Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Hopeless Cause

I largely view the majority of charity as a waste of money.
Of the bevy of various charitable programs since the Marshall Program, have any actually brought about a resolution to the problem they were intended to resolve? Of course not. Because charity is more about making people feel better about themselves than it is to legitimately and PRAGMATICALLY (ooooh! There's a word leftists hate) improve the lot of those less fortunate. And in a sick and twisted way, charity more often than not results in the very-well off worsening the lot of the very-poorly off solely for to make the very-well off feel good about themselves. It's sick.

I just pray the Gates Foundation with it's "means-testing" approaching might actually do some good in the world and fundamentally change how charity works.

Regardless, I found this chart to be interesting. People call it charity. Until I see charity actually improve the lot of the intended recipients, I'll call it naivete.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Ireland is Now Richer Than the US

I knew this day would come. The day Ireland would surpass the US in income per capita. Even though Ireland has a higher overall tax rate than the US as a percent of GDP (35% vs. 29%), its low corporate taxes would inevitably carry it through (12.5% vs. 40%).

However, I did notice that Norway was higher than the US as well, which enters us into whether or not we're comparing apples to apples on this very important statistics. The data comes from the CIA's World Factbook which claims it adjusts for PPP. But I've seen differing figures before from the World Bank, the OECD, the CIA, none of them seem to reconcile.

Whichever the case, the trend is the most important thing. And no more than 5 years ago it was very clear that Ireland was below the US in terms of standards of living. Now it seems they're neck and neck at the Galway races.

Monday, February 26, 2007

I Contribute to Charity, I Contribute to GDP

GDP growth is volatile. Can't really discern any trends just looking at RGDP growth. It gives you a headache.

So I happened upon this older chart of mine where I took the rolling 20 year average of GDP growth to kind of get a "generational average" economic growth rate (the last date is in 1994 which includes data from 1984-2004).

Confirming once again that the WWII Generation is the Greatest Generation, and the two successive generations are just the "lamest" generation.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Imagine a 3% Tax Rate

So I'm putting together some research for a seminar I have coming up. And not that I didn't know about this before, but it's just so heart-wrenching to imagine this was possible before hand.
A 3% Federal Government Tax Rate.

Hell the State of Minnesota alone takes about 7.5% now!

I can only imagine the untold levels of wealth that would have been produced and the insanely high standards of living we'd have if the inefficient behemoth known as the government hadn't been confiscating roughly 1/5th of our wealth for the past 70 years.

$250,000 income per capita EASY by now. Would have landed on Mars. Colony on the moon. Hover cars. X-Box 1280 with Virtual Reality Redheaded Cheerleading Pack included. Elimination of cancer. Working from home. T-90 lines instead of T-3 lines, standard. The true elimination of poverty. Hydrogen cars. China would never catch up to us.

But oh no, but we gotta pay for social security, medicare, medicaid, welfare, statefair, Rickflair, skincare and freaking $21 million for a panel on walking and biking.


Silly Socialist French Chick

So I'm reading The Economist and Sarkozy's rival is this gal called Segolene Royal.

And all of France is in a perpetual orgasm over her being the first female head of the Socialist Party, how she breathes new blood into French politics, how she's an attractive independent woman, blah blah blah (kind of like us here with Barack Obama). Besides, how can you fail with a name like Segolene ROYAL?

So France is in its typical French doldrums of low economic growth, high unemployment, over rigid labor market, high government debt etc. etc., and what brand new, exciting, bold and revolutinoary course of action does this new celebrity darling of the socialists recommend?

"Yet the 100 detailed policies that Ms Royal unveiled to steer France down this soft-focus path amounted, in the main, to a long wishlist of spending pledges, with little explanation as to how any of them would be paid for. Thus she promised to increase the minimum wage to €1,500 ($1,950) a month, to introduce interest-free loans worth €10,000 for every 18-year-old, to push up unemployment benefits to 90% of previous salary, to raise the lowest pensions by 5%, to renationalise and merge Electricit√© de France and Gaz de France, to penalise firms that pay dividends rather than reinvest profits, to boost public R&D spending by 10% a year, to cut class sizes in poor areas and much else. "

The same old socialist crap.

