Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Links 05/20/2009

'Hallucination fish' caught off UK coast – Practical Fishkeeping

Message in What We Buy, but Nobody’s Listening – The New York Times

The grand edifice of brand-name consumerism rests on the narcissistic fantasy that everyone else cares about what we buy. (It’s no accident that narcissistic teenagers are the most brand-obsessed consumers.) But who else even notices? Can you remember what your partner or your best friend was wearing the day before yesterday? Or what kind of watch your boss has?

A Harvard diploma might help get you a date or a job interview, but what you say during the date or conversation will make the difference. An elegantly thin Skagen watch might send a signal to a stranger at a cocktail party or in an airport lounge, but even if it were noticed, anyone who talked to you for just a few minutes would get a much better gauge of your intelligence and personality.

GoogleLookup: do things you never thought possible with spreadsheets – Beah Blogger

FRBSF Economic Letter – Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco

A delinquent spike – Alphaville

From John Kemp at Reuters - a chart showing the percentage of US residential mortgages where payments are 30 days or more overdue.


Haggling for better deal means money in bank – The San Francisco Chronicle

Eighty-one percent of those who haggled over cell phone bills or clothing were successful. And more than 70 percent of those who asked for better prices on clothing, jewelry, new cars, airfares, appliances, electronics and furniture got them.

Hagglers were successful 62 percent of the time with credit card fees and 58 percent with medical bills.

Although they weren't in the survey, cable companies are well known for dealing, especially if you threaten to jump to a competitor.

Linda Feehan of Kentfield says that when she signed up for Comcast's bundled service in 2007, it was $99 per year before taxes. "The next year, they tried to raise it to $138. I got it down to $113.95," she says. "This past year they tried to raise it to $149. Now I'm getting it for $129.99. And they threw in an extra cable box and high-definition."

In this economy, "you would be hard pressed" to find something that is not negotiable, Daugherty says.

R.I.P. Free Credit – Minyanville

Remember the good old days? Back when you and the credit crunch were young, and only those "subprime" people over on the other side of town -- you know, the ones living wildly beyond their means, dependent on credit for the very necessities of life -- had to deal with the harsh reality of life without free and easy credit?

Dick Fuld Selling His Apartment For $32 Million, 50% More Than He Paid In 2007 – Clusterstock

Effect of Household Deleveraging on Housing, Consumption and the Stock Market – Mish

One in Four Homeowners Holds an Empty Piggy Bank - Housingwire

Fueling increased anxiety over potential job loss, one in four — or 24% of — homeowners don’t have any money in savings to cover living expenses should they lose their income, according to a Wells Fargo & Company quarterly survey.

[DMV-Like Executives] Placing All Our Housing Hopes On Institutions Losing Billions – Matrix

Every quarter for more than a year, we have seen losses in the neighborhood of $10B - $20B for each of the former GSEs Fannie and Freddie. However, with the Stim and bailouts in the multi-trillion range, the current losses seem like chicken feed (no offense meant to hard working chickens).

Man saves ducklings from ledge – BBC News

Five Things for Wednesday, May 20 – Minyanville

Obama Says U.S. Economy Showing ‘Return to Normalcy’ – Bloomberg

May 20 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama told his board of outside economic advisers, led by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, that the U.S. economy is showing “some return to normalcy.”

Obama addressed the 16-member group, drawn from business, labor and former government officials, as it gathered at the White House today for its first full meeting. The topics were energy and jobs.

“You’re seeing industry, labor and government working together more cooperatively and in a better spirit” than “in a long time,” Obama said. He cited the steps he announced yesterday to toughen auto-emissions and fuel-efficiency standards as one such agreement among sometimes competing groups that will aid the economy.

Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Shouldn’t the economic advisors be giving Obama updates on the economy?