2012 February | timiacono.com - Part 16

Bozeman Among NatGeo Top 25 Ski Towns

The police report offerings have been unimpressive lately (though there was a report last week of a search for a women clad only in a hat  wandering around late at night in freezing temperatures) so, instead, after a fresh six inches of snow over the last 24 hours, this Saturday we’ll have a look at this National Geographic story that picked Bozeman, Montana as one of the 25 best ski towns in the world.

We’re #4 after Zermatt, Switzerland in a series that, apparently, is in no particular order.

Best For: Diehard skiers who wear their duct tape with pride (and beginners who look forward to doing the same someday)

The adventure capital of the Northern Rockies, Bozeman is an old Montana university town of cowboys and ski bums, pickups and unleashed dogs, and two of the premier ski hills in America. More of a working town than a traditional “ski town,” here overpriced lodges and fine dining are the exception, though there are a few high-end options and classically trained chefs. But being Bozeman, there’s nowhere you can’t wear blue jeans.

You don’t come here for the restaurants, you come to ski the two wild Montana mountains. Bridger Bowl is the storied, scruffy little brother, a condo-free, nonprofit ski area 20 minutes out of town and where some of America’s original extreme skiers—Scot Schmidt, Tom Jungst, and Doug Coombs—cut their teeth and began preaching the steep skiing gospel. Hardcore skiers flock here for The Ridge, hiking terrain with a murderer’s row of hairball chutes, and the new Schlasman’s Lift accessing expert-only, backcountry-style terrain (avalanche transceivers required for both).

An hour’s drive south of town in the majestic Madison Range, Big Sky Resort is the brash, lusty big brother, a gigantic ski area that offers joint lift tickets with the adjacent Moonlight Basin to create one of the largest ski areas in America. The tram to the vaulting, exposed 11,166-foot summit of Lone Peak opens up a Euro-style world of high-alpine, big-mountain skiing. Beginners and intermediates will find plenty of terrain at both, with Big Sky the deluxe option and the smaller Bridger a no-frills, low-cost choice. Yellowstone National Park, a 60-minute drive away, features back-of-beyond cross-country skiing and wildlife watching.

We spend a fair amount of time at Bridger Bowl where season passes are unbelievably affordable. The Bozeman Daily Chronicle ran this story the other day on having achieved this honor and Whitefish, Montana in the northwest corner of the state was also selected.

Consumer Sentiment Stops Rising

For the first time in six months, the Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index stopped rising, falling from 75.0 in January to 72.5 in the first of two readings for February. This follows a decline in the consumer confidence index last week, the first time that the other major gauge of the American mood has declined since last fall.

The current conditions component within the sentiment survey dropped from a lofty 84.2 in January to 79.6 in February while the expectations component fell from 69.1 to 68.0.

Recall that, while these readings are a great improvement from the lows seen last summer as elected officials were debating a debt ceiling increase, they remain levels more often associated with recessions than recoveries as depicted in this graphic from the St. Louis Fed. In fact, during the 2001 recession, consumer sentiment never fell below 80.

Rising optimism about an improving labor market was more than offset by higher gasoline prices (and perhaps the hangover of holiday credit card bills coming due), though higher prices at the pump didn’t show up in the inflation expectations survey as the one-year outlook for the rise in consumer prices fell from 3.2 percent to 3.1 percent while the five-year view of inflation rose two tenths of a percent to 2.9 percent.

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Friday Morning Links: Mortgage Deal Edition

Here are those mortgage deal links I mentioned in the Friday Morning Links post a couple hours ago. It was another one of those days when, in the process of collecting news stories for the links post, there was a virtual avalanche of reporting and opinions on what the Justice Department hath wrought with this deal.

A ‘deadbeat’ bailout – NY Sun
The Mortgage Deal: A Reality Check – NPR
Mortgage deal: What the critics say – CNN/Money
U.S. banks agree to $25 billion in homeowner help – Reuters
Settlement launches foreclosure reckoning – Washington Post
Why the Foreclosure Deal May Not Be So Hot After All – Taibblog
Why Millions Won’t Get Help From Big Mortgage Settlement – ProPublica
Top Twelve Reasons Why You Should Hate the Mortgage Settlement – Naked Capitalism
Foreclosure Settlement Falls Short, Still Worth the Wait: View – Bloomberg
Is The Foreclosure Settlement A Shadow Bailout For Broke California – Zero Hedge
What the foreclosure settlement means for you – CNN/Money
Mortgage Settlement and Negative Equity – Calculated Risk
Robo-Deal Is All About Lowering Mortgage Principal – CNBC
Banks Not Off Hook With $25B Mortgage Agreement – Bloomberg
Mortgage Plan Gives Billions to Homeowners, but With Exceptions – NY Times
Florida Homeowners Find Little to Cheer in Deal With ‘Gangsters’ – Bloomberg
Mortgage Deal Props Up California House of Cards – Bloomberg
Cramer: This Mortgage Settlement Is Huge – The Street
Foreclosure Deal to Spur U.S. Home Seizures – Bloomberg
The Mortgage Settlement Is Fine – DealBreaker

I’d be lying if I said I’d read all of these (or more than a couple for that matter), but I intend to take a look here this morning. Just based on the headlines, it would appear that the deal is getting a mixed reaction.

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A Turn for the Worse in Greece

Well, it looks like yesterday’s version of the “deal” on Greek debt has turned out like all the others over the the years as lawmakers squabble about passing the latest round of austerity measures and European officials say even that won’t be enough. The image below from the Telegraph’s live coverage of the debt crisis sums up the situation nicely.

Financial markets are now a “sea of red” in advance of the 9:30 AM EST open in New York as violence is again erupting in Athens, striking workers unhappy with what the unions have dubbed a “tombstone” policy for Greeks society.

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