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Stateside: A postcard from the epicentre of the US housing collapse

Stateside: A postcard from the epicentre of the US housing collapse

I'm writing this from a hotel room in Santa Monica in California, where I'm on holiday with my family. We're about to jump in a 'big arse' RV (ie it has a very large behind...bit like its driver...) and drive to Orlando, where my wife will attend a conference on digital scrap booking. I'll tell the story of my amazing wife and how she earns a tidy living as an exporter of digital designs to American and other scrapbookers another time. But, suffice to say, this trip is more than paid for by her export receipts -- something we're both proud of. I'll keep our regular readers posted on what I see here from an economic stand point, given America has been the source of so much global economic pain over the last year. I'll post whenever I can get a wi-fi connection, which should be relatively regularly, given the widespread and often free access in most hotels. A refreshing change from New Zealand. Firstly, a few snippets of reportage from on the ground. I found this sticker on the front page of the Los Angeles Times today. You might have seen these stickers pop up on the front pages of the New Zealand Herald and other daily newspapers. They are very, very expensive and are designed to be high impact. They're usually only done by big brand names who really want to 'cut through'.

The sticker was for a mortgagee auction website with 1,000 homes to sell in the Southern California area. Here's the site if you want to find out more. It says a lot that the most high profile business in Los Angeles today is an online auction house for foreclosed homes. God's financial deliverer ... Dr. Todd CoontzThe next little anecdote was from watching television. Often you find out a lot about a place by watching the television ads. The best one was by a Dr Todd Coontz, who promised "Supernatural Debt Cancellation." Dr Coontz (although I haven't verified the doctor tag...) describes himself as a "businessman, entrepreneur, television host, financial teacher, philanthropist and best selling author." Busy man. He promised in the ad that:

God has called me as a financial deliverer into the body of Christ. I can banish the spirit of debt from your life!

You get the picture.  He offers to pray for correspondents via a 24/7 prayer line. He sells DVDs, does speaking engagements and he suggests people "Sow a seed" by sending him money by Visa, Mastercard or American Express. That's one way to reduce debt... What I sort of admire is the relentless entrepreneurship, if there is such a word. Every setback is an opportunity for someone. For every problem comes an easy, pre-packaged solution. All this hucksterism is one of the reasons why I think America will bounce back. It's hard to keep the buggers down for long.

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

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