One-minute Times Magazine article: How to become an expert on the economy

While I enjoyed Edmund L. Andrews' New York Times Magazine article "My Personal Credit Crisis," I feel the tale works better in digest form, with the essential facts retained and most (though not all) of the hard-earned wisdom and self-justification (disguised, of course, as self-flagellation) edited out:

Patty was brainy, regal, sexy, fiery and eclectic.

[...]

[A] small but stately brick home in a leafy, kid-filled neighborhood in Silver Spring, Md. We sent in an offer of $460,000 and one day later got our answer:

[...]

Having separated from my wife of 21 years, who had physical custody of our sons, I was handing over $4,000 a month in alimony and child-support payments.

[...]

Patty had yet to even look for a job.

[...]

If I wanted to buy a house, Bob figured, it was my job to decide whether I could afford it. His job was to make it happen.

[...]

My $120,000 base salary and my assets were easy to document.

[...]

Instead of "stating" my income without documenting it, I would take out a "no ratio" mortgage and not state my income at all.

[...]

The rate on my primary mortgage of $333,700 was a remarkably low 5.625 percent for the first five years... I was paying a much higher rate of 8.5 percent on my "piggyback" loan for $80,300.

[...]

It had been so easy and fast. Almost fun.

[...]

I had a bad feeling about what the A.T.M. would reveal about my balance, but I was shocked when I looked at the receipt: $196. We were broke.

[...]

Not surprisingly, Patty's re-entry into the job market was bumpy.

[...]

My fantasy was that Patty would become an ambitious go-getter.

[...]

We were both building up grudges.

[...]

Chase had sent us blank checks that we could use to either pay bills or give ourselves cash advances.

[...]

The problem, I told Bob, was that things were so bad that even Patty's new job wouldn't be enough to rescue us.

[...]

Within a few weeks, an appraiser valued our house at $505,000, almost 10 percent above the original purchase price two years earlier.

[...]

Fremont gave us a classic subprime loan.

[...]

"Don't worry," she said bravely. "This will not be like the first time I was looking for a job. I've learned so much since then, and I am going to find another job quickly."

[...]

"That's it!" Patty snapped, getting out of bed and pulling on her robe. "I'm not going to listen to any more of this. I'm going to sleep downstairs."

[...]

"The last thing Chase wants is to foreclose on your home," JPMorgan Chase wrote us.

[...]

"It sounds as if I would be better off waiting to fall 90 days behind," I said. "I think I'll wait for that."

[...]

It took a while, but Patty and I found we could get past blaming each other. 

[...]

Edmund L. Andrews is an economics reporter for The Times and the author of "Busted: Life Inside the Great Mortgage Meltdown," which will be published next month by W.W. Norton and from which this article is adapted.

I love that "what the A.T.M. would reveal about my balance," as if going to the bank is roulette or something. Don't they still give you that Withdrawal/Deposit booklet with a calendar on the back when they issue you your checkbook? Do Times reporters no longer know how to operate pencils?

Anyway, I wish Mr. Andrews the best with his book, and offer my services for the screen adaptation (with the caveat that Bob and Patty will have an affair in my version).

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  • Warty||

    Distilled whine.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Tim, nobody uses the pencil thingy anymore. I balance my checkbook online. Being surprised at what your ATM spits out as your balance is....breathtakingly fucking stupid.

  • ||

    It doesn't make for pleasant reading, but this is what happened. Multiply this story by several million, over the whole country, and you get the Great Everything Bubble of 2002-2008.

    Definitely going into my "Rationality does not exist" file.

  • BakedPenguin||

    I ...offer my services for the screen adaptation (with the caveat that Bob and Patty will have an affair in my version).



    Will the house blow up at the end? Because it sounds like the sort of story that would be greatly improved by an explosion.

  • Tim Cavanaugh||

    This production's gonna be class all the way, BakedPenguin. By which I mean, Andrews will be eaten by slow zombies, not fast.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    I thought the story was pretty good, actually.
    But, wow. What a moron.

  • Anonymous||

    Definitely going into my "Rationality does not exist" file.

    This is an important thing.

    Economists usually assume rational actors. This is stated up front.

    Government usually assume irrational actors. This is written in blood.

