Monday Open Thread (2013-01-28)

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Here is your open thread for Monday January 28th, 2013. 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!

NOTICE: If you have comments to make about politics or economics that do not somehow directly relate to Seattle-area real estate, they may be posted in the current Politics & Economics Open Thread. If you post such comments here, they will be moved there.

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.


  1. 1

    Blurtman, there’s a new Nova program on drones. They even hit a bit on the legalities of them. I found the program very interesting.

  2. 2

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 1
    Hades Kary, Everything Tracks Us

    Even the computer we use now.

    The cell phones [both on and off?] and the GPS tracks our exact location and name.

    Cameras are everywhere now.

    Stoplights give us tickets.

    We need genital searches or nude xrays to board the airplanes now.

    Welcome to Gerge Orwell’s 1984 in 2013….

  3. 3
    apartment boy says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 1
    Kary, please don’t get him started.
    Instead of Slim Pickens riding them….it’s Jamie Dimon.

  4. 4
  5. 5
    Blurtman says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 4 – I have hacked their feed. Nice pajamas!

  6. 6
    No Name Guy says:

    RE: softwarengineer @ 2

    Never buy iCrap….you can’t take the battery out (same goes for any phone without a user removable battery).

    If you can’t take the battery out, there is no way to physically turn the phone off. Phones can be remotely turned on without the owner being aware.

    If you want guaranteed privacy, leave the phone at home, or take the battery out.

  7. 7

    RE: No Name Guy @ 6

    They Want ‘Em Banned

    But ya still can get “pay as ya go” cell phones that don’t need a registered name attached to them [albeit ya better not give ’em your old phone number].

    I’ve still got my 2002 Nokia with no 911 chip in it, it can’t track me. I can’t change my contract, but $25/mo for 300 min is cheaper than buying the phone minutes. Its still got the orignal alkaline battery [its removable] too, works like new too.

  8. 8

    Two interesting articles today:

    Fannie/Freddie new Deed-in-Lieu program gets a new name: Mortgage Release

    and this from Jonathan Miller. He is calling it a housing Pre-Covery.

  9. 9

    Also! Shawn Portmann mortgage fraud sentencing hearing happening right now in Seattle. When I know more, will post….!

  10. 10
  11. 11
    Blurtman says:

    RE: Jillayne Schlicke @ 10 – He is no Mozillo.

  12. 12
    Pegasus says:

    RE: Blurtman @ 11 – The system always fries the small fish when forced to produce a token prosecution for the masses. The sharks and their complicit politicians always end up swimming free with the loot. On to the next scam with the same people in charge with no accountability.

  13. 13

    Yes, you’re both right :(
    Do you think we’ll see ANY of the large bankers indicted?

  14. 14
    ricklind says:

    By softwarengineer @ 2:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 1
    Hades Kary, Everything Tracks Us

    Even the computer we use now.

    The cell phones [both on and off?] and the GPS tracks our exact location and name.

    Cameras are everywhere now.

    Stoplights give us tickets.

    We need genital searches or nude xrays to board the airplanes now.

    Welcome to Gerge Orwell’s 1984 in 2013….

    Fel Temp Reparatio

  15. 15
    Blurtman says:

    RE: Jillayne Schlicke @ 13 – If we do not, what does this say about the USA?

  16. 16

    RE: ricklind @ 14

    Your URL Cannot Be Openned

    Its either been closed down or unaccessible.

  17. 17
    David Losh says:

    RE: Blurtman @ 15

    What does that say about the world economy. My loan is owned by Duetch Bank (sp?) because the mortgage market is global. All those loans are gone, and you don’t know where they are bundled. It’s like opening a wall with roaches and they scatter.

    You only think we have it bad here. Places like Spain, Greece, and Italy have loans on properties that are three times the value that they will sell for. OK let’s say double the price to value.

    When you start picking the whole thing apart it could be the collapse of the global economy, over housing units.

    Justice isn’t going to make us whole. The more time we focus on who did wrong the longer we will be stuck with the mess we have.

    The message should be for the consumer to avoid bank scams. We should call it what it is, but a solution lies with the consumer.

  18. 18
    Blurtman says:

    RE: David Losh @ 17 – The oft repeated lie that prosecution of criminal banking executives, versus criminal banks, will bring down the financial system is just plain hokum. It is depressing to see the media repeat this bunk. Please explain how prosecuting criminal bankers will bring down the financial system?

