answers a lot of questions. If you’re looking to better understand the current economic situation this is well worth 5 minutes of your time.

    http://market-ticker.org/cgi-ticker/akcs-www?post=195146

    From the comments:

    “We have a spending problem. We have an emprical adventurism problem. We have a corruption problem in gov giveaways. We also have regulation problems and lack of tariff problems, and a populace that is all too willing to spend 99 weeks on funemployment looking for that better or same wage that never comes. We have problems with the general lack of political self control and a serious track record of malinvestment where there is no fiduciary responsibility when it comes to money taken in for specific purposes such as FICA, medicare, and gas taxes and tolls on state and local level.”

    Amen.

  8. 8
    Blurtman says:

    RE: Scotsman @ 7 – So other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?

  9. 9

    Is the Economy Returning to Horrifying 2008-2009 Levels?

    CBS Marketwatch Thinks So, a snipet from my Market Watch personal email:

    “…U.S. stocks close down hard, capping losses for third quarter, worst since 2008-09 crisis…”

  10. 10

    RE: softwarengineer @ 9

    More on the 3rd Qtr Collapse of the US/World/Seattle Economy

    Article:

    “….Chinese manufacturing shrank a third month, the longest streak since 2009. German sales fell the most in more than four years, while European inflation unexpectedly quickened to the fastest in almost three years. Japanese industrial production grew less than economists forecast. The S&P 500 pared losses earlier after the Institute for Supply Management-Chicago Inc.’s business barometer and Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan gauge of consumer confidence beat projections.

    “The situation is quite dark,” said Philipp Musil, who helps manage about $11 billion at Semper Constantia Privatbank AG in Vienna. “We’re very cautious about equities. All in all the figures are not good and many investors think we’re going straight into a recession.”…”

    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Global-Stock-Markets-Suffer-bloomberg-4274193138.html;_ylt=AsbUmyiXRLqXAiIr5iczjn.7YWsA;_ylu=X3oDMTE1YTJqb2h0BHBvcwMzBHNlYwN0b3BTdG9yaWVzBHNsawNnbG9iYWxtYXJrZXQ-?x=0&sec=topStories&pos=main&asset=&ccode=

  11. 11
    Blurtman says:

    Interesting….

    California breaks from 50-state probe into mortgage lenders

    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/money_co/2011/09/california-atty-gen-kamala-harris-breaks-from-national-foreclosure-probe.html

    “Sitting in a park in Paris, France
    Reading the news and it sure looks bad
    They won’t give peace a chance
    That was just a dream some of us had
    Still a lot of lands to see
    But I wouldn’t want to stay here
    It’s too old and cold and settled in its ways here
    Oh, but California
    California I’m coming home
    I’m going to see the folks I dig
    I’ll even kiss a Sunset pig
    California I’m coming home”

  12. 12
    David Losh says:

    RE: Scotsman @ 7

    help me with the math.

    We have $50 trillion in public, and private debt, but the wealthy have increased real dollar holdings from $8 trillion in the 1980s, to $40 trillion today.

    Hmmmm, I wonder what happened there, but let’s not get side tracked in a redistribution of the wealth discussion.

    Are you out of your mind? Putting up a Stockman promo then saying “see there’s the problem.” You are right; Stockman has always been the problem. He is the same as a Bernanke or a Greenspan. He’s the father of the mess, and yet today he has a book to push so OMG how could this have every happened.

    Sheesh

  13. 13
    pfft says:

    By Scotsman @ 7:

    David Stockman on CNBC with a great explanation of the trap we’re in. Good discussion in the comments that answers a lot of questions. If you’re looking to better understand the current economic situation this is well worth 5 minutes of your time.

    http://market-ticker.org/cgi-ticker/akcs-www?post=195146

    From the comments:

    “We have a spending problem.

    no we don’t. our revenue as a percentage of GDP is low because we had a big huge recession that took the largest chunk out of tax revenue in decades.

    it’s shocking that you don’t know this 3 or 4 years in. the problem is all of bush’s unpaid for programs.

  14. 14
    Scotsman says:

    RE: pfft @ 13

    Yup, it’s all Bush’s fault. So fuc#ing what- where does that get us today? Who do we have that can fix it, or are we just going to run around in circles until we fall down and wet on ourselves? Its been three years since Bush left office. Maybe OBAMA and the democratric congress could undo some of Bush’s damage- ya think? If they can make one law they can make another to cancel it out. Who’s in charge now?