  • ||

    It takes a lot of money to dump your wife and mother of your two kids for a better piece of ass. Child support, alimoney if you live in the wrong state, and half of your assets seriously cuts into new piece of ass budget. Unless you are making a half million or more, you have some problems. The guy should have just gotten a mistress. It would have been cheaper.

  • Warty||

    Hookers all the way, John. Spitzer had the right idea.

  • Fred||

    I agree with Cavanaugh -- the full article is a 5 page effort to explain how all of this was somebody else's fault.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    What about a better piece of ass with better assets? That sounds "win-win" to me.

    And Fred, I didn't really get that vibe at all.

    "Nobody duped or hypnotized me. Like so many others - borrowers, lenders and the Wall Street dealmakers behind them - I just thought I could beat the odds."

  • ||

    "I agree with Cavanaugh -- the full article is a 5 page effort to explain how all of this was somebody else's fault."


    Completely true. The guy never had a serious talk with the new g/f about their financial realities and the need for her to work. He lived beyond his means and now is looking for everyone else to blame.

  • Tim Cavanaugh||

    What about a better piece of ass with better assets?

    See this is just the kind of expectation-inflation New York Times econ reporters have been trying to warn us about. Men used to be happy fantasizing about a nymphomaniac who owns a liquor store. Now she's gotta have an attractive P/E ratio too?

  • Fred||

    How about this gem: "Meanwhile, neither of us was paying attention to how easy our bank had made it to build up debt."

  • ||

    "What about a better piece of ass with better assets? That sounds "win-win" to me."

    Good if you can get it. BUt pretty hard. Women always want a guy with more money. Unless you are some 20 something greek God who can find some horney cougar with no shame looking for a boy toy, you are looking at getting one or the other. You get either a fat chick with some cash looking for someone, or a good looking chick looking for a guy to take care of her.

  • Hammered Head||

    Wait he traded his older model wife for another woman with just as many miles on her. This is just the kind of stupidity that would allow one to think over-extending is a great idea.

    I got rid of my wife a few years ago. Luckily, no kids or alimony. I got a 28 yr-old and after that ended I am now working on a 24 yr-old. I find that aiming for a lower-social-economic class significantly reduces the overall cost of procurement.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    Always pull a chick's credit report

  • Citizen Nothing||

    ...before she pulls yours.

  • Dr C||

    This genius covers economics for the New York Times?

    Wow ...

  • ||

    "Always pull a chick's credit report"


    Who are you that swarthy, singing, french guy from those Free Credit Report Dot Com commercials?

  • Fred||

    Here's another laugh line: "And there were other expenses on other cards: ... $1,600 to rent a beach house the previous year for us and all the children. Granted, the beach house was an embarrassing mistake."

  • Citizen Nothing||

    "Meanwhile, neither of us was paying attention to how easy our bank had made it to build up debt."

    Just sounds like a statement of fact. And an admission of being, and marrying, a moron.

  • ||

    "Wait he traded his older model wife for another woman with just as many miles on her."

    Although the woman is nice looking for her age. She looks like a good catch for the balding schlep that this guy seems to be. But, she comes unemployed and with a seemingly adorable, but no doubt expensive young daughter in tow. Not a good financial decision.

  • johnl||

    Why does a story that starts like this *always* have to end bad?
    """
    Patty was brainy, regal, sexy, fiery and eclectic.
    """

  • Even Shorter Andrews||

    I discovered that my education and life experiences were not enough to prevent mind-numbingly stupid, self-destructive, and financially ruinous behavior. Damn economy!

  • BakedPenguin||

    ... Andrews will be eaten by slow zombies, not fast.



    Excellent. Given that his ATM surprises him, it'll be totally believable.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    as long as the zombie comes bearing a credit-card application...

  • Warty||

    John, always choose the fat chick in that situation. You can mentally abuse her into an eating disorder, after all.

  • sfb||

    You can get a nice little sports car a lot cheaper than a new wife.

  • ||

    John, is that really you? Your spelling has improved by an order of magnitude. But your comments, as most of the time, are spot on.

  • Cal Lipigian||

    Hammer,

    At the rate you are going, you are only two relationships away from going to jail!

  • The Angry Optimist||

    depends on the state. 16 is legal in most (true story).

