Assorted Links 7/1/09


Support for Federal Reserve Audit Increasing

  • Drafting Effective Federal Legislation and Amendments, July 29, 2009
  • Preparing and Delivering Congressional Testimony, July 30, 2009
  • Advanced Federal Budget Process, August 3-4, 2998
  • Advanced Legislative Strategies, August 5-7, 2009
  • Alt-A and Option ARM Economic Disaster Update: California Solution? Workout 3,430 Alt-A loans in March. Good Job. All we have is an additional 643,000 Alt-A Loans in the State. At this Rate it will take us 15 years to Modify or Alter all Alt-A Loans. – “The Alt-A and Option ARM tsunami still looms large casting a dark shadow over the state of California housing. This is on top of the reality that we are now talking about issuing IOUs for only the second time since the Great Depression. I’m not sure if this is what many had in mind when Bernanke started talking about his imaginary friend Mr. Green Shoot. There is definitely no green shoots in California.
    . . .
    As you can see, the Alt-A and option ARM tsunami is still heading this way. Many of these programs being devised are betting (not explicitly) that another housing rebound is just minutes away. This is utter nonsense. Say you bought a $500,000 home that is now worth $250,000. Does a 40-year mortgage and a lower interest rate sound appealing to you? You are simply a renter. By definition you won’t be building up any equity given that one of the options in the CFPA is negative amortization. And do you really think that home will go up again? If you wanted to sell you would find yourself in the same position as today. Either a generous short-sale is approved or you walk away. And for those that think real estate can’t stay down for a long time I offer you Japan:”
  • House Bias: The economic consequences of subsidizing homeownership (4-page pdf) – “Ask most people in America today whether buying a home is better than renting one, and you’ll likely get a response that equates renting with stuffing money down a garbage disposal. The idea of homeownership today is not one that simply evokes the comfort or pride of living in a place of one’s own. Instead, it’s become part of a common investment philosophy.

    But if you ask Edmund Phelps, the Nobel Prize-winning economist from Columbia University, he’ll proudly declare that he doesn’t own a home. And to him, that’s not a bad thing. ‘It used to be that the business of America was business,’ said Phelps in August 2008 to Bloomberg News. ‘Now the business of America is homeownership.’ In fact, many economists will tell you that the American love affair with homeownership has some consequences that you won’t normally hear discussed.” ht Marginal Revolution

  • June Economic Summary in Graphs – “Here is a collection of real estate and economic graphs for data released in June … New Home sales have fallen off a cliff.”
  • Boom Time: Personal Bankruptcies in SoCal
  • ‘The Police Became a Mob’ – “The attack was so violent that it couldn’t be ignored. Several officers were prosecuted, but the blue wall of silence kicked in and several officers committed perjury to shield their criminal acts. Judge Easterbrook writes, ‘The distance between civilization and barbarity, and the time needed to pass from one state to the other, is depressingly short.'”
  • Congress Votes to Change the Weather – “As you undoubtedly know by now, Congress voted on Friday to change the weather–or more accurately, the climate. The idea that a government of one country could appreciably change the world’s climate over the next 40 years is the ultimate hubris. Legislators may think they are God, but they’re not.”
  • Want A Job? Learn SharePoint, Says Gary Blatt – from the comments: “typical government inept bureaucratic money-wasting decision, to pay for microsoft software that doesn’t work, everyone hates, and they can’t find anyone who wants to program in it or use it. and this parasite has managed to infiltrate the host _totally_… government 2.0 is broken; suggest immediate upgrade to 2.2. -bowerbird”
  • Stretching The Truth – “I said it in the film, I’ve said it in interviews, and I’ll say it again here: the obesity epidemic has been exaggerated to suit the goals of the weight-loss industry. If you check the story, you’ll notice it explains that Skinny Chef lost weight on the Cambridge Diet — one of those stupid, semi-starvation, liquid diets.

    If this woman truly did consider herself overweight and chose to slim down by eliminating the sugar and starch from her diet, I’d be all for it, because she’d be getting healthier in the process. But too many people focus exclusively on weight. They become so desperate to shrink themselves, they go on semi-starvation diets that end up wrecking their metabolisms — or worse, they let a surgeon cut apart their stomachs and bypass a crucial section of the digestive system.”

  • Arizona Group Forces Red Light Ticket Refund
  • From the Speaker of the California Assembly
  • Thoughts on a Schizophrenic Society – “Our greatest icons-Jefferson, JFK, FDR-at times conducted private affairs in a manner that this society would have sensationalized, a society that in fact is far more tawdry and without the decorum of the past. … popular culture idolizes certain postmodern traits and then turns Victorian when their tab comes due. … In the old days-sin being ageless and inherent in human nature-FDR simply kept his private life private, and most in the media complied. In a better age, the fact that he died near someone not his spouse was incidental and went unreported. Most in theory might object to the President’s adultery, but in fact did not care to know-inasmuch as they did not know the full details of the Roosevelt marriage and did not demand to find out. We live in a Dr. Jekyl/Mr. Hyde world-stifling prudery without the resulting prim and proper behavior; free love without the accompanying absence of shame and social stricture.”
  • In which regards are autistics more rational?
  • Study concludes Wikipedians are a bunch of grumpy introverts – “A study making the rounds suggests that Wikipedians may feel at home online, in part because they’re grumpy introverts. But the results need to be interpreted very cautiously, as they were based on only 69 contributors from a single nation, a tiny drop in the Wikipedian ocean.”
  • Toyota iQ Gets A Scion Badge And Aston Martin Grille – “The iQ has over the past year been touted with a bunch of paltry engines, ranging from a fire-breathing 1.0-liter inline three-cylinder to a smoking hot 1.4-liter diesel four-banger. Now, you could fit something as big as a 1.6 liter engine in there, according to Chief engineer Hiroki Nakajima, but we’re not ones to, um, encourage such things. The iQ will also feature a mileage-enhancing stop-start system, and should get around a highly impressive 56 mpg. And bringing it in as a Scion makes sense for the American market.”
  • Homegrown Evolution: Urban self-sufficiency

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Posted in: Caught Our Eye

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