Weekly Open Thread (2013-12-23)

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Here is your open thread for the week of December 23rd, 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.

Note: The comment limit in open threads is 25 comments per person.

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.

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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
  2. 2
    Ron says:

    Among other things, this outta help prop up values in 2014…

    “Chinese Investments In US Commercial Property Soar By 500%”

    “Chinese investors, the second-biggest overseas buyers of U.S. residential real estate, are building up portfolios of U.S. commercial property as they look for new avenues of diversification. ”

    “Chinese entities announced more than $5.89 billion in projects in January-October, nearly six times the $996 million for all of 2011 and 2012 combined, showed data from New York-based consultancy Rhodium Group.”

    “There is a lot of upside,” said Thilo Hanemann, Rhodium’s research director. “We are at the beginning of a structural increase of Chinese investment in U.S. commercial real estate.”

  3. 3
    Macro Investor says:

    RE: Ira Sacharoff @ 1

    Check out tinyurl.com

  4. 4

    RE: Macro Investor @ 3RE: Ira Sacharoff @ 1 – Now every time the NWMLS reports a Rule 50 violation, I’ll wonder . . ..

    Here’s another version of the story: http://tinyurl.com/oda3mwc

  5. 5

    It’s really nice that the Kitsap County Sheriff is at least trying, but if this example of a government website is representative, it’s amazing that the Obamacare sites work at all!


    No thumbnails, no links to the next picture. Maybe people who have had stuff stolen have more motivation to click through links.

  6. 6
    Macro Investor says:

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 5:

    Maybe people who have had stuff stolen have more motivation to click through links.

    I’m even less impressed.

    If they know it’s stolen, there must have been a report from the victim. So from the description, it should be a simple matter to match up with the owner.

  7. 7

    RE: Macro Investor @ 6 – It could be that this is the remainder of a bunch of stuff found with other stuff that was known to be stolen, and unlikely to be owned by the people who were in possession of it due to it’s nature/description, or even how/where it was stored.

    It could also be that they’re wrong. Some of that stuff doesn’t look like the type of stuff that would be stolen by anyone. Maybe they’re wrongly accusing someone?

  8. 8

    The Washington Court system sent out a link to this press release:


    Simple scam–claim the recipient has to appear in court and open an attachment to find out the details. The attachment is malware.

    Also, King 5 was reporting a car wrap scam. If you show interest in having your car wrapped with advertising for an energy drink to earn $350 a month, they’ll send you a check for something like $2,300 which you are to deposit and then end approximately $1,900 to a business in the Philippines “after the check clears.” Believe it or not, attorneys get targeted in much larger amounts with a similar trust account scam. When a client asks for their money back out of trust, the attorney is very inclined to give it to them, even if it’s a new client and a recent deposit in the high five figures–which was an amount much more than requested as a retainer. They should have paid more attention during their class on the Uniform Commercial Code.

  9. 9

    RE: Ron @ 2

    I’d Be Careful Following Chinese Real Estate Directions

    Aren’t they the country that over built MASS condos and shopping malls that have turned into empty tombs?

    Japan bought a lot of over priced real estate in America in the late 80s too, only to lose their shirts.

  10. 10

    RE: softwarengineer @ 9 – I won’t purport to be an expert on China and the changes to their economy, but their overbuilding could be due to their central planning, which is a bit ironic because the overbuilding in this country is caused by the lack of central planning (developers not coordinating). Apparently human beings just have too much of a desire to build buildings.

  11. 11
    Blurtman says:

    As bad as things in Washington are — the federal government shutdown since Tuesday, the slim but real potential for a debt default, a political system that seems increasingly ungovernable — they are going to get much worse, for the United States and other advanced economies, in the years ahead.

    We are reaching end times for Western affluence. Between 2000 and 2007, ahead of the Great Recession, the United States economy grew at a meager average of about 2.4 percent a year — a full percentage point below the 3.4 percent average of the 1980s and 1990s. From 2007 to 2012, annual growth amounted to just 0.8 percent. In Europe, as is well known, the situation is even worse. Both sides of the North Atlantic have already succumbed to a Japan-style “lost decade.”

