Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Pop Goes The Housing Bubble

The National Association of Realtors said today that sales of previously owned homes fell in July to their lowest level in two and a half years to a 6.33 million annual rate, a 4.1% decline from June and an 11.2% drop from July sales in 2005.

In addition, the inventory of unsold homes climbed 3.2% to a record high of 3.85 million, a 7.3 month supply, the highest since April 1993.

The median home price rose just 0.9% from July of last year, the smallest year-over-year increase since May 1995. Only the South showed an increase for the median existing home price (up 3.2% from a year earlier.) The Northeast median existing home price fell 2.1% while the median existing home prices in the West and Midwest remained flat.

Last week, the National Association of Home Builders said that confidence among builders was at a 15 year low. Yesterday, the luxury home builder Toll Brothers cut its fiscal full-year earnings projection for the third time this year (down 19% this quarter) and declined to offer an estimate for the next year, which the Wall Street Journal says indicates "that the deterioration in the housing market will continue for the forseeable future." Chief Executive Robert Toll said that ""It would be difficult to characterize the position of home builders as other than in a hard landing." Toll said in his 40 years as a home builder, he has never seen a slump this bad. "I've never seen a downturn in housing without a downturn in employment or... some macroeconomic nasty condition that took housing down along with other elements of the economy," he says. "This time, you've got low unemployment, you've got job creation, you've got a stable stock market and relatively low interest rates."

In another article on the housing market published yesterday, the Wall Street Journal reported that many existing home owners looking to sell are getting hammered on prices. Since the article is behind a paywall, I'm going to excerpt a good portion of it:

HERNDON, Va. -- For years, real-estate brokers and home builders promised that the soaring property market eventually would glide to a soft landing. These optimists predicted that home prices, which had more than doubled in parts of the country between 2000 and 2005, would continue to rise, but at a more normal pace of 5% or 6% a year.

It isn't working out that way. The rapid deterioration of the market over the past 12 months has caught many homeowners and builders off guard. Some are being forced to cut prices far below what their homes could have fetched a year ago. It's too early to say how hard the landing will be, but at a minimum it will be bumpy for many people who need to sell homes. And the economy as a whole, buoyed in recent years by the housing frenzy, could suffer.

...

For some homeowners who bought as the market was peaking last year, the downturn is already creating a financial pinch.
...

Joan Guth is one homeowner who was taken by surprise. Last September, she put her stately five-bedroom home in Herndon, Va., on the market for about $1.1 million. She was confident she would get something near that price, and planned to use the proceeds to buy a retirement home in Florida. But her home in the Washington suburbs attracted few serious lookers, and in March, she cut her asking price to $899,900. Still there were no takers. Finally, on the advice of her broker, she called in an auction firm, beginning a process that would eventually reveal to her just how weak the Northern Virginia market had become.

...

Ms. Guth, whose home in Herndon, Va., had failed to attract a buyer after months on the market, eventually turned to Tranzon Fox, an auction firm based in Burke, Va. Ms. Guth had based her initial $1.1 million asking price on a 2005 appraisal of her home, which now appeared far off the mark. She and her family decided they would accept the highest bid of at least $675,000.

Kristin Eddy, a 35-year-old pediatric occupational therapist living in a town home in Reston, Va., had noticed Ms. Guth's dark-green turreted home with its wraparound verandas while riding her bike along a nearby trail. "I've had my eye on that house for a long time -- as a dream," Ms. Eddy says. When it first went on the market, it was far beyond her price range. Then she noticed the sign announcing the auction.

On the morning of Aug. 5, the auctioneer, Stephen Karbelk, set up loudspeakers on Ms. Guth's side lawn. Ms. Guth handed bottles of chilled water to the several dozen bidders and curious neighbors who showed up. "I have a whole stomach full of butterflies," Ms. Guth said.

