Glenn's review of Vanity Fair


GLENN: So I thought, you know, since the comedy show is tonight in movie theatres all across the country, I thought we could do a review of the reviewers. For instance, the review of the Vanity Fair review, see if I could just do the same thing that they do to me and to you, by giving them the backhanded compliments. And I'm going to be fair. I want you to know I'm going to be very, very fair, Vanity. So here's my review of the review. Who's the most handsome man on the planet? Read one of the excising news morsels on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine, the kind that are supposed to lure me in reading further inside. The new girls of summer was another irresistible tease. Whatever you think of Vanity Fair, a cesspool of pointless gossip, a tree murdering outlet for the lame opinions of the artsy tree hugging liberals, a good, clean, fun, somewhat informative page turner, God help us but most don't think of Vanity Fair as a magazine that would give a positive or even fair review to common sense in any form, nor would they would even understand it with all those handsome men and summer girls distracting them. I've been fascinated with Vanity Fair ever since they scooped the world and got the first pictures of TomKat's baby. Before that I thought vanity was just another gossip rag with a babe on the cover, a poor man's Cosmo, if you will, without the intellectual might of Cosmo. Despite my concerns that Vanity's review of my show would be just another liberal hit piece, yet another boring attempt at liberal blogger stardom, I went into the review of this review with an open mind. I would only judge the quality of the reviewer's review, nothing else.

First I had to get a copy of Vanity Fair. I made sure to go to the most redneck store in Oklahoma just to see what kind of universal appeal Vanity Fair has because, remember, I'm being open minded. The magazine rack was full of Vanity Fair magazines. It looked as if they hadn't even sold one at this bait and tackle shop. When I asked the shop keeper, he confirmed it. He said, "Why would anyone read that garbage. Who cares what Lindsay Lohan had for breakfast." Well, after I open mindedly bought the magazine, I realized the cover may as well have read "26 Ways to Please Your Man and One Way to Waste Your Money." One of the most important qualities of a legitimate magazine is that they have a front, back and cover page and some pages in the middle. Well, Vanity Fair has all of those things. And there's some endearing, there's something endearing in the stories, the world's most available heir and heiresses, Johnny Depp's past appearances in Vanity Fair and inside the Vanity Fair's Oscar party all completely unbelievably irrelevant stories that mean absolutely nothing to anything, yet all in one magazine, endearing. The review started with a Lars von Trier reference, I love Lars, especially this time of the year, I mean, who doesn't. But in the end it was apparent that the reviewer was Lars Von Trying Too Hard, you know, exempting to impress his friends with random references of random Dutch filmmakers many would wonder if he was being pretentious enough to testify a Wilder's nationwide banning. And yet that wasn't the end of the self important wordiness as this reviewer used his F7 Shift Microsoft Word thesaurus to spell out the word stentorian like he had ever been comfortably using that in a sentence before. I mean, who's been listening to Fiona Apple? You have, yes. But regardless of how fitfully cryptically true it was, a cunning way to condescend, it was not. It was borderline criminal how far he had gone beyond the Rubicon of a fodderal. Well, I have no idea what I just said but neither did the reviewer.

Then the review recited liberal blog criticisms for six excruciatingly long paragraphs before finally getting to the actual review of the show. Now, I'm not a professional reviewer, only a professional reviewer of reviewers, but this type of writing could be the reason why no one is buying Vanity Fair magazine. Oh, they were apparently displeased, when they went to the show, they were displeased that I poked fun at Henry Waxman's nose. This is because an intelligent liberal never, ever stooped to making fun of someone's appearance. For example, Al Franklin who in this same review that I reviewed was praised as a satirist with a will for real activism. Al Franken, he would never write a book entitled Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot, would he? I suppose the difference is conservatives who make fun of others' appearances aren't generally rewarded with Senate seats. Franken, however, like the person the reviewer was reviewing, I had actually heard of Al Franken before, unlike the reviewer that the reviewer of reviewers was reviewing. However, this reviewer, in this review, was also referred to the subject of the review as having an overstuffed neck. So in other words, Mr. Beck had an overstuffed neck. Completely true, yes. But it almost seems like some sort of a nasty shot at someone's appearance, doesn't it?

Well, it wasn't until I reached the bottom of the page and clicked down, you know, on that arrow there that I realized there was more of this review. That's actually when I yelled out, "You've got to be kidding me!" Neither Johnny Depp, nor any of the new girls of summer answered.

Wait a minute, the guy yelling out, that wasn't from Vanity Fair. That was the New York Times. That was another review that I reviewed, but we'll review those later.

