Baum's Views on Money
Good morning, dear readers. Here are some of the things I’m reading today on the U.S. economy and all its moving parts.
What every wealthy investor needs: a luxury condo in New York
"Most of the buyers are in better shape than those who were frantically scooping up properties in 2006-2007," a real-estate appraiser tells the Financial Times, referring to all-cash buyers. Now that's a relief! Developers can't keep up with demand, and prices of luxury condos are setting records: up 34 percent in the last year. Reading this, central bankers might be tempted to invoke "froth." The good news is, high-end buyers aren't borrowing to buy the homes. When prices tank, maybe the entire financial system won't get taken down in the process.
In the real world, speculative excess is almost gone
People are buying homes to live in, not to flip, an economist tells Bloomberg BusinessWeek. His analysis is based on drive-by shootings. Literally. That's how Metrostudy, a real-estate consulting firm, gets the data to analyze. Toys on the lawn of a newly built home? Check. A garden hose attached outside the house? Both good signs the home is occupied. No curtains on the windows? Probably no occupant.
Another day, another mogul, another legacy newspaper
It would be disingenuous to claim I'm not reading the post-mortems on yesterday's big story: the sale of the Washington Post to Amazon.com founder and Chief Executive Jeff Bezos. The Post has a series of stories, including a tribute to former publisher Katharine Graham, a discussion of Bezos' long-term vision and, most importantly, the question everyone is asking: Can he fix the business model?
The real reason Bezos bought the Post
Think integration: content and commerce. Sure it's cool to own a newspaper, writes Henry Blodget on Business Insider, where Bezos is an investor. Especially if it isn't your sole source of revenue. But when it comes to commerce, no one does it better. I swear by Amazon Prime. Amazon distributes content as well: books, movies and TV shows. Given the company's technical know-how, Amazon just might become a one-stop Stop & Shop for consumers.
Public to president on Obamacare: We're from Missouri
President Obama clearly has a marketing problem when it comes to the full implementation of Obamacare in 2014, writes the Wall Street Journal's Gerald Seib. Consider that 48 percent of the people who lack health care coverage think overhauling the system is a bad idea. If it's just a marketing problem, another speaking tour should fix it. It remains to be seen if the public's attitude is a sign of a deeper, more substantive problem.
(Caroline Baum is a Bloomberg View columnist. Follow her on Twitter.)