Saturday, February 02, 2008

Calculated Risk: Fitch Concerned about Borrowers 'Walking Away'
"...the apparent willingness of borrowers to ‘walk away’ from mortgage debt has contributed to extraordinarily high levels of early default, which is particularly noticeable in the 2007 vintage mortgages:

This is from the blog Calculated Risk. The mantra from all presidential candidates is to bail out the folks who are getting foreclosed on. I understand this is an election year, so this is to be expectd. And I agree that some people were exploited, especially first time buyers. But the other side of the argument is that a whole bunch of other people--these jumbo loan folks--had their eyes wide open and were counting on prices going up. They knew they were buying more house than they could afford, but they expected to make a killing from the bubble before they ran out of cash. Some of these folks lied about their income and did whatever was needed to qualify. When the anticipated price increase didn't happen--because the bubble finally popped--these folks were the last ones standing in the big game of musical chairs. Suddenly they were overextended, and when prices went down they had negative equity. So, they stop making mortgage payments and walk away from the house after living in it free of charge for six or eight months.

Seems to me that somebody should make the opposing argument: that the government should let the market correct itself. Prices are way too high, making home buying unaffordable for many people. If the government prevents foreclosures (as Hillary Clinton says she wants to do) won't that prevent this correction? Is any candidate making that case? I'm not saying it is the right thing to do. I don't know. But I would welcome a serious discussion about the issue.
William M. Briggs, Statistician » Zombie attacks might increase due to global warming, study shows
Let's face it. The debate is over. The science is there. The question is, are we going to act before it is too late?

I mean for us, not the zombies.
L.A. is set to require pet sterilization - Los Angeles Times: "The Los Angeles City Council voted 10 to 1 Friday to approve mandatory sterilization of most dogs and cats at the age of 4 months or older, and city officials pledged low-key enforcement driven by complaints. The ordinance must get a second reading in a week, but it is expected to pass."

It seems that there are more and more examples of state and local legislation that intrudes into areas of people's lives that were once beyond the reach of government. So now in LA you can't let your dog or cat reproduce. If you want to buy a pet, you go to a professional breeder or pet store.

But enforcement will be "driven by complaints." I wonder how that works. What do you have to see in order to complain? The mind reels.
Mississippi Pols Seek To Ban Fats - February 1, 2008
This bill would prohibit restaurants from serving obese people. This nanny-state proposal is enough to turn a Marxist into a libertarian.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

U.S. 10-city home price drop a record in Nov: S&P | Reuters: "NEW YORK (Reuters) - Home prices in 10 major metropolitan areas fell a record 8.4 percent in the year through November, suggesting the housing slump is worsening, according to a Standard & Poor index released on Tuesday."
Midwest Conservative Journal: "The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has called for new laws to protect religious sensibilities that would punish “thoughtless and cruel” styles of speaking."

If you think civil liberties are threatened in the US, take a look at Great Britain. They are seriously considering banning possession of knives. They have laws against blasphemy. People get prosecuted for defending themselves against robbers and burglars. And this bonehead proposal might even get taken seriously by some MP.

Monday, January 28, 2008

How toilet-to-tap programs could help preserve our water supply. - By Eilene Zimmerman - Slate Magazine: "Officials in Orange County, Calif., will attend opening ceremonies today for the world's largest water-purification project, among the first 'toilet-to-tap' systems in America. The Groundwater Replenishment System is designed to take sewage water straight from bathrooms in places like Costa Mesa, Fullerton, and Newport Beach and—after an initial cleansing treatment—send it through $490 million worth of pipes, filters, and tanks for purification. The water then flows into lakes in nearby Anaheim, where it seeps through clay, sand, and rock into aquifers in the groundwater basin. Months later, it will travel back into the homes of half a million Orange County residents, through their kitchen taps and showerheads."

Don't the dogs of Orange County have a say in this policy? They would seem to be interested parties.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Great Britain: Don't treat the old and unhealthy, say doctors - Telegraph: "Doctors are calling for NHS treatment to be withheld from patients who are too old or who lead unhealthy lives. Smokers, heavy drinkers, the obese and the elderly should be barred from receiving some operations, according to doctors, with most saying the health service cannot afford to provide free care to everyone."
Lovely. And we here in the nasty old US are supposed to get warmed up for Hillary-care redux?
US blacks see 'financial apartheid' in subprime crisis: "People of color are more than three times more likely to have subprime loans,' concluded the organization United for a Fair Economy in a recent report which estimated that minorities have seen between 163 billion and 278 billion dollars of their equity go up in smoke since 2000.
With its weakened economy and a large black population more used to renting, Cleveland has become a poster child of the subprime crisis in a country where some 2.1 million borrowers are behind on their mortgage payments.
City officials estimate that foreclosures have swallowed some 70,000 homes and turned entire neighborhoods into ghost towns."
US mortgage crisis creates ghost town: "The streets are empty. Trash rustles down the road past rusted barbecues, abandoned furniture, sagging homes and gardens turned to weed.
This is Shaker Heights, a suburb of Cleveland and a town ravaged by the subprime mortgage crisis roiling the United States.
Faded 'for sale' signs sit in front of deserted houses. The residents are gone, either in search of new jobs after the factories shut down, or in shame after being evicted for missing their mortgage payments"

This is amazing. Shaker Heights is one of the few suburbs that has maintained stable racial integration since the 1960s. It has always been a nice middle class suburb. If this can happen in Shaker Heights...