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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Job Growth: 71% Shave From 1st Quarter

It's that time of the month again... time for the latest state job statistics, and time for everyone's favorite cliché, good news / bad news. The good news is more jobs were added in June than in May. The bad news is that job growth is still significantly slower than it was just six months ago.

Not that long ago, when the Pacific Northwest was the nation's economic wallflower, adding 9,200 jobs in Washington over a three-month period would have been cause for celebration — or at least hopeful smiles.

But Tuesday's jobs report, which showed payrolls in the state grew by 3,800 jobs in June and closed out the second quarter with a 9,200-job net increase, was more evidence that Washington's economic engine has shifted into lower gear.
In the fourth quarter of 2005, Washington's jobs base jumped by 41,100; in the first quarter of this year, it grew by another 32,200 jobs.

In contrast, the 9,200 jobs added in the second quarter seemed a bit, well, underwhelming.

The reasons aren't hard to find. Rising mortgage rates have made the region's homes even less affordable, which has cut into housing demand and in turn slowed hiring in construction trades.

Each month from September 2005 to March, the construction sector added more than 1,000 jobs; from April to June, by contrast, construction added just 300 net new jobs.
Underwhelming, but certainly not unpredictable... As real estate continues to slow, the jobs market is likely to slow as well. 3,800 new jobs created across the state last month is decent, and it would be nice if that rate of economic growth continues. I just don't think that it will. If the number of home sales continues to drop, we will soon find out just how much of our economy is based on selling each other homes.

(Drew DeSilver, Seattle Times, 07.19.2006)
Please read the rules before posting a comment.


Anonymous said...


jcricket said...

I don't see this as as big a deal as you do, Tim. From the article:

Construction jobs accounted for more than a quarter of all jobs created in the first quarter but just 3.3 percent in the second quarter.

So construction job increases have significantly decreased (only 300 in this quarter), meaning residential home building activity is clearly slowing. Check. Got it.

But the article clearly points out that unemployment is still lower than last year, and there was still job growth, 97% of it outside the construction sector. Less job grwoth than previous quarters, but still growth. 6,000 new jobs in aerospace, for example. Boeing's doing great (for now) and there's a fair amount of technology-related hiring (from what I can see).

Why is this statistic the portent of doom? I'm not clear on how a stagnation of construction jobs automatically means that housing prices will collapse?

I think this is more like confusing news/confusing news. That's what the economy feels like to me.

The Tim said...


Back in May, the "previous 12 months" figures looked like this:

Construction: 20,000 jobs
Real Estate Fiance: 1,600 jobs
Aerospace: 6,700 jobs

If 20,000 drops to 1,200 in one sector (which it will at the current rate: 300x4), I think that's a pretty big deal. Aren't Spring and Summer supposed to be when the most building happens (and therefore the most construction hiring)? Even the rate of growth of aerospace is slowing, with July '05 - June '06 coming in at 700 fewer new jobs than May '05 - April '06.

As I said in the post, the numbers of new jobs being created are still looking good. The current figures are great. But what I'm talking here is trends. Job growth is trending down rather rapidly, and even industries heralded as the "brightest spots" are creating fewer new jobs than previously. Growth is growth, but if it trends down much further, it could easily turn in to job losses.

Will the numbers keep trending down? I suspect they will, because a lot more jobs are related to the strong housing market than just construction. But really, who knows? I agree that it's certainly quite a confusing and complicated situation.

jcricket said...

I agree that it's certainly quite a confusing and complicated situation.

That's all I'm saying. I don't disagree with your take on the job market, although the last 5 years sure have been all over the place in terms of job growth.

Of course the great rebounding economy and increase in corporate profits has not had a proportional impact on the "bottom line" for most wage-earners (a point I made elsewhere).

Which, to some, is indicative of a bubble. To me, it's indicative of a new, more confusing economy, where the "old measures" are no longer sufficient to make predictions.

This is not the same as saying "fundamentals don't matter, home prices will rise forever". I'm saying "throw out your old expectations of what drives prices up and down" and get ready for a new, wholly different kind of pain.

I for one await losing my job and 401k during a time of record corporate profits.


Anonymous said...

