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Returning to his former home of Hawaii as President-elect, Barack Obama and his family are enjoying a 13-day vacation.
Obama is secluded at a compound of oceanfront estates, guarded by seven-foot walls made of stone and lava rock and situated along a quiet sliver of snow-white-sandy beach.
The Kailua Estate seems is ideal for a Presidential retreat, sitting neatly on a peninsula, with only a single narrow road leading to it, thus offering plenty of privacy.
Behind the walls, the Obamas can enjoy picturesque beach and ocean views from the master bedroom, heavy granite in the kitchen and detailed woodwork throughout. There are Tiki torches dotting the manicured gardens, and the interior features stone imported from Peru, Jerusalem and Italy.
The entire Kailua neighborhood once was the private estate of Samuel Castle, a sugar magnate whose Castle & Cooke company was one of the Big Five firms that dominated Hawaiian politics for decades. The Obamas’ current retreat is situated close to land that was once Castle’s horse pasture and skeet ranch.
It’s worth imagining what 2009 could bring. I am a not a pessimist but it is worth glaring into the crystal ball and letting go of today and dreaming – dreaming it is December 2009.
Has the US Fed pumped trillions of dollars into the US economy and what has been the result? Have property prices stabilized and how is Citibank going? Has the bailout really cleaned out the poisoned loans? Let’s dream!
We have bailed out the 3 car manufacturers and we have bailed out the banks. The banks have hoarded money and monetary policy is having no effect. Interest rates are at the lowest level ever – 0% and the Dow is hovering around 5000 points. Superannuation has lost trillions and those that would be retiring have realized that another ten years of work is required (at least) to make retirement possible.
Small and medium manufacturers are all but gone – car companies are waiting to get supplies and difficult car finance is all but crippling sales. Many of the smaller car dealerships have closed, finding the credit crunch a hard go and the larger dealerships holding too large an inventory are closing. Surely more money will solve this, but maybe not! With monetary policy crippled what can President Obama do?
The Fed has decided to pump more money into the economy and inflation is now an issue. Inflation is a real problem, with OPEC deciding to reduce supply by a total of 10 million barrels a day to increase the price of oil. Their greed has accelerated issues in the economy with transport companies struggling to get paid by clients, forced redundancies and supply train chaos ensue.
Credit scarcity has caused loan delinquencies to flourish with 5 million US households in foreclosure. Prices continue to fall and Citibank is on a downward spiral. What are the options for President Obama? Let Citibank fail or pump yet more money into the economy? This will force the US dollar to fall even further and prices are going up and up.
The US economy is now at breaking point with reliant economies collapsing. There is no savior to come to the US aid – the world is simply not capable of saving the US as it’s too big. Japan and the EU are crippled. Is the US in recession, depression or bankrupt? With trillions of dollars of debt President Obama has few options.
This chance to imagine is just one example of what could be. There are so many variables and so much left to be answered. This situation would cause so much grief and I am an optimist, hoping and praying that our leaders find solutions to the problems we face. Solutions that are not only needed but vital to the livelihood of so many families and vital to the survival of the world superpower that we so rely on for our economic and military security.
By giving up her New York Senate seat where she has carved out a respected position, she will become the face of US diplomacy overseas and the third female secretary of state, after Madeleine Albright and Condoleezza Rice.
The prospect of Senator Clinton as secretary of state has been welcomed across the political spectrum, even if there remains some concern over the uniting of two bold and former rivals.
So, from a property perspective, the Clinton’s 6,478 sq ft property on Whitehaven Street in North-West Washington DC will become very useful (below).
The Clinton’s also live in a 5,232 sq ft residence, with five bedroom’s and 4 bathrooms in Chappaqua, New York.
(images from Microsoft Virtual Earth)
It’s amazing to look at what has happened over the last 18-24 months with regard to oil pricing. It was announced earlier in the year that it was almost a certainty that the price of petrol/gas would reach $8 a litre in the next 12 months in Australia. Like most other people around the world I braced for the ever increasing oil price, not knowing how consumers would afford such an increase in price.
In mid 2008, it was announced that grocery prices in Australia had increased by around 40% in just 12 months. This came as no shock as families large and small were feeling the effect of the increased price of energy. Whether a car owner or a user of public transport price increases could be felt everywhere – but wages certainly didn’t increase by 40% in the last 12 months as did grocery prices.
I watched with interest as OPEC met to discuss increasing oil production to assist the US and other countries in controlling the ever increasing cost of goods and services caused in no small part by the massive cost of oil (thus energy) which we rely on to survive in our economy. The result was no change in production levels which ensured the continued soaring price of oil and the ultimate crossing of the point of no return. In other words oil reached a point whereby the cost of living became too high for people to survive and the rest is history – we are now living the result of the oil price greed.
