Weekly Open Thread (2015-02-23)

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Here is your open thread for the week of February 23rd, 2015. 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.

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.

42 comments:

  1. 1

    The Millenials need to Start Saving for The Seattle Area Mortgage Down payment

    “…Sure, skipping your morning latte may help save money over time, but why not attack your biggest expenses head on for quicker results? We’re talking about your rent, which is likely eating up over 30 percent of your take-home pay. You can try to negotiate a better rate with your landlord, move to a cheaper location, or downsize — going from a two-bedroom to a one-bedroom can drop your rent by 25 to 30 percent, depending on where you live.

    [Ready to buy a home? Click to compare mortgage interest rates now.]

    You could also bring in a roommate (or two). Sharing a home isn’t just for kids straight out of college anymore. In fact, the percentage of adults living with someone other than a spouse or partner continues to rise (32 percent nationwide in 2012; up from 26 percent in 2000, according to Zillow’s analysis of the latest Census Bureau data). Jump on the bandwagon and pocket the savings….”

    https://homes.yahoo.com/news/5-ways-really-save-down-payment-181853864.html

    There’s the answer, down-size to a 1 bdrm rent [or studio] and bring in a room-mate or two…LOL…did anyone say two sets of “bunk beds?”

  2. 2
    Blake says:

    LOL…
    From Lambert at NC:
    http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2015/02/200pm-water-cooler-22315.html
    Existing home sales, January 2014: Demand for housing remains flat. “Sales of existing homes in January fell a very steep 4.9 percent” [Bloomberg – link below]. “The NAR says it’s “puzzled” that homeowners are now staying in their homes 10 years on average vs the long term average of 7 years.” Maybe in the new normal, you’d be nuts to do anything other than hunker down? One might also wonder if chain of title issues have had any effect?
    http://bloomberg.econoday.com/byshoweventfull.asp?fid=467269&cust=bloomberg-us&year=2015&lid=0&prev=/byweek.asp#top
    … realtors want more “churn” in the market. buy-sell-buy-sell-buy-sell…
    Sorry this is the New Normal, get used to it!

  3. 3
    Blurtman says:

    RE: Blake @ – When the entire financial system is a giant fraud and financial criminals are confirmed as cabinet officials by both parties and crime does indeed pay for the connected, there is only one sensible strategy: Hunker down!

  4. 4
    Blurtman says:

    Elizabeth Warren’s Loved By Progressives. But They’re Torn On Convincing Her To Run For President.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/23/elizabeth-warren-progress_n_6731572.html

    The comments section is quite enlightening.

  5. 5

    Hey guys, where is a good place to look for house rentals besides craigslist? I’m asking for a friend who is looking for a house to rent and not having much luck. Any ideas? Zillow has a lot of apartments and some homes…anything else you can recommend for him? Thanks!

  6. 6
    Blake says:

    RE: Blurtman @
    You’d think by now that liberals would have realized the futility of pouring all their time and money into electing a President! What a scam… 8 years ago I was at a meeting in DC and in the evening I was in the hotel bar with 7 or 8 colleagues, mostly from overseas… England, the Netherlands, India. They were all excitedly buzzing about the US Presidential primaries and this upstart Obama! One of the British profs turned to me and said, Blake you don’t seem very interested or excited… why? I told them that the US President is not really that powerful… (gasp!?) He only seems powerful when he is saying and implementating things that the ruling elites want. But as soon as he “goes off the rails” and starts really trying to change things the great “vital center” (political/media/corporate/punditocracy) cuts him down to size. My colleagues protested that the US President is very powerful and I said, you just wait and see… The US is like a giant luxury liner/oil tanker lumbering along. Up on deck is the President and all the media whores/hordes filming him as he pontificates and spins a steering wheel… that is connected to nothing below! No Change. The system works… for the system. The two parties protect their interests… the $tatus quo.
    The US Super tanker is running out of gas, steering towwards the shallow waters where every empire has foundered in the past. It is inevitable and painful to watch. But I guess it is nice to dream that Liz Warren could save us and right the ship!? ;-)

  7. 7

    RE: Blake @ – I like that analogy. It fits with my saying there’s no real difference between Bush and Obama. And it explains the one major difference between them–that Obama managed to surprisingly push through healthcare legislation. That legislation greatly benefited insurance companies, health care providers and drug makers. Just what the “ruling elite” wanted.