Trouble ahead for the housing market

CHRIS J RATCLIFFE/AFP/Getty Images

Our good friend John Rubino over at DollarCollapse.com just released an analysis titled US Housing Bubble Enters Stage Two: Suddenly Motivated Sellers.

He reminds us that housing bubbles follow a predictable progression:

  • Stage One: Mania -- Prices rise at an accelerating rate as factors like excess central bank liquidity/loose credit/hot foreign money drive a virtuous bidding cycle well above sustainably afforable levels.
  • Stage Two: Peak -- Increasingly jittery owners attempt to sell out before the party ends. Supply jumps as prices stagnate.
  • Stage Three: Bust -- As inventory builds, sellers start having to lower prices. This begins a vicious cycle: buyers go on strike not wanting to catch a falling knife, causing sellers to drop prices further.

Rubino cites recent statistics that may indicate the US national housing market is finally entering Stage Two after a rip-roaring decade of recovery since the bursting of the 2007 housing bubble:

  • The supply of homes for sale during the "all important" spring market rose at 3x last year's rate;
  • 30 of America's 100 largest cities now have more inventory than they did a year ago, and
  • Mortgage applications for new homes dropped 9% YoY.

Taken together, these suggest that residential housing supply is increasing as sales slow, exactly what you'd expect to see in the transition from Stage One to Stage Two.

If that's indeed what's happening, Rubino warns the following comes next:

Stage Two's deluge of supply sets the table for US housing bubble Stage Three by soaking up the remaining demand and changing the tenor of the market. Deals get done at the asking price instead of way above, then at a little below, then a lot below. Instead of being snapped up the day they're listed, houses begin to languish on the market for weeks, then months. Would-be sellers, who have already mentally cashed their monster peak-bubble-price checks, start to panic. They cut their asking prices preemptively, trying to get ahead of the decline, which causes “comps" to plunge, forcing subsequent sellers to cut even further.
Sales volumes contract, mortgage bankers and realtors get laid off. Then the last year's (in retrospect) really crappy mortgages start defaulting, the mortgage-backed bonds that contain their paper plunge in price, et voila, we're back in 2008.

Rubino's article is timely, as we've lately been seeing a proliferation of signs that the global boom in housing is suddenly cooling. I've also recently encountered similar evidence that the housing market in my own pocket of Northern California is weakening, and I'm curious to learn if other PeakProsperity.com readers are seeing the same in their hometowns.

The Global Housing Bubble

Housing, as they accurately say, is local. Conditions differ from region to region, making generalizations of the overall market difficult.

That said, the tsunami of $trillions printed by the world's central banking cartel since 2008 clearly found its way into the housing market.

The world real estate market is HUGE, over $200 trillion. That dwarfs the global debt and equity markets. So it's no surprise the central authorities did all they could to reverse the losses the GFC created for property owners.

As a result, many of the most popular locations to live are now clearly in bubble territory when it comes to home prices:

UBS map of global housing bubbles

The chart above displays the most bubblicious major cities around the world in red. But it's important to note that the merely 'overvalued' markets denoted in yellow, and even some of the green 'fair-valued' ones, are still wildly-unaffordable for the average resident.

For example, in "yellow" San Francisco, where the median home now costs $1.6 million, prices are well-above the excesses seen during the previous housing bubble:

And in 'fair-valued' New York City, the median household must spend 65% of its annual income on housing alone.

Is it any wonder that 70% of millennials who don't yet own a home fear they'll never be able to afford one?

Signs Galore Of Topping Markets

At the end of a speculative bubble, it's the assets that are most overvalued that correct first and correct hardest.

So we would expect that as the highest-priced real estate markets fare from here, the general real estate market will follow.

When we take a closer look at what's currently going on with the red-hot real estate markets noted in the chart above, we indeed see evidence supportive of Rubino's claim that the decade-long Stage One mania may now be ending.

Here's a spate of recent headlines about these cities:

Sure looks like Rubino's predicted Stage Two symptoms of rising supply and stagnating prices.

Local Signs, Too

As mentioned, I live in Northern California, quite close to Santa Rosa.

Things here aren't as nuts as they are in San Franscico; but it's still a moderately-affluent region with lots of second homes. It's one of the semi-frothy areas I'd expect to see cooling off in first should there be a downwards turn in macroeconomic conditions.

Located less than an hour north of San Francisco, residential housing prices here have roughly increased 2x over the past six years as the Bay Area has boomed. Supply has been in chronic shortage, exacerbated by the loss of thousands of structures burned during last October's destructive Tubbs fire.

