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follow astrid 2006 May 4, 2:38pm
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Gold is now at $675/oz and silver at $13.88/oz. Do you think their prices will go up, down, or sideways (into government intervention)? Do you think there IS a bubble in gold? Do you think there WILL be a bubble in gold?
Also, please share your thoughts about any other bubble you see on the horizon.
This is a troll and postmodernism free zone. Trolls and postmodernists will be posting at their own peril. Haikus will be most welcomed.
PS - all comments posted here should not be considered investment advice. Always do your own research before making investment decisions.
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SP, GC, and other Elitists TM,
New York Review of Books has a long review on economic class in America.
(comment edited to reflect GC's correction)
Here is another example showing that the reviewer, like many other NYT writers, cannot think.
The Chosen closes with a brief coda entitled "The Dark Side of Meritocracy." Today, The Three admit students largely on their academic records, with their SAT scores among the highest in the nation. But Karabel cites the work of Michael Young, who a half-century ago in The Rise of the Meritocracy worried that a stratum based on merit was already "on the way to becoming hereditary." Karabel has the same concern, adding that The Three and a few other colleges are creating "a 'new class' of privileged credential holders possessing the means to reproduce itself." I'm not so sure this is happening. Harvard still admits about 40 percent of alumni offspring who apply, compared with 11 percent from the general applicant pool. Statistics like these have been used to argue that inherited privilege is still strong. However, even at Harvard, half of the applicants with legacies are turned down. The University of Pennsylvania rejects 59 percent, while Swarthmore rejects 64 percent, and Princeton 65 percent.
The reviewer presented a few sources that actually contradicts his claim!!
1. The rise of meritocracy was already suspected half a century ago by Michael Young (quoted in this passage).
2. Given (1), it should come at no surprise that the 40% of the alumni offspring who apply to Harvard and get accepted PROBABLY were born to that meritocracy class who went to Harvard 20-30 years ago.
I subscribed to NYT a few years ago. I don't believe I ever read more than 5 issues. My local newspaper, Seattle Times, had better writing than NYT.
I see. I made a wrong association.
The review is pretty lame. I don't know what the author wants to say.
BTW, I really don't get what you're getting worked up over. How did you read that article? With the presumption of NYT biase built in? I think the main point of the article is that amongst this country's elite, new blood is slowly replacing the old blood.
It was a rather rambling review though. I found the Berlesconi article much more interesting and to the point.
whatâ€™s a postmodernist?
Here is an easy way to tell:
Postmodernists donâ€™t think that postmodernism really exists, being but a societal convention and a biased one at that. And thus they cannot be a postmodernist, by means of postmodernist reasoning, all nicely deconstructed.
I've heard that postmodernism itself is a discourse. Do you think that could be true?
Shmend Rick Says:
"fact is, the university system is not what it used to be. The Ivy Leagues do not really teach anything that the state schools do not."
Yes! Amen! Thank you!
Michael Holliday, State school guy: BS International Business: San Jose State University; MBA Northern Arizona University (uses Harvard Case Study Method).
There are (as always) some really great articles linked for the day!
"Unmaking the Myths" by Fortune Sr. writer Shawn Tully while exposing some of the issues that gave rise to the bubble has the same glaring omission that is beginning to feel like "the elephant in the room". The author almost myopically focuses on interest rates and their impact on monthly mortgage payments. That's fine. What he and his FIVE additional researchers have missed yet again is the impact of the CAPITAL GAINS EXEMPTION!
Folks I hate beating this thing to death. Believe me I do, but unless and until we get this right we are going to have to get used to living inside some stage of a bubble. Many here have supposed that even when we see a step correction in many of these overpriced markets it won't be long before we see the same brand of "appreciation". With up to half a million dollars of tax free money at stake we will continue the Ponzi scheme ad infinitum. And why not? Will higher int. rates and builders handing out free incentives along with drastic price reductions slow the game down a bit? Yes, undoubtedly but look around at your local listings and you will see many that are ALREADY attempting to cash in on "the echo bubble" or "dead cat's bounce" or "sucker's rally" or whatever it is that you want to call it! Just look at the growth of repo/foreclosure gurus coming out of the woodwork.