Ms. Eddy figured her chances of winning were near zero. When the auction began, it became clear that there were only two serious bidders. Although Mr. Karbelk tried to stir excitement, the bidding petered out within minutes. Ms. Eddy was the high bidder, at $475,000.

Looking stricken, Ms. Guth and one of her sons huddled with their broker for a few minutes. Then they told the auctioneer they wouldn't accept the bid, which fell below the stipulated minimum that hadn't been revealed to bidders. The auction was over.

Ms. Guth said she would move and leave the house empty until she could sell it at a reasonable price. Late that afternoon, Ms. Eddy raised her offer to $525,000. The Guths wavered for two days before agreeing to accept about $530,000. Ms. Eddy is getting a home with five bedrooms, four full bathrooms, a half-acre lot and a three-car garage for about what some people had been paying until recently for town houses in the area.

Ms. Guth has revised her retirement plan. The disappointing auction result made it difficult for her to afford the kind of home she wanted in Florida. She has decided to buy a home in South Hill, a rural area of south-central Virginia where home prices are cheaper than they are in either Florida or the Washington suburbs. She thinks she can find a home there for $175,000 or less.

...

In April 2005, Jennifer Bloom paid about $229,000 for a condominium in Yarmouth Port on Massachusetts's Cape Cod, where her son planned to live. After his plans changed, Ms. Bloom, a software specialist for a computer company, decided early this year to sell the condo. She initially listed it at $229,000, and then gradually shaved the price to $199,000 as the market weakened. Earlier this month, she gave up on finding a buyer at a price she could bear to accept. Instead, she is renting out the condo for $1,000 a month, which she says is more than $200 below her monthly costs for mortgage payments, insurance, taxes and other items. She says she intends to hold off on selling it until the market improves.

The slump has been particularly harsh in Northern Virginia, where in recent years, large home builders have turned open fields and wooded lots into new subdivisions. Inventories of unsold homes here have risen 147% over the past year, compared to a 40% increase nationally.

Would-be sellers such as Tahir Javed, a 36-year-old management consultant, are growing frustrated. One year ago, Mr. Javed decided to move up from his town house in Ashburn, Va. He signed a contract to buy for $983,000 a four-bedroom brick colonial that a developer planned to build in nearby Leesburg. He put down a $60,000 deposit and planned to move into the new house in October 2006.

In May, Mr. Javed put his town house on the market for $499,900, which he says is far above the $212,000 he paid in 1999, but in line with asking prices for similar homes in the neighborhood. He hasn't been able to find a buyer, and the balance he owes on his new house -- about $920,000 -- is due in about six weeks.

Mr. Javed says he asked the builder for a price break, but the answer was no. He's considering cutting the asking price for his town house to slightly under $470,000, and if that doesn't work, he may try to find a renter. He had planned to use the money from selling the town house as a 20% down payment on what he owes on his new home, and to borrow the other 80%. Now he may need a bigger loan, which could carry a higher interest rate, he says. "That is the painful part," he says.

This is scary stuff for a lot of homeowners. Anecdotally I know two different people who would like to sell their existing homes but can't get the prices they want. One is trying to rent out her apartment in Minneapolis while purchasing a new apartment in Philadelphia. The other bought a new luxury home in a new development in the Minneapolis exurbs and can't sell because nobody wants to buy an existing home in an area that is full of new homes. Both of these potential sellers are stuck for now and I wonder how long it will be before they are able to sell and if they will ever get the prices they are holding out for.

Of course, the housing market downturn hurts not only homesellers and homebuilders. Both Lowes and Home Depot have reported tanking profits and real estate companies and the construction industry are starting to lay people off. Watching CNBC today, I got the feeling that these latest reports on the bursting housing bubble, coupled with lackluster retail sales during the back-to-school season, have really spooked the markets . Some analysts are now calling for 1% or 2% GDP growth in the second half of the year and outright recession early next year as a result of the downturns in consumer spending and the housing market as well as high energy prices.