A minimum wage that translates into $24,000 a year for a burger flipper? You're kidding me right? And you wondering why a Big Mac costs $3.82 in France?

Unemployment benefits of 90% the previous salary? WHY THE HELL WORK????? Work one day and then get fired! Boom, set for life!

A 10,000 Euro interest free loan for all 18 year olds? For what purpose? If they're anything like American 18 year olds you can expect them not only to piss the money away, but default on the loan too (which no doubt the good socialists will allow them to do).

And then there's the standard "let's renationalize everything." Yeah, that's working wonders for Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales and their endeavors to seek foreign direct investment.

But my favorite, for it shows you just how out of touch socialists are with the realities of economics;

She wants to penalize corporations that pay a dividend instead of reinvest the profit.

Isn't it the leftists that complain when corporations don't pay their beleaguered shareholders the dividends they're entitled to and instead keep those profits for their greedy selves?

And let's say the corporations do reinvest? To what point and purpose? It seems Royal would just nationalize them anyway.

Now, truthfully, I don't care what happens to France along the lines of their economy, it's more of an interesting spectator sport as I observe what those zany French are up to. Additionally I believe if a people are uneducated in economics, then they're doomed to suffer the consequences and get to sleep in the bed they make (Venezuela, Bolivia, California).

But what I truly savor is how you have an entire country that just doesn't seem to get it. That if you make it so inhospitable for business to set up shop in your country by forcing them to pay high taxes, over-regulating them and constantly threatening them with nationalization, that somehow they're supposed to come flocking to your country with billions in FDI. That if you effectively neuter your labor force by essentially paying them not to work, and taxing them at 53% GDP somehow wealth production and economic growth is going to occur. And when the inevitable economic consequences of lower economic growth, lower standards of living, a slothful labor force and over all just an inferior economy materialize, I take no greater joy of comparing them to their hated-economic rival, rubbing those economic realities in their faces.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Join Captain Capitalism at The Economics Supper Club!

Batman had the Bat Cave.

Super Man has the Fortress of Solitude.

The Captain has The Economics Supper Club!

Join us!

You can listen at AM 1500, KSTP if you're near the Twin Cities metro.

And if not, fear not!

For the technological advances of capitalism have saved you!

You can listen online!

Want to join the conversation? You may!



for aspiring economists far away;


We'll be talking about France and grade inflation, Hugo Chavez and a whole bunch of other stuff if we get to it. And you never know, this sexy devil may show up too!

So pour a cocktail, turn on the radio and join us!

Damn I'm Good!

So I made some predictions about Hugo Chavez.

A whopping two weeks later proves me to be prophetic.

What an utter piece of crap. He's not only going to tank his economy, but he's going to blame everything on the US.

Sounds eerily similar to how muslim clerics blame all the problems of muslims on the Jew or "the West." Oh well, I guess to stay in power all dictators need a Boogie Man.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Pension Promises Relative to Economic Earnings

Social pensions (social security, social pension, etc.), the vast majority of which have been mismanaged, now primarily rely on workers today to pay for workers of yesterday. This means pensions are to be paid for by the economic productivity of a nation.
But how much have governments promised their people relative to their ability to pay for those promises and deliver?

Thus the pension entitlements as a multiple of economic earnings.

I find it odd Mexico stands a better chance of paying their pensions that Luxembourg.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Economic Growth Without Home Equity Withdrawals

Calculated Risk had posted a chart of what GDP growth would have been without home equity withdrawals and the debt junkies going and blowing it all on SUV's, flat panel TV's and 4 wheelers.

However, I happened upon another chart with slightly different figures.

Not that I question Calculated Risk's methodology, but I though it interesting to see an even more dismal result than Calculated Risk's.

You Ask of Coupons?

So DMK posed an interesting question;

Why don't men favor or use coupons as much as women?

