Monday, November 05, 2007

Down and out in Palm Beach

By Capt. Fogg

I know people who were living the good life in Florida a couple of years ago, many of whom have their homes and yachts on the market in the vain hope of selling out and moving to cheaper pastures in the Carolinas. Foreclosures in Florida are up 53% from the previous quarter and double last year's numbers. Retired people are out lining up for low paying jobs. Affluent Palm Beach County chalked up nearly a billion dollars worth of mortgage defaults in the first 6 months of 2007, up 531% from last year. No, that's not a typo.

Realtors seem to be disappearing and one man, whose business is making For Sale signs for real estate agents reports that he's being stiffed right and left to the tune of $40,000 worth of signs. Community food banks are running out of food as more middle class families find their cupboards bare. Commercial real estate vacancies are sharply up. It's beginning to seem a lot like a recession despite the official assurances that the economy is growing.

The Palm Beach Post reports this morning that "a local bankruptcy lawyer received 250 applications for a $10-an-hour receptionist job in his office... Many of the applicants were real estate and mortgage brokers used to sky-high salaries."

Sure the test of two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth has not been met; not nearly, but somehow whatever it is that's trickling down these days isn't prosperity. With chaos apparently growing and more wars looming it's hard to maintain the kind of faith the administration is selling and no "Mission accomplished" moment Bush might manage to stage is going to make me more confident.

(Cross-posted from Human Voices.)

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