But one thing I haven't seen in the latest prognosis of the housing market is what happens when some of those "fancy schmancy chancy" mortgaging schemes people took out to purchase homes move from "interest only" or "less than interest only" pay periods to full payments. If new home sales and existing home sales are already tanking and the inventory of existing homes is at an all-time high, what will happen when thousands of people start to default on their mortgages and those homes get foreclosed and thrown onto the market? Can't you see many of these people holding out for a stabilization in the housing market before they sell their homes actually seeing home prices fall even more than they already have? And what will that disaster do to the economy as a whole?

Comments:
reality-based educator, you wrote:

"This is scary stuff for a lot of homeowners."

Welcome to real estate ownership.

You wrote:
"Anecdotally I know two different people who would like to sell their existing homes but can't get the prices they want."

Then they have to adjust their views. No laws govern housing prices. The market sets the price and if the market is weak, well, that's life.

You wrote:
"Both of these potential sellers are stuck for now and I wonder how long it will be before they are able to sell and if they will ever get the prices they are holding out for."

Why is their desired sales price any more valid than the desired purchase price of the buyer?

You wrote:
"Of course, the housing market downturn hurts not only homesellers and homebuilders. Both Lowes and Home Depot have reported tanking profits and real estate companies and the construction industry are starting to lay people off."

The construction industry is experienced in the boom-and-bust cycles of real estate. Don't worry about the industry.

You wrote:
"Watching CNBC today, I got the feeling that these latest reports on the bursting housing bubble, coupled with lackluster retail sales during the back-to-school season, have really spooked the markets."

What does that mean? "Spooked the markets."

You wrote:
"Some analysts are now calling for 1% or 2% GDP growth in the second half of the year and outright recession..."

Recessions are a regular part of our economy. Fact of life. We can ease the pain of them but not eliminate them.

You wrote:

"But one thing I haven't seen in the latest prognosis of the housing market is what happens when some of those "fancy schmancy chancy" mortgaging schemes people took out to purchase homes..."

Some will have problems, others won't. You seem to suggest that creative financing is inherently bad. It isn't.

You wrote:
"If new home sales and existing home sales are already tanking and the inventory of existing homes is at an all-time high, what will happen when thousands of people start to default on their mortgages and those homes get foreclosed and thrown onto the market?"

What makes you sure so many defaults lie ahead? Meanwhile, when foreclosed homes return to the market they are bought by bargain hunters. They are not likely to sit empty. Moreover, creative financing allows people to move from one home to another even though they may be in tough financial straits.

You wrote:
"Can't you see many of these people holding out for a stabilization in the housing market before they sell their homes actually seeing home prices fall even more than they already have?

You're stuck in the "fallacy of composition" argument. When there is a general decline in housing prices, you can still sell your house -- for less than you hoped for -- and buy another house for less than you expected. In tough times people downsize their homes.

You wrote:
"And what will that disaster do to the economy as a whole?"

If you want an answer to this question look back to the 1985--1995 period of the Savings & Loan Crisis when waves of defaults spread around the country taking down the Savings & Loan industry.

What was the outcome? A boom. Meanwhile, you probably felt no impact at all from the collapse of real estate and the S&L Crisis of that period. Don't go getting all Chicken Little on this topic.
 
n_s,

Plenty of people who listened to Uncle Alan Greenspan and other professional economists cheerlead the housing boom after the 2001 recession are going to get hurt, especially those who used some of the more dubious financing schemes in order to purchase homes that they oridnarily couldn't afford. As you say repeatedly in your comment, that's their problem - no one forced them to buy and nobody told them home prices always go up.

Nonetheless, the housing bubble didn't just appear from nowhere. Uncle Alan and the Fed helped create it, helped sell it, and helped hype it. I'm not worried for all the industries that are going to go bust for the next year or so as a result of the imploding bubble. As you say, the real estate and construction industries are used to the boom/bust cycle and they'll survive. I am concerned for some of the people who believed the hype, bought in over their heads, and now are going to get crushed in the ensuing bubble implosion.