And it got me thinking about the economics of coupons and how in an economic behavioral sense men and women may vary and I could only come up with a couple observations (and broad generalities so for all the anti-free speech Nazi's out there who salivate at the chance no matter how innocuous to accuse other people of sexism or racism or whatever -ism, please shut the hell up).

1. Men are less patient than women.

2. Historically men have been more industrious than women and the amount of time they'd have to spend collecting enough coupons to save $10 in groceries intuitively somehow they could have made $30, ergo why waste the time.

3. Somewhat related to #2, but more of a Darwinian/evolution approach, women have stayed at home for all these years doing the typical household tasks which coupon collecting would fall under while men are out slaying mammoth, ergo we are biologically/genetically predisposed to not want to collect coupons.

That's about the only reasons I could come up with.

I have used coupons in the past, but they literally had to fall into my lap. Or I was sitting somewhere with nothing to do, there happened to be a newspaper nearby and I just started looking for coupons. ie-I don't go looking for coupons.

I'd also be curious to see how men and women behave differently when it comes to a similar economic decision; lottery or gambling.

Is the potential savings/winnings worth the time of buying the Powerball ticket.

Monday, February 19, 2007

My Ex-Girlfriend is Sub Prime

I was dating this model-esque Norwegian goddess a while back. Your classical blond haired blue eyed beauty.

But as is the case with most drop dead gorgeous women, they're always looking for a better catch, and yours truly, sexy, intelligent and video-game playing as he may be, could not compete with the likes of professional football players or professional models she seemed to have a hankering for.

That and she ended up cheating on me with her ex-boyfriend which promptly earned her the title "ex" girlfriend.

Now I like to think that there is poetic justice in the world, that karma comes back and bitch-slaps the people that so righteously deserve whatever come-uppance may be in store for them. And in the case of my ex's this usually takes the form of them getting fat, getting divorced or in several cases them going out with a starving-artist/drug-dealer/criminal/loser that just parasites off of them. Suddenly the stuffy, fiscally responsible economist doesn't look so bad (and sadly this story seems to be universal across all men I know of my generation).

But this one was special.

For I am down with The Force. And The Force is down with me. And that force is again the most powerful force in the world;


And it just so seemed that karma had decided to use The Force as the vehicle by which to deliver poetic justice to my ex.

For you see, previous to all the dance and romance the ex was married to a young preppy wanna be. They got married at the early stages of the housing bull market and enticed by the false concept of getting rich quick both of them went into business as mortgage brokers. Even idiots can make money in a bull market and the two of them did swimmingly.

And what do young 20 something American boys and girls with no fiscal austerity do when they make $100,000?

Why they spend $300,000! It's the American way!

So they bought a picturesque house in the suburbs of the Twin Cities. They had the interior all done up to perfectly suburbanite perfection. The furniture was brand new and color coded. And things were great.

But you know what would be better?

A Corvette.

Well how does one afford a Corvette when you spent all your money in the past year on a house and furnishing? Naturally, they being mortgage brokers, the answer was "a home equity loan!"

Everybody's doing it!

The Connors!

The Smiths!

The Johnsons!

And Jones!

We'll strip all the equity from the house to the bare bones!

And so they did becoming one of the many people to have not only a HEL but an ARM as well.

Now what was missing from this perfectly picturesque suburbanite story is an affair! And desperate to live true to the American way of life, the young woman decided to start having an affair whilst her husband thought he was living the life with a beautiful wife and a Vette.

Soon enough the picturesque-ness wore off quickly as the husband found out she was having an affair. And his timing could not be better, for it was at the peak of the housing bubble.

Divorce and chaos ensues. The house is put up for sale. And several months later I run into the girl who was going to become my ex.

I get what was at the time only half the story. But as I slowly find out over the course of several months what kind of girl she is and then abruptly find out upon finding out she was sleeping with the same affairee, she is plagued not by the divorce, but the lengthening time by which it is taking to sell the house (that and the crushing loss of me of course!).

By this time I was out of the deal but still wanted to see if karma was ever going to avenge my lost time, money and resources wasted on this girl. And sure enough I was avenged for where I am down with The Force and The Force is down with me is that she still had her name on the mortgage.

