Mid-Week Open Thread (2012-01-25)

Here is your open thread for the mid-week on January 25th, 2012. 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.

49 comments:

  1. 1
    Blurtman says:

    Is this guy our of his freaking mind? Invading Iraq made the USA more respected around the world, and made us safer?

    “Last month, I went to Andrews Air Force Base and welcomed home some of our last troops to serve in Iraq. Together, we offered a final, proud salute to the colors under which more than a million of our fellow citizens fought – and several thousand gave their lives.

    We gather tonight knowing that this generation of heroes has made the United States safer and more respected around the world.”

    Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0112/71920.html#ixzz1kU46eax4

  2. 2
    Blurtman says:

    Wait a minute, I thought you said that no crimes had been committed. Why not wait a few more years, to ensure that the statute of limitations has expired? WTF has Holder been doing for the last three years?

    “And tonight, I am asking my Attorney General to create a special unit of federal prosecutors and leading state attorneys general to expand our investigations into the abusive lending and packaging of risky mortgages that led to the housing crisis. This new unit will hold accountable those who broke the law, speed assistance to homeowners, and help turn the page on an era of recklessness that hurt so many Americans.”

    Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0112/71920.html#ixzz1kU5NEY32

  3. 3

    Live Longer, Drink Booze

    “…Scientists have surprisingly discovered that a mere trace of alcohol doubles the lifespan of a tiny worm that has become a workhorse in biochemistry laboratories around the world….”

    http://news.yahoo.com/drink-alcohol-live-longer-193615870–abc-news.html

    Now what the Hades does that have to do with Seattle Real Estate????

    Welllll….with all the underwater home stress around here, we need a way to combat this stress to prevent potential health probems too…ask a good doctor and he’ll smile too.

  4. 4
    David Losh says:

    RE: Blurtman @ 2RE: Blurtman @ 1

    I thought Obama gave a great speech. He then sent in Team 6? to rescue the American hostage in Somalia. What he said about tactical military strikes is what he’s referring to, and that he got us out of Iraq. That helped our standings.

    The prosecutions, in my opinion, are being held until after the elections, because of the financial damage it will do. Banks haven’t changed, at all. When they are brought to justice it will mean a shift in lending policies.

  5. 5
    Dirty Renter says:

    RE: Blurtman @ 2
    It really is a shame that the Orangeman, Caynes, Fuld, Siddick, WAMUers, & Downeyers and the other assorted mortgage fraudsters have gotten off the hook.
    I can’t help but ask, could you imagine the outcry from the REIC and perhaps homeowners, had the regulators stopped the madness in 2005?

  6. 6

    RE: David Losh @ 4

    His Job Creation Allegation Didn’t Hold Water Though

    Ya start out with a 4 million job loss and he alleges he added 3 million jobs. Not a peep from Obama on the 3-5 million jobs needed just to keep up with American population growth from abroad during the same time frame….using this basic math fact, at best we’re no better off than before the Stimuluses kept us from the Great Depression?

  7. 7
    Blurtman says:

    “It’s time to apply the same rules from top to bottom: No bailouts, no handouts, and no copouts.”

    Camera pans over to Tim Geithner. Laugh track kicks in.

  8. 8

    RE: Blurtman @ 7

    Geithner Throws in the Towel

    He’s quitting if Obama wins 2nd term.

    Its kind of sad, now we can’t make fun of the economic leader with the upside down mortgage, anymore…

  9. 9
    Frank Belshaw says:

    For anyone who wants to own something but does not want to dish out lots of $$$…. check out Skagit River Woods. This is a private gated camping club with a heated pool, clubhouse with kitchen and showers, game rooms, hiking trails, and lots of safe places to walk and ride bikes. Located next door to Rasar State Park, right on the Skagit River (great fishing and hunting all around). Located 10 miles west of Concrete, WA.

    Sites have running water, but no electricity (use a generator). Firepits, wood sheds, tool sheds and trailers are allowed on sites, 400 sites in all.

    http://www.srwcampingclub.com/sites_for_sale.html (sites are for sale)

  10. 10
    Pegasus says:

    California calls $25-billion mortgage settlement ‘inadequate’, Washington State silent.

    Calif. Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris’ office has called a proposed $25-billion settlement with the nation’s mortgage industry “inadequate.”

