The View From The Golden Dome

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

Dinos, Unions, and Donkeys – Les Berman Weekly 9-18

September is half done and 2011 is 2/3 done. What happened? The Enterprise was unveiled 35 years ago. The UAW settles with GM – and that’s a great and logical outcome. And there was a huge donkey flight last week – no it wasn’t a nickname. And Fannie and Freddie keep moving along towards destroying mortgage availability for 17 MILLION homeowners across the country. And a wonderful actress passes at 92.

It was a big week!

Can you believe that it was 1976 when the spaceship Enterprise was rolled out of the Palmdale manufacturing facility and marked the beginning of the space shuttle era. Yes, Spock, Scotty and Lt. Uhura were on hand for the occasion. And now, we have marked the end of the shuttle era. I wonder what is next up. Is there money in the budget for continuation of the space program? I sure hope so. Our kids and future generations will learn and profit from space exploration. And while we’re on the Enterprise, did you know about the Kona Tehachapi Donkey flight.

Yes, really! Apparently there are a lot of donkeys on Kona. They were used on the coffee plantations but then abandoned and set free after WWII because vehicles were more available. So they multiplied and multiplied. And then a donkey rescue group showed up. And the donkeys were flown from Kona to California for re-settlement near Tehachapi prior to sale. And here’s something I’ll bet you never knew – jenny and jack are the names of the female and male donkeys. And the males paid the price prior to relocation. Yup, they were cut off at the …. ouch !! If you want a donkey, check with the Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue near Tehachapi.

And congratulations to the UAW and GM for agreeing on a contract. Everyone wins when strikes are avoided. And now we have the supermarket workers threatening to walkout. Many years ago when I lived in Vancouver, Canada, an airline was struck. I don’t remember exactly how long they were out but I recall that it was weeks. The victory for the strikers – a wage increase of two cents an hour. One of the newspapers calculated how long it would take to recoup the lost wages with the two cent an hour win. The answer was — forever. The strikers would retire before they could catch up with their wage win. And supermarket workers – I’ll bet there are tens of thousand of currently unemployed people who will cross the lines to work. Bottom line – I sure hope both sides settle quickly. A strike would not be a wise job action today.

Frances Bay, an actress on radio, TV, and film died last week at 92. You might have seen her as Fonzie’s grandmother, or the marble rye lady on Seinfeld, or as Grandma on Adam Sandlers breakout movie, Happy Gilmore. You knew her as an actress. I knew her as a cousin and great lady.

Dinosaurs have fascinated the male of the species forever. I learned about dinos likely when I was 4 or 5. And we continue to be fascinated with the subject. As do our kids and grandkids. So here are two quick dino finds. In Maryland, a fossil hunter found the fossilized remains of a nodosaur hatchling, an armored dinosaur. And at the University of Alberta, in Edmonton (Canada), a grad student looking through the university’s amber collection, finds dinosaur feathers embedded in a number of amber pieces. Just more room for discovery – and to keep the kids (and us) entertained.

Fannie and Freddie are going to kill what’s left of a failing real estate sales market. The planned reduction in maximum loan limits in LA, Orange counties, and other parts of California as well, has already slammed home sales. Three top agents have told me that they are out of listings. Two real estate office managers have told me that sales in their office are down 34% and 46% from same time last year. Yes, rates are great and I’m really busy with refi’s. The economy is helped more with sales. So, you know I’m a mortgage loan originator. Take advantage of the opportunity – and call me today at 818.305.4695 or send me an email .

Interesting quote came across my email – “If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara   Desert, in five years there’d be a shortage of sand.”      Milton Friedman

I don’t understand how a big bank can allow someone to trade the bank into a $2 BILLION . UBS in London just took this hit. So now they’re looking at some kind of trading oversight. OK, we call that closing the barn doors after the cows have escaped. I’m curious about how much, in the overall scheme of things, UBS will lose as a result of his trades. How much do they make in a year of trading? Will the profit / loss even out and just have a minor impact on earning, or what? I can’t conceive of trading a $2 Billion loss – or even $100,000 loss. The numbers are too huge. But I’d like to give it a go – trading with someone else’s money, as long as I get a share of the profits. That’s not too much to ask, is it?

Also, I now have a conduit for commercial loans of all kinds – real estate, business, purchase order financing etc. Same phone number – 818.305.4695. 

Remember, no matter how much you push the envelope, it’ll still be stationery. And, when cannibals ate a missionary, they got a taste of religion.

Have a better week.



Berman’s Factoids of the Week:

Jellyfish are 99% water. (I guess the other 1% are the stingers that hurt).

The first Japanese flag displayed in the US was by Sony Corp – in 1962 !


First California Mortgage
Provided to you Exclusively
Les Berman CMC
Les Berman CMC
Senior Mortgage Advisor
NMLS ID # 227675
First California Mortgage
Office: 310-271-1588
Cell: 818-305-4695
Fax: 877-707-8823
Les Berman CMC

Forecast for the Week sym_arrow.gif

This week we’ll see less economic data than last week’s litany of reports…but that doesn’t mean there won’t be some big news to watch!