And the housing market was in free fall.

As the housing market dried up neither her nor her ex-husband could garner the cash flow to finance their material possessions. The Corvette was repossessed. And then the house.

It put a big smile on my face to see in the papers that they had their house foreclosed on and that her life was now ruined. Additionally through the grape-vine I found out she was living in a run down section 8 ghetto apartment on the north side of St. Paul where somebody was recently stabbed.

So what's the moral of the story aspiring junior and deputy economists?

There are three.

One - avoid "amazingly" attractive women because they're just not worth the time. Find the quiet cutie in the corner.

Two, more of an economic lesson of the day, don't loan to sub prime people. Because not only are they primarily idiots and morons, they're CALLED SUB PRIME FOR A REASON!!!!!

And three - do not ef with somebody who is down with The Force, and The Force down with he.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

I'm Sick of Middle Aged Men Crying

So another condo project bites the dust.
And I truly cannot care for I know the type of people who have been pushing these condo and real estate developments not just here in the Twin Cities, but across the nation and please spare me the crocodile tears.

Typically they're some middle aged guy whose balance sheet consists of many millions of dollars in assets. This fans their ego because they can then go and claim to young twenty something women that they are "millionaire real estate developers" (because lot's of syllables impress stupid people).

They're further pinning their hopes on stupidity hoping these girls don't know the difference between total assets and net worth, for if one were to look at their balance sheets, yes, they do have millions of dollars in assets, but they also have millions MORE in debt.

And this gets to the heart of why I'm particularly disgusted with this caliber of people.

Here they are, living the jet set lifestyle. Claiming they're all that and then some. You look at their personal assets and they all have Beamer SUV's with some kind of Mercedes. They are the schmucks heading out to the ritzy suburbs driving next to you on the interstate with the blue tooth in their ear working in the fast lane as they head on out to their suburbanite mini-mansion worth $3 million. They're eating at the finest restaurants in town, knocking out $200 tabs, $175 of which were martini's. And they're flying south to their condo in Florida to get a couple rounds of golf in.

And what did they do to deserve this lifestyle?


Yep, that's right.


For you see, there hasn't been one iota of profit produced. They haven't made one penny in income. How is it then that I am driving in my 89 Cutlass Supreme next to somebody who didn't make a dime, yet drives a Porsche?

Simple, he used my money to buy everything he owns by borrowing it from a bank.

This is the defining characteristic of these real estate developers and the primary reason why you're going to see a much worse crash in housing prices come the next three months;


For you see, debt can be used for many great things;

College education
Expanding a company
etc. etc.

All of which would yield the cash flows necessary to pay the debt back.

But it can also be squandered.

A perfect example is what I like calling "Pulling an Argentina."

The world loaned Argentina roughly $90 billion (with accrued interest it was something like $132 billion). The idea what that Argentina would INVEST the money in its economy and infrastructure to help boost Argentina's economic growth rate. This would then yield higher tax revenues and allow them to pay off the debt.

However, Argentina instead decided to piss it away on a bevy of vote-bribing social programs at the provincial level and when "community centers" and "political aid" did not produce the economic growth necessary to pay back the lenders, Argentina decided to default on its debts and not pay the world back (which summarily resulted in a severe recession and the majority of Argentinians blaming "the West" for their economic woes).

The exact same thing is happening now. However, instead of Argentine social programs and wealth-transfers the money is wasted on BMW's, egregiously large suburbanite cookie cutter homes, planes, trips to Europe and a whole bevy of other consumables that are NOT investments and STAND NO CHANCE OF PRODUCING THE CASH FLOWS NECESSARY TO PAY BACK THE DEBT!

Now, some will contest that the money did indeed go into real estate development which is indeed an investment and there was the hope for getting paid back. However, this spotlights another major issue I have with this group;
They thought nothing of borrowing millions of dollars of OTHER PEOPLE'S MONEY while NOT KNOWING THE ENTIRE TIME WHETHER THEY WOULD BE ABLE TO PAY THEM BACK OR NOT!

