Saturday, August 16, 2008

14-year-old real estate moguls and the end of bubbles

Home in Detroit sells for $1.

Writes the Detroit News, "...some abandoned homes in Detroit sell for $100; vacant lots can be purchased for $300."

"My 14-year-old son could buy a block of Detroit property," said Ann Laciura, senior servicing specialist for the Bearing Group.

Whenever someone tells you that it's impossible for an asset class to go to zero, they're either dumb, or hoping that you are. If the carrying costs and net obligations of any asset exceed the cashflow, it's worth zero or less than zero. We saw this a lot during 2001-2002, as companies with insane cost structures met grim fates, occasionally returning as shadows of their former selves, or reinvented as actual profitable businesses.

Businesses probably worth less than zero right now:
GM and Chrysler
Citibank and Washington Mutual

Silicon Valley got crushed in the last asset bubble deflation. This time around will be relatively kind to us, but there will still be pain.

Winter is coming.

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