Recent comments by aleister perdurabo

Have I mentioned that I hate flying?

But you like having flown.

- NY Times

The bitterly traded charges of deception and unfair attacks would have been right at home in a rough-and-tumble political campaign. In this case, though, the acrimony erupted in an area that is usually much more placid: the market for children’s violin lessons.
It all began when the American violin virtuoso and composer Mark O’Connor, who started publishing his own instruction books several years ago, took aim at the giant of the field: the Suzuki method, known for teaching legions of children around the world to saw away at variations of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.”

Mr. O’Connor not only criticized the method but also accused its creator, Shinichi Suzuki, of fabricating parts of his biography to promote it. The International Suzuki Association counteredthat his allegations were “inaccurate and false” and implied that he was trying to discredit Mr. Suzuki, who died in 1998, to sell his own books. An examination by The New York Times of some of Mr. O’Connor’s key charges found that they were undercut by evidence.

Best "Boil 'em Cabbage Down" ever! - Mark O'Connor/Wynton Marsalis - YouTube

Congressional leaders hammer out deal to allow pension plans to cut retiree benefits - The Washington Post

A bipartisan group of congressional leaders reached a deal Tuesday evening that would for the first time allow the benefits of current retirees to be severely cut, part of an effort to save some of the nation’s most distressed pension plans.

The measure, attached to a massive $1.01 trillion spending bill, would alter 40 years of federal law and could affect millions of workers, many of them part of a shrinking corps of middle-income employees in businesses such as trucking, construction and supermarkets.

State pension funds' combined underfunding rises to $4.7 trillion — report - Pensions & Investments

State employee retirement systems are underfunded by a total of $4.7 trillion for a funding ratio of 36%, said a report from State Budget Solutions, a non-profit organization advocating state budget reform.

The report measured state public pension liabilities by market valuation instead of discount rates based on investment return assumptions because “the discount rates that plans use are just far too high,” said Joe Luppino-Esposito, State Budget Solutions general counsel and the report's author, in an interview. A risk-free rate based on a 15-year Treasury bond rate works better when states fail to make annual contributions and address unfunded liabilities, Mr. Luppino-Esposito said. “Even if you are on target, it doesn't work. The bottom line is that on paper nothing beats a government pension. But in reality, the money isn't there,” Mr. Luppino-Esposito said.

The overall actuarial assets of state pension funds in the 50 states, according to the report, total $2.68 trillion, while liabilities total $7.42 trillion.

shill wrote:
E.U. May Crack Over Ukraine, Soros Warns · Handelsblatt Global Edition

Europe to pay for the whole mess in Ukraine | Michael Hudson

Riksbank Cuts Key Rate to Zero as Deflation Fight Deepens - Bloomberg 

Swedish property prices have almost tripled since 1995, while consumer debt has nearly doubled to about 175 percent of disposable incomes. In a bid to avoid regulation, the Swedish Bankers’ Association recently proposed forcing homeowners to amortize all new mortgages worth more than 50 percent of their properties.

Swedish household borrowing growth accelerated at a faster-than-expected 5.7 percent last month, up from 5.1 percent at the beginning of this year, according to Statistics Sweden.

The bank said today that it’s now “even more urgent” to manage risks from high household indebtedness.

How do you like our choices for governor in this years election?

It's local. Forget about state income tax, and sales tax @ 8.25%. Cuomo's a crook. Old news.

Check this out. Taxes up nearly 50% on this beauty:

4 E Mayer Dr, Suffern, NY 10901 is For Sale - Zillow

property/house worth $500k have to pay in annual property taxes?

Rockland County, NY - approx. $14K per year.

Food prices trek higher - The Cheesecake Factory Incorporated (NASDAQ:CAKE) | Seeking Alpha

· Food prices rose in September, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
· The category, which gets stripped out of the core CPI number, rose 0.3% M/M and 3.0% Y/Y.
· Prices for food consumed at home increased 3.2% Y/Y during the month.

