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The limits of "Caveat Emptor"

By HARM   2007 Jan 25, 7:23am   7 links   17,063 views   239 comments   watch (0)   quote      

Countrywide's CEOAlan GreedspanDavid LiarRealtwhoreCrooks & Liars

Quite a lot of debate among us Amerika-and-success-hating Patrick.netters has focused on where to lay the responsibility for the current housing bubble crash (which doesn't exist, btw). For most of us, it's not a strictly either/or binary choice between sellers or buyers, or lenders vs. regulators. There is plenty of blame to go around, and sometimes it seems very hard to sort out exactly who was responsible for what part of this slow-motion train wreck we've been spectators to.

However, I've noticed a recurring theme among some of the big-"L" Libertarians* here and elsewhere: the belief that most (if not all) of the blame and responsibility deserves to be lain at the feet of f@cked borrowers. (*disclaimer: I consider myself a small-"l" libertarian who thinks some regulation of the right kind is not only desirable, but necessary for "free markets" to function in a way that benefits everyone --not just banksters and crooks).

Now, I'm as pro-caveat emptor as the next guy, and I sure as hell do not have much sympathy for lazy, greedy clowns like Casey Serin or Howmuchamonth retards who "can't" even try to understand the terms of a mortgage before signing their names. But somehow, the idea that the banksters, bubble-blowing Federal Reserve, fly-by-night mortgage brokers, hit-the-number appraisers, "it only goes up" Realtwhores, and assorted other professional crooks and lying scumbags have NO responsibility whatsoever beggars belief.

No one put a gun to anyone's head --this is true. But it's also true that no one asked ME whether or not it was *good idea* to start handing out unsecured $million-dollar neg-am loans to unemployed 24-year-old con artists. It's also true that if I choose to buy in the current market, I have *no choice* but to compete against unemployed 24-year-old con artists with unsecured $million-dollar neg-am loans. And guess who's more likely to win that bidding war? Anyone...?

Oh, and thank God for renting. Without it, my only other "free will choice" for shelter would be pitching a tent in the local park or living out of my car.

I completely agree that I, as a prospective buyer, have a certain responsibility to educate myself about any deal --and the risks-- before entering into it. And I agree that there is no risk-free transaction. However, I --like most people-- am not a professional real estate expert nor a financial wizard. Don't I have *some right* to expect that the people who are legally employed as market "professionals" behave in a marginally professional and lawful way (i.e, not trying to anally rape me at every opportunity)? Don't I, as a citizen, have *some right* to expect that the people who I've voted into office and whose salaries I'm paying (Congress, President, state legislators, etc.) will "regulate" on my behalf occasionally ? At the very least, shouldn't I be able to expect them NOT to rig the system to reward my being ass-raped and then hand a jar of Vaseline to my attacker? Am I being ridiculously naive here?

In any voluntary transaction, there are always at least two parties involved --a buyer and seller-- whose actions (ethical or otherwise) will affect the outcome. And when it comes to most mortgage transactions, there often is as many as 5 directly interested parties:

(1) MBS-NAAVLP retail broker/lender (sub-contractor),
(2) realtwhore (acting as seller's agent),
(3) hit-the-number appraiser,
(4) seller,
and lastly, (5) the buyer.

Add to that 3 additional parties that --while not directly involved in any particular RE transaction-- largely determine how the macro-liquidity game is rigged, and in whose favor:

(1) rate-manipulating, bubble-blowing Fed,
(2) MBS investors and foreign central banksters (who front NAAVLP money to retail lenders),
(3) complicit and/or asleep-at-the-wheel Congress & state government.

Consider your average American. Consider your own brother or sister. Do you think think bro/sis really has the financial prowess and intellect to single-handedly defeat a game systematically rigged over decades to favor all the other parties against them? When all the "experts" are using huge marketing budgets, FUD, blatantly manipulated data and government backing that "proves" what a sweet deal the American Dream™ is vs. "being priced out forever", what chance does s/he stand on her own? I mean, you're the only one saying otherwise, and your opinions don't count because you're a lowly JBR, right?

Let's be realistic. I'm always rooting for David, but when he's facing 7 Goliaths and God's taking a siesta, his odds don't look so good.

Come to think of it, should I be responsible for policing my own neighborhood, too? Or running my own court system and jails? Have we grown so jaded about being being raped by the very pols and "regulators" (supposedly elected to serve our interests and uphold the law) that we've forgotten WHY they're supposed to be there in the first place?

