Monday, 28 February 2011

Menu Planner

Happy Monday! Sorry for the lack of posts recently. I am staying busy and trying to balance. I have done a few little projects around the house that I will post soon. For now here's what's for dinner this week....

Monday - Tilapia Piccata, Risotto, Asparagus
Tuesday - Chicken Fajita's
Wednesday - Gnocchi with Light Bolognese Sauce
Thursday - Jambalaya with Smoked Sausage & Chicken
Friday - Very Good Gouda Turkey Burgers, French Fries

Friday, 25 February 2011


I expect to be unable to post over the next week, so I'll try to front a couple of interesting articles between now and next Saturday.

From The Wall Street Journal, Jan 2009:

Realtors' Former Top Economist Says Don't Blame the Messenger


FAIRFAX STATION, VA. -- On a recent weekday, David Lereah sat in the sunroom of his five-bedroom colonial house. The only sound was the yapping of his dog Maisy.

Once one of the world's most-visible housing experts, Mr. Lereah is disconnected from his old life. The former chief economist for the National Association of Realtors says the group's top executives won't return his phone calls. He says he wasn't invited to the association's 100th birthday bash last May.

Mr. Lereah, 55 years old, is one of many prognosticators who won professional accolades during the housing boom, only to see their reputations wither in the bust. Throughout 2005, when home prices in the U.S. hit their fifth consecutive annual record, Mr. Lereah was on television so often his wife, Wendy, would catch him by accident. He flew first-class to meetings and speeches in places like Hawaii and Aspen, Colo., staying in suites at expensive resorts. His bosses awarded him more responsibility. That year, he published his second book, "Are You Missing the Real Estate Boom?"

Mr. Lereah continued to make rosy statements amid growing signs of a housing downturn -- like this declaration in January 2007: "It appears we have established a bottom." A few months later, NAR announced that existing-home sales fell 2.6% in April from a month earlier and 10.7% from a year earlier.

Some critics pummeled Mr. Lereah for his optimism. Bloggers nicknamed him "Baghdad Dave," after the Iraqi information minister Mohammed al-Sahaf, called "Baghdad Bob," known for his pro-Iraq press briefings at the time of the U.S. invasion.

Mr. Lereah, who says he left NAR voluntarily, says he was pressured by executives to issue optimistic forecasts -- then was left to shoulder the blame when things went sour. "I was there for seven years doing everything they wanted me to," he said, looking out his window to his tree-filled yard in this Washington suburb. Mr. Lereah now works at home, trying to rebuild his career and saddled with a sagging portfolio of real-estate investments.

A spokesman for NAR says Mr. Lereah used the same kind of forecasts in his book, which wasn't an NAR publication.

NAR, which represents half the 2.6 million licensed real-estate agents in the country, has its critics. One concern is that while the organization collects and releases objective data about home sales, it also provides commentary on those statistics -- and has a mission to advance its members.

Lawrence Roberts, author of "The Great Housing Bubble," says the Securities and Exchange Commission should regulate NAR the way it regulates financial advisers. "Realtors are currently able to make any statement they wish regarding the investment potential of real estate, no matter how ridiculous," he says.

"Realtors are the most trusted resource for real estate information," says the NAR spokesman in an email, adding that the group "has gathered the most comprehensive data on real estate in the world." The spokesman says that during his tenure Mr. Lereah was "solely responsible for the content of NAR forecasts and housing reports -- both the data and the interpretation."

Among the who's who of experts and policy wonks now accused of irrational sunniness are former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan and Robert Toll, chairman and CEO of Toll Brothers. But Mr. Lereah has gotten more than his share of the finger-pointing in part because he was such a public face during the housing boom.

Raised in the suburb of Long Beach, N.Y., Mr. Lereah says he decided he wanted to be an economist in high school. His first job was as an economics professor at Rutgers, then at the University of Virginia, and later as a regulator and economist at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Mr. Lereah says he was recruited to NAR in 2000 with an offer in the "healthy six figures." During the boom years, Mr. Lereah was eager to profit himself. He snapped up condos, including two in Washington in 2003 and 2004 and one each in Tampa, Richmond, Va., Alexandria, Va., and Naples, Fla. By 2006, he says, he owned six condos worth between $150,000 and $400,000 apiece.