But recently, for the first time in many years, realtors here are beginning to talk of a softening they're seeing in the local housing market.

Median sale prices dropped from May to June, which is counter to previous years. And several towns are seeing year-over-year declines in median price -- something unheard of over the past 7 years.

Meanwhile, the days-on-market ratio for properties is beginning to creep up.

Of the greatest concern to the realtors in my area: bidding wars are no longer happening. Houses are selling either at or below asking prices now. That's a *big* development in a market where houses have routinely sold for $50-100K+ above the listing price.

In a similar vein, I'm hearing evidence of the softening rents down in San Franscico and the East Bay (Oakland/Berkeley). Wolf Richter has done a good job chronicalling the substantial volume of newly-constructed units that have recently hit the market threatening to depress rents, and I've heard from a multi-family unit owner down there how landlords in the area are now finding their rents ~$500 too high for the market to bear.

This is all early and anecdotal data. It's too little at this point to claim definitively that my local housing market has entered Stage Two.

But I'm curious to hear from other PeakProsperity.com readers. What are you observing in your local markets? Are you seeing similar signs of concern?

Please share any insights you have in the Comments section below. Collectively, we may be able to add clarity, in one direction or another, to Rubino's hypothesis.

Prepping For Stage Two

Whatever the timing, Stage Two is an inevitability for today's ridiculously-overpriced real estate markets. It's not a matter of if it (as well as Stage Three) arrives, but when.

Given the data above, I think Rubino is correct in his assessment. Or at least, correct enough that prudent action is warranted today.

This makes even greater sense when considered along with the current trends of rising interest rates and quantitative tightening. Remember, home prices and interest rates have a mathematically inverse relationship: as rates go up, home prices must go down (all else being equal). And as central banks start withdrawing in earnest the excess liquidity that inflated property values to their current nose-bleed heights, expect further downward pressure on prices.

To drive the urgeny home even harder, we haven't even yet talked about the damage an economic recession and/or a painful correction in the financial markets would wreak on the real estate market. With the current expansion cycle the second-longest on record and our all-time-high markets looking increasingly vulnerable, it seems very unlikely we'll avoid at least one of those crises in the near to mid-future.

Here are worthwhile steps we recommend at this point:

  • Consider selling: If you're a homeowner and are not committed to remaining in your property for the next decade+, do some scenario planning. If prices fell 20%, how much of a financial and emotional impact would that have on you? If you have substantial equity gains in your home, Stage Two is the time to protect them. If you have little equity right now, make sure you're fully aware of the repercussions you'll face should you find yourself underwater on your property. What will your options be should you lose your job in the next recession? Whether to hold, or sell now and rent, is a weighty decision; and the rationale differs for each household -- so we strongly recommend making it with the guidance of your professional financial advisor.
  • Raise cash: The vicious cycle that begins as Stage Two transitions into Stage Three is deflationary. Lower prices beget lower prices. During this period, cash is king. By sitting on it, your purchasing power increases the farther home prices drop. And when the dust settles, you'll be positioned to take advantage of the resulting values in the real estate market. We've written at length about the wisdom of this strategy given current market conditions, as well as how, while waiting for lower prices, you can get 30x the return on your cash savings than your bank is willing to pay you, with lower risk. Our recent report on the topic is a must-read.
  • Educate yourself: Yes, real estate is overpriced in a number of markets. But it has been and will remain one of the best ways available to the non-elites to amass income and tangible wealth. And as mentioned, when the next Stage 3 brings prices down, there will be value to be had -- potentially extreme value. If you aren't already an experienced real estate investor, now is the time to educate yourself; so that you'll be positioned to take informed action when the time to buy arises. Our recent podcast interview on Real Estate Investing 101 is a good place to start.

In Part 2: The Case For Starting To Build A (Small) Short Position, we conduct a similar analysis into the overvaluation and growing vulnerability of the financial markets (which are highly likely to correct much faster, sooner and more violently than the housing market), including the details on a recent short position we've started building.

The tranquil "free ride" the financial and housing markets have had for nearly a decade are ending. The string of easy gains with little effort are over now that the central bank money spigots are turning off at the same time the "greater fools" pocketbooks are tapping out.

For a brief time, prices will waiver, as investors remain in denial and refuse to sell at lower prices. But soon that denial will turn to panic, and prices will plummet.

Make sure you're positioned prudently before then.