I forget --aside from lining their own pockets, what exactly is the purpose of government again?

Just wondering aloud...


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200   DinOR     2007 Jan 28, 4:56am  ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    


Couldn't agree more. I absolutely DETEST fee based management! It works out perfect though for west coast guys/gals that like being at their office, shall we say 9'ish? The steady stream of income appeals the most vice scrambling around taken "indications of interest" on an IPO that may or may not happen!

Dropping "account minimums" at most wirehouses was and is a major mistake! Now you've got rookies "pitching managed platforms" to folks with as little as 50k in assets? Here again the industry is testing the limits of just how many fresh out of college guys you can fit under a bus. YOU CAN'T MAKE IT! And the firms KNOW IT! So they take raw recruits, use them for about 6 to 18 months and then that fateful day comes when the sales manager taps the poor kid on the shoulder, walks him into his office, sits him down and says "Son, maybe this business isn't for you".

I mean think about it, IF you ARE going to "annuitize your book" you have to have "something" TO annuitize. These poor young guys are doomed before they get out of the gate. Now of course "the firm" keeps the assets and divvies them up amongst the usual assortment of former college quarterbacks and kiss ups. It's just criminal.

What the fee based platform DOES do though is it makes it MUCH easier for the firms (and the NASD) to monitor their interactions with retail clients. In that regard I reluctantly approve. Do they still drive Bimmers? I don't think as much as in the past. The "real money" isn't on the retail "sell side" and seldom is having worked the retail side a path toward becoming an analyst or fund manager. Chances are you'll die there.

201   astrid     2007 Jan 28, 4:58am  ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    


I think many of those New Yorkers (and Bostonians, Los Angelenos, Washingtonians, Seattleites, etc.) will be lucky to retire to a 600 sq. ft. New Jersey condo and eek out an retirement on their social security checks and their Wal-Mart greeter jobs. I know too many 40+ years old people who are hoping the housing bubble will bale out their retirement and this whole situation cannot end well.

202   astrid     2007 Jan 28, 4:58am  ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

- bale
+ bail

203   DinOR     2007 Jan 28, 5:14am  ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

If we look at all we'll find that the financial service model is shifting toward a "total wealth management firm". This means people are paying for legal counsel they don't need, estate planning they'll never benefit from along with son-in-laws and CPA's.

As much as it fries my @ss, I understand WHY things are morphing in this direction. Something strange occurs when people "get referrals". I have no idea how to explain b/c I simply don't think like this, but it's like all of a sudden they CAN'T WAIT to stick it to this poor guy! You mention that you have a client with a tax, lending, legal problem and they're reaching for their belt before you hang up the phone! This is why so many CPA firms are becoming "wealth management" firms. They got dog tired of ref. clients to others in different tagents of the ind. just to get feedback later that the guy botched their divorce or blew up their account! AND got charged a TON of fees to boot!

I personally referred one of my best clients to a MB (on a non-recourse loan) and the client called me back holding back his RAGE! The @ssclown I ref. the guy to tried to slip THREE points on the loan! Pffft. You're kidding me, right? Uh... no. (And this guy has a fico to die for!)

Half of being successful in this business is knowing when you're in over your head. Knowing WHEN to get a family practice atty. involved and who to call when someone needs to set up an LLC. What I've learned (yes the hard way) is to make YOUR expectations and standards known to that other individual! Just come right out and say it! No head games, no "read between the lines" BS. Screw my client and I'll PERSONALLY make sure that not only do you not get paid but I'll do everything I can to get you booted out of what ever organization it is that you're a part of.

Do we u n d e r s t a n d each other?

204   DinOR     2007 Jan 28, 5:22am  ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    


Funny! But this very real possibility seems to have no effect on their decision making process? No effect at all.

Personally the prospect scares the living ____ out of me. But then I grew up in a lower middle class neighborhood and remember being told to go over to Mrs. Shitzengrueber's to help carry her groceries back from the store. Poverty is hard on you, and it doesn't get easier w/age.

205   e     2007 Jan 28, 5:50am  ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

Yet there has been a worrisome consequence: Working and middle-class families are moving out — and failing to move in — because they cannot afford a house here.

Is there really such shame in renting?