As for the economy as a whole, I see you are a former Wall Street trader, so I will defer to you on the question of whether the economy will tank partly as a result of the housing market implosion. But let me ask you this: I have read over and over how it was the housing market/consumer spending that kept the economy revving after the 2001 recession all the way to now. What replaces that? Also, what happens to unemployment rate as the retail, real estate, construction and other ancillary housing-related industries start laying off workers?

BTW, I see from your blog that you were trying to become a NYC public school math teacher. Are you working yet and if so, what has your experience been like? I would be interested to hear about it.
 
Phew! Just in the nick of time - we sold our home today, the deal is final!!!!!! We are now purchasing a home that is a big upgrade for us.

I wish all potential home sellers all the best and hope they manage to sell soon!!!!
 
I'm trying to get a sense of prices heer in Wesern Canada.
In Australia most sales are by auction, which gives quick, visible trends.
The market there is way down - lots of properties passed in or going way below bank valuation.
Grat time to buy if you have cash.
 
I'm glad to hear everything worked out for you, annonny-maus.

cartledge, I think it might be a good time to wait a year or so before buying anything here in the States. It doesn't sound like this real estate market is anywhere near bottom yet. But it doesn't matter much for me. I'm not in the market this year, I won't be in the market next year or any time soon. We've decided to rent rather than buy a shitty apartment in NYC that we don't much like living in.
 
reality, you wrote:

"Plenty of people who listened to Uncle Alan Greenspan and other professional economists cheerlead the housing boom after the 2001 recession are going to get hurt, especially those who used some of the more dubious financing schemes in order to purchase homes that they oridnarily couldn't afford."

Really! How do you know this? More importantly, do you understand that people take risks and sometimes the risk sinks them?

In short, I think you're rather new to the real world of economics. Your characterization of Greenspan as a huckster for homebuilders is amusing, but wildly inaccurate. He's probably best known for uttering the phrase "irrational exuberance" many years before the stock market and housing markets peaked. If anything, he advocated caution and clearheadedness over plunging ahead without regard for the risks. But as a neophyte in the world of finance, you seem to have ignored these pertinent facts.

You wrote:

"As you say repeatedly in your comment, that's their problem - no one forced them to buy and nobody told them home prices always go up."

That's reality. Moreover, housing prices, in New York City, have always risen -- given some time. Following the 1987 stock market crash, hysteria over falling real estate prices was rampant. Looking back, the period between 1987 and 2004 was a great time to buy. There were minor inflection points within that span when buying was especially smart.

You wrote:

"Nonetheless, the housing bubble didn't just appear from nowhere."

Bubble? The only people holding real estate that would sell for less than the last sale bought property in the last year or two.

You wrote:
"Uncle Alan and the Fed helped create it, helped sell it, and helped hype it."

You clearly do not know much about the Federal Reserve Bank or the role of its chairman. The human beings who make important decisions about money and credit on behalf of the US government and the citizens of the US are not scam artists out to defraud homebuyers. However, your rhetoric suggests you believe otherwise.

You wrote:

"I'm not worried for all the industries that are going to go bust for the next year or so as a result of the imploding bubble."

There will be no unusual wave of bankruptcies in the coming year or two. Moreover, you also don't understand that bankruptcy isn't failure. It is merely a strategy for dealing with financial difficulty.

You wrote:
"I am concerned for some of the people who believed the hype, bought in over their heads, and now are going to get crushed in the ensuing bubble implosion."

No hype came from federal government sources. If people were seduced by promises of real estate wealth from companies offering financing, well, that is their problem. Nobody knows when prices of anything reach a peak and begin a retreat. Many people have worked for companies whose products have become obsolete and are unmarketable at any price. Does anyone buy records anymore? Adding machines? Or a thousand other products made obsolete by technology?