The unexpected benefits of adjustable rate mortgages

Using loan level data matched to consumer credit records, researchers have been able to determine that a reduction in mortgage payments of as little as $150 a month spurred a reduction in mortgage defaults and an increase in consumer spending (particularly the financing of automobile purchases), while improving household credit ratings.

Read more at: Mortgage securitization and other bank organizational features stood in the way of post-Crisis renegotiation. Because of that, adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs), the bete noire of the housing bust, became useful transmitters of the U.S. Federal Reserve's low interest rate policies. "In that sense," the professors wrote, "by reducing the mortgage rates of ARM borrowers, low interest rate policies may achieve similar effects to mortgage modification programs for these borrowers more quickly (at least in the near term)."

Read more at: The unexpected benefits of adjustable rate mortgages

MBA's Stevens: No Sense Pining for the way it used to be

MBA's figures show that credit availability is about one quarter of what it is in a more typical year and credit overlays are one key factor. While FHA allows scores as low as 580, lenders feel it is too risky and credit scores below 640 have been virtually eliminated from the industry. By contrast, credit standards are easing for high income and wealthier borrowers. The result is a mortgage market that can be summarized as "Strength at the top, weakness at the bottom."

The recent HMDA data report confirms that regulation-induced credit overlays are making credit harder to getfor the very borrowers the rules were intended to protect. "As a result, we're seeing a clear opportunity gap. Mortgage credit is most available to those who need it least. This is not right, not tolerable, and not good for families or the economy. We've got to bridge this divide."

FHA is set to return to anti-house-flipping restrictions - LA Times

Can you still do a short-term house flip using federally insured, low-down payment mortgage money? That's an important question for buyers, sellers, investors and realty agents who've taken part in a nationwide wave of renovations and quick resales using Federal Housing Administration-backed loans during the last four years.

The answer is yes: You can still flip and finance short term. But get your rehabs done soon. The federal agency whose policy change in 2010 made tens of thousands of quick flips possible — and helped large numbers of first-time and minority buyers with moderate incomes acquire a home — is about to shut down the program, FHA officials confirmed to me.

In an effort to stimulate repairs and sales in neighborhoods hard hit by the mortgage crisis and recession, the FHA waived its standard prohibition against financing short-term house flips. Before the policy change, if you were an investor or property rehab specialist, you had to own a house for at least 90 days before reselling — flipping it — to a new buyer at a higher price using FHA financing. Under the waiver of the rule, you could buy a house, fix it up and resell it as quickly as possible to a buyer using an FHA mortgage — provided that you followed guidelines designed to protect consumers from being ripped off with hyper-inflated prices and shoddy construction.

Inside Futures: Relevant trading-focused information authored by key players in the futures, options and forex industries

Yesterday afternoon's gains were directly due to Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard when he said the central bank should consider delaying ending its asset purchase program. The Fed's quantitative easing program is scheduled to end at the end of this month.

Some of the overnight strength was due to reports that the European Central Bank will start purchasing assets within the next few days in keeping with its previously announced plan to stimulate the euro zone economy.

There were additional gains for futures on news that China's central bank will inject more funds into Chinese banks, along with better than anticipated U.S. corporate earnings reports.

Is a Store Closing Tsunami Ahead? | Retail content from National Real Estate Investor

Store closings and store-closing announcements have spiked dramatically, and experts foresee even more closings as retailers cull their underperforming stores and focus on omnichannel retailing.

“Going into 2014, we anticipated a lot of closings and closing announcements, and that’s exactly what we’ve seen,” says Michael Wiener, president and CEO of Excess Space Retail Services. “These closings reflect the pain retailers endured during the recession and the impact of omnichannel retailing.”

During the second quarter, retailers and restaurateurs announced the closure of more than 1,900 establishments totaling an estimated 21.1 million sq. ft., according to a joint report from ICSC and PNC Real Estate Research. The report, U.S. Retail Real Estate Supply Conditions, said the number of store-closing announcements in the second quarter increased by nearly 2.5 times compared with the same quarter of the prior year, and the space planned to be closed increased by 3.4 times compared to the second quarter of 2013.