  • creech||

    He really doesn't say why his previous marriage broke up, so it may not be him that was looking for more action, etc.

    In any case, this reminds me of "He can't even run his own life, I'll be damned if he'll run mine."

  • nicole||

    Every page of this story pissed me off, and then the last one simply infuriated me. Nothing bad actually happened to these people. They got a shitload of free money, and never had to pay for it. They are still living in a house they haven't paid the mortgage on for months with no consequences.

    The worst part? My take-home pay is more than this idiot's, but I knew I couldn't afford to buy, let alone rent a fucking beach house.

    Thanks for letting me subsidize your mortgage, assholes.

  • Michael||

    For some bonus laffs, click on the "Picturing the Recession" link that features reader-submitted photographs of life during the time of our worst economic turmoil. Among the images is the demolition of a Bethlehem Steel Co. facility - which filed for bankruptcy in 2001.

  • Jimmy Soul||

    If you wanna be happy for the rest of your life
    Never make a pretty women your wife
    Go for my personal point of view
    Get an ugly girl to marry you

    A pretty women makes her husband look small
    it very often causes a system fall
    As soon as he marrys her then she starts
    looking for things that will break his heart
    but if you make an ugly women your wife
    you'll be happy for the rest of your life
    An ugly women will put peals on that
    and she'll always give you a piece of that.

    If you wanna be happy for the rest of your life
    Never make a pretty women your wife
    Go for my personal point of view
    Get an ugly girl to marry you

    Don't let your friends tell you you have no taste
    go ahead and marry anyway
    Her face is ugly her eyes don't match
    take it from me shes a better catch

  • not the real jb||

    Skipped the $700 at J. Crew... in *one* month... and almost $3,000 for Christmas presents.

    That was what finally cut their credit.

  • ||

    John-4:36

    John, I may be off my meds today, but coherent enough to know that you are absolutely right-its amazing how some guys can not see this.

  • ||

    creech-

    "How much does it cost? I'll buy it."

  • Paul||

    First of all, the dude fucked up, he got married. But I'll give him a pass on that. Everyone gets one mistake. Is Patty his second wife? (I haven't RTFA'd yet). If so, he double fucked up. Unless of course he's marrying up, then he *might* get a pass. But likely not.

    Then this:

    The rate on my primary mortgage of $333,700 was a remarkably low 5.625 percent for the first five years... I was paying a much higher rate of 8.5 percent on my "piggyback" loan for $80,300.



    Was there any need to read past this? I mean, this is colossal fuck up #2 (after getting married).

    My guess he didn't marry up if he was waiting around for Patty to get a job. Something tells me he married the adorable barrista at Starbucks who had an Art History degree and $72,000 of student loan debt.

    Mr. Andrews, if you married Patty, you just exposed yourself to a minimum of $36,000 of additional debt... if you're lucky enough to get a divorce. If not, you got the whole $72,000.

    But ultimately, the guy makes $120,000 a year. Only slightly more than a tenured, experienced teacher. I don't want to hear any fucking whining.

  • ||

    I don't have access to NYT, So I appreciate the Cliff's.

  • Paul||

    Although the woman is nice looking for her age. She looks like a good catch for the balding schlep that this guy seems to be. But, she comes unemployed and with a seemingly adorable, but no doubt expensive young daughter in tow. Not a good financial decision.

    Well shit howdy, I hadn't read the article yet, but I caught John's comment in the thread. Did I call it, or what?

  • Paul||

    Jesus H... I just RTFA'd... scanned it really. And he said 'kvetching'. I hate it when people say kvetching. I always picture a guy named Chaz from the east coast, with a sweater tied around his neck.

    I hope this guy gets divorced. Two time loser will put his finances in perspective. Because I'll bet Patty won't be anywhere NEAR as forgiving as Chase is if she doesn't get HER check...

  • JW Gacy||

    I don't have access to NYT, So I appreciate the Cliff's.

    Apparently they have it online now. Or did you send in your comment via pigeon?

  • ||

    McArdle's cuter, but I much prefer the Cavanaugh link to this story to hers.

  • ||

    The dude got involved with a chick that already had a kid. We don't need to hear about his stupid financial decisions, because we already know he's utterly retarded.

  • No Name Guy||

    I read this and wanted to puke.

    What a FUCKING MORON.