But but but...what's with the authoritative talk of a "slowing" housing market? I didn't think anyone (at the Times) had conceeded that particular point!

It's interesting how in one piece, housing can be booming, but in another, housing can be slowing. It's enough to confuse a guy....

tg said...

I have to disagree with jcricket.

The market has essentially been trading sideways since jan. 04

Corporate profits have not been all that promising lately.

Today we saw a jump because bernanke spoke about the possiblity of rates not going up. Big deal, he also said inflation was more than what he expected as well and that corporate earnings were SLOWING signaling signs of trouble ahead.

I don't take this post as a "I'm going to lose my job and my 401k"
But rather as a sign that economy is indeed slowing and a forecaster of what lies in the future.

Soft landings are a matter of luck, not policy. Its why they are so rare

Eleua said...

It takes more than wishful thinking...

My beef with the "analysis" done by all the bulls in Seattle descends from their inability to look at other cities and see thier situation for what it is.

At first, "there is no housing bubble..."

Then, "well, only CERTAIN markets (not mine, btw) are experiencing a bubble..."

Then, as markets began to decline, each other market began the whole "we are different" blather...

Then, "well, it will only be flattish to a small, soft correction..." nonsense...

Seattle bulls follow this pattern. What truly amazes me is they are consistantly one year behind other markets, yet continue to believe the 'special' nature of the PNW (whatever that is) makes them immune from the economic reality that is descending over the rest of the nation.

Are fundamentals so wonderful here that we will not follow the same path every other city with similar fundamentals takes?

It takes more than wishful thinking.

richard said...

Aren't Spring and Summer supposed to be when the most building happens (and therefore the most construction hiring)?

This is the same thing that has me confused. There doesn't seem to be any kind of construction slowdown in Seattle, but the statewide job picture in construction looks pretty bad.

Anyone with a better understanding of construction hiring cycles able to explain this? Is it normal for construction job growth to slow sharply in the second quarter?

My first thought whan I saw this report was "what is happening with housing starts?". Anecdotally, I see foundations being laid on every major arterial I travel - even more than last year.

Perhaps the slowdown is only happening outside Seattle.

You really just can't wait for a crash. I confess I don't understand the psychology of this blog...a bunch of folks waiting with baited breath for Seattle's economy to tank.

Not waiting for it to tank, just waiting for a full recovery from the last recession.

richard said...

fairly positive financial report and seem doom and gloom.

Nah, it's just that the Seattle Times runs an article about how people are flocking to this area, then a day later posts a story about a sharp slowdown in job growth.

High house prices (relative to local wages) and rapidly slowing job growth just isn't going to support a robust housing market. But that's economic fundamentals, a.k.a. "crazy talk".

Peckhammer said...

Real estate prices could be melting like soft-serve ice cream at high-noon. In San Diego County, median home prices actually fell slightly to $488,000 from a year-ago level of $493,000. This wouldn't be a big deal except for the fact that some many boomers view their homes as a retirement account -- as if their house is a liquid asset.

Oh yeah... I forgot... Seattle is special.

And as far as retirement accounts are concerned, I see numerous reason why the stock market is headed for trouble too.

1. Fed raising interest rates aggressively: usually slows the economy too much and by the time they realize it....too late.

2. Inverted yield curve: generally followed by a recession, stocks slump

3. There has been no 10% correction in the dow since 2002. 4 years is a long, long time for that

4. We are in a secular bear market which started in 2000. They usually run longer than 6 years, and are followed by secular bull markets like the one from 1982-2000.

5. The dreaded mid-term election cycle, usually not good for the market

Put them all together and it looks to me like government cheese will be back in vogue.

Eleua said...

Once upon a time, I went to the Mt. St. Helens Visitor Center in Castle Rock, WA, and they have many front pages from the Portland newspaper, The Oregonian.

OK, BFD...

Well, most of the headlines concerns the blowing of the Southern Washington volcano, but on the same pages you could read about the prime rate hitting 20%, and construction spending hitting the skids.

I found the time capsule of interest rates to be just as informative as the stories concerning the eruption.

Just for fun, put your current monthly payment into the amortization formula with 20% interest rates (assuming you could get prime), and see how much house you could buy.

Oh, BTW, it also had all the cool headlines concerning Iran and the hostages.

