Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Top Ten List of Reasons Why You Know These Times are A-Changing

As President Obama gears up for his first State of the Union Address, I was going through the gazillion (appropriately enough, not a real number) economic and financial issues at hand. I don't even know where to begin, and after not blogging for a while this is one helluva time to just jump in. So I'll start with something easy.

Top Ten Reasons You Know Times are A-Changing

1. American Express offers some credit card holders a$300 pre-paid card to pay off their balances in full and close their accounts. Funny, it was just a short while ago credit card companies were happily feasting off those who carried a balance from month to month.

2. Housing prices fell 18.5% this past year, a record breaking rate of downward return. I won't rub lemon juice in a paper cut, but we all know what the housing market used to be like...

3. Joining the ranks of the unemployed, Harvard's endowment management team will layoff a quarter of its staff, after losing 20%. Harvard's endowment returns made Warren Buffet look like Joe Shmoe. Well, not really, but they have been jaw dropping until recently.

4. Speaking of Warren Buffet, Berkshire Hathaway slumped on Friday to a 5 1/2 year low, kind of like everyone else's accounts. (Okay, maybe everyone else is at a 30 year low).

5. The nationalization of US Banks is an actual debate.

6. A US President calls for a fiscal responsibility summit. Americans owe $35k each towards the federal debt, and with entitlements like Social Security and Medicare- all just plain old not funded at all- that obligation per person balloons to $135k. I think we're so late on the fiscal responsibility summit that it would be a joke if not for the fact that we're in such dire straights we need to reverse the course of stupidity. So while I can be like oh, I don't really owe the Feds $135k so who cares!- I shouldn't kid myself. That level of debt is not theoretical, it reflects how much needs to be made up for each of us in taxes or cuts.

7. You know times are tough when a bill tries to waft its way to a state's Assembly floor-- proposing to tax marijuana! Oh, those silly Californians...

8. eBay used to sell used books and clothes. In times of desperation, people will try to sell anything. $80,000 for 212-867-5301 is my personal fave. The antonymous auction would be the one involving losing one's virginity to the tune of $3.7 million. In a word, eww.

9. Americans are saving more and spending less, a sharp contrast to saving nada and spending wildly beyond one's means.

10. And last but not least, change is definitely in the air when Manhattan's luxury real estate market is, of all things, on sale.

And of course, it goes without saying, things are not quite the same old same old when a recession hits all classes, the US is in danger of having no American car company, banks are going belly up, the interest rate is near zero, and inventory- from cars to homes, exceeds not only demand, but access to financing for what little demand there is. The list is endless, and a top ten list could easily go on to a gazillion.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Baby!

After a many month long hiatus from blogging, I'm gearing up for a comeback. My utmost apologies, but M and I had a bouncing baby boy late November, and life has been, well, just a tad bit chaotic. An absolute joy, but the sleep deprivation has been biting into my blogging time. Until I start to sift through an attempt at understanding the economic carnage, I leave you with a recent article in the NY Daily News that declares it takes $123,322 a year to be middle class in NYC. Class is a wiggly beast, and while M and I fall far short of this article's vision of middle class, I think it would be unfair to exactly call us the working poor. So I'd like to declare myself part of the sub basement middle class...