  8. 8
  9. 9
    pfft says:

    By Kary L. Krismer @ :

    RE: Blake @ – I like that analogy. It fits with my saying there’s no real difference between Bush and Obama.

    worst analysis ever!

    Data tells us otherwise.

    How Liberal Is President Obama?
    http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/29/how-liberal-is-president-obama/?_r=0

  10. 10

    RE: pfft @ – Zoom! You totally missed the point. It’s not what they say, it’s what they do. What they accomplish. Go back and read post 6 again. So Obama doesnt’ get credit for being liberal by saying he’s for something he knows will never happen.

  11. 11
    Blurtman says:

    HSBC CEO – My Pay Was so Outrageous I Had to Use Tax Havens to Hide it from My Peers

    http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2015/02/bill-black-hsbc-ceo-pay-outrageous-use-tax-havens-hide-peers.html

    Yes, and Obummer says to not prosecute these criminals, and WA state senators Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum will vote to confirm the NY AG Loretta Lynch who gave HSBC a free pass and no criminal charges. Please do not vote for a major party candidate. They all suck.

  12. 12
    pfft says:

    By Kary L. Krismer @ :

    RE: pfft @ – Zoom! You totally missed the point. It’s not what they say, it’s what they do. What they accomplish. Go back and read post 6 again. So Obama doesnt’ get credit for being liberal by saying he’s for something he knows will never happen.

    look at what he has done lately while he was supposedly a lame duck. overhauled our immigration system(I know this is being challenged). he is going to veto the keystone pipeline. he’s finalizing new EPA air pollution rules. he negotiated new pollution agreements with China and India. lots changed when Obama had politicians to work with. we got the big 3. A historic stimulus that saved millions of jobs, improved our infrastructure, created green jobs and helped make our environment cleaner. A financial regulation bill. first one in decades. a historic healthcare bill that has made the uninsured rate plunge. none of that would have happened with a republican as president.

  13. 13
    pfft says:

    By Blurtman @ :

    HSBC CEO – My Pay Was so Outrageous I Had to Use Tax Havens to Hide it from My Peers

    http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2015/02/bill-black-hsbc-ceo-pay-outrageous-use-tax-havens-hide-peers.html

    Yes, and Obummer says to not prosecute these criminals, and WA state senators Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum will vote to confirm the NY AG Loretta Lynch who gave HSBC a free pass and no criminal charges. Please do not vote for a major party candidate. They all suck.

    a $2 billion fine is a “free pass” around here? I shouldn’t be surprised, accuracy is not a hallmark around here.

  14. 14

    RE: pfft @ – So let’s see.

    1. Immigration. Illegal and currently stayed by court order.
    2. Keystone pipeline. Continuing gridlock.
    3. New EPA rules. Not familiar, but given his history they are probably illegal too, and probably favor special interests.
    4. Pollution agreement with China. China doesn’t have to do anything until 2030.

    Quite the record of accomplishment. /sarc

  15. 15
    Blurtman says:

    “Large as the fines have been, they are small compared to the overall profits of the companies involved and they are booked as a one-time charge against profits, which thus are really a cost to the shareholders.”

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/frank-vogl/money-launders-and-corpor_b_2365555.html

  16. 16
    pfft says:

    By Kary L. Krismer @ :

    RE: pfft @ – So let’s see.

    1. Immigration. Illegal and currently stayed by court order.
    2. Keystone pipeline. Continuing gridlock.
    3. New EPA rules. Not familiar, but given his history they are probably illegal too, and probably favor special interests.
    4. Pollution agreement with China. China doesn’t have to do anything until 2030.

