Greenback in Free Fall Right Now?

Nov 8th, 2007, 09:15 AM
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Right, Dan - we need better transit in the cities, too. However, all those cities already have existing bus systems no doubt. It's probably just a matter first of all of beefing them up and secondly, convincing people that not just poor people ride buses. Maybe if people went to Rome and saw all the busses jampacked with middle class people they'd change their opinion?

In Portland, Oregon, there's certainly an excellent bus system besides the light rail and streetcar system. You wouldn't need to take taxis here, although many visitors probably do after hopping off the trains because people either won't ride buses or find them too confusing.
Andrew is online now  
Nov 8th, 2007, 09:18 AM
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Sorry, but I also think this is just the start of things that have been a long time coming.

We actually sold our high end house in a bubble market at peak and put a good chunk of money into euros and pounds when the dollar was high partly because we saw this coming.

( Obviously not as much as Buffet, Gates and Greenspan, but it was a calculated risk we are glad we took).

I don't think it will affect just the dollar and Americans though, almost all countries have been VERY busy printing up money as fast as they can.

It goes back to fundamentals and sooner or later, you have to pay the piper. I think it is a scarier time than most people are aware yet.

One bank in London has already been affected by the toxic subprime slime that we exported to the world and I hear two German ones are about to go under.

I saw people lose thier life savings during the savings and loan crisis and will never forget that 59 year old woman in Argentina who could not access her money so lit herself on fire at her bank. I pray it does not get that bad, but many will be hurt and this will be painful.Just about every bank has these problems and lets not even talk about the yen carry trade.

It seemed nobody was paying attention when we had record low interest rates and busboys and maids were "buying" half a million dollar homes with no money down and bad credit.

I just hope it is not as bad as some predict. Paper money is based on nothing these days, I would look to the safe haven of gold before it rockets any higher.

WTnow is offline  
Nov 8th, 2007, 09:28 AM
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People still havn't even started to realize the extent of all this. But given time there will be a new equilibrium. If only half the wealth of everybody is gone, we're still well off. Just those "have nots", how long will they be able to cope?
logos999 is offline  
Nov 8th, 2007, 09:32 AM
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It takes a major shift in thought that will only happen when ease and cost merge to make it palatable. Hard to do in most western states. Another example would be Mississippi. Just not enough population centers to make the set up of such a system economical. You could probably include 40 other states in the same boat, even those with some major population centers like Colorado, Arizona, and Navada.
DanM is offline  
Nov 8th, 2007, 09:38 AM
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Author: basingstoke2
Date: 11/08/2007, 09:25 am
It seems that the best "investment" that I have made over the years turns out to be my stash of leftover Euros from previous trips.

Agree - I've got £70 and a fair stash of Aussie and Canadian dollars and other leftover currencies squirreled away. Who knew they'd outperform all those Enron shares we inherited?

On the train track (and this thread is way off topic, for which I take some blame, and maybe should be moved to the Lounge)…

There's nowhere where installation of a fixed rail transit system has resulted in lower congestion in the rest of the region's transport infrastructure. One of the first things you learn in transportation planning is that infrastructure is filled to a point of congestion equilibrium. After a certain congestion point is reached (a point which is subjective at the individual level but statistically predictable at the mass level) people will use some other transport mode, or simply modify their travel patterns so that their "congestion tolerance" is not exceeded.

When you add rail infrastructure and capacity, it tends to have the same effect as adding highway capacity - the population moves farther out from the core, densities increase at the end of the infrastructure. When BART got built in the Bay Area, it was ballyhooed that it would free up the Bay Bridge from its perennial congestion. Didn't happen - for every car that BART took off the bridge, a car and a bit replaced it, because now you could live in Walnut Creek or Concord and commute into SF, with the same commute time that you formerly had from East Oakland. The result? People closer in filled the "gaps" on the bridge created by BART users, while the conversion of nonresidential/agricultural land to housing and commercial uses farther east rocketed. Mass transit creating population growth and sprawl? Count on it.