In late 2005, the market began to fall, and in the third quarter of 2006 existing-home sales sank 12.7% from a year earlier. Mr. Lereah remained publicly upbeat, saying the market is "likely to pick up a bit" and arguing it was experiencing a "soft landing."

Soon, mainstream economists and the press were calling him out. "I thought it was criminal that he kept saying we'd reached bottom," says Ivy Zelman, former housing-market analyst at Credit Suisse and now head of her own housing-sector research firm. She says she dubbed Mr. Lereah "Mr. Liar-eah."

Mr. Lereah says he was starting to worry about the housing market and tried to tone down his optimistic comments with phrases like "we also may be seeing some fallout from a decline in subprime lending." He says his critics nevertheless "became vicious."

Mr. Lereah admits to one mistake: believing there would be no national housing crash. "I have to take the blame for that," he says. "I never thought it would be as bad as this."

In April 2007, Mr. Lereah left NAR, and after working about a year on a start-up venture, took some time off for a few months. He cruised around on his 29-foot sport-fishing boat and played golf at the country club. He eventually started consulting on the real-estate market again, this time to hedge funds and Japanese companies.

Mr. Lereah now works in a small upstairs office that doubles as an exercise room. He has started his own company, Reecon Advisors, that puts out a weekly newsletter on the housing market and provides consulting services. "I feel I have such a refreshing view now because I'm not representing any interests," says Mr. Lereah.

He charges $495 annually for the newsletter, and currently has fewer than 50 paying subscribers -- a number Mr. Lereah aims to increase to 1,500 by the end of this year.

"He's starting to make some money off it now, not much," says Mrs. Lereah. "We have an expensive lifestyle: a big house, a housekeeper once a week, college tuitions, the country club."

Mrs. Lereah, a CPA who also works at home, decided the only way she and her husband could work in the same house was if they pretended they were at outside offices. They communicate during the day by email and cellphone. Every morning, Mr. Lereah drives to a Dunkin' Donuts or McDonald's and eats in the car, just as he would have on his commute to NAR.

Mr. Lereah's real-estate portfolio has taken a hit. He says his 3,068-square-foot five-bedroom, 5½-bathroom brick house has lost about 20% of its value in the past two years. (It is worth $780,000 now, according to His condos are down, too. He now says housing prices won't recover for some time.

His successor at NAR, Lawrence Yun, however, says things might be looking up. In his latest news release, Mr. Yun says that although the pending home-sales index based on contracts signed in November fell 5.3 from a year earlier, with a "proper real-estate focused stimulus measure," home sales could rise more than expected, by more than 10%, to 5.5 million, in 2009.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Do I have your attention?

Crazy surveys come and go, in fact most are as meaningful as this blog, so much so, that if their arrival was in paper form and you'd run out of Sorbent, well at least your underwear wouldn't look like airport tarmac.

The frustrations of the digital age - you can't wipe your date with a pdf.

Some of these surveys do serve a purpose, occasionally they provide a window into the minds of the lunatics who you walk past on the street, who overtake you in your car, who sit next to you at work or manage the career of your favourite football player. Yep, this is the crazy country where mentoring a troubled seventeen year old girl means boning her and racking lines with her, and where taking out a home loan means you've got no clue what interest rate you're paying.

Welcome to Australia.

If you pay any attention to the scant numbers involved in a recent Mortgage Choice survey, barely 800, you'd disregard it as nonsense. Yet when the survey is done in a country where property is the religion and speaking ill of that religion is heresy, this survey is worth casting the beadies over a second time.

Consider it - over 25% of first home buyers without a clue of the interest rate they pay. The reality is, they don't need a clue - houses always go up, right? And you got free money for buying, who cares - you're already in front just with that purchase. According to Mum, Dad, Auntie Cath, Uncle Barry, Brad the X3 leasing real estate agent and don't forget the seven debt laden property investors who advise you at the work espresso machine each morning.

This is the property ladder - you never go down!

Even if those mysterious things known as interest rates go up - "7.85% is that how much this house is increasing in value a year?" If council rates, water and electricity bills conspire to push you to the edge - "What, you're telling me water and electricity aren't free?" And the price of petrol pushes you over the edge, you can always sell for a profit.

