Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Home price drop worst ever - check yours

Image of Cyberhomes
Check your home's
current value at Cyberhomes.com

Home prices in the United States fell 11.4% last month, the worst drop since Standard & Poors began tracking them in 1987. A broader composite of cities shows home prices falling 10.7%, the first time both indices have ever fallen by double digits.

I checked my home on Cyberhomes and found it has dropped $22,770 just last month. I don't know about you, but I can't make that up by turning down the thermostat to the point where I turn blue.

Cyberhomes says my home would sell today for between $179,091 - $228,838, so the drop reflects what Standard & Poor's is reporting. Since I am 63 and have hopes of retiring someday without being forced to dine exclusively on dog food, losing more than a tenth of the value of my major asset is disconcerting, to say the least.

Pocketbook politics means me even more upset with the Clinton's continuing ego quest to win the nomination for Hillary at any cost.

David Brook's column in the New York Times today says that Hillary's 10% chance of winning the nomination is now down to 5%. Given the choice between McCain, who admits he's no good on the economy, and Barack Obama, Hillary and Bill apparently have no qualms about conducting a scorched-earth campaign that risks handing McCain a victory in the fall.

On "Morning Joe" on MSNBC this morning, Chris Matthews proposes that the Clintons would prefer a one-term McCain presidency to a possible two-term Obama presidency, if Hillary cannot get the nomination this time. Matthews is suggesting that the Clintons are so ruthless that they will do whatever they can to set up Hillary for the next time, if she cannot win this time, even if it means electing a Republican in the fall.

Now that's Hardball.

And that's reprehensible.

And it must be stopped before the bottom completely falls out of my home's value.

It's time for Howard Dean et al in the Democratic Party to find a way to put a stake through the heart of the Clinton candidacy at the end of the primary season in June, at the latest. Waiting until the convention in August is a surefire way to weaken the Democratic candidate to the point of unelectability.

Guiding the U.S. economy through the dangerous shoals of a falling dollar, a ballooning trade deficit, continuing losses in manufacturing jobs and dramatic rises in energy and food prices, on top of the crisis in housing, requires focusing on what the candidates propose to do about the economy.

Yes, I know Hillary embellished the dangers she faced in Tuzla a dozen years ago. But, as Dick Cheney would say, So? It's time for the media to stop trafficking in trivia, even when today's news benefits my guy.

Before the housing market collapses completely, let's get back on track and start talking about what government can do to turn this around, other than bailing out the big boys on Wall Street, while fobbing me off with $600 I will have to wait months to collect.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Economic predictions sound familiar - meanwhile BBC shows us the new Hoovervilles

CNBC superstars Erin Burnett ("Street Signs") and Maria Baritromo ("Closing Bell with Maria Bartiromo) just appeared on "Meet the Press" where they (mostly) assured everyone that the economy looks good in the long run and how much better off you will be if you put your money in stocks.

Money Honey Bartiromo said that the Federal Reserve and international banks have made it clear they will do whatever it takes to avert disaster. Up-and-comer Burnett hinted that there are some who fear that doing everything may not be enough to stave off nasty surprises.

An editorial in Gold Eagle by Colin Seymour in 2001 saved me the trouble of looking up reassuring predictions from the past. Here are a few of the 20 entries Seymour gathered:

- "There will be no interruption of our permanent prosperity." - Myron E. Forbes, President, Pierce Arrow Motor Car Co., January 12, 1928

- "We feel that fundamentally Wall Street is sound, and that for people who can afford to pay for them outright, good stocks are cheap at these prices." - Goodbody and Company market-letter quoted in The New York Times, Friday, October 25, 1929

- "I am convinced that through these measures we have reestablished confidence." - Herbert Hoover, December 1929

- "There is nothing in the situation to be disturbed about." - Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon, Feb 1930

- "... the present depression has about spent its force..." - Harvard Economic Society, Aug 30, 1930

- "All safe deposit boxes in banks or financial institutions have been sealed... and may only be opened in the presence of an agent of the I.R.S." - President F.D. Roosevelt, 1933

- - - - - -

My goal is not to foment panic. After all, economic prosperity depends on everyone maintaining faith in the system, and I have a retirement account to protect.

But I, for one, am weary of having my security threatened by a two-party system with one position on the economy, which is to allow corporate America to call the shots without any real regulation.

Remember the Savings and Loan scandal? Weren't we supposed to learn some lessons from that?

Republicans and Democrats colluded in passing NAFTA without requiring other countries to meet our environmental and labor standards, guaranteeing the playing field for manufacturing jobs would tilt elsewhere. Then there was the Internet bubble, the Enron energy bubble and now the housing bubble.

Remember the old song called "I'm forever blowing bubbles - pretty bubbles in the air"?

When the bubbles burst, tax dollars are used to mop up the fallout on corporations, but not on citizens. And our corporate media colludes in offering reassurances rather than analysis.

Congratulations to the BBC for showing us the tent cities springing up in our country. And thanks to the Internet for allowing us a way to see real reporting again.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A break from politics - or maybe not?


Click on the little doggie, and she will take you to a place where you can give her commands. (Don't forget to ask for a "kiss.")

The first time I asked her to vote for Obama, and she told me to "Please put that in dog-friendly language." The second time, she said, "That is beyond my abilities.

I wonder what she would say about Hillary? Recognize another b----? (As Barbara Bush would say, "Rhymes with rich.")