Histroy does not repeat, but it does rhyme. (I think Twain said it)

Peckhammer said...

> But if, God forbid, someone suggests that maybe y'all ought to
> try a market that you can *afford* (Burien, Duvall,
> Mountlake Terrace) for a starter home rather than assuming that you > are entitled to live in Seattle as a right of birth

Affordability has little relevance in this market. Loan approvals are not granted on basis of what the borrower can aford, IMO. I looked at several approved applications yesterday. One applicant had a negative net worth, made only $44K per year and was applying for a $450K loan. The loan was approved. Here was another one:

Couple (~45 years old)
Income: $93.5K (combined)
Assets: $14K
Liabilities: $12K
Net worth: $2K
Loan Sought(30 year fixed): 417K - monthly payment $3,136 - closing cost:$5K
Sales price: $417K

Would you loan this couple money based on any sense of logic? The bank did!

disgruntledengineer said...

Anon 10:38:

This blog is a clearinghouse for whiny twenty-nothings to vent their insecurities while waxing about things they vaguely understand...(blah, blah, blah)

Am I such a whiny bastard that I feel that I should be able to afford a decent home in the city of my choice? I grew up in the Northwest. I've lived here all my life. I met the love of my life here in this city. You just don't get it. I WANT to live in Seattle. Get it? Not only that, we HAVE to. Why? Because my wife has the type of job (a Doctor!) that warrants us to live within 15 minutes of all hospitals within the Seattle metro area. She is on call almost every other day and gets paged constantly. She DOES NOT WANT to live in all the other areas you mentioned. I DON'T either. I'm an engineer who doesn't have the in-city living requirement, but damn it, if my wife is stressed out after working a 36 hour shift at Harborview, and if it means that living close can prevent endless hours of wailing and sobbing about life's miseries, then YES, I will pay that much extra to live in town. All we want is a decent section of area to lay our tired asses on after a hard day's work. But damn you if you think I'm gonna pay $749,950 for a piece of crap box that's been flipped by 2-3 investors from California who care NOTHING for this city, NOTHING for my town, NOTHING for the Northwest, and NOTHING for the beautiful gray skies and loving rain. And damn it, after earning a graduate degree in engineering and earning a very good salary from a prestigious company...after my wife working long, long, long, long hours as an undergraduate student, as a medical student and now as a medical resident...damn it, we deserve a starter home in Seattle! We've earned it! We deserve our piece of crap condo made of cheap composite materials with stainless steel appliances and granite counters. And damn it, we deserve it at an affordable price!!! And we ARE doing our best to save for a house (we're renting right now, of course), but we feel that after so much hard work, we shouldn't have to break our backs just to support our first home. We don't even have any kids yet! How can we afford to? You must be the type of person that thinks only the rich should live in the city. What a bunch of crap! I hope to God Seattle wakes up from this greed-induced real estate mania.

darth_s said...


Don't worry, the correction will come sooner and faster than anyone can expect. Unless the law of physics is not applicable to the NW.

Anonymous said...


Sorry dude, no matter how much you've worked your butts off, you don't "deserve" to be able to afford to live in a starter home in Seattle. It would be nice, yes, but no one deserves it.

It used to be that people didn't buy houses until their 40s. Now people in their 20s & 30s suddenly think that since they have gone to college and have a "good" job, they deserve to be able to afford a home in the city. Sorry guys, but it's just not like that anymore. Get used to it.

I'm wondering if these same people who talk about all the greedy people out there would have done things differently. If they could have afforded to buy a house a few years ago, fixed it up and sold it at a nice profit, are they saying they wouldn't have? The people you should be angry at are the idiots who pay the overinflated prices, or the idiots who lend them money, or...

SourMash said...

It would be nice, yes, but no one deserves it.

I have to agree that the attitude of entitlement that people bring to this discussion is a bit odd sometimes. (My wife is like this.)

There are lots of cities where middle class people can't afford to be property owners in desirable areas. Maybe Seattle is growing up and becoming one of those places.

I don't like it either, but it wouldn't be the first place for it to happen.

Anonymous said...

