Monday Open Thread (2011-10-03)

Here is your open thread for Monday October 3rd, 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.


  1. 1
    Blurtman says:

    Morgan Stanley, BAC, going down? Timberrrrrrr……….

  2. 2
    Haybaler says:

    Bank of America (and other banks) are “testing” the new debit card fee. $5 p/month.

    Can anybody here explain to me the rationale of the bank?

    ….x million debit cards times 5 equals some amount of increased fee money…offset by the percentage of folks who won’t use the debit card anymore (so the bank loses the merchant transaction fees on those lost sales).

    ….minus less “good will” of the customer base, apparent in the run on the bank that may be occurring as I type. a symptom – It’s Online banking system is locked up since Friday.

    This debit card fee seems like a “sin tax” levied on tobacco addicts because the folks who use debit cards tend to be a cash as you go crowd as opposed to credit users.

    Somebody at BofA made a hard decision. I’m wondering if anybody here understands the economics that justify that decision?

  3. 3

    RE: Blurtman @ 1

    Stocks Continue to be Dragged Down By Bad Debt


    “…All 10 company groups in the S&P index fell. Banks, energy, and consumer discretionary stocks had the steepest declines….”

  4. 4

    RE: Haybaler @ 2

    Don’t Look for Much Intelligence By Any Agencies Lately, Especially Where Greed Profits Can be Made

    In a world of banking, where regulation laws are meant to be BROKEN….does it really surprise you their management is shooting themselves in the feet.

    Same conundrum with companies insourcing slave labor, now they want to import shoppers for our empty malls, our mainstream incomes are all decreasing.

  5. 5
    Haybaler says:

    RE: softwarengineer @ 4

    Importing shoppers….Isn’t that what we used to call “tourism” ?

  6. 6

    RE: Haybaler @ 5

    Yes Haybaler

    Now its survival’s only hope.

    A caveat, China should talk….they have giant empty malls there too….they should try to get our slavelord CEOs and elite corporate farmers to shop in their empty malls too?

  7. 7
    Dirty Renter says:

    RE: Haybaler @ 2
    The Durbin Amendment to the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform bill, made debit card transactions unprofitable for banks. It cut the swipe fees to an average of 22¢ from 44¢.
    I recently swore off my debit-card when a merchant charged my checking account twice for the same transaction. I’m breaking out the dusty old charge-card from now on, where I have lots more leverage, as opposed to begging a store manager to replenish my checking account.

  8. 8

    RE: Dirty Renter @ 7 – There are lots of reasons not to use debit cards. IMHO they are mainly for people without either adequate credit, adequate self-control, or both.

  9. 9
    Scotsman says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 8

    What? You do know what a debit card is, don’t you? Please tell me how it is different from writing a check or paying cash in terms of demonstrating “adequate credit, adequate self-control, or both.”

  10. 10
    Cheap South says:

    RE: Haybaler @ 2

    Tell me about it; I’ve been trying to pay a bill online since Friday.

    Debit Cards – Unlike credit cards, which have theft protection, debit cards do not. Someone empties your account and you have to fight with the bank to get your money back. How does it go? Possession is 9/10 of the law?

    Use debit only to pull cash at ATMs (and not too frequently – this is how skimming works). And tell your bank to remove the VIsa logo from it (they do it). Do not use it as a credit card either.

  11. 11

    RE: Scotsman @ 9 – Seriously, you don’t know the difference between a debit card and credit card? Or did you not understand the difference I was trying to address was between debit and credit cards. Writing a check is for people who are even older than I am. That’s not the discussion.

    A debit card they pull the money from your accounts almost immediately. Sometimes they pull more money from your account than what they should (e.g. $75 if you use it at a gas station, because they don’t know what you will be buying). That can cause your other valid checking account transactions to bounce with a debit card, not with a credit card. Sometimes there’s an erroneous or fraudulent entry. Ditto on bounce with a debit, not with a credit. As noted by Cheap South, other protections are better with credit cards.

    As to credit, that’s obvious. You need to have some sort of credit score to get a credit card.

    As to self-control, not quite so obvious, but some people with credit cards will charge more than they can repay.