There are so many reasons in addition to the price of oil which have caused the world to be in the position that it is currently in however the price of oil has played no small part. I am thrilled to see the pricing fall and I have no sympathy for those countries that showed little foresight in allowing oil prices to remain at unsustainable levels – they now have to deal with pricing which is sure to be a fraction of the highs they enjoyed and I’m sure the price of oil is going to continue to fall – it’s music to my ears!
Greed is never a nice thing to watch and be part of and ultimately it isn’t something that leads to positive outcomes for those with greed in their hearts. As the world, soon to be led by President-Elect Obama, searches for alternative energy sources it may be just a matter of time before oil greed is a thing of the past – let’s hope for all our sake’s!
With news that Germany is now officially in recession, is the domino effect in full swing? Can Australia resist – maybe, maybe not – hopefully New South Wales is not the trendsetter. As the only Australian state in recession, the hapless State government has decided that the best way to stimulate growth and kick-start the economy is…wait for it…put up taxes and hit families and small businesses hard. What planet are they on?
In this issue of our e-mag we’ve tried hard to balance the heavy and light-hearted to keep things running smoothly for you. We haven’t sugar-coated the bad news, but we’ve made sure there’s some luxury and fun included.
It’s no secret that Barack Obama utilized the internet and social networking massively during his election campaign. We note that Australia’s political leaders have taken this onboard too, meaning that as well as Facebook and MySpace, you can now follow Kevin Rudd on Twitter and also Liberal leader, Malcolm Turnbull. See for yourself by clicking on the links, and don’t forget you can follow the Marquette Turner team too (see the bottom of this email for the links, and also more information).
Keep checking our blog to stay informed on life and its luxuries – it’s updated many times a day. You can check out the Nov 14 e-mag, or browse through our blog right here, right now.
“A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have” Thomas Jefferson
The week ahead will be momentous for numerous reasons: The US Presidential Election will reach it’s crescendo, the Melbourne Cup will be run and the Reserve Bank will have, we suspect, reduced Australian interest rates further.
As I sit in the London sun – I kid you not – it’s worth remembering that no race is over ’til it’s over, and one must never misjudge the finish line.
Tuesday 4 November 2008 is shaping up to be a historical day:
- The US Presidential Election will either see the first African-American President (Obama) or the first female Vice-President (Palin) together with the eldest first-term President (McCain).
- The Reserve Bank of Australia will meet and, all things being equal, will almost certainly cut interest rates.
It’s Melbourne Cup flutter fever throughout Australia.
You don’t need to be a gambler to have an opinion on the outcome of at least two out of three events, and broadly speaking one could achieve a hat trick by betting that “a horse” will win the Emirates Cup in Melbourne.
Where the interesting debate lies is in the margin of change. If Obama wins, how many Electoral College Votes will it be by? And, should the RBA cut interest rates, how much will the reduction be?
Let’s hone in on the Australian interest rate debate. Current factors influencing the RBA are:
- The Australian dollar is weak, hovering around US60 cents to the Australian dollar and having fallen 40% since July;
- Inflation is high (around 5%);
- Consumer and business confidence is lowering;
- Global growth prospects are poor;
- World oil and commodity prices are becoming more sensible;
- Unemployment is marginally on the increase;
The government’s intervention by guaranteeing some deposits has not created the market stability intended.
So, given that it’s pretty much a given that interest rates will be cut, how much by? Well, the Marquette Turner team, in taking the above conditions into account, believe that the cut will be between half of one percentage points and three quarters of a percentage point. This will be an important shot in the arm for home owners and home buyers alike – whether it will be a silver bullet for the Australian housing market is probably on par with the likelihood of the eldest horse in the race winning from mid-stream. Simon Turner
It may not be too long until Barack Obama and his family call the White House in Washington their home. Until then, however, they’ll be making do with their property in Greenwood Avenue, Chicago, Illinois which was purchased in 2005 for $US1.65 million.
Being in the United States you just have to wonder why some people choose to be in the public eye? Is it the power? Is it the celebrity or is it the wealth? I can’t begin to answer that question but when looking at Michael Bloomberg with his own TV channel and of course a personal net wealth of $11.5 Billion I guess it isn’t the wealth – he has it already.
The New York Mayor and media mogul spent $85 million on re-election in 2005 (what did Clover Moore spend in Sydney?). The sum was $11 million more than in his first election 2001. Now the most famous Mayor in the world is rumoured to be considering jumping into the Presidential race – not now, but maybe in 4 years time.
