A Moment of Truth With The National Association of Realtors

9 01 2009
Kevin Is Back, by Anthony Citrano
Kevin Is Back, by me.

For the are-you-fucking-kidding-me files, we have an article from this month’s issue of Realtor – the official magazine of the National Association of Realtors. In the article “Overcoming Buyer Reluctance“, various ways to trick people into trying to catch a falling knife are discussed.  While the piece is primarily excerpted from Gary Keller’s new book, “Shift”, it’s presented as a how-to for realtors who are struggling to find buyers in this market.  (They find it odd that people finally seemed to have smartened up, I guess.)

Here is the first tip they offer:

“A simple technique to prove to potential buyers, or even sellers, that they can’t perfectly time the market is to do this easy demonstration: Take out a blank sheet of paper and pen. Now, starting at the top of the paper, draw a line going down and at the same time ask the buyers to stop you when the market has bottomed out.  As long as your line keeps going straight down they won’t be able to. The moment you start back up, they’ll say ‘there!’ but of course they missed the bottom. Now, keep drawing your line up while asking them to tell you when the market has peaked. Again, they won’t be able to tell you until you’ve rounded the top and started back down. Then they’ll say ‘there!’ and once again they’ll be behind the peak.  This should be a moment of truth for them.”

Yeah, it should.



Vote or be Ugly and Uncool

3 11 2008
vote for better tape

image by tom.arthur via Flickr

Everyone – please, for the love of all that is holy, get out and vote tomorrow.  If you can vote early (at this point I guess that’s just today), do. Those of you who can’t vote early, please be sure you know where your polling place is, and that you bring anything you may need to bring (some states require ID for first-time voters.)

RockTheVote has a great resource center that helps you figure out where to go and what you need to bring.  Use it.  Now.  And DO IT.

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Systemic Shock Is Here

9 10 2008
Currier & Ives print on economic bubbles, 1875.

Tonight’s reading:

Princeton Economist Krugman: Bailout 2.0 by this weekend or else:

“… it will be very alarming if this weekend rolls by without a credible announcement of a new financial rescue plan, involving not just the United States but all the major players.…the only things anyone wants to buy right now are Treasury bills and bottled water…  You may think that things can’t get any worse — but they can, and if nothing is done in the next few days, they will.

NYU Economics Prof Nouriel Roubini presents a grim assessment on his blog tonight:

“The US and advanced economies’ financial system is now headed towards a near-term systemic financial meltdown .. [this] crisis was caused by the largest leveraged asset bubble and credit bubble in the history of humanity..”

Even with aggressive coordination we could see near-term bank or market closures and otherwise fitful times.  I reiterate my advice that you each seriously consider a personal or family contingency plan for a potential four-alarm banking emergency.  This may seem unlikely – but it’s no longer out of bounds in pleasant conversation.  We discussed this very delicate issue in a bit more length here, and I’m hoping to write a little more about it in the next couple of days.

Sorry it’s been a little bleak around here lately.



European Perspective

6 10 2008
Some national sides of euro coins

It’s interesting to watch Europe grapple with the global finance fiasco.  Until today I had not given a lot of thought to the much more complex policy environment they face with regard to the Euro.  They have a single currency, yet no single government body nor bank to manage associated monetary policy.  So, “internally” coordinated responses are nearly impossible.  Milton Friedman once said the Euro was unlikely to survive its first recession.  This will be another interesting dynamic to watch.

Related articles:



Mortgage Mess 101

5 10 2008

Great 60 Minutes segment from today helping explain this mess…


Watch CBS Videos Online



Fixed Income Panic

4 10 2008

Cozy weekend reading.

Seeking Alpha: Corporate Bond Market Grinding to a Halt

“The market in my opinion is on the verge of ceasing to function… it is nearing the time when my next post will be an obituary for the fixed income market.”

Don’t miss this trader’s comment: Read the rest of this entry »



Breadlines and Battlecries

30 09 2008

Scoble Blames You

Valleywag picked up a FriendFeed discussion between a few of us yesterday regarding the bailout bill within which Scoble blames “people like [me]” for the coming “breadlines”.  It rings a little hollow considering where I’ve been on all this and where he’s been (i.e. nowhere), but it brings a much more important issue to the fore.

To the thread in particular, I realize how acerbic my tone can be when discussing such things and try to be cognizant of that every time I write.  Sometimes my frustration – the result of a bit too much anguish about our national slumber – gets the best of me.  But Americans sat mostly silent as international and domestic crimes were perpetrated in their names and their economy was wrecked – choosing to glide along as if they had far more important things to think about.

Robert is right to describe the financial mess as the result of our collective idiocy.  The bill for one or two generations of stupidity has now come due and our remaining credit cards have been declined.  And for the moment, the social media characters participating in the specific tendril of web masturbation that is Robert’s “what to do” post have come up substantially empty.  So, I’ll see what I can come up with.

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Bailout Boondoggle

28 09 2008

The bailout will be yet another crime foisted on the American taxpayer.  All the reward from the “up” has been consumed – burned away like the vapor it was – and now the risk, the cost of the “down” will be borne by us.  Privatized reward; socialized risk.  Tonight, House minority leader John Boehner called it a “crap sandwich”  — that he plans to vote for anyway.   It’s a really bad idea for many reasons – not the least of which is: it’s not going to work.

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How Big Is This Problem, Anyway?

23 09 2008

Warren Buffett called them “financial weapons of mass destruction” six years ago.  But how big is the problem?  Surely if the all-powerful government steps in, all is well, right? Not so fast.  This ought to give you a pretty good idea of the magnitude [Yes, that little speck on the left is the entire US money supply]:

[Source: US Global Investors]

Related articles:

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Senator Shelby Says: The Truth Hurts

23 09 2008

Never been a huge fan of the man from Alabama.  But he had some great words of wisdom at today’s Bailout of the Century hearing:

“I understand the situation is dire.  But so is the condition of the taxpayer… yes, the market is overwhelmed by greed, a lack of oversight… and the bottom line, as I see it, is that you’re [sticking] the taxpayer with it.  I think that’s shameful myself.  I know there are better ways – would it be without pain?  Oh no… but the best – and Chairman Bernanke, I’ve heard you say this – the best disciplinary mechanism we have is the marketplace.  The marketplace will discipline all of us with pain.  But we learn.  I’m not sure people will learn if this goes through.”

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