Like the owners of this 4x2 in Burnie...
It last sold in January 2008 for $375,000, it listed mid last year at $405,000. Six and a half months and $66k later, there's still no buyer at $349,000. It's not even at a 20% discount yet and it looks very painful. And to further twist the knife, after an apparent six week lull, where listings were treading water, they're slowly inching up again in Tasmania. Looks like it's time to sell when the kids go back to school.

The buyers are edgier, the sellers keep rising and those living costs that seemed to disappear, well they're back, as some Northern property owners found out this week when a two and a half year backlog of water charges were nailed to their doors.

As Steve said...
 Owning a vacant block in Scottsdale is like owning a rock around your neck.
I guess someone told Steve earning those capital gains was meant to be easy. Well that was last decade, when Brendan Fevola had a football career and Ricky Nixon's jerry curled mullet was cool.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Menu Planner

Monday - Robin Miller Southwestern Soup, Corn Muffins

Tuesday  - Robin Miller Mexican Spaghetti, Salad, French Bread

Wednesday - Oven Chicken Risotto

Thursday - Night out at Wine Club!

Friday - French Dip Sandwiches, French Fries

30 Easy Decorating Ideas...

This month's Better Homes and Garden magazine has a great article on 30 easy, high-impact decorating ideas. This is a great article to reference if you are thinking of selling your home. These easy tips can make a huge difference.

Some of my favorites are #4, #5, #11 and #16.

You can get a year subscription to BHG right now for only $5.99. That's a deal!

Check back later for this week's menu planner.

Thursday, 17 February 2011


Whist on a summer sojourn of sniffing out dishonesty and downright weaseldom, I've continued to stray away from Tasmania. Apologies to my four Tasmanian fans, but when weasels have to be smoked out, you pour some diesel down the hole and light it up - then hope the weasel doesn't come for you balls.

None of this may modify anyone's behaviour, but at least if anyone stumbles in here looking for a penis enlargement in Devonport (yes, someone found me that way) they'll receive a quick lesson in ethical bypasses, before moving on and acquiring those extra inches.

Over in Adelaide it's the same game as everywhere else. Reporters who shelled out for a degree to get their foot in the door, find the only skills they're using are the ones from the first three weeks of their first semester - in their first year - and that's from one subject. Had they realised this earlier, they could have dropped out before their first census date and saved themselves three years and 15-20k.

Not only is the con being played on readers, it's being played on the gormless key bangers who wracked up that debt load to get access to Rupert's pyramid of nonsense - one day you too will get to muse on the opinion page, that's if the CEO's new girlfriend doesn't beat you to it.

But before they can pose with their serious face and get their name in bold, they have to churn out a few thousand more sausages. The meat the real estate writers are turning their attention to now, is that of the tender first home buyer - and they really want to coax that meat back into the market.

So here's another mystery bag from the Adelaide Advertiser, full of dubious content. And full marks to Benny Hyde, as the Advertiser's chief real estate sausage maker, for this one.

Leading in with the usual 'tough times for first home buyers' spiel, Ben quickly gets into creative finance to make the dream happen...
But lending institutions say that home ownership is still achievable, particularly through such methods as a guarantor or family pledge.
If the family Christmas wasn't trying enough already, imagine how more palatable you could make it by sucking your family into a vortex of debt they may never escape from. As the article went on it became more a "how-to," how to get mummy and daddy's house into one hell of a mess if there's a misstep in the market or your employment prospects take a dive. BankSA's Chris Ward stepped in with some suggestions...
"For people who are gaining financial help from their family, BankSA has a product called Family Pledge where parents or a relative can use the equity in their home to help out," he says.

"The equity in the parents' home provides additional security for a portion of the loan, without the parents actually having to provide the cash for a deposit."
But are any of these articles ever complete without the requisite youngin' fronting for the photo and chiming in about how they did it? Meet Lisa Vallely, she bought a block of land last year at Northgate in the Lightsview development. She's intending to build her first home and says the great Australian dream is still achievable.

Now Lisa doesn't look overly happy, so I hope she hasn't sat on a nail, but I can tell you where she is smiling - in her Brock Harcourts profile picture!

Notice the Brock logo in the bottom of that for sale sign... She even has a few listings in the suburb she's building her new home. Not that this is her first dance in the media, Lisa was on hand to comment to Ben Hyde when interest rates were jacked up in November...
Astute homebuyers will be prepared for the increase, including Lisa Vallely and partner Matthew Solomon, who settled last month on a block of land at Lightsview in Northgate where they are about to start building their first home.

