Happy Thanksgiving!

by Ross Kaplan on November 26, 2015


Whether you’re a guest, a host, or neither today — have a great Thanksgiving!  (or if you prefer, The Day Before Black Friday).


Dubious Campaign Promises — Exhibit A;
How Many Loopholes Can YOU Spot?

“If they’re too big to fail, make ’em smaller.”

–George Shultz, Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of State (and a former Treasury Secretary).

At least in some parts of the country, Hillary Clinton’s thread-the-needle comment about big banks last week would be met with a chorus of, “them’s weasel words!”

loopholeWanna guess how many “out’s” are baked into her sentence?

I count at least three:

One.  Define, “need.”

If Hillary gets elected and declines to break up the big banks, her most plausible excuse will be . . . they didn’t need to broken up (of course).

Ms. Clinton is sure to render that verdict notwithstanding that the five biggest banks are now 50% bigger than in 2008, when they were already deemed “too big to fail.”

Perhaps Hillary will even argue that it would be a good thing if the big banks were bigger — the better to compete with European and Asian behemoths.

Don’t laugh!

That’s exactly what Wall Street proponents — starting with Mrs. Clinton’s lesser half — argued the last time.

Two.  “I’m willing [to break up the banks] . . . but others are not.”

I call this the, “I can’t do it by myself” loophole.

Translation:  “How’m I supposed to get anything through a hostile Congress?” (likely to remain in Republican hands no matter who’s elected President).

ThreeDefine, “bank.”  In the post-Glass-Steagall world of multi-trillion global finance, Wall Street’s biggest firms aren’t just into banking.

They’ve morphed into market-making, risk-hedging, security-underwriting, proprietary trading vehicles (on that last one, never mind about duties to clients).

Clinton has already suggested that it’s these other functions that are problematic, not banking.

Fine, regulate them, too.

Meanwhile, don’t act like Wall Street — with crucial help from Congress and past Administrations of both political stripes, including her husband’s — didn’t successfully ring-fence gargantuan new markets like derivatives from regulators’ purview.

P.S.:  Unfortunately if not surprisingly, no Republican candidate has committed to breaking up the big banks, either.

Whataya say, Donald??

See also, “Goldman Sachs:  It’s Not My Dog“; “Wall Street Plunders Henhouse, Blames Chickens“; “Number of the Week: $600 TRILLION“; and  “The Wall Street Journal Whiffs on Warren.”

And also:  “Drug Dealers vs. Bankers:  “Top 10 Differences“; “Firing Wall Street“; and “Out-of-Control Mega-Banks?  I’ve Got Your Problem Right Here (and Here, and Here . . .”).


Bumper Car Look-alikes 5 Stories Up

by Ross Kaplan on November 25, 2015


Riding Mower + Hovercraft + Trowel = Riding Trowel (of course)

Except for the part about ramming into each other, the three contraptions pictured above look — and move — a lot like bumper cars.

bumper carsIn fact, the devices (called “ride-on power trowels”) can cost up to $40k apiece, and are used in commercial construction to smooth freshly-poured cement (“concrete” once it’s dry).

They’re working on “Aurora on France Senior Living,” a new building going up at 6500 France in Edina.

P.S.:  And yeah, they look like a lot of fun to operate.


“Modern Family” Season 7, Episode 7:  “Phil’s Sexy, Sexy House”

When it comes to showing TV Realtor Phil Dunphy in plausible, work-related situations, the writers for sitcom Modern Family have been remarkably sure-footed spanning almost 150 episodes.

trystSee, “Halloween Night Open Houses“; “Phil Dunphy, (TV) Realtor”;Phil Dunphy’s ‘Modern Family’ Rival: ‘She Lied, She Cheated, She Won“; “Perils of Real Estate Marketing“; “What to Do About the Pornographic Statue on the Front Lawn“; and “Modern Family’s Phil Dunphy on the Housing Market.”

That streak ended last week.

Titled “Phil’s, Sexy, Sexy House,” the episode’s multiple plot lines all involve — spoiler alert — a veritable parade of couples rendezvousing for trysts at one of Phil’s vacant listings.

Can You Say, “Former Agent?” How About, “E-e-e-w-w!”?

Unh-unh — for about 23 different reasons (#5:  what agent shares lockbox codes with their adult children, brother-in-law, etc.??; #17.  who would put a $30 lockbox — vs. a more secure, computerized one — on what appears to be a multi-million dollar listing?).

A real-life Realtor who so much as thought of doing what Phil and his family did would lose their license in a heartbeat.

And face civil and perhaps even criminal liability.

In 13+ years selling real estate, I can only recall one instance of a Twin Cities Realtor “enjoying” their client’s home while the latter was away or already moved out.

The disgraced former agent was deservedly sued by their ex-client, and very publicly humiliated in the local media.

See, “Did Real Estate Agent Play While Owner Was Away?” (Star Tribune; 8/13/2010).


The Lower Level With 16 Finished Square Feet (Huh?!?)

November 24, 2015

Maybe They’re Counting Four Stairs I’ve seen homes with as much as 3,000 finished square feet in the lower level — “basement” to non-Realtors (it was a very big house). And I’ve seen homes with no finished square feet in the lower level (typical of 19th century homes that have limestone foundations and only partial basements with […]

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Do a Real Estate Deal on the Back of a Napkin? You Could

November 24, 2015

Q:  Do the Pages in a Real Estate Contract Have to Be Numbered? I know that some fellow agents — and perhaps an Office Manager or two — may strenuously object. However, it’s my blog, and I am a former corporate attorney. So, here’s the answer:  ‘no, they don’t.’ Rationale I’ll go even further:  not […]

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Realtor True Confessions: Top Four Things Your Agent DOESN’T Know . . .

November 23, 2015

 . . . And Isn’t Likely to Volunteer “Fake it till you make it.” –Career advice to newbies In a hyper-competitive field where sales bluster is an ever-present temptation, real estate agents aren’t exactly the type to betray ignorance or confess a lack of confidence. And even consummate Realtors with years of experience can’t predict […]

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Black Friday Deals: Anatomy of a Late Fall Housing Bargain

November 21, 2015

Sniffing Out Motivated Home Sellers; Four Clues — and a Red Herring Black Friday isn’t just when retailers offer their best deals of the year. It’s also the time of year when home Buyers can score deep discounts (at least in the Twin Cities; I don’t know about milder markets like Phoenix or Miami). How […]

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