This whole economic mess has its roots in the real-estate bubble, which was driven by inflated housing values and no-doc, lo-doc, subprime, interest-only and other “creative” mortgages that were packaged by Wall Street into supposedly AAA securities that were then peddled off to investors in what amounted to a giant pyramid scheme.
In the last few months, the economy has shown some halting signs of progress. Job growth remains positive, if barely. Holiday sales seem to be on the upswing. And as Bloomberg reports today:
The number of workers filing first- time claims for unemployment insurance payments fell last week in the U.S., showing the labor market continues to improve.
Applications for jobless benefits decreased to 421,000, less than the median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News, from a revised 438,000 the prior week, Labor Department figures showed today. The four-week moving average, a less-volatile measure, dropped to the lowest level in more than two years.
However, while all of that’s encouraging, take a look at this. It’s a screen grab of a Google maps feature showing you all the properties in foreclosure in the Atlanta area. The basic fundamental problem isn’t getting a whole lot better; we’ve just become more or less used to it. It’s been absorbed into the New Normal, but at any other moment in our lifetimes, a map like this would be terrifying.
Not to mention impossible to produce because we lacked the technology.
The Google ap lets you burrow down to neighborhood, street or even specific property. If you’re curious, go to Google maps. Across the top of the map you’ll see buttons labeled “traffic”, “satellite”, etc. Click on the button labeled “more.”
Then click on “real estate.” Go to the lefthand column and check “foreclosure.” You can now satisfy your morbid curiosity by finding foreclosures anyplace in the country.
Here’s a slightly modified version of the map above, this time showing only those properties valued at more than $200,000. It too is considerably daunting.