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Monday, January 12, 2009

Great Recession Roundup — January 12, 2009

Items of Interest:

John Wasik, Bloomberg:
U.S. Housing Market Still Offers Hidden Value -- Some of the most durable areas have shown lower volatility because they experienced less bubble appreciation, show fewer foreclosures and have residents with higher average income levels. A few of these havens might surprise you.

The Connecticut areas of Bridgeport-Stamford, Hartford and New Haven are most resilient, according to HomeSmartreports.com, a San Capistrano, California-based online service that measures “collateral risk,” or the chance you will lose money on a property purchase.

Also on the “least-risky” list are Boston, Essex County and Worcester, Massachusetts; Honolulu; Bethesda-Gaithersburg, Maryland; Edison, New Jersey; New York/Nassau-Suffolk county; Albuquerque; Seattle and El Paso.

Well-Paid Neighbors

Neighborhood stability is almost always anchored by employment, above-average wealth and education...

Ponzi schemer Bernard Madoff scammed millions from his sisterThe Madoff Ponzi

NY Post:

Bernard Madoff didn't even spare his own family.

The Ponzi schemer scammed millions from his sister, who is now desperately selling her Florida home, sources told The Post.

Sondra Wiener, 74, "has nothing," said one of her neighbors in the BallenIsles Country Club, a gated Palm Beach enclave where she and her husband, Marvin, live alongside such celebrities as Serena and VenusWilliams.

"She lost millions in this whole thing," said a source who estimated her loss at $3 million.

In response to questions about their financial straits, Wiener's son, David, said, "Yes, my family's a victim. More so than anybody else. It's very painful." ...
FoxNews: Report: Madoff's Sister Among Scammed Victims

Ritholtz / The Big Picture:
The Madoff Whistleblower

Madoff’s Freedom Ignites Rage of Neighbors Who Want Him Jailed -- U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner denounced a federal judge’s decision to allow Bernard Madoff to remain free on bond while awaiting trial for allegedly running a $50 billion Ponzi scheme.

“He should not be living at home, he should be in a jail cell,” said Weiner, a Democrat from New York, at a press conference today in front of Madoff’s Manhattan apartment on East 64th Street. His comment followed the judge’s ruling in Manhattan federal court. “This judge doesn’t seem to get it.” ...
The Trouble With Bernie: Nine Ways to Avoid a Madoff When You Meet Him -- 1. Don’t hire a money manager to get “new ideas” for your money. Most investment scams are timeless in structure, (e.g., Ponzi), ancient in motivation (e.g., greed), but usually appear to offer something that looks “new”: the promise of sure bucks in places where no man has gone before. In my day, I’ve seen tax shelters that guaranteed riches from big losses (1970s); junk bonds with double-digit returns and “virtually” no risk (1980s); dot-coms that promised value without cash flow (1990s); and after I left the business (2000) it was sub- primes, credit swaps and hedge funds. As Murphy said, everybody has at least one new idea that will not work...
Ritholtz / The Big Picture:
The Terrible Lessons of TARP -- With the government now debating the release of the second half of the TARP funds, perhaps now is as good a time as any to look at how successfully spent the first $350 Billion dollars were.

The evidence is not very favorable.

What I can say without reservation is that the TARP spending prevented large brokers and banks from going to zero. Since the legislation was passed in the Fall, there has not been a major disruptive bankruptcy...

The short list of criticisms starts with the ad hoc way it was formed, and foisted on the public. There were no clear goals, no over-arching strategy, no milestones to evaluate its success...

Calculated Risk

MishTalk - Mike Shedlock

Paul Krugman - NY Times

The Big Picture - Barry Ritholtz

naked capitalism - Yves Smith

Pragmatic Capitalism

Washington's Blog

Safe Haven

Paper Economy

The Daily Reckoning - Australia