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I Declare Bankruptcy!: The Recession/Depression Thread
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Mar 5th 2009

The Chinese have a curse: "May you live in interesting times." And our times certainly are nothing if not interesting.

So...have something to say about the Great Recession? Some bad news? Some good news? An interesting item to link that isn't really political? Post it here!

Let's start working on those stories with which we'll bore our grandchildren some day.

Mar 5th 2009

The Chinese have a curse: "May you live in interesting times."

Lisa: You know, Dad, that the Chinese word for "crisis" is the same as their word for "opportunity."
Homer: Yes! Crisitunity!

Mar 5th 2009 edited

Times have really changed. It used to be that you would would do anything you could to avoid foreclosure on your house. In this economic climate, letting the bank take your home has become a sort of strategic financial move.

I know a lot of people that are letting their homes and rental properties go. These are people that owe considerably more on their homes than they can get for them. This is how they reason. Let's say you owe $350,000 on a home that sells for about $190,000 in todays current market. They walk away from it and buy another home down the street for $190,000 instead and the interest rate is lower. You don't stand a chance of refinancing the current home for the lower interest rate because no bank will give you $350,000 on a $190,000 house. Now they have to find some way of getting the money because the caveat to this plan is you'll lose some points on your credit score making it more difficult to get another mortgage. It won't however have as bad of an effect on your credit as it would have a few years ago, the reason being that so many people are foreclosing now.

Some also reason that the bank gives you the mortgage and keeps your home as the collateral. They gave you what the house was worth to them at the time so there's no shame in letting them have it back in exchange for not having to pay the mortgage. Also, think of it this way. You have been paying interest on $350,000 when the home is only worth $190,000 so the bank is the only one currently benefitting from your loss. We all know that the banks recently squandered the bailout they were given at our expense. Give them their house back and refuse to pay them more money than their investment is worth.

The current downward trend is sure to continue as long as this is widely done as a strategic move. The bank-owned property will go dirt cheap, pushing values even lower. I see a slow recovery but not for many, many years.

Mar 5th 2009

Thank goodness I live in a place where real estate didn't have a boom. We're not dropping values here because we never were artificially high.

Mar 5th 2009

That's Dubuque's situation, too, and most of Iowa.

I guess living in the Rust Belt or Corn Country does have its up-sides.

Mar 5th 2009

I hope I have enough money for a down payment before the housing market recovers.

Mar 5th 2009

Go to Detroit. You could probably pick up a nice house with whatever's in your sofa cushions.

Mar 5th 2009

Who wants to live in Detroit?

Mar 5th 2009

Zing!

Mar 5th 2009

Last night I went to sleep in Detroit city, but now I just wanna go home.

Mar 5th 2009

Crap. I'm going to have to get a bigger mattress.

Mar 5th 2009

This is my favorite part of that article:

"The FDIC said it had set aside an additional 22 billion dollars for estimated losses on failures anticipated in 2009."

The idea that anyone - even the FDIC - has 22 billion dollars that they can "set aside" for emergencies is absurd.

Also, for no actual reason based in reality, I am very worried about losing my job next year. I have been assured by several people, one of them a principal, that the chances of this happening are slim-to-none, but I still worry. I'm on a year-to-year contract. True, they will always need teachers, and true, I'm doing a good job and am well-regarded, but who knows? I'm one of the newest kids on the block there. Blerg.

Mar 5th 2009 edited
  1. My parents' house is worth barely more than the owe, because they put down an unusually high down-payment. Prices keep falling, though -- they live in a part of the state that quite literally had one of the two or three biggest housing bubbles in the whole country -- and they might have to give it up. If this happens, they may move in with me. That would be . . . interesting.

  2. My mother's family's company has not hired a new salaried worker in more than a year. This has resulted in 40 positions going unfilled, and the essential demotion of the deputy editor of the flagship paper to city editor, his old job. Oh yeah, he's still deputy editor, but he's not getting paid any more.

  3. When the credit markets froze up, Bank of America went insane and tried to double the payments on all the loans that company made. Yeah, that totally worked out for everybody.

  4. I cannot find a job. Portland already had kind of a shitty job market, but now I can't get back into my old line of work, I can't work my connections in radio to get something even entry-level, and I haven't even been called back by any of the restaurants I've applied to.

