The View From The Golden Dome

Views on the week's events plus some of mine.

Les Berman Weekly 7-25 Winken And Blinken, Cheesy Stuff, and Manassas Junction

So… here’s what I do know. I know that Winken and his twin Blinken struck out again according to the courts. I know that Carmageddon was a non-event because people actually listened to the warnings. And I know that 3 out of 4 people who I talk to actually can get a mortgage on their home ! And I know the little children in Washington still cannot play nicely.

Happy last week of July!

Tell me something. If someone gave you $65 Million dollars to go away, would you take it and shut up? Or would you continue to spend millions in legal costs to see if you could get a few ounces more? The Winkelvoss twins continue to strike out in court, their lawyers are making major bank, and the Winkie’s stock settlement from Facebook is now worth about $200 Million. Boys… shut up and hibernate. You could not, in your lifetime, make this kind of money. I would guess that even if you invest wisely (and based on what I’ve read so far, you could not possibly make that happen), you won’t make multiples of this money. Not even with your daddy’s help. Twins – shut the F up and go away. You’re already a joke. Don’t make it worse.

Carmageddon – a non-event thanks to excellent planning by all parties concerned. Let’s do this again every month and keep cars off the freeways. Except for mine (and maybe yours).

Don’t believe everything you hear about problems getting a mortgage. As I said above, 3 of 4 people that I talk to, can get a loan. So what’s different. Paperwork. More of it. And lots of it. So what – fax it, scan it, send it to me. I’m doing a couple of loans right now on income properties. The borrower has been supplying all the paperwork. He said that this is a tougher process than he can remember in the last 25 years. Guess what – he will get his loan because he’s following the bouncing ball. We now have loans for investors who bought houses with cash – and we can get their cash back now. Residential loans – new programs are arriving virtually every week. Don’t assume (that’s a bad word) anything. Call me at 818.305.4695 and ask…we’ll figure it out. Remember, if you don’t ask, you don’t get !!

The children in Washington are continuing to fight and argue. It’s time for their mommies to come outside and spank them both for not getting along. Oh shut up!!  – a little corporal punishment never hurt anyone for a long time. How did we get to the impasse! We can blame the voters for believing the lies that politicians will tell to get elected. That’s sort of like a guy (or gal) in a bar saying whatever is necessary to bring the evening to … Enough.  I think it would be really cool if the politicians were mandated to follow through on their promises within two years or resign. Permanently. From all political offices. Forever. And that should include everyone all the way to the top!

I was reading an excerpt from a book “Liberty and Tyranny” by Mark. R. Levin. The section on TARP funds had a chart showing nine of the costliest events in American history. And your divorce settlement was not one of them, regardless of what you still think.


And the entire cost of World War II to the US was $288 billion, or $3.6 Trillion when adjusted for inflation. Fascinating numbers. I wonder when the final accounting is done, where TARP will be on that list. About three years ago, I received an email that showed how to solve the jobs, real estate, and auto crisis easily. It went something like this – give every adult in the US, $1 Million on the condition that they buy a home, buy an American made car, and start a business employing people. I don’t remember the rest of the email but I wonder if someone would be able to analyze what effect that actually would have had on the economy. Of course, they would need to get a Federal grant to do the study!

A teacher told me that in June, a rubber band pistol was confiscated from her algebra class, because it was a weapon of math disruption.

The European situation seems to be settling down, for now. The US dollar continues to sag. I guess that should help manufacturing companies in the US, if there were any. There certainly won’t be any in California. The minute someone sets foot in this state, the ‘revenooers’ are after them. If it wasn’t for the weather, who would actually want to live here. Our education system ranks in the bottom five in the country, while our taxes are likely in the top 5. Quality of life … nah. The entertainment industry is spread all over the country, and movies are filmed everywhere. Corporate offices are here. Because the weather is great! Is there a solution? I really don’t have one. I would love for you to propose a couple of ideas. Please email them to me – and please be nice ! I’ll include some of your responses next week.

And please remember that I’m a mortgage advisor – I make sure people can refinance or buy a new home. I would like your business. Call me today at 818.305.4695.

Do you feel cheesy sometimes? Get this — a friend of mine with his wife, won major culinary prizes for making the best grilled cheese sandwiches. Yes.. really !! So, he licensed his recipes and here is the cheesy deal. On JULY 28TH, AT 7:00 P.M., Iron Chef Champion and host of numerous shows on the Food Network, Chef Eric Greenspan, will be debuting his new grilled cheese menu at the Foundry on Melrose, 7465 Melrose Avenue. Chef Greenspan’s new grilled cheese menu will include 8 sandwiches, including his grilled cheese that won the 2008 Grilled Cheese Invitational and has been featured on several Food Networks shows. Chef Greenspan will also be introducing 4 different dessert grilled cheeses, called “Cake and Mivens,” two of which won the Grilled Cheese Invitational in 2009 and 2011. Cake and Mivens are not your average grilled cheeses: different versions of Cake and Mivens include cookie dough, doughnuts, and (of course) cake. This is a cocktail-party styled event with the grilled cheese sandwiches being served via tray pass, so that attendees will be able to sample each of the 8 different grilled cheeses.

