News in these here now United States

noooz

At the end of a Monday, this is the top news of a wealthy, well-known Southern California beach resort, population about 90,000. There’s a lot going on in my town. News-type news happens! More than most cities this size. We have a harbor and a large beach.

But apparently the Register (and everyone else, really) decided to save $5 and fire all their reporters. Top stories here include two actual news items, two rewarmed press releases, three canned data stories, and a real estate tout. Just from hearing sirens during the day anyone can tell that a couple of those data-repeating or PR stories could be replaced with a car crash, for chrissakes.

The Register was never an excellent newspaper, but they did cover local news. If a column of smoke was rising from the Westside or 8 cop cars arrived at the high school, you knew they’d have something about it the next day.

Welp that’s done!

What do you all think? What’s the likely effect of disappearing local news over the next decade or so?

Car loan, or why we hate bankers

I bought a Ford Fiesta from Robins Ford in Costa Mesa on Friday, July 30. It’s a great car. The price was good. The salesman was helpful and intelligent and didn’t do car salesman B.S.

I had a preapproved loan from my credit union for 6.1%.

The finance guy worked me a bit for upselling on warranties and insurance products, but wasn’t very pushy. He then wanted to get the loan business. He told me he could get me 6% or better. He was going to work on this over the weekend.

On Saturday he called me and said “I got you 6%.”

A couple of weeks passed. I got a number of loan rejection letters in the mail from various banks. I got no approvals. I called him and asked if there was something I needed to sign additionally, and he said no, they would mail me.

A couple more weeks passed. I called him asking what loan I had, and when I should get the mail. I got voicemail and the call was not returned. Repeat twice.

I called Ford Motor Credit. They had no loan for my car or anything in my name.

I received mail from Chase Bank announcing that my loan had been approved and they’d given me a lower rate because I qualified for same. My rate: 8.39%.

I called Robins Ford and was told that my credit guy no longer worked there. I talked to a new guy. He was polite and professional. He said “look at your contract; whatever is on there is your rate.” He agreed that the whole thing was upsetting. He also said that it was possible to get the credit union to loan me at a lower rate and pay off this worse loan immediately, which was a good thought.

My contract (here’s the part that’s my fault) said 10%. Credit manager guy had literally waved his hand over this as if it was a formality, or some kind of placeholder. Burned.

I applied to the credit union for a loan to repay this one; it was declined due to excessive debt. Doh.

Meanwhile, it was time for me to make my first payment. I already had a Chase account paid by bank transfer, so I set this up for the auto loan also. The system rejected my information at first. I assumed I had made a typo, and tried again. Another failure. Looking carefully at my bank’s site, I saw that they now had a separate transfer number for electronic payments of this kind. I re-entered my bank info and now it was accepted. I paid the current bill and set up automated payments.

On the 22nd of September I got a late payment phone call from Chase. Looking at my account online, I saw that it said the following: next payment due date: 9/13. last payment made: 9/13. Account late. Amount due: my monthly plus a processing charge and a returned check charge.

I called Chase and a comedy ensued. The rep was very pleasant and professional. Together, we took a journey through madness and finance. It was clear that I had paid on the 13th, that the transaction was bollixed, and that a week later the computer decided that the transaction had not gone through and they were considering it a bad check. There was no late fee yet. I mentioned twice that this was during the time when Chase had an exceptionally bad I.T. disaster involving their loan systems, but he was silent about this.

I made my one-time payment with the rep on the phone, and he said he would get the bounced check charge remove.

Today, I looked at my Chase account. The account was now listed as overdue with a late charge. The last payment still said the 13th. And my new payment was listed as “in process.”

The bankers have mentioned recently that their feeling are hurt, that they feel bruises, that they are being unfairly vilified by the media and public servants. Why do we attack their large salaries? Why do we resent their guaranteed bonuses? Why are we insisting that the regulators regulate instead of sipping the bankers’ Scotch? Why do we fly into tantrums when their bold, risk-taking, disruptive innovations in finance blow up and kick shrapnel in our faces?

IT’S BECAUSE EVERY SINGLE DEAL WITH THEM IS A DRUG DEAL GONE SOUR AND WE GET OUR ASSES GRIFTED BUT GOOD, AND THE PEOPLE IN CHARGE OF THE GRIFT ARE WEIGHTLESS UNTOUCHABLE ARISTOCRATS WHO LIVE ON PLANET VEUVE-CLICQUOT AND WILL NEVER, EVER BE PUNISHED FOR THEIR CRIMES OR EVEN STOPPED FROM CONTINUING THEM.

But it’s a snappy little car.

Buying a house? Watch out for paradigms

torgo_x forwarded the most clear and forceful explanation of how really bad mortgage ideas work, and why the current situation can’t end well. Math is hard, and optimism is easy. I’d guess a lot of the people who do this think of themselves as risk-takers who are going to win. I wish them all luck tripling their incomes in the next five years.

I wonder what the impact of a really bad housing crash would have in Orange County. Not only is real estate development a big local industry, but that whole slimy subprime mortgage business is mostly here too. So much so that we refer to big-spending young guys who party hard as “mortgage bro’s”.

If there’s no more money for the next swathe of terra cotta boxes in Temecula, and no more spiffs for selling predatory refi’s to hicks, and no more interest-only ARM crazy home loans to sell, that’s a big chunk of the local wealth just flat fucking gone. It could be as bad as the Great Defense Slump of the 1970s, which was a carnival of suicidal dads, boarded up ranch-style homes, and 40 year old draftsmen lining up for government aid and retraining programs. Oh by the way, those are gone now because we didn’t need them in the New Economy. Whoo boy.