  • Housing Starts for August will be delivered on Tuesday and are at extremely low levels given the current environment. The July reading was down 1.5% from June…but it was actually up 10% from a year ago in July 2010. Building Permits, a sign of future construction, will also be released on Tuesday.
  • More housing news follows Wednesday with the Existing Home Sales Report.
  • Also on Tuesday and Wednesday is the regularly scheduled Federal Open Market Committee meeting. With inflation heating up, it will be important to see what the Fed has to say.
  • Weekly Initial Jobless Claims will be reported on Thursday as usual, and they continue to remain above 400,000 rising to 428,000 last week.

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, Bonds and home loan rates did not react well to last week’s inflation news. I’ll be keeping a close eye on what happens this week. Be sure to call me today at 818.305.4695 for your personalized mortgage checkup. Will these lower rates help you? Let’s find out now..

Chart: Fannie Mae 3.5% Mortgage Bond (Friday Sep 16, 2011)
Japanese Candlestick Chart
The Les Berman Weekly View… sym_arrow.gif
What Does the Internet Say About You?

Part 1: Building Your Brand Online

Managing your online persona is all about building your brand. That means taking a proactive role in determining how people see you when they search for you on the Internet. Here are a few simple ways you can take control of your online persona:

Create a Profile:

One of the easiest ways to make sure positive attributes, qualifications and accomplishments stand out on the Internet is to create a profile that features those aspects. A profile only takes a matter of minutes to create and can help boost positive information about you higher in an Internet search.

One of the best profiles to start with is a Google profile. Once you create a Google profile, your name, occupation, location and a photo (if you upload one) will appear on the first page of Google when your name is searched.

Participate in Social Networking:

You’ve no doubt heard about popular social networking sites like and, as well as micro-blogging sites like and online photo sites like These sites offer you fun, interactive ways to connect with potential clients, peers, and of course family. In addition, they are great for improving your online persona because they often climb near the top of searches.

That said, there are few things to keep in mind. First, you need to “participate” not just “join.” The more information you include in your profile and the more you participate, the more useful these sites will be in building your brand.

Second, when you do participate make sure it’s relevant. Your status updates don’t have to be all business and no play; it’s okay to have a balance of your personal and professional life on these sites. But make sure that you keep it appropriate. That means keeping slang to a minimum and avoiding inappropriate words, humor, photos or stories.

Finally, make sure you take advantage of other online communities or discussion threads hosted by professional organizations. Not only will your peers and potential clients get to know you on those sites, but your posts will often find their way into your search results.

But remember: make sure you only join online groups or communities that reflect the positive image you’re trying to portray. Before joining any group or discussion thread, ask yourself if you’d feel comfortable discussing your membership in that group during a meeting with a client.

Start a Blog or Website:

One of the most productive ways to control your online persona is to create new content on a blog or website that highlights or reflects your expertise.

A blog or website not only gives you the space necessary to regular write about your areas of expertise, but they can also rank high in Internet searches if the content is updated regularly. While this step may seem a bit overwhelming at first, a number of providers such as or make it fast and convenient. You don’t need to know how to program html or JavaScript. They do all the work for you. All you have to do is sign-in and post.

So what should you post? Use your imagination. But remember to take the pressure off yourself – after all, you don’t have to write a professional white paper in every post. Maybe you want to post about the top three things you learned at a professional conference and include a link to the conference website. Maybe you just received an award or professional certification… write about that and put a link to the site that awarded it. As long as you’re not divulging trade secrets, write about what you do, what you know, and what your job growth goals are for the future.

Interlink Your Sites:

Once you’ve created a few online profiles, started participating in social network sites, and developed a quality blog with a few posts, it’s time to make sure people notice. That means promoting each of these sites in other sites by linking to them.

So, on your Facebook page, you should include links to your Twitter account and your blog or website. On your blog or website, create a Contact Information page that includes links to your online profiles, Facebook page, Twitter account, and so on. On your profile pages, include links to your blog and social networking sites.

It sounds a bit repetitive, if not overkill. But it’s not. It’s important. Why? The simple reason is that links are factored into Internet searches. When someone does a search of your name on the Internet, the sites that typically rank the highest have the most sites linking to them. That means, the more sites that link to your blog, the better chance you have of it hitting the first page of search results.

And that’s the ultimate goal here…getting the positive information that you create to rise to the top, so people see the online persona that you’ve strategically developed and that you want them to see.

Economic Calendar for the Week of September 19 – September 23

Economic Report
Tue. September 20
Housing Starts
Tue. September 20
Building Permits
Wed. September 21
Existing Home Sales
Wed. September 21
FOMC Meeting
Thu. September 22
Jobless Claims (Initial)
Thu. September 22
Index of Leading Econ Ind (LEI)


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 mortgage professional, 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.

September 19, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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