If it were me, and I were to ask somebody to borrow $20 million, I don't know it might occur to me to conduct somekind of saaaaaayyyyy

"absorption study"


"market analysis"

to make damn sure that there was an excellent chance I would be able to pay them back.

And I'm just a dumb economist. Certainly these high-end professional "multi-millionaire real estate developers" would not doubt have an absorption study be a STANDARD part of their analysis before borrowing $20 million of other people's money.

Heh heh!

Good luck.

For in my exploits and trivails in the real estate development industry finding an absoprtion study done on any one of these developments is like finding a sexy red-headed, video game playing, PhD in economics that watches Bugs Bunny on a regular basis.

In otherwords, the VAST majority of the time these "multi-millionaire real estate developers" did not bother finding out whether their product would actually sell before asking other people for their money. And it wasn't like you'd need a genius to figure out the condo market was saturated. In addition to the bevy of article written up about the glut of condo's, this chart alone would have saved us all millions of dollars of losses and headaches;

Now, in a normal company in normal markets such incompetence would be rewarded with a firing or a severe drop in pay. But most of these developers are owned by one person and they answer to nobody. And remember, the primary purpose of you loaning them your money IS NOT so that they develop some real estate, sell it and then pay you back. It's to keep up their lifestyle! Why?????

"Because I'm an important and busy multi-millionaire real estate developer!"

Now, in addition to the banks who are going to get royally screwed over in 2007 there are other victims as well.

Small time contractors.

These guys own and operate small time carpentry, HVAC, plumbing, etc., outfits. Usually a small time, hard working blue collar guy and a dozen or so sub-contractors that all depend on this income.

And while I am the most ardent capitalist in the world, I find it disgusting that when the "multi-millionaire real estate developer" who has so completely mismanaged his developments that he is unable to sell any property and therefore stops pay his contractors and employees.

Oh, no, they'll keep paying themselves and making sure they can have those $200 dinners and can keep living in their $3 million home.

But they won't pay the contractors and hard workers that don't have the $3 million house (however, these "small time contractors" do have something they can wear as a badge of honor, it's called a "positive net worth."). Regardless, it's digusting that people who have done nothing but borrow money get to consume and enjoy such a high standard of living while the people who actually produced some measure of wealth get shafted by these guys.

However, for all of you who are on the receiving end of this housing crash, take consolence in this;

I have seen 5 middle aged "multi-millionaire real-estate developers" cry in my banking career.

Yes, these high and mighty, hoity toities with the oopdey loopdies who were "busy important guys," people who have been living off of others for the past 5 years, managing to produce nothing but housing that would not sell, undermining property prices by flooding our markets with realty nobody wanted are being taken down. When the banks refuse to extend their loans, they start to cry like little girls and they realize they may have to become like the rest of us schlepps and ACTUALLY WORK FOR A LIVING!!!! (it's actually quite unsettling to see).

And they're not being taken down by me.

They're not being taken down by the banks.

They're being taken down by the most powerful force on earth;


Which eludes to a point that I have made since Dotcom Mania;

Could you imagine how many hundreds of billions of dollars, jobs, GDP growth and other general good stuff would have been saved if somebody would have just consulted an economist before this all happened? Or maybe just read this article from The Economist in 2003?

But then again, what do I know, I'm not a "multi-millionaire real estate developer" with a bimbo on my arm, I'm just a dumb video game playing economist.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

More Money Does NOT Equal Better Schools

I've said it before,
And I'll say it again;


How dense do you idiots have to be to not get this?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

So Reagan and Lenin are in Heaven...

This picture, from Russia, says so much about the realities of economics, the Cold War, the humiliation of socialism, etc., that I don't really think I can add anything to it.

No doubt Reagan is laughing his ass off at Lenin up above.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Predicting Hugo Chavez

Everybody has boogie men.

To radical muslims the boogie man is Israel and the US.

To dictators like Kim Jong Il and Amehdinijad it's the US again.

To sociology majors who can't find a job it's "the corporations maaaaan!"

To Liberals it's George Bush.

Every group out there that has problems that are largely brought about by themselves and their own actions like to blame other people for those problems. And particularly dictators.