TG SAYS "The market has essentially been trading sideways since jan. 04"

I'm assuming you were referring to the stock market but where would you get that info? The S&P 500 is up 13.6% since Jan 04. While not amazing returns that is not 'trading sideways' and if you were investing internationally since Jan 04 your returns would have been over double that.

Anonymous said...

I am having a hard time culling sympathy for a graduate degree holding engineer and his doctor wife. How much are you collectively carrying in student loans? Money says that you shop at Whole Foods or PCC and drink designer coffee.

Columbia City or the Rainier Avenue corridor have some opportunities that you could probably take advantage of.

dash_point said...

It would be nice, yes, but no one deserves it.

However, if my salary + savings could easily afford a home 5 short years ago, and cannot now, that gets my attention.

disgruntledengineer said...

Anon 10:58 says:

I am having a hard time culling sympathy for a graduate degree holding engineer and his doctor wife. How much are you collectively carrying in student loans?

Exactly my point big guy. Did you even read the middle part of my post? Crappy condos costing $450,000. Makeshift sh*tboxes costing $800,000. In Columbia City. Columbia City? When the hell did we ever start calling it Columbia City. When I grew up, it was called the SouthSide, and housed the squalor and struggles of all my Asian brothers and sisters. But that is totally besides my point. We haven't earned it? Sorry pal, I think my wife and I have. $800,000 used to be the price of Mariners and SuperSonics players' homes not too long ago. You think a $700,000 sh*tbox on the SouthSide is fit for an NBA star? I can't believe my town, yes MY town (not YOUR town) is being taken over by all the flippers and specuvestors, and nobody cares. All those school loans, graduate degrees and hard work...all so I spend our life's savings on a piece of sh*t sh*tbox. And you think these prices are sane, do you? You think this should be normal? This type of frenzy within the last 5 years? It's all great? What the hell has become of MY town!!!

Anonymous said...

I do agree that things have gotten a bit out of hand in the real estate here, but compared to where I'm from (NYC) Seattle just doesn't seem that overpriced. I think the increase in real estate here is at least in part due to the fact that Seattle is growing up as a city.

I only earn about $50,000 and my boyfriend is a student and has a part-time job, but we managed to buy a lovely 1 bedroom condo downtown. It was $190,000 when we bought 3 years ago and maybe today we wouldn't be able to do it as it would be 40% more now...but still, try finding a nice one bedroom condo in NYC or San Francisco in a central neighborhood for under $300K!

I don't find it easy to make ends meet, but I'm doing ok, and I don't have a car and save a lot of money that way. Now a lot of people who complain on here about how expensive it is wouldn't ever think of living anywhere but a single family home with 4 bedrooms and a garage etc. I think people need to look at their lifestyle choices as much as they need to look at the real estate situation.

sue said...

Disgruntled Engineer-

Keep on ranting. You are absolutely right. It's a travesty.

The only people who are buying now are those who are blithly willing to commit financial suicide with outrageous loans.

And those fools and their lenders have pushed the price of homes into the stratosphere. And at the same time made a mockery of the word "home".

They're just poker chips now. Amercicans have completely lost moral footing.

We need a big whack upside the head to get our senses/values re-aligned.

I'm praying we get it. Soon.

austin bell said...

is the above post serious, or sarcastic? i can't tell

Eleua said...

What, exactly, is "growing up" when it concerns a city?

How does Seattle "grow up?"

If RE prices are prime indicators of "growing up," am I to assume Pittsburgh, Dallas, Houston, Jacksonville, Salt Lake City, Kansas City, and San Antonio are just "adolescents?"

If Boston and San Diego are going down in price, are they regressing and becoming more juvenile?

gushy said...

Why are some posters on the board going on the attack, and I mean people are attacking those saying its too expensive and attacking those saying it's not too expensive.

Look If I do research and believe that the RE market is going to come down you don't have to attack me. Do some research, post your numbers and show me the contrary. I'm an open minded person.

This is how you do it.

To anonymous:

NYC is far different than seattle. I've lived in both places. In NYC people's salaries are much much higher. Of the five counties comprising New York City the average yearly salary was $105300. I would expect the price of everything to be more expensive there.

Seattle's average salary is roughly half of NYC's. There is no difference between the two.

See how simple that was?