    And yup, revenue as a percentage of GDP is low compared to past trends- by about 3%. But guess what- spending is way, way up, by about 7%. So, just going by the math it looks like we have more of a spending problem than a revenue problem. You can’t borrow your way out of debt, and you can’t tax yourself to prosperity. Reality sucks for leeches, eh?

    Get ready pffft- your world is about to come crashing down around you. And it’s going to take survival skills beyond whinning and whoring yourself out to the progressive movement to save your butt. I’d bank on survival of the fittest, not sucking the federal teat when it comes to your future. Just say’n.

  15. 15
    Scotsman says:

    RE: David Losh @ 12

    “We have $50 trillion in public, and private debt, but the wealthy have increased real dollar holdings from $8 trillion in the 1980s, to $40 trillion today.”

    Yeah, but that’s not real wealth- you didn’t catch the second part. What is a bag of mortgages worth if it isn’t going to be paid? When the debt goes bad, all the debt based wealth goes “poof!”

    And while Stockman may have been complicit in the past, at least now he’s speaking the truth. that’s got to be worth something.

  16. 16
    Scotsman says:

    RE: pfft @ 13

    Maybe more government spending IS the problem:

    http://azizonomics.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/unemp-vs-spending1.jpeg

  17. 17
    Bingo says:

    Interesting feature on Redfin: “Scouting Report – Search for Any Agent”

    http://www.redfin.com/real-estate-agents/search-scouting-report

  18. 18
    David Losh says:

    RE: Bingo @ 17

    That is the most ridiculous thing I ever heard of. I can’t imagine any agent allowing it. These people are just the absolute scum of the earth.

  19. 19
    David Losh says:

    RE: Scotsman @ 15

    nothing goes poof.

    If you are talking economy you have to buy into the idea that there is currency worth having. The mechanism might be a complete swindle, but once the money is in place it finds a safe haven. That’s what we’ve seen; dollars are looking for a safe haven.

    There is tons of money in the system. The money doesn’t just get lost, it has to be some place, and right now it is out of circulation by the choice of the wealthy. They have theirs. They make more by buying money at .05% and getting a 1.5% return.

    You can do the math any way you want, but the money is there globally. What he is saying is that the tinkle down ideal of giving the wealthy more tax breaks, and more mechanisms of generating future wealth never tinkled down. He should be in the fore front of trying to salvage his legacy. He has a book out.

    The second part of what he said is about spending and he mentioned the military in particular. He also started that trend of economic drain. The military is the ultimate cash cow. In WWI, and II there was an economic gain, spoils of war. Viet Nam was just about passing tax dollars to the durable goods providers. It employed people, and circulated currency. It was the mother of the velocity of money. Ending that war caused a recession.

    Reagan generated massive wealth for a lot of people by a military build up that never produced anything, but did give us the internet, and computers. What are we gonna get out of the Bush era Middle East retaliation?

    This is all fixable. It’s easy, quick efficient, but some one, some time, is going to need to admit they were wrong.

  20. 20
    Blurtman says:

    RE: David Losh @ 19 – Why even George W. Bush admits that the Iraq war was a mistake, so perhaps once the war criminal can connect the dots, he will realize he was wrong.

    Of course, it would be nice if he admitted this to the world.

    Nicer yet, if he were found guilty by a war crimes tribunal.

    Nicer still, if he were jailed for killing women and children.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2011/sep/21/tony-bennett-george-bush-iraq

  21. 21
    David Losh says:

    RE: Blurtman @ 20

    The unfunded wars of George W Bush may be a topic of conversation, but that’s what happenes when you surround yourself with guys your dad was buddies with.

    We elected George because the Al Gore turned out to be a nut job. I think we can all see that now. He is no different in his agenda to make billions out of carbon swaps? or trading mortgage promises to pay. It was all set up so that some one would win, and the rest of us lose. I just don’t see the differnce.

    The Al Quida attack was in planning long before Bush. Bush’s reaction was for sure wrong, and in favor of Dick Cheney’s Haliburton. There is no doubt Iraq was a ploy for cheap oil, and to put American boots on the ground for an extended period with rebuilding infrastructure.

    Obama has proved to be much more effective in fighting a terrorist war.

    The economy however isn’t Bush’s fault. The economy isn’t even the fault of the unfunded wars. If it were, the economic crisis would be contained to this country.