    “We’ve reviewed the details of the latest settlement proposal from the banks, and we believe it is inadequate for California,” Shum Preston, a spokesman for Harris, said in a statement. “Our state has been clear about what any multistate settlement must contain: transparency, relief going to the most distressed homeowners and meaningful enforcement that ensures accountability. At this point, this deal does not suffice for California.”

    As part of the deal, attorneys general would agree to release the banks from further action related to the improper servicing of loans as well as claims against originating mortgages. Several attorneys general, including New York’s Eric Schneiderman and California’s Harris, have voiced concerns that those releases are overly broad and would preclude them from carrying out ongoing investigations.

    http://www.latimes.com/business/money/la-fi-mo-mortgage-settlement-20120125,0,7414913.story

  11. 11
    Blurtman says:

    RE: Pegasus @ 9 – Rob McKenna, no surprise, backs this backdoor bankster bailout.

  12. 12

    I finally watched the Republican response to the SOTU address last night. President Obama had put me to sleep, so I waited.

    They hit on two things I found a bit surprising. Protecting the safety net by eliminating payments to millionaires, and eliminating tax deductions which do not stimulate the economy (as opposed to raising tax rates).

  13. 13
    sally buttons says:

    RE: Frank Belshaw @ 9 – inane.

  14. 14
    Pegasus says:

    RE: Frank Belshaw @ 9 – Contrary to the opinion of some here this isn’t Craigslist where you get to post and sell any trash that you want to unload.

  15. 15

    From Monday Open Thread:

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 27:

    RE: Macro Investor @ 26 – So you think that the FBI can just walk into the offices of Microsoft tomorrow and seize all of their documents, computers and records without a warrant?

    The idea that corporations don’t have rights is absurd, to put it mildly.

    But in any case, the “corporation” argument is what the press (which ironically is comprised mainly of corporations) focus on. Gullible people fall hook line and sinker for the argument that corporations are evil. The issue though was really more over associations of people, like the NRA and labor unions. The government took away their right to free speech shortly prior to elections, and you think that somehow does not violate the constitution?

    BTW, the nonsense that started this corporate distinction was apparently a 1990 Supreme Court case. I graduated law school in 1984. Back then the only less protected speech that I recall was commercial speech (although it’s certainly possible I’ve forgotten things in 25 years). So in a sense, my position is “old-school” which is also contrary to what you’d read in the press about the decision.

    This morning I read the 1990 Austin case. The idea that corporations do not have rights was not at all a part of the holding. The holding was that corporations’ free speech rights could be restricted.

    http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=US&vol=494&invol=652

    So basically the press reporting on the Citizens United case, expressing outrage at corporations having constitutional rights, is total nonsense. All that line of cases (Austin and McConnell v. FEC) was in reality were decisions allowing politicians to stifle political speech that they didn’t like.

  16. 16
    No Name Guy says:

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2011-new-home-sales-fall-record-low-median-new-home-price-lowest-october-2010

    Snip:
    “According to the Census Bureau (not NAR data, which we will hence ignore completely due to its consistent bias, error and overall worthlessness) December New Home Sales declined from 321K to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 307K in December, on expectations of a rise to 321K from last month’s revised 315K. On a non-seasonally adjusted basis the US sold a whopping 21K homes, the lowest since January 2011, and on par with the lowest on record.”

    The graphs there sure are interesting…….

  17. 17

    RE: No Name Guy @ 16 – Locally a lot of that is due to vacant lot prices having declined to below utility and road improvement cost prices, or so I’m told by agents who deal in vacant land. The developers can buy such lots and stay busy by selling at lower prices. I would suspect the inventory of such lots is nearing an end, although totally unimproved property has also declined significantly in value.

    Also, I’ve seen at least one instance where the lots approved at the peak were smaller than what would be optimal for this market.

  18. 18
    Dirty Renter says:

    Best investment advice of 2012 comes from Hollywood Goddess Kristin Bell:

    “I always assume my career’s going to end tomorrow, you know what I mean?” the “House of Lies” star said, “We’re very frugal.”
    Bell adds that they’re “hillbillies at heart, and I’m not f—— ashamed of that.”

  19. 19

    RE: Dirty Renter @ 18 – That would be good advice for most real estate agents.

