Blogs

Transit Captures Little of Driving Decline

Over the past year, transit ridership has risen and that is a good thing. At the same time, driving has declined, due to both higher gasoline prices and the economic downturn. Some analysts have implied that people are giving up driving and using transit instead. An analysis of just released transit and urban roadway usage indicates no such thing. During the fourth quarter, the transit increase from a year earlier represented just 0.7 percent of the driving decline. This is even lower than the 2 to 3 percent figures registered in the first through third quarters.  read more »

Not All Retail is Tanking in this Recession

A reader forwarded along this video of a bustling recent weekend at La Gran Plaza, a shopping center serving the Latino market in Fort Worth, TX. Just a few years ago, La Gran Plaza was a failing conventional shopping center before developers purchased it and completely redesigned and repurposed the mall to cater to Latinos. Partly because it serves a more insular, cash based clientele and largely because of brilliant design and programming choices, this mall seems to be thriving during a very tough period for retailers.  read more »

Proposed Obama Cuts Will Impair Maintenance and Expansion of Nuclear Energy

The days of the nu-cu-ler presidency may be over, but nuclear energy continues to be a hot-button issue, even if pronunciation isn’t the problem.

As it stands, President Obama plans to “slash the budgets of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the national nuclear waste facility at Yucca Mountain, Nevada,” reports eco-watcher Paul Taylor.  read more »

Obama Administration to Repeat Protectionist Errors of 1930s?

In a potentially ominous development, Television New Zealand reports that the Obama government has postponed free trade agreement discussions under the proposed Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership (P4) with New Zealand, Singapore, Brunei and Chile. Along with the United States, Australia, Peru and Vietnam were to have been involved in the expanded free trade area. It is reported that the postponement is related to an assessment of trade policy by the Obama administration.  read more »

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Fantasy Default Scenarios

Imagine the following scenario. John, Paul, Ringo and George are the only members of a society and each has amassed a pile of currency over his lifetime. John and Paul each have 100 utils, Ringo has 300 utils and George has 500 utils. All told, the size of the entire system is 1000 utils.  read more »

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Many Investors Have More to Gain by Letting Your Mortgage or Company Fail

I hate to say “I told you so” but… I told you so. The holders of the credit default swaps (CDS) have more to gain from the failure of the borrower than from accepting payments.  read more »

Want to Foreclose? Show Me the Paper!

Since October 2008 I’ve been writing here about problems in mortgage backed securities (MBS). There is more evidence surfacing in bankruptcy courts that the paperwork for the underlying mortgages wasn’t provided correctly for the new bond holders, leading to delayed or denied foreclosure proceedings.  read more »

The bailouts payments mount, the budget expands, the deficit widens, the national debt increases. How high is up?

How far can the totals go? Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke testified before the Senate Budget Committee on March 3, 2009. He believes that the markets will be “quite able” to absorb the debt issued by the US government over the next couple of years to cover all the bailout and stimulus payments  read more »

Paris Mayor Sides with Cars

Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoë has spent much of his first term in implementing measures to restrict car use. Delanoë took many lanes of road traffic away from cars and turned them into exclusive bus and taxi lanes. This had virtually no effect on public transport use, according to University of Paris researchers who also found as a result that traffic congestion worsened, greenhouse gas emissions increased and overall cost to the Paris economy of more than $1 billion annually.  read more »

How About a Betty Ford Bottled Water Rehab Clinic in San Francisco?

From late-night refrigerator raids to splurging on a new wardrobe, everyone is prone to the occasional overindulgence. For San Francisco Mayor, Gavin Newsom, that overindulgence meant nothing more than a plastic water bottle.

In June 2007, the mayor “issued an executive order directing city government to no longer purchase bottled water,” to cut down on waste in the city landfill and to utilize the pristine Sierra Nevada reservoir’s resources.  read more »