Cap. gains exemption IS the most powerful tool that the "plunge protection team" has in their arsenal. It's even more powerful than int. rates. Incredibly more so. Think of it this way. I can continue to contribute to my 401K at work (SEP/IRA if self employed) and get tax deferred growth and maybe I'll live long enough to get to spend that money "some day". This requires self discipline and saving. Two things most Americans don't do well. Actually that's three things because contributing to a 401K implies steady employment.
OR! I can buy the cheapest home I can find (and still barely afford) in the best neighborhood and bring it up to the standard and pocket myself some nice coin tax free to spend NOW! Not 35, 25, 15 years from now. NOW! And now means now! Now is something Americans DO understand. There is no way that a 401K, IRA or any form of retirement savings or savings period that can compete with "now". If "now" becomes "when" as in 5, 10 or 15 years before they can "cash in" we can finally eradicate the "flip factor" and get on with the business of building a meaningful and productive economy.
In short, if say for instance had we this "cap gains exemption" in place for daytraders in the post dot com implosion do you think 6 years later the NASDAQ would still be at only 1/2 of it's former peak?
If we continue to pretend that there is NOT an elephant in the room our RE corrections will continue to be short lived and narrow windows! It will be difficult if not impossible to create the right environment where incomes and rents are again in some way connected to home prices for the next generation.
This is why we are seeing all these "mini-corrections". A home selling on "Snob Hill" in the BA might have fetched $2.5 mil at the August 05 peak and has been reduced to $2 mil and has actually sold? Why? Why is this happening? Where is the HUGE CRASH that Patrick and DinOR promised us we would see? Well........ the above home was sold to a couple and like any couple they like/need money and if it's TAX FREE money so much the better! The lure of easy, tax free money trumps fear EVERY TIME! People, this is like finding $500,000 on the sidewalk. Not a 500K bonus. Not a 500K stock option. Not a 500K "raise". All of those would be taxable events. This "thing" is like having the ability to lead a double life, one as a responsible employee and tax payer and another as a drug dealer. Who could resist that kind of excitement?
You're right it's TWO WHOLE YEARS! Which btw as husband of 23 years I can tell you that Mrs. DinOR and I have had arguments that lasted that long! It used to be a ONE TIME GOOD DEAL! Currently it's all the time! I swear half of our inventory locally boasts that it was "custom built in 2004"! It's 2006 so yeah, that sounds like it's time to sell honey!
Regarding the IRS 250/500 cap gains exclusion:
unless and until we get this right we are going to have to get used to living inside some stage of a bubble. Many here have supposed that even when we see a step correction in many of these overpriced markets it wonâ€™t be long before we see the same brand of â€œappreciationâ€.
I may convert to DinORism. As an acolyte, I suspect that every 10% to 20% percent correction just invites a fresh influx of buyers seeking a tax-free investment. That doesn't mean the market can't work it's way down over many years but it's going to be sticky. Very sticky.
The frothiest bubbles we've seen are local and specific to particular MSA's. These may not be "soap" bubbles though. Think of the bubbles rising up out of a tar pit instead.
Let's look at the chronology of events for a couple moving to their new "long term" residence.
T-Day (signing at the title company) bought bigger place 1 block over.
T+1 week: Title company screwed up and we still haven't closed.
T+3 weeks: We are now able to get the garage door closed at night.
T+ 2 months: Made out huge "to do" list for improvemnts.
T+3 months: We have been able to find "most" of our work clothes.
T+6 months: The holidays have come and gone, bought all new decorations and lights b/c we were unable to find box marked "Christmas Decorations".
T+ 1 year: One car is now parked in the garage.
T+ 15 months: Found huge "to do" list.
T+17 months: Got home improvement loan after 17 months of "appreciation".
T+ 18 months: Spent every Saturday (and most Sundays) at Home Despot and watching home improvement shows.
T+ 20 months: Re-fi'd first and second to IO.
T+21 months: Got new hot water heater installed (that's an improvement right?)
