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Small World

I’ve heard a few stories, large and small, about how the recent turmoil is effecting the global financial markets that I’d like to tell you about. Together, they paint a picture of just what can go wrong when too much is never enough.

First, the small story. Our city, Saint Paul Minnesota USofA, has an ordinance that requires vacant properties to be registered. Once a property is listed as vacant, the rules regarding problems at the site become rather strict. We don’t want vacant homes attracting kids, drug dealers, and anyone else who would find such a place useful or too much fun. It’s all about experience with these � difficulties in the past.

The recent wave of foreclosures has turned some neighborhoods into desperate ghost towns, so the city is cranking up the enforcement. The first step is to find out who owns a property, and that can be hard enough after foreclosure. So the notices blaring “Potential Summary Abatement” are being sent out quickly – that translates as “We’re gonna get a bulldozer to thwack this thing down if you don’t call us”. It gets people’s attention, and they call. Hi, how are you?

One such notice was responded to by Allianz in Frankfurt. Apparently, the German Bank/Insurer/Controller-of-Destiny wound up with a property right here. Right here in river city! You know we have trouble with a capital “T” and that rhymes with “G” and that stands for globalism!

No on has said what the boyz in Frankfurt want to do with the house they own here. It is about six time zones away, after all.

But the recent meltdown is more than just one li’l property here in Saint Paul. I’d like you to skim this little article here if you think that 1929 is just distant history:

I’ll give you the highlights. Our markets simply ran out of cash when the real estate collapse hit hard, and they started borrowing wherever they could get it. The London InterBank Overnight Rate (LIBOR) is hitting new highs as everyone seeks out cash from the this stable, overseas source. This rattles everyone over there, and they have to borrow from someone else. And do it goes around the world – great honking waves of panic.

Through all of this, what is breaking down the most is what we call “interbank lending”. What that means is that the normal process of banks evening things out by spotting each other a little bit until the end of the week isn’t happening, because no one has anything to get to the end of week. Anywhere in the world. The bottom line is that it gets awfully hard to put together next week until you have that figured out, and if it gets to the point where they can’t do it, there isn’t any next week. They all get to go home broke.

So far, it’s held together – but just barely. It has everyone scared, and even those with a few bills to spot someone next week are getting a heft rate for it. We borrow from the Brits, who get their from the Germans, who hit the Koreans, and so on � until the Koreans have no one to ask but us. Whadda we got? Properties in Saint Paul at closeout prices!

Too much is just never enough, is it?

6 thoughts on “Small World

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