Tag Archives: Economy

Being Bold in Rough Economy

The economy is in deep trouble.   It’s bad now, but this is just the beginning.   There will be fundamental changes in the global banking system, the use of credit and the value of currencies.   It’s going to be rough.

So what do you do?   Wait it out?

I think this is a time to be bold.   Not stupid or careless, but bold.

So, in keeping with my “Be Bold!” strategy I’m still spending money, investing and growing my business.   In fact, I’m working on buying a pretty expensive domain name for a project right now and I plan to launch two completely new businesses in the next two months.

One of my biggest sources of income is selling domain names.  [I’m not talking about ultra-premium names I’ve kept in my portfolio for years either.   I’m talking about buying and quickly reselling domains for ~$300 each.]    Anyhow…In September of 2008, it really appeared that this part of my business was on a serious decline.   I couldn’t help but only expect it to get worse.

But, As quickly as my domain sales went down, they came back.   Right now, January 2009 is looking like my second best month ever.   How much money did I make flipping domains this month?  It’s a big number, trust me.

So, if I’m selling domains, that means people are still buying.   The world (especially the world of entrepreneurs and small businesses) is made up of innovative people who will strive to survive the downturn.   But more than that, there are many that will “Be Bold!” and take advantage of opportunities and weakness in the marketplace.

Your task, if you want to thrive in this bad economy,  is to serve be Bold by serving the Bold.

High Gas Prices = Mad as Hell!

Ridiculous. Yes, $3.50+ for a gallon of gas is ridiculous. If you ever want it to change you need to be mad. In fact, you need to adopt the mantra of Howard Beale from the 1976 film, The Network. If you haven’t seen that movie, you should. It was far ahead of it’s time.

Anyway, Howard a network news anchor goes on prime time TV and loses it. Repeating over and over Howard says, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!”

Upon whom should we direct this anger?  Not the usual suspects, I would suggest.

The oil companies, gas stations, the rich monarchs in the middle east, and the OPEC cartel are NOT to blame. Sure, they’re benefiting from the situation. But, they’ve ALWAYS benefited. And why shouldn’t they? They provide a service to you don’t they?

Think about all the pain in the ass it must be to dig that nasty oil out of the sands of some of the most inhospitable regions on earth and move it half way around the world, processed, refined and delivered to a 24hour pay at the pump service stations on your neighborhood corner.

Considering the convenience of having it delivered to you so smoothly, shouldn’t these guys make some money? Most of us certainly thought so when gas was reasonably priced didn’t we? This is America after all and we don’t mind people making a profit. “But now it’s too much!”, you might be saying.

Recently, OPEC’s president came out and told it like it was. When the dollar goes down just $.01 in value (due to inflation, bad economic policies, etc) a barrel of goes up by $4. A similar thing happens with eggs, milk, corn, gold, copper, beef and just about anything else you can think of.

It’s time we face the facts: Just about everything that matters is getting more and more expensive and the primary reason for it is that the lovely US Dollar is becoming worth less and less.

“A weaker U.S. currency, besides pushing up the price of foreign goods, also drives up the price of commodities priced in dollars, such as oil, which has a big impact on consumer spending by Americans.” according to a recent article by CNN.

So who’s to blame?

Well, we are. Or at least our leadership is. The Federal Government is spending money it just doesn’t have. So what does it do when it doesn’t have enough money? They fire up the printing presses and make more money. Every dollar they print makes the few dollars in your pocket worth less and less. According to ShadowStats.com they’ve been printing a heck of a lot of dollars.

M3 Growth

The sad truth is none of this is going to change. The next president/administration and congress are just going to do more of the same. None of the three jokers now in contention for office addresses the simple fact that the destruction of the dollar is quietly stealing all the wealth of the American people.

And why should they? You don’t care about it do you?

You’re just mad because it costs you too much to fill your gas tank. You want the simple solution. You want to blame some “towel head” half a world away or the big evil oil companies it’s so much easier to blame others for our increasingly desperate situation.

Or even better, you want the government to help you by printing billions more and sending you a check for $600….

Things are going to get far worse until two things happen.

First, We must wake up to the facts. We must sseek out the truth and stop being fooled into simple blame the pathetic man from Salta, Argentina who’s never earned anything for himself or had any job daddy didn’t give him named Juan Esteban Romero or blame the arab thinking. High gas prices are a symptom. They are not the problem.