206   astrid     2007 Jan 28, 5:57am  ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    


Sorry for responding so late, I missed your comments the first couple times around. I also found Flashman's Lady to be the weakest of the four and the Great Game to be the strongest. I enjoyed all of them and look forward to reading the rest.

207   thenuttyneutron   6/6 = 100% civil   2007 Jan 28, 7:31am  ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

I think we can make the housing market come back to realistic prices by regulating the way Voodoo money is made. Make intrest rates for home loans very high for people having less than a 20% downpayment. The inflation in home prices is being caused by the easy money being made at will by the Federal Reserve Banks.

It will be painful, but if this one simple rule were made and enforced, home prices would come down and the speculation will end.

208   SFWoman     2007 Jan 28, 8:18am  ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

Hey, a new real estate term:

Santa Rosa Press Democrat page R17 Century 21 ad:

Lake County
$278,500. Brand new and beautifull furnished single-story 3BR/2BA/2 car garage. "Carrion-type" (their quotation marks, not mine) counters, brushed nickel fixtures, lots of high end upgrades. Only a few blocks from the beach! #100732 987-8121

Mmmm, carrion-type countertops. I've always wanted carrion in my kitchen. I wonder what's in the bath.

Fake surfer-x - you should go out and buy more real estate. Seriously, if you believe it is a good investment now you are wasting your time here, and you should be out looking for and buying more 0% down real estate.

209   surfer-x     2007 Jan 28, 8:26am  ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

Admin, kindly delete the two posts above as they are not mine.

210   SFWoman     2007 Jan 28, 8:32am  ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

Mr. surfer-x,

Nobody would ever mistake that poor, scared creature for you. F@ck no!

211   surfer-x     2007 Jan 28, 8:36am  ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

Ah SJSU, uni of last resort. What I cannot fathom is why such a rhodes scholar would grace us with their pearls of wisdom. Truly heartwarmning the way they look out for our finances. Such concern that we are missing the opporutunity of a lifetime. I'm touched.

212   Different Sean     2007 Jan 28, 8:51am  ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

lil "surfer-x" said:
Sure, it’s nice if price appreciates, which it has for millions of years

Wow, this guy has really done his research, best not to argue with him...

Now I think of it, I do remember seeing primaeval Cenozoic condos on Walking with Prehistoric Beasts -- except they weren't occupied by people, they were super-intelligent shrews! More intelligent than you.

Keep up the good work, lil surfer!

213   SFWoman     2007 Jan 28, 9:06am  ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    


Of course real estate has been going up for millions of years! Silly you. Well, OK, except for those times when it went down, like 1989 to 1995, (as it is starting to do now.) But, over the long run Scared-Pseudo-Surfer is right, real estate sells for more now than it did 45 million years ago.

214   surfer-x     2007 Jan 28, 9:11am  ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

wait just a minute, weren't they still making land millions of years ago?

215   SFWoman     2007 Jan 28, 9:18am  ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

"not be frowned upon by your neighbors as a “transient” and a “loser” behind your back,"

That is interesting, I wouldn't consider a neighbor a transient or a loser because they rent and I own. That's an interesting perspective on your psyche you have unwittingly shown us. What were the circumstances of your childhood that this type of shame is what you associate renting with?

216   SFWoman     2007 Jan 28, 9:22am  ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    


They are still making land today. Iceland and the Big Island both grow a bit periodically. There's a volcano near Borobudur erupting now (every time I have tried to go there it's something!). Over the long term, yes, they are still making land.

217   Brand165     2007 Jan 28, 10:03am  ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

If you give the San Andreas fault enough time, you'll even have more beachfront shoreline opportunities, too!

218   Paul189     2007 Jan 28, 11:08am  ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    


I agree, they are making more land or at least more land available. In Chicago on my way to work each day, I drive through the area formerly known as Cabrini Green. I've been watching the progress of the high rise projects being torn down to make way for new houses, and condos. With each high rise that is torn down, the massive size of the area becomes more apparent. It's like acerage almost as far as the eye can see with the city skyline in the distant background.

"Oh give me land, lots of land under stary skies above, don't fence me in"

219   Brand165     2007 Jan 28, 12:33pm  ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

Since when is U.S. inflation at 13-14%?

220   sobs     2007 Jan 28, 1:27pm  ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

Hey, Paul. Is it safe to walk through the parking lot of the Jewel (I think it was a Jewel) at Division and Sedgwick yet? It was still a little dicey when I left in 2000, armed security in the parking lot, one "empty" shell looming across Division boarded up three stories from the ground, no windows above, yet flickering lights inside at night.

