Sunday, September 11, 2011

Stop the World--I Want to Get Off!

This week I have been swamped with too much news.  My head is swimming with stock market ups and downs, Republican debates, Presidential speeches, Red Sox/Rays games, the return of NFL Football and the 48 hours of 9/11 on TV.  OMG, Stop the world--I’m in information overload--I want to get off, please, forgive me if I’m a little off track.

Real estate investor Gary Shilling wrote this week that he believes U.S. housing prices are likely to lose another 20 percent over the next couple of years because the oversupply of available housing is still huge.  I don’t see that drastic loss in either Florida or New England—we’ve had enough already.  But I have been harping on bulldozing or burning (somehow ridding ourselves of) the over supply of broken-down homes, but that’s an idea that hasn’t grown legs so far.

Shilling also expects that official quarterly U.S. growth figures will be soon be revised downward. “The odds are that next time they revise the data it will be to make it even weaker,” Shilling says. “We could be looking at numbers that are positive today but may not be six months from now.”  As I see it, restating financial results is something exclusively reserved for the government.  If I had tried that when I was with Fidelity, I’d have been unemployed within the month.

“The Fed and the government are pretty much out of ammunition,” says Shilling. “The Fed has tried the printing press — $1.6 trillion in excess reserves and what’s happened? It’s just sitting there.  It’s up to the banks and credit worthy borrowers to turn those reserves into money and they haven’t been. It’s the classic pushing on a string.”

As I write this, borrowing activity is so low that banks have a record $1.5 trillion sitting idol at the Federal Reserve Bank — funds eligible for loans if creditworthy borrowers show up and apply.

Here’s some “better news”: more than 2 million homeowners who were foreclosed on or were in the process of a foreclosure during 2009 or 2010 can now ask for a review of their case. Banking regulators say ex-homeowners who might be eligible will receive a letter from their lender explaining their rights.

The move is to help identify homeowners who may have been improperly foreclosed upon, homeowners who ask for the review will receive a letter explaining their rights.

Mortgage servicers will be required to hire independent auditors to conduct reviews of the cases and determine if homeowners should receive financial compensation if the foreclosures were not done properly. They will also look for borrowers who were denied loan modifications when they may have been eligible for one.

The reviews are part of the mortgage servicer requirements called for by regulators after an investigation last fall revealed improper foreclosure practices by banks.

My opinion:  I am glad it’s been 10 years since the attack on America, and that it’s been 10 years without another attack, I was impressed with how presidential George Bush was in his speech this week, and how easily Bill Clinton interacted with the audience.  These are two world leaders who by comparison, dramatically demonstrate the difference between our “old style” Presidents and our “new style” president.  (I like the old style better…)

So much in our lives has changed in the years since 9/11/2001.  I am sorry that we lost nearly 3,000 people that day, and in the wars we’ve waged since then to revenge that attack, another 6,000.  Frankly, I think losing 9,000+/- Americans is enough.  I’m sorry that we still have young people in harm’s way, and I want to see them home safely. 

I’m sorry that our leaders have been so thumb handed in their management of our economy, (our housing market, our employment situation, our taxes and spending and health care) and our military. 

I think we’ve got work to do between now and the next election.  If we work hard now, maybe we’ll have something to show for it in 2012.

Dane Hahn is a real estate professional in New Hampshire and Florida.  He can be reached at 941-681-0312 or at  See him on the web at  or

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