  19. 19
    Plymster says:

    RE: David Losh @ 17 – “Justice isn’t going to make us whole. The more time we focus on who did wrong the longer we will be stuck with the mess we have.”


    If there are no repercussions to criminal behavior (ie: packaging mortgage investments, fraudulently assigning them AAA ratings, and then foisting them off onto cronies at pension funds), then there is nothing that will deter the fraud a second, third, and 50th time. You’ll just continue to get more and more scams, until everyone is a slave to some executive at a TBTF.

    Justice doesn’t make you whole (that’s the idea behind civil suits, if I’m not mistaken). Justice strips the criminal of the power to consistently re-offend, thereby reducing crime. Perhaps we should just release a prison full of rapists and murderers and park them in homes next to yours. After all, imprisoning these people does not make anyone “whole”.

    Jesse at Jesse’s Cafe Americain is fond of repeating that the global economy will not recover until there is legitimate reform. I could not agree more.

  20. 20
    David Losh says:

    RE: Plymster @ 19

    and what I say is that the consumer has the same tools as any of these criminals to use as they best can.

    Number one is to get rid of, or stop paying your credit cards. Number two is send your house back to the bank. Three is to buy a car you can afford, and fourth is to stop paying student loans.

    That is justice, and if we all did that we would be able to get to a cash economy, maybe even paying a little less in taxes.

    How about it? Are you game? or are you going to keep playing like it’s all fair, equal, and just?

    You know there is another segment of our society that is also referred to as the 1%ers. They have been around just as long as the wealthy. Both 1% have absolute power, because one has nothing to lose, and the other own everything.

    Seriously, if you want to enact change you have to do it yourself. No one is going to give you justice without an upside for them.

  21. 21
    David Losh says:

    RE: Blurtman @ 18

    There is no one to prosecute. It’s layer upon layer of deceit, but ultimately there is no beginning, or end to it.

    If you were to ask me I would say that the banking, and financial market would love to get out of the mortgage business, and let the whole thing collapse. I think it was probably a part of the plan. They don’t need to care. They got the money, put it away, and if everything went into default they would be free, and clear, oops, bad business decision gone wrong, oh well.

    The only reason you are sniffing around criminal prosecution is because the whole scam is still up, and running, fed by the Fed.

    Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.

    People are scooping up housing like there is no yesterday, or tomorrow. It’s the same scam, different day, and more money is being dumped into mortgages, at these historically low rates.

    Fine, find, prosecute, and spin the wheels like it’s a good fight, but in the mean time the same scam continues.

    We need banking, and financial market regulation, and taxation. That’s where Congress should be spending the time.

  22. 22
    Blurtman says:

    RE: David Losh @ 21 – Let’s start with money laundering for the drug cartels. That is pretty clear cut.

  23. 23
    Plymster says:

    RE: David Losh @ 20 – I’ve done all I can do to limit my exposure to the big banks. I’ve been debt free for over a decade. I have no credit cards. I bank with a credit union. I rent. I encourage others to get out of debt as soon as they can, only buy with cash when possible, and take on no debt.

    Many people have joined the “Move Your Money Project” and hundreds of thousands have fled the big banks. This has had little or no impact. Only top wage-earners can reasonably buy a home without debt anymore, and with the Fed inducing infinite leverage with record low rates, all they can do is tread water and keep home sales volume up to historic averages. Banks have stripped REOs off the markets to drive up prices, and while prices are rebounding, it’s a slow process at best. Delinquent debt is at multi-decade highs.

    Much of the general public is acting, but that is not the point.

    Government officials, elected by the people are supposed to be appointing people to enforce the law against all parties in the nation. Lanny Breuer (Assistant AG for the Criminal Division of the DOJ) just came out and essentially said that he worries about prosecuting financial crimes because he doesn’t want to hurt the economy. Since I have no reason to assume that Mr. Breuer is compromised in some way (ie: bribed, threatened, coerced), I have to believe that he is just deluded.

    But Mr. Breuer’s concern is short-term thinking at best. A DA shouldn’t pause to consider a drunk driver’s ability to get to work before prosecuting to strip away his license. By taking away the drunk’s license, you make it that much more likely that 10 other people will be able to get to work. That is my point.

