Monday Open Thread (2013-03-04)

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Here is your open thread for Monday March 4th, 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.

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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.

29 comments:

  1. 1
    Blurtman says:

    It is as much fun anatogonizing the silly knee jerk liberals on this site as it is the silly knee jerk conservatives.

  2. 2
    redmondjp says:

    With the sinkhole in Florida making the news recently, can we now say that they are actually making less land? My condolences to the family, but when the earth literally opens up directly underneath your bed (and no one else’s in the same house) and swallows you up, it is your time. This is something straight out of ‘Tales from the Crypt’, that HBO series about 20 years ago.

  3. 3

    RE: redmondjp @ 2

    Its Also a Good Distraction Story

    So the “knee-jerks” Blurtman talks about from both political parties can continue their brainless sequestration plans that are anything but “across the board”….they just alledgedly lump/announce most of the pain on American legal citizen middle class and omit the foreign/corporate income tax base vacuum cleaner cuts.

  4. 4

    SWE’s Monthly Investor Report for Feb 2013

    Feb 0.13% 0.51% 1.36% 1.00% (0.99%)
    YTD 0.25% (0.05%) 6.61% 8.02% 3.42%
    Last 12 mo 1.47% 3.27% 13.50% 14.48% 10.75%

    The data above is longterm CD, longterm bond, American Stocks, Foreign Stocks, Foreign Stocks.

    Looks like American and some foreign stocks are still doing well [some foreign stocks are losing money short term last month], despite sequestration…..the short term trending in long term bonds perked up in Feb, but YTD are losses [interest rates creeping up in January].

    If you’re a money investor in this “mixed bag” may the Irish Luck be with you…

  5. 5
    pfft says:

    By Blurtman @ 1:

    It is as much fun anatogonizing the silly knee jerk liberals on this site as it is the silly knee jerk conservatives.

    even sillier to think that people are knee-jerk anything!

  6. 6
    pfft says:

    I thought we didn’t produce anything anymore?

    Anyone Who Thinks America Doesn’t Make Stuff Anymore Is Dead Wrong

    Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/us-exports-hit-new-record-in-2012-2013-3#ixzz2MbI3Fjhq

  7. 7
    pfft says:

    blurtman hates people down on their luck trying to get help before the party bought and paid for by the rich screws things up.

    get a heart. by the way Germany had the first universal healthcare system starting in the late 1800s and is still one of the most socialistic countries.

  8. 8
    Blurtman says:

    RE: pfft @ 7 – No, I do not hate folks down on their luck. There have been at least two instances in my life when I was virtually penniless. And I had no one to rely on but myself. So I took whatever job I could get and struggled to get things on track. I did not expect money or housing from the government. It is a fact that extended UE benefits allow folks to blow off jobs that they consider beneath them. So it is the loss of this self-reliance virtue that I lament, enabled by the USG. BTW, I am neither German or Irish. My people came later than the 1850’s, and struggled with federal legislation designed to limit the immigration of their kind into the USA.

  9. 9
    top says:

    House prices are absolutely crazy right now. I had put in a strong offer and there were multiple above mine. I think I am going to stop looking now. There is no point since the rent vs mortgage payment is starting to favor renting even with the ridiculous low mortgage rates.

  10. 10
    pfft says:

    By Blurtman @ 8:

    RE: pfft @ 7 – No, I do not hate folks down on their luck. There have been at least two instances in my life when I was virtually penniless. And I had no one to rely on but myself. So I took whatever job I could get and struggled to get things on track. I did not expect money or housing from the government. It is a fact that extended UE benefits allow folks to blow off jobs that they consider beneath them. So it is the loss of this self-reliance virtue that I lament, enabled by the USG. BTW, I am neither German or Irish. My people came later than the 1850’s, and struggled with federal legislation designed to limit the immigration of their kind into the USA.

    “There have been at least two instances in my life when I was virtually penniless. And I had no one to rely on but myself. So I took whatever job I could get and struggled to get things on track.”

    great. but you don’t know those people and you were mocking their struggle. they could be less than penniless get a heart! you tell us how bad the economy and than trash those people.

    ” It is a fact that extended UE benefits allow folks to blow off jobs that they consider beneath them.”

    when you post evidence it’s a fact. right now it’s an opinion. last research I saw said people who collect unemployment are unemployed less than a week more than others. almost by definition you blame people who don’t have jobs personally.

    I would rather a professional stay home for a few more weeks than take a blue collar job from a blue collar worker who might not have the same economic resources.

  11. 11
    Blurtman says:

    RE: pfft @ 10 – I had posted a study from one of your favorite Nordic countries a while back. I’ll look for it again, but jeepers, you are incredibly uninformed. Larry Summers, c’mon, he’s Harvard!