Maybe I'm in a good mood because I just woke up from a nap.

Eleua said...

The average income in NYC is $105K?

Do you have a source on this, as this is quite a remarkable statement?

I'm with you that NYC is more expensive than Seattle, as one is the financial epicenter of Western Civilization, and the other is, well, coffee schleppers, software pounders, and outdoor gear outfitters (to say nothing of all the x-Cal Baby-boomers slapping each other on the back and telling themselves how smart they are.)

I do biz in NYC, and outside of Great Neck, and Beth-Page, I think you would have a hard time putting $105K in any wide range of households.

austin bell said...

If you are trying to create an accurate profile, you don't use average income. You use median income. That is basic demographics. The median household income for the city of Seattle is slightly higher (about $5000) than it is for the city of New York, according to the Census Bureau. So back to the drawing board for you.

Um, I don't think anyone on here suggested that New York and Seattle are the same place. The point was that Seattle doesn't look so overpriced to someone from New York. And unlike Tulsa or Wichita, Seattle is an attractive place to live.

And eleua -- I think most people understand what is meant by a city "growing up" -- do you really need an explanation?

Eleua said...

And eleua -- I think most people understand what is meant by a city "growing up" -- do you really need an explanation?

Well, I guess I'm just not with the program.

The Tim, laid down the law a few days ago, so I'll try to keep my response to the terms he wanted. This is not meant as a personal attack - just an observation, and it certainly is not excessively profane.

The term "growing up" as it refers to a city, seems to me, to be the single most egregious piece of self-congratulatory, onanistic, smug, twaddle that has washed down the pike in quite some time.

Believe me, I am 3rd generation Bainbridge Island, so I know egregious, self-congratulatory, onanistic, smug, twaddle when I hear it.

Dallas has far more corporate headquarters than Seattle. It is a university town. Dallas real estate is just a small fraction of what it is in Seattle. Is Dallas yet to "grow up?"

Absent my assessment of the term as just another arrogant, odious piece of effluvium that gets thrown around to justify an out-of-control valuation of a basic human need, you might want to enlighten me as to the proper use of "growing up" as it pertains to a metropolitan area.

austin bell said...

Um, what does Dallas have to do with anything? If I had to compare Seattle to some place in Texas, it would be Austin, which also was pretty much a backwater and has come into its own recently. And the real estate there has gone up a lot, although it is still cheaper than Seattle. But there are some very expensive areas in Austin now.
Your response to the term "growing up", to say the least!

Eleua said...

austin bell,

I'm a bit confused. If Seattle's Texan sister is Austin, then it must be the music scene, or the fact that it is the political anchor of the state's leftist party. Absent those two similarities, I can't find any other reason why Austin is comparable to Seattle, but not Dallas, or perhaps, Houston.

If that is the case, then why do music and leftist politics make a city more expensive, hence "grown up?"

Or do Dellionaires equate to Microsoft Millionaires? If so, why not compare Round Rock to Redmond?

Whenever I hear "grown up" it usually refers to places like Boston, Santa Fe, San Francisco, Santa Monica, Austin, Madison, Seattle, Sedona, or just about any university town.

Either way, please forgive me if I came off a bit too strong in my previous post. It just seems to me that the RE bulls like to see their particular enlightenment as something we straight-thinking, plain-talking, country bumpkins just can't fathom.

It's some form of "tsk, just don't understand the ways of the annointed..." bilge that I grew up with, had shoved down my throat during college, am surrounded by, and have endured over the years as part of the national discourse on our culture.

There were throngs of people that thought they were part of something new and exciting during the equity bubble of the late '90s, and their 'New Era' investing strategies left them almost penniless when it was all over.

Capitalistchristian said...

Disgruntled Engineer

First off, you can live here your whole life, it doesn't make it "your" city.
Second, you don't deserve an "affordable" house downtown. Why don't you try going to live in a third world country for a while and come back and tell us what you "deserve".
Nobody owes you anything. Just because you and your wife worked hard doesn't mean you are owed a great price on a home. Congratulations, you should be able to sleep well in a decent apartment at the end of the day knowing that because of your jobs you are helping your fellow man.

