Earlier this week, I drove past a home that had sold several months ago and undergone substantial renovations. It looked very impressive from the front of the home, until I noticed a large red line down one side of the driveway and a survey post in front of it. I thought that it was quite odd, given that the property was over a half an acre and the line was directly down the driveway. I had mutual friends of the neighbouring property and I mentioned the odd line to one of them in conversation. Apparently, the driveway was actually on the neighbour's property and this was now causing some problems between the neighbours.
Last weekend, I listened to a fascinating Ted Talks segment on the radio. The discussion was about whether or not our English language is to blame for why North Americans save less money on average than other ethnicities such as the Chinese. The English language includes a past, present and future tense in how we speak. The example that the interviewer gave was the concept of rain. We commonly say "it will rain", "it's raining" or "it rained" depending on the timeframe of the event. Interestingly, the Chinese language refers to both present and future events in much the same way. In Chinese, one would say (loosely translated) "now it rain" (present), "tomorrow it rain (future) and "yesterday it rain" (past tense). Keith Chan, a behavioral economist, believes that separating the present from the future creates a sense of disconnect in terms of the event and makes it more distant. In the Chinese language, both present and future are reflected in the same tense and causes people to think about them in a similar manner, thus making it easier to embrace the concept of saving.
What is the story or intent BEHIND the headlines? The real estate market in the US appears to have made an almost miraculous recovery overnight. Take for instance, the Manhattan real estate market. Demand remained fervent despite tons of competition in the market. Streeteasy.com reported that sales in the first quarter increased by 15%. January showed a 32% increase in sales compared to 2012. Sofia Song, Streeteasy's vice-president of research went on to state, "That's insane. This is the highest number of contracts in the first quarter and the second highest of any quarter since the meltdown of 2008." At the same time, the media reported that more and more foreclosures were happening in the States, that the job projections were not as positive as first reported, and that major budget cuts and soaring interest rates (any day now) would soon cause more sweeping unemployment?