    “Top economists — even within the Obama administration — know that extending unemployment insurance creates more unemployment.

    In a 1995 paper, Obama economic advisor Larry Summers observed that “unemployment insurance lengthens unemployment spells.” Even the Europe-based Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found that “It is well established that generous unemployment benefits can increase the duration of unemployment spells and the overall level of unemployment …”

    Reviewing literature on the subject, Alan Reynolds of the Cato Institute noted that:
    • Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy Alan Krueger co-authored a 2002 survey of the topic with Bruce Meyer of the University of Chicago. They found that “unemployment insurance and worker’s compensation insurance . . . tend to increase the length of time employees spend out of work.”
    • Krueger and Andreus Miller of Princeton also found that “job search increases sharply [from 20 minutes a week to 70] in the weeks prior to benefit exhaustion.”
    • Similarly, Meyer found “the probability of leaving unemployment rises dramatically just prior to when benefits lapse.”
    • Meyer and Lawrence Katz of Harvard estimated that “a one-week increase in potential benefit duration increases the average duration of the unemployment spells … by 0.16 to 0.20 weeks.”

    In each case, the economists found that unemployment benefits increase the duration of unemployment.”

    http://npri.org/publications/how-politicians-compassion-delays-economic-recovery

  12. 12
    Blurtman says:

    What, the very enightened Sweden tightened the social safety net and the economy improved! How can that be!??

    “Economist Stephen Nickell has found that nations with more generous and long-lasting unemployment benefits have higher rates of unemployment.[1] Unemployment rates in many European nations are higher than America’s. In fact, many European nations have unemployment rates in the double digits at all times, even during expansions. The problem of disincentives regarding social welfare programs is more general. Sweden provided not only unemployment insurance, but also paid sick leave. In 1963 the average Swedish worker was sick thirteen days per year. By 1988 the average Swedish worker claimed 25 paid sick days per year. The Swedes addressed this and other apparent abuses of social programs with welfare reforms. Improved economic performance followed the implementation of welfare (and tax) reforms in Sweden. We can learn something from this example, as well as from our own experience with welfare reform during the 1990s.”

    http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=2789

  13. 13
    Plymster says:

    RE: Blurtman @ 11 – First off, Larry Summers is a douche and a hack who championed deregulation (like the repeal of Glass-Steagall), championed fraud (by rolling over Brooksley Born when she raised concerns about derivatives risks at the CFTC), and cost Harvard a cool billion when he approved entering into swaps contracts. He also actively worked to exclude Paul Volcker from Obama’s National Economic Council…. but I digress.

    The Frisco Fed have a study and chart showing “Job Losers” vs. “Quitters/entrants” that pretty well sums up the story. Basically job losers (aka laid off workers collecting unemployment) get a new job at the same rate as quitters and new hires (aka people without UE benefits). The chart shows little difference, and the data indicates an average of 1.6 weeks (18.7 weeks for Losers, 17.1 weeks for Quitters) of extra time off for the “Losers” vs. the “Quitters”.

    Not an insignificant amount of extra time, but not really that damning for UI recipients.

  14. 14
    David Losh says:

    Oh, what the heck, I was closing out my tabs when I saw this, and I agree Unemployment Insurance is a very bad thing, especially extending it.

    I resent paying into it when I have a job, and hate paying for it as an employer. It is just stupid to pay people not to work.

    The way the system is set up it is like having another job. Just because you paid into it doesn’t mean your entitled to your contribution. No, you have the hoops to jump through, and some people are really good at playing the system.

    I would never willingly hire a person on unemployment, though I do know employers who do play this game of laying people off into unemployment during slow times.

    It’s a stupid game that should be replaced with a more of a saving for a rainy day type of thing.

    Welfare I’m much more open to, for those who can’t, or shouldn’t work. There are people who need help on a daily basis, just to cope, and I have all the respect in the world for the ones who do the very best they can.

    Unemployment though? Paying people not to work? Encouraging them to find work? I just think there’s a much better way to deal with economic turmoil.

  15. 15
    Plymster says:

    Keep in mind that it is “Unemployment Insurance”. You’re not “paying people not to work” anymore than you’re “paying people to get cancer” with disability insurance, or “paying people to get sick” with health insurance.

    I resent seeing friends layed off because their department was deemed unnecessary, or because their work could be easily off-shored, or because 12% of every department (whether performing up to standard or not) was laid off by management fiat. I don’t resent paying auto insurance, because it provides a useful service to me and allows me to plan reasonably.

    I’m going to go ram someone with my car now, since I’m being “paid to get into traffic collisions”. Look out world! ;-)

  16. 16
    Blurtman says:

    RE: Plymster @ 13 – Summers was Obama’s douche, and by extension, Obama is a douche. Summers famously suggested dumping toxic waste in third world countries as folks there did not live as long anyway. But yet, Obama saw something in the man.

