Thursday, March 31, 2005

Philly

We spent Easter weekend in Philly. Susan and I both hold Philly close to our hearts. She spend over 12 years there and me 8. It's also where we met and began this journey. On top of that, Philly is just a user friendly city. We'll keep returning there for years to come.

We stayed at Embassy Suites near the airport, which we won't do again. We'd rather be in the city or closer to the Main Line where some friends are. And the pool, which is a big draw for the kids in the colder months was atrocious. We like the suite setup because it gives us two rooms. However, we never seem to get any free time together. Maybe when the kids are a bit older.

We went to the Please Touch Museum on Friday, our second time. I don't think we'll be back for quite some time. It's nice for the kids, but just not that big. We wanted to get to the Franklin Institute but it just wasn't in the cards. On Saturday we went to the Villanova campus. Of course we didn't realize Easter break closes up the school so we just walked around for awhile. Went to Bertucci's for lunch in Wayne.

Sunday we went to see the Reynolds out in Downingtown. Great house guys, really nice seeing you and the boys.

Susan did a great job with toys, eggs and candy so we had our little Easte hunt Sunday morning in our hotel room.

Nice quick getaway with the tribe.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Happy 95th Birthday Gram

Today is my grandmother's 95th birthday. Isn't that great? 95. I went to see her yesterday along with some cousins, Rich and Pat. It was nice being there are seeing everybody. Angie is getting ready to move to another assisted living site because she needs a bit more oversight than in years past. It's a bit further from where we live but I really want to make a concerted effort to see her more, especially with the kids.

Happy birthday Gram!

More Chronicles From Bubbletown

Excerpts from an article in the Arizona Republic:

"It's really frustrating because you can't even have the luxury of going to look at a house and going home to think about it," she said. "If you think you can do something with it, you make an offer and just pray to God it works out."

"We're concerned if we don't get a home soon we might not ever be able to afford one," said Robert, who works in the telecom industry.


If this type of thinking doesn't scream bubble/everyone's on the same side of the boat, I really don't know what does. I've long held real estate ends ugly this time, but lately it appears it is going to be fugly, you know, fucking ugly.

The writing is on the wall. Most just don't want to stop and read it.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

The High Cost Of Education

Seth Godin takes some shots at an MBA degree. My meme cuts a bit lower on the educational totem pole.

It is my belief that as college level education costs continue to spiral out of control, we will soon reach a point of diminishing returns. It won't be worth the money. I firmly believe over the next 10-20 years we will see a return to apprenticeship. No, I'm not jumping on The Donald bandwagon. I just feel if young people start their careers earlier they'll be better off professionally and financially in the long run.

However, this doesn't mean we go from high school graduation on Friday to career on Monday. Either prior to an apprenticeship or contemporaneously with it, young people should receive intensive communications training - - speaking and writing (typing but also writing, a handwrittnen note goes miles in biz). The bottom line is with polished communication skills an 18-20 year old would be just as viable in today's job market. And unshackled from college loan debt likely more liberated to hit the ground running. Communication training coupled with a well run apprenticeship progam will be the educational wave of the 21st century.

As Seth points out, if college to you is learning for learning's sake then this doesn't apply to you. But when you've gleaned life's lessons from one kegger the rest are really more of the same.

Finally, I am clearly not targeting highly skilled fields. But a large segment (majority?) of US workers perform jobs that don't require specialized educational training. We should refocus "higher" education to the highly skilled fields so we can better compete with India and China. Already those countries are turning out engineers at rates that should make us blush. If this continues we run the risk of being displaced as the epicenter of technological innovation. And trust me, nothing would make China prouder than knocking us on our technological keister.

Bottom line, armed with honed communications skills anyone can do just about anything. And to get there shouldn't be as expensive as it is today.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Because Mr. Market Says It Shall Be So

Barry Ritholtz thinks a 30% "haircut" to the real estate market would be significant but manageable. I disagree. As the saying goes, this "ain't" our parents real estate market.

The table below says it all. Again, I don't do timing. All I am saying is Mr. Market goes where he goes with the least number of people as possible. All of you real estate bulls will never be able to convince me that Mr. Market is going to allow 42% (69% if we include those with less than 10% equity in their home purchase) of first-time home buyers to leverage up the way they are and be on the right side of the trade. Huh uh, ain't going to happen. I don't know an easier way to explain it.

How much did they put down?
The majority of first-time buyers had downpayments of less than 10 percent.

Size of downpayment / First-time buyers putting this much down
0% / 42%
1% - 9% / 27%
10% - 19% / 12%
20% - 29% / 10%
30% - 39% / 2%
40% - 49% / 1%
More than 50% / 6%

- Source: National Association of Realtors

Monday, March 07, 2005

I Hear Ya

It isn't easy holding this conviction. Hey, I'm a homeowner and so is most everyone I come into contact with. No one likes to hear this. Woe is me I guess.

Fleckenstein has been beating the drum too. I love the last paragraph as it relates to the tired old line that they ain't making anymore of it:

"In case you're wondering what it might look like, there is a group of islands where there isn't enough real estate for everyone -- and where real-estate prices have declined for 10 years now. It's also home to the world's second-largest economy. It's called Japan."


My other favorite argument is all the immigrants. Hey, a lot of the Indian braintrust are heading back. If we keep up current fiscal policies a lot more groups will find other shores more attractive. Waves of immigrants. What bunk.





The Outsider

Sometimes a feel like a Dunkin' Donuts guy in a Starbucks world. That's what makes life interesting.

Friday, March 04, 2005

I Guess They Don't Eat Their Own Cooking

Shouldn't ChoicePoint have used their own services/databases to screen the criminals posing as businessmen? If this is who the caliber of people who safeguard our biographical data I'm underwhelmed. This smells like it could get worse.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

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Rock Star!!

_Andy Nardone__
(973) 464-7248

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Housing Ends Ugly

Everyone is quick to spot a bubble ever since the stock market meltdown of 2000. Housing has been fingered as a bubble for several years now. I have been on the accusing end here. There are plenty that say there may be localized bubbles but housing doesn't lend itself to a nationalized bubble.

Well, as far as I'm concerned all the evidence lately doesn't pass the sniff test. I predict we will see a real estate correction the likes of which we have never experienced in the US. I think it will make the RTC/S&L debacle look like child's play. I'm basing this on nothing more than the old "shoeshine boy" theory. "When the shoeshine boy starts giving you tips, it is time to be out of the market," Joe Kennedy reportedly told his wife.

Everything blowing in the real estate wind wreaks of this today. NY Times today has an
article
about flippers and rampant speculation. It ain't going to end nicely.

I admit my timing has been way, way off, but the endgame I foresee hasn't changed. Real estate is going to come unglued. And shit rolls downhill, it will be a nationwide problem.