Cabrini's just a little patch too. You don't have to go nearly as far south of the loop as Cabrini is north and you've got square miles of possibilities.

And now I really want some ribs from Twin Anchors. Shoot.

221   FormerAptBroker     2007 Jan 28, 1:28pm  ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

Someone Said:

> Is there really such shame in renting?

Then surfer-x Says:

> YES! Renters are considered “transients” and are not
> considered part of the community. There is no sense
> of ownership or pride amongst renters and renters tend
> to let their residence go to hell. Not only that, the perception
> still exists that the only reason that people rent is because
> they simply can’t afford to buy. In 99% of the case, that
> is the truth.

Surfer-x is right that there is still a “shame” in renting, but the “shame” is just due to the fact that excluding the last 48 months or so it was almost always a smart idea to buy and 99% of the people that didn’t buy didn’t have the money. Most people don’t log on to every day and would be shocked to hear that Casey is having problems since “real estate always goes up in value”…

Just last night I was at a big party at a married friend’s house and had a early 40’s Cougar (who may have been hot 20 years ago, but was looking scary with the botox, colgan, boob job trifecta) come up and start talking to me. When I mentioned that I lived nearby she said: “how long ago did you buy your place”… Telling her I rented a crappy little apartment sent her on her way before I could tell her I was an apartment handyman (something that is not entirely a lie that I have successfully used to quickly end any conversation with a single woman I’m not interested in).

Later in the night I was talking to some guys who have watched their homes go up in value by millions of dollars in the past few years and we were talking about how most people don’t really find it strange that for 100 years homes have been selling for about 3x the “household” income in the area and all of a sudden it is up to around 10x the household income in some areas (and that homes that went from $10K to $1mm over 100 years with lots of inflation then went to $4mm in under 60 months with little inflation).

For the past 50 years the price of a new Corvette has been about the starting salary of an average plumber out of trade school, the price of a new Porsche 911 has been about the starting salary for an attorney who graduated from a no name school and went to work in a flyover state and the price of a new Ferrari has been about the starting salary of a top law school grad working at a top firm.

We were betting that if over the next few years the price of a new Corvette shot up to $250K, new 911s were selling for $500K and it cost $1mm to buy an entry lever Ferrari that people would find this strange especially if you could rent a new Corvette for $500 a month, a new 911 for $1,000 a month and rent a new Ferrari for $2,000 a month (since almost every home in the Bay Area is renting for more 1/500th of the current value)…

222   Brand165     2007 Jan 28, 1:49pm  ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

FAB: But wouldn't you have superior pride of ownership in that $250K Corvette? Only a transient loser rents such a fine vehicle. We can get you into a nice stated income, no money down 103% loan. Besides, you can sell it next year for at least $300K!

223   Randy H     2007 Jan 28, 1:50pm  ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

For the past 50 years the price of a new Corvette has been about the starting salary of an average plumber out of trade school, the price of a new Porsche 911 has been about the starting salary for an attorney who graduated from a no name school and went to work in a flyover state and the price of a new Ferrari has been about the starting salary of a top law school grad working at a top firm.

Purchasing power parity is an amazing thing, whether between countries or over time within the same country. It also demonstrates how ridiculously fanciful current home prices are.

If gasoline (standard grade) shoots up to $10/gallon, I have to pay a senior internet software developer $500K/year, and a Chimay Ale costs me over $30 per bottle, then I'll accept the claim that current house prices have reached a permanent new plateau.

Until then, I'll just have to live with my in-laws thinking something terrible must be wrong for us to have been forced back into renting after so many years of American Bliss.

224   Different Sean     2007 Jan 28, 2:28pm  ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

Regarding whether retirees have saved "too much" to retire on, that just remains to be seen. Certainly the pension fund people like to scare people with that remark so that they will have more of their money to play with in the present. however, for people who will still be renting on fixed incomes, or people with large slabs of mortgage still to pay off, the situation could become grim -- and they will be in that boat in increasing numbers in coming decades because of the boom. It will then become a headache for govt at some tier to worry about, and they can have endless rounds of meetings about the huge number of near-homeless retirees suddenly popping up that they never anticipated.