"It's not ideal but we knew that there was an interest rate rise coming," Ms Vallely, 23, said.

"We thought that it might not have been this soon."
Time to start thinking, girly.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

They are coming...

December's ABS housing finance stats have shown their face and despite it being Valentine's Day, there's been no roses for Tasmania. While December's figures were the best month for 2010 with 994 (seven higher than March's 987), for the first time since since 1998, Tasmania spent every month of a calendar year below 1000 housing finance commitments.

And despite the relentless crystal balling of bank economists and housing propaganda outfits, the Tasmanian first home buyer is still firmly hidden inside their shell. January 2010 remained the peak month for first home buyers with 170. December being the fifth best month, behind January, March September and April.

As we're told, the first home buyers will be returning. BIS Shrapnel who has the ear of Fairfax's Jonathon Chancellor reminded everyone back in April 2010...
BIS Shrapnel expects the first-timer numbers will start to recover in the second half of this year. 
At the time that prediction was made, with only January and February being known at the time, FHB commitments looked like this:

January: 8309
February: 8504
March: 8708
April: 7532

February and March were increases on the previous month and it's doubtful the April drop would have been obvious.They rounded out the year like this:

September: 7708
October: 7353
November: 8435
December: 8586

While the middle of the year was lower than the beginning and end, it's a stretch to believe there's any recovery in those numbers; after a fall, they're back to where they were when BIS made their prediction. Never mind, John Boy Chancellor's lazy pen was back in action as he rinsed and repeated the same prediction over the weekend...
The number of first-home buyers will slowly pick up towards normal levels by the end of the year, says Angie Zigomanis of BIS Shrapnel.
While I'm more inclined to believe the second prediction makes some sense, on what basis was the first prediction even made? The need to scare some people into action, the need to keep some industry bodies happy? As I've pointed out, I'm a moron, but even I can go back and give myself an indication of what is a possibility in such circumstances, and it's not that first home buyers would be cliff diving into the market within a year of their biggest buying incentive in history.

Apologies again for the chart, but after the Rodent government's first home bribing primer in July 2000, there was some strong volume in first home buying for basically two years. From that point, first home finance commitments sunk below 10000, every month, for 35 months. Now if you applied that reasoning to the last round of first home bribery - the time of the frenzy plus 50% - you might expect a pick up around Oct 2011 - if the market hasn't already had its scrotum torn off.

While love is in the air, I thought I'd send a kiss to Michelle Hele, Courier Mail resident spruikmeister and finalist in the REIQ's best real estate report 2010 (any reference to that has been scrubbed from the REIQ site). As many would note, Michelle had her pants pulled down when she was caught writing a report suggesting first home buyers were rolling back into Queensland. Not only were her figures a mess, she used a real estate agent as the talent, presenting him as a smiling first home buyer. Thanks for the disclosure.

The ABS stats showed that finance commitments to first home buyers in Queensland fell in December, along with all other buyers.

Try spinning that one, babe.

Update: As Jimbo points out refinancing is up, which makes some of today's bluster about strong housing finance numbers the usual 'blah blah awesome blah.' Refinancing is up, 17% in NSW and 9.8% in Victoria, not as pronounced across other states, but growth in finance seems to be coming from refinancing across the country in December. Finance commitments grew by 212 in NSW, while their refinancing grew by 783. While in WA and QLD, refinancing continued to grow as finance commitments fell.

Menu Planner

Monday - Valentine's Day Dinner at home:  Black Pepper Cruster Filet with Goat Cheese & Red Chile Sauce, Shredded Potatoes, Caesar Salad  Simplified, Brownie Sundaes for Dessert!

Tuesday - King Ranch Casserole (carryover from last week)

Wednesday - Pork Tenderloin, Leftover Shredded Potatoes, Corn

Thursday - Brown Butter Gnocchi with Spinach & Pine Nuts

Thursday, 10 February 2011

$6 Update!

Sorry for the lack of posts. I have been balancing quite a few things the past few weeks...the real estate market is picking up. Spring is historically a great time to buy or sell a home. If you are thinking  about it, give me a call.