  22. 22
    Macro Investor says:

    RE: Scotsman @ 7

    Scottsman, I think you’re wrong on this one. Stockman’s rant is pure politics. He’d like Obama to have to take the austerity “punch” right in the ballot box. (Not that I’m defending Obama.) Each side wants their opponent to have to swallow the austerity poison. Neither will do so willingly.

    I still think the deficit is free money. Nobody’s paying for it in their taxes, and nobody ever will. It is not some albatross “left to our children” because it will never be paid. Mathematically it can’t. Eventually we will “go Greece”. But like Greece we should continue taking the free ride until it stops. No choice anyway.

  23. 23
    pfft says:

    By Scotsman @ 14:

    RE: pfft @ 13

    Yup, it’s all Bush’s fault. So fuc#ing what- where does that get us today? Who do we have that can fix it, or are we just going to run around in circles until we fall down and wet on ourselves? Its been three years since Bush left office. Maybe OBAMA and the democratric congress could undo some of Bush’s damage- ya think? If they can make one law they can make another to cancel it out. Who’s in charge now?

    And yup, revenue as a percentage of GDP is low compared to past trends- by about 3%. But guess what- spending is way, way up, by about 7%. So, just going by the math it looks like we have more of a spending problem than a revenue problem. You can’t borrow your way out of debt, and you can’t tax yourself to prosperity. Reality sucks for leeches, eh?

    Get ready pffft- your world is about to come crashing down around you. And it’s going to take survival skills beyond whinning and whoring yourself out to the progressive movement to save your butt. I’d bank on survival of the fittest, not sucking the federal teat when it comes to your future. Just say’n.

    care to post some sources about federal revenue? tax rates are very low.

    “You can’t borrow your way out of debt, and you can’t tax yourself to prosperity.”

    yes you can. remember the tax hikes of the 1990s that were supposed to sink the economy? at least the republicans told us it would. we had the clinton boom. way better growth than during the bush years when he lowered taxes.

    “Get ready pffft- your world is about to come crashing down around you.”

    we’re back to this again?

    you don’t care about the deficit. you were for the extension of the bush taxes which will cost us $3 trillion. bush during his term added $5 trillion to the national debt.

  24. 24
    pfft says:

    also reagan raised taxes TWICE during his term.

  25. 25
    pfft says:

    By Scotsman @ 16:

    RE: pfft @ 13

    Maybe more government spending IS the problem:

    http://azizonomics.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/unemp-vs-spending1.jpeg

    nope.

  26. 26
    pfft says:

    By Macro Investor @ 22:

    RE: Scotsman @ 7

    Scottsman, I think you’re wrong on this one. Stockman’s rant is pure politics. He’d like Obama to have to take the austerity “punch” right in the ballot box. (Not that I’m defending Obama.) Each side wants their opponent to have to swallow the austerity poison. Neither will do so willingly.

    I still think the deficit is free money. Nobody’s paying for it in their taxes, and nobody ever will. It is not some albatross “left to our children” because it will never be paid. Mathematically it can’t. Eventually we will “go Greece”. But like Greece we should continue taking the free ride until it stops. No choice anyway.

    technically we don’t have to pay off the national debt. britain has had debt for centuries. the US paid of it’s debt like once and it was during the Jackson Presidency. hasn’t made a damn bit of difference. our deficit is actually modest.

    our interest rate payments as a percentage of GDP are the lowest we’ve had since the 1970s. we have no problem paying our debt.

  27. 27

    By pfft @ 24:

    also reagan raised taxes TWICE during his term.

    I remember it being more than twice. 11 times or something.

  28. 28
    Blurtman says:

    RE: David Losh @ 21 – Your analysis of why “we” elected Bush is a new one. I cannot find anyone who will admit voting for him, although the “W” bumperstickers were not uncommon back then.

    And the issue is not whether Gore would have been a better or worse president. The issue is that according to at least one well respected source, 100,000 women, children and elderly Iraqi citizens were killed by coalition weaponry, primarily air power, during the invasion.

    We live in a country where most folks could care less, and where murder seems to be OK as long as you do not see it on TV. And where it is OK to laugh about the bogus rationale for the war. Is W. Bush evil? Is W. Bush brain damaged? Does he just not give a crap?

    It is war crimes, no denying that. And there is no accountability.