  12. 12

    By Cheap South @ 10:

    And tell your bank to remove the VIsa logo from it (they do it). Do not use it as a credit card either.

    What you ask for is an ATM card, not a debit card, and you do have to ask, because if you don’t they’ll likely give you a debit card (although perhaps that is changing).

  13. 13

    I’ve Been Reading About Wild Allegations of Job Growth in the Seattle Area

    Reading them from their MSM sources gave me the feeling they were wild allegations….so, I went to the lion’s mouth and pulled the BLS Total Jobs data for the Seattle area.

    You’ll note from the attached BLS table “labor force” a regression analysis degradation in the total jobs available. How about insourced population increases in this glum labor force degradation in the Seattle area?

    But this doesn’t tell the whole story. Assuming the Seattle Demographic site has correct data [and I’m one who is a skeptic when it comes to counting undocumented people even half heartedly accurate] we’re adding about 12,000 workers [about 8% over 10 years] to our 1.5 million labor force every year….you get the picture.

    This 12,000 estimate generally competes directly with new job hunters too, like the Y Generation especially.

  14. 14
    Blurtman says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 12 – I am always amazed when I encounter a check writer at the local super market. More amazed if they are under 50. It provides inspiration for my great business idea – life sized maps!

  15. 15

    RE: Blurtman @ 14 – I wonder if with the ATM fees that checks will become more common at stores.

  16. 16
    Haybaler says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 15


    Back to my question above…. The banks spent years marketing debit cards to us because they wanted us to get away from checks which have higher costs and are less efficiently handled than card transactions.

    Checks required “clearing at the local federal reserve”, storage, imaging, handling, Identity/signature verification, and “float”.

    Debit transactions are superior to check transactions, except for the errors or fraud mentioned several times above.

    I am aware that financial institutions lobbied Congress against the Dodd Frank amendment on the grounds that Banks needed the debit fees, while small merchants such as coffee vendors testified that .44 fees on a coffee or newspaper purchase were killing retailers.

    The lawmakers decided after the hearings to slap the banks down. Like me, I think the lawmakers didn’t believe the banks’ argument.

    So, here we are. Some bank executives have made the “hard choice” to institute debit fees. I’m dying to know what the inside calculations are. Is it “greed” as SWE states above. Is it foolishness/incompetence by management,……. or a simple mathematical business decision?

    …and if the latter is the case, I’d like it explained to me. Any bankers out there on the inside?

  17. 17
    No Name Guy says:

    Follow up on the obvious manipulation in the PM markets from a previous open thread.

  18. 18
    ChrisM says:

    NWMLS – yes, the most consumer-friendly organization in the world, except for them refusing to talk to non-agents regarding violations of their rules…

    Is an MLS listing required to show a photo of the house? Just asking…

  19. 19
    ChrisM says:

    Haybaler, as about an off-topic post as you can get, BUT… what’s your tractor? I have the opportunity to use an old Case, but boy, heaven help you if you have to buy replacement parts. Power steering pump something like $1200 and no that is not a typo.

    Any suggestions for a cheap but reliable old tractor?

  20. 20
    Haybaler says:

    RE: ChrisM @ 19

    The machine in my Avatar is a 1959 Porsche “Super”. It’s a 3 cylinder diesel, w/ air cooled motor, about 40 Hp. I loved that tractor. It was Economical on fuel consumption, powerful, well balanced and cool looking, but it was work to drive because it didn’t have power assist and the controls were complicated enough that I never let my wife or kids drive it.

    I sold it last year to a collector….you know, a guy with Porsche cars who wanted to show off the “other” Porsche. I figured it was best to send it on to a new life before It was broken one too many times….a rebuilt clutch disk and pressure plate set me back $850.

    I used the proceeds of that sale to purchase another John Deere. I have three JD now. My reasoning being that there is a strong dealer network and parts are readily available for JD. I don’t have time to fool around with antique tractors because I actually use them to make a living as opposed to polishing and talking about them….great tax incentives the last couple years too.

    Watch Craigslist, there is always somebody selling a Deere tractor.

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