    Quite the record of accomplishment. /sarc

    “but given his history they are probably illegal too, and probably favor special interests.”

    lol. this is what passes for analysis around here.

  17. 17
    pfft says:

    By Blurtman @ :

    “Large as the fines have been, they are small compared to the overall profits of the companies involved and they are booked as a one-time charge against profits, which thus are really a cost to the shareholders.”

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/frank-vogl/money-launders-and-corpor_b_2365555.html

    thanks for admitting you were wrong.

  18. 18
    Blurtman says:

    Steal $100 million, do no jail time, and Loretta Lynch engineers a large fine of $1 million, and she is qualified on the basis of these types of enforcement actions to be the AG of the USA? I think not.

  19. 19
    Blake says:

    RE: pfft @
    pfft… should be pretty obvious by now that fining these corporations doesn’t deter them from continuing to engage in illegal behavior! There is so much money to be made that billion $ fines are just the cost of doing business! You gotta put the CEOs and Financial Offciers in prison, but a corporate lawyer like Holder wouldn’t dare lock up his former (and future!) clients!

    At least the HW Bush regime went after and jailed CEOs after the savings and loan debacle… Even W Bush went after close friends and supporters involved in the Enron scandal!!!? Obama-Holder has been WORSE than the Bushes on Wall Street prosecutions because they are spineless cowards. And Obama has been far WORSE going after whistleblowers and prosecuting leakers AFTER he spoke (blah blah blah) in his first year about the importance of protecting whistleblowers!!? Truly shameful…
    http://www.commondreams.org/news/2015/01/27/guilty-verdict-cia-agent-called-new-low-war-whistleblowers
    http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/01/obama-whistleblower-protections-signing-statement
    >> Why Is Obama Bashing a Whistleblower Law He Already Signed?
    … because he is a very cynical politician. Let’s all praise him for being such a principled leader!

  20. 20

    By pfft @ :

    By Kary L. Krismer @ :

    RE: pfft @ – So let’s see.

    1. Immigration. Illegal and currently stayed by court order.
    2. Keystone pipeline. Continuing gridlock.
    3. New EPA rules. Not familiar, but given his history they are probably illegal too, and probably favor special interests.
    4. Pollution agreement with China. China doesn’t have to do anything until 2030.

    Quite the record of accomplishment. /sarc

    “but given his history they are probably illegal too, and probably favor special interests.”

    lol. this is what passes for analysis around here.

    I just didn’t have time to look at that one. The point of the others though is that it fits with the analogy above. Lots of arm waiving and statements, but no real action. Also, actions that benefit higher powers (e.g. more legal workers for employees benefit business).

    Overall the point is this. It’s not like the country was headed left under Clinton and then swerved sharply right under Bush and then sharply left again under Obama. If you just listened to the political soundbites though, that’s what you would expect.

    The biggest impact a President has is probably appointing Supreme Court Justices. Replacing a liberal Justice with a conservative Justice (or visa versa) can have a real and lasting impact. Most of the rest is mainly theater.

  21. 21

    Here’s an update on a topic we’ve covered in the past–Tacoma potholes. Their roads really are some of the worst in the state. Paging Ray Pepper!

    http://www.kirotv.com/news/news/mayor-announce-ballot-measure-fix-tacomas-pothole-/nkJPd/

    Sort of an odd story though. Summary–we know there’s a problem, and we are going to deal with it, but we don’t know how just yet.

  22. 22

    RE: Blake @

    Seattle Real Estate is So Dependent on Old Money Cash Bags to Keep $1M 1920 Museum Pieces Selling at Ridiculous Price Levels; Almost All Household Incomes Don’t Qualify for Mortgages

    The Old Money is Drying Up, especialy real estate investing lately.

  23. 23
    Blurtman says:

    The only way I would vote for a Dem ticket in the next presidential election would be a Warren/Sanders ticket. If they added a real war hawk as defense secretary, they might have a chance. I could not stomach another four years of the same booshyte under Hillary.