    It is more than sadly hilarious when social scientists try to talk in Big Boy language, but are nonetheless cavemen aping scientists. The control group in the SF Fed study you cite includes folks who voluntarily leave the work force during a recession. It seems that such a control group would include financially well off folks, and so the study you cite might imply that folks receiving UE benefits are no more motivated to find work than the wealthy who don’t need to work. If this study were done when Yellen was the head of the SF Fed, I would not be surprised. Try again.

  17. 17
    Blurtman says:

    RE: Plymster @ 15 – If the damage you incur to your automobile greatly exceeds the premiums you are paying, bye bye. Not an apt analogy at all, unless you argue for no extension of UE benfits.

  18. 18
    banjo country says:

    Does anyone use TVIX as a hedge for their portfolio?
    I realize these products have a lot of ‘decay’, but me is getting nervous.
    TURN THOSE MACHINES BACK ON…………

  19. 19

    RE: David Losh @ 14
    Really? Is the economy really that good that any unemployed person can quickly find a new job? The financial industry greatly contributed to crashing the economy. A lot of jobs were lost. Say you found out about a person who’d worked in a factory for 15 years and was a great employee, but the factory closed and he was laid off. He goes out daily to look for jobs, but he still needs to feed his family. Even though he’d make a great employee, you wouldn’t hire him because he felt he had no choice but to collect unemployment?

  20. 20
    David Losh says:

    RE: Ira Sacharoff @ 19

    Do you think we will ever have cradle to grave employment ever again? Do you think we’ll ever have full employment?

    I was a factory worker at one time, and that employer pulled up one day to move from Fremont to Stanwood, because he could get a better deal out there.

    Would you really trust your employer to be there for you? Do you really think that Unemployment Insurance isn’t anything other than another cog in the wheel of company profitability?

    It makes us feel good to say that this will feed a family, but it isn’t any solution, now, or in the future for the shift we have in employment practices.

    A lot of these programs were started with the idea that we would be one country with one set of financial goals, but we’ve changed.

    I think that more people need to fend for themselves. We need more people in the business world. We need more smaller businesses to work together so they can come up with solutions.

  21. 21
    whatsmyname says:

    Blurty, I almost missed this from the weekend thread. I think it merits a response. Thanks for the hint in post 1.
    By Blurtman @ 19:

    RE: whatsmyname @ 18 – I will assume that you posted 10 without thinking. Are you saying that receiving extended unemployment benefits is selfishness?

    That was your argument. Let’s quote your post 9: “No, I am observing that this country is done when folks feel that the money to buy the things they want must come from somewhere other than themselves.” Context was your post 7, to include housing voucher for teen mom, unemployment extension for unemployed dad and the Blue Angels.

    a country takes land, and vanquishes the original inhabitants, how could the country do anything but survive that? Of course it will survive that, it will become a much bigger country with more natural resources……..To equate that with a non-worker expecting unemployment income is bizarre.

    Yes, many persons in that country get more resources from taking the land , just as the some unemployed workers in that country get more resources with unemployment. Are you redefining the country to exclude workers now? Nice Orwellian touch in redefining them to non-workers, btw.

    Yes, I took out “The Native Americans, on the other hand, did not survive well.” because it is a non-germane distraction whose apparent purpose is bridging to this:

    It would have been a little more logical to compare the vanquished Native American living on the reservation with the unemployed expectant, but just barely.

    No logic here. This is simply an attempt to confuse superficial similarities (of poverty) without any bearing on the argument into a nonsensical, not the point argument.

    You are also equating an allegedly subsidized education with a free education. Better to admit you are wrong than to continue digging.

    Leaving aside the legacy infrastructure which you conveniently ignore, you wish to create a distinction that only some free money is morally different than more free money? Perhaps I really was wrong; I had thought your pronouncement that America is done to be a moral conclusion about expecting something for nothing. Perhaps what you really meant was that the specific sums committed to in extending unemployment a few weeks, providing a few more housing vouchers, (and yes, the Blue Angels too) are literally going to bankrupt us this year.

    I offer you this victory: you truly do confound me. I am never quite sure whether you are being more obtuse or more mendacious. The victory for me is that it really doesn’t matter which.

  22. 22
    Blurtman says:

    http://www.redzu.com/

    Hilarious. A dating site to link up zombies with humans. Why not?

