The weakest link…

August 8, 2007

images-11.jpegWe take a break from our usual trawl through the filings out of necessity because my cracker-jack hosting company can’t seem to figure out why I’m not receiving any email. And, since I get all my SEC filing alerts from 10KWizard via email, this is creating a pretty significant problem. So while Business Week may joke that I have a direct connection to the SEC’s Edgar database wired into my brain, the truth is that I’m at the mercy of Bluehost and right now, it’s a giant stinking mess! Just to be crystal clear, this is a Bluehost problem and not a 10KWizard problem — didn’t mean to send the great guys from 10KWizard into engineering overdrive!

Luckily, the technology seems to be a bit more efficient when it comes to searching for victims of the mortgage meltdown. For the past few weeks, I’ve been skimming the Florida REO (Real Estate Owned) listings for Countrywide Financial (CFC) as well as the listings for IndyMac (IMB) and have found the trend line to be pretty interesting. For example, last week, Countrywide listed 558 properties for sale in Florida. Last night, it was 588.

Why Florida? Because that’s where I was the last time the real estate bubble went bust due to a few over-ambitious S&Ls. I used to live on a small barrier island called Anna Maria, which is near the bustling metropolis of Bradenton and each time I’ve gone back, I’ve been amazed at the level of building. Two years ago, there was even someone advertising something called “Ca$h Cow Condos”, which I took to be a clear sign of impending doom. Not to mention that Bradenton is the home of Coast Federal (CFHI), a small bank caught up in the Florida real estate mess, which announced on Friday that it was being acquired for $3.40 a share. Compare that to the $16 a share the stock was trading at before the bottom fell out.

Back then, we called it OREO, like the cookie, instead of REO, though I’m not quite sure why the O has been dropped this time around. And the only way to really find foreclosed properties was to hang out at the local courthouse. Now, it’s as easy as going online. As for my email, I’m hopeful that the problem will be resolved soon. In the meantime, if you need to reach me, please send a message here. And, if you’ve sent an email to me @ footnoted after 6 pm last night, please resend it to the address above.

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