You wrote:

"As for the economy as a whole, I see you are a former Wall Street trader..."

No. I was an equity and credit ANALYST for many years. Never a trader, and there is a big difference.

You added:
"...so I will defer to you on the question of whether the economy will tank partly as a result of the housing market implosion."

The housing market is slowing. We do not live in an era of banking regulations that is likely to lead to an "implosion". Nothing unusual is ahead, but perhaps we will experience an economic contraction. That's not a disaster despite your attempts to make it seem so.

YOu asked:
"But let me ask you this: I have read over and over how it was the housing market/consumer spending that kept the economy revving after the 2001 recession all the way to now. What replaces that?"

Nothing replaces it. Will you stop buying food or paying your mortgage or rent as a result of an economic slowdown? No. Of course not. Assuming you are a teacher, you have no worries about the continuity of your paycheck. People always pay for what is essential and cut back wherever they can when forced. There's nothing unreasonable about that.

You wrote:
"Also, what happens to unemployment rate as the retail, real estate, construction and other ancillary housing-related industries start laying off workers?"

If layoffs exceed hiring, the unemployment rate rises. These things happen every day, but you express endless amazement and concern that such disturbances over issues that have always been part of life in this country.
 
Greenspan dropped interest rates to 1%, n_s. What was the effect of that on the real estate market? Did Greenspan not know what effect historically low interest rates would have on the real estate market and the economy? Was the housing bubble not INTENTIONALLY created by the Fed in order to rev the economy up after the Tech bubble burst and the 2001 recession?

Also, home values can and have dropped in NYC, albeit for short periods of time. Try the 1970's (when the city was bankrupt and many neighborhoods were deteriorating) when the coop market tanked and the early 1990's (when Dinkins was running the city, the murder rate was over 2,300 a year, and the city's unemployment rate reached 13%.) Home values also dropped in LA County in the early to mid 1990's as well. They recovered, yes, but for those who had to sell when they were down...
 
reality, later I'll respond in some depth to your last post.

However, in short, it's clear you're new to the world of economics and finance.

You should know, however, that the Fed controls only short-term interest rates -- not long-term mortgage rates.

Mortgage rates are totally driven by market forces. Meanwhile, the decision to raise or lower the short-term Fed Funds rate is based on many variables, not the single variable of home-buying.

Since the slant of your comments suggests we live amid corruption, could you identify a country that exemplifies your ideals?
 
The Fed's control over short-term interest rates has no influence on long-term rates? Then how come the Fed seemed so upset when they were raising short-term rates every time they met last year and long-term rates kept falling?
 
It isn't working out that way. The rapid deterioration of the market over the past 12 months has caught many homeowners and builders off guard.

Here in Babylon by the Bay we haven't seen the full effect of the downturn yet. Prices are still going up modestly; Demand still outstrips supply (though not by much) since the only new units coming into market are in the $1M+ range. I am now so glad I didn't do anything rash with the financing when we purchased our flat.
 
Prices for studios and one bedrooms in Manhattan are up just a little bit in most neighborhoods, flat in just a few from last year. Prices for two and three bedrooms are down from July of last year everywhere around Manhattan. As for the rest of the boroughs, it depends on the neighborhoods. Most prices are flat or falling to a friend of mine in real estate. That'a anecdotal, but still...

I have a friend who purchased a studio in Brooklyn last year with an ARM. He's having trouble making ends meet right now and he's still paying low interest. He expects to sell his place for more than he paid for it before his ARM switchs to regular payments and history would say that he's right. But there were times in NYC when real estate values fell and if his ARM switches to regular payments during one of those anomalies, he's screwed. I hope it works out for him, of course. But he's not the only one in that boat and people much more knowledge about economics than I (like Atrios, Paul Krugman, Robert Reich, etc.) say there are reasons to be concerned. Since I trust all three of those men, I'll trust that whhat they say has some validity.
 
reality, you wrote:

"The Fed's control over short-term interest rates has no influence on long-term rates? Then how come the Fed seemed so upset when they were raising short-term rates every time they met last year and long-term rates kept falling?