I saw an interview the other day with an Irish guy in Oz who had gotten extremely rich in property development, who confided that "just about everyone who has far more than they need is actually very insecure, which drives them to squirrel away far more than they realistically need to live on." So the elites are actually insecure? A recent survey of millionaires, quoted by Hamilton in Affluenza, had many of them opining that they were 'poor' and don't have enough to meet their needs. So there's clearly not much hope for the rest of us. IF you have paid off your house by retirement, you don't need too much to live off. If not, that's a whole other picture...

225   B.A.C.A.H.     2007 Jan 28, 2:29pm  ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

The problem

with FormerAptBrokers little story is that it ignores the reality of globalism.

About half the world's population lives in India and China. The wealthy elites in those two countries covet to live in Vancouver, or the US cities along the west coast.

The formula is the same in both societies, send their kids to the top schools, get the H-1 visa to work in the west coast, buy the house, put a foot of the dynasty into the West Coast.

It does not matter if housing costs 3X or 10X or a millionX the household income here. The affordability here for the top 1% or so elites in Shanghai and Bombay is what matters.

Of course they don't want to live in Stockton or Redding, just the prestigous addresses along the coastal cities.

226   Jimbo     2007 Jan 28, 3:47pm  ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

No one cares what the cost of a home is, what they care about is the monthly carrying cost. The cheap cost of money is what has driven home prices up.

227   astrid     2007 Jan 28, 3:53pm  ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    


I can't speak for rich Russians or rich Indians but I can tell you that rich Mainlander Chinese are not that common, and most of them are too gauche to appreciate the "intangibles" of the Bay Area. The Chinese folks bidding up BA and most LA real estate are just well compensated working stiffs. Maybe Vancouver is different...

228   astrid     2007 Jan 28, 4:07pm  ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    


What's a cougar? Is that a divorcee? A Carrie Bradshaw type? A vicious husband hunting amazon? Someone so into plastic surgery that she literally transformed herself into a cougar?

I must say, you sound more demanding than Mr. Darcy (I've been reading Pamela Aidan's Gentleman Trilogy this month). Good luck finding your lady.

229   HARM     2007 Jan 28, 5:57pm  ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    


You're pulling a "Bull$hitter" on us, right?

230   Different Sean     2007 Jan 28, 9:34pm  ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote - and it's based in SF too, good grief! :?

231   SFWoman     2007 Jan 28, 10:26pm  ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    


My understanding is that the main wealth that most mainland Chinese and Indians hold is in real estate, and it is more difficult to flip out of Shanghai or Mumbai real estate than it is to flip out in the US. But you never know, all foreigners might just decide to move to the Bay Area and prop up our sagging market. I have heard that there is nothing uber-rich Chinese love more than a nasty little 1950s condo in the Richmond district.

Randy H.,

Maybe we should do a Big Mac comparrison, as the Economist does. i.e. In 1995 a SFH in San Francisco cost 100,000 Big Macs, where as today it is 300,000 Big Macs. (I don't know how much a Big Mac costs. $3.00, $4.00?)

232   sobs     2007 Jan 28, 10:29pm  ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

Please sir, could you release my oh so clever comment of slightly forenoon yesterday from moderation?

I mailed a copy to Patrick as well, along with a request for guidance on how to avoid this dread fate in future. Was it the length? The one URL? The failure to tug my forelock?

233   FormerAptBroker     2007 Jan 28, 11:04pm  ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

SFWoman Says:

> They are still making land today. Iceland and the Big
> Island both grow a bit periodically. There’s a volcano
> near Borobudur erupting now (every time I have tried
> to go there it’s something!).

Whenever anyone says “They are not making any more land” I point out that they sure are “making” a lot more condos (especially South of Market, Las Vegas and San Diego).

Someone with a condo South of Market who thinks the lack of new land means they can’t loose money is like someone with a 1997 Accord who thinks the lack of new Bugatti Type 41s has anything to do with the value of their car…

234   FormerAptBroker     2007 Jan 28, 11:53pm  ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

sybrib Says:

> The problem with FormerAptBrokers little story is
> that it ignores the reality of globalism.

I’m not ignoring globalism at all. Globalism is another big reason that Bay Area home prices are due to fall even faster than expected very soon…

> About half the world’s population lives in India and China.
> The wealthy elites in those two countries covet to live in
> Vancouver, or the US cities along the west coast.