After seeing Emily A Clark's post yesterday about rediscovering Garden Ridge, I decided to take a trip for myself. And there are some deals to  be found in there, I recommended it to some of my clients that are having to furnish new homes.  There are tons of throw pillows, bar stools, vases, artwork and the most adorable outdoor chairs in bright red, green and yellow. 

I found some great fabric remnants for $5.99 each. One was 2 yards and one was 3 yards.

I decided to use the black fabric on the end of the bed bench in our bedroom. So in less than an hour and for $6 the bench went from this...

to this.....

I like the darker color up against the bed spread. The original bench had trim stapled on which I removed with a screw driver and pliers. Here are some of the in process photos....

Now on to curtains. I am going to try to make my own panels if  I can find some inexpensive fabric. I also am not in love with the prints over my bed so I am searching for something new there. 

For the yellow fabric from Garden Ridge, I am thinking of recovering my dining room chair bottoms.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

I am your father

The primary goal of any spruik is a call to arms - grab some debt and buy some bricks: NOW! Yet it's only the most feeble of mind that falls for the cheapest of lines from the guy who recently mothballed his oversized Harvey Norman shirt. The secondary goal of spruiking is the most insidious part, and the one that really sucks the oblivious over the falls.

It's the accumulation; the nonsense you've read and seen and heard. Continually building in your system until it becomes accepted fact - not because it is, but because the unrelenting BS has left a virtual skidmark on your psyche. How can you bleach that skidmark away? Unfortunately, the lessons that flush away myths usually come at the expense of your own finances.

The "gee I saved money by waiting" story, is one rarely presented by media overlords, especially when they're at the behest of real estate ad bucks. As you might have noticed, it's one story I pull the pin on and throw regularly.

On this occasion, someone wrote the first chapter, but they didn't get around to writing the sequel. And for me, the sequel is the real story. The media is only too happy to show you the dreams of the farm boy, but never wants to show you the farm boy losing his hand, having his friend frozen in carbon then taken by a bounty hunter, or discovering his father is a murderous half robot with a bad case of emphysema.

Episode V: Reality Strikes Back

At the start of November, The Advocate's Libby Bingham churned out one of those stories that has you scratching your head - "really, this is news?" Yes, a developer had built, and listed, the first of two town houses in Devonport. The going price? $950,000. Each.

It might be expected that I'd go on a Tasmania, debt, crumbling, welfare, low income, zero population growth, retail failing, listings exploding, sales crashing type rant, but hey - these people know the market...
"You ring any real estate agent and they will tell you this is the most expensive street in Devonport ... it's just back from Victoria Parade but without the busy passing traffic," he said.

Mr Fennessy and wife Brigid felt there was a gap in Devonport's new housing market at the upper level, where buyers were willing to pay for quality homes in the right location.
So, say 'hi' to the twins of  Gloucester Street...
The lead of the story was even more puzzling. A week into listing, the first town house had apparently generated a significant amount of pressure in the pants from buyers. And this wasn't just local buyers busting their zippers, those magical mainlanders were forgoing their Viagra - because these town houses were even making them horny.
DEVONPORT developer Patrick Fennessy fielded local and interstate interest in two prestige town houses with unimpeded ocean views and the premium price tag to match of $950,000, after the first home completed was listed for less than a week.
Mr Fennessy said the luxury abodes, on the corner of North Fenton and Gloucester streets, had drawn interest from potential local buyers and some from Queensland and New South Wales.
See, in my small mind, it doesn't make any sense to be yammering to the local paper about those potential buyers. If they're making all these calls, surely you're going to lasso one of them and you don't need to spruik? Of course my cynical arse said, "I'll check this one in a couple of months."

And here we are. Three months on and it seems the prank callers were up to their old tricks; it's discount time on Gloucester Street because no one's bought anything. The initial listing, the "lights on at dusk" is now asking for "offers over $800,000." Not even the YouTube voice over dude could tempt an offer.

The second listing, just onto the market, is also asking for "offers over $800,000 - this time with a different agent. I really hope that $300,000, which has disappeared across these two properties, was only fat.

Ain't this the real story? The big discounts (maybe only just beginning) the savings for buyers and now - the competition between agents. We've heard about their skills, their professionalism and why they're worth every cent. Here we have two mirror image town houses, in exactly the same location, with exactly the same price, listed with two different agents.