With talk running hot that Bloomberg could run as Obama’s running mate earlier in the year and now that he may seek an unprecedented mandate for a third term as Mayor of New York City, all eyes are on him to see which candidate he’ll endorse – at this stage he has been quiet on the issue.
It wasn’t clear if Palin was inside the building or whether Obama had recently departed, but election fever is running hot and it is amazing to see how the Americans express their political views. Both Simon Turner and I also watched the live debate between Obama and McCain only a few hours ago and it appeared that Obama was the winner. America is a wonderful and fascinating country.
The October 17, 2008 edition of the MTLH e-magazine, coming to you this week from New York City, can be viewed right now.
The amazing reach of the internet has never been more evident than right now – two young Australian’s have just won a global, luxury award and Barack Obama, having just eloquently seen off the challenge of John McCain in the 3rd Presidential Candidate Debate (incidentally, here in New York) and perhaps the clearest advocate of just what social networking and communication can do, is knocking on the door of Bush Jr’s hangout on Pennsylvania Avenue (ie. The White House). That’s progress!
And in case you’re wondering, we can’t see Russia from here!
As part of our experience in the United States on this occasion both Simon and I found ourselves in the middle of a massive political rally in Philadelphia. With the Presidential Election only a few weeks away campaigning is in full swing throughout the country and some States have even started voting – although the results of the early voting will not be announced until official counting begins on election day (Nov 4, 2008).
As an Australian it was amazing to witness the passion of supporters for Barack Obama and John McCain and the extent to which they express their feelings. The Vice presidential candidates were also receiving plenty of attention with Sarah Palin opponents holding up signs, wearing anti-Republican t-shirts and printed with all sorts of slogans as well as chanting in unison.
I have never seen such passion for any election in Australia and although Police were on hand the rally remained no-violent – just very loud! Before leaving Philadelphia, we also witnessed the Hillary Clinton machine roll in and out of town – yes, she’s still going – and Simon and I visited the Liberty Bell which is a symbol for freedom for all people in the United States. The protests, rallies and the individuals mentioned are crystal clear evidence that the symbolism of the liberty bell is alive and well.
We were also fortunate enough to visit several properties throughout the city with Luxury Brokers who are part of the Who’s Who in Luxury Real Estate and compared the pricing of property in Philadelphia with that back home in Australia. Without hesitation Sydney is a far more expensive city for those looking to purchase real estate, showing the importance of property to Australia when considering both wealth creation and housing affordability.
Whatever the result of the Obama versus McCain election in the US , I believe Australia is well placed for buyer confidence to recover quickly after the stunning 1% (100 basis points) decrease in interest rates by the Reserve Bank and the overall health of the Australian financial system. The freedom’s, liberties and luxuries that we all enjoy show few signs of fading!
This morning the Dow Jones plummeted by more than 800 points before recovering and is currently trading in positive territory. Commentators on CNN, Bloomberg and Fox have been touting what would happen if the Dow were to drop to 7479 which would result in trading being halted for 30 minutes. The enormous recovery has excited the market with hopes high that gains continue.
Both the Ford Motor Company and GE (General Electric) have stated that they are not looking to file for bankruptcy protection (Warren Buffett’s recent injection of equity no doubt helps, as will GE’s plan to raise $15 billion from the equity markets). General Motors (GM) is in serious trouble (GM’s share price is at its lowest price in over 50 years) and GE, GM and Ford are all planning massive reductions in their workforces.
After President George W Bush gave his speech in an attempt to steady the market, it fell by around 200 points – showing the lack of confidence shown in the current Administration. I continue to talk to Americans who just want the Federal Election to be over and Barack Obama is far and away the person being touted as the preferred President.
As I am currently in New York which is a predominantly Democratic State, this does not come as a shock, although the sentiment seems far more reaching than just the State of New York. With just over 3 weeks to go to the Presidential election I am sure the President Elect will have plenty to worry about. At this stage it is being reported that Obama is leading by up to 10 points nationally but the election is set to be decided in only a handful of states – Ohio is at the top of the list.
Net Worth: $2.5 billion
The self-made media mogul paid $50 million in 2001 for the 23,000-square-foot Georgian-style home she calls the “Promised Land.” Last year the spread was appraised at just under $85 million. For such a public persona, Winfrey ferociously guards the privacy of her home, situated on 43 acres. At a Barack Obama fund raiser last year, guests were strictly prohibited from entering the house, and cameras were forbidden.