    The worst part is, I'm going to pay for this fuck-tards stupidity. Unlike some dipshit 16 Y/O who doesn't understand physics and friction and puts their POS camaro over a cliff, this asshole, thanks to the spend-o-crats, is going to get bailed out instead of killed for his stupidity. I and the other tax payers get stuck holding the bag.

    Well, fuck you Mr. I'm an economics reporter for the NY times who's too FUCKING STUPID to not spend more than I make.

    Grasshoppers of the world - go kill a few ants, before they steal your hard earned bounty with the aid of the communist bunch now in power in DC.

  • ||

    He's making 120k to write stuff like this? He's been getting bad feedback from the market for a loooong time.

    Mr. Cavanaugh: good idea on the script, but I think Edmund should have the affair with Bob.

  • JW Gacy||

    No Name Guy -- how is this guy getting a bail out? I just skimmed the article. Is the gov mandating a lower interest rate, or nonsense like that?

  • Mari Dupont||

    WAIT, I just re-skimmed the full article and noted one horrifying omission...there's no mention of him actually marrying the second freeloading-chick, they were just engaged during this whole debacle. Otherwise, I'm sure we'd be treated to a full financial accounting of their extravagant wedding.

    So basically this fool allowed himself to be bankrupted by someone he was not legally obligated to support. The mind reels...

  • BeesInTheBrain||

    Am I the only one wondering if the NY Times has been taking financial advice from this guy?

    How the heck can "unwittingly" run up $50,000 in credit card debit???

    He is the type of person that drives me nuts when I hear about the poor unfortunate soles losing their homes.

    Here is a hint, IF you realize you don't make enough money to make your mortgage payments and IF you realize your house is worth more than you paid for it. Then sale it and buy a cheaper house. It's doesn't take a financial expert to figure that out. errrrrrrr I take that back. Let me get my 8 year old in here. Hmm he figured it out.

  • Tim Cavanaugh||

    John-4:36

    "He that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together."?

  • ||

    You guys are all really charming. Women must love you.

  • JB||

    Math is like hard and stuff for journaleasts.

  • JB||

    Why is it no surprise that economics reporters for the NYT are complete morons?

  • ||

    You guys are all really charming. Women must love you.

    [oblivious to sarcasm] Why, thank you, thank you very much, but I'm still single.

  • anarch\'s 5¢ psychiatric clini||

    Sounds like attention paid to the psychological component of this guy's behavior would be well invested. I mean, I know we're at reason and all [don't drink, thanks anyway], but the heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing. His investing philosophy sounds like a cri du coeur - I suspect protesting his divorce.

  • Joe||

    Patty sounds like a pain-in-the-ass and Edmund sounds like a real puss/douche-bag. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the typical upper-middle-class college-educated white American couple. Shallow, self-important, whiny and weak. Edmund and Patty, I have a message for you from your fore-fathers and -mothers: SUCK IT UP, GROW-UP AND TAKE CARE OF YOUR SHIT!!!!

  • ||

    "It takes a lot of money to dump your wife and mother of your two kids for a better piece of ass."

    There was nothing in the article about how his first marriage ended, and he metioned he reconnected with Patty in middle age after both of them went through divorces.

    2/3 of divorces are initiated by the woman. It may have come as a complete surprise to him. Or he could have found him in bed with a trio of midgets.

  • anarch||

    Or he could have found him in bed with a trio of midgets.


    Which would be consistent with his surprise about

    what the A.T.M. would reveal about my balance, but I was shocked when I looked at the receipt.



    Like Sartre's not knowing, when he next stuck out his tongue, whether it would be a centipede.

  • mark||

    I am probably one of the younger people here (but who knows, libertarians are mostly college kids). I have worked a number of jobs in all income ranges and am currently just getting by on $25k.

    If you make more than $50,000 a year you are RICH. If you make more than $100k you are SUPER RICH. I don't care who you are, if you make more than $100k and fuck up like this guy did, you should be out on the street for a year minimum.

    Though I can sort of understand the ATM-surprise mentality. If you're making that much and you haven't had real financial hardship in years, you might forget that money isn't like an allowance that comes from the sky, it's actually based on something. I hope the NYT itself learns this the hard way and they all become conservative by next year.

