Sunday, July 20, 2008


Shall we parse the Bulletin again? I figure it's a lot like Kremlinologists in the 50's and 60's: trying to figure out what the dirty rotten commies were really saying, who was up and who was down, required a good deal of analysis.

Since I've lived in Bend my whole life, and have been reading the Bulletin probably since about 1970 or so, you can call me a Bulletinologist.

I know I'm in the minority among bubble bloggers in that I think the Bulletin is a pretty good paper. Much better than average, in my opinion, has it's quirks.

So the usual upbeat or at least neutral headline (more neutral than upbeat these days), the usual upbeat first and last paragraphs, and the usual real information in the middle.

The bad news is there, it just isn't really pointed out. They leave that to the the Bulletinologists.

Local bank shares don't reflect the 'real' health of the banks, so pay them no mind -- and oh, by the way, the shares went 'up' last week. (Contradiction #1). The banks are healthy -- unless there is an 'extended' downturn. (Contradiction #2). Banks are "healthier than they appear", which is not exactly the same thing as saying they are really healthy. (Contradiction #3). Local banks have had a good 5 to 10 years, and have built reserves, but they invested "heavily in markets such as Central Oregon, where real estate values may continue to drop." A 'negative' reserve, if you will. (Contradiction #4.) I'm barely past the first couple of paragraphs, and could go on and on with this.

Anyway, I'm already worn out -- suffice it to say that the actual substance of the article is anything but rosy.

The second article about local builders again was more downbeat in substance than in tone. Sure, if you go out and pick top builders of custom homes, who are finishing off projects financed by wealthy owners, things look pretty good.

Never mind that there are very few of these jobs available at the top, and probably very few wealthy owners who can finance their own houses left in the pipeline.

The editorial about how the economy will turn around? But of course! But when? And I think when you make the comment that it's not as bad as in the past, you need to add the word "YET." But they are probably right -- because the 80's were truly horrid. A The 80's were more like the Great Depression in Bend, than any other recession, even a severe one.

Anyway, the Bulletin is slowly coming around. I think they don't want to spook anyone. But I also think they truly believe this is a normal downturn (like my nemesis RDC) that we'll get back on track soon and Bend is just so great that we're just great. It's great that we're great. So there.


eyepublius said...

"Fine, I can hear you now, Dmitri... Clear and plain and coming through fine... I'm coming through fine, too, eh?... Good, then... well, then, as you say, we're both coming through fine... Good... Well, it's good that you're fine and... and I'm fine... I agree with you, it's great to be fine."

My favorite line in Costa's drivel was this: "In the rush that was too good to be true, someone camouflaged the fundamentals."

At least one "someone" doing the camouflaging locally was Costa and his merry band of bubble boosters.

Anonymous said...

"I'm in the minority among bubble bloggers in that I think the Bulletin is a pretty good paper"

In terms of appearance, it's certainly a more impressive looking paper than those of other towns in Oregon of similar size. Lots more local articles, too. But will this still be the case 5 years from now?

RDC said...

Just to be clear.

Nationally this is a normal downturn. It is not the end of civilization as we know it. It is not anything different then the US has experienced in the past.

Now the impact upon each local area is dependent upon that charateristics of each area. Bend is substantially over price as far as real estate is concerned, it is too dependent upon too few business, and has a city council that seems to like acting like they are big fish in a big pond instead of realizing that they are in a pretty small pond and if they do not use those resources wisely they will be flapping around in a dry pond.

Now in either case what one feels about the current state of the economy ad how it fits into historical context, a newspaper is still obligated to report factual information. An obligation that the Bulletin seems to be skirting in how it presents the information.

Of course it would not benefit anyone for it to adapt a chicken little point of presentation.

RDC said...

To put this into perspective during the S&L crisis in the late 80's we had over 1400 banks fail as well as 1500 S&Ls. To date in the current crises we have had very few fail and have a pretty small number of the troubled list.

eyepublius said...

"To put this into perspective during the S&L crisis in the late 80's we had over 1400 banks fail as well as 1500 S&Ls."

Ah yes -- Bush Senior was president then, wasn't he? These sorts of collapses seem to be a Bush family specialty.

RDC said...

This post may be a partial repeat. I posted a comment earlier today but it has not shown up. I am not sure if it did not process or if Duncan has not gotten around to it yet. But just in case it was lost.

If one looks at the events leading to the S&L crisis they all occured prior to the 1st Prsident Bush taking office in 1988. The only thing of major importance that occured in 1988 or later was a final cleanup activity. There is a good synopsis of the major events on the FDIC web site.