Monday, November 26, 2007

speculating on speculation

Mike Mac.... sent me this e-mail last week (it's always good to get good reviews!)
Hey man, love your blog.

I was thinking about the "It's different this time" line of reasoning. I'm a big fan of Dickens and this comes out of Nicholas Nicholby. I thought you'd find it interesting:

`Spec--u--late, my dear?' said Mr Nickleby, as though in doubt.
`Why not?' asked Mrs Nickleby.
`Because, my dear, if we should lose it,' rejoined Mr Nickleby, who was a slow and time-taking speaker, `if we should lose it, we shall no longer be able to live, my dear.'

`Fiddle,' said Mrs Nickleby.
`I am not altogether sure of that, my dear,' said Mr Nickleby.
`There's Nicholas,' pursued the lady, `quite a young man--it's time he was in the way of doing something for himself; and Kate too, poor girl, without a penny in the world. Think of your brother! Would he be what he is, if he hadn't speculated?'

`That's true,' replied Mr Nickleby. `Very good, my dear. Yes. I will speculate, my dear.'
Speculation is a round game; the players see little or nothing of their cards at first starting; gains may be great--and so may losses. The run of luck went against Mr Nickleby. A mania prevailed, a bubble burst, four stock-brokers took villa residences at Florence, four hundred nobodies were ruined, and among them Mr Nickleby.

Tell me Rennie doesn't have a villa in Florence. :)

Indeed! I have noticed that many places that I see "For Sale", whether on MLS, or in driving around, are empty. No furniture, no plants, no swing sets in the back yard...empty. Who owns these houses? Speculators is my speculation. And they will be ruined. Unfortunate fools will be too, but nobody forced anyone to buy such insanely priced properties.

And really, RE is the least of our worries.


mohican said...

That is fantastic. Bravo - what a great quote from Dickens and an excellent modern day interpretation.

solipsist said...

Kudos to Mike Mac....! Adroit indeed.


Wonderful! Thank you so much.

Yes many people will be ruined but they had their own will to buy and were not forced into it.

Clarke said...

Aside from speculators, one suspects a number of relatively innocent homebuyers will at the very least get chained to a lot of negative equity. Again, not the end of the world, but not necessarily an optimal outcome.

Scullboy said...

Gosh, something I wrote to solipsist got put up in a posting! I feel quite famous.

I'm the Mike Mac... in question. the quote's been on my mind for the longest time. It's very comforting really.

I'm new here in Van (been here about a year). I had a spectatular runof bad luck in TO and decided to come out to Van to change my life.

I'm not sorry about the decision at all. Van's wonderful. My asthma has cleared up and I sleep like a baby at nights. I've got a new career too which is great.

The only problem is how expensive it is to live here! I don't have kids or a car, so it's do-able but WOW, I don't know how anyone else does.

Well.. actually... I do. I really think there are four classes of people here. Destitute, middle income earners who aren't in the housing market, middle income earners who ARE in the housing market, and people of high incomes that derive from dodgy activities (rennie and drug kingpins :).

When I came here, I knew fundamentals were out of whack. I made the mistake of saying so on occasion only to be firmly rebuked with "it's different here". No amount of calm explanation would suffice... everyone had the same mantra going. I was born in Nova Scotia and now I'm here. I've lived in almost every major city in between. The thing that surprises me most is how few Vancouverites have been east of Alberta.

I think the reason so many people believe the whole "it's different, best place on earth" is because they haven't seen much of the rest of the country.

We all have access to the same information and we've all made choices. I've been socking my money away and living as modestly as I can in order to pay down debt and improve my situation.

I feel quite like the ant who has just seen the first leaves fall and know what's about to happen. Some people are going to get a haircut, but that's the result of their own choices so I have trouble feeling a lot of sympathy.... maybe I'm a jerk.

You guys should rent the movie version of Nicholas Nickelby, it's really good. I won't spoil the surprise but Mr and Mrs Crummels really steal the show.



Great! It is true. They say Victoria is different too! Many have never been East or Europe. When they say Victoria is a World Class City I almost die.

We have lived in Paris, London and my husband New York (oh yes Toronto - which I would not really consider world class either but we just loved it.

Victoria World Class?????

solipsist said...

Gosh, something I wrote to solipsist got put up in a posting! I feel quite famous.

Famous? It's me that feels lucky...your piece on Nicky Nickleby elicited more positive response than most of the tripe I post. I am just so glad to have readers...

Thanks scullboy.

Many have never been East or Europe. When they say Victoria is a World Class City I almost die.

The same folks may think that Mateus Rose is high falutin' too. I thought that saying Vancouver is world class was a stretch. No offense intended, but Victoria? I guess that with those mortgage payments, some peoples' world views become somewhat narrowed.

Even before I came to Vancouver I thought that it was a back water - a very nice back water (I did decide to stay), but it is still a mill town perched on the edge of the Pacific (and ready to be subducted into it). Paris, London, Tokyo, NYC, Barcelona, even Singapore (all of which I have spent time in) are world-class. Vancouver? not so much. World-class hubris and "penis envy" maybe, but as a metropolis? I think not. Toronto and Montreal come a lot closer.

Scullboy said...


Well that explains it, it HAS to be a BC thing. I like Victoria, don't get me wrong. I've been there for Head of the Elk, Head of the Lake and some other regattas. It's a really pretty little town with some really nice little restaraunts.

But world class, it ain't. There's way more argument that Halifax is world class.. it's got more history and a deep, ice free port that made it strategically significant and of somme historical significance.

I love the West Coast, and West coast people but good God. I think the Rockies have isolated them emotionally.

Personally Toronto drove me nuts. Talk about a city that's dysfunctional. They were arguing about developing the Waterfront when I got there, and they were still argying when I left.

Credit where it's due to Vancouver, they did a proper job building the city. It really is beautiful in its own way.

You're right, Van's a backwater. It's a very nice backwater, mind you! I'm looking out the window of the TELUS building in Burnaby right now (BAD SCULLBOY! GET BACK TO WORK!) and admiring the snow capped mountains. I LIKE that it's a backwater... Toronto felt kind of crazed to me.... like people were running to stay in place.

I think perhaps being a backwater is why housing's gone nuts. The locals are all really convinced thins are different because they haven't been anywhere else. They're sure the Olympics are going to be like a switch that once thrown will turn Van into the ultimate global destination.

And in a way who can blame 'em? Every time I watch TV or go to the movies, Vancouver is standing in for somewhere. It seems like every single comic book movie EVER was shot here.

In a couple of years, for a few days, Van will be throwing the ultimate party.

So yeah...if I grew up here I'd probably fall for all the hype.

Oh and honey I LOVE your blog. You, Condohype and Vancouver Condo Info are my lifelines. Even if I had a million bucks (and if either parent kicked it, I would in fact have a million bucks) I wouldn't buy here. It's a tremendous relief knowing I'm not the only one who looks areound and says "this is a bit insane..."

patriotz said...

Why do people get all bent out of shape over phrases like "world class" and "best place on earth" (agree or disagree)? It's just hot air.

What matters is what people are willing and able to pay to live somewhere, i.e. the market rent, and if the price of housing doesn't reflect this, it's out of whack. It's all about the numbers. End of discussion.

And here's another quote which I think goes well with the first:

"Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other".

Ben Franklin