The Deadman Night Rider

A forum for evening students of the SMU Dedman School of Law and other outlaws..

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Where do I sign?

I had the pleasure at lunch today of sitting next to one of the bankruptcy judges from the Northern District after a moot court exercise. One of my partners in the exercise is an international LLM student from China, so the judge mentioned that one of her former law clerks just got posted by V&E to Beijing.

Another of my buds tells me that her friend at Jones Day gets fairly regular solicitations from head-hunters about positions outside the U.S. as well, including Moscow.

Maybe there's some light at the end of this tunnel! Keep your fingers crossed.

A nation fit to be slaves...

A few days ago I saw a TV ad from the National Association of Realtors that I haven't been able to get out of my head. Teeing up a montage of picket-fence scenes with lots of photogenic youngsters running around, it opened with this great line:

"When buying a home, family concerns often outweigh economic concerns."

Wow. In a rational world, shouldn't economic concerns be family concerns? I couldn't find this particular commercial on the net, but here's another one just like it. Here some of the wise words NAR hands down in this one:

"When you have a family it's always a good time to buy..."

"Didn't make sense for us to spend the same amount of money renting something when we could own it..."

Maybe in a weird way the sub-prime mess will be a good thing if it can finally break us of these childlike notions masquerading as good sense. I can definitely recall that as recently as a year ago, no one would have questioned these airy truisms. Luckily, though, some break-throughs are forming--I was heartened by these words from Slate's economics columnist not long ago:

Most people do not seem to see the cost of a house in the same way that they see other prices. House prices are simply viewed through the lens of monthly repayments that either can or cannot be afforded. We spend time and money insuring ourselves against some losses, such as a malfunctioning washing machine, yet the value of the house we own (or the cost of the house we might someday want to buy) fluctuates by far more, perhaps on a daily basis. Nobody cares, nobody hedges the value of their homes—although it is not hard to do so—and nobody seems to compare the price with any meaningful alternative, such as retiring 15 years early.

I'll end on the same note that the NAR commercial I saw ended on: it claimed something to the effect that most homeowners had 60%(!!) of their net wealth in the equity of their homes. Again--that was supposed to be some kind of selling point for jumping into buying a house. When you can see why this is terrible investment advice, grasshopper, you are ready to leave the Shaolin temple...

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Cool picture from Atyrau

The site I saw this on said it's from December '07. The hotel on the left is new since I was there. Seems like every picture I see from there has new construction in it, which isn't surprising since the place was set to burst wide open even back then. So much opportunity... It's sad think how much the rest of the world has gotten done the last few years while we've wrecked our economy selling over-priced houses to each other.

It's no wonder shops in New York are happily taking euros in payment now. I liked the positive spin that this story tried to put on exactly why shopkeepers have started taking other currencies, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out the real reason.