Hope to see you all there. This should be a great event both socially and for networking purposes. Also, this is an open invite–all are welcome. I will see you there.

Have a great week !


Berman’s Factoids of the Week:

Have you noticed since everyone has a camcorder or video on their phone these days, no one talks about seeing UFOs like they used to?

Whenever I feel blue, I start breathing again.


First California Mortgage
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Les Berman CMC
Les Berman CMC
Senior Mortgage Advisor
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Les Berman CMC
For the week of Jul 25, 2011 — Vol. 9, Issue 30
In This Issue… sym_arrow.gif
Last Week in Review: You could feel the heat last week, both around the country and in Washington DC, as the debt ceiling debate raged on.

Forecast for the Week: Earnings season continues, plus reports on housing, the economy, and how the consumer is feeling.

View: Flying the skies just got friendlier, thanks to these new rules.

Last Week in Review sym_arrow.gif
“The heat is on,” The title of that Glenn Frey song not only applied to the sweltering temperatures around much of the nation last week, it also applied to the debt ceiling debate, as the heat was on our leaders in Washington to finalize a solution to our debt situation. Why is this important? Read on for details.

It only takes a look at what is happening in Europe these days to understand why it’s crucial that the United States finds a solution to the debt ceiling issue. Not only have eight European banks recently failed a stress test, but last week there was news that Greek, Italian, Portuguese, and French “credit default swaps” (which are insurance policies against default) were trading at record levels. While the European Union is continuing to work to contain Europe’s debt problems and prevent a default in Greece (and elsewhere), these events bode a very important lesson for the US.

Why? Because solving our debt ceiling debate and finding a long-term plan for lowering our deficit and being fiscally sound will raise confidence in our debt and help the US keep its AAA credit rating from the various credit rating firms like Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s. This will help investors continue to see the US as the ultra safe haven for their money, which is a key aspect of our continued economic recovery.

Speaking of our economic recovery, there was some good news last week for the housing sector, as June Housing Starts and Building Permits were both reported better than expected. While this is only one number and one number doesn’t make a trend, this is a good figure, and I will be watching closely for follow through in future readings.

If you’ve been thinking about buying or refinancing a home, give me a call at 818.305.4695 or send me an emailto learn how you can take advantage of home loan rates that remain near some of the best levels we’ve seen this year. Or please forward this newsletter on to someone you know who may benefit.

Forecast for the Week sym_arrow.gif
Earnings season continues, with reports from 3M, Ford, and Exxon, among others. Plus, a busy week is ahead when it comes to economic reports. Look for:

  • On Tuesday we’ll get an idea about how people are feeling about the economy with the Consumer Confidence Report.
  • Tuesday also brings a report on New Home Sales, which will be followed by the Pending Home Sales Report on Thursday.
  • Thursday also brings another weekly Initial and Continuing Jobless Claims Report. Last week’s Initial Jobless claims came in at 418,000, above the 400,000 mark for the 15th consecutive week. This leading indicator on job market health tells us that the labor market pains have not subsided.
  • Rounding out the week is a double read on the state of the economy with Wednesday’s Durable Goods Orders, which gives us an update on consumer and business buying behavior on big-ticket items, and Friday’s Gross Domestic Product Report, which is the broadest measure of economic activity.

Remember: Weak economic news normally causes money to flow out of Stocks and into Bonds, helping Bonds and home loan rates improve, while strong economic news normally has the opposite result.

As you can see in the chart below, uncertainty in Washington and overseas caused volatility and anxiety in the markets last week, which put pressure on the Bond market and home loan rates. But remember, rates are still very attractive right now. Let me know if I can answer any questions for you.


Chart: Fannie Mae 4.0% Mortgage Bond (Friday Jul 22, 2011)
Japanese Candlestick Chart
The Les Berman Weekly View… sym_arrow.gif
New Passenger-Friendly Rules for Air Travel

New rules will also raise compensation if you’re bumped.

By Susannah Snider,

When Jacqueline Tanzella flew from San Francisco to Florida recently for a family vacation, she paid $25 for Delta Airlines to check her bag. She landed around midnight; her suitcase didn’t. Tanzella made it through the night by borrowing pajamas from an aunt and a new Superman toothbrush from her nephew. But she wasn’t happy. “I didn’t pay a $25 fee only to be inconvenienced by not having my bag until the next morning,” she says. “Most retailers would reimburse me or give me a credit in a situation like this.”

Baggage fees are getting scrutiny in expanded airline passenger protections announced by the Department of Transportation. One rule requires airlines to reimburse bag-check fees if your luggage is lost. That won’t help fliers like Tanzella, whose bags are merely delayed, and some experts are grumbling that the protections lack bite. “It is only incremental improvement,” says Rick Seaney, of The new protections will also increase the amount that airlines must pay passengers who are involuntarily bumped (from a maximum of $800 now to a maximum of $1,300), limit the time international flights may sit on the tarmac, and require taxes and fees to be more clearly displayed in advertised fares.