  20. 20
    No Name Guy says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 17

    A neighbor of mine works for one of the larger home builders – said more or less the same thing. Near my parents home there were several developments started right around the peak that obviously went back to the bank in ’09. Subsequently picked up (by a competitor to the neighbor’s employer) on a per lot for less than the cost of improvements (again, per the neighbor).

    It’ll all come into balance, if the idiot politicians and the Bernake keep / take their stupid fingers off the scale. As you say, raw land prices will have to (keep) coming down to meet the point where one can build on it at a profit. In the meantime, the carcasses of the failed are feeding the current new build market.

  21. 21
    Blurtman says:

    RE: Pegasus @ 14 – Pegasus, can I now manage your retirement account? I believe I touted MITI at around $6. It is now $11 in I believe less than one year.

    Amgen to Buy Micromet for $1.16 Billion

    http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2012/01/26/amgen-to-buy-micromet-for-1-16-billion/?partner=yahoofinance

  22. 22

    RE: Blurtman @ 21

    Good For You Blurtman

    A small percentage of educated folks that act fast can make it in this economy; albeit we all can’t be millionaires, only a 0.5% of us [there isn’t enough money in the economy].

    Hades, when I was in college I used to cut trees and sell cord wood for books, gas, pizza and beer money….after this ice storm knocked trees and branches out like a hurricane last week, I can imagine tree services are making money like crazy with the phone never stopping ringing for more jobs….

    I imagined taking a week or two off from work on vacation, get my chain saw and a truck and hades, clear $10K a week, until I hurt myself or quit from exhaustion….LOL

    This gravy train ends though when the tree mess is gone soon though….same with stocks, ya gotta act when the kettle’s hot, before it tops off and cools….and in the case of stocks, know when to fold [sell].

  23. 23
    Pegasus says:

    All-girl Russian punk band with unusual name rages against Putin

    Wrapped up against Russia’s midwinter in vivid balaclavas, brightly coloured minidresses and not much else, eight members of an all-girl punk group stood on a platform in Red Square and started an impromptu show.
    “Riot in Russia!” they screamed, before taunting Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and urging Russians to hit the streets in protest.

    The band has been gaining Internet notoriety after their January 20 gig of sorts, the latest in a string of impromptu performances to protest Putin’s candidacy for the presidency.

    http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=CNG.91b253005449a712d5f91d08e5754186.181&show_article=1

  24. 24

    Totally off topic, but I guess if you’re a celebrity you better think twice about calling 911.

    http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20564974,00.html

  25. 25
    MacroInvestor says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 15

    The discussion was about how people became disenfranchised. That is the main reason. Non-voting non citizens totally monopolize the political process. Attempts have been made to regulate that back down, but have failed because courts recognize these non living entities as having constitutional rights.

    How about this — let’s have a foreign government — say an enemy — start a shell corporation in some state. (The Jones Tobacco Company owned by a Cayman Island trust, beneficiary – Our Dear Leader of North Korea.) That costs, what 50 bucks. Now they get to buy unlimited advertising time and lobbyists. So they decide who gets elected here and what bills pass. Makes a lot of sense.

  26. 26
    Pegasus says:

    RE: MacroInvestor @ 25 – I think they are already doing that here in the USA or so it seems……

  27. 27
    Blurtman says:

    RE: softwarengineer @ 22 – SWE, here is how I guessed that MITI was a good bet. But for the record, as stated previously, while I advised investing at around 6 or so, I personally did not. Mrs. Blurtman raised an eyebrow as she did with gold at around 1400. No mink stole for her.

    The head of R&D at an antibody company that had similar technology to MITI’s told me that their version worked like gangbusters. Their company was acquired by a larger pharma a while ago. As MITI was relatively inexpensive, and as I had seen their data previously, it seemed like a good, but not riskless, bet. ELN, another antibody company whose stock I do own, is also doing quite well from when I touted it. That was a different type of opportunity,

    Manual labor can be honest work and can make you feel good afterwards. Personally, I have been working since I was 12 or 13, and am the son of a better man than me who never attended high school, and put two kids through college as well as helped support his younger siblings.

    Money comes and goes. Good health, friends and family are priceless.