    That means a higher retirement age, more immigration to increase the working-age population, less borrowing from abroad, less reliance on monetary policy that creates unsustainable financial bubbles, a new social compact that doesn’t cannibalize the young to feed the boomers, a tougher stance toward banks, a further opening of world trade and, over the medium term, a commitment to sustained deficit reduction.


  12. 12
    Blurtman says:

    Maybe we should think about dropping the word “recovery” from our vocabularies, at least for the time being.

    Again, this is a reminder that, for perhaps the majority the country, this has been a recovery in name only. Neil Irwin notes that an American family at the exact middle of the income distribution now earns slightly less than it did in 1989, in inflation adjusted dollars, meaning they’ve said goodbye to 25 years of economic progress (in fairness, median incomes were at about the same place in 1996). The Economist, meanwhile, gestures to the graph below, which shows that incomes have essentially flatlined or declined slightly for everyone, rich and poor alike, since the dotcom bust.

    We’re in a “lost decade” that, depending where you are in the economy, has now stretched on for at least 12 years.


  13. 13
    Blurtman says:

    You pompous celibate!

    “Perhaps more shocking, Eastside has admitted to making a last-ditch effort to keep Zmuda in his position: School President Sister Mary Tracy asked him to dissolve his marriage in order to retain his job. Zmuda declined the offer. As his student explains, “I think that he would much rather share that love with [his partner] and get married than think about what the school was doing.””


  14. 14

    By Blurtman @ 12:

    Neil Irwin notes that an American family at the exact middle of the income distribution now earns slightly less than it did in 1989, in inflation adjusted dollars, meaning

    Meaning that perhaps this is yet another area where statistics are misleading.

    How many homes in 1989 had a 50″ or larger TV?
    How many homes in 1989 had multiple computing devices?
    How many homes in 1989 had a way to view tens of thousands of hours of entertainment on an “on demand” basis?
    How many homes in 1989 had at least one phone number for every member of the family?

    Our average standard of living is clearly improving, but many of those improvements do not show up in earning or spending statistics.

  15. 15
    Blurtman says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 14 – Hopefully the four cited “advances” do not represent your idea of an increased standard of living. Perhaps the dollar menu at McDonalds should be another.

  16. 16

    By Blurtman @ 15:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 14 – Hopefully the four cited “advances” do not represent your idea of an increased standard of living.

    I’m not sure why they wouldn’t. Presumably people who can buy those things already have food and housing.

    But if you prefer travel, in inflation adjusted dollars air travel is probably less expensive than in 1989 too. And I’m not sure if gas is cheaper by the gallon than in inflation adjusted 1989 dollars, when you factor in average fuel economy it probably is. That said, my car in 1976 got 40 mpg, so yet another example of how statistics can be misleading.

  17. 17
    Blurtman says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 16 – Autos, healthcare, homes.

  18. 18
    Blurtman says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 16 – And of course, higher education. And pro sports tickets, that one is perhaps the most important.

  19. 19

    RE: Blurtman @ 17&18 – Those are all areas affected by government interference. Autos are more expensive due to safety, pollution and efficiency legislation. Healthcare is more expensive due to tax regs on employer provided insurance and Obamacare. Homes are more expensive due to many government programs (Fannie, Freddie, FHA, VA, various state first time buyer programs, Section 8, deduction of interest, zoning, etc.) Student loans make higher education much more expensive.

    Season tickets on the other hand might possibly be slightly cheaper due to government financing of stadiums, but I suspect most of that benefit goes to the owners and players. Also, being able to see a player who makes X million a year due to government stadium subsidies might actually increase demand for tickets,and thereby raise prices.

    Just remember that not only are politicians liars, but their programs actually make things worse overall when it comes to prices. (Less pollution and safer cars though, might be worth the extra cost.)

  20. 20
    Blurtman says:

    Cheers for the Seahawks. The 49’ers and Pantheras are the most dangerous contenders, IMHO. I think the Hawks can handle Denver.

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