Well, I've got a new one for you that's gaining popularity in what has to be a sign of the times. Have you seen these really scary heat-maps that show foreclosures in your neighborhood?
For Rent, For Sale, Foreclosed ... on hotpads.com. Scary, huh? You can zoom all over the place, zoom in on clusters and -- yikes! --you can even click on individual houses for details and pictures! Check out this $3m home in Beverly Hills...
It kind of reminds me of another scary kind of map which I used to check occasionally, the LAPD's page on neighborhood crime. Check it out here, and see what kinds of crime patterns are developing near you. You can even check-off the types of crime you want to search (Burglary, Theft from Vehicle, Homicide, to name a few) and they come up as little colored blobs around town. (hint: the yellow and green blobs are really bad.)
Local news from across Southern California
If that doesn't give you enough to obsess about for the morning, consider that billionairre Warren Buffett said this morning that the economy has not only run off the road but "fallen off a cliff." This is the #3 story on the 5 story AP Midday Businessminute:
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) -- Billionaire Warren Buffett tells CNBC that the economy "has fallen off a cliff." The famed investor says fear is dominating Americans' behavior and the economy has basically followed the worst-case scenario he envisioned.
You can see the transcripts of Buffett's three hour long appearance on Squawk Box here, (it's long, and in six parts) or just watch a video clip here on the first page of transcripts to hear this conversation with CNBC's Becky Quick:
BECKY: ...in general as well. What do you see right now? You spooked a lot of people last week when you talked about how the economy was in tatters and would be there for quite some time.
BUFFETT: Yeah. The economy, ever since we talked in September, we talked about it being an economic Pearl Harbor and how--what was happening in the financial world would move over to the real world very quickly. It's fallen off a cliff, and not only has the economy slowed down a lot, people have really changed their behavior like nothing I've ever seen. Luxury goods and that sort of thing have just sort of stopped, and that's why Walmart is doing well and you know, and I won't name the ones that are doing poorly. But there's been a reset in people's minds, and we see that in something like Geico where year after year after year we say you can save some money insuring with Geico, and year after year there's been a certain number of people who have said, `You know, I've got this pal, Rotary Joe, and I've been insuring with him and for 100 bucks, why should I shift?' Every week we're just seeing it build and build. More and more people are calling. Our price differentials haven't widened, our advertising isn't that much different, but the American public really has changed their buying habits. On the reverse side, our jewelry stores just get killed in a period like this. And high end gets hurt the most, next down gets hurt the second most, and the lowest people get hurt the least.
BECKY: What's happening? What--you knew--you told us a while ago, you told us this was an economic Pearl Harbor about six months ago, but did this happen more quickly or more severely than even you expected?
BUFFETT: It certainly happened close to the worst case. I mean, you never know what's going to happen, but I would not have--I would not have thought there could've been a much worse case than what has happened. Although, I will say this, the Fed did some things in September when it happened...
On a lighter note, guess who's fifty today? YES, I too am tired of the Barbie birthday story. But since it IS her special day, I thought I'd share a highlight or two. First, TELL me she has not had .. er .. plastic surgery. No wonder -- she can just, well, swap heads.
Anyone can look 18 at 50 if it's that easy. But my favorite has to be the Cougar Barbie commercial The Tonight Show did last week. Now, don't be like me and hate on the whole Cougar thing -- at least just long enough to watch this, it's really funny.