  5. Graduate programs in everything are absolutely flooded at the moment. This will probably be true next year, when, if I don't get in anywhere this year, I will be applying again -- and probably applying to law school, as well. Yeow.

Mar 5th 2009

probably applying to law school

Welcome to the dark side, my friend.

Mar 5th 2009

I would be doing this anyways, but the deprecession has made me happy that I have an orchard, am planting a big garden, and have chickens and turkeys. If all hell breaks loose I can at least feed my family.

Mar 5th 2009

The economic crisis has really helped me to appreciate what I have.

Mar 5th 2009 edited

The economic crisis has really helped me to appreciate what I have.

Yes, boobs. We appreciate them too.

Mar 5th 2009

Yeah--no...I still need to get some of those.

Mar 5th 2009

Who doesn't? Am I right?

Mar 5th 2009

Yesh.

Mar 5th 2009

I get my last un(der)employment check tomorrow. After that I'm reduced to the whopping $92 a week I get teaching at the community college. My dean has told me he'd love to hire me fulltime, but there's a system-wide hiring freeze because of state budget cuts. So I'm fucked.

And even if job markets were better somewhere else (and they aren't) I can't leave, anyway:

  1. If I walk away from a teaching job in the middle of the semester I'll never get another one. And this is what I really want to do

  2. My folks couldn't stay in this house if I left (financially or physically). In fact, if I do leave DBQ they'll have to come with me, and that fact influences where I could move to. Also, I don't want to move any further away from Madge.

So...let me reiterate. I'm fucked.

Guess I'll be looking into that life of crime I've had my eye on.

Mar 5th 2009

I get my last un(der)employment check tomorrow.

How long does that last? I received back in 2001, but only for three months I think.

Mar 5th 2009

Are you living with your parents now? So I take it you don't have rent or a mortgage? I'm wondering what I could live on if I was in your situation...

Mar 5th 2009

26 weeks, under normal circumstances. Then they extended it last fall, because so many people are staying unemployed more than 12 months in this recession, or (like me) finding only part-time work. The stimulus package included another extension, but not for people who lost their primary jobs as long ago as I did. So I can't be extended.

If I'm still in this situation in early May (God, No!) I can file a new claim, but the benefit will be much smaller than my current one because it will be based on my 2008 pay (which was low) and not my 2007 pay (which was pretty good).

I do have a class to teach this summer but, again, the pay is little more than pocket change.

There is one light at the end of the tunnel, however. The summer course is a "hybrid class" (half traditional classroom/half on-line) so I'm now taking a free training course in how to design/teach on-line classes. Once I complete that class, and get the real-life experience this summer, I can apply to all the big on-line universities. I'm hoping that this can lead to a fulltime career teaching classes from my bedroom or jacuzzi.

Mar 5th 2009 edited

Are you living with your parents now? So I take it you don't have rent or a mortgage? I'm wondering what I could live on if I was in your situation...

We own a house together. I pay half the mortgage each month (my share is $550), and half the utilities (plus do all the upkeep).

So losing this money screws them as much as it does me.

Mar 5th 2009

Sorry things aren't working out for you mtt. I know that's no consolation, but I truly feel for you.

Mar 5th 2009

26 weeks, under normal circumstances. Then they extended it last fall, because so many people are staying unemployed more than 12 months in this recession, or (like me) finding only part-time work. The stimulus package included another extension, but not for people who lost their primary jobs as long ago as I did. So I can't be extended.

I'll help out here. My unemployment is much more recent than mtt's, and thus I received an extension effective this week. I got the initial 26 weeks, and have gotten an extension for another 20 weeks, effective one week ago. If I am still unemployed (or under-employed) after that, I can re-apply for an additional 13 weeks.

I can apply to all the big on-line universities.

Like the University of Phoenix? That's the only on-line university I know of...

Mar 5th 2009

U Phoenix is the granddaddy, but there are others, too. Also, many brick-and-mortar schools are rapidly expanding their on-line degree programs. It's definitely going to be a much bigger part of the world of higher education.

Mar 6th 2009

I'm sorry about the un(der)employment issue, mtt.

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