Slabbed Daily July 15: Dead Fish Edition

What a better way to remind the public about Mr Chaney’s upcoming insurance forum than to feature a warmup article about the massive pogey spill in the Mississippi sound and its accompanying pool of floating dead fish. Al Jones at the Sun Herald has the story:

Nearly half a million dead pogies were adrift Tuesday off Long Beach and Pass Christian.

An accident involving two Omega Protein pogy boats, based out of Pascagoula, resulted in a spill that sent an estimated 200,000 dead pogies, or menhaden, per boat into the water.

“Accidents do happen,’’ said Walter “Tiny” Chataginer, chief of law enforcement for the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources. “We are not sure what happened and how they got dumped.’’

Next up we’ll circle back to JR Welsh’s story in the Sun Herald from last month on the restoration of Buccaneer State Park in Waveland. I saw the C-L picked it up for today’s edition as they are manpower poor and no doubt very hungry for content. These are very challenging economic times for poorly run newspaper chains such as the C-L’s corporate parent Gannett but that is another post:

One of the Coast’s most beloved but hurricane-battered attractions is getting a $17 million overhaul and may be partially rebuilt by late fall, but won’t be back to full steam until at least 2010. Continue reading “Slabbed Daily July 15: Dead Fish Edition”

Slabbed Daily Weekend Edition June 20/21. Dang its hot!

With no rain in sight either. My sprinklers have received quite a workout of late. Since I have a few minutes here are some news links I’ve been squirreling away. First up is our own Gene Taylor appears in several places today in the news. First up is an article from the Journal of South Mississippi Business on HR 1264 which contains extensive quotes from Brian Martin of Gene’s staff. The article was evidently written before Janet Napolitano’s letter in oopposition to Barney Frank was released.

“The current system that we have, the private insurance company or the Mississippi wind pool covers the wind. The federal government covers the flood, but it is sold by the private company. In the case of Katrina, the flood insurance program allowed the adjuster for the insurance company to go out and handle the flood claim and the wind claim. Well, there is an inherent conflict of interest when the insurance company is deciding if it is flooding that the tax payers are going to pay for or if it is wind damage that my company is going to pay for.”

After Katrina, Martin said, many of the insurance companies paid the flood insurance right away but left the wind claim open and basically forced people to litigate.

It continues to haunt the Coast.

“It is a huge issue and it has really hindered development across the board on residential construction,” said John Ruble, a member of the Home Builders Association of the Mississippi Coast. “A lot of people qualify for the note, but when they figure their taxes, the ad valorem taxes and the insurance, particularly the wind insurance, the numbers are no longer manageable.”

Ruble said that not having affordable wind coverage hurts low and middle income people the most. He said that some companies will write wind coverage for people with expensive homes who also write auto and other insurance with the same carrier, but people with less expensive homes often are unable to find affordable wind insurance.

“This not only affects residential construction but also commercial construction,” Ruble said. “If you ride up and down the beach, you do not see strip centers going in along Eisenhower Drive or where you used to see these strip centers where you have traffic count because by the time they build the building and try to insure it, what they have to charge by the square foot to amortize the building, the tenants cannot afford it because they can’t afford the insurance on it.”

I also found Gene in the news, this time in Politico. (h/t Alan Lange):

Democratic opposition to a controversial climate change bill has House Speaker Nancy Pelosi fishing for votes in the most unfriendly of waters: the House Republican caucus.

Pelosi, Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman and Rep. Ed Markey met with 11 moderate House Republicans on Thursday, hoping to pick up enough votes to get the bill passed by the middle of next month.

“Generally, they only talk to us when they need something,” said Mark Kirk, a Republican from Illinois, who told Pelosi that he feared the bill would raise costs in his coal-dependent district.

Members, aides and journalists crowded outside Pelosi’s offices Thursday as a revolving door of key lawmakers ducked in and out of meetings between votes. Soon after the Republicans exited, House Agricultural Committee Chairman Collin Peterson lumbered into the speaker’s office to discuss his concerns about the climate bill. Peterson and other moderate Democrats are threatening to marshal nearly 50 “no” votes unless changes are made to protect farmers and rural consumers.

“It’s just dumb idea on top of dumb idea, in my opinion,” bill opponent Rep. Gene Taylor (D-Miss.) said as he lingered outside Pelosi’s office. “I fail to see the merits of it.” Continue reading “Slabbed Daily Weekend Edition June 20/21. Dang its hot!”

Slabbed Daily Weekend Edition: June 6/7. Catching up on insurance news.