Expect some negative side effects. For instance, less overbooking by airlines to avoid higher “bump” fees could put upward pressure on fares, says’s Brett Snyder. The new rules go into effect in August.

Reprinted with permission. All Contents ©2011 The Kiplinger Washington Editors.
Economic Calendar for the Week of July 25-29, 2011

Remember, as a general rule, weaker than expected economic data is good for rates, while positive data causes rates to rise.

Economic Calendar for the Week of July 25 – July 29

Economic Report
Tue. July 26
Consumer Confidence
Tue. July 26
New Home Sales
Wed. July 27
Durable Goods Orders
Wed. July 27
Beige Book
Thu. July 28
Jobless Claims (Initial)
Thu. July 28
Pending Home Sales
Fri. July 29
Chicago PMI
Fri. July 29
Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
Fri. July 29
GDP Chain Deflator
Fri. July 29
Employment Cost Index (ECI)
Fri. July 29
Consumer Sentiment Index (UoM)
The material contained in this newsletter is provided by a third party to real estate, financial services and other professionals only for their use and the use of their clients. The material provided is for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as investment and/or mortgage advice. Although the material is deemed to be accurate and reliable, we do not make any representations as to its accuracy or completeness and as a result, there is no guarantee it is without errors.
As your trusted advisor, I am sending you the LES BERMAN WEEKLY because I am committed to keeping you updated on the economic events that impact interest rates and how they may affect you.



And now for Lou Barnes :


Markets lurched from nowhere to nowhere this week, waiting for deals. Or no deals, or to see what kind.

The deal watch deflected attention from the economy, which after all is the whole point of the show. New data said a lot by saying nothing. The Philly Fed index, new unemployment, sales of existing homes, starts of new homes, home prices, mortgage applications — all flat. Neither sinking back into recession nor going anywhere.

Goldman announced lousy earnings, having retreated from trading risk. If they don’t feel like taking risk, who should? And after its IPO, silly Zillow is worth a billion bucks — no profit, no recognizable business plan, but if it’s tech, fruitcakes will buy the stock.

The markets told us what to think about pending deals. On Tuesday, when it looked as though a big US budget deal was back on, deep spending cuts and some revenue raised, stocks jumped 200 Dow points, and interest rates fell, the 10-year T-note almost breaking two months’ resistance at 2.88%. These two markets typically trade against each other, stocks-better/rates-worse. Stocks-better/rates-better… that’s big. Reflects not just market pleasure at a deal, but the right kind: curtail Treasury borrowing immediately, take the heat off rates, inflation, and the Fed.

The arguments in favor of more spending stimulus, jobs programs, infrastructure, whatever, appear to markets as creative procrastination. Time to bite the bullet.

Then, market reaction exposed this new Euro-deal. Briefly on Thursday it looked as though Europe was throwing in together, making authentic progress toward financial union, and cash came out of bond-market safety and poured into stocks.

Optimism did not survive the day. The new “plan” is hyper-complex gobbledeygook, through it all just more of the same. Cut Greek-Irish-Portugese interest rates enough to let them gasp for air every few minutes, but otherwise hold ‘em under water. Add a dangerous demand for private-sector losses, and pile on more debt. This newest can-kick may defer chaotic breakdown for a month or a year, but bet on sooner than later.

Here in the US, we have a tremendous wrestling-match under the blankets. Taking a page from the NFL book, the parties have largely shut up — a great benefit to negotiations, but frustrating to those awaiting sacrifice in the arena. Which of us will be called, sent to lions?

Mr. Obama is terrible at this. He was a disinterested Senator who disliked the process and the players. No deal of this magnitude ever gets done without the President putting his future on the line, yet Mr. Obama seems to think a deal will come from Congress, like feathers from a turkey. Mercifully, Joe Biden knows the process cold, and revels in it. John Boehner has shown more character and care than anyone knew, maybe enough to overcome the deficits among his compatriots.

A forceful change during the week: the threat by S&P and Moody’s to cut the United States’ AAA rating even if there is a deal. If it’s not big enough, nor serious and enforceable, we go to AA and havoc. I don’t think either the President or the Congressional Tea Party want that on their resumes. There are limits to blaming the other’s intransigence, and this one helps.

The worst-possible outcome is a raised debt ceiling, no budget deal, and deferral of a disastrous deficit to an election duel next year, shotguns at ten paces, the American people in the middle. If we will not limit our borrowing, the markets will — a certain road to higher rates and a choked-off economy.

Last… passing yesterday unremarked by any major media was the 150th anniversary of the bloody collision of 60,000 Americans near Manassas Junction and Bull Run creek, the first real battle of the Civil War. As defeated Union soldiers streamed back into Washington, the reality of a long, hard war arrived with them.

Those demoralized by our temporary difficulty with self-governance, struggling with mere money, might mark yesterday’s occasion by remembering our strength in serious trial, and ability to join together and to heal.

by: Lou Barnes




July 24, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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