    You cannot repair a society that is rotten at the core.

  29. 29
    David Losh says:

    RE: Blurtman @ 28

    I agree that Iraq was criminal, from beginning to end.

    We do treat all of the Middle East as though we own it.

    That doesn’t change the fact we are at war there, and have been since WWII. We were attacked, and George Junior took the target he thought would pay the biggest dividends. Afganistan has always been a place to avoid. The people there have held off invaders for a thousand years. The idea we could send in our military was laughable.

    My point was, and still is, that no matter how much illegal activity has gone on the shift of real dollars has been to a new wealthy class.

    Killing people in Iraq is no different than raising commoditiy prices, for profit, so starvation is a real threat. It’s criminal that trillions of dollars of false equity was created globally. It’s criminal that we have a ruler elite that only cares about protecting themselves and holding onto the money they stole.

    What are you going to do about it? Who was it that was talking about voting? We are way past that.

  30. 30
    Scotsman says:

    RE: pfft @ 25

    “nope.”

    Nice rebuttal. As empty and flacid as the rest of your arguments. What a waste of time.

  31. 31
    David Losh says:

    Wait a minute, where’s Scotsman?

    Everything that is going on today was predicted in the 1960s. Let’s leave the peace and love to the white people, and concentrate on the realities that were presented at the time.

    It started with Civil Rights. When people talk about getting the government out of our lives they weren’t talking about welfare, they were telling us that our government spies on us. At the time, in the 60s, a lot of conservatives didn’t believe it. The FBI were heroes, no one believed Hoover had secret files, that was crack pot talk. Well, it all turned out to be true.

    Conservatives now are asking for more protection from the masses. The conservatives are applauding spy tactics in the name of National Interest.

    The other thing that was predicted was global corporate greed.

    If you want to fix anything you need to get your government to do it’s job and protect the people. We need regulation against big business. We need to shut down the military and concentrate on the Defense Department. We need to tax the living heck out of any one who is reaping excessive profits to the detriment of our National Economy.

    We need to pay attention here at home, and let the world function on it’s own.

  32. 32
    ChrisM says:

    RE: David Losh @ 18 – Well, we have David’s reaction to Redfin’s listing of agent performance for the past 12 months.

    I’m curious what other agents/pros think. Reactions?

  33. 33
    pfft says:

    By Blurtman @ 28:

    RE: David Losh @ 21
    And the issue is not whether Gore would have been a better or worse president.

    Gore would have been much better. W is one of the worst presidents ever.

  34. 34
    pfft says:

    By Scotsman @ 30:

    RE: pfft @ 25

    “nope.”

    Nice rebuttal. As empty and flacid as the rest of your arguments. What a waste of time.

    I answered this somewhere else but during a recession GDP falls and tax revenue falls at the same time the government needs to spend more than normal on food stamps and unemployment insurance. nice try though. try harder.

  35. 35
    David Losh says:

    RE: ChrisM @ 32

    Kary actually said it well on the weekly twitter digest.

  36. 36
    ChrisM says:

    RE: David Losh @ 35 – Agreed. I didn’t see his post until after I posted my question.

    However, are there another other agents/pros who would want to weigh in?

  37. 37
    ChrisM says:

    A fun Bend, Oregon (home of all Oregon real estate fraud) story:

    http://www.oregonlive.com/business/index.ssf/2011/10/west_coast_bank_employee_faces.html

    “Did former Bend banker Jeff Sprague go rogue during the housing boom and make a series of dishonest loans egregious enough to get him charged with bank fraud?

    Or was he a low-level flunky just following orders from his bank-executive bosses?”

    These sorts of questions are fun, of course. If he was “rogue,” then their oversight is significantly lacking. If not “rogue” (and good luck proving that) then break out the popcorn.

  38. 38
    Blurtman says:

    RE: David Losh @ 29 – I do not at all equate killing civilians in Iraq using advanced weaponry with starvation caused by commodity price inflation. But as you do, perhaps you would back drone fired Hellfire mnissile attacks on Wall Street.

  39. 39
    David Losh says:

    RE: Blurtman @ 38

    We were talking the economy of Bush’s actions. War for profit has been a part of civilization since we started walking on two feet, or since God created us.

    Bush’s actions were blatant, but he also had the backing of the “coalition.” It was war for profit. Everyone thought they would get cheaper oil.