T+22 months: Listed w/realtor (made sure she mentioned the new water heater)
T+23 months: It's been listed for a month, why no bites yet?
T+24 months: Sold for about 20K less than we asked but will cover realtor's fee's, new Suburban and a two week vacation that we really needed b/c of all the stress we've been under. Rinse, lather, repeat.
Thanks! However there is no "converting" necessary! I'd like to think of it as converting to common sense. And you're right, each 10 or 20% "correction" WILL invite a fresh round of specuvestors. The damn thing doesn't have to go down to "pre-bubble" pricing levels! It only has to down far enough for them to be able to have the reasonable expectation that they can go in and within 2 years pocket some decent tax free money. Oh, sure enough we won't see people getting all of their feeding at one trough, but 100/250K tax free in a 2 or 3 year period is enough to sustain "the life" that altogether too many of us have come to expect.
This is almost like the Plunge Protction Team's "secret weapon".
GC (thank you for acronym consistency),
Fair enough. Meritocracy tends to overemphasize orthodoxy and test taking ability. However, America's elite school hasn't yet calicified into the Mandarin exam system. Not even the Mandarin exam system calcified into the Mandarin exam system until at least mid Ming.
DinOR and Garth,
I don't think we can ignore mass psychology and lending standard away from housing prices. There may be fools (if they can get a mortgage) rushing in when prices drop, but they'll be burned. Rinse and repeat a couple times, and then see if sheeple still think RE is a sure bet. The favorable tax treatment is only good if you can realize gain upon sale.
I like the sound of a 3 week vacation. Will a kind home equity bandit buy me a trekking trip in Bhutan?
Can we work up a formula that exhibits the "penalty" of NOT selling in months 25, 26 and so on? If you've already "maxed out" your 500K and foolishly decide to stay on "long term" what will that cost you in the long run? Most people "access" this tax free capital by "re-purchasing" their home through a re-fi so we may have to calculate that in as well.
Yeah buddy! Uh huh! That's right folks, we now have a tax code that penalizes you for staying over two years! And we wonder why we have a bubble problem?
So that means idyllically we want our home to "Zillow Out" at a rate of $20,833 appreciation per month. Anything below that and you're just wasting my time!
Yes, God bless the Internal Revenue Code!
Agreed. Many of these people will get crushed all the same but again as long as there is the perception that they will be able to get in and get out and walk away w/tax free money we'll continue to see these "mini-corrections".
Perhaps now that Warren Buffet has come out and publicly said that this is going to be a major butt kicking it will go a long way towards retracing back to "pre-bubble" prices. But you have to be thinking about it! You have to. This is how our system is set up now. Your home isn't just something you retire in, it's your retirement! The way the tax code is now written why would anyone contribute to their 401K when those dollars should be going into an IO payment on a place you really can't afford to get appreciation you don't merit? This tax FREE money in 23 months and 29 days, not tax DEFERRED growth that will be taxed as ordinary income "some day". You have to think about it, and you have to do it.
Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule (the weather is nice now, no?) to read that long and rambling article.
I agree. There isn't a consistently better filter than meritocracy, just like there isn't a consistently better government than democracy. Also, unlike GC's comments, I don't think America's meritocracy is selecting purely on worthless things. People armed with all kinds of intelligence can still rise to the top in this society, even if they come from Ohio.
I knew you were being sarcastic about Elitist. I don't think tsusiat was being hostile to you or others here, just the absurdity of $120K being barely enough to get by, if you sacrifice enough for your kids.
Yes, NYT sucks, however, my current hometown paper the Washington Post sucks even more. Plus, I always count on NYT to throw $50K price tags like its no big deal. Their life style section doesn't even acknowledge the poor Benjamen pinching millionaires, it's writing to the billionaires. I go get a lot out of that level of elitism.
2007 Conversation between buyer and seller:
So tell me Mr. Seller, where exactly does your home "Zillow Out" at?
Seller: It "Zillows Out" at a rate of $20,832 per month.
Buyer: Don't waste my time!
