Monday, December 17, 2012

Tuesday December 18 Housing and Economic stories


Computer "genius" lost it all in real estate bets - ( The McAfee Belize estate: Though the above pictures seem only to chronicle the “living the dream” success of a high-tech multi-millionaire, a study of John McAfee’s real estate holdings points to a steady downward spiral that has yet to hit rock bottom. Before the internet security guru became a suspect in the murder of his neighbor, he had other troubles, and perhaps the largest was money. When the country’s economy collapsed, so too did McAfee’s fortune. He lost 96% of his wealth in just two years time, dropping from a net worth of around $100 million to around $4 million. As his fortune declined, McAfee began selling off his high-end properties. But in each case, the sale represented a tremendous loss. In 2007, McAfee spent $25 million to buy a lot and built a 10,000 square foot house in Vail, Colorado. He later had to sell it– at which time it fetched just $5.7 million.

Special Report: Greeks rage against pension calamity - ( In the heat of a June night, Eleni Spanopoulou found her audience at an Athens hotel turning ugly. Mutiny and violence hung in the air.For hours the leader of the Greek journalists' social security fund had been chairing a meeting about disastrous losses on retirement savings caused by the country's economic collapse. "She tried to present herself as the fund's savior and asked (members) to double contributions to 6 percent of salaries," said one of those present that night at the Titania hotel. Spanopoulou, 58, did not succeed. When she rose to leave around midnight, enraged fund members first swore, then waded in punching, kicking and tearing at her clothes, according to witnesses. A bodyguard managed to bustle her out of the room, but another group caught her just outside the hotel and gave her a second beating. She spent the night in hospital.

ECB Withholding Secret Greek Swaps File Keeps Taxpayers in Dark - (  The European Central Bank’s court victory allowing it to withhold files showing how Greeceused derivatives to hide its debt leaves one of the region’s most powerful institutions free from public scrutiny as it assumes even more regulatory power. The European Union’s General Court in Luxembourg ruled yesterday that the central bank was right to keep secret documents that would reveal how much the ECB knew about the true state of Greece’s accounts before the country needed a 240 billion-euro ($311 billion) taxpayer-funded rescue. The case brought by Bloomberg News, the first legal challenge to a refusal by the ECB to make public details of its decision-making process, comes a month before the central bank is due to take responsibility for supervising all of the euro- area’s banks. The central bank already sets narrower limits on its disclosures than its U.S. equivalent, the Federal Reserve. The court’s decision shows the ECB has too broad a discretion to reject requests for disclosure, academics and lawyers said.

Strikers Close Much of Los Angeles Ports for a Third Day - ( California ports handling about a third of U.S. container shipments were largely closed because of a strike, stranding vessels carrying last-minute cargos for the holiday-shopping season. Seven of eight terminals at the Port of Los Angeles are shut, Phillip Sanfield, a spokesman for the city-owned facility, said yesterday. At the adjacent Port of Long Beach, three of six are closed, according to its website. Clerical workers walked out Nov. 27 amid an impasse in contract talks, and longshoremen represented by the same union refused to cross the picket lines. The strike will disrupt shipments of clothes, furniture, electronics and other Asia-made goods during the year’s busiest shopping period. The National Retail Federation trade group asked President Barack Obama to intervene, saying a 10-day West Coast ports lockout in 2002 cost the economy about $1 billion a day and disrupted supply chains for as long as six months.

Desperate HP Suspended Disbelief for Autonomy Deal - ( For Leo Apotheker, the former Hewlett-Packard CEO, a July 2011 meeting with Autonomy founder Mike Lynch at a chic seaside resort in France was pivotal to his effort to remake a storied technology giant. In the nine months since taking the helm at HP, Apotheker had tried furiously to find a way to move the lumbering company away from its low-margin computer hardware business and into the lucrative corporate software and services arena. Apotheker was looking for a big, transformative acquisition, two people familiar with the situation said, and after overtures to several companies went nowhere, he set his sights on Autonomy. After two months of negotiations on what was known at HP as "Project Tesla," Apotheker sat down with Lynch at a hotel in Deauville on the Normandy coast - and shook hands on what would become an $11.1 billion deal.

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