Archive for June 23rd, 2008

It may be hard for the MTV generation to believe this, but when I was a kid in the 70’s, the most risque things in my life included Mad Magazine, Don Imus in the morning on WNBC radio, and cassette tapes of George Carlin. I saw him live in Rochester in the 90’s and he had evolved from a whimsical observer to an edgier, more cynical comic. In both cases, he made me laugh. And even when you read about his heart surgery, he never seemed old.

In light of his passing, many are remembering their favorite routine or album, and mine will always be the Wonderful WINO bit and the Class Clown record. If a cassette could get a callous, our copy of Class Clown would have a huge one.

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Inman News points to a Harvard report which characterizes the current housing slump as the worst in 50 years.

I don’t know what was so bad about the market in the late 50’s. My parents bought their first house in 1957 for $12,000 and the Ike years were known for their relative peace and prosperity, but that is hardly worth researching. In the here and now, it is bad. The study also says that it will get worse before we see a recovery. I agree.  

The recovery, when it does come, will be fueled by population growth. Thanks to immigration and our better-than replacement birth rate, we’ll grow out of it.


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The Times has a fairly balanced article on how people are adapting to the down market in NY City’s least-populated and most suburban borough. The upshot of the story is that not everyone can seek relief through a short sale.

John and Dorothy Miele are an example. Two years ago, they wanted to refinance their home, which they inherited in the mid-1990s from Mrs. Miele’s mother. Mrs. Miele is a homemaker and Mr. Miele earns about $70,000 a year as an auto mechanic for the New York City Police Department. But their credit disqualified them from the sort of loan they wanted.

When thousands of people own a small piece of a home loan, it’s unclear who has the authority to make decisions about the mortgage when it comes to things like working out payments.

They refinanced anyway with an adjustable-rate mortgage, they say, because a mortgage broker told them that it was a step toward improving their credit and that in another six months he would give them a loan with better terms. After the papers were signed, the broker stopped returning their calls and the loan never materialized. Mr. and Mrs. Miele are now in a much tighter spot than they were before they refinanced. Nine people, including their children and grandchildren, depend on that house as a place to live.

The bank that gave them their loan, First Franklin, has since sold it — a standard practice in recent years. Now, it is part of a mortgage-backed security sold by Deutsche Bankto investors. The Mieles, who are about a year behind on their payments, are fighting foreclosure in court. Their next court date is in July.

Deutsche Bank, which acts as trustee, said in a statement: “The trustee is not responsible for foreclosures or selling foreclosed property. Such decisions are made exclusively by the servicing companies.” The servicer attached to the Mieles’ loan, Specialized Loan Servicing, would not comment.

Nine people can’t all fit into a 2 bedroom apartment. There is no easy solution here.  The article is unclear as to why they would refinance a home they inherited; some personal responsibility should be acknowledged there. Still, the broker who gave them a song and dance about refinancing in 6 months should be caned in the public square.

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