Seller: But, but, bu
Buyer: Don't waste my mutha f@ckin' time*
*Al Pacino in "Heat"
Yup. However, any sane tax advisor (outside of California and Florida) would advise a home owner to get out when their appreciation minus selling cost/improvements hits $500K. I would consider any other advice to be professional malpractice.
Tires screeching down street.
Seller: But, but, bu...... (calling back on buyer's cell phone)
Buyer: Now, not only are you wasting my mutha f@ckin' time but you're also wasting my cell minutes! Don't waste my mutha fuckin' time!*
*Al never said that to my knowledge.
I agree that IRC 121 does not create a solid foundation for our astronomical home prices. Hence the analogy to bubbles in a tar pit. If you try to catch one of these bubbles you'll sink. But it is a continuing stimulus for stickiness.
I've come to believe, to borrow Clinton's old motto, that "it's the capital gains exclusion, stupid." I don't believe that Realtors, or Mortgage Lenders, or NAAVLP have created this run-up any more than the Cali Cartel is responsible for cocaine demand.
Prices have shot up because equities are scary and the yokels like me are all chanting the same mantra. "I want my tax free money. I NEED my tax free money."
Improvements? Improvements? We don't need no stinking improvements. Who does improvements any more? Actually having to do real work would take all the fun out of flipping! And yes, two years is a flip! (please see chronology above). I'm only partially kidding. It takes people about a year to get "settled in" as this covers all the seasons. (Who worries about Christmas decorations in July?). Only in the second year can any real "impovements" be considered (assuming you're going to live there while doing these "improvements"). Which makes me wonder why more people don't really question these "improvemnts". I've done 'em and belive me it's not easy to put in new carpet after you've moved in! When a home is vacant you can really knock stuff out. After you've moved in it impairs your ability to accomplish much of anything.
Oh, I'm all about the Summer of George! Believe me! And it will get ugly, in fact in several markets it already has. The reason I don't believe we'll see too much of a "sucker's rally" is that the consumer is too tapped out. They are already over extended and FICO's are actually coming down on a national basis. I have to believe that much of this is driven by DTI (debt to income) ratios. There will be a select crowd, those that have already converted to Patrick-ism (I am only one of his disciples) that should be in a position over the next several months/years that will be able to take advantage of this situation. Key to that, is you do NOT have a home to sell and will be able to capitalize on a moments notice w/out being stuck w/2 mortgages. It will be a narrow window though!
To Astrid, George and DinOR,
A final observation: Many here have suggested that there's less froth in homes > 10 x HH. My own gut says that's true but I can't back it up.
If it's true, this phenomenon may be consistent with changes in tax rules. In the old days you could only catch the exclusion by rolling up. Thus, home sale profits tended to drive to drive up prices at higher levels. Now the profit taker can split out the gains and start all over again at the lower end of the scale. Some pocketed a portion and pumped the rest back in all over again at the "lower" end of the home market. And with a fast run up that's where buyers are still trying to catch the tiger by the tail. ("Buy now don't get priced out forever.") I'm no tax guy, but I think some folks can even double down, buying a new "primary residence" plus a vacation home. That's a double stimulus on the low end.
I don't think these folks are so stupid they don't have some inkling of the danger of "teaser" rates and "teaser" payments and "bubbles." They're just overcome with fear and greed. There are so few ways to make tax free money it's an almost irresistible addiction.
give the Summer of â€˜06 some time to unwind and catch the markets with their collective pants down
Thank you, George.
Let's also not forget that 2006 is the *tip* of the IO/neg-am reset iceberg, with another $2 Trillion+ coming in 2007-2008. I think DinOR's right in that the capital gains exemption contributed significantly to the bubble run-up, but I doubt it can stop the correction. What good is a CG exemption when you bought at the top and now you're now underwater? What's the CG exemption on $0 gain (or negative gain)? A: Close your eyes. What do you see?