I'm sorry but the level of entitlement that is felt in this country is making me sick. We talk about job growth in Seattle all the time. But there are so many whiny liberals around here who want to tax corporations to death and then they wonder why job growth is going to decline. Hello, the rich are the ones who pay all the taxes, and create all the jobs. I mean not to rant, but the entitlement mentality drives me crazy. My wife and I live in a decent house in Pierce County, and we own it far younger than the people of a generation ago who wouldn've owned a similar home in their late 30's or early 40's. The only one who is owed anything at all my friend is the good Lord. So if you want to "bitch" about who owes who what, then bitch about how over 2000 years ago there was one who gave his life for us all, and your little problems are nothing in comparison. Open your eyes, and seek what is truly important.

Rufus T. Firefly said...

"Makeshift sh*tboxes costing $800,000. In Columbia City."
You know, I live in Columbia City, and there's nothing here for that price. There are a number of places around 400K, on quiet streets even. Pleny of places for less, on noisier streets of course, and more Section 8 housing, etc. Now, that may be too much for you, or more than you want to pay, but they're there. And whatever you grew up calling it, it's Columbia City now, and it's a pretty good place. Maybe you don't want to pay 400K here--I didn't, and don't know if I would today--but given what you revealed about yourself, it's relatively affordable. And only 10 minutes form Harborview.

Anonymous said...

CapitalChristian, give me a break. People like Disgruntledengineer ARE entiltled to a decent affordable house! He and his wife obviously work hard, contribute meaningully to society, pay taxes. Why shouldn't they be able to afford a house! The people who are not entitled to a house are the people who are leaches on society and game the system through fraud, crime, and overall laziness. When a two income household of two professionals can't afford a house something is seriously wrong. Prices are completely out of whack becuase they've been manipulated up via easy money, creative financing, and rediculously relaxed lending standards. The only good news is that this bubble will deflate like all others and DisgruntledEngineer will be able to afford a home in the future (as long as he and his wife don't commit financial suicide by buying into this bubble before then).

Eleua said...

For Everyone Taking DisgruntledEngineer to Task,

I don't read his comments as one that he is "entitled" to anything, but more of a feeling of hopelessness that comes from knowing that your life's work doesn't amount to squat, because of the foolishness of the lumpenvestoriat.

Disgruntled is part of the initial collateral damage caused by morons that think they know a thing or two about money, and have distorted the reality where we all live.

The next wave of collateral damage comes when all the lumpenvestoriat investments go sour. People that are just content to live will be saddled with negative equity and be frozen in their house. If Disgruntled is smart, he won't get wrapped up in this.

The third wave of collateral damage will be hard to avoid, as the banking system will likely get pounded. That will hurt us all.

You can bet that many will be writing cathartic screeds, just like Disgruntled, and wonder why they have to bail out all the morons that loaned and borrowed money to finance $700K crapboxes in the ethnically vibrant part of town.

I don't see his missive as anything other than wondering why he has to pay for other peoples' stupidity.

That is not entitlement.

Second point:

He said his wife is a doc. My best friend is a USNA grad, USN instructor pilot, and pilot with United Airlines. His wife is a doctor. Both of them had their careers just ground into dust by corporate mismanagement and government. Worse yet, both of the services they provide are considered "entitlements" by the American people (cheap airfares, and cheap medicine.) Never mind they both spent 17 combined years in their apprenticeships and another 15 years of higher education to provide those entitlements.

My guess is Disgruntled also is plenty pissed-off at his wife working 36 hours straight, for a crap salary, and caring for throngs of people that don't give her the proper respect she is due. With hospitial management, it is just "do more with less" and the employees suck it up so management can shower themselves with bonuses.

Government makes it so she can be sued for no reason, by someone that does not even pay her for her services.

Yeah, Disgruntled is exactly that. One day, the people that actually keep this country together are going to get a belly full, and find some way to stick it to the leeches that all come to them with their hands out (management, government, Baby-boom investment trolls, and all the tax suckling riffraff).

How about cutting him a little slack?

Anonymous said...


Disgruntled engineer said, and I quote: And damn it, after earning a graduate degree in engineering and earning a very good salary from a prestigious company...after my wife working long, long, long, long hours as an undergraduate student, as a medical student and now as a medical resident...damn it, we deserve a starter home in Seattle! We've earned it! And my favorite: ...we shouldn't have to break our backs just to support our first home. That has entitled written all over it.