Hugo Chavez will be no exception.

Hugo is implementing full blown communism now and the symptoms of it are already beginning to show, most recently;

Shortages and inflation.

So before Venezuela goes down the toilet and when the price of oil tanks, I want everybody to know that I, along with any astute observer of politics and human nature, predict, that Hugo to stay in power will (like radical imams and clerics, Kim Jong Il, and the bevy of other fear mongers, liars and scoundrels) will blame his own messy bed on the US.

His accusations will become more conspiratorial in nature. They will become more outlandish. There will be accusations of the US sending spies in to destabalize the economy.

I have highlighted that sentence for I want to be able to say in a couple years, "see I told you so" and so that you lefties out there who love Hugo will have to look into the mirror and realize, like most other people, that you are the root and cause of most of your problems.

You are the boogie man.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Genius Test

So I cannot help but know that the Dixie Chicks have won 5 Emmy's because it's all over the news.

I didn't even know the Emmy's were for music, let alone what the Grammy's and the Whammy's and the Slammy's are for. I never paid attention. And the radio show host I was listening to at the time pointed out that the only people who paid attention to this and gave a damn are probably below the mean intelligence of the nation.

In other words, you may have knowledge, but if it's in particular areas, you are guaranteed to be an idiot.

Perfect example was when I was back in high school and our congressional representative came in and gave a speech. He asked the students if anybody knew how many congressional members there were. I looked around and not one student had the answer. Thus the paradox that class will last longer if we don't answer these questions, so I figured I'd better just answer so we could get out of there.



So behind me was sitting this future welfare recipient who at the age of 15 tattooed a spider web surrounding his eye. He leans over and says, "heh, how many cans of beer are in a case?"

I didn't know.

"I don't know, 24?"

And literally in a Beavis and Butthead accent said, "hu hu, it's 16, shows you how much you know."

And the more I thought about it, the more I realized, "yes, it actually does."

So I thought instead of testing intelligence by seeing how much you know why not test intelligence by seeing how much you DON'T know. Here are things I don't know, test yourself to see how little you know and how intelligent you are!

1. What are the Grammy's for?

2. Name one person on the current episode of Lost.

3. Where is the welfare office in your county?

4. T/F Dawsons Creek was about a guy named Dawson and the creek he owned.

5. Name one contestant on Teen Idol.

6. Sing the lyrics to a modern day song played on the teeny bopper girly station.

7. If you wanted to get meth, where would you go to get it?

8. Name any member of any present day boy band.

9. What is the rough price of a shirt at the GAP and/or Ambercrombie and Fitch?

10. If you went to college, where was the sociology department headquartered?

0-1 right? YOU'RE A GENIUS!!!

2-3 right? Congratulations, you are smarter than average!

6-4 right? Good enough that are well-rounded, arguably have a social life and are probably smart enough to vote!

7-9 right? Dude, hit Drudge Report

Perfect score? Out of the gene pool!

Sadly this also reminds me of three simple questions my male friends and I are using to screen women we may have potential romantic interests in;

1. What war was Pearl Harbor in?

2. Name a president from the 80's.

3. Point north.

We have yet to get one woman (let alone the few guys we've tested it on) answer all three correctly.

Sadly, Jay Walking with Jay Leno is not staged.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

I Thought They Were Starving in North Korea?

And then you see this fat slob.

Oh, wait, that's right, he's Kim Jong Il's son.
Communism brings about equality my ass.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Advice for the Ladies from the Captain

I don't know if you knew this or not but men like, of all things, women.

No, really it's true.

It is a well-established scientific fact that men are partial to the ladies.

I have seen it!

So, ladies, do us men a favor and never do this;

I saw this in The Economist and it is literally heart-wrenching.

Here you have a beautiful woman (and she's a big time hoity toity corporate mucky muck professional on top of it) who is smart, educated, refined, etc. etc.



No no no no no!!!!

What are you doing??????!!!!!