  28. 28
    MacroInvestor says:

    RE: Frank Belshaw @ 9

    Thanks for the tip. After yours gets foreclosed I’ll rent one for just the few weeks when the weather is nice.

  29. 29

    RE: MacroInvestor @ 25

    Even Attorneys Can Be Outsourced by Indians for $15/hr

    IMO, a lot of the lawsuits that represent non-entities [non-citizens] into federal courts on the tax payer dime are because of the economic mess we’re in now…..where else are they gonna get paying clients, except on the tax payer dime….LOL

    Desparation begets desparate measures…

  30. 30

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 24

    Also, Don’t Call 911 a Lot

    They pull a screen for 911 activity and know your phone/address/name history over years….let’s put it this way, you may be the clean pig, but if you’re surrounded by dirty pigs a lot, the dirt rubs off on you too….

  31. 31

    RE: Blurtman @ 27

    Good Research

    Congrats on your good call!

  32. 32
    MacroInvestor says:

    RE: Blurtman @ 21

    You can manage mine, so long as you only trade on inside info like you describe in a later comment.

  33. 33
    MacroInvestor says:

    By softwarengineer @ 30:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 24

    Also, Don’t Call 911 a Lot

    They pull a screen for 911 activity and know your phone/address/name history over years….let’s put it this way, you may be the clean pig, but if you’re surrounded by dirty pigs a lot, the dirt rubs off on you too….

    Mmmmm. Dirty pigs with bar-b-que sauce!

  34. 34
    The Tim says:

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 24:

    Totally off topic, but I guess if you’re a celebrity you better think twice about calling 911.

    http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20564974,00.html

    I think that’s true whether you’re a celebrity or not: http://myeverettnews.com/2011/12/02/everett-woman-calls-9-1-1-after-trapping-herself-inside-own-car-cant-find-way-out/

  35. 35

    RE: The Tim @ 34

    You Made Me Laugh Tim

    I remember in driver’s ed in highschool they told us it was OK to be in your car drinking alcohol without starting up the ignition and then putting it in gear….sounds like the laws haven’t changed….

  36. 36
    Blurtman says:

    RE: MacroInvestor @ 32 – There was no inside information. As I had stated, the head of R&D at a company with a similar technology to MITI’s said that his company’s technology worked like gangbusters. And his company was bought afterwards by a large pharma. As they were never public, there was no opportunity to trade on the info. The head of R&D at said acquired company did not say, and would have no way of knowing, if MITI’s technology also worked like gangbusters. I did see some of the early MITI data at a public conference, and having understood how their technology worked, it seemed plausible that it could be a very good technology.

    An analogy might be if you had heard from Bill Gates that their new PC worked like gangbusters, and you knew about a company called Apple that seemed to have developed similar tehnology, and had seen their PC at a public show. Seeing the success of Microsoft, and deciding to invest in Apple would not be trading on inside information. It would be trading on the future of PC’s.

  37. 37

    RE: MacroInvestor @ 25 – Some people favor laws against flag burning, or firearms too. Personally I don’t like laws that infringe on the Bill of Rights, and these campaign finance laws go to the heart of restricting political speech.

    I have more problem with the fact that people are so uneducated and lazy that they actually believe much of this political speech, than the fact that the speech occurs.

  38. 38

    By softwarengineer @ 29:

    RE: MacroInvestor @ 25 – Even Attorneys Can Be Outsourced by Indians for $15/hr

    In-house counsel perhaps, but not attorneys who represent people. That would be criminal in most states. You have to be admitted to the state bar, and in most states, graduate from an accredited law school prior to taking the bar.

  39. 39

    By softwarengineer @ 35:

    RE: The Tim @ 34

    You Made Me Laugh Tim

    I remember in driver’s ed in highschool they told us it was OK to be in your car drinking alcohol without starting up the ignition and then putting it in gear….sounds like the laws haven’t changed….

    I don’t know if they’ve changed the law over the years or not, but being in a car with keys can lead to a DUI, because you’re in control of the car. It’s subject to officer discretion, and in the case Tim linked to, the woman was at home. If you were sleeping in the back seat, I doubt any would charge you, but if you were asleep behind the wheel, more questionable.

    The P-I or Times had something on that just the last week or two.

