Friday, December 26, 2008

Record pension underfunding seen for 2008-S&P | Markets | Bonds News | Reuters

Record pension underfunding seen for 2008-S&P | Markets | Bonds News | Reuters: "NEW YORK, Dec 23 (Reuters) - The funding status of U.S. pensions has been 'devastated' by sharp declines in the stock market this year and U.S. pensions are expected to register record underfunding levels for 2008, Standard & Poor's said on Tuesday.

Standard & Poor's analyst Howard Silverblatt expects pension funds of companies in the benchmark S&P 500 index .SPX to be underfunded by $257 billion in aggregate this year, beating the previous underfunding record of $219 billion set in 2002."

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Volokh Conspiracy - -

The Volokh Conspiracy - Eric Posner-: "Home ownership policy of the Bush and Clinton administrations was, in essence, an attempt to pay low-income people to make a risky investment that they would otherwise rationally avoid. I cannot understand why anyone would think that such a policy would be sensible."
Neither can I.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Raw Story | Nobel Peace Prize Winner Archbishop Tutu suggests using violence to remove Mugabe
Maybe there was a typo and it was the Nobel Peach Prize.

Can we have a Defcon Five Irony Alert?

Chinese drywall causes problems on the Treasure Coast : Treasure Coast : TCPalm

Florida: Chinese drywall causes problems on the Treasure Coast : "PORT ST. LUCIE — Martin and St. Lucie counties are two of nearly a dozen counties where complaints of possible exposure to the contaminated drywall in new homes have arisen.

The problem may have been sparked by drywall imported during the local construction boom of 2004 and 2005.

Some common symptoms are irritated eyes, coughing, sneezing, difficulty breathing, and symptoms similar to bronchitis and asthma.

The contaminated Chinese drywall may be emitting one of several sulfur compounds including sulfur dioxide or hydrogen sulfide. While exposure to fumes from sulfur dioxide can create irritation and breathing disorders, exposure to hydrogen sulfide can be deadly."

Nasty situation. I assume the only remedy is to remove and replace all the drywall.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

True Facts News: 10 Municipal Bankruptcies in Coming Year

True Facts News: 10 Municipal Bankruptcies in Coming Year: "Dec. 23 (Bloomberg) -- The accountant who predicted the nation’s largest municipal bankruptcy says as many as 10 insolvencies will roil the $2.7 trillion U.S. market for state, county and city debt next year as public finances worsen amid calls for federal aid to state and local governments.

John Moorlach said in 1994 that Orange County, California’s leveraged investing strategy could wreck its finances. The county went bankrupt about six months later after losing $1.6 billion.

As many as four cities in the Golden State and six others nationwide may seek court protection from creditors next year under Chapter 9 of the bankruptcy code, the section devoted to municipal governments, Moorlach said in an interview."

Only ten?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Driver banned for having world's most untidy car |

Driver banned for having world's most untidy car | "Police have banned a woman driver's car from the road - for being too untidy.

The Vauxhall Astra was so full of junk, magazines, old clothes and even bits of furniture that they could barely see the driver at it roared down a motorway in Dusseldorf, Germany.

The driver - who has not been named by police - has been banned from taking the car on the road again until it has passed a tidiness test."
I don't see how a human being could fit behind the wheel. - Where'd the Bailout Money Go? Shhhh, It's a Secret - Local News | News Articles | National News | US News - Where'd the Bailout Money Go? Shhhh, It's a Secret - : "WASHINGTON — It's something any bank would demand to know before handing out a loan: Where's the money going?

But after receiving billions in aid from U.S. taxpayers, the nation's largest banks say they either can't track exactly how they're spending the money or they simply refuse to discuss it."

This fits perfectly with Bush being able to give it to automakers if he chooses. Nobody has to account for anything connected to that $700 billion, apparently.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Richard White: Associations should allow members to volunteer to do tasks : Columns : Naples Daily News

Richard White: What happens when a CID tries to go banrupt?: "Q. If our condominium were to go into bankruptcy, what would happen to the condominium owners who are current on all assessments and repairs and own our condominiums in full with no mortgage? Would we still be able to live in our condominiums? — P.G., Miami

A. Usually the bankruptcy courts will not accept an association bankruptcy. Their feeling is that all the board needs to do is raise the fees. But let us look at a worst case scenario. Say more than half of your homes went into foreclosure and the fees were just overwhelming for the remaining owners. It means that none or few of your association services would be provided, no insurance, no payment of utilities, no repairs and no operations. The problem is that you could not sell your home for a fair market value and most banks would not provide the buyer with a mortgage if you could find a buyer. In my many years of management, I have only known of one condominium that successfully declared bankruptcy. There may be others but very, very few have been successful.

