Here are some of the more interesting I am reading:

• Four States Consider Legislation Barring Distressed Sales as Comparables (Appraisal Institute)

• The Search for Ingredients to Replicate Silicon Valley (Dealbook)

• Household Balance Sheets and the Recovery (Cleveland Fed)

• 10 Most Bizarre Economic Bubbles in History (BusinessPundit)

• The Canada bubble: The Canadian economy is booming and investors are flooding in. Is it too good to be true? (MacLeans)

• The New York Times subscription plan doesn’t protect print, it promotes the mobile Web (Poynter)

• Celebrate Learning: It’s the Only Thing that Keeps Us From Being Dumber (HuffPo)

• Building a Better Nuclear Reactor (Businessweek)

• Did file-sharing cause recording industry collapse? Economists say no (Ars Technica)

• 7 Ways To Upgrade Your Brain (Productivity 501)

What are you reading?

Category: Financial Press

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

23 Responses to “Thursday Instapaper Reads”

  1. wally says:

    “Four States Consider Legislation Barring Distressed Sales as Comparables”

    Now THAT’S funny. Let’s repeal the law of gravity while we’re at it.

  2. I had about the same response as Wally there… couldn’t get past the first line.

    Government and finance working together to make sure that all markets become a complete fantasy…

  3. Arequipa01 says:

    Shannon Limits- mentioned in a BoingBoing post about Gleick’s newest book-’The Information’.

  4. By: Irina Slutsky
    “This month — and for the first time — Facebook started to mine real-time conversations to target ads. The delivery model is being tested by only 1% of Facebook users worldwide. On Facebook, that’s a focus group 6 million people strong.

    The closest Facebook has come to real-time advertising has been with its most recent ad offering, known as sponsored stories, which repost users’ brand interactions as an ad on the side bar. But for the 6 million users involved in this test, any utterance will become fodder for real-time targeted ads.

    For example: Users who update their status with “Mmm, I could go for some pizza tonight,” could get an ad or a coupon from Domino’s, Papa John’s or Pizza Hut.

    To be clear, Facebook has been delivering targeted ads based on wall posts and status updates for some time, but never on a real-time basis. In general, users’ posts and updates are collected in an aggregate format, adding them to target audiences based on the data collected over time. Keywords are a small part of that equation, but Facebook says sometimes keywords aren’t even used. The company said delivering ads based on user conversations is a complex algorithm continuously perfected and changed. The real aim of this test is to figure out if those kinds of ads can be served at split-second speed, as soon as the user makes a statement that is a match for an ad in the system….”

  5. Related: Narus Stories on Cryptogon

    Via: New York Times:

    If anyone wonders whether the Chinese government has tightened its grip on electronic communications since protests began engulfing the Arab world, Shakespeare may prove instructive.

    A Beijing entrepreneur, discussing restaurant choices with his fiancée over their cellphones last week, quoted Queen Gertrude’s response to Hamlet: “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” The second time he said the word “protest,” her phone cut off.

    He spoke English, but another caller, repeating the same phrase on Monday in Chinese over a different phone, was also cut off in midsentence…”
    Big Ag Wants To Make It a Crime to Expose Animal Abuse at Factory Farms
    Lawmakers in Florida and Iowa have introduced bills to establish criminal penalties for going undercover at agricultural facilities and simply taking pictures.
    March 21, 2011

    What do Florida and Iowa have in common when it comes to animal agriculture? They’ve both been hot spots, past and present, for the movement to combat some of the worst abuses in industrial agribusiness. And now the factory farming industry is fighting back in both states—and their latest methods represent their biggest overreach yet….”

  6. b_thunder says:

    “Four States Consider Legislation Barring Distressed Sales as Comparables” – this is worse than reporting “core inflation”, aka the measure of inflation *without* inflation.

    But who are those politicians kidding? It takes only a few minutes to go to or your county’s web site and find recent sale prices! What it can do is to delay the final and inevitable resolution of the housing bubble: prices need to fall below pre-bubble trend line – then and only then there will be enough demand to start lifting the prices. And this law would prolong that period of price adjustment. But the longer they “extend and pretend”, the less inclined people are to buy.

  7. Gator81 says:

    “Four States Consider Legislation Barring Distressed Sales as Comparables”

    With your RE history, I thought you might share your thoughts on this one.

    Seems to me a deceptively simple concept with many potential unintended consequences. And those consequences may be a lot different in one market than in another.

    The article cited does not give a stated purpose and need for the legislation, only the concerns some groups have with it. I would ask, who gains and who loses? Taxing authorities, bureaucracies, RE businesspeople, builders, developers, appraisers, lenders, insurers, and of course homeowners all have a stake in the outcome.

    I did a re-fi last year to take advantage of historically low rates and to shorten the mortgage term. The appraisal came back about 15% lower than I had expected. Looking at the comparables made the reason quickly clear: one of them, functionally identical to mine and on the same city block, was in fact a distress sale that I knew about personally. I didn’t raise a stink over it because I have sufficient equity that the lower value did not affect my mortgage, and I was able to successfully use that appraisal later in my appeal of last year’s property tax hike. Save a couple hundred bucks, no biggie.

    But taking a larger view, I have to wonder how much the city and county are losing in tax revenue because of these lowered values. If everybody in town got the same tax adjustment I did, we’d have problems covering county schools and city services. Basically, tax rates went up here last year because property values went down but the city and county still needed the same revenue to pay for everything they do. In my case, the rate increase was a bit more than the lowered value would justify, so I got an adjustment. RE values here have not taken the big hit that most of the US has.