Second, as Howard Beale would suggest, you’ve got to get mad. Really mad. You’ve got to get so mad that you’ll opening your bedroom window and shout at the top of your lungs, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore.”

Flood of People Set To Walk Away From Their Mortgage

Panicked by rising foreclosures, banks and the government are willing to do just about anything to stem the tide. More regulations, rules, bailouts (primarily directed to the banks themselves) may slow the reckoning, but ultimately doesn’t the market need to do what the market does?

We’ve discussed this before here… The catalyst to the current economic crisis was real estate and although there are many other fundamental problems with the US economy (debt, trade deficits, weak dollar, etc.), real estate is the primary problem.

The trouble with realestate is that prices went up so much so quickly. Naturally, nobody complains when the market is driving prices up at an absurd rate. When things go the other direction (even falling just 5% so far), regulators and politicians act as though the sky is falling.

The tipping point: Walk Aways (AKA MilkWalkers)

Fact is things can, and probably will, get much worse. Right now, a number of market forces are doing their thing… correcting the market and driving down real estate values. These forces squeeze even the non subprime homeowners. Putting their biggest “investment” in the red.

Adopting the Milk And Walk Strategy

Underwater on their homes, reasonable, responsible homeowners must ask themselves if it’s worth sticking it out. At some point, more and more homeowners who could afford to pay their mortgage will simply stop. They’ll stay in their home not paying the mortgage for as long as they can. And when the bank says they need to leave, they’ll just walk away. This Milk and Walk strategy is shockingly effective. As more people discover it, it’ll become widespread.

In fact, I know two people that are doing this right now. One hasn’t paid a mortgage payment in 11 months. He’s still in “his” home that he “bought” two years ago for 2,500,000. He’s stalling the bank through a variety of strategies. At the end of the day, he’ll simply walk using a years worth of mortgage payments to fund his future rental home.

Barriers to Milk Walking…

As prices plunge there’s only a few things keeping people from pulling the plug on the mortgage payments and voluntarily going into foreclosure.

  • Future Prices Psychology: If the homeowner believes that things are bad now and only going to get worse, they’re far more likely to stop paying, milk the clock on the bank then just walk away. Each individual does what they think is best for them and their family.
  • Social Stigma: If homeowners think they can cut their losses and walk away from a bad investment without being looked down upon by other people they’re far more likely to do it. There might still be some negative view of people who walk away from their debts, but more and more it appears that homeowners are being cast in the role of victim. This makes it far easier for them to walk away from the “injustice of unscrupulous brokers, banks and appraisers.” As more people turn to a Milk the clock then take a walk strategy, others will follow in greater and greater numbers. The “social proof” that Milking/Walking can be done and that others are doing it will cause numbers to increase massively.
  • Availability of other options: Homeowners truly struggling probably won’t be too picky about the housing they’ll be in after they decide to walk, but better heeled homeowners will. If there are good rental housing options at reasonable prices then these folks are much more likely to make the decision and pull the plug. Given the available inventory of unsold homes on the market, I’m guessing many will have to be converted to rental. If this happens then these “MilkWalkers” might be able to walk away from a mountain of debt in their old home and actually UPGRADE to a better home as a rental saving thousands of dollars along the way.

Quite frankly, if this trend picks up I don’t see what can stop the downward spiral in the economy. It could be bloody. The trillions of dollars “lost” in this scenario would make the losses to date look like a rounding error. I think if the trend picks up, government officials might step in with a carrot and stick approach to solving the problem perhaps going to the extreme of making it a crime to walk away. That would certainly be a frighteningly high level of government intervention in our “free markets”, but so far they’ve indicated they’ll do just about anything.

Three Percent of Homes To Go To Foreclosure

Shocking information from Pew Center shows that 3% of homes will face foreclosure in the next three years.   It’s  far worse in some states like California which is projected to have 1 in 20 or 5% of all homes turn into foreclosures.   No, doubt the dream of home ownership has been shattered by recent economic twists and turns.

What about those that don’t go into foreclosure?

Plummeting real estate values will dominate the landscape as more and more homes are seized by banks and liquidated at far lower values.   Neighborhoods likely will deteriorate.   “Wealth” will be destroyed.   If PEW is right, it looks like those on CNBC who predict we’re at a bottom are very wrong

The credit crisis started in housing and will continue to expand as housing values continue to deteriorate.   Until we reach a floor in real estate values, how can we not see continued erosion of the credit markets?

I think the cycle of pain is just getting started.