Over the next decade I’m betting that the Bay Area loses 10 jobs to China and/or India for every Chinese or Indian “Wealthy Elite” that moves here. The next big chunk of Bay Area job losses will be in retail (why would anyone buy a digital camera or ipod here in the Bay Area when you can pay way less and have it by FedEx the next day?).

> It does not matter if housing costs 3X or 10X or a millionX
> the household income here. The affordability here for the top
> 1% or so elites in Shanghai and Bombay is what matters.

You are correct that if 5 million Chinese and Indian “Wealthy Elite” all moved to the Bay Area tomorrow prices would go way up (I feel sorry for the Billionaires that got stuck in Martinez “where the sewer meets the sea”)…

> Of course they don’t want to live in Stockton or Redding,
> just the prestigious addresses along the coastal cities.

Stockton and Redding are outside the “nine county Bay Area”, but even in the nine counties there really are not many “prestigious” address. If these Chinese Billionaires really thought prices were on the way up they would have snapped up 2845 Broadway (nice place with a nice view, but still on the market after more than a year) and the Hills would not have had to reduce the asking price of 2920 Broadway (another nice place with a nice view) many times over three years (from 2002-2005) to finally sell for just over half (51%) their original asking price (if they didn’t sell in 2005 just before the market peak I’m betting that it would still be in the market).

There is a growing number of super rich people in the world, but with rare exceptions they only buy when prices are going up (not a lot of foreign investment in CA in the 90’s when the Japanese were trying to dump all the stuff they bought in the 80’s).

In the past few years there have been rich guys paying over $1mm for rare vintage Corvettes, Porsches and Ferraris, but if you look in Auto Trader you can find nice clean well maintained used Corvettes, Porsches and Ferraris for less than 10% of the cost of a new one (since rich guys don’t want at TPI engines, a torsion sprung suspensions or a car makes people think of Magnum PI)…

235   Patrick   2084/2084 = 100% civil   2007 Jan 29, 12:04am  ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

Repost on behalf of punchbowl:


Those are very cool liking bikes but let's face it: If the paint job is 600 Euros and they won't quote a price for the bike itself on the website, this is not exactly economical transport.

Your slavish devotion to deservedly obscure Australian social scientists is noted. First Yeatman, now Hamilton. "Coined the term affluenza"? Jeezus, he's about ten years late, filching de Graaf's mid-90s ideas.

It is naturally possible for GDP to rise while things get generally worse but some of your examples are needlessly alarmist. It's no surprise from a Fabian, because you can't remake the world unless people think something is wrong. US (and Australian) GDP is multiples higher than it was 100 years ago yet the air and water are less polluted and, at least in the US, there is more forest than there used to be, which most people would consider to be a good thing. (The cost of that is industrial scale agriculture elsewhere, which creates its own problems. I'm not trying to paint everything rosy.)

The bottom line is that there isn't one of us who, upon careful thought, would want to be transferred back a hundred years. The world has not gotten worse, all the wailing of today's jeremiahs notwithstanding. We wouldn't trade electric lights for candles or kerosene lanterns, air conditioning for sweat, polio shots for cripples, smog for streets deep in horse droppings, or half our life expectancy.

No, we don't need a whole lot of what makes up GDP. Live below your means if that's what you want to do. Ignore the hype of those who want you to buy buy buy and you will do just fine. But, although living below your means may result in independence and a sense of moral superiority, it does not give you the right to force others to live below theirs. If you want to live in relative poverty (I'm not suggesting absolute poverty) and are comfortable doing so, you should be encouraged. I only object when we start hearing a gentle (and sometimes not so gentle) insistence that "My way is the right way and everyone should be doing it." It's religious zeal in modern form and it makes me retch.


In the US, unemployment typically starts to rise when real GDP growth falls under 2%. It's no surprise because the population grows about 1% per year. Your NPR piece may have been referring to growth in nominal dollars, which would be equivalent around 5%.

236   Randy H     2007 Jan 29, 1:02am  ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

A Spring Bounce will Test Your Resolve

Have at it.

237   DinOR     2007 Jan 29, 1:13am  ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

"it does not give you the right to force others to live below theirs"

Well..... yes and no. It's when people become a public liability (taxpayer funded FB bail-out) that it becomes "our" business. A long time back a good friend I worked with told me "never try to live like your clients". I've always tried to keep that in mind. They have a home in Bend AND on the coast, but then again they paid CASH! They CAN afford it!