Nature abhors a vacuum, and you can see it proven all around the world. "If you build it they will come" is absolutely true. Unfortunately, "if you build it they will switch" is not true.

(And Sue, you're right but your list is incomplete. Sports manager, Fed chief, and transportation planner. Guilty as charged. Give me those [email protected] Seattle… er… Oklahoma City Sonics, and watch what I'd do. Talk about a market correction? I'll give you a correction…)
Gardyloo is offline  
Nov 8th, 2007, 12:58 PM
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this is not a unique situation. The dollar collapsed around 1992.

Remember in the early 80's the rate was GBP1 = USD 1.05 ? Now it is GBP1 = USD 2.10. The dollar is not a stable currency ?

If you live in UK, the USD 100 per barrel oil price is GBP48 - not a big increase ?

The US government could strengthen the US dollar tomorrow by increasing interest rates and trying to balance budgets (the adventures in Afghanistan and Iraq don't help here ?). Fact is, they like a low dollar to make exports more competitive, penalise imports and encourage consumption of domestic products with a view to increasing employment. And they don't want you to vacation overseas ? Funny we don't hear much from the US govt about FE currencies being held artificially low these days ?

So, why is it so low ?

Reason is that international currency buyers have no confidence in the US economy and don't see a future improvement.

When will it come back ?

Historically, it always strengthens after a US presidential election. Doesn't seem to matter who wins - it is a question of stability.

So, maybe it is time for the Euro block citizens to buy USD and vacation in US ?


mpprh is offline  
Nov 8th, 2007, 01:39 PM
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Gardyloo: When BART got built in the Bay Area, it was ballyhooed that it would free up the Bay Bridge from its perennial congestion. Didn't happen - for every car that BART took off the bridge, a car and a bit replaced it, because now you could live in Walnut Creek or Concord and commute into SF, with the same commute time that you formerly had from East Oakland. The result? People closer in filled the "gaps" on the bridge created by BART users, while the conversion of nonresidential/agricultural land to housing and commercial uses farther east rocketed. Mass transit creating population growth and sprawl? Count on it.

That's because 1) gas was cheap at that time - REALLY cheap and 2) BART wasn't built, apparently, with any land use planning. As I've said repeatedly, public transit is widely used in Italy and even if it's less dense than the US (it's not much less dense when you compare it regionally), it could certainly work as well in many regions of the US. But when gas is dirt cheap, why bother?

Here in Oregon, we have state-mandated urban growth boundaries around the cities, so if you take car off the freeway going into the cities, people don't move further out because you can't BUILD further out (at least not housing developments). Portland's UGB is making the city more dense, while at the same time Portland is investing heavily in new transit, mostly light rail. Apartment complexes and condos are being built near train stops, so you can walk to the train. It's certainly a far cry from Europe's fantastic transit systems (I have some real issues with Portland's MAX light rail system) but it's certainly a step in the right direction - better than the Houston model of building more freeways and no land use planning restrictions.
Andrew is online now  
Nov 8th, 2007, 01:53 PM
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I'm pretty familiar with the land use planning that took place around BART and I beg to differ; I'm also rather (actually, excessively) familiar with Oregon land use law, and beg to differ on that, too. The Portland UGB has just shifted population growth to counties not covered by Metro, in particular Clark County (WA). IMO.

Portland is not quite as multi-nodal in origin/destination commutes or trip patterns as most other metro regions in the US, so, yes, it's slightly more a European type situation. In California, Seattle, and many other large US cities, the rail/fixed infrastructure model doesn't work because people are doing peripheral commutes - from one lower-density suburb to another, for instance. Add awkward topography and/or backflow commutes to the mix, and rail looks like a dinosaur.

Buses, on the other hand, especially those that can use alternate fuels, or where the routes are scalable, work much better in those environments, without requiring the huge public debt and operating deficits that rail systems do. Fixed rail transit in the US is nothing more than a full employment act for engineers, contractors, and bond attorneys.

