Daily Archives: December 9, 2009

Why buy when you can rent?

That’s what some Californian mortgage-defaulters are discovering.

WSJ: PALMDALE, Calif. — Schoolteacher Shana Richey misses the playroom she decorated with Glamour Girl decals for her daughters. Fireman Jay Fernandez misses the custom putting green he installed in his backyard.But ever since they quit paying their mortgages and walked away from their homes, they’ve discovered that giving up on the American dream has its benefits.Both now live on the 3100 block of Club Rancho Drive in Palmdale, where a terrible housing market lets them rent luxurious homes — one with a pool for the kids, the other with a golf-course view — for a fraction of their former monthly payments.”It’s just a better life. It really is,” says Ms. Richey. Before defaulting on her mortgage, she owed about $230,000 more than the home was worth.

People’s increasing willingness to abandon their own piece of America illustrates a paradoxical change wrought by the housing bust: Even as it tarnishes the near-sacred image of home ownership, it might be clearing the way for an economic recovery.Thanks to a rare confluence of factors — mortgages that far exceed home values and bargain-basement rents — a growing number of families are concluding that the new American dream home is a rental.Some are leaving behind their homes and mortgages right away, while others are simply halting payments until the bank kicks them out. That’s freeing up cash to use in other ways.Ms. Richey’s family of five used some of the money to buy season tickets to Disneyland, and plans to take a Carnival cruise to Mexico in March. Mr. Fernandez takes his girlfriend out to dinner more frequently. “We’re saving lots of money,” Ms. Richey says.

Analysts at Deutsche Bank Securities expect 21 million U.S. households to end up owing more on their mortgages than their homes are worth by the end of 2010. If one in five of those households defaults, the losses to banks and investors could exceed $400 billion. As a proportion of the economy, that’s roughly equivalent to the losses suffered in the savings-and-loan debacle of the late 1980s and early 1990s.

The flip side of those losses, though, is massive debt relief that can help offset the pain of rising unemployment and put cash in consumers’ pockets.For the 4.8 million U.S. households that data provider LPS Applied Analytics estimates haven’t paid their mortgages in at least three months, the added cash flow could amount to about $5 billion a month — an injection that in the long term could be worth more than the tax breaks in the Obama administration’s economic-stimulus package.”It’s a stealth stimulus,” says Christopher Thornberg of Beacon Economics, a consulting firm specializing in real estate and the California economy. “The quicker these people shed their debts, the faster the economy is going to heal and move forward again.”


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Who wants gum?

Chemistry student found dead after exploding chewing gum blows off his jaw.

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I’d rather be waterboarding

Twenty foot Great White chomping on his friends down under.

A stunning picture shows a 10ft predator thrashing about with two massive chunks missing on either side of its body, off the Queensland coast.

Experts said its rival may be 20ft (about six metres) long, judging by the size of the huge bites.

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Every cloud has a silver lining

ACLU loses 1/4 of its funding after donor stops giving.

David Gelbaum said in a statement that he was indefinitely stopping the donations that had made him the New York-based group’s largest anonymous donor. He’s also stopping some $12 million in yearly gifts to the Sierra Club Foundation and about $50 million a year that he’s been giving to an organization serving veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Gelbaum says the credit crisis and his investments in alternative, clean energy companies have left him with few liquid assets.

He should have invested with Al Gore – there’s a man who knows how to profit from the global warming panic.


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Wasn’t this the guy who was going to repair our image abroad?

Norwegians furious over Obama’s snubs. Too busy to have lunch with the King or attend any of the traditional ceremonies, “just gimme the prize, dude.”


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From the people who want to bring you health care

Government – supplied food for school children fails to meet standards of commercial enterprises like McDonalds.

By Peter EislerBlake Morrison andAnthony DeBarros, USA TODAY

In the past three years, the government has provided the nation’s schools with millions of pounds of beef and chicken that wouldn’t meet the quality or safety standards of many fast-food restaurants, from Jack in the Boxand other burger places to chicken chains such as KFC, a USA TODAY investigation found.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says the meat it buys for the National School Lunch Program “meets or exceeds standards in commercial products.”That isn’t always the case. McDonald’s, Burger King and Costco, for instance, are far more rigorous in checking for bacteria and dangerous pathogens. They test the ground beef they buy five to 10 times more often than the USDA tests beef made for schools during a typical production day.And the limits Jack in the Box and other big retailers set for certain bacteria in their burgers are up to 10 times more stringent than what the USDA sets for school beef.For chicken, the USDA has supplied schools with thousands of tons of meat from old birds that might otherwise go to compost or pet food. Called “spent hens” because they’re past their egg-laying prime, the chickens don’t pass muster with Colonel Sanders— KFC won’t buy them — and they don’t pass the soup test, either. The Campbell Soup Company says it stopped using them a decade ago based on “quality considerations.”


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Fly away, little bird!

10 Sparrow Lane

Priced at $5.250 million long ago and far away on another planet, this house eventually dropped to $3.8 and sold yesterday for $3.370 million. Assessment is $3.009,250. There was nothing particularly wrong with it; partially renovated, with important stuff like kitchen and master bathroom (I think) done, and a huge backyard that, unfortunately, overlooks Putnam Cemetary. Ghosts don’t bother me but they do some people – my guess though is that more were scared off by its price, not its ossified neighbors.


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