I can't make the claim that I grew up in the Great Depression like FAB or Randy H's folks but like many here I HAVE been through tough times. Every industry has them. The guys that lived like a rockstar are the first to wash out. Frugal types find a way to survive. Does it make me "morally superior"? Doubt it. A little smarter maybe but not anyone's moral superior.

Btw we saw The Pursuit of Happyness this weekend and while I never had to live in the men's room of the BART Station the scene where the boss "borrows" 5 of your last 8 dollars really got to me! Clients would invite you as a rookie to go golfing (or whatever) and you quickly figure out that people w/money assume that everyone else has it too! Coming up the hard way kind of teaches you not to take money for granted.

238   sobs     2007 Jan 29, 3:13am  ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

It’s when people become a public liability (taxpayer funded FB bail-out) that it becomes “our” business.

That's why you should be a libertarian. Congress should be forbidden from taxpayer-funded bailouts of anything. ;)

The guys that lived like a rockstar are the first to wash out. Frugal types find a way to survive.

Anyone who makes a judgment about the integrity or financial status of an adviser based on appearances, or who believes that the quality of the advice they will receive depends on appearances, is making a big mistake. How can you judge whether a guy drives a clapped out Subaru because he's not making it or because he doesn't care about appearances?

It works the other way too. I drive a Mercedes. Joe Ripyereyesout drives a Mercedes too. I have a 40 foot boat that I am happy to take you sailing in. Joe can take you sailing on a 53 footer. I live in an oceanfront mansion with pergraniteel counters and a Subzero. So does Joe. My office has wood panelling, as does Joe's. There the similarity ends.

The wood paneling in Joe's office is mahogany, mine is rough cut Douglas fir. Joe wears a clean white shirt and tie every day under a $1000 suit. I wear jeans and a sweater. Joe's Mercedes is last year's and mine is 7 years old.

Judge those two books by their covers and you're going with Joe, I'll bet. Little do you know that I paid cash for the Mercedes and the house and the boat, so I have no need at all to rip your eyes out when dispensing advice. Meanwhile, Joe is paying a fat mortgage that is about to reset, a car lease, a boat loan, and probably two ex-wives. My irreducible monthly nut is about $1000. Joe's is $10000 and climbing.

If you bet on Joe because he "looks more professional", you're making a big mistake. All of the money Joe spends on appearance makes him one desperate character, which makes you a target.

239   Different Sean     2007 Jan 29, 5:46am  ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

Punchbowl says:
The bottom line is that there isn’t one of us who, upon careful thought, would want to be transferred back a hundred years. The world has not gotten worse, all the wailing of today’s jeremiahs notwithstanding. We wouldn’t trade electric lights for candles or kerosene lanterns, air conditioning for sweat, polio shots for cripples, smog for streets deep in horse droppings, or half our life expectancy.

Of course not. It doesn't even take much careful thought at all, given all the technical advances of the 20th century. But how sustainable are our lifestyles? How long can we continue to exploit non-renewable resources before they run out? The development has come at a cost, both environmental and psychological. And you're overlooking the entire environmental sustainability movement here. This is one of the reasons that people are replanting and recycling. And remember that a lot of industry has gone off-shore, simply shifting the pollution problems to other parts of the world such as India or China. Post-industrialism is only for the West, and is more an accident of economics.

But you're clearly referring to the 'affluenza' diagnosis -- apparently people are happier now than they were in the 50s? Maybe you should also read the earlier article talking about higher rates of depression, anxiety, etc based on the individual psychology of never being able to meet consumerist 'expectations' from the media and advertising machine. It's not all rosy.

As I said, I don't know who coined the word 'affluenza'. Thanks for providing the detail. That the Australian social scientists are 'obscure' is a matter of opinion. They clearly are not, depending on your circles, and they are in line with very many other social scientists' thinking, so your remark is another canard. The fact that there are clearly a huge number of books on this topic, following your Amazon link, only reinforces the argument. The very subject matter of this site points to the affluenza plague that is causing the housing boom, a massive credit binge via HELOCs, etc, etc. So let's read up more on it!

I can see you're turning into one of those contrarians who even argue against themselves and their own existence and disappear in a puff of logic...

(The bikes are several thousand euros, I'm not sure if there is a price on the site if you go digging deep enough...)

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