Again, to be in your 20s with massive student debt/other loans, the expectation to be able to spend $500K+ on a house in ludicrous. In another 10 years, even if the market was the same as now, engineer and his MS wife will be in a better position to buy a starter home in Seattle.

Eleua said...

I think Disgruntled's point was that starter homes should not cost $500K. A few years ago (prior to the current runup) starter homes were in range for young professionals that were conservative and savvy with their finances - no longer.


We have 77,000,000 Mouseketeers that have, on average, saved $17K for their retirement. They all thought they would be made whole by Easy Al's equity bubble, only to find out that was a gigantic swindle. Now, they see RE as their last chance to live the retirement life they are entitled to.

When 2/3 of the largest, and most ill-prepared generation in Western Civilization thinks they can fund their 25 year retirement by the sale of the garagemahal, you have a problem - a very big problem.

If they own one home and make $30K on it, that's good. The logic then follows that if they own 10, they can make $300K. They have totally distorted the market for homes, and people that play by the rules, save, and invest in their profession are getting screwed.

If Disgruntled is a 26yo, debt-laden, newbie, then you may have a point. I think his point is that he could be a 38yo, debt free, DINK, and still have major heartburn about buying a "starter home" at prices that would fetch a completely pimped-out McMansion just a few years ago.

When you have 480sf homes in East Palo Alto, California that list for $500K, and that's the cheapest detached house in the city, you have a serious problem.

If Disgruntled is smart, he will steer clear of the trainwreck that is currently in progress, and buy it on the cheap when the bears have their day.

Anonymous said...

And remember this, all you people out there who think there's absolutely nothing wrong with an engineer and a doctor being unable to afford a home in Seattle and that he's some kind of whiny baby for thinking he *should* be able to afford here:

When home prices crash, you are not *entitled* to your paper profits.

So don't be whining about it.

Capitalistchristian said...


You see it is disgruntled's premise that is all wrong. His first sentence reads...

Am I such a whiny bastard that I feel that I should be able to afford a decent home in the city of my choice? I grew up in the Northwest. I've lived here all my life. I met the love of my life here in this city. You just don't get it. I WANT to live in Seattle.

My biggest problem with his comments is that he believes he should be able to afford a decent home "in the city of his choice", but what is that analysis based on? "I WANT to live in Seattle." Yeah well I want Islamofascists to stop suicide bombing in the name of their "religion" but I don't see that happening anytime soon.

So what if the city of his choice was Long Island or downtown San Francisco - would we still all say yeah he is right, he should be able to afford that starter home? Most likely no. Disgruntled says his wife is now in her medical residency. Well based on this I am concluding (granted off little evidence) that they are a couple under 30 who are now "paying their dues" and working their way up the ladder and in 5-8 years will have very respectable incomes.

And guess what else will happen in 5-8 years, they can buy a nice home (probably at or near the same price that homes are at today, all the while their incomes will be rising) right before the next big RE bull cycle and then they can be the ones experiecning that appreciation in their home. The RE market is cyclical just like anything else, except this last swing has been significantly broader due to lax lending standards, and investors moving their money from the stockmarket into RE. Oh yeah and those damn baby boomers with all their money moving to the their most desirable areas (and I guess Seattle is somewhere on that list). So obviously some of us missed the boat on this last great RE cycle (me too as I only bought in late 04) but like any other cycle, we wait for it to come back as it always does.

disgruntledengineer said...

