Thoughts & Good Reads, Monday Edition

15 Nov

Some things I’m reading today and other thoughts, in no particular order (but numbered none-the-less).  Enjoy!

1. Benzinga: “The Game of Mortgage Lending

Written by a guy running a mortgage company at the epicenter of the housing crisis, Orange County, CA.  My 1st reaction was “be on the lookout for typical bias” but I was surprised to find this is actually a well-balanced read.  When you have someone whose incentive is to talk up the housing recovery saying things like

In short, we have serious long term problems in the real estate market in this country, which thus far, remain largely unacknowledged by the industry leadership, government officials and even the financial media. The prevailing opinion seems to be that the market will stabilize then begin to recover and within the next few years. In a press release by the National Association of Realtors, Ron Peltier, chairman and CEO of HomeServices of America, Inc., the second largest independent residential real estate brokerage firm in the country, is quoted as saying that the nation is in the seventh inning of the housing market correction and that that today’s real estate market resembles that in the year 2000. (REALTORS® Cautiously Optimistic about Future of Housing Market) In truth however, current conditions are grim and all market indicators
suggest that we are in for a long hard slog, of six to eight years, before the market is to rid of all the toxic assets on bank books and the number of qualified borrowers comes close to matching the available inventory.
…you know its bad.  Like real bad.  I applaud the author for being so honest, especially calling out the NAR for being the blindly optimistic marketing machine that it actually is.  (Of course, the same holds true for the National Retail Federation, etc)
Or, as I like to say, “Accountability, Personal Responsibility (or lack thereof) and ‘Our Future'”  I’ve written about Obesity before, namely here, where I summarized my thoughts on the matter – that still hold true today – as:

Lets get real: its 2000-freaking-8.  If you’re over the age of 7 and don’t know that gorging on Big Macs will eventually lead to heart attacks, pounding Jack all day will get you cirrhosis, and sucking down a pack of Marlboros will cause emphysema, than you sir or Madame, have gone out of your way to deserve, nay, EARN, the consequences of your astounding ignorance.  Period.  End of story.

Of course, this is all really about a little thing called personal responsibility; about accepting the consequences of one’s actions. Unfortunately this is the sorry state of things in this country (and the World in general) where these ideas are so foreign to us they might as well be Martian.

The hypocrisy of the whole game though is that we whine about government intervention into all of our affairs, but at the same time cry for help whenever something happens for which we don’t want to accept responsibility.  Legislators, eager to stay in office (read: power) are all-too-happy to appease our complaints, further strengthening the regulatory grip on our ability to conduct our lives as we see fit.  On the grand scale, its a massive, dysfunctional game of shifting/assigning blame and actors avoiding responsibility for their decisions, a game which in the ultimate analysis, cannot possibly end well for any parties involved.

That is, of course, unless we step up to the plate and start accepting responsibility for our actions, both the good, and slightly less-than.

If 84% of parents take their kids to a fast food restaurant at least once/week (putting aside the fact that simply eating at a fast food restaurant is not necessarily in and of itself the or even a cause of obesity), then they have no one to blame but themselves.  Not their “busy schedules,” “high food prices” or anything else.  Take a look in the freaking mirror.  If your 7 year old has more rolls than the Michellin Man its probably your fault as a parent for feeding your kid (too much) crappy food and not making sure he/she is sufficiently active.  Ok, need to stop here before I repeat what I wrote on 1-2 Knockout back in 2008 (the above quote).  Argh.

Videos of NTC (National Title Clearing) employees whose job it was to effectively sign any document that came across their desks with their name on it without paying any attention what-so-ever to anything else.  It seems as if the lawyer doing the questioning almost has to hold back his utter amazement at how blatantly inept NTC’s management/policies/procedures were in ensuring mortgage assignments (and other documents) were handled properly.  They’re all largely pathetic, but video #4 was one of my favorites (insofar as the employee was just totally clueless).
From the start, I thought the use of the term “Robo-Signing” was a misnomer the MSM Financial media had invented as a convenient term that mistakenly convinced readers that literally, robots were signing these mortgage docs, but after watching this video, its clear, robots would have done a much more thorough job.  Sigh…
4. From an unexpected source (the Tosh.O blog via @comedycentral), good points regarding Facebook’s announcement today of unified messaging.  Think about it: Over the past 15-20 years, how many email addresses have you gone through?  First it was AOL, then hotmail, then yahoo, then gmail, and now…facebook?  I’ve been using gmail (despite it not being the best service) as my email provider for all my email addresses since about 2001, and I don’t anticipate moving any of them to Facebook.
Also, to all of those singing songs of praise of this new service, do not forget Facebook’s storied (on these very pages!) history of sweeping, unilateral service changes and privacy lapses.  I shudder at the thought of how much worse this will get with real-time, unified messaging…
Other thoughts & Miscellany:
1. Fly (or not) Like a G6: Many of you may have heard the currently-popular song “Like a G6” and wondered about what, preytell, this G6 to which the song refers is.  My inclination was that it referred to the as-yet-delivered Gulfstream G650 private jet (replacing the G500/G550), but didn’t think any had been delivered or that any pop artist even knew such a thing existed.  Alas, MTV confirmed both my theories, and reinforced another in the link above.  Chew on this infallible logic:
“A G6 is not a Gatorade flavor. It’s not a car, convertible, four-door. It’s not a watch,” Kev Nish explained to MTV News. “But Drake, Drake talks about having G4 pilots on deck, so we said, ‘What’s flyer than a G4?’ Of course, it would be a G6.”
The only way I can carry-on with my life knowing there are people making so much money with so little intelligence is the firm belief that they will soon be parted with aforementioned wealth once their proverbial 15 minutes of fame are up.
2. Earlier today CNBC had an interview with one of the leaders of Abu Dhabi about their plans for the Emirate’s economic future.  I’ll have to find the video, but I swear what he said was verbatim lifted from something a Nakheel executive in Dubai said on CNBC years ago before that Emirate went to hell after their insane expansion into nonsensical tourism/etc collapsed.  Sure, diversifying your economy is a good idea, however, doing so by expanding into ridiculous tourism/entertainment ventures is probably not the most intelligent way to go about so doing, at least if history is any indication.
3. This one’s been open in my browser for at least a week, if not longer, but knowing at least some of my audience, I expect this may actually be relevant.  The Daily Beast: “50 Healthiest Beers.” I don’t think this needs any further explanation.
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2 Responses to “Thoughts & Good Reads, Monday Edition”

  1. Adam November 16, 2010 at 9:48 am #

    nice post and thanks for the link!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. On the GM IPO Debacle, Part II « Stone Street Advisors - November 16, 2010

    […] So, instead of all of the (mostly) MSM coverage discussing the outrage from “everyday investors” why don’t we get some insight into why these ‘folks want to get into the deal in the first place.  I’ll bet that the responses won’t be much more informed than the testimony given by the NTC employees about their “Robo-Signing” duties (see my Thoughts & Good Reading post from Monday). […]

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