    Yellen Defies Congress, Defends Greenspanian General Counsel Scott Alvarez After Elizabeth Warren Grilling

    “It is hard to emphasize strongly enough how serious those remarks were. They amounted to two things: first, the professedly-apolitical Fed throwing its weight in favor of banks, against the public interest, and second, the Federal Reserve opposing the law of the land. The latter is a clear message to financial firms that they can ignore the provisions of Dodd Frank that Alvarez discussed (and potentially others) safe in the knowledge that the Fed has their back.”

    “After the hearing, Yellen later expressed faith in Alvarez in a written statement. “My colleagues and I depend, with confidence, on Scott Alvarez’ expert advice and counsel,” Yellen said. “He is a dedicated public servant who is committed to thoughtful public policy.”

    “Understand what this amounts to. By immediately issuing a statement supporting Alvarez, Yellen is sanctioning his pro-bank, anti-Dodd Frank conduct. In any organization of the stature of the Fed, you cannot have staffers defying the policy of the institution. So Yellen is effectively saying that her lip service to Dodd Frank before Warren was bunk, that she stands fully behind Alvarez and his long history of pushing aggressively for bank deregulation.”

    http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2015/02/yellen-defies-congress-defends-greenspanian-general-counsel-scott-alvarez-elizabeth-warren-grilling.html

  24. 24
    Blake says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @
    Re; Potholes…
    Having lived in the midwest for 25 years – where the temps range from 15 below to near 100 degrees! – I have been puzzled why the potholes out here are so much worse when the pavement is not subjected to anything near the extreme temp range and freeze-thaws? My partner recently got an Outback and it is such a relief to drive her car on these crazy roads… (A 2012 Outback has an amazing suspension) My old Civic was almost destroyed a few times before I sold it last year. So puzzling…

  25. 25

    RE: Blake @

    Seattle Potholes

    A lot of rain and underground streams and sinkholes are likely the culprit here. Lack of upkeep too.

  26. 26
    Blake says:

    RE: Blurtman @
    This is worth reading:
    Gresham’s Dynamic: Why Bad Actors Dominate Financial Services
    http://scholarfp.blogspot.com/2014/10/greshams-dynamic-why-bad-actors.html#!/2014/10/greshams-dynamic-why-bad-actors.html
    -snip- “Hence, the solution to the problem of vast information asymmetry in the financial markets can be found with the application of a principles-based fiduciary standard of conduct. It imposes a restraint on greed which no other form of regulation can accomplish. Perhaps this is why the fiduciary standard is opposed by Wall Street and its proxies so vehemently. While the solution seems simple, the background against which regulation should be taking place is quite muddy. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), long ago captured by the very industry it regulates, has steadily weakened the fiduciary duties of investment advisers over time. It now permits core fiduciary obligations to be waived by consumers (despite the anti-waiver requirement found in the express language of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940)”….
    etc.
    … a pervasive problem that extends far beyond the financial services industry.

  27. 27
    Blurtman says:

    RE: Blake @ – “In essence, Wall Street adores consumers, and trains its work force to construct relationships based on trust and confidence with its customers in order to sell expensive and poor investment products. ” And both parties vote to confirm executives from this industry to cabinet positions.

  28. 28
    pfft says:

    By Kary L. Krismer @ :

    By pfft @ :

    By Kary L. Krismer @ :

    RE: pfft @ – So let’s see.

    1. Immigration. Illegal and currently stayed by court order.
    2. Keystone pipeline. Continuing gridlock.
    3. New EPA rules. Not familiar, but given his history they are probably illegal too, and probably favor special interests.
    4. Pollution agreement with China. China doesn’t have to do anything until 2030.

    Quite the record of accomplishment. /sarc

    “but given his history they are probably illegal too, and probably favor special interests.”

    lol. this is what passes for analysis around here.

    I just didn’t have time to look at that one. The point of the others though is that it fits with the analogy above. Lots of arm waiving and statements, but no real action. Also, actions that benefit higher powers (e.g. more legal workers for employees benefit business).

