Sunday, March 07, 2010

Weekend Wrap-up

Mr. Market loved the jobs report and it was really no surprise. If the jobs report was terrible, the bulls could blame the snow and if it was ok (with a nice boost from 97k phantom Birth/Death jobs) it was going to be off to the races.

Random observations:

This is an extremely local issue but I think it typifies why we are at such a competitive disadvantage relative to other developing countries right now.

There is a relic of a building sitting on the edge of Interstate 81 in Syracuse that is crumbling. The building is unsafe for occupancy and is a danger to commuters, so Interstate 81N has been closed for about a week as various state and local governments wring their hands over the situation.

You can't just go tear it down because first the DEC has to give the all clear. Then, you have to fight over who will pay the $1 million tab to tear down the building (don't quote me on that number, but I think I heard that estimate floated once). The State is broke, the City doesn't want to pay and wants to seize the owners land to cover the cost, etc, etc. In the pre-OSHA days my friend from Poughkeepsie would have had a crew in Syracuse leveling that building in 2 hours for about $22k in small, unmarked bills -- sorry, that's a wildly inside joke, but I know one guy in NH rolling on the floor right now....

Today, it's a million project because half of the potential workers are going to fall down on the job and call "THE HEAVY HITTERS" law firm to sue the City, the construction firm, the State, ..... let's just sue EVERYBODY.

In China, they built the Three Gorges Dam that generates 22,000 MW of electricity and displaced over a million residents in the name of progress. We can't tear down a 100 year old building that's halting traffic in a minor city without a Supreme Court case. Can't we find some sort of happy medium?

While I'm on the subject of bad ideas in NYS -- Some Regents Exams Could Be Cut. I have a sense that this is a media ploy to gain sympathy for the plight of our schools because it seems like such a drastic step to save a measly $13 million/year.

NYS is facing a $9 billion budget gap and $13 million frankly doesn't do anything to address that gap other than get people riled up. For a little perspective, this is like you owing $9,000 to your credit card company and deciding to fore go 2 Subway foot longs with a drink "to close your personal budget gap".

While the Regents diploma has been substantially watered down over the past 20 years it still carries some weight and a student's performance on these tests can help colleges evaluate students that may not perform well on the SATs.

Two years ago almost every school in NNY was pushing forward with large capital projects because the state was flush with Wall Street cash that they wanted to reinvest in the schools. Consider the case of local school XYZ....

"XYZ Central School:The district built a clinic that is scheduled to open in November. The school's largest construction project, a $12.8 million new gymnasium and renovation project, will begin in October."

This for a school district with k-12 enrollment of about 600 kids. This is not a unique story - there were massive capital projects at numerous local schools in recent years. Clearly, the regents exams are more valuable for the State as a whole than one new gym for a tiny district.

One final local thought - Could we please hire some more State Police, Border Patrol, or State Park Police for our area? Snark off.

I had to run a recovery run today - just 3.5 miles - that I covered in about 34 minutes (no laughing please). During that time I passed 2 State Police patrols, 1 Sheriff SUV, 1 Border Patrol SUV and 1 State Park Police vehicle. 5 police cars in a town of 2,000 people in a 30 minute period. Either we have too many police patrols in our area with nothing to do but burn $3 gas in their SUVs that get about 12 mpg in stop and go village traffic or we must live in an area with a terrify crime rate and I better install some added home security measures :)

This might turn into the story of the day, but it's a little early to say what the real impact on the Chinese markets may be....

China to Nullify Financing Guarantees by Local Governments

China plans to nullify all guarantees local governments have provided for loans taken by their financing vehicles as concerns about credit risks on such debt surges.

The Ministry of Finance will also ban all future guarantees by local governments and legislatures in rules that may be issued as soon as this month, Yan Qingmin, head of the banking regulator’s Shanghai branch, said in an interview. The ministry held meetings on the rules on Feb. 25 with regulators including the China Banking Regulatory Commission and the People’s Bank of China, Yan said March 5.



Anonymous said...

I agree with you about the abundance of law in our area. Some days when you travel the 12 miles on Route 12 between Alex Bay and Clayton you meet, or see sitting in a driveway, more law enforcement vehicles than personal vehicles. And yes, many of them are cruising our roads in full-size SUV's occupied by only the driver. I suppose now that some of the State Parks are closing, the State will hire more Park Police to patrol the empty parks.

The Artful Blogger said...

My personal record on Rt 12 was 8 patrol vehicles - border, state, state park - during a bike ride from Clayton to Alex Bay.

I'd agree that there will be an increase presence as departments look to put boots on the ground to demonstrate to the taxpaying public the "value" of their services.

Thanks for the comment!