- NY Times

UNITED NATIONS — The United States said on Tuesday that the American-led airstrikes against the Islamic State — carried out in Syria without seeking the permission of the Syrian government or the United Nations Security Council — were legal because they were done in defense of Iraq.

The American ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, officially informed the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, of the legal justification in a letter, asserting that the airstrikes had been carried out under a fundamental principle in the United Nations Charter. That principle gives countries the right to defend themselves, including using force on another country’s territory when that country is unwilling or unable to address it.

International law generally prohibits using force on the sovereign territory of another country without its permission or authorization from the United Nations, except as a matter of self-defense. American intelligence agencies have concluded that the Islamic State poses no immediate threat to the United States, though they say that another militant group targeted in the strikes, Khorasan, does pose a threat.

After the Attack in Syria - Videos -

Residents in the Syrian town of Kfar Daryan emerge from their homes to assess the damage inflicted by the first U.S.-led airstrikes targeting Islamic militants. Video obtained by Reuters shows the aftermath. Locals say four rockets were fired in the city, and one struck the headquarters of the al Qaeda-linked militants, al-Nusra Front, killing two of its members.|NSNS|2012-GLOBAL|online-news#.VBtyzvldX8k

The "completely unexpected" result was that 41 per cent of the 750 patients with cat bites – many of whom, by hypothesis, will have cats – were depressed. "We were looking for anything interesting, and this one really jumped out as a strange and bizarre correlation."

Depression affected only 9 per cent of the total pool of 1.3 million patients, and 29 per cent of dog-bite patients ( Do depressed people seek out cats, or do cats depress their owners? Hanauer sighs: "Our paper raises more questions than it answers."

Meanwhile Jaroslav Flegr of Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic, and his colleagues found that intelligence and novelty-seeking scores in men conscripted to the Czech army were both lower if they were infected by the cat parasite Toxoplasma gondii. They also suggest the parasite might be linked to schizophrenia (see and New Scientist, 17 October 2009, p 48).

New Credit Default Swap Terms To Be Implemented In September - Finance and Banking - United States

Earlier this year, the International Swaps and Derivatives Association Inc. (ISDA) published the 2014 Credit Derivatives Definitions (the 2014 Definitions). The 2014 Definitions introduce a new government bail-in Credit Event trigger for credit default swap (CDS) contracts on financial Reference Entities in non-U.S. jurisdictions and also modify the typical terms of sovereign CDS contracts in light of the Greek debt crisis, by allowing a buyer of protection to deliver upon settlement the assets into which the Reference Obligation has converted even if such assets are not otherwise deliverable.

Further, they create a concept of a Standard Reference Obligation, which means that most CDS contracts on a given Reference Entity would have the same Reference Obligation, thereby increasing the fungibility of such CDS contracts.

Much like the predecessor 2003 ISDA Credit Derivative Definitions (the 2003 Definitions), which they are intended to supersede, the 2014 Definitions provide the basic legal framework for certain credit derivative transactions and, among other things, provide standard provisions that may not otherwise be specified by parties in a confirmation. As with other product-specific definitions, parties may elect to modify or supplement the standard terms set forth within the 2014 Definitions.

Bad Request

Fitch Ratings today downgraded Sears Holdings Corp.'s credit rating to CC from CCC, a move driven by the retailer's continuing decline in profitability and the rate at which it's burning through cash. The agency warned that Sears may not have enough funding to support operations beyond 2016.

Lehman's Land Legacy--Plots & Ploys - WSJ

Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. continues to sell prime California land left over from its ill-fated partnership with SunCal during the boom years. The failed investment bank is listing for sale the Pacifica San Juan project in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., a 318-lot subdivision that is one of the last large undeveloped tracts in Orange County.

Daily Press Briefing: September 10, 2014

QUESTION: Okay. On Benghazi, and as quickly as possible --

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: -- last year, our esteemed colleague Eli Lake published a story in the Daily Beast stating that CIA had failed to vet properly the February 17th Martyrs Brigade. Does the State Department share in that view?