    Overall the point is this. It’s not like the country was headed left under Clinton and then swerved sharply right under Bush and then sharply left again under Obama. If you just listened to the political soundbites though, that’s what you would expect.

    The biggest impact a President has is probably appointing Supreme Court Justices. Replacing a liberal Justice with a conservative Justice (or visa versa) can have a real and lasting impact. Most of the rest is mainly theater.

    “Overall the point is this. It’s not like the country was headed left under Clinton and then swerved sharply right under Bush and then sharply left again under Obama. If you just listened to the political soundbites though, that’s what you would expect.”

    have you been paying attention at all? read the link. bush is not obama. also right now congress is as conservative as it has been in decades.

    “Most of the rest is mainly theater.”

    I can’t disagree more. no one who follows politics and policy would agree. new EPA rules are huge. do you know what positive effects on society reducing pollution has on all fronts? immigration is a BFD too. go tell someone effected that it’s not a big deal.

  29. 29
    pfft says:

    By Blake @ :

    RE: pfft @
    pfft… should be pretty obvious by now that fining these corporations doesn’t deter them from continuing to engage in illegal behavior! There is so much money to be made that billion $ fines are just the cost of doing business! You gotta put the CEOs and Financial Offciers in prison, but a corporate lawyer like Holder wouldn’t dare lock up his former (and future!) clients!

    At least the HW Bush regime went after and jailed CEOs after the savings and loan debacle… Even W Bush went after close friends and supporters involved in the Enron scandal!!!? Obama-Holder has been WORSE than the Bushes on Wall Street prosecutions because they are spineless cowards. And Obama has been far WORSE going after whistleblowers and prosecuting leakers AFTER he spoke (blah blah blah) in his first year about the importance of protecting whistleblowers!!? Truly shameful…
    http://www.commondreams.org/news/2015/01/27/guilty-verdict-cia-agent-called-new-low-war-whistleblowers
    http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/01/obama-whistleblower-protections-signing-statement
    >> Why Is Obama Bashing a Whistleblower Law He Already Signed?
    … because he is a very cynical politician. Let’s all praise him for being such a principled leader!

    I completely agree with most of what you said. anyone who has read what I’ve written would agree. however I was talking about a specific comment that was wrong. what blurtman said was wrong.

  30. 30
    pfft says:

    I know that this won’t get a lot of press but this is a big deal.

    Obama takes aim at brokers’ fees on U.S. retirement accounts
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/02/23/us-usa-fiduciary-idUSKBN0LR0XR20150223

  31. 31

    RE: pfft @ – How many times do I have to say zoom? You can’t seem to understand even simple points. I give up.

  32. 32
  33. 33
    ivan says:

    Post a wanted ad on nextdoor.com or Madrona Moms, or similar sites.

    RE: Jillayne Schlicke @

  34. 34

    A Big Prop for Seattle Real Estate

    Don’t do this if you’re a federal worker, you could get fired.

    Student Loan Forgiveness: (800) 518-2420

    Half the people who qualify for Student Loan Forgiveness never take advantage of the program. Call to see if you qualify: (800) 518-2420

    Good Luck

  35. 35
    pfft says:

    By Kary L. Krismer @ :

    RE: pfft @ – How many times do I have to say zoom? You can’t seem to understand even simple points. I give up.

    what am I not understanding at to what are you referring? you seem to be unable to back up your opinions with any facts even when you are repeatedly asked.

    for example, can you name an insurance mandate system that collapsed because costs spiraled out of control? you obviously can’t even though I’ve basically named the countries/states that have them, some for decades!

    I’ve pointed to data saying that Obama is not like Bush.

  36. 36

    RE: pfft @ – Apparently you can’t even understand the simple phrase “I give up.”

