Monday, December 31, 2012

Avoiding the fiscal cliff - goodbye Edward Mooney

Here's the lead headline from the Weekend Wall Street Journal's Greater New York section, "Ex-Rockefeller Co-op Is Sold, Beating  'Cliff".  Not only did the article detail this $23 million sale, including when Nelson and Happy lived there, then only Happy, then some other rich notables, it gave information about several other sales of this magnitude that closed in recent days.

It's not just the really wealthy, those who have access to the expertise of the largest and most powerful law firms and the advice of elite private bankers, that are making these end of year moves to avoid much higher capital gains taxes.  Mere mortals with common sense and a modicum of awareness are also participating.

The former Rockefeller co-op sale closed on Thursday.  On Friday at 5:30pm my wife, two daughters and six other members of her family(that's 9 partners) closed on the sale of the oldest townhouse in Manhattan.  With one good lawyer, a supportive broker, and the involvement of an interested observer or two, several months of negotiations with the buyer and among the many partners ended successfully after a nail-biter of a day.

Of course this transaction from a monetary point of view was nothing like those in the article, but it wasn't all that shabby.  Given the provenance of the building, it seems somewhat notable.  Google Edward Mooney House to take a look.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

"A Hologram for the King", a novel by Dave Eggers

This is a really fine book.  That comment is from a Dave Eggers fan, a fan of Dave Eggers the writer and Dave Eggers the person.

"A Hologram for the King" is a wonder of Egger's imagination and his meticulous research.  Briefly, very briefly, it follows a 54 year old dispossessed and distressed former corporate executive as he attempts to salvage his life with a consulting job that takes him to Saudi Arabia.  His mission is to secure a technology contract at King Abdullah Economic City, which ultimately requires a demonstration of the technology to King Abdullah, whose distant cousin he once knew. 

That's the framework, but it is just a framework for a thoughtful low key examination of global economic trends, the state of Saudi Arabia today, and the disarray of one man's life as he lives out being the detritus of corporate downsizing and outsourcing, unneeded and pushed aside.  That all sounds grim, but in fact this book is full of humor, wry humor, the humor of astute observations or a perfectly turned phrase, and just outright joke telling, a still active aspect of the protagonist's diminishing charm.

Egger's writing is, as usual, spare and beautifully straightforward, with not the least bit of pretension.

Monday, December 03, 2012

A6 - NYT - Young, Educated, And Jobless

Today's NYT has a stunning summary of unemployment of young people in France.  Could this be headed our way.  Thank goodness our 25 year old has a good job that she enjoys.  Our 19 year old seems to just like work, and even as a student she works in the school gym 20 hours a week, inexplicable to me,  but she likes the discipline of work and that I understand.  She does not need the money, and she might need to study a little more. 

The numbers are numbing.  22% of young people in France have no jobs, and many of those who do make the U.S. equivalent of $6.50 an hour.  Hold your breath, those young people unemployment numbers are 55% in Spain and 40% in Italy.  In France, 82% of new people hired are on temporary contracts.  Like here, these numbers do not include those who no longer look for jobs, or do not need to look for jobs, supported by inherited wealth.

Could this be in our future as well.  With all of these ridiculous public traded for profit colleges and the amazingly expensive private colleges, who gets a great education?  Even those who benefit might be left with huge debts and little job prospects.  Their family background and upbringing may be more important than their education.

We are all in for a crisis.