All IMHO, of course. You may disagree. Free country.
Gardyloo is offline  
Nov 8th, 2007, 02:18 PM
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If only there was a taxi driver on this thread to give us the definitive answer to all these questions.
GregY2 is offline  
Nov 8th, 2007, 02:28 PM
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We're pretty far from the greenback topic now, but I have to chip in.

The problem with buses is they are stuck in traffic. In fact, in Seattle, because they have to stop, and pull in and pull out, they move about a half or even a third as fast as car traffic on most city routes (they can go faster on a handful routes where they get to use freeway HOV lanes).

In addition, the frequency of bus service in Seattle is an absolute joke, with very few routes coming more often than every half hour. And buses can't cope with more than the smallest fraction of possible routes; of the six most common daily trips around town that I make, exactly ZERO of them are served by a direct bus within six long blocks.

Now add in the fact that most Seattle buses are mobile mental-illness facilities, with sick smelly people who basically live on the bus, drinking, talking loudly to themselves, vomiting, assaulting other passengers and evacuating their bladders and bowels on the floor, and you have a transit system that only an automobile driver could love. For other people.

The benefits of decent transit are much more extensive than just b.s. about "reducing congestion". Unfortunately light rail, and other systems not separated at grade, are only part of the answer. But they are part.

fnarf999 is offline  
Nov 8th, 2007, 02:30 PM
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Sure, Gardyloo, Clark County (Vancouver), WA has been booming and doesn't have the land use laws that Metro has in Oregon, but the Oregon counties are growing too. It certainly hasn't "shifted" growth all away from Oregon. Clark County had a lot more room to grow so it did. Meanwhile, Portland inside the UGB is still growing and getting denser.

If there was land use planning in conjunction with BART, obviously it was unsuccessful - then again, SF Bay area is different than the Portland Metro area. I agree that trains are expensive and in many cases not worth the expense, but for longer runs they are much more practical than buses. Then again, I don't have the expectation that trains must pay for themselves in a free market - I expect taxpayer subsidies, just as we today expect taxpayer subsidies of the airlines. I'm self-employed and I pay TriMet (Portland transit) tax in addition to income tax. It's just a cost of living here.

Yes, we'll just have to agree to disagree about whether mass transit is worth the investment in the US, but having seen Europe's great transit systems, I simply cannot believe it's impossible here. It would take vision, a lot of investment, shifting of people's cultural biases ("Buses are for poor people" is a mindset that must change) and many years to make it work but it's far from impossible. Certainly huge increases in gas prices are going to force Americans to reconsider transit soon.
Andrew is online now  
Nov 8th, 2007, 03:06 PM
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Yeah, I was one of those pesky planners in the Bay area back then, so my opinion is biased by ancient memory and the onset of dotage.

I'm going to get off my high horse in this thread now, because it's way off topic. Maybe I'll open a thread in the Lounge where the merits of public transport modalities can be debated without reference to the decline and fall of the US Peso and its implications for holders of Euro doubloons and clunky coins with pictures of Mrs. Q on them.
Gardyloo is offline  
Nov 8th, 2007, 03:23 PM
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"Fact is, they like a low dollar to make exports more competitive, penalise imports and encourage consumption of domestic products"

I'm not good at economics, but my understanding is that the Chinese and Japanese currencies have not risen against the dollar they way other foreign currencies have. China and Japan are keeping their currencies low as well to keep their products attractive to US consumers. Their goals as long-term and they are willing to make the sacrifices now to gain market share, for example, watch Toyota put GM out of business. So how is the weak dollar helping US businesses that are competing within such markets? I suppose it's ok if they are competing against UK products, but what about the other products (Japan, China, Mexico) where there isn't that advantage?
Jolie is offline  
Nov 9th, 2007, 12:22 AM
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Actual rates :

GBP 1 = USD 1.72 (end 2005), USD 2.10 (now)
EUR 1 = USD 1.14 (end 2005), USD 1.47 (now)
JPY 1 = USD 0.0085 (end 2005), USD 0.0089 (now)
CNY 1 = USD 0.124 (end 2005), USD 0.135 (now)

mpprh is offline  

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