First, the Fed does not express its views in emotional terms. Its comments, which are carefully crafted by the members of the Federal Open Market Committee, usually address the Fed's chief concern, which is inflation.

Second, you mentioned the Fed's "influence" on interest rates. Meanwhile, I used the term "control". Very different.

The Fed controls the Fed Funds rate, which is the overnight rate for loans between member banks.

OVERNIGHT RATE. That's about as short-term as lending gets. Mortgages are mainly based on long-term treasury bond rates -- that often means 30-year bonds. Though the official benchmark was shifted to the 10-year bond a while ago.

In 1981, short-term Treasury rates reached 21%. At the same time, 30-year rates were 15%.

Though unusual, inverted rate curves occur.

Yes, the short-term rate -- through a variety of mechanisms -- has some impact on longer-term rates. But it's never known how much impact or influence exists.

The spread between short-term and long-term rates makes this very clear. Sometimes that spread is 3 or 4 percentage points, and sometimes it's much much less.

Why? Because long-term rates fluctuate mainly with the demand for loans and the risk profile of the borrower.
 
reality, you wrote:

"He expects to sell his place for more than he paid for it before his ARM switchs to regular payments and history would say that he's right. But there were times in NYC when real estate values fell and if his ARM switches to regular payments during one of those anomalies, he's screwed."

YOu're saying he speculated on real estate and his speculation might not work out. That happens.

Long term, the stock market goes up. But plenty of individual stocks don't. Is this news?

Real estate is similar, but in NYC, where land will always remain scarce, there are fewer risks -- unless you simply agreed to pay more than you can afford to finance your purchase.
assuming the lender isn't fraudalent, this problem is the buyer's.

You wrote:
"I hope it works out for him, of course. But he's not the only one in that boat and people much more knowledge about economics than I (like Atrios, Paul Krugman, Robert Reich, etc.) say there are reasons to be concerned. Since I trust all three of those men, I'll trust that whhat they say has some validity."

Paul Krugman is obviously your guy. He hates Bush with such energy that it's clear he's sickened himself with his own bile.

Economists are always happiest when they can spread doom and gloom. They are in the business of predicting changes in the economic winds. Sometimes they are right. But their track records are no better than those of weathermen.

They are much better explaining what has already happened rather than predicting what is to come.
 
n_s, this is going nowhere. Judging from our various dialogues so far, I'm not going to convince you of anything and you are not going to convince me of anything. This discussion is now pointless. Good luck to you.
 
reality, you wrote:

"Also, home values can and have dropped in NYC, albeit for short periods of time."

No one ever said home prices have been on a one-way climb.

You wrote:
"Try the 1970's (when the city was bankrupt and many neighborhoods were deteriorating) when the coop market tanked and the early 1990's (when Dinkins was running the city, the murder rate was over 2,300 a year, and the city's unemployment rate reached 13%.)"

Take note that none of those troublesome local scenarios you mentioned were tied to the Federal Reserve.

Meanwhile, NYC was never bankrupt, but it was close. However Felix Rohatyn developed the MAC Bond -- the Municipal Assistance Corporation Bond -- to get the city through a period when tax revenue was down, crime was up and people were moving to the suburbs in droves.

You wrote:
"Home values also dropped in LA County in the early to mid 1990's as well. They recovered, yes, but for those who had to sell when they were down..."

Yes, that's true. My brother-in-law bought a huge house -- it was in foreclosure -- in LA for about $900K. Now he's getting divorced and selling the house -- for more than $3 million even though the market is down. Do you feel sorry for him?
 
reality, you wrote:

"n_s, this is going nowhere. Judging from our various dialogues so far, I'm not going to convince you of anything and you are not going to convince me of anything. This discussion is now pointless."