MS. HARF: Well, there’s – I think we’re talking about two different things here. The group we worked with was the 17 February Militia. There is a separate group called the 17 February Martyrs Brigade which is not someone we worked with.
But I just – I know there’s – sometimes they get mixed up in the press reporting, so I actually want to be very clear. The 17 February Militia is an umbrella group of militants. Obviously, that’s not all that’s different. We need to distinguish between groups of militants that were working with us. And I will say about the 17 February Militia that we regularly rely on host nation support for external security, and due to the state of the transitioning Libyan Government at the time, the Libya Government-sponsored militia – this was their sponsored militia – provided support for foreign missions in Benghazi.
This militia had been effective in responding to prior attacks on the special mission in April and June of 2012. The DS Regional Security Officer for Libya Eric Nordstrom noted in his congressional testimony that the 17 February Militia “was able to provide us consistent arms security since the very earliest days of the revolution.” The ARB did find that the militia response was inadequate the night of September 11th. The Department is fully in agreement. Obviously, that’s something that we take very seriously, but given the challenging situation, that’s who was responsible for providing these services in Libya.
But I do want to distinguish between Libyan militias jockeying for domestic political power and violent extremist groups. I think we need to be careful when we talk about groups that start with 17 February, because there are a couple of different ones that are very different.

QUESTION: And might we even say, though, that amongst these various militia, including February 17 Militia and February 17 Martyrs Brigade, that in fact, it’s very difficult to tell them apart sometimes?

MS. HARF: Well, I wouldn’t assume that, though. This was a government-supported militia and I wouldn’t assume that that’s difficult, actually.

Revel casino-hotel property sold for $90M cash

The just-shuttered Revel casino and hotel in Atlantic City has been bought by a Florida developer for $90 million in cash, according to court documents filed Wednesday.
Acquisition of the gleaming resort by Glenn Straub's Polo North Country Club appears to be a glimmer of good news for the city's economy, which has been battered by a rash of casino closings and bankruptcies.
Straub told The Wall Street Journal that he could partially reopen the property in six months, and then in two years, "we'll be 100% open." It isn't clear whether he will operate the location as a casino, the Journal says.

When the next housing bust hits, blame the bankers - MarketWatch

Mortgage lending is slowing as well. The Mortgage Bankers Association forecasts a 74% decline in mortgage originations this year to $1 trillion, with a 61% drop in refinancing volume to $431 billion.

To parse those numbers, the decline in refinancing volume was expected, since the federal government’s Home Affordable Refinance Program, or HARP, was curtailed dramatically last year. And slowing refinancing itself isn’t alarming because so many people with higher-rate loans have already refinanced, and refinancing doesn’t raise home values.

But sales do. And the MBA expects the volume of mortgage-loan originations to slump 12% this year to $576 billion. That is happening even though interest rates are still very low, with a national average rate of 4.23% for a 30-year loan.|NSNS|2012-GLOBAL|online-news#.VAC4c_ldX8k

It's odourless, colourless, tasteless and mostly non-reactive – but it may help you forget. Xenon gas has been shown to erase fearful memories in mice, raising the possibility that it could be used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) if the results are replicated in a human trial next year.

The method exploits a neurological process known as "reconsolidation". When memories are recalled, they seem to get re-encoded, almost like a new memory. When this process is taking place, the memories become malleable and can be subtly altered.

This new research suggests that at least in mice, the reconsolidation process might be partially blocked by xenon, essentially erasing fearful memories. Among other things, xenon is used as an anaesthetic.

Bad news: Wages are down for pretty much everyone - The Washington Post

Real hourly wages are down for workers at all education levels in the first half of this year compared to the first half of 2013, according to the Economic Policy Institute paper. Pay fell by 1.1 percent for people with high school diplomas, by 1 percent for people with some college, 1.6 percent for people with college degrees and by 2.7 percent for people with advanced degrees. “The last year has been a poor one for American workers’ wages,” writes Elise Gould, an economist with the institute, in the report.

Gould notes the pay decreases seen over the last year are part of a longer trend: Wages have pretty much been flat or on the decline since the start of the recession. In fact, the only group that hasn’t seen a drop in real wages since 2007 is workers with advanced degrees, for which wages are basically flat.