  24. 24
    Plymster says:

    When I do a search on Redfin for foreclosed homes ( here’s the search URL:!lat=47.672843471007404&long=-122.1580982208252&market=seattle&num_baths=1.0&num_beds=2&sf=4&uipt=1&v=8&zoomLevel=13), I see several still owned by the mortgage holder ( like this one: and have been since 2010.

    If I look up the Parcel Number and tax records, I can see that Fannie Mae still owns this house and has been paying the taxes for years without listing the home, so this is not an error.

    What’s the deal? If I do a search for this area for active listings, I see 160. That means that 10% of homes are going unlisted in this area. This is not shadow inventory (ie: homes in the foreclosure process somewhere, or mortgages that have not been foreclosed but are not performing). These are bank owned homes. Are all the banks just sitting on their losses (and compounding them with maintenance and taxes) instead of clearing their bad debt? Am I misreading this?

  25. 25
    David Losh says:

    RE: Blurtman @ 22RE: Plymster @ 23

    A drunk driver is one individual. Banking, and financial markets are thousands or millions of jobs. To prosecute one or more individuals doesn’t stop the cancer that is debt.

    Let’s be realistic, and ask for the reforms that will make banks, or the financial markets think twice before they continue on. Let’s introduce taxation on banking, and financial market activity.

    The goal is to shut it down, yes? Stop the madness? Then taxation is a great tool, but look what happened when we asked people who make over $400K to pay a higher rate.

    Let’s take laundering drug money. If we had laws on the books that kept transparency to banking activity then we wouldn’t be discussing money laundering. Once you transfer funds to Germany, to the Camen Islands, to whatever tax shelter nation you chose, there is plenty of opportunity to mix in a little drug money.

    If we had a tax provision on these transfers Congress may have less leverage to look the other way.

    There are plenty of solutions.

  26. 26

    RE: David Losh @ 25

    David, Have You Noticed the Proliferation of Not Only Payday Loan Shark Businesses

    But simultaneously attached Western Union services too.

    The cheaper insourced workers [our lower paid replacements from abroad] send the American loot out of this country in huge barrells to their motherlands….little good it does Seattle for churning our local businesses increasing money supplies for investing in local real estate too.

    How much of these MASSIVE laundered funds didn’t get taxed too is anyones’ guess; the money and the recipients can all be undocumented….along with the drug money profits mixed in

  27. 27

    By Blurtman @ 22:

    RE: David Losh @ 21 – Let’s start with money laundering for the drug cartels. That is pretty clear cut.

    Do you really think that the president of a large multinational bank is personally aware of the deposits made at bank branches in Mexico? Criminal prosecutions are only going to hit those at the lower levels of the bank, not the high level executives.

    To really deal with what you’re concerned about what needs to be done is totally outside the criminal process. What you need to do is break up big banks into dozens of small banks. Then make it clear that if one of the small banks screws up, it’s dead. Those who own its stock, including corporate officers, will be harmed, and those who are employed by it will be harmed. Self motivation will go a lot further than regulation or threat of criminal prosecution.

  28. 28
    Blurtman says:

    RE: David Losh @ 25 – Murder has been documented to have occured since the start of recorded history, and yet it is still prosecuted. None of your arguments hold water.

  29. 29

    By Blurtman @ 28:

    RE: David Losh @ 25 – Murder has been documented to have occured since the start of recorded history, and yet it is still prosecuted.

    That would also be an argument in favor of my position that more criminal laws or prosecutions won’t help.

  30. 30
    Blurtman says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 29 – You are stating that we should not prosecute murder, is that your position?

  31. 31

    RE: Blurtman @ 30 – No, my position is that prosecuting these bank crimes isn’t going to stop them, the same as prosecuting murder (or prostitution or drug crimes) doesn’t stop that type of activity.

    In addition to breaking up the banks, I would also suggest time restrictions on high level executives selling their stock rights, so that they have a long term interest in the health of the bank.

  32. 32

    RE: Blurtman @ 30


    We pick and choose who can break our laws and not worry about it, its usually the same bunch of rich/elite organised crime funding our political campaigns too, so the politicians are already leashed.

    That’s why passing I-502 made real sense right now, why let the too big to fall run free on GIANT INFRACTIONS, then throw relatively innocent citizens in jail for mere pot use?