I finished my first radio appearance a few minutes ago and thought the show went very well. Kevin Buckel was kind enough to call in explaining his public records lawsuit against the Commish as we covered a variety of insurance related topics from appraisal to the actual cost to insure a home here in the GO Zone. Now here is a months plus worth of insurance news with more to come. (H/t to Editilla and Alan Lange)

First up we have a trio of somewhat conflicting articles out of the Louisiana insurance market, which the Wall Street Journal editorial board held up as a stellar example of a well working state insurance market, while not mentioning Louisiana has some of the highest homeowner insurance rates in the country. I’ll start with the “good” news that Louisiana Citizens rates are dropping in Orleans Parish per the Times Picayune which cites “increased competition” as the reason:

As of May 1, homeowners policies in Orleans Parish will reflect a 9 percent decrease. The stripped down “dwelling” policies, which don’t include liability coverage, dropped 22 percent, said John Wortman, chief executive of the state-sponsored insurer of last resort.

“This is because the market rates have gone down and we follow the market place,” Wortman said.

Statewide, however, the average rate climbed 7 percent and homeowners rates also rose in St. Tammany and Jefferson parishes as well.

By law, Citizens must set its prices to match that of the most expensive insurer in each parish. Continue reading “Slabbed Daily Weekend Edition: June 6/7. Catching up on insurance news.”

SLABBED Daily – April 4

Please note It’s all just a game to State Farm has been edited.  Hopefully, that means I’ve corrected garble and grammar.

A story in today’s Washington Post provides the context for those errors and others that may come as I devote time off-blog to some much needed work around the house – Study finds paint isle at Lowe’s best place to have complete meltdown.

According to a study published Monday in the Journal Of Mental Health, the paint department inside a Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse has surpassed the shelving section of Ikea as the location most conducive to having a total psychological breakdown.

The study, which observed a cross-section of 750 average, mentally sound Americans as they shopped at a variety of retail outlets, found that the singularly chaotic qualities of a Lowe’s paint aisle, combined with its overwhelming number of product choices, make it the ideal place to completely fall apart.

“Even the most well-adjusted individual can be reduced to a feeble, trembling shell of his or her former self after a half hour of paint shopping at Lowe’s,” said Dr. Olivia Kang, a behavioral psychologist at the University of Texas and lead author of the study. “The pressure to make a decision between two seemingly identical shades of beige, the glaring fluorescent lights, the frantic patrons on all sides—it’s too much for the human psyche to process.”

“In terms of causing normal, healthy adults to completely lose their shit, the Lowe’s paint department amounts to a perfect storm,” Kang added.

I’ll not tell how many trips I made to Lowe’s paint isle last week – only that it’s amazing I was able to write a post at all!

SLABBED Daily – April 3, 2009 (Insurer bankruptcy edition)

Here are some of the insurance/finance stories I’m tracking this morning:

From the Wall Street Journal we find Credit Suisse analyst Thomas Gallagher opinied the Hartford may need to post collateral on about $400 million of credit-default swaps it has written if it suffers further downgrades to its ratings. Moody’s downgraded the Hartford to one notch above junk status Monday. Predictably the CEO and architect of the Hartford plunge into toxic paper Ramani Ayer remains in firm denial:

Hartford’s capital cushion is threatened by weakened earnings, losses in the company’s investment portfolio and its exposure to variable annuity products in the U.S. and Japan, the ratings agency said.

Hartford Chief Executive Ramani Ayer said in a statement late Monday that he disagrees with the Moody’s ratings actions. “The Hartford remains well capitalized to meet our policyholder obligations,” he added.

In its 2008 annual filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Hartford said ratings downgrades could trigger collateral calls on its derivatives, and limit its ability to purchase additional derivatives. As of now, the downgrades aren’t severe enough to cause such problems.

But another downgrade is possible, according to Moody’s, if the company suffers certain additional losses in its investment portfolio or certain capital declines.

From the we find that Allstate and Allianz both have units vulnerable to default: (In Allstate’s cases in addition to the Willow tREe) Continue reading “SLABBED Daily – April 3, 2009 (Insurer bankruptcy edition)”

SLABBED Daily – March 31

Trying out a different name after Sop’s shocking discovery yesterday.

and, then, there’s the latest from Louisiana Citizen’s Insurance and the State’s never-met-an-insurer-that-wasn’t- right commission reported by Rebecca Mowbray for the Times Picayune in Citizens passes on settlement in Katrina class action litigation.

The board of Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corp. is engaged in a high-stakes gamble as it seeks to deal with two overlapping class-action lawsuits over the state-sponsored insurer’s handling of claims from the 2005 hurricanes.

If Citizens prevails, it says it will dispense with both suits for $35 million. If it loses, taxpayers could be on the hook for possibly hundreds of millions of dollars… Continue reading “SLABBED Daily – March 31”