  23. 23
    Blurtman says:

    RE: whatsmyname @ 21 – I am not going to parse words with you. I come from the “lower middle class.” My father never attended high school. He had to go to work to support his siblings. My ancestors were discriminated against by this government. I have faced racial discrimination from affirmative action. I have been penniless twice that I can painfully recall, and totally on my own. I am now a millionaire, and getting wealthier. If I moaned about getting my free housing cut off, or UE benefits cut off, I probably would still be in a dependent situation. I think even Clinton reached that conclusion about welfare, that it created a perpetual welfare class.

    Yes, having good health is part of it. But so is the virture of self reliance and the ability to suck it up. I am not at all unique in that respect, but if we lose this virtue in the USA, we are done.

  24. 24
    One Eyed Man says:

    RE: Blurtman @ 23RE: whatsmyname @ 21

    I don’t think that I would impugn Blurtmans sincerity or his intellect. He has previously assailed the inequity and corruption inherent in the societal rewards to modern day financial robber barons as well as the inequitable rewards detailed in his current rant against those at the lower end of the economic spectrum who seek something for nothing.

    I guess I think that perhaps the two of you have more in common than you realize. From your comments here I believe I see far more common ground in your positions than the venom and sarcasm each of you convey. I think you’d both agree that there is inequity, corruption and inappropriate economic incentives at each end of the economic spectrum. The real difficulty is in crafting changes (regulation and de-regulation, etc.) that helps to fix the apparent problems without incurring other, perhaps more harmful costs to society.

    Crafting a system that provides functioning and reasonable levels of capitalist market incentives paired with an economically feasible and functional social safety net is a moving target that varies with changing technology, availability of resources, economic cycles and global economic issues. I think we’re all probably fighting the same never ending battle for truth, justice and the American way. We may not be supermen, but we can all see the mountain. What we need is someone to point out a socially responsible and economically feasible way to the other side.

    It’s an impossible mission, should you chose to accept it. Human nature probably includes a desire to get the greatest reward for the least effort. The dole has probably been around throughout all of western history and it looks like bankers have probably always sought easy money by financing ill-gotten gains.

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

  25. 25
    David Losh says:

    RE: Blurtman @ 23

    On the other hand I recognize that I am a white male in America, and as such have privledge.

    I can walk up to just about any door, and knock on it. I dress the part, and when I’m in a suit there is very little I can’t do.

    You could point to a number of people who dress the part, but never get it right, because they are outsiders to that rare circle of those who claim the privledge.

    My opportuunities are boundless. I can make money doing anything. People may object to me, but I am still that person of privledge.

    Don’t you find that bizarre, because I do?

    Being in the Real Estate business taught me the difference of who gets what. If you play the game, if you look the part, if you say the right things, everything is easy.

    If you fight the system, if you are different, you just don’t get as far.

    Now for me, I can make all the mistakes in the world, and have them forgiven. Others have a much harder time with little things. Why is that?

    We need a safety net that can help those who can’t help themselves. We need a safety net for the big things like Health Care, or the elderly, or education.

    Probably what we really need is more incentive for people to be creative with the time they have to be productive. Lower taxes for small business, and some help for being in business.

    What I’m more concerned about is that I’m a pretty nice guy over all, but there are many people with privledge that are duck heads. How do you protect the public from them?

    Isn’t that the other problem you’re talking about? Those of privledge who take advantage of the system we have? So you are fighting both ends, but where’s the middle ground?

  26. 26
    wreckingbull says:

    Hugo Chavez dead, Dow at record high, bidding wars and inspections waived in Ballard. Happy times are here again. Don’t mind that elephant in the corner, just get me some hookers and blow, stat.

  27. 27
    Blurtman says:

    R.I.P Hugo Chavez, man of the people.

  28. 28
    whatsmyname says:

    RE: Blurtman @ 23

    Good jujutsu. If you get nailed parsing words, put yourself above it all by announcing you won’t parse words. Then switch to argument by anecdote. Always a good power move when the kids or employees are already cowed. For me, though, your “we are done” is still nothing more than unsupported sloganeering.

    Strangely, we have more in common than one eyed man imagines. People are better off, absolutely, to goal themselves to self sufficiency. We live in a place where “anyone” can get rich, but “everyone” cannot. That is the nature of the system. We all benefit from past generations, and from chance. You did better than your dad. Your opportunities were better than your dad’s, and likely because of your dad, so don’t pat your own back too much when looking at others like him.

    One more thing, Sucking it up is a good thing. But if a newly minted millionaire can not bring himself to suck it up, that message will ring hollow with those less fortunate. Why wouldn’t it?

  29. 29
    whatsmyname says:

    RE: One Eyed Man @ 24
    “From your comments here I believe I see far more common ground in your positions than the venom and sarcasm each of you convey.”

    I think the venom and sarcasm is part of that common ground. No worries; it’s fun, not personal. You are remarkably patient and peacemaking for a “one eyed man”. I agree with your post, and I haven’t even watched the youtube yet.

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