  33. 33
    David Losh says:

    RE: Blurtman @ 28

    We’re not arguing. You’re right, crimes have been committed at every level of banking, and financial markets.

    You get a gold star for that, it’s a good fight.

    Where we differ is like what happened with BP and the oil spill in the Gulf Coast.

    Do you remember how shocked the right wing media was that Obama would dare call the CEO of BP in to explain himself? I thought that was the greatest thing in the world, and BP has been under constant pressure ever since. They tried to worm, but they got called out.

    That’s what needs to happen with banking, and the financial markets. They need to be dragged in, explain the circumstances then held accountable.

    Well, we did some of that, and it resulted in HAMP, HARP, and Harmony with low interest rates so people could refinance. Ridiculous? Yes. It brought us higher prices, and much more Real Estate speculation.

    Now what? You want to start over, I want Congress to tax the heck out of the banking, and financial markets. Deriviatives $1.4 Quadrillion? Tax it.

    We could also get rid of too big to fail, but how? We have three competing big banks in Wells Fargo, Chase, and Bank of America. What are you going to do? Start over? Pass new monopoly laws? Come on, tax ’em.

    My way is simple. It won’t be easy, but in today’s economy my way may have some traction.

  34. 34
    Blurtman says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 31 – So as you stated, prosecuting any crime does not stop it (debatable), then why choose which crimes we will not prosecute, and why is it always financial crimes thyat somehow are not prosecuted?

  35. 35
    David Losh says:


    I found this in this afternoon news feed:

    WASHINGTON — Plans to base unarmed American surveillance drones in the African nation of Niger highlight the Obama administration’s growing concern about extremist influences in the volatile region. They also raise tough questions about how to contain al-Qaida and other militant groups without committing U.S. ground forces in yet another war.

    Most Americans should spend some time in Africa to understand what goes on there. It will change your life.

    Thousands of people die, every day, in Africa for stupid things we take for granted. Drones are a compromise. I think it is a good compromise, much better than missile defense or nukes, that we could never use without all out devastation.

    It may not be our job, but we have certainly added to the mess of political upheaval from before WWII.

  36. 36
    Blurtman says:

    RE: David Losh @ 35 – What it all about – set them up, knock them down, at all costs maintain access to the resources.

    Belgian MP LAURENT LOUIS stands against war in Mali and exposes the international neo-colonial plot!

  37. 37
    David Losh says:

    RE: Blurtman @ 36

    Belgium is one of the most brutal occupiers of Africa. To have this guy rail against Sharia Law, support Assad, and not see the will of the people in Africa is typical Western thinking.

    He can couch his remarks any way he wants, but his bottom line is to support the same oppression Belgium has enjoyed in Africa for a hundred years.

    We won’t be maintaining resources in Africa. That is what the dictatorships were for. That’s why Belgium supports Assad, because he is a puppet.

    Spend some time in Northern Africa. It will change your life. It will become really clear what has happened since Obama took office. It may be bad, but it is the Revolution we have promised people they can have.

    Oh, yeah, the drones, yes they are better than us putting in more occupying forces.

  38. 38
    ChrisM says:

    RE: David Losh @ 25 – “There are plenty of solutions. ”

    France, 1789

    I kid, I kid…

  39. 39
    ChrisM says:

    There are very easy solutions to this mess, but they will never be implemented because they attack entrenched powerful interests. Very simple solutions:

    1. Break up too big to fail entities
    2. Mandate foreclosures at 90 (or 120) days delinquency. Banks need to be discharging these properties and taking their pain, otherwise there’s no disincentive.
    3. Financial crimes get prosecuted, existing financial laws enforced. C-level executives and board members are barred from ever serving on a publicly traded company again
    4. Stock market trades must be held open for 10 seconds before cancellation
    5. Banks have to hold some percentage (10%?) of their underwritten mortgages
    6. (more controversial) Dividend payments receive incredibly favorable taxation, to encourage dividends instead of appreciation. The motivation here is that dividends can’t be faked, unlike the rest of accounting.
    7. I’d entertain thoughts of financial crimes being capital crimes, but haven’t thought that through. At the end of the day, C-level execs need to be sweating – we’re long past “moral hazard” concerns.

    All these are extremely simple. I wonder if we’ll ever see an Andrew Jackson equivalent in our lifetimes. I kind of doubt it.

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