Thursday, September 24, 2009

Random Reading

I continue to see the empty high-end hotel market as a minor threat to the banks, but stories like this continue to reinforce how widespread the problem is....

Luxury Hotels Risk Default as $850 Rooms Sit Empty

"Loans secured by more than 1,500 hotels with a total outstanding balance of $24.5 billion may be in danger of default, according to Realpoint LLC, a credit rating company that tracks commercial mortgage-backed securities. Some of the biggest loans, put on the company’s watch list because of late payments, decreasing occupancies or cash flow, were made to luxury properties where rooms can cost more than $850 a night.

“All segments are showing signs of distress but the luxury segment carries much higher loan balances and is more clearly affected,” Frank Innaurato, managing director of CMBS analytical services at Horsham, Pennsylvania-based Realpoint, said in a telephone interview."

Well, this is awkward... 5 Southern Illinois sheriff's cars repossessed. How does that conversation go down?

Repo Man: Sorry sir, but I have tow this car, and that one, and that one.....

Sherriff: Dude, hold on or I'm gonna call the cops....

Crickets chirp loudly and fade to black.

I don't have any skin in the healthcare reform debate and frankly, it's another fiscal issue that's become politicized so I hope to avoid discussing it. Having said that, the system is broken, but I think we're avoiding the hard conversations that might actually fix something. The politicians are battling back and forth over nickels when the big money in healthcare remains off the table.

Here's the reality in my opinion: 1% of our population accounts for 35% of our healthcare expenditures. $67 billion of Medicare spending (roughly 1/3rd of all Medicare expenditures) go cover costs of patients in the last two years of life. Medicare will pay thousands of dollars for endless testing and procedures at the end of one's life, but they won't reimburse for an $18 non-hospice caregiver in the home. We need to have open and honest debates on end of life issues.

Secondly, Americans have shown no consistent ability to make wise choices when it comes to food. We all like bad, cheap food for a reason. The problem isn't one twinkie here or there, it's when the majority of our healthcare expenditures are tied to diseases caused by lifestyle choices. There is no political will for it, but we need a supertax - yes, I'm obviously a Marxist pig because I used the TAX word - on any product that gets an F nutritionally.

I saw box of ice cream cones in Sam's Club yesterday that looked like a good deal -24 M&M ice cream pops for $5.24 or something like that. I almost fell over when I saw the nutritional info -- 63% of your daily allowance of saturated fat in a SINGLE SERVING!!

That product should be a nutritional F and that product should be taxed at 300%, 400% or even 500% if it would change our habits. Sure it would hurt some companies, it would make "treats" a treat again, instead of being part of every meal. We should view many of these products the same way we see cigarettes. You are welcome to indulge, but understand what you are doing to yourself and understand we expect you to pay to take care of yourself in the future.

Unfortunately, this would never happen because we've become so enamored with the rights of the individual that we've forgotten the concept of shared sacrifice.

I guess the CBC documentary on biking really got me going tonight. The Canadians and many others around the world see the value of biking and instead of building new trails they are just converting certain roads to bike-only roads. Sure it might inconvenience a few people at first, but society as a whole benefits.

I'll get off my soapbox now.
Markets look a little dicey as a major tech company, blackberry maker - Research in Motion, has fallen 11% after releasing disappointing results. Asian markets are down 2-3 right now.



Anonymous said...

If you tax the ice cream cones, the farmers will bitch.

Anonymous said...

If you tax the ice cream cones, the farmers will bitch.

Anonymous said...

Good idea on the fat tax, but I can see the repurcussions now: Stealthed out ice cream trucks sneaking into neighborhoods in the middle of the night selling treats to pajama wearing people in the dark. Swarms of G-men trampling through the woods looking for little old ladies baking cookies in outdoor wood stoves. Coming back through customs and being asked, do you have any weapons, and do you have any Oh-Henry candy bars.


Anonymous said...

Good article in Sci. American about biking in the US. Generaly says that US is 2:1 men (and in NY 3:1 men) vs 1:1 in every other country on the planet, because we do not have designated "bike roads". Instead we scab "bike lanes" onto regular roads. Women are more risk adverse, so they tend to not risk riding beside cars.

Building bike roads, vs bike lanes would be real green stimulous money well spent. We should see how we can get this done all along route 12 as a seperate road.


The Artful Blogger said...

It would be a dream to have a separate bike lane but I'd take a wider shoulder along rt 12 from Bartlett pt to Cape Vincent - I know it widens out for awhile after Sand Bay but it's seems like an eternity riding that 2 ft shoulder.

I heard a conversation on Toronto AM radio about closing various routes to cars and making them bike only. No one would ever agree to do it here, but if we could build a bike path from Clayton to Pelo rd and close Pelo to all vehicles we could get kids from Clayton to the high school safely and they'd be healthier as well.

Did you see the veloLIBRE program in Paris? $45 annually gets you unlimited use of free bikes for up to 30 minutes at a time. Ride from your house to your baker, pick up another bike and ride to your mom's house, pick up another to ride home, etc. A very progressive idea.

ruby said...

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