  40. 40
    Blurtman says:

    If you e-mail Rob McKenna about the mortgage fraud settlement, you will recieve a form letter reply that does not address specific questions you have addressed to the AG. The form letter response will imply that you are being duped by the blogosphere, and that a thorough criminal investigation will delay relief to underwater home owners.

    Clearly McKenna is an elitist dolt, whose office is entirely ignorant about public relations. He is also derelict in his responsibilites of prosecuting crime.

    Excerpts:
    “Beware the misrepresentations, distortions and outright falsehoods being circulated by those who don’t know the substance of the settlement negotiations.” “There has been a lot in the news and in the blogosphere lately about these negotiations between the country’s largest mortgage loan servicers and a group of state attorneys general and a number of federal agencies.”

    -Ooohhh, thank you all wise one, I am not worthy to have such a smart AG. Duped again. Doh!

    “A settlement promises significant benefits for distressed homeowners. We estimate the final settlement amount will be in the tens of billions of dollars in total value – unless it is allowed to be indefinitely stopped by critics who insist on diverting our focus away from the needs of homeowners.”

    -Yes, doing the right thing may delay the bribe. Exactly what is the connection between perjury and prinicpal reductions? And if you are gainfully employed and can pay off your underwater mortgage, why, exactly, are you to recieve a principal modification?

    “The attorneys generals involved in multistate negations with the banks maintain a laser-like focus on bringing as much help to distressed homeowners as soon as we can. The interests of homeowners are not the same as those of the hedge funds and other Wall Street investors he seeks to include in our negotiations. Diverting our energy and losing precious time while investigating the securities industry will only delay relief to homeowners and could blow up our whole effort.”

    Again, doing the right thing delays the bribe. Not sure who the “he” referred to is. Perhaps God?

    Mckenna – a sad tool. We deserve better.

  41. 41
    Natalia Orinko says:

    RE: Pegasus @ 23

    All-girl Russian punk band with unusual name rages against Putin..

    Tatiana and I were in a band! We were very popular and the boys went crazy. So much fun but now we talk about house prices. Not quite the same. Maybe we should have a concert??

  42. 42
    Macro Investor says:

    RE: Natalia Orinko @ 41

    Just curious. What is the attraction of a Seattle real estate discussion to a couple of gals in California?

  43. 43
    Scotsman says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 37

    “I have more problem with the fact that people are so uneducated and lazy that they actually believe much of this political speech”

    Amen.

  44. 44
    Pegasus says:

    RE: Natalia Orinko @ 41 – What would you call your “band”?

  45. 45
    Natalia Orinko says:

    RE: Macro Investor @ 42

    Our extended Russian/Ukrainian family is in the process of moving to the NW to start an auto dismantling business. We are very successful in the Central Valley of Northern CA. But we are seeking new opportunities.

  46. 46
    Natalia Orinko says:

    RE: Pegasus @ 44

    Oh, such silly names that changes weekly! “Russet Potatoes” is one name. We want to be like Slivki. They are so wonderful!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OToNlGvwGGY

  47. 47
    Macro Investor says:

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 37:

    RE: MacroInvestor @ 25

    “I have more problem with the fact that people are so uneducated and lazy that they actually believe much of this political speech, than the fact that the speech occurs.

    Wow, you have a feeling or you assume people are “lazy”.

    With debate skills like that you really missed your calling as a litigator. Unfortunately even such a potent argument hasn’t convinced me. The newspaper and television media saturating those poor ignorants and their gov-supplied education, paints the picture the elite need to stay in power. How did such superior beings like yourself rise above?

  48. 48

    RE: Macro Investor @ 47 – If people are fooled by what is said, so be it. The only alternative is to restrict the speech in the first place, and that is completely unacceptable.

    Why do you hate the First Amendment? ;-)

    But seriously, you really think that your position is morally superior to mine? You want to protect the people you don’t think are smart enough to understand by not letting them hear things in the first place. Some moral high ground.

  49. 49

    By Macro Investor @ 47:

    The newspaper and television media saturating those poor ignorants and their gov-supplied education, paints the picture the elite need to stay in power.

    Just out of curiosity, would you somehow limit the amount of money Bill Gates might want to spend personally on political commercials? And assuming you recognize that the First Amendment would prevent that, why would you want to prevent others from joining together collectively to counter his message?

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