OK, OK, I may have come across a bit strong. It's just that I get so emotional sometimes because I feel like this place is getting totally overrun by people that I observe to have no care in the world for what Seattle has represented for me and my roots here. So I feel a bit selfish about this place because I'm a local. So what? Let's get past that now. By the way, I'm a 31 year old Asian-American...because due to some comments I felt that extra piece of background was pertinent. Again, besides all that. I'm just experiencing the pure bad luck of the tail end of a cycle? OK! I understand the importance of negative feedback and stability within a system. I'm an engineer for Christ's sake! Oops! Did I use Our Lord's name in vain? Shoot! Even Jesus would get pissed about housing prices these days! Remember when Jesus got really pissed that one day at the Temple, when he saw all the Pharisees and Sadjucees and all their homies sitting in front with their tables exchanging money and the farmer's best goat for forgiveness of their sins? Then he got mad and started throwing tables over and yelling! I think he was angy because of the hypocrisy of the whole order at the time. Sometimes I feel like Jesus needs to run around in some of these coporate board rooms, the offices of realtors, appraisers and loan officers, the Fed and raise a little bit of sweet Son of God. Especially on those guys that buy 3-4 houses at a time on 0% loan exotica...and then tell me how stupid I am for going to school because they can just keep selling houses to retirement. Oh yes, especially them!

Eleua said...


If you take Disgruntled's post at face value, and concentrate on the so-called 'entitlement' remarks, I think your response trends toward the reasonable. Also, if he and his wife are debt-laden, 20 something, newbies, then I would also subscribe to the "pay your dues, prior to complaining" way of thinking.

When I read his remarks, I see the undercurrent of how today's bulls are causing pain beyond their immediate sphere of influence.

When starter homes in a modest, but nice part of town are $700K, that tells me that something is outta-whack. Financially stable professionals and DINKs should be able to buy a modest home, outside the VFW, without breaking the bank. The fact they can't shows that something is wrong with the system.

Disgruntled used emotion to attempt to communicate an intellectual concept - houses are not priced according to historical metrics. That is the subject of this entire blog.

Comparing Baby-boomers distorting housing to Islamofascists crashing airplanes is a bit of a stretch and not fair. Islamofascists are not as big of a threat to the future well-being of America.

5-8 years from now, our government will have offshored most of our engineering expertise, and doctors will be de-facto state employees, in order to service the entitlement of 77,000,000 Mouseketeers. Any dual income professional couple will be paying a freight train load of taxes to bail out all the bad loans and inflated purchases of this housing bubble.

No, I think Disgruntled does not even know just how disgruntled he will be.

Capitalistchristian said...

I really do enjoy this blog - some great comments.

Disgruntled - I will definitely concede to your points. Sometimes you have to wonder where the madness will end. Occassionally we feel the drawbacks of a capitalist society, so if Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac don't tighten down there lending standards, then the banks will continue to loan off their "acceptable guidance". But like any good capitalist society the free market will determine the price of goods, and unlike the last anon post (which I thought was now against "the rules" there WILL be a next time). Hey anon if you really believe all that then you should move to Wyoming set up an underground shelter with foodstuffs and buy guns and ammo. Hopefully you were just "trying" to be funny.


I think you and I agree on more things than we disagree. You have some very insightful thoughts, especially with the large tax burden of joe and jane taxpayer which I totally agree with. Our tax burden is only going to get worse and if Hillary gets elected (God forbid) I see us leaning even further towards a France-like economy where we will not be able to compete on a global market at all. I do have to disagree with you about Islamo-terrorism not being as big a threat as you think it will be. Its easy for us to sit across the ocean and not engage ourselves in "that stuff going on over there" but once you see the determination of those filled with hate who would strap their own kids to a bomb if it meant killing you, and see it up close and personal - it can be quite chilling. But back to housing - you are correct that my comparison was unfair but that was my whole point - is that we don't always get the things we want. I know that obviously that wasn't an equal comparison.

Eleua said...


I would imagine that we agree on quite a few things. My guess is that you probably consume a bit too much Sean Hannity, but that is a topic for another time. You can go to my abstemious blog and we can hash out the political stuff.

With regard to the Islamofascist comments... It wasn't that I didn't think that Islam represents a threat, it does, and has for 1400 years. My point was that the immediate health of the US is more severely threatened by the 77,000,000 Mouseketeers' and their collective financial genius that has managed to save $17K per person over the past 35 years. That financial prowess now seeks to make up the balance in the housing market.

When I said "unfair," I thought the Al-brothers might be offended if you thought they were more dangerous than 77Million disco-ballers trying to hit a grand slam on thier last trip to the plate.

Ted Kennedy has caused more damage to the US then Osama Bin Laden, and it isn't even close.

It was the normal mordant schtick that I use from time to time when making points under this online persona.