I don't know if it was a communist plot or the devil himself that started this rumor/fashion trend of short hair, but let me explain it to you in simple terms;







or in other words;






Again, rereading the little known fact that men, indeed do like women, that means we don't want you looking like boys. We like LOOOOOONG, FLOWING HAIR!

Lot's of it.

Stuff we can get lost it.

Hair that when you whip around to face us time slows down as the rest of your hair slowly catches up to the rest of your body. Slooooowly losing altitude to settle on your shoulders.

That alone extends our life expectancy by 20 years.






On a completely seperate side note,

Remember to tune into THE ECONOMICS SUPPER CLUB this Saturday where I dispense my weekly wisdom;

AM 1500, KSTP, you can listen online here;

Central Standard time, 1-3PM

Thursday, February 08, 2007


I have been schooled in the use of charts. I've always wanted to put movement to my charts, but I have not the software.

This is literally better than any argument I could ever pose about the benefits, strengths and progress capitalism can bring.

The charts are just amazing.

You will watch it.

Another Childhood Dream Destroyed

I figure since you're on this planet once, that you might as well pack it in and live how you want.

That's why I have no reservations about going treasure hunting.

Now, finding Coronado's lost gold is probably going to rank up there in likelihood of me finding on an old British Mar o' War with the queen's gold, so I hunt after other artifacts like fossils, ancient ruins, archeological pieces, etc.

Mock me if you must, but it's my life and that's how I choose to spend some of my free time.

But there was one unique "treasure" that I had in mind that I was going to pursue and find. A lost treasure of probably no monetary value, but sentimental value to any Gen-X'er so that when I retire in my palacial estate and in 2056 guests are perusing through my "treasure" collection, they'll look up and say "what's that" I will turn to them and say,

"That's an old Atari cartridge I found in the middle of the desert. Back in the early 80's Atari has such a glut of them they buried millions of cartidges in the middle of the desert because it was cheaper that destroying them."

So with "global warming" making the temperatures here in Minneapolis a balmy -16 freaking degrees, a traipsing around a hot dry desert looking for the lost pieces of Atari Americana sounded inviting.

Well, 20 minutes on the internet and my hopes are crushed;

For yes, the legends are true, but they CRUSHED ALL THE CARTRIDGES AND LAID CEMENT OVER THEM!!!

I lament the loss because I could see in the future that becoming a historical marker, sort of a piece of American history, let alone it would be eccentric to actually dig up and own one of those fated cartridges.

Regardless, you know this wouldn't have happened to The Goonies.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

An Interesting Chart

I'd be curious to see how density in population, industry, gross state product, etc. plays into this;

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Chicks Dig Me for My Charts

It's sad, but they don't look and see that I have a soul. That I too am a human being.

No, they just look and salivate over my charts.

Which they should because my charts rule. Especially two new ones I've happened upon.

House price to income and house price to rents.

Now I know this concept has existed before. The Economist had a chart about 18 months ago. The problem is IT WAS 18 MONTHS AGO AND it was indexed (suggesting to me the person who compiled the data (from HSBC) didn't have actual rents data available to him, but did have growth rates and so the best they could do was index it)

Regardless, the concept behind these metrics is identical to the concept of a P/E ratio. With stocks, how do you know if one stock is better valued than the other? Well, take the price of the stock and divide it by that stock's earnings. This gives you a P/E ratio and shows you, in essence how much you are paying in stock price to be entitled to $1 in earnings. Thus, the higher the P/E ratio, the more expensive the stock is.

The same concept can be applied to property. Property, like stock, is an asset. And like any other asset it has the ability to create a certain amount of income. So you take the price of a property and divide it by its potential income and you get a similar P/E measure except for property.

In this case, property usually generates income in the form of rent. So what I did was take the median household price in the US and divide it by the national average "Fair Market Rents (FMR)" to get this "real estate P/E"

The results are not pleasant, but what we'd expect. Property prices have increased at a rate faster than rents. Suggesting property is still overvalued.

Their is, however a problem in using rents for estimating the over/undervaluation of property;

Not all property is rented out.

Matter of fact, most property is lived in therefore there are no rents.