If you were presenting a point of view based on a relatively factual basis, I might agree that we've reached a stalemate.

But, based on what you've written, you think facts are whatever you say they are. Your claims about virtually every subject you've addressed are based on your opinions rather than something of substance.

Liberal thinkers have something to say. But people who claim whatever pops into their heads is truth aren't engaging in debate or dialogue or hashing out of issues. They are simply spouting off. That's you.

I have shared very few of my opinions. But I've supplied the basic facts that you lack regarding most of the situations you've addressed.

Your willingness to say anything wouldn't matter much if you were just a guy operating a blog. But you are a teacher. Thus, I'm concerned that your total disregard for fact and your total embrace of liberal orthodoxy influences your classroom activities.
 
n_s, your superior knowledge and grasp of facts, economics and indeed life has won me over. I bow down to you as the God you undoubtedly are. I am not worthy to blog, teach or even live in the face of such greatness as yours. All hail no_slappz!!! All hail no_slappz!!!
 
reality, you wrote:

"n_s, your superior knowledge and grasp of facts, economics and indeed life has won me over. I bow down to you as the God you undoubtedly are. I am not worthy to blog, teach or even live in the face of such greatness as yours. All hail no_slappz!!! All hail no_slappz!!!"

Is that the best you can do? You owe it to your students to improve your critical thinking skills and understand the difference between fact, opinion, conjecture and fiction.
 
There's no point in having a dialogue with you, n_s. You're not here for a dialogue. Your here to insult, bully and prop up your own ego by telling nyc educator and me and all the other "liberals" how ignorant and stupid we are. That's cool. I hope this exercise in ego-inflation makes you feel better about yourself.
 
reality, you wrote:

"There's no point in having a dialogue with you, n_s. You're not here for a dialogue."

I was looking for intelligent opinions rather than people willing to write anything and present their wild-eyed thoughts as fact.

Meannwhile, you are clearly no looking for "dialogue". You're looking for a cheering section, your own Greek choir and a audience of sycophants. That's not dialogue. So once again, you fail to get it right.

You wreote:
"Your here to insult, bully and prop up your own ego by telling nyc educator and me and all the other "liberals" how ignorant and stupid we are."

You operate a website, a blog, a public forum in which you present yourself as a pundit, a person with a point of view and you exercise your willingness to stand up in public and broadcast your thoughts.

You have thrown yourself into the free market of ideas. Free Market of Ideas. That means you will have supporters who see it your way and opponents who will question every word you write.

But you aren't comfortable in a free market of ideas. You clearly dislike someone pointing out your inability to separate fact from you own fiction.

I've been a published financial writer for many years. Over the years I've been praised and criticized.

If you're going to write for public consumption -- as you do -- you should expect some heat. You especially, because you present fiction as fact. No editor would sign off on a lot of what you've written here because so much of it violates basic standards of journalism.

That could be something as simple as stating the Clinton article was 3,000 words, rather than 1,992. You said it was 3,000 words, a definite number, which suggests you checked the word count.

Your willingness to make definitive statements without checking their accuracy shows your complete disregard for fact.

You might have described the article as "long", and let it go at that. But, to support the point you thought you were making, you said it was 3,000 words.

Then there is the matter of actually comprehending what was written. You completely misread the article. It was pretty much a Mother's Day card to Hill and Bill from the NY Times. The only thing shocking was that such a puff piece appeared on the front page as was presented as news.

Anyway, if you weren't so thin-skinned, you might learn something from critics of your stream-of-consciousness expostulations. I've received plenty of nasty criticism from readers.

Guess what? Sometimes they're right. Sometimes you have to admit you got something wrong or overlooked an important fact or two. Big deal. Nothing improves one's writing faster than comments from people who can deconstruct it and nail its shortcomings.
 
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