    So I can see government entities wanting this legislation to keep revenues up. But what if the values really are down? Shouldn’t a competent and ethical appraiser be looking for sales that are comparable in all aspects, both physical and financial? That house down the block is quite comparable to mine physically, but the sale of the house is most certainly not comparable to my re-fi, nor to any normal sale of my house, even in the current market.

    All in all, it seems to be just more friction and noise in the system, getting in the way of true price discovery. If my house value really is down 15%, then I would like to know that. Real information is valuable. Noise is not.

  8. Michael Gat says:

    The question asked about the use of distressed sales is what the appraiser will do when caught between these laws and the federal mandate to use all available information. The immediate unintended consequence I see is that appraisers will increasingly find themselves in a situation where they have no choice to to refuse to do the appraisal. They know as well as the rest of us that when they put out a false report, they won’t be let off the hook like the ratings agencies.

    This will make it a lot harder to sell many properties. “Sorry, we can’t approve your loan because nobody will appraise the property for us…”

  9. rip says:

    I find it fascinating there are all these nuclear power articles (apparently US fueled).

    But not a single one mentions France and their breeder program. There is no mention of their safety record.

    What gives with that? Are we still in the Rickover era? Guess so.

  10. Rouleur says:

    b_thunder – art thou an austrian?

  11. DC says:

    See the NYT for this jewel. Think about it next time Jack Welch is bitching to his monkey boy Joe Kernen about regulation and taxes. My friends, this is the real definition of “special interests.”

    - G.E.’s Strategies Let It Avoid Taxes Altogether -

    “A review of company filings and Congressional records shows that one of the most striking advantages of General Electric is its ability to lobby for, win and take advantage of tax breaks.”


  12. TerryC says:

    from 7 ways to upgrade your brain:

    ■42% of people who graduate from college never read another book.

    This is probably because 42% of college graduates are functional illiterates in the first place and never read a book when they were in high school or college, either. If you have ever taught before (I did, 12 years of junior and senior high in Illinois and Texas) you know this is probably true. So many students get by from cheating, “group work,” and other clever ways that it’s surprising our society hasn’t collapsed yet. And with computers, iphones, calculators, and other electronic devices so ubiquitous, it’s a wonder that anyone still reads books (except for Captain Picard, of course).

  13. jeff in indy says:

    limit the comps to prop up values? simple enough; your downstroke is now 25% mr. borrower.

  14. Smartphone pictures pose privacy risks

    This one is pretty scary. It shows how predators can get information like which bedroom your kid is in, where you live, which part of the park your kid plays in and which daycare they go to all gleaned from the social networks if your smartphone privacy settings are wrong

  15. jeff in indy says:

    the rapidly declining ‘mcmansion.’ half of new homes sales under $200k.

  16. farmera1 says:

    Remember the guy that took the software from Goldman Sachs. And then some attorney (DA?)
    mumbled something in court about the software could be used to take down the US markets. Well the government (Goldman) got their man.

    “A former Goldman Sachs computer programmer convicted of stealing source code from the firm was sentenced on Friday to more than eight years in prison, capping a case that had shone a rare spotlight on the world of lightning-fast computer-driven trading.”

    Then there’s this.

    It pays to have friends in high places when someone crosses you. Goldman has proven this again.

  17. Jojo says:

    “Four States Consider Legislation Barring Distressed Sales as Comparables”

    Hey, similar techniques worked for the governments unemployment numbers, right? Just don;t count those that are judged to be “discouraged” or not active job searchers (because they supposedly haven’t looked for work in the last 4 weeks).

  18. LLouis says:

    The nuclear crisis is getting more and more on my nerves, it seems quite out of control to me.

    In a BBC news report: two workers from the Fukushima nuclear plant sent to the hospital because they came in contact with highly radioactive water ( ” Experts are checking whether the leak came from the reactor itself ” ) … my guess is that so much water thrown at the reactors by choppers and fire trucks is probably spilling (and evaporating) hundreds of meters all around these reactors.

    ” In China, the authorities say two Japanese tourists found to have high levels of radiation arrived from Tokyo. ” … And these two supposedly were never closer than 240 km (150 miles) of the Fukushima plant, this is a lot more than the safe distance of 80 km set by the U.S. authorities.

    More countries banning imports of food and milk from the affected prefectures, and : ” Shipping has also been affected: Hapag-Lloyd container shipping line is among a handful of companies that have said they will temporarily avoid sailing to Yokohama Port, inTokyo Bay. ”

    Now I’m starting to get worried about my own personal import of japanese matcha green tea (from tea farm Hibiki-an), it is supposedly grown in a safe place near Kyoto, but I’m following the news closely because it does really seem to get worst slowly.

  19. Stuart says:

    “What are you reading?”

    One article of interest that assesses the likely scale of loss of electricity production in Japan, and warns that cuts are likely to be much more severe than current coverage suggests:

  20. V says:

    With regard to the file-sharing case, here is the iiNet discussion piece ‘Encouraging legitimate use of Online Content’.

    Makes one wonder what the big studios next move will be.

  21. rktbrkr says:

    Stuart, In addition to the gross loss of generation power quality is a key concern for high tech mfgr.

    I can’t imagine TEPCO avoiding BK or some fundamental reorg after this? WHo will lend them money? Their cash inflows must be way down and cash outflows way up – they’ll need some emergency rate invreases

  22. doug86 says:

    Four States Consider Legislation Barring Distressed Sales as Comparables:

    I didn’t see a mention of property tax in that article, but the states are all faced with collecting less tax as all these property owners are requesting a re-assessment for property tax purposes. Seems like a huge conflict of interest for an entity who makes the rules about assessment and collects tax based on those assessments.