That's OK, because we can still gauge a P/E ratio for property using "median household income."
How much does the median household cost relative to the income of the average household.

And again we see that housing prices have appreciated much faster than incomes. ie-incomes have not kept up.

Based on these figures you can infer how much property has to come down in price in order to be inline with historical values. Based on house price to rents property would have to come down by about 40% to get back in line with historical values.

Of course rents could come up by 40% which would mean housing prices wouldn't drop at all, but given the glut of condos being converted into apartments and that developers are still trying to push inventory on the market, this is unlikely to happen.

Based on house price to income property prices would have to drop by 21% to come back into line.

Doing the advanced, PhD econometric dance, high-end, hoity toity, fancy schmancy mathematics, economists take the simple average between the two and say that property has about a 30% correction ahead of it (or an laughable 30% increase in rents).

Now, those of you who have your equity built up in your house and wear your property price like a badge of honor. And those of you who borrowed all the equity out of your house so that you could to buy crap you don't need. And all the thousands of developers who have become accustomed to growing by leaps and bounds and making big time money without seeing if the market can absorb your inventory. And all you fake-richy-riches out there who just borrow borrow borrow, never work a damn day in your life, and use other people's money to maintain a lifestyle you truly never could afford in the first place are ALL going to get angry and mad and blame me for the above data.

And that I'm wrong.

And that there's "x,y and z" reasons why property will rebound.

And that we're just in a temporary lull.

And that such a severe crash in housing prices cannot happen.

Oh really? Remember Dotcom Mania?

I'm just the messenger people.

Get ready for a serious dose of reality.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

I Hate Minnesota

Global warming my ass!

I'll take the freaking tornadoes they got in Florida over this schtick!

Friday, February 02, 2007

How Will Hugo Go?

An excellent article in The Economist how Hugo Chavez is spending his oil windfalls like a drunken duo sorority girl and trophy wife with daddy's credit card.

I like the chart because (well, I like charts) it shows you just how dependent he is on a high price of oil. It also shows you how much spending he's done bribing people with this temporary windfall.

But what I get a kick out of the most is that Chavez and all his supporters who clamour about socialism can only contribute their success to the high price of oil which has been driven up in price by largely our growing capitalist economy here in the US and the capitalist free market reforms that have bolstered China's and India's growth thereby boosting the demand for oil

That reality is really a bitch isn't it?

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Operation Ireland

I had this cunning plan that I'd move to Ireland, enjoy their low tax status and gain citizenship by marrying a gorgeous Irish lass and launch a global corporation I have an idea for.

Then I started researching their property markets there.

Cripes! I need the dollar to rebound something fierce!

However, this did remind me of a thought I had.

While the prices may be prohibitive, a country, county, city or state that has such high prices innoculates itself against a whole bevy of societal ills in that it keeps the criminals and non-wealth producers/parasites out of the region. This results in lower crime and other benefits, but if you are allowed to go and work and are surrounded by other people who are allowed to go and work, and nobody's there asking for a handout because they're all too busy working, then an economy to scale takes place and the ability for somebody to make enough money to live there, increases dramatically as well as the wealth producing region of the entire economy (Luxembourgh I often think like this). So kind of in a reverse PPP adjusting sort of way, those prices are maybe not that unaffordable.

The trick is to get in...of course I can't afford it...which makes me one of those parasitic schleps.

By the Numbers


Perfect Example of Leftist Media Bias; Exxon

OK, so this is the headline at CNN (and Drudge even)

What gets me is that 4th quarter earnings were DOWN from the previous year AS ONE WOULD EXPECT SINCE THE PRICE OF OIL HAS DROPPED SO MUCH!!!

But nobody seems to point that out, this common sensical relationship between the profits a commodity company makes and the price of the commodity company.

I guarantee you with the low price of oil for the 1st quarter in 2007 we will not see;

"CNN NEWS FLASH, EXXON MOBIL'S PROFITS TANK IN 1ST QUARTER 2007! Big Environmentalists Suspected, Bush Foresakes Big Oil!"

Because that does not play to the conspiracy theories of "Big Oil" of the left.