  • mark||

    And while molly has pretty much nailed us, I have to rant just a little more on money.

    Have you ever seen this retarded movie called Sex and the City? There's a scene where a guy gives Samantha a $70,000 ring, and it's not an engagement ring. Upon viewing this scene, my girlfriend pretty much said she would dump the guy right there for making such a poor financial decision.

    And before anyone scolds me for ignoring ex-wife/kids expenses in my above comment about $50k/year making you rich, well, maybe I am a bit naive. $60k/year should cover it.

  • anarch the Talmudist||

    she would dump the guy right there for making such a poor financial decision


    Would your gf keep the ring? If not, Look whose giving financial advice. If yes, res ipsa loquitur, caveat emptor, and what Sophocles said.

    Only kidding. :-)

  • mark||

    Very funny. I wasn't trying to debate my gf's relative virtues, only that she's my best example of someone who has had to work for everything in life, and the thought of wasting money like that made her a little sick, as it should.

  • ||

    I actually tried to read that piece, this morning. I got about four paragraphs in, and bailed.

    Since I already know he's not going to end up headless in a dumpster, there just doesn't seem to be any point. I want a happy ending, dammit.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    If you make more than $50,000 a year you are RICH.

    In most cases, if you don't have kids, then true. But kids are expensive, dammit. Luckily, I don't have kids.

    Since I already know he's not going to end up headless in a dumpster

    lol, harsh, bro.

  • Craig||

    If you make more than $50,000 a year you are RICH. If you make more than $100k you are SUPER RICH.

    You've obviously never lived in New York or California.

  • Regrets||

    Always pull a chick's credit report... before she pulls yours.

    Too bad Mark Cuban didn't warn Dirk Nowitzki about this when he arrived here from Germany....

  • ||

    If you make more than $50,000 a year you are RICH. If you make more than $100k you are SUPER RICH.

    You've obviously never lived in New York or California.


    You're obviously young because you have no clue what you are talking about. As stated above, try living in Manhattan (I have) or even North Jersey or Southwestern Connecticut. You have no idea, dude.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    try living in Manhattan (I have) or even North Jersey or Southwestern Connecticut

    Now why in the hell would someone do a fool thing like that?

  • Tim Cavanaugh||

    I'm with Mark. Above $50k isn't rich, but I think if you're making $120,000, and as of this writing you still have your job, and you're crying the financial blues, then you're pretty far from being worthy of interest, let alone sympathy.

    Then again, I think a bank that can borrow money at 0.00% while charging me 6.25% has no business flunking what was already a scandalously easy "stress test" by an astounding $13.7 billion, so maybe I'm just a crazy person.

  • anarch||

    Welcome back, Tim. Don't run away again please.

  • ||

    New York Times writer thinks he's the smartest guy in the room; is actually bottom quintile. Film at 11.

  • Alan Vanneman||

    I always figure, you stay away from eclectic dames, you don't get burned.

  • eclectic dame...||

    ...right hier.

  • Kolohe||

    Grasshoppers of the world - go kill a few ants, before they steal your hard earned bounty with the aid of the communist bunch now in power in DC.

    Dude, you like totally reversed the polarity on that one.

  • mark||

    I'm actually from North Jersey and you're right, I'd have to live rather cheaply (but rich nonetheless) on $50k. Thank god I moved to Texas though :)

    With kids, there probably wouldn't be much money left for beer, so then I guess I'd be back to the middle class, brewing my own.

  • Amy Alkon||

    Great piece, Tim - you have to do more of these.

  • ||

    The worst part is, I'm going to pay for this fuck-tards stupidity. .

    Well, fuck you Mr. I'm an economics reporter for the NY times who's too FUCKING STUPID to not spend more than I make.


    If what you say is true, No Name Guy, and "Mr. I'm an economic reporter for the NY Times" spends more than he makes and you're going to pay for it--he doesn't sound all that stupid.

    Maybe you can ask him to cut you in on the royalties from the book he wrote about the whole deal.

  • ||

    This is hilarious! I loved that the NYT economics reporter (a) didn't really make a ton of money and (b) seemed a little fuzzy on compound interest.

    This isn't his first book, and I don't see 6 figure advance or big time movie deal, somehow.

  • Nike Dunk High||

    thanks

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