American Apparel Drama Round 2. Or is it Round 3?; Very Merry Gas Pumping Days; Housing: What’s Up or Rather Down With it?;

Change can be good…

Image courtesy of jscreationzs/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of jscreationzs/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Someone – make that some entity – actually wants to buy embattled retailer American Apparel, drama and all. In the meantime, co-chairmen Allan Mayer and David Danziger stepped down to be replaced by Colleen Brown. Rumors of a takeover began swirling last week, sending shares of the stock up. Private equity firm Irving Place reportedly put in a very generous offer of between $1.30 – $1.40 per share, or between $227 million – $245 million. The offer was especially generous because the stock is currently hovering around  $1.10 a share as I write this. Yet its price is still a distant memory from the $15.00 stratosphere where the stock was trading back in 2007. And the company is on track to post its fifth straight year of losses. What’s even more interesting about this takeover offer is that Irving Place would like to see alleged sexual harrasser, Dov Charney, back in the corporate mix, even though he was unceremoniously ousted last week, much to the chagrin of over 30 executives. Charney, however, still remains the largest shareholder in the company, with a hefty 43% stake in it.

Come all ye’ gas guzzlers…

Image courtesy of Rawich/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Rawich/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

These days are looking very merry at the pumps as gasoline prices are, on average, at their lowest prices since May 15, 2009. Head on over to Tulsa, Oklahoma and you might just find yourself filling up your tank to the very merry tune of less than $2.00 per gallon. Other cities where miracles like that are happening are in Lubbock, TX and Kansas City, MO. But don’t get too giddy as the average price is hovering above the $2.00 mark in most parts of the country. It’d probably be best to steer clear of Long Island, where you’ll be paying over $2.80 per gallon, on average. Still, these prices are better than they were last year when we were shelling out approximately $0.79 more per gallon than we are now. If you’re holding out hope for these prices to fall even more, they just might. But only by a few cents. There is a dark side, though,  to falling gas prices, particularly in Texas, whose economy relies heavily on the energy industry. The Texas economy could actually take a brutal beating from these decreasing prices, losing perhaps billions of dollars in revenue, but more importantly, hundreds of thousands of jobs.

No home for the holidays…

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Seeing as you’re saving all this money because of falling gas prices, perhaps as much as a whopping $550.00 a year, then maybe you ought to consider looking for a new home. Well, someobody ought to anyway, considering that purchases for previously-owned homes took a nasty little 6.1% dive with only 4.93 million homes being sold in the month of November. Forecasts, sadly enough called for a decline from October’s 5.25 million, but only to 5.2 million. So that 4.93 million figure was an unwelcome surprise being the weakest number posted since May. But it’s not all bad and gut-wrenching since that number is still a 2.1% increase over the same time last year. Yet a bit perplexing since mortgage rates are so low right now, with the average rate on a 30 year fixed topping off at 3.8% last week. Experts, me not being one of them, also say that the decrease could just mean that there are a lot of prospective buyers out there who just don’t like the current batch of housing inventory and are holding out for more properties to come on the market. Let’s hope that’s the case. The next few months ought to provide us with a few clues.

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Inflation Elation; Home Sweet Home Loans; Feeling 1.7 % More Secure

Get your motors running…

Image courtesy of kongsky/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of kongsky/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

We can all breathe a collective sigh of relief now that the numbers are telling us how stuff like inflation and the cost to live on this planet, at least our part of it, didn’t really change, as in go up, down etc. Well, it did. Slightly. But nothing that would require any action from those money experts at the Federal Reserve. This means interest rates get to stay nice and low.  For now, anyways. But it should be duly noted that the Feds would prefer to see inflation actually go up. A bit, anyways. Because apparently that would be healthier for the economy, according to people who qualify as experts. What has also become a rather pleasant occurrence is the price of gas these days, which has been going down to an average of $3.09 per gallon. Now who doesn’t love a drop in gas prices? Never a bad thing, in my most humble opinion.

The rates are falling! The rates are falling!

Image courtesy of phasinphoto/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of phasinphoto/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Look out for new neighbors with mortgage rates falling down all over the place.  According to the very insightful index of the very insightful Mortgage Bankers Association, or MBA for those in the know, all these new nifty low borrowing costs have resulted in a major increase in mortgage applications. We’re talking an 11.6% increase in applications. Numbers that big haven’t been seen since January. The week before saw a 5.6% increase. Thinking of going for the plunge on a 30 year fixed loan? Well those rates went down to 4.1%. Or perhaps you are mulling over a 15 year fixed rate mortgage? The interest rates on those babies dropped to 3.28%.

Social security butterfly…

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In case you will be wondering (and why wouldn’t you be?) what happened to over 6.2% of your paycheck towards the end of fiscal 2015, look no further than the Social Security tax. Around 10 million Americans will be shelling out over $7,300 towards that “fund” next year. The cap on that figure, by the way, is $118,500 for 2015. Fret not, taxpayer as that is but a mere 1.3% increase over 2014’s $117,000 cap. But wait, there’s more. The millions upon millions of retirees receiving social security benefits will receive  1.7% fatter checks in 2015 thanks to the Cost of Living Adjustment, or COLA , for those in the know (and not to be confused with any beverages, mind you). For the average retiree, that amounts to about $22 more per month on a monthly check of $1,328. If you think that number is, shall we say, unimpressive, then consider the fact that in 2010 and 2011 there was a 0% increase. Z-E-R-O.