  37. 37
    Blurtman says:

    Obama’s Libya Debacle
    How a Well-Meaning Intervention Ended in Failure

    In retrospect, Obama’s intervention in Libya was an abject failure, judged even by its own standards. Libya has not only failed to evolve into a democracy; it has devolved into a failed state. Violent deaths and other human rights abuses have increased severalfold. Rather than helping the United States combat terrorism, as Qaddafi did during his last decade in power, Libya now serves as a safe haven for militias affiliated with both al Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). The Libya intervention has harmed other U.S. interests as well: undermining nuclear nonproliferation, chilling Russian cooperation at the UN, and fueling Syria’s civil war.?

    As bad as Libya’s human rights situation was under Qaddafi, it has gotten worse since NATO ousted him. Immediately after taking power, the rebels perpetrated scores of reprisal killings, in addition to torturing, beating, and arbitrarily detaining thousands of suspected Qaddafi supporters. The rebels also expelled 30,000 mostly black residents from the town of Tawergha and burned or looted their homes and shops, on the grounds that some of them supposedly had been mercenaries. Six months after the war, Human Rights Watch declared that the abuses “appear to be so widespread and systematic that they may amount to crimes against humanity.”

    http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/143044/alan-j-kuperman/obamas-libya-debacle

  38. 38

    RE: Blurtman @ – “None of that is a problem, because Obama did it.” Pfft.

    And correct, that’s not really a quote, but it does accurately reflect pfft’s opinion on Libya. See post 8 here: https://seattlebubble.com/blog/2015/02/16/weekly-open-thread-2015-02-16/#comments

    What I really don’t understand is the public perception of this. “Afghanistan is a breeding ground for terrorists” was widely accepted as being a concern–probably too accepted. Those breeding grounds have now expanded greatly, but no one now seems concerned. Large parts of the Middle East and Africa are now hell on earth, there are at least four failed states, but no one cares about that, or the consequences.

  39. 39
    Blurtman says:

    There is usually some lame but often successful attempt to manage and manipulate the perceptions of the sheeple – Saddam and 9-11 and terrorism and mushroom cloud, for example. And then its back to watching reality shows and while all might not be good, wasn’t American Sniper a great story?

    Those that believe in the omnipotence of US policy and leaders posit that the real goal is to purposefully destabilize the Middle East. At least going back to the installation of the Shah in Iran, there was relatively lasting stability in that regime change, but the blowback was a b*tch.

  40. 40

    I think in the case of Libya the blame goes beyond the US, although maybe Nato partners wouldn’t have participated if they’d known we’d be so unwilling to do anything after to clean up the mess. Maybe we mislead them.

    I’m just dealing though with the current perceptions or lack thereof. I knew about both Taliban and OBL before 9/11 (not that I foresaw the attack or knew that OBL was in Afghanistan), so maybe I pay more attention than most to foreign affairs. But it cannot be denied that the current situation is not good either from a national security point of view, or a humanitarian point of view. The latter is probably worse than the former. But no one is paying attention–no one cares. And I don’t think anyone is really paying attention to where we’re likely headed.

    Oh, and Putin made the news again yesterday too. Things are going swimmingly in eastern Europe too!

  41. 41
    Blurtman says:

    Pete Carroll, former head coach of the Seattle Seahawks, is reported to be very near to signing on as a special consultant to The Pope in Vatican City. The Pope looks to recruit Carroll to be a spokesman for the Catholic Church because he is the first man in history that made 100 million people jump up and yell “Jesus Christ!” at the same time.

    (And Obama said a run was the appropriate call.)

  42. 42
    pfft says:

    By Blurtman @ :

    Obama’s Libya Debacle
    How a Well-Meaning Intervention Ended in Failure

    In retrospect, Obama’s intervention in Libya was an abject failure, judged even by its own standards. Libya has not only failed to evolve into a democracy; it has devolved into a failed state. Violent deaths and other human rights abuses have increased severalfold.

    really? Libya was at war with it’s own people. obama was right to intervene. are the conditions right now worse than the war that was happening? probably not. let’s say we didn’t intervene, there would still be chaos in a post-war Libya.

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