mnot’s blog

Design depends largely on constraints.” — Charles Eames


Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Location, Location, Location

I’m back in the Bay Area for work, and out of curiosity I thought I’d check in on the housing market here. After updating my super-secret source of housing sales, I tried something new; charting price paid for square foot by county.

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Monday, 16 October 2006

The Flipperdex

I’ve been playing with sales data for houses in the Bay area for a while, and have always wanted to come up with an index of same-home sales — reputed to be one of the more accurate ways to do an index, because you’re not having to compensate for differences in intrinsic value between different houses.

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Sunday, 23 April 2006

Housing Derivatives

The Economist gives a heads-up [subscription required] about the Chicago Mercantile Exchange’s plans for housing derivatives;

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Sunday, 9 April 2006

Looking for a Big House? Wait!

Most discussion you see about the housing market these days tends to focus on a) whether there’s a bubble (reliable sources say yes, at least in many places) and b) when and how it will pop (it already is, and agonisingly slowly).

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Sunday, 26 March 2006

Workers of the World, Untie

A few snippets from the day;

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Wednesday, 15 February 2006


So, a few weeks ago, I was sitting in the Galleria with Pete and Brian, having a coffee and talking about work. When, up comes two women with clipboards, asking us to take a survey. We’re bored, and want distraction, so why not?

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Wednesday, 21 December 2005

Choosing a School in a Global Marketplace

Every parent should take a flip through the OECD’s Education at a Glance*, their annual look at the state of learning in most industrialised countries.

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Tuesday, 6 December 2005

The End Is Nigh?

Bloomberg calls it;

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Thursday, 25 August 2005

Wanted: Blogging Fund Manager

Does anybody know of a mutual fund manager who also has a blog? I’d be interested if someone in the financial industry had such a rich channel to their customers (and potential customers).

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Thursday, 25 August 2005

Bubble Fun

It seems that the debate has switched from if there’s a housing bubble to when and where it will pop.

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Saturday, 23 July 2005

Who Do We Work For?

The FT Global 500 is pretty much what you see when you look up “capitalistic orgy” in the dictionary. It’s a compilation of the largest 500 mega-corporations in the world, as measured by the market.

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Thursday, 23 June 2005

Another, More Disturbing Reason Not to Buy a House

As you might guess, I’m not too keen on buying a house at the moment, due to what I (and others) perceive to be a bubble in prices.

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Monday, 20 June 2005

Bubble News Roundup

This week the Economist continues casting doubt upon the notion that housing prices will continue going up, up, up:

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Sunday, 22 May 2005


After hearing a review on NPR and reading the Economist’s, I was (as was once said) with child to read Freakonomics. After finding myself in a queue of 411 other people putting it on hold in the Peninsula Library System, I broke and bought it.

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Sunday, 15 May 2005

Effects of Australian Tax Cuts

Last week, the Australian government announced a new budget. It included a number of tax cuts that were even more ambitious than expected.

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Tuesday, 10 May 2005

Notes on Generational Accounting

Social Security represents a pact between generations—a financial and social commitment among people of all ages. — US Social Security Administration

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Sunday, 1 May 2005

Arguments for Buying a House Now

In the interest of equal time, two quotes attributed to Keynes;

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Saturday, 5 March 2005

More notes on the Bay area housing market

Carlos sent me an interesting summary page about the Bay area housing bubble. I wish there were more links substantiating the assertions there (a few ring false), but it is thought-provoking.

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Saturday, 5 February 2005

Who’ll Clean Up?

Listening to people talk about the economy — and the housing bubble in particular — makes me wonder; what happens after it bursts?

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Friday, 26 November 2004

Shop ‘til you Drop

Stephen Roach, the chief economist at investment banking giant Morgan Stanley, has a public reputation for being bearish. But you should hear what he’s saying in private. Roach met select groups of fund managers downtown last week, including a group at Fidelity. His prediction: America has no better than a 10 percent chance of avoiding economic “armageddon.” Press were not allowed into the meetings. But the Herald has obtained a copy of Roach’s presentation. A stunned source who was at one meeting said, “it struck me how extreme he was - much more, it seemed to me, than in public.” — The Boston Herald

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Monday, 6 September 2004

Saving the Village with Wal-Mart

In BusinessWeek, Chris Kenton brings us a thoughtful piece about the Faustian bargains that localities are making in the name of progress;

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Thursday, 2 September 2004

Innocent Fraud

…I have learned that to be right and useful, one must accept a continuing divergence between approved belief — what I have elsewhere called conventional wisdom — and the reality. And in the end, not surprisingly, it is the reality that counts.

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Wednesday, 25 August 2004

“It seems that the housing party is over”

Today’s Wall Street Journal has an article, “Hot Housing Market Simmers Down.” I can’t reference it directly because I’m not a subscriber, but it basically notes that, according to the Association of Realtors, existing single-family home sales declined 2.9% in July, while in California the housing inventory has increased to 3.3 months, surpassing three months for the first time since February 2003.

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Thursday, 19 August 2004

On Jargon and Applicability

Alfred Marshall, who is credited with turning economics from a sideline to a proper discipline of its own, had this to say:

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Friday, 2 July 2004

Geopolitical Arbitrage

To develop a previous theme;

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Wednesday, 30 June 2004

More on the Housing Bubble^H^H^H^H^H^HMarket

HSBC has apparently been indiscreet enough to call it a bubble, but I can’t find the actual report (“The U.S. Housing Bubble — The case for a home-brewed hangover.”). Anyone have a link?

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Monday, 28 June 2004

Social Security

If you work in the United States or intend to retire there, grab yourself a copy of today’s Wall Street Journal, which contains a special section that covers this topic with unusual lucidity.

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Monday, 31 May 2004

Why I Won’t Be Buying a House in the Bay Area Soon

Benjamin Wallace-Wells’ “ There Goes the Neighborhood” captures what many have been saying for a while now; it’s a bubble, a bubble, a bubble.

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Sunday, 2 May 2004

Taxing Wages

I probably shouldn’t go around interpreting OECD statistics, as I’m not an economist (I just play one on the Web). However, the OECD’s Centre for Tax Policy and Administration has made some excerpts of its 2002/2003 edition of “Taxing Wages” available, and there’s some interesting reading therein.

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Sunday, 2 May 2004

Economic Indicators from the Web

An idea for the LazyWeb:

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Sunday, 15 February 2004

Economic Approaches to Spam

SPF is getting a lot of attention, but it’s got some pretty fundamental limitations, as well as some shorter-term practical problems. What else is there?

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Saturday, 14 February 2004

Redefining the Ability to Pay

I know little about the politics or economy of Canada, but a proposal by Tony Clement (Conservative) is interesting. Mike Moffatt explains;

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Tuesday, 13 January 2004

Papa Leave

This week’s Economist has an interesting article about parental leave in Sweden (alas, the Web version requires a subscription), a long-standing and generous benefit; they can take up to 13 months of leave, paid at 80%. Furthermore, it’s possible to divide this time between both parents, and it can be taken until the child is eight.

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Saturday, 20 September 2003

Seen this week's Economist?

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Tuesday, 3 September 2002

Global house prices

I’ve been following the Economist’s new Global Housing Index with some interest. They seem to have softened their view somewhat, but I’m hearing more about a global housing bubble recently - first, in a WSJ article about the author of “Manias, Panics and Crashes” (which I’m now reading, alas, too late) and later in a story on NPR. It is interesting that there aren’t good tools for tracking the state of real estate, even though there’s more money there than in equities, worldwide.

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