I'll tip my hat to anyone who can lay one of those houses off to some bozo, I'll even write a resplendent tribute to round off this trilogy - Episode VI: Return of the Agent.

But I draw the line at including ewoks.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Menu Planner

Happy Monday! Here goes....

Monday - Tilapia Piccata, Risotto, Asparagus
Tuesday - Light King Ranch Casserole
Wednesday - Macaroni Beef Bake
Thursday - French Onion Soup, Salad
Friday - Zucchini Wrapped Pork Tenderloin, Cous Cous, Green Beans

Friday, 4 February 2011

Yes, we are open!

I was halfway through another post delighting in the revelation of a spruiking attempt turned to dust, when my ADHD kicked in. Flicking through 80 something channels didn't curb my restlessness, it led me back to the computer, over to and into the Courier Mail's website.

The post I was working on is now is pushed back a day or so - nothing urgent - I can't imagine anyone purchasing a couple of overblown $800k Devonport town houses in the next 24 hours anyway. And so begins this post.

If you've ever been fortunate enough to have a flasher operating in your local park, you'll know the deviancy starts on a minor level: Grannies copping an eyeful of junk and mothers scared to let their kids off the leash. All because one of the human races' more pitiful physical specimens likes to drop his shorts in public. From here the deviancy usually escalates and things become more brazen - no longer is he hiding in the bushes, he's wide in the open and now he's pulling on it.

Of course this analogy is leading me to the real estate industry; no longer are they content with simply pushing out their press releases and having them sloppily recycled by an unquestioning media. No longer are they content with finding happy home buyers to appear in their shock 'couple buys house' stories. As the market fails they become more brazen and their deviancy steps up a level, they're out there without a concern - basically pulling on it in public. 

We found out this morning, courtesy of the Courier Mail and reporter, Michelle Hele, that FIRST home buyers are slowly returning after being absent for more than a year. Michelle told us...
ABS figures this month show nationally the highest number of first home purchases since March last year. The largest number of first home buyers in November was from New South Wales with 2542 home loans approved, followed by Victoria with 2342 and Queensland with 1559.
Queensland has not recorded this level of first home buyer activity since November 2009.
Now I'm buggered if I can find any ABS housing stats out this month, so I'm guessing Michelle is still referring to the November finance stats as a whole and she's telling us Queensland has not been at this level since November 2009. So I have to ask, what the hell is she talking about? In November 2009, Queensland had 2185 first home buyers, how is 1559 buyers anywhere near that level?

Moving past the muddling of stats, which would take another 1000 words to accurately decipher, first home buyers, Ben Markwell, 23, and Elizabeth Brier-Mills, 22 were introduced. Before I had a chance to read Ben's slightly spruikish thoughts on the housing market, which were...
Mr Markwell said they decided to buy a home at Collingwood Park when they discovered it would not cost much more than renting. He said the first home buyer's grant was a great incentive to people their age.

"I think people now in their early 20s are quite interested in property. They are interested in getting their first home," Mr Markwell said.
 I stuck his name into google...

And that's Ben, in his regal looking Century 21 jacket. Cute isn't he? You could just squeeze those chubby little cheeks. See in addition to being a a first home buyer, Ben is also a real estate agent for Century 21 on Brisbane's westsiiiiiiiide. So there's little surprise he thought the first home buyers' grant was a great idea, and young people were interested in property and buying their first home. In the confidence game known as the real estate industry it's important to create the impression people are buying houses, especially when buying is at record lows. 

Now the question to be asked here - did Michelle Hele know that Ben Markwell was a real estate agent, and if so, why didn't she bother to disclose it in the article? Given her buffoonish handling of the stats, I'm not convinced she would have been sharp enough to google Ben's name before writing the article. The web then becomes a little more twisted, as the Managing Director of Century 21 Westside, Gerard Baden-Clay, makes an appearance, trying to back the claim that first home buyers are returning to the market.

Wading through this nonsense is becoming common place and those involved have either become more retarded, or just completely arrogant. The journalists involved are contemptible, but a few hundred thousand in Brisbane probably swallowed this one whole.

Not that anyone should get overly excited about the antics of Century 21, you might recall their harbinger of death for the US property market...

And another credit to Simple and Sustainable who I noticed also unearthed the same subject of this post.