Tuesday, February 19, 2008

SAR #8051

Net worth is always measured after taxes.

Goldilocks: How much surplus housing is there? If we viewed the entire US as a single market with all houses being equal, we would not need to build another house until 2010. I know, I know: Houses are not identical; yours is above average.

What's On TV? Research shows that the French get away with eating all that rich food and drinking the wine and eating the pastries because they stop eating when they're full. Americans eat until their plate is clean, until the program is over, until the beer and chips are gone, the whole damned Happy Meal.

Preview: A Reuters story reporting that Russian refineries will use 300,000 barrels of crude a day over the next 3 years was interesting because of its conclusion: "As crude production growth flags, that could mean a cut in exports." Not startling, you heard it here first: what gets used at home doesn't go to market, and producers are using more and more at home.

The Commons: Ask people if they are worried about global warming, they say "Yes!" Ask if they're willing to help reduce it, they say "Yes." Ask if they'll pay $10 a day in carbon taxes and they say "Let's wait and see how bad it gets." The average person just doesn't see this as a problem serious enough to make meaningful sacrifices over. We've done nothing since Kyoto. And we won't until the environmental cost become prohibitive. And then it will be too late.

Memo: Immediately after the Titanic hit the iceberg, there were two types of passengers: those who realized that the ship was sinking, and those who would soon realize that the ship was sinking. Can't remember what brought that up...

Punchline: The National Association of Realtors is running national television ads saying there has never been a better time to buy a home. Never.

Progress: When I was in short pants, bankers lent money based on Collateral, Character, and Cash Flow. By the time I retired there were NINA loans (No Income, No Assets) and the popular Liars' Loans. Now the parade is huddled under the overpass to get out of the rain because banks have rediscovered the idea that borrowers should actually be able to pay back the loan. It is not a "liquidity" problem. The problem is we're broke.

Urban Myth #487: Turns out that the dangerous sex fiends and Republican Congressmen are not lurking on the web after all. "Unjustified over-reaction" was the description offered by researchers. What goes unchallenged is the fact that children are most likely to be abused by a straight male relative.

Scrabble: Today's word: 'Deflation' explained: Behind the alphabet intimidation of CDOs, CLOs, ABCPs & CDSs were humble real things: mortgages, corporate debt and not quite so real things: inflated price mortgages, credit receivables (cards, cars). The ABCs created money out of thin air and that money chased up the price of assets like cars and houses and stock. The money is now evaporating and the price of assets is going to return to earth. It is called deflation. How much? Well something on the order of $45 trillion was magicked into being. Divide to find your share and deduct that from the value of your assets. That is 'Deflation." Class dismissed.

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