Click here to read Part 2 of this report (free executive summary, enrollment required for full access)

It's a bad day when you've stepped in dog poop.

But it's an even worse day when you're stepping in human poop — especially when underneath the poop is a dirty needle. That's the glory that is San Francisco today.

The city doesn't know what to do. There's more human feces in the street than ever before. This is starting to look like human evolution in reverse. And I want to be a helper in this situation.

RELATED: What the 💩 is going on in San Francisco?

And so, as a helper, I've got an idea for San Francisco. And I'm going to share it with you — free — at absolutely no cost to you. This is a public service.

We made a little sign — "No Human Pooping" — because I think that's clear enough, even for those who may be high on heroin, to understand.

Feel free to download and print as many copies as you'd like, and post them on your property. Or click the buttons below to share on social media.

Something has got to be done about this 💩.

Click here to download your printable copy of the sign.

What the 💩 is going on in San Francisco?

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Finally, a beautiful Sunday in your picturesque bayside city. You paid good money to move here. Not cheap. The $150,000 range leaves you just about middle class. In Ohio, that'd buy you a small town. But this is better than Ohio, you tell yourself. Sure, the city isn't as scenic as the postcards, but here you are, at the YMCA fields. You're coaching your kid's soccer team. And today is the co-ed Under-8 soccer final. Really, it's their World Cup. You bought the good oranges and Capri-Sun—the special edition kind with cold-sensitive images on the front. You worked hard for this moment.

RELATED: Illegal Immigrant Hits Jackpot and Is Awarded $190K From San Francisco for Deporting Him

Your job is demanding. Sometimes, you're there 60, 70 hours a week. But somebody needs to coach this soccer team so here you are. And, what. What is that. Your son, he's dribbling past the kid shoving dandelions into the ant hill, and, is he going to score a goal? Yes. Yes, he is, but all of a sudden, right as your son's leg angled back to kick the ball, you hear an animalistic scream behind you. You turn around, and see a man shrieking as he squats over the sidewalk. What is he doing, you ask yourself quickly. Oh, God. You know what he's doing.

Following the death of Mayor Ed Lee, San Francisco Mayor London Breed inherited quite a mess. San Francisco is in shambles. Despite topping nearly every list of the nation's highest cost-of-living prices, San Francisco has been plagued by homelessness, often with unbelievable negative consequences.

I'd like to add that, the segment begins with footage of Mayor Breed walking around San Francisco, and as she passes a group of homeless people, at least one person is openly injecting themselves with a needle.

I shouldn't even have to say this, but helping disadvantaged people is a good thing. The Bible is very clear on the subject.

"Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy." - Proverbs 31:8-9

San Francisco's approach to dealing with the poor is in fact detrimental to the poor.

"Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God." - Proverbs 14:31

"Looking at his disciples, [Jesus] said: "Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh." - Luke 6:20-21

San Francisco's approach to dealing with the poor is in fact detrimental to the poor. Walk around the city and you'll see a lot of thousand-dollar tents that function as homes, gifts from good-natured but ultimately misguided people, who function more as enablers than rescuers. The city has set up injection sites, where homeless heroin addicts are provided with clean syringes and allowed to shoot up without punishment. May God bless them. And may we help them in a better way.

Revolutions are started by youth. And the left is desperate for young blood, or, worse, for fresh blood. They're turning on their own.

As reported by the Los Angeles Times, Sen. Dianne Feinstein is more often considered too radical. In a show of force, California Democrats have chosen Feinstein's opponent, Kevin de León, over her.

RELATED: 'I remember thinking liberals were the good guys': Dave Rubin on why he really left the left

Lynne Standard-Nightengale, a member of the Amador County Democratic Central Committee, said she wanted to "send a message."

I just think we need a younger, progressive person there. The Democratic Party in California has moved to the left, and he personifies those values.

Feinstein and de Leon will face each other again in November because California has an open primary system in which the top two finishers face each other, regardless of party.

The left is going hard left. When Dianne Feinstein is not left enough for you—where are the press reports of the extremists taking over? The trend is spreading. A growing number of Trump's base are former Democrats, who voted for Obama.

When Dianne Feinstein is not left enough for you—where are the press reports of the extremists taking over?

So, in response, Democrats are prowling after a new base, a new young base, who's never voted before.

Thankfully, many have predicted that the next generation of voters will be the most conservative generation since pre-WW2. I guess they've watched as their older siblings (or parents) have returned from college with pink hair, atheism, exorbitant debt, and infinite genders, only to decide that personal responsibility, a moral compass, and belief in God are preferable.