    The second question is if it would be a worse fate to kill the people who perpetuate Wall Street antics or to take the money out of that system.

  40. 40

    By ChrisM @ 36:

    RE: David Losh @ 35 – Agreed. I didn’t see his post until after I posted my question.

    However, are there another other agents/pros who would want to weigh in?

    I’d love to see a neutral site where real estate agents were rated. However, a few things come to mind:
    Kary mentioned that the number of transactions in that 12 month period(which will be part of the rating info) might not be so relevant. Real estate agents use it all the time to promote themselves, but it strikes me that the agents who do the most business aren’t necessarily serving their client’s best interests. They are working hard to recruit business, they’re telemarketing, they’re advertising, they’re promoting. It doesn’t mean that they’re good agents or that they’re not.
    Also, Redfin is a real estate brokerage and has an interest in seeing that their agents are rated highly. Kind of like buying something on ebay. You get messages from sellers suggesting that you give them a five star rating, and to communicate with them first to make things right before rating. I’m suspicious. I like things truly transparent, and I just think that Redfin will find a way to give themselves an advantage.
    But I’ve got no problem with seeing online how clients regard particular agents. I think it’s a good thing.

  41. 41
    Blurtman says:

    RE: David Losh @ 39 – Well, then, let’s get it out in the open. Let’s just say that in order to tool down to the mall in the Tahoe, some poor kids in (fill in the oil rich country) will need to be blown to bits by our advanced weaponry. Why pretend?

  42. 42

    By Ira Sacharoff @ 40:

    Kary mentioned that the number of transactions in that 12 month period(which will be part of the rating info) might not be so relevant. Real estate agents use it all the time to promote themselves, but it strikes me that the agents who do the most business aren’t necessarily serving their client’s best interests. They are working hard to recruit business, they’re telemarketing, they’re advertising, they’re promoting. It doesn’t mean that they’re good agents or that they’re not.
    Also, Redfin is a real estate brokerage and has an interest in seeing that their agents are rated highly..

    A few points on that.

    If an agent is working by themselves (no wife who is also an agent and/or no team), the number of clients they can handle at one time is relatively low, especially absent handing off the transaction to some administrator once you get mutual acceptance. So even ignoring that the system doesn’t rate competence at all, it also does not fairly rate agents which provide personal service. It penalizes them.

    If the agent does have a team, then all their activity may not show up under their ID number. So there the results might not accurately reflect the volume that Redfin purports to measure.

    Finally, it does seem like Redfin did try to come up with a method of rating which is biased in favor of their own agents. Redfin agents are employees, and if there is not enough work, presumably employees get laid off, and the remaining agents are kept busy. And presumably, Redfin has a lot of agent support (the “administrators” I mention above), such that again their ratings would benefit.

  43. 43
    David Losh says:

    RE: Blurtman @ 41

    You never thought it was strange that when we knew there was an oil crisis in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, that we were being told buying bigger cars was the smart choice for the safety of our families?

    You never thought that the climate control of those malls could have been regulated by more sustainable energy sources?

    We killed millions of people in WWII for oil. We installed represive regimes, like Saddam Hussien, our good ally. We supported the Shah of Iran, the Royal Family of Saudi Arabia, Syria, Lebanon. Israel, Egypt, Libya, and Morocco. We’ve killed millions of people, by starvation, with holding medical care, and medicine.

    When ever we don’t get our way we throw up financial blockades, like with Cuba. Help me with that one because I really don’t get that.

    We kill millions of people who don’t do exactly what we say, when we say it.

  44. 44
    Blurtman says:

    RE: David Losh @ 43 – It sounds like we are the evil empire.

  45. 45
    David Losh says:

    RE: Blurtman @ 44

    Good God! We’re a continuation of the European Empire. Conquest at all costs.

    Trying to segregate out drone attacks from embargos is fruitless.

  46. 46
    Blurtman says:

    RE: David Losh @ 45 – So what are the rules and who sets them? Certainly not the citizens. And what happens when a group turns inward and begins to attack its citizens? Can they be taken out?

  47. 47
    Bingo says:

    RE: ChrisM @ 32

    Even after registering on Redfin I couldn’t get any good info on NWMLS agents. So I muscled thru the NWMLS data today and searched for “Seattle Bubble” Agent’s stats that Redfin purportedly uses in their “Scouting Report.”

    I guess all I can say is that I wasn’t surprised by the results.

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