If the association does go bankrupt the owners are still on the hook for the debt.

Unfinished subdivisions stuck with underfunded HOAs

Unfinished subdivisions stuck with underfunded HOAs: "When the San Tan Heights Homeowners Association switched from developer control to homeowner-elected leaders in August, its new board members and management company learned that the HOA was practically DOA.

Its problems included nearly $1.6 million in unpaid dues that the previous HOA board in the Queen Creek-area community had made no effort to collect.

The biggest individual delinquencies belong to bankrupt home builders.

Developer abandonment is likely to become a serious issue in the coming year for as many as 200 of the more than 10,000 Arizona communities under HOA control, both opponents and supporters of Arizona's HOA policies say. both"

This is only the beginning.

Home Front: Impact fees may be the next battlefield for area builders - Sacramento Business, Housing Market News | Sacramento Bee: "When the housing market soared in Sacramento a few years ago, many cities, counties and school districts hiked fees for a new house, with some soaring into the $80,000s and $90,000s. Builders complained, but moved on. Times were so flush they just paid some and passed the rest to buyers. What did $90,000 matter if a house sold for $470,000 or more to a buyer using exotic financing?

It's sure different today. There are no exotic loans. And much of the new home market is back in the $200,000s. At those prices, builders say, the fees make it hard to break even.

So they're again pushing City Hall to rethink impact fees in light of a devalued housing market."

When cities were in the driver's seat the developers had to pay the fees, and then they passed them on to the home buyers in the form of higher home prices. So this practice fueled housing price inflation, which in turn contributed, along with other problems, to the whole debacle we are enjoying. Now a developer with money is able to strike a harder bargain. How will this play out? Cities have been minimizing property tax increases on residents by practices like impact fees, mandatory CIDs, TIFs, and other similar cost-shifting mechanisms. How will development be accomplished in this new financial environment, where nobody has any money?

Maybe new housing will be, shall we say, a bit humbler than in the past.

Thanks to Fred Pilot for the link.

CNN Meteorologist: Manmade Global Warming Theory 'Arrogant'

CNN Meteorologist: Manmade Global Warming Theory 'Arrogant': "CNN Meteorologist Chad Myers had never bought into the notion that man can alter the climate and the Vegas snowstorm didn’t impact his opinion. Myers, an American Meteorological Society certified meteorologist, explained on CNN’s Dec. 18 “Lou Dobbs Tonight” that the whole idea is arrogant and mankind was in danger of dying from other natural events more so than global warming."
He says there are other environmental problems that we should be concerned about.

Iraqi journalist who hurled his shoes at Bush was then viciously beaten | World news | The Observer

Not News Department: "The Iraqi journalist who hurled his shoes at President George Bush was viciously beaten after being taken into custody, according to a police officer who accompanied him to prison."
Shocking. What did he or anybody else think would happen to him? If he had done this to Saddam Hussein, he would have been fed slowly into a plastic shredder.

A tale of two houses - 12/19/08 - Chicago News -

A tale of two houses - 12/19/08 - Chicago News - "By Chuck Goudie

Real estate deals involving the governor and his wife have attracted the attention of federal authorities. Since Mr. Blagojevich was charged, most public attention has focused on the allegation that he tried to sell Barack Obama's Senate seat.

But authorities are looking at far more than that, including the curious tale of two houses.

The governor owns two houses. The governor's well-known residence on Chicago's North Side and a condominium that he and his wife own in the chic Dupont Circle section of Washington, D.C.

For a man who makes $177,000, owes $2 million in legal fees and is at risk of losing his job, according to property and tax records, Rod and Patti Blagojevich appear to be over-leveraged on their known real estate."

They could be living for free in the Governor's Mansion in Springfield, but he has insisted on living in Chicago all this time. He says it is "for the children," meaning that his kids attend a Montessori school in Chicago. The article suggests it is so his wife can make bucks from her real estate license. She is under investigation because her clients seem to be people getting favors from the Governor, such as the Mahajans.

Paris Hilton Like Totally Burglarized! : "Early reports estimate that upwards of $1 million worth of Hilton's belongings were snagged in the late Thursday/early Friday morning robbery. The break-in reportedly took place late on Thursday. Hilton apparently did not come home till early on Friday morning, at which point (it is presumed that) she called the LAPD.

The police are investigating the break-in at Hilton's swanky gated community. No one has been arrested yet, and there has yet to be a description released of the suspect(s)."

Ohmigod, I would like totally be wondering what I am getting for my assessments here at this "swanky gated community," I am so totally sure.