Wow, that was a really short "spring bounce":
The very reasons you describe is why I am a proponent of the "500K LIFETIME Exemption". Meaning it's attached to your social security number when you file! Lifetime means lifetime. NOT a lifetime with out capital gains (which is what we have now). I hate to be the one to break it to you guys but I look at 401K rollovers just about everyday and very few exceed 500K! Most folks contributing the minimum or even above (including the employer match) will never get close to 500K! Yet with our current system a couple could in theory sell a home every 24 months for a total of 20 homes over a 40 year period at the maximum exclusion of 500K for a total of (I hope you're sitting down for this) $10,000,000 of TAX FREE money! Do I need to ask what's wrong with this system?
New Thread Why Iâ€™m Not a Doomster
I think there should be no tax exemptions for housing, period. Tax incentives simply cause people to buy more housing and for a higher price than they would otherwise. People who can't afford to buy can just go rent or move out of the area.
Now thems some graphs that gives me much happy.
How do you like me now?
I am in now way scuttling "The Summer of George". I believe in the "Summer of George". I live for it! It just seemed to me that a lot of the frustrating buys and some of the "price persistence" could well be due to the lure of easy tax free money. And..... I never fail to seize the opportunity to slam what I feel is loop hole in our tax code that you could drive a Mack truck through. No slick attorney needed. Buy, wait 24 months and you're half way to being a millionaire! I wish it *gone* by the time we crater in and it should not be part of the "recovery". We just can't have a healthy recovery with "that" in place.
Absolutely! There was a time when subsidizing housing may have made sense. Homesteading and all that. But I don't see any lack of building and there appear to be 3.8 million homes we can't find occupants for now!
The lure of easy, tax free money trumps fear EVERY TIME! People, this is like finding $500,000 on the sidewalk. Not a 500K bonus. Not a 500K stock option. Not a 500K â€œraiseâ€. All of those would be taxable events. This â€œthingâ€ is like having the ability to lead a double life, one as a responsible employee and tax payer and another as a drug dealer. Who could resist that kind of excitement?
So what's the history of this 'property as a money factory for the average schmo' phenomenon? In other words, why does it go in booms and busts, rather than being a perennial theme? Is it just low interest rates that spark it? Liberalised credit? Now it's the same interest rate for investment property vs owner occupying? (Used to be higher.) Otherwise, we would have seen this occurring decades ago, and it would have run its natural course, whatever that is. e.g. there was a housing crisis just before the Great Depression. World wars serve as a distraction and boost the economy in other ways.
I get e-mails from a guy who tries to get people to buy multiple investment properties, and keeps pushing the 'capital growth forever', 'you'll die poor if you don't do this', 'the government wants you to be self-sufficient' line to encourage people to plough every cent of equity they have into more investment properties -- maybe they will lose money, maybe they won't -- the point is, what if it works? What if a handful of people end up owning every spare piece of residential property in a giant snowball effect? Where the idea of owning and occupying just becomes a fond memory for most, as half the population worked out they could fix prices and draw down from equity and control housing supply to actively prevent the other half from ever owning. Why? To get rich. How? Cos they worked it out first.
But this time there's no more world wars to distract people, no more 'New Deal' initiatives to provide affordable housing...
(I know there's a new topic, but it's a little too economically abstract for me...)
I like you fine!
Now, I have to ask, how did you know I'm slim??? :)
Hmmm...well I guess you could assume so, because I'm obviously a renter who is sacrificing his food intake in order to save 100K for a 2% down payment on a san hosebag $hitbox. :D
sacrificing his food intake in order to save 100K for a 2% down payment on a san hosebag $hitbox.
I feel your pain, have you considered giving up? It has worked wonders for my attitude. ;)
"...have you considered giving up?"
Actually I have! It's quite euphoric knowing I can rent & save money at a reasonable pace (even w/only 0.5*HaHa salary) and make smart investments...and maybe someday make a purchase when reason has returned to the market.
Until then, I enjoy the proximity to the surf (Manresa was excellent yesterday, though there were some nasty currents) and to the snow, that I am allowed as a humble renter is san hosebag....
though there were some nasty current
Always the case there, I generally do not like beachbreaks. Too peaky and too much current. Give me a nice reef, reef pass or point any day. Remember to put your body perpendicular to the beach when caught in rip. I almost went to china once while surfing manresa.